Cancer Awareness Month

In a tribute to those we’ve lost to cancer and those who continue their brave battle, and to promote cancer research and awareness, I want to share how cancer has affected me personally.

No inspirational quotes today to prime the pump.  There is nothing which makes up for the loss of a parent, much less two.

My father died in 1969 as I was just beginning my journey into adulthood.  He died three weeks before his first grandchild was born.  So two people were deprived of the opportunity to know a man of character, honesty and integrity.  I believe my son would have benefited greatly from knowing his maternal grandfather who had a terrific sense of humor, a wonderful gift for storytelling, and an unshakable belief that family comes first and if you take care of the people you love, your family both of blood and friends who are chosen “family”, all other things will fall into their rightful place.

My parents were married after knowing each other only six weeks during World War II.  He abandoned his high school sweetheart, who’d promised to wait for him, and ignored the wishes of his family.  She outright defied the dictates of her strict parents and upbringing, for the man she fell in love with “the first time she laid eyes on him”.

They were married just shy of twenty-five years, when my Father became ill with cancer, and died six weeks after his diagnosis.

My mother survived the loss of her husband, known to be the love of her life, but barely.  The first year was the worst, and she suffered such a devastation of spirit, I thought we might lose her too.

They were madly in love with each other every day of their marriage and everyone around them knew just how it was for both of them.  The had a date every Saturday night and spent time with each other paying attention to their relationship as well as their family.

I learned different things from each parent, just the way it should be, and all the things they taught me were valuable lessons.  From my father I got three unbreakable life rules:  1) try to never lose your sense of humor, 2) value your education, 3) believe in the impossible, it makes things possible.

For several years after my Father’s death I still wanted to pick up the phone to share things he might agree with me were odd, or funny, and so I miss him still today, some forty odd years later.

During times of real stress, I know my Father is still with me, since I’ve seen his spirit in the house where I grew up.  I haven’t lost my mind, and I’m not the only one, my little sister still lives in that house and she’s seen him several times.  My Father, gone but not forgotten, still looking out for his loved ones.

So take a moment, share a thought, reminisce and use the link to donate to the cause.  Support cancer research and let’s working on keeping those loved ones close, as long as we can.

God Bless to all the Dads both here and in the hereafter.

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Keeping it creative

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

― Colin Powell

Recently, I took a class about keeping your muse satisfied, keeping your creativity in tip-top shape, and trying new things to keep the good ideas front and center.

There is a lot that goes into the care and feeding of a reliable muse, and for those of us who pursue the writers life, we want to at the top of our game when it comes to keeping creativity fresh.  After all, it’s our lifeblood, right?

This course was all too brief, and very reasonable in terms of cost, as are most courses offer by the savvyauthors.com.  The ability to improve any aspect of craft is available there and for those of you who aren’t sure about the craft, this is a wonderful venue for learning craft.

We talked about a number of ways to keep yourself active, positive and successful in the long-term writing life.  For some, this is never a problem.  There are many authors who write in multiple genres for multiple publishers and have no difficulty, providing they are allowed to have input to deadlines.

Of course, there are others who cannot sit down and produce a viable page during designated writing time.  No creativity on demand.  Because they feel creativity doesn’t work like that.

Wrong.

Writing is a job.  Ask anyone with any other type of job about the loss of enthusiasm for the job they hold other than writing.  It happens.  Some days no one wants to go to the hospital and deal with sick people.  But MD’s and Nurses don’t call in sick themselves with Medical Block.

So there you have it, writers block, not real.  You’re just too lazy to do your job.

But if you’re not writing due to a lack of creativity, that’s another thing entirely.  What can you do to improve your situation?

Enhance your creativity.  First, try doing something else.  Have some fun, try another art form, read for pleasure, take a walk, have lunch with a friend.

Energy sapped so low you need a real jump-start to get back to writing?  Try rearranging your furniture.  Maybe the energy flow is negative, how about some Feng Shui?

How about inspiring quotes?   You know, I really like them.

I have more than one positive reinforcement on the walls of my office.  Some I chose for myself, and some were gifts from others, writers who know how long and hard I’ve worked to call myself a writer.  I’m going to share a few with you, in hopes that you will respond by sharing with me, too.

In no particular order,

“Home is where your story begins”

“Create something everyday”

“Don’t judge a book by it’s movie”

“Now is your happily ever after”

But I did save my favorite for last.  It’s a little girl pointing to her left and the sign reads, “Complaint Department– 200 miles that way”

Share with me what makes you smile, gets you going, or gets you back to work.  And Thanks for stopping by.

You are what you write. . .

Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy.

― Brian Tracy

No, no, no!

I’m not saying if you write Romance you’ll be magically transformed into a romantic couple, but it could happen.  I’m not saying if you write children’s stories you’re childish, but maybe you are –in a good way.  I’m not saying if you write horror, you’re a horrible person, Oh God, I hope that’s not what I’m saying!

What I am saying is sometimes we need to change our attitudes and expectations in order to make positive changes in our lives.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Think that’s going to be easy?

No, it is not.

Simple does not equal easy.  If you’re expecting to do one little thing and have your life change without the attendant difficulty, you are so wrong.

Change– real change– takes work, commitment, focus and the right attitude.

You have to want the change.

And you must be willing to work for it.  But changing your attitude first is the right way to tackle big life changes.

Start with a positive environment, and add hopeful, positive encouragement from yourself and those around you.  In fact, I’d go so far as to tell you you need to lose the negativity around you as a good first step.

I am serious when I say, anyone who brings a “you can’t do that or shouldn’t even try” attitude with them is quickly deprived of my company.  Often, we doubt our ability to try new things, and new ventures, while often exciting are also difficult.  Why would you make these things more difficult by dragging a naysayer along on your personal journey?

Seriously, I’m not suggesting that you won’t get things wrong, or require the help of others, but a gentle push in the right direction or a correction with intent to improve are far different than those who are quick to jump in and tell you to “let change go.  It’s just not good for you.”

So, tell me why you find it hard to make changes.  Tell me what works best for you. Please share a story which shows us why things that are difficult are often worth the effort.

Building character

People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.

― Eleanor Roosevelt

Meeting the challenges of life and career will certainly build character, but for the aspiring writer, it’s important to remember that building fictional characters is accomplished in exactly the same fashion.

What builds more empathy for a character than the opportunity to learn and grow, to overcome adversity as the character advances through the plot?  Nothing else will engage the reader with such intensity as a character who meets and overcomes, or recovers from, adversity without giving up.

This is what the NYT bestselling author is trying to tell you when she says “write what you know“.  She doesn’t mean write about the day job you are so desperately  seeking to ditch for a writing career. Of course, you can do that if you have an interesting day job.  But the advice she’s giving you, and everyone else, is to write about the changes in your life which engage you on an emotional level.

What the bestseller is telling us all, is we need to engage our readers on a visceral level, with a core connection.

We all know we are best understood when we speak in the language our audience understands, but when we speak from the heart–from our emotional core— we’ve tapped into a connection which engages our readers and touches them where they will remember our story and how it affected them.

The translation of emotion into written language is the writers gift.  What makes a good storyteller a great writer is the ability to make this connection with others.  The translation of feelings to words for readers to share in the belief that we, as writers, understand who they are and can identify with their life trials.

Making this connection will keep any writer at the forefront of popular fiction, especially for women readers.