Change One Thing

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 this time of COVID-19, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by our circumstances. Focusing on what is within our control and taking tiny steps toward future goals can help us gain perspective.

This excerpt from Cassie Werber‘s article provides more details:

In order to make any change in one’s life—whether it’s to get out of debt, become fit enough to run a marathon, or get on better with your family—start with a single change. It should be small; not a goal, but a tiny first step. It could be to run for ten minutes; to spend two minutes drawing; to prepare a healthy work lunch for one day a week. It could be to stay in hard conversations for a moment after you want to leave, and spend that moment trying to listen.

Leo Babauta (founder of Zen Habits) advises that to turn changes into habits, it’s important to make the change tiny, and let it embed: he suggests making one change every four to six weeks. Having experimented on himself, he also advises addressing one thing at a time, rather than trying to solve work, love, health, or family problems simultaneously. He’s boiled down all his teachings into what he calls one “algorithm…a series of steps that you can apply to make any change, no matter what your situation”:

1. Start very small.

2. Do only one change at a time.

3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).

4. Be grateful for every step you take.

The beauty of the method is that its smallness removes the problems that result from many self-help recommendations and resolutions: too often they leave people quickly overwhelmed by the task in hand, or swamped by a sense of failure. The change should be so small it’s not hard to do. What takes rigor, for people drenched in stimuli and commitments, is identifying something that is truly small enough.

Source: The Zen Rule for Being Happy: Change One Thing


Book Blast: Dog Town

I’m happy to welcome author Debbie L. Richardson. Today, Debbie shares her latest release, Dog Town.

Blurb

Harry loves to race around the streets of Dog Town. When he stumbles upon the lost city of cats, he finds himself in a race against Dog Town’s fastest canine, Grizzly.

The winner of this race will have the power to save Cat World, or destroy it.

Harry wants to win, but there is one small problem. The race is in the ocean, and Harry is terribly afraid of water.

Can Harry overcome his fear of the water and save Cat Town?

Excerpt

Harry spied the bell of the clock tower over the treetops. He heard the bell strike the first of twelve chimes.

“First place, here I come,” he whooped with delight.

“First to the finish line has to take a bath,” Fleabag shouted, right on his tail.

“Stop changing the rules, Fleabag,” he barked.

“At least we can tolerate a bath,” Junior cried out, though from further away.

Junior was talking about Harry’s phobia – called ablutophobia, a fear of water. Harry suffered terribly from it. He was even afraid to get too close to his water bowl in case it tipped over. And he never bathed. His brown coat could very well have been white underneath the dirt for all anyone knew.

He could see no point in bathing anyway, because he often rolled in something filthy afterwards.

Even now, the thought of water made Harry look up at the sky. Above was a wide expanse of blue without a cloud in sight. Just the way he liked it.

Sneaking a look behind him, he saw Junior trailing behind in third place. Junior’s attention was more on the traffic than on the race. But Fleabag, who was in second place, was gaining on him. She was competitive, probably more competitive than Harry, yet something other than competitiveness propelled Harry forward. Harry was the champion racer, and he’d been the champion racer for two years. He wasn’t about to quit and give up the title.

Buy Links

Kobo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Author Bio and Links

Debbie Richardson has published fiction novels as D L Richardson. She has published three young adults supernatural fiction novels, and science fiction and supernatural thrillers for adults. This is her first children’s book.

She was born in Dublin, Ireland and grew up in Australia. It was always crowded and noisy in the family home. At one stage there were also three dogs, a cat, a budgie, and three mice living with seven people the same house.

Debbie learned to find a quiet space within books.

She now lives in the south coast of New South Wales with her husband and a small dog named Teeka.

Website | Facebook

Giveaway

Debbie Richardson will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Enter here

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

My Yoga Practice…Then and Now

In late June of 2009, the following newspaper advertisement caught my attention:

Unlimited yoga during the months of July and August for $160

I planned to attend three classes a week and see how I felt by the end of the summer.

I was hooked after the first week.

The classes were small, and the instructors were able to work with me on an individual basis. I test-drove all the instructors and then zeroed in on my favorites: Amy, the social worker from Newfoundland who had completed her training in India; Claudia, the young mother who offered a structured class that appealed to my left-brain tendencies; and Lisa, the quintessential willow.

Continue reading on the Soul Mate Authors blog.


A Week of Mermaid Posts

I’m grateful to everyone who supported the $0.99 promotion of my mermaid novels, Between Land and Sea and The Coming of Arabella.

Special thanks to the bloggers who spread the news throughout Canada, US, and UK.



Here’s a recap of the week’s posts:

Monday, March 30

Sharing Mermaid Humor (my blog)

Tuesday, March 31

A Tale of Two Trailers (Sisterhood of Suspense blog)

All About Fantasy Hen Lit (Jacqui Biggar)

Antagonist Interview (Sue Berger)

Wednesday, April 1

Are You Ready to Suspend Belief? (Chris the Story Reading Ape)

Mermaid Wisdom (C.D. Hersh)

Inspirational Quotes (Nancy Badger)

Thursday, April 2

Men and Mermaids (Peggy Jaeger)

Interview with Vicki Batman

Friday, April 3

Interview with Helen Hulene Bartell

A Different Kind of Fantasy Element (my blog)


***Today is the last day of the sale***

Blurb – Between Land and Sea

After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged, weathered, and abandoned on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. She faces her human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.

With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, she reinvents herself as a career counselor, motivational speaker, and writer of self-help books. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers. As Isabella evolves into Barbara Davies, she embraces her middle-aged body, heals her bruised heart, and learns to love again.

This contemporary version of The Little Mermaid offers hope and inspiration to anyone who has been dumped, deceived, or demoted. It will also appeal to mermaid enthusiasts.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Blurb- the Coming of Arabella

On the day of her engagement party, an ex-mermaid’s life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of another mermaid—a sister she has never known. Under normal circumstances, Barbara Davies would be overjoyed, but her special day is already wrought with tension. While Barbara is not the first mermaid from the Mediterranean kingdom to settle in small town Ontario, she has yet to reveal her origins to her fiancé. So, when Arabella, the gorgeous sister whose disturbing black eyes banished her to the island of Crete, saunters into her life, clutching the arm of Barbara’s discarded lover, a powder keg of emotion is released.

Relationships falter and careers stall as envy stirs in the hearts of the sisters. On the verge of meltdown after her fiancé leaves Canada for a teaching job in Vermont, Barbara flees to Arizona hoping for a reprieve. There, she finds solace at a retreat for ex-mermaids and a second chance at love with a charismatic preacher. As she contemplates a new life in the desert paradise of Sedona, shocking secrets emerge and tragedy strikes. A stronger and wiser Barbara rises up to face these new challenges and embrace the best parts of her mermaid heritage.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


Cover Reveal: Bear With Me

I’m thrilled to reveal the cover of Marilyn Barr’s debut novel…

Back Story

Bear with Me was originally a journal entry describing my family’s first full day after moving to Kentucky in 2015. Main character Alison’s struggle to act normal with sensory processing disorder mirrors my own challenges. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) is a dysregulation of how the body perceives the world and its use of our seven senses. Each person has a different combination of over-responsive and under-responsive senses.

Alison has the same combination as myself, where we are overly sensitive to smells, tastes, and hearing. Social events that involve eating are a nightmare. It is not that I am a picky eater, but that different food textures scrap along the inside of my mouth to varying degrees. I will cook a large repertoire of foods but would only eat five different meals when I went to college. I knew my husband was “the one” when he didn’t make fun of my eating in our college cafeteria.

While I have normal eyesight with contact lenses, Alison and I are under-sensitive to touch, proprioception, and vestibular senses. This is where most of my social problems occurred growing up. I cannot feel if my shoes are on the wrong feet, my clothes are on backward, a sign has been placed on my back, or a teen boyfriend was grabbing my behind. Because of these issues, I decided to turn this aspect of SPD into Alison’s superpower. The last two senses describe where our bodies feel they are in space. Those of us who are under-responsive fidget, dance, and use grand hand gestures to verify the gravitational input most people receive naturally. You can imagine the trouble I had sitting in a desk at school.

In addition to SPD, Alison and I homeschool our autistic sons, both boys have savant syndrome. This portion of the autism spectrum is the characterized in television shows like “The Good Doctor” and movies like “Rain Man” where the person has one outstanding area of expertise to the detriment of other skills. In Bear with Me, Henrik is a musical savant with behavior troubles in public school. He sings, composes, and plays the piano at a virtuoso level. My real son is a linguistic savant. He excels in the areas of grammar and syntax, not only in English but in many foreign languages as well.

I hope to show readers a growing section of the homeschool community in Bear with Me referred to as secular homeschoolers. These families homeschool for reasons other than religion. The children of rural Strawberry are an hour’s drive from the nearest school, so each parent teaches their area of expertise with all the children in the community as classmates. In real-life Kentucky, we call these groups of families: cottage schools or parent-lead co-ops depending on whether money exchanged between parents. In Strawberry, the parents exchange teaching classes but do not pay each other monetarily. Green Witch Alison teaches math and science. Pizzeria owner Rosie Paulino teaches language arts and Italian. Also, her son Henrik takes online classes from a local university in his area of expertise (as my son takes foreign language classes from Outschool Professors in different countries)

Blurb

Blue eyes, dimples, and silky brown hair; Grant Luther has all of Alison’s weaknesses.

When he asks for one last chance to save their marriage, she agrees to relocate their family to isolated Strawberry, Kentucky in pursuit of his career dreams. Grant views Alison’s sensory issues as limitations and protects her from outside threats. When he finds his new job includes changing him into a shifter in a war against the soul-sucking Sluagh he vows to keep the changes a secret. What he doesn’t know is Alison has been hiding a magical secret of her own. One that makes her a target of the Sluagh.

Will Alison emerge from Grant’s shadow to protect her family? And can Grant learn that being different can be a strength not a weakness?

Excerpt

“You look perfect. I mean perfectly healthy. I mean mostly uninjured,” she stammers. She places her tiny hand over her eyes.

Feeling braver than ever, I walk right up to her. I gently remove the hand from her face and hold it to my own. “See, I’m fine,” I whisper as I gently rub my thumb over her tiny knuckles.

Her eyes lift to mine and lock our gazes. I have always found the golden color of her eyes fascinating but never studied them up close. They are light brown with a golden star in the middle. I am literally star gazing as she takes in the injuries to my face. We stand there for about a minute, lost in time.

I wonder if she is thinking about when we first started dating, the hard times that followed, the present, or the future. I search her face for clues but don’t want to break the spell by opening my mouth. I decide to put said mouth to better use by lowering my head toward hers.

Book Trailer

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1heqPeGLXyocP2ou3e_VJkxxCVdcMni4F

Bio

I have a diverse background containing experiences as a child prodigy turned medical school reject, published microbiologist, special education/inclusion science teacher, homeschool mother of a savant and advocate for the autistic community. This puts me in the position to bring tales containing heroes who are regular people with different ability levels and body types, in a light where they are powerful, lovable, and appreciated.

I currently reside in the wilds of Kentucky with my husband and son. When I’m engaging with the real world, I’m collecting characters, empty coffee cups and unused homeschool curricula. In my perfect world, we would use our talents to work together in the pursuit of the perfect, yet allergen free, pizza.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads


A Different Kind of Fantasy Element

While planning Between Land and Sea (Book 1 of the Mediterranean Trilogy), I considered different fantasy elements.

What advantage could I bestow upon a beautiful mermaid who had given up her tail and lost her mermaid powers?

A magic wand came to mind, but I quickly dismissed a possibility often associated with fairy godmothers and benevolent elders. In this case, there was no such elder. Isabella’s grandmother (and chief elder of the Mediterranean Kingdom) had reacted quickly and savagely to her granddaughter’s defection, aging her thirty years and adding twenty pounds to her slender frame.

I let several ideas percolate and then settled on a magic tablet with online mermaid support. For twelve months, Isabella/Barbara would have access to Lisa738, a Numbers Mermaid programmed to provide basic and Specialist Skills.

Here are five features of a magic tablet with online mermaid support:

1. A Numbers mermaid is assigned to each tablet. These mermaids are the worker bees who make everything possible in the Mediterranean kingdom. In addition to their daily tasks, they spend hours keeping up with technological advances and staying at least one decade ahead of humans.

2. All the buttons on the tablet are raised and shiny. Their glaze has been treated with magnetic ions. The ions from the button will penetrate human skin and gravitate to the brain. In less than five seconds, all the information from the button will be absorbed.

3. If an ex-mermaid is feeling overwhelmed by daily tasks, she can request a speed burst button. This button allows her to work two, three, five, or ten times faster than normal.

4. A desensitization button is also available. This button can convert fearful, negative thoughts into positive ones. Ex-mermaids need this button to help them overcome their fear of flying and any other phobias they may have. It is equivalent to two full years of therapy.

5. Ex-mermaids can also request three Specialist Skills buttons during their first year on Earth. These powerful buttons enable them to master a chosen skill or ability in a short period of time. Imagine Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours minimized to mere seconds.

In Between Land and Sea, Isabella/Barbara asks Lisa738 for her first Specialist Skill in the following excerpt:

Excerpt

Barbara picked up the tablet and pressed the green button.

Lisa738 appeared. “Greetings, Barbara. What can I do for you today?”

“I’m giving my first dinner party and I’m not certain—”

Lisa738 interrupted, “You need a Specialist Skills button. No problem, but I think you should know that you are only entitled to two more of these buttons during the coming year.”

Barbara made a mental note to ask Gillian for more information regarding the tablet. “Of course. What will I be able to do with this button?”

“You will be able to whip up any dish in any cuisine. You will also have an extensive knowledge of the ingredients and nutritional value of any meal you create.”

“Like Martha Stewart?”

Lisa738 laughed. “Martha Stewart. Rachael Ray. Nigella Lawson. You will be able to hold your own with any of them.” She pointed to the new button that appeared below the screen.

Barbara picked up the button, peeled off the coating, applied it to her left temple, and waited for the unsettling sensation. This time, the experience was more intense. Barbara lost her balance and had to hold on to a nearby chair for support.

Lisa738 winced. “I forgot to warn you about the power of the Specialist Skills buttons. You may need to lie down for an hour or so. Are you planning a large dinner party?”

It must be very lonely for Number mermaids in the underwater kingdom. Barbara recalled her few interactions with them. She knew that they spent long hours in front of terminals and did not socialize with the other mermaids. She decided to be kind. “No, it will just be Graham and me.”

Lisa738 nodded in approval. “You have a male companion. How is that progressing?”

“We’ve been going out for almost two months now. Our relationship is a comfortable one.”

“Is that enough for you? In spite of all that has happened, you are still a Bella. You need and deserve passion.”

Blurb – Between Land and Sea

After giving up her tail for an international banker, Isabella of the Mediterranean kingdom is aged, weathered, and abandoned on the fog-drenched shores of southwest England. She faces her human journey as a plain and practically destitute fifty-three-year-old woman.

With the help of a magic tablet and online mermaid support, she reinvents herself as a career counselor, motivational speaker, and writer of self-help books. Along the way, she encounters a cast of unforgettable characters, among them former mermaids, supportive and not-so-supportive women, deserving and undeserving men, and several New Agers. As Isabella evolves into Barbara Davies, she embraces her middle-aged body, heals her bruised heart, and learns to love again.

This contemporary version of The Little Mermaid offers hope and inspiration to anyone who has been dumped, deceived, or demoted. It will also appeal to mermaid enthusiasts.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Blurb- the Coming of Arabella

On the day of her engagement party, an ex-mermaid’s life is disrupted by the unexpected arrival of another mermaid—a sister she has never known. Under normal circumstances, Barbara Davies would be overjoyed, but her special day is already wrought with tension. While Barbara is not the first mermaid from the Mediterranean kingdom to settle in small town Ontario, she has yet to reveal her origins to her fiancé. So, when Arabella, the gorgeous sister whose disturbing black eyes banished her to the island of Crete, saunters into her life, clutching the arm of Barbara’s discarded lover, a powder keg of emotion is released.

Relationships falter and careers stall as envy stirs in the hearts of the sisters. On the verge of meltdown after her fiancé leaves Canada for a teaching job in Vermont, Barbara flees to Arizona hoping for a reprieve. There, she finds solace at a retreat for ex-mermaids and a second chance at love with a charismatic preacher. As she contemplates a new life in the desert paradise of Sedona, shocking secrets emerge and tragedy strikes. A stronger and wiser Barbara rises up to face these new challenges and embrace the best parts of her mermaid heritage.

Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)


Poetry In the Time of COVID-19

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.

April is National Poetry Month, a month set aside to appreciate poets, past and present. Today, I’m sharing a timely poem from Lynn Ungar.

Read more about Lynn Ungar and her poems here.