writing

Writers Wednesdays – A New Cycle

Happy Writers Wednesday! I hope you all are having a great day or evening. I mentioned my writing, editing and publishing lessons learned in last week’s Writers Wednesday post. Now that I’ve churned out a few children’s books (like this one that teaches children about China, and this one that teaches kids about Vietnam), I’m getting back onto schedule.

The book I was working on (prior to working on the children’s books) is basically complete, so it’s time to move on. Starting next week, I’m entering a new writing cycle. However, instead of starting a new project from scratch, this cycle will focus on finishing some of my older, neglected manuscripts. I have quite a few unfinished books that I’ve wanted to complete for the past few years, and these next few weeks feel like a good time to do so.

The way I’m planning it in my mind will mean that I won’t stick to one manuscript, complete it, then move to the next. I’ll likely bounce between three or four works, doing writing and editing tasks until they’re all finished. For me, the challenges lie in four different things:

  • Refusing to start a brand new book (given my short attention span, this will be my biggest challenge)
  • Creating a practical daily schedule (as my schedule has been busier recently, this may be a bit harder to do)
  • Finding enough willing beta readers for my books (not a major challenge, but something to keep in mind as I get closer to completing my edits)
  • Setting a reasonable end date for these writing and editing tasks (my second biggest challenge, since I tend to underestimate the time needed for tasks)

As I look forward, I can see where my weaknesses are, and, by seeing them, I can prepare. In the next few days, I’ll be concentrating on how to avoid or mitigate each of the challenges I listed above. And, more than likely, I’ll share about my strategies, tactics and more lessons learned during the next few Writers Wednesdays posts.

That’s my writing update for this week. Have a great day!

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writing

Writers Wednesdays – Things I’ve Learned About Writing, Editing and Publishing

I’m finally back with a Writers Wednesday post! It’s been a while, mainly because there were other things that were more important for me (namely, getting into a new routine that accommodates my increased offline activity). But, seeing as how I quickly churned out two books (I mention them in my goal update post for March), it’s safe to say that I have some insights on what I’ve learned through the writing, editing, and publishing experience.

About writing . . .

When it comes to writing, it’s far easier to get into my “zone” than it used to be. The more I write, the easier it is for me to write. And since I’m not as critical about my rough drafts as I used to be, I am able to actually complete a book (instead of wasting time agonizing about the right things to say). Also, setting a fixed time to complete a certain number of words daily is pretty useless for me. I know that having a routine is important, but micromanaging every detail of my daily writing routine (such as the number of words to type) is too stressful for me. I give myself a lot of flexibility, and I don’t criticize myself for writing outside of my scheduled time. I do my best writing at 2-3 AM, and I’m okay with that.

About editing . . .

For me, editing is best done in small chunks. I focus on a few pages at a time, and read it aloud, making the changes as I go. And I get through the entire manuscript, then I start all over again. And then I share with friends, to see if it makes sense. Most of my friends are too busy to read my books nowadays, but if they spend a few minutes looking through my work, I’m appreciative. I stop worrying about editing after 2-3 rounds of edits. Anything more than that is obsessive, and it prevents me from publishing my book in a timely fashion.

About publishing . . .

Amazon used to quickly approve manuscripts, then, at some point, they got overwhelmed and the publishing queue became far too long. Now, they are back to quickly approving books again, and I’m thankful. For me, publishing is the easiest part of the process: I’ve done this enough to get through the process easily. Also, it’s a good idea for me to pre-write my book description before I start going through the publishing process.

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Those are just a few of my observations from working on my latest books. If you’ve published a book before, what are some crucial things that you’ve learned? I’d love to hear all about it!

culture · fitness · goals · health · life curation

March Goal Updates – Finally!

Happy first day of April, friends!

I know that you all saw some post notifications yesterday, but those posts aren’t ready just yet. Bear with me: the past few weeks have been busy. Between my job, my side job, my family, and my school coursework, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. I will be getting a much needed break this weekend, but that’s a couple of days away. In any case, I am ready to chat about my March goal update.

So, my goal list for 2021 is as follows:

  • Publish 5 books
  • Lose 15 lbs
  • Manifest 3 international trips
  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses
  • Read 100+ books
  • Luxury purchases – Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Sophia Webster, Ralph & Russo
  • Cure my fibromyalgia

I always discuss my book reading goal in a separate post, so I won’t talk about that until next week. However, I’m really excited to confirm that I’ve made progress on several of my goals for the year!

  • Publish 5 books

In the midst of the tragic shootings in Atlanta several days ago, I was moved to do my part in supporting the Stop Asian Hate movement. I stayed up late several nights, and I ended up writing and publishing two books to inspire children to learn more about Asian countries. I believe that hate is rooted in ignorance, and the cure for ignorance is knowledge. I plan to eventually write books on each of the countries of the world, but I decided to start with China and Vietnam, in hopes that what I publish will help educate children on the many ways that we are wonderfully different and surprisingly alike. My books are Let’s Go to China and Let’s Go to Vietnam, and they are filled with beautiful pictures and fun facts about these two Asian countries.

Now, these books were not planned at all, but I believe in working with inspiration as it strikes. Inspiration led me to write them, and I’ve done this sort of thing enough to know that I should never ignore a hunch. These two books bring my closer to my publishing goals for the year and, as a plus, I’m on target to meet this goal before summer begins!

  • Lose 15 lbs

A recent trip to the doctor confirmed that I have gained weight (more about this in tomorrow’s post). So I’m amping up my physical activity and revising my diet. I feel pretty good about the changes I’m making, and I’m confident that I’ll be able to shed the weight easily – so long as I stick to my plan. I’ll spill more of those details tomorrow.

  • Manifest 3 international trips

Part of manifesting my three international trips including allowing inspiration to point me in the direction of the right trips for me. Well, with some inspired conversations with my friends, as well as some fantastic evidence from the Universe, I’ve decided on one of the countries that I will visit this year! I’ll share more about this as I plan my trip, but I’m really excited that one of those international trips is in the works.

  • Earn 6 figures in my businesses

I’ve gotten several opportunities to earn additional money doing the things that I already do (like vlogging). I also have been selling some of my books (so exciting!) and having several people interested in a few of my little businesses. I’m not sure how much money I’ve made so far in my businesses, but I think I’ll calculate it next month and share it in my April goal update post.

  • Read 100+ books

This will be in a separate post, but I’m excited to let you all know that I read more books in March than I did in January or February. I’m so happy that I’m making progress toward my goal!

  • Luxury purchases – Hermes, Christian Louboutin, Sophia Webster, Ralph & Russo

I’m still floating off of the happiness of my Sophia Webster purchase. I haven’t recently checked the Hermes, Louboutin, or Ralph & Russo websites to decide on what items I want, but I’m sure I’ll have made some more progress toward this before I do my April update.

  • Cure my fibromyalgia

I’ve been feeling great recently! My medication seems to be at an optimal dosage, which makes me really happy. I’ve been dealing with fatigue, but other than that, everything has been good. I’ll discuss this more in tomorrow’s post, too.

So that’s it for my updates. I’ll be back tomorrow with my Fibro Friday post. Take care, and I’ll talk to you all soon!

*This post contains affiliate links.

reading list · Uncategorized

Book Review – Elixir For Life

Happy Thursday, friends! Currently, there are a few regions of the United States experiencing severe winter weather, resulting in power failures and interruptions with water supply. I hope you all are staying safe and warm!

Today’s post is a book review that I’m excited to share with you all. The book is Elixir for Life by H. Benjamin Poke. Poke is native to my home state, so I consider him a local author. Also, I’m proud to share that this gifted poet is also my paternal uncle.

I will try my best to post an impartial review, but I’ll be the first to admit that it’s difficult for me to be unbiased. I know the labor of love that went into creating this collection of poems. I am also influenced by the author’s (my uncle’s) consistently loving and generous nature. Further, I’m partial because I know for myself how kindly he treats others, complete strangers as well as his family. He is one of the most genuinely warm people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He’s a loving husband, devoted father, and a beloved grandfather and loyal friend.

That being said, let’s get into the review. The book is written from a Christian perspective, so if you are not a Christian, you may not be able to relate to some of the content. But, as with my review of Synergy, I’d like to point out the fact that a difference in religious perspective may not detract from your enjoyment of the book.

I enjoyed each of these poems, written from the perspective of strong, steady supporter cheering for the readers to overcome daily struggles and align with a higher purpose for their lives. There are hundreds of poems in the book, which is why I cannot recommend just one for you. Each poem offers encouragement and inspiration, and it’s easy to find a poem that suits your particular struggles and circumstances. This is the kind of book that you pick up when you’re feeling low and need a kind word, or that you read when you just want to feel more connected with your higher power/spiritual source.

This book is a wonderful addition to any collection, and I’d put it up there against the words of famed poets Maya Angelou and Lucille Clifton. Make sure to check it out on Amazon (the link is here). I hope that you order it and enjoy!

That’s it for today’s post. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Phoning a Friend

Happy Writer’s Wednesday! Last week, I shared two posts about writing and editing. The last Writer’s Wednesday post discussed how I was ‘in the thick’ of editing. The next day, I wrote about summoning muses, or, in other words, how to find inspiration. This week, I want to go in a slightly different direction.

Do you all recall how I wrote about being distracted and putting off my writing a bit? Well, the same (but different) thing is happening with editing. I find myself needing a distraction because being in my head so much isn’t good for me. I tend to pick apart my words to the point where I’m ready to throw away an entire manuscript. And THAT would be foolish.

So, I did what I always do: I called a friend. It goes contrary to what I’ve advised previously, but one of the key things about the writing, editing and publishing processes is to follow inspiration, or intuition, as needed. Sometimes, your soul nudges you to take a break from your writing tasks and simply enjoy being in the moment. For me, being in the moment means enjoying a conversation with a friend.

But it didn’t have to be a phone call involved. I could have worked on my garden plans a bit further, took a walk (the weather was a bit warmer yesterday), painstakingly cook a meal from scratch, etc.,. The activity doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that doing something different from editing offers me a bit of a mental reprieve.

Flexibility has been key. After talking to one of my friends, I was able to jump back into my editing, more charged than ever. Yes, I think I’ll be able to finish my book edits by the end of this month. This is so exciting: I can’t believe that the final manuscript will be ready soon!

reading list

Book Review: Synergy by C. O. Clark

Hi friends! After sharing that I’m a little behind on my book reading, I decided to buckle down and read at least ten books this month. So I’m already done with one book and working on my next one, four days into the month. That’s what I’m talking about!

This book is titled Synergy, written by C. O. Clark. This is a book of poetry that describes the experience of daring to live boldly and claim our authentic selves. The book description on Amazon states:

“Synergy is the third and final volume in the Equilibrium series. This three volume series is a poetic approach to articulating life, and emotions we bury; afraid of ridicule and rejection. Together we bring down the walls of what it means to remove the veil of being vulnerable — the false equating of vulnerability being weakness. We create a safe space to be authentic and to express our beliefs, fears, doubts, and all the what-ifs. We lay the foundation to voice our troubles, pains, and burdens.”

Because this is Black History Month in the United States, I am focusing specifically on works written Black/African-American authors this month. For the entire month, I am reading works by Black authors exclusively, and I’ll be featuring authors that live locally for this month’s book reviews. As it turns out, I attended the book launch for Synergy back in 2019, and the author read a few of the poems to us. I purchased the book that night, and I’m thrilled that I’m finally reviewing it.

I love the journey that Clark takes you on when you read her work. She goes through a range of emotions, from pain, fear and rejection, to joy, romantic love, and spiritual awakening. This is a wonderful book that I’m looking forward to reading again and again. I definitely recommend it!

That’s all for today. I hope you all are doing well. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow!

This post contains affiliate links.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Starting to Edit

So, it’s Writers Wednesday, and I’m editing.

Lord help me!

Actually, I don’t mind editing. If anyone is going to kill my darlings, let it be me, so the death will be merciful. As it turns out, I’ve been blessed (and cursed) with a critical eye, so I’m a natural editor. So, this experience isn’t so bad.

Editing is time-consuming, but rewarding. I love seeing my ideas come together more cohesively, so the editing process is fine with me. I’m giving myself the entire month to get it done, and even a little more time, if necessary.

For my fellow writers, do you all do your own editing? Or, do you hire an editor to do it for you? I’m curious about what works for you.

writing

Writers Wednesdays – Race to the Finish

Happy Writers Wednesday! Can you believe it’s the last Wednesday of the month? I can hardly believe it myself!

I’ve been hard at work trying to hit my January 31 deadline. I’ve been managing my time more carefully, doing my daily word requirement, and getting hits of inspiration here and there. My deadline is quickly approaching. And guess what?

It’s not gonna happen.

I need a solid rough draft before I even try to start editing. I’m only about 70% done with my draft. Unless I hype myself up on caffeine and power through the next few nights, I won’t be finishing this draft by January 31st.

And I’m okay with that.

A few years ago, I would have been so hard on myself, kicking myself for what I *could* have done differently. But I’m in such a different space now: I realize I live a busy life. I care for myself, my grandmother and her sister, my daughter, and my dog. I have a job, a part time tutoring gig, and several small businesses. I have a chronic illness.

Basically, my cup runneth over, even before I throw book writing into the mix.

So yes, I’m racing to the finish, but I’m not breaking my neck or any other body part to do it. I’m giving myself an additional week, which should be enough time to get this done. And if not … I’ll give myself another small extension (I’m pretty sure one more week will be enough). Then I’ll move onto the next step.

On this path, I recognize that my biggest ally is to give myself lots of grace and treat myself as kindly as I treat others. I had to literally sit and think about the time when I would ask colleagues for information colleagues that I need, and when they asked for a little more time, I gladly confirmed that extensions are okay. Of course, that isn’t always possible, but for this writing project that I have, it’s fine. Not only am I okay with giving myself an extension, but I’m always looking forward to the fact that this extra time will really help me get a great first draft.

Editing is hard enough: writing while editing is torture. I’d rather get this done well than to try to rush it and have to end up rewriting almost all of my manuscript.

That’s it for my Writers Wednesday for this week. I hope you’re having a fun and productive day. Take care!

writing

Writers Wednesdays – How to Stop Self-Sabotage

Welcome back to Writers Wednesdays! How is your writing coming along? Probably a little (or a lot) better than mine! I made up for slacking over the past week by knocking out a whopping 100 words in a weekend.

No, you did not misread that. I completed one hundred words in a weekend. And that’s ALL I could manage to write. I had family visiting (not too many members: gotta stay safe!) so I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to my writing. I’ve since made up for it over the past couple of days, clocking about 1,000 words per day. However, this still puts me behind schedule.

With that being said, I know a little about self sabotage. I often find myself throwing monkey wrenches into my own plans. Sometimes, the delays are due to health issues, but other times, it’s that mental “block” that exists when you have a big goal that feels gargantuan.

You know the ‘block’: it looks a lot like writer’s block, or procrastination, or an overloaded schedule. Whatever form the block takes, it can ruin your grand plans if you let it.

So the important question to ask is, HOW can you stop self sabotage?

For me, getting to the root of my self sabotage always starts with examining my emotions. Asking myself, “How am I feeling?” usually reveals the biggest clues behind the “block”. When I feel depressed, I usually experience writer’s block, or lack of inspiration. When I’m feeling anxious, I generally procrastinate. And when I feel fear, I overload my schedule with activities so that I don’t have the time to write.

Taking inventory of how your emotions manifest into particular behaviors will probably reveal some patterns for you, too.

After examining the emotion, I address it. For depression, more sunlight, upping my self care, and immersing myself in creative and artistic media (old Hollywood movies, art museums, music from around the world) usually does the trick. Not to mention, I have a great book by Ginie Sayles, titled, “Writer’s Block is a Crock”. I often use that to help me through those tough times. Anxiety is remedied by slowing down and being more intentional, (again) upping my self care, getting back into my yoga practice, and breathing deeply. For fear, I’ll admit: I don’t have a remedy that I can self-administer. I usually rely on a kick-in-the-pants from a well-meaning friend.

One of my favorite books for overcoming writer’s block

Fear is always the toughest one for me to manage. It isn’t fear of criticism, so much as it is fear of not being able to create a work that I’m proud of. I fear that I will write a mediocre text. And if there’s one thing I detest, it’s mediocrity.

Fortunately, I have great friends that encourage me to make my work better. They give specific examples of how it can be better. Then they trust me to make up my own mind, either to accept or reject their advice. I’ve done both, and I’ve been pleased with the outcome each time. They don’t take it personal if I choose a different strategy. But because they have great perspectives, I rarely discard their advice.

So fear is one that I’m still working on, to be honest with you. That’s what I’m experiencing right now. That’s why I made meals from scratch, two days in a row, during the time that I should have been writing. But recognizing the emotion is the first step. And I’m relying on my friends to help me through it. If you don’t have a trusted counsel to help you with things like this, I advise you build that group NOW. I promise you won’t regret it.

That’s it for today. I hope you all are well. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.

*This post contains affiliate links.

life curation · reading list

Book Review: The Crystal Fix by Juliette Thornbury

Happy Monday, friends! This is my first official book review of the year, and it’s a good one.

The book I’m reviewing today is The Crystal Fix by Juliette Thornbury. I purchased the book from Barnes and Noble last fall. I’ve been eager to read it, but other things took priority, so I didn’t get around to reading it until a few days ago.

This book is an excellent reference for crystal newbies (like myself). It gives a thorough, but not overwhelming, overview of crystal healing theory, as well as a list of crystals that are best for specific parts of the home. Then, the book dives deeper into a multitude of crystals and minerals, their properties, and how to combine them for best results.

I think what’s really special about the book is how it makes the worlds of crystals ACCESSIBLE and easy to incorporate. I wasn’t inundated by lots of technical jargon or too much information. It’s a reference guide but it’s so much more than that: it reads like a fun how-to book. There are instructions for incorporating crystals into your life, such as making crystal grids, meditation and rituals with crystals, and even beauty treatments that are infused with crystals.

To be fair, this guide is not all exhaustive: there are many crystals that are not listed (I can think of a few off of the top of my head, such as prehnite and quantum quattro). But the book isn’t made to be all-encompassing: it has just enough information to give you a great introduction to crystals and common ways to use them.

I think what’s really special about this book is that, as you read, you’ll find certain crystals resonate with you, and you’ll be inspired to buy those crystals. It’s funny: the crystals end up picking YOU, instead of you picking them. I awaiting my shipment of rhodochrosite and shungite now.

I encourage anyone that is interested in crystals to purchase this book and learn more. There is some great information in this book and it’s a wonderful introduction to the world of crystals.

That’s it for today. I’ll talk to you all tomorrow. Take care!

*This post contains affiliate links.