Life is Like a Cup of Coffee

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.

Earlier this month, I shared a Zen parable about a cup of tea. I’ve decided to give equal time to coffee drinkers. This YouTube video is one of my favorites, especially at this time of the year. The professor reminds me of Sister Leona Spencer and David Campbell, two educators who inspired me to pursue a teaching career.


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Inspiration from Paulo Coelho

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 Alchemist, a magical allegory about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from Spain to Egypt in search of treasure, is one of my go-to books whenever I need a strong dose of inspiration. Over 65 million copies have been sold, and it is the most translated book in history.

In 2014, author Paulo Coelho celebrated the 25th anniversary of this phenomenon. When he appeared on Super Soul Sunday (September 8) with Oprah Winfrey, I taped the telecast.

Here are some of his observations and insights:

We all have a personal legend. And the key behind that legend is enthusiasm. We need to ask ourselves what gives us enthusiasm, keeping in mind that we betray our personal legend whenever we do something without enthusiasm.

We become fluent in the language of the world by daring, and we learn this language by paying attention and making mistakes. Omens and signs are everywhere. We need to look at everything as if we are seeing it for the first time.

Remember that wherever your heart is, there you will find your treasure.

The heart is like a flower. It can be very brave or easily hurt.

Always listen to your heart, even when it scares you.

Before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one “dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.”


Small Town Girl

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Janeen Swart to the Second Act Series. Today, Janeen shares her journey from small town girl to multi-published author and her new release, The Hidden Truth.

Here’s Janeen!

Growing up in a small town in Indiana may have been the best experience or the worst depending on your viewpoint. For me, it was the best. My two sisters and I were raised with strict traditional values and rules for the life of a Christian. It was felt that one shouldn’t do anything on Sunday except attend church twice, rest, read your Bible and maybe visit with friends after church. Most of our friends would not have any alcohol in their homes and when the adults visited quite often the topic of discussion was about religion or the politics of the church or the Christian School. Dad was a deacon several times and on the first board for the beginning of the DeMotte Christian School.

Once I left for college, my horizons expanded giving me the chance to see many different viewpoints. I wanted to do it all; visit France (my intended major, French), work at the UN, and travel to see the world. But guess what? After my freshman year, I met the love of my life and we made plans for me to switch colleges and marry after my sophomore year. That meant commuting to finish my classes and moving back to that same small town in Indiana, on a farm no less. However, living in the same area, did not mean going back to the strict life-style of my youth. Our sons were fortunate to grow up within a different focus on Christianity.

Since my career plans had changed dramatically, at first I was at a loss as to what I wanted as my major. My husband suggested teaching, something I had never thought I wanted to do, but as I got into the education classes, it became another love. I taught for twenty-five years and enjoyed every minute. (Oh, is it okay to lie in a blog?) While teaching and reading many children’s books, there was always that little voice that said, maybe I could write books as good as these. But of course, life moves on and there was never enough time in a day with a full time job, being secretary for our business, two busy boys to care for, and various animals, too.

After retiring from teaching at age fifty-five, it was time to move forward with my dream of writing. I took two online courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and a Children’s Writing Course through Indiana University Northwest. Now I thought I was ready and would soon see my stories in print. Not immediately, but after many rejection letters, A DOG AND HIS BOY, was published through a small Christian publisher. I self-published my other five children’s books using Create Space. During this same time I had joined an online critique group and through that group, my young adult novel, THE HIDDEN TRUTH, became a reality. I submitted it to Soul Mate Publishers and was ecstatic when I received my contract to publish it as an e-book. My experience with the Soul Mate authors has been awesome.

So, coming back to my first statement about growing up in a small, rather traditional town, has it affected my writing? Yes, definitely. I could never write erotica or use sexual scenes in my books. I would feel silly doing that. Not that I haven’t read books with that content and enjoyed them, but for me it’s not a writing option. So, the best advice I can give to those who want to begin to write is be true to yourself, and then, have fun with your writing. Maybe, just maybe, you will become one of those best-selling authors we see featured in the bookstores.

Blurb

After being struck by lightning while jogging, Clara’s dreams cause her to question the issues of DNA changes, cloning, and genetically modifying food. In her dreams she visits an environmentally perfect world where an angel-like being tells her to watch for a sign.

While Clara searches for answers, her boyfriend, Brian, becomes active in demonstrations against a local biophysics company, named aptly, New Nature. Clara convinces her Science Club to begin a project to confront this company to make them more accountable. She and John, a new friend, vow to do their part, using peaceful strategies.

Brian’s jealousy results in several uncomfortable incidents between the three teens. Things go awry when a few of the Science Club members go beyond simple investigation by breaking into New Nature, then later sabotaging the company’s biosphere.

What’s even more troublesome is the fact that Clara suspects her ex may be the one behind the crimes.

Relationships and beliefs are tested as Clara searches out the truth. In the end, her questions are answered, but at a cost, she hadn’t anticipated.

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Where to find Janeen…

Website | Facebook | Amazon | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | BookBub

Joanne here!

I’m always happy to feature a fellow educator on this blog. Thanks for sharing your inspiring journey, Janeen.


A Small Dose of Inspiration

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 discovered the following short clip during the first winter of my retirement. Each time I watch it, I feel a surge of positive energy.

A Cup of Tea

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 Zen story always brings a smile.

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

Source: 10 Short Zen Stories


Take a Leap

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Soul Mate author Carol Roddy sharing insights and advice from her multi-act life.

Here’s Carol!

By my count, I am now in my third—or perhaps fourth act. Let me talk about the move from one to two.

Like many folks, college involved some changes. I was happily majoring in East Asian Studies and dreaming of possible graduate work at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service when I met Beloved. My priorities shifted quickly and I launched into my first act as a stay at home Mom. Initially it was all consuming. Children—bright, interesting, creative little people—came quickly and took all my attention. Parenthood may be a lifetime commitment, but little ones are temporary; they insist on growing up.

Several factors pushed me into the next act.

• As much as I liked having children, I craved intellectual stimulation. I also craved conversation with adults. Graduate school helped with those two.
• Raising a family on one income is tough.
• My youngest started school. Keeping house bores me silly, especially one empty most of the day.

After finishing my Masters in Library Science, I went to work in a public library. I could have stayed there for thirty years. I didn’t. Many factors weren’t working for me including the fact that typical library hours (2 nights a week and every other Sunday) aren’t terribly family-friendly. Leaving a good professional job for a part time clerical position at a small technology company close to home was a huge risk.

However, that risk resulted in an explosion of knowledge. I had walked into a small, creative, innovative company, a place where if you could think it up, you could do it. It was the pre-Internet days, but within two years I had built a database of technology products for disabled children, mounted it on a dial-in platform for public access, and written my first tech manual.

Alas, after a few years, our funding disappeared and I moved on. Over the next thirty years I zigzagged through a time of upheaval in the technology industry, working for companies and divisions that were bought, sold, merged, and disbanded. I was laid off and in a position where I had to lay others off. I helped close a division; I built new organizations from scratch three times. I directed shared library technology at the state, county, and local level.

I learned:

• Risks pay off. Even when one doesn’t pay off, it moves you closer to your goal.
• To do nothing is a bigger risk than stepping out. You will never achieve a goal if you are afraid to make changes.
• Change forces growth. Sometimes something has to end for something new to take life. Embrace it.

That leads me to my third act. In the middle of work I loved, something in me kept longing to write fiction. I worked on my first novel for several years, but I never told anyone except Beloved. Approaching retirement, I knew I wanted writing to be what filled my need to be creative. I also knew it wouldn’t happen if I kept hiding it.

I took a risk. I sent that first book to a critique service. Was it great? No, but I learned a ton, and began the second book. I took another risk: I began pitching my books, swallowing rejecting and learning more. Why not just publish it myself? It wasn’t ready and wouldn’t earn back what an editor would cost. As luck—or God’s kind providence—would have it, Soul Mate Publishing accepted one of my books within months of my retirement. I’m not on the NY Times bestseller list, but I have awards, top pick reviews, and, above all, readers who like what I do. I’m a happy camper.

My advice? Don’t let fear of failure keep you paralyzed. You learn the most when things don’t go right. Nothing will happen unless you take a risk.

About the Author and Her Books

Caroline Warfield’s passions are faith, family, history and travel and all four drive her stories. She writes historical romance set in the Regency, Late Georgian, and Victorian eras. She is currently working on a Children of Empire, a series set in the 1830s, when the British Empire was approaching its zenith.

Three cousins, who grew up together in the English countryside, are driven apart by deceit and lies. (You may guess a woman is involved!) Though they all escape to the outposts of The British Empire, they all make their way home to England, facing their demons while finding love and the support of women of character and backbone. They are:

• Randolph Baldwin Wheatly who has become a recluse, and lives in isolation in frontier Canada intent on becoming a timber baron, until a desperate woman invades his peace. (Book 1: The Renegade Wife)
• Captain Frederick Arthur Wheatly, an officer in the Bengal army, who enjoys his comfortable life on the fringes until his mistress dies, and he’s forced to choose between honor and the army. (Book 2: The Reluctant Wife)
• Charles, Duke of Murnane, tied to a miserable marriage, throws himself into government work to escape bad memories. He accepts a commission from the Queen that takes him to Canton and Macau, only to face his past there. (Book 3: The Unexpected Wife)

Who are their ladies?

• Meggy Campeau, the daughter of a French trapper and Ojibwe mother who has made mistakes, but is fierce in protecting her children. (Book 1: The Renegade Wife)
• Clare Armbruster, fiercely independent woman of means, who is determined to make her own way in life, but can’t resist helping a foolish captain sort out his responsibilities. (Book 2: The Reluctant Wife)
• Zambak Hayden, eldest child of the Duke of Sudbury, knows she’d make a better heir than her feckless younger brother, but can’t help protecting the boy to the point of following him to China. She may just try to sort out the Empire’s entangled tea trade–and its ugly underpinning, opium, while she’s there. (Book 3: The Unexpected Wife)

Book 3, The Unexpected Wife, will be released on July 25.

Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane, doesn’t expect to find his great love when he accepts an unofficial fact finding mission to Canton on behalf of the queen. He certainly doesn’t expect to confront his wreck of a marriage in such an exotic locale. Zambak Hayden follows her brother to China to escape pressure to make a suitable marriage. She finds the brother drawn into the world of greed, smuggling, drugs, and corruption and resolves to both sort out the truth and protect her brother from becoming prey to all of it—if only she could stop yearning for the one man she can’t have.

Here’s a short video about it.

It’s a good time to read Book 1 and begin the series!

For more about Children of Empire and all of Caroline’s books, look here.

A prequel to the series, A Dangerous Nativity, is always ***FREE*** at various retailers. Find out more here.

Stay in touch with Caroline in cyberspace in any of these places:

Website | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter | Newsletter | BookBub | Email

Joanne here!

Carol, I’m in awe of all the risks you have taken. You are an inspiration! Best of luck with all your literary endeavors.


10 Life Lessons My Puppy Taught Me

I’m happy to welcome Soul Mate author Michelle Jean Marie to the Power of 10 series. Today, Michelle shares the the invaluable life lessons she learned from Juno, a purebred Akita.

Here’s Michelle!

We’ve all had people in our lives who inspire us. It might have been a teacher in grade school, a supervisor at work, or a wise grandparent. We take the lessons they taught us and apply them to our behavior going forward.

As a writer, I’ve had many mentors. They’ve helped me in my craft, my relationships and my work. The names are too numerous to list here. However, I would like to acknowledge one family member in particular. Her name is Juno. She is a purebred Akita. We took her in on July 23, 2017 at 3 1/2 months of age. She is a rescue from The Midwest Akita Rescue Society. She’s only been with us a short while, but the lessons she’s taught me have been invaluable.

1. Enjoy the simple things – As advertisers invade our world, we begin to believe that in order to be happy, we have to buy whatever they are selling. So that’s what consumers do – go out and buy the biggest of the big of the next best thing. It comes home to use for a few months until the next best thing comes out. Then it gets put to the side with all those other outdated gadgets. Watching Juno, I see the utter joy she has in playing with her toys. Some we bought. But others, like an empty plastic bottle, bring GREAT joy as she bats it around the room. The more noise it makes skidding across the floor, the better! Something so simple…

2. Having fun doesn’t have to be costly – Another brainwash we’ve heard from advertising is that we can’t have fun unless we spend money at their theme park or on their luxurious cruise ship. Who says we can’t have fun right in our own back yards? Have you ever played fetch with a puppy? Have you ever had a puppy run helter-skelter toward you in the yard, only to veer away at the last minute? The bigger they get, the harder they run. Tell me the joy on their face isn’t more valuable than riding the fake waves on a cruise ship.

3. Don’t let intimidation/fear rule you – Many of Juno’s experiences are new to her. As a puppy, she’d never seen a leaf blower or a senior citizen with a walker or a child on a skateboard. Whenever she sees something different and new, she stops dead in her tracks. She doesn’t run away. She stands and faces the new experience, walks slowly toward it and inspects it closely. Once she realizes it isn’t something that will hurt her, she either walks away content, or begins to play. How wonderful would our lives be if we didn’t run from anything unfamiliar? If we faced the unknown with courage, then embraced it?

4. Kindness goes farther than correction – When training a puppy, frustration sometimes overrides common sense. But the best trainers will tell you that puppies learn best with positive reinforcement. Treats and hugs go much further than yelling. Removing them from a situation, or better yet, preventing their access to a situation, is more effective than trying to correct them every time they do something wrong. Think about this the next time you are in your workplace and a co-worker or employee makes a mistake.

5. Sleep is overrated – Who needs eight hours of sleep a night when you can be up at 6am to start playing? And after napping all day, why not stay up until midnight, full of energy and ready to take on the world? Sure, we can’t nap all day like our dogs do, but if you had to lose 30 minutes of sleep to spend time playing with your kids or dogs, isn’t it worth losing that sleep?

6. Time is irrelevant – Dogs have no sense of time. You can be gone five minutes or five hours and they don’t know the difference. They are just as happy to see you when you come home from an 8-hour work day, as they are when you come back inside from picking up the mail at the end of the driveway. Think how happy your family would be if you greeted them with the same enthusiasm every time they came home.

7. It’s all in the journey – Have you ever been driving alongside a car where a dog has his head sticking out the window? They don’t care where they’re going. They’re living in the moment, enjoying the wind in their face, the sun in the sky and the wonderful smells of the world outside their home. When was the last time you took in the scenery as you drove, rather than getting annoyed at the way others drive? When have you noticed the fog hugging low to the ground? The sun rising pink on the horizon? The snow-covered earth turning the world white and silent?

8. Be loyal and dependable – Dogs trust us to take care of them. In return, they protect us, provide comfort and watch out for our safety. They alert us to intruders, stay by our side when strangers approach the door, and bark insistently when the doorbell rings. They will defend us against other humans and dogs. And they will stay close when we’re feeling blue. That’s exactly how they want to be treated, too. How do you treat the humans in your life?

9. Be Yourself – Dogs love just being themselves. They know what toys make them happy, when it’s time for a good scratch, and which animals need to be chased out of the yard. They don’t care what others think. They just go ahead and DO, even if it gets them into trouble because it’s so much fun! Pretending to be something you’re not will never make you happy. Be true to yourself and be who you are.

10. Love is unconditional – We’ve all been hurt in relationships at some point in our lives. It may have been in grade school – that first crush! It may have been a failed marriage. But relationships you’ll never be let down on, are those with your dogs. You can work all day, correct their bad manners, and board them when you go on vacation. And yet, they still love you. Nothing you do will make them stop loving you. How wonderful to know that there is someone who will love you, no matter what.

Unconditional love is the basis for my upcoming release, TEMPTING PASSION. Having been hurt in the past, Marcus Clayton, Earl of Norbourne, is reluctant to allow passion into his life again. It will take a special woman to love him unconditionally. That woman is Miss Christel Fitzwilliam. But in loving him, will she sacrifice her heart? Meet Marcus, Christel, and special guest Zeno, an English springer spaniel who teaches them about true love. TEMPTING PASSION will be released in 2018. Meanwhile, meet Marcus in TEMPTING FATE.

Blurb

A Woman Ruined
Scorned by society for past indiscretions, Lady Alanna Clayton instead dedicates her time to improving the lives of orphans at the workhouse. When Alanna realizes their futures are in danger, she vows to protect them, no matter the means.

A Man Wounded
Lieutenant-Colonel Kellen Harrington, Marquess of Aldwich and future Duke of Wilkesbury, abandoned his responsibility for a career in the cavalry. He fled a life of abuse for a life of war. A dire summons brings him back to London and the estate he swore to never set foot on again.

A Secret Shared
Childhood friends, Alanna and Kellen are bonded by an old secret and fate reunites them to keep another. But in trying to save others’ lives, have they put their own in danger? Deceit, blackmail, and revenge challenge their every step as they navigate the dark alleys of London. And traverse the corners of their hearts.

Can Alanna tempt fate and save Kellen from his biggest danger – himself?

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Bio

After years of working in the Health Information Management field, Michelle became a stay-at-home mom to raise two adorable daughters and took advantage of her time at home to pursue a life-long passion—writing.

While attending a romance writing workshop at a local library, Michelle was hooked. She cracked open the research books, turned on the computer, and started cranking out historical romances. In her early efforts, she was an RWA Golden Heart finalist and winner/finalist in many RWA sponsored contests.

After ending one marriage, seeing her daughters through college, opening her own business, and finally happily marrying her soul mate, she opened those old computer files and did some serious editing. She signed her first publishing contract with Soul Mate Publishing more than twenty years after writing it. Perseverance does pay off!

Michelle lives in the Chicago suburbs with her husband, Steve, and their three insane pups. Their two-legged children have all moved on to their own homes and careers. By day, she runs a professional organizing business, a virtual assistant business, and a research web site. Her favorite clients are authors!

By night, she writes. She self-published Researching the British Historical: The Victorian Era, 101 Organizing Tips for Writers, I’m Moving!! Now What? and Nine Journeys: Stories of Women Who Found Their Own Paths to Success.

Where to find Michelle Jean Marie…

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | BookBub