1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, RIP, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: My Morning Mangos and the Path of Totality – “Le Mot Juste” #10Thankful

To be honest, I didn’t even want to do one of these this week, not at first.

I was horrified at how many people seemed to be defending the wrong people, ones with hate in their hearts rather than those trying to stand up to them. I was railing at the unfairness of the argument, that I know how important free speech actually is.

I know all the arguments about freedom of speech and that anyone trying to silence that in any way, through protests, that this is not necessarily the best way. I wish I could come up with a better way to combat hate speech, even if it is still considered a part of free speech. Violence breaking out between people is the reason I dislike protesting, but I really have no new answers.

I heard firsthand that someone who was at that rally was from north of the border, from my province in Canada and I felt sick.

Then I heard there were white supremacist rallies planned for B.C. and Quebec City and I felt even worse.

All this had me rather depressed, but still…the saga continues and, yet, I am thankful.

Ten Things of Thankful

I’m thankful for fresh peaches and for mangos.

Sometimes, my brain gets a little mixed up and thinks a mango is a turkey dinner, but in fruit form apparently.

Yep. You heard me right.

I’m thankful I had a doctor’s office to be seen at right away when I really needed it.

Once I said the magic words of bladder infection, I was in. After all the unknowns of invisible illnesses, no tests to show there’s even a problem or any pain at all, it’s nice and refreshing to take a test, of any kind, and have it tell the doctors something useful and something to explain my symptoms as I’ve reported them.

I’m thankful for an understanding violin teacher.

We are the kind of teacher/student that, I’d like to think, are understanding when life suddenly happens and canceling is the only option.

I do try not to do it last minute, but in this case I can’t say otherwise.

I’m thankful for antibiotics.

I know over use and all the news reports of over prescribing. There is a time and place for most everything.

I am just grateful we have them when we really do need them.

I’m thankful for an anniversary of a writing freelance resource that has been my ticket into that world.

It’s another of those good vs bad situations with a platform like Facebook. In this case, it is serving a helpful purpose in my life and in helping me to advance my writing career.

I never could have guessed, one year ago, that I would get work from such a spot.

I should have something to show for that in the next month.

I’m thankful things stayed relatively calm for the rallies that did take place here in Canada.

The ones rallying in Quebec swear they are not racist, that it’s about legal immigration, not white supremacy.. Even the difference between the wild and out-of-hand events of Charlottesville, Virginia and the rather uneventful ones here in Canada perfectly illustrate the tameness of this country in most things, compared to what happens in the US most times.

The protesters in Quebec came across looking like the aggressive ones, as the main rally couldn’t begin while the protesters were outnumbering the ralliers and, in the end, things went off rather quietly, for this country anyway.

I’m sure those there might disagree with my assessment of the situation.

Rally in Quebec turns violent after protesters opposing anti-immigrant rallies clash with police – Toronto Star

I did find it amusing and ironic that while the rally was happening and the protesters were protesting in Quebec City, there was a Pride parade going on with Justin Trudeau and the PM of Ireland in Montreal.

I’m thankful for my brother’s help in audio recording for the SiriusXM project I’m working on.

He is an audio wizard. He’d say there are others who can do such things faster than he can, but I know you all would agree if you could have been there today and when you hear what we’re coming up with.

My words and direction and a few sounds I picked up while I was actually in Mexico and he with his computer program that cuts, moves, fades, pastes, moves, etc.

He’s got quite the sharp ear for it.

I’m thankful the blind were taken into consideration to experience the eclipse with everyone else.

eclipsesoundscapes.org

It’s nowhere close to the real thing, but it’s a start.

Thanks scientists and app developers.

I’m thankful that a solar eclipse is even possible.

Isn’t our galaxy astounding?

I’ve loved all that since I was a small child. I never believed being an astronaut was in my future, because of the math thing, but I’ve never met a space documentary I didn’t like.

Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler

And finally…

I’m thankful that nobody I know looked directly at the eclipse without protection.

At least, I don’t think they did. I’d better go and check with everyone I know to be certain.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vGIfbHRepQ

I had to include an ode to the voice role Jerry Lewis did for one of the classic Simpsons Treehouse of Horrors Halloween episodes. That character was brilliant.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF, Writing

Old College Try, #Freelance #AtoZChallenge

I am no journalist.

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I write memoir, the kind of essay, nonfiction that may never bring in the big bucks.

The A to Z Challenge – F is for Freelance

My latest freelance rejection of a pitch I’d sent out, early in the week, the editor in her email response said:

“I find this story objectively interesting…”

Oh, great. That sounds positive. As long as I stayed focused on her first few lines of the email, all looked promising, but then:

“but it’s not really a fit for us. We do very few personal essay stories of this sort”.

It is my responsibility to learn what any publication I pitch publishes, what sort of pieces, and a lot are journalistic in tone. I can write, could, and maybe I will get there.

She did proceed to include in the email, a pitch doc for what she said was:

“to help shape future pitches”.

Not sure if she meant that is encouragement to try again with them in the future or just as a general tool. Either way, I appreciated the gesture.

I haven’t been able to map my writing road as such. Somehow, I ended up in a group on Facebook and there I saw editors asking for certain kinds of pieces. They were mostly about things from marginalized writers and voices and I qualified.

I had written pieces which were published on various websites, publications, and blogs, but none were paying, until this year. It’s nothing to retire on, but it felt like I was finally pulling my own weight.

So, I barely call myself a freelancer, just like I barely called myself a writer for a long long time.

Eventually, that changed. I moved up on this particular ladder. I now refer to myself as a writer. I am literary and would like to write memoirs and novels and plenty more, but if freelance work can find a spot in there somewhere too, I will do my best.

***This is my first year of joining the A to Z Challenge and so I’ve decided to post randomly, as a way for new visitors to my blog to get to know me a little better. I look forward to discovering some interesting new blogs too.

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, History, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, Writing

Just Jot It January: Starts, Stalls, and Blank Slates For Writing, #JusJoJan

I am equal parts afraid and optimistic. I am a lot hesitant and somewhat hopeful. The fear that I could go a whole year and not get anywhere at all clings on tight. On the other hand, I see a wide open year ahead as full of unknown possibility and promise of something great.

So Close – Shawn Hook

You never know the experiences you might have, the events in life that you just can’t plan for, and the people you may meet, who may come into your life for all kinds of reasons, for the short term only or for longer.

Just Jot It January #JusJoJan

It’s 2016 and I didn’t write a post about my hopes for the coming year. I focused on summing up all that last year brought, in the hopes that this year will deliver just as many delights and wonders.

I didn’t look too far ahead, while last year went along, but now it has arrived and all I see now is a whole lot of openness, life to be lived, but how…I can’t say for sure right this minute.

When I was a child, growing up in the 90s, the far-off date of the year 2000 seemed far enough off to me.

In 1996 I was feeling increasingly unwell and I would need all the strength I could muster to get through the following years.

I turned the big 16 when the new millennium hit. The thought of turning twenty, in 2004 was a strange one.

After 2000 the years seemed to blend into one another, being marked, here and there, by a memorable event or two.

This year, 2016, it will be ten years since my sister and I bought a house.

What do I know for sure about 2016: Will I keep writing? Will I take chances? Or will I shrink away from life?

Will I finally get as comfortable with my travel website as I am with this one? Will I fail at that, having to face the fact that I should have stuck to what I know, even if very slightly?

I am looking forward to

Girls – Season Five

next month. That’s really as far as I can see, yet, for the year.

I Will have been blogging for two years during this 2016 year. I will turn thirty-two in 2016.

I have not resolved to do anything this year. I read about how I too can become a freelance writer, that it’s just “that” easy to make happen.

I want to work toward more organization, in my emails and in my writing. My mind can’t fully organize and prioritize. I feel stuck and stalled a lot of the time.

I think it may be a January thing, as much as I try to fight it. I equal parts look forward and celebrate my birthday next month and dread its significance, just like I do the speed of which the years seem to come up on me. They hold me back from a lot, while simultaneously dragging me forward with them.

I see those twenty years older than me who are just now taking steps to better their situations. Do I have to wait that long?

What about the state of the world in 2016? The world’s human population increases, while our habitat encroachment and destruction threaten wildlife. There’s hunting and environmental devastation. Animals are going extinct. What will the state of all this look like in 2066, fifty years from now?

I focus on my own life for 2016 and then I think of the wider world. It’s an in-and-out focus.

I want something great, something grand to happen to me this year. I don’t want more mass shootings and political bickering. I don’t want a certain person to win the US presidential race next fall.

I want to skate again. I want to enjoy a concert. I want to celebrate that my brother is still with us. I want my loved ones, those who are wishing hard, to get everything they deserve. I want my niece to keep learning and growing. I want my sister to find strength and faith that my nephew will do great on his first day of school. I want to remember that 2016 includes the existence of all three of the children in my life, being here was a time, not so long ago, that they weren’t yet with us. I want my friend and her daughter to find their way together, starting a new adventure, somewhere out there in the world.

This year can be great, if I have faith myself. I can’t close off my mind to what could be, just because I can’t yet imagine all that it might be.

This is only January, the first month of 2016. I need to remember that the year’s just warming up, to pace myself, and to give myself a break and a fair chance to make it a good one, the best one.

The rules for Just Jot It January are right here.

For today’s prompt, Linda decided to list the things on her bucket list, one of my favourite things:

http://lindaghill.com/2016/01/05/just-jot-it-january-5th-2016-my-bucket-list/

Check out Fiona’s Favourites, for more here today,

on the new year of 2016.

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Fiction Friday, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, TGIF

Mamarazzi Cover Reveal

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Welcome to another instalment of Fiction Friday.

Last year I had a friend of mine, whom I’d met through Facebook (Author Brooke Williams) here to celebrate a book release.

Well, she’s back again this summer. Check it out.

***

Release Date: September 11, 2015 from

Prism Book Group

Pre-Order

HERE

Join the Sept. 15th Release Day Party on Facebook HERE

Enjoy giveaways with a dozen different authors!

Danica Bennett isn’t sure what she hates more…her job or the fact that she’s good at it.  As one of the many Hollywood paparazzi, she lives her life incognito and sneaks around trying to get the best shot of the latest star.  When she is mistaken for an extra on a new, up and coming TV show, her own star rises and she becomes the one being photographed.  Add that to the fact that she’s falling for her co-star, Eliot Lane, and Danica is in a whole heap of trouble.

Add (Mamarazzi) to your Goodreads list

HERE

About the Author:

Brooke Williams writes in a sleep-deprived state while her daughters nap. Her romantic comedy is best read in the same state. Brooke has twelve years of radio in her background, both behind the scenes and on the air. She was also a television traffic reporter for a short time despite the fact that she could care less about hair and make-up. Today, Brooke stays at home with her daughters and works as a freelance writer for a variety of companies. When she isn’t working for paying clients, she makes things up, which results in books like “Accept this Dandelion.” 

Brooke is also the author of

“Accept this Dandelion,”

“Wrong Place, Right Time,”

“Someone Always Loved You,”

“Beyond the Bars.”

She plans to continue the Dandelion story into a series and looks forward to her first children’s book release “Baby Sheep Gets a Haircut” in June 2016. Brooke and her husband Sean have been married since 2002 and have two beautiful daughters, Kaelyn (5) and Sadie (nearly 2).
 

Connect with Brooke:

Facebook

Website

Blog

***

Note: Stay tuned for an upcoming guest post from Brooke, here on Her Headache, next month.

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Book Reviews, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, NANOWRIMO 2014, Poetry, Spotlight Saturday, Writing

Review of One Word at a Time

“A successful writing career will humble you more than almost anything else I can think of.”
– Eric Vance Walton

Welcome to this mid-November edition of Spotlight Saturday.

I have several author pages on my Facebook newsfeed, but one such author stands out as I scroll through.

Eric Vance Walton, Author has written novel “Alarm Clock Dawn” (his debut) and, his newest book, “One Word At a Time: Finding Your Way As An Indie Author” is out now.

Being smack-dab in the midst of November and NaNoWriMo, I thought this would be the perfect time to introduce a practical, how-to guide on how to reach for success as an author in the new, developing, and always changing world of indie publishing.

Author’s Publish Press knows all about that and they have brought, along with Eric, us some useful tips and advice and an insightful step-by-step guide for how to navigate through the world of writing and publishing.

Eric says:

“Writing isn’t just something we do. It’s something we are.”

Truer words have never been spoken and after reading this in the first few pages of the book, I already felt comfortable and able to relate to this writer and his experiences.

He tells his story to help others avoid mistakes he, himself has made. He knows about the struggle to manage the events of everyday life with the need to write.

Here is a frank, honest, and open account of the life of a writer. It is a refreshing look at the possibilities of indie publishing, straight from the mouth of one who has traveled the journey and come out on the other side.

All the years of unfocused writing while living life brought him to the awakening he had on turning forty. Sometimes this is just the sort of push we, as writers need, to take that step and he did..

He has been living the writer’s life and he speaks openly about how he climbed that ladder of success. This is a story of the adventure he embarked on, over the last twenty years and he has the firsthand knowledge any working writer can surely use.

He has written novels, children’s stories, poetry, and freelance articles. Many writers are doing this, getting by, but they lack the awareness and the push forward to truly tell the story they are meant to tell.

Eric has a blueprint that he is very willing to share. that is what this book is all about.

He shares achievable strategies such as developing structured blocks of writing time, the perfect writing nook, how to work through writer’s block by walking the dog and getting fresh air and jus the right amount of physical exercise, and ways to keep both mind and body healthy so that the best writing can be produced without the help of artificial substances such as alcohol, drugs, or caffeine.

He relays the tools he has found to be most useful in producing his best work: adequate amounts of sleep, the right environment for a peaceful night’s rest, and one of his biggest tips being meditation. Exercise and a reviving walk, meditative gardening, yoga or Tai Chi. These things that have worked to relieve stress for him are mere suggestions for any writer looking for ways to bring forth their best work.

He shares his battle to walk that fine line between a day job to bring in a steady paycheque and finding the time to truly devote to the writing life he wanted. It wasn’t all roses all the time and he shares his triumphs as well as his defeats.

He shares how the biggest mistake, to not have a concrete plan and set out goals, will leave you unsatisfied and unable to reach any attainable writing career success or fulfilment.

Sometimes, more often then not, sacrifice is required and compromise is the key. He makes it clear that you must decide what is your end goal and what are you willing to give up to get it, such as satellite television or material items and how to be frugal while walking the fine line of giving up something such as the steady pay from a day job, for the somewhat uncertain life of a full-time writer.

“Clear goals and dicipline,” he says. “Smarts, luck and persistence,” are, according to Eric, what it takes. HE is offering another path to the starving artist path a lot of writers and other creative types often go down. He shares his concrete plan that worked for him, exactly how to save enough money and to give a specific amount of time to get a novel written.

He compares novel writing to military bootcamp and proposes that writing can be a formula, with such tools as NaNoWriMo to help get the words down on paper or on the screen.

He shares tips for bringing in multiple revenue streams while walking the road of being an indie author, how the two big things to consider in this journey are time and money. His tips on making money through blogging and how to build confidence and experience through public speaking are direct and specific, with directions and clear-cut references to Google and other surveys, showing evidence on how to be successful as a writer. Having a budget and being mindful are his best pieces of advice on how not to be that dreaded starving artist.

Marketing and promotion are just as important as the writing. This book speaks on social media, on other authors who have done something right and have made a name for themselves, in this day and age and in the digital world we now live in, how important a blog can be in making a name for yourself in writing.

Motivation is an important topic he speaks about throughout and how the “non-writing” and the fear of never producing anything, by the end of his life, are the best motivators for him and perhaps for you too, to get the writing done now, and not to wait for tomorrow.

Mentioned are important tips on becoming a better writer: polishing, tweaking, and learning. He advices taking classes, reading books, and brushing up on proper grammar rules. It takes time to become a good writer and his years of practice have brought him to this book.

He talks about the fundamentals of fiction: proper story pacing, writing realistic dialogue and proper dialogue tags, and communication and body language. All this and more are the mechanics of writing and are at the heart of it all. With this, he includes actual examples to help anyone who wants to learn to grow as a writer.

Consistency. Continuity. Creativity. Characterization. Clarity.

One of the most important pieces of advice, in my opinion, is the one about not falling for the lure of social media and the urge to publish before giving a piece of writing all the attention and clarification it needs. this is the biggest problem with easy access to technology and the revolution of the indie writing universe.

He provides resources and offers tips on finding the right beta readers and the best editor to fit your needs, for your particular book project.

He quotes and refers to Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, Maya Angelou, Veronica Roth, John Green, J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter and others when talking of creativity and how to tap into it. He lists reading, going to plays, and listening to music, all things that inspire to surround yourself constantly with creativity from all sides. This includes being around others in the creative fields, for a learning experience from others who have the same sorts of interests.

“Creativity is self-doubt.”

Here Eric quotes Sylvia Plath, and this single, simple line becomes an important topic throughout this book.

Voice, genre, brand. He offers a lot of advice on what is badly needed for creative people who can’t seem to get out what they want to say. This book outlines a strategy for discovering, developing, and growing an author’s brand.

It is easy, for most writers who are naturally loners, to stay hidden, but this last piece of becoming an author is key. Learning how to work with other people is strongly recommended and is the last thing to be discussed in this book.

It was a friend’s question about how his first novel was going that sparked something in Eric, a seriousness toward the task of completion.

He is honest about the reality, the highs as well as the lows, and he is grateful for all who have assisted him in his writing journey.

He provides real-life examples from his own life on what success in writing meant to him as a younger man and how that definition has changed over the years, offering practical advice on setting goals and adjusting expectations.

He is open about the fear and self-doubt that often plague writers. He is genuinely appreciative to his readers. Finding his niche audience, launching and releasing his novel, and receiving reader reviews; he speaks about all the stages of writing his first novel in a relatable way that any fellow writer can see themselves in.

Although he, like most writers, first dreamt of being published by a traditional publishing house, he lays out a writer’s alternate options: self-publishing or through a smaller, independent press.

He explains writing in a clear and concise way, with the help of quotes and websites for more information, he lets the reader know that it isn’t always a smooth road with self-publishing, that a writer must be all things: writer, editor, graphic designer, etc. However, this can only be the case up to a point, and then hiring experts becomes necessary for a more professional looking product. This, however, is becoming, more and more, the way to go if a writer wishes to hold control of their own work.

He is up front about the costs that still go along with indie publishing and the pros and cons of having both hard copies and ebooks created. These pros and cons still do apply to making the decision to go the indie route and then, in future, changing to the traditional route if it suits.

He speaks on technology and how it can be utilized in ways (Facebook/Twitter) that weren’t possible only a few years ago. He knows, realizing his responsibility as a writer, to offer advice to others who are where he has been and who hope to be where he is now.

Balance and gratitude are the two key elements, that stood out to me when reading, for success as an indie author or a traditionally published author. This book is part writer’s memoir and part mechanical writing guide.

I have enjoyed Eric’s Facebook page for a while before reviewing this book. Eric posts poems which are beautiful and moving and he has a lot to say on his many years growing and developing as an indie author himself, what it took him to get to where he is today.

On Saturdays he opens up his author page to others who want to share links to or bits of their writing: Showcase Saturday. He is generous enough to give others a chance to shine.

Find Eric at his website:

https://ericvancewalton.wordpress.com

You can check out his book here,

One Word at a Time: Finding Your Way as an Indie Author, on Amazon.

Or you can follow him on Facebook,

Eric Vance Walton, Author on Facebook.

I promise you won’t regret it.

I was given an early version of this book to review. I am sure there have been final touches and fixes since then and now this book has been released and I recommend it for anyone looking for a guide for writing success, especially in the indie world.

You can be a writer and produce your best work, one word at a time.

“Although writers spend lots of time crafting fictional characters, ironically, the act of writing develops the character of the author more than anything else.”

Thank you, Eric Vance Walton, for that and for this helpful guide on writing.

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