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Month: June 2017

Let’s Get a Little Real

So, today I’d like to slow things down and get a little real.  The past few years have been hard for me, personally.  I lost my older sister three years ago to pancreatic cancer.  I miscarried a very wanted baby girl two years ago. And my sweet five-year-old started kindergarten.  And if you think that last one isn’t quite the same as the first two, you’re right in some ways, but my son is autistic and he went from a very small loving preschool program to the New York school system in a bigger class, with all new teachers and kids.  To say I was worried and feeling lost was an understatement.  
I wasn’t dealing with things well after last September.  We had just moved and although I loved our new apartment and neighborhood, I was feeling sad all the time.  I managed my day job okay (I work from home) but I just wasn’t feeling it.  I did the work but wasn’t happy.  I cried a lot, watched too much Netflix, and ate nothing but crap.  I was depressed.  This has happened to me before.  Also, I have a history of binge eating – and I started to see myself creeping back toward those old habits and I didn’t want to go down that road again, so I recalled what I had done about 6-7 years ago and took action this time.  I started seeing a Nutritionist and a Therapist.

Yes…both, at the same time.  Why?  Because having support and help from multiple people is exactly what works for me.  This time, I delved into the serious loss I had felt over the last few years (I also lost extended family members in the past five years that I loved dearly), the loss of having my baby start Kindergarten, the general malaise and hurt feelings I’ve been holding on to for too many years about my career and lack thereof.  It took many months, but I can say I’m finally feeling like myself.  Happier, on the road to healthier, and I’m actually kicking butt on my goals.

The thing that both my nutritionist and my therapist have been instilling in me is Health at Every Size (for more info, click HERE and HERE) and Self-Care/Self-Love/Self-Acceptance.  Learning to love who I am, right now, right here today and not When I Get to Be a Perfect Size….because that’s BS and that attitude was holding me back.  I’ve been adding in self-care to my daily plans – reading time, planner time, showers (yes…when I get depressed or I start hating on myself showers go right out the window), facial masks, tea and cookies, and music, going to bed and getting sleep, etc.  I’ve also been working on Intuitive Eating and listening to my hunger and fullness cues.  That has been so hard, but I’m now starting to tell when I get hungry and I listen and ask questions – am I really hungry or thirsty?  When was the last time I ate?  What did I eat?  Was it filling?  What can I eat now to satisfy myself? How can I make things easier for myself?    If I start feeling hungry and I know I really shouldn’t be hungry, I think – what’s going on emotionally? Can I do something else instead of eating to help me feel better?  Sometimes the answer is NO and I go ahead and eat, giving myself permission to fully enjoy whatever I decided to partake in.  This keeps me from binging and feeling guilty for giving myself what my body is craving.

Along with the help of my nutritionist and therapist (and my family – shout out to Mom and Hubby and my cute son, for keeping me going when times were tough), I’ve started getting involved in the writing community online and I joined a Mastermind group that has been amazing.  The leader is big into Mindset and I’ve been doing a daily mindset practice for a few months now and I was ready to start up-leveling my life in a few areas – one being my fitness.  Yes, I love myself today just as I am, but I also knew that I needed to be able to walk up my stairs without feeling like I’m going to die, run around after my cute kid, and walk around Queens and get stuff done.  I sit all day for both my day job and my passion work so I needed something to help me get some exercise in and start feeling stronger.  Enter Nerd Fitness and Rising Heroes …it’s an extremely geeky online role-playing type game that helps you complete missions and earn points all centered around health, fitness, hobbies, your environment, and more. 

I created a code name – Caffeina (the Roman goddess of Coffee!), took the first self-assessment and was placed into a faction (like a Harry Potter house), joined a Squad and a Division and started walking, doing bodyweight exercise circuits, and drinking more water.  It’s only been two weeks but I’m really enjoying it.  It does cost money (I think I paid about $100 for the year) but their Facebook group is active, helpful, and funny.  The geeky online game and backstory is a bit over my head, but maybe I’ll get into it more once I complete all the beginning missions.
So…what do you do each day for self-care? Do you have a plan?  I try to jot down 5-6 things at the beginning of the week and then check them off as I do them.  Do you work out?  Do you enjoy it?  I’m still also doing my yoga, but I knew I needed some variety, some help, and I find I really enjoy the bodyweight circuits – I feel strong and all amazon goddess warrior type afterwards. 

Behind the Scenes: Music and My Writing Process

In one of my writing groups over on Facebook, there was a discussion not too long ago about music and writing. I was seriously surprised that so many of the writers (many self-published professionals) don’t listen to music while they work…I have a hard time not listening to music during certain parts of my process. And that got me thinking – what is my actual writing process and how does music play a part in that?

Ideas and Brainstorming

When I’m first thinking up an idea, brainstorming all the What If’s for a character or plot idea, or just general daydreaming I sometimes need music and sometimes not. This morning I was working on a character arc for my current project and I could hear my husband’s radio in the other room (quietly) but I had no music on in the bedroom where I was, but the other day when I was just sitting and staring and thinking, I had music on. This stage of my process can really go either way and depends on my mood that day.

First Draft

I need music. Non-negotiable, no two ways about it – can’t write the first draft in quiet. For first drafts, I need music – all kinds of music, totally different kinds of music. Pop, 1990s Alternative, Broadway soundtracks, 80s new wave, 70s disco, you name it, I have probably listened to it. I don’t have certain playlists for different novels or projects, I choose a style based on how I’m feeling that day, or maybe how the scene needs to play out. Louder metal-type music for the big scenes, love songs for the romantic scenes, etc. I definitely need music though when I’m putting words to paper.


I need quiet – like seriously, could hear a pin drop, quiet. I need to concentrate, hear my own thoughts, and really narrow in on the problems in front of me. This is usually the stage I need to close the door to the bedroom too, so I don’t hear the TV or radio in another room or get distracted by others in the apartment. Quiet and my brain, that’s it.

Planning or Marketing

Probably music. For example, I’m currently doing some marketing and planning for the launch of my novel (hopefully this fall/winter) and I’m writing the stuff that goes in the front and back of the book (dedication, acknowledgements, copyright, etc) and working on my blurb – the cool story description that accompanies my book to entice people to read it (because it’s awesome!) and I definitely need music for these tasks. But if I’m researching something about marketing and reading articles, I might need quiet.

Most of these only work with longer projects. When I’m writing these posts, for example, I usually listen to music or have the TV on with no issues. When I need to concentrate on one part or brainstorm something I might mute the TV or dim the music, but overall I need background noise.

So, tell me…do you use music when you write or work on projects? What do you listen to? Do you have playlists or just use Amazon Music or another streaming service like I do? And if you’re a singer like me, does having music on help or hinder you? Sometimes I find myself singing along and getting caught up in the song instead of writing, but sometimes I hear the perfect lyric and it fuels my next scene and gives me that little extra push….it all depends.


Muddled Moments: As If

Grab a Clearly Canadian, put on a velvet babydoll dress, throw on a lace choker and some Doc Martens, watch an episode of Friends or Buffy the Vampire Slayer and sit back because – the 90s are back, baby! Want to know how I know? Bath and Bodyworks just brought back their old original scents – Cucumber Melon, Sun Ripened Raspberry, Country Apple, and my favorite…..PEARBERRY! I grabbed a shower gel, lotion, and body spray last week and was immediately transported back to my old college days.

And once I started using the stuff, I swear the 90s were everywhere. That new Full House show is back on Netflix (although without baby Michelle, what’s the point?). All of our favorite little teen pop icons are still around – Leo DiCaprio, Will Smith, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake. And that’s just the guys! I mean, a Clinton ran for president…how 90s can you get?!?! The Simpsons are still on the air….still, not reruns (although you can find those too) but original shows are STILL AIRING ON FOX.

Thank goodness some things have changed – I can get internet access now whenever I want without that weird whoooshhh noise that took 9000 hours to connect. We have less frosted tips on men now (right?). I can watch TV without commercials and Beyonce’s solo career has gone pretty well, from what I’ve heard. Kidding! But buying that old favorite did make me think about my younger, slightly less carefree days – the 90s were all about High School and College for me, making friends, dating, broken hearts, parties, dancing (to those sweet 90s tunes) and not having to worry too much about jobs or money or what school should I send my kid to and what’s up with homework for a kindergartner?!?! But, I digress.

So, go watch 10 Things I Hate About You on Netflix, no seriously – if you’ve never seen that movie, stop reading and go watch right now. Dig out those 311, Alanis Morrisette, or Radiohead CDs and thrash around like you’re in a club, I won’t judge – heck, I’ll come over! What’s your favorite oh so 90s thing? Which scent did you rock back in the day? And if you’re way too young to get these references, then hold tight – one day, you’ll write a blog post (or whatever replaces blogs and YouTube in the future) waxing nostalgic about the 2010s talking about Beyonce and Lemonade, the crazy presidential race of 2016, fidget spinners, and who knows what else. Because every 10 years or so has it’s own persona…and you get to be a part of that!

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Creating a 3-Act Structure with Tarot Cards

I’m back for part two of my writing exercises using the Tarot for Writers book and my tarot cards.  Last week I created a new character, named Leo, and this week I’m using an exercise on page 72 about creating a three-act structure with two plot points.  I did not pull a card for the climax (seen in the book example) because I’m not actually writing this whole book.  Have a look-see at what cards I pulled and what I came up with for my beginning, middle, and end.   At the end of this post, I’ll tell you my thoughts going forward and what I’m going to write based off this reading for you guys! 

Act I – King of Swords
Leo, under the thumb of his father – a former MLB player, has played baseball his entire life from little league on through High School.  It is just expected that he will either go pro or play during college.  His father left baseball because of an injury and then became a professional agent.  He is powerful, successful, and charming.  Women love him, men want to be him – he never married Leo’s mother, but they co-parent as a team fairly well.  Leo’s father has high expectations of him and demands perfection above all else.  Leo must be the best! 

Plot Point 1 – The Moon
Leo, unhappy with the choices his Dad has made for him, has a dream one night while camping with his buddies.  He wakes up and walks under the full moon to the nearby lake where a young woman sits on a rock.  They have an amazing conversation about life, love, and the journey one must take for themselves when starting college. 

Act II – Nine of Cups
A college orientation party finds Leo in new surroundings.  Here no one cares about his Dad or sports at all really, but higher pursuits – science, literature, religion.  Leo must stand on his own two feet, as it were.  He wants to enjoy his time away from family and old friends, especially as he pursues this new life, but he’s finding it hard to figure out exactly where he stands and what he stands for.  He can’t seem to make up his mind about a major and starts having panic attacks that cause him to break down, sometimes going through a major depression for days/weeks at a time.

Plot Point 2 – The Sun
Leo is having trouble making new friends and starts to wonder if he somehow screwed up his entire life by walking away from his Dad’s plans.  He decides to take a long walk one beautiful Sunday to a public park that’s close to campus, to get away from his troubles.  He sees a group of guys playing ball for fun – no jerseys, no real official teams, no coaches.  Just a group, playing with a ball and a bat, having fun.  He asks if he can join them, which they immediately welcome and he plays for hours.  Sweating from the hot sun, he grabs a water and starts talking to one of the young men who goes to his school.  During their conversation, he realizes what he wants to study and finds a hobby that he’s good at and can enjoy for life.  He and his new friend walk back to campus together. 

Act III – The Hanged Man
After his day of fun, Leo chooses a major, settles into college life and meets the young woman from camp at a dance.  She’s the daughter of the Dean and just graduated from college the year before. She’s only a few years older, very taken with our Leo and they start dating.  Leo finally feels like himself.  He feels confident and has the courage to call his father, who he hasn’t spoken to in months and they start hashing things out on their way to redemption and a better, more grown-up relationship.   Leo feels like he’s on the right path – he has a handle on his shiny object syndrome, knowing that he can read and study anything without losing focus and he has matured into a bright young adult. 

Here’s what I’m thinking – I love the scene where he’s camping and meets the young lady by the lake so I think I will write that scene (2-3 thousand words) and post on the blog in a few weeks – I will get this one done quicker than my last tarot short story, I promise.  Does that sound like a good deal?  Or…if you guys like another scene more, comment and I’ll decide in a few days (maybe…Mon or Tues next week).  Thanks!

What do you think?  Would you read this book? Does it sound interesting?  What kinds of things do you see in these cards – seriously, give me your ideas, I might incorporate them.  I enjoy these exercises, but I’m not sure if I would use tarot cards to plot out a full book – but who knows.  I’m working on a novella right now that I plan on giving away for free when I get my newsletter ready so maybe I’ll pull a few cards if I have issues or run into plot problems.

Have you ever used the tarot cards for creative inspiration? Show me – I’m always trying to think of fun, new ways to use my cards.  

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Character Creation 1-2-3: A Tarot Exploration

I wanted to play around with another couple of exercises from Tarot for Writers by Corinne Kenner. I call this Character Creation 1-2-3 and it’s from the section of the book on simple tarot spreads. I’m using a one card spread to give me an overall view of the character, a two card spread to give me their best and worst qualities, and then a three card spread to give me the past, present, and future for my character. 

This is just part one though, next week I want to do another exercise using tarot cards to help me create a three-act structure using 5-6 cards. Then I’m going to use all of this info (and maybe a few more cards to create the other cast of characters I’ll need) to write another short story, with Leo – my character from below – as my main guy!  If the three act structure exercise gives me a huge story, I might just write part of the story – I’ll keep you posted on that as we go. 

If you have the book, Tarot for Writers, these exercises start on page 23. I love using my tarot cards to help come up with characters, plot ideas, location ideas, and overall story ideas because they are so rich in theme, character, elements, and symbolism that you can get all sorts of ideas from each card. 

One Card Spread 

8 of Cups 
A young man, turning his back on his present. Alone at night, the full moon watching over him as he walks away from everything. He seems to be certain of his past, as he does not look behind him to see what he’s leaving behind. He knows what lies ahead, both good and bad, and he’s certain he is on the right path for him. I see a senior in high school who has decided to leave the sports world behind to pursue an academic career. Going off to college without his old friends, and maybe without his parent’s support, as he leaves behind one life for the beginnings of another. The fact that the cups are arranged so neatly, but one is missing tells me this young man feels a void in his life that he’s hoping his new path will fill.

Two Card Spread 

Best Quality – King of Cups: Thoughtful, kind, intelligent. Interested in science and the arts. Good and honest young man.

Worst Quality – Ace of Pentacles: Lost in the clouds, sort of an absent-minded professor type. Can be easily distracted by shiny things, or the newest tech. Has so many interests, it’s hard to keep track of what the newest “thing” actually is for him at any given time.

Three Card Spread 

Past – 4 of Pentacles
Present – Ace of Wands
Future – The Chariot

Once upon a time, Leo had everything that makes a high school dude popular – good looks, money, material things, sports acumen, and the perfect girlfriend but he was missing something in his life. He wanted a change, something that spoke to his intelligence and multi-interests with science and art. He applied to a prestigious college, where he hoped to study philosophy and world religions, but this idea upset many people in his life. He leaves for school in a few weeks and although he has lost people along the way, he knows that the path he is on is the right one for him. He sees himself a winner, a hero, someone that will change the world for the better – for all people. He will be a champion of human rights and help those less fortunate than him. 

So, I have a basic idea of who this guy is, what he wants for his future and what might keep him from attaining his overall goal – the shiny object syndrome, he might have trouble sticking with something for very long, even college or a higher pursuit. I’m going to flip through the Tarot for Writers book and pick some more fun writing exercises to help me with my antagonist and other characters, and – of course – the main three act structure of my story. I’ll be back with part two in a few weeks. 

If you saw these cards, how would you interpret them?  What kind of character would you have created?  If you have a deck of Tarot cards, do you use them for creativity purposes?  Divination?  Guidance?  I’d love to know.