Gratitude…for All and for One

Bill Wilson

Sometimes I get so caught up in being the best at something I lose my focus on what’s really important. Of course, being the Type A that I am, I’m usually killing myself striving to be the best at everything. And it’s here that I get into trouble.

Striving to be my own personal best and striving to be the best is the difference between the scenic journey of healthy living and the fast lane to insanity.

When I’ve accomplished something in my writing career, I find I want to be better. After all, J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Patricia Cornwell and J. R. R. Tolkien have all topped the lists, so why shouldn’t I be able to?

When I’m doing my day job well, I find myself thinking of those who make millions at their job and wonder why I’m not able to be that successful. (Think Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg.)

When I see other blogs that have thousands of followers to my 354, I doubt my ability to be “good enough.”

And on and on and on…and thus begins the proverbial squirrel cage thinking, the squirrel being fed from comparing myself to others.

Gratitude, pure and simple, is the answer to putting the squirrel to rest.

Gratitude-2

Gratitude that I’ve accomplished something that I love to do so much, appreciating that I’ve been blessed with a talent that breathes life into me.

Gratitude for having a day job with work that I enjoy, and pay that allows to me live comfortably, while experiencing satisfaction at being able to make a positive difference to victims of crime at a time when their entire world has been turned upside down and inside out.

Gratitude for each and every person who my blog has touched, each one individually. As long as I’ve been writing, which has been since the age of four when I wrote “words” on the living room wall with crayon :), my goal has never been to make millions, but to make a difference. If even to just one.

Every life touched, every one, matters.

In the words of Spock, played by the late, great Leonard Nimoy (may he RIP):

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.” — Spock, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan

But may we never forget the needs of one for the needs of the few or the many.

Carpe Diem

Living With Compassion

 

Live Simply

If there’s one thing that can turn a bad day into a good one every single time it’s connecting with my Compassion kiddos. I can be having a terrible day at work, but if at the end of that day I come home to find a letter from one of my three kids in the mailbox, it’s like the dawning of a new and better day. I learn so much from them on how to be thankful for the smallest things in life, about praying for one another and asking for prayer for our families, and that less truly is often more.

I look at today’s kids with cell phones in kindergarten, people of all ages texting or otherwise immersed in phone or computer games and social media instead of connecting with one another in person and it makes my heart heavy. Trust me, there is no judging going on here. Me, my children and my grandchildren are all active participants of this movement. But it saddens me, nonetheless, to see that we’re moving away from personal contact with others, from living relationships with others, to cyber relationships.

I watch as we in this country become so obsessed with things, when my Compassion kiddos are simply trying to stay fed and clothed. And yet they’re happier and richer than anyone else I know. One of my kids, Alex Mandari, from Tanzania sent me a letter last week thanking me for his birthday money. With it he bought clothes, shoes and food. Buying all that with the small amount I sent him shows me he’s a master at making the most of a dollar. He tells me what he learns at the Compassion Center on Saturdays, about the goodness of God, how it’s important to listen to Him, and tells me every time he writes that he’s praying for me and my family. He’s a fifteen year old boy going on fifty in terms of wisdom and life lessons.

I began my sponsorship with these three angels wanting to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate. To share what I have with those who have not. However, what happened is that they are the ones who daily make a difference in my life. They teach me about faith, unconditional love, and the power of prayer. They teach me that giving is a gift to the giver. They give to me of their lives, their worlds, their enthusiasm and zest for life, and the best part of humanity I could ever hope to experience. They aren’t just my sponsor kids, they’re part my family. And I’m so richly blessed!

Alex M. Amede Mamounata

Alex, Tanzania, 15                         Amede, Togo, 8                      Mamounata, Burkina Faso, 10

I have come across criticism a time or two for sponsoring outside of my country when we have so much need here. My answer is that thank goodness there are so many people with so many different interests. My answer is that it doesn’t matter where you give and who you give to, only that we give to each other. My passion lies with these three children and the people who make up their worlds, and also the children of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. I’m so fortunate to have these passions laid upon my heart.

I would love to hear how you volunteer your time and support others and to hear how it has enriched your life, the giver of self, time and finances. It has paid me back far beyond what I’ve expended. 🙂

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa

Carpe Diem

Tropical Fish and the Greek Alphabet

Rachel Carrera, Novelist

Tropical fish and the Greek alphabet aren’t the only categories that include betas.  “What else?” you ask… beta readers, of course!

As writers, we need to enlist the help of beta readers to identify any potential problems before we unleash our story on the world.  For the months that we spend writing, we hear from others just how creative we are and what a cool idea our current work is progress is.  But when we ask for beta readers, we hear crickets.

Oftentimes, people really don’t have the time to commit to reading a book.  But for many people, I believe the reason they don’t volunteer is because they have no clue what is expected of them.  So for those people, I give you, this post.

A beta reader is essentially a test pilot (or unfortunately sometimes a crash dummy).  As a beta reader, you are not expected to be…

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Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads

I’ve decided to become more active with Goodreads, “the” social networking site for bibliophiles. I’ve had an author page since my book was published last June, but I never took the time to do anything with it. In taking a tour of all Goodreads has to offer, I am so impressed! What a beautiful way to support other authors, connect with other writers and readers, join in on book clubs, find new books by exploring the pages and bookshelves of other readers with similar tastes, receive notifications of new releases and author events in the area, and enter book giveaways. Who wouldn’t want a free book? I’m just kicking myself for not taking advantage of this amazing opportunity earlier. I think in part it was due to Goodreads having so many possibilities that it was a bit intimidating at first. But once I took a little time to work my way around, what’s not to love about it? Afterall, “Risk” is one of my words for 2015. 🙂

So in the spirit of getting more involved with Goodreads, I’ve decided to host a book giveaway for my book, The Inheritance, from Monday February 16th – Thursday February 26th. Hop on over if you want to enter for a chance to win.

Helpful Tips

Do any of you have any experiences or helpful tips you would like to share about being a Goodreads user, whether author or reader? I would love to hear what you have to say.

Aha! Moment

It occurred to me the other day that the novel I’m working on wasn’t really…working. While I’m having a ball writing it, developing the characters, having fun with the dialogue and setting, it felt too shallow and like it was missing the mark. Like perhaps a riveting plot? Yes, that could be a problem.

While I was brainstorming and doing mental gymnastics about what to do and how to fix it, absolutely nothing came to mind. I decided to put the thinking to rest for a while and went for a run. And wouldn’t you know, in the middle of my run, it hit me. My brain connected the dots and the proverbial light bulb switched on in my head.

Aha Moment

 

 

 

 

As I continued running, the dots continued connecting, the bulb burned brighter, and by the time I got back home I had a whole new plot developed. The plot I had originally? It’s still there, but now a subplot. While it is an enormous amount of work, I know my novel will be the better for it. And in the end, that’s what I really, truly want, is to write the best novel I can write.

The books I’ve been reading on editing and revising are doing their job. (Here is where I want to put in a plug for three of my very favorites so far, Plot and Structure and Revision and Self-Editing for Publication, both by James Scott Bell, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne & Dave King.) I highly recommend all three.

In the meantime, along with this plot change came much research of several different poisons. Should anything ever happen to my husband and my computer is searched, I may be living a real-life mystery. I mentioned this to my husband and he laughed, telling me that kind of thinking is a hazard of our jobs. (We both work in the law enforcement arena.) Thank goodness he has a sense of humor.

Off to work–and re-work–my manuscript.   🙂

“There’s nothing better when something comes and hits you and you think ‘YES’!”  –J.K. Rowling

Carpe Diem