I did it!

I apologize for my long absence from posting here on SoulSEAker, but I was among the missing for a good reason: I finished writing my novel! If you’ve been a long-time follower, you know that this has been a project for over two years in the making. Chapter One – A Novel by Jill Ocone is the result of opening my eyes and believing in the universe. There’s no doubt that two special spirit guides helped me along the way, and I am forever indebted to both of them.

What is most satisfying is that as I wrote, the story took its own shape and form. The original idea that came to me in August of 2014 is still the backbone of the story, but the plot took form as I typed, and things happened that I never expected. The story’s timeline just happened as I was writing. I am, indeed, a real author/writer now!

While I plan on still posting here, I will also be posting specifically about my journey as an author/writer over at jillocone.com. I invite you to visit me over there and check out my professional site. There’s a synopsis of Chapter One posted over there, as well as a form to request a sample copy if you are interested. If not, no worries!

My “mission from the universe”, however, is far from complete. I’ve begun querying agents and publishers in hopes that I am guided to the right opportunity to take Chapter One to the next level. If nothing comes of it, or if everything comes from it, I’m happy regardless of the outcome. I accomplished what I set out to do, even though I had no idea what that was two years ago. I’ve already reached the milestone of receiving my first rejection, and that excites me! Again, I’m a real author now!

Your support has made my journey all the more meaningful, and I am extremely thankful for YOU.

Today is a snow day here in the northeast, and I plan to use part of my day to plot out an idea that again came to me in a dream which could be my second novel.  Here’s hoping! Be safe, my friend!

 

When You Least Expect The Answers, They Come

It’s been a while since I posted, but my absence is for very good reasons. Between my last post (“High Tide Low,” which was wrought with doubt) and now, I completed my work for the spring issue of Jersey Shore Magazine. The issue is now online…if you’d like to take a look at it, click here. I wrote four articles (and loved every single one of my topics for this issue) and provided photography and editorial work.

Anyway, with the magazine work done, my creativity was not as constrained. Then a truly amazing thing happened, and those elusive answers I’ve been searching for aren’t so elusive anymore….

Without warning, the floodgates opened and my fingers got to work. The words keep on coming, over 21,000 as of yesterday, and they aren’t anywhere near stopping. All of the prayers and wishes for the words to come have been answered, and I couldn’t be more excited. Many times my heart wanted to write a post here to keep you informed, but my body and mind wouldn’t let me lose focus on my novel by stopping the flow of typing and revising.

All of the other ideas in my brain have now taken a back seat to my novel, whose time has finally come, and I’m as focused as ever.

Yesterday, I took another leap forward in my writing career by registering for a writing conference in June that will not only offer educational workshops but will have agents and publishers on hand for pitch ideas and the like. The weird thing is that I found out about this conference, which is being sponsored by Rutgers, through an email I received at a Yahoo address that is my “bill” and crap address. I don’t use it for writing or correspondence at all, and I have never used Yahoo to search for anything regarding writing. That email was undoubtedly sent by the universe, and I listened to it and registered for the conference, which is the first weekend in June.

My spirit guide has been around as well, pleased that I’m finally making progress. Subtle, little signs here and there reinforce her presence with an “it’s about time” sassy reassurance.

I’m glad I didn’t force the story when I wasn’t ready because I fear that would have left to burn out and an abandoned idea. Right now, the manuscript is here and there with parts written not necessarily in order, but the prologue and first two chapters are complete. What helped me was to make a timeline for the main character, listing when specific events occurred, as well as her age and that of the people she associates with at the time of the events.

With 76 days until the conference, my goal is to get as much of the novel completed as possible between now and then.

I am surrounded by many supportive friends who listen to me babble on about this very special pursuit, and if you are one of them, thank you so very much. Inspiration also surrounds me in the form of colleagues who are writers, friends who are valued, family I love, and those ever-elusive easter eggs that I keep on finding.

One of my struggles is, in all honesty, very vain: deciding upon what I want to use as my author name. Instead of rushing a decision, I have decided to let all of the ideas simmer. The right one will eventually make it to the top of the list.

I will post updates here when I can, but please forgive me if I don’t post here as much as I used to. The universe and my spirit guide want this book complete, and so do I.

It’s true…when you least expect the answers, they will come.

The final lesson from this journey so far? Have faith. Thank you for following my journey. This mission has been in the making for 46 years, and each step forward fills me with exhilaration and excitement!

With gratitude and faith,

Jill

Something to SEA: Rainy Day Clicks for 5/21/2016

2016AFDPosterToday is Armed Forces Day, and I would like to thank everyone who has served or is serving the USA.

It’s been a week filled with tissues, antibiotics, and doctors around here as I muddle through with a nasty sinus infection. Any sort of cold or infection I get is usually worse because of my immune system issues, plus the cold/infection, in turn, makes my immune system symptoms worse. One feeds the other, and so on.

There’s an awesome powerboat race in town this weekend, and I hope to go to the parade today and the race tomorrow, provided that the weather cooperates. Hope you find something close to your heart to enjoy this weekend too! The sickness has given me, if nothing else, time, and I’ve been able to collect some good sites for you to check out this week.

Blackbeard’s Ship Confirmed Off North Carolina – pretty neat! From National Geographic

Why You Aren’t Dead Yet – by Michael Hyatt

What Makes a Good Life – from Erin Congdon

Top 50 Inspiration Blogs – so glad to see some of my favorites on the list

I love this narwhal mug!

You Are Free, Like it or Not! – from David at Raptitude.com

The Top 10 Reasons Warchild Should Have Backed Off. Seriously – by my good friend Johnny Utah

Watch Ya’ Mouth – from Joe Santagato. Once you have recovered from the hilarity of this video, you need to watch all 5 Mad Libs Madness videos he did with his brother Keith. I haven’t laughed that hard in a very long time (and I’ll be honest, I just watched them all again and my stomach hurts from laughing). If you find inappropriate language offensive, then I’d suggest passing on these gems.

and finally,

I’m Taking a Digital Sabbath starting tomorrow, as suggested by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Have a great week,

Jill

PS: Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win an autographed copy of “Delicate Tapestries!” See my post here on how to enter. All entries must be received by 7 pm EST on Monday, 5/23/2016.  Good luck!

 

 

 

 

Something to SEA: A Butterfly Book Giveaway!

CoverHello, friends! Now that it is finally warmer, I would bet that you are busy getting your yard and plants ready for the upcoming season. Every year, I look forward to the arrival of birds and butterflies to my yard, where I have many feeders, host plants, and nectar flowers available for them.

It is critical that birds, bees, and butterflies (especially monarchs) have enough sustainable food and host plants to survive. Each year, the number of bees and monarchs diminish greatly, and humans need to do what they can to help by planting wildflowers or providing feeders.

What better way to bond with nature than by raising your own butterflies? It’s very easy to do. I authored a book titled “Delicate Tapestries: A Step by Step Guide to Raising Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterflies” in 2011.  My photographs document the process of raising the butterflies starting at the egg, through the caterpillar stage and metamorphosis, and then to emergence as a butterfly.  All you need are some parsley plants, a storage tub or aquarium with a screen lid (with very small screen holes), and some empty plastic containers with lids. That’s it! The entire process takes about a month from when the egg is first laid to butterfly, unless the chrysalis is formed after mid-September, in which case the butterfly will overwinter and emerge in the spring.

I also raise monarchs. I transplanted some milkweed along the back of my house a few years ago, and the first thing I love about milkweed is the beautiful smell of the flowers when it blooms. All different kinds of bees are attracted to them, which is good for pollentation. One year the flowers bloomed as early as mid May. This year, however, the plants are just starting to sprout. When the tiny caterpillars appear after the butterflies lay eggs, I’ll transfer them into my aquarium and watch them grow. Unlike the swallowtail caterpillars, which for some reason I don’t like to touch, I love letting the monarch caterpillars crawl around in my hand. If you would like information about how you can raise your own monarchs, check out the Monarch Watch website.

I’ve witnessed the number of monarchs that visit my home drastically diminish over the past few years. In the summer of 2012, I had over 50 caterpillars that became monarchs. Then, we were hit by Superstorm Sandy, which I personally attribute to a lot of the ecological changes around here, especially in regards to the sharp decline in Monarch numbers. The following summer, I only saw one monarch on my butterfly bush, and I only had two caterpillars. In 2014, I had roughly 8, and last summer, I had 17. Hopefully this summer will be a banner Monarch year.  I encourage you to plant butterfly friendly plants and flowers so that you can share in the joys of nature and in helping out our beautiful critters.

In celebration of nature’s wonderful creatures, I am giving away an autographed copy of “Delicate Tapestries” for free.  All you have to do to enter is comment below with your favorite spring or summer tradition. Comments must be posted by 7 PM EST on Monday, May 23. Good luck!

If you are interested in ordering a copy of my book, please visit Amazon or email me at soulseakernj@gmail.com.

Until next time,

Jill