Category Archives: Gratitude

My State of Writing

I’ve struggled a lot these past few months to blog consistently. So often, that’s the writing I push to the back burner when life pops up with tedious little requirements like grocery shopping and feeding the family. 😉  It’s a bummer, putting it off, because while blogging isn’t my favorite form of writing, overall I enjoy it when I’ve had time to think over what I want to say. And like most things, I’m better at blogging when I practice more.

One decent side effect is that though blogging took a back seat, the editing on Treasure Bound continues on a semi-regular basis. I feel slow as a sloth at that, but I can honestly say I’ve kept up with the edits for the last few weeks. I wish I could work faster, but at least I feel the changes are substantial and accurate. I know someone will find fault with something in the book—maybe a detail about the Puente Map, or a liberty I took with the Castillo—but I’m trying hard to make my story as correct and entertaining as possible.

With all this said, then, I decided my December blog would be sort of a year-end recap of me and my writing life, along with a little progress report on Treasure Bound. So here goes.

Some of you may recall I started out on a good writing note this year. I had my blog up and running and produced two pieces a month (my 2017 New Year’s Writing Resolution) for a couple early months. I’m sad my resolution was shorter-lived than I’d hoped for. I’d tried something new this year, a formal editorial calendar and a social-media-post suggestion list. They both worked very well … to the extent I used them. Agh. After a short time, the printed lists became buried on my desk, only to be seen when I remembered to shuffle through the piles of paper.

Still, I have to say the quantity and quality of much of my writing (and marketing) has improved over last year. For that, I’m truly happy and glad. And along the way, I’ve had some fantastic experiences, too. This was a year of fun writing firsts: I guest spoke at a local book club where I discussed Emerald Obsession, answered questions, and read an excerpt from Treasure Bound; I hosted my first EO author signing in downtown Saint Augustine. I’m honored to say my signing was the best they’d hosted, despite being set up on short notice. Thanks again, AnaRosa Burke, for your incredible support! Also, this year saw me make new writer friends when asked to participate in my first Flash Fiction Blast hosted by my friend, fellow author Rita Henuber. Positive reviews and comments on my short, “Bitter,” gave me a lift, especially during the ongoing TB edit process.

And in between that, our Irma-extended trip to the Czech Republic, an extreme poison ivy allergic reaction, Thanksgiving week in a Georgia mountains cabin, still sticking with the crazy-but-interesting part-time job, freelancing here and there for NY, trying to finish the detail work and décor on our house, and taking care of the household and my hub, I’ve squeezed in time for editing Treasure Bound.

CZ Dad Garden
Blood Mountain, GA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you remember, I had that big ol’ cow in June when I realized I’d only half-written the story on my computer and had the other half scribbled longhand in my notebook. In mish-mash pieces, no less. Boy, was that a kick in the butt. But I’m happy to report progress!

Not that I have an updated word count to give you…yet. I’m still working through the whole story, adding scenes and transitions to the original “half” I’d keyed into my laptop. Right now, I’m only three-quarters of the way through. But, I’m fleshing out the secondary characters and subplots, and my critique group’s feedback is very positive. Yay.

Those of you familiar with the “exciting” ways of editing know that once I finish this second editing round, I’ll go through everything again. And again, and likely again. During each round of edits you read for something different. Though this stage can be draining, I sort of enjoy it, because that’s where I polish the story to a hopefully brilliant shine.

I’ll be excited to finish this round, though, because then I’ll reprint the entire manuscript and will read through all the additions in as few sittings as possible to check for flow and consistency. I’m prepared for the likelihood I’ll still need to write more, too. Not crazy about the possibility, but that’ll be an update for next year…hopefully early next year!

So that’s about it from my end. Crazy life, crazy book status, but s’all good. And all manageable.

Before I sign off for this year, I’d like to thank you all once more for traveling this sometimes-bumpy path with me. The company sure helps keep me sane. 🙂

And I wish you and your families, friends, loved ones a wonderfully Merry Christmas and a joyous, festive, peaceful, and loving New Year. May the best spirit of the holiday season stay with you year-round!

Christmas St. Aug

Hugs from me……….

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Writing Out The Storms

This morning, I sat wondering for a few minutes if it’s “bad form” to begin a blog post with an addendum. A quick Google search on addendum placement yielded too many unnecessary bits, so I’ve decided just to go with it.

So here it is: I was supposed to post the following blog over two weeks ago. In the interim, a devastating earthquake ravaged Mexico, Hurricane Maria inundated an already-decimated Puerto Rico, and a gunman slaughtered 58 innocent people in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Some days, I feel so deeply hurt that I hardly know what to do. I certainly don’t always feel like writing. And even when I do, the words don’t necessarily come out the way I’d like.

With all the madness in the world swirling around, I also had a smaller, though personal, issue to deal with, the poison ivy/oak I mention below. Apparently, I’m severely allergic, so I’ve spent almost 3 weeks on steroids and dealing with swollen and blistered arms and a rashy body. The drugs gave me woozy head, and sitting down to write or brainstorm yielded nothing good.

Well, I’m slowly returning to the land of my living, and still processing the incredible events of these past weeks, trying to make sense of what I can and trying to keep going in a positive way. I hope you’ll take a few more minutes to zip through the rest of my original post below. And I truly hope this finds you well and striving to be happy in this crazy world. Thanks for spending some of your time with me! <3

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I’m not sure if Hurricane Irma wiped out all my thoughts and blog ideas in a wild, massive rush of wind, but it sure feels like that tricky witch did something to my brain. Though I can’t say exactly how she managed to do so, since I was about 5000 miles away in Europe when she hit my home in Florida.

As happens more often than not, this isn’t the blog I’d planned to write. But as circumstances change often and quickly, I usually try to go with the flow. When it comes to writing, that feels most natural and hopefully, therefore, is the best writing I can do.

When Irma blasted the Caribbean and the Southeast, my reaction was different this time than with Matthew last year, because I couldn’t return from Europe. I’ve only been home for one week, and it’s been hard to get back into writing.

I want to write again—especially, to work on the edits for Treasure Bound—but I don’t have the words yet. My creative brain has disconnected or something. Not a breaking off, but more like a pulling away to process what’s happened in the world.

Too overwhelmed with reality? No, that’s not it. Reality often overwhelms me ; ) so that’s nothing new. (October note: Hah! If only I’d known how much worse things would get. It all feels so unreal still.)

And maybe I’ll come back tomorrow to reread this before posting and will feel completely different. Tiredness impacts my creativity, and we’ve been tired a lot since we began following Irma’s antics almost three weeks ago.

Let me back up a moment. You see, my husband and I had planned a relatively last-minute visit to his family in the Czech Republic, and we were due to fly home—to Orlando airport—on September 9. The airline, Irma, and MCO all had other ideas, though.

So, we spent many hours on the phone with various people and places and eventually were able to book a flight home on September 15.

But I have to say, not being here—home—to ride out the storm brought me a different sort of anxiety. It felt strange and wrong not to be here, to be too far away to help, to know if family, friends, home were all right.

So, I guess I’m still sorting through the different levels of emotion and tiredness that’ve followed me. Though we did enjoy our extra time away, it was more stressful than you’d think, and the travel home kept us awake for almost 26 hours.

In all, though, we’re immensely grateful that our friends and family are all right. Things are so much worse for so many, and my heart breaks with the latest news from the Caribbean and Mexico. How truly overwhelming.

So from my perspective, the few more downed trees we had, though sad to see and to lose, are merely proof that far greater things than us exist. It’s a process, though, dealing with the changes and problems. I don’t downshift that quickly, unfortunately.

A small segue: I do have to sneak in a photo or two of our yard here, because Lou and I could hardly believe what had happened on the rear of our property. A huge tree with water-logged roots toppled, ripping up a chunk of ground. Check out this mass of dirt and roots!

Tree roots
Downed trees

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fortunately, when he cut the tree apart, the stump rose and the dirt/roots have settled back into position. But I wonder how long that’ll last.

The almost-week’s-worth of jungle clean-up did leave me with one other present: a nasty occurrence of poison something-or-other, worse than last year, it feels. So, just add steroiding myself to the list of “out there” feelings, and I think we’ve got the lack-of-writing issue mostly clarified.

Anyhoo…maybe writing this blog will help get my head on straight. Though I did write some on vacation, it was without regularity and not often. Me falling off the writing wagon is not pretty, as it takes several ugly attempts before I can claw my way up again. Think I’m finally getting there, though. I hope.  : )

And here’s a nice ending to this post: the birds are coming back. A blue jay streaked by the window and nestled in the pine tree. And a pretty bright-red cardinal just landed on the orange tree outside, perched amid the yellow-lime fruits, which I hope survive till ripeness.

Happiness, seeing that flash of crimson and imperious crown, since I think of angels when I see cardinals. And I have a few special guardians I know are looking out for me and my hub, through all the madness this world can throw at us. <3 Stay strong.

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Book Club Brilliance

Every year, February’s brevity catches up with me, no matter how many times I remind myself it’s a short month. In my effort to keep on schedule, I’m squeaking in my second February blog with a few hours to spare. Whee! I’m lucky, though, because I have a fun topic for this post: book clubs. More specifically, my first invitation to attend a book club and to join the discussion as the author of the group’s chosen monthly read! What a freaking treat for me. : )

Through the most excellent graces of my friend Monika—she talked me up to her friend Melissa who’s part of this club—I was introduced to a wonderful group of authentic, candid readers who are in love with books.

As much as I appreciate book clubs, I haven’t participated in one before, even as a reader. And it hadn’t occurred to me to offer to speak to or participate in a book club discussion as a writer. Those of you who’ve followed my blog from the onset know I feel challenged by marketing and putting myself out there as an author.

And I’ll share this: discussing books and telling stories to friends is one thing, but stepping into the spotlight of this group felt so intimidating. It’s an entirely different experience to sit before a group of intelligent, time-pressed individuals who purchased your book on someone’s recommendation and then be held accountable for your words, creativity and entertainment value. I mean, what if these people hated my book? Or found inconsistencies? Or thought it too simplistic? I’ll say again, a tad bit intimidating.

That was, until I met this group of lovely people. Well-read, well-traveled, outspoken and outgoing, these women welcomed me and treated me like a friend while being honored I, “a local author,” joined their discussion.

And let me tell you, these guys do Book Club right: their once-a-month evening meeting begins with catch-up chats over a welcoming glass of vino and simple starters, is followed by a delicious, no-fuss meal (we enjoyed chicken chili, salad and fresh fruit; I’m hoping Natalie will hook me up with that recipe!), and culminates in the discussion of that month’s selected title. Their discussion format is straightforward and begins with the host opening with a book-related question or discussion topic to get the ball rolling. The conversation is free-form, with members commenting and asking additional questions until by consensus the evening ends. Simple, fun, effective, entertaining.

Vino
Cheese Platter

 

 

 

 

 

Every writer I know struggles with the desire to share stories but not to feel rejected by those who dislike, don’t understand or fear them. And we struggle with how to tell those stories the best we possibly can. The club’s questions were engaging and thought-provoking and even gave me ideas for a couple points I plan to work into the sequel I’m writing now, TB. Though a bit unnerving in the anticipation, in all ways, this experience was fantastic: the welcome, the interest, the engagement, the thoughtful and valuable questions and comments.

Bunch of Books

Though the group said they felt honored by my presence, I have to say I’m the one who was pleased and humbled by their invitation. They welcomed me and my story, Emerald Obsession, into their lives for a time; they allowed themselves to be carried away by my characters’ antics and transported to unfamiliar locales where they feasted on exotic fare. How fortunate am I?

Special thanks to: Melissa, Natalie, Leslie, Carolyn, Sarah, Kathy, Eleanor, Maggie, the fab ladies of (mostly) Davis Shores for their warmth, interest and welcome. Also, for your encouraging response to the vignette I read from Treasure Bound, my work-in-progress sequel.

You guys rock. Read on, ladies!

So, readers, do you belong to a book club? How does yours work? As I mentioned, I haven’t been in one before, but this experience really made me want to start. How about you? Let me know below or by email (carolyn@carolyngreeley.com). Thanks!

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Christmas Presence: My First Author Talk

My heart rate doubled. So many faces stared at me. In my hands, the pages of my speech shook, so I laid them on the smooth white tablecloth. Took a few deep breaths.

Did not imagine the audience in their undies or naked. TMI, for sure.

But the thought made me smile, loosen up, and I dove in. This was it, my first speaking gig as an award-winning author. And my early Christmas present. Huge!

Christmas tree

I’ve done a good deal of public speaking in various forms in my previous life as a Manhattan ad woman. Those appearances had been nerve-wracking, empowering, frustrating. But none compares to the experience of speaking about writing and my indie publishing experience to a group of attentive, non-captive Florida Writers Association members and guests.

In November, I’d been asked by one of our St. Augustine FWA chapter heads (thanks, Nancy Quatrano!) to join a panel of speakers for our December holiday meeting. When she approached me, I immediately said yes, thinking of the honor it would be: The opportunity to speak about my love, writing. I felt the first flicker of nerves later, when I sat to brainstorm the specifics.

But the truth is, writing my short presentation turned out to be crazy easy. Sure, I toyed with a few different directions to start, but once I sat and began typing, the words flowed, the message clear and concise: I took myself from NYC newbie writer to FL published, award-winning author, and I learned a hell of a lot—about publishing and life—along the way.

Author Awarded 2016
2016 RPLA Trophy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My real anxiety didn’t hit until the morning of my talk. But the openness of my fellow panelists, and the welcome of the FWA heads and audience members helped mellow me. After the first couple of minutes, I felt like a million bucks.

One of the best parts? The questions and interest from the group after my speech. Holy smokes! People asked questions, sought my opinion on publishing, wanted to know more about how I handled the pressures, time-constraints, technical aspects of publishing on top of simply writing. I knew I’d learned a great deal over the past years, but I hadn’t truly realized until then how my insights could help other writers, at least in some small way.

So now, at the end of this incredible year of more firsts, I give thanks again for the unique and humbling ways in which my life continues to unfold.

The holiday season makes me as reflective and maudlin as the next person. The new year is around the corner, and that’s soon enough to contemplate resolutions and remedies.

For the last days of 2016, I plan to be grateful for the joys of this year. They are many, though interspersed with sorrows. Though we’ve lost a terrible number of artistic souls this year, my year has ended on a writerly high note. I hope the same is true of yours.

I’m sending all best wishes for a year of betterment, of love, peace, happiness, growth and wisdom. Let’s continue to strive for this.

By the way, if you’d like a copy of my speech and the list of online resources I found useful on my publishing road, please let me know in the comments section or email me at carolyn@carolyngreeley.com. Sharing = caring. <3

Thanks again and Happy New Year!

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Attitude of Gratitude

I’m a slow-and-steady kind of gal, for the most part. That works for me.

That’s not to say I don’t tackle my share of things spontaneously. I do, but that’s not my go-to mode of operation. My life to this point has been more about better late than never: I changed careers in my late thirties, I married for the first (and only) time at 41, which is also when I bought my first house.

But on a smaller scale too, I tend to take my time with things, decisions, actions. Some might say I procrastinate a tad. ; ) I prefer to call myself “a thinker.” After which I add, “then a doer.” Don’t get me wrong; overthinking is not a good habit, so I do my best to take action before too much time passes.

Take this blog, for example. This is my Thanksgiving post, my attitude of gratitude. Of course, the holiday is already two days past (or more, depending on when you read this). Still, sometimes the important things take time. And writing this is an important thing.

I’m a very, very fortunate person. If you’ve read some of my previous posts, I think and hope you’ve discovered that. I try hard to let people know how thankful I am for their presence in my life, for all their help, support, love, guidance. I’m not sure I do a good enough job of that, but I continue to try.

This year, my husband and I—with the help of some great, dear friends—hosted our first Thanksgiving Dinner in our new home. Wow. The preparation wasn’t quite total mayhem, but it came close. And I don’t mean “mayhem” in the fully fun way I usually do. There were a few hiccups along with the happy.

But now that a couple days have gone by, I can look back and better appreciate everything that went into the planning, the help, the cooking, the entire day. Wow again. In the best possible way. Funny how the perspective of time gives me a better attitude of gratitude.

So thank you, all of you—friends, family, followers and fans—for all you do. And for reminding me of all I have. This life sure isn’t perfect, but there are times when it comes damn close. When I stop to think about it. : )

Happy Gratitude. See you again soon.

Oh, and PS: Here’s a photo of my RPLA trophy. Something else I’m grateful for:

2016 RPLA Trophy!
2016 RPLA Trophy!
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