Free Falling, Ground-Fighting & Learning to Start Over

Image courtesy of Morgan Sherwood via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image courtesy of Morgan Sherwood via Flickr Creative Commons.

Like all of you, okay most…all right maybe only one or two of you, I kinda wish I had a Delorian so I could go back in time and slap myself. So many things I have done wrong, and still do wrong. I swear sometimes it is a miracle I make it to bed in one piece. This is the great thing about WANA (which stands for We Are Not Alone). We’re a club…or probably a cult.

***Note: We don’t make you dance with snakes until your second third meeting.

WANA is about being smaller than yourself, thus making you greater than you could ever be. When we focus on others and loving others, life is bearable and even kinda awesome, because there are a LOT of un-awesome times we all have to go through. But what I always longed for WANA is it is our safe-haven where we know it is okay to cry, dust off and start anew.

Writing has, historically, been a lonely business and I started WANA because I knew what it was like to have a dream and no one be there.

I was mocked, hated, ridiculed and very, very lonely. And that was just the writing part. Here I was, struggling to do what others thought was a foolish hobby and then life used me like one of those punching clowns that all kids of the 70s got for their birthday that SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF THEM bobbing in the dark at night. The one you punched over and over and it popped back up…until it ate you in your sleep (or deflated).

WANA as a movement has made great strides, binding weirdos great creative people across the globe via a common love for writing. As a business? I’ve tried a lot of stuff and kind of feel like Wile E. Coyote, but am still here. Have some cool ideas in the pipeline, namely WANATeens. There are a lot of kids who suffer from having writer parents and have inherited this madness to combine words into something others might want to pay to READ.


I believe WANA is the best place to cultivate this budding talent, since we used to be those kids…scribbling away on stone tablets beating off Stegosauruses (Stegosaurusi?). I am creating some curriculum specifically for teenagers, since word on the street is that I have the mentality of a 14 year old boy, ergo am PERFECT for the job 😀 .

The crux of what I want to say is I have been down A LOT over the past months. Ever have one of those days weeks months years? I kid you NOT, we have had FIVE deaths, three major (MAJOR LIFE-THREATENING surgeries) in two years and my beloved grandmother is suffering dementia and has had two small strokes in the past month. I take care of her tomorrow.

On top of this, I FINALLY took a couple days off to get my head screwed on straight and we came home to water leaking through our living room ceiling from a clogged AC unit overflowing. Thank GOD we caught it before the ceiling caved in and the damage was eh…not catastrophic? W…T…H?

All this to say, please feel super sorry for me…wait, no. Um. All this to say LIFE STILL GOES ON. This is what WANA is about. All of us have good times and bad and the bad times can be very dangerous for artists because the first thing to go is the dream. We tend to put the dream on the shelf and dig in to fight the wildfires. But truth is? There will always be wildfires and WANA is here to remind you that you aren’t alone.

Even me. Maybe mostly me.

I love the moniker WANA Mama because it fits. I LOVE all of you and want all of you to realize your dreams. I KID YOU NOT, I sometimes wake up at night with ideas for YOUR novels (Antagonist Class). It’s a JOY to see these cool but amorphous, gelatinous ideas become….a NOVEL. A GOOD novel. A GREAT novel! It’s like being a literary midwife and helping all these cool babies be born into this world, each one with its own unique fingerprints and your DNA. Babies that we will love and maybe who will one day change the world.

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A Little Side-Story

Due to the freakish amount of stress, I finally made the plunge to go back into martial arts. Part of this was instigated by Spawn being fired from nursery school at AGE FOUR because he loved zombies too much (yes, I am NOT kidding and am framing the dismissal letter because that is SO my kid and will blog more on this later bur for the original rant, GO HERE). I’d always pondered homeschooling but it seemed this amorphous thing in the future that suddenly became the PRESENT.


So, I did what any (Texas) mother would do, I got pissed and put him in karate where they would appreciate his need to fight the undead and save the day. Long story short, I used to teach Jui-Jitsu and only quit because of a fractured back (was testing for my brown belt). I have been in martial arts on and off since age 5 and studied at least four forms of martial arts and never made it to BLACK BELT.  Which makes me twitch because I am OCD.

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Anyway, I signed up for Brazilian Jui-Jitsu and guess who is a WHITE BELT ALL OVER AGAIN? And there was a time this would have bothered me and ruffled my ego BIG TIME, but now? Eh. Whatever. See, being successful has a lot to do with how well we can begin anew. How humble can we be? Can we let go of the old to embrace something new and maybe even better?

The true mark of a great person isn’t how big they can be, but how small they can be and still have joy.

See, I used to believe I was this uber-talented editor-writer and was so full of myself X-rays demonstrated I had a cranium up my own @$$. Then, I grew up and learned that small stuff matters. Beginning matters and it is OKAY to be NEW. In fact, that is the best time because it means someone is being BRAVE.

I do this Antagonist class and it is my FAVORITE, especially the Gold Level where I work with people one-on-one. And yeah it costs more, but trust me it is a LOT of work on both sides. But why I love it is because there is such a high rate of success.

Most of human history was based on being an artisan. You became an apprentice to a master who guided you. None of this throwing stuff against the wall and hoping it sticks stuff.

Gry is one of my favorite examples. She was a student out of DENMARK and is 19 and brilliant. Anyway, she won the Gold Level from attending WANACon and came to me with this high fantasy that was so complicated it took three meetings (2 hours a piece) to even understand what the hell her story was about. Problem was she’d gotten bogged down with world-building and her core goal was fatally flawed. But, after several sessions, we peeled away the Literary Bond-O and she finally could see the story she originally wanted to tell…and had a viable log-line and PLOT. And her new and improved story ROCKS.

The hardest part? Letting go of all the other “stuff.” Her story was still in tact. This wasn’t a Kristen Lamb retread. It was the story she originally wanted to share, but didn’t understand how to construct. And the coolest part is the excited letters I get from her now that she “gets” the process. I am immensely proud of her and can’t wait to hear she has a book deal. She worked her tail off and I know it was heart-wrenching letting go of a lot of what she’d already done.

Been there.

***Note: That is actually one of the coolest parts of what I do. “My writer baby has a BOOK DEAL!” Even had a writer baby who now can put NYTBSA in front of her name 😉 .

Anyway, a great editor takes your lump of shiny coal and chips and polishes until you have a diamond. A great teacher teaches you how to do this yourself.

Free Falling

One of my favorite Bible scriptures talks about how God will give us beauty for our ashes. Thing is, we have to let go of the ashes to get the beauty (which is VERY contrary to our nature). Maybe this is a book that we have been working on far too long. We need to let go, start over, or even let a pro look at it to show us how to reconstruct. Maybe it is an idea of who we were, that maybe we DON’T want to be in sales, telemarketing, ferret-grooming because we want to be a WRITER.

Maybe it’s realizing the public school is going to crush the joy out of your kid, so you now need to figure out how to not damage him permanently teach him from home…and still WRITE.

Change Your Thinking and Change Your LIFE

One of the weird things I’ve had to overcome in Brazilian Jui-Jitsu is to reset my thinking. See, in Judo/Jui-Jitsu, being on bottom was generally BAD. It meant being pinned and GAME OVER. In Gracie, this is not the case. The person on bottom has just as much if not MORE power. And in Gracie, falling to the ground offers the best advantage. Watch any MMA tournament and many fighters have one goal, “DON’T GET ON THE GROUND OR IT IS OVER.” Why? Those skilled in ground-fighting know most people aren’t and they can dominate the game.

So when life throws you to the ground? Breathe. You’re a WANA. You got this ;).

I do want to hear from you guys!

Do you have kids who might like to become WANATeens? Some thoughts on classes? Have you ever had to scrape yourself off the pavement and try again….and again? TELLL us your WAR STORIES! We LOVE to hear the encouragement! Are you going through a rough time. too??? Ceiling fall in?I KNOW how you feel.

To prove it and show my love, for the month of JUNE, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).


If you feel you might have the vapors after reading all of this, no worries, I offer classes to HELP.

TONIGHT is my First Five Pages Class  and use WANA15 for $15 off. If you can’t make the time, no worries, all classes are RECORDED and come with notes for reference. Upgrade to the GOLD level and I will look at your first five pages and give DETAILED analysis. This is NOT simple line-edit. This is a detailed, how to start your story in the right place and in a way that HOOKS analysis.

Also my Antagonist Class is coming up on June 27th and it will help you guys become wicked fast plotters (of GOOD stories). Again, use WANA15 for $15 off. The GOLD level is personal time with me either helping you plot a new book or possibly repairing one that isn’t working. Never met a book I couldn’t help fix. This will save a TON of time in revision and editors are NOT cheap.

For more help with your social media/author platform/author brand, please check out Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.


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  1. Hilarious, pithy and spot on as usual. shared…I hope to get past my Summer from Hell and take a class with you. Are you offering more in the fall?

  2. I’d love to take a class!

  3. Thanks for your post. I love how often they parallel my life. I, too, am a driven perfectionists who is used to getting what she works hard at achieving. I have to keep picking myself up as I travel down the writing path. My recent obstacle: I proposed a small lending library for my library-less school and was turned down flat. ARGH! Now I’m more determined than ever to make it happen. (My students are advanced academics from homes of poverty, underrepresented minorities, and first-generation college-bound students.) I appreciate the pep talk and your honesty! Again, thanks.

  4. Loved this! So much I needed to hear 😀

  5. Hey Kristen

    I happened upon “TED talks” – an easy Google. The opening recommends 11 must see – the first is by Ken Robinson, on how schools kills creativity. I strongly recommend you give the few minutes to watch.

    I am much in empathy with your last year. I think most of us have one of those along the way – not trying to say it makes it any easier; only YOU are nor alone. I lost my mom, she was 98, a year ago. The last few years she lived me. Her mind left us both a few years before that. I am most grateful my wife and I were able to take care of her until her body left as well.

    I know the anguish of having a child fit outside the normal curve (whatever that is). Schools are tied to regulations, rules, tests, and reviews that have taken any personal teacher involvement to a most impersonal level – no it is not there fault. They have no authority or capability to move an inch outside the required norms. Any child who might display any difference from PRIME 6 ALPHA Robot – guide Post, must be directed to special needs.

    Home schooling may be the answer for all unless we begin to allow teachers to be people rather than robots, and we come to understand that all children are different and we should foster growth in their individual creativity.

    1. I second Ken Robinson’s TED talks. I’d have that man’s babies if I didn’t already have babies 😉 I write and home educate (in the UK) and it’s not as scary or all-encompassing as it seems. You think you’ll end up with needy kids but actually the opposite is true. They get independent real fast whereas schools tend to foster dependency. At least, that’s how it works here.

  6. Thank you for the advice. The one thing my BA didn’t teach me about writing was any of the stuff I really needed, haha! It also didn’t teach me how to pick myself up–life had to teach me that, and I had to learn publication completely on my own.
    At least workshopping happened…for short stories. I had to do my own research for novel writing(for 14 years).
    Again, thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  7. “The true mark of a great person isn’t how big they can be, but how small they can be and still have joy.” That is such an inspiring piece of wisdom! : )

    1. Absolutely! Leapt out at me, too. In fact, I may have to write it down somewhere and keep referring to it. Or, of course, spread it all over the internet 🙂

  8. Left my entire, annotated, post-it noted, 200 page manuscript on the bus yesterday. I spent my lunch hour at work hunting down that bus and it was gone. Someone had taken it and didn’t turn it in to the driver or lost & found.
    There was Months of work and it’s all gone forever.
    So I’m upset. But I brushed myself off and, learned how important this work is to me, so I’ve decided to renew my efforts at making it shine.
    Your posts are always so timely, Kristen. I’m still grieving but I’m ready to make this into a positive experience.

    1. Oh, ouch. And bravo for being able to both acknowledging the grief and the willingness to look for the positive.

      1. Thanks, Jennifer.

  9. My parents put me in Karate because I was wimp. It worked, it toughened me up, much to their chagrin, ironically. LoL!

  10. I started Tae Kwon-Do again after a 16 yr gap. They let me use my black belt but I think it would have been better to go to white. I really missed my old club and struggled to get respect. One thing about writers we’re always having to learn something new anyway. I hope your little man adapts well to life without pre-school. I bet he loves martial arts.

  11. Once again, if you’re on the fence about Kristen’s First Five pages class — TONIGHT! – as a student, I can recommend it wholeheartedly!
    THanks Kristen for sharing.

    • Ron Estrada on June 20, 2014 at 12:14 pm
    • Reply

    WANATeens is an awesome idea! If only something like that had been around when I was a young Spawn myself (I battled vampires, which were more of a problem in the 1980s). My teens are pretty much done being teens, but I’m writing YA and middle-grade now. If you need any help, let me know!

    • marie moneysmith on June 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm
    • Reply

    WANA teens is a great idea! So is First Five pages. Just signed up!

    1. Hope you enjoyed it. I NEVER CAN SHUT UP!!!! I so suck at saying good-bye 🙁

  12. Take the antagonist class. It will make you a faster writer because you will understand how to find your core story problem. Go for gold. Yes, if you’re unlucky like me, you will throw a manuscript and a-half away, cry and then write a much better story that knows where it is going.
    I’ll be in the First Five Pages class today and am looking forward to a Gold-level butt-kicking on the finished novel born from the antagonist class.
    TeenWANA is an excellent idea. I wish it had been there when I was being knocked around as a teenager with all sorts of mixed messages about my writing. I have teaching experience with middle-school and high-school-aged students (with learning disabilities) and would be thrilled to help you with curriculum, classes and connecting with these young writers. Please ask me for help if you get buried or just want to share the burden. I am writing YA Fantasy for the main purpose of reaching these teenagers and extending hope when their life feels like H3ll.

  13. I’m excited to try your class

  14. I am not a writer, but a painter and I feel the WANA vibe from you! I wish you success and LESS DRAMA/YUCK in your life. Sounds like you deserve a break. I’ve had similar bad month/year(s) but oddly enough, and we’ve all heard it before, it DOES produce some crazy creative juices and enriches our work down the line. So here’s to your future WOWZA writing from all this. You will blow our socks off! Good luck! 🙂

    • davidjrogersftw on June 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm
    • Reply

    I like your philosophy. How much happier we would all be if we rid our thoughts and speech of the words “I,” “me,” “mine.” I too take a martial arts approach to life.

  15. Keep on, Keeping on. You have a lot going on but seem to be handling it with charm and style.

  16. WANATeens is a great idea. I’ll be keeping tabs on any developments with that, I may know a couple interested youth. Can’t wait for more details!

  17. If you and your husband are able to swing it, you should definitely check into homeschooling The Spawn. When I was about six, I wasn’t half as creative as he is, but I still felt like I was being stifled. I hated working at other people’s paces and I hated that they barely spent any time on the subject I was really interested in (namely, history. Yeah, even at six, I was a geek ;-)). I’m afraid the school system is far too screwed up to recognize the awesomeness of a kid like The Spawn. 🙂

  18. “Stegosauruses” is fine. I do have a little trouble with “beating them off”…

    I have 44 years’ experience at being a 14-yr-old boy. Any questions, let me know 😉

    I’d love to see the letter they sent you when they fired your son (love the term, by the way).

    And about that rant post… Roger von Oech wrote that by the time a kid gets to third grade, the creativity has been pretty well beaten out of him. In my case, Mom was a teacher, so she helped the nuns. I think they need to do that so they can maintain control. Now, of course, it’s “Better Education Thru Chemistry”: if the kid doesn’t act the way the teacher wants, send him home with a note telling his parents not to send him back until he gets Ritalin. I think we were lucky we missed that…

  19. I took the gold level antagonist class last summer. Afterwards, I set aside what I had been working on (pouted just a wee bit) and then started over. What I have brewing now is so, so much better.

  20. I’m sorry about all that you’ve been through. I hope it gets better for you soon. I absolutely love that you’re into jiujitsu. I have been obsessed with judo for over a year now, and I’m hopefully going to start taking classes soon. Gonna get dat white belt. Everyone has to start somewhere.

    It’s interesting how the more I learn about judo and MMA the less impressed I am about fight scenes in books and movies. Real fights aren’t blatantly choreographed, nor do they have flashy spinning kicks and strikes that actually land and do great damage. That is what I’m avoiding in my book’s fight scenes, but I fear, instead, they’re too technical for those who don’t know anything about fighting.

    Thank you for this post! I think I might take your Antagonist Class. 🙂

  21. Kristen, I’ve followed your blog practically since my first year in publication, in 2011. This is my first time commenting. *holds out hand so Kristen can swat it* Your blog has had a major impact on me and my writing career over the last three years. I’ve published 18 bestselling erotic romances through Siren Publishing. I’ve utilized your teaching to build a social platform and your advice–in your blog and in your book–has never steered me wrong. Above and beyond that, I’ve printed out your articles in the past year to encourage my daughter who is a serious book nerd and as yet unpublished young adult author. But THIS blog is the one that finally got me to comment. WANAteens. What a fantastic idea! You see, I keep these crazy hours, writing and interacting online…and from her bedroom across the house, I can hear my fifteen year old typing late at night. Yes! She’s writing…just like her mom. It’s huge to have something so deep in common with your teenage daughter. I’m very proud of my career and the following I’ve developed, thanks to your teaching, but to have my daughter strive to achieve a dream as an author…WOW. I hope you do develop WANAteens. I regularly send her your articles and I will help her sign up if you develop it. thank you for all your hard work. If we don’t strive to grow we stagnate.

    1. Just…WOW. And *sniff* I LOVE YOU! I actually have A LOT of teachers and parents who use my posts, so I think this is a cool direction for WANA to go and bring in the future writers. Nurture, instruct and help them grow into the next generation of literary genius :D.

      1. I love you right back! My only regret is that it took me this long to finally comment on one of your articles. Your struggles to stay organized, handle having the Spawn at home while you work, continue moving forward with your writing and blogging, balancing the life of a writer, wife, and mother…I relate to all of that so deeply. Knowing there is someone out there who shares the same struggles makes it easier to stay on the path. To be honest, even when it’s crazy I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 🙂 Have a great day!

  22. Your class is closed. Will you be giving new classes soon? I can’t pay for it this monthe anyhow. But I would love to participate next month. I love the idea. Thank you for not making the class too expencive. It is exactly what I can afford. Thanks.

    1. I will run it again in July. No worries :D.

      1. Great!

  23. Kristen, when you start your book therapy business, I’ll be your first patient. In the meantime, I’m girding my loins and my book idea for the knife.

  24. Hey Kristen, I’m reading your book Rise of The Machines. Loving it! I am dying to ask a question about building a platform, but am not sure this is the right place. I’ll try you anyway 🙂 All of my 700 facebook friends are either into spiritual development and meditation etc, as am I, or have children and really nice families, but I write horror!!! I don’t feel like I can easily convince this crowd to support me in that endeavour lol, so I’m not pushing it. I feel like I have to start from scratch in building my platform. Do you have any suggestions about how to go about that? Does it really matter if my current contacts are not the best people to reach out to in order to start gaining a bit of an audience? I am here for them, but it seems so inappropriate to ask them to consider horror 🙂 I’d love to hear back and thanks again for the book. Maybe you will explain some of this later in the book. Warmest wishes Kym Darkly

    1. Just leave it. People like more than one thing. I am a Christian (GASP) and attend church three times a week and do mission trips and MY FAVE GENRE is HORROR! Also, they might have friends or colleagues who like horror. Don’t sacrifice that word-of-mouth. Just keep pressing. If people don’t like horror, they will move on, but if they do? They will think of you :D. SO HAPPY you are liking ROM.

      1. Thanks Kristen 🙂 That’s refreshing lol. I feel better now. KD

  25. New reader and just signed up for Wana – thanks for keeping us all going!

  26. Kristen – I love your honesty. Didn’t know about you until the Tucson Festival of Books March 2014. Your workshop with Piper was one of the best ones I attended and have since read your book cover to cover. Now, to your blog. a) Take pride in the Spawn for being different – he was kicked out for being mean – just for being an individual (I have three kids, and one of the boys was a real pistol – trust me. He’s going to be your go-getter, non-conformist Star; b) been through funerals, sick kids and dementia. At a truly low moment – someone gave me this phrase, which is now framed in my house: The will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not protect you. Peace. (If you ever want to swap boy stories email – I’ve got some doozies.)

    1. I meant he WASN”T kicked out for being mean. Oops!!

  27. Thank you for writing this. I’ve had a week similar to what you described. I’m currently waiting for news about a family member who likely has cancer, and yes, our AC flooded a room in our house too. Reading your blog helped me calm down and realize I’m not alone. I hope things get better for you! I also really enjoy all your blog posts.

  1. […] Free Falling, Ground-Fighting & Learning to Start Over. […]

  2. […] for things to share on social media, I came across a blog post by author Kristin Lamb called Free Falling, Ground-Fighting & Learning to Start Over. In it, Ms. Lamb says, “The true mark of a great person isn’t how big they can be, but […]

  3. […] about giving up, instead of thinking outside the box for solutions, about how to make it all work. This blog post by Kristen Lamb is incredibly encouraging! And lets everyone know they’re not alone. Let this […]

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