Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Insecure Writer's Support Group: When the Going Gets Tough

The first Wednesday of the month is Insecure Writer's Support Group! YAY us!


 

June Question: When the going get gets tough writing a story, how do you keep yourself writing to the end?

My Answer: Ah. What a great question!! I've been in that spot many, many times. The best trick I have is to open one of my favorite books on the craft of writing, randomly flip to a page, and then whatever concept is explored on that page, I apply it to the passage/chapter/scene that I'm struggling with at the moment. So for example, if the challenging scene is about two characters walking through a park and the random concept from the writing book is about second-person point of view . . . I'll rewrite the challenging scene in second-person POV. The exercise gives my brain a different way to process the writing, the story, the characters, and stepping out of my typical method gives me more insight and hopefully some new excitement for the story. I don't need to keep the changes I make during the exercise; I just need to remotivate myself to move forward in the story. Detours exist for a reason. They help us navigate around the hazards and construction sites. Give it a try. Take a detour. It may just open up a whole new landscape you hadn't considered before or even known existed.




What are your thoughts? How do you move past the bumps in the road in your writing?


Friday, May 20, 2022

Book Review: THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE by Bessel van der Kolk

 The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh. Boy. This was a challenging book to read, but so worth the effort and time! I highly recommend it.

Trigger warning: this book goes into explicit detail when relating examples of trauma. I tried to skim some of those examples, because I didn't want to internalize it all, and sometimes I had to set the book down for a while after reading the heartbreaking details of other people's trauma.

This book explains so much valuable information. Now that I've finished reading, I will go back and review the highlights, bookmarks, and notes I made throughout it. I'll journal about those points and discuss them with my therapist.

While I dread the idea of working through my own trauma, I am excited at the idea of healing my broken bits. This book has left me feeling hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Book Review: INTUITIVE EATING by Tribole & Resch

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet ApproachIntuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Anti-Diet Approach by Evelyn Tribole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book broke me. Seriously.

I've always known I had issues with food, but I had no idea my issues ran so deeply. This book was a huge eye opener for me. After reading it, I realized I had to seek help from a professional therapist--someone to go through the book with me chapter by chapter to discuss what issues were triggered for me and how I could resolve them. So I researched therapists who specialize in disordered eating, and I met with four to try to find a good fit for me. Interestingly enough, all four therapists told me that I do not have disordered eating and I do not need a therapist who specializes in that. They all told me I have unresolved trauma and I need a therapist who specializes in PTSD and trauma work. Huh. Imagine that. So now I'm meeting weekly with a therapist who assures me that once I've dealt with the trauma from my past and once I learn new coping mechanisms, the food issues will be resolved. I'm dreading having to face all that old junk, but I am excited to heal my broken bits. Wish me luck. ...

View all my reviews

 

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Off to My Happy Place

Well, if you need me . . . feel free to knock on my tent door:


I'm off in the boonies for a while, loving life and loving the peace only found in nature.





Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Book Review: Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor

When I was offered a chance to read this cute summertime rom-com, I jumped at it. Scroll down for my complete review.


Long Story Short

by Serena Kaylor

Published by: Wednesday Books

Publication date: July 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-1250818416


Description from the Publisher:  Beatrice Quinn knows that she belongs at Oxford University and has spent sixteen very serious years studying to get in. Homeschooled and a whiz at statistics, she thought the hardest part would be getting accepted, not convincing her parents to let her go. To get their permission and prove that she can conquer her social anxiety, Beatrice will have to attend a Shakespearean theater camp and complete a detailed checklist of teenage milestones. With Oxford on the line and a new enemy in the form of the camp founders’ popular son, it’s too bad there’s no textbook for being a “normal teenager.”


About the Author: Serena Kaylor likes to write about that first flush of summer love, whispered conversations at midnight, and endings happy enough to make your toes curl. She grew up running wild as a changeling through North Carolina swamps, and as an adult, has wandered from libraries into medicine. When she’s not writing, she can be found experimenting in her kitchen, wallpapering any blank surface, and hugging every dog that will let her. Long Story Short is her debut novel.


My Review:

This was a fun read!

Serena Kaylor's debut, Long Story Short, offers up a terrific summertime adventure for all of us who are nervous to step outside our comfort zones. 

Yes, this story is promoted as a rom-com, but it's not only that. It's a fun adventure about a socially awkward girl trying to learn more about people and the world around her while discovering more about who she truly is and what she likes in life. 

And yes, it is funny. There were several laugh-out-loud moments for me. For example: "I imagined that like most skills, there would be a learning curve to kissing, and I could anticipate poor performance until given the opportunity to receive some instruction."

While overall, I loved the book, there were a few hard to believe moments: when her finger "slipped" and she accidentally applied to Oxford; when her parents, who are therapists, discussed clients by name and issue (huge violation of HIPPA laws and gives therapists a bad rep), and when the physical touching aspect of her new-found relationship happened too fast. But none of these criticisms overshadowed my enjoyment of the book.

If you're looking for a fun, light, summer read, pick up a copy of Long Story Short by Serena Kaylor.

Some of my Favorite Lines:

"I nodded , always a beat behind as the conversation moved forward before I could organize my thoughts enough to contribute."

“It’s easy not to care what other people think of you, when you obviously don’t care either.”


[I received an early copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Challenges Associated with Audiobooks

Happy April everyone! I love seeing the spring flowers blooming and the never-ending blue skies of Idaho. It's the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's time for another installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group.



This month's question: Have any of your books been made into audio books? If so, what is the main challenge in producing an audiobook?


My answer: My first book, Who R U Really?, was made into an audiobook, but I did not produce it. My agent sold the audio rights to Audible. They produced it. They chose the narrator. They oversaw all the production responsibilities. The only part I played in the process was to speak with narrator prior to the recording to review pronounciation of certain words, like Skadi and Thea. Other than that, I had no input. And that was the biggest challenge for me. Letting go of the control and hoping for the best. I was super nervous to listen to it the first time, because it was already post production and no changes could be made. Thankfully, the narrator did a terrific job, and I was thrilled with the final product.


For more information about the Insecure Writer's Support Group visit their website. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Insecure Writer's Support Group: Writing Hard Scenes

Oh, it's the first Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for another installment of Insecure Writer's Support Group. I always find the questions SO thought provoking.


This Month's Question: Have you ever been conflicted about writing a story or adding a scene to a story? How did you decide to write it or not?


My Answer: There are quite a few scenes in WHO R U REALLY? that actually happened in real life. The hardest part about writing the story was making those real-life scenes translate into a believable fictional tale … because sometimes real-life events are too hard to believe. For those of you who've read the story, the scene where the mother and daughter played Scrabble was the hardest scene for me to write, because not only did that game happen in real life but the devastating events that immediately followed the game also happened. As I wrote the scene, I got very emotional. It was hard, but if the story was going to be shared, the scene had to be written. To make it tougher, I had to write it from my daughter’s perspective rather than my own since it's a book for young adults.






Wednesday, January 5, 2022

IWSG: Writing Career Regrets?

"The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling."


 

This Month's Question: What's the one thing about your writing career you regret the most? Were you able to overcome it?

My Answer: Oh. Boy. This question made me stop and scroll back through my memories. As a general rule, I resist dwelling on regrets, because I cannot go back and change the past. However, I can move forward and make different decisions if I choose. But. To answer the question, my one writing career regret is that I waited until later in life to start. I wish I'd began pursuing this goal back in college. I knew as a young child that I wanted to be a writer, but various life pressures pushed my feet down a different path, and I pursued a business degree instead of an English degree. The second part of the question, "Were you able to overcome it?" Hmm. To a point, relatively speaking I was. I am a published author. But sometimes I wonder where my "career" would be if I had started all those years back in college. As I mentioned, instead of dwelling on the past and what could have been, I prefer to keep my eyes forward and make decisions to enhance my life now.

What about you? What are your thoughts on the topic?

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Book Review: THREADS OF YOGA by Pamela Seelig

As an occasional yoga participant, I was thrilled to be offered a copy of this book to read and review, hoping it would reignite my passion and commitment to practicing yoga regularly. Scroll down for my complete review.

THREADS OF YOGA
by Pamela Seelig
Published by Shambhala
Publication Date: September 28, 2021
ISBN: 978-1611808797

Description from Publisher: Deepen and enliven your yoga practice with 30 themes based on Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras that can inspire on and off the mat. Yoga draws many practitioners because of its physical benefits, but it is often the experience of peace that people return for. Threads of Yoga supports those seeking to learn more about yoga’s deeper spiritual teachings. Each short chapter introduces a foundational yogic theme, such as letting go, the breath, the yamas and the niyamas, and the chakra system. Each theme is accompanied by practices, including meditation, complementary poses, breath work, or quotes to contemplate. It is an ideal guide for both practitioners and teachers who want to connect with the spiritual wisdom of yoga, deepen their personal practice, or develop and support a theme for yoga class.

About the Author: Pamela Seelig is a yoga teacher based in New Jersey. She began her yoga and meditation journey in 1991 when an illness interrupted her Wall Street career. Along with helping recovery, the impact of her meditation led to a lifelong pursuit of perceiving and sharing yogic wisdom through practice, teaching, and writing.


My Review:

During the pandemic, at a time when I most needed yoga, I neglected my practice. When I heard of this book, I selfishly hoped that something within the pages would reignite my desire to hit the mat again. It did, and I am so thankful.

I loved reading this book. I devoured every chapter, page, paragraph, sentence, and word. 

THREADS OF YOGA by Pamela Seelig is packed full of ancient wisdom and presented in a digestible manner for today’s average person. To quote from page two: “Threads of Yoga relies on ancient texts, such as Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, but it isn’t religious or scholarly.”

As with every nonfiction book I read, I started this one by scanning the table of contents, flipping through the pages, and reading the author’s credentials. The table of contents is concise and easy to process. It gives a clear picture of what to expect within the pages of the book. I love that. Flipping through the pages, I noticed there were no pictures or diagrams, but the end of each chapter consistently features practices to explore and consider during your own daily rituals. These contain tips for meditation, physical practice, relaxation, and quotes to contemplate. I look forward to returning to these pages to explore in depth the suggested practices. Regarding the author’s credentials, at first I was concerned, wondering what a former Wall Street career woman could sincerely offer on this topic of yoga, especially when she writes in the introduction: “the present-day perception of yoga is often of a purely physical practice with its associated clothing and accessories.” That rubbed me a bit wrong, thinking that is a mindset for the rich and affluent but not your average yoga practitioner. Who knows? Maybe I’m wrong. But the fact of the matter is that regardless of Seelig’s background and former career on Wall Street, she has put in the time (many years) studying and researching “ancient yogic wisdom.” She is a talented writer, and her knowledge is evident on every page. 

This is definitely a book I will read again, and again, utilizing it as a resource manual, a daily meditative guide, and reminder to check myself. Where am I on my path? I’m I heading intentionally in the direction I want? Am I being kind to myself? Do I need to realign and balance myself?

My only criticism of the book is I wish it had pictures and diagrams. I am not an expert at yoga, and so pictures of poses would have been helpful. Likewise, pictures of the mudras would make it easier to practice them. While I am familiar with chakras, diagrams would help drive home the relevance of the content.

There are so many valuable nuggets within this book, I suggest buying your own personal copy and mark it up as you read – mark it with Post-it flags, highlighters, and penciled-in notes. Then read it again.

If you have friends you practice yoga (on any level) this book would make a perfect Christmas present.



[I received a copy of this book from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]



Thursday, November 18, 2021

Book Review: GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIPS - NATIONAL PARKS

Reader's Digest has outdone themselves, again! Last time, it was Scenic Drives. This time, they're featuring National Parks. Scroll down for my complete review.



GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIPS - NATIONAL PARKS


Compiled & Published by: Reader's Digest

Publication Date: 10/19/21

ISBN: 978-1621457305


Description from Publisher: 

First-person accounts and gorgeous landscape photos paired with practical information and tips to help travelers make the most of their journeys through more than 40 national parks.

National parks are America’s most-beloved treasures. The editors of Reader’s Digest magazine reveal first-person accounts and gorgeous landscape photos paired with practical information and tips to help travelers make the most of their journeys through these unique areas.

Included you’ll find information on more than 40 national parks and incredible images from readers. Plus:

• A historical introduction along with a national park timeline.

• An illustrated map of each state for each national park story, pointing out the location of the park within the state with a marker.

• Inspirational and gorgeous photos in gallery sections for each region to make this a terrific coffee table book or gift for travelers.

• Then and now comparison photos of national parks.

• Helpful added information, including possible rest stops, can’t-miss area hot spots, fun facts, handy advice for planning ahead, possible side trips and nearby attractions.

Whether you’re an armchair traveler or ready to pack and roll, Great American Road Trips: National Parks has everything that you are looking for.



My Review:

Christmas is just around the corner, and this book would make an excellent gift for anyone and everyone on your list! The photos are amazing, the descriptions and narratives are intriguing, and the history is fascinating.

My only complaint is the book seems to favor some states over others. I would have loved to see a more balanced representation of the entire nation. According to www.nationalparks.org "The National Park System encompasses 423 national park sites in the United States. They span across more than 84 million acres, with parks in each state and extending into the territories, including parks in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam." This reinforces my criticism that while California garners coverage of six National Parks, Idaho is not featured at all in the book. But that is my only complaint. Otherwise, it's a terrific book, deserving space on everyone's shelves.

The editors have also included throughout the book interesting nuggets of information about the various locations, including "Not to be Missed" features, "Words to the Wise" advice, and "Nearby Attractions."

I highly recommend this book as another addition to your personal library.





[I received a copy from FSB Associates in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.]