Some Inspirational Quotes for the New Year

I try to stay upbeat as much as I can. I’ll be honest, that’s been a challenge this past while. However, getting down and staying down is not a good place to be. Contrary to what some people around me think, I don’t always succeed at remaining 100% positive all the time. I mean, that’s a ridiculous notion. There isn’t a person out there who doesn’t find themselves in the pit of despair from time to time. S**t happens in everyone’s life from time to time; it’s what we do with it that makes the difference. But please, don’t ever think for a moment that everyone out there does not suffer from time to time. It’s so easy to look at someone else’s life and think they have everything altogether and you don’t.

Personally, I love reading positive quotes from time to time. Other people’s wisdom inspires me even more when I’m feeling positive but and also makes me take a step back when I’m feeling low and survey the situation I might presently be in.

Below are some uplifting quotes to help kick off the New Year.

1. 1.“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” —Mary Pickford

2. “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” —John Pierpont “J.P.” Morgan

3. “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

4. “It’s never too late to become who you want to be. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

5. “No, this is not the beginning of a new chapter in my life; this is the beginning of a new book! That first book is already closed, ended, and tossed into the seas; this new book is newly opened, has just begun! Look, it is the first page! And it is a beautiful one!” — C. JoyBell

6. “Your life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.” — Jim Rohn

7. “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It’s the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill

8. “Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C. S. Lewis

9. “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” — Robin Sharma

10. “Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been, and look at what can be.” – Marsha Petrie Sue

11. “Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go. They merely determine where you start.” — Nido Qubein

12. “Realize that if a door closed, it’s because what was behind it wasn’t meant for you.” ― Mandy Hale

13. “Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.” ― Germany Kent

14. “Sometimes we can only find our true direction when we let the wind of change carry us” ― Mimi Novic

15. “We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” —Joseph Campbell

16. “Even the greatest was once a beginner. Don’t be afraid to take that first step.– Muhammad Ali

17. The start of something new brings the hope of something great, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. —Author Unknown

18. The bad news is that most people give up; they settle for second best; they don’t start over; they stay stuck. Please don’t allow that to be you.– Doug Fields, Fresh Start

19. “Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don’t go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won’t laugh at you.” Jim Rohn

20. Just wishing does nothing for your life, but when you actually commit to taking action to make that wish come true your life takes on new meaning. Catherine Pulsifer, May Is Not Just For Flowers

Hopefully, you will discover some pearls of wisdom that will inspire you or give you a bit of a lift if you’re in need of one at the moment. 2020 is filled with 366 days (that’s right, it’s a leap year) I hope you find the courage and strength to find more positive days than negative. Just never give up (at least not for long.). There’s always sun somewhere behind those clouds.

Interview With Christy Ann Conlin

downloadToday, it is my pleasure to welcome Christy Ann Conlin to my blog to talk a bit about her latest book The Memento. Since its release in April, The Memento has received a lot of publicity, and you know me, I love supporting authors–especially local authors! Christy Ann Conlin’s acclaimed first novel, Heave (2002), was a Globe and Mail “Top 100” book, a finalist for the Amazon.ca First Novel Award in 2003 and was shortlisted for the Thomas H. Raddall Atlantic Fiction Award and the Dartmouth Book Award. Heave was also longlisted for the 2011 CBC Canada Reads Novels of the Decade. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including Best Canadian Stories. Conlin also hosted the popular 2012 CBC summer radio series Fear Itself. The Memento is her first novel in fourteen years. Conlin teaches at the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies online Creative Writing program. She lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

Before we talk about the book, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and what the writing process is like for you? Do you spend much time in the planning stage or do you jump right in when an idea comes to you and figure things out as you go along? In other words, are you a plotter or a pantster?

A bit about me: I was born and raised in rural Nova Scotia, both in the Annapolis Valley and over on the on-the-road-to-kingsportBay of Fundy. When I finished high school, I left, like many of us Nova Scotians do, ha ha. I traveled and worked all over the world. I did a MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Toronto, and then headed to Northern Ireland, and from there made my way back to Nova Scotia where I’ve been ever since. It took all that wandering and exploring to discover there was no place more exotic than home. I think many writers have this experience, and some are smart enough to know this without having to leave!

My process: I tend to work on stories in my subconscious, while I’m actually writing another one. For example, I’m working on a novel right now, but at the same time, I have a notebook on the go for another novel. Usually it all starts with a character who appears, and if I follow them, they show me the story. When I do sit down to write, it feels like jumping in but there actually has been a huge amount of mental work done in my head. As a result, I go into a story with a very strong sense of character and plot. In the early days of writing I used to skip this mental process so I’d have really fascinating characters and great dialogue and a distinct sense of place but nothing happened. Oh, those stories which lead to…nowhere. But it was how I cut my teeth, so to speak, and learned.

When the book opens we learn about the significance of the mirrors placed outside the front door of houses which I found quite intriguing. I’d never heard of it. Was this something your writer’s mind invented for the book or was it taken from actual mountain folklore? 

It’s a combination of actual folklore and my writer’s mind! My grandmother always had both a chest of drawers and a mirror in her porch. If people came by to drop something off for my grandmother, a present or something they had borrowed, or a letter) they would leave things in the drawers, if they were valuable or private. As a child I would peek and one just never knew what would be in there! And the mirror was something my grandmother told me she would check her hair in, and then she’d laugh in that dry way she had and say that it was good to see if there were any ghosts behind you.

The Memento introduces readers to some memorable characters that you certainly brought to life on the page. Were any of the characters inspired by people in real life?

All of the characters in all of my work are inspired by real people, sometimes nominally and sometimes to a very large degree. That said, it’s often not a specific person, but a specific kind of person.  When you travel and live in different places you begin to see that every town has similar kinds of people. It’s one of the most amazing parts of writing, creating my own fictional characters whose origins come from observing the world around me, the heartaches, the joys, the devastations, and the triumphs, the big ones and small ones.

The embroidery element plays a significant role in The Memento. Can you explain what inspired you to add this to the book? Do you perhaps embroidery yourself?

Yes, I do embroidery and different kinds of needlework. I grew up in 4-H and spent hours and hours by woodstoves and at dining room tables with some master craftswomen and artisans, learning what I call the “lady arts”. We also had a lot of antique embroidery on the walls at home. I was fascinated with the faces, how they looked so different up close, almost grotesque or unfinished, and when you stepped back, they seemed alive. It’s the same thing in impressionistic painting.  I collected framed embroideries and after years of having them surround me while writing, I began to think about how women who did needle work really channeled their experiences and spirits into these works, as any artist does. And so, then Fancy Mosher’s gift with embroidery took on a whole new meaning, of what she was able to depict in her pictorials, in these mementos.

Although Nova Scotia is not specifically mentioned, I found you totally captured the rural aspects of the book and I felt very much at home with the setting.  I actually Googled Lupin Cove Road because I was sure it was an actual place! Was there a reason why you chose not to mention specific name places in the book other than the Bay of Fundy?

Well, I wanted to create the exact experience you are describing for the reader, that the sense of place and setting would be so real and familiar they would be sure it existed. I had so many readers from England tell me my first novel, Heave, reminded them of the seaside villages they grew up in England. (Heave is also set in Lupin Cove).  It does, of course, exist in the story and in our minds, but it’s also one step removed, like a fairy tale. Faulkner did this, with a fictional county in Mississippi, and I really admired how this gave readers a bit of a distance, so they could see a reflection of the world, if you will. I love how the idea of a seaside village and a valley and a grand home and a path in the woods, how these locations resonate with people regardless of where they actually live. It is a way of using regionalism to create universalism.

The one setting which I really drew on specifically is the Tea House and Grampie’s art work. That was all inspired by Maude Lewis and her painted house and her artwork.

Of all the characters in The Memento who is your favourite and why?

I love Jenny, the anti-heroine. She’s so marginalized and outright dismissed, so powerless, and yet she is the only one brave enough to really acknowledge the full horror of what is happening, and to seek justice. Yes, I know, ha ha, her sense of justice is a bit warped, to put it mildly, but she wants more than anyone to restore a sense of moral order, and put the ghosts of the past to rest.  But she can’t do that on her own, and she needs Fancy, with her gift, to help her understand the true nature of what is haunting them.

The book is written in first person which is a very personal point of view that brings an author very close to the character she writes about.  I’m dying to know, are you hiding somewhere inside Fancy Mosher or is she somewhere hiding inside of you?

Honestly, Laura, I think I am hiding in Fancy Mosher, but I am seeing the world through her very unique eyes. It was a privilege to view the world from her unique perspective. I’m not so much like her, even though I would like to be. I always feel my characters are very brave, and I am not so brave. I’m more like Seraphina in Heave. That novel was much more autobiographical.  My grandmother always told me because I had an artistic disposition, a sensitive nature, the spirits would speak to me. My understanding of this is that characters come to me and I write out their stories.

The Memento has been described as a literary ghost story. Are you intrigued by ghosts and most importantly do you believe in them?

I think it’s more magic realism, to be honest, with ghostly elements. It’s very much a genre blending, or even genre defying novel, which merges the old world novels of Jane Austen and the Brontes, L.M. Montgomery, Allistar MacLeod and Ernest Buckler with a hint of Stephen King and Shirley Jackson.

What is your favourite part of the book?

The fire on the beach, and the island scenes.

Are you currently working on a new novel and, if so, you tell us a bit about it?

Yes, I am working on two new novels and a short fiction collection.  One of the novels is called The Flying Squirrel Sermon. It’s about a man who finds a bottle on the beach with a secret message in it, a clue to his sister’s disappearance many years earlier.  The other two books I can’t speak about or I’ll destroy the writing magic!

Is there anything in the book that you have not been asked about but would like readers to know?

The Memento is not at all a traditional ghost story or thriller. It’s a blend of pastoral writing and horror writing, humour and heartache, the historical and the contemporary. The story is really a look at what happens when we marginalize and oppress people based on gender, physical ability and economic circumstances. It’s an exploration of how young and vulnerable women are so easily exploited. In the case of Jenny, she’s physically disabled and pretty much rendered irrelevant because of it. Fancy is discriminated against because of the circumstances of her birth, and because she’s lower class. The ghostly element was my way of looking at the anger and fury which arises from this discrimination, how eventually, those who are mercilessly exploited will rise up.

Thanks so much, Christy Ann. I enjoyed learning more about the book and your writing life. I wish you every success with this book and look forward to your future publications.

The Memento is available at Amazon, Chapters Indigo and in your local independent bookstore or as an ebook.

 

The Pumpkin Patch

Okay, so there are more than just pumpkins in the patch, there are also squash and, if you look closely, you’ll even see something that has us a little puzzled–zucchini that seem to have crossed with pumpkins. Is that even possible? Yeah, hubby thought the plants growing in the compost this spring were unique. Turns out they were. We even ended up with a couple of gourds.

We haven’t done a head count of the pumpkins and  squash, and have already given some away. I remember how much my son loved squash as a baby. Maybe we can give a few dozen to Levi!

And zucchini…oh, we still have zucchini looking for good homes. I just didn’t add them to the picture.

DSC06469

We’re near the end of September and that means harvest time. I absolutely love this time of year. I feel inspired in so many ways. Not only that, I have a character in my head who just doesn’t want to shut up. Most of the time it’s when I’m no where near my computer. Sheesh! Sometimes you’ve just have to let them rumble around your head and get all that ugly stuff off their chests.. How was I to know she had so much to say? But truthfully, I can’t imagine I was going to leave her out.

Funny, the things that come to us when we feel inspired. Speaking of inspiration, I’ll leave you with this inspiring quote by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

With every deed you are sewing a seed, though the harvest you may not see. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting on Inspiration

I’ve been waiting on some inspiration for the past couple of weeks, hoping for some idea for a blog post. Then it hit me—like inspiration does. I’ll write a post about inspiration because, at the moment, I feel inspired to do so. Inspiration often hits us like the shot from a gun. Bang! She kind of blind-sides us at the strangest, most inconvenient times. We’re waiting in traffic, sitting in the dentist’s chair, fixing dinner for a hungry crowd. She doesn’t give warnings. Oh no, that would be too easy for inspiration. She’s cagey, a bit of a trickster, but no matter what her terms are we welcome with her open arms. IMAG0574AShe comes right out of the blue when we least expect her. Dropping what we’re in the midst of, we hurry toward our computer, or if our computer isn’t handy we whip out a notebook, and scribble down that brilliant thought, paragraph, sentence, or word. Satisfaction forms a smile on our face as a comforting feeling wraps a warm arm around our heart. Finally, the waiting is over. We’ve found the very inspiration we’ve been longing for. Most times when we weren’t even looking. One thing is for certain we can’t rush inspiration—nope, not at all. Like an apparition stepping through the mist she comes to us in her own good time. She can be illusive, sometimes shy, other times she appears in her party dress, classy and down right sassy, ready to entertain us with her flamboyant moves. She can dance for hours if we’re willing to watch. No sense in letting our frustration build as we wait and wonder when she’ll appear. There’s no point in sending her a gold embossed invitation or attempt to serenade her in the evening hours beneath moonlight and stars. We can’t coax her out of hiding like a kitten that’s crawl under a doorstep the moment a little hand reaches out for it. She’s a free spirit, who comes and go as she pleases. What’s most amazing is the way she can appears to us in so many different forms. No two people will ever see inspiration in the same way. Just as we are one of a kind, her relationship to us is unique, therefore everything we create, even though it may come from that same place of inspiration, is totally different. How cool is that? IMAG0581AIt has taken me quite some time to realize that no one will write a story the way I do, about the things I do, in the way I do it. Some people will like it, while others won’t. It’s that simple. I can’t/ won’t please everyone, but that won’t stop inspiration from seeking me out. She’ll come to me in spirit, in truth. She’ll touch me with moments of insight and send me in a direction that has never before held the weight of footsteps on its path. Do you often find yourself waiting on inspiration or is she a constant companion?

20 Quotes to Inspire You

Because this has been one very long winter, I thought perhaps we could all use a shot of inspiration as we spring into March. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m excited to be leaving February behind us.

1.You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. ~ C. S. Lewis
2. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.~
Ayn Rand
3. Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.~ Norman Vincent Peale
4. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.~ Samuel Beckett
5. Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.~ Og Mandino
6. It does not matter how slowly you go along as long as you do not stop.~ Confucius
7. Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. ~ Oscar Wilde
8. You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.~ Christopher Columbus
9. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~ Henry David Thoreau
10. Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.~ Maya Angelou
11. Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover. ~ Mark Twain
12. The mind is everything. What you think you become.~ Buddha
13. You become what you believe. ~ Oprah Winfrey
14. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. ~ Zig Ziglar
15. I know you’ve heard it a thousand times before. But it’s true – hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to practice, practice, practice. If you don’t love something, then don’t do it.~ Ray Bradbury
16. Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.~ St. Francis of Assisi
17. Doubt who you will but never yourself.~ Christian Nestell Bovee
18. Every artist was first an amateur.~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
19. We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as insoluble
problems.~ John Gardner
20. Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.~ Leon J. Suenes

I love the wisdom and inspiration in all these quotes. I hope you read something here that will inspire you to greater heights.

Speaking of inspiration, author Syr Ruus has graciously agreed to be a guest on my blog next time. I hope you’ll drop in to read her inspiring post : PUBLISH BEFORE YOU PERISH or The Little Red Hen.

Finding the Piece to the Puzzle

Although it may seems as though I’ve been hibernating these days, I can assure you all I’m very much awake and active. No big secret—I’ve been busy writing. Winter is usually my most productive time since I’m around the house more and can give it more of my attention.

DSC03291A few weeks after Christmas I started working on a jigsaw puzzle, not just because I enjoy challenges, but because I can come back to it whenever I please or don’t please. Sometimes while I’m burning cooking supper, I’ll take a few moments and study the pieces. The really funny thing about puzzles is, you can look for a certain piece until the cows come how, even convince yourself it must have got left out of the box when it was manufactured, and then you’ll come back to it and find it just like that. A snap of the finger.

I’ve been puzzling my way through a story at the moment, looking for the missing pieces that will help bring it all together. It’s frustrating because no matter how much a writer writes we come upon these roadblocks from time to time. I went through this phase while writing my latest novel, knowing, as I was writing it, something didn’t feel quite right. Something was missing and I couldn’t decide just what that something was. Even as I wrote, “the end” I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something more I could do, some other way of telling this story. And why the heck was it evading me like this?

Sometimes we writers get an idea in our heads of just how a certain story has to be told. Once it settles into our brain we have a heck of a hard time making it leave. Surprisingly, I awoke one morning with the answer to my dilemma. I’d found that missing piece. Turns out it wasn’t anything so complicated. The answer was actually so simple I couldn’t understand why it took me until the very end of the book to figure it out.

I found one of the missing pieces I’d been looking for in my story this morning. It actually came to me through the night and I feel quite good about it. Of course it was there all along. It always is. Life isn’t always the mystery we believe it to be. Mysteries only exist when we have some of the information but not the answer. When the piece we’re searching for finally rises to the surface it feels as though things are finally beginning to fall into place, but the answer was really there all along. Sometimes we just have to wait for it to appear.

 

 

Blast From the Past :The Royals– 1939

Writers never know where their source of inspiration will come from. For some time now, I’ve been interested in some old Standard magazines that were given to us many years ago. These magazines were saved by my husband’s grandmother when the King and Queen came to Canada in 1939. Since the main character in my next novel was born that same year, I decided to make reference to this visit in the novel plus the captions provided little tidbits of information about the tour.

So here are a few of the photos from the magazine of the King and Queen from way back in 1939.

No wondeer the King has a strained look on his face. I would too wearing that head gear. * Note: I said “head gear” for lack of a better word. I’m sure it’s ceremonial, and hopefully something they did away with years ago. On the other hand the Queen looks a tad smug. I’d say she faired a bit better.

They obviously brought this poor veteran outside for photos. There were other photos in the magazine were the veterans were outside in the hospital beds.

The coloured photo is of the Queen with Princesses Elizabeth (future Queen) and Margaret. I think this photo is my favourite.

I hope you enjoyed this visit back in time.

I’m not expecting that many of you have seen these pictures of the Royals before. 😉

Inspirationally Speaking; I Like Change

Last post I wrote about how inspired I felt, how ready to embrace changes in my writing and personal life. I was excited to get going, still am. Each day I’ve been waking with a sense of optimism, a knowing that everything is exactly where it needs to be at the moment. This doesn’t mean I have to stay stuck in one place. On the contrary. It just means that all the previous steps I’ve taken in the past have helped get me where I am right now. It’s all right. It’s all good.  Only now I’m ready to make some changes.

It’s okay. I’m allowed. No one’s the boss of me.

Most times change doesn’t happen at the snap of a finger. It can if we want it to, (a change of attitude for instance) but, be honest; most times we have to work toward bringing whatever change we want to fruition. And so we inch our way along. Hoping it won’t be too painful a process. Maybe we even close our eyes.That’s okay, too. It means we’re still making progress. We can breath easy.

Staying open to the possibility of change isn’t a bad thing in my mind. Our truths today won’t always be our truths tomorrow. That warm wool blanket can sometimes get mighty itchy all of a sudden. Don’t you think?

Thank goodness we have the ability to change our thoughts and minds. We don’t even need an excuse. That’s the beauty of it. It’s just enough to know that we changed our minds about something because we wanted to. And no, you don’t have to justify a change of mind. Not if you don’t want to. Just seems like sometimes our minds have a mind of their own.

I’m reminded of a neighbour of mine who is forever bringing up a comment one of my children made in the past about a certain town where she didn’t want to live. Turns out that’s exactly where she’s living today. My neighbour is constantly perplexed. How can this be? I know, for some, it’s a hard concept to follow. Life circumstances changed for my daughter. She changed her mind about where she would live. Simple dimple. I’m not confused by it at all.

Ask any writer you know. This happens more times than we can articulate. Our writing is forever undergoing change. We change our minds about the story we’re working on. We suddenly realize the character we’ve create doesn’t like horses, not since being nearly trampled to death in childhood by a runaway steed. (The writer is sometimes the last one to know!) Maybe the entire story was written before we even knew this.

It’s as if a lightening bolt zaps us and immediately we know what we have to do to change that story. These lightening bolts can strike right out of the blue. We can’t stand around and argue the fact that there wasn’t even a cloud in the sky.

But get this— it’s allowed. That’s the truly marvellous part.

Now I’m off to revise a very old story. You see, I changed my mind about how I would write it. Much of it will remain the same. I’m just going to breath new life into it. I didn’t know until a few days ago that I was even going to make changes. That’s the truly exciting part. It had been sitting unchanged for many years, but as I was reading it over a bolt of inspiration suddenly struck me.

Nice to know that change can/will come when the time is right.

 

Rising Up

But from this earth, this grave, this dust, My God shall raise me up, I trust. – Walter Raleigh

My son took two photos last year on Good Friday. (The other one I posted on my Dalhousie blog.) Everytime I see this photo I’m inspired by its deeper meaning.

 A few days ago I had lunch with a writer friend of mine. It was difficult not to feel inspired afterward. Her energy and passion for writing fuelled our conversation. We talked for a few hours. I honestly believe we could have talked longer. I came home vowing to make some positive changes, not only in my approach to writing, but in my life in general. The time feels right.

Have you ever sensed that change was coming, yet you chose to ignore the signs until you were suddenly forced into it? That’s kind of how I feel at the moment. I’ve been sensing a shift, yet holding onto the old even though it hasn’t been serving me all that well.

I like challenges. I really do. I like trying to figure out what needs to be done and then doing it.

Easter is all about change. It’s about hope and inspiration, opening our hearts and minds to all we can be. It’s about rebirth and rising up to meet the challenges that come our way, not simply giving in because we find things too hard. I believe Easter is also about being all we can be and then some.

Now is a good time make changes in our lives. I feel inspired just writing that. At this time, that’s exactly where I am.  🙂

Happy Easter!

Seeds:


Seeds of inspiration.

Seeds of change.

Seeds of hope.

Seeds of doubt.

What seeds are you planting in your life at the present moment?

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  • Publication date April 30, 2020. Available for pre-order NOW.

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