Toolbox 30: Free Courses Through My Local Library

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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My life is quiet right now. No doubt, many of you feel the same way. Boredom was my enemy until I discovered my local library’s website linked to free courses. I’m a lifelong learner. So yay for me!

How I got there.

It may not be the same for you, but here’s what I did. On my library’s main menu, I clicked on the Research tab. That led to the Gale Courses. From there I chose what I wanted: Research Methods for Writers, and Mystery Writing. That was where my heart was but there were many more to choose from.

In my world of writing and my day-to-day life, I want quick direct answers. I don’t want to go down the rabbit hole and spend hours digging through information for one fact when I’m only touching on information in passing. My goal is to avoid infodumps. For me and for my readers.

I retrieved the fact to keep to the truth and that’s where it ended for me.

And it turned out that sometimes my quick in-and-put plan failed. If anyone has read Minor Error, you’d know what I mean. My facts were not as accurate as they should have been. Eventually, I moved it from the sci-fi genre to the sci-fantasy genre because I loved the images I created as inaccurate as there were.

The Course Pointed out that:

  • I needed to make a plan. (Mind-maps work well for this.)
  • I should determine what exactly I need to know to figure out where I need to go.
  • I might start with an internet search and land up anywhere.

I tried:

Google Scholar, and Google Books

And landed up:

Now that I’ve stuck my toe in, I know I’ll be more diligent. I want my readers to enjoy what I’ve imagined and not get kick out of the story because I was sloppy. Bottom line: I will still make mistakes because I’m human, not because I’m lazy.

How deep do you dive-in when seeking facts? Any links you’d care to share?

IWSG 72: Breaking Through


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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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OPTIONAL IWSG DAY QUESTION:

Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?

Co-Hosts

Feather Stone | Beverly Stowe McClure | Mary Aalgaard | Kim Lajevardi | and Chemist Ken

There is always a moment when the words stop and I can almost see them beyond a glass barrier trying to break through.

I’m sure you know the moment. It’s when the movie your recording pauses, or when the scene ends and a new one begins, or when you have to go somewhere you’ve never been before.

The last one is the hardest for me.

To get to where I must go, I close my eyes and see the glass barrier. Then I imagine a hammer—mine’s small and silver—and I tap the barrier softly. It cracks. Slowly the cracks grow and the shards fall away.

Usually it’s slow going and I have to repeat the process. Knocking down that invisible wall. It’s what I did during my first year winning Nano. The words weren’t coming. I needed to make my word count, so I broke my barrier.

And again when I wrote my first murder scene. Some might say it wasn’t real. The not so funny thing was it seemed pretty real to me and horrific.

I still do my ritual when I have to write something that I find hard to face, t00 real, or beyond my usual realm.

What about you. Is there a place you hate going but write about it anyway? How do you mange it?

Toolbox 29: 7 Ways to Improve Concentration

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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Like everyone else I’ve been watching the corvid-19 numbers go up. My stress level has gone up too. I can’t seem to stop it.

I’ve tried to make myself focus on other things to bring my stress down and return to—if not a positive attitude—an inner calm.

I know sitting in the sunshine or taking a nature walk helps, but I want to get back to writing.

I’m unable to concentrate

From my reading I’ve discovered that I’m at odds with my brain. It’s doing what it does best. Absorbing my environment and bouncing around like Tigger. In fact, when I try to focus, my mind fights back by distracting me, encouraging me to do it tomorrow, and making me feel too lazy. All in the name of it keeping its freedom.

Apparently is an evil genius and I’m not. Who knew?

How did this happen?

The world today comes at us through the internet, our phone, and the people around us. We have taught ourselves to read quick blurbs. Pop into a conversation to comment and pop out again to do something else. We jump around mentally and it works fine, usually.

But what if you want to focus on revisions, or filling a blank page.

There are ways to fight back. Try this to gauge your level of concentration. The goal is to quickly say aloud what colour you see in every word you read.

Was there a problem?

This has inched up on all of us.

To improve, we’d have to do some exercises.

But first some Tips:

  • Schedule a block of time and try to be consistent.
  • Know that you’ll easily be distracted so remove temptation temporarily.
  • Use a timer for your focus sessions. For example, twenty minutes on and five minutes rest.
  • Be patient and expect it to be harder than it looks. Understand that like physical exercise, it will take time to improve.
  • Keep the mood as light as possible.

The Seven exercises:

  1. Try sitting in a chair for 15 minutes.
  2. Breathe deeply concentrating on one scent at a time.
  3. Concrete on opening and closing your fists for 5 minutes.
  4. Follow the second hand of a clock for five minutes.
  5. Open any book and count the words in a paragraph and then double/triple check your work.
  6. Read something long or intense slowly. Savour the sentences. Look for deeper meanings.
  7. NOT ALONE, TAKE ADVANTAGE AND try attentive listening: don’t interrupt, paraphrase what you heard, focus and stay engaged.

I don’t know how much this will help and suspect it’s like a computer. Garbage in; garbage out. I’m going to give all of them a try and see what fits best.

Are you having trouble concentrating? What are you doing to stay focused?

Gleaned from:

IWSG 71: Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid


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This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.

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OPTIONAL IWSG DAY QUESTION:

Each month, from all over the globe, we are a united group sharing our insecurities, our troubles, and our pain. So, in this time when our world is in crisis with the covid-19 pandemic, our optional question this month is: how are things in your world?

Co-Hosts

Diane BurtonJH Moncrieff | Anna @ Elements of Emaginette | Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter | Erika Beebe  | Lisa Buie-Collard!

I started to write another post all positive and sparkly, then my sister texted me and not for the first time. Here’s the full reversal: the fear mongering, gossip, and death threats are ridiculous in my world. I feel myself folding under the enormous pressure of speculation and stupidity.

I’m not saying don’t be careful. All of us need to use diligence.

Here are my numbers and no doubt they’ll be different when you read this:

Canada: British Columbia: Population 5 million

covid-19 Pandemic as of 2020 03 31

      • Active Cases: 435
      • Recovered: 606
      • Deceased: 25

When you compare them to the numbers worldwide, what do you think? Right, me too. For the few of us that haven’t lost someone, can we please stop freaking out?

The flood gates will break in BC soon enough and the only way we can fight back is by social distancing.

Stop Panicking

Being upset doesn’t keep us safe. I know emotions can come on really, really strong. I have them too. As someone with depression, I get it. Strong emotions make me careless; and worse, I live in a black hole blind to everyone else.

Not thinking straight will be our undoing worldwide, and we can’t afford to make a mistake. Our friends and family are depending on us.

We’ve been following these rules (if they’ll  help):

  • Stay 10 feet (3.05 metres) away when talking to anyone.
  • Wash your hands or use sanitizer.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Wash your doorknobs and fridge handle regularly.
  • Stay at home, without visitors.
  • Contact friends and family through email, text, etc.
  • Buy gas at the pump.
  • Buy food and supplies (when possible) online.
  • Go out only if you must.

I’m going to take a chance that I’m not the only one facing constant bombardment with warnings and testimony about a friend of a friend of mine.

Sorry for the rant, I really am, but I’ve had enough. Try not to drink their frigging Kool-Aid.

Panic is our enemy; following protocols is our defence.

What have you been doing to stay calm and stay safe?

Toolbox 28: Imposter Syndrome

I’ve set up a community within Riot.im. If you are interested, or didn’t get an email because it landed in your spam folder; make an account with Riot.im, and reach out to me through my contact page. I’ll need your Riot handle and the email address you used to set up your account. Then I’ll be able to send you an invitation to the Pen Connection Chatroom.

If you had/have trouble, I’ll help. We can to it together with Riot Support. Although, you and I might have to coordinate through the time-zone madness. 😉

This post was written for the Author Toolbox Blog Hop where we share our new discoveries on the craft of writing, editing, querying, marketing, publishing, and blogging tips. Posted every third Wednesday of the month. For rules and sign-up click here.

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Imposter Syndrome

What is it?

‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field.

from Harvard Business Review

What does it feel like?

…can leave people fearing that they will be exposed as a “fraud”, usually in their work lives.

from Independent

Do you have these symptoms?

  • Have Difficulty Accepting Praise
  • Tend to Discount Your Success
  • Often Described as a Perfectionist
  • Actually Dread Success, in Some Ways
  • Focus More on What You Haven’t Done
  • Convinced You’re Not Enough
  • Attribute Success to Anything But Your Skill Set or Ability
  • Go Overboard With Task and Goal-Setting

What to do about it?

Talk it out. Learn more about it. Track your accomplishments and celebrate them. Accept perfection is impossible. And STOP THE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK.

We are people first; writers second. And we need to use self care and kindness not just on others but on ourselves. If you wouldn’t say something to someone you care about, then don’t dare say it to yourself.

Words have power. Each of us know this. Be kind to yourself and if you suffer from imposter syndrome don’t let it drag you down.

Because the bottom line is, self judgment and condemnation is bad. Very bad.

Have you ever dealt with this? What did you do to fend it off?

Gleaned from: