When I originally started thinking about writing this blog post, I knew that I would write it about gratitude because it was to be a Thanksgiving blog. What I didn’t realize is that my gratitude would be tested this year.

About a month ago, my husband was on the road (he’s an over-the-road truck driver) when suddenly he had sharp pains on the right side of his chest. That following Monday he went to his general physician. He complained of the pain and he was also spiking temperatures and having night sweats. The doctor told him that was his gall bladder and he gave the impression that he didn’t think that it was so bad that Jeff would need surgery for it. He had ordered some blood work that showed that all things seemed normal although he did have “a bit of an infection” the doctor never ordered any x-rays or antibiotics for the infection.

My husband did not want to get gall bladder surgery, so he used every alternative medicine he could find to cleanse his gallbladder. He’d say he felt better and go back to work for a run and then he’d feel sick again. From what I gather, he never really felt better. He just got used to being sick. He went to see his work’s physician for his DOT physical. They gave him a clean bill of health.

He was Sicker than Anyone Thought

Finally, last Wednesday, I woke up in the morning and heard a strange sound. It was a rapid rattling noise that I had not heard before. It was Jeff’s breathing! I told him. “There is no way that is a gallbladder issue. There is something else really wrong.” He decided to go to the doctor. I told our daughter to expect the worst. He was going to the doctor and would probably end up in the hospital. She needed to be prepared for that. I had to take her to school and to not depend on her Dad to do it for her.

His doctor was not in that day and would not be in the next day either so the staff at his practice told him that he would have to go to urgent care. I was teaching my first class of the day when he texted me that he was being admitted to Cox South for pneumonia.

When I got to the hospital that evening, I found out how bad his situation really was. He was going into surgery the next morning to get tubes put in his lungs. He was on three antibiotics. The surgeon thought he would be in the hospital for five to six days. b

From Bad to Worse

The next day, Thursday, I went to work and his mother sat with him as he waited for his surgery. The doctor had said that his surgery would last two hours. It lasted over three hours. When the doctor called us in, he didn’t give us much hope that he would recover quickly or that he would recover at all. He wasn’t even certain that Jeff was coming off the breathing tube they used in surgery. He had said that they drained one and a half liters of fluid off of his lungs. He said that he was very sick.

My daughter and I went to see him after he went to CVICU that night. His body was cold and clammy. He was pale and still. He was covered in tubes and wires and he really looked bad. The nurse was having difficulty getting his pulse and respirations under control.

In one sense, I was extremely angry with the doctors that had seen him during the month prior to his admission to the hospital. His surgeon said that he had been sick for a very long time and yet those doctors had not picked up the diminished lung sounds when they were supposed to have put their stethoscopes to his chest.  When the doctor saw that he had an infection, he didn’t give him any sort of antibiotics. No one even did an x-ray to rule out pneumonia.

I also felt fear. I was afraid. One of the things that went through my mind was that it was during Thanksgiving week that my eldest brother (a year younger than I) had become sick and then died that Saturday after the holiday. My husband born just a couple of months before than he was.  I was afraid I might end up facing the same situation with my husband. I went home that night and knew that I needed to take the day off because I might have to face making decisions. It wouldn’t be fair to my students if I had to leave in the middle of class.

This may sound strange, but I did feel some gratitude. I was thankful that my mother-in-law had been there while I was working. I was grateful that urgent care was so quick to realize that he had something serious going on. I was grateful that he was at the best hospital in Springfield. I was grateful that his surgeon was thorough and didn’t sugar coat anything.

Miracles Happen

The next morning, about nine hours later, after my daughter gave blood at her school, she and I went to the hospital to see him again. Things had changed dramatically. Though he was obviously on pain medications, he was alert and knew what was going on. The breathing tube had\ been removed. He was able to talk to us. Everyone was amazed by how fast he came around.

We stayed until visiting ours were over and went home, took naps ourselves and returned that evening. He was even doing better. He had a full liquid lunch and then had eaten a regular dinner. He had even walked while we were gone. Barring a major set back, the nurse agreed with me that it was not unreasonable to think that he would probably be going home by Thanksgiving. I saw the surgeon on Saturday night and he told Jeff that he was amazed at how well he was doing after what he saw during surgery. It was, in my opinion, a miracle. ,What a relief!

Previous plans changed. My husband\ and daughter were planning to go to visit her sister’s family in Colorado over the holiday. That obvious wasn’t going to happen. However, my son and his girlfriend from Washington, DC had also planned to visit me during that same holiday. They are still coming and my husband\ and daughter will be part of that too, so it will still be a good day. All the more reason to be grateful.

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The other day I was talking on twitter with a novice novelist about how I am able to write and publish eleven books. (Two of those books coming out the twenty-third of this month.) Since I am working on yet another book this month for NaNoWriMo, writing fast is my own focus this month, so I gave her a couple of tips. I decided that this would also be a good post for this blog. I therefore expanded those couple of tips to a full ten tips for writing a novel quickly.

 

  1. The first tip that I would give a novelist who is new to the genre is to never call him or herself an “aspiring novelist”. Begin to think of yourself as being rather than aspiring. You either write novels or you don’t. You’re either a writer or you’re not. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never made a dime from writing. You write, therefore you are a writer. You write novels, therefore you are a novelist.

 

You may wonder how being called a novelist helps a novice write faster. It all comes down to “it’s not what people call you, but what you answer to”. I believe that fast writing can only be done by those who believe that they can. They don’t make excuses not to write fast. They do it.

 

  1. If you don’t know how, learn to touch type. I was amazed at how much faster I could get information down since I have been able to type directly from my thought process. Until then, you could use google docs’ dictation feature.

 

  1. Start writing promotional material as soon as you have our idea for your book. Begin writing the book description or blurb. Write your short, medium and long length author bios, determine words that have high ranking search engine optimization. Begin researching and pinning down a title for your book. Create a full synopsis for your book.

 

  1. Research local events where you can promote your books. Connect with other authors online and offline both in your genre and out. Start a blog. Review books by other authors within your genre. Interview those same authors.

 

  1. Let your muse play most of the writing session, especially when writing your first draft. If you have to edit, limit your editing time to five minutes immediately after fifteen minutes of writing.

 

  1. Get to know your characters, the better you know your characters, the better the flow of the story. Your characters will dictate the story to you instead of the other way around.

 

  1. Create a main plot outline and then outlines for subplots and put them in proper order. Taking time to create a map of your story through an outline will help keep you from going down too many rabbit holes that steal writing time.

 

  1. Schedule time to write every day. Even fifteen minutes a day adds up over time. Use Parkinson’s second law which says that you will fill up time with the activity that you give to it. In other words, focus your time by limiting your first draft writing to sprints of fifteen minutes or if you’re just starting out, try five minute sprints. Stop for five minutes, edit a little of what you just wrote if you have to and do another sprint. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done using this method.

 

  1. Know when you do your best writing and optimize that time. Work the rest of your schedule around that rather than your writing around the rest of your schedule. Making writing a priority will make your written pages pile up like nothing else can.

 

  1. Evaluate your progress and look for ways to improve your writing process. If you’re not satisfied with the progress that you are making in your writing, figure out ways that you can increase your writing speed. Go over these tips and see where you can improve your writing speed. Take a speed typing class. Google, “write faster”. Don’t let yourself make excuses for not being able to write better copy, faster.

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Strange Dreams Lead to New Ideas

Last night I had some vivid dreams. I dreamed about my husband. I dreamed that he was at work with me and we were working with young children. He seemed to enjoy the time with them better than I did. Then I started\ dreaming all over the place and my mind was trying to make sense of it all. I became suddenly confused about what was real and what wasn’t. I dreamed that I lost my phone. When I awoke for real, the first thing I did was look to see if my phone was on the side table and it was. Now I knew I was out of dream world and into the real world. So what was going on in my dreams that they were so vivid yet so confusing?

I think what my dream was trying to do was to try to help me find a good topic for this blog as well as give me some fodder for my current NaNoWriMo project. The hours I slept did both. After finding my phone, I had the ideas for what I was going to write for both. I have ideas for two scenes in my next book that I now call Sunrise on the Mississippi (book 8 of the Locket Saga). The dream sequences are no direct part of this blog nor of the book. What they did do was remind me the value of the muse in the writing process, especially writing the first draft.

Yesterday I wrote a scene in my book, but realized that I also needed an earlier related scene. I just didn’t know how I was going to make it happen. Also I started two topics for this blog that didn’t seem to be exactly what I wanted to write for this blog today. So I slept on it and the dreams were the result of allowing my muse to take some time to play.

What Made the Muse Rebel

I think it all started with something I did a few days ago. I was teaching some students about metaphors and similes. We worked on poems about feelings.

They went something like this:

Love is pink.

It smells like apple blossoms on a tree.

It tastes like chocolate in my Easter basket.

It sounds like birds twitter-pating.  (a term from the Bambi movie)

It feels like a baby bunny’s white fur.

It looks like a field of white clover.

It makes me feel alive again.

I believe this triggered my muse to complain that I haven’t allowed her to play for a while. The past few months I have been neglecting her. I have been editing old material, researching historical events and writing nonfiction. Even as I started writing this new book, I haven’t given the muse much room. I have been organizing the material that I researched, but not allowing my creative juices to flow. Today that ends.

Today I take heed of my muse’s complaint and give her a chance to play. Today my NaNoWriMo project turns a page and I will allow my muse free range on the pages of my manuscript. Today she can play all over that book’s draft by allowing her the ability use the five senses to create metaphors and similes and most importantly, emotions for the reader to experience.

Can I Allow the Muse out more often?

I think it a shame that I have kept my muse under such a short leash for such a long time. NaNoWriMo is a great way to give the muse a chance to do her think, but I really need to find ways of allowing her to play more often. One of the areas where I can utilize her talents is in identifying with my readers. Most people buy books not because of need or rational thought, but because they are moved by emotions. When this NaNoWriMo project is done (at least for the day), I am going to look into how I can create emotion for potential readers that encourages them to purchase one or more of my books.I am sure there are more ways to tap into the muse for better writing results.

When and why do you let your muse out to play?

 

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October 30, 2017

My Research Uncovers Story

During the past several weeks I have been researching for the first draft of the next book that I am writing which I will be writing during November 2017 in NaNoWriMo. This book is about Andrew Mayford, the son of Jonathan Mayford, Lacey’s younger brother. During this past week, I found a legend that I had never heard before about how the Welch Prince, Madoc came to America in 1170, over three hundred years before Columbus founded the West Indies.

The Welch Account

Madoc sailed west from Wales in 1170, allegedly becoming one of the first Europeans to reach the Americas. At the death of Madoc’s father, Prince Owen Gwynedd of Wales, saw his brothers struggling over the throne. He desired no part in the conflict, so Madoc sailed west across the ocean with a small fleet of ships. Sometime later he returned to Wales, telling of an unknown country, pleasant and fertile. Convincing some of his countrymen to accompany him, he set sail again and never returned. This is the story as it presents itself in Wales.

The American Account

The story does not end here, however. With the colonization of the Americas, the legend of Madoc was renewed. It became common belief among the early settlers that Madoc’s explorers had intermarried with local Indian tribes. Their descendants were said to still reside somewhere in the country. Stories emerged among the colonists detailing encounters with the Welsh-speaking descendants of Madoc. According to historian Reuben T. Durrett, the Madoc tale was especially popular among the early settlers of Kentucky and was often told on long winter nights.

 

The Falls of the Ohio area became connected with the Madoc mythology. A story related to early settlers by local Indians meshed with the Madoc legend. A tribe of “White Indians,” remarkable for their light hair and blue eyes, was said to have resided in the falls area at one time. However, hostilities broke out between the “White Indians” and another neighboring Indian group. A final battle between the two tribes occurred on Sand Island at the Falls of the Ohio where the “White Indians” were massacred. Contemporaries to this account soon connected the story of this “White Indian” tribe with the Madoc legend, believing they had found the descendants of the Welsh voyagers.

Further Discoveries

Further discoveries seemed to confirm this conclusion. A large burial ground was found on the North side of the Ohio, opposite the Falls, with the haphazard arrangement of the skeletons indicating they may have been the remains of the “White Indians” who were massacred. Earthen fortifications discovered at Devil’s Backbone were also believed to be the work of the “Welsh Indians”. Most intriguingly, an account circulated of six skeletons found near Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1799. Each skeleton was said to have been encased in a brass breast plate emblazoned with the Welsh coat of arms. Where  this armor is now unknown, if indeed, it ever existed at all.

True or Not, A Wonderful Story

Perhaps the story struck a chord with a group of people who were inhabiting a new country—a people who were delighted to find something familiar in a strange land. Perhaps the story also served as an explanation for evidence of advanced civilization among the Indian societies of the Americas—evidence that did not mesh with the prevailing view of the Indian as barbaric and uncivilized.

Whether this story is true or not, I think that the Madoc legend is a good story that was included as one of the main forms of entertainment at the time. The Madoc legend is a compelling story with an element of mystery. Like the tale of the lost colony of Roanoke and Viking civilizations, the ending is unknown. One can only imagine what might have happened to Madoc and those who sailed with him and incorporate them into this or her own stories. This is exactly what I intend to do.

 

 

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Write a Book and Ignite Your Business

October 23, 2017

Are you a business owner looking for surefire way to get the edge over your competition? Thanks to social media, the advertising world is changing. People can connect with you and your products like never before. They want to see the face behind the product. In addition, people want to know what is in it for them. They don’t care about the features so much as they want to know how what you do will benefit them. Writing a Book related to your business opens doors like nothing else can.

 

Writing a book can help you:

  1. Offer more than just your business card to your high end clients
  2. Demonstrate to your clients that you are an expert in your industry
  3. Go places you would never have dreamed of going
  4. Provide numerous chances for free publicity and even publicity that pays you!
  5. Find the ultimate marketing tool!

 

No longer is it necessary to send your book out to a traditional publisher to publish your books. You don’t have to depend on vanity presses either. Today, it is possible to publish using a system called self-publishing where you do the work of writing your book then prepare it for publication, have copies printed using print on demand technology, then market the book yourself. This book not only tells you why you should write a book to ignite your business, but it gives you a step-by-step guide that shows you how to go through the self-publishing process from an author who has been through the process numerous times.

 

This is the tenth self-published book by Cygnet Brown. She is the author of the historical romantic fiction series depicting the trials of an early American family: The Locket Saga. She has also written several nonfiction books which include: Simply Vegetable Gardening, Help from Kelp, Living Today, and Using Diatomaceous Earth around the House and Yard.

 

Get your print copy today.

 

Please help me spread the word! Share this post with your friends on your favorite social media sites!

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Recently I read a story about a young realtor who wrote a book about “What every ‘for sale by owner’ homeowner needs to know to sell their house”.  He self-published that book. He gave instructions on step by step instructions of everything that an owner needs to know to complete the sales process on their own. He then would go around town looking for “for sale by owner” properties and knock at the door, introduce himself and give them one of the books. Although he eventually sold a number of books, his goal wasn’t to sell books but to promote his expertise as someone who knew how to sell a house. Many of the homeowners, who he gave his books to, did actually use the book to sell their own homes. When their friends wanted to sell their own homes, but didn’t want to sell it themselves, the homeowners who had the book knew that of a realtor who knew his stuff and recommended the one who came to their door and gave them the book.

Others, however, after reading the book many homeowners realized that they couldn’t go through the red tape needed to sell their house so they knew that the realtor who gave them the book with no strings attached was their realtor of choice. This realtor ended up with more business than he could handle himself.  If you own a business that you would like to grow, having a book out that is related to that business may be the marketing tool that can also put you over the top.

The Pros and Cons of Self-Publishing for Business Owners

At first, a business owner might think that their best bet might be to go with a traditional publisher, but there are advantages in self-publishing. Self-publishing has its benefits: more control, more agility and speed than traditional publishing. You can focus on writing and publishing, instead of waiting around to hear if somebody wants to publish you.

But it also has its risks: you need to have a well-designed book, a nice looking website, and you need to set up a marketing funnel, but if you’re already in business online, you’ve already got a start. You also have some idea who your readers are and how to reach them. Luckily, it’s never been easier, so if you’re willing to learn and spend some money, you can give your book every chance at success. That said, the average author spends $2000 to $5000 to publish their books, and few authors earn any money. (Books get cheaper to publish the more you learn. Publishing doesn’t cost me anything, because I format, edit and design myself… but I am also in the author business). Less than 10% of independent authors sell more than 1000 copies in the lifetime of the book.

You can spend much less if you want to, but it’s hard to get quality work done on the cheap. However, it’s also possible to have a smash hit with a mediocre cover. A lot of that depends on how you intend to use that book to market your business.

What Book is in You?

Now that you know that self-publishing is an option for your book, it’s time to start thinking about what book topic would best serve you and your business. What do you wish your customers understood about what you do? Pay attention to the questions that your customers ask you. Those questions could be the keys to the subject of your book. More about this later. For now, just think about what your book’s subject.

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October 9, 2017

Is Your Year on Track?

I am certainly trying to keep mine on track! Can you believe that three-fourths of the year has already passed? Have you done three-fourths of everything that you wanted to get done this year or are you behind? As far as my writing schedule goes, I am still on track for getting what I intend to finish by the end of this year. However, regarding my business and book marketing, I am not where I want to be right now. I have improved since the beginning of the year on almost every level.

Now here it is already the second week in October. This week I start a new part-time job. In addition to substitute teaching, I am part of an afterschool tutoring program for elementary children. I could put my writing goals aside to spend all my time into teaching, but I am not going to do that. Instead I am going to see how much I actually can get done in the time I have left.

Gearing up

In November NaNoWriMo starts again. If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is National Novel Writing Month. It is a month long event that occurs every year where storytellers write down the first fifty-thousand word first draft of their first or next novel in just thirty days. This year will be my ninth year and I intend to win again. (Everyone is a winner who writes the 50K)  If you too have ever thought of writing a novel, participating in NaNoWriMo is a fantastic way to make amazing progress in a single month by finishing the first draft.

Start the Pre-writing Process Now

Though there are a lot of people who start their novel from scratch on the first day of November, I personally like to do some prewriting in October in preparation for getting the actual event in November. The two most important aspects of the novel writing include developing characters and the plot. Although I think that it is important to develop realistic characters, I like to start with a basic plot with which to give those characters something to do.

The Seven Universal Story Lines

Do you know that all plots fall under seven universal story lines? These universal story lines include: overcoming the monster, rags to riches, the quest, the voyage, comedy, tragedy, and rebirth. Every story line you could imagine falls into one of these seven categories. If you can’t think of a plot, examine these story lines and take your imagination and run with it.

Overcoming the Monster

Hero learns of a great evil threatening the land, and sets out to destroy it. Many war stories, apocalyptic stories, or political thrillers fall into this category.

Rags to riches

Surrounded by dark forces who suppress and ridicule him, the Hero slowly blossoms into a mature figure who ultimately gets riches, a kingdom, and the perfect mate. Oliver Twist and The Prince and The Pauper are rags to riches stories.

The Quest

Hero learns of a great MacGuffin (a motivating element in a story that is used to drive the plot. It serves no further purpose) that he desperately wants or needs to find, and sets out to find it, often with companions. Go no further than the Lord of the Rings Trilogy to understand this universal story line.

The Voyage and Return

Hero heads off into a magic land with crazy rules, ultimately triumphs over the madness and returns home far more mature than when he set out. The Odyssey would be an example.

Comedy

Hero and Heroine are destined to get together, but a dark force is preventing them from doing so; the story conspires to make the dark force repent, and suddenly the Hero and Heroine are free to get together. This is part of a cascade of effects that shows everyone for who they really are, and allows two or more other relationships to correctly form. Every romance novel ever written falls into this category.

Tragedy

The flip side of the Overcoming the Monster plot. Our protagonist character is the Villain, but we get to watch him slowly spiral down into darkness before he’s finally defeated, freeing the land from his evil influence. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are examples.

Rebirth

As with the Tragedy plot, but our protagonist manages to realize his error before it’s too late, and does a 180 degree turn to avoid inevitable defeat Think of a character like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol or The Ginch in How the Ginch Stole Christmas.

Not Sure Which Universal Plot to Use?

There’s a good chance that you have either a plot idea that you want to use or you have started to develop a couple of characters and a setting. You might already see which universal story line you want to use. However, perhaps you don’t. There’s nothing to keep you from playing around with several different story lines.

 

As I am reading this, I realize that with The Locket Saga series, I could fall into a predictable pattern of using just one or two of these story lines. However, as I look over the list, I see several different ideas that I could use to create some variety. I hope you do too as you consider your first or next work of fiction.

 

 

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