Tag Archives: Gratitude

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

————-

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.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Stability in a Whirlwind

I’m not one of those bloggers who writes articles in advance and has a stash ready to go at a moment’s notice, aided into the etherworld with the assistance of some tech-savvy social-media-managing app like Hootsuite. I’m one of those think-of-an-idea-then-write-it-when-I-make-time bloggers. Which is why—when generalized mayhem strikes as it did this lovely month of March (some good, some bad)—I found myself ill-prepared to post either of my two blogs-to-be this month.

Well, sort of, since—if luck/determination/the internet all cooperate with me—this post will hopefully go live on my website on March 31. Thereby letting me say at least one of my March blogs posted this month.

I’ve mentioned before how blogging doesn’t come easily to me, but that I enjoy it for the most part (best of all when I feel I have something fun and/or useful to share). But I like to take time to think over what I’m blogging about, make sure I feel it’s relevant to my readers.

So, why did I choose to add yet another serving to my already-full plate? Because that’s exactly what I’ve done.

In the form of starting a new part-time job in February. Man alive, I’m still shaking my head at myself, wondering whether adding such time-consuming madness to my life was smart to do.

So here I am, one(ish) month later, and going strong. For the most part. I’ll share a little bit about the decision without naming names because I’m still in the trial phase as far as I’m concerned.

Friends and readers, you know I like to learn new things. Pretty much all the time. So when I heard of the opportunity of a part-time job at a company I like, whose products I use often, and where I stood to learn a great deal about subjects of interest to me, I jumped. And by that I mean I applied, talked things over with my hub, aced the interview and was hired in a matter of a few days. Hello, whirlwind.

Whirlwind!

There are other layers of logic to my decision besides wanting to learn, though, not the least of which is dropping a few extra bucks in the bank. Having worked from home for the past four years, I also looked forward to a different job environment and new people. And I relished the idea of committing to a real schedule again, something that often proves difficult to maintain in the home-office world.

And that, dear readers, is proving the most challenging part of this. I enjoy the job, all that I’m learning, the people (most of them, let’s be honest), the environment. But the schedule … that leaves much to be desired. To say it’s random is an understatement. Erratic and changeable are better words by far.

Which leaves me with a potential problem. Those who follow my blogs and Facebook and Twitter posts know I’m struggling to complete the sequel to Emerald Obsession. I’m near the end of writing the first draft of Treasure Bound, but after that I have months of editing and other work.

Well, I’m someone who often reacts better to exterior deadlines than self-induced ones. My thought process behind starting a new part-time job included the belief a more structured daily routine would benefit my writing; it would super-charge my daily habits and keep my writing time regimented and productive.

Sadly, I’m not sure that’ll prove true. Though I’m game to keep working for a while longer. Five weeks isn’t enough time for me to feel I’ve gotten the entire job/schedule picture, so I’ll continue to test the waters. But I fear the inconsistent nature of the company’s scheduling, which I wasn’t clear on at the onset, won’t jive with what I need from a part-time job right now.

Either way, readers and friends, I’ll keep you posted on how things go. March had so many other things happening concurrent with starting the new job that maybe April will bring a settling down to life.

Either way, I’m a blessed person. My mom just left after a fun visit, today would’ve been Fodda’s 86th birthday; the sun shines bright in the morning sky, the hub smiles and things are right in my world. I hope they are in yours, too. Keep on, right? I’ll just keep on, keeping on. See you again soon.

Mellow rocks
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

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!
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Lucky Work

Every once in a blue moon, the stars arrange themselves and surprise me with something ridiculously happy. I’m incredibly grateful for those alignments, and I’m aware not only of their rarity but of their fleeting nature. I also realize those configurations often occur through more mundane efforts. This adage, often ascribed to Thomas Jefferson, is one I really get behind: I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.”

I consider myself very fortunate in this little life o’ mine. Plenty of less-than-good inhabits my daily world, but I’m one lucky SOB most of the time. I’ve learned, though, better things come from when I work hard to reach my goals.

That said, I try to remember to be grateful for all I have (especially when it’s hard to remember!), and I really try to share that appreciation with all those who have supported me on my somewhat-randomly chaotic ride.

So, where am I going with this? A big shout-out to all of you for championing my first mystery novel, Emerald Obsession.

The latest, brilliant news for me and my book is that we just won 2nd Place in the Royal Palm Literary Awards for Published Mystery!!!!

Emerald Obsession in print
Emerald Obsession in print
RPLA, 2nd Place, Mystery
RPLA, 2nd Place, Mystery

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wooo hooo. I am beyond over the moon! And still—a bit—in a state of disbelief. On a fun-factoid note, my win came on October 22, 2016, which is the one-year anniversary of Emerald Obsession’s publication! Unreal. October 22 also happens to be the birthdays of my Uncle John and Aunt Marge, so I think it’s a pretty fabulous day on many levels. : )

What a wonderful shock, a needed jolt for my next challenge. I’ll do my very best to keep up the hard work, to use this win as motivation to continue writing, especially when the brain spews sludge or simply dumbs down into temporary oblivion. ; ) (Don’t worry: I spew, therefore, I edit.)

Before I sign off and get back to writing EO’s sequel, TB, I’ll say one more quick thank you. Who knew where my novel would take off to all those years ago? In my wildest dreams, perhaps I’d thought of winning an award, but wow. In reality, all I’d like is for more people to enjoy my stories. I hope that continues. Thank you for helping make this ride possible. <3

I’m happy you visited. Please spread the word and tell your friends about my website, so they can sign up for my newsletter and read all the latest. See you again soon!

PS—Wishing you all an early, fabulous and Happy Halloween! Want to see what the hub and I are dressing as this year? Be sure to visit again soon. : )

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail