When It’s Time to Dig Deeper

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 a recent post on the Writer Unboxed blog, author Jan O’Hara shared the following advice:

When we put a story out in the world, we are competing for attention with intrinsically compulsive media in a boundless landscape of fiction.

We are also competing with our own readers’ sophisticated imaginations. Readers understand story structure, if only at an intuitive level. They perceive the value of high stakes. They thirst for deep themes. And we must respect their skills and strive to be at our best, else our story will be overlooked for superior fan art.

Whether in outlining or in revision, at some point we must ask ourselves the following:

Do our characters want something meaningful?

On the path to their goals, do they face true opposition?

Will there be significant consequences if they fail?

If we can’t honestly say yes to the above, it’s time to dig deeper, using whatever tools best speak to our inner craftsperson, whether that means books or conferences, critique partners or beta readers, editors and agents—or all the above.

This is what it means to respect our audience. This is what it means to grow our skills. This is where our gratifying challenge lies—if we’ll but accept it.

Source: Writer Unboxed

Honoring Olivia Newton-John

A pop culture icon and activist for environmental and animal rights, Olivia Newton-John bravely shared her three-decade battle with cancer.

Olivia was born in England and emigrated to Australia as a child. She achieved early success in music competitions and sold an estimated 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She shot to global fame when she was cast as Sandy in the musical Grease.

After receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer, Olivia became a leading advocate for cancer research. In addition to promoting plant-based treatments and spearheading fundraising walks, she created the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne, Australia.

Her philanthropic efforts were recognized by Queen Elizabeth in 2020.

Dame Olivia Newton-John passed away yesterday at the age of 73.

My favorite quotations from Olivia Newton-John:

I believe love is what makes the world go round. No matter how old or young, love is why we are here. It is the very essence of one’s being.

I love that quiet time when nobody’s up and the animals are all happy to see me.

I do have high standards, but I don’t expect anything from anyone that I don’t expect from myself.

We wake up and are grateful for the day. Not taking away from the pain, because the pain will be there. But you live on.

I look at my cancer journey as a gift: It made me slow down and realize the important things in life and taught me to not sweat the small stuff.

My biggest mistake was my best lesson…you don’t learn anything when everything is going perfectly.

My memories are inside me – they’re not things or a place – I can take them anywhere.

To ‘be loved’ is the most basic of human needs. Like a flower, it waters the human soul. But ‘to love’ is a true blessing.

Cancer got me over unimportant fears, like getting old.

Once you face fear, nothing is ever as hard as you think.

My favorite song

Life Tips from Dandelions

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 thought-provoking perspective from the Mind Fuel Daily Blog:

We can’t think of a few plants as famous as the dandelion. Who as a child didn’t blow on its soft puffball and watch the seeds float away? Unfortunately, dandelions don’t have the greatest reputation and are considered a nuisance by countless landscapers and gardeners.

But once you get to learning about dandelions, you’ll find they have a number of lessons to offer. Whether you find this plant a pesky presence or just another a beautiful part of nature, we’ve rounded up all the surprising life tips this flower has to teach.

Weeds…or Wishes?

Sometimes, the only difference between a flower and a weed is a matter of perspective. Some people look at dandelions and see a weedy menace. Others smile at its yellow blossom and look forward to making wishes with its puffy seeds. With dandelions, as in life, your attitude shapes everything. Choose to see the flower that grants wishes instead of weeds.

Be Useful

The dandelion is incredibly versatile. From stem to root, it’s entirely edible. Not only that, but it’s also been used for everything from folk medicine to dye. Dandelions also improve soil quality, leaving behind nitrous and other nutrients. Not too shabby for such a common plant, huh? The dandelion teaches us no matter how unassuming or ordinary we may seem; we actually have a whole lot to contribute to the world.

Adapt

Dandelions adapt easily and are able to grow in all sorts of soil types and conditions. And not just grow but flourish. This is partly why they’re so prevalent. In fact, dandelions are “pioneer plants”, those plants that are among the first to repopulate the soil after it’s been disturbed (like after a wildfire). In other words, dandelions make do even in the roughest situations. We know you can too.

Embrace Change, Let Go When Necessary

So many are familiar with the dandelion’s evolution from a yellow blossom to a white puffball. Once that soft tuft appears, the dandelion will soon release its seeds into the wind. Dandelions know that change is simply part of life, and just as important, they know when to let go.

Travel Far

Did you know? Dandelions seeds can travel up to five miles in the wind. That may not seem like much, but it’s pretty impressive when you learn that dandelions have nearly conquered the world. A brief history of this flower reveals they were once exclusive to Eurasia. Now? They grow on six different continents. Take a cue from the dandelion: go far and be willing to take on any new terrain.

Be Tenacious

Of course, dandelions are so commonly known as weeds because they are so pervasive and persistent. If you mow or cut them, they simply come back. Rip their roots out, and any remaining roots will simply grow more dandelions. While some might see this as a nuisance, we think this a prime lesson in determination! Be like the dandelion, be tenacious.

Source: Mind Fuel Daily Blog

On Meeting Limits with Unlimited Thought

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 highly recommend A Year of Miracles by spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson. I have followed the 365 reflections and devotions over several years. Here’s one of my favorites:

Our power lies in meeting limited circumstances with unlimited thought. It is not what happens to us, but what we choose to think about what happens to us, that determines what will happen next.

If our circumstances tempt us to think thoughts such as “I’m a loser,” “I will never have another chance,” “It will take forever for this situation to right itself,” or “I hate whoever is to blame for this,” then miracles, though they are programmed into the nature of the universe, cannot make their way into our awareness. They’re in the computer, but we’re not choosing to download them. With every thought we think, we either summon or block a miracle.

It is not our circumstances, then, but rather our thoughts about our circumstances, that determine our power to transform them. We choose in life whether to live in victimization or in victory. We have power either way—power to use against ourselves, or power to use to free ourselves. The point is that we always have the choice, and it’s not always as simple as it appears.

Source: A Year of Miracles

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Welcome to my Second Acts Series!

Today, we have Wild Rose Press author Chloe Holiday sharing the radical change that catapulted her into an extraordinary second act.

Here’s Chloe!

Briefly describe your first act.

For many years I practiced medicine, in and out of the military. It was a challenging labor of love, between the complicated management of cancer patients, their emotional needs and those of their families, and the long hours. While it was tremendously rewarding, it took a toll, leaving little time for my family and almost none for me, for many years.

What triggered the need for change?

Things started to happen with my colleagues—serious diagnoses and even some deaths. I had a couple of health scares myself, and a family member developed serious mental health issues. Dealing with these required a radical change: leaving medicine since I could no longer devote the time to doing it right. This was horribly scary, and made worse by the dire predictions of coworkers that I’d feel empty without practicing but I knew something had to give.

I developed terrible insomnia the first year after this change, and read a hundred novels that year—a great luxury, since I’d read mainly medical journals for years. I thought, “maybe I could do this” and during the next Insomnia Edition, I started to write my first novel.

It wasn’t great—two stories squished into one, but it had potential and it was really fun, to unleash the creative side of me. I learned all I could about writing, and worked to fine-tune my prose to an easy-reading, fast-paced style.

Where are you now?

I’ve just published my seventh novel, Fly Boy. It’s about a crop duster in Texas, and have become a “number one best-selling Amazon author” and am branching out into audiobooks. I love writing and connecting to readers and other authors, and hope that my stories can give people a much-needed escape and positivity.

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

Do what you can to plan it—the finances, the timing, etc. so that you can “look before you leap” but understand that in the end, it takes courage and faith to commit to taking that step—you’ll always have a reason not to do it. Realize that while many will be supportive, some people in your life might actively discourage you, because your bravery in stepping off the treadmill will make them worry that they are making the wrong choice to stay. That creates cognitive dissonance and emotional stress for them, so they resolve it by taking the position that you are being foolish. Let them!

Any affirmations or quotations you wish to share?

Growing up, our family had two informal mottos. The first was, “How hard can it be?” and the second was “What’s the worst thing that could happen?”Those have stood me in good stead for every new endeavor, including making the jump to author.

Tagline

Tricia needs to liquidate assets to keep her late grandmother’s orchard out of foreclosure, but Travis—the guy who stood her up on prom night years ago—claims he had a handshake deal with Nana to buy the crop duster.

Blurb

Travis burned her once, but now Tricia must choose:

Flame him, or forgive and forget? Maybe he’s changed.

But … what if all the rumors are true?

Photographer Tricia Carlisle inherits her beloved grandmother’s orchard and leaves Chicago for her Texas roots, steeling herself to be immune to the charms of the small town—and those of Travis Walker, who stood her up on prom night seven years ago. Worse, she arrives only to find Nana’s place is in foreclosure. To have any hope of saving it, Tricia has no choice but to sell down assets—including her grandfather’s crop duster.

Travis Walker loses his last true friend when Nana Carlisle passes. Will his handshake deal to buy her crop duster survive now that Tricia is taking over? She’s cash-strapped and probably still hates his guts. He needs that plane—it’s his ticket out of this small town that sees him as a crook—but it’s on Tricia’s radar now.

Fly Boy is a steamy, stand-alone second-chance novella in the All-American Boy Series. It’s set in Deacon, Texas—home to sexy country boys and sassy, tough women. Warm, lazy afternoons in a hammock and swimming holes in a shady creek. Hot, heavenly Tex-Mex and even hotter kisses.

Come on down, y’all!

Author Bio and Links

Chloe writes steamy, fun novels about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, smart women and men who aren’t jerks. Her stories feature friendships—close women or a good bromance—with all the feels: the thrill of a smoldering gaze or the barest brush of fingertips, the shocked gasp at the underhanded villain, the angst of heartbreak, the joy of reunion, and of course, happily ever after!

She enjoys humor and embarrassing situations as well as a vicarious sneak peek into intriguing groups (military personnel, medicine, another culture like Greece, sailing, diving, or rock climbing…) A little danger is always fun, so many contain a suspense subplot.

She hates to read the same old thing, with only the names and places changed, so her goal is to bring you a fresh, fun, new story every time, with NO CLIFFHANGERS: a rollicking, great escape that whisks readers away and love prevails.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | BookBub | Amazon Author Page | Universal Book Link | Universal Audiobook Link

Other Books by Chloe Holiday

The Helios Series

Finders, Keepers | Helios | New Heights | Submerged Hopes | Hard Truths

The All American Boy Series

A Boy & His Dog | Fly Boy

Welcome Baby Kodiak!

The Catalyst for Change

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 long-time fan of bestselling authors and coaches Marc and Angel Chernoff, I look forward to reading their emails and blog posts. Here’s an excerpt from a recent email:

Many of the most iconic books, songs and inventions of all time were inspired by gut-wrenching pain and heartbreak. Therefore, the silver lining of these painful challenges is that they were the catalyst to the creation of epic masterpieces.

An emerging field of psychology called Post-Traumatic Growth has suggested that many people are able to use their hardships and traumas for substantial creative and intellectual development. Specifically, researchers have found that trauma can help people grow in the areas of interpersonal relationships, contentment, gratitude, personal strength, and resourcefulness.

When our view of the world as a safe place, or as a certain type of place, has been shattered, we are forced to reboot our perspective on things. We suddenly have the opportunity to look out to the periphery and see things with a new, fresh set of beginner’s eyes, which is very conducive to personal growth and long-term success and wellness.

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

10 Powerful Affirmations from Abby Wynne

I’m happy to welcome psychotherapist and author Abby Wynne. Today, Abby shares her new release, Awakening, Book 1 (The Inner Compass Trilogy), and ten powerful affirmations. These affirmations would have helped Melissa, the protagonist of the trilogy.

I’m a healer first and foremost, a writer second. My genre up to now has been self-care. I’m a Shamanic Psychotherapist, something that the main character in my book, Awakening, is not. Not yet, anyway. She is me but she isn’t me, some of her struggles mirror my own when it came to the journey of learning how to be a therapist. And some of them are very much hers.

1. I am safe

This seems like a simple thing to say, but to believe it 100% is incredibly difficult. Marissa was safe, as are most of us, but she believed that she was vulnerable, and fragile in the world. Repeating this affirmation helps anyone re-orient themselves, and get stronger.

2. I can and I will

This one is great for increasing self-confidence. Marissa has many essays to write, many live assessments to perform, and sometimes just getting the bus to work is a challenge. If she says ‘I can and I will’ instead of worrying so much, she would be much less stressed out!

3. I no longer need to cause myself emotional pain

Marissa questions everything, and brings it all back to self-doubt, which causes stress and elicits fear. By making a deal with yourself to not cause yourself deliberate stress, it really takes the pressure off.

4. I am here

This one sounds strange, of course you are here, but we are not always here. Particularly Marissa who drifts off to shamanic lands and other worlds while her body is in this reality. Sometimes we need to pull ourselves back into the room, othertimes its fun to travel. This one is a good anchor into the present moment.

5. Everything I need is right here

We all have a tendency to compare ourselves to other people. Marissa would be looking at her friend Joanne who is married with children, and thinking that she is lacking something, especially since James left her. Perhaps she’s not good enough for anyone? Well, if she had said this affirmation, she would be more solid, and perhaps more attractive for a new mate to show up in her life. Does someone new show up? Well, I don’t want to give you any spoilers!

6. I am learning how to look after myself

Marissa feels very grown up when she’s able to organise things well, and she feels scattered and small when she isn’t. I think that goes for most of us. By saying this affirmation out loud and meaning it 100%, we let go of our mistakes, and focus on what we can do, and do it better, and better, and better, until we can look after ourselves as best as we can. This one is important – try it!

7. Every Day I heal a little bit more

Healing is a process, and it isn’t a straight line either. Marissa feels at times that she goes backwards, and then berates herself for it. When you feel like you’ve regressed, remember that maybe it feels like going back, but what you’re actually doing is going deeper in, and healing something that you couldn’t heal the first time. Saying this affirmation is very empowering.

8. I call my power back to me right now

We lose power everywhere all the time. By calling our power back well, we become empowered. Marissa loses her power to other people, and to things that happen to her, and, she loses it in her dreams, too. If she had used this one, maybe The Inner Compass Trilogy wouldn’t have ended up a trilogy after all. Just as well she didn’t know this one for me!

9. I am worthy of love

Many people don’t feel this at all. It’s sad really, because if you exist, then you’re worthy of love. You just are looking at all the things that you don’t love about yourself. James left Marissa and she felt unlovable. But if she knew she was worthy, maybe some of her decisions would have been different. And maybe yours would be, too.

10. I am good enough for me

This is my favourite affirmation. We don’t always have to fix or change ourselves, we can be good enough, just as we are. And if we are waiting to be good enough for someone else, well, we will never get there. So let’s focus on improving the relationship that we have with ourselves – I’m all for doing that first. If we like ourselves, then we will have better boundaries, and choose people that are healthy for us. Being good enough for me, is good enough, for me, and I hope for you, too.

I hope you try these affirmations and that they change your life, help you anchor into the present moment, and let go of your expectation that the love you need is outside of you from another person. You can give yourself all the love you need, which makes you all the more loveable for someone else.

And do go out and get Awakening, and find out what happens to Marissa, maybe you’ll be shouting out one of these affirmations to her when she needs it the most. And maybe she’ll hear it too! Lots of love, Abby Wynne

Blurb

When Marissa’s fiancé leaves her unexpectedly, she is left trying to put the broken pieces of her life back together again. The magical years of her childhood are now lost or long forgotten and, trapped in a downward spiral of worry and anxiety, nothing seems to be bringing the magic back any time soon.

Training to become a therapist, Marissa discovers an unforeseen talent for helping others and, for a while at least, she puts her own needs and concerns to one side. An unexpected windfall prompts a spontaneous trip to Peru, and an encounter while she is there triggers an astonishing series of events. Shaken but excited, Marissa embarks on a wonderful journey of revelation and adventure – after which, her life will never be the same again.

Marissa’s story is your story, is my story, is everybody’s story: we each must find our own true path through life, our one true way.

Abby Wynne, author and Shamanic Psychotherapist, brings all her wisdom to bear on Marissa’s amazing tale of discovery and healing. A catalyst for people’s healing processes, Abby is a problem solver, a creative artist, an alchemist, a healer, a mother, a daughter, a lover of life – and it shows in this, her first novel.

Excerpt

Marissa looked out the window at the moonlight. It was half a moon and seemed to glisten through the tree branches. The leaves were falling, the days were getting darker earlier and earlier. A single star blinked in the pale sky, but the sky was too bright with light pollution to see anything more. She looked at the cloud as it crawled towards the moon, shifting and changing its shape. She could see a dragon in it for a moment, then it turned into puffs of smoke, and then the moon was hidden.

She put the notebook down beside her laptop and climbed into bed, leaving the curtains open. She liked moonlight. Her room in the half-light felt like an in-between place, her breathing slowing down, her body relaxing. Tobermory jumped up beside her, looking straight into her eyes. She stroked his back.

‘My familiar, my friend, my cat,’ she said, ‘what do you think? Do you have an answer for me?’

As usual, Tobermory was silent, but he held eye contact for a moment longer than Marissa expected him to. Perhaps he understood her? He mewed, then curled himself into a black circle on the bed beside her and began to purr.

Training, she thought to herself as she settled under the covers. But who is going to teach me?’

Author Bio and Links

Abby Wynne is the bestselling author of the “One Day at a Time Diary”, “How to Be Well” and “Energy Healing made Easy.” The Inner Compass Trilogy is her first novel, weaving her knowledge of shamanism, psychotherapy and energy healing into an exciting, fast-paced story which spans across many dimensions. Abby’s based in Ireland and lives with her husband, 4 children, a dog and a cat! Abby offers many ways to feel supported while you are on your path of healing; her mission is to empower people by teaching them how to heal themselves.

Website | Podcast | Instagram | Facebook | YouTube

You can buy The Inner Compass Trilogy on all good online bookstores.

Giveaway

Abby Wynne will be awarding a International – €50 off any of the digital products on the author’s website to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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

Life Lessons

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 his memoir, bestselling author James Patterson shares the stories of his life. Here’s one of my favorites from the collection:

To my surprise, maybe even shock, I quickly rose to become CEO of Thompson North America. I was still in my thirties. On the side, I was writing one or two bestselling novels a year. It was nuts. Something had to give or eventually I would.

Life lessons are everywhere, right? The trouble is, like most people, I tended to ignore them. I soldiered on though long days and nights. I was working too hard. I knew it.

But every once in a while, I snapped out of it and actually paid attention.

It happened to me on the New Jersey Turnpike, of all unlikely places. One Sunday afternoon, I had to leave the Jersey Shore for a meeting in New York. The last thing that I wanted to do was schlep back to work. The last place I wanted to be was hot, sweaty New York City in July.

An hour and a half after I left the shore, I was still trapped in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The proverbial turnpike parking lot. Cars moving at ten miles an hour.

On the other side of the road, an occasional car went whizzing by. Whoosh. Maybe one car every fifteen seconds.

Whoosh…

Whoosh…

Whoosh…

I sat there, mildly pissed, absorbing this very obvious life lesson for about an hour.

Then I finally got it. The lesson was simple and so very clear. Why hadn’t I seen it before?

My mission in life had to be to get on the other side of the highway. To get in the traffic lane that was moving. My life was going in the wrong direction.

I swear to God, that insight, that miserable time trapped on the Jersey Turnpike, drove me out of advertising.

I focused on writing novels.

And I made it my mission to try and find somebody who would love me and who I would love back.

Whoosh…whoosh.

Source: James Patterson – The Stories of My Life, pp. 122-123.

Five Life Lessons from a Butterfly

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 an inspiring post about butterflies from the Mind Fuel Daily blog:

These tiny, fluttering creatures are really teachers in disguise. Here are five bits of life wisdom, inspired by the beautiful butterfly.

Be patient. All good things come with time. We are growing, even when we cannot feel it. With great patience come great rewards.

Be open to change. Be willing to be transformed. Without change, nothing beautiful would happen. You have to give up who you are to become who you might be.

Be light and free. Have some fun. Float from each open door to the next. Look for the color, humor and joy in daily life.

Be spontaneous. Go wherever your wings take you. Fly forward with confidence. Have the courage to seize new opportunities.

Be in the moment. Look around. Enjoy the flowers, the sun and the breeze. The present moment is a gift for us to enjoy.

Source: Mind Fuel Daily Blog

It’s Okay

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 The Comfort Book, bestselling author Matt Haig shares little parcels of hope. Here’s one of my favorite passages:

It’s okay to be broken.

It’s okay to wear the scars of experience.

It’s okay to be a mess.

It’s okay to be the teacup with a chip in it. That’s the one with the story.

It’s okay to be sentimental and whimsical and cry bittersweet tears at songs and movies you aren’t supposed to love.

It’s okay to like what you like.

It’s okay to like things for literally no other reason than because you like them and not because they are cool or clever or popular.

It’s okay to let people find you. You don’t have to spread yourself so thin you become invisible. You don’t have to always be the person reaching out. You can sometimes allow yourself to be reached. As the great writer Anne Lamott puts it: “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”

It’s okay not to make the most of every chunk of time.

It’s okay to be who you are.

It’s okay.

Source: The Comfort Book, pp. 10-11