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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

fortune cookie

Years ago, I received a fortune cookie that I’ve read countless times. It resides in my bathroom, water-spotted and almost unreadable now. But I know what it says:

“Your love of life will carry you through any circumstance.”

Yes, indeed. It has helped me get through some tough situations, inspiring my zest for life. Just a few words that help me feel strong.

What else inspires me?

As a writer, workshops and the people who populate them inspire me. I love that my teachers and fellow students care enough about my writing to provide valuable feedback and suggestions. And so, I continue to work on my first novel.

Young women inspire me. I love their energy and authenticity. Letting their individuality show, accepting themselves and others. Embracing diversity. Making a difference.

Recently, I felt challenged by the task of taking notes and writing minutes for an important meeting. I made too big a deal about it, perhaps, but I fretted over doing it well. Imagine my surprise when, after the fact, I received two phone calls just to tell me what a good job I did! My perspective on the task changed. Well, maybe that wasn’t too bad, and maybe I’ll do it again. Thank you to people who take the extra effort to compliment someone. Hopefully it will inspire me to commend others.

There’s more, of course. But now, I’m wondering: what inspires you?

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Researching My Novel

bell museum (2)I spent last Sunday doing in-person research for the novel I am writing.

My task for the day was to visit the University of Minnesota campus in Minneapolis. My novel includes scenes that take place in that setting. The protagonist is a student at the U, and has a significant link to the Bell Museum of Natural History. So I went there in person to figure out answers to questions such as:

What path would she take from a class, to the museum, to her home – in a snowstorm?

Where would she live off campus?

In the museum, which dioramas would she see, and how would she react to them?

Not only did I receive more clarity to these topics, but I soaked up the atmosphere of campus life, allowing myself to imagine the life of a student at the U of M in 1972. By the way, I actually was a student there, but this is not my story. As a writer, I was able to see this environment with fresh eyes.

Because my novel is set in the past, I often read books and do online research to answer my questions. But there is nothing like putting yourself in the actual setting (even if the events of your novel took place in years past) to feel your character’s sense of place. It creates a personal connection to the place and people who inhabit it in your novel.

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20160112_113459_resizedNew Year’s Resolutions involve commanding one’s self to reach a goal. Intentions are strong but momentum can putter away. I made resolutions when I was younger, usually to lose weight. They never really worked for me. Now if I want to reach a goal, I create an action plan with specific components to get from where I am to where I want to be. This strategy is not tied to a year, and it does work for me.

A few years ago I decided to switch from making resolutions to setting themes for a new year.

Themes are more fun. For example, once I decided to have a theme called “Vincent Van Gogh”. That’s it, no tasks or goals attached. I have learned more about Van Gogh, as a person and his art, ever since.

Last year I decided to find, prepare and master new recipes. Specifically, I wanted to learn how to make rich, savory and tender beef short ribs, a garlicky seafood soup, and cinnamon cardamom bread. They are all now a delicious part of my meal repertoire. This year I plan to continue to expand my recipes and cooking skills.

What other themes do I have for 2016? My main focus is writing. I have begun writing my first novel, which I will tell you more about soon. Also, decorating and organizing my office/studio into the beautiful and energizing space I know it can be. And, swans. Because they are so lovely. I am blessed with sightings of them as they fly over or swim in the river near my house. Who knows where my fascination with swans will take me this year?

What themes do you want to incorporate into your life in 2016?

 

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image from sales pageMy life has truly been an adventure during my journey of transformation in the past few years. In order to inspire and motivate others, I wrote Realize Your Dreams: Create an Action Plan for Life Transformation.

I am excited to announce that the book has now been written and published. It is available as an ebook for Kindles and as a paperback on Amazon.com. There are chapters on traveling, eating healthy and losing weight, going back to college, finding career success, discovering your passions, and more. I invite you to visit the book’s Amazon sales page to “Look Inside.”

FREE Kindle ebook version of Realize Your Dreams if purchased this upcoming Saturday or Sunday, January 16-17, 2016. Please feel free to pass the word!

 

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Photo of Devil's Island Sea Caves in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore by Cliff Odendahl.

Devils Island Sea Caves in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – Photo by Cliff Odendahl, Copyright 2013

A few months ago I sent a book draft to my editor and wrote a short story for a local writing contest — my first work of fiction since I was a child. I was in the writing groove.

Then, suddenly, somebody close to me died and I suspended my regular activities while I helped take care of other matters. As time passed and I got back on track with other work and activities, I still didn’t write. Of course, the longer you are away from something, the more difficult it is to pick it up again. I doubt I am the first writer to lose my momentum for a period of time.

The spark to write again came from a workshop I attended at Madeline Island School of the Arts last week. I can’t say enough good things about Catherine Watson and Jane O’Reilly, who guided the class in writing personal stories with descriptive detail and emotion, and my fellow participants who supported each other’s efforts and results.

The school itself is a warm and friendly operation, located on an idyllic setting on an island in Lake Superior. My husband, Cliff, was enrolled in another workshop going on at the same time, Craig Blacklock’s photography class. For months I had been telling people that Cliff and I were going to “art camp” together this summer. We shared a cabin at the school, but with wildly divergent schedules we rarely saw each other except for occasional meals. Cliff loved his opportunity to photograph the beauty of the island and the majesty of Lake Superior.

I was on a high, living in a bubble where writing and learning about writing was my focus morning, noon and night. I am motivated to keeping the spark alive at home by writing in my blog and in my work-in-progress book, Realize Your Dreams: Create an Action Plan for Life Transformation, along with a couple other projects.

The creation of art can be a solitary activity. We can all benefit from opportunities to meet with others, expand our perspectives, learn from great teachers, exchange knowledge and share our own personal work with like-minded people. If you are a writer or an artist who could use a spark of your own – seek out a workshop, class, or conference – anything that will stimulate you and your passion for your work.

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I appreciate all of you! Thanks for your encouragement and support of my writing.  The one-day promotion of my travel memoir, Traveling Together: Cliff and Me and the Motorcycle Makes Three  is over, but the ebook is still available at Amazon at its regular price of $2.99. Here is a link to it.

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My travel memoir eBook, Traveling Together: Cliff and Me and the Motorcycle Makes Three, is FREE TODAY, Sunday October 14, 2012! I hope you will take advantage of this one-day promotion to download the book for your Kindle or other electronic device. Just click on this link to the book at Amazon.

Please feel free to share this information with others today.

It’s …not necessary to have a Kindle to read it. With a free app from Amazon it is available for reading on computers, iPads, iPhones and other devices. Here is a link to get that app: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/ref=kcp_ipad_mkt_lnd?docId=1000493771

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