Tuesday, August 16, 2016

No Posturing, Just Posting

Keeping it real for a minute. No posturing, just posting.  
People always assume that everything is great for everyone on social media-it's not. It's just that it's better to present a positive spin on life, than a negative one.
I'm keeping it real here today just because why not? Maybe someone out there is struggling and needs to know that we all have it hard at some point. Especially those of us who have a creative career. 
I was explaining to someone at Highlights last week that for me there is no backup plan, this is what I do for a living, and this person didn't seem to get it. It's funny to me.
I feel like I've been drowning my entire life, but I'm doing what I love and trying to continue to do that.
My writing is not where I wanted it to be at this age. I have been paid to write, I have sold stuff, but I wanted to be further, I'm not, but that's okay. I get up every day and I write, or I think about writing, or I don't do anything and then tomorrow is a new day.
Money?? Ha, I look around and see everyone with savings accounts, owning houses not living like they are in college still, and again, I thought that would be me, it's not. But I'm okay with it.
Marriage, kids? Same.. but it's okay.
The point is, that no one is perfect and no matter what it seems like on social media, life is hard a lot of the time.
We are all in this together!!!
Don't give up. Keep reaching for your goals and don't compare yourself to others-it will make you crazy. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

How is it August??

Hi, everyone! So sorry I've been not so active on any of my blogs this year. The reason? I finished and revised two novels and took classes went to conferences and attended workshops.

That said, I'm going to start a new blog series in Sept.

I promise, thanks for sticking around!!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Goodbye 2015 It's Been Great!

Happy New Year!!
2015 has been amazing for me in so many ways.



Mostly because I have put everything on hold and spent thousands, literally around $16,000 on SCBWI events, conferences, workshops, the Highlights Foundation, plane tickets, hotel expenses, online writing classes with top people in the industry, all to make my goal of getting traditionally published in YA.

With that came working literally every single day on my novel-writing every single day without exception. That sounds easier than it is when you work full time, have a boyfriend, and a dog, and go to the gym, etc., but I did it!

This year and giving up so much time and money, was/is scary as hell, as I have basically only paid min payments to bills, and not saved a dime for taxes because every extra cent I have is going to my young adult writing.

When I decided to stop acting and go into animation, this is what I did. Yes I was offered a job by Disney at an audition from doodling on my call sheet-this is true, but I turned that down. I stomped out of the room, "I'm an actress!" ala Miss Piggy-style and forgot about it for two years. Then back in Los Angeles fearful I'd never make it in anything and a friend said, "didn't Disney offer you a job?" I drove over to Disney, and they turned me down flat, but told me how to get in. For almost two years I gave up everything to get in there. I took tons of drawing classes at the animation guild, and animation classes, and I didn't pay any bills. When you are in your twenties, this is way less scary than in your forties. It's like in your twenties people expect it, but in your forties, you get the "why don't you own property?" "You can't pay your taxes?" "get your shit together" and it's a bit harder to give up everything to reach a goal. That said, it's working.

I know it is. I am such a better writer than I have been in the past, not saying that I'm perfect in any way-just like any creative career we are always learning, but I'm so much stronger because I have sacrificed so much and I will continue to do this forever because it's who I am.

The plan is to pay off everything someday-hopefully sooner than later, and, of course, continue to grow as a writer.

Some of you know me and have known me for years since I was writing chick-lit under a pen name and pandering to the "trends" instead of following my heart, which has always been for teen novels. Some of you know me from TV and film writing-which I love both and haven't given that up, but now I'm just concentrating on my novels. I love writing novels, I always have. It's in my body and soul like being alive is.

I also spent a great deal of 2015 giving back by donating to a different charity every month, and also going to galas, events, dinners, etc. to help raise money for charities. I have donated time, writing and illustrations, and that felt great!

I don't believe in resolutions in any way-they just set us up to fail, but I do believe in goals, so I am going to share my 2016 goals, and or plans, and themes for the next year.

1) Continue to go to workshops, retreats and take online classes to become a stronger storyteller
2) Sign with a new agent (yes I'm finally sending out this year to only a few because I want the right agent this time)
3) Sell my first YA
4) Make my next YA stronger and better
5) Work on my personal business plans
6) Continue to give back, and maybe start something myself towards the end of the year
7) Keep drawing and working on my own art projects as well as get more work as the job I'm currently on is ending this summer.

These are general plans, ideas, hopes, dreams, etc.

I also plan to KEEP DREAMING! KEEP REACHING! KEEP BEING BRAVE!!!

On this page on my website, I have listed great resources for writing and drawing
http://www.stepholivieri.com/#!resources/c1558

And I will say this. If you are writing for kids (any age) join SCBWI http://www.scbwi.org/
For YA writing, I recommend (in addition to SCBWI events, workshops, conferences)

A PATH TO PUBLISHING
SARAH ARONSON
THE HIGHLIGHTS FOUNDATION




Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Facts and Myths About Suicide

There are many resources out there in today's world. Here is just one article with facts and myths about suicide that I found in less than 5 minutes of searching...http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20507781,00.html 

I think it's important for people, especially in the days of social media to do some research before getting on the internet and stating things as facts when they are either completely wrong or just opinions. 

Suicide is one of the things that is so often stereotyped, and that is hurting people not helping them.

 For example, saying that all suicides are caused by clinical depression is wrong, it also makes people afraid to admit they have thought about it, or gone through a rough patch.

 The only fact about suicide is that when people do it they are doing it for one reason, and that is,  a way out, that's it. A way out of pain, a way out of a situation, a way out of a life they don't want.

 It's a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and while yes, some suicides are caused by mental illness, not all of them are.

If you are feeling suicidal PLEASE get help, if someone judges you, go to someone else. You are NOT alone, and people do understand and people will be there for you. 

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

If you know someone who is struggling, instead of telling them that they are mentally ill, listen to them and then share links or numbers to someone who can help. If you are not a trained suicide specialist/therapist, know that you can't save them, you need help, they need help. Be careful of telling them that they are clinically "depressed" or "bi-polar" or anything like that. 

I recently had a discussion with someone on Facebook who was saying on her page as FACT that everyone who has even thought about it is mentally ill. That is a problem, because it's not true. She sent me private messages saying that she has the right to her opinion, and while that may be true, what if she just made a statement that lead someone to hurt themself because they were just told that they have a mental illness? They may, but they may not. It's dangerous to claim opinions as fact especially if you aren't trained. 

As well, if you have a mental illness, that does not mean that everyone else does. Yes, it's great if you want to share your experiences to help others, but also know that not everyone has the same thing. 

The only facts are that some people who commit/ or attempt suicide have a mental illness and some don't. 

Please think before you judge others, especially those in need. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

AT LAST: *Press Release* RFP to Construct Suicide Deterrent on the Golden Gate Bridge‏

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District requests proposals from qualified bidders to construct a suicide deterrent on the Golden Gate Bridge.  The details of the RFP may be found here:http://goldengate.org/contracts/documents/2016-b-01-notice.pdf
 
“This is an important and vital step in building the suicide deterrent,” says Chief Engineer Ewa Bauer.  “We have been in the planning and design phase of the project for several years, with a lot of work happening behind the scenes.  Today signals a change to the construction phase.  We are all eager to put this deterrent in place and diminish future tragedy from suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge.”
 
The bid process will take several months to complete.  Interested bidders must sign a non-disclosure agreement, submit identification for background checks, and tour the property with District staff.  After the pre-bid, information gathering time passes, the District will begin accepting bids in January.  The District will vet vendors based on several factors, including past work experience, current staffing, compliance with DBE and other regulatory programs, cost.  Per state regulations, this construction project will be awarded to the qualified vendor with the lowest bid. The bid will be awarded in the spring of 2016, following approvals of the selected vendor by CalTrans, the Federal Highway Administration, and the Bridge District’s Board of Directors.
 
The suicide deterrent design is a long, stainless steel net along the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, on both sides.  The cantilevered net will be located about 20 feet down from the Bridge sidewalk, extending out 20 feet, with a slight upturn at the outside edge.  The net is not soft, but rather, will be made of very hard and durable metal.  Anyone jumping into the net is likely to experience the sort of significant injury expected from falling two stories onto a steel platform.  Since such nets have been installed in various locations over the past decade, they have been very successful in preventing suicide attempts. 
 
The steel net and its supports will be manufactured off-site.  The public will begin to see installation activity in late 2017.  The contractor will install the net first along the east side of the Golden Gate Bridge and then the west side. The project is expected to take three-and-a-half to four years.
 
The Golden Gate Bridge suicide deterrent project is expected to cost at least $76 million, with $22 million through federal Local Highway Bridge Program (HBP) funds programmed by CalTrans, $27 million in federal Surface Transportation Program funds (STP) programmed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), $7 million of California State Mental Service Health Act Funds (Proposition 63), and $20 million from Bridge District reserves.
 
Here are some renderings to show what the suicide deterrent will look like, from two vantage points.  Please cite Courtesy of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District in your use of these images.
 
    

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

GREAT YA-NOT AFTER EVERYTHING by Michelle Levy

Do you want a GREAT YA novel about a truly sad, messed up kid dealing with overwhelming grief? Read NOT AFTER EVERYTHING by Michelle Levy
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*I chose the above photo because to me, it says everything about the main character in this story. I found it on the internet, but here is the actual cover.
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This book is the BEST book with a boy lead that I have read in years. I can say that immediately it reminded me of S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDERS, and J.D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE. I was obsessed with both of these books as a middle school kid going through more than any kid should-and they are why I became a writer.
When I opened Michelle’s book I couldn’t stop reading it. Although since I was on a plane headed to a workshop for writers, I had to. I picked it back up on the return flight and finished it. The day I finished it, I started again from page one and read it a second time. I rarely reread a book the same day that I finish it, but I wanted to savor every single word because it’s so authentic, gritty, raw and tragic.
To say that I love this book is a gross understatement. I beyond loved it. The reason? TYLER-the main character is so REAL that it’s scary. If I didn’t know Michelle personally I would swear this was written by a man because she nails the voice of a teen boy. I even have read passages from it to my boyfriend who agrees wholeheartedly.
*I also write boy leads from the POV of the boy, so this gives me so much inspiration to know that I can do it. Michelle is my female-writer-boy-POV-guru! :)
This book reminds me of Andrew Smith’s work. Andrew is the author of many teen books with male leads such as GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, 100 SIDEWAYS MILES, STICK, and my favorite WINGER (and now the sequel STAND-OFF). When I first started reading Andrew’s books, I was taken in immediately by the voice. Michelle Levy does the same thing in NOT AFTER EVERYTHING.
I don’t like reviews that give away everything in a story or rewrite a synopsis so I will spare you that. But I will say that this is a tremendous look into grief, heartache, pain, addiction, social bullshit that comes in highschool and financial hardship. TYLER has lost his mother to suicide before we even meet him. His plans for college and his future have been undone by the actions of his mother. He is struggling to find his way back throughout the book. He discovers a lot about himself through his new friendship with Jordyn-a goth girl at school, who he used to be friends with before he became popular and she became weird.
At the beginning of the book, he isn’t playing football anymore, and things with his girlfriend are falling apart. The only time they are together she is using him just to be seen helping the sad, sad, boy. Told in the first person point of view, the reader gets an awesome insight into the mind of this kid going through hell. When they break up, he is even more alone and depressed. Then he reconnects with Jordyn and she is the only one who isn’t pussyfooting around him, feeling sorry for him, or treating him differently. While it takes them a bit to connect when they finally do, it’s amazing.
There is a part in the book where he hooks up with a random girl who he meets at his job. I especially like this passage because the way he feels when she leaves is HONEST. He feels even more alone than he did before she came over, which is very real, even for guys.
Now onto the big issue his mother’s death by taking her own life. Suicide is a particularly hard thing to deal with, especially for a teen. Whenever we lose anyone in life, it’s hard. When the person is a family member, it’s really hard. When the person is a family member, and they kill themselves, it’s devastating. How we react is everything about who we are. How Tyler reacts to his mother’s death is tragic, hard to watch and yet beautifully sad at the same time.
This book was compared with a couple other books that I just don’t understand. If I were to say anything about where this belongs on the shelves, besides the TEEN BEST SELLER list, it would be with Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY and Jennifer Niven’s ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES. Not just because they are books that involve suicide and death because they are books that deal with the way characters handle suicide and death.
Or I would say, and am saying this. If you like Andrew Smith’s WINGER, and you like Jay Asher’s THIRTEEN REASONS WHY, you’ll LOVE Michelle Levy’s new book NOT AFTER EVERYTHING.
If it were a few decades back, I would say the same but replace the above books with S.E. Hinton’s THE OUTSIDES and J.D. Salinger’s THE CATCHER IN THE RYE.
Buy this book, tell your friends about it, because it’s deserving of it, and you will love it. If you really want to get inside the head of someone going through some tough times, read this book.