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Walking back to happiness…about stress, and how to ditch it.

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I’ve never really come face to face with full-on, exhausting, completely debilitating stress before. Over the last six weeks, trying to deal with  a long build up of anxiety, panic attacks and deep sadness brought on by post-Ofsted helplessness and frustration, I’ve learned what it means to want to give up.

But a combination of a sensible doctor (‘take time out, get some fresh air and exercise and step back from work – you’re not letting them down; you’re making yourself strong again’), a very understanding boss, brilliant family and hugely supportive workmates have worked their magic. This week I went back to school, feeling absolutely terrified but much better. The welcoming hugs made it all worthwhile.

So here’s my plan for overcoming the effects of a system that’s kicking teachers in the teeth and then giving them a few more kicks when they’re down:

  1. If you possibly can, give yourself some space from work – a good doctor will understand. Crying at the surgery seems to work well…
  2. Get your boots on, get out into the fresh air and walk and walk and walk.
  3. Read feel-good books.
  4. Do some writing if you can. If you can’t, don’t worry. You will one day soon.
  5. Eat well (forget weight loss, indulge yourself with wine/gin/Baileys, but mostly go for the healthy stuff.)
  6. See family and friends as much as possible and if they want you to talk about your worries, do! They won’t mind if you blub. So long as you stop eventually and give them some cake.
  7. Don’t let yourself think this bad patch will never end. It will.
  8. If all else fails sit down with a cat on your knee and watch The Sound of Music*. (*Substitute film of choice. I know this one could actually bring on stress in some people.)

So, lovely people, if you’re in a bad place, where everything seems black and the world clearly hates you, I wish you the very best of luck. All will be well. Trust me. You can borrow my cat if you like.

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Lessons Learned When Writing The Dragon in The Garden by Erika Gardner

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So, just when I think I’m starting to figure things out, the other shoe invariably drops. It happens every dang time. Honestly, it’s not such bad thing.  It’s good to shake things up. Dragon was the second book that I completed. The first was an epic fantasy that I have been forced to shove into a drawer. It’s crap. Well, it’s crap with glimmers. But I digress.

The Dragon in The Garden was the first book that I finished and thought, huh, we might have something here. Of course, that’s a common enough experience for writers in the first flush of typing “The End” (not that we usually do that, but you get the idea). Probably because getting that first draft done just feels so darn good.  Then reality sets in and we see that the gargantuan amount of work still to be done. Which coincidentally was something I learned writing Dragon

  • You aren’t done when you think you’re done. In fact, it would be best if YOU do not make the judgement call as to when to start sending out your precious manuscript. No, leave that decision to your critique group and your beta readers. They’ll tell you when you are ready. Don’t rush it.
  • Critique hurts. It’s okay to cry. I say that because you just might. I did.
  • Critique is good. It is necessary. Take it and be grateful for. The fact that these people cared enough to take time from their busy (and everyone is busy) schedules to help with your dog and pony show is precious. Do not squander their time and efforts on your behalf. The work will be better.
  • Bacon can make almost anything better. Unless you’re a vegetarian. Hopefully then tofu bacon makes everything better. I wouldn’t know. I won’t touch the stuff. Because there exists real BACON.
  • If bacon won’t work, there’s always wine. Or… the two together. Sometimes you need to double down.
  • Agents, editors? They are just people. Some are kind, some are callous, but they are all mere flesh and put on their ass-less chaps one leg at a time, just like the rest of us.
  • It’s okay to hear voices in your head. It’s part of the creative process. Just… don’t believe everything that they tell you.
  • The hardest thing you will do is to write your synopsis. You’ll hate it. Likely it won’t be your best work. That’s okay, most people hate them, too. But it’s another hoop you must jump through, so jump, little froggie, jump!
  • You WILL be rejected. That’s not an if, it’s a WHEN. Likely you’ll be rejected a lot. It will suck. Please see points #4 and #5. Feel free to email me. I’ll talk you off the ledge.
  • You’ll want to quit. DON’T!!! That’s it you can’t quit. PERIOD.

So, those are my pearls of wisdom. They may seem self-explanatory, obvious, as plain as the Italian nose on my Irish face. Yet, there’s a difference between hearing them and feeling them, really coming to grips with knowing them.

Now that you know my big life secrets… wanna know what I wrote about? It’s a fairy tale for adults who don’t want to grow up. Who says we really have to anyway? Enjoy!

TheDragoninTheGardenbyErikaGardner-200There is magic beneath the mundane and in The Dragon in the Garden, Siobhan Orsini witnesses it all. No lie can fool her, no glamour or illusion can cloud her Sight. She sees through them all and wishes she could close her eyes. Returning to face her past, Siobhan inherits her grandparents’ house in California’s wine country. She encounters a talking dragon, a hot fallen angel, a demon lord, a Valkyrie, and, oh yes, her ex-boyfriend. And that is just in the first twenty-four hours. 

It’s time to find out why she has this power. 

Siobhan seeks out the Oracle and learns that only her Sight can help mankind navigate the travails of an ancient war. Our world is the prize in a battle between the dragons, who would defend us, and Lucifer’s fallen angels, who seek to take the Earth for themselves. Using her gift, she will have to make a choice that will decide humanity’s future.

To purchase The Dragon in The Garden please see:

http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Gardner_Erika/the-dragon-in-the-garden.htm

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This post was written by Erika Gardner. She’s a native Californian, lifelong lover of fantastical adventures, and a dedicated Whovian.  If you enjoyed it, please sign up to receive updates on www.erikagardner.com   Or you can follow Erika on Twitter @Erika_Gardner, “Like” her Facebook page Erika Gardner- Writer and Storyteller. Or check out her contributions to the BBB Blog.

 


To e or Not to e – That is the Question – A Guest Post by Mary O’Sullivan

tourbutton_thickerthanwaterAll set to go on holiday? Passport, check. Money, check.  Books, check. Nothing left to do except weigh your luggage. And then you find you have gone over the weight the airline allows. Your choice is to pay the tariff at the airport or start unloading things now. That’s when you realise how really heavy print books are. And how very convenient an eReader would be.

The glossy paperback or the hardback you see today has some pretty strange ancestry. The book as we now know it, started life as a clay tablet in Mesopotamia in the third century BC. It had to be written on while the clay was wet and then fired to dry. Imagine trying to haul a week’s worth of clay tablet off on your holidays.  Papyrus appeared in the second millennium BC and because it was pliable and lighter, it was more user friendly – though the history of the reign of Rameses 111 on papyrus is said to measure over 40 metres long when unscrolled. That is approximately the height of a ten storey building. Obviously that prototype was not going to stand the test of time.

Around the same era, Chinese people were writing on a variety of materials- bone, shells, wood, silk. It was there, in the first century BC, paper was made, reportedly from the bark of a blackberry bush.  An Italian missionary, named Matteo Ricci, visiting China at that time, noted that there were a lot of books in circulation and that they were being sold at very low prices. Which is exactly the observation Matteo would probably make now if he came back to visit the twenty first century.

There were many innovations in script and book materials between the clay tablet era and 1440, when Johannes Guttenberg invented the printing press. Because printing made books cheaper and more widely available, it brought about a seismic change. Books became commercially viable and the hunt was on for a reading market in the general public. That hunt still continues in today’s world of mass-produced and self-published books. A positive change for authors is that the writers of old had no rights over their published works. Nor did they receive payment unless they had a generous patron. Copyright over the work is a great improvement but the loss of generous patrons is to be regretted! The first book printed in the English language in 1475 was Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye. I wonder how many books have been printed since Guttenberg first had his eureka moment with the printer. It must number millions, or even billions, when all languages are taken into account.

The next big step in the genesis of the book was the Amazon Kindle in 2007. The material used had changed again. The words were on screen and not on paper. You did not turn pages but pressed a key, you could change the text size to suit yourself, buy books without leaving your home and have them instantly loaded onto your eReader. The Kindle was light, compact, capable of storing hundreds, if not thousands, of books at a time. A boon for those holiday reads.

And so it began, the battle of the print book versus the eBook. People divided into two camps; one, the traditionalist, who swore they could not survive without the smell of a new print book; two, the eReader owner who gloried in not having to find shelf-space for their books. eBooks are also, by and large, cheaper than print, so therefore accessible to a wider audience. The advent of eBooks has made self-publishing a viable option. This development has detractors and advocates. It is good that everyone has the opportunity to tell and share their story, whether that is biographical or fiction. On the other hand, the mass of new ebooks coming on line at any one time is staggering. As a reader, I struggle to decide on my next read. As a writer, I cringe at the volume of books mine have to compete with.

I can imagine, as I write this, the Assyrian scribes hanging on to their clay tablets and swearing to never have anything to do with Papyrus scrolls. And so on with each historical change until the battle of print and eBook was joined in 2007. The format of the book has changed but not the essence. Does it matter whether a child absorbs the magic of fairy tales from a printed page or an LCD screen? Will a story be any different whether it is bound between paper covers, or flicks by on an eReader?

I have a personal preference for eBooks for several reasons, the main one being I suffer from arthritis in my hands and holding a weighty book can be uncomfortable. My feather light eReader fits snugly in my hand and never causes me pain. The eBook revolution also gave me the opportunity to self –publish my seventh novel, Fire And Ice. It proved to be a challenging but satisfying exercise.

Having said all that, I have print books which I have owned since childhood. In fact I treasure a little book which my grandmother read when she was a child. It’s titled, The Birthday Present, by Miss Edgeworth and was printed by Milner And Sowerby in 1858.  There are beautiful illustrations in that book and exquisite print. The stories are dated, but the book itself is a precious work of art. I doubt very much if my grandchild will, in the future, hold my Kindle and admire it as an exquisite artefact.

Who knows what the next step in book evolution will be? The only certainty is that mankind will continue to learn and express creativity. Whatever shape the book takes it will always be part of educating and entertaining mankind.

Thank you to Celia for hosting me on her blogspot and thanks also to Lucy Felthouse (Writer Marketing Services) for organising my visit here.

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*****

Excerpt

Excerpt  from Thicker Than Water

Here, in Rainbow Cottage high up over Ballyderg town, Jan had found relaxation.  Ever since she could remember, possibly since she had been born, she was driven by an inner spring of energy that constantly bubbled up. She was always on the go. Tasks to be completed, decisions to be made, energy to be burned up. It was these hills, the still and brooding giants with wispy cloud hair, which first soothed her into sometimes slowing down. Changes swirled around them, the seasons, the weather, light and dark, but their core stood firm against outside influence.  Eventually she had absorbed that lesson.

From the   plate glass window of the lounge she watched a car wind its way up from the valley. She went into the kitchen and switched on the kettle, knowing from experience that the green tea they both enjoyed would be brewed by the time he arrived at the cottage.

Gerard Shannon parked in his usual place ten minutes climb on foot to Jan’s cottage.  He stood and inhaled deeply before striding out.  He always enjoyed the exercise but today he felt breathless, tormented, an iron band of tension squeezing his chest. If only the success and control he had in his business life applied to his private life also. If only he had been honest all those years ago. If only he could be honest now.

*****

Thicker_Than_Water_by_Mary_OSullivan-200Blurb

Blurb for Thicker Than Water :

When local teenager, Keira Shannon and her father, business man Gerard Shannon, go missing, the town of Ballyderg unites to search for them.

As the search continues rumours of domestic violence, extramarital affairs and criminal behaviour are rife. The crisis causes families and lifelong friends to doubt each other.

The only certainty left is that the town has been visited by evil. Or has it? Could it be the evil one has always lived there sharing history, laughter and tears? And if so, who could it be?

Buy Links

Amazon buy links :                      http://authl.it/3st

Tirgearr   Publishing                           http://bit.ly/1J6E7ZV

Amazon Author Page:                        http://amzn.to/1RpGnhf

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maryosullivanauthorpicAuthor  Biography:

Mary worked many years as a Laboratory Technician. Her hobby, her passion, has always been writing. Busy with family and career, she grabbed some moments here and there to write poetry and short stories. She also wrote a general interest column in a local newspaper.

As the demands on her time became more manageable she joined a local creative writing class. It was then, with the encouragement of tutor Vincent McDonald, that the idea of writing a novel took shape. She began to expand on a short story she had written some years previously. It was a shock for her to discover that enthusiasm and imagination are not enough. For the first time she learned that writing can be very hard work.

Mary now has six traditionally published novels, nine eBooks and hopefully more to come, inspiration permitting.

Social Media Links

Please visit my web page at :    http://www.maryosullivanauthor.com

Chat to me on  Facebook at :    http://www.facebook.com/authormaryosullivan

Follow on Twitter at :                  https://twitter.com/authorosullivan

*****

GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/mary-osullivan/

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Moondancing Blog Tour!

Thanks to the lovely Lucy Felthouse of Writer Marketing Services (http://www.writermarketing.co.uk)  a blog tour is happening for Moondancing this week. Here are the venues where Molly and Jake are strutting their stuff, and this book also has a central character with one green eye and one blue, as a tribute to my hero, David Bowie.

I thought Mr Bowie would be around much longer than this; his music was the soundtrack to my early writing years. The world has lost a major talent and an elegant role model  –  please feel free to drop in and find out about Nick, the Bowie lookalike whose fragile, quirky mother used to dance in the moonlight to The Prettiest Star. While you’re there you can read about the book that took so long to write that by the end I was at least two stone heavier, with a new career, an addiction to coconut snowballs and a liking for the sort of red wine that doesn’t give you a headache the next day.

Moondancing

 

11th January

http://romanticfanaticblog.com/

Guest blog and review

12th January

http://vsreads.com

Guest blog

13th January

http://www.jennykane.co.uk

Guest blog

14th January

http://www.longandshortreviews.com/

Guest blog

15th January

http://locglin.blogspot.com/

Interview


Great Romaniac News!

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Sharing a link here that tells all about this week’s surprise award, presented at the Royal Overseas League by the Romantic Novelists Association, who have been such a help and support to the Romaniacs. The Media Star. Whoop!

https://theromaniacgroup.wordpress.com/

 


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