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Perspective


fireworks“Be the Change you want to see.” Gandhi.

If you want to make some major changes this year, the most important thing to realize is that you can’t do it all at once. However, just because this is true, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make amazing and valuable changes this year.

I have made several permanent changes that I wanted to make in my life. I wanted to quit smoking. I did. I wanted to live a healthier lifestyle. I am living one. I wanted to have a cleaner house. My house looks pretty good. I wanted to get my bachelor’s degree. I have it. I wanted to finally write the book that had been in my head since I was in the seventh grade. I have written eleven and have several more in the works. I have done all these things all because I learned the power of the habit. Currently my goal is to start a publishing business. That is currently in the works.

Here are a few things that I learned about the process:

1. Don’t try to change everything all at once. I learned that I couldn’t make all the changes all at once. Yes, I had numerous things that I wanted to do in my life, but I couldn’t do it all at once. I had to choose which one to start first. I chose to work on cleaning and organizing my house.

2. How do you eat an elephant? Take your one change and make it bite size. I have learned that I cannot do everything at once, no matter how hard I try. I had tried to do it numerous times with the same negative results. I had decided that I wanted to keep my house on a higher level of clean so I would clean the entire house all at once only to be too tired to keep up the maintenance.

What worked better was that instead of doing it all at once, I decided to focus on what was most important and do that first. I decided that the best place to start was in cleaning my house. I chose picking up around the house (one room at a time), doing laundry (one step at a time which only took five minutes or less) and doing dishes (right after the meal).

3. Take the same bite size every day. I keep the dishes, laundry and picking up done every day. There isn’t much to do because I do it every day.

4. After a month, build up on that one bite. Once I had control of the laundry, dishes and picking up, I moved on from there. I threw out stuff. I organized stuff. I did deep cleaning. A few minutes every day.

5. Determine to get up the eighth time- Never make the excuse to stop trying. Did I always keep it all up? Of course not. I had bad days, but as Edison said, “It doesn’t matter if you fall down seven times as long as you get up the eighth time.”

6. I am going to over deliver here by giving you a sixth resolution that will help you never fail at another resolution! Resolve to pick up and read my book and learn about the one habit that will help you create all your other habits and reach all your goals. Get The Ultimate Keystone Habit by following this link to reserve your copy now.

What’s Coming Next Week?

One of my own resolutions this next year is to build the editing aspect of my business and help other authors improve the editing process of their books. Each week I will go step by step through the editing process. My goal is to teach anyone, including novices, how to navigate the editing process like a pro.


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2017 was a good year for me. What it good for you?

At the beginning of the year, most of us recognize that the beginning of a new year represents a clean slate of possibilities.

  • Gyms fill up with hopefuls looking to, finally, this year get in shape.
  • Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem have an uptick in their clientele at the beginning of the year.
  • The sales of nicotine gum and nicotine patches go up.
  • We find content galore online and off telling us how to get better organized and how to better manage our time.

When the Hype Subsides

By the first of February, almost as soon as the hype subsides, so does the enthusiasm and participation. Gyms are vacated. Weight Watcher members don’t show up for meetings. The sale of cigarettes goes back up and we must search the archives to find the articles that were so abundant in January. All that organizing we wanted to get done goes unfinished.

I was no exception. I remember back when I used to make New Year’s resolutions. I would make a laundry list of things that I wanted to change like lose thirty pounds, get fit, get organized and write that first book. The first couple of weeks I would do okay, but then something would happen, and I would skip a day and then another until finally I wasn’t doing anything that I resolved to do at the beginning of the year. Every year I would do the same and I would have the same zero results.

So, why does this happen? One of the reasons that this happens comes from the idea that we tend to overestimate what we can do in a day. Another reason is that when we are going over the idea of making changes and realize how wonderful that it would be, but as we go along we realize that we don’t have the will power that it takes to maintain all of these different changes all at the same time.

Don’t Make Resolutions, Establish Habits

So, what is a person to do? How do we actually change? We take baby steps. We can make small changes a little at a time and get used to the small change that we made before moving onto a new change. If we were to take every month and make one small change every month that took only 5 minutes to do, we would improve our lives a full hour during that year.

Where to Start?

Start by reading a book and learn how to establish the most important habit you could develop.

I know there are so many things that all of us don’t like about ourselves, however, did you know that there is one thing that you should start with that would set the stage so that you could make all of life’s improvements that you would ever want to make.

I have written about it in my book: The Keystone Habit. This book will tell you about the one habit that if you do it, it can be the catalyst that can change your entire situation. Click here to get this free book to discover exactly how you can start today doing the one change that could change your life forever.

This book is not just something that works in theory. It works because it works for real people like you and me. I’ve used the information that I am sharing successfully and I am sure you can too.


 

Santa_Claus_face

When I was little, I was told that there was a Santa Claus. However, I figured out very quickly (at about 3 years old) that Old Saint Nicholas was a myth. I remember telling my friends at school that there wasn’t a Santa Claus and they treated me as though I were a villain! I vowed then and there that I wasn’t going to perpetuate the lie with my own children. However, as the years went by, I have since relaxed my views.

When my Eldest Son was Little

When my eldest son was little, we had gifts, but the gifts came from family members, not the mythical character. We didn’t have a Christmas tree or any of the other trappings that go with Christmas. We just shared gifts and the Christmas story.

A few years later, after my second son was born, I lightened up on some of the other holiday traditions. We had Christmas decorations and a tree. However, we still didn’t have Santa Claus as part of our celebration. I wasn’t letting a mythical character share the limelight in the celebrations surrounding the second most holy day in Christendom.

Another Ten Years Went By

When my sons were younger, I always told them not to share the fact that Santa was not real with their friends. I even told them the story of what I had to face when I told my friends that there was no Santa Claus.

As I got older, however, I began to see the lack of fun and imagination that comes with “not believing in Santa Claus”. I personally loved watching the Santa Clause with my boys. It was fun to pretend that Santa was real.

My second son was ten when my daughter was born. By the time she was born, Santa Claus was back into our Christmas traditions. The difference we made, however, was that everyone knew that Santa was pretend. My youngest was told from day one that Santa was not real, but we were going to pretend that he was real. We would talk about Santa like he was a real person, but if my daughter was confused about whether he was real or not, I would tell her that he was pretend.

The idea came from something that happened when my eldest was about six years old. I was out blackberry picking while he was talking ninety miles per minute at me. He was telling me a story that I knew was not true and I called him on it. He told me, “It’s just a story, Mom. It’s just a story!”

It’s just a Story

Personally, I have nothing against pretending with our children, especially about someone as benevolent as Santa Claus. Like other forms of fiction, we can use the Santa Claus myth to teach our children about giving to others. The Santa story is also a story that boosts the imagination and by pretending the Santa character with our children, we can build our relationship with them. It is important for everyone to know the truth about the Santa character. Understanding the difference between fact and fiction is a concept that children can be introduced to early and Santa is a reasonable way to introduce this concept to our children.

But was Santa Claus just a fictional character? No, he wasn’t.

Based on a Real Person

Santa Claus was not just a story, however, and it is important for children to understand the history behind the story. Santa is based on St. Nicholas, born around 280 AD in what is now Turkey. Nicholas was known for helping the poor. By 1600, he was a popular saint, especially in Holland, where he was known as Sinter Klaas. By 1800, Dutch emigrants had introduced him to the United States, later helped by the writer Washington Irving passing on their stories about him, and by Clement Clarke Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”.

What Do You Think?

What do you think about the Santa Claus Myth? Do you promote it with your children? Do you ignore it all together, or do you, like me, use Santa Claus to teach your children (or grandchildren) about life?


main streetI cringe every time I hear someone say that some way of thinking is “common sense”. One reason is that I feel that common sense comes from a limited way of thinking. Common sense usually is regarded when one person who has been in a specific group of people that has a limited mindset. These people are exclusive unto themselves. Who wants to be common?

As I see it, the idea of common sense is rather bigoted. When a person says that something is “common sense, it means that because you don’t believe like we believe, you’re less than average. You’re not even good enough to be common when you don’t believe what is common to society. Common sense is “in-the-box-thinking.”

Developing Un-Common Sense

I prefer un-common sense or out of the box thinking. Out of the box thinking is creative thinking. I think that I have been a creative thinker all my life and I think that stems from having less than most children when I was growing up.

I Had Creative Parents

It also stems from having parents who grew up during the depression, who also had to be creative. When my mother was little, her playhouse was the shade of an apple tree. She played with her dolls under that tree. My Dad used to tell us stories about things that his brothers and sisters used to do. I remember he said that during the winter, he made barrel stave skis that he used every winter.

Though we never seemed to have enough money everything we wanted, we never had our utilities shut off or were ever without food. My parents always found creative ways to make ends meet. When I was growing up, my mother did a lot of gardening, canning, and freezing produce. I learned self-sufficiency from her.

We didn’t always have money to have birthday parties, but that didn’t stop us from creating them anyway. We would make decorations from construction paper that we recycled at the end of the previous school year. We baked a made from scratch birthday cake from baking supplies that my mother always had on hand. Often, we didn’t have powdered sugar, but my mother was always able to make frosting using egg whites (we often had our own chickens) and white sugar. Sometimes we drank Kool-Aid and other times us kids would pool our cash together and buy dime sodas (we called it “pop”). We would make our birthday gifts.

Books to Encourage Curiosity

We had access to books and my parents encouraged us to read. One of the things that they did spend money on when I was a child was a set of World Book Encyclopedias and a set of Child Craft Books. They used to help us look up things in those books. I loved learning and still do thanks to the uncommon sense that both of my parents had in raising their children.

How about you? What makes you uncommon?

 


Advantages to Traditional Publishing

bookshelf

When I first thought about writing a book, I thought the same way that so many other would be authors thought. I imagined getting huge advance and being given the royal treatment when I went into New York City to meet my publisher. I imagined a limousine picking me up at the airport and driving me to an amazing suite where I would stay a week while I hit the circuit of going from television station to radio stations, to other interviews, having my own makeup artist and hairstylist, going shopping in the Fashion District and even seeing a Broadway show while I was there.
After my visit, the publishing company would distribute my book and put it in the front of the store in every major book seller in the country. I would be given a number of copies of my books that I could share with my family and friends, and I would “live the dream”.
Nice dream. Reality was far different. I learned later that advances were seldom given to new authors (although I have met one).

Disadvantages to Traditional Publishing

The first thing that I learned was that when an author signs a contract with a traditional publisher, the contract always benefits the publisher at the expense of the author. The contracts are written in legalese so if the author doesn’t have a lawyer to look over the contract, the author might have to do things that they didn’t realize was not to their benefit. I heard of one author’s contract where she had to pay the expenses for attending book signings in distant cities. She was paid a set amount per book, but the number of books that she was able to sell was not enough to pay for her expenses. I had another friend had to buy copies of his own books so that he could sell them at live events. He made more money selling at the live events than anything that the publisher did for him. In addition, the publisher wouldn’t allow him to sell his books in digital format at all. Both had sold their rights to their publisher so they had no recourse. I have heard of other authors who had sold all their rights to publishers. The author has to make changes in manuscripts, might have to use a title and cover design of the publisher’s choosing. The author might not have any say at all.
I also learned was that the traditional publishing process takes about two years before you ever get your book on the shelves. Afterwards, if you were one of the lucky few who were able to get an advance, you won’t get paid until you sell enough books to pay your advance.

Self-Publishing

While I was learning all about traditional publishing, I started looking into self-publishing. The differences were enlightening. There was no promise of any advance. Before I was ever able to sell a book, I would have to put out money for editing, formatting, and cover design.
Of course, there are other problems with self-publishing. There’s a huge learning curve and expense to self-publishing that doesn’t exist with traditional publishing. I would have to take charge of marketing and book distribution. Getting into major bookstores would be difficult and advertising would be on my own dime as well.
I found however that self-publishing has its advantages. As a self-publisher, I own my own work. I have complete control over the content of my book, editing, formatting and cover design. I have complete control over the creative process. I can decide how I market my books, both on-line and off-line. I can handle my own distribution by working directly with independent book stores. I can determine whether I want to go on a book signing or attend a specific event. I can decide what public relations I want to be a part.
As a self-publisher, I can set my prices and can earn 70 percent or more of the cost of the books that I wrote and designed. As a self-publisher, I am a creative and an entrepreneur.


The Plight of the Unnamed Crew Member

galaxy quest

The Crew of Galaxy Quest with the unnamed crew member on the far right back of picture

Last week we discussed the main characters which include the protagonist, antagonist, and the love interest (Haven’t Read it? Here’s the Link) In addition to a protagonist, antagonist, and love interest, there are other characters in the story and these are called secondary characters. What you don’t want for secondary characters is what I call the “unnamed crew member” in other words, you don’t want too many of those people who are only there to serve the protagonist and antagonist. If you’ve ever seen Galaxy Quest, you’ll probably remember the plight of the unnamed crewmember is vaporized at the beginning of the episode to indicate that the idyllic planet that they were on was not so idyllic.

Secondary Characters are Not Just Props for the Main Characters

It is too easy to use secondary characters as simple props for the main characters. You wouldn’t want someone using you for their own gains, and I don’t think that secondary characters like being used that way either. Therefore, just as you develop the protagonist, antagonist, and love interests, you want to develop their sidekicks as well.
So how do you do that? To develop secondary characters, I create character sketches and work to get inside of their heads.

How to Develop a Character Sketch

A character sketch is a document that tells the physical, emotional, mental and social aspects of a character. It takes you from telling about the character and actually getting inside of his head.

What goes into a secondary character’s sketch? To create a character sketch, you want to have a number of things that you know about this character. First, you want to know a little about this person’s physical appearance, but you want go a little deeper than what color hair, how tall, and the color of their eyes. Does this person have any scars? How did he or she get it? Was the protagonist or antagonist there when it happened? Do they have any other physical defining characteristics? Did he or she have an illness as a child or older that caused other physical defects, limps or whatever? Does this person have any bad habits like smoking or drinking too much? How does this person relate to the protagonist and antagonist? If the protagonist is controlling, how does the sidekick relate? Does he feel intimidated? Does he resent the main character’s control over him? What is his or her history with the protagonist/antagonist/love interest? Have they always known one another or how did they meet? What kinds of things did they do together in the past? The more well-rounded you can get your secondary characters, the more well-rounded your story will become.

Read the Locket Saga

The Locket Saga 5 books

 

Have you read the books of the Locket Saga? In the first book: When God Turned His Head, Kanter starts the tradition by giving the locket to Drusilla. From that time on, the Locket was passed down from bride to bride. Join the Tradition, read the books of The Locket Saga and discover what all the fuss is about.

(Have you read Book III of the Locket Saga: A Coward’s Solace? If not, a copy May 22-28, 2018 at a discount.)

Available on Kindle https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007SM23IK
Available in Print http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/cygnetbrown


Strange Dreams Lead to New Ideas

Last night I had some vivid dreams. I dreamed about my husband. I dreamed that he was at work with me and we were working with young children. He seemed to enjoy the time with them better than I did. Then I started\ dreaming all over the place and my mind was trying to make sense of it all. I became suddenly confused about what was real and what wasn’t. I dreamed that I lost my phone. When I awoke for real, the first thing I did was look to see if my phone was on the side table and it was. Now I knew I was out of dream world and into the real world. So what was going on in my dreams that they were so vivid yet so confusing?

I think what my dream was trying to do was to try to help me find a good topic for this blog as well as give me some fodder for my current NaNoWriMo project. The hours I slept did both. After finding my phone, I had the ideas for what I was going to write for both. I have ideas for two scenes in my next book that I now call Sunrise on the Mississippi (book 8 of the Locket Saga). The dream sequences are no direct part of this blog nor of the book. What they did do was remind me the value of the muse in the writing process, especially writing the first draft.

Yesterday I wrote a scene in my book, but realized that I also needed an earlier related scene. I just didn’t know how I was going to make it happen. Also I started two topics for this blog that didn’t seem to be exactly what I wanted to write for this blog today. So I slept on it and the dreams were the result of allowing my muse to take some time to play.

What Made the Muse Rebel

I think it all started with something I did a few days ago. I was teaching some students about metaphors and similes. We worked on poems about feelings.

They went something like this:

Love is pink.

It smells like apple blossoms on a tree.

It tastes like chocolate in my Easter basket.

It sounds like birds twitter-pating.  (a term from the Bambi movie)

It feels like a baby bunny’s white fur.

It looks like a field of white clover.

It makes me feel alive again.

I believe this triggered my muse to complain that I haven’t allowed her to play for a while. The past few months I have been neglecting her. I have been editing old material, researching historical events and writing nonfiction. Even as I started writing this new book, I haven’t given the muse much room. I have been organizing the material that I researched, but not allowing my creative juices to flow. Today that ends.

Today I take heed of my muse’s complaint and give her a chance to play. Today my NaNoWriMo project turns a page and I will allow my muse free range on the pages of my manuscript. Today she can play all over that book’s draft by allowing her the ability use the five senses to create metaphors and similes and most importantly, emotions for the reader to experience.

Can I Allow the Muse out more often?

I think it a shame that I have kept my muse under such a short leash for such a long time. NaNoWriMo is a great way to give the muse a chance to do her think, but I really need to find ways of allowing her to play more often. One of the areas where I can utilize her talents is in identifying with my readers. Most people buy books not because of need or rational thought, but because they are moved by emotions. When this NaNoWriMo project is done (at least for the day), I am going to look into how I can create emotion for potential readers that encourages them to purchase one or more of my books.I am sure there are more ways to tap into the muse for better writing results.

When and why do you let your muse out to play?

 

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