The Write Village

 

The African proverb, “It Takes a Village,” speaks to many aspects of our lives—the writing life included.  I discovered building alone was not easy. We need neighbors. Before I erected my own village, my journals were locked behind doors—suffering from rejection and fear.

I began to see constructive patterns of those who boldly paved roads around me. They had a similar foundation. So, I began the literary journey to build a village I call Write.

My mother laid the first stone. In Write, my mother lives on Main Street, adjacent to the church. Her door is always open to fill me with homemade pie… and red wine to energize my body. But when I must rekindle my soul, she points to the steeple and advises, “Every village needs a church. It’s neighbors and faith that will send you angels to guide you.”

My village of Write has a school with teachers, from the very first professor who red lined my every word to doctors and nurses who rebuild my creations today. The library houses lots of books with advice including, 101 Ways to Get Published, Writer’s Market, and Writing with Soft Hands. The shelves are lined in classics by Atwood and Twain to awaken the soul… and Harlequin romances to stir the bones.

At the village conference center, the best authors and mentors come to speak. I have autographed copies of their books, signed with encouragement like “Never give up,” or “Persist at all cost.” I visit the Write Salon after days of edits. My stylist conditions, massaging my creative brains. At the Writing Gym on Mondays I exercise with my aspiring peeps and ponder all the ways to pen “his chiseled jaw,” or “her beating heart.”The village newspaper employs agents and publishers who read my queries… and if I get lucky send one-word critiques.

My church is growing, with new angels every day, like Demi Stevens; her Year of the Book process was a road map to success that introduced me to an inspirational woman, Debbie Herbert, best-selling author, and 2017 RITA finalist, who shrouded me in incentive.

“It takes a village.” We share a path, and our community builds me up when I am adverb-tired, genre-lost, or POV perplexed. Together we survive.

This is a partial version of my story, The Write Village. I hope it inspires you.

Alicia Stephens Martin author of Spurred to Justice to be released summer, 2018.

Dear Saint Rita . . . .

This week I fell to my knees and begged for success. My heart dream of writing has been exhausting at this stage as I pray for my fame and fortune. I even contemplated sharing the Saint Rita Novena someone posted online—Share this novena and in an hour Saint Rita will grant you your miracle. I always loathed the bribery involved in such an idea. I would yell out to myself that this is not the way the miracle thing works. To think, I almost pushed the send button. There would have been a lot of extra Hail Mary’s for that and sadly I already have too many to say for real dilemmas.

It’s just not that easy, nor is it smart to have success land directly on your kneeler. (Although Saint Rita, it sure would be nice just once, and maybe this little mention of your name would count.)

So I was moping and then an angel sent her inspirational blog post. This week Demi Stevens suggested tiny, consistent steps toward your goal that can be more valuable than a huge leap. I read her story of success—proof the path to overcome a mountain in life is best climbed on a steady path.

The nice thing about showing up for church each week is that it is a quiet time to think and talk to God and make a weekly plan for strength to move on. It is like that in front my computer. I struggle with numerous projects on my desk that pile higher than the steeple at St. Mary’s. By the end of the week, I hide from the office, instead typing on my faithful iPad Mini.

I attack bookwork, organize my diary entries, and work on placing notes in my novels. I read blogs from my mentors like Debbie Herbert, Demi Stevens, and Paula Munier. I might even receive divine inspiration from Saint Rita or whoever is the patron Saint that week.

I organize, manage, and write in little steps. I zero in on my writing success. Remember, zero in and be fearless at your writing.

Alas, Demi is right. Two years ago googling Alicia Stephens Martin might have produced Alicias like Keyes or Silverstone. Today there is a whole page of Alicia Stephens Martin successes—a blog, a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and even published articles and posts. I think I won’t ask for the miracle just for the strength and energy to keep going.

I hope this helps you in your quest…

What’s Your Heart Dream?

This week Demi Stevens of Year of the Book posed a question: What is standing in the way of reaching your dream? I didn’t have to over-tax my brain because as I stated before, Demi’s questions miraculously seem to be a message aimed at me each week. This morning (and this may change tomorrow) my answer to what is standing in my way, is Zero. Not the number, the word. Zero in. Zero in on what exactly is my own personal heart dream.

Heart dreams can change over a lifetime, especially if you are shushly. In my family we have our own language called Stephenese, and Shushly is an adverb my parents and grandparents called me repeatedly. And not just in my youth.

Like many artists, my train of thought is more like a spaceship orbiting at light speed. In my youth, I zipped from one project to another leaving a trail of crumbs, paint splatters, and cuttings from my latest creative venture. They tried to follow my space dust armed with a rag or broom hollering, “You are so dang shushly.”

Adulthood has not transformed my habits, just the size and expense of my projects. I have dabbled in everything from farming to football, knitting to scuba diving, college to hairdressing, horses and invention of all kinds. And yes, I have managed a very successful career as a stylist, salon owner, and teacher.  But writing, my heart dream, has been held at bay because of my shushly ways.

After my recent interview with Guy McLean, internationally renowned horseman, I published Follow your Horse’s Heart. I realized I need two guidelines in order to zero in. Determine what is my heart dream? Then let go. Let go of the shushly in my life. Zero in. Because I am running out of time.

I am in my fifties and I have managed to evade writing. For some reason I fight it. Sure, I have published a few articles, received a degree in Creative Writing, have bins and baskets of journals throughout my house, read books, have taken courses and joined organizations… but to follow my heart dream I must zero in.

Letting go is difficult, but I can come back and just maybe all those extra dreams will be even better. My heart searches to be fulfilled. So button down the hatches, Alicia, this spaceship is zeroing in!

What’s your heart dream?

Celebrate Writing Mentors

On Sunday mornings, I look forward to reading Demi Stevens’ blog, Year of the Book. It seems lately, they have been secret messages directed at me. Demi is quite a woman and I feel my meeting her has been magical. I have watched her grow her indie publishing company in the last five years with a persistent vigor. Her formula has become a roadmap for anyone on the journey to be a successful writer.

As I struggle on my own writing mission, sometimes my goal seems impossible. My daily grind as a solo mom, sixty-hour weeks as a busy salon owner/stylist, a substitute Cosmetology teacher on Mondays, and just plain paying bills is a struggle. My dream of publishing seems too hard, and too much work. But as I watch Demi and find her words inspiring each week, I have been able to forge ahead. Sometimes out of sheer guilt because I told her a project would be in her email-lap by a certain date…

So today, my writing day, when I am tired and it would be easy not to pick up the pen, Demi once again sent me a secret message. It was about celebrating your accomplishments. I cynically thought, What do I have to celebrate? But on the look back, in the last three years, when I became a serious writer at the age of fifty, I have published numerous articles in magazines, finished one novel, Spurred to Justice, which should be in print and on shelves by June 2018, just emailed Demi my second novel, Friday Blues, for another round of her tooth-picking edits, and today working on the first draft of my third novel.

While I might not be in the money (in fact there is no money yet) from my writing, I am indeed closer and might have reason to celebrate as I pick away to build a platform. Maybe in another year, well who knows.

I realize I could not do it without Demi from Year of the Book. I am no editor… just a source of creative dreams with a carousel of stories in my mind. But I do indeed have something to celebrate! I suggest anyone in search of a writing dream, should reach out to Demi Stevens of Year of the Book.

Pennsylvania Native Protects U.S.Border

Below is a partial interview. Enjoy my latest article in full at eastcoastequestrian.net

 

Pennsylvania Native Protects U.S. Border – on Horseback
Alicia Stephens-Martin – January 2018

At age fifty-five, I’ve finally developed the confidence to reach for my dreams. So when I meet a young woman who already stands out in her career, with self-assurance combined with a love for horses, I am instantly curious.

I had the privilege to interview Katie Griffith Clare, who lost her mother while too young, with whom she shared a love of horses, and knew she wanted to make a difference. Today Katie connects all three, patrolling the U.S. border. Katie and her steadfast steed are the living wall—the one President Trump would find almost impossible to build of brick and mortar because of terrain.

In some border areas a wall would be impractical, but horses can easily journey. According to Katie, horses even help by detecting sounds and smells, keen only to the animal.

We met at a September horse show in Lancaster County, far from where Katie, a native of southern Pennsylvania, works on the southwest border in San Diego, California. She graduated from Eastern High School and attended Alvernia College in Reading, PA. Nothing about her demeanor revealed her ability to handle a gun, withstand days on the range, or capture illegals. She simply smiled from her borrowed mount, happy to see all her missed friends.

Katie serves as a United States Border Patrol Agent—a federal position. In her words, her job is to detect and prevent illegal aliens, terrorists, and terrorist weapons from entering the U.S., and prevent illegal trafficking of people and contraband. She and her fellow agents are the uniformed law enforcement arm of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. With over 21,000 agents, the U.S. Border Patrol is one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the U.S. Not until after this interview when I researched the Border Patrol did I realize the daunting task horse and rider face every day. . . .

 

Please read the the interview at east coast equestrian.net

 

 

 

Katie inspired me to do more research. On a typical day the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screens over a million international visitors, processes 74,000 truck, rail, and sea containers, seizes nearly 5 tons of illicit drugs, and apprehends more than 1000 individuals for possible criminal activity. The CBP is responsible for patrolling 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian borders and 2,000 miles of coastline according to their website. Agents like Katie and her four-legged partner work diligently, without recognition in all types of conditions.

To further appreciate what this team does for us every day, visit http://www.cbp.gov. You will even find buried deep in the career choices page a brown-haired girl. In Katie’s smile you can almost see her love of horse, career, and country.

Please enjoy the actual interview at the East Coast Equestrian Magazine

Inspirational Woman and Hairdresser- Martha Matilda Harper (1857-1950)

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Read about an inspirational woman and hairdresser, Martha Matilda Harper(1857-1950)! Martha Matilda Harper was an immigrant, innovator, entrepreneur, and shrewd businesswoman. She boast many achievements; developed and marketed a hair tonic, pioneered the beauty industry to new heights, became the first franchiser by sharing her Harper Methods, followed by a multitude of disciples called Harperites and eventually responsible for 500 salons across the world – decades before Ray Kroc franchised McDonalds. (She was a cougar, too- marrying a man 20 years younger!) Yet, Martha Matilda Harper was swept away, buried deep underneath America’s history. How did one single woman persuade so many Harperites to assembly and adhere to her codes, to soar to their own identity by influencing them and the public that women could be independent and successful. Read the article in PBA Progress at http://www.probeauty.org