Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I'm #WriteON Today!

Head on over to www.CreateWriteNow.com to view my guest post on Capturing Family Vacation Memories as part of a series of posts about Journaling Journeys.

My mom and I with our many Family Vacation Travel Journals.

Blog hostess of CreateWriteNow, Mari L. McCarthy, also known as Chief Inspiration Officer, is no stranger to All Things Audry. She was my first guest post ever! Check it out here!

I host so many authors, so it was fun to be a guest. Plus, Mari's blog and her journaling programs are worth checking out.  Mari helps many people use journaling as a powerful tool for achieving goals from weight loss to finding peace.

Go, go, go to www.CreateWriteNow.com and let me know how you liked my post.

Do you keep a journal on family vacations? I'd love to hear your stories and thoughts!
Share here or on my Facebook page! Or #WriteON on Twitter!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Scott Keen with a Guest Post: "Finding Creativity in the Everyday"

Welcome Scott Keen, author of Scar of the Downers, with a guest post on creativity every adult should read.

Finding Creativity in the Everyday
By Scott Keen

Nine years ago, I remember sitting outside watching my oldest daughter (who was less than 1 year old) playing under a patch of pine trees. All around us lay a carpet of the pine needles, brown and bunched into three strands. As I picked a bunch up, I noticed how they looked like three spindly fingers. That was the beginning of a race of beings called the Dendron that you will find in my book, Scar of the Downers.

The thing about creativity is you have to know where to look for it. All around us there are hints of the fantastic, and to see it, you must view the world in a different way.  Our children already do it. The stick on the ground can be a gun, a sword, or even a spatula. The tree can be home base, a house, or even another world.

I stay at home with my four daughters, and that gives me ample time to see how kids are effortless with imagining and creating. They build elaborate worlds to play in where they don’t even need any toys. They just run around, sometimes with dress-up clothes and props, and sometimes not.

Part of fostering creativity in my life is just doing the things that my children already do. Asking the question “What if…?” and then not censoring myself with the answer. It’s the basic beginning point when you are thinking of any kind of story. I believe that this kind of imagining is something that adults don’t do enough of, even though I would bet that anyone would perform better in the workplace if they did.

The mundane jobs that surround a stay-at-home dad do another thing for me… I constantly feel the need to challenge myself in the realm of the creative because it can so easily atrophy. Just like I had to buy a chin-up bar because I was feeling stagnant physically, I have to stir up my creativeness daily to keep my imagination flexible and active. I sometimes play my guitar and tweak a song that I’ve written. Or sometimes I work on a manuscript (currently I’m working on the sequel to Scar of the Downers and also a musical I hope to produce and direct this year). Or, sometimes I just design something with Legos or wooden blocks with my kids. Occasionally, I’ll design and build for real, like a table or a bench or something else that we need. And sometimes, I just try to think differently about the things around me – like could those holly leaves be the shape of the Dendron’s shield? Or could this flower be the iris of another creature?

Finding creativity in the everyday can be difficult since it’s so easy to lose oneself in watching too much TV, playing too many video games, or even just keeping the house picked up.  What’s important is that I shouldn’t let my creative self languish. Like all good things, you have to work at it.

Thank you to Wow! Women on Writing for providing this stop on Scott Keen's blog tour!
For more information and more tour stops, click here.

About the Author: 

Scott Keen grew up in Black River, NY, the youngest of three children. While in law school, he realized he didn't want to be a lawyer. So he did the practical thing--he became a writer. Now, many years later with an MFA in script and screenwriting, he is married with four daughters, two of whom he homeschools. He blogs at www.scottkeenbooks.com.

About Scar of the Downers:

Branded on the slaves in the Northern Reaches beyond Ungstah, the scar marks each one as a Downer. It is who they are. There is no escaping this world. Still, strange things are stirring.

Two foreigners ride through the Northern Reaches on a secret mission. An unknown cloaked figure wanders the streets of the dark city of Ungstah. What they want no one can be sure, but it all centers around a Downer named Crik.

Crik, too scared to seek freedom, spends his days working in his master's store, avoiding the spirit-eating Ash Kings while scavenging food for himself and his best friend, Jak. Until he steals from the wrong person. When Jak is sold to satisfy the debt, Crik burns down his master's house and is sentenced to death.

To survive, Crik and his friends must leave behind their life of slavery to do what no other Downer has ever done before--escape from the city of Ungstah.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What Are You Passionate About?

So, what are you passionate about?

I came across this question as I was researching how to skyrocket my blog views. At first, it seemed like an easy one to answer. And then, I thought, "Hmmmm." (Keep scrolling down to the bottom for a spontaneous dance moment when I do figure it out.)

I've had to dig deep these past few weeks to keep a promise I made to myself. By the end of my children's school year, I would have fully completed the first draft of my third novel, How Lucy Got Lucky. Since then, I have maintained my focus and nearly reached the halfway point. Yay!

It hasn't been easy. I've learned after setting such a worthy goal, multiple distractions and waves of doubts find a way to set up every roadblock imaginable. We've all been there, right? The dreaded self-doubt followed by the inevitable self-sabotage. It happens to everyone trying to reach the next level whether within a career change or strengthening a relationship or getting into better physical shape. You've gone the miles or the hours, days, weeks, years. The finish line is nearer than when you started, but still elusively out of sight.

Lately, I've considered putting a halt on my aspirations to be a bestselling novelist and return to teaching. I enjoyed it well enough and it paid some bills. It could be argued that I could substitute and write depending on the day. But I know better. The truth is my writing would slip off the wayside if I went back to teaching in the same way summer vacation with my children will put a pause on cranking out enough words a day to fill a novel.

So, how do I validate continuing with my original goal that seemed so sparkly wonderful in January? A goal that now, according to my doubts and many opportunities for distraction, is starting to seem somehow unworthy. And then I happened on a question posed on an on-line series by platform building guru, Michael Hyatt. (You can check it out here.)

What are you passionate about?

Terribly, my first response was I don't know. Then, I thought about my children and my husband and my extended family and my friends. I'm passionate about my relationships with everyone I love. Thinking about my loved ones lead my to my big dreams. If I could find success as an author, it would benefit everyone.

But how could I validate being a writer? (Afterall, doesn't being a teacher seem like a more worthy career?) This question lead me to why I write. I write to entertain through humor and heart. I imagine my readers benefitting from the escape one of my novels may provide. I know I read somewhere that reading reduces stress and readers of fiction tend to be more empathetic. So, maybe that's it.

I'm passionate about being a source of sunshine and happiness in the world through my parenting, through my closest relationships and, yes, through my writing. (I do describe All Things Audry as a feel-good blog.)

So, maybe that's it! Yes, "Take your passion and make it happen." I'm feeling a spontaneous dance moment about to happen. Who wants to join in?  "What a feeling!"

(Hopefully, you will see a video here of What a Feeling from Flashdance. It's my first time embedding a video on this blog, so I don't know if I did it correctly. Fingers crossed! And if there's blank space and no video, dance anyway!)

Readers, it's your turn. Share what you're passionate about!
Comment here or on my Facebook page.