Monthly Archives: May 2014

Welcome Bruce A. Borders, Night Writer

Grab your cup of coffee (or your favorite cup of tea) and enjoy a visit with my special guest, friend, and  fellow Rave Reviews Book Club Board Member Bruce A. Borders.

Night Writer

by Bruce A. Borders

5-30-14

Bruce A Borders - Author

Bruce A Borders – Author

I’d like to thank my good friend and fellow board member at Rave Reviews Book Club, Kathryn Treat, for extending the invitation to appear on her blog. I appreciate the opportunity! Thanks!

How do you find time to write? It’s a question I get a lot. Or, people will tell me they would like to be a writer but there isn’t enough time in their busy day. They have a job, young children, things to do at home, places to go­—the list goes on and on.

I used to belong to that mindset until one day I realized these “reasons” were nothing more than cleverly disguised procrastination. The Greek philosopher, Epictetus, said, “If you wish to be a writerwrite.” I did wish to be a writer so I took his advice and I wrote. And the questions about how I find the time started almost immediately.

There seems to be a common misconception about writers—that somehow we have more time in the day than the 24 hours allotted everyone else. We don’t. We just learn to make time for writing.

So, how do I make the time while working a full-time job and taking care of all of the usual responsibilities that accompany life? Well, I’m a night owl by nature. Always have been. Not only do I wake up at night, the opposite is also true—I’m dead tired during the day and feel absolutely lousy. Most every morning, I awake with a headache, my eyes have trouble focusing, and my legs feel like jelly. Been that way for as long as I can remember. I couldn’t really write at that point if I wanted to. I’m lucky to be able to function at all, let alone try to be creative. So, that isn’t the most opportune time for me to write, not if I expect it to make sense.

Then, the sun goes down and I start to come alive. The fog clears from my head, my eyes quit burning, and I find I can think straight again. (Or, at least what passes for thinking straight for a writer). My writing flows better and I am much more productive. So, writing at night became the logical choice. As I’m typing this, I just checked the time and it’s 2.43 a.m. I’ll be up for a few more hours. Most of the time, it’s daylight before I turn in.

The nice thing about writing at night is there are no distractions—or very few of them. Everyone else is asleep, dogs too. Neighbors aren’t making strange noises, the phone isn’t ringing constantly, and generally, no one is knocking at the door—wayward drunks not withstanding. (Hey, it’s happened a few times). I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s peaceful at night. I can concentrate on writing instead of life’s many inevitable interruptions.

It does help that I like to stay busy. No, let me re-phrase that, I have to stay busy. I can’t relax unless I’m doing something. And since no businesses are open, other than a convenience store or gas station, there’s really not much else to do in the wee hours of the morning. With no bills to pay, nothing to fix, no shopping, banking, or any of the other hundreds of things that typically occur during the day, I can devote my sole attention to writing. With 14 published books to date, it seems to work. Quite well, actually. At times, it’s almost as if I’m zoned out to the world, like everything has suddenly stopped, and I become lost in writing. It’s an odd feeling to glance at the clock and realize four or five hours have passed—almost as if I weren’t there.

You can see why I write at night—it’s far more productive. Yet, it’s more than that; more than just a preference. For me, it’s a necessity. I have to write, I’m busy, and feel perfectly horrible during the day, therefore; I have to stay up late. Or, perhaps there’s another, less complicated explanation. Maybe I’m just a night owl who likes to write.

Now that you have learned about what makes “night writing” work for Bruce, why not visit his Amazon page and pick up one of his many wonderful books (Over My Dead Body, Room 913, Miscarriage of Justice).  Thank you  Bruce for taking the time to “Be My Guest” today.

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Crapulence and Forgotten English: the Words we Ought to Bring Back!

Isn’t fun learning new words that really aren’t new?

Nicholas C. Rossis

Blueberry Cheesecake The humble Groaning Cheese’s glorious descendant: Cheesecake. Does it have the same effect? (photo by highdesertvapes.com)

Yesterday, I posted about all these wonderful words that various languages use around the world.  But what about all those words that English used to have, but somehow were forgotten, disappearing from memory? Isn’t it awful that we no longer have a word for intestinal and cranial distress, arising from intemperance and debauchery – aka Crapulence?

So, it is with great pride that I refer you to Jeff Kacirk and his Forgotten English, whence these beauties come, courtesy of Mental Floss:

  • CRAPULENCE: This word, from the Latin root crapula, arose in the 18th century. According to Kacirk, it denoted “intestinal and cranial distress … arising from intemperance and debauchery.” Put another way: If you get drunk, expect crapulence. And a Grog-Blossom.
  • GROG-BLOSSOM: A word from the 18th century for the dilation of blood…

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Stepping Into “The Box” with author Danica Cornell

I am so happy to introduce you to my friend Danica Cornell.  I first met Danica when we became board members for Rave Reviews Book Club.  I love the way she thinks and the lovely way she writes.  I am looking forward to reading her novel series.

How Stepping Into ‘The Box’ Helped One Writer Cultivate

Out-Of-The-Box Thinking and Increased Productivity

Cardboard Box

Written by Danica Cornell

All I can say is God Bless the handful of folks who’ve endured my infamous Scheduling Gripe Fests.  Yes, I’m openly admitting it.  When I was younger, I referred to my schedule as The Box—a dead giveaway for how I really felt about routines.

As my teen would say, it was waaaay back in the Cave Man Era that I viewed calendars and task lists as necessary evils.  In my mind, these tools kept me on track, but at a high price.  Even though I knew they were supposed to make life easier, they actually made me feel less spontaneous, less whimsical.

In short, I felt boxed in.

And so it went…for the better part of a decade, I despised The Box so much that I lumped it in with things like brussel sprouts and exercising at 5:00 a.m.!  Hey, just because something was good for me, didn’t mean I had to like it.  Right?

Still, as a reasonably intelligent, rational human being, I knew deep down The Box had value.  After all, a little structure can serve as the foundation for a highly productive (and ultimately) successful life and career.   Over the years, I came to see The Box actually gave me the freedom to schedule in fun—something that can easily become crowded out in today’s busy and interconnected world.

It’s for all of these reasons that I’ve recently gone to great lengths to recreate a new Box—one which serves me equally as well as the old one once did, before my life became busier and more complex.   But here’s the thing.   Much to my embarrassment, this time around it actually took me quite awhile to get it figured out.   Why?   Simply put, I had a lot of conflicting things to consider, such as:

  • As a writer, what time of day am I most creative/ productive?
  • How does this jive with my other commitments?
  • With the myriad of demands on my time, how can I possibly improve my creativity and ultimately my productivity, without dropping the ball in the other areas in my life?
  • Is it possible to accomplish this without upsetting my family and friends?

As it turns out, I shouldn’t have felt embarrassed about struggling with this for so long.  After all, psychologists can spend their careers studying this sort of thing!  I should know because as a psychology major, I ended up taking a number of courses in industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology.  (This branch of the behavioral sciences focuses on things like group dynamics, corporate culture, motivation, and productivity–just to name a few.) What I gleaned from these classes is that reaching one’s peak creativity and productivity isn’t always as clear-cut as many might think.  Not by a long shot.

Brussel Sprouts

Size Matters

Don’t worry, I promise this article is Rated G!  When referring to size, what I’m really talking about is the amount of time required for getting in the most creative-productive frame of mind (CPFOM) possible.  Is this a lot of time? A little?  Something in between?

As it turns out, I came to realize reaching my own CPFOM wasn’t time-consuming at all!  Put another way, for a small investment of my time, I could “Git-R-Done”—and really, really well!

Here’s what I uncovered…

Life’s Rewards

I realized I first needed to understand what really motivates me.  In other words, what, (other than the sheer joy of creating science fiction/fantasy), gets me excited?  What would I like to be rewarded with for my efforts?  Okay, I’m pretty sure I know what you’re thinking.  She wants to be a best-selling author and make lots of money!

Yeah, that would be terrific.

But what I’m talking about is actually shorter-term, as in what’s feasible on a weekly basis.  Since I knew there weren’t any wrong answers, I felt free to be completely honest with myself.  Here’s what I discovered…

Just Breathe

In my case, I knew I enjoyed unstructured time away from my responsibilities—time to just relax, or go out and do something completely unrelated to my everyday life.  Unfortunately, this had been sorely lacking for a very long time.   I came to understand that working so many hours had been undermining my creativity and thus, my productivity.

The solution?  Reward myself with unstructured time at regular (weekly) intervals.

Drums

Jogging to the Beat of a Different Drummer

I also had to be honest with myself when it came to exercise—I wasn’t doing enough of it.  I’ve known for years that exercise in combination with music gets my creative juices flowing.

The solution?  Stop whining about not having enough time and re-establish exercise (while jamming out!) as a priority.

Listen to the Dormouse

Even though it’s a little before my time, I have a penchant for music from the sixties.  To be clear, I embrace the out-of-the-box ideas reflected in the counterculture’s music –not the drugs.

As such, there’s one song that’s a stand out for me, “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane.  As many (or at least some) of you may remember, a portion of the lyrics describes a dormouse saying, “Feed your head.”   Now, we all know what’s really meant here.  But I like to think of this song in slightly different terms—as in actual nutrition for the brain.  You know—food.

I gotta say, I consider myself to be fairly health-conscious.  I do try to eat a reasonably healthy diet, but like most, I enjoy fresh baked bread (topped with butter) as well as the occasional dessert.  And don’t even get me started on pizza!  As far as I’m concerned, a slice of spinach pizza is a close to heaven as anything—which is why I was saddened when I came to the realization that I might’ve been suffering (for quite some time) from brain fog associated with gluten sensitivity.  Since I’d also been experiencing digestive problems and joint pain, I decided to try going gluten free for awhile to see what might happen.  I’m not gonna lie.  I was a little skeptical, but I figured I had nothing to lose so why not give it a whirl?

The results truly shocked me!

My knees, which had been bothering me for years, felt completely better.   I also started thinking more clearly, which has obvious benefits for creativity and productivity.

The solution?  Eat a healthier diet—one that’s gluten free and see if this trend continues.

Write Out a Schedule in Pencil, Not Ink

The one thing that’s much different in my life now, (compared to those cave man days) is that I have many more responsibilities.  I also find I’m squeezed at times by competing and conflicting demands.  I suppose this is to be expected when running a home;  being the owner of a high-tech start-up; overseeing my family’s schedule;  writing a sci-fi/fantasy book series; social networking;  volunteering in a book club;  and keeping a watchful eye on extended family—including aging parents.

The first thing I absolutely needed to do (after taking a deep breath!) was accept was that I cannot possibly control everything.  No matter how hard I try, stuff is gonna come up.  And sure as I’m sitting here typing this, it’ll invariably happen when it’s least convenient!

Once I got what I call really real about this, I was able to relax a bit.  After all, being stressed out won’t help anyone.  Besides, in the end, anxiety—with its accompanying illnesses and ailments is counter-productive.

The solution?  Once I felt emotionally centered, I made sure to take a careful look at my calendar.  The goal was to create a snapshot of sorts for the remainder of the year.  I made note of upcoming birthdays and anniversaries and the like.  I then went back to the current month and looked at each week.  For upcoming meetings or anything else that required advanced preparation, I set up a schedule and task list.  No more last-minute scrambling!

Another thing I’ve learned is that it’s really okay to say no.  Even though I wish I could, it’s not possible to accommodate everyone all the time.  Even though as a scifi writer I’m a bit enamored with robots, one fact still remains:  I’m only human.

World in Hands

All the World’s a Stage

As it turns out, by allowing myself some guilt-free time away from work along with moderate exercise, a diet consisting of healthy (mostly unprocessed) foods, and a realistic schedule, my CPFOM  has increased dramatically!

In short, by paying careful attention to The Box and tweaking my routine in a few meaningful ways, I’ve improved the quality and quantity of my writing—along with my health!   Have I disappointed some folks here and there by saying no to a few of their requests?   Sure—not that I wanted to.  But I’ve come to understand—I mean really understand that I simply cannot flex and bend for everyone all the time.  You wanna guess what the best part about all this has been?  I’m finding most people not only understand, but actually support what I’m doing!   And for this science fiction/fantasy writer, that can only mean one thing:  Warp speed ahead!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Danica Cornel Photo

Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s writing, her nanotechnology start-up, and her support of UNICEF, please visit:  www.danicacornell.comDanica Cornell is a proud member of the RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.

 

 

My Interview With Danica Cornell

I am so delighted to be featured on Danica Cornell’s blog.  Thank you Danica for allowing me the opportunity to talk about myself and my book.

An Interview With Author Kathryn Chastain Treat

Please help me welcome my dear friend, Ms. Kathryn Treat.  Kathryn is a fellow Governing Board Member of  the Rave Reviews Book Club and author of Allergic To Life: My Battle for Survival, Courage, and Hope now available on Amazon.

Cover1FinalFront

Kathryn, can you tell us a little about your book?

My book is about my incredible journey through mold induced illness and severe allergies and sensitivities to all chemicals.  I would like to say that I am the only one suffering from this illness but I am far from alone.  After seventeen years of being a stay-at-home mother and volunteer of everything, I chose to go back to work when my younger daughter was about to graduate high school.  I had no idea that the office I was about to work in would change my life forever.  Suddenly I was constantly ill, experiencing life threatening situations, and giving up my treasured possessions.  I would trade my contacts for glasses, my make-up for a bare face, my hair-color for gray hair, my nice clothes for t-shirts and jeans, and give up my beautiful home full of furnishings and crafts that I made and loved for a house that feels more like a doctor’s waiting room than a home.

To read more of my interview, please make a visit to Danica’s blog.

A Common Sense Approach to Overcoming a Medical Crisis

This was originally posted on my blog Allergic to Life which focuses on environmental and other chronic health issues. I want to share Shirley’s blog post here because of her wonderful writing talent and to let you all know she is working on another book. Can’t wait for it Shirley.

allergictolifemybattle

I met Shirley last fall just as Allergic to Life was published.  She contacted me because she also had experienced several horrible health issues.  We connected immediately and it was wonderful to find someone who understood what it was like to have multiple health issues and sensitivities to medications.  We have both since become board members of Rave Reviews Book Club and strengthened our friendship.  

During our conversations Shirley talked about a book she had just published preserving a piece of history among a small catholic community (she is an amazing historian).  She also told me that she one day also wanted to write a book about her own medical issues.

I am pleased today to share Shirley with all of you and an excerpt from her upcoming book.

shirley slaughter

Shirley Harris-Slaughter
Author and RRBC Member

Kathryn, thank you so much for inviting me on a tour of your website…

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