Tag Archives: #amwriting

8 Methods for Self-care During Stressful Times

There is no doubt that we have entered a highly stressful point in our national history. Such extreme stress–especially when added to everyday stressors we all face such as jobs, family, and time constraints–affects all of us and causes a number of physical and cognitive issues from headaches to stomachaches to sleepless nights and depression to mention only a few.
Regardless whether you have girded up to resist the current administration or if you simply want to survive the insanity of it, there are things you need to know.

Signs of Stress:
–Overeating/undereating/loss of appetite/nausea/diarrhea/constipation
–Inability to sleep/change of sleep patterns/restless sleep
–Feeling hopeless/helpless/defeated/being pessimistic
–Restlessness and irritability/snapping at people/losing your temper more easily
–Low energy/that blah feeling
–Headaches/body aches, pains and tense muscles
–Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
–Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
–Nervousness/shaking/ringing in the ear/cold or sweaty hands and feet
–Clenched jaw/grinding of teeth
–Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
–Constant worrying/racing thoughts
–Forgetfulness and disorganization/inability to focus/poor judgment
–Procrastinating/avoiding responsibilities/wanting to ‘hide under the bed’/wanting to ‘hide in the bed’
–Increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes
–Increased nail biting/fidgeting/pacing/restlessness

If you, or anyone you know, are exhibiting any or all of these symptoms they may be warning signs that stress levels have reached unmanageable proportions. The more symptoms or the more severe the symptoms, the higher the degree of stress.

Stress is not only unpleasant, but it can cause or exacerbate such things as heart ailments, skin disorders, sexual dysfunctions, mental health problems, and gastrointestinal problems such as heartburn, indigestion, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

As an author, I am deeply involved in a career that is, during the best of times, stressful. Because of the current political climate, as an author I have certain responsibilities to use words to keep people informed and to do my part to protect the freedoms that we in the United States enjoy; freedoms that are facing unparalleled challenges during this administration. Here are some ways that I manage the stress that is inherent in my life:

8 Methods for self-care during stressful times:
1.The first and best defense against stress is someone to talk to. This person needs to be non-judgmental, accepting, and someone you can trust not to repeat what you said. If you don’t have a family member or friend to whom to turn, I would recommend seeking professional counseling services or speaking with your doctor.

2.Eating regular meals, preferably eaten with people you like–can fuel your body to fight off stress. During meals, avoid discussing upsetting issues. Let that occur after you eat and have had a little bit of time to digest your food. If you don’t have time to sit down and eat, carry healthy snacks with you such as cheese and apples. This will give you the extra boost of energy while also supplying protein for repair of the body.

3.Exercise not only allows you to blow off steam, but it strengthens the body, and releases internal chemicals that lift our moods. Exercise does not have to be complicated. Depending on your physical condition is the level to begin exercising. You can take a brisk walk outside, go jogging along the street in your neighborhood, use a treadmill, do sit-ups/push-ups/ running up and down stairs or stretches at home.

4.Baths/showers can help overcome stress. A long, warm/hot bath or a long shower can wash away not only the grime of day-to-day living, but it will relax muscles and give you a time to quietly decompress. The sound of showers can be very soothing to some people while a decadence of a long bath will relax others.

5.Sitting down with a cup of tea or decaf coffee or a cool glass of water will also aid in managing stress. The water actually assists in washing toxins from the body. The warmth of tea or decaf coffee can be very soothing. Peppermint tea is good for digestive upsets; chamomile tea is good for restlessness and sleeping problems. Ginger root (made from real ginger root brought to a boil and then simmered for 15 minutes and then left to steep until it reaches the potency you wish) is great for infections, colds, sore throats, and upset digestion.

6.Sometimes, you have to simply leave the current reality. Find a good movie or book to take you on an adventure that transports you from everyday reality. Put on soothing music and sit back and immerse yourself in the notes and the tones of the instruments.

7.Attitude of Gratitude List is remarkably helpful in managing stress as it pulls us away from the feeling of helplessness and reminds us of the beauty and joy in our lives.
butterfly

8.Resist.
HumansSaveSelves
Join a group or organization that is fighting for the issue you are most invested in. Sign online petitions from reputable organizations (FYI: do NOT donate money to any organization you have not researched. Now is a great time for SCAM artists to rip people off!),email your senators and representatives about issues that are important to you, handwrite letters to your senators and representatives about issues or to simply thank them for their stands on different issues (since emails are easily done and senators and representatives get tons of them a day, a handwritten note of no more than one page will often catch their attention faster. Also, this gives them physical evidence of their constituents concerns to wave under the noses of the opposing senators or representatives), phone your senators and representatives and leave short messages of concern or thank you.
Volunteer on the campaign of people who are running for governmental positions. Tweet to your senators and representatives.
And don’t be hesitant to contact senators and representatives to let them know that once they hit Capitol Hill, they represent all the people of the nation, not just their narrow constituency. Be polite, state your concern, be brief.

Remember that stress can make us feel that we have done nothing of any worth, that we are failures. Stress lies.

creators-child

If you have other stress relief methods, feel free to share them in the comments section.

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YOUR FEEDBACK MATTERS!

Tenacity

10 Ways to Tell if Someone is an Author
1. Do they often hear voices in their head?
2. Do they see things that don’t exist, like unicorns and dragons?
3. Do they sometimes suddenly laugh with no apparent reason?
4. Do they spend a lot of time thinking up ways to kill people?
5. Do they write pages about steamy love affairs?
6. Do they sometimes speak with different accents?
7. Do they always having their nose in a book?
8. Do they know more about alien worlds than they do about their own neighborhood?
9. Do they sometimes forget and invite their main character to dinner?
10. Do they frequently walk around with a faraway look in their eyes?

ANNOUNCEMENT/REMINDER:
All ebooks are now $2.99! Go to http://www.amazon.com/author/ayawalksfar to grab your copy today!

After a busy summer of bike-tripping, I made one last five-day trip to Colorado. I’d never been to the state, except to pass through on my way to someplace else. One of the places I visited was Estes Park.
AYA AT ESTES PARK
Eleven thousand plus feet took me from eighty degree weather to finger-numbing cold on the Colorado tundra!
ELEVEN THOUSAND FEET ESTES
The next day, my companions and I hiked up into the hills of a place call Red Feather.
My hiking companions: my daughter, Lyn, and my grand-dog, Raven.
Colorado plus some from eastern washington 382
Many of the rock formations looked like a giant had carved them.
Red Feather Rock formations
And trees grew out of stone.
tree growing in rock
Though I loved seeing new places and wondrous things (to view more photos from Colorado, go to http://www.pinterest.com/ayawalksfar)it was good to return home and get back to writing! #AmWriting a literary novel to be released in early 2016: Beyond the Silence.
Barb Hensen always felt different. Trapped in an abusive marriage, she is slowly killing herself; and, the only hope she has is that her death won’t be long in coming. The day she meets Yona Long Runner Barb’s life is forever changed. At last, she understands her feelings of “differentness”. As she struggles to accept herself and her growing attraction to Yona, the abuse in her marriage escalates to an intolerable level. Now, she must choose between living and dying.
Meanwhile, the Vampire War is heating up! #AmWriting the second book of The Vampire Wars–The Return of Arundia (this is the working title only. The actual title may be different). Serena Longer, the First Councilwoman of the North American Region, faces deadly foes.

My readers are important to me. This short survey will help me decide on the content of this blog and the newsletter.
A SHORT SURVEY
What would you like to read on this blog and in the newsletter?
1. First chapter(s)of published books?
2. First chapter(s)of upcoming books?
3. Background stories of main characters?
4. Background stories of main and supporting characters?
5. Research that was done in the course of writing the books?
6. More background stories about the author?
7. Some of the reasons/motivations that moved the author to write certain books?
8. More image quotes?
9. Other:________________________________(please specify, or give an example)
PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW ON WHAT YOU WANT TO READ AND I WILL TRY TO INCLUDE IT! THANKS!

ROSES Thank you survey

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The Birth of a Book

In the unheard screams that rip the fabric of the night, in the silent tears of a victim huddled in upon herself in the corner of her own kitchen, Sketch of a Murder was born.

Domestic violence and rape are patterns of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.

Once the first seeds of an idea are planted, I begin to research. What I found in the case of Sketch of a Murder was:

One in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.

4 MILION women experience physical assault and rape by their intimate partners  http://www.safehorizon.org/page/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-52.html?gclid=CJ6k76f9rcUCFYeEfgodUwYACA

The number of women murdered by current or ex male partners between 2001 and 2012 were 11,766. During that same time period, the number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq were 6,488.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/domestic-violence-statistics_n_5959776.html

FBI Statistics for 2013 for Washington State:

Forcible rapes in seven cities: (these are the ones actually brought to trial. Until conviction, they are only considered alleged rapes) 657.

Rape and domestic violence are among the most under-reported crimes. Frequently, women internalize the blame for being beaten and sexually assaulted. Shame and a sense of hopelessness; a fear of the abuser increasing the abuse; a fear that there is no way to escape; fear of reprisal against them or their family, seals their lips against reporting the crimes.

When the crimes are reported, the woman often finds herself grilled as if she is the perpetrator–what did you do to anger him; why were you wearing that slutty dress; isn’t it true that you’ve slept with other men; how many other men; how long did you know X before you invited him to your home; and the interrogations go on and on.

If the crime does go to trial, the woman’s ordeal is increased. She is placed on the stand and forced to testify to humiliating and painful memories in a hostile environment. She is cross-examined as if she is the defendant. Evidence can be difficult to collect or has been contaminated; the woman waited too long to report the crime; the woman’s character is put on trial; the trial becomes a “he said–she said” fiasco. Technicalities and good attorneys allow men to smile as they walk away unscathed after perpetrating horrible crimes that will scar their victims forever.

With research as a foundation, I begin a process of creative “what-ifs”. What if a person decided to take justice into their own hands? What motivates a person to seek violent revenge? What type of personality would such revenge require? What type of training would a person need to be successful? What type of tools would that person have to use?

From this process, the Avenger sprang. In Sketch of a Murder, the Avenger has been triggered by a life event to exact justice. After the first murder, the Avenger goes on a spree of gruesome killings. The Avenger, however, doesn’t simply pick guilty men who have skated on serious charges; the Avenger wreaks havoc among wealthy men who have used position and power and monetary advantage to walk free.

Now that I have the antagonist–or the bad person and that person’s motivation–I must decide who will oppose this person and why; who will be the protagonist.

Some crimes are far reaching enough to warrant the formation of a Task Force. Again the creative “what-ifs” are employed. What if a task force is created by the governor because the Avenger has eluded multiple police forces and the deaths of wealthy men negatively impact her position? What if the task force is not constrained by jurisdictional boundaries within the state? What if the best cops for that force are misfits, cops that have ticked off a superior because they refused to toe the blue line? What special attitudes and abilities would they bring to the story? What conflicts with each other would such renegade team members face?

The Special Crimes Team was born from the governor’s desperation to find and stop the Avenger. Purely a political move, or was it?

All books need a place of occurrence. Whether that physical place plays a large or a small part in the story depends upon the story. The state of Washington is blessed, and cursed, with features that attract the best of people, and the worst of people. Mountains, wilderness, farmlands, big cities, airports, seaports, railway stations, high immigrant and migrant worker populations, a diverse and mobile population, a down turn in the economy that resulted in foreclosed and abandoned homes, proximity to another country’s border and a general attitude of live and let live makes this state a haven for human traffickers, dog fighters, kidnappers, and other criminals who need unlimited places in which to blend and/or to use to escape. Blessings

With those elements–the crime, the antagonist, the protagonist, the scene and some of the complications–in place, the work of writing begins.

The first draft is written without concern for grammar, punctuation, or even logic and timelines. It is the story in the rough. After the first draft comes multiple drafts, each one refining the story, further developing the characters, fleshing out the scenes, fine tuning the dialogue, checking and fixing the timeline; and, reassessing the logic and the story arc. When I decide the story is finished, I begin editing. After I edit as much as I can, I send the work to others to edit. When that work is returned, I read the feedback and evaluate what changes must be made.

After editing, Beta Readers are engaged to comment on the story as readers–did it hook them; did the dialogue sound real; were the situations believable, and so forth. With that feedback, I make final corrections then send the book to the publisher.

The publisher obtains a cover, formats the book and puts the package together for presentation to the public. And, a book is born.  Sketch of a Murderebook 7 30 2014

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5 REASONS TO NOT ‘#BE #YOURSELF’

somewhere dif Good Intentions

We hear a lot of advice to ‘just be yourself’. As an author, I am frequently admonished to ‘be yourself’ on social media; ‘be yourself’ in your writing; ‘be yourself’ when you meet fans.

That is terrible advice, and here’s why:

  1. Like most vague advice, no one bothers to define ‘be yourself’.
  2. ‘Be yourself’ seems to indicate that you don’t need to improve. Whatever you are, is good enough. What if I don’t want to be just ‘good enough’?
  3. ‘Be yourself’ can lead to stagnation. To what stage/phase of my life does ‘be yourself’ pertain? Should I be the growing up ‘self’? That ‘self’ exuded violence in a violent world. What about the ‘self’ that lived on the road, angry and disillusioned? Throughout a person’s life we have many ‘selves’, many phases of growth.
  4. ‘Be yourself’ can lead to a position of no compromise. If I cling to being myself, I may not be willing to compromise with others when being myself may clash with them being themselves.
  5. ‘Be yourself’ may be great advice when you know who you are, but life is about discovery–the discovery of who I was, who I am and who I am becoming.

People say what they mean by ‘be yourself’ is ‘don’t try to be someone you’re not.’ To me, it is important to ‘try on’ different ways of being. I will always try to be someone I am not because I will always try to grow into someone whom I admire; I will always try to reach out and learn and grow. I can’t ‘be myself’ because I am simply too busy becoming the best that I can be.

I much prefer the advice to ‘be authentic’. Whether in my life or in my writing, I strive for authenticity–for being real. When I write of anger or love, hate or admiration, being hungry or feeling on top of the world, I am sharing an authentic part of myself with my readers.

What does ‘be yourself’ mean to you? Would love to hear!

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