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.

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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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