Archive for the ‘31 Days Series’ Category
Posted on April 29, 2012 - by Nicole Humphrey Cook
As I’m sure anyone can tell, I sort of fell off the bandwagon when it came to blogging through all of April – I bit off more than I could properly chew. It’s one thing to keep up with my writing assignments, work on my new novel and then of course blog A-Z on my food blog which I have done successfully so far. But then I decided at the very last minute to do the A-Z Challenge here and then had a big project that I couldn’t turn down land in my lap and I simply gave up.
I wouldn’t exactly say I’m stressed. But I am up to my eyeballs in paperwork, writing and brainstorming. All the while trying to keep up with my food blogging and family events and everything else that hits me everyday. So yes, I failed miserably on this blog for the A-Z challenge but next year I will get it right and it will happen.
This morning while hanging out over on Empire Avenue, this guy posted a mission requesting a conversation with this starter.
Do you take a day off during the week to relax? Seems an appropriate question on a Sunday.
I had to think about it for a moment or two, but yes I do try to take some time off to relax. Except I haven’t lately, I mean – not really. I overwhelmed myself for the month of April. I am very grateful that I am staring down the beginning of May. I have chosen to make May less overwhelming, less busy and to take some time for A) the projects that I enjoy the most, B) relaxing more and C)stop obsessing about everything.
May begins our busy season in Fife & Drum – there will be re-enactments, events, performances and more. Unfortunately for me (or maybe fortunately) it also means, no technology – haha It’s not period accurate so… there’s my relaxing time.
What do you do to relax?
Posted on April 10, 2012 - by Nicole Humphrey Cook
If you know me at all, you had to know that my Letter I would be Inspiration. I spend too much time going on and on incessantly about it. In fact, I even listed it on my Letter C post – Top 5 Things I Crave.
Inspiration can be found in so many ways. Here are a few ways, you as a writer, can be inspired to write something.
1. Look at photos: This is my number one trick for finding inspiration to write. Look at nature photos, people photos, candid photos, travel photos. Look at what you see in the photo and imagine what is going on at that moment in time. See if you can weave that into your story somehow and if you can’t, move on. Try another photo.
2. Music: When I am having a really miserable time getting any words down, I do something kind of strange. I put my music on random and I turn up so loud it’s difficult to think. And then I simply write. Even if it’s not good, I usually can’t think about it until the session is over. Of course, I also listen to music turned down to a normal decibel and enjoy using music as a way to relax and get flowing.
3. Meditate. Well, don’t really – unless that’s your thing. Close your eyes and see a scene in your head. Put yourself there and walk through the scene. What’s to your left, your right, behind you? What smells are wafting around you? What do you hear? Walk through the scene as if you are the character. Sometimes when this is done its easier to see clearly where you need to go from there in the story.
4. Take a walk. Inhale the fresh air, close your eyes and feel the sun beating down, watch your neighbors or the kids at the park as you walk along. Look at the trees and describe them in your mind. Getting outside and getting some fresh air, often can help clear your mind and get you focused again.
5. Read. Anything really, but especially books that fall into your genre. See how others are doing what they are doing. Or pick up a writing manual/book and get some inspiration from within those pages.
What do you do to get inspiration? Please share.
Posted on April 9, 2012 - by Nicole Humphrey Cook
A few months back, I wrote a post titled 7 Simple Ways Writers Can Pay it Forward. I am still amazed that it happens to be my most visited post here on this blog. It makes me so happy. Why? It tells me that others are interested in paying it forward, whether it be a writer helping another writer, or a friend helping a friend. In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter who it is or what the situation is. If you can help someone succeed, do it. The karma comes back, I promise.
Here are 5 tips on how you can do that.
1. Make an Offer. Don’t assume that if someone needs help, they will ask. I am terrible about this, I don’t ask for help ever, but if someone asks me if they can help me with someone, and I believe I need the help; I assure you I will say yes and give you some examples of ways you can help me. Offer your help and/or services to others writers. Perhaps you are really good with editing, offer to help edit a chapter of their WIP. Offer to be a beta reader. Offer to get them lunch while they work on something. You see what I am saying here. Just verbally offer something you can provide to them. They have the option of declining and you shouldn’t be offended if they do. Always keep your eyes open for the opportunity to help someone.
2. Pay it forward. This seems like a given. But if you have been helped by someone, pay it forward. Not to that person (though you should) but do something to help someone else. Don’t just sit around looking for opportunities, make opportunities. Just do it. It’s honestly not that hard.
3. Share books, ideas, tips. Don’t keep it all to yourself. If you read a fantastic post on editing or some tips on finding an agent, share that post with your writer friends. This helps two people out here. The person who will gain from the tips, and the person who originally wrote the piece – spreading it around is good Karma. I assure you. (P.S. Same holds true for books or magazines – if you find one especially helpful, share it with others)
4. Spread the love. That’s right. Share their posts, share their books. Tweet for them. Like them on Facebook. Tell everyone on any platform you use about them. Write a post about them. Write a post about several writers you admire and explain why. Whatever, just spread it around. It can be contagious. At the end of your post, challenge others to do the same.
5. Support. Buy their books. Write them book reviews. Give them testimonials (when it fits). Visit their website and leave a comment on a post. Support them, in any way you can.
These are basic and there are dozens of other ways we can help each other out. How do you help your writer friends?
Posted on April 7, 2012 - by Nicole Humphrey Cook
Hey, today is Saturday and it’s the Letter G in the A-Z Challenge and I could not come up with a better word than Grammar to apply to writing. Grammar mistakes are so common.
You make them. I make them. We all make grammar mistakes from time to time. I know I do it, but these are the five I try to watch most often. Can you add more?
1. Your vs. You’re – This is my biggest pet peeve ever and I see it so often it makes me sad. So many writers still confuse this, and it just seems like something a writer should be aware of.
So what’s the difference?
Your is a possessive pronoun. Correct usage would include talking about “your writing”, “your books”, “your blog”.
You’re is a contraction. It is used in place of “you are”. Correct usage would be “You’re not impressing anyone when you use the word your in the wrong spot.”
2. Apostrophes – Apostrophes can be tricky. They are used to show possession in most cases. You would not say “My fathers book is on his’ table”. You would instead say “My father’s book is on his table.” (lame example, I know.)
Apostrophes are also used in words like it’s and couldn’t and don’t.
Instead of it is; you use it’s. Instead of could not; you use couldn’t and instead of do not; you use don’t.
3. Brush up on Homonyms - Homonyms are a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings. Especially common homonyms are:
- there in place of their or they’re
- wether and weather
- pair, pear and pare
- no, know
- break, brake
- hear, here
- plain, plane
- to, too and two
There are plenty more so just make sure you have chosen the correct word for the meaning behind the word. Make sense?
4. Grammar books. Get one. In fact, I recommend getting two or three different grammar books. It seems that no single book is completely concise. Oh! If you’re American, don’t read Eat, Shoots and Leaves, and if you have read it, consider finding a different book to read now. The book was written in England and it contains rules of punctuation and grammar that are wrong in American English. The nice thing is, the author tries to point them out when she runs into them, but she missed several.
5. Learn the difference between i.e. and e.g. In fairness, I misuse these all the time, but I am vowing to be better at it. (which is why I am including it!)
The term i.e. means “that is”. (mind trick: in other words)
The term e.g. means “for example.”
You always place a comma after using them, no exceptions.
Incorrect example: Buy a new laptop (i.e., Dell).
Correct example: Buy a new laptop (e.g., Dell).
Example with explanation: Jamie loves reading fashion magazines (e.g.,Vogue and Elle). Here you can see these are only examples of what Jamie enjoys reading. There are many more fashion magazines she enjoys reading.
Example with explanation: Jamie loves reading fashion magazines (i.e., Vogue and Elle). This clarifies that Jamie only likes reading Vogue and Elle. It is used as further clarification of the original sentence.
What grammar mistakes do you hate seeing?
Posted on April 6, 2012 - by Nicole Humphrey Cook
I don’t have a ton of time today to devote to a huge post, today is the Letter F in the A-Z Blogging Challenge and I chose Friendship. So I thought I would quickly do a post highlighting some of the people I consider awesome friends, who also have awesome blogs. Most are writers, some are not. Could I have waited any later in the day to do this? I’m tired and probably won’t make a bit of sense, but I hope you’ll keep reading anyway. Overlook any typos or things that don’t make sense. They did in my head when I wrote them. ha!
It’s always amazed me how we can meet people online and formulate friendships that even though there is a distance you learn to consider them a friend. I talk about these people in real life as if we went out and had coffee or dinner together. My family knows these people by name, and knows a lot about them. These are people that I feel bonded to in some way, and usually it all starts out so innocent and comes around to this earth shattering connection, so beautiful, but still… different from real life.
These are the people that I would list on a form that said “If you could meet any online friend in person, who would it be?” Yep, these peeps. No doubt.
Melissa Foster – She is the reason I decided to write this post today. I had been thinking about her all day for various reasons and I realized how close to her I feel. Melissa is an amazing gift to me in many ways, but more than anything she is my friend, she is my encouragement, she makes me smile and laugh on a daily basis, even when she doesn’t mean to. She makes me believe in myself and she continues to keep me grounded in my effort to help others, even when it sometimes feels like you’re hitting a wall. Thank you Melissa for all of this. Oh and to the rest of you? Go buy her books. They are amazing. I’ve read all of them at least 3 times and I am very ready for the next one that I am pretty sure I will read at least 3 times.
Sheri from Me And My Tadpole – Sheri is not a writer, but she is a fantastic photographer and a great cook. She takes photographs that are so inspirational and beautiful, she captures beauty in simple objects that the naked eye totally misses. But beyond that, she is a terrific friend. I’ve known her almost a year now and I feel like I’ve been friends with her for years. Like we are sisters almost. She is the first person online that I connected on at this level, and I admire her talents and strengths while absorbing all that is beautiful and wonderful about her. You should go read her blog. Really, it’s awesome. Thank you Sheri, for being my BFFO.
Christina from Solitary Mama – Right now, Christina is rolling her eyes, she is not the mushy type. Christina is a more recent acquisition to the friendship circle, and she might not even realize how much I value her. She keeps me sane nearly every day, she allows me to complain when I need to and offers support, encouragement and friendship. And I keep wondering why me? I mean, I’m not nearly as funny as she is. She’s really funny. She’s sarcastic and man, I cannot tell you how much I love that about her. She tells it how it is, and I love that too. She is bold, beautiful, sweet (yes Christina you are or have been to me!) and one hell of a good single mama. Oh, and she’s a writer, did I mention that? She’s also smart, and I like smart people. I have trouble with the other end. Thank you Christina, for keeping me grounded and sane everyday when I feel like I’m going to lose it!
Justin @ JustinBog – Justin is such a great writer and I had talked lightly with him in a group we were both in, but never had a real conversation for awhile. Our friendship started out so simple. He needed some tech support help. I gave that to him. Sort of. LOL Let’s rephrase that. I tried to help him, but there was no helping the platform he was using so he made a switch and needed some more help, and then again he needed some help again and what wound up happening is that the times we were talking, a friendship developed and guess what? Now we have conversations that do not revolve around tech support every single time. We talk food, writing, being sick, we talk each other through situations and I’m still there for him for tech support (but he’s learned a lot and doesn’t need as much!) and overall we are now truly friends. I’ve considered Justin a friend for awhile, but recently ….. he sent me brownies. They were so good! That pretty much solidified it. He sent me chocolate brownies. How can I not love him? Justin thanks for being such a great friend, and for understanding and supporting me. It means a lot.
Of course I could keep going and add at least 10 more people, but I wanted to keep this short and sweet and I’m falling asleep as I type, so I’m going to end this list now.
I’m done with the sappy post, back to regularly scheduled programming blogging.Now I have to come up with a letter G for tomorrow. What in the world am I going to blog about the letter G? That is not a fun letter.