Adventures & Journeys

Update

Progress Update

As I like to do every quarter, I like to tell you how I’ve been progressing with each of the things I had planned to get done this year. It keeps me focused and provide me with accountability when I’ve got others who are seeing what I’m doing and how I’m progressing through each item. How are you doing so far this year? I’d love to hear how you’re progressing on your goals.

Let’s get to it…

Books

Series

I’ve had betas go through my first story and let me tell you, I was not expecting the responses that I got. It’s hard to see, but a necessary evil. I can tell you I felt so deflated by what I saw that I haven’t written a word since. I made it though a few chapters, but knowing that my story had so much that needed fixing created this deep whole in me that I decided to take a break from editing to clear my head. Yes, it’s part of the process and yes, I realize that they are going to see things that, no matter how many times I read through the thing, I will keep skipping over because I know my story. There have actually been a few who stopped reading it because of how much work it needed.

I’ve run it through an editing software and re-read it several times. I feel like there was some sort of mistake and they received an earlier copy of my manuscript, but I can’t seem to find my most recent one. As I read through, I know I changed a few things that are still in the copy I’ve sent out. I know now that this is going to take me longer than I intended since I now have to go though my manuscript once again, but I will not give up. I’m too invested in these characters to see them set aside. You have know idea what they’ve put me through! It may take me longer, and I may be taking a break, but I will get back into it and they will be re-launched.

Books

Stand Alone/Possible Series

With my stand alone and next possible series, you’ve probably guessed they are put on hold until I can get my head on straight and get through the edits for Raylynn’s story. I’ve completed both the stand alone and the possible book 1 of another series, but have put them aside for now to focus on getting my head through edits for my conquer series. Those of you who can write and produce these things within a few months, I commend you! How you do it, I have no idea, but I hope to get my series back up and out relatively soon after coming back into editing.

To Be Read

I guess my down time had caused me to not read either. I’ve recently gotten back into my reading list and I feel good about that. Besides, how are you going to find inspiration without reading and learning from those before you? Right?

Short Stories

As with everything else, this came to a screeching halt as well. Though I have plenty of material in mind to use for this. I just couldn’t get into writing these past few weeks in order to get anything remotely close to a story down. It’s still there, still in the plans and I hope to get back on track as the warmer weather revives my frozen limbs. Yes, I hate the cold and are more productive when the sun is shining and the weather is warm.

Beta Readers/Arc readers

You have no idea how grateful I am for those of the readers that made it all the way or even part of the way through my story. I realize now just how hard it was to get through and I also understand why those of you who didn’t finish. I will be doing some major work on this series and hope I’ll be able to get a few others to read through it once I’ve fixed all the mistakes I’ve made.

Reading

Editor

You guessed it. I haven’t even looked for an editor since receiving my manuscript back from betas. It’s not even remotely close to being ready for an editor to look at. Until it’s ready, I’ll be putting this on hold as well. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and re-evaluate things to be sure you’re producing a valuable product for your readers.

Edit

Communication

Blog

Here is one area I’ve kept up with and I’m moving forward on. Every week I’ve produced a post for your reading pleasure on inspiration and writing. I’ll continue to do so as the weeks go by.

Have a word or writing topic you would like me to write about? Go ahead and leave me a comment and I’ll add it to my list! Tell me what you would like to see here!

Communication

Connections

I am still posting daily to my social media and I’ve gained some momentum here. I still have plans to provide more so if you have any questions, things you’d like to see, or whatever else comes to mind, let me know and maybe I’ll post something. If you would like to see what I’m up to, go ahead and visit my sites! Facebook Twitter Instagram Patreon

I love connecting with others so let me know what you’d like to see and I’ll do what I can get you a peak into my life as a writer!

Business

New Products

As I mentioned in my plans, I’ve been thinking of expanding my business to more than just novels. I would like to provide items that would be fun and helpful for writers and readers alike.

I have some digital products in mind as well as physical products. I’ve got some in mind and a few that are in the works. I’ll be doing an extra blog post on those as they become available. If you want to be notified when all that is happening, you can sign up for my newsletter HERE!

Business Products

Video

Unfortunately, this is still in the works and I’m hoping to get it up and running with regular videos as soon as possible. I plan to have it going by the end of March.

I know some like video better than reading a blog, so I would like to provide more ways to connect with you as readers than just written words. Again, I’ll let you know when that becomes available!

Other Items

Educational

Every year I try to complete a few education classes, courses, books that will help me to improve my writing and skills. I’ve been reading and researching to no end. My ‘Must Reads’ board on Pinterest if full of things to look at.

Guitar

Art/Music

Now that I’ve taken some time to myself my goal is to draw and play my guitars more. I may not be doing these things as much as I wanted, but I’m making some time and that’s progress in itself.

Final Thoughts

Now, I know this post is not very upbeat, but there are always going to be some down points and this is one of those for me. I’ll get back up and flowing, don’t worry. How are you doing with your goals this year? Let me know in the comments. Are you struggling with something as I am or are you plowing along, full steam ahead?

Harmony

Harmony

Harmony, the thing we strive for, but rarely achieve. We may get glimpses of it, but then it slips through our grasp as everything falls apart around us. Of course, we won’t always have harmony in all things, but there may be some things we can do to create a closer relationship to harmony. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at what harmony is…

Dictionary

1. agreement; accord; harmonious relations.
2. a consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts; congruity.
3. Music .
  1. any simultaneous combination of tones.
  2. the simultaneous combination of tones, especially when blended into chords pleasing to the ear; chordal structure, as distinguished from melody and rhythm.
  3. the science of the structure, relations, and practical combination of chords.
4. an arrangement of the contents of the Gospels, either of all four or of the first three, designed to show their parallelism,mutual relations, and differences.

WIKI

    1. Agreement or accord. quotations 
    2. A pleasing combination of elements, or arrangement of sounds.
    3. (music) The academic study of chords.
    4. (music) Two or more notes played simultaneously to produce a chord.
    5. (music) The relationship between two distinct musical pitches (musical pitches being frequencies of vibration which produce audible sound) played simultaneously.
    6. A literary work which brings together or arranges systematically parallel passages of historians respecting the same events, and shows their agreement or consistency.
 

Finding Harmony

Some think you will never have harmony between things like life and work, but since your life is part of your work, I believe you can find harmony within each area of your life.

Spirit

Heart
  Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay
You, as a person, are in search of harmony in every aspect of your life, but have you really thought about what’s going on inside? Have you stop to think about the harmony you have within you and what you could do to keep your thoughts and feelings in sync along with everything else? What can you do to balance those thoughts and feeling within you that are now out of wack? Well, I’ll give you some suggestions.

Take a Break

When you feel overwhelmed, tired, and have not motivation to continue. It’s time to think about taking a break to calm and rejuvenate your mind and body. There is nothing more important than what you do for yourself to stay energized and healthy. Sometimes taking a break, whether short or long, can help put your mind back in the right direction. Deciding to take a break can be difficult and I encourage you to do so when needed. You may feel like work and life will just pile up while you’re gone, but if you put things in place before you go to keep things running, and know that some of those things you’ll still have to deal with when you return; you’ll find it’s not as bad as you think. You would have gotten that much needed R&R you needed and you’ll find that work/life did not crumble without you.

Listen to Your Heart

You have always had that passion for that one thing, right? Every time you have a minute to think, your mind goes back to it. You sit and wonder why you never pursued it, picked it up more, or listened when your heart begged you to move toward it. No matter what that thing is, your heart is crying out for you to listen to it! Take some time to really listen and then go after what your heart is passionate about, even if it’s for small amounts of time. Schedule it in so that your heart is as happy as you are. You’ll be thankful you did. Your heart is a powerful organ, it’s where your center is. Where everything you love is placed. Not physically, of course, but you understand what I mean. Don’t forget to listen to your heart, it’s what’s keeping you on track.

Know Your Purpose

You only have one life and you don’t want to spend it constantly worrying about what people say, how others are going to react, or if you’re doing the right thing at every turn. It’s going to cause you to lose your mind if you’re always worrying about the little things. When you know your purpose, you know what you’re doing is right and you don’t care one wit what others say or how they react. You are doing what you are meant to, you’re following your heart and showing the world that your passion is worth fighting for. There is nothing more satisfying than completing something you’ve worked so hard to achieve, especially if that something is what your heart has been pulling at you to follow. Go after it!

Health

Health
Image by silviarita from Pixabay
Like most, if not all things in your life, your health is important. Really, it is! You may not want to think about it, but if you’re not healthy, you won’t be able to stay in the harmony you’ve created. So, let’s talk about it quick.

Exercise

Yeah, no one likes to hear that they have to exercise, (trust me, I’m one of them) but it’s true. Even though I have a hard time sticking with any one exercise program, I always feel better and feel like I get more done when I’ve work out. If you want to get to the technical side, it’s a way to boost your mood since your body releases endorphins that create a happy mood. Not only will you get stronger, more flexible, but your able to clear your mind while you exercise to create better flow in that mass we call our brains. It’s so full of stuff that’s important and things that aren’t, that they are starting to mingle together and this is a great way to untangle them.

The Mind

Your thoughts and how you think through problems are also important to every day life. Keeping your mind sharp and your thoughts free of negativity will help you create harmony within yourself, but more of that below. Exercise the mind along with the body so they can work together, not against each other.

Communication

Communication
Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

With Yourself

Another thing you don’t want to happen is to finish the Reeces because then you would be out completely and that is just not right! (I’m joking… maybe) Anyway, I lost my thought, but it’s back. Have you ever thought Wow, I’ve gained a lot of weight. Man, that was stupid of me. I should really start wearing makeup, I might be able to hide some of those blemishes? What you say about yourself is only harmful to one person… yourself! Learn to love who you are. You should only want to exercise to feel better and stay fit, not because you’re trying to fix your weight. You’ll never stick to it that way. What you’ve done may have not have been right, but use it as a learning experience and as for the third thought, really, do you need makeup? You were born with no makeup and you were beautiful. If you don’t want to wear it, don’t. You’re still beautiful.

With Others

Now, there are those words and phrases you say to others and as with yourself, you have the choice to voice them or not. Though thoughts hurt just as much. The words you say to others not only hurt you, but the people you’re speaking to or about. Those relationships you have with others, whether close or just passing smiles on the street are important to you and your growth as a person. You need others around to show you compassion, to learn from, and to love. Yes, there are times when you need to be on your own, but you can only do so much to lift yourself up. Those around you will do the same if they are treated with respect. You will receive the same when showing your considerate side. Your thoughts and how you use them with words and actions are a powerful force. Whether you are using them for yourself or others, they can harm or empower, crush or lift. You get the picture. Thoughts you use against others and yourself should not have the chance to surface. By taking breaks when needed, exercising, and generally thinking before you speak, you should be able to clear your mind enough to bring forward the person you truly want to be. One that lifts up and empowers, not one that crushes and harms. When your mind is clear of all the frustrations, anger and other bad emotions, you let the light shine on your words. Let your words work for everyones benefits!

How to Gain Harmony Within Your Life

Friends
Image by Мария Ткачук from Pixabay

People

This one may be obvious, but those you talk to and those you interact with are looking for positivity within their day. Why not provide that small bit? Why not give them some positivity, something to brighten their day instead of bringing it down or not doing anything at all. You’ll be surprised by what you’ll receive by just giving someone a smile or a polite greeting. If you feel you could do more, why not give someone an encouraging word or if you see them struggling and know how to help, do so. Don’t just walk by knowing they are going to continue to struggle. Not only will you feel good about yourself, which helps you, you’ll feel good about helping another and that helps them. See win-win, but don’t look at it for the benefit of you. Look at it for the benefit of the other and by default you will gain happiness and harmony with those around you.

Work, Home, and Play

Your work is part of your life, so why you feel you don’t have balance between these two is a bit mind boggling. It’s part of your day and yes, you can bring work home, you can also bring home to work in your words and actions, but that is life. Keeping them separate is just going to cause more stress. Why not work as if they are one and the same. Schedule work as part of your day, as it is part of your life. Try not to talk about the two in their prospective areas if you want, but sometimes it’s necessary to gain a different perspective on a particular situation. Talk about it with those of your family and your co-workers. If they agree to leave the two separate, then try your best to do so. Otherwise, lean on those you trust for advice, jokes, and more. It’s not worth your frustration to keep the two separate when they are two very important parts of you. As for play, well you need this in your life to relax and have fun, to release the stress of work and home life. Make sure you have enough in your day to keep the flow of things going smoothly. Find others that will make you laugh, that will brighten your day, and those you can hang with after work to give you some time away from home and work. Your family is a great resource for this. As spring comes around, my kids and I create a list of all the things we want to do during the summer months. Let me tell you they can come up with some pretty awesome things! Go ahead make a list and mark them off as you complete them. Plan them into your schedule and have fun!

Electronics

Here is another area you may need to find harmony with. We use electronics all the time, sometimes all day. You may not think about it, but how long are you really spending on your electronics. I have to admit, since playing Rise Of Berk ( I love HTTYD!) I’ve spent a lot more time on my ipad than usual. Not only that, but I bet you’ve lost a lot of face to face contact with others, and I mean the in-person kind, not the FaceTime kind. Have you ever seen the ad where everyone is on their phones walking and there is a small child trying to walk though them. The child then stops and watches as person after person falls off a cliff because they are too focused on their phone. The child then sits down and cries for those who forgot the personal relationships and fun without electronics. Perhaps you feel you need to schedule time to get off the electronics each day and spend time with friends or family. Or maybe you are just fine with how you are with your electronics and you like the solitary life you are living, who knows, but I encourage you to Think. Think about those connections you once had or if you were born with a phone attached to you, think of what it would be like to spend the day without one. No, it’s not devastating and you’re not going to miss anything you can’t catch up with later. Spend some time with others face to face and you may just find that you enjoyed their company and you may not have even thought about checking your FB, Twitter, or Instagram notifications. Go ahead, give it a try. I dare you!

Final Thoughts

So if you really take the time to think about it, harmony is how you create it and what you do within your life to keep ahold of it. No matter what you do, seek out the balance between the things you love (and/or need) and learn to live.
Spring Break

(Spring) BREAK

March and April bring a whole new perspective to the word ‘break’. As the days wear on and things are now becoming mundane and ordinary we feel underwhelmed (or overwhelmed), uninspired, and are in need for the chance to refresh our minds and bodies. To calm the raging monster within that’s telling you it’s time to take a break from life and just relax and rejuvenate your soul.

Why You Need A Break and Why They Matter

 

working hard

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Image by rawpixel on Pixabay

There are times when your mind and body are no longer in sync with each other, when you may be just going from day to day, doing the same things. You’re not as excited for the things you used to get pumped about and in order to get that exhilarating feeling back, you need to relax and let go of the things that are attacking you at the moment. You need to let them slide away to leave you with a clear mind.

You and your body need rest and relaxation to refresh not only yourself but your mind as well. Running on like the energizer bunny is only going to create a cranky, irritated soul with resentment and overwhelm. As with sleeping, you and your body need time to just do nothing for very little; to do something that doesn’t take a lot of thinking and something you consider fun. Not only do you need to relax, you need to preoccupy your mind with things that don’t relate with work, the house, or anything else you normally stress over.

Signs It’s Time to Take a Break

Other than just feeling like you need a break, there are signs that tell you it’s time to step away and get some much needed R&R.

Frustration

                                                                                                                                                                                          Image by punttim on Pixabay

Overwhelmed

One of the first ones, is the feeling of overwhelm. Perhaps you are trusted to do more at work, but you also have to worry about the house, the kids, and anything else that comes along that needs your attention. And although you may have a system down to take care of each item, you feel like you’re falling apart. Trust me, I have had that feeling. One minute you’re rolling along a smooth road, everything is getting done and you’re getting ahead, then something comes along and now your road is bumpy. Everything is starting to pile up and your sense of accomplishment is now a sense of dread.

Tired/Insomnia/Irritable

As with overwhelm, that smooth road brought excitement, accomplishment, and the strength to keep moving forward, but that bump you hit (who knows what that was back there) is now bringing you every other bump you would have not otherwise noticed. With all the bumps and divots, you are now feeling tired all the time. You’re no longer sleeping well and you dread getting up in the morning to even do basic things.

Things begin to irritate you, those tiny things that should be brushed off as natural habits or actions are now getting on your nerves to the point you may be snapping at those you care about. That is not the way you want to live your life, right?

No Motivation/Ambition/Unfocused

That speed racer that was forging ahead at full steam, is now searching for any reason to not continue with what has to get done. Your motivation, ambition and focus to complete tasks and get ahead seems so far away that you’ll never catch up with the trailing rope behind the train of tasks. Your mind is wandering to all the things around you, rather than those that are right in front of you, and your attention is taken up by all the little things that could be put off for another day. What once felt like an easy ride has now turned into one of struggle and a fleeting grasp at the rope. One you may not have the strength to pull yourself back up to the train.

Mistakes/Regret

When you’ve run yourself to the point where you are making small mistakes all the time, ones that you regret, but can’t really control. (You could if you weren’t suffering, but when things reach this point, it’s nearly impossible to control.) That’s when you know you need to take a break. Speaking from experience, I’ve been so overwhelmed, tired and unmotivated that I began making small mistakes that just added to the pile that was growing, which caused more mistakes, more regret and a lot of frustration. Continuing as I was, was not an option. I needed a break!

Health Concerns

This could just be eating more of your favorite junk food, or maybe you skip a meal because you’re just not hungry. Perhaps you pick up a bad habit, like smoking or drinking to make yourself feel better or to take the ‘edge’ off. (That is not going to help, trust me and it may cause further health problems) When you start making bad health choices like eating a lot or nothing at all, you refuse to get even a walk in and your body is reacting to the stress in unusual ways; that’s when you know there is something wrong and you NEED a break.

If you get this far, I urge you to take a really hard look at what you are doing and fix it. This is not where you want to be, trust me. Yes, I’m speaking from experience. I was so overwhelmed, letting everything get to me that I barely ate anything for weeks and ended up in the hospital because my body was reacting to no nourishment. I knew I needed a break and it resulted in me leaving my job. Now, I don’t suggest you leave your job, but for me it was the right decision. When your health is declining, you need to take a moment and think about whether you just need a break or you need to leave in order to get better.

 

Ways to Take a Break

The first thing you need to do is decide if you are in need a shorter or longer break. That is something you need to decide, I can’t tell you which you should choose. You should have in inkling of which you should do.

Break

                                                                                                                                                                                           Image by jplenio on Pixabay

Now let me list all the ways…

_____cations

These are all the, you know, vacation types. Vacation. Staycation. Play-cation. Whether you need to get away, you want to stay in the area or at home, or if you want to do something to have fun. Do what you deem best.

Relax

Create a list of all the things you find relaxing and do them all. Take a bath, read a good book, take a nap, walk in nature, listen to soothing music, you get the picture here. Whatever you find relaxing, go for it.

Activity

Though you may not find it relaxing, there are those of us who need to move or do something. Find a way to expend the energy that is still relaxing, like taking a hike, playing a board game, fly a kite or even coloring with crayons! I love to color with my kids! That is something that is relaxing for me.

Motionless

Here is where you will sit still or hardly move, but I promise you’ll still find it relaxing. Try star gazing, watching the clouds, or even meditating or getting a massage. You never know how relaxed you’ll feel after watching the clouds as the roll by.

No Electronics

I know, I know, your whole life is on that device, but we are trying to get you to not stress and to relax. Those notifications can live without you for a short time. If you let those around you know that you’re going to be unavailable for a time, they should get along fine without you. Turn them off and find out just how much quiet and relaxation you can enjoy.

Events

Going to events or attractions can be relaxing as well. Places like the aquarium, the zoo, farmer’s market and museums can bring you peace while learning and seeing something new or what you haven’t seen in a long time.

Final Thoughts

Everyone looks forward to spring break, but have you thought about what you NEED and what kind of break you should take? If you’re like me and need some much needed R&R, try some of the things from this list. May you find peace and relaxation when you need it most.

Know of any other ways to relax and rejuvenate your mind and body? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear them! 

March’s Writing Theme: Breaks

Though we’re only three months into the year, it’s the time we all take a break, relax, and have a bit of fun. For some of you Spring Break it coming up and you’re readying yourself for a much needed R&R.

So, for this month we are going to talk about what we are doing for Spring Break. Are you going somewhere? Going with someone? Having a staycation? Are you getting more hours in at work? Or working on a project for school?  What are you doing for spring break?

Breaks

Example: As much as I would love to travel for spring break, to a place nice and sunny, we are not. We’ve decided to spend some time with family and visit my sister and her kids. Hopefully, if we are lucky, we can take advantage of her pool. If not, then there’s always games and movies. What’s better than relaxing and hanging out, laughing and hanging fun? 

Calm

Calm

As we move into spring (hopefully sooner rather than later), we think of ways to calm our souls from all the activities of the holidays. Yes, I know it’s been a few months, but everyone needs some time to rejuvenate and center themselves. Calming your mind and body is essential to life, but first…

Wiki

  • Peaceful, quiet
  • (Of a person) Especially free from anger and anxiety
  • (Of a place or situation) Free of noise and distraction
  • (Of Water) With few or no waves on the surface; not rippled
  • Without wind or storm

Dictionary

  • Not showing or feeling nervousness, anger or other strong emotion
  • (Of the weather) Pleasantly free from wind
  • The absence of violent of confrontational activities within a place or group
  • Make someone tranquil and quite; soothe.

 

Being calm or taking the time to calm your body and mind can be exactly what you need to start living a better life, release stress, and tension. So, I’m sure you’re asking how you can calm yourself enough to get the results you’re looking for. Well, read on, my friend, read on.

Ways to practice Calm

Physical

The act of moving your body and muscles to release tension and produce the calm your looking for.

Exercise

Exercise

Exercising may not be what you think would calm you, but it does. Pushing yourself in an exercise releases endorphins, which boosts your mood naturally. Now if you want to do something a bit more physical in your exercise like kickboxing or punches, you can take out some frustration in a safe way to calm what’s raging within.

Yoga

Yoga

The number one exercise that people use to recenter and calm themselves. The smooth, flowing motions of these exercises can be used to relax the muscles and the mind, release the days tension and help you to refocus your thoughts.

Sleep

Calm Sleep

Your body’s way of rejuvenating and regenerating your mind and body. Making sure you’re getting enough sleep is essential not only to your bodily health, but also to your mind. It needs that time to relax completely and be ready to face another day.

Mental

Your thoughts and mind need calm just as much as the rest of your body.

Refocus

Focus

Taking some time to refocus your mind and thoughts on the things that are important allows you to discard and/or place on the back burner the things that are of little priority. Sit in a quiet area and relax yourself. Think of the things that are important to you and how you can accomplish those things.

Meditate

Meditate

As with yoga, this can relax you and calm your mind enough so that you are a functional human being. Sitting or laying down with a clear mind can help you calm your muscles and your mind. There is not greater feeling than rising from a well rested meditation, knowing that you are now ready to face whatever may come your way.

Other

Aromatherapy

Calm

Scents and snell are a power tool and using them to create a calm and relaxing atmosphere is one of the bests. If you have a favorite scent, use it or find another that promotes relaxation and a sense of calm. Use it around your home, or even in your office with mini diffusers. Stay calm all day long and keep fight the good fight.

Music

Music is also another powerful tool. Choose something that isn’t loud and obnoxious, something that is going to help you relax your mind and your muscles.

Limit/avoid the Harmful

Things like stress, and those things that will cause stress should be limited or avoided; things like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, stressful confrontations, etc. Yes, I know avoiding or limiting these things can be hard, but you can do it.

Relationships

Real Relationships

In a previous post, we talked about fictional relationships, so I thought we could touch on real relationships as well. Relationships are everywhere within your short life, so much so, that you may not realize you even have some. As you go about your day, you’re creating them, nurturing them, building them up and in some cases breaking them down or losing them. The relationships you have with others are what make us who we are. It’s what connects us to those around us.

Types of Relationships

As you go throughout your day, you connect with people on many levels and in different ways. Each unique in its own way. Let’s take a look at a few.

Romantic

Those of a deeper level than any other; this is where trust, love, and commitment are at their highest (or at least it should be.) Relationships in this category are those that are built on respect, and evolve as each grows within the relationship. They cherish each other and build each other up as they grow beside one another.

Romantic relationships should be nurtured. You as a couple should talk about what you want out of the relationship and what each expects of each other. You both have differences and believe me, those differences are going to clash, but talking things out before or early within the relationship will help you get an understanding of what each other feels is important in your relationship and as an individual.

Family

Family

This relationship is on a level just as deep as the above, but in a different way. There is still trust, love, and commitment to each other within this relationship. Your family is there for you no matter what. The dedication to each other through anything even when angry, upset or holding a stupid grudge. If you need something, they will be the first to respond without question.

This is a bond built on years of parent/sibling dedication, support, and so much more. Nothing should come between you and those within your family.

Friends

Friends

Next in line is the connection we have to those we spend our free time with. We talk with them about things going on and trust their advice. They may be the first we go to for help, and our real friends are like family.

They’ll drop everything to help when the need arrises, support you when you need it and give you the truth, even when it hurts. Thats why we love them so much.

Work

Work/Business

In this category are those that we work with. Now some may be friends and you’ll spend time with them outside of the work arena, but most are those you see only when you work and nothing more.

You get along with some, but not others and this relationship is there to benefit both since neither wants to lose their job because of something ridiculous. You tough out the bad days and enjoy the good ones. (Unless they drive you to leave, then you get to start new work relationships!)

Acquaintances

Those you see occasionally, such as the store clerk that scans your groceries or church members. Of course some of these could also become friends, but you get what I mean.

These are those you see occasionally and don’t usually spend a lot of time with. Once or twice a week you gather and only because you have another reason for being around them.

You’re polite and nice, and when the event is over, everyone goes their separate ways.

Run-ins

Run-Ins

Now here is something you may not realize, but these are those that you have the smallest amount of contact with. Those you walk by on the streets, but may not even talk to.

Yes, your relationship with them may be short lived, but it’s a relationship none-the-less and can impact them or they can impact you in a monumental way. Remember a smile or a helping hand can go a long way!

What Makes a Great Relationship

Great relationships, no matter what type, take time and energy to keep functioning as they should. Below is a list of qualities needed to make a relationship great.

This is in no way all of the items we need, but they are the more important ones (in no particular order).

Commitment

In any relationship, a commitment is made to provide certain attributes of yourself. You dedicate your time, your skills, jokes, or anything else that will create a deeper connection to the ones you are in a relationship with.

This goes both ways, it’s something we expect as humans from those in a relationship with us as well as us with them.

Compromise

Compromise

Though each involved should compromise when ideas aren’t the same. You should also find a way to work out how each of you can do the things you love to do.

You shouldn’t have to give up those activities you love to please someone else. They should be happy you’re doing what you love as you should be happy they are doing what they love.

This goes for things around the house as well or any other aspect that needs to be discussed. Divide those chores to create a well oiled mechanism or project your working on with your friends.

Whatever it is, remember to work together. Relationships are centered around teamwork. It’s a good thing we all learned that at a young age, right?

Forgive

Forgiveness

Learn to forgive. Whether the things your forgiving is a bump against a stranger on the street or something larger by someone closer (insert imagination here).

Learn to forgive others of their mistakes as we all make them. No one is perfect and we shouldn’t expect those we are in a relationship to be something we ourselves cannot be.

Effort

Effort

Yep, you knew I was going to put this in here, because it’s true. If each person within the relationship doesn’t put in the effort to create the best relationship for all, then the relationship will falter and fail.

I know some who are never happy unless everyone else in the group is happy and that is not what I’m talking about. Each must put in the effort to create a relationship where everyone is happy and no one feels they have to outdo the others to create a welcoming and fun atmosphere.

Understand

Understanding

This one is something that a lot of people need to learn. I’ve seen in some relationships where understanding is almost non-existent. (or perhaps those are all the stories I read, oh well, it happens, so let’s continue) While you expect certain things from the other(s) within your relationship, they also expect certain things from you.

One of those things it to be understanding. To be understanding of their feelings, their likes and dislikes, their hobbies and their daily routines. If you can’t understand them on a deeper level, you’re going to have a hard time keeping your relationship where it needs to be.

RespectRespect

One of the most important qualities of a relationship is respect. There is no greater gift than that of respect. Even if it’s with someone you just met, respect can go a long way.

There’s really no more to say than that.

Evolve

Evolves

With all things, you and your relationships will grow and evolve. As it changes you and those within your relationship will need to change with it. If you can’t do that, it will become very hard to keep your relationships as they are.

Everyone changes and grows and your relationships are no exception. Work with the changes and everything will go just fine.

Final Thoughts

Even though it takes a lot to create, keep and grow relationships. It’s one of the most rewarding things you could ever do.

Affection

Affection like love is another word that is associated with this time of month, though I believe the two to be very different. But before we get into the details of that let’s get our definitions in.

Wiki

  • The act of affecting or acting upon
  • The state of being affected
  • An attribution; a quality or property; a condition
  • An emotion; a feeling or natural impulse acting upon & swaying the mind

Dictionary

  • A gentle feeling of fondness or liking
  • The act or process of affecting or being affected

Differences

Affection in all its wonder is sometimes, if not all of the time used interchangeably with love. Though they do have similarities and are closely related, they are not and should not be used in the same way.

Love is a strong feeling toward another with different levels or types of love being expressed at any given time. It’s the feeling you have for your significant other, your children or even your best friend or other acquaintances.

Affection, however, involves the little things. Those little details that tell another how much, or if you care at all. The actions and gestures that go along with those feelings. That is the difference between love and affection.

Benefits

Now, I’ve heard that there are benefits to expressing affection and receiving it as well. I won’t go into major details, but I found this fascinating. You can read more here.

Showing affection toward others has shown benefits, not just in making you feel good, but it can also lower stress hormones, lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and provide a stronger immune system.

This can also happen when chemicals release in your body as you express these through actions, not just when you feel them as you receive the affection.

Expressing Affection

Now, let’s talk about how you can express affection. As I mentioned earlier affection is all those tiny details you probably never or hardly ever notice you’re doing, but I encourage you to notice them the next time you are showing someone your affection. Showing your affection to another provides the feeling of intimacy, security, that they’re significant and shows a sign of respect depending on how the affection is being delivered and expressed.

The Small

small touches of affection

Affection can be expressed by the small touches, or even glances you give someone. A hug, a kiss, holding hands, a loving glance, an arm around the waist, a touch on the shoulder, a soft touch or even an occasional gift can show your affection to another.

The Large

What about those larger gestures, like passionate kisses that last, making out or even the friendly high five or shout of encouragement? Theses are also ways you can show affection and support of another person. It’s like showing in a story instead of telling. You show how you feel by what you do and the actions you take.

Platonic Gestures

Even things you wouldn’t think would show affection, do. Carrying things for another, opening a door, even doing things around the house for someone can show affection, like cooking, cleaning or doing laundry. Now I’m not telling you to go to your friends house and start doing their laundry (unless you really are that kind of friend), but think about those things you do for another that wasn’t asked or was just done to show you care.

Speech

Another way you can show affection is by the words you say, and how you say them. Yes, saying ‘I love you’ is affectionate especially if it’s given in a romantic whisper, but have you thought to send a message, even one saying ‘Hey, how are you doing today?’

The smallest note scribbled on a post-it can have the same reaction as an elaborate card with large letters. The person you’re leaving the note for or even receiving a text or email will show your emotional connection to the person receiving the small gesture.

Final Thoughts

So, when you think of affection, what types of things do you do to show your affection for others?

February’s Writing Theme: Love

So, yep, we’re going to go there. For this month, because it’s the month where most are struck by cupid and are focused on their loves. We are doing the same here. For this, month’s writing theme, tell me why you love someone in your life right now.

I chose that because there are a lot of us out there that don’t have someone for Valentine’s Day and if any of you are like me, you don’t celebrate it. My husband and I decided early in our relationship not to celebrate Valentine’s day because we celebrated our dating anniversary which was a week away. We didn’t see a reason to celebrate our love twice.

So, for this month, give me what makes you love your significant other, your parents, siblings, or even your pet.

Love

Example: I love my husband because though he works, he finds time to spend with me and our two children. When we are struggling, he’ll do whatever is necessary to make things right even if that means finding a second job, working extra hours, or whatever. One of the things I love about him is he’ll still find the time to surprise me with the little things. I love, love, love hot chocolate and he’ll go to my favorite gas station to get it for me no matter how cold it is. 

Writer/Reader Coupons

Writer/Reader Coupons

Buying a gift for that writer or reader in your life can be difficult. What do you get them that they don’t already have? Of course they could use more books, but how do you keep from buying them duplicates? And yes, they could always use more pens, notebooks, journals and such, but you want to do something unique and special, right? 

I’ve got just the thing. You can check out my posts on writer and reader gifts Here and Here, or you can continue to read this post to find out another great gift idea for that reader or writer in your life. 

The Idea

You know those coupons you see on Pinterest and around the internet during the holidays and especially Valentine’s Day, right? Well, my husband decided to not celebrate Valentine’s Day because at the time our dating anniversary was a few day away.

Since we still don’t celebrate it… (don’t worry, we do for our children) I wanted to provide something that would be a great gift for not only a loved one, but that writer or reader in your life at any time of year, cause you know, I’m both!

So, without further ado, I give you my writer/reader coupons! 

Coupons at Desk

4 Ways to Give!

Now, I was thinking as I create these that I wanted them to be versatile so you could use them in whichever way you wish, and I think I’ve accomplished that, so let’s get to showing you what I mean.

Directions:

Purchase your Coupons from Fiction Journeys, then download your coupons to your computer.

Then, you’ll need to print out your coupons, card stock is recommended at least for the cover. It’s more sturdy that way.

Cut out your coupons and fill in any blank ones with personalized activities you think of. If there is something you know your reader/writer absolutely loves, add it in.

Now here is the fun part. You can assemble these any way you want. 

 

Way to Give #1: Punch and Tie

What you’ll need:

  • Coupon Printables
  • Scissors
  • Card-stock and/or Regular printer paper
  • Hole-punch
  • Twine/Ribbon/Yarn

Follow the direction above for downloading, printing and cutting, then follow the directions below.

Directions:

Once you’ve got all the coupons you want to have in your booklet cut out, cut the cover in half.

You can either punch one hole in the corner or two holes along the short or long edges.

Lace the twine/ribbon/yarn through the hole/holes and tie it off to complete the coupons.

Way to Give #2: Glue

What you will need:

  • Coupon printables
  • Scissors
  • Clips/bookbinding press
  • Paintbrush
  • Mod Podge/Compound glue

Directions:

Once you’ve got all the coupons you want to have in your booklet, fold the cover so that the gold represents the spine and the covers are in the correct position.

Then stack your coupons into a neat pile and place clips (or put in a bookbinding press – I’ve got one around since I have created my own journals, but large clips work good too) around the edges.

Use a paintbrush to brush on the glue to one edge of the coupons. (be sure you put the glue on the left ends)

Once the glue had dried, place another layer of glue to the inner spine of the coupons and along the same edge of the coupons.

Carefully place your coupon cover in place around your coupons. Allow them to dry and you’re done!

Way to Give #3: Staple

What you will need:

  • Coupon Printables
  • Scissors
  • Stapler with Staples

Directions:

Once you’ve got all the coupons you want to have in your booklet, place them in a neat stack and staple the edges together and you’re done! Easy-peasy.

Way to Give #4: Tags

I’m providing this just in case you are able to find those gifts and would like to place the tags on them. You can even go one step further and create a treasure hunt with them, which is something I absolutely LOVE! Your reader or writer might as well

What you will need:

  • Coupon Printables
  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch (optional)
  • Twine/Ribbon/Yarn (optional)
  • Tape (optional)

Directions:

Once you’ve got all the coupons you want to have in your booklet, you can either hole punch them and tie, tape them, or include them on the gift wrapping of the gifts you would like to give.

As I mentioned earlier, you can create a treasure hunt with them or you can put them in a basket with the tags and use the cover as a nice greeting card.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve got an awesome gift for the writer or reader in your life, have fun with it. Make it even more special by adding in some of the things you know they love or let them use them as they see fit. You choose.

Have other ideas to fill in the coupons with, share them and I’ll update them as new ideas are collected!

Writing Romantic Scenes/Relationships

It’s the month of love and within writing there could be a lot or a little. What do you need for Romantic Scenes and relationships? What do you need to know to make it flow within your story and build as your characters grow? Well, that’s what we are here to discuss today.

Romantic Scenes:

Sunset Romance

Know your characters

Your characters are the ones taking this amazing journey you’ve set out for them. They go down each path you set them on, but if they don’t continue to be themselves (as you’ve written them), your readers will lose interest and at the very least become confused that there may be another character where your main ones should be. Within romantic scenes, keep with your character’s… well, character throughout. If they wouldn’t respond or act a certain way during a romantic scene, then don’t put it in. Keep their attitudes, ways of thinking, quirks if you wish; in the scene, but keep them true to them. Let your characters decide their level of intimacy as they move throughout your story and trust me, they will if you release the reigns! Dive deep into your characters to know how they would act, what they would say in certain situations and what they would do at any given moment. Stick with your characters and show us what they are like as your story progresses. There are many ways to get to know your characters better… conduct an interview with them, write out characteristics about them, create a short story (for your eyes only, of course) telling about your character, everything about your character.

Keep Plot in mind

In order to write romantic scenes, it’s important to keep the plot of the story in mind. Does the romantic scene drive the plot? If it doesn’t, it may not be worth putting it in. Is there another important reason for adding it? Well, then, by all means. Just make sure it’s furthering your character’s journey in some way, either physically, emotionally, or both. Keep the storyline moving as you write your scenes. You don’t want your readers stopping to think about why that was even put in there in the first place. Remember, your readers are going to enjoy the scene, but only if it serves it’s purpose.

Avoid ‘Purple Prose’ and Cliches

Have you ever read a story where they move around what they are trying to say; using so many forms of the word to make it sound ‘pretty’ or less clinical? This is where avoiding all those flowery words during love/romantic comes in. If your characters have specific words for ‘things’, then use them, but you as a writer don’t need to. Say what you intend to say, don’t sugar coat it. We all know what you’re trying to say anyway. If you’re really against using specific words, then try the art of suggestion. Sometimes, the use of suggestion can be more potent than saying it out right. Give it a try, I bet you’ll find a lot of readers love it because they use their own imaginations for the suggested actions.

Know Your Audience

If you want to know what your readers enjoy, start reading what your readers read to learn what they like. Stay within the genre you plan to write as you read, there is no sense in reading a regency romance when your is strictly sci-fi.

Use Your Setting, Theme & Background

Setting

Setting

Where is your romantic scene taking place? What objects, buildings, and/or creatures are around you… er, them within the scene? Use these things to provide a sense of being in the scene. Use the scenes of smell, touch, sight, taste and hearing to provide a vivid picture of the experience. Who doesn’t love to know that there is a piece of straw digging straight into the back of a character while being taken in the loft of a barn? Well, you get what I mean. 😉 Show us, the readers, what your characters see, what they hear, what they smell, etc during the scene.

Theme

What is your story really about? Try to weave your theme within your love scene to create a personal touch. There is no better way to communicate with your readers the theme of your story then to have your characters experience, or be just as passionate for what your theme is about.

Background

What do they do for a living? What hobbies do they love to do? Are their words within those areas that could be used during your love scene? I’m sure if you thought about it, you could think of terms artists, mechanics, writers even; use. Have them use some of those within the scene to not only make your characters more interesting, but the scene itself.

Avoid Cliches

We’ve all read those books that seem to show the same damsel in distress waiting for her knight in shining armor or the damsel whose been abused and her knight shows her how to live again. There are so many out there, it’s sometimes hard to come up with something new. If you insist on using one, turn it to focus on a different aspect. Perhaps the knight was the one needing saving from the dragon or the male character is the one who needs to be shown love again after a terrible abusive experience. Think of how you can make the cliche more interesting and go with that.

Stay Within Your Comfort Zone

You as an author need to write what you are comfortable with, but also keep with the characters. If they would do something that maybe you’re not completely uncomfortable with, then leave it in or get advice from your reader/writer groups. If it ruins the story then remove it. You need to be comfortable with your writing in order to bring your readers that fantastic story, the adventurous journey, and the awesome love scenes.

Character Relationships:

Relationships

Write Love Scenes, Not Sex Scenes

Now, this may shock you, but I’m gonna tell you something that you may not believe, but it’s completely true. Here goes… The romance in a romance novel isn’t about the sex, it’s about the relationship between your characters. Yes, I know, it’s hard to believe, but yes the romantic scenes in your novel should be about the relationship of the main characters (or secondary characters depending) and moving that relationship forward in some way whether for the good or the bad. Remember above where I mentioned using hobby terms within your scenes? Well, you can use them here and if it’s appropriate, add some humor too. Depending on how the scene goes, you could do a lot and just with the sexual actions.

Create Tension

Sexual Tension comes in stages and forms throughout the relationship of your characters. Let’s explore some here.

First Meeting And After

Your characters are usually attracted to each other in some way shape of form from the moment they meet, from that first touch, or first sight. Here are somethings to think about when they first meet and throughout their relationship:
  • How do they react to each other while in the same room?
  • How/what are they thinking when they are not in the same room?
  • How do they react after the first touch? First Kiss? Public displays of affection?
  • How do they react moments after sex?
  • The morning after?
  • How/what are they thinking of the other afterwords?

Opposing Forces

What opposing forces are at work between your characters and what are your characters doing to defeat that opposing force? Is that opposing force work related and they are going after the same position? Do they have different views on the use of a building they are proposing? Perhaps they have different views on something one is passionate about or does one feel that getting into a relationship at this point would ruin something they are striving for. Whatever it is, create a force that is keeping your characters apart whether that’s a physical force or emotional force. Then have them move, taking turns to discover the right course of action to overcome the force. Neither character wants the negative reaction to their opposing force, nor do they want to risk harming the relationship they know is blooming, but attraction keeps them moving forward down the rocky path.

Contrasts

These contrasts like some opposing forces could be from others as well as from themselves. Areas of their lives where they disagree could put tension between your two characters. Religion, how to handle a specific situation, or another reason for them to disagree. Another contrast could be within themselves, their thoughts that could contradict or argue over whether something was good to do or not. When characters interact or when they are speaking to themselves you’ll read the thoughts and opinions those that are irrational, inconsistent and unreasonable. Not to mention those thoughts that contradict each other. Each character has their own emotional struggle, characteristics, and contradictions moving further toward or away from the same path.

Conflicts

Conflicts can be anything from opposing forces, to contrasts, to emotional or physical obstacles. Here is where you want to raise the stakes, so to speak. Create even more tension between your characters by bringing in emotion or a physical obstacle to overcome or do both! As they say do something bad, then do something worse, then do something that will make your character wish they were never born. The greater the risk the more their emotions will come into play. Suspense/Anticipation Suspense should raise as your readers wonder if and when your characters will get together. Use those small moments together to create anticipation for their next meeting. You could even end a scene with a character thinking it’s the wrong moment to bet together. Having those small moments will build up suspense, emotions, and the desire within your characters to see their journey to the end, so give your readers plenty of suspense and anticipation.

Use Your Own Memories and Experiences

Funny Romances When writing romantic relationships, your own memories and experiences can come into play. You can literally set the stage for the scene to get an idea of actual sights, sounds, feels, and more. Go ahead, have fun! Doing this can give your scene a sense of reality that it may have been missing before. Another things you can use from experience is dialogue. If your significant other, or yourself say certain things during those moments, use them. If your characters start saying outrageous and outlandish things during the scene, it won’t seem real and your readers will know that.

Use the Five Senses

As I mentioned earlier, your senses should come into play not only in romantic scenes, but also within the relationship itself. Each small touch, word, or sight of the other will heighten their experience. Have your characters constantly be aware of what the other is doing. Whether is the slight touch of their fingers, a whispered word, or the sight of one without their shirt. Each experience uses as sense and it should be there to tell the story. Be sure that although we are focusing on the physical, you also remember the emotional. How are they feeling, what going on in their mind as those things are happening. Every small detail can come in handy. Obsessions, actions, dialogue. It all plays a role and helps to give the reader the full experience of the scene.

Reveal Stages of Relationship

Every relationship has stages in which they progress. It’s a good idea during each romantic scene and within the relationship itself to discretely show the progression of the relationship. To do that, you can visit my post on Love from last week to find pointers, but reveal stages like flirting, romantic love or even familial love if your characters relationship goes that far. You can reveal something to advance an element of the plot or reveal small emotions of one character or another.