Listening. Something we do, or at least think we do, everyday in order to move about our lives. But what does it really mean to listen? Our world is full of distractions. Many of them are small enough to hold in the palm of our hands. How do we maintain a good listening protocol?
I recently had the opportunity to attend a university book club discussion. The discussion was based around the reader’s assessment of Becoming Mrs. Smith, my recent historical fiction title. I understood that book club members would be interested in hearing from me about how the book came to be. They also sought out insight into characters, settings, and such. Open to answering their questions as best as I could, the hours went by quickly. The most interesting thing I took away from the meeting though, was a further understanding of my own listening skills.
I have always been an active listener. My head nods up and down when I am engaged in deep conversation. Even at a workshop, if a speaker is particularly insightful, my heads bobs along. The awareness of my head movement exists simply because it often draws the attention of the speaker at the front of a room. I am not certain if my active listening is helpful to the speaker or not. I do know that it is a cue to myself to be aware of what is being presented. On some level, my heart and mind are interested.
I listened as the book club members provided me with deep insight into what I was doing right and where I could improve when it came to crafting a story. I was delighted as they quoted back to me my own words. In that moment, I knew that my story had struck a chord. It had resonated with them so deeply that my words had become their own. It was quite literally a highlight for me as an author.
NetGalley? Do you know what it is? I certainly didn’t until I immersed myself into the world of fiction writing. Oh my! My head spins when I think about all the books I missed reading, simply because I did not know about this bookish website. So I am here to let you in on the not so little secret about the magic of NetGalley. Did you know that NetGalley is a free service for readers and reviewers looking to get their hands on digital copies of a multitude of books?
We are talking, advanced reader copies from well loved authors that haven’t even seen the fluorescent beams of a well lit book store yet. The NetGalley bookshelves brim with new talent, just emerging into the literary world, as well as many favored authors whose latest titles we eagerly await. In fact, many of the big publishers and authors use the platform to showcase, test, and determine the temperature of their recent literary work from the pool of NetGalley’s avid readers.
This month, Becoming Mrs. Smith is available for download from NetGalley and I couldn’t be more pleased. Not only do readers/reviewers get to vote on book covers (I love that part!). But they are also invited to request, read, and review as many titles as time allows. Some titles linger for awhile. Others make only a brief appearance. So checking back frequently is the key to getting the most of this wonderful reading experience. Continue reading
New Year’s Eve has come and gone. I hope you celebrated well and arrived home safe and sound. 2018 has so much promise, I am bursting with excitement! A New Year is like supercharging your reset button. If you’re a golfer, it’s a mulligan on steroids.
Not that you want to do everything over again. I am sure there are many aspects of your life that you are absolutely loving. But I bet there are a few things that have been nagging at you these past couple of months. You know the ones. The ideas that won’t let you be. The projects you keep putting aside for when you have a little more time.
Carpe Diem folks! Today is the day. Make it happen for yourself in 2018. Dream big. Aim high. Don’t limit yourself by the hows and whys. Reach for those stars and let your heart show you the way.
New years are meant to make us think. Celebrate the old, appreciate its gifts. Be gracious and kind for all that you have learned. Then spend a few days sorting through the list of things you want to tackle this year. The key is to dream bigger than your current self perceived limitations. Don’t put yourself in a box before you’ve even attempted something new. How do you know you can’t climb Kilimanjaro if you’ve never taken the goal seriously?
Trust your instincts. They’ve been with you since day one, perhaps now is a good time to start listening to them. The biggest reason for failure of reaching a goal is negative self belief. That comes primarily in the form of negative self talk. Dis-empowering self behaviors and lack of positive affirmations make any goal a much more challenging path than anything needs to be. Believe in yourself and your abilities first and then create a basic plan of how to get there.
Write it down! I repeat. Write it down! The fastest way to lose track of a goal is not remind yourself that you had a goal in the first place. If you want to write a book, then figure out your end goal. When do you want to have your book published? If you want to publish your book before the end of 2018, then get out your calendar and commit to a finish date.
Work backwards from that date to determine your monthly then weekly smaller goals in order to reach the big one. Next, break it down one more time into a daily schedule. What does writing and publishing a book in 2018 look like in your daily calendar? Do you have to write 200 words a day? 500? Or do you need to take your book idea and find a ghost writer?
As you can see, there is always more than one way to get somewhere. It is entirely up to you to decide the path. Keep in mind that goals worth achieving seldom materialize without some effort and sacrifice on your part. Decide your goals while keeping in mind what you are willing and able to put in and give up in order to meet those goals.
Get excited about 2018! It is your New Year. Celebrate it in style, doing what your passionate about.
Happy 2018 to each and every one of you!
Christmas on a Monday! How grateful am I? A Monday morning Christmas means an extra long weekend for my family. It means a balance of time at home and time visiting others. It also means, Christmas falls on a Mindful Monday, which makes me super happy to reach out to each of you and wish you a very Merry Christmas.
The holiday season for me is filled with laughter and joy, lights, delicious scents, and good old fashioned fun. It is a week of family games and favorite movies. The days are shorter and darker, lending themselves to the magic of a Christmas tree lit up in all its glory Continue reading
Yesterday morning, I set out to make my family a holiday cup of cheer in the form of mulled apple cider. This recent addition to our holiday tradition, brings us together while we sip, savor, and enjoy the taste of the holiday season. It was the aroma though that triggered a memory from my childhood.
The cinnamon and cloves were warming and delightful. But, it was the scent of the orange skin as it was grated into the pot, that filled my mind with images of Christmases past. I find that an aroma, whether pleasant or otherwise, is often times, a direct route to a memory. And so it is with oranges, Christmas, and me.
This aroma memory got me wondering about why the connection is so vivid. I fondly remember the family tradition of a Christmas orange in the toe of my stocking. A tradition that continues today with my family. The smell of a sweet and juicy orange still lingers around the tree each Christmas morning. Continue reading
Christmas is only two weeks away! I say this, not to add panic to your day, but to set the mood for a little Christmas story. As a historical fiction writer, I am drawn to the classics. Every year I watch Miracle on 34th Street and It’s a wonderful life. I usually watch by myself, tucked under a handmade quilt (thanks Mom!), cozy by the fire.
My favorite classic though, is A Christmas Carol. Dickens really did know how to take a darkened, dirty city and turn it into a magical piece of holiday tradition. I am most certainly no Charles Dickens, but here is my Christmas story for you this holiday season.
As humans, we are innately driven to seek out acceptance and understanding from one another. Our voices grow louder, not always because our words must be heard, but because our hearts must be. We are fortunate when we encounter a situation where another person recognizes our heart’s intent. The success of reaching our goals is one thing, the recognition of the moments that mattered along the way from another person has the potential to make our heart soar.
A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting down with the local arts and entertainment reporter for the Peace Arch News, Alex Browne. It was a delightful hour spent discussing history, historical fiction, and Becoming Mrs. Smith, my debut historical fiction title that was released in October 2017. Our mutual appreciation for history and how it relates to the human condition was at the crux of our conversation.
The interview could have easily been two colleagues meeting over tea as historical data of the past threaded through our conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent during the interview. It is however, in reading Alex’s words that my heart feels as if it has been heard. You can read the full article here at the paper’s online affiliate The Surrey Now.
Human connections can be as simple as a smile shared between two people or as complex as a lifesaving action. The vastness with which humans connect is limitless, yet the simplicity of a connection ripples through our lives adding value, joy, and hope. This holiday season, I encourage you to seek out and connect with others. Hint, hint… random acts of kindness are a super, quick and easy way to make those connections meaningful Continue reading