Power Word: Strive

Everyone knows there are goals worth working for. These goals are as unique as the person who sets them. They are what you spend your free time on, what you think about when you are drifting off to sleep, and what excites you when you hit milestones.

Striving to achieve these goals isn’t only important to overall well-being, it also brings intense satisfaction.

For me, I have plenty of goals I’m working toward as well as other areas where I want to excel. The most obvious is with my writing career. I want to achieve success as an author. Other things are equally important to me as well. At home, I want to be an awesome mom, a decent chef, have a beautiful yard, and keep an organized home. In my personal life, I’d love to learn character sketching and graphic design and take up karate once more.

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

It all has to start somewhere. For me, the word strive means to work with a goal in mind. It means spending time learning, practicing, and applying new skills. It means stepping closer toward mastery. It means sacrificing free time and sleep.

Many people have this belief that someday they’ll find the time to do the things they’ve always dreamed about. It could be after their kids have left for college, after they retire, after they get their next bonus, or after they pay off a debt.

What usually happens is that they keep putting off their dreams until they no longer have time or energy to be able to live them – and that’s tragic.

Some dreams require significant investment, like traveling abroad. Some require huge amounts of time, like writing a book. Some require additional schooling, like getting certified to be a life coach. Every single one starts with a baby step in the right direction.

While there are many things I would love to dive into right now, I know what my time limitations are. I also know the power of small consistent effort over time.

For now, I’m striving to be a successful author by spending time everyday writing, editing, and producing my next books. I spend time every week communicating with other authors and learning and growing. I make time to attend conferences. Every page finished, every new skill honed, every effort brings me that much closer to my goal.

What are you striving for?

What dreams are you willing to take the first step in accomplishing?

Let’s discuss it all in the comments below!


If you want to read my other power word posts, head over to Power Words of 2019.

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Power Word: Vitality

Recently I went on a Disneyland vacation with my family and let me tell you, the happiest place on Earth is not for the weak. As a writer and author I spend an unhealthy amount of time sitting at a desk. I do my best to incorporate physical activity into my day, but the fact stands, I’m not the svelte active woman I was ten years ago.

Walking around the massive acreage that is the Magic Kingdom takes stamina all by itself. Herding a group of highly distractable kids around the park, takes stamina, beignets, patience, and an ungodly amount of caffeine.

Which brings me to this month’s power word: Vitality.

Somewhere between Splash Mountain and the 28th request from a little person to ride something on the other side of the park RIGHT NOW, I realized just how tired I was. I used to be able to do theme parks with the best of them. Now, I totally get why my parents wanted to stop and sit down.

I define vitality as the overall feeling of health and well-being. It’s a mix of eating well and taking time to celebrate the potential of our bodies through motion. That motion is different for everyone. One person might crave that morning run, another might enjoy a walk around the block, another can find it while playing at a park with their kids.

Energy is a funny thing. The more you use, the stronger you become in time. Those who are regularly active, have more energy than those who aren’t.

For me, focusing on vitality means to find ways of incorporating more motion into my day. I’m spending time tending to my yard, choosing to walk rather than ride in a car when possible, and taking my kids to parks to play.

Vitality is also being more aware of the quality of the food I eat and how much. I have to cheat here and use a calorie counter, I find it’s the only way I can stay accountable.

Overall, I’m happy with my body and I want to use it every way I can. I’m a work in progress and want to continue to improve by being more intentional about my actions.

What are ways you increase your vitality?

What’s your favorite healthy snack?

If you want to read my other power word posts, head over to the post, Power Words of 2019.

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Power Word: Create

When was the last time you visited a museum or attended a concert? Visited a historical site? Ate at a great restaurant? The draw of all these activities is rooted in our desire to experience that which stirs the senses, whether it be sight, taste, sound, smell, or touch. The people behind these experiences, the painters, musicians, architects, or chefs, all have one thing in common – they create.

Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

The word ‘create’ is simple, yet powerful. Everything that surrounds us is a result of an act of creation. From the first moments we discover the use of our hands, we create. As children, we spent a great deal our energy creating crayon art, play dough sculptures, sand castles, digital worlds, Lego worlds, and endless stories.

As adults, we have less and less time to spend in carefree acts of creation. I find this sad, but I’m guilty of it as well. Ever since I shifted my writing from something I did as a hobby to a career, that element of carefree play has been lost. Each time I sit down to write or edit something, it’s to meet a deadline, a goal, or a career milestone.

That said, I still enjoy the act of creating new ideas and putting those ideas into a story. There is a rush of fulfillment and joy every time I get to hold a new book or anthology in my hands for the first time. Finishing a project that has taken weeks, or months, or even years is an emotional thing.

Happy mommy otter

Using ‘create’ as a power word means to remind myself how much I enjoy the process of writing. It’s a reminder to make progress on other creative projects, like the half-finished crochet Totoro that’s been stuffed in a box. It’s gentle encouragement to try something new.

Ultimately, the joy that comes from creating art; whether it be visual, edible, or word driven, can’t come from any other pursuit. It’s the ability to look at something with pride and say, “I made that.”

What are you going to create today?

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This post is part of the Power Words series.

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Power Word: Discover

Have you ever watched a toddler walk through a park? The first thing you’ll notice is they don’t walk. They stop every few steps to bend and look at something. Every moment is engaged in the adventure of discovery. Each rock, bug, and flower is a source of wonder and amazement.

“Look!” They call. “Look, look, look!” Their excitement is infectious.

As grown ups, as we are wandering the world on our own, how often do we truly look anymore? We’ve seen dandelions and ladybugs hundreds of times. What is left to see?

This is why I’ve chosen the word ‘discover’ as one of my power words this year.

Dewdrops on a ladybug

The word ‘discover’ is full of the excitement of curiosity and the possibility of seeing something new. Our world is filled with undiscovered and unappreciated wonders. Each flower holds its own unique beauty. Each sunrise is its own play of light and color. Sometimes we need to slow down and simply take the time to look.

For some, this act of slowing down and taking time to look is difficult but needed. We often get caught up in the business of getting things done. There are always lists of chores and errands that follow us wherever we go. Taking that extra second to allow our curiosity to take charge is time where we get to breathe and live in the moment.

For me, to discover means to allow myself to try new things. Sometimes it’s a book or movie I’ve been curious about but not something I’d normally chose. Sometimes its taking my kids to a new park we’ve found while driving somewhere else. Sometimes its experimenting with a new recipe in the kitchen. Each of these acts brings the potential of experiencing something new; a new idea, a new view, or a new taste. Each exposure to something new helps us redefine ourselves and what we enjoy.

This act of being very conscious about the act of discovery also means giving myself permission and time to follow random thoughts and bursts of creativity and see where they lead. The more I’ve allowed the act of discovery to guide my work, the more creative impulses come my way. This not only has influenced several of my writing projects, it’s created opportunities and opened doors.

It is my belief that we are all creatures of curiosity. By allowing ourselves time and permission to be childlike in our pursuit of discovery we can find a deeper appreciation for the world we live in, and in turn find happiness.

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Power Word: Simplify

Modern living tends to be complicated for most and downright chaotic for some. It’s easy to allow the sheer numbers of chores, to do lists, job responsibilities, social media, and hobbies become overwhelming.

Which is why I’ve chosen the word ‘simplify’ as one of my power words this year.

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

‘Simplify’ means to keep reminding myself that I can only do one thing at a time. Worrying about everything else needing to be done accomplishes nothing.

It means, while dozens of different things can fit in each day’s planner square, I can only do what I have time for.

It means choosing tasks that are important first and making progress or finishing them, then moving on.

It means not taking on new projects unless there is reasonable space in my schedule.

It means not obsessing over things that don’t matter and accepting that good and finished is much better than perfect and never done.

It means finding new ways to streamline processes to be more efficient and rewarding.

And finally, it means to make sure I’m doing the simple things to take care of me.

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What does the word simplify meant to you in your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Don’t miss it!

Stonebearer’s Betrayal received another amazing review over at Reading for Sanity: A Book Review Blog – go check it out!

Also, my article about my journey from writing hobbyist to author, “Never Settle, Never Give Up,” went live on the Always the Journey blog, run by Jason Woodland.

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Power Words of 2019

No, this isn’t a goal writing post. I swear it. No one wants to read yet another one of those. Besides, it’s mid January, trendy goal-setting posts are not allowed past this point.

This is totally a motivating “set your intention” mindful living kind of post.

And I’m all about motivation!

This year, I didn’t want a set of structured goals looming over me. It’s not that the goals aren’t helpful – structured goals are a powerful tool – it’s that I tend to get carried away with the details and that causes anxiety. If I create all those details, then there’s the pressure that I might get it wrong. Instead of spreadsheets of detailed goal planning, I’m embracing a single word:

‘INTENTION’

As a busy mom, everyday brings with it a new set of challenges. Instead of fighting the never ending tide of changes and feeling like I’m constantly behind or missing out, or doing it wrong, the focus instead will be on what I want as the desired result.

It sounds super hippy, that’s why I like it. It’s not going to solve my problems, just my mindset. And a healthier mindset can move mountains.

In addition to reminding myself to live each moment with intention, I’ve created a series of power words to help focus that intention from day to day.

For this year, these words are the following:

In the morning, somewhere between making breakfast and checking if everyone’s teeth are brushed, I take a moment and consider my day and the challenges I might face. One of these words will best encapsulate what I need to focus on and I stick it to my monitor as a reminder.

Stay tuned, every third Wednesday of the month is now power word day here on the blog, where I discuss what each word means to me and how it has helped me work toward my goals.

A huge thank you to Jenelle Stone for her class on power words and goal setting, I loved it!

Do you use focus words? What words do you find powerful? Share in the comments below.

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Love fantasy and sci-fi? Go check out the Fantasy and Sci-fi Reader’s Lounge over on Facebook. Everyday new authors visit the page to talk about their books and also their favorite fantasy and sci-fi. Even better, there are lots of contests and giveaways of the freshest fiction. Go check it out!

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Just posted today! My article “What to Expect when you are Expecting … a Book” is over at James Thomson’s blog, The Wayside. Go check it out!

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2018 Reading List

While lots of people spend hours, if not days, deciding on goals for the new year. I spend days figuring out my reading list. It’s a very involved process that includes pouring over “Books You Must Read Before You Die” lists, searching through releases by fellow author friends, and finding the lost desperate papery souls on my Goodreads “Want to Read” list.

51jWBJa-X-L._SX345_BO1,204,203,200_Then there’s all the hot new books from 2017 that I probably missed… When you’ve got kids home more often than not, quality reading time is hard to find.

Out of the fifty or so titles making up the preliminary list, only twenty-four can survive the final cut. Twelve fiction. Twelve non fiction. Could I read more? Yes, absolutely. However, the best part of the reading experience is spending time sinking into a story and relishing each page. I can’t do that if I’m stressing out about finishing in time.

January’s selections are Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Strunk and White’s Elements of Style – reviews to come, stay tuned!

2018 (Mostly) Fiction Titles. Drum roll, please:

Bel Canto – Ann Patchett
Ready Player One – Ernest Cline
Man from Shenandoah – Marsha Ward
Heroes of the Valley – Jonathan Stroud
A Darker Shade of Magic – V E Schwab
Stardust – Neil Gaiman
Looking for Alaska – John Green
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Jonathan A Safran Foer
Forest of Hands and Teeth – Carrie Ryan
Man Called Ove – Fredrik Backman
Never Let me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro

2018 Non Fiction Titles. Kazoo chorus, please:

The Question of God – Armand M Nicholi, Jr
Worlds of Wonder: How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy – David Gerrold
Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
Stiff: Curious Lives of Human Cadavers – Mary Roach
Lucifer Principle – Howard Bloom
Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
Eats, Shoots, and Leaves – Lynne Truss
Power Cues – Nick Morgan
The Gift of Fear– Gavin De Becker
Rules for a Knight – Ethan Hawke
Be Different – John Elder Robison

3264344How about you, dear reader? What titles have made your “Must be read” list this year?

Have you read any of the books on my list? If so, what did you think?

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!

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Don’t like missing out? Of course not. Neither do I. If you’d like to be notified of new posts be sure to like and subscribe to the blog posts here, or leave a like at my Facebook page.

Reading List for 2015

Last year at about this time I announced that I was going to read twelve books from the BBC’s Big Read List of 2003. I had so much fun plowing through these gems that I intend to challenge myself again, but with a much different list.

This year I will read some of the best that speculative fiction has to offer. Some of these books have been around for awhile and I’m ashamed that I haven’t picked them up sooner, and some are still fairly new.

Either way, I’m excited to dive in!

Here’s is this year’s list:

  1. Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
  2. Inkheart – Cornelia Funke
  3. Everneath – Brodi Ashton
  4. The Name of the Wind – Patrick Rothfuss
  5. Redshirts by John Scalzi
  6. Lies of Locke Lamora – Scott Lynch
  7. Under Heaven – Guy Gavriel Kay
  8. The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern
  9. Existence – David Brin
  10. The Ocean at the End of the Lane – Neil Gaiman
  11. Going Postal – Terry Pratchett
  12. A Wizard of Earthsea – Ursula K. Le Guin

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What are you planning to read this year? Share in the comments!

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Also – I’m still taking names for feature posts in the future, this includes writers, artists, cosplayers, and musicians.  If you, or someone you know, would like some shameless self promotion, let me know!

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Related posts and websites:

4th Quarter Reading, Done!

Here with only a few days left of 2014 I’m proud to report that I finished the last book of the year this morning at 2:45 am. Now I’m not saying that I stayed up reading all night, although I liked the last read enough that I could have – my youngest woke at 1:30 throwing up and I couldn’t turn my brain off afterward. Ahh, the joys of too many ideas and not enough time.

Here are this quarter’s books-

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee: Somehow I escaped reading this in school, and it’s a shame too because I’ve heard references to parts of this book and it’s characters all my life and never realized it.  If I were to pick a favorite element I would chose the character of Atticus Finch, the father of Scout and Jem and also the town attorney. He is a brilliant example of what it means to lead by example.  His high standards and sense of morality are enviable and something that is lacking from much of the world today.

Dune, Frank Herbert: Ok, I’ll admit, I cheated a little here.  Dune is a massive tome of dense writing that even the most seasoned writer needs to pick through carefully.  It’s fascinating and a good read, but time consuming. I read the first section, which still was over 300 pages and intend to read the rest at my leisure later. This is one of those books that has redefined what is possible in the world of science fiction and is a prime example of how to do world building right. I only wish I would have picked it up earlier, this would have been a perfect example when I was creating my own fantasy world.

A Town Like Alice, Nevil Shute: At first I wasn’t sure I was going to like this, the story didn’t take off right away and for the first twenty or so pages the reader has to wade through the narrator helping a gentleman settle the articles in his will. Not too exciting. Things pick up when we get into the story of Jean Paget, who inherits the estate. We first learn about her experience as a prisoner of war to the Japanese in Malay where she, and a group of women and children, was forced to travel by foot from town to town because no one wanted to take them in. I love stories of survival against the odds, so this was great. The rest of the story is devoted to how she spends her inheritance by first digging a well and washing house for the town that finally took them in at the end of the war, and then making improvements in a derelict town in Australia where her love interest has a cattle station. It is a story of perseverance and grit and one that I truly enjoyed.

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I had a great time reading these books off of the BBC Book Challenge and hope to find equally good reads for the coming year.

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Did you have a favorite read this year? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Related posts:

Get your Fantasy Fiction Fix

ID-100212922Let’s face it, we are all very busy people. Sometimes that translates to not having time to do the things we love. I love reading. Ever since I was a kid, I found that I would rather hang out within the pages of a great book than with real people.

I really miss having endless hours of reading time.

I never realized that there would be so many demands on my time. From caring for the kids to caring for the house and yard to attempting to become a world class author (hey, we all have dreams), there is hardly time to breathe some days.

This is where I love short fiction, and even better, having it delivered to my inbox like a little present. Here is a list of great places to go to get a mini reading fix during the day.

  1. Tor.com – For those who love Tor books, here is where to find their ongoing series of short stories They don’t have an email service, but their twitter feed @tordotcom will provide you a link when they release a new story. They publish 1-2 stories a week.
  2. Daily Science Fiction – This includes more than just science fiction, they also include fantasy, slipstream, and other speculative fiction topics. When you subscribe they will send you daily stories in you inbox.
  3. Every Day Fiction – Like it says, this is also a email service that sends out daily stories to your inbox. These stories can come from any genre and are a great way to be exposed to different types of writing. They are also all flash fiction, meaning under 1000 words, so they are fast reads.

Where do you go to get your reading fix? Tell us about it in the comments!

Image “U.f.o” by dan courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net