Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanks Giving - Day 327

Personal Stuff

It's no secret that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love that its focus is gratitude. In 2017, it falls on the 327th day of the year.

Because I am stubborn in my gratitude, I'm making a personal list of 327 things for which I'm grateful. Does that sound ridiculous? Impossible? I'm about halfway through, and it's not hard at all.

To those folks I'll see on Thursday, don't worry. I won't pull the list out out of my pocket to share around the table. Instead, I'll try to keep it in my heart and mind going forward.

If quizzed, I won't be able to remember each of the 327 items to recite aloud, but that's also not the point.

Life's challenges are easier to meet when I'm armed with gratitude, and with an outlook that's as positive as I can manage. A new challenge presented itself last week, and I'm preparing to deal with it long-term.

Besides gratitude and positivity, sunshine helps. It just does! And my daily walk, regardless of the weather, is as much about my emotional health as it is for my physical well-being.

Last week certainly didn't go as planned, and who knows what this one will bring. But as of this writing, it looks as if I'll have lots of time with friends and family during this nationwide official week of Thanksgiving. Both locals and those visiting from a distance.

Writing Stuff

I was honored to write a guest blog which was published last week. Click here to read "Serendipity Series Surprises" on Romancing the Genres.

I don't usually share this type of thing, but it's in most authors' minds right now. At an increasing rate, book sales are being sabotaged by those folks who pirate ebooks, and those who are scamming the system at vendor sites. Making a living as an author is more and more of a challenge. So that's the bad news.

The good news is that I'm stubbornly optimistic about possibilities. One of those is the sale of books to libraries. Many, if not all, libraries offer lending of ebooks. If you love my stories, please consider recommending them to your local librarian. (They are available through Overdrive and other distributors which serve libraries.) Once the library owns a copy of a book, patrons can check it out one at a time, just like a regular book, except when the loan period expires, the book "disappears" from your e-reader. It's so nifty! I often read ebooks from my library.

That's my quick update. I hope you're having a wonderful holiday week. If you're not, take a break and make a gratitude list. Try for five items, but don't be surprised if you keep on going.

Until next time, happy reading!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Advice, Alignment, and Mashed Potatoes

A writer friend recently sent me the link to I Talked to 150 Writers and Here's the Best Advice They Had - by Joe Fassler. As my friend anticipated, I found this article quite fascinating, and gleaned some points for continued thought. I'm always ready to read about (and potentially learn and incorporate) better ways of doing this writing gig. Mr. Fassler's seven points of best writing advice, and where I stand on each:

1. Neglect everything else. 
I stink at time management. Either I don't whittle down the items that get my attention, and try to do everything--or else I cut out the things that I should do, and spend time on what doesn't really matter. Once in a while, I get it just right. It's a fabulous feeling!

2. Beginnings matter.
 William Gibson's requirement: “The first line must convince me that it somehow embodies the entire unwritten text.” 

I was only brave enough to look at the first sentence in each of my Serendipity books. The best two: 

There was only one thing that could have brought me back to Serendipity, Indiana, and that was the Osborne house.

 Turn the page, Emily.
I didn't say they were great. I just said they were the best of my nine Serendipity books.

3. Follow the headlights.
Mr. Fassler says, "Throw out all your plans and assumptions, and make room to surprise yourself." 

I really, really love this. It makes me happy just re-reading his sentence! The Blank Book was written exactly that way.

4. Sound it out.
Reading a manuscript aloud makes all the difference. A friend of mine who owned a publishing company gave her authors this advice. I haven't always followed it, but I should have.

5. It's supposed to be difficult.
Is it encouraging to know that authors (famous or infamous, of all calibers) say that writing is hard work, and ever gets easier? Well, no--except it's nice to be reminded I'm in fine company as I pace the floor or throw myself on the bed, trying to come up with what happens next in a story. (For those times when the headlights are on dim, or have burned out.)

6. Keep a totem.
I've never done this very well, but a cousin gave me the darling miniature "typewriter" pictured above. The top opens to reveal a treasure box. I keep my Romance Writers of America Published Author Network pin in it, and it sits on my writing table.

7. Find the joy.
I wrote a blog about reclaiming the joy of writing. That doesn't mean I've totally reclaimed it, but that I realized I had lost it. It's a step, right?

Another Blog Post that got my attention

Joshua Becker, one of my favorite authors about the minimalist lifestyle, published a blog today entitled, "Don't Trade Your Passion Just to Gain the World." Another riveting read. As he suggests, I wrote down my list of three priorities, and am examining my life to see how well my actions align with those three points of focus. (Answer: needs work!)
In the end, we’re all going to ask ourselves, "Were the things I devoted my life to worth it?"  --Joshua Becker
I've simplified my life in order to concentrate on what matters, but sometimes I still fail at that. This is similar to my situation with item #1 in Mr. Fassler's seven-item list. The good news: I can start working now to turn this ship around.

And then I read an article about brain health...

...and, just in time for the over-eating season--stuffing! mashed potatoes! a paradise of pies!--I will be decreasing my intake of sugar and other carbs, and increasing daily exercise. It will be a bit of a challenge, but not impossible. I try to walk three miles six days a week, but when you live in a studio apartment, there's not a lot of walking indoors during the day. I'm setting a timer to get out of my writing chair every half hour and use my stepper for five minutes.

Miss Minimalist's article on the Minimalist Diet dovetails nicely. I don't have to avoid all the pitch-in dinner goodies, but just decrease the amount of each. I hadn't been to Francine Jay's blog in a while, and am glad I popped over there to see this.

So that's my blog post-reading roundup. Not that I meant to write a blog post roundup, but the daggone things kept presenting themselves, and fit together just right.

And who am I to ignore the headlights?

Until next time--happy reading!