Book Excerpts

Hello Friends and Happy Saturday!

This post is short and sweet but I couldn’t help but share my excitement with you all.  Here are a couple of excerpts from my work in progress (I’m getting closer to picking a title.)  I’m putting the finishing touches to my manuscript and next month I’ll be working with an editor.  Lots of great updates are coming up, so make sure to subscribe and be the first one to know about giveaways and more!

XOXOX,

Tamara

never fadecradling me like a child waking up from a nightmare he rested ihis chin on my head.Her words replayed in my head. She_s pathetic. She_s nothing. My vision twisted with red circles, a sickening smell piercing my lungs. Their voices echoed and the crow screeched warnThe forest watched me through the massive glass window, a green and brown wall of nature basking in my swimming. I took it all in, completely in awe of such raw beauty. (1)

 

Writing & Dreaming in My Favorite Place

I don’t know about you, but it takes one holiday and my entire schedule is thrown off. I had a great Easter with family and friends, but between cooking a holiday meal, cleaning the house, and recuperating from all that, my editing fell a little behind. I try not to worry about those things because although I’m a writer, I’m also a mom, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend…and so many other titles! That means that life happens, which is something to cherish and enjoy.

That said, I’m back on track with my book. I am almost done with the first round of editing and lots of things are happening in the background to bring this book to life. I’m enjoying the process and I can’t wait to share with you all the exiting news coming ahead.

 

Where Inspiration Takes Place.

This week I want to share with you some pictures of my writing area.  

Tucked in a corner of my bedroom is my writing desk. Here’s where my book is written and edited. It’s not a big area or a sophisticated place, but there’s plenty of natural light and personal knick-knacks that serve as inspiration.  This writing corner is cozy and relaxing. There’s nothing better than sitting at my desk with a hot cup of coffee and seeing my dreams coming true.  The white Ikea desk is small enough to keep it cozy but it’s functional and organized.  My file folders have several secrets hidden inside: Art inspiration, Novel Ideas, Character Lists, Workshop Notes, and yes, even Dumbbell Exercises (in case I get the inspiration to work out!)

Surround Yourself With Love.

There’s my “I Love Mom” mug that serves as a pen holder. It’s precious to me because my daughter painted it when she was 5.  Having this on my desk reminds me that I have people to inspire.  I want my kids to see that following your dreams takes hard work and dedication, but it is doable.  I like having inexpensive things surrounding me, even if in reality they’re priceless.  Nothing inspires you to work harder when you have things reminding you how loved and cherished you are.

We’re All Mad Here.

The Alice In Wonderland mug suits my writing personality and journey. It reminds me “We’re all Mad Here.”  You need to be a little mad to follow your dreams.  If you worry about being “normal”, “walking the straight line”, or simply blending in because it’s the safest thing to do, you won’t achieve your dreams.  It’s the quirky and whimsical attitude that pushes you to break the mold and think outside the box.

Dreams & Schemes.

 

On the bookshelf I have my Dreams & Schemes book where all my writing goals are housed. I scan through these pages when I need a reminder of why I do what I do.  Why is it important to have a Dreams & Schemes book?  Because it gives your dreams a voice.  Seeing your inner desires written on paper not only helps you identify them in more detail, but it allows you to put together a plan to achieve those goals.  Writing down your dreams validates them and makes their presence a reality.

 

Your First (Creative) Love.

The little Sailor Moon figurine reminds me what first fueled my imagination as a child. I fell in love with Anime at the age of five and to this day I cherish the rich imagination it created inside me.  Sailor Moon opened a brand new world to me.  One filled with magic, romance, self love, friendship, but most importantly it showed me there are no boundaries to imagination.  You can become who you want and create stories that don’t have to fit the mold.  This little cutie symbolizes my childhood, when everything was possible and the world was wide open to me.  I love thinking back to the little girl I was.  It’s like rediscovering a part of me that will never let me down and that will always inspire me to make my dreams come true.

What about you?  Where do you write, work, or dream?  Is there a special place that inspires you?  I’d love to read about it.  Share it with me!

 

Meditation Girl

Meditation Girl was born out of a recent Lifebook 2017 lesson.  I instantly fell in love with this little lady and I just love the way she turned out.  The lesson focused on the gifts in our stories.  What gift do we gain from negative experiences or what have we learned through the years?  MyMeditation Girl includes the Crown Chakra.

This seventh Chakra,  Sahaswara, meditates on our personal enlightenment and spiritual connection.  I’ve chosen to include this symbol in my work because of my reconnection with who I want to be and what I want to do.  Finding the connection to my higher self and always keeping my Creator deeply rooted in my soul, I have been enlightened into a brand new artistic world.

*Meditation Girl was sketched out in graphite pencil.  I used Caran D’Ache watercolors for most of the painting with some Liquitex acrylics to add stronger details.

“The Guardian”

Oh, the far reaches of the earth

past the moon and stars,

The galaxy awaits, home to none.

Oh, the far reaches of the earth

past the wind, hail, and sun,

the galaxy awaits, home to none.

Oh, there she stands,

cloaked in stars and swirling lights,

for all is watched, in a place of dark, where

The galaxy awaits, home to none.

Oh, there she hopes,

though no one knows,

she belongs nowhere,

the galaxy awaits, home to none.

Oh, look up I pray,

though you will not see,

her presence lives in a floating space, where

the galaxy awaits, home to none.

–Tamara Rokicki

Psychic Vampires: Why Write About Them?

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After recently sharing my book synopsis, I was asked why I decided to write a novel about psychic vampires. That is a very good question! To answer that question, however, I should probably touch on psychic vampirism.

The idea of psychic vampires was first introduced to me when working with a fellow writer. Immediately it put my writing cogs into motion. When I decided to write a young adult fiction story that revolved around psychic vampirism, I plunged into some research. The exploration of this topic brought me down different venues—some informative and enlightening, while others downright creepy.

Some explanations taught about the general energy exchange between human beings. This included the process of feeding off other people’s emotions and life energy, not neglecting the angle of those people being fed upon. Other studies explored psychic vampirism as a complex belief, enriched with caste systems, different types of energy feeding, and a strong connection with one’s past lives. The topic also touched on darker matter, which I chose not to pursue, only focusing on concepts that weren’t spoiled and thwarted by negative or evil intentions.

Despite the contrasting explanations for psychic vampirism, it is solidly wrapped around one simple notion:

The exchange of energy is constant and real, a natural process that occurs between people and their environment. Life energy has been called different names, such as Prana or Chi. Fundamentally, it is the force generated within and through life, which connects to the world around us.

While writing my story I realized that we all play a part in energy feeding, in one way or another. Most importantly, we all experience being fed upon, whether we realize it or not. Many times people and the external circumstances they create in our lives  drain or impact our energy level. I’m talking about the emotional and psychological hold that people have over us—if we let them. Their attachment, whether it’s based on good or bad intentions, have specific consequences that affect our life force.

Because I believe that our energy is strongly connected to everyone and everything around us, I look at psychic vampirism as a strong comparison to the process of life energy. I have witnessed the strong attachment of people’s tendrils. These coils attached to me and consumed my precious energy in different ways: co-dependency, guilt, pessimism, and even mental abuse. This energy exchange—or worse yet this energy plunder—throws us off balance, giving us the common feelings of stress, confusion, anger, and anxiety.

My novel focuses on psychic vampirism and weaves a story around it. Hera, my main character, is a teen that not only deals with a dysfunctional life, but is also connected to psychic vampirism in a special way. Her life force is completely off balance and her weakness hides the power she holds inside.

My story reveals that you have the power to harvest your energy—or to destroy it. In my story this message is hidden through vampires, prophecies, and love stories, intertwining magic and spirituality in a quest to draw strength from the darkest of places.

—-What do you think about energy feeding and life force?  Have you ever been energy drained by someone?

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The Journey of Writing a Book

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It’s been a while since I’ve updated on my book process.  There is a reason for that.  I really didn’t want to.  Call it superstition, or downright silliness, but I thought that blogging about my book before publishing it would bring it bad luck.   When you write a book, you become attached to it.  Your book becomes your baby, and in a way it is.  You nurtured it inside of you for many months (or years), then you painfully gave birth to it. And there it is.  A shiny, brand new story, full of innocence and timid beginnings.  Inside there are thousands of words that are still rough, naive, uneducated.  Your task to is to raise your book, giving it the substance and love needed to grow it into a well rounded, acceptable manuscript.  You expect it to become part of society, to bring some value to it, or to simply brighten someone’s day.  What you don’t want is to put it out there prematurely. It’s a big scary world, right? Your mama (or papa) bear instincts kick in, urging you to keep it hidden and safe until you know it’s ready to be viewed by the world.

But here’s the thing: this book is not my baby, really.  I did pour my heart and soul into it.  I do cherish it and wish to protect it, but it goes beyond that.  It is only a small part of who I am, and what I am is a writer.  That means that my responsibility isn’t just to my book.  It is to share my journey with others, those who are also writing and need inspiration and support. Or to share it with people who want to become writers and are deathly afraid of the process.  Like me, they may be navigating uncertain waters, trying to find their style, create decent characters, and fall in love with the process.

This is why I decided it’s time to share my first novel update.  It is vulnerable, raw, but also beautifully real.

My novel is untitled, although I do have a few ideas in mind.  Last month I finished my first draft, from start to end.  For the first time in my life,  I was able to complete a book. Mainly this is because I forced myself to outline.  I HATE outlining.  I’m more of a “fly by the seat of your pants” type of writer, but guess what?  That never helped me finish writing any book.  Outlining was tedious but it kept me structured enough to follow an idea from start to end.

Now the real fun begins.  I’m currently in the first round of the editing process.  It’s where I’m catching mistakes, plot holes, character deficiencies, and even changing some of my story.  I was afraid of this process, especially after completing the stubborn phase of writing the first draft.  But I realize it really isn’t that bad.  In fact, editing is when the real shaping takes place.  I’m no longer pressured to “finish” the book.  My job is to mold it and fix it, not create it a new.  What a relief!

Here are some tips I can share with you if you’re in the early stages of writing your own book.  This is where I’m at in my own writing journey.

  • OUTLINE.  Yeah, it’s tedious and annoying, but do it.  It will give you a structured way to write your story, even if that outline is a bit clumsy.
  • JUST WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT.  Don’t overthink it.  Expect it to be complete trash.  Yes, poke fun at it and even dislike it.    Who cares if your grammar is horrid right now.  And maybe Aunt Brunilda falling in love with the mail man is a stupid idea.  Just write it anyway.  Finishing the first draft of my book took several years.  In fairness I did change my story quite a bit, but really it took so much time because I wanted to get it just right.  Big mistake.  A first draft is laying down the foundation of a story.  It isn’t meant to be perfect, or even coherent.
  • TAKE A WEEK OFF.  Once your first draft is done…celebrate! Yes, it’s still crap and no, you haven’t published it yet.  Still, you did it! You wrote a book.  You ARE an author.   Take a week off before moving on to the next process.  This will give you time to relish the pure joy of completing a book.  Tell all of your friends, share it on social media, bake yourself a cake…anything that celebrates this accomplishment.  You’ve earned it!
  • PRINT YOUR FIRST DRAFT.  You’re finally ready to begin the editing process–the first round of it.  There will be several of them, trust me.  Printing your novel instead of reading it on the computer offers a new prospective.  It actually feels more like a book and it’s like looking at a new story instead of the one sitting on your screen for the past months.
  • SET UP AN EDITING GOAL. Do you want to start with plot holes, grammatical mistakes, or both?  I suggest picking the most important thing.  For me is to read the story and analyze it carefully.  Does it make sense?  Do my characters fall flat or are they interesting?  Am I describing too much or too little?  Are my chapters dragging on?  Does each chapter move the story forward?  I will deal with the grammar last because to me that will be the easiest fix.

And finally, I will take the overwhelming step to share my book’s synopsys.

An anxiety disorder and a dysfunctional family are more than Hera can handle.  But when she’s abducted from her home one night and taken to a secret forest house, she has bigger problems to face.

Hera is weak, uncomfortable in her own skin, and constantly living in fear.   When Aethen enters her life with the shocking revelation of psychic vampires and a prophecy claiming she’s a High Priestess, she believes she’s lost her mind. 

Trapped in the middle of a war between psychic and blood vampires, where finding her true self is far more frightening than the battle raging ahead, she must find strength and love in the most unlikely place.

A story that intertwines psychic and blood vampires, magic, and the search for strength amid the ashes of loss and self-doubt.

—Have you been writing a book?  Share your progress!  Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to receive more updates on my book writing journey!

Gratitude and Friendship

Hello friends! Today I bring you a short blog, sharing two of my recent works.  I’m not able to focus on one art project at a time.  I need stimulation from different works, jumping from one to the other.

The past two weeks, I’ve completed two of the four projects.  The first one is off the recent Lifebook 2017 workshop, titled “Flowers of Gratitude.”  This work was created mostly with Caran D’Ache watercolors, some cheap watercolor markers, and Liquitex acrylic.  What are flowers of gratitude?  It’s the endless beauty in our life that we are thankful for.  It comes in many forms: home, family, art, work, faith and more.  What are your flowers of gratitude?

The next one comes from Jane Davenport’s current workshop, Over the Rainbow.  I made my own version of Toto, modeled after one of my mini-schnauzers.  Paisley is my sidekick just like Toto was to Dorothy, so it seems fitting that my Wizard of Oz pal takes her form. Toto was a close friend of Dorothy.  From the beginning of the story, they shared a special bond and you could feel the love and friendship between them.  Paisley is my furry best friend and this painting below captures her personality perfectly.

I love creating furry characters because unlike the structure of faces or buildings, painting fur lets you forget about lines.  “My Toto” was done entirely out of Caran D’Ache watercolor crayons, except the golden polka dots, for which I used Liquitex acrylic.

The Two Ladies

I dedicated the past week to  seeing what “fell” from my paintbrush.  This is my favorite kind of art process.  Just seeing where my art takes me, without planning and without worrying.  Two different ladies showed up, each one with a unique story.

“Lady Avalon” by Tamara Rokicki

Lady Avalon is a cross between Victorian and Fantasy.  As I worked on creating her, I felt subtly vibes of feminine strength, gentle love, and bright attraction.  She is poised and relaxed, while perhaps holding on to a secret.

The Amazonian is fierce.  Still retaining that feminine beauty, she challenges the viewer by her boldness.  I loved creating her, the story that popped up showing me how immensely beautiful and yet different women can be.

“The Amazonian” by Tamara Rokicki

Fall In Love With Stick Figures Again

This week was long, tiring, and freakin’ awesome.

I’m so amazed at the changes taking place in my life right now. I wanted to end the week by sharing with you this week’s artistic accomplishment, and also share a little bit about my life changing, soul fulfilling events.

To begin I want you to think about stick figures. Yes, the round headed, lines for body doodle. Remember drawing him in elementary schools or the occasional Hangman game?   Well, take everything you remember about it and throw it out the window. Really, this is going to blow your mind, and possibly get you addicted to drawing stick figures.

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This week’s Lifebook lesson was taught by the amazing Mandy van Goeije, a Dutch illustrator, artist, and teacher. She introduced us to a brand new spin on stick figure drawing. So whether you can draw or not, you will be able to create this simple doodle. The surprising part of doing so is the therapeutic message these little stick figures can add to your life. Mandy encouraged us to add as little detail as possible while creating a small storyboard consisting of two or three frames. In each frame, stick figures would depict our story, message, ideas, anything really. At first I thought “Hmm..really? How can I tell a story with so little detail?” Well, you can, and it turns out that letting stick figures depict your story is much more powerful than filling a whole page with words or painting a masterpiece. Below are some examples of my stick figures.

16195630_10155000430091323_3536615251610619902_nDrawing them made me feel like a five year old again….and for all the right reasons. You see, you NEED to approach art with a child-like innocence to express your true, raw, meaningful stories. When we grow up we have to become “responsible”, “sensible”, “wise”…and we tend to lose our child-like imagination. Art doesn’t work well with stern, methodical approaches. It yearns to be free, simple even, always expecting nothing but your true self.  When I connected with my fellow artists and we exchanged our stick figure stories, we saw how this process unlocked so many emotions.  Some expressed and processed grief in their drawings; others expressed gratitude; everything was simple, raw, and yet incredibly powerful.

I was so inspired by this process that I created a journal where I can add all of my stick figure stories, short frames telling about my feelings, my day, and my dreams.  And yes, even the silly and mundane moments, because they all matter and they add up to this thing we call life.

So why don’t you give these little figures a chance to enter your own life?  But I must warn you…they’re highly addicting.  You may find yourself drawing dozens and dozens of storyboards, stick figures becoming what words can’t express and the neatest companion you ever had.  Please share your stick figure storyboards with me, I would love to see what they have to say 🙂

And finally, I must say I’m so incredibly thankful for the events unfolding in my life right now.  I recently joined Devorah Spilman’s InStory group, where I have a mentorship for my creative visions, purpose in life, and soul calling.  Being mentored and supported by people who get me is an unbelievable feeling.   I have so many projects ahead and for the first time in a long time, I am confident in all of them, knowing that they’ll enrich my life, connections, and soul in so many ways.

And…..to add more sparkle to my life, I have also signed up for Over The Rainbow, Jane Davenport’s newest 8 week long art course, where I’ll be making Emerald City come to life, with all its darling (and some a little evil) characters.  I’m so excited.  Join me on this adventure, connect with me and other artists, and find your tribe.

 

Till next time, love yourself and others, honor the calling, and create like a child. XO

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Emerging From The Mess: The Person I Know Best

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What a week this has been. Throughout the hectic schedules and running around to a million places, I knew I had to complete this week’s Lifebook lesson. Of course, I didn’t have to, but I am at a place where I have to dig deeper within myself and pursue my passion, challenging any excuse or time stealer.

As I followed this week’s lesson, “The Person I Know Best”, taught by the talented Misty Mawn, I knew I was in for some trouble. Her lesson asked to paint a portrait of ourselves, not focusing entirely on depicting us perfectly in every feature, but bringing forth the person we are inside, or the one we want to bring to life. This portrait signifies the connection we have within ourselves, knowing we’re never alone as long as we are in tune with who we are. That itself wasn’t a huge challenge, but a task I welcomed entirely. The problem was the call to work primarily in acrylics.

Now, I love my acrylics, I really do. They are smooth, rich, and full of life…if you know how to master them. Misty worked with them in such an effortless way, merging shades and hues in harmonious connection. After my initial sketch, I selected my colors nervously. An hour into the portrait and I looked down at the paper with horror. My painting was streaky and plastic looking; graphite lines were blending with each color stroke; the entire portrait looked like a mash of shapes and blobs of paint.

IMG_4214.jpgI began resisting the process. How could I be expected to do something so advanced in only week three? I thought of my familiarity with whimsical painting, where your subject needs to look less realistic and there’s more leniency in using different mediums. I sought refuge within my art group, fellow Lifebook participants. I voiced my concerns and frustrations, which many shared as well. But there was also positive encouragement, a reminder that it’s about the process, not the result. I posted a picture of my early picture, showing them just terrible it seemed to me. Should I scrap this? I asked. The answer was a resounding no. A fellow artist told me to push through it, see where the process leads me, and learn from it no matter the outcome. I decided to listen to them, but first I needed to walk away from the project entirely.

I couldn’t stare at her, the girl who was supposed to represent me, without a pang of anxiety. I did want to scrap her; but I was also drawn to her. She looked messy, cracked, and flawed. But so was I, at so many points of my life. She was endearing, asking for help, asking me to see through all that streaky noise, where her true beauty waited. So I left her on the table, thinking of her often and wondering if she’d ever come to life.

The next day I visited my art desk again, where she waited patiently. As the streaky mess had dried into rough patches, she had a different look about her. She was still flawed, but those rough spots showed a resilient, thick skin. Where the paper had peeled and shredded while wet, it was now whole and harder. The shadow lines that lined her features seemed more like layers of years lived. The sad smile, the dull look in her eyes, somehow they seemed to reflect a certain wisdom about her, as if she held the entire meaning of life. She was still there, flawed and cracked, but beautiful nonetheless. So I went back to work.

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The next few days I worked in several layers. Coating after coating, I watched her transform. She was reddish and dark at first; then she turned a mild yellow with shades of brown; her features kept changing, her chin straightening out; her eyes growing a little more vivid with splashes of gold; her smile turning less sour and more peaceful. I watched her evolve and finally it hit me. She wasn’t always beautiful or wholesome or perfect. She kept changing, molding day by day, doing exactly what was asked of me: give life to the person I was, am, and will always be. I realized that just like my portrait, I am this strong, flawed, solitary, ever changing human being with a story to tell. So she isn’t perfect. That’s what makes her beautiful.

I have learned so much during this process. Perseverance through the dark stages of painting—or life—can show you exactly who you are. Embracing the ugly mess, loving every flaw, not giving up at the first challenge, not only makes you a better artist, but a better human being.

I started not knowing who the girl in the painting was. I thought it wasn’t me, it couldn’t be. I didn’t recognize the features or who she was trying to be. By the end of it, she told me exactly what I needed to know. She is, after all, the person I know best.

 

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