Monthly Archives: December 2010

Musings on Seeking (and Finding) More Peace and Happiness in The New Year


 

“You are only one thought away from a good feeling.”

Happiness! It’s something we all want but struggle to find.  We could be happy we tell ourselves, if only we had fewer thoughts to analyse, fewer reactions to tame and no bad habits to change. Basically we’d all like to be more in charge of our lives. Maybe then we could be truly happy.

But perhaps all of the above just kind of ‘goes with the territory’ of living? Maybe we’d better just get used to it, ‘cos perhaps it is an inevitable part of the whole ‘being human’ thing ?

A few years ago I had to ponder those questions myself and if I wanted to stay on track with my weight loss efforts, I had to get some answers. What I found was that staying healthy psychologically was a real boon to staying healthy physically. We are, after all, not one-dimensional, but multidimensional beings, with many parts to heal, restore and transform.

So today’s post is about a few of the ideas that I’ve discovered and found to be effective (for me) . I hope they are for you too.

You Can Be Happy

I’m talking here mainly about a few principles I have learnt and now practice myself and that basically all come from a little book called, YOU CAN BE HAPPY NO MATTER WHAT. Great title, huh?

The principles are simple, but once you start to practice them, they can be quite powerful. Okay so here they are briefly described.

1) Stop taking every thought seriously. I think the average human mind produces about 60,000 thoughts a day, so not every one of those thoughts is something you need to take notice of, particularly if the thoughts are negative. Instead you can simply acknowledge them, choice to regard them as temporary and move on. In other words, don’t get caught up in analysis paralysis.

2) Feelings are like thoughts. They will arise, sometimes out of nowhere it seems, but they will pass, if we allow them to, simply by giving them less of our attention. Giving  your mind’s full attention to your thoughts by ruminating over things, hanging on to regrets or ‘if only’s’, is only going to make you more frightened by your own thoughts and….lead to more bad feelings. Sometimes we just have to let things go.

The book also suggests that we view our feelings as our built-in warning system, a system that alerts you via your uneasy feelings that you are heading down the wrong track with your thinking and may need to make a slight mental adjustment or at least, to give your negative thoughts less of your attention and focus.

Stress Reduction

All sound a little hard? Then perhaps you need to become less tolerant of the stress you are under. By that I mean stop being so hard on yourself and take a break. Book a massage. A tank float. A pedicure. Whatever it is that will relax and revive you – and distract you from those continuous and annoying thoughts.

Another great tip suggested in the book is to remind yourself that your thoughts are harmless – they are just thoughts. Stop focussing on them, on each and every detail of them and you will be on the road to better psychological health and fewer destructive habits. The opposite behaviour – thinking about something all the time, which I used to do, only makes a problem grow in our minds and make it appear more formidable.

As we will all be wishing each other a Happy New Year soon, what exactly does that mean for you?

What will it take for you to be truly happy in the New Year?
I would love to hear about your own experiences with seeking happiness. Is feeling peaceful an intermittent thing for you – something that comes and goes? If so, what do you do to restore your inner calm?

We all deserve more happiness in our lives. Writing this blog makes me happy. So do my kids. So do my friends and family. And so does pursuing my goals.

What about you? What makes you happy?

 

You Can’t Always Get What You Want, But You Can Still Be Happy (A Post Christmas How To Guide)


 With the knowledge (er…suspicion)  that the Christmas holiday weekend perhaps went a little smoother for some, than for others, I thought today, the following reflection may be apt. 

It is a little personal (though not too much ) and I hope, if you need it to be, may also be a little therapeutic…..

Some Preamble

I actually tried ignoring (as much as possible) the pre-Christmas hype (shopping/consumer madness, etc…) but try as I may, it still affected me.  So that being considered, there was a few things I needed to get straight; a few ‘truths’ I needed to remind myself and lessons I needed to (re) learn.

I could sum them up in a few phrases – slow down, don’t sweat the small stuff and live every moment, as if it could be your last.

Oh and here’s one more:- acceptance and love don’t always come gift wrapped.

So here’s how I came to these conclusions……

Want Versus Need

Remember this line from the Rolling Stones hit song, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you get what you need……” It’s true and he’s a few personal examples of just that…

The ‘need’ follows the ‘want’ and is written in bold.

1.” For the holidays, I thought I might try something different,” I told my hairdresser.  ‘ I think I’d like my hair to be lighter’ I continued. 

After some consternation over this request, she shared her plan to make me ‘a shade lighter’. It didn’t work. One and half hours later, I left a deep brunette.

Not what I wanted.

Upon returning home, my kids and family complimented me, gave me some love and actually told me they liked my hair and that I looked nice. They offered their kind words, were just glad to see me and I felt good.

2. ‘Don’t interrupt me on the phone, okay? I really need to talk to this person. It’s important,’ I told the kids. Within seconds, I had to excuse myself to answer my kids questions and attend to their activities. Four times, in fact, I excused myself from the phone.

The person I was speaking to, finally said ‘I think I’d better let you go’ and hung up.

Not what I wanted.

After the call, I looked at the kids. They ran to me and hugged me, as if I had been gone for days (instead of a few minutes) and I decided to give them my full attention, suddenly feeling a rush of appreciation for them, for their enthusiasm and their ability to feel excited over the little things in life.

3. Over Christmas, I did receive a few things I simply didn’t want.

These things however were given to me by people whom I really love and it was a gift simply to know that they felt the same. Finding out that they also treasure our friendship as much as I do was something I needed know. It made me happy regardless of the unwanted item.

Therapy for Life

Perhaps, if you’re tempted to moan or groan about anything unwanted in your life, a little tweaking of your mental processes might help and perhaps you can also find, that you actually did get what you need.

A Final Thought

In my humble opinion, our needs are often already being met, but that fact becomes a little clouded by our own preference for getting what we want.

Futhermore, experiencing the joy that fulfillment of our needs brings does require a little less superficiality.

This is just what I think though and maybe…. I’ve got it all wrong? Maybe there’s something else I need to learn…..

What do you think?

I’d love to hear if you yourself have a personal philosophy to live by when things don’t go your way? Does it help to make you appreciate the small things?

Or why not just share your Christmas experiences this year? I myself have enjoyed a very happy and upbeat celebration; one of the best I’ve had in years. I loved it!!

Please feel free to share anything that didn’t go your way though. I’m here and I’m listening…..:) 🙂

Or maybe you have some other nuggets of wisdom to share? Just press comment and fire away….

PS Don’t forget to pop back again in a few days. I am working on a sequel to todays post. It’ll be a similar ”Art of Happiness” study, which you may find interesting………   🙂

 

A Live, Learn, Achieve, Grow Update or Something A Little Different From Me


 

Well, that crept up on us didn’t it ? One minute I was busy planning blog post ideas and enjoying myself in cyberspace;  the next I have people asking me am I making rum balls this year and have I finished my Christmas shopping yet?

The answer to both those questions, in case you’re wondering, is yes.

Don’t be alarmed though, just because I’m talking about Christmas, does not mean I’m going to ask what you’re getting me. No way.  But whatever it is, could you please keep the receipt so I can take it back and get a refund and then spend it on wine and chocolates new plug-ins for my 2011 blog upgrade? Thank you. 🙂

On A Serious Note

Actually, if you’re hoping for something like that, you might like to come back in a week or so. 🙂

I am not blogging anything highly significant or informative today, but I do have one very important thing to say, so keep reading….I’m getting to it…. 

Did I mention by the way, that I’m blogging from the balcony of our holiday unit, with a glistening view of the Pacific Ocean in front on me ? I must say it is rather different from where I usually blog (my study), but I’m liking it….

To The Point

So, what I want to say to you is this – THANK YOU. Thank you if you have been reading here, thank you if you’ve commented, subscribed, emailed or followed me on Twitter,  And thank you if you’ve taught me something or replied to my comments or questions on your own blog.

It is a pleasure sharing and learning with your guys and I am looking forward to doing more of it in 2011. 

For now however, I am ON HOLIDAYS! And you know that view I mentioned ?  It includes a beach – one that stretches for miles and miles – and for the next week or so, that’s where you’ll find me. 🙂

I will also, of course, be spending a little wind down time with my close family and friends.

But I’ll be thinking of you guys 🙂 

And if I can work out how to, I might tweet a photo of this beautiful spot I find myself in.

Another Thought

A special thought also to any of you who may be snow bound. I’ve been watching on the tele and it looks beautiful, but a little extreme. I hope it doesn’t disrupt any of your Christmas plans.

The Last Word

And finally I wish you a  Merry Christmas! I hope you have a lovely time with the people lucky enough to be sharing it with you.

Stay peaceful and I hope you can rejoin me in the New Year. 🙂

Mon

You guys rock! 🙂

Your Future Hasn’t Been Written Yet or Why Your Next Resolution Maybe Your Best Yet


 

Many of you may remember this scene  from the very popular movie, Back To The Future. In case you’re too young to remember, it was a fictional tale with a great message about possibilities, outcomes, decisions and personal action.

It was also a great reminder that destiny is something that in contrast to being predetermined is actually, medetermined. Every choice you make or don’t make (and even not making a choice is a choice), every opportunity you do or do not take up is you, determining your future.

The New Year

One of the most popular dates on the calendar for setting goals is coming…. thoughts, ideas and promises will flood our minds with the intent of being fulfilled. “This time next year”…..will be a popular phrase fervently broadcast after a few drinks. Goals such as losing weight, giving up smoking, getting more exercise, writing more will be everywhere. Then, a month or two later……??? Ah, well, it wasn’t meant to be. It’s not my destiny. I was never meant to do that, anyway. Etc, etc…

The excuse of not being in charge of your future is one that many of us are comfortable to fall back on.

When we take the idea that ‘Our future hasn’t been written yet’ though, things begin to change. We can start to see that really…..anything is possible. We can lose that weight, we can achieve that new goal.  Destiny is not an absolute. It is something we can shape, change and create. If we want to.

Great Scott

Couch potatoes have become marathon runners. Because they wanted to.

Bloggers have become published authors. Because they wanted to.

Penniless people have created wealth. Because they wanted to.

Uneducated people have gone back to school. Because they wanted to.

The essential ingredient of course is motivation. Motivation, desire, hard work and a some would argue, luck.

While all these do play a part, I think the most common element in all these success stories is that, the people creating them, believed in being masters of their own destiny.

When midnight strikes this New Year, why not remind yourself of this truth. It may make all the difference, this time next year……

Over To You…

So, I’d love to hear – do you believe in life being me – determined or predetermined? Is circumstance and your life situation something you can control or shape or is it all ‘going to happen anyway’, regardless of your own decisions or choices?

Do you only set new goals at New Year or do you set them weekly,monthly or even daily? Have you an inspirational story to share about overcoming the odds and achieving what you set out to?

Please do share your thoughts. I really appreciate the value your comments add to the discussion. 🙂

I’d also love to hear what you’re doing to ring in the New Year. I’d share my own plans, but they mostly involve sleep…..such the party animal quiet neighbour that I am!

 

*************************************

 

 

7 Ways To Overcome Writer’s Block (A Collaborative Approach)


 

Do you sometimes wish there was a magic spell you could cast over your yourself, just to get yourself to write? Something quick and easy to motivate you, to stop you procrastinating and just get you writing?

Writers block is something that some people say doesn’t exist. However, if you’re a writer you know it does.  

And whilst we could go the long route and spend time balancing our chakras or meditating (I actually don’t think doing those things is such a bad idea, but that’s for another post….) today I thought I’d offer you my own  top 7 tips for overcoming writer’s block . They may not be absolute magic, but I do find they help. They are also not a complete list and that is why at the end of this post I hope you will also share your own methods or solutions……

1. Keep it simple.

If you don’t feel like or just don’t have the time to sit down and write 1000 words on your novel or non-fiction project, just make notes. Chapter headings can be jotted down, followed by 2 or 3 simple scene descriptions or if it is non fiction, a few simple paragraph headings will do. This sort of exercise gets your brain ready for the next part of the task and often before long you may find yourself wanting to ‘fill in the gaps’.

2. Get Yourself on Twitter!  

Now before you argue with this one (because we all know the reputation twitter has for being a time waster) let me explain – there are ways to make it work for you. During a recent bout of ‘I just can’t sit down and writitis’ I signed into my twitter account and using the hash tag,  #amwriting, I found several people writing, editing or otherwise creatively producing. I read their tweets, replied to one who I knew as a local author and before long, I was ‘cured’ and busting to get a few things down on the page.

Twitter has worked for me in other ways too, mainly by giving me ideas by  checking out what others are writing or tweeting about. Whilst this might not work every time for you, why not give it a go, next time you’re stuck? You can follow me, if you like – I’m here or do a search for other authors you might know.

3. Utilise Writing Software

Whilst I have not used them myself, I have met several people who swear by the use of certain software programs both in helping them become more organised and also in enhancing their creativity. This is one you can check out for yourself, here. 

I haven’t got a lot to say on this one, as I’ve not used them myself however, if you have had any experience with these type of programs or similar, I would love to hear.

4. Do Something Else

Huh? How can this be helpful? Okay, well, I definitely find that inactivity decreases creative energies. Sitting around ‘thinking’ sometimes leads nowhere, so…. take a walk, get some sunshine and fresh air or if you’re keen enough, hit the gym for an hour or so.

I have so much more energy (for writing or anything else) when I stick with regular exercise, myself. I think there’s probably some science in there in somewhere that could back this up (such as exercise produces serotonin levels, etc….), but I just go on my gut instinct and know that it helps me.

5. Jump Start Your Imagination - Read.

Getting ‘stuck’ with your writing is sometimes a matter of not having your imagination stimulated enough.  To get the juices flowing again, try reading!!! Read your favorite author, read your own work, read a friend’s work, read a blog, join a writer’s group or participate in writing activities in other ways.

So, Now It’s Your Turn….

Okay, so these have been my own top tips for overcoming writers block, but now it’s your turn to come up with numbers six and seven!!

I was going to write seven tips myself when I started this post, but half way through I came up with the idea of inviting you all to add your own ideas . 🙂

 I love reading the mental processes that others apply to their own writing and I think it is a great way for us all to learn and grow as writers.

So, how about it? Love to hear your own thoughts….just click comment and join in!!  Hope to hear from you…..  🙂

Becoming A First Time Author Using Web Tools or The How’s and Why’s Of The New Publishing Model (Part Two)


 

Writing your book is a fantastic goal and the prospect of actually finishing it and getting it out there is pretty exciting. At least I think it is!

In my last post we looked at some of the fantastic options for doing just that, specifically digital publishing or creating ebooks. Today we will look at the self publishing print options, something that many authors prefer, although I think it is probably necessary to go down both paths, if possible.

Self Publishing in Print

If you really want to, of course, the traditional route to publishing is still available for you to pursue. That is if you’re happy to wait several years, read many rejection letters, possibly pay half or more of the publishing costs yourself (I have met authors who have been offered these sort of ‘deals’ from publishers), are prepared to wait months and months to hear back from editors and are lucky enough to find an agent who will return your calls.

Okay, I paint a dim picture. However, I am not about to argue with the thousands who have gone before me and had these experiences.

Especially since we right now have several viable alternatives to traditional publishing. I am also encouraged by the stories of authors who have already gone down the self publishing path and in time, gone on to get traditional book deals, after achieving sales success with their originally self published books. Two examples of people who have done this are Christopher Paolini and Lis Genova. So it can happen!

Making Your Book A Reality

Okay, so now that you’re jumping up and down with excitement (at least I hope you are !), how can you do this?

Well, there are several online companies who specialise in making this happen and here’s a list of them: –

www.lulu.com

www.createspace.com

www.booksurge.com

www.wordclay.com

www.fiverainbows.com

and

www.blurb.com

Check them all out if you want to, but the two that I think offer the best options for first time authors are Lulu and Createspace and these are the two that I will be looking at in the new year. Having not long ago reformatted my manuscript for Smashwords, I now have a little more work to do to produce print ready files for uploading to these sites.

Print On Demand

One of the great services offered by these companies (at least most of them) is Print On Demand, where books are printed as they are ordered. Someone puts in an order, they print it and ship it to the customer!

This saves us authors from having to store hundreds of books in our garages and also means no up front costs for printing, storage or distribution.

Learning The Trade

One of the main aspects of being an independent author is that you take charge of the marketing and promotion yourself. Luckily these are skills we can all learn and indeed for many of you reading this, you probably already have some experience with this.

I am still investigating and learning about things like creating press releases and marketing and reaching an audience. It’s a learning curve but one I am happy to be taking. The journey so far has been fun, interesting, stimulating and extremely self satisfying to have reached some of the writing goals I have set for myself.

I can’t begin to tell you, after all those months of working hard on my manuscript, how excited I was the day my book went ‘live’ on Smashwords!!

I know you too can also experience this feeling and I hope that the information I have shared here enables you to. Thanks for coming back for Part Two and I would love to hear from any of you who are currently working on manuscripts or who hope to in the future.

Wishing you all the best with your writing,

Mon

Before You Go….

Why not leave a comment? I would love to hear how your own manuscript is progressing, if you have one. Or perhaps you have thoughts about writing a book, but aren’t sure where to start ?

Also, was this information helpful for you or if there is something else that you are interested in reading about in relation to writing or any of the other topics discussed here?

Have you had any experiences with writing and publishing?

Love to hear…..

P.S. I have had some technical difficulties with my internet service lately (it keeps dropping out) so I have not gotten to visit everyone’s blogs for a few days. I have been trying!! I’m hoping it works long enough today for me to publish this post! Darn internet!

Becoming A First Time Author Using Web Tools or The How’s and Why’s Of The New Publishing Model (Part One)


 

The Book (as we used to know it)…

Okay, so like me you want to be an author. Correct? For whatever reasons of your own – perhaps it was a childhood dream or it is an unfulfilled wish you now have –whatever the reasons and background, you are now madly and passionately in love with the idea of seeing your book in print (although there are other options, too, which we’ll discuss soon) with a glossy cover and your name on it.

I don’t blame you. It is my wish too and I am part way there.  I am still learning though and don’t profess to knowing or doing it all,  (if I had already put it into practice everything I’ve learnt you would be reading these words on a much more ritzy looking author page!!). I am however, more than happy, to share with you, as I learn.

So This Is What I Know

Right now, the publishing industry is going through big changes. Large bricks and mortar stores are closing. Whilst some put this down to the impact of the Global Financial Crisis, there is another phenomenon effecting traditional publishing. It’s called the internet.

New technologies, such as the Ipad, the Iphone, the Kindle and similar e-reading devices are thriving. Predictions from experts in the field, are that the growth of ebook technology will eventually save the book, but not in its original format.

One day not too far away, school children will be using tablets and netbooks, not just in their ‘computer classes’, but as a complete replacement for print textbooks. They will be doing their homework online and emailing it to their teachers. Traditional school classrooms will ‘go global’ and connect with other classes across the world.

A big revolution in the way we read and learn is happening and if we want to be authors, it’s a great idea to get on board now and embrace these new technologies.

You’ve Already Begun

From my own research, one of the most important things for an author using this new technology to do is – start a blog – so, you can tick that one off!! An online presence is important not just for the connections you make and the audience you may begin to develop, but it is also valuable for off line sales as well. It is somewhere to direct a potential buyer or reader to, where they can find out more about you. 

You can also get feedback from your audience sooner this way and improve as you go. This is probably not new information to you, if you have been blogging for a long time, but I mention it here, to give the newbie bloggers a little nudge and let them know that if they want to be published authors, then they are certainly heading in the right direction with blogging. It gives you a platform to build from and although I am still building that platform myself, I am also learning heaps about writing both online and off, at the same time.

Blogging Matters

As I mentioned in my last post, many bloggers have already turned their passion for blogging into a book. An example of this can be seen here. To make the importance of blogging clearer, here are also a few more examples here and here, of famous authors who yes, still blog everyday.

Self Publishing Options

Stay with me now, I’m getting to the good stuff!!  I don’t want to miss or skim over any of the options though, so I have decided to make this a two part (at least) series post. Over this 2 part series, I will cover the following three areas.

#Affordable Self Publishing
#Print On Demand and
#Digital Publishing/Ebooks

Ebook Self Publishing

Since my own experience has been with ebook publishing, specifically with www.smashwords.com, I will talk about it first. 

The ebooks on Smashwords can be read online using our online readers, or they can be downloaded to other reading devices such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader or IRex Iliad, or to other ereading devices. Smashwords also offers generous sampling options to readers so they can try before they buy.

I published about four months ago at Smashwords and this is what my own book page at Smashwords looks like: –

What Smashwords Offers Authors

Smashwords offers distribution to major online ebook retailers such as Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple iPad iBookstore, Kobo (and Borders) and the Diesel eBook Store, and to all major smart phone platforms via app providers such as Stanza, Aldiko, Kobo and Word-Player.

They also offer free author pages with bios, headshots and lists of works; the industry’s broadest range of sampling options; embedded YouTube videos (I’m working on mine ) for video book trailers and virtual author events; reviews from readers; ebook downloads in multiple ebook formats; a coupon code generator for custom promotions (I’ve used this and it’s great) and more tools in the works. 

Smashwords does some of the marketing for you but, most of the promotion and marketing is up to you and thus, how many sales you make is also, up to you. In effect, being a Smashwords author is no different in this regard to being a mainstream published author. Although traditional publishers will do some of the work for you, most traditionally published authors find that a large part of the book marketing is up to them. This is why you will find so many of them on Twitter and Facebook. Yes, I’m there too.

If you would like to have obtain more information about marketing your Smashwords ebook, then you can do so for free by downloading the Smashwords Book Marketing Guide.

I do thoroughly recommend Smashwords, as any easy (if you use their guides) to follow ebook publishing platform.

However there are also other options such as www.scribd.com.

Part Two of this series….

So that’s about it for Part One of this series on Becoming A First Time Author, Using Web Tools. Stay tuned however…..because I will be back with as much information about the current publishing options open to new authors, as I can find. More links and useful information to come…….

And if I was a real clever bunny like Tristan, from The Blogging Bookshelf, I would also work out how to offer you the entire two posts as a download PDF ebook, but I’m not sure if the functionality of this blog allows that. I’ll let you know next time…..

You Should Comment Because….

1. I’d love you to !!

2. You can let me know if this information is of any help to you and your endeavours.

3. Even though I don’t have that great plug-in called Comment Luv, you can still link to or mention your own blog or latest post!

4. I will drop by your blog and leave a comment too! 🙂

As usual, I really would like your feedback, comments or suggestions. I am open to all thoughts and ideas, I won’t be offended if you didn’t like something I wrote and I am keenly interested to learn from you, too. 🙂

IF YOU LIKED THIS POST, PLEASE RETWEET IT OR SHARE IT.  THANKS. 🙂