For today’s Wednesday Writer Spotlight, I have a hodgepodge of great posts from other blogs. Please forgive me that this is a little less organized than I would prefer. Life seems to be getting away from me the last few weeks.
So even though I started this post two weeks ago, I am feverishly formatting and publishing late Tuesday night for a Wednesday morning post.
How Life Changes as a Published Author
This guest post by Abigail Shepherd on Tibetan Lemonade shares Shepherd’s take on how her life has changed, and not changed, since becoming a published author. Her thoughts are some that all writers can related to, published or not.
Allison Maruska, from her author website and blog, takes us on a humorous trip with her Bad Writer alter ego. If Tweets and Posts on social media with horrible spelling and nails on the chalkboard grammar drive you crazy, you will really enjoy the fun Bad Writer brings with her terrible advice.
From John J. Vinacci came a notalgic and heartbreaking tale of the land where imaginary friends go to live when there creator’s outgrow them. Vinacci uses both humor and realism to make you take a look at your own life. Let’s bring back imagination!
I didn’t keep to my solitude after that. When the meal bells rang I obediently found my way to one of the dining areas. Though I never heard anyone say that I must, I noticed that people tended to sit at tables according to which rooming house they were in. Paul was in a rooming house on the other side of the compound so I seldom saw him in the same dining area, at least not for morning or evening meals.
Several more days passed before I started to work. I still didn’t feel right but I knew I wasn’t sick or injured. For several days I walked the compound. Helpful friends, or so they told me they were, encouraged me not to go far beyond the borders of the compound. They said it was not unsafe but there was still much work to do. I don’t know where I would have ventured had I decided to leave. In every direction I looked there was nothing to run to, only trees and fields and mountains. There were no roads leading out of the compound. I wondered how we had all gotten there.
Several more people introduced themselves over the next few days. I heard their names but chose not to remember them. They were all like Vann. Nauseatingly happy and cheerful and always smiling. The only affinity I felt for anyone was for Paul and we had barely spoken a word to each other. Paul didn’t smile. I didn’t know why but that meant something to me.
During my walks I found myself checking on Paul every day. We never spoke. When I was near we would look at each other briefly, our eyes would lock and we would each nod once. Somehow I knew that meant that he was okay and I imagined he knew the same about me. They had him working with wood, hewing posts and making furniture. He was very strong as he seemed to pick up logs effortlessly.
A few more days passed and I made my way to the vineyards again. I didn’t know why but I was compelled to work there. I followed others after morning meal one day. Vann had said no one was in charge but when I got near the vineyards a dark haired, bearded man was directing people on what to do.
“Will you be joining us in the vineyards?” he smiled at me.
I nodded once.
“That is great. We need some help tying up the new vines. Have you done that before?”
I stared at him. I was pretty sure I had never worked in a vineyard before.
“That’s quite all right. Dave here will show you what to do.”
A tall blonde man came smiling toward us. “It’s quite simple really. Just follow me.”
I watched Dave work for a few minutes and then took a ball of twine and started working on my own. The morning went surprisingly fast and before I knew it the bells were ringing again. It was time for noon meal.
We didn’t go back as far as the rooming houses to eat. There was a large Oak tree about midway between the vineyards and where I had seen Paul working. Underneath in the shade were four large tables. I was glad to see Paul sitting at one as I approached. I made my way toward him.
“Rick, you forgot to wash your hands. You can’t eat without washing your hands.” Dave was doing his best to direct me. I glared at him in return.
There was a large rock basin nearby. People were pouring water from pitchers over their hands. Something about the sight sickened me. I got within a few feet and my heart started racing. Once I turned around I felt immediately better. It was worth any consequences to not wash my hands.
There were two women near the trunk of the tree handing out plates of food. I went and got one amidst disapproving looks.
“He’s new,” Dave whispered to the woman as she handed me my plate. She smiled politely but said nothing. I went back to where I saw Paul and sat across from him. Dave was still following me.
“Rick, those of us from the vineyard usually eat together,” he told me. I didn’t move. Dave lingered for a few more minutes before making his way back to the tables where the vineyard workers were sitting.
Paul and I had not been this close since the day we had went for our tour with Vann. He ate his food in five or six bites and I was sure he didn’t chew any of it. He looked intently at his plate while he ate and then sat up straight, arms at his sides, his gaze slightly below mine.
I picked at my food. I still wasn’t hungry but the food was good so I ate three bites and put my fork down. Others near us tried to engage us in conversation but neither of us spoke. After a while those around us went on conversing as if we weren’t there.
The next fourteen days passed exactly the same way. I would rise and attend morning meal. I would work in the vineyards until noon meal and then find my way to sit in silence across from Paul. For the first several days someone tried to encourage us to sit apart and then those near us would try to involve us in conversation, but we sat each day in silence. Finally, people started giving us a wide birth and then acted like we weren’t even there.
On the fifteenth day something changed. I don’t know what. The morning was the same with morning meal and working in the vineyard. Then it was off to noon meal and sitting across from Paul. He ate his food in exactly six bites. I had started counting. Then he sat up straight, arms at his sides, his gaze just slightly below mine.
I don’t know where it came from. Seeing him sitting there, stiff and somber, me just barely starting on my meal and him already done, something clicked in my head.
“At ease, soldier.” I told him. I almost choked after the words came out. It was the first words I had spoken in weeks. Paul was equally alarmed. His eyes were huge and he looked ready to run at the first indication that he needed to.
Neither of us moved for several minutes. Paul’s eyes were locked solidly on mine. Then, barely a whisper and his lips not moving I heard him say, “What did you say?”
Though no one was listening to us I looked around before whispering back, “At ease, soldier.”
Paul surveyed everyone in the dining area and made sure no one was paying attention before he spoke again.
His words were again barely a whisper, his lips not moving, “Meet me. Barn. Five minutes.”
I nodded once and looked back down at my food. Paul was gone in a flash. I felt an internal timer kick on in my head. I hurriedly finished my food, the first time I had eaten everything I was given, and then cautiously made my way to the barn, checking several times to make sure that neither Dave nor anyone else was following or watching me.
The end of the barn was stacked high with logs for the wood working team to use in their activities. Instinctively I knew that I would find Paul between them and the back wall.
Again I checked to make sure no one else was around. Everyone else was still seated in the dining area, barely having begun their noon meal. I crouched slightly and swiftly made my way to where Paul was.
As soon as I turned the corner around the last pile Paul grabbed me and slung me against the wall of the barn. His right arm was pressed against my throat, cutting off my air supply, his left arm pinning my arms to the wall. He was insanely strong.
“Stand . . . down,” I choked out. I didn’t know what the words meant, but I knew I had to say them.
Paul backed away only slightly but freed my arms and let me breathe again. I gasped in a few breaths as he took my face in his hands and turned in quickly from side to side.
“Is it you, sir?” Paul asked me. His eyes were so intent I felt like they were boring into me.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
Paul leaned back into me. “Is it you, Sir? I will end you if this is a trick.”
I knew the words to be true. Words I did not know or understand quickly tumbled from my mouth, “ID 32, 15, 100, brown, level 9.”
Paul didn’t move. His stare was so intense that I believed that alone could end me.
Several tense minutes passed. Then, just as suddenly, Paul grabbed me in a different way, wrapping his arms around me so tight that I again couldn’t breathe.
“Oh, thank God,” he gasped. He clung to me even tighter until finally I had to gasp again, “Can’t . . . breathe.”
Immediately, he let go and backed up. He stood tall once again, shoulders back, rigid as stone.
I felt weak for a moment and let myself fall back against the wall.
“You know me?” I asked him. His eyes stayed fixed on me and for a second I thought I saw a tear forming in the corner of his right eye.
“Very well, Sir,” he answered.
“And I, I know you?” I asked him.
“Very well, Sir.”
Paul maintained his stoic pose as I searched my brain for what question most needed an answer. Only one question immediately came to the surface. “Who am I?”
Paul’s expression changed for the first time since I had known him. There was a look of concern in his eyes and he frowned ever so slightly.
“You don’t know?” he asked me.
“Obviously not,” I answered.
“It’s not safe,” he told me. “Meet me here tonight, right after first rain. Make sure the tigers don’t follow you.”
In an instant, as quickly as he had disappeared from the table, Paul was gone. I let myself slump to the ground. I didn’t know what any of this meant but for the first time I felt like something made sense.
Helping others is important. You know that. Writers are one group that we can all help. Many of their new followers and readers come from the recommendations of others. A lot of work goes into writing, giving each of us the responsibility to share books with others.
Book sales, especially on online sites like Amazon, are largely predicated by the reviews left by readers. If you are not in the habit of writing book reviews, please start today. Even a one or two sentence review can do much to help a writer.
Books are amazing things. They can take you to lands you have never seen, take you forward or backward in time, and bring inanimate objects to life. You laugh with them and cry with them. They become part of you. Some change you forever.
Years ago, I leant my copy to a very dear, older friend of mine. It is a frequent occurrence in my life to share books with others. As a result, I often forget what books I shared with each person.
This book touched my friend. Let me tell you how this book came back up in conversation so many years later.
Picture it: Cicily, 1943. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
Seriously, picture two older women in Home Depot. One is 90 and going blind. The other is her unwell 60-year-old daughter. They were trying to buy a dishwasher.
…nefarious and unscrupulous…
Two nefarious and unscrupulous men approached them, all smiles, wanting to do their good deed for the day. They offered to help the women pick out a new dishwasher and to even deliver and install it.
The women were overjoyed by the offer. They knew they would have to pay someone to do those very things, so this sounded like a Godsend to them.
As a result, the two men did deliver the dishwasher, and they did install it. Incorrectly, I must add, which is something that led to further repairs not long later.
The men chatted up the older women for a while before “noticing” a few “small repairs” that needed to be done around the house. Those small repairs led to the women dispensing almost $12,000, their entire life savings, before any of us close to them knew what was going on.
In true charlatan fashion, the work was never completed, and the men never returned. These two women were left with no savings and repairs that still needed to be completed.
Those of us close to them stepped up and did what we could to finish and fix the work those two men (and I want to use a much different word here) had either started and not finished or had done incorrectly.
A few weekends ago, I went to check on the ladies to make sure everything was all right. The mother, now 92, told me that I gave her peace of mind about their terrible experience.
“I did?” I couldn’t imagine what I might have done to help them. My handyman skills are seriously lacking, and I did not have the means to help them much financially.
I was very touched. I remember now sharing the book with her. When I first read it, I talked about it a lot to all my friends. It was a calm in the storm that I really needed at the time. But I had no idea how it had affected her. This will be a new life lesson learned.
In addition, this experience also teaches me that we can continue to learn and improve no matter how old or young we might be. It was about twelve years ago that I shared the book, which means that my friend was already 80 at the time.
Do you share books or what you are reading with others? If you don’t, change that today. You never know when you are going to change someone’s life with a shared book.
To close today, what are your favorite books to share? Please comment below.
Have you had your frog this morning? That probably sounds a little insane, unless, of course, you are someone who likes to have frogs for breakfast.
Hey, it’s possible. Maybe.
Let’s try another question.
Are you buried in to-dos today? If you are a blogger, writer, mom, worker, etc. most likely you are. There is ALWAYS something to be done. If you are like me, you have a post that is due today or tomorrow that you have not started. This post goes out Saturday morning and I am working on it at 6:20 PM Friday night.
It could be worse. At least it’s not midnight. Yet.
Procrastination is a curse that most of us contend with on a daily basis. Why do today what can be done tomorrow? So goes the procrastinator’s motto. The only problem with that philosophy is that now you have added additional stress to tomorrow.
Stress is never good. You know that.
So stop procrastinating! How? Learn this lesson about frogs.
Now you are thinking, “But what does procrastination have to do with frogs?”
Good question. Bear with me a moment while I give you some background for this post.
In the last two months, I have been spending copious amounts of time reading advice online and off about blogging and working as a freelancer. In one of the posts, and forgive me that for the moment I can’t remember which one, the writer referred to this quote by Mark Twain:
The quote has been stuck in my head ever since I read it. Mr. Twain, or Mr. Clemens as the case may be, was not really advocating for the eating of live frogs.
Well, at least I don’t think he was. Not having known him personally, I can’t say with certainty what he meant.
I have chosen to believe that the point he was trying to make was to stop procrastinating. If we would tackle the worst thing we need to do first thing in the morning, everything else would be downhill from there.
Are you guilty of procrastinating on the tasks you don’t want to do?
I know I am. In the corporate world, I often had three piles on my desk:
Things that had to be done today
Things that needed to be done soon and
Things that were very low priority.
I often put things in pile 2 that I did not want to do. They would often stay there until I was coming up on a deadline before they made it to pile 1. I spent more time dreading the jobs I didn’t want to do than I did actually doing them.
One day I woke up and realized what I was doing to myself. It was crazy for me to cause extra stress by putting off tasks I didn’t want to do. I made a change that day.
I had not heard the quote from Mark Twain at the time. Perhaps if I had, I would have been moved to action sooner.
The change to my day was undeniable. My stress level dropped considerably. I was still having to deal with difficult people and mundane tasks, but by getting those things completed first thing, the rest of my day went much smoother and with much less dread of the remaining work on my desk.
Back to Mark Twain’s quote. He also supposedly said that if you have two frogs to eat, you should eat the bigger one first or something to that effect. I could not easily find this latter quote on the internet.
Again, the point is, at least in my mind, to do the worst things first. Get that big, ugly frog off your plate.
Nothing against frogs.
Here are four important lessons we can learn from this quote:
1. Schedule Eating Your Frog
You have a million things that need to be done. Besides whatever you do for work, you have a home, family, and friends calling for your attention.
Add to that all the little distractions in your day. That, “Oh, my friend just posted new pictures on Facebook,” that turns into hours of browsing. You know what I mean.
Make yourself accountable. Schedule those tasks you don’t want to do just like you would schedule any other appointment or job. Go ahead and put it on your calendar. And be sure to schedule it early in the day so you can stop dreading it.
When that time comes, do the task. No grumbling or complaining. Do it and move on.
2. Prepare Your Frog in Advance
You can take a lot of stress out of your morning by planning your day the night before. Taking just 10-15 minutes at the end of the day to plan the following day means that tomorrow you can wake up and start the day without having to think about what needs to be done. You have a plan and a schedule.
Many people do this already with lunches or planning outfits. I’m not a morning person so the fewer things I have to do in the morning the better. That means ironing any items the night before is a necessity. Fortunately, now that I am working from home, there’s a whole lot less ironing to be done.
3. Don’t Eat Every Frog
There are dozens of tasks calling for our attention in a typical day. Lessen some the distractions by choosing to ignore some of them. Not every task deserves your attention. And not every decision is life altering.
Some people find some relief in this regard by making consistent decisions by the day of the week. For instance, many busy moms have a weekly schedule for meals: Monday is spaghetti, Friday is pizza, etc.
Mark Zuckerberg made an interesting comment about unnecessary decisions in this interview from 2014. He was asked why he was so often seen wearing the same looking t-shirt or hoodie. His response?
“I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community.” Zuckerberg felt, at least at the time, that deciding what to wear was a decision he didn’t need to spend mental energy on.
So he bought multiples of the same items. With only one color shirt in the drawer or hoodie on the rack and you don’t have to decide what to put on.
This may be an extreme example, but there are likely little decisions in your life that you can stop making. Take some time to think about it.
4. Don’t Let Other Frogs Distract You
How many social media alerts have you gotten just while reading this post? As soon as you finish reading this, go turn off ALL of those notifications.
Stopping what you are doing every 5-10 minutes to read updates is only causing you more stress.
I’m serious. Go turn them off. You will thank me later.
This doesn’t mean you should give up social media entirely. It’s fun to see what others are doing and to interact with your friends and followers. But set limits. Just like you wouldn’t let a real frog hop everywhere in your house, set boundaries for social media.
Read Lesson 4 in the I’ve Learned series
For many people setting a timer helps. Start an egg timer or set an alarm on your phone and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to play, say 30-60 minutes. But, when that timer goes off, so should social media. Get back to work and ignore social media until your next scheduled play-break.
Rooting procrastination out of your life is an ongoing process. Don’t get discouraged if you find yourself frequently slipping backwards. No course to self-improvement is always forward motion.
What’s important is that you keep working on it.
Every time you tackle those difficult tasks first thing, give yourself the right to celebrate a little. Give yourself a pat on the back or a high-five because hopefully the worst part of your day is now over.
Remember that good feeling and remind yourself the next time you are tempted to procrastinate.
What tips do you have for overcoming procrastination? How did these tips help you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
The following books are exactly what you need. If you are new to blogging, or even not so new, you should readGundi Gabrielle’s Beginner Internet Marketing Series. The series is geared to beginner bloggers, but there is a lot of information and resources that will be of benefit to any blogger.
My original intention was not to review these books. So far, this blog is mostly devoted to fiction, and I read the following books for personal growth, not for entertainment. The more I thought about it, though, I decided it was crazy not to write a review.
Disclosure: This site is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission or referral fee, at no extra cost for you. Thank you for your support!
While none of the books in the Beginner Internet Marketing Series are a huge time commitment, they did take time away from the books I should be reading and reviewing. There are three books in my queue right now that I had hoped to have reviewed long before now.
To keep up the consistency of blogging book reviews, I decided it best to go ahead and review what I was reading.
Let me start by saying I love the books I have read in this series. To date I have read three.
There are at least five books in Gundi Gabrielle’s Beginner Internet Marketing Series. I say five because only five of the books specifically have that tag on the cover, but there are other books with similar covers that may be intended to be part of the series.
Often unconventional in my approach, I started the series with Book 6, SEO – The Sassy Way to Ranking #1 in Google. There was a method to my madness. Initially, I was originally only interested in learning more about SEO. Since I got so much quality content from the SEO book that I decided to read some of the others.
If you have ever wondered how sites make it to number one on search pages, you should read this book.
SEO – The Sassy Way to Ranking #1 in Googleis an excellent book for beginners. In it, Gabrielle does a stellar job of giving you the basics about SEO in a way that makes it easy to understand and implement into your site.
One of my favorite parts in the book is the description of white hat and black hat practices when it comes to SEO planning and ranking. The wrong practices can damage your ranking or get you banned from search results completely. There are some SEO games you don’t want to ever play.
Overall, it takes about two hours to read the book, but there is such detailed information and numerous useful links that you will want to go through it more than once.
Next up I read You Started a Blog – Now What….?, Book 3 in the series. This book covers topics like writing viral blog posts, steps to grow your audience, and how to monetize your blog.
The main point I picked up from this book was that there is a difference between writing styles for general writing and blog writing. Before now, it never had occurred to me before. I spent some time looking at popular blogs and now I can clearly see the differences.
No doubt you know, blog writing is an evolving process so continued training and modifications are necessary. For continued growth. Gabrielle points out some great resources to improve blog writing skills.
On the subject of monetizing a blog, Gabrielle goes over some of the different options and how to get started with each one. If you recently started a blog and are stuck on what to do next, you will find your guidance in this book.
Finally, the last one I read was Book 4, Social Media Marketing when you have NO CLUE! It delves deep into the main social media platforms: YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. Each platform has a section of the book devoted to it. An overview is given of each platform. Then best practices and additional resources are discussed.
In addition, Book 4 includes step-by-step instructions are included from setting up your initial account and profile, to how and what to post, to the best daily routine for each platform. Specific advice is given to how your posts should vary from one site to the next and which posts will do the best.
It only takes about two hours to read the book. However, you will want to spend more time with the dozens of links listed in the book Gabrielle has aresource page on her website that you can access from a link in the book. That page goes into even more detail on how to prosper with social media.
Most of all, it is important for you to know that this is not a sponsored post. I am an Amazon Affiliate. As such, I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase through a link on this page. I read the books with myKindle Unlimited subscription. There was no interaction with Gundi Gabrielle prior to writing this review.
My primary reason for this review is that I truly enjoyed and benefitted from these books. I have plans to read the other books in the series. In the future, reviews for other books will be posted as they are read.
In conclusion, Gundi Gabrielle’s series caught my attention because of my Kindle Unlimited subscription. I cannot emphasize the value that a Kindle Unlimited subscription provides. There are thousands of books included and so much to learn. Sign up through the banner below.
Please share this review with others.
Have you read any ofGundi Gabrielle’sbooks? Please list your favorite and why in the comments below.
As I stated earlier, I had no interaction with Gundi prior to writing this review. however, since then I have joined her Facebook group. The group is a great resource for all authors and bloggers. Be sure to check it out.
SELRES_0e3ffaff-72c4-47ee-a850-9110ee4fc52cSELRES_218b801c-e252-4c4e-9248-2b2ce74aac84SELRES_699ddfef-aa3a-4145-beb5-078f0da65bbfSELRES_868a4714-9a0b-4201-9b50-9c5d976e95c0SELRES_e124c60e-aa81-4e01-a032-e5bea1a16bf7SELRES_d512317e-66ba-461c-b5a4-8d815f8e1be3SELRES_b959905f-09d9-4a13-92fd-a7466eb5873dSELRES_5683315f-a5c3-43dc-9d97-ff9d86c0ea70SELRES_641929f0-88b9-4989-905b-288ed142d164SELRES_9ccb10a0-009f-47bb-a8e7-c3c8398b8115SELRES_6d08e0b0-8aa7-4388-91a3-2e384d9be0b2SELRES_1eeba409-5c0f-4869-87c7-5018ffda089dFor today’s Writer Wednesday edition, I have decided to share a few of the blog posts with writing tips that I have enjoyed over the past few days.SELRES_1eeba409-5c0f-4869-87c7-5018ffda089dSELRES_6d08e0b0-8aa7-4388-91a3-2e384d9be0b2SELRES_9ccb10a0-009f-47bb-a8e7-c3c8398b8115SELRES_641929f0-88b9-4989-905b-288ed142d164SELRES_5683315f-a5c3-43dc-9d97-ff9d86c0ea70SELRES_b959905f-09d9-4a13-92fd-a7466eb5873dSELRES_d512317e-66ba-461c-b5a4-8d815f8e1be3SELRES_e124c60e-aa81-4e01-a032-e5bea1a16bf7SELRES_868a4714-9a0b-4201-9b50-9c5d976e95c0SELRES_699ddfef-aa3a-4145-beb5-078f0da65bbfSELRES_218b801c-e252-4c4e-9248-2b2ce74aac84SELRES_0e3ffaff-72c4-47ee-a850-9110ee4fc52c
First up is a post by Writer’s Edit with thirteen ways to help indie authors. As an indie author myself, it is a subject very near and dear to my heart. This post has some great ways that you can help other indie authors and gain their eternal gratitude.
Next up is a post from Yuan Yuan Writes about benefiting from constructive criticism. Our writing is like our children so when someone criticizes it we may quickly become angry or defensive. This post has some great tips on how you can turn this negative into a positive.
The following post by Claire Smith addresses one of the biggest struggles all writers face: writer’s block. There will be days when writing is the last thing you want to do. In this post Claire gives nine tips to keep writing.
Hello blogosphere! Today I am adding another feature to my site. I have decided to start sharing a chapter each week from my current work in progress. My working title is Paradise, but I have no intention of that being the final title.
What I am sharing is the first draft, so don’t say you weren’t warned. I did proofread it once, but I can’t guarantee there are no typos. I’m looking for feedback on the story, not on grammar and spelling. I will fix the latter with an editor when I get closer to publication.
Brief synopsis: Rick wakes up in a beautiful strange place with no memory of how he got there. They tell him he is in paradise, but something in his gut tells him everything is not as it seems. Before long vivid dreams start to consume his nights. The dreams are just as real as his waking hours, leaving Rick to struggle with determining which world is reality.
I woke up three days ago. They tell me I’m in paradise. It would be easy to believe that was true. The view from my window is breathtaking. There’s beautiful snow capped mountains in the distance. I have no idea how far that distance is. The compound itself is almost tropical. There’s a spring fed waterfall not far from my rooming house. I can see it clearly from my window. It pours into a shallow pool and then runs through a babbling brook that winds its way around the compound.
Near the pool right now two white tigers are playing. A twinge of adrenalin runs through me at the thought of them so close. I’ve been told repeatedly that they would never hurt me, but something about that statement feels wrong.
I look back into my modest room. Most of the room is white, including the headboard of the bed and the soft, thick carpeting. The bed is big enough for two, but so far I’ve been the only one sleeping in it. There’s a large oval mirror on the wall across from the bed and a glass topped table under it. The table is held up by two stone pillars, stone the color of the mountain in the distance. Near the door there’s two high back white chairs. I prefer to sit on the cushioned window seat. Not that I feel unsafe, but there’s a sense of more calm when I can see outside the window clearly.
A man has been to visit me each morning. The first morning they brought me a tray with fresh fruit and a small loaf of bread on it. Since then they’ve asked that I eat in one of the dining areas with everyone else.
I get up and walk to the mirror and look at myself for a long time. The thick carpeting hugs my bare feet. My loose linen shirt and pants are softer than any fabric I ever remember feeling before. I know the others are working in the gardens or the fields right now. They will ask me why I wasn’t there. There doesn’t seem to be a punishment for not working though.
Looking in the mirror I run my hand through my thick black hair. It falls neatly to the right, wavy, flowing back, covering half of my forehead. I lean in a look closer at my blue eyes. They are beautiful eyes. If only I knew who they belonged to.
There was a knock on the door. I didn’t move. I felt tired though not necessarily sore and not in any pain. I still had yet to work in the fields or gardens. It had been five days now. I was no closer to knowing who I was. A moment later there was another knock and then I heard the door handle turning.
“Is it all right if I come in?” It was the man. I think he had told me the first morning his name was Vann but I hadn’t heard anyone say his name since then. I didn’t respond.
A few more moments and then the door opened and Vann stepped through. His smile was warm and welcoming and his teeth so white they almost glowed. He had kind gray eyes with just the faintest wrinkles at the sides.
“I’ve come to check on you.”
I kept looking out the window.
“Did you not hear the breakfast bells?”
I would have to have been deaf to not hear the breakfast bells. Though soft and soothing the jingling of the bells resonated through the compound. I’ve never seen the bells, but I hear them just as loud everywhere I go.
“It’s important that you eat,” he told me. “You must build your strength.”
He said that too each morning. I couldn’t help but wonder what I was recovering from.
“My brother,” he took a few steps closer to where I was sitting at the window seat. I could feel him move closer. “Is there anything that you need?”
No, clearly there wasn’t. For four days he knew I had hardly left this room and had asked for nothing. In fact, I had yet to even utter a word. I had kept the fruit and bread from the first morning and had eaten small bits the last few days. I was surprisingly not hungry.
“Is it okay if I sit with you a while?” I didn’t know why he asked. He knew I wouldn’t respond. He picked up one of the white chairs and brought it close to the window. I still didn’t turn to look at him.
“It looks like we’re off to another beautiful day. We’ve been getting just enough rain at night that the new crops should be sprouting perfectly.”
I could see the vineyards not far away. There were some rolling hills in the near distance and two of them were covered with vineyards. In my mind I had decided that when I was ready I would work there though I wasn’t sure what I would do.
“Rick,” he leaned forward and touched my arm and I flinched involuntarily. He pulled his hand back but only a little, letting it hover there not far from my arm. “Rick, it’s important that you start living again.”
There was no familiarity to the name. Rick. It conjured no memories or feelings.
I had my feet up on the cushion in front of me, and I hugged my knees closer to my chest.
“It’s safe here,” Vann continued. “And you are well. It’s time you come out and meet everyone.”
I remained silent.
“I know you’re probably feeling a little disoriented. That’s only natural. It will pass in a day or two. The clean air alone and the higher oxygen content can’t help but make you feel a little light headed at times.
He was right. Something made me feel like my head was just a little higher than my body. At times when I walked I felt like I was not touching the ground.
“Rick, I’m sure you have questions, questions that will all be answered in good time. Come, see the compound with me. Come meet the friends.”
He held his right hand out in front of me palm up. I felt like he was addressing a child. I didn’t know how old I was but I knew I definitely wasn’t a child. I knew that I had lived long enough that something inside was keeping me from speaking now.
I knew his pleas were going to become more incessant. I had ventured out of the rooming house the first day. I had walked as far as the pool just below the waterfall. When I touched the water something in me moved. I wasn’t sure what. Before I knew it I was in full sprint running back to the rooming house. I had not left my room since.
“Rick, please, just a few minutes.”
I probably did need to learn more about my surroundings. I would have to leave this room eventually. I turned and looked at him and his gray eyes sparkled in the sunlight shining in. There was something very inviting about him. At the same time something repelled me as well. I nodded once and his smile widened.
“Excellent.” He stood slowly so as not to spook me. “Maybe we can walk as far as the vineyards. I’ve noticed you enjoy watching them.”
The vineyards would be good. They were elevated just enough that maybe I could see the layout of the compound. I nodded once more and rose to follow him. He offered me some leather flip flops before we left the rooming house. “The grass is very soft, but the vineyards are still a bit rocky in places. You will want to protect your feet.” I put them on but they didn’t feel right.
Outside the door there were benches on either side of the door. To the right a very dark skinned man was sitting. He wasn’t smiling, unlike everyone else I had seen so far. He rose when he saw us.
“Rick, this is Paul. He will be joining us on our walk today.” Paul nodded once in my direction but said nothing. His eyes made contact with mine only briefly before he turned in the direction we would be going.
Vann talked enthusiastically about the compound, the fruit trees, the vineyards and all the friends living nearby. It had only been two years but he was just amazed at how much they had accomplished in that time. Paul remained as silent as I was.
A section of the vineyard was ready to harvest. It hardly seemed right as other sections seemed like they were just budding out. I reached out to touch a bunch hanging near me but then stopped and quickly pulled my hand back.
“It’s all right,” Vann laughed lightly. “Go ahead. There is no shortage here.”
I reached back out and touched the grapes. Something else stirred inside me. It was not the same as touching the water. I didn’t feel the urge to run or hide. It was something on the fringe of a happy memory. I closed my eyes for a moment. For just a brief second everything seemed different. Everything was calm and peaceful and safe. Then, just as quickly, it was gone.
“Go ahead and eat some,” Vann encouraged me. “You’ve not had anything yet today, have you?”
I pulled off three grapes and ate them by taking very small bites. Paul stood silently near us.
“Go on, have some more,” Vann said. “You too, Paul.”
I felt my head snap toward him and the words, “Only three,” were out of my mouth before I knew it. Paul’s eyes looked alarmed. He stood up straighter, shoulders back.
“Well,” Vann couldn’t help but smile proudly. “It seems we are making all kinds of progress today.”
“Paul, would you like some grapes as well? There really is no limit.”
I looked at Paul and our eyes locked for a moment. He then reached out and grabbed three grapes but ate them in one gulp.
“There’s no need to stop. Clearly we have an abundance.”
Paul said nothing. He turned back in the direction of the rooming houses and retained his shoulders back pose.
“Suit yourself,” Vann continued. “Just know that you are welcome to anything you see.”
We walked quietly from there through some of the fruit orchards and then back in the direction of the rooming houses. We stopped near the pool and the white tigers ran to Vann. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Paul also became more rigid beside me.
“Well, hello,” Vann practically giggled at the tigers. “How are my favorite cats today?” They rubbed against him walking back and forth around him.
I started to step backward very slowly and cautiously. From the corner of my eye I saw Paul doing the same.
“Hold on, brothers,” Vann called to us. “There is nothing to fear. I promise you.” I heard the words, but I definitely did not trust them.
Disclaimer: Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you. I only promote products that I use and have benefitted from.
It is overwhelming. The shear volume of information available about blogging could fill an entire library by itself. I would describe it as a tsunami but that word may not be a big enough metaphor.
If you are thinking about starting a blog you should do it. Anyone can do it. You can do it. I believe that wholeheartedly. Like achieving most things of value, a successful blog requires lots of time and hard work. And, as this blogger is finding out, lots of learning.
In the past month I have spent over 40 hours just learning about blogging.
Four items stick out in my mind from the last few weeks. I wanted to share them with you today.
1. Blogging About Blogging is Not for Me
While I am very interested in sharing my journey as a blogger, I have decided I do not want this to become a blog about blogging. This may be a crazy idea as there seems to be a lot of money in blogging about blogging. My passion doesn’t spring from writing about blogging. If I let blogging become my niche, I fear I would quickly run out of enthusiasm.
Fiction writing is my true passion. Second to writing is reading. I love books. I mean I really love books. I have more book cases in my home than all the other furniture combined. And still some books are piled in corners around the house.
Great writing and reading are the identity I want for my blog. My intention is to hold true to that vision.
This does not mean that I am going to end the Tale of a New Blogger series. I enjoy writing that post once a month. It gives me a chance to take stock of my progress and to renew my enthusiasm about my blog in general. Look for that series to continue.
2. SEO Requires Real Effort
The letters SEO meant very little to me just four months ago. I knew they stood for Search Engine Optimization but little more than that. One of my projects for February is to learn more about SEO and to update my existing and future posts accordingly.
But WOW. You won’t believe how much there is to know about SEO.
First of all, there are some 200 rating factors Google uses in SEO. 200! I had no idea. As I read through the list, I knew about five of them.
Just reading the complete list took considerable time. Brian Dean does an excellent job listing all 200. He gives a brief description of each item making it easier to understand all the rating factors.
The good news is that now I can honestly say I understand SEO.
Well, sort of.
The time and effort comes in with using SEO correctly. The best way to increase your SEO results is to do research before you write your post. That will take some time, especially when you are first starting out like I am. This is an item I will come back to in future posts when I am better qualified to offer advice on the subject.
Yeah, yeah, we all know that. Who of us hasn’t wasted an entire evening catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Trying to grow a blog following on social media is even more time consuming.
I am thrilled with my results so far. I have grown a considerable number of followers in just a few months. That said, trying to keep up with commenting, pinning, liking, sharing, etc. is more than a bit daunting. It can easily take up the whole day.
Setting up time limits seems to be helping me keep social media under control. If I know I only have an hour, I don’t spend a lot of time writing lengthy replies or looking at kitten videos. Yes, baby animals are my weakness.
4. Writers Need to Write
This blog has taken up the bulk of my time for the last two months. I am not complaining. I love writing blog posts. And I love learning new things so learning about blogging is a fascinating adventure. But I don’t want my fiction writing to ever be sacrificed for the success of my blog.
I love to write. I NEED to write. That is the number one priority.
I haven’t really given a writing update for a while. I am currently working on two novels. Plans are also rolling around in my head to write a non-fiction book on mental health experiences. And I want to turn my I’ve Learned series into a Kindle book.
My goal is to publish all four books this year.
This year? I know that sounds crazy, but we’ve already established that I am crazy.
Bear with me a moment. I have the circumstances right now to write nearly full-time. Some of my time is going to freelance gigs. It probably doesn’t have to be, but part of my brain is panicking about no money coming in. But the majority of my time is free for writing.
Since that is the case, there is no excuse for me not writing.
I was disappointed to realize last week that I had not worked on my primary WIP since January. For over two weeks I had not even opened the file. The books I am planning will never get written at that rate.
Toward the end of last week, I set out to rectify that problem. On Friday I decided to write before I did anything else. I wrote for less than two hours but knocked out almost 3,000 words! I am ecstatic about that.
It proves to me that my true love doesn’t need to be neglected for the success of my blog.
To give myself some accountability, I will share my goal. I intend to have the first draft of my sci-fi adventure completed by the end of March. In future posts I will comment more on that writing journey.
What lessons have you learned recently? Please share your comments below.
Disclaimer: Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission, at no extra cost for you. I only promote products that I use and have benefitted from.
Today is going to be a great day. I received this wonderful review this morning in my inbox. This wonderful review was posted on Good Reads and Amazon.