Sheryl Steines

I like the quirky, I like the Funny


Rock Bottom


Posted By on Jul 8, 2014

Every bad situation has a rock bottom. That place when you just can’t endure the sadness, frustration or pain any longer. For some it can sink deeper than others, we all have our limits. They’re determined by our experiences; all that baggage we carry with us, our struggles our travails. We all have them, we all dig deep as we endure and our brick walls or rock bottom are ours and ours alone.

My rock bottom isn’t one experience, it’s a period of time, that encompasses a whole lot situations. A job, a personal relationship, health issues, regardless of what comprises my rock bottom, I think I finally hit it. I think the climb out of mediocrity and moving slowly upwards, the lack of sleep, the lack of fun, the constant work, the job change, finding myself taking one step forward and moving two steps back, finally crashed down around me.

I feel as though I’m walking through a pile of rubble. All of my experiences broken pieces lying on the ground around me. All examples of my trudge through mediocrity and I’m tired. Sleepless nights tossing and turning, dreading the daylight because its ugly and it doesn’t lie. It shows everything for what it is, in all it’s brightness, exposing what I try so hard to hide.

Near tears all the time, because what I do while awake is for everyone else but for myself because when I try to do for myself, the rest of my life crashes in around me. Things don’t get done, kids get angry, guilt that I should be anywhere other than where I am chokes me. I clench my jaws as I keep the tears from falling.

I don’t believe in self-help books because I know what the issues are and I know what I need to do in order to release the stress, remove the sadness and let go. I know what I need to do. But will circumstances allow me to make the changes and do what I need to do to not feel like this anymore.

It’s the feeling of walking on a treadmill, the one in which I walk at a brisk and steady pace and yet I move nowhere. I think this is my rock bottom, my fork in the road. The time to make the decision on where I need to go. I just need to find my way out. It’s not a matter of picking the path less travelled. It’s about picking the path that will allow you peace and happiness. For some that’s through the untamed jungle and for others it’s the path that leads them to the dream.

I’ve given up the last year of my life for the dream. I’ve given up time with family and friends. I’ve given up time for myself, I given up hobbies and I’ve agreed to do things that I don’t wish to do, things that are good for others but not good for me. Because somewhere along the line someone wrote doormat on my forehead.

It’s my rock bottom. The place where I say Enough. Because I no longer want to settle for mediocrity. I no longer want to believe that someone else is thinking of me and this is good for me, especially when I know it’s not. It’s time to no longer let someone dictate what’s best for me. Only I can be the judge of that.

This is my rock bottom. My acknowledging that this is no longer acceptable. I have a dream and not honoring me, is no longer allowed.

Read More

I’ve learned a lot in the four years since I first wrote The Day of First Sun. I’ve made a lot of mistakes too. But as I put all that I’ve learned into practice, I find myself  finishing my final edit of that first book that I’ve completely re-written for the fourth time. The reason behind the re-writes stem from my early mistakes with editing. I say this because, when I first wrote the book, I never processed the story in between each edit. And without that time to process the book, the story and the characters, I never saw the book for what it could be only for what it was.

When I made the decision to re-write the book, it had been over a year since I had edited, read and touched that version of the book. It was that time that allowed me to see so much more of what the book could be and as I edited, I re-wrote. I took out the scenes that I knew made no sense, I strengthened sections that needed additional information and I added more than I thought I had in me because pieces of the book revealed themselves to me as though I was treasuring hunting and discovering a new treasure.

And it was a treasure. As the story opened up to me, I learned more about Annie and Cham, more about the murderer, the suspects and the victims. I changed locations, added tension and instead of wrapping the story up with a neat little bow, I let the story work itself out slowly and thoughtfully.

It’s the biggest lesson I learned from the last four years. Editing. Not that it’s crucial, because it is, but giving yourself time in between each edit to process the work you did and let it sink in before you begin the next edit. Before I would finish a draft and eight hours later begin my next one. It left little time to really think about the book.

It’s taken this months to edit this book, not days or weeks and I even took a break in the middle to rethink what I find to be a crucial character than the editor didn’t think was. I needed time to decide what I would do with the character, and when I was ready (when book two of the series draft one was completed), I began to clean up those final suggestions and thoughts the editor left me with. Tonight I inserted the changes to Annie’s newest nemesis, which I think are far stronger than what they were because I gave myself time to consider what I needed to do with them.

And now, I’m looking over the edge of the cliff. The one that represents the publishing of this edition of the book. I glance over the edge, no longer worried or scared that the book isn’t good enough. I did what I set out to do, I made it stronger, I gave it more to feel about, I made it better. I’m more excited than I have ever been over this book and I can’t wait to share.

Editing will always be the most important thing you can do for your book. A professional editor will not only make sure all your commas are correctly placed, but whoever they are they will make sure your story isn’t confusing, makes sense and it readable.

I thank my editor every day.

 

Read More

Once More With Feeling


Posted By on Jun 22, 2014

I love chai tea, I love the spice, the sweet, I just can’t drink the latte anymore. So in my quest to find a non latte drink, I finally found a blend that I truly adore and decided to buy the loose tea at a tea store. Yeah, they really have those. As I entered the store, I noticed a song over the speakers and I had to ask the sales clerk if it was indeed “Walk Through the Fire,” from the musical episode from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The girl became excited and mildly surprised that I even knew that and my daughter responded by saying “Mom, you’re such a dork.” Which is really the pot calling the kettle black.

While waiting for my order to be bagged, I found myself discussing the merits of Buffy and the show and the episode in question. What it comes down to is those that loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer understood just what the show was about. It wasn’t just a female lead, but she was the strong female character, not a bitch, but a real woman who could be strong, could be insecure. The point is she’s a real woman who deals with real issues and can still kick ass when she needs to.

We discussed our love of Buffy and how impressive the musical episode really was (Joss Whedon, creator not only wrote the episode he wrote all of the lyrics and music) I was reminded of the influence the show had on me as a writer and of my character Annie Pearce. As I write her, I think about how she should respond to the people and situations in her life. As I work through Annie, I’m always reminded of the honesty of Buffy. Annie can’t always be strong, she can’t always be right and she can’t always need someone to get her out of her situations.

After I left I knew I needed to download the soundtrack. I needed the catchy songs and the reminder of how to write a character that struggles and endures. I just downloaded the music and as I finish my final draft of The Day of First Sun, I’m conscious of making sure Annie isn’t too much of anything. That she’s just right and that she’s human.

Once More with Feeling is the constant struggle of finding ourselves and our place in the world and how we find our way to fitting in. The music brings me back to the struggle and influences how I write and edit and create a story that’s believable and one that the reader can fall in love with the characters and in that love, they will want to stay and be there as they grow and change.

And yes, I’m a dork, proud of my love for the fantasy television show. But most importantly the show is mere fun.

 

 

Read More

What You’re Worth


Posted By on May 20, 2014

How do you measure what you’re worth? I don’t mean your bank account or the things that you own. Do you judge yourself by what you’ve accomplished, by the job you have or the completion of a dream?

Lately I’ve been measuring my worth by my accomplishments or lack there of and it weighs on me. Where I thought I would be at this point in my life I am no closer to achieving.

I’ve struggling with what I think I’m worth as an employee. Am I only good enough for a file clerk position or am I worth more as a writer, an organizer, a planner with valuable ideas that are helpful to my employer?

When I succeed I’m cocky and believe I can handle any job that’s thrown my way. When I fail, I dwell and worry, upset that I couldn’t do more with what I had. My worth as I view it, decreases and any change to my status at work feels like a demotion. Whether it’s good for business or not. But is it good for me? Do I have more value than what this job entails?

Should I measure my value to society, to my family, to my friends by how others view me or should I find a new measuring stick and realize that I am unique, an individual with valuable things to say.

But I can’t help but wonder if my failures should be proud moments because even though I didn’t make it, at least I tried. I can’t go there because that’s just bullshit. If I merely accept mediocrity and failure even though I tried, than the only option is to give up. I’m not there yet. I still have dreams, I still have a passion for something. Unfortunately that is precisely what I measure my worth at. It’s not enough. I want more. I’m tired of plans and decisions not ending the way I hoped. And that alone pushes me forward, gives me purpose and hope. Maybe I should measure how I feel about myself by my ability to not give up, to keep trying when everything points to the fact that maybe I should quit.

I’m finally over the mini crisis I had last week, when it felt as though I was being demoted for the inability to do the job I was hired for. I knew as I took over the job from someone else, that it wasn’t the case. I was moved to a position more suited to my abilities. I knew that. It’s what I do for a living, not who I am and not how I should value my self-worth.

How do you feel? How do you value yourself, your worth? Please tell me it doesn’t involve your job, or your bank account or even your accomplishments. tell me it’s because you are unique and an individual. We all offer something to someone in our lives. As long as we’re true to ourselves, I think we’ll be okay.

Read More
Cover Reveal Event!!!

Cover Reveal Event!!!


Posted By on May 8, 2014

book

 

 

 

I’m so excited to introduce Introvert to Sales Goddess; my introverted journey into the world of sales. Find out if I overcame my fear of people or did I fall flat on my face? I bet you can’t wait to find out.

Join me for my newest cover reveal, Friday and Saturday May 9-10 on Facebook! Come for the fun and prizes. Share your opinion, comment during the event to qualify for a drawing for $10 Amazon and Barnes and Noble gift cards.

Sign up for emails, keep in touch, claim an ARC and enter the $50 cash drawing. Introvert to Sales Goddess Cover Reveal May 9 & 10. Connect with me. I can’t wait to see you!

 

For the Cover Reveal event, check out the link to the Cover Reveal.

 

 

Read More

Never Tell a Writer to Stop


Posted By on May 5, 2014

I’m tired. I took a full-time job to pay for the marketing to try to sell my books. I come home, take care of the children, the bills, groceries, dishes and take care of the other commitments that come with living in the real world. It makes me no different from other moms. I’m not claiming I am. And this isn’t about how my life may or may not suck.

It’s about my second job. The one I’ve been working at for the last four years. The one I’m not getting paid for, the one that takes me away from friends, commitments, children, relaxing. Again, it’s not a mom thing. I’ve been an unpaid mom for sixteen years. No, this is about the dream, the job I really want.

When people ask how I’m doing, I mostly say I’m okay, unless I’m really tired, really stressed and really needing a good writing session. And frankly I don’t complain much about it because most people tell me, maybe if I’m that stressed, I should put the books away for a little while.

I’m tired of explaining myself to everyone. It’s not a simple proposition to put the book down. It’s like cutting off a limb. It’s a part of me. When I’m not writing, it gnaws at me, crawls through my skin reminding me that there’s something else I’d rather be doing. I almost waited too long to begin my journey and if I put it away for even just a week, I may out of habit never pick it up again. I can’t do that.

Even as my world can sometimes crash around me as I struggle to get the laundry done, the groceries bought, the children taken care of, have a social life, I desperately reach for something to hold on to so that I don’t drown in my daily life. My life saver is writing. When you want something badly enough and you can’t shake it, you keep at it even when everything else is in danger of falling to pieces. It’s my life line.

Never tell an aspiring writer to put it away for a little while. We have a story to tell, an emotion to release, a message to say. If we put it away for even a little while, it burns a hole in us and we’re no longer being true to ourselves. .

One day maybe the non-writer will understand.

 

Read More

A Letter to My Daughters


Posted By on Apr 28, 2014

Over the last few months I’ve heard a lot of people telling me what I should think, feel and do as a woman. I’ve been told that I want more flexibility rather than equal pay. I don’t remember being asked. I’ve been told that the worst thing I can do is be a stay at home mom because we’re lazy and worthless and aren’t accomplishing anything. I have two children who would say otherwise. I’ve been told that girls should go to college for the purpose of gaining their MRS degree, because that gives you stability, money and happiness because we all know that 18 to 22 year olds know what we want from a husband. I’ve been told hat women shouldn’t make more money than men because we won’t find a husband. I’ve been told that because I didn’t breast feed my children, I’m a bad mom.

So I’m pretty much sick of all these messages from all these nut cases who seem to know who I am and what I want. And most importantly I don’t want my daughters to be influenced by messages that I think ultimately will be detrimental to them and their futures. So this is the advice that I would give to my own daughters. You don’t have to agree with me, but the honest truth is, women are our own worst enemies. Rather than picking sides we should support each other to become the best possible people we can. This is what I’d say to my kids.

To My Daughters,

1. You are a woman. You are strong, smart and beautiful. Just because you have female parts doesn’t mean that your thoughts, beliefs and opinions don’t matter. They do and you have a right to speak your mind. It’s your life. Live it as you see fit, make decisions that suit you and your family. But if you join the cast of a reality show, I will kick you out of the house.

2. Get married, don’t get married. But if you chose to someday marry, find a partner who loves you, who’s compatible with you and don’t settle. Yes, life is filled with compromises but if you don’t live your true life its your own fault. Your partner isn’t responsible for your happiness. You are. Marry for love because you want to share your life’s journey with that right person.

3. You only have one body so take care of it regardless of what size and shape it is. Don’t abuse alcohol, drugs, cigarettes or food. But please eat a damn cookie once in a while. The endorphins are good for you. And whatever you do, don’t let Hollywood, the fashion runways or your friends tell you what you should look like, how you should dress or how short to wear your hair.

4. Go to college because you want to learn something and you want to prepare yourself for the next 40 years of employment. College is four more years you don’t have to be an adult, where you don’t have to pay rent or a mortgage and bills. Use those years to grow up and participate in most of the experiences college has to offer, but see number 3. Dad and I planned well for this so you don’t have to worry. You’re welcome.

5. Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams. You have the right to be happy, whether you want to be an artist or a CEO. Sometimes we don’t get to have it all and have to make compromises. Sometimes we have to give some stuff up. Just think about what matters to you the most and follow that path. Oh and if you make more money than your partner and it makes him unhappy, it’s his problem. You earned it. But if you marry the right person, that won’t matter.

6. If you chose not to have children I’m okay with that. Don’t let society pigeon-hole you because it’s the way it’s always been done. However, I don’t believe that at 16 you really know what you want or will want in the future, but I promise you, I will never ask you when you’re going to give me grandkids.

7. Life is chaotic and it doesn’t always go as we plan. Health issues, divorce, death and loss of a job happen. So please, learn how to support and take care of yourself under any circumstances. Like I said, you have a brain, please use it.

8. Remember your mother always loves you and will always be there for you regardless of whatever decision you make no matter how stupid I may think it is. That’s my job and I offer you my help, my support and my love. I gave birth to you, I watched you grow up and you will always be my baby.

I want for you my two lovely daughters to always be true to yourself. I know life hasn’t always been easy for you navigating junior high and high school. At such a young age you both have faced deep sadness, medical issues, sports disappointments and have dealt with issues pertaining to friends that haven’t always been easy. This is life and you face each experience head on. I’m proud of you and the amazing young women you’re becoming. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for you in the future. But if you join a reality show…

 

 

 

Read More

Defining Moments


Posted By on Apr 14, 2014

When my daughter died she was eleven months old. It was time for her because her tiny body was no longer able to sustain itself, to breathe, to process food, to laugh or to cry. She was born with broken muscles and for a time, she appeared to be getting stronger, but then as we knew it would happen, her muscles degenerated, weakened until they could no longer do what they were meant to do. She died at home as we wanted her to, safe and loved.

Her death didn’t haunt me quite as much as the moment, that one single moment when I went from realizing that my harrowing pregnancy was over and knowing that there was something seriously wrong with my child. It was a period of time shorter than what takes me to blink or to take a single breath. But that piece of time, small and unnoticeable where I went from feeling joy to asking the question “Now what?” It was long enough.

I was defined by that moment, I obsessed about it for years after she died because I didn’t understand how everything could go so wrong. It made me angry, it made me cry. I poured everything I had into remembering that moment. It was torment.

Allowing myself to become a victim of that moment effected how I conducted my life. It weakened my resolve, it made me not want to experience life, because to live and experience opens you to hurt and sometimes to hell. I didn’t want to experience anything like that again. It took many years for me to realize that remembering and letting that single moment in, examining and reliving it, held me back. With time, I could see that it was a bad memory to cling to. I needed to let go.

Saturday night was the Yahrrzeit of my daughter’s death. We honor that memory every year, recounting her life, ensuring that her short time on Earth mattered. I think about her every year and for the longest time, I could only dwell on that single moment thinking that would be my memory to her. But she isn’t about that second of time and either am I. Now I chose to remember her.

But that’s the thing about defining moments. They will either define us or we will define them. You can either be a victim or you can take charge of that moment. I lived the last decade and a half as a victim of circumstance and let my circumstance rule me. I no longer let that happen.

I took the job that I did, this sales position that makes me uncomfortable, because the only way to battle fear is by simply overcoming it; making the phone call before you chicken out and find something else to do. I will no longer be defined by that single moment in my life. I’m far more than that moment. – Introvert to Sales Goddess

That comes from my book Introvert to Sales Goddess as I examine what I’m fearful. My fear, my lack of confidence, my inability to move forward was partially tied to that single moment and possibly other single moments in my past. We should never be defined by those moments. They are part of our make up but they aren’t wholly us. I don’t think about that moment the way I once did, it no longer fills several waking moments, it no longer haunts me in my sleep. I’ve moved on from the moment finding me in my waking life. Though it doesn’t haunt my dreams, it did affect how I went about the business of my day-to-day life.

Read More