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Posts tagged with: writer’s health

Not A Blue Bird In Sight

A blank page sits in front of you. The sharpened point of your pencil taps against the lined paper, or that black cursor blinks at you, mocking your muse to write something readers will find entertaining. What you envision scrawled across that page and every page afterwards may be a full-length novel, a short story or just a blog post. But you’re frozen in time like a deer in the headlights of a semi-truck. Your heart pumps your blood through your veins so fast every nerve sizzles and every muscle twitches with anticipation of what will come to life in your mind and then make its way through your fingertips and on to the page.  And you know, as sure as you know the sun will set tonight that if an idea fails to spark you’ll just….

What? What will you do?

Hit your head harder against the wall?

Die?

Quit?

HA!

 

Writing is in your blood, so relax. We all have days, weeks, and sometimes even months that the page remains blank, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a seed of an idea growing inside of you.

In this age, where everyone wants more yesterday and authors are pressured to produce several books a year, stress has risen to new levels for authors and stress does what? Makes us focus on what is causing us the stress.  So, stop focusing on not having an idea and focus on your well-being. Study craft books, read, take a class, read, critique another writer’s pages, read, have a plotting party, enjoy life and people watch… You get the idea. Feed your muse. Once you’ve done that, the words will flow.

Remember, in life, it’s the journey that counts. Enjoy it!

What are some ways you’ve fed your muse?

 

 

 

An epic case drops from thin air and a ticking clock begins. Can U.S. Marshal Jolene Martinez stop the sinister creator before it’s too late and a death occurs?

A thrilling new standalone mystery from award -winning author Autumn Jordon with a totally shocking conclusion.

  LOVED BY DARKNESS RELEASES TOMORROW MAY 8TH!

PRE-ORDER TODAY!

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There Is No Use Denying Who You Are

This is a republished blog posted here on the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood as Closet Writers that was felt by many of our readers. I hope it will connect with a few more as we go into a new year.

Closet writers break my heart. Any reason a writer keeps their writing a secret is just wrong, unless the writing is extremely personal and not meant for other’s eyes. I was a closet writer.

There are many reasons why writers remain in the closet and the Rubies have had discussions concerning them. At some time or another, many of us have faced the road-blocks that kept us from being us.

Some writers think they haven’t read enough books to be considered a writing expert. In their minds, if people find out they write, they must’ve read every single book ever published. I’m here to tell you that I’ve never read Huck Finn, War and Peace, Fifty Shades Of Gray or a zillion other classic or best-selling books. Does that confession make me less of a writer? I think not.

Being shy, it can take years for some people to join a writer’s group. A long, long time ago, when the internet was young and a thing called dial-up was used to connect to it, writers actually went to public meetings to connect with those of like minds. Walking into a meeting can be daunting to a wall flower. I know because I’m an introvert. The internet and the ambiguity it provides, has made it easier for some writers to connect to others, but not all. They remain in the background, unsure of themselves. To them, I say, “it’s always the quiet ones who make the biggest impression when they’re ready.” Rest assured most writers are genuinely nice and more than willing to help other writers in any way they can. You only need to be serious about the craft to be considered a writer by them.

A closet writer might feel they don’t know enough about the craft and until they know all there is to know they remain in seclusion. I’m not sure if there is anyone out there who knows it all. Well, maybe King, Patterson or Nora. Only they can answer that question. The point being, the majority of writers will openly admit that they don’t know everything and that they learn something new all the time. Join the club that strives to be better at their craft.

My writing sucks. It very well could, but are you the best judge? You’ve read and studied and wrote and edited. Now it’s time to trust yourself and share your work. If a critique offers constructive advice, weigh it, and then accept it or not. In the end, it’s your story. There is no greater joy for a writer than when a reader enjoys your work. The only way to know that joy is to share your gift.

There are those who really, really want to be a writer but struggle to do the work required. Writing is hard work and takes a huge amount of time. Completing a work is possible a word at a time. Commit to the work, or perhaps another hobby would be better for you.

I’m fortunate. I’m a writer who has had the support of family and friends for many years, but that wasn’t always the case. I once was a closet writer. I was told that my dreams of becoming a published writer were stupid and thus I hid my passion. Now, when I read the notebooks I filled during that time, I cringe at the darkness that shadowed my life.

One day, I finally broke and said to myself, “This is my life and I don’t want to look back and wonder what if I’d taken one step. Would my dreams have come true?” That was a year of change for me on many levels. It was a hard trial but through it I learned I had the support of many family members. I read craft books. I joined a writer’s group. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I attended conferences and workshops.  I found more support through my writer friends. I met the man of my dreams and he became my biggest supporter. I will love him forever for letting me be me.

Life doesn’t give us do-overs, but it does give us second chances. Take the step toward being you.

 

Autumn Jordon is the award-winning author of Perfect and Perfect Hearts.  She enjoys writing  contemporary romance, romantic suspense and thrillers/mysteries.  Subscribe to her newsletter at www.autumnjordon.com and be entered into members only contests. perfect-box-basic-2

You’ve Got To Move It, Move It!

There is a new first-world disease spreading in the US and across the globe. I read about it in my local paper but it’s national news. It can cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity and lead to cancer. You csitting diseaseould have it right now and not even be aware the danger to which you are exposing yourself. It is known as the Sitting Disease.      

   “Even if people meet the current recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days each week, there may be significant adverse metabolic and health effects from prolonged sitting — the activity that dominates most people’s remaining ‘non-exercise’ waking hours.” Thomas Yates, MD

  

As writers and other desk job workers, we are susceptible. We are even applauded for keeping our butts in our chairs. Unfortunately as we do so, our butts will expand to fill the space it is occupying (yikes, don’t buy those saucer type chairs). In a world where our minds move more than our bodies, we are at risk for all the above health issues and more.assinchair

 But all is not lost. Check out this research study by Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division (one of the primary doctors assigned to keep the astronauts from deteriorating in space) and author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals.

“Dr. Vernikos’ research shows that simply standing up, about 35 times a day or so, will counteract the cardiovascular health risks associated with uninterrupted sitting. This is based on double-blind research where volunteers would spend four days in bed to induce detrimental changes. She then tested two groups to see which was more effective, walking or standing, and how long you would have to walk, or how many times you’d have to stand up to get better again. Her findings revealed that:

  • Standing up once every hour was more effective than walking on a treadmill for 15 minutes for cardiovascular and metabolic changes.
  • Sitting down and standing up repeatedly for 32 minutes does NOT have the same effect as standing up once, 32 times over the course of a day. To get the benefit, the stimulus must be spread throughout the day.”

Okay, so this means we need to stay active ALL DAY, not just for 30 minutes in the morning. Hey, I am so guilty of this. I walk/run my dog in the morning and then sit and type for five hours. So yes, I have Sitting Disease, but I’m going to do something about it!

Here are a few ideas to get more daily exercise in. Some of these ideas are for that cardiovascular and fitness push. Some are just ways to stay moving so we don’t deteriorate like the astronauts in space.

  1.  Track your steps. I bought a FitBit when an author at my publishing house started a FitBit club. There are about thirty of us who have a friendly competition going on in a group on the FitBit site. fitbit-flex-xl

FitBit (and there are similar devices out there) is a wrist band I wear all the time that counts my steps, tracks how fast and how far I move each day and even my sleep (times waking up or being restless in the night). It even ties into My Fitness Pal food tracking app. I love it, and seeing how I rank on the group step board has motivated me to take extra walks in the evening, something I had rarely done before.

  

2.Find an app that reminds you to stand up out of your chair every hour. Or set an alarm on your watch for every sixty minutes, then get up to walk around the office or if you’re at home, walk to get the mail. Those short spurts of movement help blood flow and energy levels. Even just standing up slowly or doing a squat at your desk every hour will work. Or you can do some yoga – LOL!

yoga on desk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Park far away. I used to hunt for the perfect up close parking spot. Now I park way back and give myself some extra quick steps to reach the store.

 

  1. Get a dog. This is a big commitment and obviously not for everyone. But there’s nothing quite like those intensely sweet puppy eyes staring at you that makes you walk even on rainy days.         dog with leash

 

  1. Couch to 5K. It’s an app for your phone that teaches you how to condition your body slowly to be able to run a 5K. Even if you’re not planning to run oneSATW (2) (although signing up for one is a great incentive), the app helps get your body into condition. If anyone is in the Raleigh NC area in September, I have a 5K for you that benefits ovarian cancer research, which is near and dear to my heart. E-mail me for info : ) or check out the web site. Heather@HeatherMcCollum.com. 2K Walk/5K Run Ovarian Cancer ResearchSATW (2)

 

  1. Drink water. Yeah, yeah, yeah – drink water, we’ve all heard it too. But water consumption boosts metabolism, makes you feel alert and ready to do something healthy. It will also make you get out of your seat more to use the bathroom and refill the quirky-cute water bottle you’re going to buy to motivate yourself.

 

  1. Set your workstation up over a treadmill. Yes, I’ve heard of authors doing this. Stephanie Bond said it worked wonderfully for her. As she walked she typed. Just like watching TV while you walk, you can lose yourself in your book and suddenly you’ve walked 5 miles. Now, I’m not sure if I’m coordinated enough to do this so I haven’t invested in the standing/walking work station, but if you think you are – hey give it a try. Disclaimer – please don’t sue me if you trip and take a face plant.treadmill desk

 

  1. Standing Meetings. Some may think this is a form of torture. Others find that this speeds up those meetings that can last too long to be productive. Standing denotes action and we all want a meeting to lead to action. Perhaps even encourage deep knee bends or leg lifts to help blood get moving to spur ideas. Make employees do one-armed push-ups for speaking negatively or slamming a co-worker (okay, HR will have a problem with that, but it’s fun to contemplate).

 

  1. Add more steps on purpose. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go to someone’s office to ask a question instead of sending an e-mail. Move the items you need throughout the day across your office so you have to stand to get something on a regular basis.

 

10.  Modify your chair. Sit on a large exercise ball which uses core muscles to keep you stable (again, only use if you have a decent sense of balance) and bouncing occasionally engages your leg and back muscles. Or use a wooden chair without arm rests. The less comfy chair will make you shift more in your seat and possibly stand up more.

 

So now that you’ve all spent ten minutes reading this and maybe the last hour also checking e-mail, stand up. Maybe go walk to freshen your beverage or get a glass of water. Maybe do a few squats or leg lifts and stretches. It doesn’t matter, just move it, move it : )desk stretch

 

I’d love to hear more ideas on ways we can work activity into our daily lives. What do you do to get moving?

 

For more information about Heather McCollum and her books, please visit her at www.HeatherMcCollum.com. She can also be found here:

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Kill Your Darlings…And Save Yourself

(*Warning: Author has the tendency to seek patterns in life and wax philosophical about them.*)  

What is an important part of a satisfying romance? Pacing.

What is a key ingredient in making a story suspenseful and thrilling? Pacing.

What can make or break an author? Pacing. And knowing one’s limits.

Years ago, one of the most valuable lessons I learned as a newbie romantic suspense writer was how to use pacing as an effective tool. I had to kill my darlings—to delete paragraphs, sometimes even pages, of backstory and description that bogged down the story. It wasn’t easy to cut these hard-won sentences. I liked them. I’d nurtured them. But I had to admit, leaving them in the dust increased the power of the story.

Sometimes we have to let go of things that seem important in order to be stronger.

But pacing is also a factor in an author’s career. The pressure to increase the quantity of books can be enormous. But it’s the quality of books that builds readership. How does one pace oneself to achieve maximum potential and still stay sane? That’s been a very real question for me this past year.

On the writers’ loops, blogs and conferences, there appears to be a constant hum of, “You must have a backlist and produce several books a year to keep your readership happy or your career will wither away.” Logically, I know not everyone is producing more than a book a year, or even one book a year. Likely, there are only a few writers who can keep that pace and still keep their lives together and their readers happy with good quality. Today, I’m releasing my fourth book in just under three years, and I still don’t feel like I’m doing enough. (And some days I don’t feel quite sane.) But I’m doing all I can. And I need to stop and recognize that before the joy is gone, or before I burn out.

So I’m killing my darlings and saving myself. What darlings? Those beliefs I harbor that could end up breaking me. It may be time for a new belief system—one that’s framed in a positive way.

  • I can write a book (or less) a year and still be a successful author. The important thing is that I’m living life, and writing when I can.
  • I am on my own path. That author, over there, is on her own path, and those journeys can look different.
  • I give myself permission to simply write new words or edit old ones today, without spending an hour keeping up my social media sites.
  • I can take tonight off to enjoy my family, rather than work.
  • I can be a productive person without being Superwoman.

If it comes down to saving myself (and my health) versus producing more books, I choose myself. I’d rather kill my darling misconceptions than lose myself in the process. Sometimes we have to let go of things that seem important in order to be stronger.

What beliefs (or darlings) do you need to kill off to pace yourself better and stay healthy and sane? Extra points for re-phrasing that belief in a positive way. 

And…to celebrate my release day, I’ll be giving away a digital copy of DARK DEEDS to one non-Ruby commenter, so please share your advice and/or experience below.

Dark Deeds (Mindhunters, Bk 4)

Dark Deeds (Mindhunters, Bk 4)

Dark Deeds Blurb:

Walking away from sexy Detective Diego Sandoval was one of the toughest things security specialist Becca Haney ever had to do. But her past is a direct threat to his future, to the career he’s working so hard to rebuild. Now, with a witness from a horrific case implicating Diego, Becca must decide whether to listen to her head or her heart.

Diego is a big-city lawman used to cracking the hardest cases, but he’ll never understand why Becca ended their passionate affair. When he’s assigned to help keep her safe from a human trafficking ring, he’s determined to stay by her side and learn about the woman behind the passion—scars and all.  

But Becca has another admirer. Known only as “the Fan,” he believes he’s the perfect partner for her—and he’ll kill to prove it. When the stakes are raised in the killer’s deadly game, Diego will be called upon to save lives—including Becca’s.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Carina Press

AnneMarieBecker-300 Anne Marie has always been fascinated by people—inside and out—which led to degrees in Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Counseling.  Her passion for understanding the human race is now satisfied by her roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, and award-winning author of romantic suspense.  

She writes to reclaim her sanity.

Find ways to connect with Anne Marie at www.AnneMarieBecker.com. Sign up for her newsletter for the latest about her books, special sneak peeks, and giveaways.

Let’s Get Physical!

It’s the dead of winter in the northern hemisphere, the armpit of summer in the southern, perfect for being indoors working on our manuscripts.  The coffee or tea is ready, hot or iced, and no major holidays loom to distract us.

It’s what my sweetheart and his college buddies called, “The Dark Ages.”

The Latest Comments

  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Ooh! I hope you write some of the them, Autumn. I love a snowy meet cute. 🙂
  • Autumn Jordon: Our first snow left me stuck at work and not able to make it home. Boy did I think of a number of...
  • Autumn Jordon: Love this, D! I really don’t think there could ever be enough romantic comedies. That’s...
  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: I love the first snow of the year. It always feels so magical. Happy holidays, Bev!
  • Vivi Andrews/Lizzie Shane: Yes! I love just falling into the season headfirst. 🙂

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