CHEERS TO THE HOLDAYS

images_271This is the most fun-time of the year. Family members snooping in closets, under beds, and anywhere they can remember, from last year, where presents were hid. And yes, the trips to stores to drop gifts, unwrapped, off at the places for families who need gifts. This is the important part of the holiday season…sharing. Giving rather than receiving.
I remember years ago, my parents driving me and a backseat full of gifts to parts of town I did not know existed. When we stopped in front of homes, some of them did not have lights, but candles. I thought this was neat, until my mom told me the truth about their candles. Even today, I have problems with lighting candles, except at church.
Still we all know there are discrepancies in the lives of people we know and people we do not know. It becomes our cheer to give to those whose lives are not as fortunate
as ours.

One family we encountered had two little boys….all I could think of was balls, toys, warm clothes, until the oldest kept looking around and shaking his head. When I asked if he was okay, he nodded and turned to go still looking around. “Did you loose something?” I asked. The answer came back in a whisper…”No, guess Santa never heard me.”

“What did you want from Santa?”

“A new coat for my mom, and a puppy for my brother.”

My heart dropped down to my knees. He wanted for his mom and his brother but nothing for him. “Maybe, Santa had his sleigh full and couldn’t get these inside. If he doesn’t come back tonight, we will search for him tomorrow.”

“Really, you’d help me?”

My dad turned his head around and surprised me….”Of course, but you need to keep this a secret.”

The little boy’s eyes widened as he shook his head up and down.

“If we can find Santa tonight, we’ll be back; but if we have to wait until Christmas Day, we may be a little late.”

“Okay.”

No other response. This little boy believed both of us.

“Dad, what are we going to do?”

“Everything except the puppy. They can’t feed their own family, and certainly not a dog. But, you, my daughter, will take him to the Animal Shelter and let him play with all the dogs he and his brother can handle.  AND…This will be once a month for the next year.”

I noticed the change in my Dad’s voice and I knew what he meant. A promise is your word to another person and it cannot be broken.

The next day, we drove by their house. The candles were all lit, singing came through the cracks in the doors and windows. It was a happy sound, and next to me was a huge hairy dog. We opened up car doors and started toward the house. The singing stopped, and the family members met us on the rickety front porch.

“We found Santa,” my dad hollered, but he only had a few things left. “A new coat for mom, a new flannel shirt for dad, clothes for both of you boys, and a new part-time pet. Meet, “Big Boy.” We will bring him by every so often and my daughter will take you with her to help at the animal shelter. Santa smiled as he got his sleigh off toward the North Pole.

“Merry Christmas to all who believe.”

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Inspire Yourself

images_032How do you inspire yourself when your thoughts seem to be made of clay. Nothing sticks together or when it does, there is no form or clarity to the mold. Some days, my computer screen stays empty. No matter what I write, my words make no sense. Okay, maybe a new sheet of paper will inspire me to write by hand all my thoughts. Oops! Another blank page. Music, this will give me a different inspiration. Soon, I am busy changing stations or channels on the television. Nothing begins to form. And then I get an uneasy feeling–something is not right.

When we need inspiration, we need to get out of our rut by getting out of our writing space. Exploration is a great way to begin. We need something different, or we need to ‘people’ watch, or be with other people. Sitting at a desk, staring at a computer screen or blank notebook, is a lonely life unless you include others into your space. Balancing your life is one important part of the inspiration process. You need a regular schedule that includes, exercise, fun, checking out new places, and getting out with friends. This means getting your life back in balance and when you do, your writing will improve and the blank screen will be full of new words.

Remember, you do not have to go around the world for inspiration, this will come naturally when you become alive and do what you like. When you get outside your writing world, there is another world waiting for you to explore. This other world is your inspiration for writing.  Confused? No way.

Obstacles are there to make certain you know how to overcome them and live your passions to the fullest. Writing is a passion and your creative passion can fulfill your dreams.

Live life. Enjoy life. Be passionate and your writing will show this.

HAPPY WRITING.  HAPPY INSPIRATION(S). HAPPY YOU.

 

 

 

FAILURE EQUALS SUCCESS?

pen and inkI can hear the wheels in your head screeching. What trick is this? Who would want failure? To give you a better picture, Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

In my Georgia Romance Writers Group, we have a program that honors rejection letters and at the end of the year, the writer with the most rejections receives a prize. What does this mean to writers? You are busy writing and submitting your stories/novels. You are continuing to do this in an attempt to get published. Courage? You’d better believe it. Embarrassed? Why? You are working hard, getting rejected, and you keep writing and submitting and  rejected until that special letter or phone call comes in…we want you to send the FULL manuscript…this little statement has made all the hard work worthwhile. Still, it is not a done deal. So, you keep writing and writing and submitting and submitting. As a writer, this is the blood that flows through our veins and keeps us going. Is this failure? It depends on how a person looks at the situation and themselves. This could happen to anyone, not just writers.

You apply for a position and feel confident about the interview. A week or two goes by and you hear nothing. So you wait a few more days before you make the call. You learn another person, more qualified, has been hired. Do you stop looking at the employment ads or do you keep sending in applications. The FAILURE would stop, but SUCCESS keeps reading the want-ads. However, instead of answering a bunch of employment advertisements, you list your qualifications, past employment history, make certain these are what the position involves, and be prepared. This is working from the success side.

As writers, we are in the same position. We are told it will be a rough ride to publication, and yet we find ourselves sending query letters to agents who do not represent our genre or maybe we hope they overlook this area. Wrong. One of the first things we learn…read the rules and qualifications of the agent and see if your work fits the categories.

As you proceed in your search, no matter what area, take a good look at your skills. Are you familiar with new technology? Do you need to brush up on your computer skills? How long has it been since you attended any conferences or meetings? Do you belong to any networking areas, a book club, or groups in your church or neighborhood? Do you volunteer for any events? These are avenues of successful people. Failure is sometimes being lazy and hoping you’ll get recognized. Success is taking your measurements and making certain you update these often.

Failure is not the end, but the beginning of a new way of thinking, being, and doing. Setbacks are sure to come along the roads you travel, but you can handle a detour. Sometimes they are as important as a straight road.

Happy Journeys.  Happy Detours.  Happy Writing.

I DON’T HAVE TIME…

images_014Who does, but that’s the point of this blog. I should be doing laundry, making out a new “to-do” list, answering email, anything but sitting here striking at the letters on the keyboard, OR is this what I should be doing and letting other things get done later? I choose this and will not sweat the small stuff, if the dinner salad does not have a tomato sliced in it, or the laundry does not get done until tomorrow. I’m not going anywhere and the jeans I have on are clean, my sweatshirt is clean and warm. Hey, even the coffee pot is still warm.

Yet, there are times we tend to make our “to-do” lists bigger than necessary, and still leave room to add more on at the bottom. Sometimes, this makes us feel important, until we cannot cross off even one item. The more we have to do, the more we can do, right? Not since the last time I looked at my list before the shredder ate everything off the paper.?

Yes, there are always errands to run, appointments for doctors, dentists and other important items, and once these get accomplished, we can write. WRONG. Somewhere down the list, we forgot to enter in our writing time. For a lot of writers, published and not-yet published, this is foremost the important part of our lives. Why? There is no list needed to remind us to write. Writers write and we are the writers. But if you are new to the living world of writers, you might use a big, like huge, colorful sticky on your computer. This will trigger your mind to know what you should be doing.

Even if you have fifteen minutes, you can write. You might read over what you wrote earlier, do a touch-up to a few words (better known as a revision). Or, you might get in the mood with ‘Morning Pages.’ Remember The Artist’s Way and the morning pages? These pages are for no one but you. You can scribble, draw pictures, develop your lovely lady or find ways to make hero a great villain and likeable at the same time.

What helps a writer is to establish a routine, but make certain it is not chiseled in stone. Another idea is to write even when you don’t know what you will write. This is one of the best ways to begin and follow your heart with words. Writing every day sets the pattern of a writer, but writing every day at the same time helps your writing become more efficient. Sure, we stumble along the path and when that happens, step back, take a deep breath and think small. You are not sitting down to write the complete manuscript at one time, rather scenes of the manuscript.

And, be prepared to write and write and write. Sometimes garbage fills the page, but before you delete or cross through, keep your writing just the way you put it on the screen. You never know when these words may be just the ones you need at a certain scene in your manuscript. Remember, writing is never finished until you add “THE END” to the last page, and then you may make many more changes again.

Happy Writing Every Day. Happy Morning Pages. Happy Garbage Writing.

JUST WRITE

REVISION (S)

images_028Does this word scare you? If so, think again and use part of this word as a positive attitude of writing. The word we need to focus on is VISION.

How many times do we read, read, and read our work again. Each time we can find something we missed the last time we read through the W-H-O-L-E manuscript. We get upset at the mistakes we noticed again and sometimes we are so used to seeing our manuscript, we do not read, rather glance over each page. If we use ‘track changes’ or the ‘balloon inserts,’ we might not even double-check them. Why? We did that the last time.

Still there are errors to clean up, names to keep straight, dates, ‘oh my’ the dates, and the seasons. The protagonist cannot be caught in her bikini with snow drifts piled beside the pool. Or the hero sweltering in his overcoat as the sun beats down on the pavement and he races to catch the thief.

Silly thoughts? Of course, but we all make mistakes, and then we hear via an email or received the manuscript back with “this still needs revising,” written in ink all over the first page. It becomes time for the hair-pulling exercise. Yes, our hands to our own head and a few yanks close to the roots.

So instead of going bald, try something new. As we start to read again, all 400 or so pages, look with the word VISION in mind. Each area showing red marks, balloon inserts or other identifying track changes, stop. Can we change this? Is that what we meant to say or show or were we directing our characters? Play around with each marked-up area and listen to what your characters say to you or even show you what can be done to make then more active, more alluring, and even more dangerous.

When we turn off the vision censor, we can let go and see a different setting, a new twist, another layer of the character that wasn’t there before. Maybe, just maybe, we peel away more layers and find the sequel to this manuscript. Then, as we continue with the Vision Process, we become more in step with our writing and our characters. We let our characters have free rein, and sometimes have to curb their intentions.

Is this REVISION? Yes, but with a new twist. We are listening to our characters, seeing improvements to our manuscript, but do we use everything? No. We make adjustments and modifications to our story, save some for the sequel. As we travel through each page, we review, reconsider, find expansions to our story. As we progress, we might even develop new plots to have our characters undertake or risk.

Revision now becomes a mission as we make corrections and let our characters express themselves in different gambles. This makes the VISION of REVISION work for our manuscript.

Happy Revisions. Happy Visions. Happy Writing.

HAVE YOU HAD LAUGHTER THIS WEEK?

WheeeeeeSmile at yourself. Smile at others. Smile at nothing. Did you know that smiling uses all the muscles on your face? Try smiling at yourself in the mirror and notice the difference in your expressions:  eyes sparkle, cheeks puff out, lips turn upward, only to mention a few muscles. Okay, you’re still looking at yourself in the mirror. You feel better, happier, and the problems of the day do not seem as great. Okay, now frown at yourself and all the happiness goes out of the person in the mirror. The feeling of drowning in your own body makes your breathing shallow, your heart beats a little faster, and all the problems of the day wrap around your neck. Step back from the mirror, turn around a couple of times, and then check the face in the mirror with a smile. A happy face equals a happy you. A happy you and you are in charge of your stress. Add a little bit of laughter and your tensions relax and your whole body feels the change.

Take a deep breath, then another, then another, and soon you can feel the tension slip out with each exhale. Practice this and enjoy this deep breathing and soon it will become a part of your daily life.

Taking good care of yourself,  relaxing, and enjoying life leads to a better and healthier you. And the best part is laughter. Laughter shared with yourself is great, but imagine laughter shared with friends. The cost is nothing, but the rewards are plenty. Do you know laughter boosts the heart and helps reduce the stress? Stress has a way of working its way into our lives and we don’t recognize this until it affects our health.

Laughter also improves our brain functions. We are able to retain information longer, enjoy our daily functions better, and why not? Laughter is contagious. Share your laughter with all you meet:  friends, strangers walking down the street, or driving in the car next to yours. You will find they smile back and don’t even know it.

Laugh at nothing and you will find this is a contagious, healthy, way to share something someone may never get today. Make laughter your signature, whether at something silly or yourself. You will feel SOOOO good.

Happy you. Laughing you. Happy writing to you.

EXERCISE IS FUN

Yes, this should be about fun, parties, and everything that goes along with the Holiday Season, but it is. The exercise I’m talking about comes with the fabulous group of Silver Sneakers I have the honor of being their instructor.

Yes, we work hard every time we come into class. We stretch and stretch with the Yoga Stretch classes. We learn how to balance so our bodies can experience new poses and the stress of the day, time, month slide off the top. Then we learn how to combine the workout to strengthen our muscles, and put the balance to work as we squat, and squat, and squat. Never, do we go overboard. We work hard to make our muscles work for us. Like lifting weights and the ugh bicep curls. We use these muscles every day: picking up groceries, putting the clothes in the washer, shaking them into the dryer, and the important one – picking up the grand-kids.

We also work on the Cardio end of the scale to give our hearts the ability to help us each day. The rule is to do what you can and not push yourselves over your limit. Cardio can be doing a little more than we thought we could, but never over the limit.

We have a great room to workout in and welcome everyone; newbies, seasoned, and always have some oldies come back and surprise us with visits. We also combine fun with our exercises and our program. You never know what will pop up and give all of us a great laugh.

We do know how to party and express our new-found energy with different avenues. This is a set-up for the following pictures – our Holiday Luncheon. If you are new to Atlanta, been afraid to venture out to a ‘gym,’ fear not. We will welcome you, add you to our group, and begin exercising and having fun. You can find us at AGX, in the Blee Shopping Center in Chamblee, Georgia. No special clothes, just come and be with us as we go forward in to the new year.

Here are the pics to show our fun at the Hudson Grille in Brookhaven. I am fortunate, no Blessed, to have all the group at our SS program. Come be part of our group and learn how to exercise and have fun.

No, this is not my usual writing theme, but what stories can be written by the successes of our group.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2015 for your Good Health.

Patricia

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