Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Too Busy Chasing Success To Have A Life?

Is your writing becoming more like a word mill, churning out stories just to keep up with a publisher's requirements – or your own eagerness for success? Nowadays it's not unusual for writers – particularly those writing romance, series, and cozy mystery series – to turn out four books a year. Or more. Yes, that was FOUR a YEAR or MORE.
Maybe if all your writing is fiction, you could do that. But if fiction and non-fiction, articles and blogs and promo content all meld into that mixture, then burn-out may be lurking on the horizon.
Sure, it's flattering when publishers accept one book, insist on edits, and offer a three-book contract with killer deadlines. Wow! They love me! My readers can't get enough!
But pause for a moment. Think about your life. Think about the lives of those intertwined with yours.
Do you have time to spend with them? To be there for them as they are for you? Time to smell the roses, see the change of season, relax? Hug a child, grandchild, friend, or stranger in need?

And, of course, for many writers there's always the day job. The one you've sworn to give up as soon as writing pays enough to pay the bills. But when is 'enough' actually enough?
In other words, are you so busy rushing pell-mell after what looks like success, only to miss out on your Real Life?

Remember, when you get to the top of one mountain, there's always another waiting to be climbed.
No matter how busy you are, take time to celebrate the successes, big and small. Reached the top of a mountain? Yippee! Happy dance! And include others in your joy.

That joy and zest will spill over into your work, making you a better writer, more engaging to your readers, than yet another book churned out that may actually seem an awful lot like the previous one that was still percolating in your head when you moved on.
And take time in your writing to write the book of your heart. The book you're writing for yourself, without peering over your shoulder at what the competition is doing, at what the publishers are looking for. The book which may never see the light of day – or may prove to be your biggest success yet.
Because, at the end of the day, success in life is a robust thing, a many-sided thing, rather than a one-horse race with no-one there to applaud.
Glenys O'Connell is a former journalist, mental health counsellor, and now a multi-published fiction author. She is also the author of non-fiction including Depression: The Essential Guide and PTSD: The Essential Guide.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Inspiration: What Inspires You? My First Blog After a Long, Dry Spell! #glenysoconnell #inspiration

Mostly when we talk about 'inspiration', we're talking about the sudden insights that grab a writer, artist, dancer, musician, and lead (hopefully!) to some beautiful piece of art.
Well, as a writer I do value those insightful moments very much! But to be honest, I think there is a kind of inspiration that affects everyone, although sometimes we have to open our hearts and minds and look for it.
These little joys are the simple, precious moments that keep us going through a humdrum day, and sometimes through the dark days and nights when worry assails us and sleep eludes us. Here are some of my favorites.
I'm talking about the things that bring us sudden joy. Often these are small things with a big impact, times that make you smile both when they happen and in memory.
For me that includes the tiny chickadee that perched on my hand as I filled the birdfeeder this morning. Something so tiny, so alive, so confident and full of joy itself brought a smile to my face and yes, that little jolt of joy that is inspiration.
An unexpected card from a friend I'd lost touch with. A neighbour dropping by just to say hello. A texted funny forwarded by a friend who'd taken the time to let me know he or she was thinking of me.
I still remember with joy the first time I held our newborn children, and now our newborn grandchild. It's a feeling that still swells with emotion so rich that it can take my breath away. Especially now they're all grown into good people and the grandbaby is a strong and healthy toddler with a great line in kisses and hugs!
Some of those moments of joy come when you'd least expect them. My husband reaching to take my hand to anchor me as I went through medical tests; when he reaches over on an ordinary day to hug me as if I'm precious.
The first flowers that poke their heads up to herald the end of our long Northern winter. Stepping outside our country home on a bitterly cold winter's night to see a clear night sky crowded with a billion bright stars and a huge yellow moon.
I could go on and on. But we all have our moments of inspiration, moments that make the ordinary extraordinary and keep is going
even on the dullest of days. Sure there are the big events, like when you got the job, when your book was accepted for publishing, when you finally got to make that life-changing trip you'd been planning for so long.
But to me it's the little moments of joy, ordinary moments in an ordinary day, that inspire me to get through the day. Whatever yours are, seek them out and hold onto them. They're very precious.

Friday, December 23, 2016



IMG_0624 - CopyDEAR GOD, Jehovah, Allah, Goddess - sorry, I know You have many names and it’s my journalistic soul that wants to try to cover all of them. Forgive me if I get it wrong – I’m rushing the research a bit here.

I do appreciate Your taking the time to listen, as You have done so many times in the past. You must be extra busy with deadlines at this time of the year, because fires, floods, famines, storms, droughts, wars and general stupidity do not stop even in this holy season. 

With all that going on, I hope You can also find the time to celebrate with us the joy and peace that belong to this season.

There have been so many times when You have pulled this tattered manuscript of my life out of the heavenly slush pile, and even when Your reply has been a gentle rejection note, there is always been encouragement to go on using the talents You have loaned to me. 

You have forgiven the times I have been grouchy on life’s deadlines, when I failed to appreciate the wonder of the opportunities in the new life contracts You have offered, and the many times I have ignored Your submission requirements in hopes that You would see past my mistakes into the willing prose of my heart.

Having said all of that, I feel selfish even asking for more, but here goes:

1) It’s a bit of a clichĂ©, but I would join with so many, many others to ask You to give Mankind – and I say MANkind because the male of the species seems to be more inclined to conflict than we females, but maybe I’m biased – if You would just give them all a bit of a shake and tell them it’s time to make peace not war.

2) Please ignore the mean things I said about the intellectual abilities of publishers or agents who rejected my work – I didn’t really want You to strike them. Honest.

3) There are so many of Your people in need, hungry, homeless, afraid, in pain. Maybe You could inspire those of us who have so much to heed Your teachings and work towards a more equitable society. Perhaps You could even slip a little extra blessings into the Christmas stockings of those who have been courageous enough to stand up for what is right.

4) Please forgive the times I’ve cursed at my computer; the technology You have given us is truly a blessing and it was just the heat of the moment; I didn’t mean a word of it. Really.

5) Of course, I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t invest this prayer with a little personal self-interest. First, I want to thank You for all the people who have bought my books – the nice reviews always feel like a warm GodBreeze to my soul.

6) Then maybe You could run to a dollop of forgiveness for all the times I left undone the things I ought to have done, and done those things I ought not to have done? Let’s not get into specifics now, eh? That would be a bit embarrassing and take up too much of Your time. We both know what they were. However, if you could see your way to showing me how to become a better person, and a better writer, and maybe, just maybe, a bit of help in getting through the edits for the next book, I would be very grateful.

I can’t promise that I won’t screw up some more, but Dear Lord, I’m trying to be better.

Please bless all my readers and fellow writers, that we may continue to appreciate and entertain each other with the talents you have given us. 

Thank you - Amen.


Monday, December 19, 2016

Monday's Inspiration: What to Give the Writer Who Has Everything (In Their Imagination).

Have a writer on your Christmas gift list? Stuck for ideas? That’s not surprising, considering you’re dealing with a person who can have anything he or she wants – in their imagination, of course!
But buying for writer friends or family needn’t be a chore. And it needn’t be expensive, either. Of course, the latest word processing programmes, computer technology, a library full of books or a year’s rental on a retreat to a villa in France, would all be welcome gifts. Bear in mind that the latter could be very pricey indeed, because most of us writers are broke much of the time so you’d definitely have to throw in air fare and stock the place with food.
But for more realistic purposes, here are a few writer pleasing ideas.
1)     Fancy pens, pencils, cute notebooks, or other desktop gadgets. Sure, we know we’re in the age of high tech, but there’s nothing like the allure of a clean, virginal page or a fancy new gel pen.
2)     A really good diary with at least a page per day for notes. Or more than a page, to help keep track of word counts, deadlines, book signings, talk events, submission dates, etc.
3)     The online version of The Writer’s Market.
4)     The online version of Writer’s Digest
5)     A comfy cushion for the desk chair – you’d be amazed just how numb one’s posterior can get after a few hours of typing madly, butt in chair….
6)     One of those little desk puzzles, to give the brain a break from words. Careful with the choice, though – nothing too difficult. Writers are all too familiar with failure, and not being able to do the Rubik’s Cube, for example, can begin a slow slide into depression as fast as any rejection letter.
7)     A pair of those woolly fingerless gloves, for typing when the power is out – or has been cut off – and there’s no heat.
8)     Woolly socks with tops that will fit over flannel pajama bottoms.
9)     Flannel pajama bottoms.
10)  A gift card for Starbucks or Tim Horton’s, so that your writer won’t get black looks after sitting in the warm cafĂ© for hours, typing without buying…..

11)   Probably the very best gift for a writer costs nothing: Time. Yes, time to write without interruption is such a gift! Be a friend. Don’t take offence when your writer buddy rolls her eyes at your suggestions that the two of you go out, when you know she’s on deadline. Offer to take the kids for a couple of hours, cook a meal, pick up groceries, dry cleaning, kids from school. Don’t talk for hours on the phone. Listen when she needs a sounding board, otherwise give her some space.
Trust me, she or he will eventually emerge from the writing cave, eager and ready for human interaction again……one the writing is done. Until the next book, of course….

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wednesday's Writing: What If Your Name Really Was 'Famous Author'?

No, I don't mean what if you were actually christened Famous Writer, although I guess there would be some comedy value in that...
Something to think about from a situation I came across on Amazon recently. What if you're a writer who has the same name as a famous writer? Suppose your real name was Nora Roberts, Louise Penny, Harlan Corben, Barbara Erskine, J.K. Rowling?
Would you publish your books under your own name, as would be perfectly within your rights?
If your books suddenly started to sell like hot cakes, would you just think eh, well, that book was plenty good enough for stardom, after all, I sweated my heart and soul to produce it?
Or would there be a sneaky feeling in the back of your mind that maybe, just maybe, some of those sales were from readers who thought you were actually that Other Famous Writer?
This situation has been tickling my brain ever since I came across this when looking for the latest Stephen King book. Yes, I freely admit, I'm a Stephen King fan and have pretty much an automatic reaction to purchase his latest book.
Which is why I was shocked when, on Amazon, I noticed that my hero had apparently written a whole bunch of books I'd never heard of before. Wanting to add them to my King collection, I busily clicked on the covers. The books did seem kind of King-ish in style, but...I don't know. So I checked out the reviews.
What I didn't understand was how the books could have mostly one star and two star reviews. Was Stephen King losing his touch? Why had I never heard of these books before?
So I scrolled down to the actual reviews, to discover complaints from reviewers, readers who had looked at or bought the books, that apparently this was not the REAL Stephen King. At least, that's what the reviewers thought.
This Other Stephen King writes in a similar genre to the really famous one and his books certainly seem to be selling, but there seems to be a lot of ire among the reviewers. I'm not going to quote them here, because I think if this guy really has that Famous Writer name, he's probably entitled to use it. Just note that one book alone, Awaken, had 69 per cent one star reviews. Uhmmmm....no idea if these were about the quality of the writing or that fans of Stephen King were disappointed to discover these were not the kind of books they expected from Stephen King.
If that makes sense.
You can take a peek at that page here: http://www.amazon.com/Awaken-Stephen-King-ebook/dp/B01ACLW2KW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1461707007&sr=1-1&keywords=Stephen+King
I have no idea if there are other instances of this apparent name confusion, but I imagine it must exist.
So tell me, what would you do if you had a Famous Writer's name? Would you be comfortable writing under it, or disgruntled that people objected to you using your own name? Or would you simply choose another name and get on with your writing career?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday's Writing: Do You Talk Yourself Out of Success?

By Glenys O’Connell @GlenysOConnell
*This was first published two years ago, but I thought it was worth repeating!

“Argue your limitations and sure enough, they’re yours.” #Richard Bach #quote

laoDo you talk to yourself? Most writers do – and we’re not alone. Most ‘Normal’ people talk to themselves, too. Not always out loud, but there’s that inner voice in your head that comments on just about everything you do, advises you, comes up with great (or not so great) ideas, comforts and inspires.

Or not.

Because lots of us have voices in our heads that talk us down. Sometimes they may even sound like someone in our past who has told us our ‘limits’. Your mother, another relative, a teacher, a friend, an employer, people who may have said things ‘for your own good’ or to ‘stop you getting big headed’. Perhaps people who were afraid to step out on Life’s High Wire themselves, and passed that fear on to you. Or people afraid they’d lose you if you became successful, or who were genuinely afraid you’d be hurt if you strove for high dreams and fell flat on your face.

guy on skateboardBut now that self-talk is firmly embedded in your mind. You want to write a book? It’s too much work…I’m not talented enough..who would want to read what I have to say…it’s silly, everyone would laugh….no-one from my social class has ever…I’m too old….

You want that beautiful home, that fulfilling job? You want love? Success? Happiness? A healthy inner voice cheers you on, tells you that you do deserve good things; but that negative inner voice will come up with all the reasons why it’s a bad idea, you don’t deserve it, who would love you anyway,. and why can’t you just settle for, well, second best?

Or fill in the blank here for what your little voice says:__________________________________

It may be a little voice, but it puts huge limits on you. It may help you stay within your comfort zone, but it doesn’t help you achieve the dreams that are in your heart.

Negative Self Talk Limits You.

Basically, your mind accepts what you tell it. If you say you can’t, well, you can’t.

Say you can, then that wonderful organ, your brain, will have all its neurons scurrying around for ideas and plans to help you do what you want to achieve.

never lose hopeOf course, it’s not that simple;sometimes you want something that just won’t work out for a number of different reasons that may be beyond your control. Funnily enough, if one dream doesn’t work out, your clever brain often comes up with a substitute dream much more suited to you, and do-able.

So, spend some time every day having a chat with yourself; tell yourself that you are a smart, caring, competent, deserving person.

It won’t be easy, it won’t be painless, but you can erase the limitations that experiences and other people have encouraged you to put on yourself. Talk nicely to yourself, be positive, and believe  that you can.

I leave you with one of my favorite quotes. Write it out and hang it where you’ll see if often:

‘Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it – boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Johann von Goeth #quote

Glenys O’Connell is a trained counselor and the author of Depression: The Essential Guide and PTSD: The Essential Guide

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Monday Inspiration: I'm Not Pleased With You, Larry the Lump (Cancer Diaries)

Oh, my, Larry the Lump! You've done some mean things in your time, but this beats all! I am not at all pleased with you.
Since you were diagnosed at Stage Three last August, I have tried to look on you, not as a malignant creature, but as some of my own cells that are confused and disaffected. Good cells gone bad, you might say.
But there's definitely a mean side to you. Like the fact that you are a species that doesn't always or readily show up on a mammogram, so I went through all those uncomfortable boob-flattening mammograms, year after year, just so that I could feel safe from the likes of you. I actually felt I was taking care of myself, going through the necessary tests that would sound the alarm bells the moment just one tiny cell started to misbehave.
How innocent I was! How mean you are! No doubt you had a good laugh about that, Mr. Meanie.
Even my own doctor dismissed my anxieties about pain in the breast with the comment: "Oh, your mammogram was clear, so there's nothing to worry about."
It took a breast scan and a biopsy to decide just what you were. And MRI tests to keep track of you.
It's cold comfort to hear that if a professional didn't know this, it doesn't seem so dumb that I didn't know. Invasive lobular carcinomas can be difficult to diagnose as they are generally symptom free or have few symptoms, are difficult to feel and don't show any changes in breast shape until they've grown big and strong. Even when they can be felt, they don't necessarily show on a mammogram. They account for about 15 per cent of all breast cancers. Read more here.
Apparently Larry had been around for up to six years before being detected. That was the first nasty trick.
The second was the side effects in response to the drug I began to take to shrink him. Larry did not enjoy being on a diet (he has estrogen receptors and the drug blocked his daily intake so he was starving and even more mean.) This left me feeling more fatigued than before the diagnosis, with symptoms of menopause like hot flashes, memory lapses, occasional depression, etc.
But it seemed it was all going to be worth it. Larry had shrunk by about 70 per cent and it looked like I could do a lumpectomy, a much less radical surgery than a mastectomy or the removal of the whole breast.
That's where another mean trick came in - as he shrank, Larry broke into several smaller pieces, little Larrys, I guess you'd call them.
But they inhabit the same space that the large tumor did, and the odds of them all being removed, along with all possible cancerous tissue, plummeted.
So it's a mastectomy now.
That means an eviction for you, Larry.
No more warm and cozy nest.
I suppose, in a grim way, I have the last laugh.