1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Kerry's Causes, Memoir Monday, Poetry, RIP, Shows and Events, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TToT

TToT: The Mercurial April of 2018 – Foreshadowing Farce, #10Thankful

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

—Maya Angelou

This week, all of Canada is mourning loss of life, young and promising players, in a horrific bus crash in Saskatchewan.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful that all of Canada has come together in a time of grief.

A GoFundMe page has been set up, which has already raised over 4 million dollars for families and survivors, and Justin Trudeau visited the injured. With all the bad in the world, even in moments of shock and loss, I feel better to sense a coming together of my country, from coast to coast to coast.

‘Hockey stands with you’: Condolences, support pour in for Humboldt Broncos | CBC Sports

I am thankful that hockey is what it is, means what it means to so many Canadians, even if not always especially and specifically for me.

From small town teams to the NHL, support to those (on and off the team affected) has been swift and strong.

https://ca.gofundme.com/funds-for-humboldt-broncos

I’m thankful for an angel who is going to leave something behind in tragedy, to be able to at least help someone go on, in good health again.

Lethbridge hockey player’s organs to be donated after fatal Humboldt Broncos bus crash | CBC News

I read that one of the young men recently signed his donor card. This is a tough subject, but as the sister of someone who five years ago received a kidney from another person lost, I know the other side, that the side of organ donation.

I don’t have a clue about the tragic side of having to let go like that, but to know a gift is being given, I can’t pretend I don’t recall that relief I felt for my brother’s sake and for my own.

I don’t know what else to say. It’s one of the hardest things any person could experience, I’m sure. Still, I had to speak up about it, to include it in this list.

I’m thankful for beautiful art that remains after death.

One of the fifteen killed was not only a hockey player, but he could make brilliant music on the piano. (See performance link above.)

I will start and end this TToT post, speaking of music, but as things must and do go on…

I’m thankful I got a sudden call that a cancelation came up for me to get a physical therapy appointment finally.

I’ve been waiting for this call for over a year now.

I’m thankful the therapist took the time to go through my lengthy medical history with me.

It took up her whole allotted hour. We didn’t even have time to get to any stretches.

I’m thankful she plans to educate herself, to read up on my rare syndrome, before our next appointment.

I am thankful for the smooth and textured needs of two new bracelets.

Some are smooth, but other parts are made up of lava stone. They have tiny grooves in them and you’re supposed to drip the smallest drop of essential oil on them. Then, I can have a gentle and soothing touch of scent against the skin of my wrist, wherever I go.

My cousin, who runs a hair salon, also sells handmade items, such as jewelry and things. I like to shop, supporting local makers.

I’m thankful I got to attend my violin teacher’s masters recital.

I met her family after and they, along with her friends and other students/teachers, were all so proud of her, including this one student of hers in particular.

So many people, all there to support her. She has worked at it nearly all of her life. Her skill has taken years to develop. I will miss her and everything she’s done for me, once she moves on for further education, but this show was outstanding.

I was in a mood all that day, before her show that night. I don’t know what it was or why. I kind of wonder if it wasn’t me, feeling anxious and nervous, for her sake. I get more nervous for others more than for myself, if possible, when someone I know or care about is going to be tested or performing in front of people, like when my brother plays guitar.

This time, I am not sure, maybe it was just a bad day. Then, when I sat down, the song she played on her violin seemed to calm me, changing my mood and reducing my anxiety. The song was something I’d really never heard before. It was abrupt and anxious sounding, but it seemed to put, into music, the exact feelings I’d been experiencing. It took it all down several notches and I felt like it expressed precisely how I’d felt.

I’m thankful for not only a piece of music that speaks to me, but also a passage in a book.

This one is from A Wrinkle In Time. I read it and it brought together the elements of my own head, the themes that have been with me most of my life, something deep inside, of which I’ve put into my own song lyrics in the past. I’ve even dreamt this sensation:

“This movement, she felt, must be the turning of the earth, rotating on’ its axis, traveling its elliptic course about the sun. And this feeling of moving with the earth was somewhat like the feeling of being in the ocean, out in the ocean beyond this rising and falling of the breakers, lying on the moving water, pulsing gently with the swells, and feeling the gentle, inexorable tug of the moon.”

From the moon to the sea…RIP to those lost and deepest condolences to all those who’ve lost loved ones.

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Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, TToT

TToT: Shortest Day, What A Life – One Crazy Thing, #10Thankful

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

–Maya Angelou

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Okay, so there was good news this week and a lot of cheer, with Christmas and all, but I still can’t say everything was perfect.

I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas

It’s Christmas and that means we’re all supposed to be feeling great, but how many of us is that actually not the case for, really?

Rain instead of snow. Fog instead of flurries. I don’t like being frozen either, but the way people seem to have embraced all this unseasonable warmth baffles me. To me it seems like we are living one of those world disaster films, just after the opening credits have rolled. Do we not think this could spell worse times ahead, for this planet? Do we care?

Christmas in most of Canada is supposed to mean snow. I just can’t feel thankful for the fact that we don’t need to wear coats to go out to our holiday parties this year. After all, this is Canada, not Australia.

Also, a friend is leaving and I can’t feel thankful that I won’t get to be around, over the next couple years at least, to see her little girl grow up.

Finally, in my little list of grievances before I get to my thankfuls, because I am not always as positive as I would like, as this TToT convinces me I am.

I can’t see Christmas lights on houses and many more beautiful things I miss seeing so much. I try to convince myself I am lucky I ever saw such things as the lights on houses. I always loved going out for drives, at night, to look at the lights when I was growing up.

TEN THINGS OF THANKFUL

For a homecoming we’d hoped for.

My brother was released from hospital after only one week. We had no idea, when he first got admitted, how long he’d be in there.

We didn’t dare hope, at first, that it would only be a week, which did feel a lot longer.

Christmas in Killarney

For unexpected time with a friend.

There were several surprises this year, not least the one where an old friend showed up in these parts again, after so much time away from home.

Well, I never would have wished it, considering the circumstances, but I selfishly got to have her around and in my life for several months.

For the chance to meet and watch a special little girl grow.

She is beautiful and precious, a sweetheart of epic proportions and I’m the lucky one to get to spend so much time with her in her very first year of life.

I only complained above about the weather because I want this planet to do well, even when I am old and gone and when those who are so small and sweet now have grown.

For a remote control to rival a grandpa’s.

🙂

The little girl I refer to above loved her gift from me.

Okay, well the necklace is lost on her now. She would certainly chew on it, but that’s not what it’s meant for.

It’s the toy remote control that she chewed on happily and of which I gave to her, so now she can change the channel on her grandpa.

😉

For a pair of fuzzy slippers.

I love my new slippers. They are dog slippers and they are so warm. Perfect footwear for cold winter mornings and the floors that go along with them.

For the prize for best Christmas present, given by an aunt, for 2015.

instagramcapture_a39e4646-1ec0-4079-9625-2fb3c65dd521-2015-12-27-09-41.jpg

Well, maybe that’s stretching the truth a little, but I still scored with what I got my nephew.

He loves cooking, toy kitchens, and talking about things being “too hot!”

or

“It’s ready!”

I know Christmas isn’t all about the presents, but I still hope my niece and other nephew will love their presents from their aunt just as much.

For Christmas traditions, even if I fall asleep for them.

😦

I was a little upset that I couldn’t stay awake, but a Christmas Eve headache mixed with the fact that we didn’t begin this particular tradition until after ten made it difficult.

Every year I watch A Christmas Carol with my father. Ah well. There’s always next year.

For a delicious Christmas Day dinner.

I surprised myself and a few others, with how hungry I was, but It was really tasty. Hit the spot.

For the new Christmas music my brother introduces me to every year, for the last few years.

The song below was particularly helpful when I was feeling blue last year. It really cheered me up, with its upbeat tempo and catchy lyrics.

Christmas Wrapping

Still does the trick this year.

🙂

For a

Christmas Full Moon

I can still see the moon, if the conditions are right, but I did not see this one. Doesn’t mean I am not still thankful that it happened and that someone, somewhere, got to see it.

There won’t be another for almost twenty years or so.

Here’s to all the Christmas lights, brightness of a full moon, and more beautiful things I will mention next time, here on the TToT.

cameraawesomephoto-2015-12-27-09-41.jpg

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

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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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