Zen and the Art of Typewriter Adaptation: The Beginning

     Ever since I was young, I’ve had an affinity for typewriters.  As a preschooler, I would occasionally go to work with my mother, a radiology tech, and play for hours with one of the hospital’s electric typewriters.  The clickety-clack of the keys, the weight of them on my fingers, felt… right.  I may have been too young to type in complete sentences, or much more than my name really, but I think this may have been an early manifestation of my desire to write and I would type out my name over and over again like Jack in The Shining without the homicidal insanity. Mostly.
     I was a whiz in my high school typing class.  I may not have been the quickest, but I was certainly the most accurate.  I played the oboe the same way.  My fingers were not very nimble, but I was able to produce lovely music, earning primarily first place medals in school solo/ensemble contests.
     Recently, I purchased a Spectre X2 convertible laptop so that I could be more mobile when writing.  It’s light and thin and I love it, but there was still something missing.  The keys feel better than writing longhand–hell, anything feels better than that–but there is still something that doesn’t quite work for me.  Just the other day, I realized what it was: the noise.  Or rather, the lack of noise.  I seem to have a hard time “getting in the zone” without some background noise.
     Looking back, I realize that sound was always a part of how I worked.  I would have the television on for background noise while I was lost in my head writing term papers, but I never got the hang of taking notes during a lecture.  Every time I tried, I missed important points while concentrating more on making my handwriting legible than whatever the professor might be saying.  I can’t listen and write at the same time, but noise seems to help me access my thoughts more easily.
     Somehow, somewhere along the way I had lost that critical part of my writing process.  Now, whenever I listen to music I usually just end up singing along instead of working.  The television has become a time-sucking nightmare thanks to all the good shows available on Netflix.  And my beloved Spectre, well, it has access to Facebook and I’m weak.  So very, very weak.  I have, however, found a solution.  It is possible to convert a manual typewriter into a computer keyboard!
     And so my journey begins.  I have purchased a 1950s-ish Royal Keystone typewriter, cleaned it—okay, mostly just dusted it–, and have conscripted my wonderful, computer genius husband into helping me transform it into a Retro Writing Tool of Awesomeness!
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I’m so pretty!

     Stay tuned for updates on my progress and happy St. Patrick’s Day, my homesnakes!

Guest Post: Easy Morning Tricks to Help You Stay Healthy

If you resolved to start off 2016 as a healthy year, you probably already understand how important consistent daily habits are to improving your health and well-being. Starting your day off right is one of the best ways to encourage healthy choices for the remainder of your day. Because of this, focusing on making a few morning habits may be the game changer for your healthy 2016. Here are some of Modernize’s morning tricks to help you stay healthy.

pic1.pngVia Modernize

Meditate

Many people falsely believe that meditation simply isn’t for them. The truth is, meditation is for everyone. Meditating first thing the morning allows you to set the tone for your entire day when you become more focused and in tune with the world around you. A regular meditation practice is also known to have some seriously worthwhile health benefits, including lowering depression and anxiety, preventing high blood pressure, and boosting the immune system to prevent your from getting sick. Want to create a beautiful space for meditation? Check out some of our favorite meditation spaces at Modernize.

Drink Lemon Water

Did you know that warm lemon water, first thing in the morning, is one of the simplest ways to change your health for the better? Starting your day with warm lemon water has shown to improve digestion throughout the rest of the day. The Vitamin C in the lemon gives your immune system a little extra power to fight off viruses or other contagious illnesses. Lemon water is also believed to aid in maintaining a healthier weight by giving the metabolism a little extra boost for the rest of the day.

Eat Breakfast

Even though we have all heard it before, it is easy to forget just how important it is to eat breakfast each morning. Instead, we hit snooze one too many times, and wind up rushing out the door to work with an empty stomach and a cup of coffee in hand. The truth is, if we want our bodies to properly metabolize glucose for the entire day, it is crucial that we eat a balanced breakfast within two hours of waking. It is also true that what you eat for breakfast matters. Avoid sugary cereals, donuts, or pastries and opt for high-protein greek yogurts, low sugar cereals, or eggs and toast before starting your day.

pic2Via Modernize

Get Moving

There are many benefits to starting your day with exercise. When you work out immediately after waking, you are less likely to skip your workout if you have had a difficult day and something else comes up. Working out in the early morning also allows you the time to prioritize your work, family, and friends for the rest of your day. Your metabolic rate is boosted each time you exercise, and when you exercise first thing in the morning, you boost your metabolism and burn more calories for the rest of the day.

Whether they are good or bad, habits are formed by repeating the same behavior over and over again. Repetition does something unique to the brain, and the repeated behaviors are eventually engraved into our neural pathways. This means that bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to form. Still, with determination and consistency, repeating the tricks listed above until they become habits is a surefire way to stay healthy this year.

Quit Procrastinating!

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I have attempted NaNoWriMo in the past.  I thought it might be a great way to get myself in the habit of writing every day.  Alas, I fell behind in the first few days and gave up completely not long after that, just like every April A to Z Blogging Challenge I’ve tried.

But I did learn a few things in these attempts.  First of all, everyone has their own method of writing.  Some people are plotters, using post-it notes, storyboards, outlines, etc., to create.  Others are pantsers, allowing the story work itself out as they write by letting the characters lead the way.  There are also writers who have their own combination of these processes.

Along those same lines, I’ve heard that writing every day is the only way to be a “real writer.”  I disagree.  I don’t write every day, yet I have two–soon to be three–published books.  Am I not considered a real writer?  However, when I’m not physically writing, I am working out how my stories progress in my head.  That’s my process.  I also edit as I write, which makes it near impossible for me to keep up with the daily word count required to successfully complete NaNoWriMo.

For some, NaNoWriMo is exactly the shot in the arm needed to get your first draft complete.  Others, like myself, need to write one little piece at a time, which is why I adore writing for BigWorldNetwork.  There is no wrong way to do it.  Only your way, whatever works for you to get the job done.

So, in the spirit of encouraging anyone who may or may not be participating in NaNoWriMo, I wanted to share some of the images I use as my laptop’s screen saver to inspire me.  Happy writing, my friends!

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My A to Z Blogging Challenge Ultimate Defeat

Congratulations to all those bloggers who successfully completed the April A to Z Blogging Challenge!  Sadly, I burned out about halfway through.  However, I did learn some things along the way.

First of all, I learned that while it has been asserted that one should write every day, it is important to start slowly and build up endurance.  You don’t start an exercise program by trying to run a marathon.  Writing is hard work, especially if you’re not independently wealthy with a full staff of attendants to take care of all the little details of life that don’t involve writing.  Like cleaning.  And children.

I also realized that I do a lot of writing in my head.  Everyone has their own method.  While some simply sit down at a computer and type away–editing as they go–without any sort of plan in mind, others use a storyboard, note cards, outlines, and innumerable drafts to plan, shape, and polish their work.  Even if I’m not physically writing on a daily basis, the story is still stewing in my mind.  For me, trying to write anything before the ideas have blossomed is simply a waste of time.

Finally, I learned that I have an incredible support network of family and friends that I wouldn’t trade for anything.  You guys rock!  Thank you.

While I didn’t complete the challenge, I still intend to finish the alphabet.  If I begin with a weekly posting schedule, I’m positive that by next year the April A to Z Blogging Challenge will be a breeze.  I am also working on a new eSeries on BigWorldNetwork.com, Kai’s Inquisition: The Blight of Shaddowfall.  The first episode was released yesterday, and all the following installments will be available on Sundays.  Please check it out, and don’t forget to let me know what you think.

What Writing Means to Me and a Plea for Help

When I was about ten or eleven years old, I wrote my very first fictional short story.  It just popped into my head and I wrote it down.  To this day, I can remember the storyline and how it felt to write it.  I think it may have even been “published” in the school newspaper, but that wasn’t the point.  I had to write it.  I didn’t have a choice.  And I loved it.

Later on in high school, I wrote a research paper on dragons.  My parents worked at the University of Chicago and brought me to the library on campus so that I could find some of the more obscure information I needed that was difficult to find at a high school or even a community library.  That one silly English assignment was the highlight of my entire four years and not simply because I got an A.  I wrote it on Wordstar (yes, I am old) and I still have the disk even though I have no way of recovering the data.

In college, I wrote a paper for an Aviation Management class based on a Feasibility Study done when my municipality was considering purchasing and expanding our local private airport.  My professor had returned it to me with the words “You write well.  The only 100 I gave.” written across the top.  Almost 20 years later, I still have a copy of it in my office.

Yet even with these tidbits of encouragement coupled with a deep love of writing, it wasn’t until recently that was able to put the fear behind me and actually write… and now I don’t ever want to stop.

The person who has helped me the most on my journey is Jim McGovern.  If it weren’t for him and the amazing staff at Big World Network, I would not have had the courage to share my stories with you.  That’s where the plea for help comes in.  Big World Network’s Indigogo fundraising campaign has about 12 hours left and it hasn’t quite reached the halfway point to its goal of $5000.  Please share this link: http://www.indiegogo.com/bwn and do what you can to help Jim reach his goal.  Every little bit helps and they have some fantastic perks for your contribution.

It would mean a lot to me, because whenever I feel like that ten year old putting my imaginary worlds on paper while a cruel little voice buzzes in the back of my head insisting that I’m not good enough, all I have to do is remember that I was good enough for Jim and Big World Network.  And through that, I have become part of a wonderful community of writers, readers, bloggers, publishers, and fans to which I would never have been exposed had I not taken that leap.  Right now, the only way that I can think of to thank Jim for giving me back my childhood dream and the courage to make it a reality is to ask everyone I know to just give a little bit and share the link with their friends.

Please do it now – there’s not much time left – and the success of this fundraising campaign in your hands.  All I can offer you is my gratitude for doing this for me.  Well, that and more stories.  Thank you!