The Power of Words

 

Words

A while back I posted on this topic and this morning it was brought to my attention again.

While I was on my morning run, enjoying some moments strung together without rain or snow, I met up with an older couple, each with their own garbage bag, picking up trash along the river trail. The river trail is my favorite place to run–when I’m not being attacked by big dogs–because it’s serene, lined with green trees and the river on one side, and wildlife from turtles to turkeys to coyotes. When I saw this couple I stopped, took out my ear buds and told them what they were doing was so nice and thank you. They stopped and looked at me, the woman sighed and smiled, her eyes bright. She said:

“That’s the nicest thing you could have ever said to us, is thank you.”

Wow!

The power of words. How easy it would have been to keep in my own world, listening to my music, being absorbed with me. How many times do we get busy living life that we forget to notice others around us. I know I do. The janitorial staff that comes on shift as I’m leaving the office, the paper delivery boy, the person who has a cart full of items at the grocery store and yet gets in the twenty items or less line and lets me go ahead when s/he sees I only have a few items. How easy it is to scowl that they’re in the wrong line anyway.

What I’ve learned as I travel my journey is that what comes out of my mouth affects the listener as much as the speaker. Not saying thank you to the person in the grocery line leaves my heart hard and burdened, my attitude dark, as self-righteousness grips me. That, in turn, shapes the way I treat others the rest of the day. When I say something kind, regardless of whether or not the person is doing something I perceive as wrong, it makes the person experience joy and it lightens my own heart. It feels good from the depths of my soul to be kind to someone.

When I carried on with the rest of my run after my encounter with the couple, my steps felt lighter, my heart glad, the day brighter.

Whether spoken or written, words carry enormous power. How easy it is to fire off that email or snail mail letter. Or how easy it is to speak something negative or derogatory about someone in the name of defending yourself after they’ve wronged you. I used to tell my kids when they were growing up, “Choose your words carefully. Words are like toothpaste–once it’s out you can’t get it back in the tube no matter how hard you try.”

Those are words I, as an adult, need to remember.

This week as I communicate with others and as I work on my writing, I’m going to work on remembering the power of words. Especially the two seemingly small words that carry great weight–“Thank You.”

And now I’m back to using my words at Camp NaNoWriMo. :)

But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” — George Orwell, 1984

Bonfire-Brainerd

 

 

 

Pearls of Wisdom

Genrefest 2015

This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend Genre Fest 2015, an event organized by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and The Colorado Authors’ League. The speaker for the morning was David Morrell, creator of Rambo –as well as numerous novels (both fiction and nonfiction) and short fiction–and to say I was impressed is a serious understatement. While I expected great pearls of wisdom coming from such a successful author–and he certainly delivered, what I didn’t expect was his level of humility. What an incredible man. Would I go see him again if he’s in the area? In a heartbeat! I realize I just used the dreaded exclamation point, but that’s how strongly I feel about it. I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to grab that sucker. You won’t be disappointed.

While I couldn’t possibly mention all of the golden nuggets of advice, some of the ones that I’ll always remember are:

His five rules for writing mystery/thrillers (and could fit with any genre) are:

1.) Know why your writing what you are. If you’re writing what you are simply because it’s popular at the moment, you may want to re-evaluate writing that genre. What you’re writing should be personally meaningful; because you can’t imagine not writing it; because it should be worth spending a year (or more) of your time on.

2.)  Know the history of the genre you’re writing. He states, “we can’t recognize when a plot is hackneyed if we don’t educate ourselves about the best that has been done in the genre.” He suggested that if you’re writing a specific genre, you should know enough about the history that you could give a lecture on it.

3.)  Do your research. Your research can come from interviewing experts, reading non-fiction books on the subject, physically visiting the place you’re writing about as well as doing the activities you’re writing about. This last one, in particular, opens all five senses to the experience. The Internet is another deep well to gain knowledge. What not to do is to get your research from TV or movies. The details are not reliable. (Think courtroom and police dramas.) My husband and I both work in the law enforcement arena, and trust me when I say real life is nothing like it shows on Law and Order, CSI, The Good Wife, etc.

4.)  Be yourself. His exact words are worth repeating over and over and over. And over again. “Be a first-rate version of yourself rather than a second-rate version of another author. Innovate rather than imitate.” Wow! (Yup, another exclamation point.)

5.)  Avoid the genre trap. What we write should be the most exciting and moving novel that we can write. Our job is to write a genre novel that doesn’t come off as a genre book.

Other notable mentions:

  • There are no “odds” on whether you will succeed, get published, etc. What happens to you happens 100%.
  • One thing all of us writers are prone to is daydreaming. In fact we can’t shut it off. Children are often told to “stop wasting your time daydreaming” as if it’s a negative thing. In reality, daydreaming is not a waste of time at all. It’s where ideas come from. The key is to be aware of your daydreams. Too often they’re mini narratives that we dismiss.
  • Don’t write what you’re supposed to. Write what you’re meant to.
  • Don’t chase the market because you’ll always be looking at the back side.

I had David Morrell’s writing book, The Successful Novelist: A Lifetime of Lessons about Writing and Publishing, on my bookshelf at home waiting to be read. I bumped it ahead of all the others I want to read and I’m not regretting it.

And now it’s back to the world of Camp NaNo for campfire stories, connecting with my most awesome cabin mates, s’mores, and writing by the light of my lantern.

Bonfire-Brainerd

 

Victim Power!

 

SAAM Ribbon

April is an important month where I work and one that makes me proud to be doing the work that I do. National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is April 19-25.

Today was the day the County Commissioners read a Proclamation recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and the ADA (Assistant District Attorney) gave some powerful statements and scenarios I would like to share with you. He urged those in attendance to change the way we view sexual assault. Society’s focus is frequently on the victim–what could the victim have done differently, what was the victim wearing, if the victim was drinking, etc. You get the picture. Following are some of the scenarios he gave:

Scenario #1:  You’re at a football game, standing in line to get a beer and wearing your team’s jersey. Someone comes from behind and tackles you. What if the answer to your call for help was, “Well, you were drinking and wearing your team jersey. What did you expect?”

Scenario #2:  You’re house is burglarized and destroyed, your personal items trashed and thrown around. You have a nice welcome mat on your front porch. The cops are called out to your house, but they respond with, “But you had a welcome mat outside your door. You invited this.”

Scenario #3:  You’re in a diner having coffee with a friend and engaged in good conversation. The waitress comes over and asks if you would like more coffee. You tell her, yes, you would like more and engage in conversation with her while she pours the coffee until it’s overflowing, dumping scalding hot coffee all over your lap. You jump up and complain, but the manager says, “I’m sorry, but you weren’t clear enough on when you wanted her to stop.”

As one who has been a victim of sexual assault, these scenarios empowered me and gave me a sense of victory. And for one who works with victims of crime, they gave me pride to be doing the work I do. We can rise above our circumstances and life events. Tragedy doesn’t have to beat us down, but rather we can use it to shape and change the world in which we live. As a society, let’s change how we view crime and stop victim blaming. Change begins with just one. Won’t you be that one?

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” –Edward Everett Hale

Happy Easter!

Easter

Happy Easter to all! I hope everyone has a most blessed day!

I sat on my deck for most of yesterday afternoon finishing the book Twenty Eight and a Half Wishes (which I would highly recommend as it’s a most entertaining read), but, therefore, got behind on my Camp NaNo word count. So after a prayer run this morning before going to church to thank My Father for the Risen Christ, dinner with family and a nice long walk until I can breathe again from eating too much :) I’ll be working on my word count.

Enjoy your day whatever you plan to do! :)

Easter Lily

God Bless You and Yours.

April (Word) Showers

I’ve temporarily changed the old saying, April Showers bring May flowers,  to April Showers Bring Lots of Writing Hours.

images[3]

Last April I participated in the A to Z Blogging Challenge,  and this year I’ve decided to head to Camp for the month of April. Camp NaNoWriMo. I will still be reading the blog posts of those participating in the challenge, however, and I encourage others to as well. There are such amazing themes by such creative minds, and it’s fun to be part of that community in any way I can. After all, supporting each other is what the blogging community is all about.

The past couple of weeks I’ve allowed myself to become somewhat lazy–okay, very lazy–in the writing department. I finished the 2nd edit of my mystery, Shear Madness, and along with it came the whole self-doubt crash. While it’s something every writer experiences, it’s hard to remember that while in the thick of it. So I’ve decided to let my manuscript cool a couple of weeks before beginning the next edit.

I’ve been wanting to write some short stories for a long time now, something I haven’t written for many, many years (we won’t say exactly how many :) ) I’ve jotted ideas, plots, etc, but have continually put off the actual writing part. Until now.

For April’s Camp NaNo I’m going to let my hair down–or pull it up in a pony tail–and let loose the words to short stories I’ve been thinking about. I’m going to actually write them on paper–or computer–and have fun doing it. I’ve got my notebook, colored gel pens, computer, Camp NaNo coffee mug, my lantern, and the ingredients for s’mores set and ready to go. Heck, maybe I’ll even pull out a sleeping bag. :)

NaNo Coffee MugS'mores

It’s not too late if anyone wants to join in the camping experience. It’s among the most fun campgrounds I’ve ever camped. And rather than getting wet by rain showers, we get productive with word showers. That being said, it’s not necessary to commit to 50,000 words as is the case in November’s NaNoWriMo, but rather you set your own word count. While mine’s not set at 50,000 due to April being a busy month, I still set it high enough to challenge and stretch myself as a writer.

So–if anyone wants to join and has questions, head on over to the Camp NaNo website, or simply ask me in the comments section. I would love to help anyone get going on setting up a project. The more the merrier in this camping experience. And it’s one you’ll find yourself looking forward to every year. It’s too late to plan it at this point you say? No worries–and no excuses–there’s another Camp NaNo in July. :)

See you at Camp!

 Bonfire-Brainerd

Carpe Diem

 

Throwback Thursday–On Tuesday

I’ve always had a bit of rebellion coursing through my veins. Thank goodness it’s mellowed as I’ve gotten older to breaking only trivial rules–like deciding to post a Thursday post on a Tuesday. :)

I found another poem I’d written a very long time ago, shortly after the birth of my oldest son, Benjamin, who turns 26 (Zoinks!) tomorrow, March 25th. He’s grown to be such an amazing young man!

poem

 

A totally unrelated question for you as I ponder the future of the mystery novel I’m writing–what is your preference, self publishing, traditional publishing, and why?

Carpe Diem

 

Hodgepodge

There’s a lot that’s swirling around in my head these days, the top of that list being sheer gratitude for life in general. There’s something about starting and ending the day with a simple “Thank You” that makes all the rest in between all the sweeter. 2015-02-15 18.37.41 Estes Jan 2015 It’s hard to believe it was a few short weeks ago that my husband and I were enjoying our time in Estes Park for Valentine’s weekend, walking along the riverwalk in the falling snow, everything blanketed in a thick, pristine layer of white. Then cozying up in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a good book while the snow piled high outside the window. The weather this past week in Colorado has been beyond beautiful. Add to that the extra hour of daylight in the evenings–thank you Daylight Savings Time–and I feel completely rejuvenated. Once the sleep issues resolved themselves from the time change. But that’s a small price to pay for longer evenings and warmer weather. Yesterday I had the afternoon off work so I slipped into yoga pants and a T-shirt and camped out on the patio. I put my feet up and let the warm sun seep deep into my muscles, relaxing me into a state of bliss. The birds were flying in and out from the feeders, a squirrel ran along the top of the old wooden fence, three times, for the sole purpose of teasing Roxie, my dog, I’m sure–who took the bait hook, line and sinker–and the wind chimes chimed their magical meditative tune. I watched as Roxie settled into a state of complete contentment lying in the grass, head dipping as she dozed, and I savored every bite and crumb of a lemon muffin and every drop of a cup of coffee. It was better therapy than money could ever buy. While on the patio, I finished reading Louisiana Longshot: A Miss Fortune Mystery, by Jana DeLeon, an entertaining read that provided a healthy dose of laughter more than once, and one I would highly recommend. I will definitely be reading more of her work. I also tweaked the back cover copy of my book, Shear Madness, and have decided while editing that I don’t so much like the first person present tense. While present tense seems to add a sense of immediacy, it didn’t read smoothly. So on my next run through I’ll be changing it to first person past tense. I would be interested in hearing what you prefer–present tense or past? Which do you find easier to read? I’m thankful for all of my blogging–and blog reading–friends, and hope you all have a beautiful weekend. Carpe Diem