Thursday, October 25, 2012

Heat Warms Up Brain Cells

Good Thursday Morning
to everyone!
I'm feeling better about balance already.
I'm hoping you are as well.
Today I am honored to have as a guest,
Sandra Nachlinger.

So many times I’ve been told, “If I was retired like you are, all I’d do is write.”


That’s not the way it works for me. First of all, it seems I’m busier than ever these days. There’s a garden full of flourishing weeds that need to be evicted, an unfinished quilt top to stitch, lunch dates with friends, dust bunnies procreating under the bed, my adorable granddaughter to babysit, and the dog whining at the door, begging for a walk. That reminds me—I really should exercise more. And since I have so much free time, my still-employed husband has a few errands I could run while I’m out and about. Who has time to sit at a computer all day? But I’ve observed a phenomenon that I first noticed as a young mother working at a full-time job—the more I have to do, the more I get done.

You’d think the opposite would be true – that my imagination would soar when unfettered by obligations, but that just isn’t the case. When a whole day stretches in front of me with nothing planned, I don’t write as much as when I set aside a treasured hour or two squeezed in between other responsibilities. On my free days, my brain seems to realize it has plenty of time, it gets lazy, and the urgency to create just isn’t there.

And since Nature abhors a vacuum, that’s when the Internet sirens call. Emails, LinkedIn posts, Facebook friends from my high school years. Posts to my own blog and readers’ comments that require responses. Then there are the weekly blog memes, Amazon threads, Goodreads updates, book reviews. Maybe a quick game of Word Scram or Solitaire. All of that leaches away the minutes until the day is gone and few words have been added to my manuscript. After all, I had all day and … poof! … where did it go?

But when there’s a lot going on, I ignore the computer’s overtures (well, most of them) and focus on what has to be accomplished in the short window of time I’ve allocated for writing. I go to the computer with an idea of what I want to say, and I make it happen. For some reason the ideas come and the words flow.

So although it sounds intuitively wrong and completely the opposite of what you’d expect, my advice for balancing writing time with life is to fill your days with as much living as possible. You’ll train your brain to take advantage of those spare moments when writing is what you crave to do, and you’ll bring more experiences to the writing desk.  Best of all, you’ll still have time for all those other fun things that come along in life.

PS: And if that doesn’t work, wash your hair. I’ve found that my best ideas come when I’m soaping my head in the shower or drying my hair. My theory is that the heat warms up my brain cells.

Bio:  Sandra Nachlinger is a Native Texan who moved to Washington state several years ago.  She has been writing seriously for the past 15 years.  Her works have been featured in Woman’s World Magazine, Sasee Magazine, and various local publications. Her first novel, I.O.U. SEX, was co-authored with Sandra Allen.

~ Sandra Nachlinger, co-author with Sandra Allen of I.O.U. SEX
What happens when three grown women track down their high school boyfriends, decades after graduation?
Available in eBook and paperback on Amazon:
Also available from Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Like Flying A Kite

It's Thursday!
Today's featured guest is:
Raksha Shukla

Balancing writing/ creating with real life is like flying a kite. My writing is the life-cord between the imagination flying high in the sky, exploring the vast expanse of the unlimited space and the concrete reality limited to its one fourth share of land on earth, the remaining three fourths having gone to the sea.
When the confines of reality become unbearably suffocating, I cross its boundaries and release myself to soar high in the realm of unlimited imagination. The change of reality into imagination is like the change of mass into energy; following the equation of E= Mc sq. This energy leads me to another plane which is subtle, ethereal, and vapory. While the body remains on the solid earth with its hands on the keyboard, the mind reaches out to find its soul in a different territory; connected by writing: the string that joins as well as separates the two worlds we are destined to inhabit. It is a coordination between the gravitation of the earth and the attraction of the adventure to go beyond and explore the unknown; experience the inexperienced and reach for the sky. It is only a short break. I come back to enjoy the real world with renewed vigour.
  When writing, I am not only a writer: I am the reader as well. Besides that, I am an actor, being ecstatic of the applause and being wary of hooting while enacting the roles of all the characters; at the same time sitting in front as audience: not to mention the role of the editor, the director, the proof reader and so on. The whole exercise is a pack of paradoxes, bound in the string of alphabets, words and sentences lined with punctuation marks and stuffed tightly in the boxes of books in attractive jackets embellished by the design artists.
   Writing for me is the freedom to be the way I want to be. I enjoy the freedom to go back and forth in time with a device like “Time Machine’, made accessible through writing; and this ‘Time Machine’ is combined with the ‘Space Machine” where the distances vanish with the freedom to move in each and every direction.
The records of the memories of visuals, voices, sounds, smells and so on, played and replayed become clear, vivid and sharp, facilitated with reproducing and experiencing them at will. Writing makes the reality more interesting by adding drama in the drab humdrum of everyday life by presenting it with the most subtle, sophisticated and multifaceted device called Language.

Raksha Shukla         

 An  Introduction -------

A free lance creative writer ---    Born in Ajmer, Rajasthan, on the 15th of august before 1947, when the day: 15th August, came to be known as Independence Day; grew up in Agra, the city of “The Taj Mahal”, in Uttar Pradesh, India, Mother Tongue - Hindi, completed masters in philosophy from Agra University, indulged in writing as a hobby without any effort to get published, initially, decided to get published much later.
List of published works---
1.      Poetry --- Two collections, “Yey Shati” (this century) and “Parat Dar Parat” (layer under layer), in Hindi; a third one is under publication.
2.      Short Stories ---Two Books --- “Ajanabiyon ke Beech” (among the strangers) and “Maulshree” (Name of a flower with sweet fragrance), In Hindi
3.      Novels ---“Chir Aparineeta” (forever unwedded), in Hindi and “The Nose Pin”( it’s English version)
4.      Translations –3 Penguin Books – (from English to Hindi) “Yadav” an autobiographical novel about a love story of a woman inflicted with wanderlust, “Sarak Chhaap” (street children) and “Yadein Jee Utheen”( Memories resurrected) Autobiography of the famous playback singer: Manna Dey.
5.      Samjhauta Express”, (a book from Pakistan, translated from English to Hindi, Hindi translation published in India.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

On the Other Hand

I feel so very lucky!
I have author, June McCullough visiting my blog today.
She's talking about her book, On the Other Hand.

On the Other Hand is a very heartfelt story. Where did you come up with the idea?

I didn’t come up with the idea as much as it evolved. In 1983 my father came home to find my mother on the floor. She’d had a stroke and died shortly after. As hard as it was to lose my mother, it was just as difficult as I watched my father try to adjust to life without his wife of 38 years.

My father was lost without her and over the next few years, I watched as family members, friends and co-workers lost their spouses to heart attacks or strokes. Each time it happened, I was reminded of the struggles that my father went through.

Is On the Other Hand based on a true story?

Not at all. Although the main character, Nina, experiences what several people in my life have experienced, this novel is fiction.

It surprises me how many times I have been told by someone who was widowed that they didn’t think anyone understood what they were going through, and yet they saw themselves in Nina. I’m very pleased to know that people think I’ve actually captured the emotions and trials that someone in Nina’s position goes through.

Besides being a good read (so I’ve been told) I think this novel does two things. It shows the people who are trying to cope with this situation that what they are feeling and thinking is not crazy or abnormal. Hopefully, they feel a little less alone. It also gives the people who are trying to help them through this period a better understanding of the pain, confusion, and loneliness that they are going through. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

While it does sound inspiring, it also sounds like it could be depressing. Is it?

No. There is a second character, Pat, who attempts to balance her life as a single mother. The feedback that I am getting from my readers is that this is a very ‘real’ book, meaning that they can relate to it. They tell me that On the Other Hand had them both laughing and crying.

I understand that you’ve also published a second book. What can you tell us about it?

Home to Stay is a contemporary romance that takes place on a ranch just outside Calgary, Canada. It was actually written over 30 years ago and then put away until last year when I pulled it out and edited it.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the readers, but one reader has actually asked me to write a sequel. She wants to see the family grow.

And do you plan to do that?

No. Although I enjoyed reading it when I pulled it out last year; that story was written at a different time in my life.

Are you working on anything now? 

Yes. I started a novel last year and I have a lot of people asking for it, but I just haven’t had time. I’ve made a conscious decision to stop doing book signings for now. I miss meeting the readers, but the travel and signings were taking too much of my time and I wasn’t getting the time I need to work on the next book. This new book is exciting, an edgy revenge story.  It’s requires a great deal of research; but that’s one of the bonuses for me!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I give credit to the fact that more people are surviving a heart attack or stroke to the organizations that do research in this field and the progress that they have made. I would like the readers know that because of this, the Heart and Stroke Foundation receive 20% of the profits from book sales of On the Other Hand.

Where can my readers find you and your novels?

My novels are available on-line through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Chapters. The links are:

I love to hear from my readers and reply to each of them. They can contact me through my website or my blog.

They can also follow me on Twitter at

I would also like to thank you for this interview, Jean, and to thank the readers for all their wonderful feedback.

June McCullough grew up in the three western provinces of Canada, although her family never lived in one community long enough for her to consider any one of them her hometown. By the time she graduated from Prince Charles Secondary School in 1971, they were living in Creston, British Columbia. After a few more moves, she moved back to central Alberta in 1989, set down roots and she has lived there ever since. 

When her son was the only goalie on a hockey team she joked with the coach that he needed to be nice to her if he wanted to keep his goalie. Two years later she married him. Both children have since grown up and left home, but she and the coach still reside in the same community.

Between commitments for appearances, working part time, and trying to work on her third novel, she spends as much time as possible hugging and playing with her grandchildren. 

June loves to hear from her reader and invites you to contact her.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

I Made Lists

It's Thursday!
And I've another amazing author.
Please welcome
B. Morrison
Ever since decoding that first Golden Book, I have been an avid reader. Naturally I wanted to emulate my heroes and started at a young age writing stories and little plays for my siblings and friends to put on. I continued writing stories and poems as life took over: school, marriage, family. When my children were grown and I no longer needed to work three jobs to support them, I realized that I had to make a decision. It was time to fish or cut bait. Was I going to be a writer or not?

When Jane Eyre discovered Mr. Rochester's secret, she changed out of her wedding dress and sat down and thought. That's what I did. I took four months to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I made lists of everything I ever dreamed of doing and tried out a lot of them. I took a flying lesson and learned to skate well enough to do a waltz jump. I visited different parts of the country where I thought I might like to live. I researched different jobs and tried out a few as a temporary volunteer. In the end, what I decided was that, yes, I wanted to write.

Even with only working one job and no children at home, I struggled to find a regular time to write. Heck, I still do. Besides the pesky day job and normal non-writing obligations, there's the business of being a writer to contend with: submitting work for publication, networking with writers, and maintaining a presence on social networks. The worst distraction for me right now is promoting my memoir, Innocent, which came out last year. There seems to be no end to the promotional activities I could be doing.

What has helped the most is being part of a critique group. My small group of writers meets once a month, which makes a convenient deadline for me. With a chapter every month, new or revised, my memoir took shape much faster than I dreamed possible. The superb constructive criticism from my fellow writers also made it a better book than it would have been otherwise, and their vigorous encouragement kept me going through the tough spots.

Deadlines force me to make time to write, even if it's only on the weekends. I also limit other activities. I make time for friends, but try to schedule no more than two or three social activities a week. There's a kitchen timer next to my computer to remind me to stop playing on the internet.

I work four days a week; on those days I exercise after work, pet the cat, eat dinner, and spend a few hours on promotion, ending with perhaps an hour of television and a chapter or two of the book I'm reading. On the weekends, I write in the morning, do errands and exercise in the afternoon, and usually some kind of social activity in the evening. Of course, sometimes life intervenes, but that' s my basic schedule. Every now and then, I treat myself to what my friend, Paul, calls a PJ Day. I settle in with a good book or two and pots of tea. My cat loves those days the best! And I appreciation the rest and rejuvenation that comes from taking a day off.

One of the silly things I did during my thinking time was to consult an astrologer. She said that instead of pampering myself, I should nurture myself. Making time for writing nurtures me in a deep and lasting way.

B. Morrison, author of the memoir Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother, speaks about her own experiences to dispel some of the myths and misunderstandings about those living in poverty. Now a writer and engineer, she also conducts poetry and memoir workshops and speaks on women's and poverty-related issues. She is the author of a poetry collection, Here at Least, and her award-winning work has been published in anthologies and magazines. She has maintained her Monday Morning Books blog since 2006 and tweets regularly about poetry @bmorrison9. For information about upcoming appearances visit her website and blog at

Available now: Innocent: Confessions of a Welfare Mother
Monday Morning Book Blog:
Follow me on Twitter: bmorrison9
Innocent on Facebook:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How I Balance My Writing Life with My Real Life

Today's featured author is
Charlene Tess

I find myself writing all the time in my head. The trick is getting those ideas recorded before they are scattered around amid all the other thoughts swirling throughout my mind like what to fix for dinner, or what errands I need to run.

Just ask my husband how often he has to repeat himself because I am daydreaming or “mind writing,” and I don’t hear him the first time he says something. I am truly not ignoring him, I just can’t snap back into the present fast enough to respond in an intelligent manner. He is used to it, so he doesn’t get offended.

I am happily retired from teaching after 35 years, and writing full time. Blending my real life with my writing life has become much easier thanks to Steve Jobs and his Apple products. 

I usually do most of my writing in the early morning hours. I wake up somewhere between 4:30 and 5:00 am, prop myself up on pillows and  type any ideas or remnants of dreams into the Notes App on my iPad while I drink two cups of coffee. Before I was lucky enough to have an iPad, I kept a yellow legal pad and a pen on my bedside table. I still like to write in long hand, and if I am stuck in a scene, or my ideas are stalled, I reach for that yellow legal pad. Somehow the right hand to left brain connection frees my mind and gets the words flowing again.

To make sure that the latest version of any article, story, or novel is available to work on, I use an app called Dropbox. I have the app on all my devices, and when I work on something, I open Dropbox, work on the document and then leave it there so I can access it from anywhere. Dropbox stores the documents in the Cloud and syncs them seamlessly. The documents are instantly updated. 

I try to take a long walk every morning. It is on this walk that my best ideas are formed. I put on my earphones and speak into the tape recorder app on my iPhone. When I get home, I listen to what I have recorded and type it into my computer. I am usually at work at my desk in my study by 8 am.
I stop working at 11 to have lunch with my husband and then go back to work until 3 pm. I have found this schedule works for me, and my writing life easily blends with my real life as a wife, mother, and grandmother. 

Charlene Tess taught English and creative writing to high school students and adults for over thirty-four years. She is listed in Who's Who in America. She has worked as an educational consultant helping other teachers use her grammar books, Simple Steps to Sentence Sense for High School, Simple Steps to Sentence Sense for Middle School, Simple Steps to Sentence Sense for Elementary School and ESL Students.

In 1998, she retired from teaching to devote her time to writing fiction and teaching fiction writing to adults. All of her novels are available as Kindle eBook in  She has also published short fiction and articles in magazines and in short story collections. Visit her blog and subscribe to her newsletter for freebies and updates.Charlene and her husband Jerry spend their free time traveling and visiting their two daughters and their three grandsons.