New Year, New Plan


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Just when you thought I had fallen off the face of the earth . . .

Between colds, flu, and a bout of food poisoning December took it’s toll on me. I”d like to say it was reflected on the scale,  but I can’t. That would have been a desirable side effect so we can’t have that, right? That’s how it seems at times.

I fully intend to get back on track with my blog, with writing, with my fitness goals . . . which brings us to that time  – the New Year – when I make my new list of goals.

Three things that you should know about me if you haven’t already gleaned this info:

1. I’m an overachiever. I know it and yet I find myself compelled to continue in my overachieving way. Doesn’t mean I always accomplish them, in fact, it’s often to the contrary.

2. If I don’t plan, I will drift aimlessly along never accomplishing anything, then beat myself up mentally over my lack of focus.

3. I’m seriously ADD and find it difficult to focus on much of anything for very long, hence why I change my themes regularly, digress in the middle of a five hundred word post, and am easily distracted by the next shiny.

So I have multiple categories,  varied topics, and the most consistent stream of conscious seems to be random madness. I didn’t do so well on this past year’s  goals. 2016 was not my best year in any stretch of the imagination. On to the new year, right? It isn’t going to do much good to keep pondering my failures. Learn from them and move on, which brings us to the present. A new shiny!

2017 Goals for Ellie:

  1. Publish 4 books. I’m not restricted by any small publishing house’s  whims or schedules. I have multiple files sitting in my folder with finished projects that are ready for an editor. Valkyrie’s Curse was finished  – so long ago I don’t even remember when. I went back over it in April of last year, making revisions and realized that I hadn’t really wrapped the story, which led to expanding it into a series. Revisions put it’s completion in July, and I was supposed to hand it off to Eclectic Bard at Penned Con before my contract ended.  I am really going to try to focus on one project at a time until completion so the order of release will be: 1)Roxy Sings the Blues, 2) Valkyrie’s Curse: The Awakening, 3) Eerie Isles Chronicles book 1, 4)The Piano.
  2. Blog 12 Times per Month. Goal 1 transitions into Goal 2 because after discussion with other authors, one of the  ‘hits’ of my categories was shared snippets of current writing. ( To include revisions as well.) I’m planning to be back on a regular blogging schedule and do NOT plan to be sick for five weeks straight ever again if I can help it.  But that’s just one topic, right? I mean there are so many other things –  bujo, food, fitness, current events,  and a myriad of things that may pop into my head from time to time. (Trust me, it’s better if you read them one at a time instead of the rapid-fire barrage that  exists inside my cranium.)
  3. Read 30 books. Down from my usual 50 but I still have to read. Consider it research and a job requirement.
  4. Lose 50 pounds. I hate where I am. I never wanted to be here, and yet here I am. This goal is the top priority and if I accomplish nothing else this year,  this one is a MUST. Fifty pounds doesn’t even get me to my goal weight,  but that’s  nearly a pound a week. If I lose more great, but I am currently not at any semblance of a healthy weight.
  5. Build my author’s website and integrate my blog there.
  6. Get our house ready to sell and move. This is a major undertaking as we’ve lived in the same house for 23 years and my husband is a packrat. I tend to procrastinate and avoid dealing with the stuff. We are surrounded by stuff and I can’t take it anymore. The austere living is becoming more and more appealing.
  7. Get my office set up. We’ve been over this so many times. Last time I shared pictures of the area that I worked my butt off ( unfortunately not literally) clearing out only to have that area filled with more stuff. It was disheartening. I haven’t made a lot of headway since then. It’s like getting your feet cut out from under you. Not just having the rug pulled,  but someone hacking your feet off and then having to continue. How can I make myself focus on a writing career as a business when I have to keep moving my laptop off of the table every single night? I need certain writing tools and stuff when I am writing. I need my reference materials, resources, notes, planner, and my to-do list. These end up stacked on the shelf that tops the short wall of our stairwell. For a visual, it’s a stack of clutter in the kitchen of an open floorplan home. This sets off my OCD-ness every day.

Seven goals for 2017. Streamlined tremendously from my 50 a couple of years ago. Should be simple enough to accomplish right? Simple but not easy.

It’s going to take a concerted effort in order to accomplish each one. It will require effort, a great deal of effort. I could use some encouraging along the way. I’ll make you a deal – I’ll cheer you on with your goals if you help me with mine. Deal? So what are your goals? What do you hope to accomplish in 2017?

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

 

A Family Affair


My guest today is Margo Upson. I  think you’ll enjoy her unique amazing story. When I first heard her talking about this I was absolutely blown away.  I hope this touches your heart and gives you some encouragement.  I so needed to read this today  when I was at a point of nearly giving up. 

A Family Affair: What My Daughter is Really Learning from NaNoWriMo

The first time I heard about NaNoWriMo, I was 25, and working from home while raising my then one-year-old daughter. It was the middle of October; I only had two weeks to decide whether or not I wanted to participate. I did research and character work on October 30th, drew a very brief outline on October 31st, and then started writing early next morning. It was a wild month, but I finished.

I’ve participated in every NaNoWriMo since, save one year, and I’ve won each time. My strategy now is a lot different from what it was when I started. I have a plot by mid-September. By the middle of October, I have a detailed outline, character sketches, and a notebook full of research. I have postcards stuck to the dining room walls (which gets a little awkward when I host Thanksgiving– I write romance!). I tend to start strong, fall behind in the middle, and then catch up during the last week.

This year, I’m struggling to find time to write. It’s really the first year that life has really caught up with me. Between work, school, and family life, time is short. I’m behind; according to the NaNoWriMo word count tool, I need to write 2,161 words a day to finish on time.

Whew.

Fortunately, I’m not facing this challenge alone. In addition to a few super-supportive friends, my oldest daughter is joining me for her second year of NaNoWriMo. She’s seven, and working on a story about pirates. On any given evening in November, you’ll find the two of us sitting out in the dining room, working towards our word count goals for the day. Her younger sister usually joins us, bringing along her crayons and a coloring book.

I don’t plan on my daughter growing up to be an author (but I’d be very supportive if she did). I encourage her to join in for the experience of taking on a huge challenge, and then working diligently through the month until she reaches her goal. It’s an opportunity for her to experience a world outside of her school and friends. She’s not old enough to go onto the forums, but she loves knowing that there are so many other young writers out there, writing along with her. We’ll also be going to our first write-in this year. She’ll get to sit in a cafe with all of the adult writers, and work along beside us for an hour or so. It will likely mean missing a day of school, but I consider the experience of meeting other authors to be just as important, probably more so, than a single day of second grade. (Apologies to all of the teachers out there. I’ll get all of her make-up work in advance–I promise!)

My daughters are growing up with a writer for a mom. That means that their bedtime stories are often bits of research from my current work-in-progress. It means that I’m going to hand them a book to read instead of turning on the TV. It means that, when other parents are taking their children to amusement parks, mine will be traveling to wherever my current book is set. Where, admittedly, we will probably also be visiting the nearest amusement park. Children need roller coasters, spinning tea cups, and overpriced hot dogs just as much as they need historic sites and dusty museums.

But it also means that they are growing up with an appreciation for the time and dedication that it takes to turn a dream into reality. So, when November rolls around and it’s time for NaNoWriMo, I’m going to invite them to join in.

Because when my daughter sits down to write at my side, I’m not encouraging her to attain my dreams. I’m giving her the tools she needs to reach her own.

 What an amazing woman!   As enjoyable as those spinning teacups and fairy tale theme parks are,  this is some real quality time.  I encourage my childrens’ creativity.  I’ve never had my girls sit down with me like this, but I do encourage them  in their own ways. This  just blessed me  on a level that I can’t  fully express.  Margo – you rock! 

Isn’t this what it is about?  Not only reaching our dreams but  training up our children to become  strong people in their own right, encouraging them in their individual choices.  I think it’s so cool that NaNoWriMO is able to help in that endeavor!

Write on my friends, write on! 

Author Information:

homeBecca

Margo Upson is a marketing  major, a freelance writer, and    an aspiring author. She writes  time-slip romance, and her  first novel, Grisamore, is set for release in Summer 2015.

 

 

 

Website: http://writerathome.com

Twitter: @MargoUpson

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMargoUpson

Twisted Fate


Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image, all rights reserved to chronicwriter.

Quotidiandose does not own rights to this image, all rights reserved to chronicwriter.

 

Ever have someone that comes into your life  in a “suddenly” way?  Like when our children are born – they instantly rock our world  like nobody ever can.  We are willing to lay down our lives for these helpless babies.  We are willing to move heaven and earth to make their world a better place.

No one can ever  compare to your children or spouse.  That’s not what this is about.   What this is about are those people that “POP” into your lives suddenly and you connect like you were old high school pals.  It seems a strange twist of fate that you live so far apart because you’d like to be able to hang out with them,  sit down for a coffee, and  laugh together in person. Or maybe walk down the beach to that pier, ogling the pelicans, hearing the waves crash over the sand.  Misty, Cathy, Vicki, Emily, Desiree’, Stacey, Dana – and a dozen others –  this one is for you.

With the negative comments that are a constant barrage against us,  I have a few  bright lights to shine on social media.

Yes, I’ll admit that some of the negatives are very real –  it does become a black hole of time consumption if you let it.

Yes, there are trolls out there that are eager to snare  naive  people for various reasons.

Yes, there are a lot of breakfast posts,  whining and griping, and selfies posted. 

However, today is not the day for negative vibes.  Today I am going to address something that I know  many don’t believe is a real phenomenon.

  • Connecting with kindred spirits.

I have made friends with some amazing people on social media.  A couple of my soul sisters are so similar, it’s eerie.  Through life experiences we connect on a level beyond any that I have with blood relations.  We connect  on topics that I can’t discuss with “real-life” friends.  Topics that I can’t discuss with family.

To be perfectly honest – some of my online friends are more supportive and encouraging than those  in my physical realm. Likewise,  I encourage and support my cybersisters and brothers.   I consider myself lucky indeed to have  them in my life.

Who decides what “real-life” is?  When you can discuss any topic with someone who happens to live 200 miles a way or 2000, is it any different from talking with a relative or high school buddy over the airwaves? Don’t we all have new friends that come into our lives?

  • A great community for career discussion.

I found this to be true in the writing community, not in the mortgage industry.  In the mortgage industry – it’s cut throat every man or woman for themselves.  In the writing community though  there are many groups – some good some bad, some distracting – that you can participate in. With my good online friends we can discuss many aspects of the trade:

  1. World building
  2. time lines
  3. character development
  4. plot
  5. story and continuity
  6. favorite brands of coffee

Where else but in a group of like-minded writers can a gal discuss  hot males  that inspire  our latest leading man, romance, murder, and what’s for dinner all in the same discussion?

I know you all may find that disturbing but when you are writing a story – sometimes fictional characters fall in love, sometimes they get into dangerous situations, and sometimes those characters are murdered.  Sometimes more sinister things are at work than  the  guy in the office that is backstabbing. Sometimes, the world as we know it pales in comparison to a parallel dimension.

My writerly friends know these things.  If I discussed these things with  family, they may try to have me committed.

Regardless of  the story arc, plot twist or latest recipe – the point is that  I value my online friends just as much as my ‘in person’  friends. Sometimes these online friends brighten my day  when real life drags me down.   The day-to-day stuff wears on us,   breaks our back with the weight of responsibility, burdens our heart with the latest family crisis, ongoing illnesses, and drama that is our life.

So in honor of my online friends that I have never met in person but have connected to just like we were sitting around the breakfast table sharing our coffee in  person,  Here’s to you fine ladies!  * Raises coffee mug*

I encourage my readers to express gratitude to  the cyber friends in your life.  Let them know  that you value  their  connection.

Now go!  Express yourself!

Write on my friends, write on!

 

 

A Time of Grief


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Cancer  is no respecter of persons.  It doesn’t matter what your social status is, how many friends you have,  or what religion you are. Cancer  isn’t prejudiced against age or race.

As a wordsmith,  I usually don’t have a loss for words.  I  have an opinion to express, thoughts on any given topic, and sagacious witticism to lighten a mood. But not in this.

What do you say to  your family member that is writhing in the hospital bed while on the morphine drip? What  can be said to comfort the surviving family watching the inevitable end approach and helpless to do anything to stop it or help?

For anyone that feels they are in control of their life, you’re not. All the power of positive thinking in the world will not change the inevitable end result.

I lost my father  rather quickly several years ago.  He was happy and laughing one day, then didn’t wake up the next.  Of all the ways to go we could only hope for that. My mother was a different matter, we watched a steady decline as her heart failed her.  Nine months of hell with trips back  and forth to the hospital resulting in a stay in a rehabilitation center from which she never returned home. Now I  watch another family member fight as cancer steals his life from him – helpless to do anything to stop it.

I absolutely understand why there are support groups for survivors of cancer, and surviving family members. It’s a horrible disease. It’s cruel, unjust, debilitating, and painful.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt so helpless in my entire life as  watching as cancer has slowly, painfully destroyed another life has made me feel.

I’ve never liked hospitals.  Most of the time though you can say something to offer hope; something  to  encourage the patient and the  family. So I mostly sit and be there, squeezing a hand, offering a hug,  not having a clue as to anything useful to say.

These are the days that remind us we are never truly in control. These are the days that can make or break your faith, your mind, your sense of trust.  These are the days that will test your every fiber  as to whether you stand or fall by the wayside.

I would ask each of you to make a difference today.  Tell someone you love them. Help them with their groceries,  hold open a door, assist an elderly veteran,  offer a smile to the cashier.  Every one of us needs a little sunshine in our life, and  a hand up at times.  Be that hand up so that when it’s  your turn someone will extend a hand to you.

Be a true friend when your friends are down.  Be the light in a dark world when opportunity opens that door. Trust me,  when staring into the pitch black, even the most optimistic person needs a light.

 

 

Treasures


geode-2Sometimes good things come  when you aren’t even looking for them.  I’ve  ranted here before about the  vampires and about the  time wasters.    A couple of good friends have recently been reminding me  to stop giving my time to free loaders and  vampires.  They are right.

My wonderful coach has been  trying to  get the point across that my time is just as valuable as anyone else’s.   We know this, yet we devalue ourselves.   It’s so easy to slip into the same patterns. I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to people.   Some play on my compassion, others want my skills for no pay.  Friends come wanting favors,  coworkers want information, family want attention.  Pretty soon you are stretched into  thirty directions wondering why you can’t seem to focus or get anything accomplished  on your own dreams.  Gee – I wonder why.

So, I’ve gotten myself into a jam ( imagine that!) with  certain habits of  giving my time to  above mentioned ‘negative’ individuals.  It’s been a real painful  exercise in extracting myself from those  situations.   I’ve really cut down my social media time as I would find myself spending way too much time with my Facebook friends than is healthy.

I’ve been  changing  habits and relearning how to write.  that may sound funny, but I’ve over edited myself.  I’ve  been told by numerous people that  I’ve  over edited myself, or censored what I let out.  to some degree that is a good thing except when you have  cut out over half the story.

This new method of writing has greatly reduced my daily word count.  Where I was getting 2000 to 2500 words before,   now I reach about 300 to 350 before the editor kicks in.   Now the difference is, I have 300 quality words, not 2000  sugar-coated cleaned up and polished sugar fluff that  my inner voices are shushed.

Remember me mentioning those dark recesses?  The dark passages beyond the deep pools?   Well inner editor,  uber Nazi Fräulein doesn’t want any of those to get out.  She’d burn my entire stack of manuscripts if I let her.   I can manage to sneak about 300 words or so past her before she  pays attention.

Lately though, I’ve  had a true treasure  fall into my  lap so to speak.   You know those people who you are supposed to hang out with?  The ones  that  encourage you?  The ones that add value to your life?   I asked  a while back where those people were in my life and I had to make  changes.    As it happens, I felt down   and decided  that I would  go visit the groups I was in on Facebook, something that I  have greatly cut back on.  In one particularly enjoyable  group I made a new friend.  It’s astonishing how many similarities we have.

I feel like we instantly bonded, and we have been  chatting fairly regularly since.  This person is a true treasure.  One that adds value to my life, one that challenges me to do more and be more.    I’ve already observed a difference in myself and my outlook since we’ve been sharing and chatting.

  • He’s free with compliments whereas I’ve been used to listening to criticism.  Wow, can’t tell you what a difference that makes.
  •  He encourages me in my writing –  in addition to listening to my inner editor, I’ve had  family tell me  to stop chasing dreams that I didn’t have the talent to obtain.  That really stung, and although I didn’t want to believe that  it affected me.
  • He seems to value my opinion.   In a world where big busted women are looked at as brainless bimbos I can’t tell you how much  respect  this particular point   won him.
  • We seem to have common interests and opinions .  When you’ve been feeling like maybe  everyone else is right and there’s something wrong with you, that you’re the messed up one  it’s   phenomenal to  find like-minded people.

Through conversation he’s encouraged me and I’ve tried to be encouraging to him.  We’ve found common ground where we can share our opinions, likes and dislikes.   This has really made an impact on my outlook and improved my daily word count tremendously.

If you notice my picture at the top of the geode, it’s there to make a point. I could have just as easily used the rock analogy from ‘Bug’s Life’, but I wasn’t sure how many would get it.  So instead my geology degree kicks in and I give you a rock.  On the outside, most of us look like plain rocks. We vary in shade, circumference, and density but we appear as unassuming run of the mill rocks.  But, when you cut open rocks you’ll find in some  beautiful treasure.  Now I’m not suggesting that I  or anyone else cut my new friend in half – what’s wrong with you people?

NO, I am suggesting that when you  look beyond the surface, when you get to know the person, once in a great while you find a geode.  ON the outside could be  just a plain rock, but to the trained geologist  they recognize  potential.

I grossly underestimated my  friend’s inner treasure.  The more we talk,  the easier it is to  talk.   I am feeling once again confident in my abilities, and enthusiastic about  pursuing the goal.

I have  loads of friends, and  most are not  vampires.  This particular friend has made a huge impact on me already.  Sometimes you just click with  the person.  I only hope that in some way I  add value to his life.  I would really be bummed to find out that  he considers me a time vampire.

Who do you have in your life that encourages you?  Who   helps you to achieve your dreams?  Who values you for  the things you value?

Get out of the rut and the mundane and start living your life with  passion.  If you can’t be passionate about  it, why bother?  For the past several months recovering from  a plethora of things life has dealt, I’ve had little passion therefore have written little.   All it takes is a spark to reignite the fires within.  I’ve got my spark, and now the fire is blazing.

Write on my friends, and do it with PASSION!