Friday, June 19, 2009

Catching the Waves by Tristi Pinkston

I recently reviewed Agent in Old Lace by Tristi Pinkston. In case you missed that review, you can find it here.

Tristi is currently touring the blogosphere to let people know all about her contemporary romantic suspense novel Agent of Old Lace, and I agreed to host her. Actually, if she hadn't asked I would have offered because I loved her last book, Season of Sacrifice so much, I knew I wanted to read Agent in Old Lace the minute it was available.

Though Tristi told me it might be dangerous, I allowed her to take the reins and discuss whatever she wanted to today. So, I'm taking a nap for a few moments and Tristi is moving in.

Catching the Waves
By Tristi Pinkston

When a surfer wants to catch a wave, he goes out into the water and gets ready, holding his board poised just right. When the wave comes, he takes full advantage, placing the board and hopping on, holding his arms just so in order to keep his balance, and he rides that wave as far as it will take him. As he’s standing in the water, waiting, he doesn’t feel guilty if the wave doesn’t come right when he thought it would. He just waits a minute, remaining ready, and then enjoys the ride when it comes.

Spurts of creativity are very much like waves. They come and they go, sometimes pounding into the beach and sometimes gently lapping, often with gaps in between. Writers ride those waves of creativity, tapping out pages upon pages as the wave takes them into shore. Yet, for some reason, the analogy stops here. Whereas the surfer patiently waits for the wave, knowing one is coming, the writer frets and stresses. “Where’s my next wave?” he moans. “I’m a fraud. A failure. I’ll never get published. I’ll never finish this book. I’m stuck and I don’t know how to fix it. I’m a loser.”

What the writer needs to realize is what the surfer knows instinctively. The wave will come. It might not come right now, or thirty seconds from now, but it will come. No amount of stressing or whining will bring it any sooner. The question is, are you poised in the water, gripping your board, ready to leap on when the time is right?

1. Are you getting enough rest? Sleep is one of the major factors in creativity. If you just can’t come up with a decent idea to save your life, it’s time for a nap, or two or three … whatever you need to recharge.

2. Are you feeding your mind? If you’re writing a romance, are you reading romances, watching romantic movies, and snuggling up with your sweetie? You’ve got to feed the fire. If you’re writing a historical fiction, read them. If you’re writing a nonfiction text, read them. Keep your brain firing on those topics so that when your idea flares to life, it won’t be like trying to start a rusty chainsaw.

3. Are you taking enough time away from the computer? That might seem counterproductive, but it’s not. Sitting in the same place day after day, staring at the screen, isn’t the most awe-inspiring place you could be. If the screen is mocking you, take a break. Go for a walk. Get some oxygen flowing. Go shopping. Sometimes changing your atmosphere is the best thing you can do to get those ideas coming again.

You are not a failure if your ideas seem slow in coming. You just need some time to recharge yourself and possibly even remind yourself why you love to write in the first place. It should never feel like a chore. If that’s where you are right now, take a break. Then get back in the water and wait for the wave. It will come.

I'm back! I popped in at Tristi's blog and noticed this post from the day she kicked off her virtual book tour. It's not often I read of an author interviewing herself, so please check it out.

You can also find Tristi online at her website.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Stop Juggling: Why Multi-tasking isn’t Productive

This article originally appeared in the May issue of Writer2Writer under the title, Multi-tasking - Tips and Tricks to Make it Work!. The above title is closer to capturing my feelings about multi-tasking.

When I was younger, I thought multi-tasking was great. Even though I made some mistakes here or there, I felt like I was accomplishing a lot more. Consider it wisdom or more experience, but now that I'm older, I've learned to appreciate focusing on one thing at a time and doing it well.

The article below will give you some tips on how to stop multi-tasking so that you can truly be more productive!

Stop Juggling: Why Multi-tasking isn’t Productive

Copyright Cheryl C. Malandrinos - All Rights Reserved.

If you’ve spent any time in the corporate world, then you’re familiar with the term multi-tasking. Employers mention it in their job posts and applicants proudly put “ability to multi-task” on their resumes.

Multi-tasking is a good thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

A University of Michigan study found that participants took longer to complete math problems if they tried to switch back and forth among tasks. In addition, Russell Poldrack, a UCLA associate professor of psychology and co-author of a study on multi-tasking says that, “Multi-tasking adversely affects how you learn," because “…that learning is less flexible and more specialized, so you cannot retrieve the information as easily.”

Author and management expert Dave Crenshaw even wrote a book to help business leaders and employees recognize why multi-tasking is counterproductive.

How can you stop multi-tasking in a world where cell phones, PDA’s and laptops keep you connected 24/7?

Here are some tips to get you started.

Write a to-do list

As a writer, you probably have three projects you’re working on and several more you want to work on. Problem is, when your mind is focusing on everything all at once instead of only on the task at hand, you’re more apt to make mistakes. Write a to-do list, prioritize it, and stick to it. Just make sure you leave a little bit of wiggle room in case something urgent comes up.

Keep a Pad Close By

Oftentimes when you’re working, an idea will pop into your head and you’re afraid to forget it, so you wander off to focus on that idea or perform a task you’ve forgotten.

Don’t do it! Write it down and get back to what you were doing. Not only will you keep your focus on the task at hand, think of how great it will feel when you check something off your to-do list.

Stop Distractions

Email, cell phones, and the Internet have made life easier in many ways. But technology has its downside. It’s so tempting to just take a minute to click over and check the daily news or your email. But it never takes only a minute, and before you know it, all your writing time has been spent on anything but writing.

When I work on deadline I don’t answer my phone. I keep it by my desk in case of emergencies, but unless it is one of the girls’ schools, I let the answering machine pick it up.

Set a time each day to check email and return phone messages and browse the Internet on a scheduled break.

Don’t Allow Interruptions

Family and friends need to be reminded that you’re working and not available. Constantly reinforce your work schedule with them and don’t allow them to interrupt you for anything that isn’t an emergency.

Make Time for Others

The flip side of not allowing interruptions is to train yourself not to work during family time. This is something I especially struggle with. Sometimes that means packing up a picnic lunch and taking my girls to the park so that I’m not tempted to do any work.

Keep family time sacred. Don’t return phone messages. Don’t check your email. Don’t hibernate in your office for an hour. Let your family know how important they are to you and they’ll be more respectful of your writing time.

Make Time for Yourself

The world might be going 24/7, but you can’t. You need down time and you need to get enough sleep so that you can stay healthy and productive.

Even if it’s just fifteen minutes a day, allot some time in your schedule to do whatever it is you want to do. Take a walk. Take a bath. Take a power nap. Whatever it is, do it.

Try to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. While it might seem like you’re doing yourself a favor if you stay up late to complete what you’re working on, people who do not get enough sleep are more prone to making mistakes and forgetting things, not to mention the adverse health affects caused by sleep deprivation.

Don’t confuse being busy with being productive. Multi-tasking is not the way to balance your family life and your career. It could result in costly mistakes. Creating to-do lists, writing things down instead of trying to focus on multiple things at a time, stopping distractions and interruptions, and making time for others and for yourself will give you a better balance between your personal life and your career.

And you’ll be more productive too!

About the Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelancer who specializes in helping writers increase productivity through time management and organization. She has also written articles on everyday life in the 1800’s, gardening, parenting, and women’s health issues. Cheryl is also a book reviewer, blogger, and a virtual book tour coordinator for Pump Up Your Book Promotion. You can find out more about Cheryl by visiting her website at

Dr. Ronald J. Frederick on Living Like You Mean It

I'm very excited to tell you about Dr. Ronald J. Frederick and his book, Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want shares with you his proven four-step approach to overcoming fear and connecting more deeply with yourself and others.

Writers deal with self-doubt and fear often. Not only do we doubt our abilities, but we can be afraid of failing, afraid of succeeding, and afraid that no matter what we do it can't possibly be good enough.

With Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want you'll learn to:

* Break through old patterns and get unstuck,

* Open up to the energy and resources inside you and feel motivated,

* Get in touch with your personal truth and put an end to confusion and indecisiveness,

* Experience a profound sense of meaning, purpose, and belonging,

* Deepen and enrich your relationships and feel closer to those you love,

* Realize your true potential and experience greater fulfillment and happiness,

* ….and live your life like you mean it!

Today Dr. Frederick will discuss the power of fear and how it keeps us from achieving what we want.

The ability to live like you mean it hinges on being able to be emotionally present in our lives—really being there for the happy times and coming through the difficult times a much better person. It’s our feelings that make us feel alive and vital, energize us to meet and deal with life’s challenges, and point us in the best direction to get what we really want. Our feelings are what bridge the gap between ourselves and others, enliven our relationships, and help us feel close. Our personal identity—the core of who we are—is largely formed by what we feel and how we react. Our likes and dislikes, what makes us happy, what makes us sad, what excites us, what brings us pleasure, what annoys or frustrates us—all say so much about who we are. It’s in our feelings that we find our true authentic self.

Unfortunately, many of us are uncomfortable with our feelings. We have what I call a “feelings phobia.” We get close to our feelings, start to feel anxious, and avoid them. We do all these things to steer clear of our feelings—behaviours we’re not even aware we’re doing. When we avoid or deny our feelings, when we suppress them, we are in a way denying who we are, squelching our creativity and individuality, and sacrificing our true potential and power. It’s impossible to go the distance, to really live like you mean it, unless we can be fully present with our feelings.

But, as I discuss in my new book Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want, change is possible. We can loosen the grip of fear on our experience and unleash our inner wisdom and power. It all begins with opening our eyes and waking up to what’s going on inside of us. We need to find a way to put the brakes on, slow down, and tune in to our internal experience. In short, we need to develop what I call emotional mindfulness. Emotional mindfulness is about purposely paying attention to our physically felt emotional experience as it happens with the aim of helping us be more consciously aware of our feelings and, ultimately, more fully present with them.

How do you do this? You start by slowing down, going inward and just noticing. At any time you want to, stop and ask yourself, What am I feeling? and then tune in to what’s happening inside you right in that moment. Not what you think should be happening, not what you wish were happening, but what is happening. Consciously direct your attention to your felt experience. Watch and observe.

Each time you repeat this behaviour, each time you bring your focus back to your body sensations, you’re developing a new habit. You’re training your mind to be aware of and pay attention to your emotional experience. You’re opening up to a richer experience of yourself. You’re making room for your creative juices to flow. And, you’re beginning to transform your life.

To find out more about living like you mean it, please visit:

Ron Frederick is a licensed psychologist and life coach and author of the bestselling book Living Like You Mean It: Use the Wisdom and Power of Your Emotions to Get the Life You Really Want (Jossey-Bass, 2009). A long-time proponent of the power of therapy to transform lives, he co-founded the Center for Courageous Living which offers innovative therapy, coaching, and consulting.

Noted for his warmth, humor, and engaging presentation style, Dr. Ron travels throughout North America as a speaker and trainer, receiving consistent acclaim for his expertise and inviting teaching style. His work has been featured in the APA Monitor on Psychology, Clinical Psychiatry News: The Leading Independent Newspaper for the Psychiatrist, and Lavender Magazine. An invited contributor to several professional books, he has also been quoted on

Dr. Ron is a Senior Faculty Member of the Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) Institute as well as the supervising psychologist of Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Park House Day Treatment Program.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Dr. Ron now lives in Minneapolis, MN.