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Author Interview Author Recommendation CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS Holiday Musings

Ash Keller–Fresh, FUNNY, and Wickedly Talented. A Must Read for Romantic Comedy!

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WHAT DO YOU WANT IN YOUR HORN OF PLENTY?

Life is ripe with choices, spilled out like a Horn of Plenty. Cornucopias if you’re putting on airs. And why not? Accents and attitudes are fun. Entertaining, absolutely, but often necessary.

Who hasn’t changed their tone for that critical interview? The BE-THERE party or that dreaded public speaking encounter? (Raise a hand for keeping it real!)

But kid-me loved drawing cornucopias at the kitchen table when the leaves began to fall. Why? I could select my favorite things–grapes with fanciful tendrils, bumpy gourds, and yummy artichokes–and stuff them inside. Favorite things, in whatever color I chose, could spill out or hide in the tip.

The more the better.

ASH AND HUSBAND JAMES KEEPING IT REAL–REALLY PLAYFUL AT HALLOWEEN!

There’s nothing like a jumbo box of Crayolas and a kid–of any age–eager to decide for herself. To choose her friends. Select her surroundings. And engage fully on the path chosen or change course with unflagging courage!

DON’T TELL ANYONE ASH IS REALLY A ZOMBIE LIBRARIAN!!!

That leads me to today’s guest. The delightful and ever demonstrative, Ash Keller. Chock full of talent, brimming with personality, wholly accessible, and a consummate professional in terms of career and the care she extends everyone in her circle. She’s almost too dang fun.

Dead serious.

Ash writes romantic comedy from experience, folks, and how sweet it is.

This SASSY SCRIBE is one to watch for antics, information, and FIERCE mother-love. The bear type that roots out injustice, slays snarling or suited beasts, and plucks that thorn from your paw with the gentlest touch. (Okay, I’m thinking bear costume. I know Ash has a weakness for those lovely ones. Wild, YOU BET, and bad to the bone. I dig bears, too!)

SUPER CUTE!

The pairing of big dreams with big trouble is familiar territory for Ash. Absolutely read THE CHRISTMAS SECRET, Ash’s hilarious and so-sweet romantic comedy, one of eight diverse voices in SNOW IN LOVE: Sweet Romantic Holiday Collection.

Brought to you by Readertainment.

If you like your heroes broody and your heroines skilled, self-aware, and determined not to let moods or men ruin time spent in FORCED PROXIMITY, get thee to Amazon. NOW! The .99 cent pre-order price is days away from ending.

Do you really want to deprive yourself? I hope not if you follow this blog or happen to stop by. Whatever your catnip–GO FOR IT. Life is short and the chief reason to make this go-round count.

So, forgetting the serious, what’s your favorite time of year, Ash, and why?

Everyone loves fall, right? Sweater weather, pumpkin spice lattes, bonfires! And Halloween is my very favorite holiday. My husband and I always throw a Halloween party (except this year…Covid is a party pooper) and I have tons of fun choosing a theme every October.

CHOOSING!!! Great theme, Ash, anytime of year, but we’re racking it up for #teampumpkinspice! Here’s a how-to from one of my favorites. The Mom Life Balance!

Then again, there’s a reason spring green is my favorite color. There’s nothing better than watching the earth come back to life after a harsh winter. And it’s the best time of year to put my pink kayak in the water. 

FEELIN’ THE PINK!

But it’s hard to beat summer. Fireflies, camping, lake days…need I say more?

The only season I’m not a fan of is winter. I hate to be cold. But that’s why God gave us electric blankets, hot chocolate, and snuggly cats! (YES, YES, and–hmmm–heck, YES!)

LOVING THE ENEMY? YIKES.

This talented must-read author has another romantic comedy on Amazon that you’ll really like. If close proximity and fake relationships–putting on attitude?–tickle your funny bone, check out Not Happy Campers, included in THE FUNNY THING ABOUT LOVE. A collection of feel-good sweet, romance stories by Enchanted Quill Press. How enchanting!

What’s your favorite animal, Ash? Do you have ONE??? This choosing business is difficult sometimes.

MEET KIRBY!

I’m a crazy cat lady. It’s a good thing I’m married or I’d have enough cats to form a kitty baseball team. My husband says no more than two…so we have three.

Ha!

OMG. Crazy cat lady. Can you feel the fur, peeps? The love? There’s a reason Ash and I gravitated toward one another along with our SASSY SCRIBE sisters!

So, tell us more. I *KNOW* that can’t be all. Animal fans could use some assurance about sharing the cuddles with all God’s creatures. Empower us!

SMART CHICKS!

I also LOVE chickens and have a backyard flock. In exchange for eggs, I hand-feed them grapes. They spoil me so I spoil them. It’s only fair.

Oh, yes, bring on the feather babies. Hens are the BEST!! And with you giving them grapes, they will follow you to the ends of the earth. (Mine used to follow my shovel to get earthworms!)

What’s your biggest fantasy?

Paying off my student loans (and my husband’s!), buying an RV, and traveling to every national park. (In search of bears, I hope. Ash will keep us posted on her newsletter. Sign up for laughs and the continued assurance that what makes you smile is the way to go!)

WE KNOW THE ANSWER!

Okay. Final question. Do you feel the pressure??? Think Miss Universe and tell me, would you strive for world peace? Why or why not?

Of course. What kind of monster wouldn’t want world peace?

FULL MARKS, Ash. Direct, impassioned, and too true. That must be why you pursue precisely that in your Horn of Plenty. That is the colorful embrace of life, love, GOOD HUMOR, and those little things that bring true joy. Your example is the best and something I’m determined to promote. Why? There are so many readers, writers, women, and men who will benefit from the go-for-it spirit that surrounds you. ((HUGS)) And thank you.

It’s been a pleasure, Ash, as always. And as I always do, I ask you dear readers to communicate with Ash and myself and all the SASSY SCRIBES. We’re determined to brighten our individual corners and yours, too. So, drop us a line. Help us help you. It really can be a win/win for world peace and a lot of laughs along the way there.

Write ON!

STAY CONNECTED

 

 

 

 

Categories
Author Interview Author Recommendation CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS Writing TIPS

Sit-down with Rene Penn; dear friend, soul sister, and a hilariously good writer!

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Okay. Rene and I don’t write exactly the same genre. She’s sassy comic romance where I’m trying to be strictly sweet. Trying. She’s flirty with the lines–steamy in places–where I’m firmly drawing some. For a change. Bedroom doors weren’t always shut in my earlier writing ventures, but life brings many changes. Although I could be fooling myself entirely. Done that before. But good buddies, who should always be supported, are there for the reality check.

BEST word score EVER!

And Rene SO gets me. I hope I get her, too. I sure dig her snappy chick-lit vibe and the easy comedy that makes reading her a joy. A believing, practicing Christian, Rene lends a touch of worldly realism to her tales. But in the pursuit of happily-ever-after, her heroes and heroines always try to do the right thing. Tricky business in this maze called life. So while we’re not boxed-set-sisters, Rene and I are absolutely connected where it counts. In spirit. A spirit I’ve come to rely on and feel compelled to share if only to offer my readers encouragement, self-empowerment, and an example of how we all benefit from supporting one other even if our voices aren’t exactly the same.

************************************************************************

What moves you to write, Rene, and what ‘all’ do you write? (Interviews are the perfect time to dig for deets! LoL!)

I write fiction, specifically romance, mainly because I love reading it. I get my kicks from writing romantic comedy. I love the humor, the snarky comebacks, and the hilarious situations and interactions. Life can be very serious and full of challenges. Writing and reading rom-com is like a great escape. (No wonder we click!)

One avenue informs the other–so keep those doors open!

I also dabble in screenwriting, because I enjoy writing dialogue. I co-wrote an indie web-series in 2006 and wrote another web-series in 2009. Working in another genre can be a refreshing change that re-energizes the fiction-writing process. (Absolutely true. I hope we can hear more when you come back. You ARE coming back ;^)

Are you  a panster or a plotter, Rene? And why? (What does method bring to your stories?)

The HERO’S JOURNEY. A plotter’s paradise, not a dirty word!

I’m a plotter who likes to veer off into pantser-ville. (YES! YES! YES! I’m not alone!) I don’t want to be so rigid with my outline that I ignore my characters’ instincts. With each story I plot, the characters usually lead me in a new direction as I’m writing Act 3. I follow their lead, and the new direction is a nice surprise for me.

I use the Romancing the Beats to make sure that I hit the right notes and expectations for my romance readers. And I rely on The Emotion Thesaurus to enrich my language. (Those two sources are very helpful in my creative process, too. Hmmm. Looks like we’re sharing some DNA here despite divergent spice levels.)

What’s your favorite movie/music? Do you find inspiration in film/music for your writing?

Funny, flirty, and touching on serious issues with such ease it puts a smile on your heart. Only $1.99 to buy!

Movies are very important for me since I write romantic comedies. I want my readers to feel like they’re watching my stories unfold like a movie. So for every story, I choose a movie for inspiration.

Because whimsical holiday romps are delicious all year round! FREE on #KU

For my book Fake It Til She Makes It, it was The Devil Wears Prada X and My Best Friend’s Wedding. For Santa Bring Me a Ryan, I was inspired by Meet the Parents.

What’s at the bottom of your craft bag? (This is often more telling than a junk drawer!)

I like to make my own jewelry, especially earrings and necklaces. And I have a small 8” x 11” multimedia notebook where I use watercolor painting, crayons, and color pencils. I’m not a good artist at all, (doubt that) but I love creating something that takes 30 – 45 minutes. A quick sense of achievement and gratification is important while working on writing projects that take months or years to complete. (I use vintage pattern crochet bookmarks for this pop of Serotonin. Accomplishment–its where its at!)

Do you find family to be a support, a distraction, or an integral element of your writer’s life?

I’m lucky that husband and parents are extremely supportive. Without my husband, I wouldn’t be able to pursue this writing journey full-time. Some people I know, I thought they wouldn’t read my work—or that they’d look down on the fact that I write romance. But they’ve been a big part of my support system, leaving reviews, spreading the word, and encouraging me to keep writing. (You’re truly blessed, Rene. Thumbs up on that score all the way!)

Do you prefer city or country living? Does this impact the settings of your stories?

And yet–the BURBS can hold their own dangers. LoL. But I hear you about how times change.

I used to prefer city living, big-time. But that’s changed over the last seven or eight years. Now, I prefer the ‘burbs! But my stories are usually set in an urban environment, because that’s how I spent my 20s and early 30s. My holiday novel, Santa Bring Me a Ryan, is mostly set in Montana, because I wanted to capture that kind of cold, scenic setting. I have a personal connection with Missoula, and immediately knew this story needed to be set there.

What’s on the horizon for you? Books? Projects? Whatever?

My next book is called The Celebrity Look-Alike. It’s about a small-town girl who gets the role of her life to become a movie star girlfriend’s look-alike. My goal is to publish it in February/March. (Insider’s tip: This is a fabulous project. An absolute must read when it hits the cyber-shelves.)

Am I sensing a potential plot featuring a “Virtual” Assistant, Rene?

Do you indie-publish or traditionally publish?
I indie-publish, and it has been challenging and gratifying. I like being able to make all of the decisions and having carte blanche on the creative process. But it’s hard when you’re a one-woman show. There are a lot of balls to keep in the air, and I feel like I can’t always juggle them. A virtual assistant is an option that I may consider in the future.


What challenges have you faced?
Ads are a hard nut to crack: How many to run? How often? And for how long? And staying on top of social media is tough, too. It’s hard to balance hey-this-thing-I-saw-was-cool posts with me-me-me posts and buy-my-book posts. I’m still working on the right formula. On my to do list: looking into a social marketing tool like Buffer or HootSuite so I can schedule posts. (Later is also good. I’m trying to get to that–but later seems to be all I can manage. LoL!!)


Now for some soul searching. How should a writer define his or her success, Rene?
I think the measure for success varies for each writer. For some, success may be the act of publishing a book on Amazon–of simply getting a book written and “out there”–and the amount of sales may not be a concern. For others, finding an agent and getting traditionally published is the measure for success. And for indie authors, success may be getting on a bestsellers list like Amazon or generating a certain amount of sales or revenue per month. For each writer, establishing a definition for success is key, especially one that is measurable. It provides a goal, which turns into a game plan, and keeps you moving forward. We just can’t be discouraged if we miss our mark. Being flexible and gentle on ourselves is important–we can’t forget that writing is supposed to be fun! (And if you wonder why I’m keen on passing on the wisdom and wit of Rene Penn, there you have it. THE answer!)

Now for grins and giggles. What’s your favorite animal?

I’m sorry. It’s the dander!

I love dogs, but I’m allergic to most. As a child, I was scared of them. Now, I try to pet all of the dogs in the neighborhood! (I try petting the squirrels. LoL. But getting to know the furry ones is fun, no? I hope your allergies go away.)

What would you do if you won the lotto?

I’d be selfish at first. (Three cheers for honesty!) I’d want to buy a house—my husband and I are house-hunting now since our big move to southern California recently. (Prayers for Rene here. House-hunting–especially after a cross country move is daunting. We need some prayer warriors to engage God’s grace and plead mercy for this darling couple.) I’d also want to help family members with mortgages. Then, it would be nice to start creative writing scholarships at colleges and make large donations to writing centers, YMCAs, rescue animal centers, and cancer treatment centers. (YES! YES! YES!!)

*********************************************************************

Well, we’re at the end of this interview, people, but the yesses absolutely have it. Thank you Renee. You’re the bomb. A shot of joy and humor fans of rom-com and down-to-earth realists can’t afford to miss. (I’m missing you already since you moved to California. Sniff, sniff.) If you’d like to learn more about my soul sister, here goes:

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Rene-Penn/e/B07V3P7J61/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Blog: https://renepenn.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rene_penn

Feel free to follow us both. Write us. Comment. Tell us WHAT YOU’D LIKE TO READ. We’d be tickled if you did whether you’re a reader, writer, or both. Interested parties of any persuasion are always welcome as information and a communicated exchange of ideas is where its at.

Write ON!

Categories
Author Recommendation CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS Holiday Musings

Merry Christmas~and the very best of the season’s greetings to ALL!

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Let me start by saying THANK YOU for the well wishes, prayer, and positive thoughts offered for a happy family reunion. Las Vegas was the bomb. A complete success and an entree to more of the same–warm family gatherings where “being there” for each other is the top priority.

In between Black Jack successes — the Grinch is seriously blessed in this way — slot machines, “Staying Alive” with the Australian Bee Gees, and Beetles LOVE (an utterly amazing experience at the Mirage one must witness to believe), our family moved forward to a new understanding. A new bond of acceptance, support, and mutual appreciation. (That happens when you get old. LoL.)

Much like my experience here with my extended writer’s/readers community. Being real is so much better than the false fronts we too often come to believe we need. (I still have some old habits to shed, but I’m working on it ;^)

So here’s a taste of the fun we had:

It was “Club MO” that was the real success. The make-shift disco where we could “relive” the ’70s in boogie-nights fashion. LoL. If you get the chance to go–GO!
If you’re “into” Beatles, you’ll dig this. If you’re not, you’ll be awed by the visual, audio, experiential buffet that supplies something for everyone–even the marvel-seeker who has to see things to believe them!
Clara Bow–the “IT Girl” flapper of the ’20s–would turn heads today. And how! Visiting the Mob Museum’s speakeasy taught me something of my grandparent’s world–times change, but people don’t. If liquor ever got outlawed, I just may turn to bootlegging–it’s in the blood!

Of course, there was plenty of GOOD EATS! We dined at Sinatra’s at the Encore (The Vegas must have for the Paisan in all of us) and Gordon Ramsay’s Steak House at the Paris–if you’re into MEAT, this is the place to go. And the Mob Museum–a relatively new addition to the Vegas experience–proved to be highly educational.

The colorful display of softcover, hard-boiled mystery novels from HARD CASE CRIME in the Mob Museum gift shop touched my core.

FABULOUS introspection and character development. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!

I absolutely love the straight-shooting, first person narratives of what “could” happen to a regular Joe in a big, bad city. HARD CASE is dedicated to revisiting the era of pulp fiction classics, providing reprints of cult classics from authors like Donald E. Westlake and new infusions by today’s talented authors–Stephen King to name a more popular contributor.

Books are a lot like people. You may not relate to every one, but each has a unique something to offer. A tale to tell. A lesson to teach. A voice Taking the time to listen–sans judgement–can be the best way to grow and find that elusive peace that we all seek this time of year. And all year round.

Thank you all. Merry Christmas. Peace be to you. And blessings for one all–all year long.

Write on!

Categories
Author Interview Author Recommendation CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS

Sydney Winthrop, boxed-set sister #3, discusses the slings and arrows of “supportive” family! Special guest star: Last Light Falling’s Jay Plemons!

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All right, guys, the countdown to Christmas is ticking. LOUDLY. It seems that way with deadlines, real or self-imposed, going blizzard in the confines of an otherwise calm headspace.

Imagine this scrolling in your mind when you’re supposed to be sleeping. Pretty menacing, no?

But I’m the nervous type who often imagines things being far worse than they are–could be why I write Romantic Suspense in between sweeter, contemporary romantic offerings like Her Toronto Tycoon! (Mercy Nation: Diamond Dogs Book 3 and a host of other sweet, but deadly romances are on the horizon.)

I’m absolutely not alone, though. My boxed-set sister, the multi-published, prolific Sydney Winthrop is right beside me in the metaphorical trenches. So let’s get to it.

(Warning: This is going to be a quickie. My black sheep family reunion in Vegas–a real nail biter–is under a week away. (That’s a shout out for prayers in case you were wondering. I’d prefer a Merry Christmas instead of headlining the news.) **********************************

1.) So, Sydney, are you a panster or a plotter? And why? (What does method bring to your stories?)

Am I the ONLY plotter?

I am totally a panster. I have a friend who completely outlines her story before she writes a word. One day I asked her, “How did you know who the murderer was?” She looked at me in astonishment and quipped, “How can you NOT?” (Team panster scores – AGAIN!)

My characters speak to me as I go. In Fibers of Freedom, I thought Brutus Keller was the bad guy and figured I’d either kill him off or he’d go to jail! He turned into a good guy, fortunately for Duo of Death and Romance, as he’s one of the billionaires! (I‘m glad this Brutus didn’t get in close for the kill!)

2.) Do you find family to be a support, a distraction, or an integral element of your writer’s life?

Writers may not be Julius Caesar, but naysayers are often those who envy our position and throw their lot in with those who would kill us. If not in truth, then absolutely in spirit! Watch out!

Two days ago, I would have said they were a support. Today, I have to say, they are not all in support. My husband is, unequivocally. So is my mother! (That’s experience talking.)

One of my daughters has voiced the opinion I’d make more money in a real job and should do so. (OUCH!) Well, true. I would make more money. It’s up to us as writers, however, to make writing a real job.

3.) Tell us a little about the method you bring when you sit down ‘not to work.’ My sweet spot for invention is between 2 and 5 in the afternoon. Mornings I edit. Around those times, if writing is a real job to me, I need to update my book bibles. File. Blog. Market. Research. Learn what other authors in my genre are blogging. That is all work related to my job. (And clearly visible to those like your husband, good man, and your dear mother who likely know better what constitutes a real job!)

Does it pay real money? And how long do I continue before I decide I need a real job? That answer is different for each one of us.

************************************************************************

Sydney’s kept pretty busy not working! Check it out on Amazon!

No, kidding, Sydney. Self-determination gives rise to GREAT authors, fantastic fiction, and worthwhile experiences. Gray has its place, but not globbed over everything. So, good on ya, Sis, for the amazing display of patience, wisdom, and restraint–qualities that are required in any startup when dealing with those “frenemies” who would get close to better position the knife. (Et Tu, Brute?)

But it’s that time of year. My gift to my readers, my sister Stacey, and to those naysayers who may foolishly believe that real jobs are all about paychecks, are the wise words of Jay Plemons, a very talented author who is seasoned in following where the spirit leads. This charitable soul lifted me up from my own puddle of WHAT when I was splattered by friendly fire only last month. (Out of the mouths of babes.)

Jay’s words: I support you all the way. Never give up a talent that makes you happy. You’re awesome! (Isn’t THAT awesome? Talk about finding your tribe.)

And the message? We’re each tasked with a variety of jobs. One of which is the primary care and feeding of our true selves. Jay’s writing is raw and real. But if you’re keen to explore the edgy depths of a dystopian world to find exactly what faith can do, read him. Meanwhile, Sydney and I will tool the avenues of inspirational romantic suspense–and sweet contemporary–taking readers on our journey of self-discovery, wherever that may lead. A job, yes, but also a joy. Much like my writing and reading family!

I’d like to thank Sydney, Jay, and each and every one of you. Thank you for being yourselves, frenemies included. To discover more about the works of Sydney Winthrop, stop by her author page:

http://bit.ly/SYDNEYWINTHROP

Read more about Jay Plemons at:

https://www.lastlightfalling.com/

Write on!

Categories
CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS Writer's Tool Box

Audio STAY-Cation. The best little getaway that takes you where you SHOULD go!

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Snoopy is a TOTAL bonus!

Okay. This great pic of Neil Diamond–the soulful enchanter who can still capture the masses–is floating around on Facebook.

Best thing? I’m now listening to “Sweet Caroline,” and feeling darned sweet. Hallelujah. Yes, there are personal issues that could translate into a crown-of-thorns, but thoughts matter.

Where do you want your thoughts to be?

It’s about free will. Taking charge instead of being dragged helpless to the dark side. Think positive may sound corny, but upbeat brainwaves are often the greatest act of charity. To ourselves and others. Music–that’s melody and lyrics–fuels imagination. It helps alleviate those tensions that bunch our shoulders, block creativity, foment hate–another baddie to be avoided at all cost–and give us premature wrinkles. The wrinkles that crease our character and need ironing out are better avoided.

Indulge yourself–an act of pure charity!

Prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?

Okay, so I didn’t get the wording right. I “think” that’s not a big deal. (Get the idea?)

So think on that. Do you want to be positive? Create great BOOKS and an even better life? Tap into the soulful sounds of Neil Diamond or whatever artist takes you there. Wherever that happy place might be. FYI: Audio STAY-cations may be beneficial for your health. And the happiness of others!

Write on!

Categories
CARE AND FEEDING OF WRITERS

To Burn or not to Burn!

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Wegmans where are you???

That’s my question. It all began – well, recently anyway – with a Friday fish quest. Youngest kiddo and I – that’s Nick aged 20 – set out early to Wegmans. A great place for food if you don’t get lost and hungry on the way. Needless to say, yours truly, driving our red Dodge Ram sans GPS got lost. I’m not admitting for how long, but it took me a while to heed Nick’s encouragement to retrace our route and head for Harris Teeter. Virtually down the street, a straight shot albeit a long one. (My son would make an excellent hostage negotiator, psychiatrist, etc., etc., etc. Brag off.)

What makes a good fish go bad? No comment — who am I to judge fish behavior?

Anyway, afternoon came and Greg—my beloved mattress thieving Grinch—fried up our catch of the day. Gak. That was my reaction coming down from my writing lair to a cloud of unmentionables. How could it be? The fish looked good. Nothing like the lurid aroma wafting up the stairwell crept over the counter when the fish-man smiled and wrapped it up. Like a good soldier, though, I proceeded to eat what was set before me. (I always do having been the youngest of eight.) To my delight, my husband admitted the fish was awful. Gag worthy. Both the tuna and the swordfish steaks. Thank God, my effort to down the stuff ceased. But…

The Grinch may be a brown-shoe sailor at heart, but he wears suits now–every day!

How could this be? I’d tried so hard to bring home the proverbial bacon. Suffice to say, after I trotted plastic wrapped lovelies out to the garbage can, I was burning. Not angry so much as frustrated. The house wreaked. The reminder of my failed quest lingered and I wasn’t going to stand for it. Greg wasn’t either. Getting lost all the time is bad enough, but when your husband barks Lysol like a Navy emergency drill it doesn’t make mom happy.

So, after the disinfectant, I lit up. That’s candles. Plumeria, Violet Fields, Honey Something, and a double-discount blue discount thingie that transformed everything. I was in control. Maybe out of control considering the odd combo of scents driving bad fish back to the sea. But it felt GREAT. It smelled fabulous. It still does as I’m on a burning roll.

But I ask you. Is it the benefits of aromatherapy working its magic here or am I simply gleeful about having a positive effect on my environment? To burn or not burn is now the question. Greg is on the verge of hiding candles. (He won’t admit that’s what he was doing when he removed the two I had on the kitchen counter and relocated them to places unknown until I asked.) Older daughter—Melanie my self-care angel—suggests the solution is a DIFFUSER.

Say what? I can get those lovely scents without reaching for my extendo-flex Bic lighter? I’ll be finding out. That is if Melanie decides to send that diffuser she insists will keep both Dad and I happy. The closet full of candle jars awaiting repurposing is overcrowded.

What do you use? Candles? Diffuser? An open window? What? Inquiring minds—those that rarely rest—need to know if only to mellow out and…

Write on!

Categories
Writer's Tool Box Writing TIPS

Overcoming Summer Stall: A writer’s guide to get going.

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It’s supposed to be FUN!

Summer is here and I’m so glad. The gentle breezes, the abundance of birds and squirrels, the SUN. I never believed I was dependent on the latter. Having grown up in San Jose, California, I took sunshine for granted. Truth is I longed as a child to move somewhere I could experience real weather. Storms, snow, tornado force winds.

Be careful what you wish for is my answer to that wanderlust now. The shift from bright and shiny often leads to getting stuck. Not in snow, but the mire of our own minds.

We often carry around our own personal clouds.

That’s how it’s been for me these past months. Yes, we’re grieving the loss of a dear friend. Any and all prayers for the repose of the soul of our sweet young Brandt – and the family whose sorrows far outstrip mine – are very much welcome. So too is the article in Psychology Today that is helping me overcome the frightful storm that has consumed me.

But here’s my take on the 7 steps outlined for mental health. The mental health of a writer in particular, those of us who are, by nature, sensitive observers of the world around us.

1. Let go of the past. 

Don’t hold on to those things that hold you back.

We need, as writers, to learn from the past, not beat ourselves up with it. If you didn’t write yesterday, that holds no bearing on your ability to write today. Unless you let it. The past can be a great steam engine, pushing us forward in a manner wherein we avoid landmines we’ve learned are out there. It can, if not properly managed, become that ill-fated albatross, flapping desperately against the phantoms that will only sap its energy until flying isn’t an option. (So let those portions of the past go that prove detrimental. Shut the door. Toss the memory. Better still, associate that memory with a new, positive action that will head you toward your new goals!)

2. Change your perspective. 

Not the straightest path, but a great way not to get lost in the trees.

This one seems easy, but can be tough if you haven’t cut ties with past demons. A change in perspective is more than a change in scenery. Step number two involves looking at reality in a new fashion. So you’re stalled. Great. It doesn’t feel good, but what if it did? Changing your attitude about the change in productivity is often the way to get back on track. Engines need fuel to run and so do writers. If you’re stalled, it could be a sign that you need to fill the tank. But being gentle with yourself – and taking that break from the routine – may be just what’s needed to blow out what’s bothering you. Different people, places, and things give our mind a much needed rest.

3. Start with small changes. 

The baby steps are all part of the journey!

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a new perspective. A sign of just how stuck I am is that I’ve been willfully cleaning the garage and breezeway. LoL. But you know what? It feels good. The breezeway sure looks better and my mind isn’t bogged down with what I think I “should” be doing when I go out there with my laptop. Same goes for embracing my nightly yoga routine – a tiny one – outlined by my son who shakes his head at his OCD mother’s lack of balance. But that’s part of the change, too. My kiddos aren’t small anymore. They can see what might help me. So I’m listening. Not a complete change as I’ve always tried to do that. But actually “doing” what’s suggested is different. And that feels great.

4. Explore your purpose. 

The building blocks of good fiction, but also a great way to analyze what kind of character you want to be. And what roadblocks are keeping you from getting there!

Seek meaning in your work. Dig deeper. If you’re out of touch, maybe it’s because your purpose has shifted. And that’s okay. Writers write. But they don’t have to write the same thing all the time. I’ve been woefully neglectful of my blog and perhaps that’s adding to my angst. Perhaps analysis is the way to go.

We writers embrace the premise of Goal, Motivation, Conflict when crafting our characters, but often fail to apply these faithful tools to ourselves. Want to create a great character? Dig into GMC. Find “your” purpose!  To entertain? Teach? Share? Uplift? Intrigue. Rediscover what you want to do with your writing and then check out the obstacles with a dispassionate precision. You won’t be sorry.

5. Believe in yourself. 

We’ve come a LONG way, baby!

It’s been said that people are often their own worst enemy. But we can also be our own best friend if we actively engage in believing in ourselves. And the potential of every new day. So change the toxic dialogue in your head. If you’re not making the progress you’d like in your project, welcome to the club. Celebrate what progress you are making. Lift the cloud of self-doubt and key on what you are accomplishing. Even a much needed break is worth lauding if that respite keeps the proverbial cheese from sliding off your cracker. We’re only human, but humans can achieve great things if they believe they can. Otherwise we’d all be living in caves.

6. Practice being hopeful. 

If you want peace, ask for it. Need directions? Look up from the confusion and seek those sources wherein answers are found every day. And knock without ceasing if you want to be let into the inner sanctum of knowing it’s going to be okay. The door will open if we’re patient with ourselves and others.

Treat pessimism like the pest it is. Would you let flies collect on your BBQ when you have hands to swat them away? I know I wouldn’t. (Another food reference, I know ;^) So don’t let your soul collect flies whose sole purpose is to sting and sully. Get back to basics. Do what’s needed to forestall the inevitable because the flies are out – in greater numbers during some seasons of our life. Pray, meditate, engage in those physical activities that will distract you from whatever poison threatens to dilute your hopes and hope on. We need to eat to stay alive, right? Well, we need to work on positivity — we need to pray — to stay positive. The alternative is is a very dark place.

7. Consider talking to a professional. 

Friends really DO make a difference!

In the Psych world, this means seeking a therapist. In the writer’s world, this can mean seeking a professional editor and mentor, or it can mean networking with fellow authors. We’re not alone. We’re not the “first” to experience these realities of the writer’s life. Far from it. Sometimes just getting the assurance that others have gone before and conquered this nasty malaise is enough to nudge a writer back into gear. Sometimes talking with friends is the break-thru we need to rediscover ourselves, the core of whatever we write. So don’t miss the opportunity presented by summer stall. It could be exactly what you need to…

Write on!

Categories
Holiday Musings Writer's Tool Box

First They Came for My Mattress: Out with the old!

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The Grinch is at it again, not skulking back to his hidey-hole on Mt. Crumpet as is proper come New Years.  The furred menace is targeting my desk this time. My trusty chair, too. But, if I’m honest, the set isn’t mine.

Oh, the glory of goldenrod and olive green

The spindly number—where I often opt not to write—belongs to my husband. Desk and chair originally decorated his childhood room. The prisoner of war hut with the beginnings of a tunnel dug under the floorboards ala Hogan’s Heroes. (I’m not kidding.)

Check out the vintage upholstery. That’s vintage re-upholstery. (My MIL tried to get me to redo the chair like she did way back when. No comment about my husband’s fantasies about childhood escape ;^) Makes your back ache just looking at it, right?

Been there done that enough for one lifetime!

That’s the problem. Random spasms and sciatic nerve zingers aren’t my idea of a HAPPY NEW YEAR. I’ve visited there before. And while I’m not hobbling yet, the too familiar quakes making me wince have got to go. Health issues aside, the writing life is serious business. The craftsmen needs his tools. Her tools! And while I didn’t begin this blog with a resolution in mind, I’m making one.

Out with the old. Toss old habits, old tools, and old whatever if it no longer works and/or causes you grief. (I’m not dumping myself but the clinging vine bit isn’t working. At least not with worn out furnishings.) Donating castoffs is a great way to overcome. Says the woman with separation anxiety. But, hey, someone in need of a child’s desk may squee over that which makes my back sob. (Second hand stores are the bomb!)

Boo has zero issue with new things. See it. Sniff it. Claim it.

And Boo is sure to appreciate the extra space. She’s been cramped lately what with me wanting to sit at the desk and open my laptop. She made sure to stop by and see what I was writing about.

So it’s no Grinch who wants to remove this beloved hazard and make way for a new desk set. But you knew that already.

Write on!

Categories
Holiday Musings

The Grinch Who Stole My Mattress

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The resemblance is uncanny, but this is not my husband

No, my husband is not Jim Carrey. He doesn’t have a shaggy, lime-green Grinch suit, but his insistence on taking away my Christmas comforts—all year comfort—has me cranky. Grinchy. In the mood to grouse, gripe, suspect everything, inspect and find shortcomings where none exist.

Why?

The man STOLE my mattress. You know when anyone says they just want to go home, they’re really talking about their bed. That’s their bed. Not some foreign thing that feels different, smells different, sleeps different—you get the idea.

But now, my pillow topped lovely bought at a Monkey Ward’s super sale—if you remember Montgomery Ward’s brick-and-mortar stores we should talk—is tossed out. Donated. (To whom I have no idea. Who would take a 27 year old mattress?)

Not the slumber party you were thinking of

The springy wonder where I bounced my babies and found countless hours of blessed end-of-the-day comfort is gone. Gone with the dust mites that likely called it home, too, but I’m a sharing person. No more pulling up the covers on old faithful and shinnying down to shut the world out for any of us.

Enter the Boll & Branch mattress. Hand-made. Organic cotton? There’s something like that in there. Endless layers of unknown substances—I don’t want to know—will now serve where my pillow top did just fine. Although their idea of California King doesn’t quite match the California Kings of old. Could be there are new sheets in the offing. It’s a conspiracy!!

My husband is buzzing with excitement. I should be too, right? You have to buy new sometime. And after nearly three decades of use, it was time. So why do I feel so bad? Resentful? Frustrated that my bed’s gone?

It’s not like I don’t have a place to sleep. I do. And it’s supposed to be fantastic. (It probably will be after the separation anxiety wears off. And here I thought I was a low maintenance person. LoL.)

First world problems are the worst. Reason being you feel like an idiot on top of having whatever issue you’re letting ruin your day—typically a non-issue. Sometimes you’re upset about something that should—and will—make you very happy.

That’s what I’m doing. Making something out of nothing. It’s just a mattress. It’s. A. NEW. Mattress. Time to own my inner Grinch and then let him go. I’ll sleep better.

Write on.

Categories
Wisdom Reblogged

NaNoWriMo, Cheating, Losing, and Winning

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NaNoWriMo aftermath. How do you feel?

GREAT, I hope. It’s over. And however much you accomplished, words are words, baby. Take it from my good pal, René Penn, author of Bachelorette Blogger.

She rocks.

Write on!