Tag Archives: motivation

A BABE IN THE WOODS

I have a confession to make . . .

I’m freaking out a bit.

You see, I’ve agreed to be one of several authors at a  local venue next week for a book signing! What the hell was I thinking?

I have personally witnessed book signings (by others) about four times in my entire life. Two of those times were for my indie author husband, where my participation involved ironing the table covers and making sure there were cookies for his “fans.” Not exactly activities I could include on my resume as “book signing experience.”

What I do know:

Bring 10,000 copies of my book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia”                                                                  Wait a minute . . . did I say 10,000? . . .  I meant 10.

Bring a pen (that works). On second thought —better bring two.

Bring a table cover (freshly ironed, of course)

Bring the clever(?) bookmarks I spent hours designing and re-designing to give away to anyone who gets within three miles of my table. (I do know how to make paper airplanes!)

Bring business cards — to make it easy for reps from those big publishing houses and movie moguls to contact me day or night! (Think positive…think positive…think positive)

Bring a stiff upper lip —so I don’t dissolve into a puddle of disappointment if no one shows up — or worse, if people show up, but no one buys my book…or, God forbid, doesn’t even talk to me.

Oh damn! I almost forgot —bring cookies!

 

Seriously folks . . . if any of you, Dear Readers, have  helpful  advice to get me through this horror show called “A Book Signing,” I will be checking back every day for the next week to read your comments.

It’s so weird — I keep hearing Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” in my head. Sorry to leave you with that ear-worm!

 

TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Sometimes when writing, you are required to go back to some point in time in your own past to recall a scent, a touch, an emotion, or perhaps a scene, in order to convey an experience your readers can relate to.

When you do that, it can be difficult to relive a moment that evokes the gut-wrenching pain of an emotionally draining event. There are also the memories of embarrassment or shame that somehow have to become a series of words forming sentences on a page, which draw your readers into another world.

In reality, it’s a black and white sketchbook of word-pictures drawn from the author’s most intimate life experiences.

This grueling process could explain the far-away stare emanating from that dreamer, whose morning beverage is getting cold next to their laptop perched upon the corner table, in the coffee shop where you stop every day on your way to work.

Don’t try to disturb them. You can’t. They won’t hear you. They are not in this world. They are creating new ones for you to enjoy.

(Featured image:  Memory Extraction Spell – Harry Potter)

 

MIND GAMES

Ever wonder why many old people get along so well with little kids? I think I’ve found the answer!

Young brains are constantly absorbing everything in the world around them for the first time. Old brains have stored so much they get to the point where they have to release some of what they’ve accumulated, or their heads will explode.

The logical thing for the elderly to do is hang out with little kids and shower their tiny brains with old people’s excess creativity. Problem solved.

“Psychology Today” in 2009, provided this more scientific blurb, for those of you who like sciencey-type explanations…

“Finally, intelligence studies indicate that older individuals have access to an increasing store of knowledge gained over a lifetime of learning and experience. Combining bits of knowledge into novel and original ideas is what the creative brain is all about. Thus, having access to increased internal warehouse of knowledge provides fertile ground for creative activity in the aging brain.

Many seniors are already making a mark for themselves in creative fields. Consider Millard Kaufman, who wrote his first novel, the hit book Bowl of Cherries, at age 90. Then there’s 93-year-old Lorna Page, who caused waves in Britain with her first novel A Dangerous Weakness. Following in the footsteps of Grandma Moses (who did not take up painting until in her 70’s), former patent attorney John Root Hopkins turned to art in his 70’s and had a showing of his work in the American Visionary Art Museum at age 73. There are numerous examples throughout history of the creative power of the aging brain: Benjamin Franklin invented the bifocal lens at the age of 78, Thomas Hardy published a book of lyric poetry at age 85, Frank Lloyd Wright completed the design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York at and 92, and Giuseppe Verdi wrote Falstaff, perhaps his most acclaimed opera, at the age of 85.”

This explains, quite clearly, why I wrote my first book and started this blog at the age of 152!

 

NO RETREAT … NO SURRENDER!

I WON A “MAJOR AWARD!”  (Think: A Christmas Story – leg lamp) — back in December, 2015.

It turned out to be a legitimate random drawing for three nights and four days at “When Words Count Retreat” in Rochester, Vermont, for myself and a guest. My husband  and I checked in last Thursday!

We had no idea what to expect.

We became a bit concerned after traveling the last mile of our journey from southern New Jersey on a gravel-covered, narrow, backwoods road, and joked about “The Blair Witch Project”—(thanking God it was daytime).

Blair Witch image

 BUT, WE WERE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED (and relieved)  WHEN 

…we pulled into the drive of a lovely white farmhouse sporting a welcoming red door.IMG_2395

Behind that door was a total writer’s paradise. In between the fabulous gourmet meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner—and the cocktails, of course!) there was uninterrupted writing time! A concept completely foreign to me, until last week.

In the evenings, guests read portions of their current work, and the rest (including our host, Steve Eisner) critiqued what was read, in a professional, caring, and encouraging way.

With the food, the new friends we made, the spectacular mountain views, and crystal clear air,  we felt completely pampered.

If you ever get the chance to go—do it!

SURRENDER to this, or some other RETREAT!

Your “Work in Progress” (and your soul) will be glad you did!

Have you ever attended a “writer’s retreat?” If you have, please share your experience (good or bad) in the “Comments.”

I’d love to hear your stories!

 

*******TRUST YOUR GUT!*******

Excerpt from PhillyVoice

Lightbulb Bridge
Light bulb acts as bridge across metaphorical cliffs.
March 12, 2016
Drexel study: Insight yields better solutions than analytical approach

DOES THIS CONFIRM THE ADAGE FROM THE 60’s—”IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT?”

When researchers from Drexel University, Northwestern University, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, and Italy’s Milano Bicocca University conducted a series of puzzle experiments that tested the effectiveness of eureka thinking compared to methodical analysis, they found that responses derived from insight overwhelmingly led to more correct answers than those that came from more involved thought processes.

“Conscious, analytic thinking can sometimes be rushed or sloppy, leading to mistakes while solving a problem,” said John Kounios, director of Drexel’s Ph.D. program in Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences. “However, INSIGHT IS UNCONSCIOUS AND AUTOMATIC — it can’t be rushed.

When the process runs to completion in its own time and all the dots are connected unconsciously, the solution pops into awareness as an Aha! moment.

Ah ha moment

This means that when a really creative, breakthrough idea is needed, it’s often best to wait for the insight rather than settling for an idea that resulted from analytical thinking.”

TESTING…TESTING 1,2,3…TESTING…

The following “WRITER’S TEST” is brought to you by: Katie Yeakle at AWAI (American Writers & Artists, Inc.)

Let’s find out if you’re “cut out” to be a successful writer.
Right now, ask yourself these questions:

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TOLD YOU WERE A GOOD WRITER?

Let’s face it … writers have to know how to get their thoughts and ideas across in writing. Do you need to be able to do it like a Hemingway or Danielle Steel? No! You’ll develop your own style as you write more and hone your craft. But if anyone at any time has read any form of writing from you and said, “Hey, did anyone ever tell you you’re a pretty good writer?” then chances are very good you’ve got that spark of talent you need.

CAN YOU STICK TO A SCHEDULE?

At first, this won’t be an issue. You can take as long as you want to write that first book. But once there’s interest in your work … and once you have success and publishers want more books from you … you’re going to have deadlines for edits, new drafts, new outlines, and so on.

DO YOU ENJOY WORKING INDEPENDENTLY?

This is the part about “being a writer” that most writers love: The idea of writing at any time, for as long as you want, from anywhere in the world, with nobody looking over your shoulder. But some need a more “regimented” life, with rules and structure and a more “defined” workday to be productive. If you need more “regiment,” getting motivated each day could be a struggle. But if you love working on your own, the writer’s life is perfect for you.

ARE YOU OKAY WITH FEEDBACK FROM OTHERS?

Any successful writer will tell you — a good editor is usually the “secret weapon” behind their success. And as a new writer, an editor will play an even more crucial role. The best writers recognize that editors — or anyone who reads your work, really — can offer a much-needed fresh perspective … which is why the most successful writers are always open to new suggestions and ideas.

DO YOU LOVE TO READ OR WATCH MOVIES?

This one’s pretty obvious: Writers love to be captivated by a good story — whether on the page, on the screen, or on the stage. If you’ve ever finished a great book or play, or watched a terrific movie, and found yourself inspired to write, chances are great you’re cut out to be a writer.

ARE YOU A “DAYDREAMER” … DO YOU LOVE TO LET YOUR MIND WANDER?

Daydreamers have a bad rep! In school, it got you detention. In your day job, it can get you hauled into the boss’s office. But for a writer — daydreaming is not only okay … it’s mandatory! So if you’ve ever found yourself totally immersed in creative thought when you should be doing something else — chances are, you’re cut out to be a writer.
There you have it …
Six of the top traits many of the world’s most successful writers share.
—Katie Yeakle

 

If you took the time to complete this test—in my book, you passed! Congratulations! Star stickers will be handed out at the end of class today. Now, please turn to page 32 in your workbooks…

(Stern Words)

 

AN APPLE A DAY!

A writer friend of mine from “The #Awethors,” posted a link to this great informational site. I found #2 to be quite interesting. It informs us that Amazon is cracking down on sloppy self-publishing. This is a good thing!

To this point, many people have believed that self-publishing was for losers who could not get a million-dollar book deal from one of the highfalutin publishing houses in the big city. Those of us new (or old) to the industry know (or have learned) this is not the case. But, you know what they say about a few bad apples.

Beginning this month, Amazon has decided to pluck those worm-infested fruits from the bushels of books being offered.

If you have an interest in learning more, dear readers, I offer the following link for your perusal:

10 Trends in Publishing Every Indie Author Needs to Know

 

 

Please return and let us know in the Comments section of this post if this information was helpful to you as you pursue your own writing career.

THE REVIEW IS IN!

My book, “Bosses and Blackjacks: A Tale of the ‘Bloody Fifth’ in Philadelphia” has received it’s very first Amazon review, and it’s killing me because the reviewer is listed as “Amazon Customer.”

FC

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition

Amazing book. You will not want to put this book down. Author’s writing style is captivating and made me feel like I was there. Looking forward to future books from this author.

Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Report abuse

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I have no way to know who this kind person is—therefore, I’m going to go to all my available sites to post a big THANK YOU!
 
(You know who you are…you little devil.)
 

 

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet

I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for helpful writing advice.

Perhaps you’ve noticed—there’s a blizzard of it out there.  And like snowflakes, no two advisors are the same, in the way they drift their sage words against the fence corralling our own individual genius.

Take a moment to pat yourself on the back for having your shovel handy at moments like this.

In editing my book, Bosses and Blackjacks, I’ve been struggling to decide if the beginning is too slow. But, today I happened upon a mound of advice that I did not have to dig through to understand.

I share it with you now, dear reader:

“Opening a novel with a lot of fast action is like putting your reader on a Japanese bullet train going 320 miles an hour. The landscape outside the window is all blurry.

There’s no reason to look at it because you can’t really make sense of it. You might as well take a nap.”

(By Sally Apokedak, @sally_apokedak
Sally is a literary agent with the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency and is a popular speaker at writer’s conferences around the country.)

I agree with Sally.

No need to change my book’s beginning. Ease into it, so my readers have a sense of my protagonist and the world he lives in, before he goes crashing headlong into a drift of life-threatening hairpin turns.

Do you agree that we all latch onto any advice that fits exactly with what we were thinking in the first place—as I did here? We are vindicated We feel affirmed. We have packed our egos neatly and made it to the station on time.

All aboard! We are on the right track!

Before You Shred It – Read This!

When you feel like you’ve reached the end of your rope (or chain) with your latest manuscript—before your shred it into tiny little pulp flakes—take a moment to read the following writing advice.

Who knows? It might just be enough to rev up your genius motor and get you back to saying: “Type magic fingers, type!”

1. Have your characters avoid asking questions. Instead have them speak in declarative statements. Instead of saying, “What happened to your face?” Have a character make a statement, “Your face looks horrible. I knew going to the bar was a bad idea.”

2. Have characters agree. It’s an easy trap (and a realistic one) to have characters disagree. We tend to think that causes drama. But actually it stalls a plot. Have characters agree and suddenly your plot goes to unexpected territory.

With permission from Patrick Wensink, author of “Fake Fruit Factory.”