Monday, April 30, 2012

Positivity and a great anti-stress tip

A very belated post since I'm just back from a wonderful weekend away in the Natal Midlands. A few weeks ago I blogged some tips on how to stay postive, and today I have three more.

  1. Follow positivity on Twitter. We all know the saying that if you want to be successful you surround yourself with successful people. The same thing goes with positivity. In order to stay positive, surround yourself with positive thoughts. A couple of my favourite mood uplifters on Twitter are Tiny Buddha and Inspirational Quotes. Please feel free to share any others you find. We can never have enough joy!
  2. Dance. Put on some bouncy music and get moving. If you have young kids, dance around the room with them. Dance like no-one is watching. Better yet, dance when no-one is watching. Guaranteed, no matter how silly it feels, you'll be getting exercise and by the end of the song you'll feel great.
  3. Breathe! When we get stressed, our breathing becomes shallow. This is natural fight-or-flight behaviour, but the scary thing is that it's a vicious cycle. In our busy, modern lives our bodies are constantly under stress and shallow breathing becomes the norm. Only after my cranio-sacral therapist (don't ask what that is because I don't know - except that it works!) pointed out that I need to concentrate on breathing, did I realise how badly I breathe. When you start to feel stressed, breathe deeply from your stomach. Just three breaths and you'll start to feel less stressed. Guaranteed. I use it it now as a de-stress technique in traffic. I have a short fuse and am a road rage candidate, so the fact that I now handle the morning commute without wielding a baseball bat is proof that focussing on breathing in deeply can make a massive difference.

And just in case you need a little more than music and fresh air to feel happier, maybe this will help. This was my view throughout the long weekend we've just had in South Africa:

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Lucky 7 Meme

Three of my lovely CPs, Sri Pammi, Joanne Pibworth and Suzanne Jones, have played the Lucky 7's game, and even though their excerpts are tough acts to follow, I thought I'd join the fun.

Go to the 77th page of your work-in-progress, 7th line down, and paste the next 7 sentences. Then tag 7 others. 
Consider yourselves tagged.

Here's mine, from my never-ending single title WIP, When September Ends. The heroine, Vivian, is sitting under the bleachers at her old high school with her one-time best friend and boy-next-door, Ryan:

“Nothing happened.”
“Maybe it should have. Then maybe you wouldn’t have been such an ass on prom night.”
“I didn’t want Serena. I only ever wanted you.”
Vivian raised the joint to her lips and inhaled deeply. There was only half left and yet she still didn’t feel relaxed.

I've now read seven further Lucky 7 contributions from Julie Cohen, Kate Hardy, Kate Jackson, Nicola Marsh, Rachael Johns, Liz Fielding and Teresa Ashby. They're all fascinating, but I still think Jo P's is the best of all. Click on the links, and let me know what you think... and if you have a blog, I've shown you mine, now you can show me yours!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thought for the day - courtesy of JK Rowling

Thanks to everyone who sent wishes on my Revisions. The hero's conflict still needs major work, but I'm actually excited to get stuck back into this story!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Revisions in my Inbox!

Last week I blogged a teaser tribute to my critique group, the Minxes of Romance. If you haven't yet heard the exciting Minxy news that followed: Maya Minx sold to Harlequin Presents!

It's been a busy week for us, as Sri Minx has finished and sent off her revisions (Yay, Sri!) to Harlequin Presents, Sally Minx is busy with her contracted book which has an imminent deadline, and on Sunday night I received a detailed revisions letter of my own for my New Voices 2011 entry, Once Upon a Time.

The revisions are pretty massive, to the point that the editor even took pity on me and offered I could send her something completely new instead. Since I don't have anything new that I'm ready for outside eyes to see, I've opted to do the revisions.

So this is me heading to join my other fellow Minxes in the Revisions Cave.

It's warm and well lit, and we keep it stocked with plenty of coffee, lucozade and chocolate, but no other distractions are allowed. Wish me joy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Book Review: Brief the Sun of Summer

This is less a book review than a shining example of how we can all realise our dreams.

Brief the Sun of Summer is a poignant, lyrical story set in northern England duirng World War 2, published in 2010 by Vanguard Press. It's a mostly true account of a young English girl falling in love with a Polish fighter pilot, set against the backdrop of sweeping events. The story is slow, beautifully written, and is sure to entrance.

But for me, the two best things about this book have nothing at all to do with the story. Firstly, I know the author. Her grand-daughter was my closest childhood friend and is now the godmother to my eldest daughter.

Secondly, the author published this book at the age of 91.

She is the living proof that you are never too old to follow your heart and live your dreams, and that publishing is the one industry in which age is no barrier to success.

Irene Hunter Steiner wrote and sold two romance novels in the 1970s, then after a long hiatus she wrote this novel - on a typewriter, since she still hadn't learned to use a new-fangled computer. She's now working on the sequel to Brief the Sun of Summer. I look forward to seeing it on the shelves.

The only obstacles are the ones we imagine. So no more excuses, we can all realise our dreams. And we will.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Minxy Tribute

I'm being Lazy Minx today so this short post will have to suffice. Today's blog post is a tribute to my lovely crit partners and dearest friends, The Minxes. You ladies rock!

Dreams really do come true.

Tomorrow I'll be blogging on Minxesof Romance and it's going to be a fun one, so please stop by.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Something a little different ...

So far all of our doorways have been in Europe, so this month I'm going to shake it up a little and cross the Atlantic. Today's picture comes from the blog of dragonflydownunder.

Is this a home, or an office? Where in the world could it be? There are endless posibilities ...

You know the drill .... share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The importance of toast buttering ... who knew?

To some, this might not be an important issue, but for me this is up there with "Who killed Kennedy?"

Until the day my mother told me I butter toast just like my grandfather, I never realised that people butter their toasts differently. I like to spread the butter (or these days margarine of the low fat / good fat, Heart-Foundation-endorsed variety) evenly and right up the the edges of the crust. One side only.
Not done properly, the toast becomes inedible.

Apparently this is an indication of my OCD nature which, it turns out, is inherited. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

And just to prove that I'm not alone in being concerned with how toast is buttered, check out this article from the UK's Daily Mail.

So how do you butter your toast?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Feeling positive

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about The Tipping Point - that in order to change your life towards a more positive outcome, you need to feel positive only 51% of the time.

Here are a few tips on how to stay positive. These are all things I've tried, so I know they work.

  • Every morning when you wake up, don't just jump out of bed and start the day. Spend a minute or two just being present in the moment. Appreciate the sunuggly warmth of your duvet. Appreciate the weather outside. Listen to the bird song. Then get up and start your day in a positive frame of mind.
  • If you have a lengthy commute, rather than stressing about how slow the traffic is moving, fill the time with  something you enjoy. Great music. An audio book. Or if you're a writer, spend the time getting to know your characters. Chat to them. Though you might want to do this quietly in your head so the commuters around you don't get spooked. Alternately, if you're having a conversation with an imaginary person, your fellow commuters might leave a nice lot of space around you.
  • Avoid bad news. I stopped reading newspapers and watching TV news a long time ago. But I still listened to radio news on the way to work, just to keep in touch with what's going on. Bad move. The job of journalists is to spread sensationalist bad news. It's not a great start to the working day to arrive at the office with your head full of the latest political corruption scandal or genocide in a distant country. If something happens that really rocks the world, it'll still reach you. Just keep an eye on what's trending on Twitter, and you probably won't miss out too much. Guaranteed you'll be happier if you're not listening to bad news.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. If you find yourself in a conversation with someone who's bringing you down, shift the conversation by introducing something positive. If that doesn't work, make a quick get away. Getting sucked into a discussion about the woes of the workplace, the unfairness of the bosses, the recessive ecomony, is just the fastest way to stop feeling positive.
  • Create a pinboard somewhere you can see it every day. Fill it with pictures of things that make you happy. Places you'd love to visit, your favourite foods, beautiful sunsets or landscapes, inspirational quotes or success stories.
  • Celebrate other people's achievements. I've started keeping a list of new sales to my dream publisher. Because every time I look at this list, I'm reminded that my dream is possible, because others have already achieved it.
  • Celebrate your accomplishments. In The Secret Rhonda Byrne suggests keeping a gratiutude journal. I do something a little different. In my journal I record everything I achieved that day. It can be as small as sending a thank you note to someone, writing a blog post, or reading a book. These are all worth celebrating, and looking back over a list of all the things you've accomplished rather than a never-ending To Do list is a sure-fire way of boosting positivity.
  • Finally, as you lie in bed at night preparing to sleep, and the day's events are churning through you mind, spend a minute or two thinking about all the things you love and feeling grateful for them. By being grateful for your kids' smiles, for the help you received during the day, for the tasty dinner, for the chance to watch a favourite TV show, for a new order from a customer, you'll go to sleep happier and guaranteed you'll wake up happier the next day.
Does anyone have any more tips to share on how to stay positive? I'm always open to new ideas.