Sheryl Steines

I like the quirky, I like the Funny


Throwing the Kid from the Nest


Posted By on Aug 11, 2014

She makes faces when we ask her to drive, she runs and hides if its time to text a friend. I worry about the future of my daughter, the smart and funny girl who no one realizes is smart and funny. It’s because of crippling social anxiety. It occurred to me this summer that she only had two years left of high school and then it would be college and job interviews and moving away. I began to wonder, had we  held her hand too long? Is it time to push her out of the nest, let her stumble and fall with our open arms waiting to catch her?

My goal isn’t to have a child with 50 close friends. My objective is to make sure she’s able to speak with her teachers and professors if she has an issue, to be able to walk into a class and find someone to sit and chat with, to go on a job interview and deal with her boss should something come up. Sometimes we’re programmed to be able to handle these relatively mundane activities and sometimes, fear grips us and we’re frozen.

Whether she admits it or not, she needs to be pushed. She needs to not make any more excuses as to why she can’t do something. And she should no longer be able to tell herself she’s fine the way the situation is, she doesn’t need any friends. I know she’s lying. There are those times she’s upset she wasn’t included. She gets angry when she thinks she should be in Honors classes and isn’t. Deep down its there. And as a parent I know what’s coming.

It boils down to the desire to not grow up. To remain a kid forever. But we all know that’s simply not possible. The kid gets great grades, works two jobs, is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. She’s almost already there and yet her preconceived ideas block her from moving forward.

Medicine isn’t the only therapy for someone with severe anxiety. We learned that pills can only do so much. There’s a rewiring that needs to go on, and learning and understanding that fear is nothing but the lies we tell ourselves. She tells herself plenty. And that’s why I’ve chosen to be the mean mom, force her out of her comfort zone and make her face the things that scare her. She will learn one of two things: the first is, that wasn’t as bad as I thought and I was being really goofy or she’ll learn how to live with the anxiety and learn to maneuver through it so that she doesn’t end up alone and hiding in her house with twenty cats.

I keep telling her life is more fun if you share with friends, if you go out and experience anything. She still doesn’t believe me. I hope someday she’ll understand. Reluctantly she’s been trying. She’s been texting, we’ve had her driving. It’s a struggle, its work, but in the end, my goal is to raise a child who can live in the world, understand what frightens her and hopefully she’ll have those magical tools in which to pull from to help her through what’s hard.

It breaks my heart to throw the kid out of the nest, to watch her tear up when it becomes uncomfortable, but after some time, I know, I’m not here to be her friend. I’m here to be her parent. I still know what’s best for her. And whether she likes it or not, adulthood is looming around the corner. If I dig my heals in a little deeper than her, she’ll be alright.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Raising an Introvert


Posted By on Aug 4, 2014

I’m an introvert; the type of person who if I have more than one scheduled event in a day, I’m not happy. It’s not because I hate doing things, it has to do with needing down time; time to recharge, to refresh and to get away from people.

As an adult I realized that I’m responsible for adjusting to situations that render me anxious. I can either hide from those experiences, or I can face them head on. Knowing this, I recently took a job at a small firm in which I was to sell a service to members. It was such a departure from the types of jobs I normally take that I wasn’t sure it was the right path for me. I’ve always hated speaking on the phone, I need visual cues to adapt my conversation, but this job, I lost that and talking on the phone is generally stressful for me. But I’m adult and I realized that the only way I can gain experience and feel comfortable was to make myself uncomfortable.

I took the job against my better judgment because I’m 46 years old. I have more experience, more live behind me and most importantly, the desire to make a change. But what I really have is a 16 year old daughter who I recognize in her, all of my struggles. And as I live through them once again and for my daughter, it breaks my heart.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing her struggles as she works through her fear and anxiety. The goal is to help her grow into a functioning adult and learn to enjoy her life, not hide from it. I recognize me in her and as a parent; I want her struggle to not be as hard as mine was. But when is the right to let go of our children and push them out of the nest?

We decided it was time to make her uncomfortable, to bring the fear to the surface and retrain her thought process on anxiety and fear, reconditioning her to learn what she needs to take a step toward what makes her scared. She doesn’t like it; it’s hard to watch her cry and fight it, but in the end, it’s my job to help her reach adulthood as happy and healthy as I can.

She may not like me now, but I’m hoping by the time she reaches adulthood, she will at least see that the emotional pain was all worth it. We aren’t always able to go against are basic personality. My daughter and I will always be introverts. All we can do is find a ways to deal with it so that life is better, more rewarding and fulfilling.

Sometimes raising kids is really hard and we have to do things that break our hearts, but in the end I know for my daughter, she will come out on the other side stronger than she started.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

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Cover Reveal Event!!!

Cover Reveal Event!!!


Posted By on May 8, 2014

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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