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.

 

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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.

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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…

 

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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!

Posted in Writing

Random Thoughts on Creating Characters

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after taking a week off for Spring Break. We didn’t go anywhere but we did have a nice week away from school and work even though it SNOWED.

 

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I was so disappointed when I woke up to snow on April 3. We were supposed to go up north, but when the snow hit we decided to wait until it was a little warmer because we’re tired of winter.

So to make sure my kids didn’t get bored we arranged a couple of sleepovers and one of them was with their cousin. When he was over, they stumbled across the show “The Office” on Netflix.

 

OMG! This show is hilarious. When I watched a few episodes when it first came out, I didn’t get into it for some reason. Probably because my kids were small and I didn’t have time for TV. Since I’ve been reintroduced to the series, we’ve been binge watching it over this cold and snowy weekend and the whole family enjoys it.

It’s a great show to watch from a writer’s perspective. I’ve been working a lot on creating characters and it’s so interesting to see how the different personalities in this show interact and conflict. My favorite character is Jim. He’s so easygoing and plays practical jokes on all the others. It’s fun to watch how the different characters react especially Dwight.

Speaking about shows that have incredible characters, there’s “Breaking Bad.” One of my all-time favorites. If you need a good representation of character arc, just take a look at Walter White and see how he transforms throughout the show. It’s amazing and totally believable.  It’s not a comedy like “The Office,” and it’s incredibly intense, but it’s an awesome show to watch.

I’ve been working on developing my characters so that they’re more three dimensional because that’s what readers want, right? So I’ve been working on their strengths, their flaws, their goals, and their quirks. Humans are so interesting and they’re full of contradictions. So our characters should also be that way. Wouldn’t you agree?

When you’re creating your characters dig deep. Find their strengths and weaknesses and create other characters that have strengths and weaknesses that conflict with your main character. Because all of us writers know that the greater the conflict the greater the story. Right?

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Just a few writerly thoughts on a cold, snowy spring day. How about you, how do you determine the personalities of your characters? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!