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Today's hottest fiction ebooks are on sale for .99 from Dec 28-Dec 31 only! Mystery, romance, fantasy, young adult - there's something for everyone ...
... including the chance to win a $100 Amazon gift card!a Rafflecopter giveaway
I was thinking it's too early to make New Year's resolutions. The truth, however, is that it's never too early.
Another truth is that I haven't made any yet. However, I'm a member of a writers' group to which I've belonged for over 12 years, and one of our traditions is to make individual lists of resolutions and share them with the other members.
This is called keeping us honest.
It means that for the next few weeks, I'm going to be thinking about and writing down what I plan to accomplish for the coming year. I have two possible ways of looking at this project. One is to make goals I know I can achieve. The other is to dream big.
Dreaming big appeals to me. It calls forth the best in me, including resources I might otherwise allow to lie dormant. It has risks, though, as dreaming big always does.
The principal risk involves how I deal with what I could call failure, i.e., not achieving everything on my list. I can beat myself up for that, and I'm pretty good at it. I can also accept that not every dream gets fulfilled according to a timetable and believe that setting one in motion is its own reward.
I think I'll vote for Plan B.
To be continued.
Whether or not you are eating turkey today, you might enjoy the following story:
In no particular order of importance, I'm grateful for:
The turkeys, deer, rabbits, groundhogs, and other animals who visit my back yard
My family, whether biological or adopted, and especially to Joyce.
Long-time friends in my writing group, Artistic License: Marilyn, Faye, June, Julie, and Sharon. I just celebrated my 12th anniversary in this group.
Indie Writers Unite! This group has made all the difference in the world to me as a writer.
My readers. I may never meet you in person, but I so appreciate your support. You help me to fulfill my dream.
Special thanks to my imagination, without which life would be boring.
And thanks to you who are reading this blog. If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope your life is full of reasons for gratitude. And the same goes for those of you who don't.
I wish I could say I took a long summer vacation. The truth is that I had dental surgery, I'm fine, and I'm not going to say one descriptive word about it. If you're at all like me, you may have an imagination that can supply painful details, and I wouldn't inflict that on anyone but myself.
Instead, I'm passing this message by George Carlin. It's been around the Internet a lot, but I think that in this election year, it's especially timely.
After the 2008 election, Irish standup comedian Dylan Moran, while doing a show in Australia, noted that after being elected, Obama spoke seriously about working together and being realistic about what could be accomplished, and people looked at him and said, "No, you do it."
The message below, by another comedian who knew how to be serious, reminds us that so many of the biggest issues today, not only in the U.S., but worldwide, will remain no matter who gets elected.
When I think of the vast amount of untapped creativity in this world, when I contemplate what a brilliant environment we can make for ourselves if we use the full resources of our hearts and minds, I know it's not up to whoever we elect anywhere. It's up to us.
A Message by George Carlin
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider Freeways ,but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete...
Remember; spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.
Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.
Remember, to say, 'I love you' to your partner and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again.
Give time to love, give time to speak! And give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.
AND ALWAYS REMEMBER:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.
If you don't send this to at least 8 people....Who cares?
Since way before the beginning of this blog, I have considered it important to make the point that everyone is creative. For those who doubt, just look at this major literary work called your life. When we realize we're the authors, it gets easier to write.
The article below, from The New Yorker magazine, transmits the message with far more elegance than I could.
I hope you enjoy it and go on to write some scenes in which you, the hero/heroine, triumph.
On July 30, 2012, Irish author Maeve Binchy died at the age of 72. Her books, translated into 37 languages, sold more than 40 million copies. More importantly, she was probably Ireland's best-loved author. She was certainly one of my best-loved authors.
Her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982, which happened to be the year of my first visit to Ireland. I bought that book in an Irish bookstore. I was discovering the thrill of buying books unavailable in the U.S., and this wasn't the first one I read. Only when I got home did I open it.
Though much of the novel takes place in England, it has plenty of Irish scenes, particularly set in the Dublin area. In my visit to Dublin, I had seen Dean Swift's church to the birthplaces of Yeats, Wilde, and countless settings for Ulysses. Dublin seems to live and breathe great literature.
In reading Binchy's novel, I discovered a different Dublin and a different Ireland, the home of people, who, while they had a lot of problems, cared about each other and came to solutions. In many ways, her novel Circle of Friends, which was made into a movie, was her breakthrough work. In a greater sense, though, all of her books are about circles of friends who help each other through the rough patches of life.
This quote from her describes her far better than I could:
"The happiest moments of my life are connected with family and friends. There is a great comfort about being with people who knew you way back when. There is a mental shorthand, an easy-going feeling that life doesn't have to be explained or defined; we are all in more or less the same boat. To have a community around you in a changing and unstable world is invaluable and nothing can beat the feeling that there will always be people out for our good."
Though I never personally met her, I will miss her greatly.
As I write this, I'm in the process of revising a novel I thought was finished. Recent events in my personal life caused me to take a new look at the psychological makeup of one of the main characters. I realized that her attitudes and behavior at a critical point in the story no longer worked for me. Instead, I saw them as rigid, blameful, and, for the purposes of the story, a real plot-killer.
This realization didn't discourage me. I'd known something wasn't gelling in the story, and I was delighted by this discovery. I've learned that unless I'm starting an entirely new project, creation doesn't occur without some destruction. I was eager to tear the story apart and reconstruct it.
I was somewhat less eager once I began. Destruction can be really messy, whether you're revising a manuscript, changing your immediate physical environment, or altering your life. It creates piles of debris. Things may look much worse before they begin to look better.
This has been happening to my story. Having decided that I needed to make certain changes, I discovered that these called for additional changes elsewhere in the manuscript. The process seemed to be spiraling out of control. My file for the book began to fill with notes like "HAVE TO CHANGE THIS" and "????" The novel that had once resembled a well-paved highway was turning into a cratered country road that wound and twisted through a wilderness.
It wasn't perfect, and this pained me. It was like being pained by the sight of boards, nails, and drop cloths in the once immaculate room you decide to renovate. It's like deciding you need to make some changes in a primary relationship, and the other person keeps on demanding, "Well, what DO you want?", and you don't know, because it's a process of reconstruction, and you're still tripping over the debris of what was.
There's only one way to make this chaos endurable, and that's to live with imperfection. And that isn't always easy.
Here's how I'm learning to do it.
1. I remind myself that just because the manuscript is imperfect, it doesn't mean that I share its flaws.
2. I tell myself that not getting it perfect in the first run doesn't mean I'm lazy or indifferent.
3. I say to myself that it's so exciting to watch the story transform, that this is a thrilling, organic process.
4. Apropos of point 3, I repeat that over-said but never outworn saying that the journey matters more than the destination.
5. I realize that the pursuit of perfection constricts (if it doesn't totally block) the flow of creativity.
6. I decide to choose excellence, a flexible word that allows much room for growth, instead.
Then I write, staying open to opportunity and inspiration, seeing the debris as part of the work in progress, each day finding creative solutions, moving towards excellence and leaving perfection far behind.
When I was a child, my mother ordered me to never cross the street by myself. This led me to believe that it was unsafe to do so unless she was with me. It didn't take long, though, for this belief to pass its sell by date.
We discard the most obvious expired beliefs, but some of them are sneaky. Many people learned when they were young that you need to work hard in order to get by or that the doctor knows best when it comes to your health. These beliefs sound so reasonable that we may accept them as facts.
We all learned many beliefs masquerading as facts from childhood authorities: parents, teachers, and others. We absorbed them at a time when our ability to question what they told us was untried. A lot of what I picked up along the trail of growing u p still inhabits my being, rent-free. They block the path of original thinking and creativity.
My squatters tell me all kinds of lies that I believe to be true, like "You don't like to cook," "Housework is hell," and "You're not very good at technical or mechanical things."
Like most of the unexamined beliefs I hold in my head, I acquired these from a number of sources.
"You don't like to cook" comes from a period when my mother worked at night when I was in junior high and high school and had to cook dinner several nights at week." I hated cooking then, and now, though my circumstances are entirely different, my adolescent attitude carries over.
"Housework is hell" comes directly from my mother. She had four children, including two boys with the destructive capacity of puppies. Again, I have carried this attitude into adulthood.
"You're not very good at technical or mechanical things" has several roots. It stems in part from my believing I was no good at math. I clung to that belief, ignoring much evidence that I was good on computers and designed and constructed several web sites."
The mechanical part of this has more general roots. The other day I was wishing that, instead of taking home ec and learning how to make aprons and biscuits, I'd gotten a course in unblocking drains, simple carpentry, and elementary car repair. When I was growing up, girls were going to have husbands who would do all of that, and somewhere in my crowded mind lounges the belief that females aren't supposed to do such things.
The belief family most destructive to creativity usually begins, "You can't do that (whatever that is). You can't draw a straight line, carry a tune, express what you feel, ask for favors, or risk your security. You have a black thumb; you can't read a map; you can't eat strange food. Solution
1. Notice what beliefs are blocking your way. Sometimes they take this form: "I'd like to . . . but . . ."
2. Ask yourself, "Why is that true?"
3. Ask yourself, "How long has this been true?"
4. Ask yourself, "Who told me it's true?"
5. Decide it's not true. Replace that belief with one that serves your creative purposes.
As I write this, a squirrel is living in an outside wall of my house. When I discovered the hole in the wall, I tried a number of ways to cover. I will not detail these methods because none of them worked. They failed because my efforts, designed as temporary measures until I could call a carpenter, failed to take into account two primary aspects of a squirrel's nature. These are imagination and persistence.
Of these, persistence is probably more important. As anyone who has ever had a bird feeder knows, squirrels do not give up. Unlike humans, they don't say, "This problem has no solution," "I'm tired of trying," or "I quit."
They never (or rarely) quit, and because of their determination, they're able to explore many creative possibilities. Persistence fuels the expression of imagination.
I once saw a video that documented the impossibility of outwitting squirrels. One scene showed a squirrel who'd learned to trigger a candy machine in Times Square so that it ejected a candy bar. Amazing as that was, I was more impressed by its ability to navigate street traffic.
Several episodes documented the efforts of scientists to devise squirrel-proof bird feeders. The most elaborate of these was a twenty- or thirty-part section obstacle course that included chutes and ladders, doors that had to be sprung a certain way, seesaws, and various other ingenious obstacles. It took the inventors of this course a month to design it. It took a squirrel less than a day to outwit it.
Some humans have squirrel-like tenacity. When asked by a reporter if he felt like a failure for not having yet discovered how to make a light bulb that worked, Thomas Edison replied, "Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost within my grasp." After over 10,000 attempts, he succeeded.
You might not be up to 10,000 attempts. I'm not. My only goal is to make one more attempt before I give up. And then another. And another. And when I wonder if I'm wasting my time, I ask myself what else I was going to do with it.
Then I remind myself that if I quit now, I'll have a lot of time for regret.
And I'll have to live with the knowledge that when it comes to manifesting one's goals, a squirrel is smarter than I am.
I’m so excited Connie has invited me to guest on her blog today. I thought I’d share with you all some of the ways I get my inspiration.
I started having what I call “character dreams” when I was in high school. These dreams were more like movies and I found my awareness would bounce from the mind of one player to another. I’d only remember little snippets of these dreams the next morning, but they would stick with me so strongly that I eventually found the only way to resolve them in my mind was to write them.
Witch Way Bends started as just such a dream. I recalled a field of bodies and a woman with a pistol in hand. There were several men standing around, also bearing weapons. One man in particular drew her attention and he was obviously in charge. She had something to prove. He felt something for her and fought to tamp it down.
Years later this little clip transformed into the opening chapter for my first novel.
While I was in the process of writing Witch Way Bends I had a particular scene wherein one of the characters was injured. My heroine needed to heal him but I was having a hard time coming up with the details. I wanted the use of her healing powers to be different, unique. While jogging through the nature trail near my house about that time, I ran into a spider web. I furiously swatted the sticky threads out of my face in frustration as I tried to resolve the quandary in my book.
Inspiration has to hit you right in the face sometimes, because that cob web sprang forth an idea. Spiders. My heroine would conjure spiders to magically heal her friend’s wounds.
Probably the biggest source of my inspiration is music. Loud music blaring through the speakers when I’m driving to work. Whether it’s Muse’s “Uprising” to plan a big fight scene or Missy Higgins’ “Drop the Mirror” to explore the desperate soul-searching of one of my characters, music is very important.
I maintain the mood of my stories with music. It helps me hold tight to the theme or the atmosphere I’m trying to evoke in the words.
So I guess inspiration can be found in almost anything that stirs the soul. So many times I’ve despaired when my “muse” goes missing. Yet somehow, it always finds me again be it in dreams, in nature, in song or some other unimagined place…
About the Author
Olivia Hardin realized early on how strange she was to have complete movie-like character dreams as a child. Eventually she began putting those vivid dreams to paper and was rarely without her spiral notebooks full of those mental ramblings. Her forgotten vision of becoming an author was realized when she connected with a group of amazingly talented and fabulous writers who gave her lots of direction and encouragement. With a little extra push from family and friends, she hunkered down to get lost in the words.
She's also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run, and is sometimes accused of being artistic, though she's generally too much of a perfectionist to appreciate her own work.
A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband and their puppy Bonnie.
Connect with her Online
My Blog: www.oliviahardinwriter.com
Books by Olivia Hardin
Witch Way Bends (Book 1 of the Bend-Bite-Shift Trilogy)
Devan Stowe is a woman on a quest. She has only one thing on her mind when she teams up with Kent Crosby and his associates—putting an end to her father’s child trafficking business. Her determination takes her on a journey to discover her true strength and… the one man she was destined to love. In his arms, she’ll learn the meaning of trust, honor, and courage. Old friends and new will come together to help Devan unlock an amazing gift that will free her from her past and open up a future full of magic, faeries and more things than she ever imagined possible…
Available at Amazon
Bitten Shame (Book 2 of the Bend-Bite-Shift Trilogy)
Jill Prescott returned from self-imposed seclusion to help save her best friend Devan’s life. Throwing herself into Devan’s problems and bringing an evil organization to its knees might just be the distraction she needs to keep living without the only man she’s ever loved. Her life changed forever when she was hired to spend a week with Doc Massey. On the day she became a vampire her youthful innocence ended, but Doc’s love rescued her from being consumed by the darkness. The shadow of that former life continues to loom over her, keeping her from realizing her own self-worth. Running from her past only brings her closer to a destiny that is inextricably connected to what she is trying to escape… Every gift has both a reward and a price, because All of it fits…
Available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Cupid Painted Blind is a collection of six short stories. Featuring authors: Liz Schulte, Lisa Rayns, Olivia Hardin, C.G. Powell, Cait Lavender and Stephanie Nelson.
“Tell A Soul” – Short Story by Olivia Hardin
He’s the dependable one. The strong and steadfast one. Still, there’s one woman who has always turned his firm resolve on end. Langston is surprised beyond... Belief to find Kristana again, and this time without a husband. Has fate finally given them the chance to be together? Kristana can’t escape her intense attraction for the strange giant Langston, but the murmuring voices in her head are threatening to drive her mad. Can she find a way to trade one torment for another and thereby find true love?
Available at Amazon
Neil Gaiman, multidimensional author, is a genius and a very funny one. While what he says in an address to college graduates applies specifically to those who want to make a living as artists, his advice can benefit all of us who want to live more creatively.
"If you don't know it's impossible it's easier to do. And because nobody's done it before, they haven't made up rules to stop anyone doing that again, yet."
"Something that worked for me was imagining that where I wanted to be – an author, primarily of fiction, making good books, making good comics and supporting myself through my words – was a mountain. A distant mountain. My goal. And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right."
". . .it's true that nothing I did where the only reason for doing it was the money was ever worth it, except as bitter experience."
"The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you're walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That's the moment you may be starting to get it right."
Here's the link for the video of the address.
If you want to also/or read the address, here's the link.
This is one of the best ways to crush, squash, and generally straight-jacket your creativity. It's also one of the easiest methods to practice. All you have to do is tell yourself, "It has to be done this way."
You can find lots of ways to say this, such as:
"This is how my parents did it."
"This is how I've always done it."
"If it's a good idea, how come no one ever thought of it before?"
"If I don't follow the rules, I'll get into trouble."
"If I don't follow a strict routine, I won't accomplish anything."
We are usually well trained in following the rules and routines. I knew someone who in kindergarten tried to paint a green pumpkin. He got into a lot of trouble.
Another way to get your little creative hand smacked is to color outside the lines.
Underlying rigidity is usually fear. "They'll laugh at me, reject me, ignore me, lock me up."
Creativity lives outside the lines. If you really want to express yourself and be true to yourself, that has to be more important than what "they" might say or do.
I didn't name this blog "Dragonfire: The Creative Spark" by accident. The urge to create is a fire that burns away all considerations about what others might think.
To use a real-life and contemporary example: Many indie authors chose this route because they had a certain pattern of rejection from the established publishing world. They would get rejections that went like this, "I really like your book. It's original and imaginative, and you write very well. The problem is, I don't think I could sell it." Translation: this doesn't fit into any of the slots and categories that the big publishing houses believe can safely sell.
That's why you'll find some of the most creative writers around, those who are transcending traditional boundaries and exploring new worlds among the independent authors.
Rigidity isn't always a chronic condition. Sometimes it shows up in creative blockages where one finds oneself recycling the same old tired ideas.
Dare to think and do something new.
To take writing as an example, some people jump ship at the first sign of difficulty. The plot isn't gelling, the characters went AWOL, or you can't find the information you need for background research.
Others get through the writing part and give up either because some agents turn it down or because they can't figure out self-publishing details.
Whatever your source of discouragement, you will hear in the background the words, "It's just too hard." You may also hear, "It isn't fair," in which case, check out the post on resentment.
The more you repeat the unmagic phrase, "It's just too hard," the harder it will seem. Imagine that each repetition is like placing a rock in your way. Your goal is on the other side. If you say the phrase 10 times a day, that's 10 rocks. Uncontrolled repetition leads to building a wall.
Try to eliminate that phrase.
Replace it with others, such as "Maybe I can ask someone." "Maybe I can get a critique." "I might be able to find a helpful book or information online."
Remember the little train that could. Even if you're not sure you can, say, "I think I can."