What I Learned From Starship Captains

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Welcome to Part Three of How to Be the Hero of Your Own Story. I just have to say, this is the most fun I’ve had with research in a long time! I’ve learned so much from the heroes I’ve studied… things that have changed my life (no lie).

What follows is my favorite list by far (being the fantasy/sci-fi geek that I am). Starship captains are some of the BEST heroes to learn from because of the standards they hold themselves to in everyday life and the myriad situations that put those standards to the test.

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Here is what I have learned from studying Starship Captains…
•    Never give up.
•    Never lose your sense of humor.
•    Never let unbeatable odds get you down.
•    Negative thinking is a complete waste of time (and extremely destructive).
•    Always care more about people than situations or possessions.
•    Always work for the greater good.
•    Never lose sight of the goal, but stay aware of what’s around you.

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  • Never compromise your personal vision. Know who you are and be it. Know your path and walk it.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you not to do what you know is right.
  • Never waver in your resolve, but adapt the plan when appropriate or advantageous.
  • Stay open to new points of view.
  • Put heart in everything you do.
  • Always remain positive even in the face of certain failure.

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  •    Choose your attitude. Don’t let someone else choose for you.
  •    If there’s no other way, play rough.
  •    Pick your battles carefully. Don’t make fighting your first choice. If you have to fight, win. If you   don’t have to fight, head for an exit.
  •    Never make someone feel ‘less than’ for voicing an opinion or idea.
  •    Consider all options outwardly, weigh your options inwardly, state your decision affirmatively.
  •    Listen to the council of  close friends and  brilliant colleagues, then make your own decision.

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  • Allow yourself to trust even after you’ve been hurt.
  • Never forget where you come from.
  • If you’re lost, remember there’s always a way  back, even if you can’t see it.
  • Establish your intention and choose your direction at the start of each new day.
  • Be an optimist and realist at the same time.
  • Be open to trying new things (even if they sometimes get you in trouble).

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  •    Choose a path  that can coexist with your  values and spiritual  beliefs.
  •    Embrace any chance to grow.
  •    Allow yourself to be vulnerable to your closest friends and family.
  •    Admit when you’re wrong.
  •    Stay physically fit and mentally aware.
  •    Pay attention to what people say and do.

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  • If an idea or a relationship isn’t working, give it every chance to succeed, then assess the situation fairly, and if it is still not working, abort.
  • Stretch your mind and the limits of your reality.
  • Never insist on being right, instead, always look for truth.
  • Define your mission. Recruit those who are aligned with your vision.
  • Never fear an adventure into the unknown.
  • Listen to your instincts and use your intuition.

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  •    Live in the now, but be open and ready for what lies ahead.
  •    Heal the wounds of the past. Don’t allow past pain to limit your present or your future.
  •    Study human interaction and apply the science of compassion.
  •    Be an advocate of the human spirit.
  •    Embrace ingenuity and creativity.
  •    Be passionate while maintaining control.
  •    Eyes open. Always.

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  • Be an impartial witness. Don’t take sides.
  • Use your heart along with your head.
  • Never abandon manners in a social situation. Learn the customs of foreign cultures before entering their domain.
  • Never complain about unfortunate circumstances.
  • Embrace change but respect history.
  • Don’t let your temper get the better of you. But if it does, get over it quickly.
  • Listen to people’s stories.

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  • Communicate as concisely and accurately as possible. Use clear, simple language.
  • Do not be quick to judge.
  • Develop a sixth sense about danger and who to trust.
  • Never let fear stop you. Allow it to inform you.
  • Listen to your  gut, even if your head refuses to go along.
  • Take responsibility for those under you r command. Inspire greatness. Encourage ingenuity. Cultivate loyalty.

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  •    Don’t waste time arguing or responding to criticism.
  •    Be open-minded in your approach to life and old fashion in your values.
  •    Embrace a childlike fascination with the world  and a wise man acceptance of it.
  •    When possible go slow, build a foundation.
  •    Don’t defend your ego. Defend your friends.
  •    Make forgiveness a priority because it is the only way to be free.
  •    Don’t get angry at yourself for things that are beyond your control.
  •    Wait patiently, but not passively. Always be gathering information.

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  • Believe in something greater than yourself.
  • Walk with purpose through life.
  • Always act as if what you do will make a difference.
  • Express anger at situations instead of at people.
  • Cultivate a quiet calm in the face of adversity. Don’t be quick to react or jump to conclusions, but instead, quietly assess the situation and formulate a plan based on acute observation.
  • Be in a constant state of readiness with utter calm.

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  • Never make another person feel small. Evaluate those around you and honor them for their skills, traits, and contributions… if need be, find the smallest positive attribute to praise.
  • Rid your mind and heart of expectation and enter each moment with a clean slate. With zero expectations, the mind is never disappointed or caught unawares.
  • Resist the temptation to overreact, or become upset at a difficult interlude. Always be looking for more pieces to the puzzle, and continue to gather information in an effort to see and comprehend the whole picture before making a decision to act. And then, when ready, move forward with full conviction.

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That’s the Captain’s List. See you next time when I share my own personal list of Hero Traits, in Lessons Learned from Life and Leaders.

Thanks for spending time with me!


Elayne G. James is the author of the adventure/
fantasy coming-of-age series, The LightBridge 
Legacy, a new holiday novel titled The Saint of 
Carringtion, and the upcoming Dragonbond Books.
For more info visit: http://www.ElayneJames.com

How to be the Hero of your Own Story – Part Two

Are you the hero of your own story?


Your life is your story. Your choices are your path. Don’t let someone else choose for you. Take the lead. Be your own hero!

As a writer and a student of human nature, I have the on-going pleasure of studying the many different aspects of life, our world, and its varied characters. One of the most fascinating of these is our culture’s archetypes, and heroes are arguably among of the most enduring and endearing of the archetypal class. Heroes in their myriad forms have been requisite to story, myth, and legend throughout the history of humankind. What follows is Part Two of my hero traits list… a collection of high caliber qualities and attributes I believe we can all aspire to:

  • Heroes don’t “chase” their dreams. They set goals, put a plan in place, gather the best team they can find (only those loyal to their cause), and then create their own destiny!
  • A hero knows that words have the ability to wound or heal, destroy or transform. A hero uses words carefully and speaks truth willingly. A hero is never threatened by the truth, nor defeated or dejected by someone else’s version of the truth.
  • Heroes do not seek the approval of others, their validation comes from within.
  • A hero knows that the best way to cope with failure is to immediately identify it as a “rerouting” on the path to success.
  • Heroes know that they are constantly evolving —that they can reinvent themselves whenever necessary—that for a personality, stagnation equals defeat. Forward movement equals success.
  • A hero knows that there are always two choices in a difficult situation. You can choose to be the victim or the victor. The hero always chooses the victor mentality. He knows that victimhood is the act of falling prey to one’s own defeated thinking and a belief in powerlessness.
  • Victims always wish they were somewhere else, doing something else, or with someone else. Heroes never wish they were somewhere else. If they wanted to be somewhere else they would just go.
  • A hero does not indulge in self-pity. Self-pity equals powerlessness.
  • Heroes aren’t afraid of change (unless it’s a change of clothes in a phone booth).
  • Heroes don’t waste time complaining. They focus on solutions.
  • A hero knows that it is human nature to question, and does not need to be excepted or encouraged by others in order to proceed with an intention.
  • Heroes always follow through on a promise whether made to someone else or to themselves.
  • Heroes never react to what they imagine someone else thinks, wants, or needs. They ask questions, gather data, assess the situation, and, once satisfied, act accordingly.
  • A hero knows that nothing of greatness, no true measure of happiness, no deeply satisfying accomplishment, is ever achieved without desire and faith, vision and imagination, effort and energy, courage and commitment, purpose and passion.
  • Heroes own their own potential and see the power in responsibility. Taking ownership is the highest form of focus, discipline, and direction known to man. Effortlessness is an insidious virus with the power to destroy lives.
  • A hero knows that absolute focus is the key to all great human achievement.
  • Heroes never let mistakes or failure stop them. They always try to make things right, but also know that it isn’t always possible, and forgive themselves when things don’t work out. They know the value of moving on.
  • Heroes don’t waste time responding to their critics. They take note, retain what is useful and discard what is not.
  • A hero sees every problem as a challenge and every challenge as an opportunity.
  • Heroes learn from every situation and grow into better human beings because of the experience.
  • Heroes do not compare themselves to others.
  • A hero uses their past experiences to meet the next challenge, not to judge themselves.
  • A hero doesn’t throw away any lesson. All lessons, pleasant or difficult, joyful or painful, brief or everlasting, can be drawn upon for support when facing a challenge.
  • Heroes keep an open mind when entering a new situation, and keep a watchful eye for that which can benefit them and others.
  • Life is a set of experiences. A hero does not judge. All experience is useful.
  • The hero never gives up.

The hero’s journey continues in Part III (What I Learned From Starship Captains). See you next time!


How To Be The Hero Of Your Own Story – Part One


Want to know the BEST ADVICE I’ve ever received as a writer AND as a human being?

Here it is:

Hero Of Story 2

Be the hero of your own story! Yes! For me that means living my life by all the same principles and doctrines I hold for my protagonists like:

  • Never giving up when the going gets tough.
  • Meeting every challenge with integrity, ingenuity, and creativity.
  • Saying yes to the adventure of life and helping the people I meet along the way as much as I can.
  • It means being fiercely loyal to my true friends, being there for them no matter what, and never giving up on them when it seems all hope is lost.
  • Using my head alongside my heart and never losing site of my dreams and goals, and always remembering why I set out on this glorious journey in the first place.
  • Being open to synchronicity, serendipity and the infinite realm of possibilities.
  • Using my intuition and trusting my gut even when everyone else thinks I’m crazy.
  • It means achieving what I set out to accomplish, but also giving myself permission to alter my course and change my mind if what I thought I set out to do turns into something else.
  • Tending to the needs of my soul, in addition to the needs of mind and body.
  • Having the courage to be who I am, even if that makes me a freak, a geek, or an alien from another planet.
  • Setting my intention to wake up every morning with gratitude and a positive attitude, and look for the good in every situation.
  • It means be brave, be strong, be honest, be compassionate, be patient …not only with others but also with myself.
  • AND it means that if I fall short in my ability to achieve any of these fine attributes on any given day, that I allow myself to be human, forgive myself for my mistakes, regroup if I need to, and then say “onward!”

Getting this advice, this grand challenge—to be the hero of my own story—had such an impact on me that I spent an entire year investigating what makes a hero, determined to uncover those distinct characteristics common to all (or at least most) of our heroes today.

So I researched heroes in their myriad forms (film, books, television, comic books, and of course, some of my real life heroes as well), to chronicle the various personality traits and attributes that make up this rare breed of human.

What I found changed me. I knew if I wanted to be the hero of my own story, I had to find a way to embody these qualities and live my life in an entirely new way. The transformation is still in progress, of course, but it is a worthy adventure.

So for the next few weeks, I will be sharing what I have learned about becoming extraordinary in our everyday lives and the little changes we can render along the way that will make a big difference.

See you soon. Part Two is coming up the next week.

Elayne G. James

Author of The LightBridge Legacy Series

Whose life is it anyway?

Vintage Reflection

Have you ever met someone who had your life? The life you knew you were meant to live? Someone you meet purely by chance and strike up a conversation with to pass the time in line or at a luncheon. And in this conversation you learn this other person is living the life you should have had all along, but didn’t. You realize that somewhere along the way you turned left instead of right and ended up where you are, on the other side of the table sipping tea from the wrong cup.

I listened to this woman tell me about her life, living every dream I’ve ever had, being everything I’ve ever wanted to be, even looking exactly how I always wanted to look, and by the end of the conversation I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I couldn’t fathom how I got here, and how she got there. I looked at my life—a good life—but all I could see was how wrong everything turned out . . . all my stupid mistakes, all the bad decisions I made to lead me away from my path . . . and there, right in front of me, was the woman I would have become if only . . . if only . . . if only.

What’s worse? I liked her. She was wonderful, beautiful, graceful, kind, generous, and immensely happy. So I’m denied even the chance to be envious. How can I begrudge her the life she has so obviously deserved, and I so obviously never earned?

Yet it is mine and I walk away knowing why I do not have it . . . because she does.

Where do I go from here? Knowing someone else has my life? And tell me, whose life do I have? Will someone meet me on the road someday and say,

“You! You’re the one.






What is this?

Okay, so I have a folder that’s been on the desktop of every computer I’ve ever owned. I call it the Bottom Drawer. It’s where I throw all the bits and pieces of writing that pour out of my brain unattached to any story or project. The file has become quite fat over the years. I decided to go spelunking to see what I might find. I’ll be digging into this “bottom drawer” of mine for time to time, to see what I might share, grab-bag-style. This one is probably 25 or so years old transferred here exactly how it was originally written, formatting and all. Just thought it was kind of odd and interesting.

My First Stradivarius


Written on National “Inspire Your Heart with Art” Day.

I had no idea there was such a thing as National “Inspire Your Heart with Art” Day, but I like the notion and have been stirred to share an occurrence in my life where someone’s art not only inspired but also healed my heart in unexpected ways.

As many of you know, I was a professional theatrical lighting designer for 24 years. It was how I made my living in my late 20s and throughout my 30s and 40s. I loved nearly every minute of it, and had some amazing experiences along the way, many of them etched in my memory for all time. What follows is one of my more transformative experiences.

I was in the lighting booth working on cues for an upcoming show. A 64 piece orchestra was rehearsing on stage. One of my favorite things to do in the theatre was to work while being serenaded by a live orchestra. Nothing quite like it! As a matter of fact, most of The LightBridge Legacy was written in the theatre duringorchestra rehearsals, and the down time we had while waiting for show trucks to arrive. I also wrote a lot after hours, when the stage was dark and the air had a wonderfully eerie stillness to it, but the most dynamic scenes in the book were written to live orchestral music!

At the end of the rehearsal, the members of the orchestra made their way to the green room to rest before their performance that same night. The crew left to procure pizza for dinner.

So I stayed in the light booth and continue to work.

The stage was still. The lights were off. Only the fly-loft fluorescents, hanging 75 feet above, remained on for safety. I was content to work in solitude and silence. It gave me a chance to catch up to my thoughts.

Because I was to be the only staff member there for an hour or two (while everyone lunched), and since a thick glass window stood between myself and the rest of the theatre, the soundman left the hanging microphones up so that I could hear the goings-on down on the stage and surrounding areas.

Out of the silence, I heard the faintest of footsteps, and a demure voice said, “Hello up there? Can you hear me in the booth?” Her words came to me via a small speaker on the wall.

I looked up from my work and peered through the glass at a woman that would have barely come to my shoulder if we were standing side by side. I nodded, for I could hear her but she could not hear me.

“I just acquired a new violin,” she said, “and I would like to practice a bit with it before tonight’s performance. Would that be alright?”

It happened a lot. The soloists often requested extra time on stage when the others went on break. It was not that they necessarily needed the practice; it was their chance to check the acoustics, to get a feel for the house and prepare themselves mentally.

I smiled, nodded again, and went back to my notes.

It only took a moment.

Most days I would just continue to work, happy to be serenaded once again, but not this time. I knew instantly that something was different.

I looked up and for a minute or two I just watched her play, standing alone, center stage, a few feet from the edge. The melody was unfamiliar. I knew she played not something memorized and precise, but something wild and untamed… something from the very depths of her being. And I was moved to the very depths of mine.

There was an ineffable quality to this music. It spoke to me like no other. And by this time in my life I had heard a thousand orchestras play and a thousand soloists perform and among them, hundreds of violin solos.

This was something else. Something more. Something special. I had no idea how or why, but I felt the summons in my soul.

I put down my work, stood, and as she continued to play, I quietly made my way out to the auditorium. I chose a seat in the center of the house, aligned with where she stood on stage, about 50 rows back. The audience lights were off. She did not see me or know that I was there. She did not know that she played to my soul.

I sat, transfixed. For how long, I couldn’t say. I lost all concept of time. At a certain point, I closed my eyes without realizing it. I began to soar the heavens. The beauty of this woman’s music was so exquisite, it was painful to conceive of the requisite silence if ever she were to stop. A beauty that reached so deep in me I began to weep. This woman and her violin moved me in ways that I had not thought possible. I felt for those few moments that life was more beautiful than we, as mere mortals could ever fathom, and that music was an art form so pure, so perfect, that to experience it in such a way meant I would be changed forever.

She played on as I wept.

When finally she stopped, I caught my breath. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe.

In the resulting silence, she heard me softly crying. She peered out into the sea of empty chairs and, squinting, finally saw me there and realized she had an audience. An audience of one. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she said. “I didn’t know anyone was there.” She quickly returned the violin to its case.

“That,” I said, attempting to regain my composure, “was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard.” My voice was shaking.

She smiled and said, “That was a Stradivarius.”

I gasped. Never before had I been in the presence of such musical mastery, delivered through an instrument so ancient and elusive, it carries a power and presence that is felt mind, body, and soul.

I remember standing for the first time before a painting by Rembrandt. I became lost in the play of light and shadow, the life of each brushstroke. I became lost in time. For an instant it was as if I were there, watching him paint his masterpiece. His vivid essence remained, even centuries after he put brush to canvas. I stood there forgetting to breathe for a moment.

This was like that but amplified a hundred times. And when it was over, I longed to return to such perfection and purpose. I had been granted, through this woman’s instrument, and her ability to let music speak its purest expression through her, an immeasurable gift.

That night, after the performance had ended and everyone had gone home, I sat alone in the dark theatre again, in the same seat where I had sat listening to a woman play the violin with her whole heart—listening with my whole heart—hoping to engrave the experience onto the marble of my memory.

Absent of the heightened experience of performers, crew, and the energy of the audience, a theatre still holds a lingering presence—an energy signature that gets imprinted on the place. It is palpable, almost visceral.

Like an infinite echo, it leaves an indelible impression. And the echo of that Stradivarius will forever reverberate in me, weaving its enduring essence, whispering to my heart of hearts, “You have been touched by something special, and will never again be the same.”

In honor of Inspire Your Heart with Art Day.

Thank you for allowing me to share this part of my life with you.

Elayne G. James

Ani Jasper Speaks for Herself…

An Introduction from Ani Jasper (WARNING: Spoiler Alert-Book One)

 Ani Jasper Book 1a

I asked one of my characters, Ani Jasper, from The LightBridge Legacy, to introduce herself.

Here is what she said:

“You know how sometimes when you’re asleep you can’t tell if you’re dreaming or not because everything feels so completely real? Well, that’s how it feels to be me. I never know if what I’m experiencing is real or not. But I think I’m slowly figuring out that it’s ALL real, and that is the scariest thing I can think of. See, if it’s all real, then I am in some deep dark shades of trouble with all kinds of bad mixed in.

I’m Anani Jasper. People call me Ani. Not Annie. Ahh-nee. I’m a girl, I’m almost fourteen, I’m an amateur geologist and a magical apprentice. I live in New York City, but I still consider the Mojave Desert my real home. I’m technically an only child because I lost my twin brother the day we were born, but if you want to know a secret, the truth is, I didn’t really lose him because we are still together. Two souls. One body. Weird I know. But kinda cool at the same time. It’s called Zielfah which means “double soul,” and because of it, I’m next in line for some fierce magical mojo I didn’t ask for. Oh and get this… because I am the appointed heir apparent, I have some equally fierce enemies that want me permanently deleted in the worst way. Mom and Dad don’t know. Nobody knows. No one would believe me anyway.

So I live my life as if everything is normal…whatever that is. Mom’s an anthropologist and Dad owns a rock and gem shop. I can tell you anything you want to know about all sorts of stones (including their magical properties–but don’t tell my dad that. He doesn’t believe in magic). My godfather, Kahetay is a Navajo shaman and has some pretty cool skills of his own. He’s the one who first taught me about magic. And then there’s Sophie, my um… I guess you could call her my mentor… she’s a wise-woman… a magical practitioner and a good friend. She knows about my “future memories”—these strange visions I have where I go into the future and remember things that haven’t happened yet. That’s how I found out my mom’s in trouble. She’s gone missing on expedition in the Amazon jungle and it’s up to me to save her.

Have you ever had to do the thing that scares you the most? That’s what I have to do. And in order to do it, I have to “embrace my magical destiny,” whatever that is, but that’s how Xephero puts it. Xephero is the master of the LightBridge, the most powerful magical object in the world, and he has chosen me as the next in line to be the keeper of that magic. All I know is if I do it I can save my mom because if I don’t she’s gonna die. It means doing things I never thought I’d do, wrong things, dangerous things, but you would too if it meant saving the person you loved most in the whole world. You never know what you are capable of until you are forced to face the unfathomable.

Welcome to my world.”

The Spark of New Inspiration

Secret-Ref -Dragonbond 4c-300dpi

Above is what I call an Imagery Character Study. Whenever I begin a new story, I put together one of these graphic “collages.” I scour the net for images that remind me of my characters and the objects that surround them. In the first glimmering sparks of inspiration and story creation, this is a wholly enjoyable task. Watching my characters and the world they live in “come to life” before my eyes is exciting. It brings their personalities into focus like nothing else can. And down the line, when I’m trying to complete a book after years of work, these images can offer some much-needed inspiration, bringing back the spark of new beginnings and the feeling of “falling in love,” for that is what it’s like to begin a new story. 


Today is January 15th 2016, the first day of my new commitment to blog more. It also happens to be Annual “Appreciate a Dragon Day” (no lie) and in honor of this momentous occasion I have chosen to let a little “secret” out of its proverbial bag.
This week I took an unexpected break from my LightBridge duties—working on getting the second (revised) print edition of The LightBridge Legacy, Book One: THE SECRET HALF (formally Destiny’s Call) ready for my publisher, followed closely by the release of LightBridge Book Two: THE HIDDEN GATES which is in its final edit.
But since my laptop was in the shop this week, I had a chance to work on my notes for a shiny new story idea that’s been calling to me.  The beginning of every story for me takes the form of handwritten notes on scraps of paper, stickies, paper napkins, just about anything I can get my hands on. Next, I begin organizing these bits and pieces–which sometimes number in the hundreds–into some semblance of an order and paste them into notebooks. Yeah, I know, very low tech. I don’t switch to the computer until I start writing the story itself. This time, it was for a new story idea that has ignited my imagination, my dreams, and passion for writing.
I’m calling this new series The Dragonbond Books.
What are the Dragonbond books about? Here is the quick overview…

An infant boy is left on the steps of a 200-year-old library and raised by the head librarian who lives in a basement apartment below the stacks. On his ninth birthday, the boy learns he is the last remaining descendant of an ancient lineage called The Dragonbond Tribe and can, therefore, speak to and bond with dragons. 

Along with this new information about his family history, he receives a mysterious package said to be from his parents, left behind with the bassinet he was found in. In this ornate wooden box, he finds three items… an ancient book written in an undecipherable language, a handmade leather & feather quill, and a “rock” that, three months later… yep, you guessed it,  hatches into a baby dragon.

I’ve always wanted to write a dragon story. I’ve been waiting a very long time for the right tale (dragon tail) to emerge and finally, it has bubbled up to the surface from the depths of the creative inner well. I can’t wait to start writing! But I have promised myself I will finish The LightBridge Legacy first!
Onward! It’s going to be a very good year!
Elayne G. James