Posted in inspiration

Wednesday Inspiration

 

If you didn’t have an infinite capacity to rise, you

 wouldn’t have made it this far along your path. If nothing else, believe in that.

Believe in your Inner Phoenix.

~Rebecca Ray

 

Photo credit: Egisto Sani on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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Posted in community, environment

We’re all made of Stardust

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I want to talk about the fact that we’re all made from stardust. Isn’t that amazing? We all have the elements of iron, calcium, and magnesium in our bodies. We are literally the by-product of exploding stars.

 

Photo credit: NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

That totally blows my mind.

That being said, we all are vastly unique at the same time. Just like snowflakes we all have our own makeup. Each one of us, even a set of twins, is different. I find this intriguing and it begs the question. If we’re all made up of the same elements how can we be so different?

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It’s our DNA. The unique way it’s arranged makes us different, and that’s true, but I’m wondering how many different combinations there can be. Well, I did a little digging and the best answer I could find without going into a lot of scientific mumbo-jumbo is that there are seven billion people on the planet so there are four hundred and twenty billion different combinations. Wow.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that even though we’re all made up of the same elements we’re all vastly different. Each one of us. But we’re also the same. It’s mind-bending when you thing about it. What I’m trying to say is we’re connected. And that connection is what I’d like to focus on.

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Historically, we humans have been afraid of other humans who are different. People who have different skin color, different genders, different sexual orientations, and different ideologies. We need to stop ourselves for a second and instead of coming from a place of fear, we need to come from a place of love. That’s right. Love for our fellow man. We don’t all have to agree, but we do have to respect our differences while at the same time remember our similarities out number our differences. That is the only way we will be able to survive on this planet. You have to remember we continue to reproduce, but our planet does not and it doesn’t grow larger either.

 

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In order for our species to survive, we’ve got to take care of ourselves and our planet. We don’t have time for anything else. In a crisis, I’ve seen people come together and forget their differences and work together until the crisis is over. Why can’t we do that all the time? Why does there have to be a major disaster before we’ll work together? I think we should work on that. Don’t you?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Posted in Writing

The Faleena Hopkins Saga

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. It’s Mother’s Day Weekend and I’m excited to celebrate my mom.  We’re all gathering at her house because she’s lives kind of in the center of all of us siblings.  That means I won’t be able to spend as much time writing as I would like, but it’s always like this at the end of the school year.

Anyway, today I thought I’d talk about a big blow up in the writing community.   This is one of those stories that is stranger than fiction and it’s totally true. We’ll call it The Faleena Hopkins Story.

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To get the full scoop check out Jenny Trout’s post on it here.   She has written so eloquently what everyone in the writing community is feeling and she gives you the facts on how it all came about. I’ll give you a quick run-down. Faleena Hopkins is a self-published author who has a series on the market with the word “Cocky” in her titles because her characters are the Cocker brothers. She has trademarked the word “Cocky.”

Now everyone in their right mind knows they can’t trademark titles or even words for that matter.  Because if you can, I’m going to trademark the words “The” and “And.” Do you see why you can’t do this?

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We all know Faleena is mistaken.  Her biggest mistake is that she doesn’t understand the difference between her brand and her title. “Cocky” is a word she is using in the title of her books. It is not a brand. Titles cannot be copyrighted and neither can names of characters.

To protect her “brand” she has sent cease and desist orders to other authors with the word “Cocky” in their titles. This has caused quite an uproar in the writing community and we have to question her motives. After all, I’ve never heard of Faleena Hopkins until this transpired. Now, all of a sudden her name is in blog posts and tweets have exploded on twitter discussing this issue. Could this be a publicity stunt that has gone hopelessly awry?

Photo credit: Steve Crane on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

No. I don’t think it is. I believe Faleena actually believed she was protecting her brand. She misunderstood what a brand was and unfortunately, this misunderstanding has hurt her writing career. Most likely ruined it. I know there are many readers who’ve been put off by Faleena’s actions. So if she’s hoping to ever get a traditional publishing deal…yeah…well that bridge has been burned.  The RWA (Romance Writers of America) has joined this battle to help some of these authors who now have to engage in costly legal battles to keep their titles.

We can all learn from Faleena’s mistake. When you start marketing your books, set some goals and figure out a way to reach them. If you have questions on how to do this, talk to other authors who are doing it. The writing community is filled with people who are willing to lend a hand. It’s such an amazing group of people and for God’s sake make sure you understand the difference between a brand and a title. It’ll save you all kinds of money in legal fees if you do. To get more info on the saga just follow the hashtags #cockygate and #ByeFaleena on Twitter. It’ll be interesting to see where this all goes.

Photo credit: m_shipp22 on VisualHuntCC BY

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What are your feelings on the Faleena Hopkins saga? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Family, Parenting

Do you have Grit?

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week with work and kid events. I love my kid events. I love seeing how my kids have grown and changed from one year to the next. Sigh. They’re growing up so fast. I’m hoping I’m instilling in them resilience so they can navigate this tough, uncompromising world.

 

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I’ve been hearing rumblings that one of the factors needed for kids to be successful in life is grit.

 

What is Grit?

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To some it’s a small loose particle of stone or sand and that is one of its definitions, but it’s not the one I’m talking about. The grit I’m talking about is:

 

A distinct combination of passion, resilience, determination, and focus that allows a person to maintain the discipline and optimism to persevere in their goals even in the face of discomfort, rejection, and a lack of visible progress for years, or even decades.

 

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How do we develop grit in our children? That’s a good question and in my opinion, grit is like a muscle. It needs exercise to become stronger.

We develop grit in our kids by supporting what they’re passionate about and encouraging them through the learning process. I remember when my youngest was three and he was working with Transformers. It was difficult for him to change the transformer from a robot to a car and then back to a robot. I remember how upset he’d get when he was struggling to learn the process and I’d tell him to take a break. He refused. Even though he was crying, he wouldn’t stop until he mastered that Transformer. That’s grit.

Photo credit: Mafue on VisualHunt / CC BY-SA

  He found something he wanted to achieve and he worked at it until he accomplished his goal, overcoming failure time and again. The next thing he wanted to do was learn how to read and he was reading before he started kindergarten. I had to read stories with him over and over again, until he felt he had accomplished his goal. That’s important, too. The fact that he chose when he felt he was successful.

 I believe part of developing grit is finding a passion. Something to strive for that gives us purpose. For me, it’s writing. I strive to constantly improve and make my stories better. I love writing, bringing characters to life and creating a story. Part of that process is weeding out what isn’t working. Sometimes we have to fail to be better.

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Having grit means that you’re aware failure is part of the process. This is important because if we don’t accept this concept then when we fail we may just give up.

It’s important for my kids to see me fail and struggle with my writing. Why? So they understand that failing is not something to be feared. It’s important to success because we learn more from our failures than we do our successes.  

If we develop the attitude we’re always learning then failure isn’t so scary. If parents hide their failures from their children, which many do, they’ll never learn that it’s okay to fail.

When you have grit, your will to succeed is stronger than your fear of failure. So lets encourage our kids to keep pursuing their dreams. They’ll get there when they’re supposed to and not one moment before. 

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What do you think our kids will need to be successful? What’s your definition of grit? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in community, Family

Creating Stronger Communities

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and writing. Always with the writing! LOL! But I do love it. I can’t seem to stop.

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But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about creating stronger communities. It saddens me when I hear about school shootings or mass shootings in movie theaters or public places because these events are symptoms of a societal problem.

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That problem is disconnection. When someone feels isolated and disconnected from society they exhibit symptoms of this by being violent to people who are close to them. That’s the first sign there’s a problem. We need to stop turning a blind eye to domestic violence. As with so many things, it all traces back to the home.

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Now we can blame poor parenting, throw our hands up in outrage, and point fingers. We can do that, but that doesn’t solve the problem, does it? And let’s be fair, none of us can say we’re perfect parents. We strive to be the best we can be, but there are days when we fall short. And in parenting, the most important job we have, there are no do-overs. You can’t go back and erase your mistakes.

So what can we do?

We can create communities where we all come together for the sake of the kids. I believe schools do an incredible job of offering extra-curricular activities be it sports or theater or clubs. However, what about the kids who don’t make the team? I think we need to create community centers within our cities where kids can go and play a pick-up game of basketball, or use a computer, or just hang out after school. A safe place to go with adult supervision until parents get home from work.

 

Photo credit: RobW_ on Visualhunt.comCC BY-NC-ND

I know some community centers exist, but we need more and they need to be affordable. It costs money to run these centers and that’s where I run into a snag because I don’t know where to get the funding. How about you, do you have any ideas? I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment and let me know you’re thoughts.

Posted in Writing

Taking It to the Next Level

 

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Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m knee deep in editing and revising two manuscripts and I’ve got a third one sitting on ice, waiting for me to get back to it. Then I had another idea just pop into my head this week. I’m letting that one percolate while I revise and then I’ll plot it out.

 

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But enough about that. Today I’d like to talk about what it takes to get to the next level. Whether you’re a writer or an artist or a salesman, there’s that moment where you plateau. You can’t go any further without making some changes.

So the first step is realizing that you’ve reached that point. You’ll recognize it because you’ll feel like a hamster caught on a wheel. Churning out the same product and getting the same results. You know you’ve got to make a change, but you’re not sure what that change is.

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Once you reach this point, you have to find a mentor. I believe in any type of enterprise, mentors are essential to the success of the business, whether you’re a salesman, author, or artist. You need someone who’s going to tell you the truth. I know it feels good to have someone lavish your work with compliments and tell you you’re awesome, and they may actually feel that way, but you need someone who’s going to help you grow. You need someone who’s going to take you past the mediocre point so you can become great. That’s what mentors do.

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I’ve found in business and in the creative field that the chance for success is increased greatly if you have a mentor helping you with your weak spots. It’s not always comfortable working with someone who’s critiquing you. Sometimes that criticism is hard to take, but it’s necessary for you to grow.

You also must make sure that mentor is credible. There are many people in the world who believe they’re experts. Not all of them are, so you need to do some research. Find someone who has a great track record. Talk with people who’ve worked with them in the past. Look at their history. Are they a best-selling author? Are they a top salesman? If you can answer yes to these questions and they’re interested in being your mentor, I say go for it. Remember the old saying…

 

Image result for shoot for the moon even if you miss you'll land among the stars

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post today. What are your thoughts on taking it to the next level? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Reading, reviews

What I’ve been Reading

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today as winter storm Xanto rains down on us here in the Midwest. I plan on getting a lot of writing done this weekend as I huddle beneath my blankey and wait out the storm. It’s supposed to be historic, and I’m praying for at least one snow day out of it.

But enough about the weather, I’m back to talk about one of my favorite things in the world. Books. I’ve just finished a couple of great ones, and I thought I’d share them with all of you.

The first one is a new to me author. I haven’t read any of her previous stories, but she has a great reputation so I thought I’d give her latest release a try. It’s a young adult story so if you have any teens looking for something to read, check her out.

The title is “Still Life with Tornado” and the cover and blurb are below.

 

Still Life with Tornado by [King, A.S.]

 

Sixteen-year-old Sarah can’t draw. This is a problem, because as long as she can remember, she has “done the art.” She thinks she’s having an existential crisis. And she might be right; she does keep running into past and future versions of herself as she wanders the urban ruins of Philadelphia. Or maybe she’s finally waking up to the tornado that is her family, the tornado that six years ago sent her once-beloved older brother flying across the country for a reason she can’t quite recall. After decades of staying together “for the kids” and building a family on a foundation of lies and domestic violence, Sarah’s parents have reached the end. Now Sarah must come to grips with years spent sleepwalking in the ruins of their toxic marriage. As Sarah herself often observes, nothing about her pain is remotely original—and yet it still hurts.
 
Insightful, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful, this is a vivid portrait of abuse, survival, resurgence that will linger with readers long after the last page.

 

My thoughts: (spoiler alert)

I didn’t get the title until I’d finished reading the story.  Needless to say, it makes perfect sense. I loved the story. It’s about a family and how domestic violence affects everyone in the family. It’s told from two viewpoints and one of them is Sarah. The only person who hasn’t experienced her father’s fists. In the beginning of the story, she has lost the ability to create art. Her passion. She’s also no longer attending school and that has everyone worried. No one knows why and the story is intricately woven together as the author takes us through Sarah’s journey. We learn about her love for her brother who moved out and the incident that sent her into a spin and brought her world crashing down.

The second viewpoint is Helen, Sarah’s mother. She’s a nurse and she’s the person stitching the family back together when her husband’s rages tear it apart. She doesn’t know what caused Sarah to slump into a depression, but she’s got her own issues to deal with. She’s the one who tries to keep her husband on an even keel and avoid his punches at the same time. She’s walking a tightrope so she isn’t able to give Sarah the attention she needs, but she’s trying.

The one negative I have about this story is that I didn’t feel that the mother’s voice and Sarah’s voice were distinct enough. There were a few chapters where I was half way down the first page before I realized the narrator had switched. This pulled me from the story and created a. bit of confusion. We all know it’s a bad thing to frustrate our reader, but that’s the only negative I have. Otherwise, it’s a great read especially for teens.

 

The other book I read was an adult suspense written by the author of “Luckiest Girl Alive.” This second story did not disappoint Its title is “Into the Water” and the cover and blurb are below.

Into the Water: A Novel by [Hawkins, Paula]

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

GOODREADS CHOICE AWARD WINNER FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER

An addictive new novel of psychological suspense from the author of #1 New York Times bestseller and global phenomenon The Girl on the Train

“Hawkins is at the forefront of a group of female authors—think Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott—who have reinvigorated the literary suspense novel by tapping a rich vein of psychological menace and social unease… there’s a certain solace to a dark escape, in the promise of submerged truths coming to light.” —Vogue

A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.

With the same propulsive writing and acute understanding of human instincts that captivated millions of readers around the world in her explosive debut thriller, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins delivers an urgent, twisting, deeply satisfying read that hinges on the deceptiveness of emotion and memory, as well as the devastating ways that the past can reach a long arm into the present.

Beware a calm surface—you never know what lies beneath.

My Thoughts:

This one is written with a non-linear time line so you have to pay attention otherwise it gets confusing. It’s the heartbreaking story about a single mom who’s investigating some strange deaths in her town. She’s a photographer and she has become intrigued by the mysterious deaths surrounding the river winding it’s way through the tiny burg.

Her daughter’s best friend commits suicide and her daughter, Lena, is the only one who knows why. Katie, Lena’s best friend, does this by jumping off the cliff and into the river. Months later it appears as if Lena’s mother, Lorna, has done the same thing.  Lorna’s found dead in the river as well, and so the mystery begins. Did she commit suicide? Was she murdered? The story pulls you in and it goes deeper and deeper into the tragedies of this small town, revealing secrets and uncovering the ugly truth. It’s a great read and Paula Hawkins has just become one of my favorite authors.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my reviews. How about you? Do you have any great books you’d recommend? Leave a comment. I love to hear from you!