Aside

Take five

dainty flowers
all in a row
so pretty
as I sit
Waiting for my dog
To finish his 5 minute run
around the garden
Dainty flowers
Smell so good
As I breathe
In their sweet aroma
Now it is time
To take 5
Go get a coffee
And then
Relax with my book

Aside

My favourite dress

A prompt from bee which I got, and am going to write on today is, my favourite dress. So here is a little poem about that very thing!

light, and very summery
long and flowy
oh how I love it
cool breeze whips it
making it spread outwards
making me blush
because there are others around me
do they really need to see me flushed?
still though
Oh how I love that dress
Summer sun
Summer fun
Me in that long flowy dress
Happy as can be.

image and quote by Terry Pratchett

A Self-Care Suggestion and Sir Terry Pratchett

Hello good people of the blogosphere, how are you doing? I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. I have scheduled this post and am either at the beach or sipping a good cuppa on the sofa. So cheers to all of you 😉 .

But I wanted to share two things: The self-care suggestion by Rachel Kelly in the next chapter of her book “Singing in the Rain – 52 Practical Steps to Happiness” and my thoughts on Terry Pratchett’s anger that Neil Gaiman mentioned in an article by The Guardian several years ago. It also mentions “Good Omens” one of my favourite books by the two and as it happens a new TV series by… Netflix? Amazon? No idea… 😉

But first things first:

You might recognise the situation: Something happened. You might have missed a step and your foot hurts. Your mind goes crazy and develops all sorts of scenarios from having your foot in a cast to having it cut off.

This is what Cognitive-Behavioural-Therapy calls “Catastrophising” and it usually is a strategy that we embraced while dealing with trauma. Mind you we certainly don’t do this consciously. It’s rather that your brain has changed its connections and now expects catastrophes instead of miracles.

Rachel describes a technique to find perspective when something happens that is less than fortunate and might get you into the downward spin:

 

Page of Rachel Kelly's book "Singing in the Rain"

She suggests to ask yourself the questions in the above image and then go and create a paper folded boat. Good old origami 🙂 will help you to get your  mind off the catastrophe you are expecting.

There are different ways of dealing with catastrophizing. I usually use something called “Safe Place” but I guess the above questions help to bring everything into perspective much faster. I am going to give it a try.

Maybe you do not consider this self-care as such. Many think when it comes to self-care of a hot bath or something nice to eat. But keeping your mind off the hamster wheel of negative thinking is an important part too. So go on. Give it a try.

That’s it for today. But there is an interesting post I wrote in March 2015 about one of my most favourite authors and here you can enjoy it again:

July 2019

I can’t believe it’s over four years ago that Sir Terry Pratchett passed over to another life. RIP may you have left your anger behind.

Here are my thoughts from 2015

March 2015

Last October The Guardian published an extract from Neil Gaiman’s introduction to “A Slip of the Keyboard: Collected Non-fiction by Terry Pratchett”. I read the article then but got bored and didn’t really concentrate on what he said.

On Thursday Terry Pratchett passed away and this time I fully read the article and these sentences touched a cord:

“…Terry looked at me. He said: “Do not underestimate this anger. This anger was the engine that powered Good Omens.” I thought of the driven way that Terry wrote, and of the way that he drove the rest of us with him, and I knew that he was right.

There is a fury to Terry Pratchett’s writing: it’s the fury that was the engine that powered Discworld. It’s also the anger at the headmaster who would decide that six-year-old Terry Pratchett would never be smart enough for the 11-plus; anger at pompous critics, and at those who think serious is the opposite of funny; anger at his early American publishers who could not bring his books out successfully.

The anger is always there, an engine that drives. By the time Terry learned he had a rare, early onset form of Alzheimer’s, the targets of his fury changed: he was angry with his brain and his genetics and, more than these, furious at a country that would not permit him (or others in a similarly intolerable situation) to choose the manner and the time of their passing.

And that anger, it seems to me, is about Terry’s underlying sense of what is fair and what is not….” (quote from “Terry Pratchett isn’t jolly. He is angry.” Extract from Neil Gaiman’s introduction to A Slip of the Keyboard)

Video credit: Arts & Ideas at the JCCSF via YouTube

I struggle with my feelings for many years. Especially anger which I have directed at myself in self-harming. I also suspect it expresses itself in grinding my teeth at night which causes an awful lot of physical problems like headaches, shoulder pain and exhaustion.

While doing “Love Is In Da Blog” I realised that it is time to do something about that and not the “usual” way with medication or therapy. I began to feel strongly that I needed another maybe more spiritual approach. It feels like these sentences are the answer to my healing wish.

My anger, acquired when my mother passed away when my father did what he did when I got bullied at school and other things, is not a disease that stops me from doing what I want to do. It is the fuel that powers my creativity but I need to allow it to do its job.

I suspect I let it do its job when I decided out of nowhere to do “Love Is In Da Blog” and it has transformed me. It has kick-started a development which end I do not know yet. But I do not need to know it. I trust the process. I trust that the great creator knows where I am heading and that my intuition will guide me the right way.

At last, I know where to go: I go with the flow 🙂

image and quote by Terry Pratchett

image source: AZQuotes


Just in case you don’t have enough yet from reading blog posts:

Please check out the blogs of these great people:

Beckie

and

I am my own Island

And if you feel very generous towards me then please share my Dreamstime profile where I sell some of my photo’s:

(its an affiliate link btw)

Bee Halton on Dreamstime

Have a wonderful day and don’t forget
 
 
Love & Rage my friends Love & Rage
Aside

Bee’s poetry prompt for Carol anne…

Bee has very kindly given me some new poetry prompts to work with. So here is the first one and my attempt at a poem for this week!

The prompt is, the wizard of poetry ponders…

A fine prompt that is! Now to think of something to write! Well here goes!

Magic spells
Oh how I like
To create them
1, 2, 3
Pondering, wondering
What is the best way
To make a splash
How to make myself known
Get recognised
For the wizard that I am
I shall create
Magic tricks
With a click
Of my fingers
The wizard of poetry ponders
Wonders
Just how
To make this happen?

FREE Writing Resources ~ Sarah Kolb Williams & WritingForward.com

May 2019

A re-post of a re-post?! Well, yea, sorry but this writing resource is worth it!

December 2017

There are a lot of great and free writing resources out there and I am surprised how many I found in 2014 still exist. Here is one of them

July 2014

Hello, apprentice science fiction writers.

Have you wondered how to start writing good science fiction and are you looking for some resources to help you? If so, you are in the right place. On my travels in the world wide web for some guidance on better writing I have come across an article by Sarah Kolb-Williams on writing science fiction, which was first published on Writing Forward: “9 Steps to Writing a Science Fiction Novel”

I have come across Writing Forward at first on my search for poetry prompts for “A Prompt A Day For Bee” at the end of May just before I started my year-long poetry project. The page seems to be a great resource in itself, but this post just hit a note.

So who is Sarah Kolb Williams? Sarah is an editor and blogger specialising in science fiction but open to other genres as well. She has a wonderful page where she offers e-book proofreading, copyediting services and developmental editing. Her blog gives you lots of information around science fiction, but more importantly, everything you ever wanted to know about editors and how to approach them the right way.

Her nine steps to writing a science fiction novel seem pretty logical when you read the article, but knowing my own writing practice with the sci-fi serial “Morsmart at the End of the Galaxy” has shown me that you can get carried away quite easily. And then you are in trouble. She warns of being carried away. One of her first pieces of advice is to really get your world right and know the rules of it. Readers do not like books that contradict themselves and I know she is right. I am a reader :-). But not only the world building is important. Stories happen to characters and if you neglect to live and breathing characters in your novel you will not get anywhere.

Then, of course, advice you will hear again and again: Write! All your great ideas are for nothing if you do not sit down and get to the tough bit of writing it. And then forget it. Yes, she wrote exactly that. A tip you hear very often is to let your first draft rest for at least a month as you then can go about it with a readers eyes and not the writer’s eyes. Those are too much that of a mother hen protecting every single chick in our case words. But if you want to please readers you need to see it through their eyes and rewrite until it is perfect which is another tip of Sarah Kolb-Williams.

Another good advice I think is even when you self-publish to afford the expense of an editor as again the mother hen eyes come into play. But she also suggests using the help of beta-readers. And at last: You need to get out and sell the thing. Hopefully with much success.

The reason why I like this article so much is Sarah’s style: it’s professional but at the same time amusing. She keeps you interested in short paragraphs which give you the essentials in understandable words.

This has been just a short summary of Sarah Kolb-Williams post on Writing Forward and why I like it. However, I suggest you head over and read the real post and bookmark it to come back to it again and again: 9 Steps to Writing a Science Fiction Novel

Guest Post: “Fact vs Fiction” by Tamara Ferguson

Portrait of Author Tamara Ferguson

This was first published on my old blog in February 2015

FACT VERSUS FICTION

Writing Contemporary Romance
Just howimportant is it to stick to the facts when inventing the background for your story?
This question never really came up for me until I submitted Tales of the Dragonfly Book II: In Flight for a Wisconsin Romance Writers contest back in 2013.  Overall, the rough draft had scored fairly well in the Chicago Fire & Ice RWA Contest a few months before.
 
Since time is an issue in my life, it’s difficult for me to participate in workshops, even when they’re online.  These RWA contests have proved to be some of my most valuable learning tools when it comes to assessing my writing.  I try to take advice from my judges and work it into my manuscripts as I revise and edit.
 
I’d like to think I’ve conquered the majority of my problems I’ve had with my POV and fondness for adjectives.  But a couple of unrelated comments from the judges from a Wisconsin really threw me!
 
In Flight takes place in the lovely growing resort town of Crystal Rock, Wisconsin.  Loosely resembling the small town in Northwest Wisconsin where my family cabin was once located, this setting is purely fictional, and larger than life.
 
Since I created a fictitious town as well as The Dragonfly Pointe Inn, I thought—why not invent fictitious transportation?  After all, with the emphasis I put on the enchantment of Dragonfly Pointe, there’s a slight element of fantasy running through all of my stories, anyway.
 
Coincidentally, it was kind of a family joke that there was no other means of reaching our cabin other than to drive, since the final leg of our journey, until

recent years, had always been along a narrow two lane highway.   

 
Well—when scoring my manuscript, two out three judges drew attention to the fact that there was no train running through that region of the country at the time period in which my story takes place.  One of them even went so far as to research the railroad and bus schedules.
 
Okay—when developing my characters, I do agree that it’s essential to get the facts straight when it comes to creating their background.  In fact, I’d give it a 10/10 for its importance.
Examples:
In the novella I’m currently writing—Two Hearts Surrendered—the hero of my story will be one of the pilots responsible for dropping bombs used to contain terrorists in Iraq.  And he’ll return to his hometown physically and emotionally scarred.  I won’t go into too much detail about the war—after all, it is a romance.   But I’ll validate facts like the branch of the service he served in, as well as the actual timing of the attacks to coordinate with my character’s homecoming.  I’ll even research the design and color of his uniform, since he’ll come home on leave to attend a wedding.  These details are important to make your characters believable.
But, did I go back and rewrite my prologue for In Flight, and eliminate the train, just because two Wisconsin judges told me to stick to the truth—even though one of these judges actually subtracted points from my score sheet? My answer is no.  Don’t be intimidated into thinking that the advice from those who critique your work is an absolute.
 
But do go back and analytically evaluate their suggestions before you make any final decisions to ignore them.  If five out six judges point out problems with your sentence structuring or POV, then you know you have a definite problem and need to fix it. But when it comes to advice that’s not related to your writing, itself?  You need to think carefully.
 
First, I considered my target audience.  My Tales of the Dragonfly is romantic suspense, and meant to appeal primarily to women—but within a broad age group.  Would my readers really care that there wasn’t a train running through Wisconsin when they’re reading my story?
 
My answer was no.  In fact, out of all the critiques and reviews of my book, not one single person seems to have noticed it.  And then there’s that one remaining judge from Wisconsin, who gave me my highest score, and mentioned nothing about it at all.
 
Secondly, I considered the train as I’d used it in the prologue of my story.
Example 1:
Murphy had his nose back in his paper when he suddenly became aware of another presence rising up from the very rear of the deserted passenger car.  Odd, Murphy frowned, with a confused shake of his head.  He was slipping.  He could’ve sworn he was the only one left in the car.  Of medium height, the individual held his head down as he quietly shuffled by, seeming purposely to conceal himself. 
Example 2:
Suddenly, a calculated movement from further down the station platform snapped Murphy’s eyes back through the window.  Hovering only a few yards behind the woman, the stranger in the hooded sweatshirt stealthily pulled out from the shadows of the dimly lit stationhouse.
Impulsively attempting to draw the woman’s attention, Murphy knocked on the window of the train.  Apparently aware of the knocking, tauntingly challenging Murphy, the stranger in the sweatshirt met his gaze through the window with a shattering, bleak hollow stare.  Helplessly, Murphy watched while the woman entered the stationhouse, the shadowy figure in the sweatshirt following closely behind. 
Would I have been able to substitute this train with a plane or an automobile?
This time I answered with an emphatic no.  This change would’ve impacted my entire novel.  How would I have been able to build this degree of tension on a plane or in a crowded airport?  And would the villain of my story have even been noticed? 
 
Expert though the person or persons critiquing your work may be, you need to remember, when it comes to advising you about conceptual details, it’s largely their opinion.
 
It’s important to stick to the truth when at all possible–I’d give it a 7/10.

 

But, as a writer, the first thing you should do is eliminate your self-doubt.  The key to believable and effective writing is to always be true to yourself.  This is what makes your story unique.
 
Thank you very much, Tamara, for this brilliant guest post. I enjoyed it very much!

Blast from the Past: Good Morning Writers! ~ I don’t wanna be in that dark place!

May 2019

I never realised in what a bad place I was in the last couple of years until recently. Hopefully, I managed to get out of there now…

January 2015

How is your writing going? Are you inspired or in a rather dark place?

After a spell of activity and writing like mad, I am going back into the dark places. Winter is always a hard time for me as it seems to be more difficult to keep my thoughts and feelings on a positive path.

St. John’s Worth has always helped me and so does it now, but I do not want to take it longer than six months which is probably too long anyway. I start taking it in October one pill every day but now I try to wean myself off it. Meaning I take one every two days.

It has an effect on my mood, of course. I am back on the coffee and a little alcohol which does not help. My usual downing thoughts are arriving: “I do not want to be in that dark place.”

It’s no point though to pity myself. I know I suffer from depression and it just needs managing which I can after 20 odd years of living with it. No matter the healing I have gone through. It’s just part of my life.

I also think it’s part of my creativity. There are so many who have and still suffer from it. Some are highly successful no matter what. Some aren’t, and some have not survived it.

That’s a matter of fact if I like it or not. I just go through my cycles and keep on writing. Because there is one thing I have learned in those 20 odd years: If you give up doing what you love you have already lost. No matter how hard.

How about you? Do you have cycles of writing and not-writing?

Aside

Sing me a song of longing?

This week, Bee challenged me to write a poem using the prompt sing me a song of longing. So I shall try, not sure how good it will be, not really feeling the creative streak at the moment.

sing me a song
a song
as I long
for warmer days
brighter times
peaceful nights
I long in my heart
for all that is calm
sing me a song of longing
a song which brings joy
to my heart and mind
just sing, sing
sing me a song of longing…

Aside

Bee’s poetry prompt for Carol anne, the day I met Nitro

Bee has given me this awesome prompt to write on for this week, the prompt is, the day I met Nitro!
For those who don’t already know, Nitro is my guide dog!
😀
So here goes!

The day I met you
The day you bounced into my life and my world
Was October 26th 2012
You were turning 2 years old the day before
I bought you a badge to hang around your neck
It said worlds best birthday boy on it
You melted my heart
You were so cute
The way you hold your lead in your mouth
Telling me you want to go for a walk
Your waggly tail
Your soulful eyes
Your warm fur as I rub it gently
Makes me feel so amazing
The day I met you
Is a day I will cherish
Forever

Ingermanson on “Why You Need A Weekly Review”

March 2019
I am a little more organised now but it’s still good to look back and learn 🙂
October 2017
Do you, like me, suffer from “organisation phobia”? You have brilliant ideas and even manage to write them down, however, when it comes to putting them into practice and organising yourself all hell breaks loose.
It is time to stop doing this to yourself! Now is the time to change and find a way fulfil all those writing dreams and I have the right man an article for you:

 

Ingermanson on “Why you need a weekly review!”

This article is reprinted by permission of the author.
 
Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, “the Snowflake Guy,” publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 16,000 readers. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

 

Your Weekly Review

If you’re serious about getting things done in your life, then you need to have a regular weekly habit of reviewing the previous week and planning the next one.

That sounds fun, doesn’t it? It’s right up there with changing the oil and cleaning the toilet on most people’s list of Things To Avoid Doing Pretty Much Forever.

Why You Need a Weekly Review

Here’s the thing. Your novel is not going to write itself. Big publishers are not going to throw money at you to write your novel. Truth be told, if your novel is never written, nobody will notice or care. (The good news—if your novel does get written, there’s a fighting chance that people will notice and care.)

The brutal reality is that if you want to get a good novel written, you’re going to have to do three things that are highly labor-intensive and that won’t earn you a dime up-front:

  1. Develop the skills to write a good novel.
  2. Write a good novel.
  3. Polish your novel.

I’m not trying to rain on the parade or tell you there’s no parade. There is a parade and it’s a good one. I’m trying to say that it’s a serious, major effort to make the parade happen, and you won’t get paid for it until very late in the game, if you ever get paid. You’ll need to spend hundreds of hours on this thing. Maybe thousands. You need to find a way to squeeze those hundreds of hours out of an already jam-packed life.

That means giving up some things. Saying yes to writing a novel means saying no to a lot of other wonderful things.

This could take you forever, or you could get it done in short order, and get your book out the door, and have it earning you money. The choice is yours, and a big part of that choice is taking control of your life.

I know some lucky people who are good at taking control of their life. I’m not one of those people. I have a lot of things going on in my life, and they all want to take control of me.

I deal with them by fighting back, and a big part of that fight is my Weekly Review.

The Weekly Review

This is not complicated. Once a week, (almost always on a Saturday afternoon), I sit down with my gigantic To Do List and work through it. I look at how I did last week, but more importantly, I look at what I want to get done in the next week.

There are three key questions to ask:

  1. What things are scheduled in already?
  2. What unscheduled things do I have to get done this week?
  3. What optional things do I most want to get done this week?

Questions #1 and #2 are key. Those are my constraints, because they tell me how many hours are already spoken for in the coming week. Question #3 then lets me pick out the optional things that I could reasonably get done.

Why is this useful? That’s easy.

I mentioned I have a gigantic To Do List. It’s uncontrollably large. But the key point is that every item on the list is tagged. I tag them with the time-frame in which I want to get them done. There are things I want to do “someday maybe.” There are things I want to do “this year.” Others that I want to do “this quarter.” Others that are “this month.” And a few that are “this week.”

The Weekly Review lets me keep the set of “this week” tasks down to a reasonable number. These are the things that matter right now. The other stuff will get done in good time, but just not right now.

What this means is that every day when I decide what I’m going to tackle today, I have a short list of things to choose from. I don’t have to look at the gigantic To Do List. That would be too cruel. All I have to look at is the items tagged “this week.” Every day, I choose a reasonable set to tackle. And it takes me five minutes, maximum, to plan my day.

I don’t have to wonder if there’s something coming up that I’ve forgotten about. During my Weekly Review, I already looked ahead and checked that. If there’s something coming up this week, my Weekly Review tags it as “this week.”

This is how I get stuff done without going crazy.

The gigantic To Do List will never go away. It’ll always be gigantic. It’ll always contain a bunch of pipe dreams that will never happen.

But the Weekly Review ensures that the things that are either urgent or important bubble to the top and get done.

No, the Weekly Review is not sexy. It’s not fun. But I find it absolutely indispensable. It takes about an hour each week, and at the end of it, I have some feeling of control over my life again.

Homework

  1. Are you doing a Weekly Review already? If so, congratulations, and you get a gold star. You might want to think about whether you can do it better. Maybe you can make a template for the Weekly Review so it goes quicker and so you never forget a step in your process. But if it’s working well for you, don’t change it. You’re good.
  2. If you’re not doing a Weekly Review, I’m not here to shame you. I’m here to tell you to do it, because it’s good for you. You’ll get more things done. You’ll be more in control. You’ll feel better. Really, you will. Now what day of the week can you schedule your regular Weekly Reviews? What time of the day should you plan on? How much time do you want to budget?
  3. If you don’t have any idea what to even do in a Weekly Review or how to get started, and you’d really like to punch me right now, that’s OK. Keep your distance, please, and go check out TheSecretWeapon.org,  which has a bunch of free videos on how to take control of your life. In an hour, you’ll know exactly how to do everything. That’s an hour well spent, and you may never need to learn one more thing about organization in your entire life.

This is not a feel-good article today, and my apologies on that. I’m not trying to make you happy. I’m trying to radically boost the chances that you’ll get your novel published someday.

You can thank me when you accept your Pulitzer.

Thank you, Mr Ingermanson for helping us along to get organised!

Related blog posts:

James Clear on Continuous Improvement

A Gentlewoman and Scholar on being productive even when you are sick

Cheryl Fassett on Finding what you did not lose

Val Mills on Daily Writing

Now go & organise yourself

because 

you can do it!