Get Out, Do More

Standard

One of my goals this year is to get out and interact with people more often. Its actually a two-fold goal when I factor in a more active spiritual path.

Just before Mom passed last year I finally joined a local group – Acadiana Spiritual Association, or ASA for short – to expand my circle. (No pun intended.) I’d been a solitary for years, and decided it was then or never. 

In August I went to General Assembly as just an ordinary member. Two of the Council members were stepping down and I was asked to step up. So, I did. Fast forward to 1/18…I was confirmed for the Council and declared Secretary. Apparently I said I like to organize stuff and that was that. 

Being part of ASA and on the Council will give me the social interaction I need as well as set me firmly back on my spiritual path. I’ll be around people with similar interests, and have a voice in what activities are planned. There are many people out there in the same boat and those are the ones I want to help through this role. 

In August there was discussion about providing information to those who are curious about non-mainstream religions or just starting their paths. The last is something I can relate to more recently than the other Council members, and outreach is something I’m good at. 

2017 is certainly shaping up to be an interesting year.

How We Learn to Write 

Standard

In the however many years I’ve been writing, there are only a few resources which have really helped me. Here are 2 of them.

Gabriela Pereira’s DYI MFA and Judy Reeves’s A Writer’s Book of Days. I’ve been working with both for about 3 months and, truthfully, I’d recommend them to writers at any level. Well, except maybe those who sell more books than the GNP of a small European country. And even then, if a prolific writer’s content has gone stale, it could be of major use.

Pereira’s book, while fast paced, is basically a MFA is short form. She breaks it all down for us and provides fantastic acronyms for certain processes. There’s even a website for readers to get some freebie info. See the brass fasteners at the pile’s bottom? That’s the biggest freebie of all. Once you buy the book – and it is totally worth it – sign-up for her newsletter and get that workbook. You won’t regret it.

Reeves’s book is organized by month, and has daily mini-prompts tucked in between anecdotes and helpful guidance. I actually started this Sept 1, but with the way my day job interfered, I decided to start fresh Jan 1 and do the whole book through til New Year’s. I’m keeping the daily prompts on my Kindle and doing them in the morning over coffee before work. As a bonus, I’m using the prompts to beef up scenarios for one of my WIPs and it’s working like a charm. At the end of the month, I’ll email them to myself and save in a master doc.

Each book is unique and each reader will take something away different than someone else. I’ve combined them to create a highly-personalized curriculum to coincide with my days off to get the most benefit from the “course” I created. It’s already making a difference in my writing. Like I said in my last post, writing will be a priority in 2017 regardless of what’s going on in my life. In a way, I’m “hacking” my writing process.

A Year Can Bring So Much

Standard

Like most people, I’m thrilled 2016 is over.

Here’s a chronological breakdown of my year…

My daughter turned 18 at the end of March so I whirlwind-tripped to celebrate with her and my son. We ate out every day, went shopping and hit the movies. Basically the kids skipped school so we could hang out and spend time together. It was a great trip.

Two weeks after getting back we moved into a three-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse. The kitchen is adorable and we’ve turned this place into a real home. It’s a great place with room to move around. Small, quiet neighborhood and closer to our jobs. Our landlord is nice and our neighbor shares food he makes. It’s a win-win.

On May 15th my mom passed away. I went back up and took care of all her affairs, cleaned out her apartment and handled it very business-like. It’s finally hitting me, eight months later, I mean really hitting me, that she’s gone. I went through all the stages one goes though and have apparently saved the actual sad part of grief for now. We all process loss differently.

My boyfriend’s mom and sister came down and spent a few days with us in early June. He entertained them while I worked and we all took a day trip to New Orleans (a bittersweet experience). It was wonderful having them here, getting to know them. I hope they make the trip, again.

Somehow we both managed to get the week of Thanksgiving off so we drove up to St Louis to see his mom and sister. It was awesome – in the truest sense of the word. We visited the Arch and rode it to the top, hit the zoo and accidently attended Mass at the St Louis Cathedral Basilica (the Cardinal was in town!). Words cannot express the beauty in that church. The whole trip was great and I can’t wait for the next time.

I have thanked my man more than once for sharing his mom amd sister with me.

Work has kept me on my toes. We “lost” a store manager and 3 associates in a six-week period. Then another manager was in a major car accident and out for 11 days. Needless to say I’ve been busy at work. Last month I had 6 days off – 1 of them was Christmas (whole company was closed). Things will be changing on this front this year. Probably going full time, supposedly getting a cost-of-living raise, and potentially spending 1 day a week visiting stores in my area as an unofficial in-house auditor.

Writing was quite non-existent. I wrote very little; just didn’t have it in me. I’m a supporter of writing to facilitate healing, and I totally need to take my own advice, but I don’t know where to start.

Which brings me to goals for 2017…

  • Write more.
    • Actually finish one of my WIPs and prep it for publishing at the end of the year.
  • Get healthy and hopefully lose some weight.
    • Make better food choices – first up: no chips! 
    • Get back into yoga and meditation.
  • Be out in the world more (ASA membership and council participation will help satisfy that part).
  • Develop my spiritual path more deeply (ASA, again).
  • Read more.
    • Fiction, nonfiction, whatever. I just need to read.
  • If it doesn’t make me happy, it goes away. Life is too damn short to fill my life with bullshit. Basically, I’m going to drink my own kool-aid.

Oh, and I turned 40 last month!

    Let 2017 be amazing!

    A Mini Writing Retreat for One, Please

    Standard

    We’ve all heard about writing retreats. They’re usually hosted on a sprawling ranch or at some seaside resort,  and attended by large group of people.

    Not your scene? Yeah, mine, either.

    Enter the Solo Writing Retreat.

    For me, joining – and staying with – a writing group is a bit daunting. I want to do it, but at the same time I don’t dare to really let myself fully participate. Basically, how I feel about joining the local Pagan group applies, here, too. Funny enough, I got the idea for the solo writing retreat from a book called The Magickal Retreat, the author whom I forget and am currently too lazy to look up.

    I adapted a shorter format, roughly 4h, from the book to work for my writing. And you know what?

    It friggin’ worked. Really well.

    I grabbed the first draft and all notes – including brainstorming – of “Rising” and sat down for nearly 4h. Accompanying me was the entire office supply aisle from Wal-Mart. And the cat. She thought she was helping.

    So today I did what I should have right along: made progress on the project. Of course, I discovered it needs almost a total gut job. Or at least a damn thorough remodeling.

    Note to self: Take photos next time.

    Because there will be a next time. Today felt good.

    I behaved like an actual writer.

    New Year, New Me Bullshit

    Standard

    Yup, even I’m not immune.

    In addition to my personal writing goals, I’ve been given the opp to basically run the WriYe Tumblr page. Thank you; hold your applause… Twitter and Facebook, too.

    Santa brought me a FitBit Charg HR for Christmas. A purple one; Santa knows I love purple. One of my New Year/New Me goals was to start “getting healthy” like a billion other people. There just happens to be a resident-only fitness center a short walk from our door. Guess who hit it 2 days in a row…

    Yesterday I logged 2.5 mi between the treadmill and elliptical. Today I said “fuck you evil elliptical” and logged another 2.5 on the t’mill. In fact, I made all my goals: steps,  activity duration, distance, sleep and water intake. My FitBit is friggin awesome.

    The “unfortunate thing” about it is I’m limited in terms of workout clothes. Any of my fellow bloggers are more than welcome to share good places for inexpensive threads.

    Back to writing updates…

    I’ve chosen the 4 projects to focus on: Rising, Keeper of the Bayou, Viktic Crossing aaaaaand EQ. The plan is to have all 4 knocked out by end of the year and stagger published in 2017. Key word being “plan”. One project each quarter, with a different task for each month.

    This quarter is all about Rising and January is thorough editing. February is new content and March is final edits and cover. I’ve got zero ideas about the cover, though. I don’t want stock photos; I want original artwork even if its me taking a photo and pasting words on it.

    Now I’m mumbling. Queue bedtime.

    Night guys and gals 🙂

    December, You Sneaky Bastard

    Standard

    I’ve got some interesting news to share, today. Other than it being December, of course. Grab a cup of something warm and settle in. This is kind of a long post.

    I’m coming off a 10-day vacation (yay) and go back to work tomorrow (boo). It was a really good vacation, too. We didn’t go anywhere, but we did spend a lot of time together just chillin’ out. I made a big Thanksgiving spread (which we’re still eating), watched Jessica Jones on Netflix, got some Redbox movies and took a lot of naps. By the way…Detroit Lions whooped Philadelphia Eagles ass on Thanksgiving.

    I’m sad to see the vacation end, but you know how it is. Back to the grind and onto the interesting news.

    This year I co-hosted the WriYe Tumblr blog, something most of you were aware. Back in September or October, one of the mods approached me to help out on the actual site for 2016. Like, the official WriYe forum site. I hemmed and hawed and finally submitted the “application” that the team was requesting from interested people.

    Imagine my surprise after not hearing anything for awhile, I get a notification that I’ve been added as a Global Moderator! Next thing I know, I’m signing up to handle 2 forums and adding the Twitter and Facebook accounts to my list. A fair amount of time each week will be dedicated solely to WriYe, on top of the Tumblr, which I agreed to oversee for 2016.

    Just like when I do Tumblr, my activity and participation will be done on days off from work. Most of it can actually be done on my phone while at work (during down time, of course) if it doesn’t require a cut/copy/paste situation.

    Which leads me to my plans for December…

    • 12 Days of Consistency Challenge (write a certain minimum word count each day for 12 consecutive days) – I chose 320.
    • New Moon Challenge 12/11
    • WriDay 12/15
    • Full Moon Madness 12/25 (I already have an idea for this one.)

    These are all challenges hosted by WriYe, and they really do get a chunk of that word count goal eaten. Well, they would if I participate(d). I’m also going to…

    • Go through the 2016 Writer’s Market and look for contests and publishing opportunities
    • Make a list of WIPs and decide which projects to focus on next year.
    • Make a list of WIMs (works in mind) and choose a couple worth exploring.
    • Update all my social media places
    • Write as much as I can.

    I’m not going to make any hard deadlines, yet, since each month’s writing plans will have to work around my day job and the schedules don’t come out until after the 17th. Even then it could change, so yeah. Soft deadlines, it is.

    Which leads me to my New Year’s Resolutions. Yeah, I’m making them early. This way I can ease into them, instead of going cold turkey balls out on the 1st…

    • Eat better and move more
    • Sleep better/more
    • WRITE MORE
    • Be more aware of my body’s signals and slow down when it tells me to
    • Get back on my spiritual path
    • Go outside more for fun (helps satisfy pretty much all of the above)
    • Get more organized
    • Donate unused clothes to charity.

    I should be able to keep at least 1 of those, right?

    What are your writing plans for December?

     

    So…Writing.

    Standard

    A NaNoWriMo’s Brain

    As you can see I’m a smidge behind. Almost 12k behind. There is a bright spot, though. At least, I think there is…

    I have the next 3 days off. 3 whole days.

    Right now I’m sitting at the dining table, trying to thwart Kallie’s plans of using her tree house as a jump point to canoodle (which is a real word!) with the tv. She has no idea what’s happening; I sympathize with her.

    There are 3 hours left in today and, with 10 hours of sleep in me last night and a short shift at work, I could easily spend tonight writing. And the wee hours of tomorrow. Honestly, I just want to watch tv and eat junk food. But, I won’t. I’ll write and eat junk food 🙂 Sour cream & onion chips or M&Ms, that’s the question.

    avengers

    Oh, and I figured something out with the story I’m NaNo’ing. It will fit nicely in the “Viktic Crossing” story collection I’ve been writing (off and on) for 2 years. All I need to do is change the names and I’m golden. Then, I need to go back and rework the generation or 2 before it. Shit, I don’t know. Soon I’ll start questioning the whole project. Again.

    I decided on the chips.

    So, yeah. I’m thinking, because “VC” is a collection, I’m going to finish at least a couple of the stories in it for NaNo. They count… I’ve figured out that I lose steam on a story about 10k words into it. If I really sit down and hammer out some content on at least 2 stories over the next 3 days I should be close to, if not on, target and caught up. Feast or famine, baby.

    Sadly, I have to move to the couch.

    Oh, and Tuesday 11/17 (according to the WriYe calendar) is WriDay. It’s a long-distance sprint, if you will. You choose from 5k, 10k, 25k, or even 50k (it can be done) word clusters and just bang that shit out. Tip: If your goal is 1,667 NaNo words/day and are behind 3 days, go with 5k. you’ll make up 3 whole days of writing! Genius, I tell you.

    I want another soda. Like, really want. And there are less than 3 hours til Midnight, now. Do I really need the soda? Pfft, no, of course not. But I want it, and technically it is my Friday. I limit myself to 1 soda per day, most days. Well, I try to, anyway. Opps, need to take my meds…And fix the coffee pot for tomorrow.

    Oh, look. Angels & Ornaments is on Hallmark Movie Channel. I have a serious case of the Christmas Spirit this year. It’s pretty amazing. For the last several years, I had little or none. This year, though. Tons. I’m already listening to holiday music and buying holiday-themed things (mini-stockings and hand towels). Started shopping for gifts. We’re not doing an actual tree – the aforementioned acrocat – but will string garland on the curtain rod and around the dining room light. And window clingies. I love window clingies.

    Down to barely 2.5 hours…I should write.

    Ok, I’m gonna write.

    Dear Writer

    Standard

    I know youre struggling to make this writing thing happen. Its okay.

    We’re going through it, too.

    Writing isn’t a race to the finish line. It isn’t about who gets there first. Its about doing what you can, when you can. Its about getting those thoughts on paper.

    Period.

    Whether you use a computer, pen and paper, voice recorder or sticky notes, know you can do this. It isn’t always easy or fun. Sometimes its downright painful. The point is you’re doing it, this thing called writing.

    We are on your side, cheering you on and shouting your name.

    You are a writer, and you can write.

    It Begins…

    Standard

    That’s right. It’s November. And you know what that means.

    NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-Square

    I threw my writer’s cap in the ring late last night after about a month of careful thought.

    This year is different. This year, I have a job. One that tends to wipe me out most days and leave little room for much else. Plus, I’m still co-mod’ing the WriYe Tumblr blog. Part of me was like, “Oh, it’s only 1,667 words per day.” Another part was “But it’s 1,667 words a day. Don’t we want sleep this month?” Clearly, I’m doing NaNo. Over there —> you’ll see my handy word count ticker thingy.

    Day 1: 2,064/1,667

    Translation? I win Day 1.

    Now, granted, not all 2k words are part of the same story. But I wrote, which is basically the entire purpose of NaNo. I spent 200 words chronicling Mike’s ESO game play. Another 250 on something that could potentially be a short story…maybe. The rest could become a side line in a current project. And, sadly, that project was been sitting there whimpering like a kicked puppy. So, attention inadvertently paid.

    What are potential obstacles to making NaNo my bitch this year?

    Work, illness, TV (especially if there’s a Vikings or Good Witch marathon), The Cat, lack of coffee, naps. You get the idea.

    What about all of you? How’s your NaNo so far? Pantsing or planning? Hopped up on caffeine or sticking to water? What do you put in your NaNoWriMo survival kit? I’ll post a pic of mine in the next week.

    Fully-Eclipsed Blood Moon and Tarot Tales

    Standard

    Sept FM1 Sept FM2

    I tried to capture the eclipse in all its glory, but it just wasn’t in the cards. Instead I was restricted to a cloudy “regular” Full Moon. It’s cool, though. The clouds parted long enough for me to see the Blood Moon. Waiting and watching allowed me the rare opportunity to talk with my neighbor – a super-nice lady – and her son.

    After that I decided to pull out the tarot cards and do spread. Sadly I can’t remember what it’s called (other than Full Moon Spread) or where I found it. Either way, none of what I saw really surprised me all that much. Also, I had divine feline assistance.

    Sept FM Tarot

    The Gist: If I don’t change the way I’m running myself, I’m going to end up very sick. I’m not in balance, obviously. My mind & body are in go-mode way more than not-go-mode. IE – work, non-work cleaning and tidying, learning. I don’t just sit and enjoy myself like I should when I’m home alone. My elements aren’t in sync, either. And, Saturn was the more prominent planet in the spread (4/7 cards). The cards were saying, “Lady, you need to chill for a bit and re-prioritize. Your relationship is good, thriving even, but the rest is…meh. Work on that other stuff.”

    So, my plan starting now, is to do more of what I enjoy: finding peace in nature, a hot bath and cup of jasmine tea in the evening, listening to soothing music, cooking, writing and reading fiction. High on the list is reconnecting with my Pagan pursuits. I’ve been remiss and neglected that part of me.

    On a side note, the beautiful Full Moon has totally screwed with my entire system – not sleeping right/good/much, appetite way off, inability to really focus. And the cat…sigh…she’s had nothing but attitude since Thursday. Naturally, it’s worse in the evenings. As much as I adore the Moon and all Her abilities, I’m looking forward to the New Moon in a couple weeks. She lets me sleep and isn’t as…persistent.

    Feel free to share your Full Moon tales (and links to moon pics) in the comments. I’d love to hear about how you enjoyed the cosmic event 🙂