Living a Grateful Life, Part 2

This is a followup to my last post of attempting to live a more thankful life. I intended it as a personal challenge, to rather counter all the negativity I see around me in life and in the media. I then wanted to share it with others, both friends and strangers through my blog, as well as daily on my FaceBook page.

Twelve days in, I’ve noticed that the FB algorithm now shows different people coming up in my feed, some I know and some I don’t. Each of them is more positive with more positive posts than my usual FB encounters. Already I feel more relaxed when logging onto FaceBook. Also, about every four days comes a pop-up for me to fill in a form and share whom I am thankful for. I never-ever saw that before starting this sharing a Life of Gratitude on line. Hurray for algorithms.

One last thing here: I started this, wanting to post just one thing a day for which I am thankful to God. A challenge. A discipline. This morning, before breakfast, I had perhaps a dozen thoughts vying for my attention. “Pick me for today.” “No, pick me.” I’m beginning to think that this Living a Grateful Life personal challenge is like a snowball, starting small enough to fit in my hands, but as it rolls through the perfect snow, it grows and grows and grows.

A Grateful Life

With 6 days until the New Year, I have decided that from today until the end of Christmas (January 6), I shall post something each day on my FB page for which I am grateful to God. I shall try to be more specific than “family” or such. It is a month-long personal challenge.

Especially in this age of so much dissent and separatism, I would like to encourage anyone reading this to do the same. Here is my FB page, if anyone is interested in my own journey: https://www.facebook.com/sandycarl

“In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (NASB, I Thessalonians 5:18). (Sandy’s comment: Not thankful for every circumstance, for some are evil, but find something even through bad circumstances to be grateful for.)

“And whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father” (NASB, Colossians 3:17).

New Fav TV Series – Time Team

Alright. I know I am four years (or 24 years) behind the times here. But I only recently discovered a marvelous British documentary series called “Time Team”. I’m sure it is marvelous to anyone interested in history, especially British history. The show aired from January of 1994 to September of 2014, but with my recent discovery of it, it has shot up to be my new favorite TV series. Each episode has professional archaeologists who go to various locations on a three-day dig (although some of the sites are on-going digs). The totally fun part of it is that “Baldrick” (from Blackadder, a Brit comedy from the 1980’s; aka actor Tony Robinson) is the narrator.

This week on Episode 51 of “Time Team” I learned for the first time about Doggerland. This was a land mass between Scotland and Denmark and the Netherlands before England-Scotland-Whales became an island. The fertile and populated Doggerland was flooded first by a tsunami about 6,000 BC, followed soon after by rising ocean levels from the last glacial retreat of the Ice Age.

Hearing about Doggerland for the first time made me feel like it was a fantasy world, only it was real. It also made me feel stupid for never having heard of it before. And, oh, but what a lovely diversion I have from NaNoWriMo.

I’m a little behind in my word count (of the 50,000 word goal for the month), but I seriously hope to finish my next War Unicorn novel by then, at least the rough draft of it, at least if I can be disciplined to write and not be glued to “Time Team”!

NaNoWriMo Prep and Promoting Books

This is the last day before NaNoWriMo 2018. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, although it’s gone international now, and encourages adult writers to produce 50,000 words on a new story in the 30 days of November. This will be my 10th year participating.

Personally, November is a horrible month to choose for pounding out 50K raw words (rough draft). There are holidays and family visits and company coming for 1/4 of the time and dear hubby’s birthday and, of course, one less day than half of the months of the year. Yet! What a writing challenge.

I used to cheat to get in my 50K, or about 17,000 words per day, and counted any writing, including letters and journaling pages. I don’t do that now. At least I try to focus on the one and only story I’m working on. O, discipline. It is so hard for me!

For my NaNoWriMo preparation, I have the characters already known to me (from three previous books in the series), but I’ve written out plot scenes on 3″ x 5″ cards and rubberbanded them into three acts. I’m all set to TAM (Type Away Madly). O, discipline. I feel the most prepared this year for NaNoWriMo than I have any previous year.

Besides focusing on NaNoWriMo, I had professional author photos taken for the first time yesterday. After ten books, I thought it was time for this. I normally hate being on “that side” of the camera, but it was so much fun–all outdoors, naturally. And my photographer, Dena Haas, is amazing. I can’t wait to see the results, and to share them.

I also have ongoing book promotion and marketing to keep on top of. SCBWI is featuring kids’ books published in 2018. I’m supposed to promote not only mine, but help others out as well by promoting theirs. It started last week and goes through November. I figured I’d let the wave of enthusiasm flow over me, and then in a week or so, when people fade out of promoting, I’ll get in there to market and promote some, all while writing 1,700 words a day and loving spending time with my family.

You writers: write. You readers: support your authors and buy their books, and review them, too. Come on, November. I’m ready for you.

 

Nature and Human Sounds

It’s in the 40’s, dark and rainy, but there’s a nice breeze going on outside. I had to step outside. So here I was, standing on our front porch in my bare feet and loving nature greeting me. It was only my human rationality which finally encouraged me to pull the doorknob to reenter the house, even though it was irrational to my soul. What would the neighbors think?

I thought that if I had my dream writer’s shack (a tiny camper), I’d have as many windows as possible, and all of them opened wide as I wrote away to the sounds of the wind in the trees, the patter of rain, the occasional bird and scampering squirrels. Of course, if it were nighttime, there would be deer and racoon and opossum wandering near.

All of my stories are set in the out of doors. For that very reason, sometimes it is difficult to write…inside. It would not be wise to leave windows opened inside the house when the outside temp is below fifty. Inside, there is the constant hum of the computer in the closed-in den. Leaving the room, there is the refrigerator hum, the lights humming, the kitchen clock tick-tocking away, and the furnace or furnace fan clicking on and off. (In the summertime it is air conditioning.) Of course, other neighborhood human reminders include loud lawncare machines, or airplanes or boats or racing cars or motorcycles. It makes it very distracting to ride a unicorn through a mountain meadow, seeing the tiny high-altitude flowers immediately below, the azure-blue sky above with falcon cry, the rocks and ranges extending to the horizon.

Rizzz. Rahhh. Zoom. Hum.

Oh, fiddlesticks. I’m going back on the porch for a while.  At least there, in the dark, in the rain, standing in my bare feet, natural noises give competition to the human-created sounds.

Writing Ghost Stories

(This book is loaded with ghost stories.)

When I was a kid, a favorite activity was to take my siblings, or cousins, or any willing friend into my closet (during daylight hours) and tell spooky stories. I’d block the light coming in at the base of the door with a towel to make it pitch black. I knew I’d told one scary enough when the kid(s) would scream and jump up to get out into the light.

Mine were never about blood and gore. There was the set up to the story, and then either a quiet-realization ending (“…then the boyfriend came around to open the girl’s car door and found a bloody hook on the handle.”) or it ended with rapid speech or creepy sound with a loud reveal (“…but it couldn’t have been her dog licking her; her dog had died the year before”, or simply a shouted: “Boo!”).

To create a spooky story, it’s as easy as 1-2-3. First, you need the set up, then the buildup (with foreshadowing of what’s to come), concluding with the final, quick ending.

Go try your own hand at doing this!

Cultural Hand Signals

I am guessing you have heard the story of the Texas football team which went Italy and the Texas fans started flashing the team’s bull horns. The Italian response was quite a surprise and very negative,  for apparently this sign is a huge insult in Italy.

As we must be aware of not only on culture but those around us.

When my husband and I ride our bicycles around the neighborhood we use hand signals to indicate turns.  I’m thinking we may be the only people in this area who still use hand signals while bicycles. For when drivers pass by us, they will enevitably wave to us. Don’t get me wrong. We wave while riding all the time. But a right hand turn is not a wave. Still, it’s nice to live in a friendly neighborhood.

 

 

Second Grade Wisdom: Love is When

Updating files lately, I came across something I’d kept from when I taught 2nd grade. They were all great, but I thought I’d share a few. It was Valentine’s Day, 2002. The journal topic was “Love is when…”.

 (f) True love is when you give someone a ring and marry each other.

(m) Love is when you know someone and you want to talk with them all you can.

(f) Love is when you share your toys. Love is when you like someone inside or outside. Love is when you share your feelings.

 (m) Love is when my mom broke her toe and she could hardly move. My dad took care of her and helped her.

 (f) Love is when a boy takes a girl’s breath away. Love is when a girl takes away a boy’s breath!!!!!

 (m) My mom loves me. She scratches my back.

 (f) I know my dad loves me because he stopped smoking when I was born.

(m) Love is when a person loves another person, like when my mom feeds me.

 (f) Love is when the moon never stops spinning around the earth. That’s because they were made for each other. Love is when a person’s name is in your heart. That is love.

 (m) Love is romantic….or yuck. Love. Yuck. Gross. I think I’m going to throw up.

Right Brain, Left Brain, and Robot Brain — Threefold approach to authorship

person holding string lights photo

Photo by David Cassolato on Pexels.com

As writers, we are aware of our right-brainness. This is where creativity thrives. This makes up the core of our authorship, our writing. It is where passions scale mountains or traverse deserts and oceans.

Then there is the left-brainness. Logic and reason reside here, enabling the thinking through and wise choosing from various choices. It is very good for marketing and promoting your writing.

Have you considered a third part to your writing brain, one which connects the former two? I call it robot-brainness. This part of your thinking links passion and logic together. It is neither full of emotion, nor without. This part catapults thoughts forward by logic in order to give your passion purpose. (A+B, therefore C.) For instance, going beyond the writing, and through publication and into the world of C: promoting and marketing.

I used to be only right-brained. Oh, writing was such hard work. I don’t belittle that. It truly is. But today’s writer needs to be more than just a writer. She needs also to be be a business woman.

Write. Publish. Market. And repeat for every book inside of you.

Being Your Own IT

I like to write. However, I do not like technology. My husband tells me I was born in the wrong century. But for dentistry and doctors, the thought of living in a past century makes me grin. I prefer bartering over exchange of money. I prefer walking over any type of transportation. I prefer telling stories to people face-to-face instead of over distance or shot out into the electronic ether. I do like personal first class, snail mail, postal letters, both sending and receiving, even though that’s another distance thing, but it’s a personal distance thing. Then there’s the medical side of previous centuries (for the negative), but the technology (for the positive).

I may not like technology, but can accept it is great, as long as it is clear how it works, does what you expect it to do, and doesn’t change. All three of those examples are what give me this tentative and shaky relationship with technology. Social media is necessary in today’s author’s world, but if technology changes (which is its nature), you must constantly be updating and changing yourself as well. And to market and promote, again, technology is essential.

With the changes and all the technical parts of technology, at times I falter if my little old brain can handle it all by being my own IT person. Other days it all seems so simple. Lately I haven’t been able to post because (near as I can make out), my browser cashe was full, but then I woke this morning to be my own IT guy and fix it, and — surprise! — I can post. Miracles, I can handle. Changes or errors in technology, not so much.

So if you want to be your own IT, you can. You’re smart. You adapt well to changes. You happily spend hours searching to find out how to find the answer to fix things.

TMM — Too Much Musing