Another area I pay attention to is my fitness. When I feel good physically, I feel better mentally, too. What you do is not as important as enjoying what you do. If you like your activity, you’ll stay with it longer and look forward to getting active.
I enjoy a wide varieties of physical activities. Right now my fitness has taken a hit with the whole covid difficulty. Since it will be a while before I get back to martial arts classes, I decided it was time to do something about it. I began a new fitness program this last week.
I chose a yoga shred program, a cross between yoga and high intensity interval training. I’ve done both yoga and interval training before, and have enjoyed yoga program videos from this particular teacher before, so I thought I’d try it.
Today was day 6. Some days I feel fabulous and capable. Other days are difficult, but I push through and keep going. Yesterday was a successful day. Today was a real push. Either way, I give it my best effort and go for it. Only 3 days in, I already had more energy and felt better. Today I’m more tired after the workout, but it was a bigger challenge for me than usual. Tomorrow I’ll feel good again.
To go with my exercise routine, I’m paying close attention to my diet again. I already eat well, lots of veggies and home made foods with lower sugar and healthy fats. I’m even more careful with sugar now and I do feel great. By keeping fit and healthy, I really do write better. Fuelling my body and brain will let me achieve my best.
Everyone in Aili’s country wears a neckband. It has become a part of their culture, it’s been done for so long. When bands were originally used, they were made by mages who wanted an easy way to identify who was another mage and who was not. Earlier in their history the mages did allow non-magical folk to live in their countries, usually refugees from various disasters. Mages preferred to mark themselves instead of forcing outsiders to segregate or mark themselves.
People aren’t born with the bands, but they are given them within days from birth. As a person grows, the band grows with them. Their magical abilities and deeds are recorded by the bands through both colour and decorations. The bands start as a plain bronze, and change once a person’s magic becomes active. Normally this is around the age of five or six. Aili is incredibly unusual in not having her band change for a prolonged period.
The colour of a band affects a person’s status in society. Little children have bronze bands, and not much is expected of them as they grow and get ready to study magic. Once they are ready, around five or six years old, they are assessed for magical ability and their bands change to silver. Silver indicates a student. Silver bands have a small and flat plate with the magic teacher’s name on it. When a person passes their formal exams, their band turns gold and they are a full mage. They’re ready to find an occupation and take their place in society as a full adult. If their knowledge and abilities progress, usually as a person ages, their bands may turn platinum and they become a Master Mage.
By far the largest group are regular Mages. Much of the population have gold bands. Master Mages are not rare, though. They tend to gravitate to either academics, usually at the University, or they join specialist groups, like the Scouts and Border Guards. The population is fairly stable in the country, with families tending towards only two or three children generally, and people live in harmony with nature. Not everyone forms a family, which prevents the population from growing beyond their resources.
So, what does someone do when their band doesn’t act normally? That is Aili’s problem...
After a couple of days to relax and celebrate, I started back at my normal writing routine today. Things went swimmingly for me. Sometimes a vacation is all we need. I currently have four books on the go, in varying stages of production. The mini vacation did wonders for my focus and desire to write.
The second book in the Forest Guardians series is going into its final draft. I love the characters and getting to send them on adventures in a world of my own creation. Being able to hold a copy of the first book in my hands is inspiring. I’m an actual published author, with actual books out!
The martial arts book is coming along well. I had to refresh my memory, as I set it aside for a few weeks to focus on getting the romance novel out. It was fun going over what I had done and making sure I knew where I was going and how I wanted to get there. The advantage to outlining the major plot points is that I don’t have to worry about forgetting something important. My notes of each major stage of the plot let me pick back up and keep going.
I have a new romance book in the works. It’s roughly outlined, though I still have more work to do. I’m looking forward to turning it into a full story.
Finally, I have a special story on the go. It’s something that speaks strongly to me and a story I need to tell. I can’t say too much about it yet, but I have begun writing now that it’s fully outlined. My beta reader has seen the opening and they want to read the rest.
Anyways, writing is what I love and what I do. Sometimes we all need a quick break. I’m back and ready to go. Here’s to future stories!
Well, yesterday I published my adult book. That last day, where you finally hit the button and put your book out there, is such an emotional roller coaster. There’s an excitement when the book goes live and you know people can read it.
As a celebration, I took today off and went to the zoo with my guy. The week of publishing is busy, with getting details done, proofreading, getting covers designed, and more. Some people say a writer should write every single day. While I do write almost daily, even if it’s just for fun on personal stories, I’ve also found that some time off is valuable, too.
I don’t generally put a lot of importance on things we should “always” or “never” do, because our needs change. Sometimes we discover that we need to do things differently, or that there are better ways to do things for us, personally. I’ve found that breaking up my writing during the day makes me more productive and keeps my brain fresh, while other people will sit and write in one burst. I work on multiple stories at once, so a break between each story helps.
Having a day off occasionally is also good for my productivity. I love writing, absolutely adore it, but I also enjoy celebrating my hard work. It’s perfectly okay to take some time to relax and unwind. I know I’ll be back to writing tomorrow, because I’m a writer. It’s what I do and love, and I can’t imagine going too many days without writing. Still, I give myself today as a gift to myself. No expectations, no plans, just any little writing I may do because I want to, like this blog post.
Here’s to another book! It’s under another pen name, since my primary audience is people under 18, but it was fun to write and I love the characters. As a celebration, I’ll share one of my favourite pictures from the zoo, taken a few years ago.
I’ve been busy this lat week, getting my next book ready to publish. Well, today I proofread it. I am done! Almost. It’s with my co-proofreader and beta-reader for final comments and editing, but that usually doesn’t mean much change.
Needless to say, today was a day to celebrate. Now it’s time to start getting the file ready to turn into books, and start getting cover design and so on. I’m a happy author.
What else should happen today but my own copies of my first book came back from the printer. That’s right, actual physical proof for myself that this was not all just a dream, I am indeed a published author. I am crazy happy and super excited. I know, surely an author can come up with a prettier way of saying that, but I’m so excited I don’t care. Watch me be enthusiastic.
If I’m a little quiet for the rest of the week, it’s because I’m doing pre-publication work on the novel. Also exciting news, book two of the Forest Guardians series is entering what should be the final draft as well. Within a month or two it’ll be ready to publish. I’m looking forward to that book a lot. Aili is a fun character to write for, even if she keeps taking my plots and going somewhere with them that I never saw coming. Teenagers!
Well, I’ve blogged now during my journey as a writer, from starting my first novel and taking it al the way through to publishing. I have another in the final proofreading stage, and the second Forest Guardians book is nearing the third draft. I started back in May, taking writing courses and learning how to be a professional author.
Wow, things have changed, but they’ve also stayed the same in many ways. I’ve learned what works for me and I’ve tried different things, I’ve changed things and abandoned other things. I’ve personalized what I’ve learned To be the best writer I can be.
What’s still the same? Most of my morning routine has remained the same as when I started in May. I get up early, take the dog for a walk, and get myself moving. I have breakfast and meditate, as well as writing in my gratitude journal. Once that’s done, I write.
I take more breaks now and write longer into the day. Sometimes I also work in the afternoon. Of course, it doesn’t feel like work because I love writing. I like to keep my brain fresh so I’ll work for an hour or so, then take a half hour break and do something else. I’m more sustainably productive that way.
I used to be super strict about no technology or social media until I was done writing. I find I actually welcome the mental break between bouts of writing, and I’m more productive if I allow myself the diversion during my breaks. I have self-discipline and don’t use technology to avoid writing, so for me it works really well to allow myself the change.
I work on two stories at once now. I tried three for a while, and that works when one is in the proofreading stage, where I’m only actively writing two stories. I don’t write three at once now. I can, but I prefer to give more attention to two stories instead. I never have only one going, because I do like the variety of a couple instead.
I still do writing courses and learn what I can. I want to be the best writer I can be, so I never stop learning. Also, as an Indie Author (independent and self-published), I have many skills to learn and keep sharp. I love the challenge and look forward to many more books I will write. Will I change things over the years? Most likely. I do what I find works and adjust as I feel is best.
Come on, You can’t have a forest without wolves, now, can you? I love wolves. On one of my backpacking trips in behind Banff, we got to listen to the wolves howl as they moved through the valley. That was an experience of a lifetime.
My favourite part of the Zoo is the North American animals. These are the animals I grew up seeing. The wolves were always one of my favourites, because I never actually saw them in the wild, only heard them. I also adore watching the river otters and can watch them all day, but that’s just an aside. In fact, today’s Instagram picture is from a Zoo trip many years ago. I love wildlife photography, and the Zoo is a great place to practice.
Aili also loves wolves, and so do all Scouts. In the first book, you meet the wolves on the non-magical side of the border. In the sequel, coming soon, you meet the wolves that inhabit the forest Aili grew up playing in. They play a much bigger part of the story, even letting you see one of the main characters in a new way as they interact.
Wolves have a complex and fascinating social structure. Demonized through story throughout history, many people fear or hate wolves. That’s a shame, really. They keep an ecosystem healthy and prevent overpopulation among the grazers. That’s why all healthy forests should have wolves.
To write my best, I need to be well rested. As I get older, sometimes good sleep, that real quality sleep that lets you feel refreshed, it can be harder to come by. A time came in my life when I needed to pay attention to my sleep.
Life hasn't always been smooth and I haven't always had the healthiest habits. Almost a decade ago now, for instance, someone very close to me died. I didn't handle it well. I stopped sleeping well and for a while I'm not sure I was dreaming. Normally I vividly remember dreams, and from this period, nothing.
I paid more attention to my sleep hygiene and one thing helped more than anything else. It was so successful I've shared the recipe with others, who got similar relief. It's called Gold Milk. It's an ancient recipe from India. It's simple to make and easy. There are many versions, but here's the one I use every night.
Take 1 1/4 cup of milk and add it to a saucepan. I use goat milk because I don't digest cow's milk well, but any animal milk is supposed to work. Add a pinch of turmeric, cardamom, and cinnamon each. Stir and heat until it's just beginning to boil, and remove it from the heat. I use maple syrup, about a teaspoon, but any sweetener will work, stirred into the milk. Stir well and pour it into a cup. I let it cool for a while because it holds heat surprisingly well. Drink when it's at the temperature you like.
Other good tips for a restful night include:
1. Making sure the room is a comfortable temperature and your blankets aren't too warm or cold.
2. Turn off electronics early before bed, and be aware of how bright the lights in your rooms are. We stop all electronics around 9 pm, except e-readers and other devices that don't emit blue light. Lower lights as the evening progresses
3. Set a regular bedtime and wakeup time. Sure, I let myself sleep in on Saturday, my day off formal writing, but I still get up within about 15 minutes of my normal time. Going to bed at a regular time helps your body settle, too.
4. No heavy meals before bed. I'm active and need food spread throughout the day, but I try to have my last snack before 9 pm as well. Some people need to stop earlier. Try things and do what works for you.
5. Some foods can help us sleep. Do a little research and try some, if you need that last snack like I do. Your body will be different, so play and keep notes.
A proper sleep can be the difference between writing well and feeling fuzzy. If I have a less restful night, maybe a thunderstorm or my significant other didn't sleep well, I remember to be kind to myself the next day. Maybe I won't be as productive, and that's okay. Since he started drinking Gold Milk, he's slept more restfully and longer, too.
It’s been a crazy day here, but I finally have a moment to sit. Today we got our next hay delivery for the horses, so now we’re good for a couple of months. Still, we need to move the hay from a big pile outside to a stacked pile in a building for its protection. We’re finally done...
I got some great writing done before it showed up, so even though the day was crazy, I still feel productive. I’m having fun with the sequel as the story unfolds before me. By far the hardest part of the story to write is the part from midway to just before things hit the fan near the end. It’s going well, though.
I’m also learning how to use social media to share and connect with readers and other authors. I’m having fun with twitter, but I very recently started using Instagram. I love photography. It’s fun being able to share pictures of the places I’ve been that inspired me for the Forest Guardians series. I grew up hiking in the mountains and in a provincial park right nearby, so for me, like Aili, the forests are home.
I also adore wildlife photography. While the zoo is the easiest place to photograph animals, I’ve had a few opportunities to get them in the wild, too. We even have elk and deer right outside our property occasionally. Aili loves the animals that live in her forest. I understand that. I love seeing the local wildlife, too.
I think the hardest part about being an author is that we get better every time we write and work at it. That means that now, only two weeks after getting my first novel published, I’m already a better writer. Now, I happen to think it’s great, that no matter where we’re at, we can always get better.
I love my characters. I love my world. I enjoyed writing the story a lot. Now, two weeks later, I already can see how I would have improved it if I wrote it again. See, no book is ever perfect. We always see things we’d change or do better when we look back. That’s because we’re better writers now. I can still love my book, even as I see it’s strengths and weaknesses.
As a person and author, I seek excellence, not perfection. Excellent for me on my first book will be very different than excellent for me on my twentieth book. If I wait for a book to be absolutely perfect, I’d never get a book written and published. I try to get the best story out that I can when I’m ready to publish it. Will it ever be perfect? No. That’s okay, in my opinion.
What I know is that the later books in the Forest Guardians series will be written with more polish and experience. I don’t just write, I study writing and word-craft. Self-compassion allows me to enjoy my early works, knowing I’ll get better as I go. I do love my first book, for a multitude of reasons. I always will. Is it perfect? No book is. Still, it was an adventure to write, learning how to actually make a novel!
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.