Start With 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.

The following words were written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the Crypts of Westminster Abbey:

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But it, too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed my self first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and, who knows, I may have even changed the world.


Inspired by C.S. O’Cinneide

Sunday afternoon, I attended the “How to Write Frightening Fiction” workshop facilitated by author C.S. O’Cinneide (Carole) at the University of Guelph. A former IT business analyst with 25+ years of technical writing experience, Carole has written Petra’s Ghost, a novel that resonates with both literary and horror communities.

Carole’s Backstory

From an early age, Carole enjoyed writing fiction. While she enjoyed her IT career, she hoped to write a novel someday. At midlife, Carole decided to seek inspiration and direction on the Camino di Santiago.

Her supportive husband looked after their two teenage daughters and a German exchange student while Carole was away.

Walking 30 kilometers each day, Carol completed the ancient five-hundred-mile pilgrimage that crosses Northern Spain in one month. During that time, a woman was abducted and killed on the Camino.

When Carole returned to Canada, she spent two years writing and editing Petra’s Ghost, a novel loosely based on that tragedy. Intrigued by the storyline, Dundurn Press offered Carole a contract within three days of receiving the manuscript.

At Sunday’s meetup, Carole shared information and advice in an entertaining and interactive session. A short Q & A period followed.

Here are seven nuggets that captured my interest:

• Terror and horror are not mutually exclusive—most scary fiction is a mixture of the two ends of the spectrum that has terror on one end and horror at the other.

• Horror gives people a safe place to face their fears. In one of the exercises, we were asked to list 10 things that frightened us. In the sharing session that followed, a number of “fears” emerged, among them sharks, earthquakes, and shame/embarrassment.

• Don’t terrify readers the entire time. Use a balance of light and dark to give the reader a break from the tension at regular intervals.

• Develop an inner struggle to match the external one. Publishers and readers want a deeper story to go with the thrills and chills.

• Make the threat real and present for the reader. Writing in the present tense can add to the immediacy of the danger.

• A “hook” is essential when writing frightening fiction. Write the first chapter and then find the place where the “hook” occurs (often halfway or near the end of the chapter). Rewrite, starting from the hook. The earlier prose can be reused as backstory or flashback.

• Speak the language to get your book published. Do your research and decide on the best descriptor (magical realism, psychological suspense, speculative fiction, etc.) for your manuscript.

Blurb

A man’s pilgrimage becomes something from his darkest nightmares when secrets arise and ghosts haunt his path.

A woman has vanished on the Camino de Santiago, the ancient five-hundred-mile pilgrimage that crosses northern Spain. Daniel, an Irish expat, walks the lonely trail carrying his wife, Petra’s, ashes, along with the damning secret of how she really died.

When he teams up to walk with vibrant California girl Ginny, she seems like the perfect antidote for his grieving heart. But a nightmare figure begins to stalk them, and Daniel’s mind starts to unravel from the horror of things he cannot explain.

Unexpected twists and turns echo the path of the ancient trail they walk upon. The lines begin to blur between reality and madness, between truth and the lies we tell ourselves.

Amazon (Canada) | Amazon (US) | Indigo | Barnes & Noble

Books on Horror

Danse Macabre (Stephen King)
Monster, She Wrote (Editors: Lisa Kröger, Melanie R. Anderson)
Horror: A Literary History (Xavier Aldana Reyes)
Writing Horror (Edo Van Belkom)

Helpful Links

Horror Writers Association (http://horror.org)
Ladies of Horror Fiction (https://www.ladiesofhorrorfiction.com)
Carole’s Website (https://www.shekillslit.com)

Thanks to Karen Ralph and Marion Thorpe for organizing this event.


Hold On and Don’t Give Up

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.

Zen Buddhist monk Haemin Sunim shares his trademark spiritual wisdom in his latest bestseller, Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection.

Here’s one of my favorite passages:

Know that your continuous and accumulated efforts will eventually help to turn your circumstances around. The pitcher Chan Ho Park, the first Korean-born Major League Baseball player, once told me something that sums this up: Whether you are in a slump or riding high, whether fans are cheering or heckling, the only thing you can control is the ball you are about to throw. And though no single ball can do much on its own, taken together, all the balls you throw are enough to bring about a big change.

Your efforts, however small, are never in vain. Even the most vicious storm runs its course eventually; as long as your hold on and don’t give up, you’ll be able to see the sun come out again…We can do it, all of us!

Source: Love for Imperfect Things, p. 249


How to Create Anything

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.

Here’s a one-size-fits-all infographic for writers, artists, and other creatives.



Spotlight on The Monday Book

I’m happy to welcome author Shari Ramming. Today, Shari shares her new release, The Monday Book.

Blurb

In the midst of pain, Shari Ramming saw an opportunity to learn and create The Monday Book to help others find themselves in their brokenness. With personal evaluations, she guides you to wholeness. Shari lays out steps to finding the treasure in the trauma of life: Acknowledge, Honor, Connect, Practice, and finally, Open to receive the gift of the lesson. Her simple straight-forward advice for fixing whatever feels broken is “begin and continue.” It seems hard in practice, but in showing up for yourself, you’ll find small ways to daily love yourself and become the cure for your own brokenness. Her message puts your problems outside so you can interact with them in a productive way. By seeing everything and everyone as a reflection of yourself, you’ll become more compassionate toward yourself and everyone else. Open yourself up to the true and best you.

Excerpt

Imagine this. A woman seemingly without doubts about her life. A wholesome and satisfying life filled with family, travel, friendships, children, and social activities. Her focus is on accomplishments, security, and home life. A life that is fast and full. Caught up in the way life seems to zoom when it is bursting with an abundance of three children, a few businesses, multiple homes, a crowded travel and social schedule, and the usual day-to-day duties.

I believed putting my family first was important, that coming in second (or third) for myself worked out okay. With that belief I lost myself and my own power. My passion and my uniqueness.

Life showed me where I was powerless, and also where my power was. My life, until that point of reckoning and painful loss, was ostensibly satisfying. What had guided me was being challenged.

What I had used previously needed some serious updating. I was being tested and I was being shown my darkness. I was meant to understand that I needed to let go of previous held beliefs that kept me going but were not evolved enough for where my life’s journey was taking me. All the change, death, disease, and dishonor was a fierce way of being shown a new path.

buynow

Author Bio and Links

Shari Ramming writes on a broad range of subjects. She feels there is a great intelligence that is not of the mind. Loving her three grown children fiercely she uses verve and wanderlust to make her home in Austin, Texas. She is still learning.

To learn more about Shari and her books, go to http://www.shariramming.com.

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Giveaway

Shari Ramming will be awarding a $15 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Shari on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.


It’s Time to Let GO

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:

Twenty years ago, when Marc and I were just undergrads in college, our psychology professor taught us a lesson we’ve never forgotten. On the last day of class before graduation, she walked up on stage to teach one final lesson, which she called “a vital lesson on the power of perspective and mindset.” As she raised a glass of water over her head, everyone expected her to mention the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” metaphor. Instead, with a smile on her face, our professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from a couple of ounces to a couple of pounds.

After a few moments of fielding answers and nodding her head, she replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass is irrelevant. It all depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light. If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache. If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor. In each case, the absolute weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As most of us students nodded our heads in agreement, she continued. “Your worries, frustrations, disappointments, and stressful thoughts are very much like this glass of water. Think about them for a little while and nothing drastic happens. Think about them a bit longer and you begin to feel noticeable pain. Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed, incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

Think about how this relates to your life.

If you’ve been struggling to cope with the weight of what’s on your mind, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.

It’s time to let GO…

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


A Tale of Two Cats

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.

A longtime fan of Wayne Dyer, I enjoy reading his books and watching his telecasts. I especially like listening to his rendition of the following tale: