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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Free The Writer And Beware Of Monkey Mind

By Kristy McCaffrey

While not everyone is set on writing the next great novel, we all want to tell our stories. A wonderful book to help get you started, or to reignite a passion that may have become stagnant, is Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg. First published in 1986 and rooted in Zen methodology, her advice is simple: trust in what you love, trust in your own mind, and everything else will follow.

“Writing is a path to meet ourselves and become intimate.”

Goldberg points out that people often write from a mentality of poverty, thinking they need a teacher to tell them what to do or how to do it. The opposite is generally true. We learn writing by doing it. And to write well one must read a lot, listen well and deeply, and write a lot.

We live in a society that rewards being busy, but that often isn’t fruitful or soul-fulfilling. Beware of monkey mind, says Goldberg, since it likes to create busyness that can keep us from our true heart. She believes that everyone has talent, but it’s obviously easier for some to tap into it than others. Human effort is necessary, so don’t shy away from doing the work. But it’s also more than just the work, it’s allowing and recognizing that the effort has awakened us. This lets a writer become aware and mindful, to shape the talent into something useful, something that resonates.

“Finally, one just has to shut up, sit down, and write. That is painful. Writing is so simple, basic, and austere.”

Develop a writing practice, a writing workout each day. A runner doesn’t improve without consistent running. The same is true for a writer. So, carve out this space, but know that it’s okay to write without a destination. Expectation can freeze the process. It also takes time to reflect on certain ideas, certain experiences, before they can be put down on paper. Goldberg refers to this as composting. These things can’t be rushed, so best to cultivate patience and acceptance. It can make the writing life less anxiety-provoking.

She offers techniques to stop fighting yourself (and the endless distractions that keep you from writing) such as: give yourself free time in the morning to do whatever, but at 10 a.m. you must sit down and write something; or you must fill at least one notebook a month, not with quality but quantity; or, as soon as you wake up, go directly to your desk and write (eating and teeth brushing can wait). Another technique is timed writing and first thoughts. This can remove the critic filter than often shoots down an idea before it can be fully crafted.

Need a writing prompt? Take five minutes to write down your deep dreams. And then? Don’t ignore what you wrote. Actually, it will likely be difficult to avoid your thoughts now that they’re laid out before you. Simply said, it will change your life.

This book can be read straight through, or sporadically when needed. I guarantee that at least one of Goldberg’s many suggestions and insights will spark something inside yourself and may just lead you to write down the bones.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Cowboy Casanova Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Cowboy Casanova Giveaway Hop!

Author Lily Graison is hosting a blog hop from
February 12th - 16th.


What you could win!

Two winners will each receive an e-copy of one of my books (winner's choice). Leave a comment below to be eligible (please include your email address).


Check out the link at the bottom of this article for more great giveaway stops.


THE WREN
Wings of the West Series: Book One 

Ten years have passed since her ranch was attacked, her folks murdered and Molly Hart was abducted.  Now, at nineteen, she’s finally returning home to north Texas after spending the remainder of her childhood with a tribe of Kwahadi Comanche.  What she finds is a deserted home coated with dust and the passage of time, the chilling discovery of her own gravesite, and the presence of a man she thought never to see again.

Matt Ryan is pushed by a restless wind to the broken-down remains of the Hart ranch.  Recently recovering from an imprisonment that nearly ended his life, the drive for truth and fairness has all but abandoned him.  For ten years he faithfully served the U.S. Army and the Texas Rangers, seeking justice for the brutal murder of a little girl, only to find closure and healing beyond his grasp.  Returning to the place where it all began, he’s surprised to stumble across a woman with the same blue eyes as the child he can’t put out of his mind. 



THE DOVE
Wings of the West Series: Book Two

Disappointment hits ex-deputy Logan Ryan hard when he finds Claire Waters in the midst of a bustling Santa Fe Trail town.  The woman he remembers is gone—in her place is a working girl with enticing curves and a load of trouble.  As a web of deceit entangles them with men both desperate and dangerous, Logan tries to protect Claire, unaware his own past poses the greatest threat.

Plagued by shame all her life, Claire is stunned when Logan catches her on the doorstep of The White Dove Saloon dressed as a prostitute.  She lets him believe the worst but with her mama missing and the fancy girls deserting the place, she's hard-pressed to refuse his offer of help.  As she embarks on a journey that will unravel the fabric of her life one thing becomes clear—opening her heart may be the most dangerous proposition of all.



THE SPARROW
Wings of the West Series: Book Three

In 1877 Emma Hart comes to Grand Canyon, a wild, rugged, and until recently undiscovered area. Plagued by visions and gifted with a second sight, she searches for answers—about the tragedy of her past, the betrayal of her present, and an elusive future that echoes through her very soul. Joined by her power animal Sparrow, she ventures into the depths of Hopi folklore, forced to confront an evil that has lived through the ages.

            Texas Ranger Nathan Blackmore tracks Emma Hart to the Colorado River, stunned by her determination to ride a wooden dory along its course. But in a place where the ripples of time run deep, he’ll be faced with a choice. He must accept the unseen realm, the world beside this world, that he’d turned away from years ago or risk losing the woman he has come to love more than life itself.

          


INTO THE LAND OF SHADOWS

Ethan Barstow has come to Arizona Territory to search for his younger brother, Charley. It’s been five years since a woman came between them and it’s high time they buried the hatchet. He soon learns that his brother has broken more than one heart in town, has mysteriously and abruptly disappeared, and that an indignant fiancée is hot on his trail.
Kate Kinsella pursues Charley Barstow when he skips out of town without a second thought. Not only has he left Agnes McPherson alone and pregnant, but everyone still believes that he and Kate are engaged, a sham from the beginning. An ill-timed encounter with a group of ruffians has her suddenly in the company of Ethan Barstow, Charley’s brother and a man of questionable repute. As they move deeper into the shadows of the Arizona desert, family tensions and past tragedies threaten to destroy a relationship neither of them expects.



View the complete list of blogs participating in this giveaway hop by clicking here. Great prizes at each stop.



Thursday, February 6, 2014

Interesting Facts About Our Solar System And Beyond

By Kristy McCaffrey

While I love to write romance novels, my background is actually in science. I know what you’re thinking—one day I must write a love story involving a female scientist. Yes, it’s in the works. In the meantime, here’s some interesting information that may wow you.

*The moon is gradually receding from the Earth at a rate of about two centimeters each year. As a result, the Earth’s rotation is slowing down by 17 milliseconds each century. In fact, the day was closer to 22 hours back when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.

*Somewhere between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, Earth will travel out of the solar system’s habitable zone.

*A unique Martian meteorite discovered in the Sahara Desert in 2011 came from the Red Planet’s crust around 2.1 billion years ago, and contains around ten times more water than other Martian meteorites. Known as “Black Beauty”, it may be the first meteorite discovered from Mars’ surface.
*Humanity has now officially reached interstellar space. It’s estimated that the 36-year-old Voyager 1 spacecraft left the solar system on August 25th, 2012. Voyager 1—with a 23-watt transmitter, about the equivalent of a refrigerator light bulb—should keep sending data until roughly 2025.

*More than 1000 earths could fit inside Jupiter.

*Two million years ago, the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy was 100 million times more powerful than it is today. The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way last erupted two million years ago—and it will again, scientists say.

*Astronomers have discovered a galaxy 13.1 billion light-years from Earth, making it the most distant object ever detected.

*It takes light 100,000 years to travel from one end of the Milky Way galaxy to the other.
On a lighter note, I leave you with a joke, courtesy of Ellen DeGeneres and her Twitter account.
How does NASA organize a birthday party? They planet.