Stolen Moments

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I think everybody has a “to do” list.
Some are short, some are long. A few might even be considered part of a bucket list rather than a to do list, but everybody’s got one. You’ve written it down are in the back of your head. We’re all busy; kids, school, work, writing. And there’s only so many hours in a day to get everything accomplished. Often things on today’s list get pushed to tomorrow, because there just wasn’t enough time.
But every occasionally, you find a stolen moment. A moment with nothing on your agenda, a moment when no one is clamoring for your attention and you can breathe.
So, what do you do with that stolen moment? Do you pull out your list and work on something else?
I think that’s what most people do. But here’s a novel concept; take that stolen moment for yourself.

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Grab a cup of coffee and go out and sit in the garden with a book you’ve been longing to read or a blank piece of paper to doodle on. Perhaps you can simply sit back, close your eyes, and do some deep breathing exercises. Not every minute, not every second has to be productive. Sometimes it’s healthier to be inactive.
Once I get over the guilt of having a stolen moment and taking it for myself, I find my mind wanders. I come up with some of the best ideas this way. Things that were in the back of my mind finally work their way forward; getting the attention they need, and yes, deserve
There used to be a time in our society when quiet moments were expected. After a long day’s you work came home, ate dinner, and had a quiet time. It might have been in the company of your family, or maybe sitting by yourself out of the back porch letting your thoughts wander. Personally, I think our minds were more stimulated because of this. We were forced to use our imagination in the days before there was a TV in every room and a phone in every hand. Everything wasn’t programmed for us on the TV or in a game.

Recently I had the opportunity for some stolen moments for myself. My husband was out of town, leaving me on my own with no obligations. It was amazing! The first thing I did? Turn the TV off. It felt weird, the house was too quiet, so I turned onto my old music to listen to. The stress and tension when out the windows.
At first, I just unwound. But then, the quiet moments led to productive thinking moments. A lot of “what-ifs” were tossing around my head about possible story lines. But rather than hurrying up and writing down an outline, I let them develop and nurture inside, without forcing them. By the second day I was ready for an outline. Because I had given the chance for the stories to form  on their own, my outline flowed from my fingers to the keyboard.

 

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Now I’m not saying you should get rid of your husband (because I really did miss him), or family, or leave your job for a week in order to be productive in your writing skills. But, if you let some stolen moments work their magic, you would be surprised at the results.
And here is an original thought: why wait for a stolen moment?
Why not set aside five or ten minutes every day for quiet time? We used to make the kids do it, at least to my house we did. Quiet time was for either book reading, or quiet play. No electronics, no TV. Set aside ten minutes for yourself every day. Develop this habit, and before you begin writing for the day, let your mind wander; almost like you’re exercising your fingers before you sit down to play the piano.

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Not being productive might be the key better production.

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Travels

Have you ever wanted to get behind the wheel of your car and just drive?

No destination, no agenda, just drive. Would you head north or southeast or west? Would you stay in your own country or would you crossover one of the borders surrounding us? Do you head north to Canada or south to Mexico? Would you stick the city roads or are you the type to try to back roads of our great country?

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Some people pass through places, not making connections. Perhaps you’ll take your time; stopping at a small diner and getting to know the people. Asking questions about their lives and finding out what their hopes are for their futures can give you not only insight about them, but ideas for stories.

Maybe you drive straight through, stopping only for necessities, to reach your destination Your answers will tell you a lot about your personality: perhaps you’re a driven person, with a goal and agenda. Or are you someone comfortable meandering through life? Neither one of them is wrong. It’s simply who you are.

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For me if I were given an opportunity I would visit the small towns and explore the countryside. It would be a perfect way to find the sights most people won’t find on the cover of a fancy travel magazine. There’s something about driving by a field of cotton or corn feeling in tune with nature, wondering when the crops will be harvested. If I found a park, I’d stop to walk the pathways, find little creeks for skipping stones when the mood takes me, and picking wildflowers as they bloom.

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This sounds idealistic, I know, but wouldn’t this be a wonderful way of life? To sit back and enjoy what God’s given us. No timetables, no time clocks, only the ability to enjoy life and help a person or two along the way.

Of course, it’s only a dream. There are too many responsibilities in our lives; bills to pay, children to raise and preparing for the future. We are sometimes too busy putting away for the future that we forget to enjoy the present, and we never really appreciate the past.

So what if we can only wander the back roads of the country on weekends? We can still enjoy our own immediate environment. I would bet right in your own hometown there are small parks you’ve never visited, views you’ve never pulled off to enjoy. If you drive a little way out of town, I’m sure there are places to find that you’ve never even imagined.

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My challenge to you? Learn to enjoy what you have around you. Get in the car and take a ride, see what’s around your own town. Or better yet; get on your bike or walk, and find what’s in your own neighborhood.

Think of the possible stories you can create from all these new experiences and locations!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Hi-ho, hi-ho, its off to camp we go!

My bags are packed and I’m running away for the month of April!

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Of course this is only in a virtual world. April is the first of the Camp NaNo months and I’m exciting to take part.

The camps are a bit more laid back than NaNoWriMo, with less emphasis on 50,000 words and more on your cabin and new writing friends. This is the time to finish up goals which may not have been completed (guilty!) in November and re-connect with other writers.

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I think this is what I love about the camps-the connection! No one understands your misery more than someone also going through the same process. This is the 4th year I’ve opened a cabin up, and I’m thrilled to see old friends return. This year there are  new writers joining us and I’m looking forward to getting to know them as well.

There is a special bond that forms here, one that will never fade. Encouragement is freely given, helpful ideas are tossed around and constructive criticism is offered if asked for and venting is allowed at any hour of the day or night.

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So, we authors set our goals and aim for our targeted number of words as we juggle or daily tasks, jobs and family. To those around us; have patience it’s only for a month.

At least until July rolls around!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

Do you share?

Do you share?
As an author, do you share with your readers? Do you let them into your world where they can find out about you? Do you have a platform where you let them know what’s going on with your writing life?

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If you are blogging– how much of yourself do you let your readers see of yourself? How often do you share: once or twice a week, daily, once a month? Do you freely share or are you just a matter-of-fact type of person only recording your writing progress, not letting your readers know about your personal side?
Whether you realize it or not, as a writer we share with our readers much more than we think. We can’t help it; as we write thousands of words on the pages, some of our personality has to seep through. Our core values refuse to be ignored, no matter how hard we try. Some of them will make their way into one of our characters, be it good or bad. It’s how you connect with your reader. Letting part of “you” onto the pages is what makes your book successful. It’s about finding something that the reader can connect with and imagine themselves in the same position.

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There are other ways we connect with our readers: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any of the other many social media outlets are avenues to let our readers get to know us.
Personally, I think it’s important to connect with my readers and let them know what’s going on my life. Make them feel connected to you as if you’re a friend about to sit down, share a soda and talk. I know when I read a blog post from another author, I can relate to what’s going on in their life. It does feel like I am chatting with an old friend.
The term author platform is used so much that it’s almost overused. To me, having a platform simply means I’m connecting with my readers. And how I do that has to be comfortable for me. I must be honest and sincere because I would never put out a fake persona. Sooner or later you’ll slip up and dissolution your reader.

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So how much do you share with your readers?

Not much? Well, maybe you should be.

Time to Say Farewell…

This past week I had to say goodbye to an old friend.

The one my son commonly called the toaster. My business was a mere five years old we bought this car, and it lasted for 12 years taking me to and from my customers homes, nursery shopping, and running around town. Sometimes she overflowed with flowers and herbs, giving me a full day’s work and an everlasting supply of different scents. It was a well-known car in town, between the shape and the logo ( a white Scion), and I often heard people saying they had seen me driving around from job to job in my unique car.

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It’s funny how you form an attachment too an animate object. I knew every nook and cranny of my car and the sounds she made, so I realized she was in trouble. And I had to make the decision to let her go, the time was here for her retirement.
After a fond goodbye, I now I have something new, “does happy dance”! It’s bigger and bluer, and I’m hoping it will last me another 12 years.

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As a writer, I look back and I see I’ve given my characters unique cars setting them apart (Megan has an open jeep, Aiden has a cherry red ’65 cutlass, Jake has a red motor scooter), or gave them their own attachments with another item (Megan has a special bracelet, Makenzie wears a lightning rock). It’s easy to transfer your own emotions into your writing, your own likes and dislikes (Megan love chocolate, Mackenzie loves gardens, Paige and Rebecca love cats). Sometimes you might transfer the likes of somebody else into your characters; a comment a good friend may have made about loving a specific brand of handbags suddenly becomes your main character prized possession.
It’s not just inanimate objects we share with our characters, often we bring them in to our favorite place, too. Whether these places are from our past or from our present sometimes or even places we want to go to in the future, they find their way into the story. Some authors are talented enough to create their own places and bring the characters to that imaginary location. But each of those places, just like each of the inanimate objects we so love, means something to us as authors. We may not be aware that with our words we share this love with our characters, and in turn share with our readers.

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As a reader, this helps you identify with the characters in the story, creating a bond. As a writer, it is our job to find a way to bond with our readers. So authors, share a little of your personality with your readers. Help them make the connection to you and your books.

Is he who he says he is?

Have You really thought about how little attention we give to what goes on around us? We take for granted the comings and goings of people in our day-to-day life. This could easily be a writer’s dream. Especially a mystery writer like me.

Here’s a good example… I was sitting at my desk working away, minding my own business, when suddenly, I glance out and there’s a guy outside my window. He gave me a wave, and I didn’t really think anything of it when I saw the tools. I remembered the contractors planned to be at my home today to install the hurricane shutters. Obviously he was here to do it.

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But how did I know this for sure; he might be anyone. By being in a uniform, with a letter truck, people don’t give a second thought as to why a worker is there. This deceptive trick is used often on TV shows. The bad guys manage, very easily, to enter a location and then commit a murderer, plant a bomb, or steal a valuable item. All because nobody questions the reason they are there.

We don’t want to make the person being questioned feel uncomfortable, and you don’t want to appear rude. But if you don’t ask questions, how do you know what’s going on? We don’t hesitate to question when somebody rings the doorbell to sell something. We quickly put them in their place with either a yes or a no response. If the person looks like they belong or there is a reason to be there, it’s our human nature to not question. Maybe we’re too trusting, or maybe we’re just too nonchalant, but either way it could be used against you.

Think about the people that come in your life day to day. How many are there that you don’t give a second thought about? If you’re at home, it might be the pool person who comes to clean the pool, or the lawn maintenance man. It could even be someone as common place as a postal delivery employee. If you work in an office do you think twice about seeing somebody come in with a toolbox? For all you know it’s the maintenance man. Or if somebody comes in with a laptop and you automatically assume they are part of a technology team. Or how about someone with a basket of food—is it a lunch person your company has employed or someone with an ulterior motive?

How can it be we’re so self-absorbed that we don’t ponder about the things that are going on around us? Have we become too complacent? Whatever situation you might be in, I hope I’ve put a caution on your mind. It’s time to think about who’s coming into your inner circle and if they belong.

 

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Let the writer explore the possibilities of the people that wander in and out our lives, you take care of the real-life safety precautions.

Remember it’s a mystery or thriller writer who plots about evil strangers…
The writer of Sci-fy brings the stranger as a visitor from the future…
A fantasy writer might create a whole new world where the stranger is from…
A romance writer might think ‘here comes prince charming’…

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Give a little back…

There comes a time in your life when it’s important to not only take, but to give back.

As you reach certain levels of success, you need to take somebody under your wing  to mentor.  Give back to your community and, in a broader spectrum, give back to the world.

I was taught this as a young child. But, of course, my parents didn’t call it ‘giving back’ they said you’re doing ‘what’s right’. We helped the lonely and the elderly who lived in our neighborhood by making sure their lawns were cut, they got occasional visits to keep them company, and treats like plates of homemade cookies. We did our part for church, too, making sure we were there for every cleanup and event the church sponsored. And we gave back to the school in forms of being part of the PTA or helping on class activities.

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It was right after I moved to Florida, getting a job with a man who was a community leader, I learned about giving back to the business community. He taught us it wasn’t just giving back money to associations and good causes, it was about giving of yourself. Giving time was  sometimes more important than giving money. A perfect example was after Hurricane Andrew hit Homestead Florida, many of the large nurseries were destroyed. Nurseries unaffected in other parts of the state sent down representatives and supplies to make sure those businesses demolished could rebuild. The made sure families affected would have food, water and shelter. These nurseries that helped didn’t make any money from their efforts; it was simply good will, and it was the right thing to do. This example of giving back made a lasting impression on me.

When I started my gardening business, I made sure I got involved in the community by joining the Chamber of Commerce and other non-profit organizations. Even if I didn’t have money to help these organizations, I had my time and efforts and I gave freely.

Now, as I enter a new stage of my life as a writer, I’m determined to give back once again. And, although I’m not as knowledgeable as other authors with more experience, I freely give what I can to help new authors starting out. Sometimes a kind word of encouragement is all another writer needs. Another way I give back is to read other people’s books and write honest reviews.

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You can easily do this, too.  Or, become a beta reader when you can. And don’t be afraid to promote another author’s book. By promoting other books in your own genre, you will also promote your own books. As more and more people become interested in the same style of writing as yours, you’ll find the sales increasing.

It’s exciting to be part of the writing community, and I’m thrilled to give back. I know most of us are introverts and tend to prefer working from within our own comfort zone, but with the use of the internet you can easily help another writer get through a  tricking plot point . Plus, I’m amazed at how many great friends I’m making.

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So, as a result, occasionally you’ll find I don’t post a traditional blog. Instead I’ll help support other author’s by posting a promotion. This will give you the chance as a reader to have access to new books and new writers you might not have known. It also gives these authors more exposure, which we all need.

I hope you will enjoy these promotions and take advantage of them. Remember if you enjoyed the book take a moment and let the writer know. Send an email or, even better, write a review on Amazon.

I think you’ll find it feels wonderful to give back!

Just Call Me Queenie

They call me the queen…

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The queen of procrastination. If there’s something that can be put off, ten-to-one, that’s just what I’ll do. It’s not because I’m lazy, it’s not because I don’t want to do; it’s just because it’s not needed yet. Most people will put things off; it’s just a natural trait we all seem to have. Of course there are exceptions; the ones that, as soon as they get an assignment or task, they have to tackle it right away. I should know, I live with someone like that.

Then there’s the people who tend to be more like me. I put things off, sometimes even waiting until the very last second. But you know what; I seem to do my best work when I’m under just a bit of stress. It seems that when I have lots of time I don’t concentrate as hard.

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Some task are put off because you don’t want to do, or because they are not exactly the most pleasant things that have to be done. Other projects are put off because of time management and even more tasks are put off because you don’t want to see something end. For instance I know I have to get my pictures ready for my sons graduation; but knowing that I have to put that all together is one thing, doing it is acknowledging that my son is leaving childhood and is now a young man going off to college. Not all mothers will be able to handle that very well.

There are other task that you put off unintentionally, you simply forget they were due. Then, I will agree, there is a mad dash to get things done and sometimes it may not be done as well as you would like to see them done. But- they ARE done.

So to all of you out there who tackle your tasks as soon you get them; just remember chances are there’s more procrastinators out there than you’re aware. I would even hazard a guess that we out-number you. So to each his own; whatever makes you happy, whatever gets the job done, whatever helps you move forward.

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Here’s my question to you;

what job or task are you procrastinating on right now?

The Morning Rush!

And the morning rush is on!

Have you ever done this? You get up early, thinking you’re going to get so much accomplished and get a head start on the day. You’re doing fine; until you look at the clock and realize either you’re way ahead of schedule or you have time to do a few extra things. Then, holy cow! You’re so far behind you’re going to be late.

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And that’s just the start of your adventure into the day. You hurry to slap on some makeup, comb your hair as you fly out the door and, as you back out of the driveway, make your first call of the morning to let someone know you are running behind. Then you hit every red light on your way to your destination. It doesn’t matter that there’s not a car coming up in the opposite direction and you’re the only car at the intersection. You don’t dare do anything by wait, because the way your morning is going, there is a traffic cop watching, just waiting for you to make the wrong decision.

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Just then, you realize you forgot your morning coffee so you’ve got to make a quick stop, because that morning cup of coffee is your life line. Of course there’s a long line at the drive through, so you think you’ll save some time by running inside and there’s an even longer line inside! Your morning cup of coffee has suddenly turned into a 15 minute fiasco.

Then you finally get to your destination and you can’t find a parking spot so you’re walking and walking and walking. By the time he reached the doors to your destination your half hour late, and you are scratching your head trying to figure out where the hack so did your morning go so wrong. You started off with such good intentions!

So, do you have a make a graceful entrance into your workplace and try to salvage what’s left of your morning…

OR do you say I’ve had enough and head to a peaceful location to play hooky?

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