- Try writing the scene from a different character’s perspective.
- Try opening you book from a later chapter and see how it affects everything. Try from Ch 2 or 3. Many agents say there’s way too much backstory in opening chapters and the manuscript opens in the wrong place.
- Give your character a fatal flaw you haven’t previously considered. Make them as multi-dimentional as you can.
- Let your characters react in a big way. Let them get mad, hurt, angry, sad, hysterical, etc.
- Switch the setting. Place your character somewhere totally new and see how they react.
- Consider the emotional arc of the character. What’s the one thing that would break them? Then make that happen.
- Make sure your main characters all have a personal stake in the story. Don’t let anyone be there for convenience.
- Look for instances when characters agree on something. What will happen if a character says NO instead? Put as much conflict into every scene as you can. All your dialogue should have some degree of conflict in it: emotional conflict, people that are at odds with one another, different agendas, unspoken fears etc. Good Conversation = Conflict
I’m always on the hunt for anything fabulous and anything that makes life easier. That’s why I’m so excited to tell you about CHATBOOKS. I have a slight obsession with my Instagram account. Well really, my obsession is with pictures, and Instagram helps to fulfill my obsession. But now Chatbooks takes it one step further!
Chatbooks is an app that collects all your Instagram pics and prints them into 6 by 6 inch photo books. There’s one picture per page with your caption and each book is 60 pages. Then every time you hit another sixty pictures in Instragram, you get an email notifying you to look over your pictures (you can omit the ones you don’t want to print) and then they will automatically send you a new book.
Or if you aren’t into Instagram, there are two other options to upload photos into their books- the Chatbook series or the Custom book series.
Are you ready for the whopping price that might break your bank?? Six dollar per book. Yep, you heard right. Just pack a lunch tomorrow instead of eating out and we’ll call it even. And the shipping is FREE! Isn’t that awesome? I immediately ordered my entire Instagram feed.
Remember scrapbooking? As much as I love a finished scrapbook (let’s be honest… wasn’t it daunting? Being totally creative with fifty scrapbook themed pages with little decals and designs and notes and stickers…slightly overwhelming even for a crafter like myself!) I’m a huge fan of SIMPLE.
All I have to do now is snap great photos and be clever with my captions. Easy-peasy.
Here’s Chatbook’s Website.
And no, this is not a paid endorsement. But I haven’t been this excited about a product since my Britax Stroller and Car Seat combo from my my toddler was a baby. And seriously they could have hired me as their poster-stroller-mama.
You can also Follow Chatbooks on Instagram for flash deals. My books will be arriving any day!
See ya next week!
SUMMER is finally in full swing! Today I’d like to share 10 Ways to Have a Fulfilling Summer!
1) Spend Time OUTSIDE. Simply put, it’s good for the soul. Breathe in the fresh air, feel wind in your hair, get some sun on your face. Take off your shoes and feel that tickle of the grass or the soft grit of sand. I promise you’ll feel revitalized.
2) Take a Trip. Everybody needs a break from reality, something to look forward to, a reset of your capacity to deal with life. It doesn’t have to be and exotic location or an expensive get-away. But find a way to get out of town with someone you love this summer. You’ll come back with a renewed zest for life.
3) Participate in Local Activities. There’s something to be said for being part of your community. I bet you’ll be surprised how many events are offered between the city, local schools, libraries and recreation centers. The more you get involved, the more rooted to your community you will feel.
4) Do A “Summer-Cleaning.” Go through your closets, your garages and your kid’s rooms. See if there are things you no longer need or items you can donate to charity (Here’s a post I did about Sorting & Donating). Reducing the amount of clutter in your home will lift the mood of your house and give you peace of mind.
5) Spend 5 Minutes Reflecting at Night. Studies have shown that peoples who are consciously paying attention to the good things in their life are less prone to depression, they feel more fulfilled and live longer. Whether you do a thankful journal where you jot down one thing you are thankful for each day, use the Gratitude 365 App I talked about here, or even verbally share something you enjoyed about your day with someone you care about–find a way to focus on the good.
6) Commit to Less. Summer is a great time to scale back on your responsibilities. Guard your time and don’t be afraid to say NO. Make sure that if you’re participating in something it’s because you WANT to be there, not because you feel obligated.
7) Carve Out Time for Something You Love. Whatever it is that moves you and makes you feel alive… make time to do it! Be conscious to have at least one activity a day that makes your soul happy!
8) Be Active. The days are long and perfect for squeezing in something active to reduce stress, lose weight, tone up and find mental clarity. Go running, biking, hiking, waterskiing, jet skiing, golfing, canoeing, rappelling–just SOMETHING active. Go chase your kids in a game of tag, participate in a fitness boot-camp, take your dog for a long walk, jump on a trampoline, play a pick-up game of basketball, throw a ball around, go to an outdoor yoga class or swim some laps. Take advantage of the these longer days because Fall will be here before you know it!
9) Read! Being a writer, I may be a little biased here… but I also devoured 50 Books in 2013 and it enriched so many things in my life and broadened my perspectives. Here’s my list of the 2014 Top Ten Summer Recommendations. Even if you’re not normally a reader or can’t seem to find the time, try to read at least one book this summer. Here’s a few suggestions of how to make reading more convenient for you!
BONUS CHALLENGE: Create a Bucket List! I had so much fun putting mine together and it’s great to keep things I want to do in my life on my radar. Try it! What have you always wanted to do??
I hope you’re able to use some of these ideas to make your summer more meaningful. 2014 can be the best summer yet!
Have a safe and happy Independence Day tomorrow!!
As a voracious reader, I love to find complex characters that that move me- the kind I’m rooting for and the ones I love to hate. The more you understand why you’re identifying with your favorite characters, the better you’ll become at choosing books you can’t put down.
Typically, the main characters can be broken down into the protagonist and the antagonist- they’re pretty easy to spot: the protagonist is the one we’re rooting for and the antagonist is the one in the way of the protag’s goal.
But this is where it gets interesting. The characters who move me the most are intricately layered. The hero has several flaws that at any moment could be his/her undoing. And my favorite villains have a sliver of humanity in them- a reason to hope for redemption.
Think of Dexter (Dexter Book Series and Dexter TV Series)- the Miami Forensic specialist who is a serial killer- the caveat is he’s only killing other serial killers who have slipped through the legal system and pose a significant threat. So you want to hate him… but he’s saving lives, so it gets a little complicated. He’s the protagonist in the series, but his “dark passenger” gives him an unexpected depth that leaves you questioning if you love him or hate him.
Consider Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada Book and The Devil wears Prada Movie). She is one of the most powerful women in the business. She gets what she wants with possess poise and grace toward those she wants to impress. But we love to hate her because she’s so heartless to her staff. She’s the antagonist, but we briefly catch a glimpse of a few redeeming qualities, leaving you to wonder if all her nastiness is a product of her situation.
Jay, from The Great Gatsby (The Great Gatsby Book and The Great Gatsby Movie) is a man of ambition. We admire his tenacity and his passion- we identify with him because we all want to make more out of ourselves. But as the story unfolds from the view of his neighbor, Jay’s shallowness is exposed, leaving us with that sick feeling of a disappearing mirage.
Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games Book and The Hunger Games Movie) is the protagonist of this series but in order to save her sister and herself, she has to kill many other innocent teenagers. You don’t want to root for a murderer, but her circumstances force her to do what she does, so you can get behind her motives.
And of course we can’t talk about layered and complex characters who get lost in their fight for good without mentioning Walter White. Walt from Breaking Bad is a high school chemistry teacher with lung cancer. In his quest to provide for the family he will leave behind, he begins cooking and selling Meth. Walt is about as complex of a character as you can get, and we both love and hate him.
As a writer, I try to infuse as much depth into my characters as I can because that evokes emotion and moves us. Everyone has flaws, everyone tries and fails. That’s what we want as readers- to feel the humanity of our favorite characters. To identify with them and then question what you would do in their situation.
The next two books we are reading at Delicious Reads both have complex characters that I’m really excited to read and discuss!
In The Husband’s Secret, by Liane Moriarty (our May selection to be discussed at the beginning of June), the lives of three women are intertwined when Cecilia Fitzpatrich finds a letter from her husband that is only supposed to be opened in the event of his death. The secret held in the envelope will make her question everything.
The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt is the June selection that I will be moderating at the beginning of July. I’m SO excited about this book!! Little Brown & Co. invited us to be one of their Book Club Insiders and generously sent us copies!! Delicious Reads loves Little Brown & Co!
The Goldfinch just won The Pulitzer Prize! Congrats Donna Tartt!! It’s the story of Theo Decker, who survives an explosion at a museum that kills his mother. It’s in this dire moment that he’s entrusted with a painting of a Goldfinch that changes his life forever. Theo is a very layered and complex character and I’m so excited to discuss everything about him. I’m not going to reveal anything here because I don’t want to spoil your read. Just trust me, pick up this book!!
Hopefully this post helps you understand how to pick out the complexities of your favorite characters, allowing you to appreciate your favorite heroines, heroes and characters you love to hate.
See ya next time!
Today I want to share some of my new favorite things with you. Well, they’re not really new, but they are new on my radar. And because its SNOWING, I’m protesting anything cold. I’m SO ready for endless sunny days! But I digress… Ok. Here some things to cheer us all up:
My good friend Kelly let me in on this awesome app called Gratitude 365. It’s basically a quick, visual way to help you focus on something awesome in your life each day. It’s free and easy. You just snap a picture and you can add a tag line if you want and BAM it’s saved and easy to view in a list or calendar form.
These are my new favorite go-to workouts. They’re on youtube and they are so much fun! These two women have created these fun and quick workouts along with a nutrition plan. I’m loving their workouts! Plus it’s extra motivation because they do the workouts on the beach…. so it makes me excited to get toned for bikini season!
I’m almost ashamed to admit that Bloglovin in new to me! It’s basically a way to have all your favorite blogs pulled into one feed, and it’s also a way to give your own blog more exposure. There are SO many blogs I never would have heard about otherwise! You can find my profile HERE.
So before you get too excited… it’s not available yet. I saw it the other day and I’m dying for it to come out! You have to try it for yourself. Click the link– you’ll freak out. It’s like when I found out you can listen to audio books on 2x the speed- changed this little book-lover’s life.
So, that’s what I’ve got for you today! Hopefully this snow will melt soon and I can have some new favorite things OUTSIDE.
See ya next time!
Day 10: Identify your largest source of stress and analyze- what can you do to reduce it?
The Blurb: This is what I do when I’m feeling stressed. I make a list of the things that are causing me to worry and figure out the MOST stressful thing.
You need to be honest with yourself and identify if it’s something you can actually change. There’s no sense in worrying about something you don’t have any control over. Here are a few things to help you work through what’s stressing you out:
- If the stress is from a relationship, are you trying to save something that has turned toxic?
- Can you change the timetable?
- Can it be delegated?
- Are you stressed because things is your life are out of balance?
- Are there steps you can take that will put you on the path to accomplishing it? A little preparation can go a long way to mitigate stress. Even making a list of the action items can help.
- Think of the worst possible outcome and figure out how to handle it. If you have a way to deal with the worst case scenario, your stress will drop because you’ll feel more prepared.
- Are you putting more emphasis on it than the situation warrants? My wise grandpa aways says to ask yourself: “Will it matter in 500 years?” When the answer is usually NO, it will help you realize that everything will be ok.
- Do you feel stressed because you haven’t allotted enough Me Time?
- Communicate with the people involved. Sometimes there’s a miscommunication and you may be worrying about something unnecessarily.
- If there’s a way to make a stressful task more fun, try that! For example, if I have a huge list of errands, I make a coffee run on the way, and then break up the errands with one fun detour in the middle. That’s a trite example, but you get the idea.
- Is it a question of having enough time? Can you rearrange your priorities?
- Is it something you’ve been putting off? Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and DO IT.
Suggestions: Another tip my sister taught me years ago is to FIX THE LITTLE THINGS. You’ll be shocked at how much better fixing a little detail can make you feel. It’s eliminating the little drip, drip, drip eroding everything at the back of your mind. If there’s a small thing that’s driving you crazy every day, just take a few minutes to fix it. You may not normally give it attention, but if it lessens your overall stress in the day without much effort, get it done.
For example, my dog barks as if masked murderers are infiltrating our house whenever someone knocks at the door. This was driving everyone in our house crazy because it instantly makes the stress level skyrocket. His bark collar battery had died and I hadn’t been able to find a replacement. A little thing that was annoying several times a day. Finally I looked it up the battery info online and ordered it on amazon. Once I fixed the problem I couldn’t figure out why it took me so long in the first place.
Keeping It Real:
Photo of the Day: (In direct violation of the cutting sugar day) Inspired by the great Elizabeth Taylor:
“Pour yourself a drink. Put on some lipstick, and pull yourself together.”
(Obviously, I don’t recommend having wine as an ongoing way to handle stress. That’s my disclaimer. The fabulous wine I’m enjoying tonight was from my Napa Trip!)
Hope you are all feeling the love after making it through 1/3 of the project! I designed the project especially to have you feeling your best leading up to Valentines Day. There’s one focus item per day until then. It’s not to late to join in! The you can find the PREVIOUS POSTS HERE and see below for the diagram outlining each day’s focus.
You survived to the weekend! Make sure to get in a little time for yourself! I promise you’ll feel better for it!
Lots of love,
Day 9: Go through your closest. If you haven’t worn an item in the last year, donate it.
The Blurb: Most of us have much more than we need. With our hectic schedules we may not even think about it. Today’s focus is about extending a hand to people who really need it, people who are struggling to feed and clothe their families. There’s a huge need out there and you and I can help. We can make a difference.
Take some time today to go through your closet/pantry/shelves/rooms/garage. If there are items you’re no longer using, please consider donating them to a charity.
Suggestions: I learned this quick trick for your closet to make it easy to see what you’re not wearing. Hang all of your clothes so that the hook of the hanger is flipped, facing you (you’ll have to go under the rod and then hook it). When you wear an item, put it back in your closet the normal way. After 6 months/year, it will be easy to see what you haven’t worn.
Here are some links to find the donation center closest to you.
Keeping It Real: Take a look at these staggering facts I pulled from do something.org:
- Nearly half of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. More than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 a day).
- 1 billion children worldwide are living in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.
- More than 1 billion people lack adequate access to clean drinking water and an estimated 400 million of these are children. Because unclean water yields illness, roughly 443 million school days are missed every year.
- In 2011, 165 million children under the age 5 were stunted (reduced rate of growth and development) due to chronic malnutrition.
- 870 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat.
- Preventable diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia take the lives of 2 million children a year who are too poor to afford proper treatment.
- As of 2011, 19 million children worldwide remain unvaccinated.
- A quarter of all humans live without electricity — approximately 1.6 billion people.
- 80 percent of the world population lives on less than $10 a day.
- It would cost approximately $40 billion to offer basic education, clean water and sanitation, reproductive health for women, and basic health and nutrition to every person in every developing country.
- The World Food Programme says, “The poor are hungry and their hunger traps them in poverty.” Hunger is the number one cause of death in the world, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
Now tell me you can’t spare some time to do this. That’s what I thought.
Photo Of The Day:
A big thank you goes out to everyone who’s participating! I’ve love hearing about your experiences! If you’re just finding out about the “30 Days to Love Yourself Project, you can go HERE to get caught up! Have a great day everyone… it’s almost friday!
See ya tomorrow!
Day 8: Cut out all sugar for the day except for fruit. You’ll be surprised how sweet fruit can be.
The Blurb: That yummy sweetness we all crave…. today we’re kicking it to the curb! Sugar may not seem like a big deal but it causes cravings that lead to binge eating. It can cause weight gain and a host of other ailments. Too much sugar can increase your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, depression, migraines, poor eyesight, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, gout and osteoporosis.
I’m not fan of any of those things… so, I try to limit my sugar intake. For today’s challenge you’re supposed to cut out sugar for the day. A day might not be so bad, so that’s where we’re starting. But hopefully you take the essence of this exercise to heart and think about continuing it.
The hard part about sugar is that it’s lurking in many things you may not realize. Soft drinks, fruit juices and alcoholic beverages all have high sugar content. Many “low-fat” items decrease the fat but increase the sugar (so you’ll still like their project…). Even things like yogurt and granola bars can masquerade as a “healthy” snack, but can have a lot of sugar. Read your food labels. Learn the lingo that actually means “I-have-lots-of-sugar-in-me.
Sugar is addictive, so cutting it out can be really difficult in the beginning. For today’s challenge, I suggested you limit your sugar intake to fruit, because it’s a healthier version of sweetness. Yes, there’s s still some sugar in fruit but… baby steps. If you’re serious about cutting down your sugar as a lifestyle change, I’m not going to lie- it will be hard at first. But once you get past your ‘withdrawals,’ you’ll find that it won’t really bother you not to have it.
Avoid anything that you already know has sugar. Pie, cookies, doughnuts, ice cream etc. If you’re desperate for sweetener in a meal, try Stevia.
For breakfast skip the yogurt, pastries and bagels and instead have eggs or wheat toast with almond butter.
For lunch, avoid sandwiches with white bread, your soda of choice, salad dressing (yep… huge offender) and instead stick to wheat bread, meat, cheese, nuts, veggies.
For dinner avoid pasta unless it’s whole wheat and use brown rice instead of white rice. I’ve found that you’ll feel more full after eating the wheat/brown version and you won’t get the crash.
Dessert- Try strawberries with some plain greek yogurt. Strawberries are sweet enough to give you that little YUM-YUM when you’re feeling like you can’t do it.
Keeping It Real: I grew up with desserts after most meals. I just didn’t really know any better, and what can I say? I love ice cream. But ask me when the last time I had ice cream is… ? I hardly ever have it now, but I don’t really miss it. Eating healthy with less sugar is something I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older and I feel better for it.
I’m a big believer in ALL THINGS IN MODERATION so take a few minutes to think about your eating habits. If you think you’re consuming too much sugar, I recommend a week’s “detox” so that you can get it under control. After you have a handle on it, it’s ok to indulge every once in a while. You’ll probably find that you can get your sugar-fix with only a few bites of a treat.
Ok guys… let’s do this! We are on our way to a more healthy lifestyle! I hope you’re enjoying these tips. If you missed a day, you can get caught up on the previous posts HERE.
If you’d like these tips to come right to your Facebook feed, just Like My Facebook Page.
Photo of the Day:
Feel free to use the picture below to post on your favorite social media sites to let people know you’re participating. I’d love to hear how you’re doing on your 30 Days!
See you tomorrow!
Day 6: Make a list of ten things you’re grateful for and display it where you’ll see it often.
The Blurb: Gratitude is one of the easiest- and unfortunately most overlooked- ways to improve your quality of life. It’s quick, doesn’t cost any money or even much time. It’s the simple act of acknowledging the little things that become big things because you focus on them. This is a truth my grandpa taught me- “what you focus on expands.” Our brains are wired to adapt to reoccurring situations and so it’s easy to overlook things we should be thankful for on a daily basis. There’s nothing like having something taken away to make you grateful for it.
Suggestions: This is one of the easiest days to accomplish. Just grab a piece of paper and jot down 10 things you are thankful for and put it somewhere you’ll see it until the day before Valentines day, when we finish up this project. They can be big or small. In college I kept a “thankful journal.” At the end of each night I would just write a few sentences of one or two things that happened that day. I can’t even tell you how much this simple and quick daily act helped to improve my attitude about everything in my life. I started noticing things during the day that I could put in my journal at night, which me realize just how good I had it.
Keeping it Real:
Here’s my list of 10 things I’m thankful for today:
1) My family. I am blessed beyond measure. I have an amazing hubby, awesome daughters and the cutest little boy around.
2) My amazingly supportive friends. I am lucky to have many close friends. I am also a part of a GNO group with amazing women who inspire me and keep me laughing all the time.
3) The ability to share my writing with others. I’m currently working on getting one book published while I finish a second one (details on my website). I love blogging once a week and sharing occasional writing excepts – here’s one of my favorites.
4) Laughter. I think laughing is the only way to make it through life’s journey. I LOVE to be around people who make me laugh. Every now and then I just need a doubled over-tears streaming-cant catch your breath-kind of laugh. One of my favorite things about my hubby is that he is constantly making me laugh. I love that guy.
5) The little things- Hugs. Stolen moments. A good workout. Cooking. My phone. Hats. Sunshine. Outings. Memories. Late nights and early mornings with my baby. Smoothies. Audiobooks. Texts. Cold sheets and warm blankets. Funky socks. Iced chai. Mopped floors. Freshly done hair. Shoes. Painted nails. Extras. Sleep. People that motivate. Anything outdoors. Jogging strollers. Kisses from my baby. Hints that spring could come. Holidays. Snuggling with my sleepy baby. Pictures.
6) Books- I love reading. In fact, I read 50 books last year and was changed in so many ways.
7) Flexible schedule. I’m thankful that I’m able to work from home and be around my kiddos.
8) Goals. I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished and excited for all the things yet to come.
9) Music. I’m a huge fan of almost any kind of music. I think it speaks to you in a way that nothing else can. It can motivate you, soothe you when you need a break or get you pumped when you need some adrenaline. I have music playing almost all the time. Seriously, I feel like my life has a soundtrack.
10) This year. I have a lot of awesome things planned to accomplish this year. I’m am thankful for all the people in my life that have helped me get to where I am, and excited to keep stepping it up.
Photo of the Day:
It’s been so much fun creating this project. If you want to join in, here’s the “30 Days of Loving Yourself Project” breakdown.
See ya tomorrow!
Day 5: Identify a feasible workout routine. Commit.
The Blurb: Just in case you didn’t jump on the bandwagon with other New Year’s resolution-ers, today is the day. Don’t worry, you don’t have to join a gym or work out every single day to be successful. Take a few minutes to figure out something that is feasible with your work and home life. That being said, give it your best shot! And remember, anything active can be counted as working out.
Suggestions: Run. Pilates. Cross-fit. Yoga. Weight Training. Walk. Classes at your gym. Cardio. DVD workouts. Zumba.
Keeping it Real: Working out is one of those things it feels like will be impossible to shove into your day somewhere. But it’s also one of those things that pays generous dividends when you make it a priority. In case you aren’t sure how this works, let me break it down for you.
Is good for your heart. Promotes weight-loss. Prevents osteoporosis. Lowers bloodpressure. Is an excellent de-stressor. Prevents colds. Reduces severity of asthma. Promotes healthy pregnancies. Reduces diabetic complications. Plays a role in cancer prevention. Has anti-aging effects. Promotes brain health. Improves sex life. Improves sleep patterns. Helps prevent strokes. Good for mental health. Improves oxygen and nutrient supply. Improves muscle strength and joint function. Helps to manage arthritis (You can read an article detailing these further here).
I’ve done workouts at gyms, my house and outside. Right now I’ve found the most success doing it from home because then I don’t have to worry about travel time and getting a sitter. I have several favorite’s to help me stay motivated and to change it up that I thought I’d share with you:
P90X Website – Super intense 90 workout program based on muscle confusion. One of the toughest and most rewarding programs I’ve done.
Lara Hudson 10 Minute Solutions- Pilates – I’ve done these older ones for year which you can find on amazon or here’s her website for her new stuff called The Murcury Method. I love her Pilates DVDs because she explains everything so well and they are all broken down into 10 minute focused segments so you can pick what you want based on how much time you have to devote that day. These are some of my favs!
Slim in 6 Website – This is a great workout that touches on a little of everything. The idea is to do it for 6 weeks, but I have to change it up or I lose my momentum. It’s a great workout though.
My other favorite method of working out is walking/running with my little boy in a jogging stroller and listening to an audio-book! That’s partly how I read 50 books in 2013! I also participated in my first 5K last summer in Napa!
For today’s challenge, I’m committing to working out 3-4 times a week. I try to do Mon/Wed/Fri and then one day on the weekend. That’s my goal, but I leave some flexibility so that I don’t feel guilty enough to prevent my progress if I miss a day. Just figure out what works for you and be consistent!
Photo of the Day:
What are your favorite ways to get in a good workout? I hope that this post has helped you get a motivated to commit to your health.
See you tomorrow!