Posted in Personal, Writing

Do you have Grit?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after an exciting week of work and the wedding of my nephew. It was a beautiful wedding, and it was so good to see members of my family that I haven’t seen in a while. My boys were able to hang out with their cousins which is important for that family connection, and I got some awesome pictures of all the cousins together.

But enough about that. Today I want to talk about Grit. That’s right. That little extra something that everyone needs in life to succeed.

Definition via Google:

Grit: Courage and Resolve. Strength of Character.

To be great at anything you need grit. To be a professional basketball player you need it. To be a CEO you need it, and to be a great writer you need grit. If you have that strength of character, you will be able to keep going when the going gets tough. Grit means you go for the gold even though there’s no guarantee.

That’s the hardest part. To keep going when there’s no guarantee that your dreams will come true. But that’s the only way to get there isn’t it? So, like the professional basketball player you practice, and practice, and practice some more.

It’s the same with writing. You keep writing even though your story may never see the light of day. You keep writing because the story and the characters have become a part of you just like the basketball player plays because he doesn’t know anything else.

That’s where we have to be as a writer. We need to take risks and write stories that make people take notice. Maybe even write stories that make them uncomfortable. That’s where your gold is. That’s why you write. So, keep writing and build that grit muscle. You have that story in you and the only way to get it out is by putting pen to paper or fingers to your keyboard.

There are ways to develop grit. One way that I strongly recommend is to work with a mentor or writing group. People who are invested in your success.  These people will help you hone your skills.

Another way to develop grit is to take classes, go to writer’s conferences, and read books. Read craft books, like Stephen King’s “On Writing.” Or “Story Engineering,” by Larry Brooks.  All of these things will help you hone your craft and develop grit.

How about you?

Do you have that strength of character? The resolve to get it done at all costs? How do you develop your grit muscle? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

Synchronicity and Intuition

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a week of work and writing. We had a warm day today, and I made my first attempt at running outside. I’m hoping my pinched nerve doesn’t come back. So far so good. I’m hanging up the treadmill, running on that soft surface isn’t good for my spine.

But enough about that, today I’d like to talk about synchronicity and intuition. First, what is synchronicity? It is:

The simultaneous occurrence of events which appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection

I look for signs from the universe all the time because we can’t predict the future, and sometimes not knowing the outcome can be scary. Some of the signs I’ve seen are in my work life. The city or the lake where my story takes place appears in my daily life. It makes me pause and think about my story. I feel it’s the universe telling me I’m on the right path. Other times, my main character’s name will appear in odd places. I’m hoping this is a sign telling me to stick with my story. All we can do is wait and see. (Fingers crossed)

Another example is when I’m travelling to a friend’s art gallery. Her gallery is about an hour away, so I enjoy the drive because I can turn up the tunes and relax. Every single time I go, one of my favorite songs comes on the radio. Now, the first few times it happened, I just enjoyed the music, but since it has been consistently happening, I’m thinking this is a moment of synchronicity. So, what is the universe trying to tell me?

I’m not sure on that one, but I do know when I visit my friend and her gallery I leave in a great frame of mind. She’s an inspiration and I admire her greatly. Maybe it’s the universe telling me to stay connected with her. I’m not sure, but I do know it’s a sign of something.

Synchronicity and intuition go hand in hand. I trust my intuition. That gut feeling that tells me something is off. The rare times I’ve ignored my gut I’ve regretted it, and the times I followed it, even though I didn’t understand the why, I’ve learned it was the right decision.

Intuition is the the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. You just know something isn’t right usually without any evidence. I’ve learned the hard way to trust my gut.

How about you? Do you trust your gut, or do you make decisions on cold, hard facts? Do you see synchronicity in your every-day life? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you.

Posted in Personal, Writing

The Writing Life…

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week of work and writing. My neck is feeling much better and I’m thinking about getting back into my exercise routine, but I won’t be running on the treadmill. There won’t be another treadmill season in the Orchard house. In my opinion, I need to run on harder surfaces if I’m going to run. So, I’m going to have to find another form of exercise during the winter months.

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about the writing life. I haven’t spoken about this in a while, so I felt that I should address it today.

Writing is a solitary endeavor. We writers create by ourselves and work with editors and beta readers to produce a viable product. It’s time consuming and takes us away from our families and friends.

Sometimes, it can be discouraging. The waiting for an acceptance or rejection of a manuscript can take a long time. It can get downright lonely.

So, it’s important to have a creative community who supports you. They don’t all have to be writers. They can be artists, or sculptors, or photographers. These people will understand your struggle. They will support you in ways your family can’t because they don’t understand.  I have an artist friend who I get together maybe once or twice a month and paint with her. I’m no artist, but it’s always good to take a break and do something different. I support her art, and she supports my writing.

Another way to combat the anxiety of waiting is to start another project. Work on something else. If you do get an acceptance, you’ll be a step ahead of the game because you have another project to offer.

Still another way, is to take a break from writing all together. Spend time with your family. Go on a trip and enjoy some down time. Maybe even read. 😉

Exercise is another great way to deal with the stress of writing. Get out of the chair and move your body. Get those endorphins moving, it’ll help with the creative process. Trust me.

So, there you have it. Some ways to combat the loneliness and stress of writing. How about you, how do you deal with it? Leave a comment! I love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

What do you do when the Burnout Bug Bites?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. We were lucky yesterday and had a sixty-degree day where I was able to get out and go for a walk. My pinched nerve is still bothering me, so I was only able to go a couple of miles. Even so, it was nice to get some fresh air.

But enough about that, today I thought I’d talk about burnout. Burnout for writers or anyone really happens when you don’t pace yourself. Like a runner who sprints to early in the race, you can run out of gas. The joy you used to feel while creating your work just isn’t there, and the ideas are stagnant.

You’ve hit the wall and the only thing you can do is stop and take a break. When this happens, I have a few go-to activities that help ease the stress of burnout, because not producing something can be just as stressful as producing something, right?

I go for a run and get those endorphins going. Nothing beats a run for handling the stress of burnout.

I go for a hike. A hike through the woods is good for you mentally and physically. Forest bathing is really a thing and there’s nothing like a walk through the woods to calm the static in your head. FYI walking along the beach is just as good for you.

Reading is another way to beat burnout. Just reading for fifteen minutes reduces stress by sixty percent, and you get the added bonus of opening up your mind to new ideas. Most authors are voracious readers. It’s one way to improve your craft and beat stress all at the same time.

Get together with your creative community. I get together with mine and they’re so good at building up my confidence. We go hiking or paint. Sometimes we just go out for a bite to eat.

Shopping. Sometimes a little retail therapy is all you need to get those creative juices flowing again.

So, there you have it. Five things you can do when the burnout bug hits. How about you? What are some of the activities you do when you get bitten by the bug?

Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Health, mental-health, Personal, Writing

Self Care: It’s a Choice

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Because of the pinched nerve in my neck, I’ve been doing more editing and reading this week while I wait for my neck to heal. It’s getting much better thanks to my chiropractor, but I believe my treadmill days are over. There will no longer be treadmill season at the Orchard’s.

I’m not upset about that. I’ve always disliked running on a treadmill. But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about self-care. I know I’ve talked about this before, but I feel it’s important. Sometimes we get stretched too thin, and we need to take a moment and regroup.

There’s nothing wrong with that. We can’t be going full tilt all the time. I can always tell when I hit the wall. I get tired and cranky, and I don’t enjoy the things I usually enjoy.

Here are my go-to self-care activities.

  1. Reading. I grab a good book and curl up on the couch. I do this during the winter more because it’s too cold to go outside. Did you know reading for just fifteen minutes reduces your stress level by 60%?
  • Exercise. Exercise is a great stress reliever, and it gets those endorphins going. Even a walk is good for you. Especially if you’re a writer and you sit at a desk all day.
  • Hiking. Hiking is also good for you. I love hiking in the woods, and if you hike in the woods, you get the added benefit of receiving phytoncides from the trees. In Japan, this is called forest-bathing and it’s a real thing.
  • Painting. I’m learning to paint, and it’s a great way to take a break. I’m still creating something, but it’s just for me, so I don’t have to worry about what anyone else thinks about it.
  • Yoga. Yoga is another great way to create calmness within yourself. You stretch your muscles, and you relax while becoming more aware. It’s a great feeling.

So, there you have it. Five things I do when I’m in need of some self-care. I know there are more. What do you do for self-care?  Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

Is a Virtual Writing Conference worth it?

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. Last weekend I attended a writing conference and pitched my story to some agents. I’m proud of the story I pitched, and I’m hoping to find representation soon. Cross your fingers for me.

In other news, I ran on my treadmill and ended up pinching a nerve in my neck. I’ve been going to the chiropractor, and it’s getting better, but I may never run on the treadmill again. I’ve heard running one can mess up your back, and I’m living proof that it can. According to one of my running friends, because the treadmill is soft, not a hard surface like a road, it’s bad for your back and joints. So, I may have to find another way to exercise during the winter months. I might be getting an exercise bike. We’ll see.

But I’m not here to talk about that. I want to get back to the writing conference I attended. I enjoyed it. Agents led the sessions, so the information was pure gold. It was held virtually, so you communicated via chats. If you had a question, you’d type it in the chat and the organizer would read your question to the agent. It worked well, and it was the best we could do during a pandemic.

I was also able to pitch my story to agents via zoom. It worked wonderfully. I was impressed by the whole thing. However, I did miss chatting with the other authors in between sessions. I missed the camaraderie. That’s the only negative I can say about the conference. I feel like I accomplished my goal, I pitched my novel and got my name out there. I also received great advice on my story. So, all in all, if you get an opportunity to go to a virtual Writing Conference, I’d say it’s worth it.

Here’s the link to find one in your area. http://brianklems.com/

Brian Klems is the organizer and he did a great job.

How about you? Have you been to a Virtual Writing Conference?  How do you feel it went? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Personal, Writing

My One Little Word

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’ve been busy with work and writing this week. I’ve started another WIP and I’m enjoying this one too. It’s the first month of the new year and I’m looking forward for 2022. The air crackles with excitement because I feel some changes are coming. I’m thinking they’ll be some good changes. My fingers are crossed, and time will tell.

But enough about that. Today, I want to talk about my one little word. At the beginning of the new year, I choose a word that resonates with me. Last year, I chose Persevere. I wanted to persevere in my writing journey, and I’ve done that I’ve finished two of my stories this last year and I’ve started a third this month.

So, my word for this year is “Resilience.”

Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties quickly.

Over the past couple of years, everyone’s had to become more resilient because of the pandemic. With the threat of potential illness, the shortage of workers, and shortages in the grocery store, we’ve all had to make adjustments in our lives. Some of us have had to start working from home and dealing with technological issues that we otherwise wouldn’t have had to deal with.

Learning to make these adjustments, builds resilience. Right now, we need to strengthen our resilience muscle more than ever. Especially in a competitive publishing market where things are changing also, but they’re changing in a good way. Because of Covid, readership has increased by 21%. That’s huge, and what’s nice about that is the biggest portion of that readership is the target market for my latest story. So, things are looking up. 😊

These are the reasons I chose resilience as my word for 2022. I feel if I strengthen my resilience, I’ll get to the finish line. But how do we strengthen our resilience? How do we toughen up?

Recently, I went through kind of a bootcamp on strengthening resilience for work and I’m applying the concepts in other areas of my life. This is what I’ve learned.

  1.  Face your fears. Feel the fear and do it any way.
  2. Use Positive Affirmations
  3. Change your negative self-talk to positive self-talk
  4. Don’t beat yourself up when something doesn’t go as planned. Learn from it.
  5. Change the script. When something bad happens don’t relive it over and over. Change the script so you learn from the experience.

These five steps will help you build resilience. I know easier said than done, but it will be worth it. Trust me. How about you? Do you have a Word for 2022? 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 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!