Writer’s Wednesday

Do you have any writing ‘rituals’ to get yourself and muse in the mood?  Do light a candle, take a bubble bath, burn incense or meditate? Some type of action that will “open the door” to the world of spirit and the mysteries of imagination. 

How do you kick start your muse?  This is a much discussed topic among writers.  And one I have participated in.  I just completed a wonderful on-line workshop by DD Scott – Muse Therapy.  This dealt with more coming to terms with the type of writer you are and how to use that.

From the all the articles I’ve read, the loops I’ve chatted in, and classes I been a part of, here are some basic things all agree on:

Carry a small pad of paper and a pen with you at all times. You want your muse to know you are prepared for her visit.  Keep a notebook or journal next to your bed to write down interesting dreams. Your muse may visit you as you sleep and give you great ideas.

Take care of your body, the “temple” that hosts your writing muse. Eat regular, healthy meals and exercise daily.

Surround yourself with positive people who support your creativity and writing life. THIS is very important.  If your spouse or family just aren’t to the point they ‘get’ your writing yet find someone who does.  HINT:  It will most likely be another writer.  J

Try not to be too perfectionist with your writing. At least sometimes, let yourself write first and edit later. Your muse likes to visit when your “inner critic” is turned off.

The web can offer some writing ‘aides’ as well as distractions.

Here you enter the amount of words and the time you want to do them in.  This is great for those of who get distracted easily – by say – the dust floating in front of the computer screen. http://writeordie.drwicked.com/

For this sight, determine a number before go and then move your mouse over that number for prompt.  If you just move your mouse over numbers waiting for you muse to be ‘moved’…chances are you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and never pick one.  http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/

A different picture each day to stimulate you visually.  I tend to love visuals to write from.  Not just a ‘plain’ picture but collages or even cartoons.  I picture in my mind as I write so it’s great to have some of it all ready in place for me.  http://www.creativity-portal.com/prompts/365/pictures.html

There about a million books out there with writing prompts.  One that has worked well for me is The Write-Brain Workbook by Bonnie Neubauer.  I like it because it has a WIDE range of variety and never really ties in with what I’m writing.  I know you’re probably going – huh?  Doesn’t tie in?  Nope, it’s just creative ‘gibberish’ in my case that helps to get me focused.  If I’m in the middle of a story and I’m having problems shifting from my day persona to my night writing persona this works great for me to make that transition.

Charlotte Dillon has a great weekly prompt group – RWCprompts@yahoogroups.com.  Her prompts however are romance related and often spark more than I want.  They have provided GREAT story starters!  This is where the seed for The Gamble and Treasure Hunt came from.  As well as my current WIP and two that waiting their turn to come to out and play.  So you can see the problem for me – to do these types of prompts drag me future down the rabbit hole and away from my current WIP.

The bottom line in writing – WRITE.  Sometimes, you just can’t wait for your muse to want to play.  You have to drag the ball out and do it yourself.  I know, I’ve heard those who claim a true artist can’t perform without their muse.  Well, in truth, I look at this as career – I’m a writer.  There are days when in my other job – my teaching muse just isn’t around but I can’t cancel class.  Although my students would be okay with it, I’m sure my principal wouldn’t understand the lack of my teaching muse.  When this happens…I go in and face the kiddo’s and teach…I also sit down and write.  Usually, I find once I make myself get started, it works in both cases. 

Now, there are times you need a break, just like I need mental health days from my class.  Give yourself those but keep them limited. 

I guess what I’m saying here is – you have to come to a place in your head as to where your writing fits into your life. I have decided writing is a career and as such I need to do if I’m feeling like it or not.

What are some of the ways you spark your muse?  Or kick it in the butt?  How do you get the ball rolling if you muse just flat out refuses to come out and play?

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Timely Tuesday

Are the winter blah’s setting in?  Today’s timely Tuesday tips are on adding a little color to your living space, by ‘forcing’ flowering bulbs.

            This is a cheap project that can offer a sneak peak of spring.  I found these instructions years ago in a magazine.  I usually do four to five pots.  Some I keep while others I give as gifts to friends not feeling well or to someone who has the blues.

(1)   Start with a clean, sterile pot. If you want to force the bulbs in soil, use a mixture of 3 parts garden loam, 2 parts peat moss, and 1 part sand.

(2)   Fill the pot loosely within an inch of the top. Place the bulbs in the soil with the tip exposed (do not bury the bulb).

(3)   Plant the bulbs close together; 6 tulips, 3 hyacinths, 6 daffodils or 15 crocus will fit in a 6-inch pot. Never expose the bulbs to temperatures above 65°; water immediately and never let the soil dry out. There is no need to fertilize as the bulb has all the food energy it needs to produce a single bloom. For the cold treatment the pot should sit in 35° to 48° temperatures in an unheated attic or basement or you can apply the cold treatment by placing the bulbs in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator in a plastic bag with holes cut into it.  This treatment is for 2-3 weeks.

– Note:  If you store your bulbs outside you can skip the cold treatment.  I reuse my bulbs so I don’t need to do this. 

(4)   After the cold period bring the pot out and place it in a cool sunny location. Try to keep it in 50° -60° temperatures for the first week and gradually move it to a warmer location. The flowers should bloom in 3-4 weeks.

Most craft stores and home supply stores have packaged bulbs for forcing that come with a container specifically for this.

For hyacinths or paper whites, add a layer of stones or gravel to the growing containers, which will be about one inch thick. Arrange bulbs atop gravel layer. As previously stated, hyacinths will also happily grow in hyacinth vases.

For amaryllis bulbs, fill growing container with about one and a half inches of potting soil.  Arrange amaryllis bulbs atop the dirt, and then fill the rest of the growing container to just below the highest part of the bulb. Firmly pack soil surrounding the bulb. Once planted, you should be able to see only the top of the bulb (and possibly the start of a green shoot).
If planting crocus, the bulbs should be set in soil and fully covered. Arrange enough potting soil in the base of the growing container so that around one and a half inches of soil sits in the container. Arrange bulbs atop soil, then completely cover bulbs with additional soil.
Some bulbs like hyacinth, narcissus and crocus bulbs can be forced in just water. This makes attractive arrangements in glass vases.

While waiting for my bulbs to bloom I decorate the pots with paper flowers, my kids made. This is a fun inexpensive project to do with kids, Sunday school class, or scout troops. 

Have fun bring spring indoors.

Leave a comment »

Money Monday

Step 4 of Suze Orman’s 9 Steps to Financial Freedom is ‘being responsible to those you love.’   This chapter is really long (almost a hundred pages) so I broke it down into 3 parts.  The first part is Wills and Trust. 

I have always maintained the idea I had no need for a will or trust.  I mean when your bank balance is only $36.00 there isn’t a lot to allocate.  But part of being responsible – which Ms. Orman doesn’t mention – is having more than that.  Now, I’m not of the mindset that I need to leave my kids millions although that would be cool.  I would like us to have a least bronze years – golden is still a possibility. 

While I read the part of wills and trust and their stories I related to none of it.  I don’t have a $300,000 house or young children, one of my grown children isn’t after my $36.00 dollars, so why do I need a will or a trust?  Is the question I kept asking myself though this entire section. I mean, my husband and I have set up that if one of us dies the $36.00 transfers over to the living one and if we both die the $36.00 is divided between our children. 

Sadly, from my reading we are in need of neither a will nor trust, but how what if I want one?  What if being responsible to those I love means I have money to leave them? 

As I’ve started this journey, for the first time in my life…I have wanted to control my money.  Odd, it’s not like I want to lose 30 pounds (which I do) and eat a bag of M&M’s.  I’ve really become aware of what I spend and much more controlled in the spending.  For the first EVER we have a saving’s account with money in it to the amount we can look at investing it!!!! 

The last couple of weeks I have really also started focusing on ways to earn extra money.  Of course, my writing is one avenue. I’m looking to other things as well. 

So while I have no need to for a trust at this point in my life…my goal…is that I will need one – soon.

For those who are wondering ‘do I need a will or trust?’ here are some guidelines:  I found them much clearer than Ms. Orman who assumed I had 3 million of assets…not yet 😉

http://wills.about.com/od/fiveessentialdocuments/a/rlts.htm 

Also there about a million books available on this subject.  While, I determined at this point in my life a trust isn’t necessary from Ms. Orman’s examples I also was reminded if you do have more than $36.00 you need one.

Leave a comment »

Timely Tuesday

As a writer I always find ‘personality’ type of articles interesting. They help me develop character idiocies.  I found this article (about.com) on time management approaches.  

The Fireman – For you, every event is a crisis. You’re so busy putting out fires that you have no time to deal with anything else – especially the boring, mundane things such as time management. Tasks pile up around you while you rush from fire to fire all day.

Typically seen – Running to car.

The Over-Committer – Your problem is you can’t say ‘No’. All anyone has to do is ask, and you’ll chair another committee, take on another project, or organize yet another community event. You’re so busy you don’t even have time to write down all the things you do!

Typically seen – Hiding in rest room.

The Aquarian – There is such as thing as being too “laid-back” – especially when it starts interfering with your ability to finish tasks or bother to return phone calls. Getting to things when you get to them isn’t time management; it’s simple task avoidance.

Typically seen – Hanging out with feet on desk.

The Chatty Kathy – Born to socialize, you have astounding oral communication skills and can’t resist exercising them at every opportunity. Every interaction becomes a long drawn out conversation – especially if there’s an unpleasant task dawning that you’d like to put off.

Typically seen – Talking on cell phone.

The Perfectionist – You have a compulsion to cross all the “t’s” and dot all the “i’s”, preferably with elaborate whorls and curlicues. Exactitude is your watchword, and you feel that no rushed job can be a good job. Finishing tasks to your satisfaction is such a problem you need more time zones, not just more time.

Typically seen – Hunched over latest project.

Personally, I tend to be split between the Fire-man and over-committer.  So I’m typically seen putting fires out in the restroom. 

Which of the following time management “types” are you?

Leave a comment »

Money Monday

Instead of moving on to step #4, I thought I’d post something on budgets.  Suze Orman suggested going through 2 years of expenses making categories and establish amounts spent and work from there.  Like I said last week…yikes. 

First, it is all but impossible for me to do this.  Because there SO many things I have no paper trail for so I wouldn’t get a clear idea where my money is going.  I know this because I’ve tried to set up budgets using this method.  Per this…I should have a gazillion dollars left each month.

Second, then Ms. Orman says to ‘trim’ this numbers – trim to what?

So for those of you who are going through life in the same leaky boat as I am…here is a breakdown of percentages.  I have had much more success with this.  When my budget fails, it because of me personally not that I ran into unrealistic guidelines.

Typical Household Budget Percentages

33-38% Housing (59%-66% of this is on shelter – mortgage interest, property taxes, repairs, and rent, and other items)

15-19% Transportation (38-48 of this is vehicle purchase – 2 cars per household average)

13-14% Food Budget (55% at home, 45% away)

0-2% Alcohol

0-3% Tobacco and related products

0-2% Caffeine related products

4-5% On clothing and related services (drycleaning)

4.5 – 6% on out of pocket Health Care

9% Personal Insurance and Pensions (breakdown: 1% life and other personal insurance, 7.5% SS, .5% investment

5% Entertainment

2.5% Charitable Contributions

2% Reading and Education

1% Personal Care products and services

2% Miscellaneous

4% Credit Card, Consumer Loan Interest

Now that you know where your money is going…it’s time to start cutting.

 Easy? Not. Worth it? Doing the above will pay dividends in your life in many more ways than just dollars and cents. You will assure yourself a dignified and financially secure retirement. Do this well and you will also build a way for your kids and your grandkids to enjoy prosperous lives, and they will remember you with fondness and respect long after you’ve moved on to the other side. Now get started!

1. Stop using your credit cards.

2. Make a down and dirty budget right away. Don’t worry about it being right at first…you can perfect it over time. Just do it!

3. Cut back on your easy to identify, frivolous spending habits (3 dollar lattes, magazines, 450 extra satellite channels, etc.) If you’ve got some expensive habits you’ve wanted to quit for some time, now’s the time. For example, if you’re a hard-drinkin’, chain smokin’, coffee drinkin’ fool, you can reap a windfall of up to 7% or more of your income! Just cutting back to 2 drinks per day, only drinking coffee from home and quitting the cigarettes will net you a nice amount of extra cash and add years to your life! Refine your budget after eliminating what you can.

4. Build an emergency fund equal to 2% of your gross annual income. It should be a little hard to get to (like a separate checking account or mutual fund), but not too difficult (Certificate of Deposit.) Work this into your budget – it’s very important. You will not believe the amount of stress that will melt away when you do this.

5. Pay off your debts – everything except mortgages. And don’t just move your revolving debt into a second or third mortgage – that’s bad. Pay them off using a rapid debt paydown system like the Debt Hammer?. Pay off any student loans (for future reference, these are a bad idea.) Pay off your car(s) too. If you’re not upside down on a car loan (your car is worth more than you owe) you can sell it and get a cheaper, paid for car. Throw a small (inexpensive but fun) party for yourself and your loved ones every time you pay off a debt.

6. Take all the money you WERE spending to pay off your non-mortgage debt and start putting it into those investment accounts you put on idle. Make sure you’re investing at least 10% of your gross income. If you followed steps 1-4 exactly, you should have lots of breathing room in your budget now. If this is true and you want to invest more than 10%, go ahead, but be sure to reward yourself too and live a little. Grow your emergency fund to a level you’re comfortable with (2 or more months of income is a good start.) If you have young kids and you want to send them to college, start putting money into a college fund of your choice for them, if you haven’t already. Throw a bigger party than usual when this is done.

7. Pay off your mortgage and throw your biggest party yet! You can start towards this by refinancing to a single fixed rate mortgage (your credit should be in pretty good shape having paid off all your other debts.) If it’s a 30 year mortage, pay more than your monthly payment to dramatically lower the amount of interest you give to the bank. If it’s a 15 year fixed – wow! That’s excellent!

Leave a comment »

Money Monday

Step 3 – Being Honest With Yourself…

This week’s step is the hardest yet it is one ANY financial program has – where is my money going? 

The opening starts out with a reality check.  “Throw away a three-dollar magazine you never got around to reading – easy.  Toss in the garbage five dollars’ worth of food that’s good bad – a possible cringe.  But rip up a five dollar bill and throw it away. ..not so easy.

The story she uses to illustrate this step, I really relate to.  As a person in control of our money. I keep a lot from my husband (which I’m working on and making great steps of improvement).  Not just the money spent on me or the kids but what our bills are.  This isn’t a reflection on my parents but my control freak side.  My husband gladly turned the money over to me when we were first married which I pounced on quicker than a hawk on a bunny.  But to say “hey, we’re broke,” would be to say…”hey, I can’t handle this – it’s out of my control.”

Per Ms. Orman – Most of us believe, or deceive ourselves into believing, that we need about 1,000 to 1,500 a month less to live as we are. To get a ‘reality check’ on your spending and income, Suze Orman suggests going through two years of expenses – yikes!  That’s a lot of paper and to be honest…I don’t keep those types of records.  And I have to wonder how many people that are facing major money issues do keep track of expenses like that.  So most I’ve read tell you track ALL expenses for a couple of months and go from there…factoring in things you know will be only year expenses (taxes, insurance, club renewals, etc).  Make to include those ‘small’ expenses – the example given is Friday Night Movies…$20 for tickets and popcorn over the course of the year is $1040. Proof the small things add up.

Then of course comes the where can we cut?  I’ve been amazed how much I have cut our food bill and eliminated waste buy going from family to two people cooking.  This has taken some adjustments, meals that were once money saving are now a waste, most soups I made.  Unless I have a family to give a most of it, we end up dumping it.  Things like lasagna, I still make only in small individual loaf pans which are frozen and eaten over the course of the following month.  Foods once too expensive are now sensible.  For example, pork chop hearts served with potato is cheaper than chicken noodle soup.  Unrealistic budget cuts, like unrealistic diets, never work, the author reminds us.  To say you’re going to eat nothing but boiled turnips isn’t the solution to your weight issue nor is planning on never spending money on clothes or entertainment.

One way to curve the aimless spending is to use ‘real’ money.  Doing this often makes you think ‘do I want to spend money on this?’  Instead of blindly throwing it in the cart and ‘swiping’ for it.  Now there will be things you have to spend money on that you don’t want to – i.e. a new roof.  I didn’t want to spend $3,100 on a new roof but since our old one leaked, I had to.

Another thing don’t let the line between have to and want to blur.  This is line that waves and curves at times for most people. 

Also be realistic and schedule money for replacement things like bath towels.  My husband and I received towels for a wedding gift…13 years later and we were still using the same towels.  When I broke down and purchased new ones we were amazed – they actually dried us instead of just chasing the water around.

Spend this week working on a realistic budget.  Covering the small, hidden, and unexpected costs.  Remember keep it real no boiled turnips for every meal. 

Next week we start the ‘how to manage your money and create more’ steps.

Leave a comment »

Commercial Break:

My book – Treasure Hunt was released on Monday!  Woo Hoo! 

 

DeLaney Black Heart is the captain of The Gypsy Princess, the most feared pirate ship on the Cannequ seas, until recently. Her long standing enemy, Falken Sands, is making good on his threat to ruin her. She is in desperate need of a large bounty to soothe her crew and reclaim her title.

Raven Kinsley is a treasure hunter. He offers DeLaney the chance to redeem herself. Only their history is stopping DeLaney from jumping on the offer. Raven abandoned her a year earlier and disappeared.

Left with no other choice, DeLaney agrees to Raven’s commission. They begin their journey to claim the lost treasure of Midas, but soon trouble surrounds them. Raven and DeLaney combine forces to battle gryphons, the possessed Falken Sands, and other creatures.

DeLaney tries to convince herself what she feels for Raven is born out of battle, not love. Raven knows he loves DeLaney, but until an old enemy is beaten, he can’t make his claim on her heart.

As secrets are revealed, they realize this is more than a mere treasure hunt. It’s a battle for their lives.

An excerpt and purchase information: http://www.liquidsilverbooks.com/

Comments (1) »