Category Archives: Creativity

Supersize your Attitude

Execellence-is-not-a-skill-its-an-attitudeIn a society focused on the misguided principle of immediate gratification, we, as a whole, have put ourselves into a very precarious position with regard to success and ultimately, survival. Every day millions of people wake up with what they think are plans, or even strategies for how they will make it big within the next twenty-four hours. Whether by day trading in the stock market or winning the lottery, and a variety of endeavors in between, they set out to accomplish the nearly impossible. This attitude has becoming frighteningly commonplace. Where exactly did pride in our actions fall to the wayside? When did striking it rich become more important than ensuring not only the productivity, but the very survival of the human race?

There are any number of organizations, companies, etc that spend millions, if not billions of dollars studying the habits of all living things. For now, let’s focus on the humans. There are surveys and statistics analyzing everything from the sexual habits of pre-adolescents to the scent preferences of the stay-at-home mom (tell me why this one is important) with who knows what else. The bigger the survey the better. For who? It has occurred to me that the problem with our society is that everyone wants to know why we do the things we do. Is it really that important?

Studies on obesity  are an excellent example of what is lacking in our society. A Missouri news article recently reported that 32% of its students in grades 6 -8 are overweight or at risk and 27% of high school students are overweight or at risk. In a world where fast food restaurants are more frequent than churches or schools, we see the problem but do little to find a successful resolution.

When did we stop encouraging our children to exercise and eat carefully? When did it become more important to get a quick meal than a nutritionally sound one? With the rise in single parent families struggling to maintain financial security, I believe the media has played a crucial role in advocating the convenience of a “fast meal,” thereby saving one parent time and energy in preparation of a balanced meal. How does this affect our society? Unfortunately, it teaches children that convenience trumps health and well-being. It also eliminates, or at best, dramatically decreases, the time families spend together sharing and bonding. It is unfair to blame the fast food industry for the decline in healthy and well-adjusted families, but it is easy to see how convenience can sway the average person into a trap that cannot only be counterproductive to success, but also potentially and literally deadly.

The same can be said about financial success. The average person in Pennsylvania will spend $7.00 on lottery tickets 3 times per week. At $84.00 per month, this is $1008.00 per year. Statistics show that a majority of lottery players are from lower income classes who struggle with decreasing financial security. It is my personal thought that if efforts were made on the part of educators and employers to increase the benefits and opportunities for students and employees, we could actually refocus the attention of people to strive for personal success, as opposed to a quick fix. Am I saying there is anything wrong with the lottery? Absolutely not. What I am saying is that the attitude of our society has dramatically digressed from personal or professional success.

happyWhat can we do to improve the overall stability and potential for success? This is literally a life or death question. Organizations and individuals can work together to shift the focus of the average person away from immediate success and strive to rebuild the confidence levels and self-esteem of each member of the human race. By focusing our attention as people on the positive aspects of life, instead of demoralizing the efforts of those who do find success, by whatever means, we can develop a productively more sound future for our race in general.

Take as many moments as you can to recognize those people who need guidance and offer them the encouragement to find pride and value in themselves. Make constant efforts to direct our children down smarter, healthier, and more positive paths. This alone can ensure the peaceful and productive success of the future.

Carefully consider each action you take in your life and determine if it is in the best interest of your life, or just the moment. Financial success is crucial to the survival of each of us, and in order to achieve this success, each person must be willing to carefully gauge the cost of their efforts and ensure that those actions are not at the expense of others.

Attitude is the key to the potential success of every individual’s efforts. Without a positive attitude, we run the risk of constant conflict and the destruction of our way of life. Attitude is the element that determines success, health, productivity, and destruction. Without positive personal nurturing the crime rates will continue to rise, the levels of intelligence will continue to decline, and the number of unnecessary deaths will remain the main topic of water cooler conversation.

Take a moment today, and every day, to nurture those around you. Don’t be afraid to help someone who truly needs it. More than anything take pride in everything you do that is in the best interest spreading a positive attitude.

Originally published 2007
© Karen L. Syed

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I Just Wanna Write

Okay, I am having one of those weeks. If you know me, you know that I am a bit of and overachiever. Have been my whole life. I tend to take on way more than I can handle and then stress out about not getting it done when it needs to be done. I know this, I admit this, and I apologize for this.

I am currently working on several projects that need to be done last week. I am editing three books, four short stories, and an anthology. Am I complaining? No, no, no. I love what I do and can only imagine doing one other thing.

I miss writing horribly. My husband says I need to spend half of my day working for others and half of the day writing and promoting my own books. I simply can’t do this. I have responsibilities and my personal pleasure cannot go before them.

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I was recently accused of focusing too much on my personal writing career and not enough on my authors. Really? REALLY??? A couple Facebook posts a day is too much? Seriously! I woke up this morning with an idea swimming around in my head that is begging to be written, but I plunked myself down in my chair and began working on edits for a client. I have added the idea to my idea file, though that file now takes up about 2 GB on my hard drive…sigh

Not sure why I needed to put this out here. I guess I just needed the people I am working for to know that I am working for them and once I am done with their projects, I might take some time to write. After all, I do think I am pretty good at it. 🙂

 

 

 

Please Don’t Judge

I never claimed to be a poet, but I’ve been working on my family tree and I ran across a folder of my early attempts at it. I wrote this some time in the late 80s. Kinda makes you think–why is this still so relevant? This is AS IS. I did not edit it at all.

Hungry

There’s so much strife, and so much grief,
when will our race find true relief?

Starving children are left for dead,
while we sleep warmly in our beds.

You see the fear that’s in their eyes,
and still ignore their desperate cries.

If every man would take the time,
to give the hungry one thin dime.

I know the world could find a way,
to feed a child for one more day.

 

 

 

Help! I’m a Writer

So often people describe writing as a solitary endeavor. I have never agreed with this. Nothing could be farther from the truth. If a writer’s life is a solitary one, then it is by choice.

By design, writers are surrounded by others who are not only interested in their work, but eager for it. The world is filled with writers who crave support and encouragement. What they do [write] is for the masses. The stories and books are intended to be read and enjoyed by hundreds of thousands, if not millions of readers.

All that said, as writers, we also tend to let our insecurities get the better of us. We make our existence solitary by sequestering ourselves to avoid the shame of rejection. We are, also by design, a neurotic bunch.

In most cases, this does more harm than good. When we shut ourselves off from our peers, we miss out on many opportunities as well as crucial education that can possibly make us better writers and more successful authors.

We constantly hear about the value and importance of critique groups. Of course they have their place, but what about support. This is a whole different can of beans. Support, in my opinion, is far more important than the critique group, because if you don’t feel good about what you do, you probably can’t do it good…well.

Bottom line, before you tuck yourself away in your office, alcove, or other small hidey hole to become the next great American novel, find a few friendly writers you can spend a little time with and get things off your chest. Make sure that you can all talk shop, talk gardening, talk whatever you want, even bitching about the family.

I firmly believe whining is a necessity in life, as long as it has a specific purpose and is done in a specific environment.  😛

What did you say?

I recently read a blog post by another author about the large variety of different ways to say “said” when writing fiction. There were quite a few on the list, and while most were correct, several were simply incorrect. I’m curious to know what you, as readers think, after reading the following. Do unique dialogue tags impress you? Amuse you? Annoy you?

What is the one dialogue tag that you’ve seen that has stopped you cold in a book?

The problem with all these choices is that writers become lazy in their writing. When you choose to use physical actions as dialogue tags, you are taking shortcuts that will often leave a reader jolted out of the story. Things aren’t always simple, and many readers, myself included are very visual when reading a book. A few examples of what I mean are.

*spat is the past participle of spit. You do not spit words. You can spit while you speak, but take a moment to spit, now say a word, then try to say that word while spitting.

*flount is the act of treating with contemptuous disregard. It is an action, not a way of speech.

*guffaw is the act of laughing in a loud and boisterous manner. Again, guffaw then try to speak. It is almost impossible because of the manner of the action.

*a smirk is a smile or smug expression, a physical action. You can say something WITH a smirk, but to smirk something is just not a physical possibility since it is a an action not a tone.

*dazzling is an action that happens when you look into a bright light or the act of impressing someone. Again, it is not a tone it is an action.

*scrooge – a type of person. We all know what it means, to be miserly, how can you speak miserly? You don’t speak actions, you speak in tones.

*onomatopoeiad – while this certainly could be a tag, it is so outrageous in its attempt to be “different” that if I read it in a manuscript I was considering, I would stop reading and reject immediately.

Writers need to be aware of the huge difference between physical acts and tones. To use these words improperly is simply incorrect and there are entirely too many other ways to display what you are trying to convey when using them. And if you take a poll, you might be surprised to find that readers are often annoyed by a writers attempt to use so many different words to replace “said.”

Who Wants to be a Brain Surgeon? (Guest Blog: Ella Grey)

When I was little I wanted to be a brain surgeon, or a gardener. Only when I turned fifteen did I start thinking about being a writer.

The author, Christopher Pike, inspired me. I remember reading his Last Vampire series and falling in love with the character he created. It was the first time I’d read a vampire story and it wasn’t all doom and gloom. Sati is content about being a vampire, she kills to survive and she doesn’t really let it bother her, and she’s funny. Not funny ha-ha, but witty.

I want my characters to be like that. Even if I write a supernatural character like Molly O’Brien, giving her a sense of humour makes her more human. Easier to identify with.

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My character Rachel is human (mostly) who’s caught up in a supernatural situation.

A Difficult Decision (Rachel’s story) is available in multiple eBook formats from Quake’s Electric Shorts line. The first five of six installments are currently online for sale.

She came to London to find her brother. She ended up finding trouble.

Rachel Valentine isn’t the world’s most conventional girl. She ran away from a boarding school run by nuns to find her missing brother. The daughter to a government spy, she’s learnt a few of the tricks of the trade, but even she isn’t prepared for the story she’s about to hear.

It seems Rachel has a secret she didn’t even know she had and her brother has been dragged into a turf war. The only person she can trust is someone she doesn’t even know

Thanks to Karen for hosting me.

You can read my first post on this tour at http://authorthomasamo.blogspot.com/

How to Write Realistic Dialogue (Guest Blogger)

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Well written, realistic dialogue is one of the most useful tools at an author’s disposable. Nothing else can pull a reader from a story than unbelievable dialogue. Imagine a character like Mandy Moore’s in A Walk to Remember. Now picture that character cursing. A bum on the streets won’t use large, obscure words. Neither would a small child. Here are some tips for including authentic dialogue in your novels:

1. Go to the mall or other places where lots of people go. Sit on a bench and eavesdrop.

2. Create a character sketch. In order for your character’s dialogue to be true to the character, it must reflect the character’s flaws, weaknesses, strengths, and personality. A smoker character will not rant about the evils of the big bad tobacco companies.

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3. Large blocks of dialogue, similar to large blocks of description, are boring. Pepper some action throughout dialogue scenes. People often talk with hand gestures. Include movements and other actions.

4. Use swear words sparingly unless the character demands it. Some people hide behind them or use them for release. Other characters may only use them under highly stressful situations. And if you are writing a historical piece, look up the curse words of that time period. In Woman of Honor, my high fantasy romance novel, my characters sometimes yell, “God’s Teeth!” or “God’s Wounds!”

5. While using words appropriate to locale (some regions say soda, others pop), try to avoid dating your piece with slang.

6. If you are going to use accents, make certain that they are constant throughout the novel but not overbearing.

7. Once you write a dialogue scene, read it aloud. Does it flow? Does it make sense? Does it further the story and add details to the plot?

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