Writer Wednesday: Napccident’s Happen

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Napccident: when a person rests their eyes

and unintentionally falls asleep. The napccident

may last anywhere from five minutes to two or more hours.

 

I read an article that stated mental and physical exhaustion are different and that those with mental exhaustion nap to re-energize. Writers are, sometimes, prone to mental exhaustion. We are excited by our writing, then we crash. Or, those days when writing is torturous, we want to crash.

Another article stated that naps are ways to procrastinate.nap

Both are true. I’ve rested to recover from a challenging writing day, and I’ve definitely taken advantage of interludes as a means of procrastination. However, when I’m excited about my project and it’s pouring out, I rarely pause. I even have a hard time sleeping at night because my mind is alive with story.

When I get stuck on a piece of writing, a plot point, a character, I use respites to help me overcome that difficulty. By being still and allowing my mind to wander within the story, the challenge is overcome.

Decide if your napccident is avoidance behavior and make it be productive for you.

In yoga, we set intentions. If you lie down or close your eyes to procrastinate, accept that behavior and set an intention to be more productive. It’s not the pressure of a goal or promise, but it’s an email to your unconscious to get back on track.

 

Happy Napccident!

 

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Food Crimes – Monday’s Food Blog.

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I whole heartedly believe our physical and mental health are related to what we put in our bodies.  wholeheartedly

When I witness food crimes, health demeanors, nutritional scofflaws, I want to share them. Therefore, on Mondays, enter my take on nutritional related topics.

I caught three or four minutes of The Ultimate Warrior the other day. The participant said, Cystic Fibrosis had controlled his life; he was on 36 medications a day and other therapies just to survive. He began educating himself and designed a program in which he took control of CF. This regimen consisted of healthy food and exercise.

foodcrime1Many people try to eat healthy and do something to improve their overall well-being; however, they are short-circuited by a food industry that play on key words and pop culture and is more interested in their own bottom line rather than healthy consumers.

So – in this space – on Mondays, I hope to review products, give links to sites I’ve found, and offer a little advice.

Disclaimer: I am by no means perfect, and none of us should try to be. But we should be informed enough to make wise choices.

For the first entry: Cashewgurt. cashewgur A yogurt made from cashews. It’s the new nondairy alternative.

I’m not sure how it happened, probably companies tracking my eating habits through supermarket club cards, but I’m occasionally offered free product samples. Cashewgurt was one of them.

The thought of a healthy, richly textured, nutty tasting, and protein filled near desert-like product filled me with anticipation.

I pulled back the tab and was met with… well… not quite vanilla looking, darker than your typical color of vanilla of yogurt.

I love cashews. Did I mention that? I love nuts. I was completely willing to give this product my whole heart.

cashewgutI dipped the spoon in the little cup and brought the not quite buoyant, not quite fluffy or even firm yogurt to my mouth. I could almost taste it before it reached my lips, and that wasn’t because of the scent of vanilla, but the overwhelming aroma of chemical manipulation.

It smelled a little funny, not bad just odd. And it tasted a little campy. No, seriously, like we’d been camping and it got left out in the melted ice of the cooler. But we hadn’t been. And this hadn’t been. This was fresh from the grocer’s cooler, to my fridge, then to my mouth.

It didn’t taste nutty. It barely tasted of vanilla. The after-taste that tortured my tongue was something like an old Tab soda burp that wouldn’t go away. The saddest part was the consistency – like near melted ice-cream. Not what I like in a yogurt, although some people do.

I felt this product, the taste, the after-taste, and the lack of consistency reinforced the stereotype – healthy food doesn’t taste as good.

The label reads:

*Made from cashewmilk. Watered down cashews. The second ingredient is sugar. (The rest of the ingredients are the experiment in how to plump up cashewmilk and sugar.)

*12 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

When I buy food, I have a few rules I attempt to follow:

  1. One of the first three or four ingredients should not be sugar.
  2. The grams of sugar and protein (and probably fat) should be somewhat even.

12 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein for a yogurt inspired from a nut seems somehow disappointingly wrong.

I had high hopes for this one.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all eat food that is not great for us. I take issue with companies which market products that pretend to be healthy and are, in fact, not.  Overall, yogurts fall under deserts or snacks in my book. There are some that come close to the balance between sugar, fat, and protein, and those are the ones I choose when I desire a flavorful adventure that is not desert.

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Forager’s slogan is “Food that’s better for the people and the planet.” I have to disagree with that one. There is too much sugar in Cashewgurt to be healthy or “better.” And both, the taste and consistency, needs work.

If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think.

Next Monday – nutritional scofflaws

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Friday Feature: Guest Author P.S. Malcom

I’m happy to have P.S. Malcom’s writing advice to offer today. Enjoy!

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Three Ways To Come Up With A New Book Idea

I’m so excited to be here on the blog today, and I wanted to chat about writing.

Us writers sometimes get the urge to write something—anything—but often find book1ourselves with a lack of ideas or inspiration. This is a really tough position to be in because you have the motivation to create and write, but nothing to work with. *Cue frustration*

Of course, this is worse when you have deadlines to meet or depend on a good portion of your book sales to pay the bills. You gotta keep those books coming! So today, I’m going to share three tips to help you come up with a new book idea:

 

1) Get inspired

I know, best advice of the year right?

book1It sounds simple and blunt, if you’re not giving yourself space to get inspired, you can chase all the inspiration in the world and still end up with nothing. Stress from work, family life, responsibilities and pressure can all contribute to a block in your creative energy, and if you don’t make time to relax, unwind, and just chill, you won’t be able to imagine and envision your next story idea.

So my advice?

Do something different, whether it means going for a walk or a drive, spending an hour reading at a quiet café, heading to the beach for the day, painting or playing a musical instrument for an hour, or sitting in a hammock with your earbuds in. Whatever it is, make sure it’s an hour of distraction free time, and don’t force yourself to think up ideas. Let them come to you in the flow of the music, or the visuals of the painting, or the concepts of the book you’re reading.

It might take a couple of tries, but if you stay consistent in giving yourself space, you’ll find your inspiration again. I always get my best ideas (such as the inspiration for my Ryan Rupert Series) while away on vacation or immersing myself in something new.

 

2) Ask yourself questions

I’m not telling you to sit there like a lunatic and talk to yourself. What I mean is ask yourself questions about your current WIPs, or journal your thoughts, and ask yourself what you don’t know about your budding story idea yet.

Quite often, we come up with a simple, small concept but fail to expand on this idea enough to turn it into a feasible, book-length story. This results in us sitting down to write with our amazing new story idea and being stuck on where to begin because we have no clue what the story is about yet or who’s involved and why.

book1.jpgWhile this is all a process undertaken as we write, it’s a good idea to get clarity on the bare basics before you begin putting pen to paper, so ask yourself what you don’t know, answer what you can come up with, and go from there. I use this method all the time for my own books, and it’s also something I teach my writing students too.

 

3) Pick a topic and expand on it

If you’ve got nothing—not even a concept to work with—this is where you pick something you’re interested in and expand on it.

If you love mythology, you might browse through some of your favourite stories until you find an idea or concept that interests you, and find a way to put your own unique twist on it.

Or, if you love a particular country, you might immerse yourself in it’s culture and think about how you can tell a story from the perspective of somebody living that lifestyle.

There are so many possibilities to choose from, and you can turn any personal passion into a story. Just try it! You might not end up with a book-length story, but even the practise can help you get back into the swing of writing and help you conjure a new idea for a full-length book.

 

I hope these tips help anyone struggling to write!

Also, thank you for having me on your blog Noreen.

P.S. Malcom (Webpage) (Facebook)

Ryan Rupert Series

Starlight Chronicles

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You’re welcome. And, Thank you. Simple reminders are the best.

 

Monday – a new food section on food on this blog. Who does not love food?

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Writing Wednesday – STRESS!

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One of the worst types of writer’s block is caused by stress.

I like to roll out of bed and get straight to writing before any other distraction or activity comes up. I find that I work better and longer if I push everything else away until a manageable time. However, I find stress takes me completely out of my writing brain.

Where I can stop for breakfast, talk to friends or family, or even keep an appointment and get back to writing, when I’m stopped by a stressful event or activity I find it extremely difficult to do any work.

The good thing is that it takes a lot to get me to that level of stress; however, that’s not so Stressed-Brainfor many writers. Besides the littlest distractions causing problems for many writers, any stress weighing on a writer can keep them from being productive. One of the elements of stress is the inability to focus on anything else – it is the most distracting distraction a writer can face. Stress causes us to avoid things – things like writing!

If you’re experiencing something like this and can’t get on track with your writing, you need to ask yourself what is happening in the background of your life. It depends on each individual’s ability to handle stress, but it could be a small thing like a car problem or a large thing like a family problem. These things wreak havoc with our ability to be productive.

Again, my cure for this is to focus first on my writing and, second, on anything else. Cures for others might be similar. Block out the stress and focus on the writing – this could be a way of de-stressing. Creating a time to worry about problems is an age old recommendation. Years ago, someone told me “plan ten minutes before bedtime to worry.” I, personally, prefer before sleep and after waking to be the least stressful times. But it could still work – schedule your worry time like we all should schedule our writing time. Or, give yourself time to solve that problem, and realize if it’s something you can not solve and let it go.

stress2Let it go! If it is a stress we have no power over that is the only answer. It will pass. Focus on the writing, that you can control!

I like the quote “you can do anything, but you can’t do everything.” That’s what we have to remember. We can choose to stress about problems that we can’t immediately solve, or we can choose to use our writing as a distraction from that stress.

If you’ve found anything that’s worked for you, please post it in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Next week – decision making and writing.

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Friday Feature: Second Chance – Iuliana Foos

The second indulgence of our Friday Feature is Author Iuliana Foos’ personal story- Enjoy.

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iuliana

Thank you so much for hosting me today.

Born and raised in Bucharest, Romania, I had a childhood and upbringing different from what most people outside the country are accustomed to. Since an early age, I loved to read. Growing up in a communist country, where all information was closely supervised, I soon ran out of book to read.

I had to start of course with the literature mandatory in school, all Romanian authors, but soon, I started to borrow books from my parents’ collection. When most people hear ‘Black Market’ they think of illegal merchandise. For us, was also books. Coming across translated international authors, wasn’t easy, but not impossible either.

It was when I fell in love with ‘The Three Musketeers’ by Alexander Dumas, the first romance book I ever read. I was only in my early to teens, so extremely impressionable. Until today I still believe everyone should have at least one sword, even if only for decorative purposes.

When I attempted to read ‘War and Peace’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, I failed miserably, falling asleep before finishing a whole page. I still didn’t get the courage to go back and try to read what at that time, for me, was the most boring book, so I never made it past the first chapter. It served as a good paperweight, and many times I used it to hide underneath another book, usually something frowned upon, like ‘Gone with the Wind’ by Margaret Mitchell.

Around the same time, I managed to put my greedy hands on translated adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays, whose themes are still successfully rehashed today.

One of my best finds has to be Greek Mythology Adaptations. Those gods are still inspiring.

By the time I was sixteen, I ran out of books to devour, and started to make my own stories. In school and at home, I was busy creating worlds and characters in my head. The visit at Dracula’s Castle uncovered infinite possibilities. Our ordinary world had become that day less important than my fantasy one. You can only imagine the new level of commotion in my mind. It was the first time I knew what I wanted to do in my life: be an author.

With my first job, life started to interfere with my dreams of writing. Living though the revolution that ended the communism in Romania, brought hope. Unfortunately, the bitter taste of disappointment with the new life, convinced me to leave behind everything I knew. Only months before my twenty-ninth birthday I emigrated to Canada, in a search of a better life.

As an immigrant, I had an allowance of two large travel bags, each no heavier than forty kilograms (or eighty pounds), so I packed my life in those and started new. I still have my fifteen large notebooks, handwritten in Romanian with my first stories. They took half of one of my allowed bags, my most precious possessions.

Year after year, I drifted further and further from my dreams. With bills to pay and life in general happening every minute of the day, I had to stay focused on my sales/marketing career.

When I thought life couldn’t surprise me anymore, it did. I divorced and years later, remarried. Following my husband meant yet another big move, this time to the United States of America, my new home. He encouraged me to revisit my dream, give writing a second chance, and so I did.

New challenges rose, but I was determined not to let anything stand between me and my dream this time. Not even writing in a language that is not my native couldn’t stop me. It took me seventeen years to even dare consider it. English is not even my second language, but my fourth. I was fluent in Spanish at nineteen, and in French at thirty. With time I lost the ability to speak any of the two, but I still can understand some.

If you ever look for a challenge to test your courage and drive, try it. Pick the best language you speak, other than your first, and write a novel. Let me know how that works out. No, really, let me know. If you think having an accent is bad, wait until you have to figure out grammar. Thank God, the accent doesn’t come through in writing.

Many people start new chapters at some point in their lives. For some, the change is major, for others not so much. For me, it was monumental. All three times.

So here I stand today, humbled and grateful for everything I went through. I carry the scars of my battles, and the sweet memories of my victories. Every adventure and step I took brought me where I am today.

I’ve learned to never lose hope. It took me over thirty years to live the dream I had as a teenager. It is never too late to reach that dream you have. Hold on to it. Foster it’s growth, and above all else, never give up. Second chances happen when you least expect it.

iulianna

 

 

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Iuliana – thank you for sharing your story. It’s always heartwarming to hear a story of challenges overcome!  Much luck on your book.

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Writer Wednesday: Say Yes to the Edit….

When I’ve mentioned, within a writer’s group, an editor asked for changes the room heats with disagreement.

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“You’re not going to do it, are you?”

“Why would you sell yourself like that?”

“How dare they?!”

 

They dare because they are willing to publish my work; and while it does matter what they ask, I’m willing to listen and consider their ideas and advice. Usually, it is merely for clarifications or changes in simple sentence structure or the like.

My story, $1.00 Stories, was originally published by the Chicano Tribune’s Printers Row Journal. When that editor called me and hesitantly said, “we’re requesting changes;” I think he was quite surprised with my, “certainly.” The only requested was a few clarifications between the character’s name, Chris, and his nickname, C.C.

writerblog3It would be foolhardy and, even, unprofessional for me to say no without hearing them out.

While I suppose many writers believe the editor might ask for major changes in ideas or plot, I haven’t had any ask me for such things. As writers, we need to be open to consider what is said.

By request, I critiqued another writer’s work. I offered my point of view, and they became offended, tried to explain what they meant in this scene or that narration. My response, “there are all great ideas, but they are not in there.” The young person huffed off, I believe, without hearing me. Writers, we cannot be that sensitive.

We are not perfect human beings. We make errors. Some things are clear to us, but not to others. We can improve our work for the better by listening to others’ opinions. Of course, not all are worth considering. But an editor’s opinion, one who is willing to publish your work, is valuable.

 

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Friday Feature: Guest Author Margie Harding.

I wanted to start something new and feature other opinions, ideas, and authors on Fridays. Today, I’d like to introduce you to Margie Harding, author of The Paxton Series.

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Writing is a passion I’ve been developing for many years.  While I blog, have written devotionals for teen girls, a novel about my experience of attending college as a non-traditional student thirty years after high school graduation (receiving an AA degree in Elementary Education), and more; I have been provided yet another challenge that warms my heart.

For years I have said, “It takes a special person to be a special education teacher and it isn’t me!”  I have five children and sixteen grandchildren and still a special education interest alluded me!  It was never my heart’s desire.  God has a sense of humor, I think.  After all these years of avoiding special needs and disabilities, I have begun a new children’s book series on this particular subject!

We call the series, “The Paxton Series” with our setting in the Black Hills of South Dakota, paxtonusing the wild animals of the area as our characters.  (Paxton the Prairie Dog shows up in every book, if nothing more than in a cameo appearance!)  The books are written for the child with the disability or special need….and for the child that asks, “What is wrong with my friend?” —and there are amazing illustrations, thankfully from someone who is able to acclimate the disability to the particular animal!

When the series started, I had no intention of a “disability series,” yet it morphed into this before I’d realized the need for this kind of material or impact it could make.  I attended a church organized disability conference two years ago and for the first time heard the term “disability people group” and learned much about these special people for whom I was writing!  The statistics astounded me!  I knew this was to be my life’s mission.

I am delighted to say this series is being well received –and will continue indefinitely! (The list is up to 60+).  Doors have opened I never imagined as schools, colleges (using them to teach students to be special needs educators) and other groups have found the merit of sharing these books with children, parents, educators, medical staff and others!

Invitations to share about the books from a “special needs” perspective, have also arisen and I am delighted to be an advocate for these children (and adults) who are often neglected in a variety of areas, (even if unintentionally) including written stories they can relate to.

There is very little actual reading material for children who have special needs; and paxton2certainly not for those young ones introduced to special needs children, as integration into mainstream classrooms continue.  Their peers are often confused by what they see as “different” and perhaps even “wrong” when it can’t be defined by the “normal classroom rules.”  My books attempt to bridge that gap, and are a great starting place for teachers.  They are written to aid in understanding, inclusion, and acceptance of those behaviors that are different from the traditional “norm.”

There are ten books in the series currently.

Paxton’s World on Fire                                                          Introduction

An Early Arrival                                                                     Preemie

The Great Race                                                                       Asthma

Ears Like Gramps                                                                   Hearing

Lillianna Moves to the Country                                              Down’s Syndrome

Micah Mink Goes to the Concert                                           Autism

Mixed Up Words                                                                    Dyslexia

Special Goalie                                                                        MD

Opal’s New Dream                                                                 Arthritis

The Camping Trip                                                                 ADHD

 

Coming soon:

The Spelling Bee                                                                    Diabetes   (September)

Madison’s Sad Christmas                                                       Depression (November)

Bristol Goes To School                                                          Cancer      (2019)

Harbinger Village                                                                   Cerebral Palsy     (2019)

Fabian’s Smile                                                                        Cleft Palate            (2019)

Our children face an amazing list of challenges.  God has placed me in a position to be able to do something fundamentally good.  I am humbled to be able to place words on paper that can help children understand what is going on in their bodies, as well as, a resource parents and teachers can use to help other children understand what is happening with their friends who seem different than themselves. If you are interested in any of these books or those to be released in the coming months and years, contact me, authormargieharding@gmail.com or visit http://www.paxtonseries.com or amazon.com.

**An added note — All 10 books are both in softcover and hardback….and we are just beginning to add a toddler version of the current K-3rd grade books (although the books are used for older students in special education classes, as well), and I am working on a chapter book!  The first toddler book, The Big Fire, should be available in just a couple weeks.

 

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Margie – thank you for guesting. I’m grateful I could host your blog and further the word about these important books.  NL

 

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