Monthly Archives: December 2014

New Years Eve!

In many ways this has been a crappy year and I am eager to put it to an end.  I suppose it is a matter of perspective because I have met most of my goals.

Last year, I was going to be tiny by Christmas.  Well I’m not tiny, but I think I have found the problem and fixed it.   I went to the chiropractor and got everything back into alignment.  I fixed my digestion so I don’t have heartburn anymore.

I increased my exercise.  I rode my bike like crazy this year.   I also started running which is like huge leaps and bounds from someone who has always HATED running.  I have fallen out of routine since winter set in but I end the year not any bigger than the last.  That is success!  Usually I find another 10 lbs over the winter.  Not this year!  Tomorrow I start a new goal; 3 three miles a day, everyday; don’t care if it is walking or running; 3 miles a day minimum.

I started a blog.  I see activity daily, even on days I don’t post.  Now, that is exciting.  That is success.   I registered for Blogging 101 in January.  This time I will finish.

I published 3 little books and I do see some activity in sales. For next year I want to finish the series, complete the quitting smoking book.   I think I want to have that one published by Black Friday.   That is a tall order.  We will see where I am at next Thanksgiving.    Exciting.

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Pack Your Bags: Virtual Blog Tour Award!

On December 15th Sandi, at Sappy As A Tree told me to pack my bags because she nominated me for the Virtual Blog Tour Award!   And it was due January 5th … or December 29th if I wanted.  I think I shocked her with my joyful response. Getting blog awards are nice but somewhat scary.

But I was really excited.  I had just come out of NaBloPoMo, (National Blog Posting Month) a bloggers NaNoWriMo if you will, and I was struggling.  Trying to come up with anything for a post to get through a day until a more creative post could be done, kind of left me bewildered and receiving this award gave me a chance to get back in touch with my intention.  Besides…

1. It gave a deadline and an obtainable one at that.

2. I only had to answer 4 questions.

3. I only had to find 4 nominees.

I wanted to be done by Dec. 29th because I thought that was a nice way to end the year.  It turns out I had a lot to say.  An awesome retrospective on the craft of writing and why I do it.  I did finish by the 29th but I still had to find 4 people.

Here are the rules:

1. Pass the tour on to four other bloggers.  Give them the rules and a specific Monday to post.

2. Answer four questions about your creative process.  Your answers will help other bloggers and visitors know what inspires you to do what you do.

3. Compose a one-time post which is posted on a specific Monday (date given from your nominator).

Four bloggers whom I nominate:  

I have given this a lot of thought.  I nominated you because I admire the content you post and believe you all have something to give, but I also know that takes focus, so please, if you don’t meet the requirements of the blog, please don’t let that diminish the spirit in which it is given.

Fill Your Own Glass

Mostly True Stories of K. Renae P.

Atmosphere Designer

The Crafty Lady In Combat Boots

The Due Date is February 2.  If you wish you can post on Monday, January 27.

The four questions:

  • What am I working on at the moment?
  • How does my work differ from others in my genre?
  • Why do I write or create what I do?
  • How does my writing or creative process work?

What am I working on at the moment? 

Ending a sucky Christmas.  Except I think this is okay.  This past month I have been surprising myself at how OKAY this has been.  Is this progress in a stress free and non-commercialized Christmas or is it  apathy?  I don’t know but I’m moving on.  If I didn’t have any bad Christmases, I wouldn’t know what a good Christmas was.

Moving on.  Four years ago I quit smoking by repeatedly setting quit dates and dealing with the issues that made me want to go stomp off and smoke.  While editing my notes and transforming them into a book, the beta readers, kept telling me that I had a broader audience than smokers.  I stopped editing that book to write about another exercise I did during my attempt to quit, which I call my Fruity Experiment.  That experiment effectively takes the focus off of smoking and places it on manners and lifestyle balance. Not only that, it gave me six little books to practice on.  Now I know how to stop editing and start publishing, what goes into creating covers, getting familiar with the particulars in uploading an e-book and etc..  Plus it gave me a reason to build a marketing platform (this blog, Amazon’s Author Central, twitter, fb) before I return to the big book about quitting smoking.

At this moment I’m on book four and I plan on retaking Blogging 101 in January.  Along with increased hours at work and a re-start to my exercise program, there is not going to be much free-time for the new year.

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

With quitting smoking, I had come to call this “progress-by-failure” The False Quit Dates.  I thought I was on to something because I had finally quit.  At first a couple smokers and a few former smokers, wondered why I thought I was special to write a book about quitting smoking.  Graciously, they read a few chapters and now they can’t understand why I don’t have the book done yet.

Initially, these were fairly strong negative reactions; for them to do a full reversal and be positive. This supports my thought that I might be on to something.

Based on these reactions and subsequent discussions, I’d say my work differs from others in my genre because the discussion is from one smoker to another.  I take the naughtiness and fear out of the process.  I address things that don’t normally get addressed with the usual bombardment of “you need to quit right now campaigns.”  The smokers noticed I’m on their side and that I’m not trying to take their smoking away from them, yet they are obtaining useful information to quit.  Plus, once the reader closes the book, I’m out of it, they are in control of when and how they quit.

Really anyone can quit smoking without my help.  Seriously.  I did without anyone’s help except for trusting my gut and following my own needs.  With that in mind the majority of the book is basically comparing notes.  I can tell you what to do all I want, but it is up to you if you are going to take the advice and ignore it, follow it, or rip it apart and make it your own. You might be able to read the whole book (when it becomes published) and quit in a weekend.  Or you might set several quit dates and take the whole year to quit.  It is up to you.  I’m not guaranteeing that you will quit, we are just discussing about smoking and quitting.

As for the Fruity Experiment?  I take what I learned from quitting smoking and I place it on other objectives like, writing, exercising, house-hold chores, leadership, parenting, obtaining goals, feminism, and I can go on, it’s amazing how this concept overlaps into other areas of my life.  Hence my tag line: Funny thing on the way to quitting smoking; I got a life.

I used to feel oppressed and restrained.  Not anymore, because I got curious and did the work to make changes … And that is how my writing continues as I move away from the topic of quitting smoking.

In short, I think I have something different to say.

Why do I write or create what I do? 

When I hear these people and my writers group, talk about my book, I feel worthy, and purposeful.  I blush with feeling blessed.  I feel as if I am making progress with who I am in my life.  You would think that should feel normal, but this feels new and rare to me.  Like I quit screwing around and now I feel like I caught up to everyone else.  As if we are on the same page but me in my life and them in each of theirs.  Equaled in our own bubbles.

I think non-fiction works best for me because I think in demo’s.  Not quite commercials.  When I follow instructions to put things together, I think I could write those instructions as a job. (weird, right? they’re all pictures now anyway) I think non-fiction is a natural fit and is my gateway to the craft of writing.  But! I think the information would be more readily received if it were in the form of fiction.  What I see for my fictional series is thrilling, informational, gripping, passionate, cathartic, if I can actually get it there — would be my study in art.

I remember the deciding point to create what I do.  In my early twenties, I parked myself on top of the deep-freeze in the kitchen and went into deep thought about how I was going to lead by example to my two children. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, and was amazed that I was married with kids and still didn’t know.

I had come from a creative family so I knew I had creativity in me even though it wasn’t fully developed.  I had younger siblings that usually proved to have more developed creativity than I ever would have.  If I never got started developing it.  Now I had kids that needed to learn how to develop themselves to their full potential.  I felt this enormous pressure to lead by example for that.  I sat on that deep-freeze and I pondered what could I do?

Between family, the local Y programs, and art class in school, I dabbled in pottery, sewing, crafts … as an adult, I painted and stained whatever my husband created and I tried tole painting, but while crafty, and a hard worker, I was never an artist.  Everything seemed to be such an investment, from paints, clay, material, yarn.  What if I bought all that stuff then later realize there wasn’t any potential gained?  I had kids growing right in front of me, I couldn’t screw around, I had to get busy.

The one thing that I could think of to make something from nothing was writing.  As I sat there and pondered, I had pencils, pens, a computer and a typewriter.  I don’t have a typewriter anymore but I’ve always had pens and paper around the house.  Mind you this is at the shock of every grammar teacher I ever had.  From sewing, I had learned my wing-it projects turned out better than the projects where I followed a pattern.   I knew I could throw a bunch of words down and rearrange them until they fit.  Like a puzzle. Then I could always hire an editor or ghost writer to sort it all out for a final draft.  If it came to that.  All I had to do was to make sure the content is good enough to pay them.   Or something like that… I had to sit down and write a paragraph first.

So I hopped off the deep-freeze and headed for the computer.  I’ve typed and filled notebooks ever since.  Sometimes I see where writing has robbed me of moments of being present, but I have never once regretted writing.  I’ve regretted losing work from computers crashing.  I regret I spent so much time at work away from writing and not developing the craft.

This is why I continue to create what I do.

How does my writing or creative process work? 

I’m jealous of people who can write in linear fashion.  For me I imagine that is how I would self-inflict writers block, because I will forget what I am going to say when it is time to insert it here.  Instead, I will have all this other stuff going on in my head that I will forget later when it is time to insert it there.

I prefer to write what I am thinking when I am thinking it and then I do what I call re-stacking the paragraph or the chapter.  I will rearrange sentences, paragraphs or chapters like I am snapping puzzle pieces together.  I will also find better words during this process and I am always trying to condense.  As you can tell I can get quite wordy and it takes me a while to edit.

Blogging for me is a constant challenge especially without the safety net of my editor.  I always feel like I am putting out unfinished product.  I get a little sick because I don’t know what I am doing.  You’d think with all my talk of snapping puzzle pieces together that I’d be able to diagram a sentence, but I can’t, so I actually try to aim to be a sloppy blogger and save all my perfectionism for my books.

I write every morning before work.  This works well in my family because my husband works early, my children are out of school now, but I did write while they got ready and I made sure they got off to school. Then I’d continue to write for a couple of hours before work.  Sometimes, I will write at night before bed, this is kind of cool because then I dream about what I write then I wake up and more enthused about writing in the morning.

Most of the time, I can only handle being at the computer for so long.  For the sake of lifestyle balance I really try to avoid the computer after work.  This is family or entertainment time, cooking supper, cleaning house and before you know it we are headed for bed.  If I have alone time in the evening, I usually try to catch up on my TV or read a book.

I must have my writing time.  If I go too many days without, I feel discombobulated, moody, and feel like something is missing.  I block off my time and stick to it.  Usually 4 hours in the am and if I return another 2 hours at night and usually a 6 hour chunk of time on Saturday, then I’m doing pretty good.  Sunday is whatever happens.  Family time rules the day.  Since my work hours have increased I get less than an hour in the am, maybe the 2 hours at night.  Now that the Christmas season is winding down I hope I get my weekends back.

I don’t create an outline.  Whenever I try, I start writing then my outline will have one 2 page entry.  I do have a time-line which I suppose some would view as an outline, but mainly my time-line is to prevent mistakes like making a character post to the internet in 1984.

When inspired I make notes or head for the computer, but I don’t keep a notebook on the night stand. I try to do some memory tricks to cement the idea into the part of my brain so I can recall the topic later, but mostly, I figure if God wanted me to write about it he won’t let me forget it.  So I will trust that it will happen, then let my body relax and go to sleep.  Sometimes I will wake up in the middle of the night and realize a phrase will be repeating in my head like a song stuck on a record or a CD.  I figure if it has run in my head like that all night, I will have no problem remembering it.  So I relax even further and go to sleep.

I meet with a writers group twice a month and we meet up for coffee on the weeks we don’t meet.  We are all kind of addicted to each other and we stated from the beginning that our goal and purpose was to get published.

So how does my writing or creative process work?  I just let it work and I try to keep up with it.

Technology and Social Disconnection

Often times I see and hear summations like these.  BTW this is repetitive, so I’m not going to single out any ONE person who said it or quote it.

When approaching total strangers for a project to explore connectedness/disconnectedness of todays technology what they get instead is question about their motives.

“Are you doing this for a school project?”
“Who do you guys work for?”

“There is always a surprise that we do this for no monetary value or a grade. That’s indicative of our culture: You can’t just do a project. We don’t do anything for free or collaborate just for fun.”

****

Say what?  That’s indicative of our culture???   No it’s not.  It is the basic quality of human nature: curiosity.  Find out why?

Not to mention it is training from stranger danger.  Don’t give out any personal information because the whole world is out to get you.

How about scheduling?  Do I have enough time to stop what I am doing to wax random philosophical opinions.

Time and time again we point out a flaw and we result in bashing someone else good idea.  Or Training for that matter.

I can also change the subject and point out that this is a classic case of trying to control others and not yourself.

It takes guts to approach random strangers and ask them to join in with you on your project and yet you want to bash them the minute they do and call it their fault for making you feel weird.

Moreover; it just a summation of of you think, does anyone stop to ask why they reacted this way?  In this case why are asking why?  Besides if you did, they’d be so flummoxed at questioning a natural response they wouldn’t be able to think of an answer until later.  MUCH later.

And… with accusations like this … no wonder we turn to technology to communicate.  Because we have lost all our patience and self-control in face to face conversations.

I see the technological advances as a natural response to stranger danger.  You might see me on my noon break zombie eating while I’m staring at the phone, but what I know I’m doing is having a very intimate moment connecting with my kids.  I might be reading a novel that is the next greatest cultural impact on my phone, which no one would question if I had brought in the book.  They’d all be jealous that I had time to read.

Anyway.   More on this topic later..

# 2 6

Once people capture this statement, it should grow to, “Upon recognition, it made more sense to face it than to fear it.”

How to Win Every Argument

I’m not the only one talking about this stuff…. Control yourself and not others. #dontmakedouchebagchoices

TIME

So you want to know how to win every argument?

Stop trying.

Not that passivity is the most effective strategy but if you’re thinking about “winning” you’re already headed down the wrong path.

From a neuroscience perspective, “When an argument starts, persuasion stops.”

Via Compelling People: The Hidden Qualities That Make Us Influential:

When an argument starts, persuasion stops. A group of researchers including psychologist Drew Westen conducted a revealing experiment, which Westen wrote about in his book The Political Brain. In the heated election campaign of 2004, the researchers found supporters of presidential candidates George Bush and John Kerry and took MRI pictures of their brains as they watched video footage of their favorite candidate completely contradicting himself. So what happened in people’s brains when they saw information that contradicted their worldview in a charged political environment? As soon as they recognized the video clips as being…

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#dontmakedouchebagchoices

The core of my writing and this blog is basically manners.  I’ve tried to think of how to make this relevant especially in an era when being abrasive and sarcastic rule.  I’ve tried to do this while bogged down with something other than the Christmas spirit.

For example instead of sugar-plum fairies, christmas lights and merriment that Christmas is coming, my word of the month has been “douche bag.”   More specifically a phrase , “don’t make douche-bag choices.”

For two days at work, I’ve “stepped outside” to calm things down and to represent ourselves to unruly customers because they would rather make the douche bag choice over their choice to use their manners.  One person had to show off because he works in the industry and had to get all snappy about how he knows how it’s done.   He went on this endless rant to where the people with him were telling him to shut up.  (yay).  The other incident was some kids came in for free water and nothing else.  Since our free water is sippy cups, apparently this wasn’t enough “free” for them, so they started kicking and slamming counters, booths and glass doors on their way out.   I was a bit behind but I followed them out to their waiting car and stared at them while they pulled away.  The driver (same age) had no idea what was happening and kept pausing as she couldn’t figure out why she was receiving this pathetic “why?” gesture I was throwing her way.  (An innocent bystander as I was trying to read her intentions of stopping the car or going.)

Later we discussed why do people make the choice to act out this way?  Is this what they want to be known as?  Really?  I joked I should hashtag – don’t make douche bag choices.  I got a laugh out of it.  I don’t think it would be a bad thing.  It maybe off-putting to some of the circles I run in, but if I heard someone say, “don’t make douche bag choices” to someone who decided to be disruptive and rude, I think that would be a good thing.

I have often wondered about anti-bully campaigns because bullies don’t see themselves as bullies.  Some, not all, but some, believe they are making the cool choice.  They believe it is all in the name of fun.  If someone could point out that they were making the douchy choice without actually labeling them a douche bag.  ???  Would it make them aware of how they are representing themselves and they COULD choose to represent themselves in a better way?  Oddly …  I see this as empowerment.

Look, graffiti isn’t put up by evil gremlins during the night.  It’s done by our children hanging out and one says, “Hey, I got an idea!”

The graffiti doesn’t get put up because someone else said, “Hey, let’s not.  Let’s do this instead.”  And they just kept the crime rate from going up.  So instead of laughing and giggling at kicking the counter if the other girl with the water said don’t make douche bag choices, would they have left?  If the girl in the car said to the guy on a rant, don’t make douche bag choices instead of shut up, would he have recognized he was making a choice to be brat, instead of trying to prove he was in the right because HE knows the procedure?

What would happen if we view criminal acts such as stealing and vandalism as douche bag moves instead of ballsy moves?  What would happen if we told our politicians to quit making douche bag choices?

Who knows.  If everyone took one day …  Just one day … to #dontmakedouchebagchoices  maybe we’d catch that national wave of Christmas Spirit before this season passes us by.

3 Healthy Habits You Should Ditch in 2015

Good advice for the New Year. Quit fooling yourself. Recognize that you aren’t naughty, naughty, naughty, because you are an adult, you make decisions, and quit celebrating naughty.

The Zeit

3 healthy habits you should ditch. 3 healthy habits you should ditch. Image by Apolonia

So 2015 is around the corner and you’ve probably found your journal that has been lying under the bed since 1 January 2014. You have dusted it off and are ready to write down your resolutions for the New Year.  If you are making resolutions for a healthy you and you are doing one of the following things, make sure one of your resolutions is to ditch them. 

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