Get in the Ring and Wrestle with Life

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I receive a daily dose of inspiration from bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. Here’s a thought-provoking segment from last week’s email:

Far too often we think mental strength is all about how we respond to extreme circumstances…

• How did she perform on stage during that nationally televised event?

• Did he bounce back from that heart-wrenching divorce?

• Can she keep her life together even after suffering from a major, debilitating bodily injury?

There’s no doubt that extreme circumstances test our bravery, determination and mental strength, but what about common, daily circumstances?

Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength. It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time. If you haven’t pushed yourself in hundreds of little ways over time, of course you’ll crumble on the one day that things get really challenging.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…

Choose to go to the gym when it would be more comfortable to sleep in. Choose to do the tenth rep when it would be more comfortable to quit at nine. Choose to create something special when it would be more comfortable to consume something mediocre. Choose to raise your hand and ask that extra question when it would be more comfortable to stay silent. Prove to yourself, in hundreds of little ways, that you have the guts to get in the ring and wrestle with life.

Mental strength is built through lots of small, daily victories. It’s the individual choices we make day-to-day that build our “mental strength” muscles. We all want this kind of strength, but we can’t think our way to it. If you want it, you have to do something about it ritualistically. It’s your positive daily rituals that prove your mental fortitude and move you forward over the long-term.

The bottom line is that when things get difficult for most people, they find something more comfortable to do. When things get difficult for mentally strong people, they find a way to stay on track with their positive daily rituals.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.


Keep On Keeping On

I’m happy to welcome multi-published author Marsha R West. Today, Marsha shares valuable advice and insights gleaned from her writing journey.

Here’s Marsha!

Thanks for hosting me, Joanne. I’m honored to be on your blog today. The title of this post is my mantra: Keep on Keeping on. I developed it early in my writing life. And thank goodness I did, or I wouldn’t be where I am today. No, I’m not a USA best selling author, but I have a following. Fans who ask, “When’s your next book coming out?”

So, let’s go back to the beginning. I started writing because my mother was ill. One day I said to a friend: “I’ve read so many romantic suspense books, surely I could write one if I just knew what to write about.” The friend reminded me of the $13 million embezzlement in the school district, resulting in jail time and loss of jobs. I had left the school board sometime before all that took place, but I knew something about it. I finished the book of 145,000 words, knowing nothing about writing genre fiction or the fact, 145 K words was a bit over the going standard! LOL

But I joined RWA and a local chapter, entered contests, found critique partners, I wrote, and I learned. This is definitely a learn by doing business. You must put in the time and effort to learn the craft. I give a lot of credit to Margie Lawson for my selling the fourth book I wrote, VERMONT ESCAPE, to MuseItUp Publishing, a small Canadian e-publisher.

This was after lots and lots of rejections. That’s one reason I say: Keep on Keeping On. You’re the only one who can stop you from being published. And that’s if you give up. There were many times I almost did that very thing. The year before I sold, I was president of NTRWA. That really saved me. I had to write a president’s message for our newsletter every month, and that’s when I developed the Keep on, Keeping on mantra. Each of those articles was written to me as much as to the members. That was in 2012. VERMONT ESCAPE was released in 2013. I’m so glad I hung in there. I now have 7 published books. All are romantic suspense with older characters; some call this “seasoned romance.”

MuseItUp bought my next book, TRUTH BE TOLD. They wanted the next one, SECOND ACT, but it was the first of a four-part series, and they weren’t printing my books. I had readers who wanted books in print. That led to me setting up MRW Press LLC. I got my rights back on the first two books and headed into the Indie Publishing world.

Right now, I’m teaching a four-part course for Texas Christian University Silver Frogs program called Indie Publishing: Who Me? It’s fun to feel like I can pay forward all the help I received with folks just getting involved in this writing/publishing world.

Book 8 is my WIP and as of now, untitled. Hoping to release it later this year.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out any of my stand alone books or The Second Chances Series about 4 women in their 40s who’ve been friends since elementary school. Picture of Book Series Books are on B & N, KOBO, iTunes, & Amazon where you can order print books, too. All my books are set in Texas even if the characters don’t remain there. Hint: VERMONT ESCAPE.

Love to hear from you. 😊

Vermont Escape Blurb

Two years after the murder of her husband, someone guns down Jill Barlow’s father, a Texas State Representative. The authorities suspect a connection between the murders but can’t find proof. Jill longs for the peace she found when she visited Vermont after her husband’s death. With the perpetrators still at large, she flees to the small town of Woodstock.

The gambling syndicate, believing she has damning evidence against them, pursues her, shattering her dreams of peace. Trying to protect her grown children, she doesn’t tell them violence continues to stalk the family.

Despite having lost so much already, with the lives of her family and friends at stake, will Jill be required to make more sacrifices including a shot at a second chance at love with a Vermont politician?

Bio

Marsha R. West, a retired elementary school principal, is also a former school board member and theatre arts teacher. She writes Romance, Suspense, and Second Chances. Experience Required. Marsha lives in Texas with her supportive lawyer husband. Their two daughters presented them with three delightful grandchildren who live nearby. Charley, a Chihuahua/Jack Russell Terrier mix completes her family.

MuseItUp Publishing released her first book, VERMONT ESCAPE in July 2013; her second book, TRUTH BE TOLD, in May 2014. In the Fall of 2014, Marsha formed MRW Press LLC to provide print and e-versions of her books. SECOND ACT, Book 1 of the Second Chances Series follows up with a secondary character from VERMONT ESCAPE and begins a four-part series. ACT OF TRUST is Book 2 of the Second Chances Series. She released THE THEATRE, a stand-alone in 2016. It was followed by ACT OF BETRAYAL, Book 3 The Second Chances Series in 2017. In 2019, Act of Survival, Book 4 The Second Chances Series released. A new standalone will be released in 2020.

She contributed to ROMANCE & MYSTERY AUTHORS ON WRITING, edited by JQ. Rose. Also, in 2018, she had a short story, “The Colonel & Her Major” published in her writing chapter’s anthology, LONE STAR LOVE.

She has lots of fun doing book club & library presentations. You can contact her at marsha@marsharwest.com or through her website where you can also sign up for her NEWSLETTER, Blog, or check out any of her social media sites.

Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Sisterhood of Suspense Blog | Instagram



How to Stop Sabotaging Yourself

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In an interview with Mark Victor Hansen (co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul), Dr. Wayne Dyer gives his advice on how to stop sabotaging yourself.


Life Is Tough, But You Are Tougher

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

I receive a daily dose of inspiration from bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff. Here’s a thought-provoking segment from last week’s email:

Truth be told, happiness is not the absence of problems, but the ability to deal with them. Imagine all the wondrous things your mind might embrace if it weren’t wrapped so tightly around your struggles. Always look at what you have, instead of what you have lost. Because it’s not what the world takes away from you that counts; it’s what you do with what you have left.

Here are two key reminders to help motivate you when you need it most:

1. Every little struggle is a step forward.

In life, patience is not about waiting; it’s the ability to keep a good attitude while working hard on your dreams and desires, knowing that the work is worth it. So if you’re going to try, put in the time and go all the way. Otherwise, there’s no point in starting. This could mean losing stability and comfort for a while, and maybe even your mind on occasion. It could mean not eating what, or sleeping where, you’re used to, for weeks on end. It could mean stretching your comfort zone so thin it gives you a nonstop case of the chills. It could mean sacrificing relationships and all that’s familiar. It could mean accepting ridicule from your peers. It could mean lots of time alone in solitude. Solitude, though, is the gift that makes great things possible. It gives you the space you need. Everything else is a test of your determination, of how much you really want it.

And if you want it, you’ll do it, despite failure and rejection and the odds. And every step will feel better than anything else you can imagine. You will realize that the struggle is not found on the path, it is the path. And it’s worth it. So if you’re going to try, go all the way. There’s no better feeling in the world… there’s no better feeling than knowing what it means to be ALIVE.

2. The best thing you can do is to keep going.

Don’t be afraid to get back up – to try again, to love again, to live again, and to dream again. Don’t let a hard lesson harden your heart. Life’s best lessons are often learned at the worst times and from the worst mistakes. There will be times when it seems like everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong. And you might feel like you will be stuck in this rut forever, but you won’t. When you feel like quitting, remember that sometimes things have to go very wrong before they can be right. Sometimes you have to go through the worst, to arrive at your best.

Yes, life is tough, but you are tougher. Find the strength to laugh every day. Find the courage to feel different, yet beautiful. Find it in your heart to make others smile too. Don’t stress over things you can’t change. Live simply. Love generously. Speak truthfully. Work diligently. And even if you fall short, keep going. Keep GROWING forward, one step at a time.

Note: I highly recommend subscribing to Marc & Angel’s website.


The Productivity Manifesto

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

If you feel stuck, try implementing one or more of these suggestions:



Expat Teacher Comes Home to Romancelandia

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Sadira Stone sharing her inspiring reinvention story and novels: Through the Red Door and Runaway Love Story.

Here’s Sadira!

Briefly describe your first act.

Lacking funds for college, I joined the Army after high school. After serving four years, mostly in Germany, I got my teaching degree (high school English, French, German, theater) and returned to Germany as a teacher for the Department of Defense school system, which serves the families of U.S. military members stationed overseas. Living in Europe enabled me to travel widely—a trip to France was like driving to the next state. All in all, I spent nearly thirty years in Germany and felt a bit like a foreigner during my summer visits to California.

There are a thousand things I miss about Germany: the dense, crusty bread; the saunas, the rolling hillsides laced with paved farm roads, perfect for long walks and bike rides; the beer fests and wine fests and Christmas markets; the historical buildings; the attention paid to beautiful public spaces.

But after so many years, the daily grind of teaching was wearing me down. Don’t get me wrong—I liked most aspects of my job and loved some students dearly. Teaching is important work, and I’m proud to have served our military families. However, the constant negativity from students became harder and harder to take, ditto the bureaucratic stupidity forced on teachers and students by administrators who haven’t taught in years and years, if ever. There’s much that needs fixing in our education system, which increasingly treats students like data points to be manipulated rather than humans with varied strengths, backgrounds, and goals.

What triggered the need for change?

In 2014, I was offered the chance to take early retirement. It was one of those moments when my inner wisdom leapt up, pumped her fist in the air, and hooted, “Hot damn!” By this point, writing had become my main hobby, and I was already dreaming about the day when I could become a full-time author. I just didn’t expect that door to open for a while longer.

Where are you now?

I live with my husband (whom I met while teaching in Germany, so I guess he’s my high school sweetheart) in Tacoma, Washington. I love the cool, wet weather of the Pacific Northwest, similar to the San Francisco Bay Area where I grew up—and to Germany. I love the relaxed aesthetic of PNW folks, few of whom try to impress with flashy clothes and artificial enhancements. I love Tacoma’s lively arts scene. So many chances to enjoy live music and celebrate creativity in all its forms.

My days consist of writing and writing-adjacent chores, all carried out in my little home office. I have two published contemporary romance books with The Wild Rose Press, another coming next spring, and a fourth taking shape on my computer. After so many years of pouring all my energy into coaching others, it’s so satisfying to focus on my own creativity. Life is grand!

Do you have advice for anyone planning to pursue a second act?

Research before you leap. Dip your toes while you still have a day job, and see if the reality matches your rosy expectations. Talk to people who are already doing what you want to do.

That said, don’t cling so tightly to your plan that you miss unexpected opportunities. You never know when a door might open that will lead you somewhere marvelous.

When your time is finally your own to control, it’s easy to fill up your creative hours with errands, social groups, and busy work. Allow yourself time to find your own rhythm—don’t overschedule out of habit.

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” Toni Morrison

The Book Nirvana Series

Steamy contemporary romance set in an indie bookshop in Eugene, Oregon, because bookshops are sexy!

Letting him inside could be her salvation…or her undoing.

Clara Martelli clings to Book Nirvana, the Oregon bookshop she and her late husband Jared built together. When rising rents and corporate competition threaten its survival, her best hope is their extensive erotica collection, locked behind a red door. In dreams and signs, her dead husband tells her it’s time to open that door and move on. When a dark and handsome stranger’s powerful magnetism jolts her back to life and he wants a look at the treasures of that secret room, she can’t help but want to show him more.

Professor Nick Papadopoulos is looking for historical erotica. Book Nirvana’s collection surpasses his wildest dreams, and so does its lovely owner. A widower, he understands Clara’s battle with guilt, but their searing chemistry is too strong to resist. Besides, he will only be in town for two weeks, not long enough for her to see beyond the scandal that haunts his past.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Google Play | Kobo | iTunes


Fierce passion or long-cherished dreams…she can’t hang onto both.

She hates average…he’s as average as they come.

High school history teacher Doug Garvey is trying to enjoy his last few weeks of summer vacation, but receiving his final divorce decree hits him harder than expected. After a brief fling fizzles, he fears love just isn’t in the cards for him. If only he could find someone who’s real, someone interested in something beyond herself…maybe a new running partner who can keep up with his more carnal appetite. When sexy, straight-talking Laurel runs across his path, he dares to hope again.

He’s done with social-climbing posers…she’s ambitious and has big dreams.

Fired from an art gallery, Laurel Jepsen shelves her pursuit of an art career in San Francisco to help her beloved great aunt Maxie move into assisted living. While out on a morning run, she’s harassed by a group of teens until a tall, broad-shouldered hottie steps in, pretending to be her boyfriend with a kiss that makes her wish it were true. But she’s only passing through, not looking for a relationship.

Their fierce chemistry burns up the sheets—and the couch, the shower, the forest—but falling in love would ruin everything. Laurel can’t stay in Eugene, and he can’t leave. Doug’s only hope is to convince her the glittery life she’s after could blind her to the opportunities already in her path.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books

Author Bio

Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance and cozy mysteries from her home in Washington State. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, belly dances, plays guitar badly, and gobbles all the books.

Where to find Sadira…

Author Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | BookBub | Amazon Author Page | Pinterest | Instagram | Author Newsletter


10 Ways to Build Writer Resilience

I’m happy to welcome mystery author and executive coach Melissa H. Blaine to the Power of 10 series. Today, Melissa shares valuable insights and advice about building writer resilience.

Here’s Melissa!

What’s the bravest writing action you took today?

Creative work is filled with failure and setbacks. Rejections. Bad reviews. Publishers closing. Declining sales. Unsupportive family and friends. The list could go on. Every time we fill up a page with words or put paint to a canvas or pull images into a design we are taking a risk. Because creative work like writing is subjective, nothing that we create will be loved by everyone. Likewise, our writing or other creative work always includes some of ourselves in it. We’re not just laying our work on the line; we’re laying bare a piece of ourselves for the world to see and judge too.

Building resilience is important for writers as we navigate the challenges. Being able to bounce back from adversity is a skill that we can develop and nurture—one that will keep us writing when things look bleak or we don’t believe in ourselves. We may not feel brave or resilient or tough, but finding the paths ahead make us all of those things every day.

Looking to nurture your resilient spirit? Here are ten ways to find resilience in those challenging moments.

1. Acknowledge the Emotions

Emotions happen. As humans, we’re going to feel disappointment, anger, doubt, shame, and hurt when setbacks happen. Identifying and acknowledging what we’re feeling can not only be a healthy response but also help us move forward. By accepting the emotions, we give ourselves that chance to learn how to manage it in healthy ways and the acceptance can take away some of the destructive powers that negative emotions can have. Did a writing group member take a snipe at you that made you angry or upset? Acknowledge how you feel and why you feel it. Our emotions can be complicated creatures so getting to the bottom of things might reveal truths that help us move forward.

2. Find the Comeback Stories

Whenever we face a setback or a challenging event like a rejection, it can be easy to feel alone or to compare ourselves to other successful writers. The truth is that all of us struggle at some point. Look for the comeback stories in the people you admire or see around you. Maybe they have their own string of agent rejections or have had their publisher close the doors. Finding the stories of others who have gone through what you’re experiencing can not only make you feel less alone but also reassure you that the rejection, setback, or bad review doesn’t have to be the end of your story either.

3. Take the Big Picture

Setbacks, rejection, and bad reviews can feel like the end of the world. In the moment, it can feel like we won’t recover or that there’s no way forward. Taking the big picture can help you focus beyond the moment. Maybe your dream agent didn’t love your book, but there are many other agents out there who might love it. A missed deadline can be defeating in the moment, but might not even be noteworthy in five years. Try to see above the fray. Will this matter in two months or two years? Does it really close off the paths forward or do you need to shift a little to find a way through?

4. Use Your Strengths

Everyone of us has character strengths that we draw on every day. These include positive traits like hope, humor, curiosity, perseverance, and bravery. When negativity seems like it’s hanging around us like a dementor waiting to pounce, consciously using a character strength can help you summon your patronus to banish it away. Learn to recognize your signature strengths and you’ll get better about being about to call them up to help you rebound. Imagine that you’re on a writers’ panel at the biggest conference of the year in front of your favorite author and you fall getting into your chair and then spill a glass of water down the front of your shirt. Disaster? Maybe not. You call up your humor strength, crack a joke, and your favorite author invites you to lunch.

5. Look for the Lesson

Whenever we fall flat, it can be difficult to peer into the dark and look for the truth. We’d rather hide or blame it on someone else. It’s OK to take some time, but don’t forget to look for a lesson in there. Does that hurtful bad review have a grain of truth in there that can help you improve the next book? Is the feedback from your critique group the same week after week? Is that typo that haunts your dreams a symptom of rushing through things or not hiring a copyeditor? Finding the lesson can help you improve and grow, as well as giving you good practice in learning from the adversity.

6. Fall Forward

We all fail. At some point, something isn’t going to work or go our way. Falling forward means that we take what we’ve learned through the failure and fall forward with growth, new insights, and better skills. What we try might not work, but it can move us forward, if we let it. Maybe that story you wrote isn’t garnering rave reviews from your critique group, but you gained experiences and new insights so you’ll fall forward from where you started. If you fall forward, you use those experiences and insights to help you succeed on the next step.

7. Write Your Own Comeback

What if you could write your own success story? Try journaling about your next steps and successes in the future. Writing down what you’re feeling or where you want to go can help give you perspective about what’s happening. Research has also shown that talking to yourself in the third person or as “you” can help people perform in stressful situations better than if they use “I.” Give it a try in your journaling. It can help reduce feelings of shame as well as help us be more objective in our feedback to ourselves.

8. Build Your Community

We can’t always choose who we interact with but finding your community can help you foster resilience. Look for people who you can trust to both give you honest answers as well as who want the best for you with no strings attached. Your inner writing circle can have an effect on your self-talk so it’s good to be choosy and find your people, including the people that you hire and entrust your work to like editors, coaches, and marketers. Lean on your community in those moments when you need support and a boost up. That’s what friends are for, after all.

9. Use the Muse

Those hard moments can drain our creative well. It’s not unusual to find your creativity flagging along with your spirits after you read that not-great review or your book isn’t selling well. Sagging creativity then feeds into the negativity because if you can’t write, you can’t find your way out of the pit. Bolster your muse by doing something new, taking yourself on an artist’s date, or getting in some quiet time. Your muse might not make a sudden, dramatic appearance, but a new idea or story will eventually start itching in your brain. Give yourself the space and use the muse to pull yourself back into writing.

10. Delete the Doubt

Whenever those setbacks happen, imposter syndrome likes to show up right behind them. We doubt our ability to write, to be a writer, to succeed as a writer. Deleting the self-doubt that tries to keep us from moving forward can help us bounce back quicker and easier. If we believe that we are resilient and brave, we’ll act more resilient and brave. If we know how to kick self-doubt to the curb, we can find that healthier, stronger relationship with ourselves and our writing that lets us skip over some of those challenges like a pebble on water.

Online Course

Is doubt holding you back from writing or publishing your book, blog, or dissertation? Writing is hard; doubt makes it harder. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Delete the Doubt is an online course designed to help you learn to use good doubt productively and banish the bad doubt from your writing life. When you embrace the good doubt, you’ll be able to use it—because that’s where creative genius happens—and spot when good doubt starts to turn to self-doubt so that you can stop it in its tracks before it stops you. Through the course, you’ll develop your own roadmap for deleting doubt so that you can draw on the strategies that work best for you. Choose the Delete the Doubt course option that works best for you: course only, two-month course program with weekly group coaching and discussions, and premium three-month course with 1-1 coaching sessions each week.

Get 50% off any course through February 17, 2020.
Visit this website and use the code prelaunchhalfoff.

Bio

Melissa Haveman (aka Melissa H. Blaine) is a mystery author, Michigander, and executive coach. She has almost eighteen years experience as a developmental editor and writer, and she’s also served as the Director of Content for an academic publisher. She’s taken hundreds of writing projects from start to finish, working with experienced and beginner writers alike.

Melissa is the owner of Creatively Centered, an executive coaching business that specializes in making remote work, work. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the SinC-Guppy chapter, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, and the Grand Rapids Region Writers Group (GRRWG), as well as the Center for Executive Coaching and the International Coach Federation.

Her sociology degrees have led to many hours researching gravestones, urban legends, and how villains are created in history. When she’s not in front of her computer screen, Melissa is off hiking with her (hell)hound.

Author Website | Coaching Website | Instagram | Twitter