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100-day Challenge – Why writing every day is so danged important

Welcome challengers: Kim, Sandy, Tammy, Leah, Angi, Risa, Kate, Blake, Pam, Ashley and Suzanne! We are an even dozen. That’s 12 people aimed at success. Now we need a name. How about the “Dedicated Dozen?” Anyone got anything better?

How did you do today, day two? I got off to a rough start with a 4 a.m. search and rescue call-out. Didn’t get home until almost noon and then I really needed a nap. Technically I’ve met my goal–finished the chapter I was reading in QUICKSAND and wrote about a page, but I plan to write for another hour or so and then go to bed and read until I can’t keep my eyes open (which will probably be about 2 minutes, lol).

The challenge will be judged on the honor system. You aren’t required to show up here daily and post successes (there won’t be anything but successes, will there? Don’t make me come knock on your door…) but I do hope you’ll stop by periodically. If you trip up, don’t worry about it. Show up, let us know and I’ll restart your counter. It ain’t over till it’s over, baby, and you’ve got all year if you need it.

So why is it so danged important to write, or do whatever your challenge activity is, every single day? Everyone deserves a day off, right?

Right. But not yet.

Let’s get that habit firmly established first. That should take…oh…about 100 days.   🙂

In the original challenge post I touched on two reasons to perform your activity every day. First, because it builds the habit, and we are all creatures of habit. Second, because it keeps that activity in the forefront of our minds. I believe our subconscious mind is working all the time. The question is, what is it working on?

In order to write, even only a single sentence, you have to think about your story. You have to remember where you were, what your characters were doing, what happens next. Thinking about your story moves it to the brain’s equivalent of the cache on your computer. If you’re not a techie, don’t worry about the analogy. Just save to say that it puts the story in the part of your brain that makes it easiest to access. So when your subconscious goes looking for something to work on…there it is. Your subconsious will work on your story long after you close the file. Then when you sit down to write more than a sentence, your mind will already have worked out the next part of the story. You just have to type it.

If you don’t think about your story for a day, three days, three weeks, then your brain shuffles it aside to a remote storage area where your subconscious is less likely to find it and work on it. Don’t let your dreams be shuffled aside!

This line of thought works for other challenge activities as well. For example, Kate is working on acknowledging her kids’ good behavior. Complimenting the kid once caches the activity. Then her subconscious will be on the lookout for more opportunities and remember to acknowledge them.

Tammy is thinking about starting a new business. By doing just one thing every day to move toward that goal, like browsing websites for similar business to get ideas, starting her business plan, or doddling ideas for business cards, she can keep her mind problem-solving all the challenges ahead.

There are two more reasons we should work on our challenge activity every day. I’ll touch on one today and one tomorrow or the day after.

Today’s reason: Because getting started is the scariest part. We all have fears–fear of failure, fear of success, fear of rejection, etc. That fear that niggles at us when we’re occupied with other things  suddenly can become a roaring monster with claws and teeth and green slime dripping from its nose when we actually get ready to try our activity. For a writer, opening the manuscript file can be the toughest part of the day. For a reader, maybe we think our spouses or family won’t be happy that we’re taking 15 minutes to spend quietly with a book when there is so much else to do: clean the house, do the laundry, pay the bills. Or maybe we think people will think it’s silly that we love romance novels or weird science fiction. Maybe we fear that a teenager will shrug off our attempts at affection (the dreaded, “Moooooooo-ooooom!”).

I train search and rescue dogs. Sometimes those dogs have to scary things, like climb and 8-foot ladder. Sound impossible to train a dog to climb a scary ladder? It’s really not that hard, because we use a process of desensitizing them to the ladder. We start with a ladder horizontal and sitting on bricks so that it’s just about 1 foot off the ground. We put a plank across it so they are really just walking across a board at first. As they get used to that, we start moving the plank off so that they have to walk across a few of the rungs, being careful where they place their feet so they don’t slip through. As they have successes at that, We tilt one end of the ladder up a few feet so they have to climb. We gradually increase the angle until finally, they are climbing an 8-foot aluminum (slippery for dog paws!) ladder at a steep angle up to a 6-foot high platform. All along the dogs get plenty of praise, plenty of reward.

Our challenge activities are not that different. We just have to start easy and desensitize ourselves to the fear. That’s why it’s fine to write just one sentence. If we start out saying we’re going to sit down and write for 10 straight hours and we need to crank out 30 pages…that’s just too scary. We’re like the puppies on the ground, looking up at that ladder that must look like a skyscraper to them. Start easy. Reward yourself. Build on success.

Soon you’ll be opening up those manuscript files and diving into your stories like this (just the first 20 seconds or so):

Sorry, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to show off my boy Boogie. I know, this isn’t an 8-foot ladder and he’s not climbing to a height of six feet, but it’s the only ladder video I had, and he was just learning. He’d only been climbing ladders for a few days!

Hopefully you’ve all made it to day two. Tomorrow things will probably get tougher for some of you as the holiday ends and a work week begins. Don’t let it throw you.

Open up those files and write on, challengers!

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The 100 day challenge of 2011

Just this week I said I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, and that’s still true. However this year I’ve decided to challenge myself a little bit, and if I’m challenging myself, what the hell…I might as well challenge you, too. So starting tomorrow, I’m officially beginning the 100-day challenge of 2011 for myself and anyone else who wants to play.

Yes, there will be fabulous prizes. Which I haven’t picked out yet, so don’t even ask.

The 100-day challenge is not your typical New Year’s resolution. The 100-day challenge is not about making yourself (myself!) do things we don’t like–such as exercising. It’s about allowing ourselves to do the things we love. We’re all limited to some degree by lack of time or money. Some may suffer lack of support from friends or family. We’re pressured by the things we think we must do, or should be doing, and everything else gets pushed to a back burner.

The 100-day challenge is about picking one of those back-burner items and making it a priority. Every. Day. For 100 days.

My challenge item is writing. I love to write. But it is so easily pushed off for other things. I think, “I’ll just do this other thing today, and write twice as much tomorrow (which never happens) to make it up.” No more! I hearby vow to write every day for 100 days, no matter what. There may be (probably will be) days when I only write a single sentence, but that’s okay. Because the 100-day challenge is also about building the habit. And no, writing a check or a grocery list doesn’t count. It’s about opening the mental file every day, keeping the story active in my mind.

I’ve read that if you do something everyday for 21 days, it becomes a habit. 100 days should make it a lifelong practice then, shouldn’t it?

I’m also working on the fabulous prize I’ll give myself when I meet that goal on April 10, 2011.

Just for the hell of it, I’m going to throw in a second challenge activity for myself, which is to read every day for 100 days–again, even if it’s only one sentence.

I encourage all my writer friends to join me in this challenge. Please!?

For that matter, I encourage all my non-writer friends to join me as well. The only rule is to pick something you want to do, not something you don’t want to do. I’m hoping lots of you will pick reading. There are many fabulous authors out there to be discovered.

Some other ideas? How about finding something every day to complement your child or your spouse about? How about those of you with that puppy you’ve been meaning to train? I bet some of you like to bead, or paint. One stroke of the brush per day, that’s all it takes to win. I’m betting some days you’ll do a lot more…once you’ve developed the habit.

Please let me know if decide to join in. If you don’t want to post publicly in the comments here, shoot me an email: Vickie@VickieTaylor.com

If 100 days of anything seems overwhelming, don’t worry. There are no losers. If you miss a day, just restart the clock. There is no expiration date on the challenge, and we can all do this!

Happy New Year, everyone.

Abundance or scarcity?

Maybe I’m just becoming more observant, but lately it seems to me that the types of people I meet have become more divisive than ever. No, not the haves and the have-nots, the democrats and the republicans, the dog-lovers and the cat-people. I’m talking about those who live life with an attitude of abundance versus those who live with an attitude of scarcity.

People who take the side of abundance believe there is plenty of all good things to go around for everybody, and that having something means there is more, not less available for everyone else. Success breeds success. Opening the heart means the heart gets bigger so that more can fit, not squeezing something else out. What you give of yourself, you will receive back in triplicate.

We all know abundance theory people when we see them, even if we don’t  know that’s what they are. In writing, they are the authors who are genuinely pleased when a first-time author gets a big contract, because it means the publishing house has money to spend, and surely will result in new contracts for existing authors (herself) as well. They’re the ones who pop open the champagne when another writer makes the New York Times list, because surely when some of the readers finish that awesome book, they’ll head back to the bookstore looking for more to read and that will result in more sales for herself as well. In business careers, they’re the people always ready to help a coworker, because they know success for the team and the business means personal success. In life they’re the mothers and the fathers who give endlessly to their children, knowing that love will flow back to them for the rest of their lives. Abundance theory people believe that all good things in life are available in infinite supply. They are identified by their charity, confidence, contentment and their quest to lift others up so that they may also be lifted.

Unfortunately, the folks who live the scarcity theory are also easy to spot. They’re the ones who think it’s the public school system’s responsibility to make sure their children learn. They’re the businessmen willing to stab a colleague in the back so that they stand out as star of the team. In writing, they’re the authors who hoarde their time and their knowledge, fearing that an upstart author might take their spot on the midlist. They’re the ones who wail at the injustice of it all when another author gets better marketing support from their publisher, or whispers of a reviewer’s incompetence when she gets a starred write-up. Scarcity theory people think that all good things in life are finite, and the more other people get, the less is available for them. They are identified by their displays of fear, jealousy, greed, selfishness and their need to keep others down so that they may rise to the top.

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, but this year I will be keeping a closer eye on my own attitudes. If I start drifting off into scarcity-land, somebody slap me in the face, okay?

Bucket Lists

Someone asked me the other day how many things I’ve checked off my “bucket list” — you know, that list of things you want to do before you kick the bucket. I was stymied. I couldn’t think of a single thing. That’s because I really don’t have a bucket list. That’s not to say that I don’t have some long-term goals. There are things I’d like to do to improve my life. But they’re the type of things you work on day-in, day-out, not one-time events that can be checked off a list.

Sure, I’d like to make the New York Times bestseller list. But if I don’t, I can live with that. Or more appropriate to the topic, I can die with that. What I really want is to establish a writing career, in a genre or genres I love, that provides enough income to lead a stable life. I love writing. I love the lifestyle if affords (who else, besides authors, get to work on their couch in their PJ’s every day and get paid for making sh%$ up?). That just doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that goes on a bucket list.

I have no desire to ride a bull, or jump out of a perfectly good airplane. The days when I wanted to win a world championship with one of my show horses are long gone. Travel is fun for short trips, but I don’t really like being cramped on an airplane for hours and hours, and after a few days out of town I start to miss the quiet of my farm. The only places I really have any interest in seeing are the Coliseum, maybe the ruins of Pompeii, and the glaciers from an Alaskan cruise.  Guess I’m just a homebody.

I’m lucky enough to have attained most of the things I want in life: my farm, my animals, publishing books. My life now is about appreciating what I have, enjoying every day, and making the world a better place in whatever small ways I can.

Anybody else have a bucket list? What is on it?

Christmas Spirit?

I have always loved the holidays. Despite the stress of shopping for the perfect gift, trying to get all caught up on work so I can enjoy the time off with peace of mind that the office is taken care of, travel woes, etc., there is a sense of joy around Christmas that is almost impossible to deny. That’s why I’m so befuddled this year to find myself a little sad and honestly, a lot angry.

I’m angry at the person in Arkansas who let this happen to 116 horses. 119, actually, since 3 were found dead on the property at the time the HSUS and ASPCA arrived to rescue them. I’m angry at the man’s family for allowing him to torture horses for profit. I’m angry at the neighbors who drove by these horses every day and did nothing. I’m angry that this type of cruelty is so prevalent that on the same day the Arkansas horses were seized, another 43 were also taken in east Texas…removed from a field scattered with the skeletons of those for whom help did not come in time.

I’m angry at the Heddins family in Montague County, TX for their treatment of the nearly 600 dogs in their puppy mill. At the time the dogs were finally seized by law enforcement and humane organizations, the attending veterinarian stated that there was something wrong with every single one of them. I’m even angrier at the prosecutor/district attorney in Montague County who, a year and a half later, has still not filed criminal charges against the Heddins. Doesn’t this dog deserve justice?????

I’m angry when I turn on my TV and see the sportscasters talking about how wonderful Michael Vick is, what a great redemption story, and how he is going to be the league MVP this year and take the Eagles to the superbowl. Redemption story? Really?  Michael Vick quit fighting dogs because he got caught, pure and simple. Yes, he served his time. I’m not saying he should still be in jail. He deserves to be out and get a job and get on with his life. But when doctors and lawyers and teachers and cops commit felonies, they don’t get to go back to being doctors and lawyers and teachers and cops. There is a price to pay. Let Mike Vick go back to that roofing job pounding shingles in the hot sun for $12 hour. That’s justice. He doesn’t deserve to be playing in the NFL, making millions of dollars and having sportscasters kiss up to him and little kids idolize him. I’m angry that I can no longer enjoy an NFL game the way I once did, knowing that he is a part of it. I refuse to watch him play. How can anyone respect someone who got pleasure from watching one animal splatter the blood of another all over an arena. Who enjoyed hearing a living, feeling being’s last gasp of life as a bigger, badder dog crushed its trachea? Did he smile that big bright smile of his as he murdered the 8 dogs he has confessed to taking part in killing with his own hands? Michael Vick is a coward. If he was a real man, he’d know that true redemption doesn’t come from multi-million dollar sports contracts.  Watch this video of “Stallone” — make yourself watch it all the way through — and see if you still think Mike Vick is a hero.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CcM8wcspmM&feature=share

I’m angry at a post I read on Craigslist today, in the pet section, in which the poster said he was “tired of hearing about shelter dogs” and asked why didn’t the animal advocates, who were just there posting their shelter dogs for adoption amidst the thousands of ads from puppy mills, backyard breeders, and the careless who simply let their pets reproduce out of ignorance and laziness, just go away.

So yeah, I’m feeling a little bruised this holiday season. A little sick.

But I’m also very, very proud of the caring individuals I’ve worked with this last year on behalf of the animals, from the big organizations like HSUS and ASPCA to the smallest non-private rescue and volunteers. Those whose wallets and gas tanks are always on empty because they spare nothing when it comes to relieving the suffering of animals. They are the real heroes. They are humanity’s redemption.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. Mahatma Gandhi

Merry Christmas.

 

Foodie Friday

Hi All!

No recipe today. Instead I want to turn you all on to a product I love and convince you to try it and stopping buying an old product I, well, don’t love. The best-thing-since-sliced-bread product is Silk Pure Almond Milk. Silk Pure Almond Milk is so incredibly delicious, you’ll never want milk from a dirty old cow again. Best of all, it has up to 50% more calcium than cow’s milk, fewer calories than a glass of 1% dairy milk, NO saturated fat or cholesterol, and is packed with antioxidants (from the almonds).

I’m not even going to go into all the reasons we shouldn’t be drinking cow’s milk. You wouldn’t believe me anyway, because we’ve been brainwashed for decades by the big money behind the dairy industry to believe we can’t live without cow’s milk. Our teeth will rot, out bones will break, yadda, yadda. Read Chapter 5 in the great book “Skinny Bitch” to get the real story.

Anyway, you don’t have to try Silk Pure Almond because of the health benefits or the benefits to the environment. Just try it because it TASTES GREAT!

Have a hard time getting your kids to drink cow’s milk? Try silk pure almond. It is naturally sweet and creamy. Silk Pure Almond comes in 4 varieties.

Vanilla
So naturally sweet it’s like drinking a melted milkshake. Great for cereal, because the sweet flavor comes from cane juice, not refined sugar (a topic worthy of it’s own blog post). Also great as a coffee creamer and for baking (the Pure Silk website has info on how to adjust recipes so you can reduce the refined sugar you have to add). If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll find yourself stopping by the fridge to swig right out of the carton–but that’s okay, as it is low in fat and calories!

Original
Just like regular milk only it tastes creamier and is healthier

Unsweeted
Haven’t tried this one yet, but it’s on my grocery list for this week. The “lightest” flavor yet at only 35 calories per glass.

Dark Chocolate
Sinful. That’s all I have to say about it. Oh, and decadent. Definitely decadent. And still healthier than cow’s milk, much less that fake chocolate crap that the dairy industry brainwashes kids to crave.

Just try it, folks! Do a blind taste test on the hubby, the kids, see what they think. There’s even a coupon on the Pure Silk website!

http://www.silkpurealmond.com/

Foodie Friday presents…Greek Pizza!

This simple and delicious homemade pizza quickly became one of my standbys after I first tried (and loved!) it last spring. Somewhere I have a great picture from the last time I made this dish…but of course now that I’ve actually gotten around to writing the blog, I can’t find the pic anywhere. *sigh*

Trust me, if you like Greek salad, you will love this!

By the way, in case you didn’t notice the new widget over to the right, I am now doing quite a bit of freelance writing! Check out a few of my articles by clicking on the links. These are from only one of my four client sites. I am still trying to figure out if I can set up RSS feeds from the othe sites. If RSS isn’t available, I’ll add a page to the website and add hard links as the articles are published.

GREEK PIZZA

Ingredients:

  1. Pizza dough – either buy the rolled kind near the biscuits in the grocery store, the package kind you have to mix up, or the prepmade ones like Boboli…makes no difference.
  2. 2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
  3. 1/2 cucumber, diced
  4. 1/2 medium or large tomato, diced
  5. 3 slices of a medium red onion, diced
  6. 10-12 big Calamata olives (don’t use the cheap pre-sliced canned ones…go for the big flavor!), sliced
  7. handful or two of feta cheese
  8. 1/4 cup (or to taste) of Kraft Greek salad dressing
  9. 8-10 baby spinach leaves, steam wilted and chopped (optional)
  10. Black pepper to taste
  11. Pizza sauce (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Throw the tomato, cucumber, onion, olives and spinach leaves into mixing bowl. Add enough Greek salad dressing to lightly coat everything. Add feta cheese and stir together. Set aside in refrigerator.
  2. Make pizza crust according to directions
  3.  If pizza just isn’t pizza to you unless it has tomato pizza sauce on it, spread a layer of the stuff over the crust. Personally I like it better without.  Top with the mozzarella cheese and bake according to instruction on pizza crust package.
  4. 3-4 minutes before the crust is done, pull pan out of oven and spread the topping in the bowl over the melting cheese. Cook the additional time and remove from oven.
  5. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste and enjoy.

Great for football game day fare!


Available Now!

western romance novel boxed set

7 men as tough as the West. 7 women ready to Cowboy Up

Available Now!

Psychological Suspense short story with a bonus inspirational short story included

Coming Soon from Vickie Taylor

Fantasy Romance Novella

What am I reading today?

GOOD OLE BOYS - Denise Barker - Just started, but I'm intrigued so far!

Last five books read:

TEXAS GOTHIC - Rosemary Clement-Moore - Awesome! Great fun and spooktastic at the same time!

MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN - Ransom Riggs - Really creative idea. Enjoyed it very much!

BOOTSCOOTIN' BLAHNIKS - D.D. Scott - Very enjoyable, fun book!

THE GOOD DAUGHTER - Diana Layne - Awesome! Get it now!

GOT YOUR NUMBER - Stephanie Bond - Fun little mystery!

What’s on my TBR List?

GOOD OLE BOYS - Denise Barker

Reader’s Guide to E-publishing

Find your next e-book here!

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