Monthly Archives: June 2012

We are moving to Saudi Arabia!

I’ve been just itching to talk about this and now I can. We are moving to Saudi Arabia. This has been a very long time coming it seems but now things are moving at warp speed. My husband has accepted a wonderful job and I’m so proud of him. And when I say “we” are moving to Saudi Arabia, yes I mean our dog Oscar and the two bunnies we rescued and have now completely domesticated. Bunny Jedi loves her evenings on the couch watching TV!

What does this mean for me? I will still write from there. In fact I’m going to have more time to do so. My husband’s hours will be less demanding than they have been at his current position. Plus we will be living right by my Dad, which means I may never see my daughter again!

I will still teach my popular Writing Moms and Time Management for the Busy Writer (with Cool Gus Publishing and WANA International) from there. To all The Mortal Instruments fans reading this, I WILL still be The Mortal Instruments Examiner with Examiner.com. I will not be living in a sand dune. I will have the Internet. The only real difference will be that you will see me on Twitter at different hours and I may have to wake up at odd times to conduct phone and Skype interviews.

We will be moving sometime between July 31 and August 10. I’m dreading the move but looking forward to getting settled in our new home. I’ll keep everyone updated here and on Twitter. I’m looking forward to the adventures this will bring.

 

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Do you need a “time out?”

The other day Baby Markey decided to stand on the back of the couch. Now in order to fully understand my horror, you need to know that our couch does not back up against a wall. That’s right. It was a mommy freak out moment.

I helped her down and told her no. Then, while looking right at me she laughed and climbed back up. Giving her the benefit of the doubt (she is young,) I helped her down and told her no again. Guess what happened next?

The moment had come to introduce my daughter to the childhood-dreaded “time out.” I took her into her room and sat her in a chair she has in the corner. I sat on her bed to make sure she stayed there. I read that a child needs to be in time out for a minute for every year.

After her little behind barely sat on the chair she reached down to the side of it where I couldn’t see. I wondered what she was doing until she pulled up a book. Without looking at me she opened and began to act like she was reading. It was adorable and she successfully got out of trouble. She didn’t make it to the two minutes before I hugged her and we read that book together. However, I was so jealous. Why can’t someone tell me to sit in a chair and read for “time out!”

Now of course, in the future she will not be allowed to read during “time out.” It is a time of reflection on what ill deed she has done. However, this got me thinking. Maybe a “time out” wouldn’t be a bad thing for me.

So I did it. I in a sense punished myself for working so hard. I took a day off. There was no cleaning or writing. I played with my little girl and I read. I devoured a whole book that day and remembered what it felt like to curl up on the couch and relax.

The next day the change in my productivity was incredible. During my time out it never occurred to me that I would be helping my work. I just thought it was a day to off to recoup from everything. It was so much more.

Now I’m making sure to take a time out at least once a week. Really giving up one day will increase my work on all the other days. So even though I lose a day and actually gain tasks accomplished.

Have you taken a “time out” lately? Maybe you should.

I had the privilege of being a guest blogger this week at Peanut Butter on the Keyboard. And for our next act…the writing mom! How do you find balance?

And for some fun, check out this wine! I believe this is a must for any mommy “time out!” And it was good too J

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Using your “something” to find balance

I begin each day with reading a short devotional of some kind. Currently I’m reading ‘Balance: Living with life’s demands’ by Tracey L. Henderson with my Sunday school class. I know that religion and politics are the “no-go” areas with blogging (unless that’s your topic) but a line from my reading the other day really stuck with me and it’s very applicable in a time management sense.

“The most common barriers to a devotional life is simply finding the time and space in our busy schedules…As busy as he [referring to someone mentioned in a previous chapter] was, his life ran much more smoothly when he took time daily to spend with God.” I love this lesson and I’m not trying to preach about the importance of spending time with God BUT look at the lesson here. Does your life run more smoothly when you make time for something?

We can play around with the sentence. My life runs more smoothly when I make time for yoga. I have a bad back and I spend my day chasing a toddler and sitting in front of a computer. If I can ease my back pain then I’m a much happier and productive person. My life also runs more smoothly when I take some time to myself. Either I read or watch TV. Yes, these tasks take time away from my daily goal list BUT by doing them they do make me more productive and help me have a smoother life.

Feel in the blank. “My life runs more smoothly when I take time daily to ____.” Whether it’s yoga, reading, spending time with God, etc. everyone has their something.

Figure out your something and you’ll find that balance to having it all. How do you find balance?

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Meet Francis- Mascot to WANA International

Today is a special day. Not only is this the first day I’ve posted two blogs in the same day but I’m bringing you a very special interview. Yes, I got to put my journalism hat on and speak with Francis, the peacock mascot of the new WANA International. So without further delay, I give you Francis!

Natalie: When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

Francis: I was born in a chicken coop and raised by a family of Easter Eggers. My mother, being, well, a big chicken, never encouraged me to pursue much beyond the daily pecking out a living. I always knew I was different. I didn’t look like my sisters and brothers and they made fun of my different colors, because I wasn’t like them. But no matter how I tried to fit in, it never worked. That was part of how I started losing my feathers.

Seriously embarrassing.

Bird-pattern-butt-baldness is never sexy.

I always loved to paint. I think it was because Easter was my favorite time. All the Pez egg dye, the glitter, the pizzazz. I didn’t know why we didn’t decorate the eggs all year long.

I was in the minority.

Natalie: Tell us about losing your job. Did your love for art help you cope?

Francis: No matter what I tried I could NOT learn Excel. I actually had a few feathers when I took to the position. The spreadsheets and Power Point presentations got the last few. Then typing…all hunt-and-peck.

I was terrified when I got fired. What was I going to tell my mom back at the henhouse? How was I going to scratch out a living? I was scared, but in a way, I felt liberated. That place had clipped my wings a long time ago, yet I was too numb to feel it.

Actually, my art didn’t help me cope at all. It was my calling all along, but I was too busy fitting in to see it.

Natalie: Why did you want the position as WANA International mascot?

Francis: Kristen called me. I’m just happy to have a job that allows me to do my art. Kristen heard my story and she said it reminded her of her own story. Years of trying to fit in and be normal, yet only being miserable until she was brave enough to embrace her calling, her art.

She felt a lot of creative people could relate to my story, that it might give them courage. She wanted to produce my story for WANA International and when she told me what WANA was all about? I was so stoked…and also broke and sleeping on a bench at the WANA Park. The theater people knew Kristen had been collecting peacocks for years, so they called her to come get me.

She bought me Subway.

Natalie: What does having a peacock as a mascot represent?

Francis: Well, Kristen was actually the one who revealed to me that I was adopted by chickens.  She can see things like that. She is CRAZY intuitive. It’s like she knows your story better than you do.

Anyway, according to Kristen, that’s why I never fit in, because apparently, a lot of chickens take corporate jobs. She fell for the same thing. She told me that corporate jobs are simple. Show up, do your thing, go home.

No wonder I was miserable!

When I found out I was really a peacock, this HUGE weight lifted off my chest. I mean how many YEARS of therapy believing I was a funny-looking chicken! All the stupid self-talk, the self-help books:

I am a good chicken and people love chicken.

I feel like such an idiot.

But, I might write a memoir—From Chicken to Fabulous. We’ll see. After this first film, I am kind of digging being in the movies.

Natalie: As an artist, why do you feel WANA International is important to artists in this new digital age?

Francis: Because at WANA, there are no chickens. It’s okay to be who you are and embrace your art.

Natalie: Explain your artistic process and how do you feel WANA classes will help your continual growth?

Francis: I am still pretty new, so I don’t yet have a process other than showing up and doing the work, being open to listening to artists who know more than me. That is the great part about WANA. All the teachers are doing what they teach. No theory.

Natalie: As a bird, do you struggle fitting into an art community?

Francis: No, actually now that I realize I am not a plain old chicken, it is pretty cool being a peacock, and apparently the art community is FULL of peacocks. I feel right at home.

Natalie: How do you see WANA International helping your fellow artists?

Francis: The coolest thing is they will know they are not alone. I felt very alone for years, for most of my life. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t look, sound or think like my family, my friends or anyone at my job.

When I connected with the WANAs, I met all kinds of artists who were just like me. They had the same struggles and doubts, but they were so willing to help me even though I was new, because they, too, had once been new and lost. I was able to get honest feedback and tough love and a safe place to be…me.

That is a huge part of being successful, I think. I think you need love. Love is at the heart of WANA and that’s why it feels like home. A lot of us don’t have love at home and so WANA can be the home we never had, and that’s really cool. Because when you are loved, you feel like you can fly, like you can do anything. And it is that bravery, that rawness that makes art.

No love, no art. That simple.

Don’t forget to attend the #WANAPARTY on Twitter. Visit here for all the details.

I want to thank Francis for his time. I know that Kristen has him working very hard with the launch and that his time is extremely valuable. And don’t forget to check out Francis’ theatrical debut in his video below. Could Francis have a serious career on the screen? With a community and continued education from the Artistic Instructors at WANA, anything is possible.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/42861786″>Francis Finds His Art</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user11832487″>WANA International</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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The importance of being quiet

Lately I’ve bee reading the best book, “Mitten Strings for God” by Katrina Kenison. It is a fantastic book for parents but really anyone can learn from her simple, common sense approach to life.

In a recent chapter she address being quiet and how today’s society encourages us against being quiet. Even children’s toys get louder and louder with flashing lights and are anything but quiet. I agree with Kenison that it is important to step back from the noise and experience some quiet time each day.

She spoke about quiet time in the context of spending time with you family. I think this can also be applied to our writing lives. Yes, I know this sounds silly. Many of us are “quiet” when we write. However, if you just take some time to slow down and be quiet, you just might find the answer to fixing that pesky scene or find a way to better introduce that character.

Do you make room for quiet time in your life? How do you enjoy this time with your family? Your writing life?

And now on to a real fun topic that will be anything but quiet….

It’s time to party! If you’ve been on Twitter this week and have found yourself very confused by the #hashtag #WANAPARTY it’s all leading up today. Today beginning at 2pm CST all artists are welcome to celebrate the launch of WANA International.

Look here for all the party details.

And to start the party fun a little early, enjoy some music to set the mood.

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You’re invited to the WANA International party!

What: is WANA International? I’m glad you asked because it is something very exciting that is worth celebration. WANA International – Empowering Artists of the Digital Age is the brainchild of Kristen Lamb and Ingrid Schaffenburg. Kristen is the best-selling author of We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. She takes the chaos out of social media and is my go-to-gal on new media related questions. Ingrid really knows art. She’s a dancer, actress with a background in journalism/PR. It’s easy to see why I adore this lady because I share a very similar background!

Who: Come one, come all! Come painters, singers, dancers, writers, web designers, underwater basket weavers (please let me know if you come because I’ve always wanted to meet one!) You get the idea….we’re calling ALL ARTISTS aka all creative types to celebrate the launch of WANA International

Where: In the land of Twitter. Be sure to use the hashtag #WANAPARTY to join in on the fun.

When: Tomorrow Friday June 8, 2012. Kick-off will be at 2pm CST and go into the night. You can come and go as you please. We want to celebrate with as many artists as possible.

Why:  As said best by Kristen Lamb “WANA is seeking to fill a vacuum. We were inspired by the movie “Midnight in Paris.” We found ourselves longing for a time when creative people—ALL types of creative people—could all hang out, talk, chat, brainstorm, help each other, etc. 

One of the things that bothers me about social media is that I see a lot of inbreeding. Writers talk all to writers about writing and that is good, but after time it stagnates. No new blood and no new ideas. Thus, WANA will solve this problem.”

And there will be tons of fun! Throughout the party tweet to #WANAPARTY your best creative pictures. Let those creative juices flow and show us what ya got. The pictures will be saved and posted for a vote. And of course, there will be prizes J We will also have a interview with a very special guest.

We Are Not Alone and this is something to celebrate. Share the news about WANA International and pop by for some fun tomorrow!

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Creating the well-rounded artist

There is more to being an artist than just writing, painting, performing, etc. Being an artist is a business. For that vast majority of us we are our own secretary, accountant, public relations specialist, social media manager, and then we squeeze in our actual artistic talent. And don’t forget necessary housework. We are also chefs, maids and if you have children-a nanny. 

It hasn’t always been this way. Shakespeare didn’t have Twitter. With today’s technologies, artists have to do so much more than focus on their craft if they want to make it. So how do you do it all? Become the well-rounded artist. I know it sounds easier than it is. I’m sure there’s an app somehow for this or you can visit the new WANA International and find community and resources specifically for artists. Read all about WANA International from its founder author Kristen Lamb.

As I discussed on Monday, WANA International is taking community to the next level. As its tagline states, “Empowering Artists of the Digital Age” and it does just that.  With workshops taught by top-notch artistic instructors in business, craft, lifestyle and social media- artists can stretch their talents and reach a well-rounded state that will best benefit their careers.

And don’t forget the importance of community. WANA International offers the WANA Tribe, the latest social media craze but specifically geared for artists. You can chat with artists and learn from each other.

The great writers of the classics only had to write. They didn’t have a care for social media or most business tasks that we deal with today. Learn to make the most of your talents while staying up to date with everything else. I’m teaching my WRITING MOMS AND DADS workshop in a two-day event, July 10 and concluding July 17 at 7:30-8:30pm CST on both dates. Click here for more information.

I invite you to explore the new WANA International site and see what workshops you could benefit from. Don’t forget to join WANA Tribe for a chance to mingle with many artists of varying disciplines.

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Blog Spotlight:

Is Now Really the Best Time Ever for Writers? By author Marcy Kennedy

How Can an eBook Be Different? By author Bob Mayer

The Age of the Artist- Time for a Revolution By author Kristen Lamb

 

 

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Taking community to the next level

I know that I typically blog on Wednesdays and Fridays. However, today I’m just too excited to not jump up and down and type about it!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the writing community is AWESOME! Since I took my writing career full-time before my daughter was born I’ve grown to really appreciate and crave community among other writers. Luckily for me, finding community among the writing industry was so easy. If you are a writer, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We are all in this difficult-to-navigate industry together. That’s why I found Kristen Lamb’s books “We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media” and “Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer” so helpful. We are NOT Alone!

There is so much more to being a writer than just writing. We are our own PR consultant, secretary, and accountant. If you are like me, and you work from home you also serve as maid, chef and nanny (if you have children.) Some days the workload can be very intimidating. This is where having a community comes in handy. You can connect with other people that share your challenges. And more importantly, you can learn from others. We all have our areas of expertise. Take advantage of these resources.

The same thing can be said for any artist. Artists must think in terms of a marathon. Very rarely is an artist truly and over night sensation. The day-to-day backbreaking work can drain you. All the more reason to find a community that can help you through those late night meltdowns.

Kristen Lamb, the same author that penned the concept of “We are Not Alone” is taking community to a whole new level and making it easier than ever to connect with like-minded artists. The new WANA International will be the go to place for writers to grow in numerous areas including business, craft, lifestyle and social media. WANA international will bring you community and education from top-notch instructors. “These days, creative professionals all need more training than ever before. Writers are not the only creatives who must learn to use social media in order to stand apart from the competition and to help lay the foundation for a career,” explains Lamb.

And through the new WANA Tribe, a social media site, artists can connect with each other. By bringing together artists of all backgrounds we can grow stronger as a community and help one another with our gifts.

To help artists grow, WANA International also offers a variety of workshops. You can “see” your instructor through webcam and get the opportunity to interact and ask questions. What an opportunity to grow in your craft!

As a former professional dancer I appreciate all artists and love this new opportunity for artist-entrepreneurs to get to interact and learn from each other. We truly are not alone!

I’m reaching out to artists and sharing my expertise in a workshop this July. I’ll be teaching a two-part webinar for the Writing Mom: You can have it all. My class begins July 10 at 7:30-8:30 CST and concludes July 17 at 7:30-8:30. This format is very different from the month long workshop of the same topic that I teach through Cool Gus Publishing. This format will give students the opportunity for a greater level of interaction and the addition of more visible aides. Be sure and check out the classes that the line-up of fantastic authors is offering.

I’m very excited to be part of the WANA movement. To me, WANA International represents the next evolutionary step to community. Communities keep us grounded and help us grow towards achieving our dreams. With the social network plus amazing courses, I believe WANA International will be the hang out for artists of all kinds. WANA really is a movement. Those who follow me on Twitter know that most of my tweets end with the hashtag #MyWANA. It really is a “love revolution,” as Kristen calls it. You can read up more about #MyWANA, the “love revolution” at Kristen’s blog here.

This is a very exciting time for writers and all artists and it’s important for us to stick together and help one another. It is true that two heads are better than one. Through discussion from many artists specializing in varied areas of artistic expertise, every artist can grow and reach their goals. As our world changes we need community and encouragement more than ever. I believe that WANA International: Empowering Artists of the Digital Age will be an organization to help artists get to the next step in their careers.

 

News:

Join me and other WANA International instructors this Friday night for a Twitter party! Stay tuned for info about the party. Knowing everyone involved, it’s going to be the place to be in cyber space! For the party, join us at the hashtag #WANAPARTY.

I’m happy to be offering my “Writing Moms” seminar in a different, unique, 2-night webinar experience this July 10 and 17. Learn more here.

Don’t forget I’ll be teaching a month-long workshop “Time Management for the Busy Writer” this October through Cool Gus Publishing (formerly Who Dares Wins Publishing) this October. This class will be just in time for NANOWRIMO! Learn more here.

Celebrate the one-year anniversary of “Caring for Your Special Needs Dog” on sale now.

A special congratulation and happy book birthday to my friend and fellow West Houston RWA member, author Karen Burns. Karen’s debut novel “In Hot Pursuit” is OUT TODAY!

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Are you due a task check up?

Doctors do more than just treat us when we are sick. They also check us up when we are well to ensure our good health. It’s smart to take advantage of such check ups and we should do the same when it comes to our work.

You can be your own doctor, making a house call to check up all that you are doing. Our to do lists can often get overwhelming and unattainable. This is why we must stop and take a look at each thing we do to assess its relationship to our goals.

You should have a long-term goal that is supported by numerous short-term goals that will help you reach that long-term goal. Look at everything you do and ask yourself the following diagnostic questions:

  1. Does this task support a short-term goal?
  2. Does this task support my long-term goal?
  3. How much time does this task take?
  4. What kind of joy do I get from this task?

I recently asked these questions regarding one local freelance contract that I held. It didn’t support either my long-term goals or short-term goals. Many of my contracts help me in building contacts in the industry or support my branding, which in turn supports my goals. This particular contract did not help my branding and did not help me build contracts. I was just simply doing it out of habit. The task had run its course and it was time to let it go and free up all that precious time that I had once dedicated to it.

It’s common to get into a habit of doing something but we all need to take time once in while to look at our tasks from a doctors point of view. Is your task holding you back from greater things? Does it simply drain your time from other projects when you could be working towards your goals?

Have you preformed a task check-up recently? Did you find anything that you gave up or made a change to your routine?

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