Change Begins with One

 

 

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April is an exceptionally busy month in the world of criminal law. Not only does it hold National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, but it’s also Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month. So for those of us who work in the criminal law arena, by the end of April, we’re all pretty much running on fumes. There’s not another month quite so exhausting, nor quite so satisfying and fulfilling. In fact, during that month, as difficult as it is, I’m pretty darn proud to be doing the work that I do.

The criminal justice system is called the criminal justice system for a reason–it’s justice for the criminal. When society thinks of the victim, it’s frequently not in a good way. Victim blaming and shaming has gotten out of control. When we’re silently thinking that the victim should have done something differently, was wearing the wrong thing, shouldn’t have been drinking–well, you get the picture–it’s blaming the victim.

The following two examples, while you may think to be a little silly, demonstrate how victim blaming happens:

Example #1: You’re house is burglarized and destroyed, your personal items trashed. Your door was unlocked and you have a nice welcome mat on your front porch. The police are called out to your house, but they respond with, “But your door was unlocked and you had a welcome mat outside your door. You invited this.”

Example #2: You’re in a diner having coffee with a friend and engaged in good conversation. The waitress asks if you would like more coffee. You tell her, yes, you would like more. You proceed to engage in conversation with her while she pours the coffee until it’s overflowing, dumping scalding hot coffee all over your lap. You jump up and complain, but the manager says, “I’m sorry, but you weren’t clear enough on when you wanted her to stop.”

Blaming the victim for what s/he was wearing, doing, saying, or NOT wearing, doing,  saying, takes the fault away from the perpetrator and places the blame on the victim.

Example #2 is not so far-fetched. Say a man or woman (yes, men can be sexually assaulted, too) gets carried away in the heat of the moment and their potentially willing partner changed his/her mind “mid-stream” and says, “NO, STOP”, whether verbally or non-verbally. Aggressors on many occasions have said it was too late–they couldn’t stop. Hmmm…If the pair are teenagers and the victim’s parents walk through the door, I bet the perpetrator would be able to stop in a hurry! Or if the victim’s six-foot-seven football star husband comes home unexpected, I bet activity would stop immediately and one of the two would make a beeline out the nearest window!

Denim Day (which is today) is a campaign that began after an Italian Supreme Court ruling overturned a rape conviction when the justices decided that since the victim’s jeans were tight she had to have helped the rapist remove them, implying consent. The next day Italian Parliament women went to work wearing jeans in support of the victim. Our office gives us the option to wear jeans every year on Denim Day. You can bet I have–and will continue to–wear mine loud and proud.

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From one who has been a victim of sexual assault and who works with victims of crime, I believe we can change the way society sees the big picture and to put the responsibility on the perpetrator instead of the blame on the victim. I truly believe we can! And as victims survivors of crime, we can rise above what has happened. Tragedy doesn’t have to beat us down or define us, but instead we can use it to shape and change the world in which we live. As a society, let’s change how we view crime and stop victim blaming. Change begins with just one. Won’t you be that one?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do. –Edward Everett Hale

And now I’m back off to Camp for the final burst of energy, finishing off Camp NaNo strong. See you on the other side.

Off to Camp

 

Writing Goals

 

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Nowhere does it say goals need to be set in January. In fact, it’s never too late to set goals. After all, today is the first day of the rest of your life. I spent some time this weekend reviewing my writing accomplishments from the past year and made some goals for 2019.

What I did in 2018:

  • Participated in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July, meeting my goal in both.
  • Participated in NaNoWriMo in November and won by completing 50,000 words of a new novel in 30 days.
  • Entered into an agreement with a narrator through ACX, making my Melanie Hogan Series available as an audio book. Thus far Shear Madness and Shear Deception are available.
  • Attended the Colorado Gold Conference in Denver in September, spending three days fully immersed in all things writing.
  • Completed the first draft of book two, Abby’s Retribution, in the Whispering Pines mysteries.
  • Completed the first draft of book four, Shear Fear, in the Melanie Hogan mysteries.
  • Had a creative non-fiction essay chosen to be published in an anthology, Colorado’s Emerging Writers (2018).
  • Published book three in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Murder, on New Year’s Eve.

My goals for 2019:

  • Participate once again in Camp NaNoWriMo in both April and July; and, once again, meeting my goal.
  • Participate once again in NaNoWriMo in November; and, once again, win by meeting the 50,000-word goal. (I have to admit this one gives me a bit of anxiety already.)
  • Attend the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in Ft. Collins, CO in May.
  • Complete the project of finishing books three and four in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Malice and Shear Murder, in audio.
  • Work on learning and implementing some marketing techniques. I’ve never been comfortable with marketing and it’s time to step out of my comfort zone and just do it.
  • Teach a four to six-week creative writing class to kids ages 12-17. I’ve got the agenda and the location planned. I just need to schedule it.
  • Submit a short story to the Colorado’s Emerging Writers 2019 anthology.
  • Revise, edit, and publish book two in the Whispering Pines mystery.

Whew! I’ve got some work ahead of me. Work that will require cutting down on TV time. Ready! Set! Go!

Do you have any writing goals for 2019? I’d love to hear what they are.

Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. Jim Rohn

Rhonda Blackhurst

 

 

So Much to be Grateful For

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Every year at work I create a gratitude poster. I hang it in the breakroom, provide a couple of Sharpie markers, and send out the expected office-wide email. I say “expected office-wide email” because I’ve been doing this for 10+ years.

I work at a District Attorney’s Office so we see a lot of heartbreaking, soul-ripping things that people do to one another. Secondary trauma is a very real thing.  So a little gratitude goes a long way in getting through the days in a healthy way. It helps to write down what we’re thankful for as well as read what others are thankful for. It changes one’s perspective. There have been numerous studies done on gratitude and the effect it has on the human mind. It’s one of the easiest and most inexpensive mental health treatments available. I’ve had a ton of positive feedback regarding this poster and we get a little bit of everything written down. Some of them make us laugh–which is therapeutic in itself–some make us ponder, and some warm our hearts. Below is an image of this year’s poster. Enjoy!

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Always grateful. Grateful always.

At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. – Albert Schweitzer

NaNoWriMo Success and the Path Forward

 

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NaNoWriMo 2019 was a huge success! I get so amped-up every year–like already in September–and then on the first day I get this “Oh, no!” feeling come over me. Once the first few pages are written, it’s the “I’ve got this” feeling. After week two and into the beginning of week three, it’s the “What in the heck did I ever commit to this for?” feeling. And after week three and into week four, it’s a flurry of flying fingers trying to get it done. Crossing the 50K mark is sheer exhilaration! So many emotions in one month!

The project I worked on is the first draft of book 7–and the final book–of the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Misfortune. Fifty thousand words doesn’t mean it’s complete yet, so I’ll continue writing daily until it’s done, but crossing that 50K mark was huge. The first draft of book 6, Shear Fear, is ready to be revised. And revised. And revised again. And the Christmas novella is also in the works.

But first–after completing the first draft of Shear Misfortune–is finalizing the revisions in book two of the Whispering Pines duology, Abby’s Retribution. The anticipated release is this spring. If all goes according to plan and, God willing, of course, 2020 should be a grand year in the writing life!

Happy Writing and Happy December!

Notebook Page

 

 

 

 

Sliding Into Home Base with NaNoWriMo

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NaNoWriMo is in the middle of the 4th and final week. When they say slow and steady wins the race, there’s truth in that. I haven’t “won” yet, but I see it on the horizon. And I’m making it there. While some of my NaNo friends passed me days ago—as in several days ago for one of them (Rachel Carrera 🙂 I’m closing that gap to 50,000 words.

My takeaways that I’ve learned from this month are:

  • A community of people cheering each other on, engaging in friendly competition to keep each other going strong, is beneficial to a well-rounded successful month.
  • One doesn’t have to give up everything to accomplish this huge task of writing 50,000 words in a month. I was still able to live a fairly full life. I said “no” to many things, but still said “yes” to many as well. I still had fun with grandkids, cooked a few meals for my husband (fewer than normal, but yet I did), was part of a Holiday Craft Fair, attended a writing class out of town, had coffee with a friend, even watched a little TV (a lot less than usual, but I certainly wasn’t deprived.) My point is, it’s all about prioritizing. The month of November teaches me how to do that better than anything else can. Now if I can just keep it going for the other 11 months. Not 50,000 words each of those 11 months, mind you, but the prioritization part.
  • Slow and steady really does win the race. The number of words per day to win NaNoWriMo is 1,667. Some days all I was able to accomplish was 500 words. One day was only 492. I made up the rest on other days so I could reach my goal. Some nights I was dog-tired. But if I told myself to just write 300 more words before calling it a day, it was a much more achievable goal. And I was 300 words further along. Getting into the habit of writing every day, even if it’s only 300 words—heck, even if it’s only 100 words—you’ll be so much further along than you would have had you decided you just “didn’t feel like it” that day.

I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.    ― William Faulkner

  • Persistence is key. There were days that I hated the story I was writing. There were times I wanted to scrap the whole thing and start over. There were moments when I thought, “What the heck am I doing and why am I doing it?” But as I’ve said before, I’m nothing if not stubborn and persistent. I persevered. I refused to quit. And now that I’m nearing the end of week four, I’m elated. The plot is really coming together, my characters and I are friends again, they know the direction in which they’re going, and the clues are all playing out beautifully.

Winners never quit, and quitters never win. ―Vince Lombardi

  • By pushing toward my goal, keeping my eyes on the prize, whether I “felt like it” or not, on November 30th I will have 50,000 words of a first draft, a huge accomplishment, instead of hours of mindless TV, Internet surfing, or social media. I have something to show for my effort—the first draft of the final book in the Melanie Hogan mysteries, Shear Misfortune.

Here’s to another successful month of NaNoWriMo!

Cheers

Week 3 of NaNoWriMo

“A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” —Richard Bach

We’re now well into the third week of NaNoWriMo and I’m still hanging on by a thread. Life took some twists and turns the past week and I was barely squeaking in my word count. But what’s most important is I am hanging in there. I’m nothing if not stubborn and determined. Haha!

I even managed to squeeze in some outside fun with a 3-hour writing class with Northern Colorado Writers where I met some other NaNoWriMo participants. We’re in a Facebook group, but meeting them in person was fantastic and motivating! I left the class feeling energized and ready to roll for another week. I also had a table set up at a local holiday craft fair. Over 80 vendors, Christmas lights and music, high spirits, and a coffee bar on the premises. It certainly doesn’t get any better than that! It was a huge success!

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And now it’s off to get in some more words on my work-in-progress. Next week we NaNo-ers will be sliding into the finishing streak. Wishing you all a beautiful week!

Being a good writer is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.                  —Anonymous

 

NaNoWriMo Week Two is Well Underway

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NaNoWri is well underway and I’m keeping up. Barely, but I am. Typically I like to get ahead during the first week so I have some fudge room. Not so this month. In fact I got behind and took the weekend to catch up. I set aside a day at our place in the mountains, by myself, no husband and no dogs, and just got down to business. I also scheduled two 2-hour writing sessions on Monday since it was a holiday where I work my day job.

This NaNo stuff isn’t for the weak of heart. It’s hard stuff. But it’s also some of the most satisfying and rewarding times as well. There’s something about setting a goal and striving to reach it, no matter what, that is so inspiring.

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end
― Ursula K. Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness

So onward. I have words to write, a goal to meet, and a journey that matters. Until next week…

Write on.

If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.  –Toni Morrison