Writing Dangerously

The thing about writing is that you are always taking a risk. If you aren’t taking that risk, then you’re probably not writing anything that matters.

teacher at white board.jpgIf there is no danger involved, you are likely regurgitating a five-paragraph essay for your high school English teacher.

Doing what’s expected, what won’t raise any alarms or get anyone fired up enough to challenge you, is flimsy writing. It won’t hold up; it won’t motivate anyone to change their lives or fire off a rebuttal, let alone turn the page.

The well-worn sentiment that you can’t please everyone all the time, should be tattoed on your forehead as you write. Do not write to Continue reading “Writing Dangerously”

Up for a Challenge?

I like challenges.

Especially when life feels like it’s drifting towards auto.

In the past, I’ve challenged myself to wear everything I own or donate it, try 100 new recipes in a year, shop only local for three months, and write a novel (see where that got me?).

Of late, I’ve challenged myself to read 52 books this year (goodreads is keeping me accountable) and finish my current novel-in-progress by April.

challenge

Big challenges are all splashy and fun, but it’s the little stuff that can make you batty. It’s also the little stuff that can change your life.

The minutiae that nag at your conscience (and your soul) can bog down your days and your to-do list. You know what I’m talking about – the tasks that won’t stop your world from turning if they don’t get done but would certainly improve your world if they did get done. You probably remember these things while you’re brushing your teeth before bed and then promptly neglect to do them again the next day.

And once you tackle these insidious little jobs, there’s room for inspiration and ideas and projects. All of which are accomplished one little insidious task at a time!

So I have a plan for me and YOU—so we can get some stuff done, maybe even change our lives.

This past week, I was the host of one of my publisher’s Facebook groups – The Back Booth: Talking Women’s Fiction. (btw, you’re WELCOME to join – we’d love to have you! The Back Booth offers daily discussions and visits with its authors and members.)

On Monday, I challenged members to post one thing that had been languishing on their to-do list– a task they would accomplish that week. I called it their Monday-Must-Do.

Lots of people were game and shared tasks big and small (make a doctor’s appointment, put away Christmas decorations, update a resume). On Friday I checked in with all of them and guess what? – nearly everybody had taken care of their Monday-Must-Do!

Telling people you’re going to do something, especially publicly in writing, creates accountability. It worked last week and it’s worked for me time and again when I took on challenges publicly via my blog.

So, for all our sakes, I’ve decided to create a way for us to challenge ourselves each week publicly, for real, on my little corner of the internet, and then hold ourselves (and me) accountable.

Even though many of you are dissing Facebook at the present (but please, who actually thought Facebook wasn’t collecting your stats and selling them?), I’m going to do this on my Facebook writer page.

You can follow along like a commoner lurking in the shadows OR you can join in! Every Monday I’m going to be telling you what my MONDAY MUST-DO is and asking you for yours. Are you game? Want to change your life, or at least get *hit done?

Monday must do

On Friday, I’ll follow up with you and ask how it went. Me, and my thousands hundreds (for now) of followers will want to know.

What I’m hoping, is that most weeks you’ll discover that if you push yourself, just a teeny-tiny bit, you’ll succeed.

And all those little tiny successes, week after week, add up to big things—of this I know. It’s how I wrote all my books. It’s how I’ve saved over 100 dogs. It’s how I took the toxins out of my house and my life. One little challenge each week. That’s all it takes to change your life, or at least make it a little bit better.

Up for the challenge? Follow me. (and be sure to click the notifications tab so you don’t miss my reminders! I promise I won’t nag, I will be only balloons and champagne, and if some weeks your To-Do gets the better of you, I’ll just casually look the other way and nod my head in understanding. We all have those weeks.)

I’ve got another challenge for myself brewing, but I’ll need a running start for that one. Look for it in next week’s post!

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

 

COMING AUGUST 2018 FROM Pegasus Books:

Another Good Dog cover

But lucky you! You can preorder your copy now!

 

Lacking Inspiration?

Feeling inspired?

No?

You’re surrounded by inspiration, as ever-present as the air you breathe.

Okay, sometimes you have to reach further to find it, but it’s there, believe me.  All you need is an open mind, a little creativity, and a good analogy.

Okay, maybe the analogy doesn’t have to be that good.

Glancing around my workspace, I can see a pencil sharpener. That pencil sharpener is like me working on my latest manuscript  – I carve and twist and sharpen my point to perfection, but really, will anybody need that pencil? Nobody uses pencils anymore.

Depressing? Yeah, kind of.

Here’s an even more depressing one from PG Wodehouse:

“It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.”

Do you suppose he was looking out the window at his garden when he came up with that one or maybe there was a brochure for the grand canyon on his desk?

Maybe you read that and thought, who thinks like that?

I would assert – anyone and everyone.

You, for instance.

You are surrounded by potential analogies. They’re everywhere.

My oldest child is a creative soul. This made him both a pleasure and a pain to raise.

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He is also smart. His standardized test scores came in very high in every area, except one.

Analogies.

These questions he would miss with alarming regularity. The problem was that he could always see two sides of everything.

analogies

He could absolutely understand how a bear could live in a hotel or a table could be used to sleep or a car is part of a kitchen or that something that is right is very wrong.

Look around you.

What does that lamp look like? A snake? A butter churn? An alien?

How could whether or not you made your bed this morning be an analogy for how you live your life?

What about your dog? Is he living the life he always wanted or is he a prisoner in a foreign land who has adapted well?

The truck rattling down the street — where is it going? What is it carrying? What has it seen? Who’s trapped inside? Did it runover the walnuts covering the street, the sound of the shells cracking like bullets exploding?

There is inspiration all around you, free for the taking.

inspiration

My cat has been slowly destroying my laptop. Whenever I leave it open, she nests on it. Her relentless plucking has removed key after key, her efforts so thorough most are unable to be snapped back on. This week she tore off the control key. I’m annoyed with her, but I’m sure there’s an essay in there. (I’ve lost my control….)

IMG_3490

Being open to possibility is the first step to discovering inspiration.

Sometimes when I’m journaling and can’t think of what to write, I’ll open a nearby book and randomly place my finger on a word or line. Then I’ll either continue the sentence or write about what that word or line brings to my mind. Other times I’ll look out the window and see what first catches my eye and explore why.

You can find inspiration on billboards, click bait, cereal packaging, or sales circulars. You can find it in the dirty laundry on the floor or the gunk in the sink drainer or the sarcasm in your teenager’s remark. There are analogies to be had in being late because the cat threw up or being lost when your GPS fails you.

Inspiration is everywhere. The place is lousy with it.

Breathe it in, and see where it takes your mind.

Need a chuckle? Check out these hilarious analogies written by high school students.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

 

Embrace the Yuck

Last post I was ready to take on the world.

This post, I’m thinking maybe it would be best if I just slunk away and holed up somewhere with my dog. Maybe on a mountain, out of cell-phone range.

mountain

Writing, especially publishing, is much like ping pong.

Writing-is-like-ping pong

You’re amazing – You suck – You’re brilliant – You’re an idiot – You’re happy – You’re devastated.

Maybe it’s the nature of an artist (is that what I am?) to feel such high highs and such low lows.

Today it is gray, cold, unwelcoming.

My agent informs me that my re-written manuscript (the one in which I was certain I’d finally nailed it) is still not up to snuff.

I began to re-read my in-progress manuscript, remembering how fabulous I thought it was when I started and realized it’s horrible. Plain horrible. I don’t even want to read it.

The article I’m working on keeps spinning in circles. I can’t find a flow, a structure, or even, really, a point.

Several of my latest efforts to ‘try something new’ to get my books out there, have been met with technicalities, false hopes, no-thank yous, and hidden (impossible) costs.

Facebook, Amazon, and Goodreads, the major marketing tools of most authors, have once again, changed the rules and I’m too untechy-savy/late-to-the-game/old to figure it out.

Ugh.

I need a pep talk.

I can (still) do this.

But maybe for today, I’ll need to embrace the yuck. Let it have its way. Eat the leftover apple cobbler, stay in my jammies, and lay around reading books written by real writers who know what they’re doing.

Just for today, I will not try. I’ll hang out with my dog. Embrace the suckiness of my situation in all it’s awful glory.

Tomorrow, I’ll get back at it.

Promise.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.

 

Is There Any Reason to be Reasonable?

Every new year I make a list of resolutions. This year’s list is long. I’m not going to share it here because that would mean you might hold me to it. I’m gonna hold me to it, so you don’t have to. But also because some of my resolutions are deeply personal. I’m digging deeper this year.

2017 was fine. Lots of good stuff happened. I learned quite a lot. I adopted a puppy and bought a convertible, so I really can’t complain.

But 2018….this is gonna be my year. I’m going to make it so.

When I first scratched out my list, I thought, yeah, right, you are so overshooting. But then I thought – why can’t I overshoot? Why can’t I reach for bigger stuff and bigger dreams (and maybe a smaller waistline)? Why can’t I want it all?

I’ve read a slew of new year’s posts full of very nice resolutions and advice. Make it reasonable. Make it doable. Make it measurable. Pick one word, one resolution, focus on that.

Why?

I see no reason to be reasonable. Our world has seemed incredibly unreasonable this past year. No one else is staying within the lines, why should I?

And doable? Well, there’s no way to know if something is doable until you try to do it. So I plan to.

And the thing about measurable is that it’s restrictive and reeks of judgment. It’s more or less a pass/fail situation and that doesn’t leave enough room for really great tries or hitting it out of the park. As Norman Vincent Peale said, “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss,  you’ll land among the stars.”

shoot for the moon

I’ve made ten resolutions. Ten big ones. For a great part of my life, I’ve been practical; I was learning, growing, practicing, trying, but you know what? I don’t know how much life I left (neither do you), so enough rehearsing, it’s time to act. It’s time to make this thing real.

How about you? What are you resolving to change? Cause if you don’t get moving, you’ll surely get runover just sitting there. It’s time, people.

Hey, thanks for reading. I know you’ve got lots of options, so thanks for sharing a few of your minutes with me.

Honored,

Cara

If you’d like to know more about me, my books, and where you might run into me, check out my website, CaraWrites.com.

If you’d like to subscribe to my (sometimes) monthly e-newsletter, click here.

If you’re a dog lover, check out my other blog, Another Good Dog.

I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, twitter, or Instagram, and I’m thrilled to get email from readers (and writers), you can reach me at carasueachterberg@gmail.com.