Tag Archives: inspiration

How Does Tarot Work? And Can it Make Me Happy?

It’s Mystic Monday today for the Guinea Pig Diaries and I’m pleased to welcome paranormal writer and Tarot reader, Kirsten Weiss sharing how and why Tarot can make you happier!  Thank you, Catie Rhodes, for introducing us!  Kirsten did a reading for me last week, and it was very reassuring.  Take it away, Kirsten!

*****

Several years ago, I was at a low point in my life and I went for a tarot reading at a fortune teller’s café. It was just for fun. I’ve been reading tarot cards unprofessionally for over fifteen years now, so I can read for myself. But I wanted to hear what someone who didn’t know me had to say.

The reader told me I’d go on a trip in mid-May and I’d meet someone. Maybe it was because I was watching for it, but I did go on a trip in mid-May. And yes, I did meet someone special.

So does tarot work as a self-fulfilling prophecy? A sort of psychic placebo effect? Or is it something else?

The Hanged Man Card from the 15th Century Visconti Sforza tarot deck. In Renaissance Italy, traitors were hanged upside down so it's also known as the Traitor.

The Hanged Man Card from the 15th Century Visconti Sforza tarot deck. In Renaissance Italy, traitors were hanged upside down so it’s also known as the Traitor.

There are lots of theories about the origins of tarot, but the earliest known tarot decks were born in Renaissance Italy, and used in the game Tarocchi. What makes a tarot deck special is its fifth suit – called the trumps or Major Arcana. These are the cards most of us are familiar with from movies – the Lovers, Death, the Hanged Man. Tarot expert Robert Place speculates these trump cards were modeled on the Italian “triumph” morality parades of that time period.

The other four suits, called the Minor Arcana, are close to what you’d see in a deck of “normal” cards, though the court cards are a bit different. Tarot decks have four court cards per suit: King, Queen, Page or Princess, and Knight.

So how does it work?

Jung wrote about tarot: “[The images] are sort of archetypal ideas, of a differentiated nature, which mingle with the ordinary constituents of the flow of the unconscious, and therefore it is applicable for an intuitive method that has the purpose of understanding the flow of life, possibly even predicting future events, at all events lending itself to the reading of the conditions of the present moment.” So perhaps tarot allows us to tap into our subconscious understanding of what’s happening, to invoke synchronicity into our lives, and predict things at a deeper level?

Some readers treat tarot as a complex Roschach test, asking questions that lead the client to interpret their own cards. This can open up your hidden assumptions and beliefs, and force you to think outside your usual patterns. But is it future telling?

The Hermit from the 15th Century Viscontin Sforza tarot deck.

The Hermit from the 15th Century Viscontin Sforza tarot deck.

We tend to live in the same patterns over and over. Frankly, it’s not hard to guess someone’s future when we so often repeat the past. What if, however, we could use tarot to understand our patterns, and to break them?

And then there are some people (not me) who use the cards as a conduit for their own psychic connection. I even heard of one psychic who reads the cards face down. She intuits their meaning without having to look at them.

No matter how it works, in the hands of a good reader, a tarot reading can give a person clarity, direction, and hope, as that tarot reader did for me so long ago. It takes us outside of our regular thought processes, forces us to look at our lives through a new lens – the lens of a deck of 78 cards.

Frankly, I don’t care if tarot is “magic” or not. There’s something soothing about shuffling the cards, laying them out, puzzling out what they’re “saying.” And they’re simply beautiful.

About the Author:

Kirsten WeissKirsten Weiss runs the Tarot Card of the Day for the @ParaYourNormal twitter feed and is the author of the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries: the urban fantasy, The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, and The Shamanic Detective.  Book four in the series, The Infernal Detective, will be available May 21st on Amazon.

Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

Kirsten, thank you so much for sharing your personal connection to Tarot with all of us.  I had no idea how open the cards were for interpretation and like you said, how they can be an insightful tool, like journaling or blogging is for others; it can show us how we’ve grown and what’s possible.  You’re right, that is beautiful!

See more of Kirsten on Twitter and catch her newest book trailer for The Infernal Detective!

Guilty Pleasures Mash Up: Read ‘Em, Fools!

Time for a little Weekend Madness – Mash Up Style!  Feast yourselves on these ballers of blogging!

Writing – Because it’s easier to write about writing than to actually just write.  Or is that just me?

Avoid every writer’s nightmare with tips from Jody Hedlund in Why I Don’t Get Writer’s Block and How You Can Avoid It Too.

Looking for some inspiration?  Jenny Hansen shared What Lights Your Creative Spirit on Fire? with advice from Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees author) and Forbes magazine about what creative people need to be successful.

Ever read a book where the dialogue or words take you right out of the story?  Susie Lindau rants her best in Do You Curse Brightly? – a blog that examines the usefulness and purpose of swear words in our books.

Tawna Fenske wrote possibly the funniest blog evah about making believable characters and relating it to a guy making spinach.  YOU HAVE TO READ The Domineering Male with Spinach and Dish Soap.

Interested in learning more about audiobooks?  Stacy Juba interviews Award-winning voice artist, Nicole Poole, for The Ins and Outs of Narrating Audiobooks.

Exciting news!!!  Ellie Ann has released the cover of her new book, The Silver Sickle and she’s sharing it with us!  Check it out in The Revealing.

Ode To Social Media Tips:

Lisa Hall-Wilson guest blogged at Jenny Hansen’s with Facebook Tricks for Better Engagement and My. Mind. Was. Blown.  I really hadn’t been watching any of this, but she gave us a cool easy challenge to consider how we’re sharing links on Facebook and what exactly we want those links to do!  Must read for those building an author platform!

And if Twitter is your thing, Marcy Kennedy guest blogged at Kristen Lamb’s with The Proper Care and Feeding of Hashtags.  Don’t get thrown in Twitter jail!  Read Marcy’s tips!

Nina Badzin posted on Kveller.com the amazing plea Let’s All Stop “Replying All” to Every Email.  Sing it, Sister!

Life Lessons – Growing pains mean wisdom gains!

Do you struggle with the “meantime”?  That time of working out of/working towards something?  Kristen Lamb shared a life lesson she learned that hit home with many of you in To Find Success, Learn to Embrace the Meantime.  Another Must Read.

If you’re not reading August McLaughlin’s blog, you’re MISSING OUT!  She’s one of the most honest, genuine, supportive female writers out there!  True to form, August shared another heart-baring blog in Singing Naked: Honesty on Stage, about growing through vulnerable moments.  Beautiful voice – inside and out!

I bet no one has ever told you THINK NEGATIVE before!  Rachelle Gardner shares the smarts about goal achieving in Try “Thinking Negative” for a Change.

Entertainment and Smut – The stuff you won’t tell your boss you like, but secretly gossip with the secretary over…

Tiffany A. White gives the master rundown of Season 4 of The Vampire Diaries and its soon to be spin off, The Originals, from the CW network.  Death and Evolution with The Vampire Diaries and The Originals

Remember the books you read as a kid and picked out what character was you?  Sherry Isaac brings us Tribute to Trixie with Author Gloria Richard, sharing her love of the Trixie Belden books.

Got a favorite James Bond? What about the original?  Piper Bayard and Jay Holmes share The Original James Bond – Ian Fleming.  Fascinating guy!

The Funnies – Read these for your weekend funny bone!

Ironic Mom, the Comic Queen, shared You Know You’re An Optimist if You

Miss Snarky Pants is sharing her best “Fictionary” – a play on words, often pun-like, to make new meanings and she’s got some good ones in Fictionary:  Preventing the Extinction of my Muffin Top.

Julie Glover had me snickering over her Wednesday Words series in Laugh With Me: It’s Punny!  Go pick your favorite pun!

Myndi Shafer shared in her Quick Giggle series Celebrities Read Mean Tweets.  Should this one go under Social Media tips?

(photo courtesy Creative Commons – Mrs Inman)

Happy Reading!

Countdown to the Oscars: Silver Linings Playbook Gets All Gold Stars!

As I work my way through all the nominees for Best Picture, they keep getting better and better!  First, why are there so many?  There used to only be 5 or 6 nominees, and the last few years there’s been 10!  And second, how will I ever choose my absolute favorite?  

If I had to put my vote in for one so far, I’d pick Silver Linings Playbook.  Nominated for 8 Academy Awards including Best Directing and Writing by David O. Russell, you may recall his work from the previously nominated film, The Fighter, as well as the existential comedy I Heart Huckabees.  Silver Linings Playbook stole my heart.  If I had to compare it to anything, it reminded me of Zach Braff’s Garden State, because it is a story about finding oneself again after dealing with depression.

In this film, SLP tells the story of Pat Solitano (played by Bradley Cooper – who, if anyone was going to steal an Oscar from Daniel Day-Lewis, it should be this man!).  Pat has just been released from a mental institution after a breakdown and diagnosis of bi-polar disorder have overtaken his life.  Moving back in with his parents, and facing a restraining order from his ex-wife, he tries to put his life back together.  To help him along, comes the most unusual of friends, a girl by the name of Tiffany, who is dealing with her own struggles, but finds a way for them to help each other.

The cast in this movie blew me away!  It’s no wonder with all the acting nominations this film received.  Bradley Cooper, of course, is nominated and I’m so impressed with his dramatic role.  I already adored Jennifer Lawrence, and at only 22 years old, this is her second nomination for Actress in a Leading Role!  She was previously nominated for Winter’s Bone.  She has already taken the Golden Globe for Lead Actress in a Musical/Comedy genre.  I truly hope the “Curse of the Golden Globes” does not take her out of the Oscar running!  I would weep!

bostonartsdiary.com

To round out the supporting cast, we have two additional heavy hitters, the biggest being THE Robert De Niro, playing Pat Sr. and nominated for Best Supporting Actor.  He is brilliant as a father who doesn’t know how to communicate to his grown boys beyond watching baseball.  And funny!  In an entirely different way from Meet the Parents comedy.

Jacki Weaver – imdb.com

My favorite performance of the film goes to Best Supporting Actress nominee Jacki Weaver!  This is her second nomination, you may remember her role in Animal Kingdom, which was a violent story of a boy trying to get by in his criminal household.  Playing Dolores Solitano, Weaver is the typical mom who is trying to keep everyone together.  Keep the peace, and you keep the family kind of mentality.  “C’mon, stay!  I made crabbysnack and homemades!”  I love this woman!  She is brilliant.  I’m rooting for Weaver to take home an Oscar!

Though he wasn’t nominated, I give nods to Chris Tucker who plays Danny, a friend and recovering drug addict that Pat befriends in the hospital.  His performance lent much to the comedic value of the movie.  And, I will forever love Tucker who played Ruby Rhod in the sci-fi cult classic, The Fifth Element.

To give you more of the meat of the story, while marketed as a comedy, be aware it’s a dramatic comedy, a dramedy, if you will.  But I tend to love those.  Sometimes life is so heavy, all you can do to lift yourself up is laugh!  Yes, Pat is a man who must deal with a lot.  His undiagnosed bi-polar disorder is something he and his family aren’t use to.  He must find new ways to control his anger.  We see the uphill and downhill battle that is medication.  We see him lose control at seemingly harmless circumstances.  What helps him is his belief in a “silver lining.”

silver lining

noun – a sign of hope in an unfortunate or gloomy situation; a bright prospect

His motto for life becomes Excelsior, a latin word meaning “ever upward.”  So as much as life became difficult and trying for Pat and his family, his story was a message of hope.  The belief that things will always get better, and that those who try to get better, will.

collider.com

I’m betting each of us has experienced a period, or more, in our lives where life was not what we thought it would be.  For me, it was my sophomore year of college.  I was living with a girl who I thought was my best friend.  A girl I wanted to someday be in my wedding, go get our dream jobs, and laugh about the funny things our kids did.  During the school year, I noticed she was depressed.  She had gone once or twice to a counseling group, but didn’t or couldn’t connect with the individuals there.  I tried to be there for her.  I listened to her, offered advice, suggestions for other groups or questions to ask.  She wasn’t ready.  In the end, it seemed I was caring too much and so her anger came out at me.  She would pick fights with me all the time, drawing hurtful things and placing them by my bed.  I began avoiding our dorm room altogether.  I did it for months.  Just going from class to class, hanging out in study areas and sometimes sleeping in a friend’s room.  It got so bad I moved out.  And shortly after that, I also got dumped by my long distance boyfriend, who I thought I was going to marry.  Was I naive?  Yes.  Was I blaming myself for her behaviors?  Yes.  It was an awful end to the year.  I lost a bunch of weight and didn’t even notice til I went home and my dad and old boss asked me if I was eating ok at school.  I lost a bunch of friends in that move because she lived on the same floor with them, so they usually asked her out and didn’t come to see me, when I was one floor down.

It was an incredibly hurtful time.  Even though the move was difficult, it was for the best.  I was able to focus on school and earned some great opportunities working with literary journals.  I joined the women’s student organization that I would later lead as president.  And six months after all the drama, I met the wonderful man I’m still with today, 6 1/2 years later.

*****

I thoroughly loved this film.  I am hoping that it earns many awards.  It is incredibly well written, and exceptionally well acted.  I think Pat’s story is one all of us can relate to.  And each of us is responsible for finding our own silver lining.  And who knows, we could also be the silver lining for someone we least expect.

Have you seen Silver Linings Playbook yet?  Do you want to?  

Share with us a time you felt set back in life.  What was your silver lining?  Are you feeling down right now?  Let me be your silver lining!  I wish nothing but hope and excitement for life for each of you!  Ever upwards, friends!  Say it with me, “Excelsior!”

The Very Wide Spectrum of Fandom: Fear and Misery in the Writer’s World

I caught this video on Kait Nolan’s blog the other day and it really got me thinking.  Kait commented she thought there was a lot of truth to the video in how any artistic person combats stress with pleasing others.  Check it out:

I know I totally identified with how Charlie feels.  There are so many writers out there, and we have one of THE BEST communities by far, but I do think there’s a competitiveness or a drive to be well liked.  Whether in personality or writing style, we all want to be liked.  And like Charlie shared, when someone doesn’t like our writing, by extension we perceive that they don’t like us.

Now, don’t ask me why, but my brain just has an uncanny ability to jump around from movie to movie making references and quotes wherever I go.  And when I watch a video about being scared by your fans, I don’t know about you, but my mind immediately went here…

Remember this film?  Stephen King’s Misery was released in its film version in 1990 and won Kathy Bates an Oscar for Actress in a Lead Role.  It was the first Stephen King book I ever read and I love the film version too!  The premise for this book/film is writer Paul Sheldon, played by James Caan, is best known for his Misery book series.  And Annie Wilkes, played by Kathy Bates, is his biggest fan.  In a chance accident, Paul and Annie’s worlds collide.

Annie takes Paul into her home and cares for him while he’s recovering from a car accident.  And during that time, she reads Paul’s latest Misery book, in which he kills off his main character – meaning the series is over.

Suddenly everything changes for Paul.  Annie’s kind nursing ways turn into vindictive and vengeful abuse as she forces Paul to write another Misery book that will bring the main character back to life.

Of course, these are two very different extremes of fandom.  On one side, we have the author’s perceived fear of the reader – “Will they like me?  Will they think I’m cool?  Will they want to read more of my work?”  And on the flip side, we have actual FEAR of the reader  – My life is in danger if I don’t write this the way the reader wants it!  

I just kept thinking about these two extremes.  We are fortunate to know that the instance in Misery is really rare.  I hope so anyway!  But what about the other side?  To me, that internal fear is scarier, because I repeatedly deal with it.  I’m an “eternal editor.”  I re-started my last book project six times!  Sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes not.  I feared I would never finish my book, but I didn’t realize it was my fear keeping me from doing so!

With the next project, I’ve gotten much farther because I took Candace Havens‘ advice and now I don’t edit my first draft.  And I don’t write linearly anymore either.  I jump around.  Tactically, these writing styles help me.  But the fear?  That’s mind over matter.  At least my internal editor isn’t a sledgehammer wielding Annie Wilkes!

What are your thoughts?  Do you think we as writers/artists/performers stifle ourselves when we’re afraid what the audience will think?  What’s the best advice you have heard to combat fear?

You could win a FREE copy of the TUGG cd, Come Sunrise, by dropping a comment or tweeting this post about social media and the music industry!  Go on, groove on over!

I Was Thinking of Throwing a Pity Party, But What Would I Wear?

Ever feel like the only days you have are ones where your relationship’s rocky, everyone at work takes you for granted, and no matter how you style it, the hair you’re trying to grow out is going to look like a mullet for awhile?

That’s how I’ve been feeling this month.  And I hate it.

When I started this writing journey 2 years ago, it was the hardest thing I’d done in a long time.  I hadn’t written anything in so long, writing a book seemed like climbing Mount Everest.  And the disappointing thing is…I’m still on Everest.  The reality of it is:  I’ve made bad decisions.  

image courtesy flickr CC – Mrs. Inman

The hardest piece of being a writer I’m still struggling with learning is what Writer Social Media Jedi, Kristen Lamb, describes as this rule:

Feelings lie.

If I come home exhausted from work, I don’t write.  If I planned on journaling or blogging, but my honey wants to hang out, I don’t write.  If my sides hurt because I’ve done a triple back flip, ribbon dance and glow stick original performance just to get into my “cute butt jeans,” then I may not write…because physically sitting down in those pants is painful, and they don’t allow me to eat chocolate.

What have I been doing all this time?

My biggest dream in the world and it’s the first thing I’m always giving up. 

I think I’ve officially hit my rut.  I’m four years past graduation.  The “I’m an adult” now highs of a salaried job and better clothes are starting to wear off.  When I think of my future, I see this:

image courtesty Flickr CC – Mrs. Inman

Whatcha think of this look?  Is it the right dress for my party?

Don’t get me wrong, there are things I’m thankful for everyday.  I’m thankful I have a job.  I’m thankful for my family and my honey’s family who are supportive and loving and who always make me laugh.

I am also so grateful to this blogging community who’s come along with me on this raggle-taggle journey.

You guys are amazing!  And I whole-heartedly call many, many of you dear friends!

My biggest problem is that I’m still wishing more than I’m doing.  And facing that reality is one of the worst self truths I’ve had to come to terms with.  I’m going to blame Walt Disney.  Thanks a heap, Walt, for making Ariel the only other redhead I knew! 

When I become a real writer, I’m going to wear THIS!

image courtesy flickr CC – Mrs. Inman

I wanna be where the writers are…I wanna see, wanna see ’em scribbling!

I’m taking the week off from highlighting ROWmodels in an attempt to whip my own goal list into shape.  Wish me luck, everyone!  Tell me your success stories!  What helped you transition to more writing time?

The Incredible ROWmodel Mash-up

It’s another phenomenal week of ROW80 ROWmodels!  These ladies are making me ROW with envy!  What a talented and genuine group of ROWers we have! 

Suzan Butler is a writer All Star!  Have you been keeping tabs on this lady?  Wow!  She’s really got some writer stats I’m envious of.  She’s got a holiday book coming out, is participating in NaNoWriMo, working on a cover for a client, blogging consistently, and budgeting just right.  She even got her first publishing check!  Woohoo!!!  I highly commend Suzan for her commitments and follow through on her goals.  If any of you are looking for ideas to kick start your ROW goals, I think Suzan’s set up is a phenomenal example of how to do so!

Carrie-Anne Brownian shared a topic I’m sure many of you feel strongly about in her ROW80 update.  She faltered on whether or not to set a story aside when she was struggling with where to go with it.  I had this similar concern some time ago when I was trying to make a story work, and I thought the time away was helpful to get new perspective and energy around it.  But what are your suggestions?  What have you tried and what’s worked well?

Other writing struggles relayed to us from New To Writing Girl in NaNoWriMo 2012 – The First Few Days.  Writing Girl got to thinking about her book’s opening line.  She had always been a no editing while writing writer, and now NaNo’s got her tongue!  What writing struggles are you dealing with?  What are your tips for opening up your novel?  Do you find that after you start writing, you end up moving the start somewhere different than you first thought?

Deniz Bevan links us to a really interesting challenge for this time of year called the 100 Things Challenge.  Have you heard of this?  Really interesting idea for any ROWers and readers who are looking for ways to cut back or re-organize their lives.  I will definitely be implementing this somehow.  My room needs an overhaul!  Plus she shares her latest book picks of the new and old Sherlock Holmes stories!

I’ve got book and word count envy of Em at Loves to Read, Wants to Write for her AH-Mazing results in both categories!  She’s on book 73 of her 100 book challenge this year, which I think is incredible and I DEMAND that she share with us her favorite titles for a recommendation!  😀  And her NaNo word counts are totaling up to 6, 670 as of Sunday.  Go, Em, Go!

Congrats to all our ROWers!  You’re some successful, talented peeps!  Thanks for letting me toot your horn!

Image courtesy Creative Commons – Mrs. Inman

And now a little update on my ROW80 goals:

  1. Books for November: Olive Kitteridge (must be read by next Tuesday for bookclub) and Football Sweetheart.
  2. Set up two future interviews for the blog!  One that I’ll be doing and one I’m hosting!  Done!  Stay tuned! 
  3. Participated in the WANA International class Good Fences, so I’ll be practicing my new buzzword “Boundaries”  Sing it with me!  Too many get togethers recently, this hasn’t happened.  Keeping it on the list for next week.
  4. Use my days off to blog ahead and/or (as time permits) plot and work on the WIP.  That’s the plan for today!
  5. Clean my room.  I organized more of my clothing piles and did laundry again.  Still no sign of the missing pants, but I took 2 pairs in to get hemmed, so I guess I’m good now. 

What are you most proud of this past week?  Who else do you think should make an appearance as a ROWmodel?  What’s the best goal you’ve set for yourself this season of ROW?

What I Learned from Zombies and Tapas…

Hey there, ROWers!  Another week by and some of you are gearing up for NaNoWriMo with a vengeance!  Others are creating and maintaining meal plans.  And there are some of us (raises hand) who are just trying to get by each day to the best of our abilities.  Well, fear not!  There’s always great work being done in our learning moments.  I for one, had been whining that I haven’t written anything recently on my WIP, but you know what, the time away from it made me realize where I could strengthen the plot and change some characterization in places.  It was good to go away for a little bit.  It’s made me miss my work, dearly, but now when I have free time I’m really excited to visit it again!

What I am excited for completing this week has been in reading.  I finished reading Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer and will be helping run the Great New Books final discussion on this title today!  Stop over and participate!  The more the merrier!

This book is unlike anything I’ve encountered.  It’s a love story set in the language of space.  A perfect housewife with a hidden identity, a man with Asperger’s who only knows how to communicate with robots.  Together, this couple will defy the odds and demonstrate a very real, albeit unique, kind of lasting love.

There was also some great ROW updates this week and I’m sharing my two favorites!

ROW(Models)

First up is Christina Olson who participated in the Run For Your Lives 5K race in California.  The race, for those that may be unfamiliar, is your typical obstacle course run with walls to climb, puddles to cross, hills to speed down – although you’re doing this while zombies are trying to attack you!  Isn’t that brilliant?  I love it!  Christina participated as a zombie this year and takes us through the make up process of her zombification.  (complete with pictures!)  She may not have gotten all her writing done, but it sure sounds like Christina gave herself a little play time that recharged her, supported others, and made her confident to tackle her goals for the next week!  Sometimes we need that!  Way to go, Christina!  Loved your zombie post!

Next up is Tia Bach from Depression Cookies, a fabulous mother/daughter blog.  After a dinner out for tapas with her husband, Tia took her dinner home and made it a writing plan!  With the notion of writing small chunks of plot plans and character sketches, this pantser writer started…*gasp* outlining!  And because she’s my idol organized, she also packed a NaNo bag!  Curious?  You’ll have to head to her post to see what’s in it!  But this girl is motivated and moving forward!  Way to go, Tia!  You didn’t even need zombies chasing you to get your write goal in!  😉

Plus, I’m a total fan of tapas!  Check out my rumchata tapioca parfait I enjoyed last weekend!

How did your week go?  What were your learning lessons?  

And don’t forget!

This friday, Marcia and I are interviewing our first author for The Redhots!  His book has been getting lots of 5 star reviews!  Tune in on October 26th to see who it is!

Until then:  We’re kicking off Halloween with a fun photo contest!  You could be a winner of one of 6 prizes!

From my brother’s Wicked-Themed party 2 years ago!

What you need to know to enter:

1. There are three categories you can enter one time each:

  • Costume – your best ever, be it scary, cute or funny
  • Outdoor decorations – your scariest or most creative
  • Party room decor – you can include your Halloween tablescape, your unique pumpkin carving, and your room decorations

2. Post your pictures, up to 3 only, at our Twitter hashtag: #TheRedHots between October 19th and October 30th. The winners will be announced on Halloween!

3. For extra chances to win, you can choose to do the following:

  • “Like” Marcia’s and my Facebook pages
  • Tweet about the contest three times between the 19th and the 30th linking to our posts
  • Subscribe to our blogs

The prizes:

  • Grand prize will be an autographed print book by our indie author plus a Halloween Goody Bag.
  • 5 bonus prizes of a Kindlegraphed ebook from the author

Good luck!

Writing Heroes: A Letter to Michael Perry

Once in a great while we’re given the chance to meet our heroes.  As a writer who keeps a gratitude journal, I know that everyday we get to meet heroes.  Our parents, our siblings, the woman who helps shuffle students safely across the crosswalk on their way to school, the gentleman who holds the door open for the mother pushing a stroller – these are all heroes we see everyday and most of us take them for granted.

But what about the ones that inspire us?  The ones that remind us of the things we dreamed about as kids!  Recently I attended a book reading and signing by Wisconsin author, Michael Perry.  Having interviewed Perry just a few weeks ago, I know he thinks that living as a writer is no big deal.  In his words, he told me:

I always say I’m a writer with a small “w”, and I figure most critics and people would agree. My family is just as interested in my writing as they are interested in my brother’s corn crop or my sister’s factory job and that’s how it oughta be. My daughters know their dad is self-employed and gone a lot, but they also know that truckers and soldiers are gone a lot more and under much tougher circumstances. I love what I do, I’m grateful to do what I do, and it may be a calling, but it’s not a HIGHER calling.

Little does he know, it’s his humble attitude that inspires me.  At the reading, he was very down to earth and welcoming – the traits his writing voice creates as well.  A woman sitting next to me asked, “Is he really as good and kind as his books make him seem?”  I answered, “I think so.”

Meeting Michael at the Visiting Tom book reading!

A Letter to Mr. Perry:

Dear Mr. Perry,

Thank you for taking a chance on a stranger who read your books, and for agreeing to be interviewed by her.

When I was growing up in a small Wisconsin town, I thought nothing interesting ever happened in Wisconsin and I couldn’t wait to travel elsewhere.  I burrowed away in my room with my mom’s old typewriter that the ‘n’ key didn’t work and wrote stories that were then acted out by puppets.  I built forts out of blankets and pretended I was an orphan, running the streets, stealing food to survive and living dangerously – but that’s probably because I watched Aladdin everyday for months. 

When I got to school and started writing, it was my teachers who acknowledged my skills and encouraged me to write more.  This lasted, I am grateful to say, through my college years.

But when classes were over and the “real world” hit, I stopped writing for awhile.  Years, even.  When I started blogging, a desperate attempt to write something, anything, it was one of the scariest things I ever did.  But, something wonderful happened.  I found a whole community of writers and readers and people who shared my dreams and were going after their own!  Over time, this little old blog became my place of respite.  And with some courage, I threw myself out there to various writers whose books I’ve enjoyed and asked to interview them.

Thank you for saying yes!  It is meaningful to me that you shared your story and your time with me.  Each and every writer (established and new) is an inspiration and a push to go after my own writing dream.  And, Mr. Perry, writer with a small ‘w,’ I intend to return the favor.  Meeting a gracious and giving person such as yourself, inspires me to do the same for others.  For now, I’m only able to offer that camaraderie that comes with plugging away at the writing process as any new writer knows is full of trial and error.  If and when I can accomplish publication, I fully intend to be that person that says “Yes” to new writers, thank you to those that come to see me, and chat with everyone that is willing to stand in line just for an autograph.

Thank you from the small town, Wisconsin girl who thought her mom’s old typewriter was the coolest thing ever.  It was a pleasure meeting you.

Best wishes,

Jess Witkins

*****

And just for fun:

It’s only one week away – the next edition of The Redhots!

Next friday, Marcia and I interviewing our first author for The Redhots!  His book has been getting lots of 5 star reviews!  Tune in on October 26th to see who it is!

Until then:  We’re kicking off Halloween with a fun photo contest!  You could be a winner of one of 6 prizes!

My “orange” inspired Halloween table! The napkins had a skeleton on them that said “I’m Starving!”

What you need to know to enter:

1. There are three categories you can enter one time each:

  • Costume – your best ever, be it scary, cute or funny
  • Outdoor decorations – your scariest or most creative
  • Party room decor – you can include your Halloween tablescape, your unique pumpkin carving, and your room decorations

2. Post your pictures, up to 3 only, at our Twitter hashtag: #TheRedHots between October 19th and October 30th. The winners will be announced on Halloween!

3. For extra chances to win, you can choose to do the following:

  • “Like” Marcia’s and my Facebook pages
  • Tweet about the contest three times between the 19th and the 30th linking to our posts
  • Subscribe to our blogs

The prizes:

  • Grand prize will be an autographed print book by our indie author plus a Halloween Goody Bag.
  • 5 bonus prizes of a Kindlegraphed ebook from the author

Excited?  Inspired?  Halloween plans?  Heroes that inspire you?  What’s on your mind?

Lessons in Willpower From Your Friendly Neighborhood ROWers

I believe the celebration I declared on Facebook once my Regional Visit was over was “Can I get a chorus line?!” 

No seriously.  It’s one of my favorite musicals!

A Chorus LineGod I hope I get it!  I hope I get it!  …  I really need this job!  Please God I need this job! 

Yah, that about screams my generation right now.
But it’s also full of spandex and sass!

So now that the 12 and 13 hour days should be dwindling a little bit, I’m ready to get back into those writing goals.  Last week I organized some basic goals to try to unwind a little bit, and you know, finish the laundry…

Goals:

  • Do the laundry and find the two mysteriously missing pairs of jeans I used to wear often – I found one!  Contemplating putting a reward out for the other…  If you have any information regarding whereabouts of lost pants please contact me at 1 – 800 – HOT PANTS or email me at CuteButtJeans@LaundryMishaps.com  
  • Grocery shop and cook a big ol’ batch of chili mac so I actually have some leftovers to eat – I went shopping!  (not for food, but who’s asking?!)  Fortunately, a pre-planned meeting with my mother in a parking lot resulted in a legal exchange of chili mac she made for a shoe horn I thought she might want.  True story.  
  • Finish reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – Done!  OMG – AMAZING BOOK! 
  • Spend the weekend with my boyfriend, celebrating our six year anniversary!  Weekend getaway, Tony-Award Winning Production of Avenue Q!  Fancy dinner! – Fabulous, romantic weekend despite rainstorms the whole time.  The food was good, the play was great, and we really needed a weekend away.  Glad we had the opportunity.  Very thankful I have him in my life. 
  • Spend tomorrow’s day off writing!!! – I did only work on blog writing, but still counts!  Also attended an author’s book reading and signing, more on that coming Friday!

Joe and I enjoying a cocktail before the performance!

This week’s goals will focus on getting some blog posts written ahead and doing a bit of plotting/revision to the WIP.  Also planning on finishing reading Shine, Shine, Shine by Lydia Netzer for Great New Books discussion on October 24th!  Be there, or be square!

My ROW80 Role Models:

This week’s Role Model Awards go to three ladies who exemplified virility and vigor to achieve their writing goals even when life got in the way!  All of you will be receiving your invisible ROW80 statue to display on the furniture setting of your choice.  I advise against the floor, it does have some sharp edges, and it’s invisible so…

S.J. MayleeMaylee’s post this week recognized that finding your writing process is a constant trial and error.  There’s no magic formula that is going to work for everyone.  You have to try new ideas, take concepts and roll with them, and still be true to your learning style and productivity.  Even better, Maylee was cognitive enough after working a grueling schedule to realize that even though her day job would be settling down, she’d have to stay focused so she didn’t lose her free time to things like social media black holes, reality TV marathons, duct taping the snooze button down, etc.  Word up, girl, I will heed your advice!

Shawn Murray:  A book in hand lover to the core!  This girl bragged up her extensive Writer’s Digest collection – and it is extensive, if Murray ever wanted a summer home in Maine, she could build one out of Writer’s Digest magazines.  Sharing her best Ah-ha! Moments from the current issue, Murray shared with us how daily distractions can misplace our willpower, actually hindering our writing goals.  Interesting notion indeed!  Check out her post for tips on combating the ever piling up inbox and that custard filled donut that’s calling your name.  Then channel your willpower to best influence your writing time.

And Karen Rought gets the ROW80 Award too for admitting she  has a life.  Yes, Karen, it’s true!  Weeks will happen where you feel down in the dumps over what writing you did or did not complete.  I’m so right there with ya!  But I’m really proud of how you owned it, and then channeled your update post into something positive.  You celebrated the successes along the way, both the ones on your original goal list and some new ones too.  Kudos!

That’s all for this edition of Public Service Announcements brought to you by the proud sponsors of ROW80 – the Writing Program that Knows YOU Have a Life!  (Especially Karen Rought 😉 )  

Who inspired you this week?  What were your learning lessons?  Do you know anything about my missing pants?

How to Best (NOT) Prepare for the Fall Writing Season

Oh epic fail!  I am totally wearing the Pants Of Shame this week, you guys.  Here I talked up baby steps and plausible – adjustable goals, and I didn’t complete a one of them that I created.

So, if we’re counting, I did NOT:

  • Read one chapter of Stephen King’s On Writing
  • Finish reading Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer
  • Journal anything – uber fail there
  • Blog ahead 3 posts

The Regional Visit I’ve been preparing for at work is today, so I think once that’s behind me, I’ll get a lot more of my ROW80 goals done.  Many of you have again shared this last check in that life has a way of interfering – or in my case piling up in the form of laundry and living off of take out.

So this coming week’s ROW goals for me need to be tweaked.  Here’s planning on! –

  • Doing my laundry and finding the two mysteriously missing pairs of jeans I used to wear often
  • Grocery shopping and cooking a big ol’ batch of chili mac so I actually have some leftovers to eat
  • Finish reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • Spend the weekend with my boyfriend, celebrating our six year anniversary!  Weekend getaway, Tony-Award Winning Production of Avenue Q!  Fancy dinner!
  • Spend tomorrow’s day off writing!!!

(avenueq.com)

So this weekend will bring some fun and hopefully some writing time as well.  Not to mention, the premieres of both Vampire Diaries and The Walking Dead!!!  *Squee!*

Role Model Alert:

There’s lots more exciting news out there than that.  For example, sharing with you who I think wins the Hall of Fame for ROW80 Role Models this week!
*****
To start us out, Sonia G. Medeiros shared How Not to Starve During NaNoWriMo, a post full of links and meal plans for the busy writer on the go!  I love that she shared this!  If you’re like me, you survived NaNoWriMo on Dove chocolate, cheetos, and caffeine – a diet not for the weak of heart or amateur junk food artist!  The blogs Sonia linked to give you all kinds of freezer food plans for the newbie cook to the bulk foodmaker master!  If that’s not enough to convince you to try some recipes out in preparation for the NaNo Write Fest, Sonia’s vivid description of how NaNo Not Eating could turn you into a zombie will!
*****
My other ROW80 Role Model this week is E M Castellan who shared Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules of Writing.  I too love Gaiman’s work, and these tips are both smart and inspirational!  Thank you, E M, for sharing them!  She’s my writing idol this week because she’s done an amazing job of preparing and sticking with her writing goals!  E M has stayed up late to get her writing done, read and planned to create some upcoming blog posts, and recently hosted an author interview!  Busy lady!  Congrats on a great week, E M!
*****
How’s your week going, ROWers?
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