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Mortality

July 13, 2020 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , ,

Larry Deibert has written fourteen books.

He is a Vietnam veteran and is the past president of the Lehigh Northampton Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Macungie, Pa. Larry retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2008 after working as a letter carrier for over 21 years. He and his wife, Peggy, live in Hellertown, Pa., where he enjoys reading and writing.

Larry’s website is www.larryldeibert.com.

You can contact Larry at larrydeibert@rcn.com. Signed copies of Larry’s books may be purchased directly from the author.


Today, July 13th, 2020, is my 73rd birthday and I my topic is mortality. I have gotten farther along in my years than I ever thought I would, and this subject really hit me last August.

I took my son to a ball game on his 42nd birthday. Around the eighth inning he said, “Dad, I’m 42 and you’re 72. In 8 years, I’m going to be 50 and you’re going to be 80! What do you think you would like for your 80th birthday?” Without hesitation, I replied, “I’d like to be alive.” I think he was stunned, but I cannot honestly say that I’ll attain that lofty age. I hope I do, and in reasonably good health.

In my life I have done many things that I would never have thought possible when I was younger. I graduated from high school and business school. I went into the army, served in Vietnam, and survived. I married the mother of my two kids. When I was 39 and a half, I lost a great paying job and became a letter carrier, retiring after nearly 22 years in 2008. I helped to create a Vietnam memorial, a lasting tribute to the 126 men from Lehigh and Northampton counties lost during that war, and a place for all veterans to be honored.

In 1974, when I found out I was going to be a dad, I decided to write a book about my limited army experiences, in case Agent Orange would take my life before my children would know me. 23 rejections later, I gave up, and didn’t write again for 25 years. Since 1999, I have written and self-published fourteen books and I am currently working on a rewrite of my first vampire novel.

I think we try to guess how long we might live, based on the lifespans of our parents and siblings. Unfortunately, my mom was 71 and my dad was 76 when they died. My sister is still going strong a month and a half before her 82nd birthday, so I would certainly like to walk in her longevity shoes. One of my mother’s sisters died at 37, and her brothers died at 75 and 92. My dad’s brothers and sisters lived long lives, except for a brother who committed suicide when he was late forties; PTSD from WWII. Studying all the numbers can be overwhelming, and only God knows how long I will live, so I just try to do my best every day.

Since Covid-19 has become a part of all our lives, I hope I am fortunate to not become a statistic, having many more years to write and to watch my two grandchildren grow up. We had not seen our grandkids since March 8th, but on June 28th, we finally had the opportunity to visit with them. Seeing how much they had changed in over one-hundred days was remarkable. Cody, who turned two on July 1st, had learned more words. He had grown a little in our absence. Avery, now five and a half, talked like there was no tomorrow, and she had become so pretty while we were quarantined from them. She read out loud to me for the first time. Those are moments I will never forget. Oh, Avery was our Christmas present in 2014, being born around six PM in the evening. We had hoped that Cody would be born on July 4th, giving us two holiday grandkids, but that didn’t quite work out.

I am so lucky to be retired and able to travel with my wife, Peggy. Every year we go to Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, and over the eighteen years I have known her we have traveled to England and Scotland, Seattle, California and Hawaii, and perhaps more places in the future. Travel or do whatever you enjoy as often as you can, because if you put off that trip or project until next year, next year may never come. There is way too much to do and see in this world, even if your world does not extend as far as mine has. I don’t have a bucket list on paper, but I know some of the places I want to see. I want to go to Texas to see my Cowboys play and stand in the shadow of the Alamo. I would like to see a baseball game in St. Louis, and we would someday love to go to Wales.

Do not take a single day for granted and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something without even trying.

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Find Motivation to Accomplish Goals, and Hang On To It

July 12, 2020 by in category The Writing Journey by Denise Colby tagged as , ,

There are just some days I find it really hard to sit down and work on my manuscript. But, I have goals to reach. And somewhere, somehow, I have to find motivation to accomplish those goals. Otherwise I get frustrated and want to give up.

Blog Banner by Denise M. Colby Titled Find Motivation to Accomplish Your Goals; includes a line that goes A to B; wood panel background

Writing a book is a longggg process. I’ve been working on mine for over seven years. Granted, I have a day job. I have a family. And I have volunteer requirements. And in the beginning I had no idea what I was doing and didn’t know what were realistic measurements or tasks I could expect myself to accomplish.

But I’ve learned a lot in the past seven years, including what works for me to keep moving forward.

Here’s how I motivate myself to accomplish goals:

Break up tasks into manageable chunks.

Photo of planner page to highlight daily tracking for writing by Denise M. Colby
Tracking my daily goal of touching my manuscript is fun and helps keep me on track

Choose to track word counts or time. Sometimes just spending 15 minutes (Flylady anyone?) is enough to move forward and keep my mind in my story. My planner I use has little images in the front of each month. If I touched my MS that day, I color in the image. Didn’t matter how long or what I did. It sure helps take away the feeling of being stagnant.

Write out specific tasks that can be checked off.

showing example of how to accomplish writing goals by Denise M. Colby
Writing out actionable goals and checking them off motivates me

Back in March when all of sudden my home became work and school central for the four other people in my family, I had to get really specific with the tasks I wanted to accomplish each week. Part of that was to show my family what I was working on, and part of it was for me to stay on task when there was a lot going on around me.

I was editing my MS and wanted to get through four chapters a week. So on an index card, I wrote out each week’s dates and which chapter numbers were assigned that week, and then I stuck it to my little bulletin board, where I could see it. 

I’ll tell you, being able to check off each week when I accomplished those chapters was so encouraging. Yes, I will need to go through my MS again. But I’m not focusing that far ahead. I would derail myself if I did. Instead I focused on what I needed to accomplish that day (one scene or two) for that week. This makes it way more manageable. 

And for full disclosure, I had to change some of the dates. There were a few weeks where I just couldn’t get it done. The chapters needed more work, and we had family birthdays to celebrate. So I adjusted and kept going.

Figure out time blocks that work for you.

Simple clock on wood plank background, choosing the time you work to accomplish goals, matters
Adjust time to work when most effective

Are you a morning person or a night person? I’ve learned that editing in the afternoon right now doesn’t work for me. I get too caught up with work and everyone else is up and making noise, having conversations, and it’s challenging to focus uninterrupted. I enjoy the morning when it’s more quiet.

Although with 7 and 7:30am conference call meetings recently, I don’t get to start my day working on my MS, before I jump into work. I try, but realize that it’s not realistic five days a week. Instead, for now, I’ve adjusted my hours and try to work only 1/2 day on Friday and then work on my MS the rest of the day.  

This has given me momentum heading into the weekend to still accomplish goals. Sometimes our family dynamics make it hard to work on things all weekend, but by telling my husband I need some time to work on my book, it’s helped set up the expectation.

Take a moment to catch your breath.

Photo of My Brilliant Writing Planner page where there's a place to reflect and reset each day, which helps focus to accomplish goals
Taking moments to reset helps me focus on the task for the day

I find when life is crazy busy, I can’t slow down to focus on just one task. Too many things are screaming at me to get it all done, NOW. In my handy dayplanner each week, are two pages of daily inspiration. Some days I can only think of writing one word in the daily square – my word of the year. This year it’s courage and writing it out reminds me why I chose that word. Courage to keep going when it’s hard, courage to take risks, courage to trust God’s plan for my writing. 

Other days I write other things in the daily spots, whether it’s a Bible verse, quote, thoughts, or recently I’ve been focusing on 5 things I’m grateful for each day. It’s amazing how taking a few minutes to slow down and pause helps my mental state and allows me to refocus my brain on the next task I’m preparing for. (And I’ll admit, some days it’s toward the end of the day and I hadn’t written anything down yet. I still pick it up then and recenter myself).

Sometimes I need to just create without thinking. With Washi tape I add color and design to my planner pages. Maybe not everyone is like this, but I find it really helps center me and I get to see something for my efforts. 

Find something that causes excitement.

caption: motivating words helps me accomplish goals, screen shots of words emailed back to Denise M. Colby from the class she's teaching.
Positive words encourage and motivate me

I’m teaching an online course this month through ACFW on SEO Marketing. I love this topic. And so many people have responded to participate. As I reply to each one and read their comments of what they wanted to learn and their answers, I’ve gotten really excited. I get to share this topic with other writers, help them, and make a difference. With each email, I’m more motivated to keep doing what I’m doing.

There’s something to be said about having little wins in your corner that can help motivate. Interacting, helping and teaching other writers seem to be one of mine. 

wood panel background with the words Yay! Celebrate accomplished goals
Wins motivate!

I could keep going, but I’m off to participate in a virtual writing conference. It seems talking and sharing with other writers is another motivator for me. 

I hope one of these ideas helps encourage you to accomplish goals in your writing. When I set out to decide on my topic for this month, this one came to mind. I wanted to capture the positive energy that I’m feeling right now, so in those times when I don’t feel it, I can remind myself of what I can do to help myself through the more challenging times.

If you have other ways to motivate yourself to accomplish goals, I’d love to hear it. Write it in the comments below. We can all use new ideas to help motivate us to accomplish our goals!

Blessings,

Denise

If you are interested in more, I wrote a post in January for this blog, that talked about staying on task. And over at my own blog, I post monthly on various topics related to encouragement, writing, and anything Disney

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When a writer needs a hug… by Jina Bacarr

July 11, 2020 by in category Jina’s Book Chat, Writing tagged as , , , , ,

Writing never gets easier… if anything, it’s more difficult.

Why? Because we expect more of ourselves. Even more so when you’re doing edits from your fab editor who’s really an angel in disguise. We want to make our story as perfect as possible and not disappoint her. She believes in you. Your characters believe in you. After all, their lives are in your hands.

But like a chocolate soufflé, a lot can go wrong.

Your computer screen goes blue… computer updates send your heart pounding as you pray you get all your pretty icons back…. a character keeps you up at nights because you’re so worried about how you’re going to save her butt and yours.

There’s more:

You go over your word count.

You can’t find your timeline/fact sheet for your heroine (when you’re writing about Paris during WW 2 this is crucial).

You ‘re so tired, you push the wrong button on your keyboard and everything in Track Changes disappears

You realize a secondary relationship ain’t working because the hero is based on an old boyfriend with a big ego. You dump him. Get a new guy for the part. And he’s an absolute dream.

You work from dawn-to-dawn the week before edits are due and have no idea what day it is.

And worst of all, you run out of coffee.

But I did it!

I sent my editor the edited manuscript at 7:37 a.m. on a sunny morning… and I felt numb. No whistles went off. No bells. Just the quiet hum of my computer.

I needed a hug.

Someone telling me ‘I done good’.

Yes, I’m totally proud of what I accomplished, but writing can be a lonely business. And it’s hard work, especially writing historicals. (My story follows a dual timeline from 1926 to 1950 and present day. Silent films, Nazis in Paris, the film business in Hollywood and France.)

So I did what I swore I wouldn’t after I sent the m/s: I opened it back up and read some of my favorite passages. Laughed and cried again with my characters… sat amazed at how they accomplished their goals… fell in love with them all over again… and cheered when they beat the Nazis!

And I got that hug.

From my characters. Reminding me why I write. Because I so love them, the stories, the chance to give them life.

So, merci beaucoup, mes bons amis! Thank you, my friends.

Jina

PS — I’ll keep you posted on my Paris WW 2 historical. Cover ideas coming soon…

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Writing with Hollywood in Mind by Kitty Bucholtz

July 10, 2020 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , , , ,

My original plan this year before the pandemic was to host a live writers conference here in Malmö, Sweden, in October. I had speakers and everything all lined up – and then I had to cancel it all, of course.

But my main speaker, Jennifer Dornbush, was still excited to do some teaching with me, so we made a pivot in our plans and decided to host a 1-day virtual writers conference called Writing with Hollywood in Mind on July 25, 2020. To give people a taste of what the conference will be like, we are hosting two free webinars of the same name. The next one is Saturday, July 18. Click the link – I’d love to see you there!

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HOW TO FINISH YOUR BOOK. . .AND KEEP YOUR DAY JOB

July 3, 2020 by in category Partners in Crime by Janet Elizabeth Lynn & Will Zeilinger tagged as , ,

         Writing a book is a work of love. However, things get in the way, i.e. work. We all dream of the day when we can make enough money to survive by writing. Until that day comes (if it ever does), we need to keep our full time jobs. We wrote and published our first five books working full time.

         When do you write? This is a common question people always ask us. And it all comes down to time management and what you can do working around your family and work schedule.

         Both of us use to go into work 1-2 hours early each morning just to write. We brought our lap tops and clicked away until it was time to start work. Egg timers are great for working an hour at a time. Don’t forget to bring your breakfast. Some people prefer to stay later at work which may work better for you. Be sure to plan at least an hour or more at a time.

         Look for gaps in your day, including breaks, waiting for the mail, or meetings. Basically anytime you may have a few minutes, i.e.,  typing, or writing a note for characterization, dialogue or sub plot in a writing notebook, on a napkin/piece or scrap paper/paper towel and pocket it. You never know when inspiration will hit. Nothing is more frustrating than coming up with a fantastic idea, telling yourself you’ll remember and when it comes down to writing…forgetting.

Keep up the good writing.

Published authors Will Zeilinger and Janet Lynn had been writing individually until they got together and wrote the Skylar Drake Mystery Series. These hard-boiled tales are based in old Hollywood of 1955. Janet has published seven mystery novels, and Will has three plus a couple of short stories. Their world travels have sparked several ideas for murder and crime stories. This creative couple is married and lives in Southern California.

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