#MidWeekPOV #wwwblogs Recharging Creativity

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Ever sit down to write and discover your creativity has closed up shop for the day? Oh, I don’t mean the so-called writer’s block, wherein you don’t know what to write next. I’m thinking more in terms of knowing exactly what you want to write, but the words showing up in front of you are looking really tired and uninspired. Maybe that IS a type of writer’s block, but whatever you call it, it’s darn annoying. Especially when you’re on a deadline, and you’re already running behind.

What do you do? How do you recharge and forge ahead, happy with your day’s writing again?

I have several old standbys that usually seem to work. I find great comfort in my garden. My backyard was a large, empty canvas when we moved into this house twelve years ago. Thanks to my husband’s beautiful brick pathways, it is now a series of patios and beds, with nary a blade of boring (to me) green grass anywhere.  Two years ago, before I started to spend every waking minute writing, it was really very pretty. Roses, salvias, honeysuckle, jasmine, and hanging baskets full of color were everywhere. Now, it’s a disaster, but I find cleaning it up and restoring it still works wonders for my creative renewal.

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My garden, BEFORE I decided to become a writer!

Getting out on the St.  Johns River is always good for my soul, too, and restores some equilibrium when my days have gotten out of control, and my brain feels fried. These days, I’m more apt to go out on the Naiad, the eco-tour boat that was my inspiration for the Undine, in Swamp Ghosts, rather than in my own canoe. (Old back, new pains.) But a boat ride with Captain Jeanne Bell, and her photographer husband, Doug Little, goes a long way towards sorting out my head.

boat on tourThe Naiad, plying the waters of the St. Johns River

And last, but by NO means least, I read. Losing myself in someone else’s fictional world is still my very best escape, and always will be, I expect. And the more complicated the real world gets, the more fantasy I lose myself in. For the first time in my life, I find myself moving past even URBAN fantasy, and into the epic stuff. I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson and Robin Hobb for the last year, having decided magic in other worlds is just what my heart needs at the moment. And dragons, of course. Who knew how much I’d love them? I’m currently in the midst of reading our own Deborah Jay’s The Prince’s Man. Yep, fantasy is a great way to think about things far removed from the day’s headlines.

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Escaping into fantasy, and loving it!

I’m leaving shortly to do lunch with a new friend, which is in itself, another way to restore humor and sanity to my life. But, before I go, I wanted to ask what you folks do when your creativity gets sluggish? How do you recharge? Your turn! Come on, tell us. Inquiring minds wanna know.

#MidWeekPOV – #wwwblogs Small Miracles

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Wood Stork on the Wing

Some years ago (too many to count), I developed a little habit I call “looking for the miracle.” It started as a small superstition that if I saw something truly beautiful or uncommon at the start of a long car trip, it was a sign all was well in the world, and I’d get where I was going, unscathed. Yeah, I know it was silly, but it made me feel surprisingly good, and you know what else? I found that when I was actively watching for them, small miracles showed themselves to me nearly everywhere I looked.

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Of course, with my long-established love of nature, I often looked for special birds or wildlife along the roadside, as an omen of good luck. I’d spot a bald eagle soaring overhead (always an inspirational sight), and say to myself, “There! That’s this trip’s miracle.”

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Or I’d see the summer’s first swallowtail kite, my very favorite bird of prey, and feel so happy, I just knew it was good omen, and my trip would go smoothly.

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Over the  years, I’ve spotted all sorts of interesting animals and birds along the highways and byways of my travels. A flock of wild turkey is always a good sign, to me . .  .

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. . .  and my first Florida sighting of a half-grown black bear made me smile for the next twently or thirty miles.

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Over time, I saw other things that I counted among my miracles. Rainbows are always good, and double rainbows mean my trip home will go well, too.

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A solid purple field of wild phlox takes my breath away as it announces its miracle status in no uncertain terms.

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A crested caracara sitting in a tree,

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deer grazing in a field,

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a baby donkey standing in the front yard of a farmhouse–all have given me a sense of the magical, the beautiful, the miraculous, at one time or another.

You may count other things as your good omens, but whatever speaks to you in that way, I promise if you make it a point to look for the miracles around you, you’ll find them. And whatever you’re doing at the time will suddenly seem happier, taking on new significance.

Miracles abound, if we but open our eyes. Try it. You just might be amazed.

#MidWeekPov – Using Animals to Set the Scene – #wwwblogs

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Beautiful Animal, Beautiful Setting

I’ve been thinking about my last #InspirationBoardSunday post, and I’d like to talk a bit more about that. For any who missed it, or who just looked at the pretty pictures, and skipped the text–Oh, come on! You know you’re out there!–I want to chat about the role animals play in our lives and in our environment.

Human beings love their pets, for far too many reasons to list here. Pets are therapeutic, affectionate, loyal, and beautiful. I mentioned in Sunday’s post that I give almost all of my characters a pet or two, because the type of animal they enjoy spending time with can tell the reader a lot about them. Continue reading

#MidWeekPOV #amwriting #wwwblogs How I Write Part One

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In the interest of better time management and maximizing my writing output, I’ve read a lot of articles and books on how other writers do it. Over and over, I’ve read the first thing you should do every morning is write, to the exclusion of anything else. Most say they take their cup of coffee (Oh, look! They DID make an exclusion, after all. 😀 ) and head for their computer/typewriter/legal tablet (shudder), and start writing. No checking their blogs, no answering emails, nothing to put a damper on the morning’s inspiration and output. To that, I say, balderdash! Tommyrot! And, I don’t theenk so! At least not for me. Continue reading

#MidWeek POV #wwwblogs Aging Gracefully. Or not.

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Me? I don’t THEENK so!

In less than a month, on glorious St. Patrick’s Day, I’ll turn seventy-two. SEVENTY. TWO. It boggles my mind, especially when I look into the mirror and see an old lady looking back at me. Most days, I still think of myself as young. Barely an adult. Then I remind myself that I wasn’t cast for a permanent run as Sweet Young Thing, and start thinking about all the things I want to do in the time allotted to me. Of course, I’ll have to live to be  134 to accomplish half of them. 😉

I’d like to hear how you good folks feel about aging. How do you deal with the new aches and pains, for instance? I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I spend part of the day grousing that nothing looks the same as it used to look, nothing works as well as it used to work, and some things aren’t even in the same PLACE they used to be. What’s up with that? I purely hate it when my parts stop working before I’m done with them, too! (Eyes and ears come to mind, immediately.) But by and large, I’m blessed to be doing as well as I am, and enjoying the heck out of my writing and meeting readers in central Florida. Life is good, for the most part, and I know I’m a lucky lady.

In honor of growing older, here’s a poem I wrote while contemplating my 70th birthday, now long gone by. Hope you enjoy it! 🙂 Continue reading

#MidWeekPOV #wwwblogs To Swag or Not to Swag ? That Is the Question.

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Side One of My Current Bookmark

You’ve written your book. It’s published and selling. Hopefully well. As part of your marketing strategy, do you have printed materials and other goodies with your name and book title on them? Do you offer any of them as give-aways on your blog or website? Do you have freebies to hand out at author events or book fairs? And on the other side of the coin, are you the kind of event attendee who picks up material from various vendors–in this case, authors?

I confess, I do both. I like having little gifts to share with people, and if they have my books listed on them, all the better. I can’t afford to do anything huge, but I do have bookmarks, postcards, and my favorite, custom tea blends in little keepsake tins with the book cover and my name on them. (Perfect for stashing paper clips or stamps, on a desk, or for use as travel tins for things like aspirin. They can even be refilled with tea. Imagine!)

I am doing an average of two presentations a month these days, and I enjoy setting up my table with things for folks to browse through afterward. While I’m signing books, it gives those waiting in line something to do, and if they leave with a handful of bookmarks, I hope they’ll share them. Maybe I’ll gain a new reader that way.

So, what’s your opinion on swag of this sort? Do you give any away? Do you pick up things at other tables? All of the above? None of the above? Why or why not? As always, inquiring minds wanna know! 🙂

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Side Two of the Same Bookmark

 

#MidWeekPOV #wwwblogs Recharging Creativity

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I’m coming to you today from Charleston, South Carolina, and my MidWeek POV looks very different. Usually, I’m at my home in central Florida, specifically, at my computer, where I spend the majority of my life. But today, I’m having fun visiting with my daughter’s family, and playing with my two-year-old grandson, Kaelen, while my husband takes a look at some electrical issues in the fixer-upper my daughter and SIL just bought.

One thought led to another, and I decided my POV today should  focus on changes of pace.  Vacations. Or, if you’re living on the other side of the pond, holidays. Do you take them? If so, where? How long? Are you a beach person or a mountain person? Do you like little weekend get-aways, or month-long escapes? And most of all, do you come home feeling recharged and reinspired, ready to write the next chapter in your WIP? (You do have a WIP, don’t you?)

Normally, we are short trip folks. With six animals, it’s hard (and expensive) to take longer vacations. We tend to go for daytrips in our area. Museums, historical sites, a hike in the woods. A canoe trip on a local river. That type of thing. But once in a while, we decide to go farther afield. We bite the bullet, board the animals, and hit the highway. I’m longing to go to the mountains again, before too long, but this trip to Charleston was our first priority. And I know I’ll come home tired, happy, and ready to write again.

I’d love to hear what recharges YOUR batteries, and restores your creativity, when you realize you are running low. As always, inquiring minds wanna know.

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Beaches Can Be Nice, Too

 

 

#MidWeekPOV – #wwwblogs – A Word About Reviews . . .

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Leave ’em. Please! It’s the best way in the world to thank an author for his or her hard work. Not only does it make authors feel good, but it most definitely has an impact on the book’s ranking on Amazon, and Amazon is where a plethora of good reviews can make a substantial difference in a writer’s paycheck.

I’ve heard lots of opinions on exactly how much of a difference it might translate to, and I don’t claim to be an expert on Amazon’s system, but I can tell you from my own personal experience as a reader, I pay attention to reviews when I’m buying books there. I honestly believe that’s true of most readers. Here’s a query for you: When 90 out of 100 reviews rate one book at 4 or 5 stars, and 90 out of 100 reviews rate another book at 2 or 3 stars, which one are you more likely to spend your money on? Assuming that Book #2 is not a relative or personal friend? Yeah, I thought so. Me, too.

So, my word about reviews is that we should ALL remember to leave them, especially if we really enjoy a book. But I just realized that I have another word or two to say about reviews, as well. Specifically about negative reviews. I quit leaving those, period. Why? Several reasons.

1. No need for me to do so. Apparently many people would much rather leave negative reviews about books than positive ones. For sure, there are plenty of folks willing to do so, ad nauseum, and some actually seem to enjoy it. No need for me to bother. (I discovered this LONG before I wrote my first book, btw.) Some people delight in tearing things down, but, personally, I think truly scathing reviews often say more about the reviewer than the reviewee. (Is that a word?)

2. If I think a book is really bad, I don’t finish it. My reading hours are very precious to me, so I prefer to spend them reading books I’m enjoying, and I’m certainly not going to review a book I didn’t even finish.

3. I can read a book that’s flawed, and still enjoy it overall, if I care about the characters enough. That means, I might not be able to give the book 5 stars, but I can probably find enough positives to rate it at 4, or at the very worst 3/3.5 or so. I can GENTLY point out that there were some problems, but that because of certain other factors, it was easy to overlook them, and I enjoyed the story anyway. And I can emphasize the positive aspects. This approach makes ME feel a lot better, too.

4. And the last reason I don’t leave negative reviews is simple. Now that I write books, too, I know exactly how demoralizing and painful it is to receive one. Happily, possibly shockingly, I’ve been blessed with way more good reviews than bad ones, especially when you consider how very little I knew about writing when I started 2-1/2 years ago. But, like every author, I do get a negative review now and then, and every one of them hurts. I don’t want to do that to anyone else, so I just won’t review any book I that leaves me with nothing good to say.

This doesn’t mean you can’t leave negative reviews, if you wish. Just that I won’t. And I suspect those who do so under the guise of helping the author learn aren’t being totally honest. They could do that more effectively by communicating privately with the writer, and offering a kind, but honest critique. So much better than public humiliation, I think. But that’s just me.

One last thing I want to say about Reviews: LEAVE THEM, please! Oh. Did I say that already? 😉 Well, it bears repeating, because those reviews can make or break a book. Or an author’s heart.

Please feel free to share this little graphic I created far and wide, to remind your social contacts to leave reviews, as well. I’ll be making a few more of them, and will share them here as I get them done. I’m on an Educate the World About Reviews kick. Hope you’ll join me.

As always, inquiring minds wanna know how you feel about this topic.

 

My Apologies!

Ooops. Somewhere  along the line, I failed to express in my MidWeek POV post exactly why I woke up feeling so disgruntled today, and for that, I apologize. Honestly, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the goals I’ve set for myself, the length of time I write each day, or anything lacking in the life I’m currently living. No, really. 🙂 Maybe my current writing schedule wouldn’t work for everyone, but it’s what I enjoy, and I’m only planning to do it for three more years. (That’s a miniscule amount of time at my age. I’ve got leftovers in the fridge older than that!)

My discontent, which I so poorly expressed, was merely 1) that things get in my way, and interrupt my writing, and 2) that so many people fail to consider what I do real work.  I’m sure this is true of many self-employed folks. No boss looking over your shoulder? Well, then you should be able to take off whenever you want for as long as you want.

I don’t see it that way. This is a real job, and I put in a full day here, just as I would in an office. But that’s because it’s my choice to do so. I WANT to write every day. Pretty much all day. What frustrates me most, is that it isn’t always possible.

So please don’t worry about my long hours. If I didn’t want to do it that way–actually LIKE doing it that way–I wouldn’t. (Ask my husband. You pretty much can’t get me to do anything I really don’t want to do.) 😀

Now, as you were, good folks. Sorry to have confused you, or worse yet, made you worry about me. I’m good. I swear on a stack of albino reptiles.  (It’s a Swamp Ghosts thing. 😀 )

#MidWeekPOV – Finding Time To Write – #wwwblogs #amwriting

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Running slightly late today, because I’ve been having the mulligrubs, as my grandmother used to call it. Basically, I’ve been frowning, scowling, muttering, and otherwise grinching about the house, contemplating the unfairness of the universe in ignoring what I want to do with my time, and what I’m actually required to do with it. Or at least, what I think I’m being required to do, which might be different. Or not. 🙂

So for my weekly ration from my Point of View, here’s this. Many, if not most, of you guys are writers, just as I am. Or just as I’m trying to be. Writing is a solitary pursuit that swallows time whole, like a python eating dinner . . . or like my piebald dachshund eating pretty much anything that doesn’t eat him first.

Writing requires hours upon hours of sitting at the computer, pounding on the keyboard (or the desk, itself, if your Muse has deserted you), and otherwise being actively engaged in doing something that pretty much looks like doing nothing to the casual observer.

What writing doesn’t require is a mile-long list of things to interrupt your day’s work. Laundry, taking the dogs out, grocery shopping, taking the dogs out, vacuuming, taking the dogs out. You get my drift. The flotsam and jetsam of household chores and day-to-day errands. It also doesn’t require having to leave town for days at a time, even when it’s for something you want to do and know you’ll enjoy. Or taking endless phone calls from people who know you are writing, yet really need to talk about their relationship problems, string theory,  or the meaning of life.

I’m not saying ALL of the above is happening to me right now, or even that it’s anyone’s fault that some of it is. I’m not saying I’m being made miserable by any of it, either. I’m just saying that what isn’t happening is very much writing. If I’m going to meet my goal of ten books in five years, I have to continue to produce two books a year. And I can do that. But only if I have more days of actual writing, and fewer days of life’s interruptions.

At my age, I don’t have decades to tell my stories, and I really want to tell them. So I’m trying to find a balance that will allow me to do things I must do, and at least some of the things I want to do, without feeling frustrated that my current WIP is nowhere near as far along as it should be at this point.

My question to you good readers is, how do you deal with this? And is there any way at all to convince other people you are really, TRULY, working while sitting at the computer, and not diddling around on Pinterest, checking out things on MeetYourSexyNeighbor.com,  or playing Candy Crush? I need to find a way to mesh my writing schedule with the rest of my life, without hurting other people, neglecting my house to the point of having the State Board of Health condemn it, or leaving myself walking around with a PERMANENT case of the mulligrubs.

What say you? Inquiring minds wanna know! 🙂