Friday, January 30, 2015

This I know for sure...

I saw the movie American Sniper last weekend. I enjoyed it and would recommend that people go see it. It gives a pretty realistic look at war and what our military personnel deal with without getting too graphic.

I think we need to see these types of movies (or documentaries). It's so easy for us here in the US  to go about our lives never thinking about what our soldiers are going through half a world away. Sure, we might see a report on the evening news or read about it in the newspaper or in an online venue, but I don't think we're really impacted unless we have a loved one serving overseas. The situation kind of reminds me of what one of my nephews said about WWII, Vietnam, and all the other wars that occurred before his birth - "They happened so long ago, they don't impact my life." I think many of us felt that way about the Iraq and Afganistan wars. And that's sad.

Maybe I feel this way because most of the men in my family have served in the military so that makes me more sensitive to the situation. I don't know.

But what's worse than what I mentioned above is what happened to Chris Kyle, not just him but all of the service members who survive one or more tours of duty and make it back home only to be killed in an accident, by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or like Chris, killed by someone you're trying to help.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): I finished typing the story that I wrote in long hand on to my laptop and have printed it out. Next up is the first round of revisions.

Quote of the week: "When you want to succeed as much as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful." ~ Eric Thomas.  I think I've finally gotten to this point.

What I'm reading:  Irresistible Force by D.D. Ayres. This is part of the K-9 Rescue series. This author is also new to me.

Random things: This winter we don't seem to getting a lot of snow in my area (and believe me, I'm not complaining) but it's been bitter cold. Personally, I'll take the cold over the snow any day.

Random photo of the week: 

After living in our current house for 5 years, the cat has developed a fascination with the toilet handle in the downstairs powder room.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Goals - A Help or A Hindrance?

 This post was originally written in October 2012. Due changes in my day job work hours, I'm struggling to meet the goals I set just 5 weeks ago. I'm having to redefine what I thought I'd be able to accomplish weekly, monthly, etc so I thought re-reading this post would be helpful. I hope you find it helpful as well.

 
When I first starting writing, I set the most unbelievable goals for myself though I thought they would be achieved with ease.  One of them was that I would write 10 pages of new material a day, 7 days a week all while holding down a full time job, long standing commitments 2 nights a week, and another long standing commitment from 8:30am to 3:00pm on Saturdays, and keeping the majority of my Sundays for family time.  I don’t think I ever wrote 10 pages in one day during that time, or wrote 7 days a week.  As each week passed that I didn’t meet that goal, I became more and more depressed.  I questioned my desire to be a published author.  If I wanted it so badly, then I should be able to meet that goal right?  Wrong.  
 
A very wise friend and fellow writer pointed out that it wasn’t that I wasn’t committed to getting published, I just had too much on my plate to enable me to devote that much time to my writing.  She suggested that I not set goals or to focus on smaller goals that would fit around my scheduled commitments.   
 
I sat down and looked at my schedule.  I decided I needed the time to devote to my writing so I gave 3 months notice to the proper people on those long term commitments that at the end of the 3 months, I would no longer be able to do them.  During that time I tried to write whenever I could but I missed the structure goal setting gave me.
 
I’ve come a long way since then.  I still like to set goals because they keep me on track and help me stay focused.  I set yearly goals, quarterly goals, and weekly goals.  But one thing that has changed is now-a-days my goals are very fluid.  For example, one goal is to write 20 to 25 pages a week.  By not nailing down a set page count per day, I give myself room in my schedule if something pops up and I can’t write on a certain day.
 
I also set goals in my non-writing life for things I want to accomplish by a set time or date though for some reason it doesn’t work when it comes to dieting.  I wonder what that says about me…probably that my weakness for ice cream is greater than my desire to lose those unwanted pounds.  LOL.
 
Do you set any type of goals?  Do you find them helpful?  If you don’t set goals, why not?

Friday, January 23, 2015

This I know for sure...

It's amazing how a sunny day can affect your mood during the winter.  The last few days have been bright and sunny but still freezing cold with temperatures in the twenties. For some reason, when the sun is shining, it doesn't seem as cold as it does when the day is dark and gray or snowing even when the temperature is the same.

I've also found people seem to be in better moods when it's sunny despite the cold. I know I feel like I'm in a better mood. Or it could be because it's not snowing. I hate having to go out when it's snowing. Living in upstate NY, it's almost a certain guarantee it'll be snowing most days during the winter so on those days when it doesn't, it automatically seems like it's going to be a good day.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What's Up Wednesday

I've decided to continue the "What's Up Wednesday" posts with a couple of minor changes. Let me know what you think.

This week...

My current WIP (work in progress): I've set aside the book I was revising. I think I'm too close to it. I've been typing a book I wrote in 2013 in long hand onto my laptop so I can start revisions on it.

Quote of the week: "Believe you can and you're halfway there." ~ Theodore Roosevelt.  Sometimes we just need to believe we can do something even when it feels impossible.

What I'm reading: Desperate Hearts by Rosanne Bittner. This is a western historical romance set in 1866. I've never read anything by this author. It was recommended to me by a friend. (The "What I'm reading" segment will just list what I'm currently reading with no opinion about the book, good or bad.)

Random things:  A sign you've lived in upstate NY too long - a high temperature of 34 degrees in the winter seems warm.  

I don't have a random photo, but will start posting those again next week.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sore Muscles and Research


Every writer wants their books to be as realistic and believable as possible. That's where research comes in. Research can take the form of reading books or diaries from the time if one's writing a historical novel. It can also lead to traveling to the location where the story takes place. There are many ways to conduct research. Me, I've always like the hands on approach whenever possible.

I participated  in a class where we were taken onto a gun range and took turns shooting different types of hand guns ranging from a .22 all the way up to Dirty Harry's .44 Magnum. Of course we all had to take a safety class first. So now when I write about someone shooting a gun, I know how to describe the feel of the grip in my hand, the kickback when the gun is fired, how the air smells. (I've also crawled out a second story window on to a roof to figure out how to get down without a ladder. I was much younger then. I don't think I'd attempt it now.)

In my current novel, my heroine has to get the unconscious hero into her car. So what did I do? I wrote the scene the way I thought she could do it. Then I tested my theory enlisting help from my nephew.

Nephew is 6' 4". He's taller than my hero and weighs a bit more - 220 while Hero weighs 190. I'm taller than my heroine (I'm 5' 10") and Nephew outweighs me by about 70 pounds so I figured we were close enough in relative size as Hero and Heroine in terms of height and weight differences between the two of them.

Nephew took on the role of the unconscious hero lying on the floor. It took me a few tries, but I was able to maneuver him into a sitting position and then lifted up onto the sofa which doubled as the car. We cracked up a few times, laughing so hard we had to start over but it was doable. (Barely.)

So what did I learn from the experiment? It was possible for Heroine to get Hero into the vehicle. I learned I had to make a few minor changes on how she did it. I learned it's really, really hard to move someone's dead weight by yourself. When we were done, I was out of breath and sweaty which told me I need to up my exercise sessions.

I learned what I needed to know to write the scene realistically so when a person reading my book comes to that scene, she/he doesn't think to themselves "that's not possible" and doesn't finish reading the book.

Oh, and I also learned Icy Hot really does work on sore muscles. :o)

Friday, January 16, 2015

This I know for sure...

It's hard getting back into a regular routine after the holidays are over. Proof of this is the fact I didn't do Wednesday's post. I completely forgot all about it. Didn't even think about it until Thursday morning when I was getting ready for the day.

The only thing I've done on a regular basis that I did before the holidays is write. I didn't get much done from Thanksgiving on through New Year's day so I feel like I'm making up for lost time instead of being on schedule.

I did learn something from last year's holidays -- don't expect to make much headway in the writing area during this time. In fact when I set my writing goals for 2015, I purposely set aside those 6 weeks or so as non-writing time. It shortens my writing calendar a bit but I feel it's well worth squeezing extra writing sessions in in the summer months than stress myself out trying to do everything that comes with the holiday season and trying to meet a writing goal by the end of the year.

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Word

While I did set writing goals, I didn't make any new year's resolutions last year because in the past I never kept them for more than three months or so. Looking back on last year, I realized while I met some of my writing goals, I didn't meet all of those that I could have. I can't help wondering if not setting resolutions had anything to do with it.

At the end of December, I sat down and wrote out my writing goals for this year. I also wrote down a few new year's resolutions but if I'm honest, they were the same ones I'd been setting for years. I asked my sister if she was making any resolutions this year and she said sort of. She picked one word for the year that will help her make changes in her life.

Her word is Focus. She wants to focus on eating better and taking better care of herself and her family. She's a breast cancer survivor and after having been given a second chance at life, she doesn't want to waste that chance keeping the same bad habits she feels may have contributed to her health issues.

I decided to pick one word to guide me through this coming year as well. I picked and discard at least ten different words before deciding the one my sister had chosen was the perfect word for me too.

I want to focus on my writing more. To stop letting it get pushed to the bottom of the To Do list when life gets chaotic. To focus on meeting all of my goals this year instead of just some of them. To focus on the things I can control and to let go of those things I can't. To focus on the present and the possibilities of the future instead of dwelling on the things in the past I can't change and need to let go of.

What about you? Did you make new year's resolutions? Or are you using one word to guide you through this year?

Friday, January 9, 2015

This I know for sure...

2015 is off to a great start. I was notified by The TBR Pile (http://thetbrpile.weebly.com/) that An Unexpected Gift won their book of the year honors.


                          I'm hoping this is a sign that 2015 will be a great year.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Wednesday Posts

I'm looking to change up my Wednesday posts, but am not sure how I want to revamp them. (I plan on making changes to the entire blog itself, but it'll be done in incremental stages as I can fit it in.)

Did you like the format and sub-headings of the What's Up Wednesday posts? Did you not like any of them? I have to admit the Health News sub-heading was sometimes difficult if I hadn't had any time to do medical journal reading. My day job hours are changing so reading time is going to be much more limited than before. I'm thinking of deleting the Health News section all together.

Would you rather see something all together different on Wednesdays? I still plan on scheduling guests on Wednesdays as dates are requested.

Let me know your thoughts and opinions. What subjects do you prefer to see on blogs? What makes you come back to a blog on a regular basis?

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Beginning

To paraphrase "Happy Christmas" by John Lennon - Another year is over and a new one has just begun. I did a lot of thinking last week about what I did and didn't accomplish last year. I also did a lot of soul searching. As some of you you know, the last part of 2014 was down right soul crushing. My family suffered the sudden loss of an 8 year old loved one. I spiraled into a deep depression. Every morning I found it hard to make myself get out of bed and face the coming day. I spent most of my days with an anxious feeling in the pit of my stomach, hating every minute I was forced to leave my house and face the world.

Someone said to me, "Grieve, stomp your feet at the unfairness of it all, but pick yourself up and move on. Happiness is a choice. There is a positive in every situation, you just need to look for it. Remember the good things and be happy." At first I was offended. What positive thing could there be in the sudden death in someone so young? It wasn't as if she was suffering or had a long, terminal illness. She was healthy and thriving, started vomiting, went into the hospital and a three short days later was gone.

My friend's words kept replaying over and over in my mind. While I still can't see the positive, I realized she was right. I need to move on and not feel paralyzed by what I lost or fear of the future. Of course this is so much easier said than done.

With that in mind, I decided that the new year is the perfect time to try and move forward. I've started keeping a gratitude journal - a daily journal in which I write three things I'm grateful for. I'll be honest and admit a couple of days finding those 3 things have been difficult, but I'm hoping as time goes on it'll get easier. I've cut those things and people out of my life that were negative or caused stress. I'm working hard on trying to be positive and having a positive frame of mind. I read somewhere that no one can change your life, but you. I really need a change especially after the last half of 2014 and that's what my focus for 2015 is going to be.

Here's to new beginnings while still remembering the wonderful parts of the past.