Voting is Your Rallying Cry, Your Middle Finger, Your Roar

Shari voting 2018 primaries
Aug. 28, 2018 was Primary Day in my home state of Arizona. This is me after voting.

As a writer, author, and American, I believe so strongly in the power of voicing one’s opinion beyond words.

Yesterday was Primary Day in my home state of Arizona. And I feel the need to say this, to anyone and everyone who is willing to listen.

The will of the people is heard one way, and one way only–by the vote. If you’re discontent with the current state of affairs within your city, your state, or your country, the voting booth is where you can affect change. Your vote is your rallying cry, your middle finger, your roar.

Do not shy away from the power that shimmers deep inside you, even if you doubt its own grit and force. Make it heard. Make it known. November is just a few months away.

“Don’t boo. Vote.”

Screaming is What We Do Best (As Writers Writing for Nothingness)

8612921803_109fc896f6_z
Photo by Aditya Doshi,, https://www.flickr.com/photos/avdoshi/8612921803

DO YOU EVER FEEL like writing nothing for the sake of nothingness, in a black hole of a vacuum of ideas, pandering and rambling about rambling in pure space and time, because the blank page mocks you into a fury?

BECAUSE RIGHT NOW, I just want to write, and type, and stumble over words, words that I collect and hoard like a dog with bones, words that make no sense of the senseless as they fumble together on this post, and I spit them out in neither passion or indifference, but rather—confinement.

CONFINEMENT OF MY MIND, or of my heart, or of my life, or of my time. Maybe of madness, or genius, or whatever word they throw at us who dream but can find no outlet to scream.

SCREAM. YES, SCREAM.

For screaming is what we do best, in silence, when no one will listen; but quiet now—do you hear?

The voices of a million years …

Have You Seen these Dope Artists? They Designed My Rockin’ Book Cover

Featured Image -- 4721

One of the reasons I went indie with my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, was creative control—not just of my story, but of the cover art and presentation.

I had two artists in mind who I wanted working on my book’s look, because these guys are seriously awesome AF.

Cover Art: Rebecca Lopatin

Rebecca Lopatin_Darrel_charcoalYes, we have the same last name, because yes, Rebecca is my sister. But she’s also a professional, accomplished fine artist here in the blazing hot desert of Phoenix, Ariz. Like, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She studied art in Italy. F’ing ITALY.

You guys, she hand-painted my book’s cover art. Like, the classical way. Savage, right?

 

Rebecca has a garage full of oil paintings for sale that need some serious walls. Even if you’re not looking to buy, you gotta check out her work and give her a follow:

Cover Design: Ryan Quackenbush

Ryan is a sick digital artist and illustrator. I mean, this guy sells his own graphic novels at Phoenix Comic Fest (a.k.a. Phoenix Comicon). His stuff is dark and edgy and just AWESOME.

So naturally, I wanted that look and feel for my cover design, considering the genre of my book. He took Rebecca’s art and turned it into a badass book cover that seriously makes people gasp when they see it.

 

 

If you’re into the graphic novel scene (and even if you’re not), I’m telling you to head over to Ryan’s pages NOW and scan his stuff, or follow him:

 

Up to 40 Rejections, and Counting

Reject-Article

I’m officially baptized into the world of creative writing. I’ve been rejected by 40 literary agents … and the number keeps climbing.

Is it frustrating? Yes. Is it angering. Definitely. Am I giving up? HELL NO.

Why? Because I’m a writer, dammit. And writers get rejected over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. We’re the foot soldiers of the artistic world.

Of course I sometimes ask myself, “What the heck are you doing, Shari?” Then, however, I read articles such as this one, from Fast Company: “Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s reassuring life advice for struggling artists.

COOL!

Did you know that Mad Men was rejected for seven years—seven freakin’ years—before AMC finally said yes? And before Mr. Weiner even had the success and connections to create Mad Men, he spent nearly his entire first decade of post-college life struggling as a no-name writer in Hollywood, getting told NO over and over and over and over and over and over again?

This man is a veteran, folks. Out of everything he said, I think this was the most important piece of advice:

“You can’t set a clock for yourself. If you do, you are not a writer.” –Matthew Weiner

May we all keep fighting along, and may we all realize that setting a clock is the ultimate defeat. Keep writing, my friends. Keep writing.


Hi! I’m Shari Lopatin. I’m a professional writer, editor, journalist, and social media strategist with a decade of experience in media and communications. I live in Phoenix, Ariz. and blog about finding a literary agent, writing tips, social media or tech trends, and sometimes current events. Oh yeah, I also edit novels for self-published authors or writers needing help before querying literary agents. Are we friends yet on Facebook and Twitter?


 

Inspire Yourself with these 6 Themes

Huntington Beach, Copyright 2011 Shari Lopatin

This post is part of the Countdown Series on ShariLopatin.com, re-publishing my top “writing tips” blog posts from the past five years. The Countdown Series will culminate NEXT WEEK with the announcement of my business’ (Shari’s Ink) new arm, which will benefit other WRITERS!

Originally published Jan. 6, 2012

I’ve been on a creative binge lately. And for the New Year, I want to help inspire you, too!

I’ve been reading books and writing stories about some of the deepest, most profound themes I know.

You know, those deep, dark ideas that give a story its umph. That inspire us to reconsider our own lives. I’m not an English scholar, I’m just a journalist who also writes creatively … and who lives for stories.

To read them. To write them. To share them.

So I can’t tell you exactly why these themes resonate better than others. And of course, I can only speak for myself. However, I’ve noticed some themes inspire us more than others.

And these are them:

1. Family

As a human race, perhaps one of our strongest Hierarchy of Needs, is the need to belong. The need for family. Think Fiddler on the Roof, or Sound of Music. Family doesn’t have to encompass a Brady Bunch story. The complicated love between rival brothers can tear at your heart more than a summer romance. Or, think of an orphan who’s sought a sense of family throughout her life, only to find rejection time and time again.

2. War

If you haven’t already, go see War Horse. War is such a great setting and theme for any story, because it offers the opportunity for many smaller, underlying themes. A husband and wife can reunite after years apart, thinking the other was dead. A sworn enemy can suddenly become a best friend. What does war make us realize about ourselves, as a society, and as individuals?

3. Guilt, and Redemption

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, tells us that in every story, something or someone must die, or be saved. The theme of guilt and redemption can take us, literally, to that place. What deed in someone’s past could drive that person into utter self-destruction … and what power or action could literally free them, from their own cage? If you’ve ever read The Kite Runner, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

4. Wanting What You Can’t Have

A blind man who longs to see. A woman in love with a married man. A father who would give his life to hold his son, one final time. When we hear stories of others longing for what can never be theirs, we empathize. Our hearts literally ache for this character, as if we’d experienced his or her pain ourselves (and often times, we have).

5. A Forced Life Change

I saw the previews to a movie called The Vow, based on true events. A married couple of five years are in a car accident and both fall into a coma. The wife awakens with no memory. Her husband is a stranger. However, his love for her drives him to try and recreate their relationship, with the hopes his wife will fall in love with him again. Imagine if tomorrow, something dramatic happened to you, or someone you love. Suddenly, you lose your legs, or your child goes blind. How would you, and your loved ones, cope?

6. Identity and Heritage

I once heard a true story about a Mexican-American woman who grew up poor and ashamed of her heritage. When invited to speak at a prestigious event, her mother sewed a traditional Mexican dress for her daughter. The young woman refused it, and instead bought her own. She later married, and refused to teach her children Spanish. Years later, after her mother died, she found the old dress in her mother’s attic, boxed away. This time, she broke down crying. Denial—or even hatred—of one’s self-identity can drive destruction of epic proportions.

Me, in college

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What themes do you find inspiring, lasting? What can you never read enough of, or write too much of?

Are we friends on Facebook or Twitter yet? If not, let’s connect!

Write What You Love & Forget Everything Else

This post is part of the Countdown Series on ShariLopatin.com, re-publishing my top “writing tips” blog posts from the past five years. The Countdown Series will culminate in a few weeks with the announcement of my business’ (Shari’s Ink) new arm, which will benefit other WRITERS!

Originally published Oct. 13, 2011

I just finished THE HELP last week. And then I read author Kathryn Stockett’s personal three-page narrative at the end.

And I realized something.

Kathryn didn’t write THE HELP to be a bestseller or a future American classic (which I’m sure it will become). She didn’t write it because she thought it’s what others wanted to read, or what she thought would make a possible award-winning book.

Kathryn wrote it, because the storyline was her life growing up. Her questions. Kathryn wrote THE HELP because she followed her passion. And the result is astounding.

Forget what everyone else says. What do YOU want to write?

Don’t write a story because you think other writers will find it to be literary genius. Don’t write an article because you think it’s what everyone else wants to read.

What are you passionate about?

Because when you write with your heart, with your passion, it shows. I could tell, reading THE HELP, that Kathryn poured her soul into this book, into the characters. I bet she cried writing it. I bet she smirked devilishly plotting it.

And you know what? She inspired me.

Here are just a few other books I’ve read or movies I’ve watched, where I could tell the author/screenwriter wrote with his or her heart:

  • The Kite Runner (book)
  • Great Expectations (book)
  • Almost Famous (movie)
  • Of Mice and Men (book)

If you don’t write what you love, others will know. They won’t feel your story, they won’t empathize with your characters. To them, it will never be real, it will never last.

MY QUESTION TO YOU: What are you passionate about writing? Have you ever caught yourself writing for others, instead of for yourself?

Are we friends on Facebook or Twitter yet? If not, let’s connect!

What would you do, if you lost EVERYTHING?

diceSo usually, you hear people ask, “What would you do if you won the lottery?”

Well … duh … that’s kinda easy.

But how often do you hear someone ask, “What would you do, if you lost everything?”

By this, I mean your house, your job, your car, even your marriage. I’m not a complete sadist, so I’ll spare you your loved ones and pets.

Besides having a panic attack, perhaps you’re not too sure how to answer. Well…

I can tell you what J.K. Rowling did.

According to Wikipedia (and rumors I’ve heard from others who saw her speak), Rowling considered herself a large failure seven years after graduating from college. Her marriage had failed, and she was jobless with a child. Yet, she said the following—as cited in Wikipedia from The Fringe Benefits of Failure, 2008:

“Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy to finishing the only work that mattered to me [Harry Potter].”

This has been on my mind lately.

I won’t lie. In fact, I’ll be completely truthful. I’ve been a little quieter on this blog, because I’m in a career transition. I lost my job of more than five years after the company I worked for lost a major federal contract. It wasn’t just my job affected, but hundreds of others, too.

So now, using everything I have, I’ve launched my new business, “Shari’s Ink: Copywriting & Creative Services.” And I’m writing a novel that burns inside my soul.

I have a house. I have a life. And I keep asking myself, what would I do, should I lose it all?

Maybe I could become the next J.K. Rowling.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

Here’s to All the Outcasts!

All the “weirdos,” all the “stupids,” all the “oddballs.” I’m proud to walk among you, because my uniqueness is what makes my writing stand out.

Were you ever bullied as a kid? Forced to give up your milk money? Endured long hours of whispers or sly smirks, followed by giggles behind your back?

Continue reading Here’s to All the Outcasts!

Inspire Yourself with these 6 Themes

I’ve been on a creative binge lately. And for the New Year, I want to help inspire you, too!

I’ve been reading books and writing stories about some of the deepest, most profound themes I know.

You know, those deep, dark ideas that give a story its umph. That inspire us to reconsider our own lives. I’m not an English scholar, I’m just a journalist who also writes creatively … and who lives for stories.

To read them. To write them. To share them.

Huntington Beach, Copyright 2011 Shari LopatinSo I can’t tell you exactly why these themes resonate better than others. And of course, I can only speak for myself. However, I’ve noticed, some themes inspire us more than others.

And these are them:

1. Family

As a human race, perhaps one of our strongest Hierarchy of Needs, is the need to belong. The need for family. Think Fiddler on the Roof, or Sound of Music. Family doesn’t have to encompass a Brady Bunch story. The complicated love between rival brothers can tear at your heart more than a summer romance. Or, think of an orphan who’s sought a sense of family throughout her life, only to find rejection time and time again.

2. War

If you haven’t already, go see War Horse. War is such a great setting and theme for any story, because it offers the opportunity for many smaller, underlying themes. A husband and wife can reunite after years apart, thinking the other was dead. A sworn enemy can suddenly become a best friend. What does war make us realize about ourselves, as a society, and as individuals?

3. Guilt, and Redemption

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, tells us that in every story, something or someone must die, or be saved. The theme of guilt and redemption can take us, literally, to that place. What deed in someone’s past could drive that person into utter self-destruction … and what power or action could literally free them, from their own cage? If you’ve ever read The Kite Runner, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

4. Wanting What You Can’t Have

A blind man who longs to see. A woman in love with a married man. A father who would give his life to hold his son, one final time. When we hear stories of others longing for what can never be theirs, we empathize. Our hearts literally ache for this character, as if we’d experienced his or her pain ourselves (and often times, we have).

5. A Forced Life Change

I saw the previews to a movie called The Vow, based on true events. A married couple of five years are in a car accident and both fall into a coma. The wife awakens with no memory. Her husband is a stranger. However, his love for her drives him to try and recreate their relationship, with the hopes his wife will fall in love with him again. Imagine if tomorrow, something dramatic happened to you, or someone you love. Suddenly, you lose your legs, or your child goes blind. How would you, and your loved ones, cope?

6. Identity and Heritage

I once heard a true story about a Mexican-American woman who grew up poor and ashamed of her heritage. When invited to speak at a prestigious event, her mother sewed a traditional Mexican dress for her daughter. The young woman refused it, and instead bought her own. She later married, and refused to teach her children Spanish. Years later, after her mother died, she found the old dress in her mother’s attic, boxed away. This time, she broke down crying. Denial—or even hatred—of one’s self-identity can drive destruction of epic proportions.

Me, in college

WHAT ABOUT YOU? What themes do you find inspiring, lasting? What can you never read enough of, or write too much of?

Miracle off 28th Ave. on Tuesday Afternoon

Happy New Year! And I’m taking a break … LOL!

Instead, please enjoy this short blog post I wrote a year ago. About a beautiful experience I had, and I’d like to share with you. Let the music begin …

A Miracle off 28th Ave. on Tuesday Afternoon

Posted on December 28, 2010, by Shari Lopatin

It started with a simple routine walk during my lunch break.

Through the same neighborhood and past the same ordinary houses occupied by the same aging couples. Wearing the same workout clothes, and pounding the pavement with the same 2-year-old tennis shoes.

I continued walking down my routine path this Tuesday afternoon, feeling the steady pace of my feet below, when I heard it. Like an angel singing to me from another dimension, it sliced through the deafening silence of the neighborhood.

Music. Pure, dramatic piano notes dancing in the gentle breeze. Climbing up my spine and into my ears, filling me with an electric energy I hadn’t felt in years.

I stopped in my tracks–searching to my left, to my right. From where did this heavenly melody arise? I knew this tune, one of the first I’d learned as a little girl: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Climb Every Mountain” from The Sound of Music.

I suddenly realized this was no recording. It was live, and the individual playing was no amateur. Here I was, my work’s I.D. hanging from my neck, toes peeking through tips of old sneakers wearing away, standing in the middle of a retired neighborhood, and enjoying a live piano concert with the sun beating on my face.

My senses led me to the cozy, one-story house across the street from where I stood. With their windows open, oblivious to my undivided admiration, a shadowed face played for me.

Man or woman, boy or girl, I did not know. But their passion sang to my passion, their beauty filled my soul, and I drifted away as their music mounted higher into the crisp autumn air. I used to fall asleep this way, drifting to the sounds of hypnotic notes as my father played into the night.

That’s when I realized a miracle took place off 28th Ave. this Tuesday afternoon. I’d broken free. Away from Corporate America. Away from the cubicles, the computer screens and the repetition.

And I flew.