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. 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:
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.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Monday's Inspiration: What Are You Doing With Your Marbles?

Ah, New Year's. The time we make resolutions we probably won't keep, and then be disappointed in ourselves. Or maybe embarrassed because we told everyone what our resolutions were. Nothing like announcing you're going to lose thirty pounds this year and then being spotted slurping down a super-fattening dessert at a fast food place, while everyone knows that you've not lost an ounce - and why!
Many of us will make resolutions about working harder, seeking success - or more success - earning more money, or whatever seems to be necessary to help us get further, faster.
Have you ever thought that perhaps we neglect the fun experience factor? Sure, you may resolve to spend more time with your family, to exercise more, etcetera, and no doubt these are laudable goals.
But when put into the context of a Resolution, don't they sound just a little bit like work? Like an obligation? A duty? Lacking in the fun part of spontaneity? What about choosing a different route?
This blog by Lori Allen on Great Escape Publishing made me think. It's both sobering and inspiring.
What if you woke up every Saturday, knowing you were taking the day off from anything remotely like work, and just going to go out and grab experience quite spontaneously? Looking for fun without obligation?
Allen retells the story of the 1,000 marbles which, for the teller, represented every Saturday
remaining in his life if he lived to be 75 years old. Each Saturday he would take one of those marbles out of the jar, and seeing the dwindling number left behind, be inspired to have that one day as something he'd always remember.
Here's the link - read it. It may just change your attitudes.
So, what are you doing with YOUR marbles?