Author Wednesday – Victoria Adams

 typewriter.jpg

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Victoria Adams who writes contemporary romance and New Adult (NA) contemporary romance. Her Circles Trilogy includes Dancing in Circles, Circles Divided, and Circles Interlocked.

 

Welcome, Victoria. I’m always intrigued by author voice and when authors know when they’ve established one. What about you? When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

I don’t know that I have. I think there is still an evolution going on.

Writing is an evolutionary process all on its own. What are your writing rituals?

After my morning rituals are done, mostly involving feeding the cats and then letting them in and out and in and out, I settle down on my laptop. My location changes depending on weather. Cold winter, I’ll be snuggled near the wood stove. Hot summer – I’ll be in the gazebo. I check emails, twitter, do Triberr aprrovals, check Facebook – get off Facebook – then answer the important emails. When the clutter is out of the way, I can settle down to write, or edit or do a critique, whichever is on my agenda for the day.

Sounds as if we have similar rituals. I’m interested in the trilogy you’ve written. Do all the books in the series have a common theme or thread?

Circles Trilogy has the thread of social prejudice vs. love running through it. Robert runs with a gang. Julie is a the daughter of a judge. The trilogy follows their struggle with that prejudice and how it shapes the love their share.

Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?

It seems I was writing in the NA genre before it existed. New Adult is the genre between Young Adult and Adult. (Not adult in the sense of erotic, just grown up) The next book I am currently doing edits on is also NA. So, yes, I will visit this genre for a while.

Is the book traditionally or self-published? Why did you choose one over the other?

I’m an Indie Author. I chose this because I don’t fit well into boxes. I have found the rules of romance rather constricting. I wish to write in view point different from what other authors choose to write in. I had numerous critiques scolding me for this, but I stood fast. It’s my book. My choice.

Explain how this book was conceived in your imagination.

I taught high school for a very long time. One of students complained that there was nothing for her to read – this was pre-Twilight. So, I wrote a book for her. Dancing in Circles was that book.

That’s wonderful, Victoria. What type of research did you do in the writing of this trilogy?

I watched my students. I watched the teenagers in the halls. I listened to their speech patterns. Watched how they interacted. What did they focus on.

What book are you reading right now?

I’m reading Ellis Peters – A Sanctuary Sparrow. It is an older book, and is based in the 1100s. The hero is a monk.

Thanks so much for the chance to visit your blog, Patricia.

Thank you, Victoria. I enjoyed getting to know one of my fellow Indie Authors a little bit better.

About Victoria:  Victoria Adams lives in Canada. She’s traveled from coast to coast, spending most of her life living near the U.S. border. When visiting the West Coast, she went whale watching and had the joy of photographing a pod of Orcas. On the East Coast, she spent an afternoon high on a cliff, watching an iceberg drift by. She wants to travel to the high Arctic and experience the midnight sun. In the summer, Victoria ignores her laptop and spends hours tending her flower beds and vegetable garden. Last year, she and her husband planted two peach trees into her small, but growing orchard. Victoria loves to hear from fans.

 

Links to books

Circles Trilogy

Dancing in Circles –  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009PFNPMG

Circles Dividedhttp://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BBKNDAC

Circles Interlocked –  http://www.amazon.com/Circles-Interlocked-ebook/dp/B005S8LI46

Contact Victoria Adams (She loves to hear from readers.)

Pages of Romance blog – http://victoriaadams.blogspot.com

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/victoriaadams.romancewriter

Facebook Author Page – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Adams/244325918978641

Facebook – Circles Trilogy Page – http://www.facebook.com/CirclesTrilogy?ref=hl

Twitter – http://twitter.com/VictoriaAdams

Website – http://victoriaadamsromance.wix.com/victoria-adams

Amazon Author Page – http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007DVKQVC

 

 

Book Review Friday – After Ten

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

After Ten by Michele Shriver

Synopsis: Four women, once best friends, have not spoken to each other in ten years. A drunken, decade old promise and a class reunion will bring them together again.

For Jordan, her lofty dreams now a distant memory and her life at a crossroads, a reunion with her one-time friends offers a chance to make amends and start anew, but only if she can avoid falling back into self-destructive habits.

After years of struggling with her identity, Sarah has found personal and professional contentment. Will she finally have the courage to reveal the secret she hid from her friends?

Beth thought she was on the verge of having at all, but after a personal crisis, now risks losing it all. In order to face her future, she must first find a way to face the past.

Tracey is still searching for happiness and approval. Will she find what she is looking for at the reunion or leave stronger because she doesn’t?

Review: From the moment I began reading After Ten, I felt at home with the four women meeting the night before their ten-year law school reunion. As Beth sits waiting for the other three to show up, I’m wondering how the other women fared even though I don’t know any of their stories. Because of Beth’s anxiety at the meeting, I know the stories will be universal ones shared by my friends and me.

After Ten is my kind of women’s literature, and the telling and revealing of each woman’s story did not disappointment me in the least. Shriver creates a history of the four lawyers that is unique. Its the emotions evoked by their experiences that makes it universal. Beth, Jordan, Sarah, and Tracey are all successful, at least as deemed by the outside world, if not by their families. But each carries scars of the friendships that formed in the first year of law school. Those scars went deep enough that the women lost track of each other and their friendships. They’ve managed to keep up through the alumni newsletter on a superficial and artificially devised tidbits.

Shriver slowly reveals the stories taking the reader from the promise made to return ten years after graduation to their favorite college hangout the night before the reunion. All four managed to keep their promise to one another, and Tracey brings evidence of that night in the form of a cocktail napkin where she wrote the aspirations for each of the four. As the napkin reveals their hopes and dreams, reality converges to allow the women to share secrets that reveal not all is as perfect as the periodic newsletters profess.

I so liked the book, I’ve already downloaded Shriver’s book Sixth South that focuses on one of the secondary characters from After TenIf you like strong female characters with compelling stories, then you’ll enjoy reading this book. I highly recommend it for your summer reading enjoyment. For more about Michele Shriver and her other books, please visit the Author Wednesday post on her and her newest release Aggravated Circumstances.

S2T-5

New Release: From Seed to Table by P. C. Zick on Amazon Kindle for $2.99 – A Reference Book for Producing Your Own Food

From Seed to Table offers the personal experiences of one couple who grows much of their own food. Starting with winter, the book follows each season from the garden to the table. Gardening suggestions, as used by Robert and Patricia Zick in their western Pennsylvania garden, are given along with preserving tips and recipes throughout the whole year. The Zicks hope some of their experience will inspire others to grow their own food and to eat local food as much as possible. While not an exhaustive reference for all gardening, preserving, and cooking techniques, it is filled with firsthand experience from an experienced gardener and a veteran cook.

Author Wednesday – Michele Shriver

typewriter.jpg

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I interview author Michele Shriver. Michele stays busy as a lawyer during the day, but in her spare times she’s managed to write several novels. After Ten, Sixth South, and Aggravated Circumstances fall into the category of women’s fiction. On Book Review Friday, I’ll be reviewing After Ten.AC Cover med2

Michele, I am so pleased to have you on Author Wednesday today. I’m always curious about an author’s voice. When did you first discover your voice as a writer?

Actually, that is something I am still working on and trying to improve all the time. Last year, I had an opportunity to attend a writer’s conference and one of the classes I went to was on finding and strengthening your voice. It was an amazing class, and it left me with a keen awareness that my voice was not yet as strong as it could be. I’ve taken a lot of steps in the past year to strengthen it, and I think I’ve had some success, but there’s still work to do. I think writers should always be actively trying to improve at their craft.

I couldn’t agree more with that philosophy. Describe your current projects.

I’ve got two that I am working on. The first is about a woman in a long-term marriage who wants to start over, so she files for divorce. She finds herself embroiled in a custody battle and then ordered into family counseling, forcing her on a journey of self-discovery. The second is a contemporary romance which is actually a sequel of sorts to my first book and will finally give one of the characters her happily ever after.

Your books fall into the category of women’s fiction. Are you planning to continue writing in the same genre?

Yes, I definitely plan to continue writing women’s fiction. It’s where my true passion lies. Lately, though, I’ve had an idea come to me for a book that might fall in the New Adult genre, so that is something I may be looking at in the future as well.

What’s the best thing said about one of your books by a reviewer?

That they truly felt as if they knew my characters and considered them friends. The most important thing to me is crafting believable characters that readers like and root for, because if people like the characters, they will want to read to the end to see what happens to them. If readers are able to connect with my characters, then I feel like I have done my job.

What’s your one sentence pitch for your newest release Aggravated Circumstances?

A family can be torn apart in an instant. Putting it back together is a harder task.

How did you choose the title? Has it been the title from the very beginning?

The book started out with a working title of The Line, which could have been either a reference to drug use or a reference to the line between right and wrong or ethical and unethical that sometimes is blurred. I was about halfway through the book, when the court case began to take center-stage with the pivotal question whether Devin would get another chance or not, when I began to think about maybe changing the title. Aggravated Circumstances is a legal term for one of the exceptions to the State’s obligation to provide reasonable efforts to reunify a family. With an aggravated finding, reasonable efforts are waived, effectively making it impossible for a parent to regain custody of their child. I asked a few of my critique partners, and their opinions weighed in favor of changing the title, so I did.

What is the message conveyed in Aggravated Circumstances?

Overall, I think it is a message of hope and second chances and that people can change. Sometimes they just need someone to believe in them.

 One of my favorite fantasies is to host a dinner party with several of my favorite authors.If you could invite two other authors over to your house for dinner, who would you choose and why.

I’d choose two famous authors who are always at the top of bestseller lists. Jodi Picoult, who writes upmarket women’s fiction and who I consider one of my inspirations. When I grow up, I wish I could be one-tenth the writer she is. It’s a dream that one day my books might be on a shelf next to hers. The second would be James Rollins, who writes in a completely different genre, but whom I had the chance to meet at a conference, and simply found him to be a wonderful person, down to earth, and very inspirational. And funny as heck!

Michele, after reading your first novel, I feel safe in saying you stand a good chance of having one of your books (or all of them) on the same shelf as Ms. Picoult. Thank you for stopping by today. It’s been my pleasure to host you.

About Michele: Michele Shriver lives in the Midwest U.S. where she maintains her law practice, in addition to pursuing a writing career. In her free time, she enjoys Zumba fitness, bicycling, and the NFL and NHL.

Links:

Amazon/Kindle:  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C479UY4

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/16xlk23

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Aggravated-Circumstances/book-x4_MarE7O0CtQInTYi4t_Q/page1.html?s=n-FXjxY1SEyjlbBvMTgzzw&r=1

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/Aggravated-Circumstances-Michele-Shriver/dp/1483955087/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

 Website: www.micheleshriver.com

Email: micheleshriver@gmail.com

Twitter: @micheleshriver

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/michele.shriver?fref=ts

 

 

New Release – From Seed to Table

From Seed to Table is my new eBook on gardening, harvesting, preserving, and eating food from the garden. Along with giving advice on gardening, it’s also full of recipes for fresh vegetables. Please stop by Amazon and take a look: http://www.amazon.com/From-Seed-Table-Harvesting-ebook/dp/B00CW1TLFK.

cover - lst draft

“I want to write a book.” Sigh . . .

Sketch of P.C. Zick by Jae at Lit and Scribbles

Sketch of P.C. Zick by Jae at Lit and Scribbles

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

People often say to me, “I or my [friend, cousin, father] want(s) to write a book.” The writer-in-waiting usually has no experience with writing. I also hear, “I told my [friend, cousin, father] that you might be able to help them get started.”

In the past, I’ve given either a weak two-cent reply or a lengthy discourse on writing and publishing. The last two requests I’ve ignored while I simmered on how to respond.

My hesitation comes from the frustration I feel when folks believe they are able to write a book just because they can put together a few sentences into a paragraph. It’s not fair for me to feel this way because fifteen years ago I might have asked a published author the same thing.

With that confession out of the way, I want to answer all those would-be-authors in this way:  I didn’t just wake up one morning and say, “I think I’ll write a book today.” I’ve been writing stories for most of my adult life. I’ve been a life-long reader. I have some training and experience with the English language. I’ve worked as an English teacher, journalist, publisher, editor, and communications specialist. I have nearly thirty years of experience with writing and being paid for my expertise. I’m not saying a person can’t write a book without my experience, but I am saying that writing a book requires a bit more than simply thinking you have a great story to tell.

I’ve spent years studying the craft of writing fiction and nonfiction. I don’t mean through formal training – although I have some of that – I mean through self-educating myself by reading other novels, seeking out conferences, studying books on craft, finding websites and blogs with writing information, and interacting with my fellow authors. When I entered the new world of e-publishing, I sought out every source I could to teach me how to proceed. I’m still doing that because I haven’t met my goals for success . . .yet.

I don’t want to discourage anyone, but I do want others to understand that it’s impossible for me to teach anyone else what I’ve learned. I can only point in the direction and the rest must be done through hard work. I stress that you just don’t sit down at the computer and write the instant best seller. Perhaps the Shades of Gray author did that, but I’m not interested in writing a poorly written smutty novel. If you are, then you don’t need to read any further. Open the cover on your laptop and begin.

Now for some more practical steps for beginning the journey to writing a book, if I haven’t discouraged you so far.

Why do you want to write the book? Are you interested in publishing for public consumption or do you want to provide a memoir for your relatives? If you want to publish for your family, that’s fine. You don’t need much more than desire. But you’ll still have to decide how you’re going to publish the book. That’s for another post.

What’s your ultimate goal for writing a book? If making money is at the top of your list, then I recommend you seek employment elsewhere. Most writers I know write because they have to write. The stories don’t leave them alone. They write because there is no other choice. Chances are you won’t make a whole lot of money from writing a book no matter which method of publishing you choose. I remain hopeful that my passion will one day pay the bills

Are you willing to bare your soul on the page no matter what type of writing you choose? If you’re afraid of honesty, then perhaps you’re not ready to write. I don’t mean you have to confess the time you stole a cookie out of the jar. I’m talking about the type of honesty about life and people that makes your writing universal and enduring. I don’t ever give specific details of my own life in my fiction, but I do write about the emotions an event might have elicited. I choose different details to express it.

Are you willing to work hard learning and perfecting your craft with only the intrinsic satisfaction writing gives you? For many years in my writing career, I pursued the golden apple of success that grows from the limbs of those who read my books. I thought that would make me successful. In the past few years, I’ve left that type of temporary satisfaction behind and enjoyed success in a different way. That type of satisfaction and pride lasts longer than the time between good reviews.

Are you ready to put your work into the world for anyone to scrutinize and criticize? Here’s one of the dichotomies of being a writer. Most writers I know are rather reclusive at times and just a little bit shy in public. I know that some folks who know me might shake their heads and say I am not in the least bit shy. Those folks would be wrong. I may be sociable and even be the life of the party at times, but that behavior comes at a great cost to me either before, during, or after a social event. I’m much more comfortable attending one of the parties thrown by a character in a novel. But here’s the two-sided trouble. As authors, we usually want to publish, which means we’ve opened a bit of ourselves to public view. Over the years, I’ve had to develop a tough hide. It’s harmful when I start believing both the good and bad reviews. By far, the bad reviews – very few in comparison to the good reviews – stay with me and haunt me. However, they are easier to take now. I also stopped preening every time a childhood friend or colleague wrote a glowing review of my work. Now, I know the legitimate reviews from strangers are important, but not as important as the confidence within me that I’ve written a book just the way I envisioned it.

If my questions didn’t quell your thirst to write, then you’re probably ready, not to write the next Great American Novel, but to get busy educating yourself on the business of writing a book. I’ll save that for the next installment.

Besides doing research and study, keep writing. Start a blog if you don’t have one and set deadlines for yourself. Write down any ideas that come to you. Sketch out characters. Write dialogue. You won’t be wasting time. Some of the stuff you might use one day; some of the stuff may just serve as practice .

What other questions or issues should someone address before seriously embarking on writing a book?

Florida's sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Florida’s sea turtles saved from oil spill in Trails in the Sand

Book Review Friday – The Great Gatsby

By Patricia Zick @PCZick

I am a lover of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. So I was fascinated by director Baz Luhrmann’s attempt to recreate one of my favorite novels on the screen. Not only did the director need a movie so much larger than life, he also needed to outshine the earlier movie, starring Robert Redford as Jay Gatsby. He managed to pull it off in the new movie Gatsby, but he also created a realistic portrait of the division between the classes of society that existed in the roaring ’20s and now in the riotous 2000s.

Before I go into why I loved the new movie, I’d like to take a look at the original novel written by Fitzgerald while he lived in Paris. One of his beta readers was Ernest Hemingway of all people. Hemingway, often jealous and bitter toward his fellow writers, read The Great Gatsby and knew it was a masterpiece.

I often reread The Great Gatsby for many reasons.

  1. The time period The Great Gatsby captures a period of recklessness in society in this country. After the Great War, the Great Prohibition began. It fueled the concept of the roaring ’20s when lawlessness in dress and decorum ruled. From our perspective today, the time is played at a fast speed, and we know the people of the time were headed toward catastrophe at the end of the decade.
  2. Where Fitzgerald wrote the book Scott and Zelda were a part of the 1920’s artistic scene in Paris. It’s actually amazing he could write anything during the alcoholic haze where the artists lived. I love to read stories about the expats during that time period. I wonder at the tight group of artists living in this world in the post-war era. From accounts, the atmosphere was charged with creativity and competition. And from it came some of the greatest pieces of literature of the twentieth century.
  3. The tight and concise plot – I reread the book specifically to study how Fitzgerald crafted the main plot and secondary plot so they intersect by the end of the novel in a tragic conclusion. Brilliant plotting.
  4. The characters – Fitzgerald paints portraits of characters chiseled from reality. The shallowness of the rich and the depth of the narrator and Gatsby are universal and remain relevant today. That’s the true standard of classic literature – nearly one hundred years later, I recognize parts of myself and others around me in Fitzgerald’s Daisy, Gatsby, and Nick.
  5. The deep divide between cultures – Fitzgerald created distinct caricatures of society. East Egg on Long Island is the haven for the old rich who look down their docks across the bay to West Egg where the noveau rich luxuriate in their newly minted wealth. And then there’s the valley of ashes, a dark and dingy spot on the road from Long Island to New York City. It’s here where the ugly work is done to power and fuel the workings of upper classes.
  6. The indictment of the careless and shallow rich – At first, it seems as if Fitzgerald is glorying in the excesses of the rich, but as the novel progresses that glory turns as dark as the soot in the valley of ashes.

As a result of my love for this novel, I went to the new Gatsby movie on the day it opened. The new movie honors Fitzgerald in many of its portraits of the roaring and shallow 1920s. Fitzgerald and this movie both sneer at the debauchery and excesses of the time period. It’s ironic because Scott and Zelda indulged themselves in that very society. It must be one of the reasons that Fitzgerald lived a rather tortured alcoholic life as he despised the very life he lived.

The movie shouts the debauchery and the chasm between the haves and have nots. That’s not a criticism on my part. Visually, the movie is impeccable and probably plays well in 3-D, but I chose to see it in standard style.

The audience is held in suspense waiting for the first introductions to Daisy, and finally after much anticipation, Jay Gatsby himself. I thought I would be disappointed seeing any other actor besides Redford play Gatsby. But I was not. Leonardo DiCaprio is a brilliant character actor, and from his first appearance on the screen, I knew I was finally meeting the elusive and innocent and romantic Gatsby just as Fitzgerald created him.

Daisy, played by Carey Mulligan, appears much earlier in the movie with some of the same anticipation. White gauzy curtains billow in the sitting room of the Buchanan mansion. A hand lifts languidly from the couch as the curtains unfurl overhead. And then . . . Daisy? Carey Mulligan is not Daisy Buchanan by any stretch of my imagination. Daisy is wispy like the curtains blowing in the ocean breeze; Daisy is delicate and almost off balance; Daisy is dainty and desirable. But Mulligan melts into the background in comparison to her husband Tom (Joel Edgerton), Nick (Tobey McGuire), and Jordan (Elizabeth Debicki). The casting for all the other characters is brilliant, but the casting of Daisy did not work. Mulligan is neither wispy, fragile, or a woman described by Fitzgerald, “Her voice is full of money.”

Overall, I loved the movie despite my disappointment of the actress playing Daisy. She might be a wonderful actress in any other role. She had big shoes to fill, but couldn’t step into them in this movie.

When the movie ended at the matinee I attended the day of the movie’s release, the audience stayed in place for a split second and then the partially filled theater burst into applause. It’s a rare occasion when I’ve witnessed that type of spontaneous reaction to a movie. Both my daughter and I joined the rest in giving a “bravo” for a film that took the words and creative genius of F. Scott Fitzgerald and translated it onto the screen in a grand package.

What’s your favorite classic novel and has it ever been into a film?

Author Wednesday – Jane Edacott

typewriter.jpg

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Jane Endacott. She’s published Odious Seed and Other Stories, a collection of short stories, on Amazon Kindle. She’s currently writing a young adult fantasy novel. In her post, she discusses the writing of the new book in an unfamiliar genre for her as an author.book cover

How to Write What You Don’t Know

By Jane Endacott

I am writing a YA fantasy novel, and I know nothing about fantasy.

When I started writing my book in 2007, I wanted to write about Otherization – the idea that people set themselves apart from others – because of a belief that others are fundamentally different from them.

I felt the story was best told in a fantasy setting.  It was a daunting challenge.  Not only was I writing my first book, but I was also writing for a genre about which I knew nothing.

The first lesson any writer is taught is to write what you know.  When you’re starting out, this is great advice because it helps you practice.

But whenever I did that, I came off as a self-absorbed sad sack.  My life is not at all extraordinary.  I have not built schools for young girls in Pakistan, and I have not trained in barefoot running with a Native American tribe.

Still, my mind went to places that don’t exist either on a map or in my memories, and I asked myself, “What if?”

In Odious Seed, my short stories tell of a developmentally disabled girl, nuclear scientists in love, the ghost of a stalker, a seed that begins to grow and sprout inside a man, and insects that consume a building.

I don’t know about any of those and even less about writing fantasy or magical realism.  Here are a few tips on how you can write what you don’t know.

Read, but not too much.  When writing something you don’t know, it often helps to read an author who has similar work.  It gives you a sense of how to do it successfully.  But it’s not the only way to do it successfully.  At some point you have to trust yourself and do your own thing.

Put yourself in their shoes.  Close your eyes and imagine that you’re watching the story from your character’s perspective.  What do you see and feel?  What are the smells and textures?  Answering questions such as these help make the world believable to our readers.

Experiment.  During the editing process, it’s easy to be fixated on one storyline, one characterization, or one description.  We sometimes approach the story with a single mind that limits our possibilities.  Trying different paths and variations opens our minds to discovery.

Make mistakes.  This goes along with experimentation. Never allow fear of failure to prevent you from trying something.  Don’t think it will work?  You don’t know until you try.  Even if you fail, you will learn something from it.

Remember, your characters are still human.  Even if you don’t know what it’s like to, say, grow up on a commune or be a race car driver, your characters are still part of the human condition.  They still argue with their siblings, have dysfunctional marriages, and say the wrong thing at parties.

If you practice with these things, you will be a stronger writer for it.  Writing what you don’t know helps you take risks and take your craft to new levels.  It allows you to explore uncharted territories. This is how you discover what you are made of.

Author photoAbout Jane Endacott – Jane Endacott is a blogger and fiction writer.  Her blog, “Word Savant,” helps other writers find connection and support in the creative process.  She recently released her book, Odious Seed and Other Stories, on Amazon Kindle.  She is also working on a YA series titled, The People of Fire & Water.  She also offers services as a writing coach.  She likes to read voraciously, run races, and eat food as if it were her last day on earth.  She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Blog: http://wordsavant.wordpress.com/

Book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CLMABIG

Twitter: https://twitter.com/

Book Review Friday – Awareness Gentoku McCree

pilebooksBy Patricia Zick @PCZick

Gentoku McCree lives a gentle life, and he shares the success of his life with others through his thoughtful books. Awareness, one of those books, offers a primer on how to become thoroughly aware and comfortable in mind, body, and environment.Awareness 3d“Awareness is a foundational skill in mindfulness practice.” Gentoku opens Awareness with this statement. When we become aware, we are better able to live more fully. Gentoku begins by giving the four basic types of awareness:  base, engaged, open, and reflective. They are not mutually exclusive types, but rather serve as a step ladder to mindfulness in all we do.

I like the simplicity of his explanations in this book. It’s a good book for starting on a more thoughtful existence, and it serves as a helpful reminder of basic things we forget as we become caught up in our busy lives. The book itself is only twenty-nine pages so it’s a quick read with powerful information.

He provides exercises that can be easily incorporated into daily life without much effort. The majority of the eight (standing, stretching, waiting, walking, emotions, acknowledgements, form, and listening) assist in making us aware and atuned to our body. I particularly like the one for waiting. I hate waiting in doctor’s offices, in line anywhere, and in traffic. Gentoku provides a script to use in our mind to make the time go quicker. He suggests we might even be sorry when the wait ends.

Gentoku sells the book on his website for $2.99 per download.

Gentoku pulls on his background as a mindfulness-based personal trainer, former monastery resident, a yoga school student, writer, and Zen Buddhist practitioner living in Portland, Oregon. Gentoku is his Buddhist name given to him by his teachers Chozen and Hogen Bays at Great Vow Zen Monastery. His name means manifesting virtue  or present sincerity. His mission is to support others in living a more healthy, balanced, and mindful life. He’s off to a fantastic start with Awareness.

NOTE: I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. I received no other compensation for writing this review and it in no way influenced the review.

 

Author Wednesday – Gentoku McCree

following the writing dream

Welcome to Author Wednesday. Today I welcome Gentoku McCree, author of two self-help books, Fit and Mindful and Awareness.

Fit and Mindful Cover 3DAwareness 3d

Gentoku stops by today with a guest post on “mindful writing.” He stops by again in June for a post on movement for writers.

Blogging Pains

By Gentoku McCree

I used to hate writing. For years, I tried blogging and failed. The pattern was always the same. I would get fired up about a topic, write feverishly for few weeks and then lose steam. My blog would lay cold and abandoned like a scorned lover. Every now and again, I‘d get inspired and write something. But it never lasted. Eventually I stopped trying.

Hope

Then last year I started writing a blog on Mindful Fitness. Right away, I noticed something was different. I was focused and motivated, post ideas appeared out of nowhere, and I was getting positive feedback. After years of trying, I fell back in love with writing. It was wonderful.

So What Changed?

Many things changed but the key was this: I stopped worrying about what I wrote and started caring about how I wrote.

Writing is one of the most vulnerable things you can do. Yet, many of us write with empty hearts. We get so obsessed with the product that we neglect the producer.

This is a huge mistake because our hearts hold the power to create connection, embody truth, and manifest joy. Our job as writers is to create a space for our hearts to speak.

One of the best ways to create this space is to write mindfully. Mindfulness helps us bring awareness, focus, and intention to our work. And it’s easier than you think.

Six Steps to Writing Mindfully

1. Write Down Your Intentions

We are great at writing down goals. But intentions are harder, because they ask us to define who we are. Ask yourself what is my intention for today’s work? If your answer is to write well, Great! But look deeper. What are you trying to create?

Connection?

Thought?

Hope?

Laughter?

Having clear intentions establishes a strong foundation for excellent writing.

2. Write Down Your Fears

We are all afraid of something, especially when it comes to writing. Are you afraid no one will like your work? That you won’t be able to express your ideas? Or maybe you’re afraid you won’t write anything at all?

No matter what it is, admit it, and write it down. Unspoken fear has power, to conquer your fear bring it into the light. Accept that you’re afraid and then let it go.

3. Set a Timer

Simply put, I always writer better when I use a timer. Limiting time increases our focus. We are more likely to only write what is essential. And when we say less we reveal more.

4. Set a deadline

Important tasks always have a deadline. When we create deadlines, we are saying our work is important. But deadlines only work if we…

5. Make it hurt

A deadline without pain is more of a wish than a promise. A real deadline means you have to show up. And that’s what you want. You want to show up for every sentence. I achieve this by making bets. I’ll tell a friend I’ll pay them $50 if I don’t finish on time. When I bet I meet the deadline. When I don’t I’m often late.

6. Set the scene.

Now that you have made a promise to show up and created the conditions for success you have to prepare the environment. Unplug the Internet, block out distractions, whatever it takes. Make your writing environment a sacred place. A cluttered room means cluttered mind. If you are terminally cluttered, go somewhere else. Find an open clean space where you feel at ease.

Finally, make sure to honor times where creativity is ripe.

I do my best writing after yoga class. But only if I don’t listen to the radio on my walk home. Find your writing sweet spots and exploit the crap out of them.

Final Thoughts

Writing is less about producing and more about creating the space for our own voice to arise. Great writing not only comes from this space, but it also creates this space for the reader. By taking the time to care for ourselves, we create the strength to show up in a ways we never thought possible.

Discussion Question:

What techniques do you use access your heart when you write?

G1About Gentoku 

Gentoku McCree is a mindfulness-based personal trainer, former monastery resident, a yoga school student, writer, and Zen Buddhist practitioner living in Portland, Oregon. Gentoku is his Buddhist name given to him by his teachers Chozen and Hogen Bays at Great Vow Zen Monastery. Gentoku means manifesting virtue  or present sincerity. His mission is to support others in living a more healthy, balanced, and mindful life.

Contact Links

Blog – blog.mindfulfitnessmovement.com

Website – mindfitmove.com

Purchase links for books – http://www.mindfulfitnessmovement.com/#!resources/c164j

Twitter – @mindfitmove