15 Things Mindful People Do Differently

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.

My well-honed left brain likes clear-cut instructions like those in this infographic:



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Honoring Toni Morrison

The first black woman to receive the Nobel literature prize in 1993, Toni Morrison lived a life filled with achievements and presidential honors. Her novels, among them The Bluest Eye, Sula, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, contain rich prose and unforgettable characters.

Ms. Morrison also taught at Princeton University and held workshops for aspiring writers. Her advice to her students is even more relevant in today’s world.

“When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.”

Last night, Toni Morrison died at the age of 88.

Here are more of my favorite quotations from Toni Morrison:

You wanna fly, you got to give up the thing that weighs you down.

Make a difference about something other than yourselves.

There is really nothing more to say—except why. But since why is difficult to handle, one must take refuge in how.

The function of freedom is to free someone else.

Anger…it’s a paralyzing emotion…you can’t get anything done. People sort of think it’s an interesting, passionate, and igniting feeling. I don’t think it’s any of that—it’s helpless…it’s absence of control—I have no use for it whatsoever.

You are your best thing.

At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.

If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it.

If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must be the one to write it.

Make up a story…For our sake and yours, forget your name in the street; tell us what the world has been to you in the dark places and in the light.


Movie Review: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

Time appears to have stopped as Quentin Tarantino focuses his camera on every detail of that memorable era from posters to knickknacks to songs to television programs to the Playboy mansion. Immersed in the Hollywood experience, I could have sat in the theater for even longer than two hours and forty minutes.

The film unfolds over three separate days in 1969, an eventful year that included Woodstock, the first lunar landing, the Beatles last public performance, the Chappaquiddick affair, and the Charles Manson murder spree.

Initially known as “Tarantino’s Manson Movie,” the actual film veers in a different direction. In one review, it is described as a “Manson-adjacent story” … something to keep in mind as you watch.

While Charles Manson has a bit part and Sharon Tate is played by Margot Robbie, the primary characters are TV Western star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and stuntman Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).

The film revolves around Rick Dalton’s entitlement issues. The star of B-movies and guest roles on television, Rick desperately wants to get cast in quality films. Always loyal and ready to help with any task, Cliff boosts Rick’s spirits while accepting his own hand-to-mouth existence. I would have liked more details about Cliff’s intriguing and somewhat shocking back story.

Other A-list actors include Al Pacino as Rick’s agent Marvin Schwarz, Kurt Russell as the stunt coordinator, and Mike Moh as Bruce Lee. Dakota Fanning, Lena Dunham, and Austin Butler play Manson followers.

As I watched, I experienced the full gamut of emotions. I laughed at the many character quips and the antics of Brandy (a well-trained dog), I felt uneasy when Cliff ventured onto the Manson compound, and I held my breath several times during the last horrific scenes.

A masterpiece of a movie!


Spotlight on Jane Renshaw

I’m happy to welcome author Jane Renshaw. Today, Jane shares her writing journey and new release, The Sweetest Poison, Book One in the Pitfourie Series.

‘How difficult can it be to write a Mills & Boon?’ That idiotic statement was my contribution to the conversation one lunchtime in the Edinburgh publisher’s office where I worked.

And so began a hilarious few weeks in which I and two colleagues each attempted to write a Mills & Boon romance. Rachel managed one and a half pages of Chapter One. Her ‘plot’ involved her heroine slipping on rocks into the arms of a passing hunk. She couldn’t be bothered getting them off the beach and into Chapter Two. But Annie and I persevered. We visited the library and borrowed bagfuls of the slim romances (‘They’re only 55 000 words each – we’ll be finished writing them in a month at the most!’), cringing as librarians shouted embarrassing titles across the room at each other (‘Have you got Part-Time Wife?’). We acquired favourite lines (‘The toolbelt rode his trim hips…’ ‘His eyelashes could have sheltered small mammals…’ ‘You little fool!’). We laughed ourselves silly making up our own titles (Tender Jailer… Bush Fire…). We conducted ‘research’ (the less said about that the better).

Annie found she was unable to write a proper plot outline because she got distracted by the sexy scenes. She based her hero on Dex from Dynasty and kept a photograph of him pinned to her noticeboard. We had long conversations about the imaginary Dex of her ‘novel’ and what he would do in any given situation.

My ‘novel’, meanwhile, was progressing quite nicely, I felt. My bumbling heroine, struggling to make ends meet, had opened a guest house in the Highlands of Scotland and soon encountered the brooding hero, who relished pointing out her many mistakes at every possible opportunity (‘You little fool!’).

But somewhere along the way, something strange happened. I began to care about my heroine and her guest house venture. She and the other characters in the story became real, living, breathing people to me. It was vital, suddenly, that she and the hero should get past their silly antagonism and find love…

I finished my book and sent it off to Mills & Boon. Of course they rejected it – it was derivative and badly plotted and… Well, there was so much wrong with it that it could have been used as an example of how not to write a romance novel. But it was too late. I had taken my tongue out of my cheek, and I was hooked on writing.

How difficult can it be?

Writing that ‘novel’ was the most difficult thing I’d ever done, and the most unexpectedly rewarding. I realised that I wanted to write something ‘for real’ – something true and honest and from my heart. And so began the long, hard, satisfying journey towards The Sweetest Poison.

Blurb

When life has cast you in the role of victim, how do you find the strength to fight back?

When she was eight years old, Helen Clack was bullied so mercilessly that she was driven to a desperate act. Now she is being targeted once more, but this time her tormentor’s identity is shrouded in doubt.

When her life starts to disintegrate, she flees home to the wilds of north-east Scotland, and to the one man she knows can help her – Hector Forbes, the dubiously charismatic Laird of Pitfourie, with whom she has been hopelessly in love ever since those hellish days in the school playground, when he was her protector, her rescuer, her eleven-year-old hero.

But is Hector really someone she can trust?

And can anyone protect her from the terrible secret she’s keeping?

Excerpt

It was a day like any other. The sun fell across the windowsill like it had yesterday morning, like it would tomorrow. She put her palm flat on the warm ledge and looked out across the yard and down the track to where it kinked across the burn. Then she turned and slowly walked right round the room, trailing her hand on the wall like a blind person, and thinking, stupidly:

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

Stupid because it was just walls, a little metal fireplace, a window, an old hook on the back of the door.

‘Helen?’ Mum called from downstairs.

‘Coming.’

In the kitchen Mum was standing in the middle of the room, like a visitor.

‘Right, I think that’s everything.’

Their steps sounded too loud as they walked across the empty room, and Helen put her hand on the doorknob and opened the door and went through and out into the yard like she’d done all her life.

And now she was looking across the yard at the byre tap, set into the stone, a huge old thing, green where the copper had tarnished. She and Suzanne used to shove their fingers up it to make the water spurt out at each other. But the person doing the spurting always got just as wet as the one being spurted.

And – how daft was this? – she wanted to pull the tap off the pipe and put it in her bag.

Author Bio and Links

Having discovered early in her ‘career’ that she didn’t have what it takes to be a scientist, Jane Renshaw shuffled sideways into scientific and medical editing, which has the big advantage that she can do it while watching Bargain Hunt! Jane writes what she loves to read – series of novels in which the reader can immerse herself, which let her get to know an engaging, interesting and/or terrifying cast of characters slowly, in the same way you get to know people in real life. Ideally, the drama should be played out in a gorgeous setting, and the cast should include at least one dangerously charismatic, witty, outrageous protagonist with whom the reader can fall in love. A bit of murder and mayhem in the mix never hurts either… Hence the Pitfourie Series.

Website | Amazon (US) | Amazon (UK)

Giveaway

Jane Renshaw will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

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


Act Two, Scene One

I’m happy to welcome back award-winning author Kathy Bryson. Today, Kathy shares her evolving second act and Feeling Lucky, Book One of the Fayetteville Fairies Series.

Here’s Kathy!

Act Two, Scene One of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream was the catalyst for my book Feeling Lucky. And Act Two, Scene One is probably a good way to describe where I was in my life and career when I wrote Feeling Lucky. I’d left corporate America and moved to teaching which left me time to write. But six years later, that second act had moved on to a new scene.

I wasn’t particularly planning to move on, but the thing about new acts is that while they usher in change, they don’t stay put. They keep changing. By the time my publishing contract ended, my second act had moved on to a new job, a cross country move, and the loss of two close family members. I gave myself permission to slow down, but that writing break was stretching into its second-year.

So why take on relaunching a book in the middle of that much change? Well, re-reading the book was wonderfully refreshing. I really enjoyed revisiting a story that I had enjoyed writing even though, yes, I still found typos and other errors! And after six years, you can see awkward spots and undeveloped places that you missed the first time around. Time is wonderful for editing, and it was just too tempting to do a little polishing now that I had more writing experience.

The part that was the most fun was creating new covers. After six years of pitching Feeling Lucky, I’d gotten a really clear picture of where the premise needed clarifying to readers. So, I had the great good fortune of finding and working with Dina Arakcheeva through Upwork.com to draw that exact picture. And they came out gorgeous!

The other factor that played into this decision was how much the industry has changed in six years. Amazon is still a big player, but there’s also iBook, Nook, Kobo and many other e-book distributors including Overdrive and Scribd for libraries. There are also many overseas distributors and easy ways to access them through services like Smashwords and Draft2Digital. Going wide is a personal decision and a fair amount of work, but if you’ve built up a selection of books, it can bring attention to your whole collection. You can also experiment with placing your book in new categories or trying out new keywords and phrases. And with new channels, you might reach new readers, bloggers, and reviewers!

Ultimately revisiting my book was very regenerating. It got polished, and going through the steps of re-editing and re-releasing helped me get back in the swing of writing regularly. Your second act is usually a little easier than your first because you’ve got some experience, but you still have to cope with change. If you can embrace and use it to create new stories while sharing old favorites, all the better!

About Feeling Lucky

A madcap fantasy of money and magic and making the most of your dreams!

Megan O’Malley was mortified when she got drunk and pinched the bandleader’s ass at a cousin’s wedding. But she was astonished when he turned out to be a leprechaun! Seems they’re not the little, green men of fairytales after all. They just say that because they like a good joke and what better way to hide the gold? Oh, that bit’s true – as is the part about not sharing.

Fergus O’Reilly cannot figure out what he did to upset the Queen of the Fairies. He was playing a wedding when a drunken lady pinched his ass and the Queen declared him caught. Now he’s broke, homeless, and hustling to stop the lovely lady with the wandering fingers from spending his money!

Available at your favorite online retailer – https://books2read.com/u/3kvq9W

In Feeling Lucky, we meet a different kind of leprechaun–a sexy one! And in an inebriated state, Megan O’Malley cannot resist pinching his attractive buttock. Having inadvertently caught the leprechaun, Megan must now deal with the unexpected consequences: an inheritance of five million dollars and an angry, money-obsessed Fergus O’Reilly camped on her sofa. What follows is a contemporary fantasy, reminiscent of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Kathy Bryson has written a delightful tale filled with witty dialogue, romantic tension and enough plot twists to keep you reading well into the night.

Enjoy!

About the Author

Kathy Bryson is the award-winning author of tongue-in-cheek fantasy that ranges from leprechauns who play the stock market to zombies who hang out with and harangue med students. She’d like to say she’s climbed tall mountains, rappelled off cliffs, and saved small children, but actually she tends to curl up and read, is a life-long advocate of Ben & Jerry’s, and caters to 2 spoiled cats. She works regularly with student writing, so she can claim to have saved a few term papers.
Follow her at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


3 No-Brainer Rules for Your Brains

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 her book, Writing with Quiet Hands, Paula Munier offers the following tips on firing up our brains:

KEEP IT REAL

The subconscious mind cannot distinguish between reality and visualization. So when you visualize yourself sitting down to write every afternoon at 3 P.M. or pounding out ten pages every night or plotting a thriller with more twists and turns than Hitchcock, your subconscious believes you–so make your visualizations as true to life as possible.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

Your brain can focus best on only one habit at a time. So if you are focused on summoning the muse–that is, acquiring the creativity habit–don’t try to lose weight or quit smoking or take up running at the same time. Give yourself two weeks to six months to establish your connection with the muse before devoting attention to other habits.

KEEP IT POSITIVE

The subconscious mind cannot process negation, so be sure that when you sweet-talk your muse, you use positive statements: “I am an imaginative writer,” (rather than “I am not a boring writer”).


Spotlight – Love on the Line

I’m happy to welcome author Kirsten Fullmer. Today, Kirsten shares her new release, Love on the Line, Book 1 in the Women at Work Series.

She’s an ordinary girl in an extraordinary situation.

Andrea left her comfortable home and her family to take a job building a pipeline with her estranged grandpa, Buck. She’s always been curious about his job, and why her mother dislikes him so much. She doesn’t expect, however, to uncover buried family secrets, for the job to be so difficult, or to be the only women on site.

Rooster isn’t a bad guy. He respects women; he was raised by one of the best. But that new girl on the job is too small and feminine. She’s a distraction, plain and simple, and she doesn’t belong on a pipeline. This job is his chance to impress Buck Brennan, a pipeline legend, and no girly greenhorn or workplace romance is going to ruin it for him.

Will Andrea prove herself to her grandfather and forge a relationship with the old man, or will continuous disagreements and unexpected sexual tension between Andrea and Rooster derail their hard work? Find out in this extraordinary coming of age story.

Goodreads | Amazon

Kirsten is a dreamer with an eye for art and design. She worked in the engineering field, taught college, and consulted freelance. Due to health problems, she retired in 2012 to travel with her husband. They live and work full time in a 40′ travel trailer with their little dog Bingo. Besides writing romance novels, she enjoys selling art on Etsy and spoiling their three grandchildren.

As a writer, Kirsten’s goal is to create strong female characters who face challenging, painful, and sometimes comical situations. She believes that the best way to deal with struggle, is through friendship and women helping women. She knows good stories are based on interesting and relatable characters.

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

Kirsten Fullmer will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to one winner via Rafflecopter. Find out more here.

Follow Kirsten on the rest of her Silver Dagger tour here.