Saturday, April 29

Grinding Away

My friend, fellow writer Karyn Good, wrote a blog this week about perseverance. She talked about being a grinder, someone who puts her head down and gets the work done.

I consider myself a grinder. I’m usually pretty good at getting things done. However, lately I’ve been finding it harder and harder to reach the finish line. Some examples:

1. There’s the six or seven partially finished manuscripts languishing on my hard-drive.
2. I’ve got at least three partially read books on my tablet.
3. There was that blog last Saturday here on Word Wranglers that I totally forgot to write.

I’m a hard worker. So why is it that lately I have trouble finishing?

When I started writing this post, it was to give myself a pep talk and frankly, to chastise myself (yet again) for not getting things done, something I’ve done here at Word Wranglers on occasion, and in my head frequently. But then I read Kristi’s post this week about negative self-talk and being kinder to myself, and I rethought those negative feelings. If I think about it logically and with a little self-compassion, there are reasons for not making it to the finish line.

Last Saturday’s missed post was due to the renovations currently ongoing (and thankfully approaching the finish line) in my house. I had plumbers, electricians, and carpenters traipsing through the house. At the same time my older daughter came home for Easter and then stayed several days to visit. Since she lives in another province, this doesn’t happen often, and it was a treat to have her home. We went shopping, ate out, and generally had fun together. My mind completely forgot about writing the blog. I feel bad about missing a post, but I can’t regret spending time with my daughter.

My partially written books? I’m working on it. I hope to have at least three of them ready to go to an editor by the end of May. And starting several projects at the same time? I’ve come to see it as a recipe for driving myself crazy and feeling like a slacker.

The partially read books on my tablet? Maybe I spend too much time watching TV in the evenings that could be better spent reading. Or maybe reading on my tablet isn’t my preferred way of reading. Since the beginning of the year I’ve listened to several audio books and read a few print books. In the past, I read many books on my old Sony ereader. But lately I’ve found myself not excited about bringing out the tablet. Not sure why, but so what? Maybe I’ll stick to print for a while.

I still consider myself a grinder. Nothing worth having is achieved without hard worker and perseverance. That is especially true of writing. I’ve known writers who were probably more talented than me. But they didn’t have the determination and the fire that I had to keep going when things got tough. The fire and determination I still have. That’s what I have going for me. Maybe it’s my superpower.

I’m doing my best to be kind to myself. It’s tough, as it is for a lot of women, but beating myself up doesn’t get things done either. So, I’m letting myself off the hook. It’s okay if I slip up sometimes, or if it takes me a long time to get to the finish line. I know I’ll get there eventually, because I'm a grinder.

How have you been kind to yourself lately? Do you consider yourself a grinder?

Friday, April 28

Moana - Not just a Disney Princess movie

While on my Disney Cruise, I had the opportunity to watch their latest animated release “Moana” on the big screen.
That was a few weeks—and a couple hundred viewings—ago.

It’s an understatement to say that my family is enchanted by this movie. And I think I can pinpoint a few of the reasons why… a few reasons that make this particular movie different from your “normal” Disney animated movie as well as a good study in character and story (yay, I’m finally able to tie a blog post to a writing concept!):

1)      The parents are alive through the entire movie. In sharp contrast to the running joke that Disney characters always have one or both parents either already dead or who die early on in the movie, Moana’s parents are happy and healthy. Same goes for the parents in the Disney movie “Brave,” but because the mother/daughter relationship is the main theme of the movie, they kind of have to live.

2)      There is no romance. As a romance writer, this bums me out a little. However, Moana is a teenage girl, so the fact that she’s not searching for love or there’s no romantic interest hovering on the sidelines is a bit of a relief. Similarly, there was no romance in “Brave,” although there was the expected vying of potential suitors (resulting in the eventual decision that they were all too young for marriage). In fact, not only is there no romance in "Moana", romantic love is entirely off the radar screen. It’s simply a non-issue. The mother in me says “Good… she’s far too young anyway!”

3)      There is no princess. There is only the daughter of the Chief (a curly-haired non-princess), and some fun jabs at the Disney formula ("If you wear a dress and you have an animal sidekick, you're a princess." And “If you start singing, I'm gonna throw up.”)

4)      The music. Maybe it’s because the kiddos watch it every chance they can, but the songs still circle in my head and heart. Grand and empowering and humorous. I doubt any one song will catch on as much as “Let it Go” from Frozen did… but they were all memorable.

5)      The evolution of the characters. What a great study of Goal, Motivation, and Conflict! Both internal and external, and both for Moana and for Maui, the demi-god who helps her reach her destination. Their individual GMCs conflict with one another’s, which makes the story even more dynamic. They each get their individual character arc, and I’m invested in both of them as a viewer. It makes the happy ending even more so!

6)      The guy isn’t just there for show. In a lot of Disney movies, the male counterpart to the princess (usually a love interest, but this movie has no romance) is akin to a wooden prop. He’s simply a means for the princess to reach her goal, fall in love, or otherwise achieve her happily ever after. More recent movies also break from this tradition, notably “Brave,” “The Princess and the Frog” (even though it is a romance), and to a smaller extent “Beauty and the Beast” (though I might argue that the Beast’s character arc is pretty flimsy. He’s only concerned with external beauty, until the most beautiful girl in the village comes a-calling. Hmmm….) In "Moana", as mentioned before, Maui gets his own full character arc and GMC.

 Okay, I’m going to stop lauding the movie because I’m starting to sound like a paid spokesperson. But what animated movie have you watched that ended up being far more than “just” a children’s movie?

Thursday, April 27

It's the Little Things...

 by Margie Senechal

Between the news, political posts that frequent FB, and the constant deluge of rain that's hit the Pacific NW, it's easy to let life get me down. And, just for the record, I love the rain. It's just that this is the second wettest season in 75 years. I'm ready for the Farmer's Market on a sunny day, working in the yard, and flowers.

So, it's time to find joy in the little things.

In no particular order, here are a few things that have given me moments of glee over the past week.

I bought an OveGlove for $1.69 after my discount and markdown. Score!

The Kingsmen 2:The Golden Circle trailer dropped and Colin Firth didn't die after all. I have to see how they pulled that off.

Speaking of returning from the dead. Michael Crichton has a new book coming out in May and it looks good! He's one of my all-time favorite writers and this book has gotten some good reviews despite the fact that it's a posthumously "found" manuscript.


Kristi's post yesterday.

Owlcity on the radio at work when I least expect them.

iZombie is back. I love all the ways Liv finds to fix brains, Major on teenage girl brains was hysterical, and Blaine with amnesia as a lounge singer is inspired. So much fun to be had. The most underrated zombie show on TV. 

And finally, my friend, Angie, is living the romantic tropes we all write about. A number of months ago, she reconnected with a former schoolmate on FB. They started talking on the phone, texting, the whole deal. And two weeks ago, she drove from Portland to Texas--where he'd settled--and she's not coming back. I so admire her bravery to take that big of chance on love. We all write about it, but she's living it!

Oh, and I won a gift from Holly Jacobs--the original glee pusher. Her moments of Monday Glee are always an inspiration.

Have a great Thursday and share your joy with us!

Wednesday, April 26

What If I ~ @AuthorKristina Knight

Writing is hard.

I know, this is a revelation, one you've never heard before. Right? So I'll repeat it: writing is hard.

And I don't mean just the getting down of the words on paper parts - although that is a whole other kind of hard. I mean the rest of it - wondering if this book will resonate with readers (meaning, will it sell), wondering if you have anything useful to say to readers, dealing with bad reviews, dealing with good reviews, dealing with the 'what ifs' (what if I indie publish? what if I trad-publish? what if, instead of taking this opportunity I take this one?). The what ifs will kill you, I mean it. Especially since, usually, we take the negative side of the what if.

What if ____ goes badly? What if ____ would have been a better choice? What if, what if, what if.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about self-care for writers, and this isn't that kind of a post. It's also not a different kind of post. I guess I'm still thinking about my friend and that review a little bit, but I'm also thinking about my friend who doesn't write, but who talks down to herself a lot, and I'm thinking about the ways I talk down to myself, and I'm thinking a little bit about Margie's post from last week about albatrosses, and I'm thinking that we need to do better for ourselves. 'We' meaning not just writers, but women in general. And I'm focusing on women because I don't see (or hear) the men in my life talking about the what ifs in their life. They pick and path and they go with it, and if they decide to change that path, they change it...without comparisons, and probably with some bit of trepidation, but without the comparison model that we women use.

I don't even think it's our fault - it's the way we are approached from a very young age. Teachers
compare us to other girls in class (usually the smart, quiet, responsible girls), boys compare us to other girls (usually the pretty, boobalicious girls)...and we start to find fault with everything from the length of our eyelashes to the size of our shoes. And that carries over into our work - we start looking at how Author X is doing and wondering why we aren't doing the same things.

We don't treat our friends this way. In fact, for many of us (me included) it's so much easier to see the strength or beauty or resilience in our friends than it is to see even the smallest positive part of ourselves.

So, here is my hope and my challenge to you, and it actually comes from a kick-butt woman in the fitness world: Let's start talking to ourselves the way we would speak to the best of our friends. Let's be encouraging. Let's let the little things go. Let's be the dreamers and believers. Let's be courageous without wondering what happens if...Let's free ourselves to be successful in a way that only we can be.

Let's be better to ourselves.                                                                                                ~Kristina

Tuesday, April 25

Welcome Author Cheryl Brooks

We're so pleased to welcome multi-published author Cheryl Brooks to the round pen today to talk to us about her new and exciting Soul Survivors series. A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse who resides in rural Indiana with her husband, two sons, two horses, three cats, and one dog. She is the author of the ten book Cat Star Chronicles series, the Cowboy Heaven series (two books and one novella), the Soul Survivors trilogy, the four-book Unlikely Lovers series, and several stand-alone books and novellas. Look for her new Cat Star Legacy series from Sourcebooks beginning in 2018. Her other interests include cooking, gardening, singing, and guitar playing. Cheryl is a member of RWA and IRWA. You can visit her online at www.cherylbrooksonline.com or email her at cheryl.brooks52@yahoo.com. Take it away, Cheryl!

I should have titled my new series, The Earth Strikes Back. Funny how these epiphanies often come when it’s too late to utilize them.  
 
But I digress. My latest release, Echoes From the Deep, is the first book in a series called Soul Survivors, which came about in an interesting manner. You see, there’s a reason book two is called Dreams From the Deep. It’s because the idea for this paranormal romantic suspense trilogy came to me in a dream. 

Several years ago, I dreamed I was on an airplane that was diving straight down into the sea. As the plane submerged, the woman sitting beside me said, “Unbuckle your seatbelt, Cheryl. You’re going to make it.” When I looked at her, I realized she had spoken to me after she died. In that moment, my consciousness expanded and drew in the souls, spirits, or consciousness (whichever you prefer) of the people seated nearby. I could hear their voices in my head telling me what I had to do to survive.

Needless to say, after that, I woke up. 

But unlike many dreams that fade before you can fully grasp their significance, this one stayed with me. And, like a dutiful little writer, I wrote it down. 

That idea has been bouncing around in my head ever since. After brainstorming with some of my writer friends, I finally came up for a way to turn it into a book. Or rather, a trilogy. I’d already written an opening scene about the time I spent in Ireland, and after deciding that this plane crash occurred off the west coast of Ireland, incorporating those experiences into the second book, along with another of my weird dreams, was the next logical step. 

With all these strange dreams echoing through my mind, I had to come up with a darn good reason for someone to absorb the souls of the dead. As I was writing the first book, I realized that my concern for Earth’s environment was going to be the driving factor. In this story, Mother Earth is not only a conscious entity, she’s angry because of the way humankind has exploited her. She’s giving us one last chance to redeem ourselves, and she has chosen three young women to lead the battle against the greed, corruption, and violence that are destroying our world. 

This series represents a departure from my previous writing style. The explicit sex scenes my readers have come to expect just didn’t fit the subject matter, so I’ve turned down the heat a bit. However, there’s still plenty of romance and a touch of humor to go along with the paranormal and suspense elements.  

As so often happens with a story like this, it grows and develops as I write, and stumbling blocks eventually give way to the “Aha” moments that make writing such a joy—those times when I’ve written myself into a corner with no way to move forward. Until, suddenly, the light dawns and I’m able to forge ahead. 

Fortunately, unlike the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post, most of those moments occurred before I published the first book.  ;-)

What about you? Are there any moments of clarity you’d like to share?

Echoes From the Deep
Jilted less than a week before her wedding, assistant bank manager Jillian Dulaine elects to go on her honeymoon to England alone. When the plane nose-dives into the sea off the coast of Ireland, she is one of only three survivors and is charged with delivering a message to the son of the woman seated beside her. 

When his mother’s dying words send Jillian to him, London Times reporter Ranjiv Tenali suspects her of matchmaking even after her death. His attraction to the lovely American woman cannot be denied, but he is shaken by the suspicion that she carries his mother’s spirit.

The souls she acquired in the midst of the crash provide Jillian with talents and knowledge vital to her survival. But when she visits Stonehenge, her role as the one chosen to connect with Earth’s spirit is revealed, setting her on a path toward romance, conspiracy, and murder.


Dreams From the Deep (Release date April 28, 2017)
Marketing assistant Cleona Mahoney survives a horrific plane crash only to discover that the buzzing sound she hears is not a concussion but the voices of people who died in the crash.

When she meets Kevan MacFinnin, their mutual attraction is swift and powerful, despite the disfiguring scars he sustained in the terrorist bombing that killed his parents. In recent months, several of Kevan’s sheep have been sliced open and left on the hillside, the only clue being a mysterious symbol painted on the fleece. 

After her communion with Earth’s spirit reveals Cleona to be the Carrier of Life’s Preservation, she and Kevan decode the revolutionary formula given to her by a solar scientist who perished in the crash.  

The discovery of another marked sheep puts Kevan and Cleona on the trail of a dangerous killer, and together they must strive to prevent a political assassination.

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