Posted in Holiday Posts, Personal

Grace and Gratitude

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you and you had a Happy Thanksgiving. I had a great time with family. It’s always fun to get together, play cards, and walk down memory lane with everyone. It was a lot of fun and there was lots of laughter.

However, not everyone has that happy family to spend Thanksgiving with. Some people come from horribly toxic homes where there are no happy memories. If you have a friend that’s in this type of situation please include them in your circle so they’re not home by themselves for the holidays, drowning in memories they’d rather forget.

It’s one thing we can do for our friends who have to deal with tragic memories. Some of those friends may be self-medicating. Losing themselves in alcohol or drugs or over-eating. Some of our friends might be struggling with an addiction, trying to break the cycle and the holidays can derail that healing process.

Couple that with the stress of the pandemic and many people are going to fall off the wagon or take a few steps back in their healing journey. Let’s give them some grace. This is a difficult time, and many people are struggling. Let’s keep our judgements and pity to ourselves and be there for those friends in need.

It’s what the holiday season is all about, right?

It’s also the season of Gratitude. I am so thankful for my family and friends. I’m thankful they’re healthy and happy. I’m thankful their struggles are few. I’m also thankful for my internet friends. The ones I haven’t met in real life, but who are there for me online. The ones I can chat with in my writing journey.

I’m also thankful for the writing community. I’ve never worked in a community where there was so much support and encouragement. So, there you have it. My wishes and gratitude for the holiday season. What are your wishes? What are you grateful for? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Guest Author, Writing

Dana Provo tells us how to Fight the Dreaded Affliction… Writer’s Block

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Today, I have a guest author Dana Provo, and she’s here to give you some tips for that dreaded disease Writer’s Block. So, without further ado, take it away Dana!

Writer’s block is real. It’s not some made up thing that people use as an excuse. It can be, but not usually. If a writer is experiencing a block, it usually means there is something going on in their life. Overcoming writer’s block is challenging if you don’t really want to get through it. Here are 4 tips to keep those blocks at bay and keep writing:

Tip #1: Go For A Walk

Walking can help in so many ways! Getting out of the writing environment and outside helps relieve stress that is caused by sitting in front of your computer endlessly writing. Exercise releases endorphins that help stimulate the brain and your body to relax. Writing is not always easy so it’s best to take breaks and go outside for a walk.

Tip #2: Eat Something

Often, writers will sit at their computer for hours at a time, not looking up from their screen, only to realize later on that they haven’t eaten a single thing all day. This is not healthy for your body or your writer’s block. It’s best to have meals with healthy foods and drinks. If you don’t eat then your brain can’t work properly to write down your stories.

Tip #3: 2 Minute Writing Sprints

If you’re really in a jam and can’t get out of your slump, then try doing some sprints. Pick any topic and set a timer for 2 minutes, then just write. Don’t stop until the timer goes off. You don’t have to make your sentences perfect, just get the words out. Sometimes your brain just needs to unload and the best way to do that is writing about things that don’t matter. You can continue your 2 minute writing sprints for as long as you’d like, changing up the topic with each 2 minutes. I would start with 10 minutes total, then go back to your story and that should help.

Tip #4: Change the Scenery

If you write at home on the couch in front of the television or always looking at the same picture on the wall in front of your desk, and you find you get writer’s block more often than not, then maybe you need to change the scenery. Go to a local coffee shop, get a caffeinated drink and try writing there. Try sitting outside on the porch or a park. Even try changing up what you use to write. I like to write on my laptop for obvious reasons (not having to type up a written document, automatically saves), but sometimes when I’m struggling, I get out my trusty notebook and start freewriting. I feel a sense of freedom when I write on paper and even though I have to type it up, I’m not going back and reediting things I already typed up. Using paper and a good pen or pencil can change the whole experience.

So now that you have 4 tips to help with writer’s block, you can feel more confident in writing your lengthy novel. Writer’s block doesn’t have to be a crutch. Use these tips and get back to writing; finish your story!

Bleeding Hearts by [Dana Louise Provo]

Finding love is difficult, especially when it tries to kill you. Bleeding Hearts is a new adult romantic suspense novel based out of Richmond, Va. This book appeals to readers from ages 16 to 60 with passions in both romance and mystery. For anyone interested in psychological thrillers, they may find this book similar to authors Natasha Preston and Sara Shepard.

Book Blurb:   

Orphaned at an early age, now twenty-four-year-old Camryn Lucks is ready to commit to find that special someone, and so accepts a date from a charming, gallant, handsome stranger. The last thing she imagines after accepting that first date with Carson would actually be the beginning of her worst nightmare. 

Red roses, a reminder of her parents’ killer, soon become an emblem of horror for Cami as one by one, those closest to her fall victim to a serial killer. Cami becomes an obsession for Carson, the man she had finally allowed herself to love. Not only is he vying for her heart, but also her life.   

Finding herself in a whirlwind of torments shadowed by the blood-colored bloom, Cami finds solace in Isaac, a neighboring police officer. She’s desperate to escape the haunting memories, but she must revisit them in order to catch her would-be killer. Living life in constant fear has driven Cami to second-guess every choice she makes. Will the police catch the illusive murderer, or will Cami be forced to face him once again? 

Print Length: 241 pages 

Publisher: Clean Reads, http://cleanreads.com/

Publication Date: August 25, 2016 

EBook ASIN: B01KNM113Y 

Print ISBN-10: 1621356205

ISBN-13: 978-1621356202

Printing Service: Ingram 

Buy Links:  Amazon: http://a.co/3z28apX

Barnes & Noble: http://fw.to/mfIx33N

iBooks: https://itun.es/us/KydHeb.l

Kobo: http://goo.gl/ea1W0W    

Smashwords: http://goo.gl/r99gn5   

About the Author:

Dana Provo has always loved books and reads everything from young adult fantasy to adult historical romances. When she’s not reading or writing her next novel, Dana can be found riding her horses and getting ready for competition. Dana lives with her husband and two house plants in Richmond, Virginia.

Social Media Links:   

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DanaProvo1    

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/danalouiseprovo    

Blog: https://authordanaprovo.wordpress.com/   

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/authordanaprovo   

Amazon: https://goo.gl/aL1YR8 

Reviews:   

A gripping tale of love and suspense! Bleeding Hearts had me hooked from the first intense scene of the story. With a strong main character and diverse supporting ones, this is a great book to read at any time! – Amazon Reviewer 

A fantastic story from a gifted author. Dana Louise Provo is a writer to keep an eye on. – Jason Pere, author of Calling The Reaper 

Absolutely the best book ever! Couldn’t put it down. – Amazon Reviewer 

Thanks Dana for being a guest and sharing your insight on how to handle that horrible affliction, Writer’s Block. How about you? How do you handle Writer’s Block? Leave a comment! We’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Earth, environment, Personal

How do We Save Our Planet?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of writing, running, and work. Less writing this week because I had a busy week with work, and it is treadmill season, so I’m changing up my running routine. Not to mention day light savings time. This combination of a perfect storm had me exhausted at the end of the day.

At work this last week we had what management calls a boot camp. Kind of a training to hone your skills. Anyway, every morning to get things started we would do an ice breaker. One day one of the ice breakers was “Would you rather.”

One of the questions was “Would you rather live forever or move to a new planet?”

I chose, I would want to live forever. The reason being, I could see my kids grow up and see future generations. I was surprised to find other people in my group chose to move to a new planet because they didn’t want to see the demise of the earth.

My first thought when I heard this, was how do you know the earth is going to die? Maybe scientists will come up with something to keep it alive. So, I did some investigating and found that the earth is in fact, in dire straits. According to this article, https://www.livescience.com/ghastly-future-global-crises.html life as we know it will change drastically due to climate disruption, biodiversity decline, and human overpopulation and overconsumption.

This does not paint a pretty picture for our world. We need to start taking better care of our planet today to ensure future generations have a world they can live in. That means we need to clean up our act.

We need to clean up our oceans and plant more trees. Both are like the lungs of our earth. They both provide us the oxygen we need to breath and they soak up carbon dioxide out of our air.

So, there are two steps we can take. The next thing we need to do, is take care of our honeybees and other pollinators. By doing this, we will help slow down the biodiversity decline of our many plants and shrubs that we need to keep the earth alive.

The next thing we need to do is address human overpopulation and overconsumption. This is where we run into trouble. What do we do? Limit the number of kids people can have? Is that even ethical? Do we start rationing our resources? I don’t have an answer for this one. There are too many cons to these suggestions, so I pose the question to you. How do we save our earth? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Reading

Technology’s Effect on Our Health

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week with work and writing. I’m editing my second work in progress, and I’m happy with the results so far. This story is flowing smoothly and I’m enjoying it.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about technology’s effect on our health, both mental and physical. When I think back to my own childhood, I remember being extremely active. I rode my bike everywhere. I remember going to my friend’s house and swimming in her pool. We’d play games like Yahtzee and Monopoly, or we’d go for long bike rides. When I look back, I realize how wonderful my childhood was. My friends and I had a connection.

Then I look at my kids, and I’m frustrated. They’re glued to their computers. If they’re not playing games, they’re chatting with friends online. The face-to-face interaction isn’t there. I know they get that at school, but I feel something is lost for our kids. They’re missing out on that special connection that I treasured in my younger years.

I also feel that we’re losing some of our vocabulary. I mean when you can communicate with an emoji, what do you need words for? Is our technology dumbing down society?

I think so. Instead of reading books, kids are looking at their phones. Social Media’s goal is to keep everyone engaged. So, they have complicated logarithms that keep track of the things you like so they can show you more. This keeps you engaged longer. I suppose you could argue that they’re reading, but they’re reading posts, and as we all know, posts on social media are usually a way for the individual writing it to receive acknowledgement from their followers.

Right now, kids need to read stories that teach them empathy and compassion. They need stories they can connect with and relate to. The teen years are the hardest years in my opinion because there are so many firsts. First loves, first rejections, first successes, and first failures.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for kids between the ages of ten and twenty-four. I’ve always felt that the reason for that is disconnection. They feel disconnected from family, friends, and community.

We need to make the family bonds stronger and protect our children. We need to bring story-telling back. It has always been a way to connect with our family members. We need to sit around the campfire and tell stories of our youth, so our children can bond with us.

Stories are more important than ever now. I know when I was a teen, I had the weight of the world on my shoulders. It was a self-inflicted kind of pressure. I was afraid to make the wrong decision. I couldn’t articulate this pressure to my parents, so I wasn’t able to talk to them about it. I felt so alone.

To escape this pressure, I’d read. When I was finished reading, I’d feel better. The pressure wasn’t so bad, and I was calmer, so I could look at my issues more objectively.

In my opinion instead of more technology, our kids need more physical exercise, and they need to spend more time reading stories not social media posts. Not only will reading stories relieve stress, but it’ll teach empathy and compassion. So, writers keep writing. We need your stories now more than ever.

How about you? Do you feel our kids need to feel more connection? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in community, friendship, Personal, Writing

Finding your Community

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy this week with work, writing, and family. Now that winter is almost upon us, I’ve been preparing by making sure my kids have coats and gloves that fit. I’ve also taken some time off to go hiking. I’m hoping to get a couple more hikes in before the snow flies and we start hibernating.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about friendship and connection. I remember in my teen years, many moons ago, I had a group of friends that I hung out with constantly. We did everything together. Bike rides, skateboarding, sleepovers, and slumber parties. They were my support group and I supported them.

I miss those days. I feel women need their groups of friends to feel connected and part of a community. We need to get back to that in our society. I know social media allows us to stay connected over long distances, but it’s not the same kind of connection. Something gets lost over the internet. The ability to read facial expressions and get a hug. The ability to actually touch someone is gone. This is something that’s desperately needed in our society. Remember the old quilting circles? We need to bring them back.

So, how do we do that in our bustling world? We go back to those days of quilting circles and start anew. If you don’t like quilting, you could get a group of friends together to play cards, or do something creative like painting, or join a writing group.

These are all ways to recreate a community. It’s always good to create one around an activity, or common goal. That way everyone is focused on something positive, and they can forget about their troubles for a while. Whenever I get together with my group of friends, I always come away from the gathering inspired and motivated. It’s refreshing to be with like-minded people.

This last week, I got together with my artist friends and we went on a hike then painted together. Even though we were all working on our own paintings there was a sense of community and support. I left that group inspired to keep working on my writing. Sometimes we time away to refresh so we can continue working on a long project such as writing a novel.

So, there you have it, need something to boost your mood? Start your own community. Create your own quilting circle, or writing group, or hiking group. You’ll be glad you did. It’s cheaper than therapy. 😉

How do you find support? What kind of groups would you like to create? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

Avoiding Burnout

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of hard work and writing. The weather has turned colder and I’m putting off my outdoor run by writing this post. I’m hoping if I wait a little longer, it will warm up a little more. I think I’m hoping in vain, though.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about creative cycles. Sometimes, we get a little burned out with our writing and we need to switch gears to get our creative juices flowing again. What I’m talking about is ways to avoid full-blown burnout because none of us wants to lose that creative spark we have. So, below is a list I’ve put together to avoid burnout and have a long fruitful creative life.

Exercise

I put this one first because it’s one of the most important ways to keep creative juices flowing. Exercise is not only good for your body it’s good for your brain. Whenever, I get stuck in my writing, I go for a walk or a hike through the woods. It gets your blood flowing and gets your mind off your plot hole for a while, and many times I find that taking a step away from my work usually helps me figure out the plot hole.

I’m also talking about regular exercise as well. I think it’s important to have a regular exercise routine especially writers who tend to sit all day working on their manuscripts.

Other Creative Pursuits

It’s great to branch out into other areas of the arts. I’ve started painting with an artist friend. She’s giving me pointers and helping me develop a painting style. I’ve also started taking pictures. I used to love photography when I was younger. My passion is writing, but these other artistic endeavors help me take my creativity to a new level. That can only be good for my writing.

Balance

Balance is important because we all have more than one goal. Some of us have families and we want to be good parents, so we must balance our need to be there for our children with our creative endeavors. We have to parcel out our time. For myself I need to write, or I get cranky. So, it’s in my family’s best interest that I make time to write. No one likes a cranky Mom. But I also get cranky if the needs of my family are neglected. So, I’m always working to balance family needs with creative needs.

Creative Family

The last one on my list is creating a Creative Family. This is important because your biological family may be supportive, but they probably don’t understand the blood, sweat, and tears, that go into developing your craft like other creatives do. So, having a creative family is important when you need support or guidance in your endeavors. They keep you from hanging it up when the going gets tough.  

So, there you have the four key ingredients to help fight burn-out. How about you, how do you keep your creative juices flowing? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in friendship, Personal, Writing

Do You have a Creative Family ?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after spending the weekend hanging out with fellow creatives. I was invited to sign books at an Arts and Eats Festival this weekend. It was great to meet with people and talk about my books and art. I spoke with painters and photographers and learned some new things about each medium.

May be an image of one or more people and outdoors
This is right after setting up. We’re chatting while we wait for the crowd.

I enjoyed spending time with such amazing and supportive people. I have found that not only fellow writers are supportive but so are artists, photographers, and sculptors, too. Anyone who’s a creative knows how difficult it is to get your work in front of people.

It was a great time to talk about different ways to reach the public. It seems that marketing is something all creatives struggle with and it was nice to bounce ideas off each other and find out what works for some and doesn’t work for others.

If you have an opportunity to participate in your local festivals, I strongly encourage it. It’s a great opportunity to get your name out there and to start building a local support system. It’s important to do that, so you can get a grass roots kind of thing going for you.

It’s also important to have a creative “family” because not all artists have family that supports them or understands why they spend so much time with their art. You will need the support of your creative community during that time.

Mentors are another great addition to your creative family. They can guide you through the mire of people who want to take advantage of your creativity, and they can also offer you creative advice regarding your craft. A good mentor is golden.

Another aspect that I need to bring up here is your creative community can also offer you constructive criticism. There will be people who criticize your work without offering anything constructive on how to improve it. Don’t listen to these people, they’re not your people. Your creative community will tell you where you need to improve and more importantly how to improve in a gentle constructive way. You need this to grow in your craft. We all do.

So, there you have it. The reasons why you need to develop a creative family. Do you have one? How did you meet yours? Leave a message, I’d love to hear from you!