Making Space

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It has been a busy Summer for me with family, travel, edits for a short story collection to be published in September, research for more stories, book reviews, correspondence, lining up interviews for my blog, recipe testing, blog photography, you get the idea.

When people ask how do I get so much done, I always say that I am blessed with the H (hyperactivity) in the ADHD diagnosis and that it is my super power. I find it difficult to sit still. I have to move, to do, to be active. It is not always a blessing. I can be exhausting to be around. I take on too much at times. I have to regroup and rethink when facing deadlines. I have to make space and pare down by make room for all the things that are important.

It is not uncommon for folks with ADD/ADHD to find themselves swamped with projects, overwhelmed and frustrated. Right now I’m working on my plans for my blogs and my writing projects for the year, and it occurred to me that the real answer to getting things done is not just the blessing of being a high energy person, it is also the ability to discern what to let go of and what to hold on to. I like to garden and a big part of gardening is weeding. Weeding to make space for what you want to grow. I had to let of blogging for a bit to focus on other writing projects. I’ve had to let go of my gardening projects to make time for my family. I’ve had to let go of social media a bit to have time for me.

It doesn’t mean that I won’t go back to these things, but it does mean that the process of picking and choosing what to spend time on is key in accomplishing anything. The one question to ask when deciding how to cut back in order focus on a specific project or goal is: “What can I let go of to make room for what I want to happen?”

Let go of things that are crowding out the things you want to grow.

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Book Review: Lonen’s War*

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Lonen’s war is the story of Oria, a woman raised in isolation, treated like a fragile child, and Lonen, a man fighting to stop the utter destruction of his people and the devastation of his country.  In a kingdom where control and serenity are prized and rewarded above all else, passionate and willful Oria finds herself the key to her kingdom’s survival.  Struggling to save their kingdoms, bound by their honor, trapped between their cultures, Oria and Lonen must find a way to stop the war that has opened the gates to an evil neither knew existed no matter the personal cost. 

 As a long time fan of fantasy romance, my favorite stories are those that showcase character growth.  Oria resonates as a character and her growth over the course of the book is well done. The relationship between Oria and Lonen develops at a slow but satisfying pace. Dragons, magic, and secrets abound in this first book of the Sorcerous Moons trilogy. If you are a regular reader of Jeffe Kennedy (and if you are not you are missing out,) you will find all the things you expect: strong world building, magic that makes sense, and characters you care about.  Lonen’s War is a delightful read.  Pick up a copy and let yourself be swept up in Oria and Lonen’s world.  Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 9.26.38 AM

You can find out more about Jeffe Kennedy and her other fabulous books at http://www.jeffekennedy.com .

*ARC Review

The Deep End of the Pool

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My kids have been swimming in this pool since they were twelve months old.  The first time we came to visit their grandparents we would all take turns with them in the water. We used tiny life jacket and floats to help them learn to navigate the pool.  Back home we spent hours at the YMCA pool with swim classes and family swim time. Beside the fact that I think that everyone should know how to swim as a matter of personal safety,  I wanted my kids to be comfortable in the water. Notice I said comfortable not cocky. I wanted them to respect the process of swimming and to understand that not everything in life can be “hacked”.

Work, practice, and more work are the keys to getting better and experiencing success at anything. And work means that, doing the thing you want to be better at, swimming, cooking, writing, whatever,  not reading about it, or talking about the thing. You have to do the thing. Short cuts are for road trips, not skills. There is no substitute for time and practice.

 I am constantly amazed by the people I meet who expect overnight success as a writer. Writing, just like swimming requires time and commitment and overcoming your fear. Submitting a  short story, or poem, or novel, or play, or whatever it is that you write is like jumping into the deep end of the pool.  

 Don’t expect the first time you submit your work to go smoothly.  You will freak out and stew and worry before you press the send button or drop the package in the mail.  You will most likely be rejected and flail and struggle to get to yourself to submit again. Don’t quit, be fearless, jump in with both feet, honor the process of learning and practice.  

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Do the work, hit the send button, then get back to work so you can jump again.

Filling the Well, Part II

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Take time to look up

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To watch

 

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To think

 

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To be

Focus: When All the Good Things Happen at Once

IMG_5466 It has been a while since I posted about staying on track with ADHD/ADD. I have been working on many projects and in the way that life goes many of their timelines overlap. I wrote here about keeping track of projects and it still is a great system but I did not anticipate the impact working with others can have on your project timelines.

Receiving a revise and resubmit, request for a professional report, and/or a proposal for an amazing project can derail the best time manager. For individuals with distraction issues time management is a constant struggle, add family responsibilities, the day job, and travel to the mix and you have a classic recipe for disaster, missed deadlines, wicked stress and sleepless nights.

Here are ten steps for dealing with positive overwhelm, staying on track and working towards your goals.

  1. Take at least fifteen minutes and breathe, get outside if you can. Your goal here is to reset and let your adrenal glands chill for a moment. If you really want to do it right take thirty minutes. And yes this part is necessary for step two.
  2. Make a list. Brain dump every little thing that is swirling around in your brain. I use poster size paper and sharpies for this, you do you and use whatever you like to get everything out of your head.
  3. Add deadlines to all the things. All of the scraps of paper and post it notes with dates on them, gather them up and get it all of it in one place.
  4. Now look at the list. Are there things you can let go? Or postpone? Let them go or reschedule. Be honest here with yourself. Your goal is to focus on those things that you must do to accomplish your long term goals.
  5. That planner/wall calendar/app you paid good money for and then abandoned? Get it out. Now add the new things, update the old things and add all the due dates.
  6. This is hard part. Choose what you have to give up to get all the things done. Even with the best time management system it is impossible to do all the things. That GoT addiction? Binge watching your favorite show may have to go. Do not give up your exercise program. Oh you already did? See the next step.
  7. Start taking at least fifteen minute every day to move. Dance, walk, jog, yoga, weeding the flower bed, whatever gets the blood flowing to your brain. If you want to go really crazy go for thirty minutes.
  8. Traveling in the midst of everything? Make a list of what you need to take with you to complete or work on your project. Talk with your family/traveling partners. Let them know what you need and come to some agreement about your work time. Be firm. Be realistic. While a family reunion might be great for story ideas, trying to complete a revise and resubmit between rounds of horseshoes/drinking beer/ and scarfing down Great Aunt Millie’s potato salad will most likely end in frustration.
  9. Step back and breathe again. Good things happening can be as overwhelming as bad things happening. You can do this.
  10. Reread this list and repeat these steps as often as you need to keep yourself on track.

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Memorial Day In a Small Town Cemetery

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For everyone who had/has a flag instead of a mother/father/ sister/ brother/ aunt/uncle/ child on this memorial day.

Because Spring:Cleveland Botanical Gardens

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Book Review: The Pages of the Mind*

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Let me start off by saying I came to the Twelve Kingdom’s series sideways after reviewing Dark Secrets as part of my annual Thirteen for Halloween book post. I enjoyed Jeffe Kennedy’s story “Heart’s Blood” (a dark retelling of the Goose Girl) set in the Twelve Kingdoms so much that as soon as I finished reading it I started the Twelve Kingdom series and have not looked back. The fourth book in the series, The Pages of the Mind is the story of Dafane Mailloux, Librarian with a capital L, scholar, polyglot, and survivor. Sent to gather information for her Queen in a far kingdom Dafane is plunged into the internal intrigue and politics of a foreign land and reluctantly agrees to a marriage of alliance.

Finding herself drawn to the powerful king, now her husband Dafane discovers new powers, abilities, and love. When her queen arrives to rescue her Dafane is caught in a power struggle between the two people she loves most and must use her skills and intelligence to maintain peace in the Twelve Kingdoms. Continuing in the tradition of the other books in the series, this book has everything you expect from Jeffe Kennedy: rich world building, political intrigue, exact pacing and an exquisite love story wrapped in a delectably readable package.

If you have not started the Twelve Kingdoms series you don’t have to have read the other books in the series to appreciate The Pages of the Mind, but if you are a linear type of reader do yourself a favor and start at The Mark of the Tala, dive into The Tears of the Rose, wallow in the Best Fantasy Romance of 2015 The Talon of the Hawk and then sail with Dafane in The Pages of the MInd.

*ARC Review

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Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels.Her most recent works include the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms. The third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015.She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine. Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the Word Whores blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Busting Creativity Myths

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Creativity is often defined as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work.” The problem with this definition is that it leads to the first myth of creativity: Creativity  is only expressed through Art with a capital A. This is not true. Creative acts are not limited to painting, singing, playing an instrument, writing, photography, etc. Creative acts include everything that requires thinking and problem solving. So add cooking, raising kids, playing games, and just about every other part of your life to the creative acts lists.

The second myth of creativity: Creative people sit around smoking/day drinking/ looking out the window/ holed up in a bar waiting for an idea to pop in to their head, perhaps aided by a muse like this:

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In my world I know many creative people and every one of them works at being creative. That’s right they work at their given medium: writing words, making up recipes, making photographs, designing buildings, using biomimicry to solve human problems, drawing, painting, sculpting, and coloring. None of them wait for inspiration, or the muse, or some stroke of divine insight to light them up, they work.

The third myth of creativity is the most insidious. Some people believe they are not creative beings. These people are the people that comment on  another’s creativity and it usually sounds like this: “that is so cool, I wish I was creative.”

Please believe that anyone can become more creative. We all are creative as children. We make up games, and stories and draw. I have to believe that the people who tell me they are not creative had someone tell them they were not “talented” or “gifted”  or “artistic” or make a harsh comment about their work. Let go of that. Tell that voice in your head to shut the hell up. Close your eyes and remember how it was when you were a kid and could fashion an entire adventure with nothing more than a cardboard box.

I believe that the drive to create is in all of us, it takes many forms but it is there, it just needs to be fed.  Give yourself space and time to think. Don’t think that what you create has to be shared, because it is fine to create to please yourself.  Don’t let other people’s opinions define you.  I believe that creative acts are self-care . Create. Feed your soul.

This is only a moment round as a peach you have not yet bitten into.” The Moon as Cat as Peach, Marge Piercy, from The Hunger Moon: New and Selected Poems 1980-2010

Book Review: The Devil’s Doorbell*

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I am a fan of anthologies for two reasons. 1.) I really dig short stories. 2.) It is a  great way to sample work by new-to-me authors.  If you gave up on reading an anthologies after English 101 it is time to try again. Treat yourself to seven delectable stories in  The Devil’s Doorbell,  a collection of hot-as-hell erotic short stories that share a common theme: Women unapologetically taking charge of their own desires and seeking pleasure on their terms.

Seven stories, seven women deciding that they get to decide where, and who with, and how, and when they find pleasure.  Seven delicious stories that display women standing up, pushing through and reveling in their decisions. Survivors. Thrill-seekers. Fem-domes. Explorers. Adventurers. They are all represented here.

In a world that works hard at limiting women’s choices through draconian laws and social pressures this collection of stories is different. The women in these stories are not waiting around for someone to show up and show them a good time. Nope. These women are going for it. Erotica featuring empowered women? Bring it.

The book releases April 26, 2016. Preorder your hotness from your favorite on-line book seller.

“Here are seven tales of sexual empowerment and erotic defiance, featuring the hottest storytellers of erotic fiction.”

Anne Calhoun,  Christine d’Abo, Delphine Dryden, Megan Hart, Jeffe Kennedy, Megan Mulry, M. O’Keefe
In the Garden, by Anne Calhoun

Forbidden fruit is the most delicious… A wedding in the bucolic English countryside offers Kelsey ripe temptation in the form of a hot groomsman, Julian. Will the illicit attraction satisfy an old craving or stoke a new desire?

Exact Warm Unholy, by Jeffe Kennedy

Tonight my name is Mary… Or is it? Sometimes she’s Tiffany or Syd or Bobbi. But whatever face she wears, she returns to the same bar, to find a new man and seduce him, safe in the knowledge that no one will recognize her. Until one man does.

Red Leather, by Delphine Dryden

Some activities are definitely not safe for work. Maggie’s sadness over being dumped quickly turns to relief and excitement when she discovers a new freedom…a new Maggie she could have never been with her ex. Combine New Maggie with Tim the Hot Mailroom Guy and an unexpected vibrator…and the office supply room door becomes the portal to a world of devilish fun.

Drowning on Dry Land, by Megan Hart

Some doors stay open until you close them. Moving on from a past love, Bette Douglas has discovered a whole new world of satisfaction and contentment with her boy Damian…but when the past comes knocking, Bette’s decision to answer it could change everything.

Devil in the Dark, by Christine d’Abo

When developer Shona needs to beta test her new app – The Devil’s Doorbell – she goes out on the prowl for a man who will fulfil her wildest fantasies – oral sex in public. What could possibly go wrong when she finds her devil in the dark?

London Calling, by Megan Mulry

“Face-sitter wanted, in exchange for free accommodation in Mayfair.” -Craigslist

She hadn’t planned on being quite so adventurous when she decided to spend the year in London, but when she read the ad, she couldn’t resist.

We Are All Found Things, by M. O’Keefe

Rennie’s trying to forget her past; her mysterious new tenant is trying to keep his past a secret. But when Rennie finds out the truth about Luka she discovers as much about herself as she does her innocent lover.

Anne Calhoun – http://www.annecalhoun.com/

Christine d’Abo – http://christinedabo.com/

Delphine Dryden – http://www.delphinedryden.com/

Megan Hart – http://meganhart.com/

Jeffe Kennedy – http://www.jeffekennedy.com/

Megan Mulry – http://meganmulry.com/

M. O’Keefe – http://www.molly-okeefe.com/

Cover by Book Beautiful – http://www.bookbeautiful.com/

*ARC Review- See disclaimer page if you have any questions.