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Positive Peer Pressure October 29, 2010

You’ve embarked on a journey toward a goal. One you believe in and want to achieve. You tell someone about your dream. That person laughs, asks if you are crazy, rains on your parade and tell you it is unattainable.

Now, if you are a 70 year old and you’ve just told your wife you’re thinking about becoming a circus high wire act despite the fact that you have no coordination then you might deserve the above scenario.

Yes, dreams should be realistically attainable.

If your dream is realistically attainable, and someone in your life says you shouldn’t try to attain this dream, then you need reevaluate your relationship with that person.

Tip for the Day: Surround yourself with positive, supportive people as you pursue your dream. 

I wrote about my own journey from solitary writer to writer with a wealth of support here. I’ve heard the negative comments. One close relative said “you’ll never get published” when I told her I was writing a book. Do I share my dreams with her now? No way because I believe I will get that call. But it’s more than my own faith in my dream. I want the people in my life to be excited for me because I’m doing something I love. It feeds my soul in ways that I never expected. The end result? Publication? That’s just part of the dream. I am living my dream. I am a writer. I write. I am happy because I am writing.

Here’s the thing: people who are negative about your dreams and your goals aren’t happy so they don’t want you to be happy either.

Trust me. I’ve learned this lesson and it has served me well. I repeat: when someone is mean or nasty to you and rains on your parade it is because that person doesn’t want you to be happy and fulfilled.

I am writing because it brings me joy. Sure there are days that I want to drop kick my laptop to the ends of the earth. I get frustrated. I feel the sting of rejection and throw personal pity parties (for a finite amount of time), but I keep on writing because that is when my positive community of support comes into play. These are the people who remind me about how much fun it is to do what I do. They encourage me. They lift my spirits. They make me laugh. They drink wine and eat dark chocolate with me while they tell me YOU WILL SUCCEED.

Surround yourself with positive peers who celebrate your dream and encourage you to keep working hard to attain the prize you seek. These are the people who must be in your world as you pursue your dreams. They are the people who want you to be happy and fulfilled. They are the people who want you to have joy in your life.

And when you reach your dream? They will be first in line to celebrate your victory!

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Hands On Research Versus the Google Bar October 27, 2010

I recently had a writing judge tell me that my story was not plausible because it was illegal to sell the products my heroine was selling in Alabama. The products? Sex toys. Yup. You’ve got it. It’s illegal to sell them in Alabama. The judge very kindly pointed out to me that it was easy enough to research this by Googling the state and finding the laws (which she apparently had time to do because the judge definitely checked it to tell me so). Wow? Really? It’s illegal to sell sex toys in Alabama? There goes my story!

Oh tragedy. The entire book must be trashed. However, I know something that the judge didn’t know: I live in Alabama. There is a sex shop next to my favorite hole-in-the-wall Greek restaurant, and you can bet your sweet petunia there aren’t just negligees in that store. There are “medical devices.”

No big deal. She (I assume my judge was a ‘she’) did help me with her comment because even though I knew about the ways around the little blue law in Alabama, I had failed to include what I knew in my head on the pages I had sent. So I quickly added a line about “medical devices” and how sex toys can be purchased online on the Internet into the manuscript. And Voila! Problem solved. I was actually quite grateful to her for taking the time to google my story and check my facts (as a judge myself I am rather lax because I just read for quality of story and writing–I don’t have time to google the entries’ story elements for research clarification).

In another section she also pointed out that my scene set in the shooting range was way off base because of her personal experience. There was no way my two guys could possibly have a conversation. However, based on my personal experience and research, I knew that a conversation was more than possible in an indoor shooting range. I could easily disregard that well-meaning comment because I had researched this myself in person.

So what is better? Personal experience as you research your stories, the google bar, or the library? I think a combination of all three are necessary. Frankly, I can’t personally research every aspect of my stories if they are set in areas where I don’t live. And I do believe that anything, from cake-making to shooting a gun, can be researched online or in a library.

But it is so much more exciting to learn about things first hand. I really enjoyed going to the cake decorator’s house a few years ago to learn about cake decorating. I used that information and several of her colloquialisms in my book, THE TYCOON’S SWEET TEMPTATION. It made the experience more real, impacted the quality of my story and my writing. It even gave me a fun name for my heroine’s show. I tweaked my research lady’s name for her company and came up with a cute name for the show. That was cool. I wouldn’t have done that if I hadn’t experienced cake decorating first hand.

I also enjoyed going to the radio station and watching the radio hosts work. I learned a lot had changed in the industry since I had left radio to become a mother. I immediately incorporated the information into my current manuscript, FORBIDDEN FANTASY. The knowledge strengthened my writing and my confidence in my story.

I’m discovering a new story right now. It’s an old one that I’ve hacked into and decided to give a brand new plot. I’ve got a bad boy rock star, a wonderful feisty social worker (or a parole officer LOL) and it’s set in North Carolina (cause apparently Canadian settings don’t sell???). I’ve already got reams of information about their houses from the Internet, the music industry in general as well as tons of stuff about dancing (not sharing more than this till my story is written).

Now all I need is for a rock star to let me watch him work while I take notes. Any suggestions? I can think of quite a few I’d like to follow around for a day.

 

Deck My Time with Feats of Folly October 25, 2010

Last weekend my darling husband and I began the arduous process of cleaning our deck and veranda. There went our Saturday. Sunday we stained the deck with a natural coating of protective gunk. Thursday I spent four hours finishing up the inside of the veranda and adding a second coat to the outer part of the deck.

I thought I was finished. But no. Darling husband had to cut four boards and needed my help with stabilizing them. Fun. Not. Then I had to hold them in place while he screwed them into place. Then I was free. Well, not really. Then I had to catch up on my writing, my grocery shopping and general life happenings. So much for Saturday.

Today I am officially finished staining the deck with my husband. Note to self: never ever ever buy a house with a wood deck or veranda ever ever again.

I am not Suzie Handygirl. I don’t like doing these tasks. However, as it is with all the tasks I undertake, I did learn a few valuable things and can apply them to my writing.

1. Working together forges bonds. I can put my hero/heroine together while they work on a project. In the case of my fictional characters, they will probably end up having accidental touches that send shivers and trembles up and down their spines. Then they’ll probably splatter a little paint on each other and he’ll look at her and say you missed a spot after she wipes her face. And then, well… you figure it out.

In reality, Darling Husband and I cursed the dang deck, the time spent doing it, and the fact that we’d rather be sipping drinks on top of the Washington Hotel overlooking the White House than spend a sunny day cleaning wood. The best part about the whole thing was telling Darling Husband that his brilliant plan to spray the stain through a crappy little sprayer wasn’t going to work and having him decide he couldn’t possibly be wrong. Of course, he was. We have the splatters on the deck to prove it.

2. Sometimes you have to remove old stuff to make room for new, better stuff. In the case of writing fiction, this means I have to cut old words, words that are destroying the shape of my story and replace them with better words that support my story. Now the new words may not be perfect, but they are better and with each new cut I have the opportunity to improve my writing.

In reality, we bought four new boards for the deck. Two of the boards weren’t perfect. We had to use them anyway because we weren’t going to go out and buy two more boards. We are cheap. So we cut what we could, were grateful we could hide what wasn’t perfect, and slapped the dang things into place. Heck, anything we did was an improvement over what the builder had put in. At least these boards would warp in the proper direction.

Hmmm…. I think that could work for my writing. I can replace really bad crap with a higher quality crap and it is still an improvement.

3. Working alone is a dangerous idea. In the case of my fiction, my hero or heroine could get injured while on the project. The hero/heroine will arrive to save the day just in the nick of time. Then the hero/heroine will lovingly tend to the other’s wounds and then another tender, tingly moment will happen and voila! I have another love scene. Woohoo.

In reality, I just stepped into the paint tray, splattered the dang sh*& everywhere, got it on my butt, on my shoes, cursed in three languages, might have cursed my Darling Husband for not being there (ask the neighbors–I’m sure they heard me across the state line), and did all this while quickly slapping the pool of paint onto my brush and putting it on the door dealybob before it dried into a nasty blob. Again. I am cheap. I don’t waste stuff. When Darling Husband got home, I was in the shower cause I smelled like two day old sweat and mold and there is no way anyone was coming within ten feet of me. I had to get that stain off my butt.

4. In the end, if you don’t look too closely, the final product looks really nice and everyone is happy. Okay, in the case of my fiction, the hero and heroine get married, have a party, celebrate the new life they are beginning after working hard to be together despite all the obstacles. They ride off into the sunset or fly to some nice tropical island for a honeymoon.

In reality I just drink copious amounts of wine and declare that I am not doing this again until 2012. I will not be moved from this position of thought. There’s no tropical island in my future, but I might have a Seabreeze or three to celebrate the end of an arduous project.

Darling Husband wisely sits beside me and agrees.

http://www.youtube.com/v/QQ7Ue5emo6I?fs=1&hl=en_US

 

You’ve Got to Play to Work October 22, 2010

Last week I posted about finding your dream and going for it with no excuses. My first tip to pursuing one’s dreams and goals was to make time to do it. There is no such thing as no time to do anything unless you are working three jobs and raising a family. There just isn’t. If you have a half an hour, you’ve got time to work toward your goal.

Establishing a minimum time requirement per day is crucial toward reaching your goal. Even if all you do is research what it will take to accomplish reaching your goal, then it is still productive use of your time. As a writer, that half an hour might be about researching some facet of my novel. But if you’re dreaming about becoming a doctor, it might be about researching what areas of medicine are best suited to your personality. Each step, even a baby step, is still a step forward.

If you’ve been reading my blog this week, you’ll know I haven’t been working as much as I’ve been playing. In fact, I didn’t even meet one of my big goals for the week because I preferred playing to sitting down and reading through my two requested partial manuscripts. I always like to do a read-aloud before I do my final tweak and send my babies out into the world.

Bad me! But not really. Why? Because I did  manage to meet my minimum goals every day this week. I also exceeded them more days than not. My minimum goal this week was to write 100 words a day about my new book which I am exploring, follow up on blog comments, write three blogs for the following week and schedule them, and continue working on my social media knowledge via Kristen Lamb’s book, WE ARE NOT ALONE and my online courses. Yes, despite my deliberate hooky from serious work, I managed to accomplish quite a lot.

I could have accomplished more if I had hunkered down and forced myself to stop playing and work. But I know something important: my brain needs a break and this season is the one season I feel fully rejuvenated if I take the time to play. Every year in the autumn I slow down a bit to let my brain relax and enjoy the beautiful season. I need to.

Usually I’ve been working super hard and this year was no exception. I was working on my full manuscript’s revision until September 29. On September 30, I immediately went to the Georgia Writers of America Moonlight and Magnolia’s Conference and immersed myself in all things professional via pitching my manuscript, learning about writing from Michael Hauge, Allison Brennan and Kelly Stone, and celebrating my writing friends’ victories at the MAGGIE Awards Ceremony.

There wasn’t much time to breathe between that trip and our fall break with the family. I knew it would be pointless to undertake a large project so I stuck to my mini goals and gave myself some space.

This is my second tip: Understand your rhythm as you undertake pursuing your goal.

If you don’t understand how you work and when it is best for you to work, then you will burn out. Everyone has a different rhythm. I tend to operate well on long jags of intense work with time out for good behavior breaks. I need my social time, my sun time and my time to relax if I am going to get the big tasks done. I’ve also learned that as a writer, I must touch or do something with my current work in progress everyday or I’ll lose my connection with my story. Now that doesn’t mean I write through major holidays like Christmas or New Years Eve, but I do write a bit every day through almost all the days of the year.

The trick is I know when to notch back my efforts and I don’t beat myself up for not attaining major goals. I can make up for the loss during high work days. Giving myself permission to chill helps me to work harder when I am on full schedule. This can be true of students as well. I used to look at my schedules and I could see where my days were filled and not so filled. I made sure I cut back a bit, let myself play and regroup, during those slower days.

It’s important to know when you’re strongest creatively. Is it mornings? Nights? Afternoons? I tend to be super awake and creative in the mornings, lull in the afternoons, and then pick up a bit again in the 4PM-6PM time slot. Afternoon lulls are when I usually play more during my “off time” but if I am in full work zone, I usually use afternoons to catch up on the business and boring parts of my job as a writer.

Years ago I read a great book by Dr. Robert Arnot called THE BIOLOGY OF SUCCESS. I still have it in my bookshelf and refer to it regularly. Understand how you operate and you will optimize your chances of succeeding in your chosen profession.

Do you know your rhythm? Do you know your strengths? How do you relax? Do you have flex time built into your schedule?

If you are working toward a goal, writing or non-writing, share it with me. Share your challenges and your solutions with me. I’d love to hear about them.

 

Sweet Home Alabama in Autumn Glory October 20, 2010

Filed under: blog,christine glover,writer — christineglover @ 9:00 am
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After we returned from our trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, I was inspired to decorate my house for Halloween and Thanksgiving. The days are getting shorter, the nights are indigo dark, and I need my burst of fall colors to liven my spirit.  I even put together a little neighborhood treat for two houses called YOU’VE BEEN BOOED. Essentially you get two cheap candy holders and fill them with doodads and Halloween candy then place a poem with the holder instructing the recipient of the gifts to do the same to two other households. Here’s the fun part: you have to do it in secret and not get caught. My darling daughter and I have “Booed” a lot of people under cover of night. It’s quite fun!

Here are my Sweet Home Alabama Autumn Home Decorating Pictures:

 

Autumn Adventures in Gatlinburg October 18, 2010

I’ve been playing hooky from hard work to enjoy the beautiful weather and gorgeous blue skies during my favorite season. I adore autumn. I always have enjoyed this transitional season because no matter where I have lived, it always seems to spark little darts of happiness in my heart. There’s something magical about this transitional time that wakes me up and makes me want to create.

I have another reason to love this season: my darling daughter is a late September baby. I can remember hours and hours of time pushing her up and down the hills of our subdivision while she nibbled on Cheerios. Now that she is a teenager, we are taking advantage of the fall break from school and traveling together.

I love the gorgeous colors, the crisp weather and the seasonal decorations we found in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Although the trees weren’t in peak color, we had a great time exploring the little European style village nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains.

Here are some pictures of our adventure in Gatlinburg to show you why I’m writing less and playing more.

 

Get Your Groove On-Motivation Comes from Within October 15, 2010

I’m an unpublished writer. There’s no pay, no glory other than the occasional contest final or win, and there’s no one beating down the door to read my novels (except for my critique partners). But I write. I get sit down in front of a computer screen and type away for hours with no end in sight. I write my stories, submit them to contests, query them to agents and editors, win or lose contests, get rejected. But I persist. I persist despite life happening all around me. I know other writers who persist as well despite the odds.

We are an exceptional breed.

Kelly Stone said that there are research studies performed on writers: we’re motivated high achievers according to the researchers. I say we’re delusional, masochistic, optimistic dreamers. And I believe we’re not the only subset of people, the ones who write and FINISH books, who persist despite the odds.

This blog isn’t just for writers. It is for anyone who wants to accomplish something and has to do so in a vacuum. Or a mini vacuum. You can be a student, an artist, a decorator, a mother (last of the unsung heroes in my opinion), a cancer patient fighting to live and go on–the list goes on.

What makes you move? What wakes you up in the morning and gets you to do what it is you have to do despite the odds?

I’d like to know. Meanwhile, I’d like to share what is working for me as a writer because I think it can apply to any profession, any pursuit of excellence, and any situation that requires focus and stamina.

Once a week, I plan to share how I motivate myself. Why? Because I grew up in a household where I wasn’t encouraged to succeed. If anything, I was encouraged to fail (but that’s a women’s fiction story that I really think would bore most readers–who hasn’t got some dysfunction in their lives, right?). But I managed to put myself through modeling school, get my GED/High school equivalency certificate, study for the SATs on my own and score over 1100 back in the day, go to college and graduate with a 4.0 and at the top of the Dean’s List.

No one did this for me. No one cheered for me. Years later a mom of a friend said to me, “You really did accomplish a lot and you should be very proud.” I appreciate her words so much because up until then I had really just had the attitude that the job had to be done so I did it.

Apparently I am an exception to the rule.

I want to make YOU an exception to the rule.

If you’re a writer, a painter, a mother, a student, a (fill in the blank), then it’s time to embrace your dream and go for it.

Here’s the first tip: make time to perform your duty/seek out your golden grail.

In other words, don’t just talk about doing this wonderful thing you are about to do. I can’t tell you how many people I have met who say to me they are also “going to write a book” when they learn I am an unpublished writer. I can’t tell you how many of them want me to write their love story of pain and loss and victory or just loss. But they’re just talking. They’re not doing.

You can’t do what you want to do if you are only talking about doing it.

You must sit down and do it.

How? You say you don’t have huge chunks of time to do this thing you want to do? I strike down this opposition. You have a half an hour? You have time.

You’d be amazed how much you can accomplish in just half an hour.

Try it. Schedule half an hour a day at least five days a week to perform your thing that you want to do. Or to prepare to do that thing that you want to do. Half an hour. That’s thirty minutes away from Facebook, surfing the Internet (which is how you found this blog), or emailing videos to friends.

You want to go to medical school but haven’t applied? Apply!! You want to paint a picture, but don’t know how? Call a craft store and find out if they have classes. You want to learn to cook like the amazing Julia Child? Take a class, buy the book, start cooking. You want to write (I know you are out there reading this), close down the web server and turn on your word processor. Don’t have a story? An idea? Start writing. You’d be amazed at how quickly the universe opens up for you and sends you a story.

There are no excuses allowed in my world. If I can write through a father-in-law dying of cancer, a husband having hip replacement surgery, health problems and more, then you can do what it is you have to do. When my husband had his hip replacement, I didn’t even force myself to write a half an hour. I told myself to write “every day.” Yes, there were days that I only wrote a sentence or a paragraph, but there were also days where I wrote pages and pages.

I wrote. I finished the book.

What do you want to do? Do you have half an hour to do it? Do you have more than half an hour? Go for it. What is the worst thing that can happen? You fail? You flop? Your writing never gets published? So what? At least you can say you gave it an effort. You’re success is truly in the effort given to the project. All the rest of it? The As, the certificates, the money, the fame (yeah, let’s dream about it), the careers–they’re byproducts of our efforts.

My daughter’s middle school principal told her eighth grade graduating class that their group was the first group he’d seen come through his doors in over seven years that had so much potential. They did. He wasn’t just saying these words year after year. All the teachers, the counselors and the parents knew this group was special. Something was in the water that year. This group was by far one of the most empathetic, giving and supportive wave of students they had walking through the doors. I have my theories about why. They were in the 2nd grade during 9/11 in the DC area. They were in the 3rd grade during the sniper attacks and had to rely on adults to protect them. They had no recess for 6 weeks, they had to practice shelter in place in case of biological warfare attacks. They had to trust their teachers and each other and other parents. They developed a level of empathy in young people I have yet to witness again.

They developed some strong empathy and bonds. And they are a unique group. I know I will many of them become stellar adults in this crazy world we live in today.

But here is what else this principal said. He said “potential without perseverence and persistence is pointless.” Now is the time when you must ask yourself what you are willing to do to get the job done. Develop your potential. Grow. Learn. Apply. Do. You cannot just be a lump of clay. You must become the vessel that hold the water that nourishes the thirsty.

Work for it. Develop your talents. Strive to win.