Sisters. Revenge. Murder. Hi Gobsmacked Loyalists! I launched my NOIR TRAVEL STORY SERIES with “Revenge in Paris,” and the reviews are streaming in! Here's one that gave me the good kind of goosebumps. Do you have post-holiday hangover? Maybe you ...

 

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Sisters. Revenge. Murder.

Hi Gobsmacked Loyalists!

I launched my NOIR TRAVEL STORY SERIES with “Revenge in Paris,” and the reviews are streaming in! Here's one that gave me the good kind of goosebumps.

Do you have post-holiday hangover? Maybe you need to hunker down. If so, just make sure you read “Revenge in Paris”, the first installment in the travel noir series by Valerie J. Brooks. This story isn’t a marathon–it’s a fast-paced, sweaty-palms, heart-racing holiday sprint around the festive City of Light, told through the eyes of a wannabe killer. The plot winds through Parisian streets and cafes and museums, and into the crooks and crannies of the cold, calculating, passionate, and unmedicated mind of “Helen Craig”. You’ll wince at the glitter and feel the crush of holiday crowds. You’ll want to get up and pour yourself a Scotch. But don’t bother to guess the finale. Brooks will ambush you with it. 
—Tom Titus, author of Blackberries in July: A Forager's Field Guide to Inner Peace

I’m ready to pour myself a whiskey and salute Tom!




ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

Yes, I'm doing it again. This time I'm giving away an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite (or an e-reader of your choice)! Get in on this. Drawing takes place around the Ides of March. 

To enter, sign up at MY WEBSITE


GIVE A FREEBIE to FRIENDS!

Don't you just love freebies? Well, here's one that will make you feel good. Send this postcard to friends and family! They get the free story "Revenge in Paris" and are entered in the drawing for an e-reader! 

Spread the love. Just drag and drop the postcard below into an email and add your own personal message. Don't forget Valentine's Day! What better way to say I love you than to send them a story of revenge and murder?



7 REASONS TO SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER!

  • If you missed downloading the free first story "Revenge in Paris"
  • Discover who shows up in "Portland Prey," the second story of my noir series!
  • Hear about freebies & contests, and enter drawings for cool stuff!
  • Be the first to hear news about the series.
  • Learn what weird things I'm forced to do as an author.
  • Find out what makes me tingle with excitement in all things noir.
  • Read about my favorite noir podcasts, tv shows and movies. 

Click on the Cover to Sign Up on My Website



Thanks for following! If you have a favorite social media, you can follow me there for everything noir. 

I love the dark. How about you?

Ciao!
Valerie

p.s. "Revenge in Paris" will soon be available at your favorite bookseller site. Stay tuned! 














 

WHY I TURNED TO CRIME—WRITING NOIR



Playa, Summer Lake, Oregon
Amidst an anxiety-inducing election cycle, the loss of some of our great musicians, an unstable world, and whatever is going on in your personal life (I know many of you have had a tough year), I hold onto the belief that art carries us, gives us means of expression (meaningful expression, the opposite of trolling), and fills us with hope.

Art in all its forms I believe is evidence that humans are worthy of existence. The only other evidence is our social contract to help others in times of need.

Right now, after a tough personal beginning to the year, I have the good fortune to be at Playa, a month-long residency in southern Oregon to work on Vida Flats my memoir that takes place during the early 70s on the McKenzie River. The memoir has been a work in progress over the years with journaling, scene writing, examining, researching—everything that memoir demands.

Writing memoir leaves me psychologically naked, heart cut open, old wounds surfacing, and ultimately in the end is a method of holding myself accountable for what happened to me.

For the first two weeks at Playa, I spread printouts on my bed of everything I’d written so far and went at them with scissors and tape, eliminating replications, combining scenes with notes, moving notes around, highlighting the most emotional scenes, axing bad writing and tirades—well you get the idea. I cried. New memories surfaced. I tried to have as much compassion for my twenty-four-year old self as I have now for others at that age. Memoir is not about blaming others, even if they’ve done you harm. Memoir is about writing truth, my messy truth, about my choices when I experienced harm or love, ignorance or awareness, failure or success. Memoir is mainly about recognizing that big conscious moment when I knew life had to change, or else. It’s about what I did, or tried to do to make that change. It didn’t happen on the first attempt, or even the second, but it did happen.

So what does this have to do with turning to crime?

This year I had one of those moments when I knew my writing life had to change. I’d written three novels, represented by three incredibly hard working agents, but none sold. This last one is still alive, but I was tired, burned out. I could indie publish all three, but I was too tired and burned out to do that. I knew I needed to change a few things in the third novel, but I just couldn’t go back to it, not yet. Plus I had this memoir. I wasn’t having fun anymore, not that writing a novel or memoir is fun, but I’d lost the passion I’d had for years and seriously considered giving up writing.


Then somewhere along the line, I had an idea. Why not write something fun and short. When I thought that, my shoulders relaxed. The pit in my stomach dissolved. I no longer had heartburn. Writing something fun sounded … fun.

But what would be fun to write? Lately, amidst reading memoirs and literary novels, I’d been reading Scandinavian crime novels, recently ones written by women. My husband liked to tease me because I was hooked on what he called “murder and sex” series like “The Tunnel,” “Rebus,” “The Night Manager,” “The Americans,” and “Shades of Blue.” I said, “No, not the murder and sex. I like the politics and the flawed characters.” As a writer, I think of myself as a behavioral diagnostician. What makes people do what they do? What are their motives? What personal demons or desires drive them? How do their actions affect world events, culture, politics, the economy?

When I was a kid, I read Nancy Drew stories and a mystery series my English relatives sent at Christmas.?

During my teens, I read in bed under the blanket with a penlight until one or two in the morning, stories by de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and O. Henry. Twisty, dark, atmospheric stories I sucked down like cherry sodas.

Mysteries. They would be fun to write, but they weren’t seriousworks.

Then I remembered Rick Moody.

Rick and I met at Vermont Studio while I was there on a month-long writers residency. He’s the author of one of my favorite novels The Ice Storm, also made into a movie.

The Ice Storm hit something deep in me. Rick and I were New Englanders from ultra-conservative families, instilled with a Puritan work ethic, and discouraged from following our creative dreams. I’d wanted to be an artist. He’d wanted to be a musician. We compared stories about our upbringing. He attended a prep school in New Hampshire near my hometown, but not the prep school in my hometown. The prep school in my hometown of Tilton, New Hampshire where I went to high school sat high on a hill overlooking the mill town and main street.  The “preppies” often hung out at the same pizza joint I did and preyed on the “townies.” I was not a popular target so I watched in fascination. I also observed what went on in the homes of our New England picture-perfect towns, something Rick depicted well in The Ice Storm. Something Grace Metalious captured decades earlier in Peyton Place.



In Vermont, Rick and I walked through a familiar stark winter landscape and, inside VSC’s library, he gave me feedback on the first twenty-five pages of my work-in-progress. When I returned to my room, I looked at the pages and at the top of the first page he wrote:

“You’ve got the chops, now loosen up.”

I’ve puzzled over this for years. At the time, I was so incredibly grateful for those words “You’ve got the chops,” that I didn’t realize I didn’t know what he meant by “loosen up.” Was he referring to my language, the voice? The way the story unfolded? Too structured? Too forced? And why, after these many years, am I remembering this now?

I noodled on that for a few days, finally admitting that my first novel was the one I loved writing the most, a dark story about a young woman’s coming of age in the claustrophobic controlled scary confines of a New England town run by her father who was afraid of the mysterious woman who moved in next door. It contained a mystery!

I also reminded myself how much I enjoyed writing “The Hotel Deluxe.” I’d been on assignment for an upcoming online travel magazine where I’d been sent to Portland, Oregon to write a travel piece. I was told to let my imagination fly and encouraged to write something “different.” So I embedded a travelogue in a mystery. I didn’t kill anyone, but the voice was pure noir.


Noir.

I got goose bumps. Always a good sign. I also had to laugh. Mom once described me as “a good girl who wanted to be a bad.” Writing mysteries was for good girls. Noir was for bad.

Why it took me so long to figure this out, I have no idea. During college I’d studied film noir in a course titled “Film as Literature.” We watched and dissected films, and Matty Walker, Catherine Tramell, and Lynn Bracken, characters motived by hypocrisy, love, betrayal, and money, captivated me. Flawed, intriguing, greedy, messed up characters. No one you’d want to be friends with, but damn! I sure could have fun writing them.

But the book marketplace was flooded with mysteries and thrillers. What could set my short noirs apart from the rest? The travel noir piece I wrote gave me an idea. Why couldn’t I set each noir in a place Dan and I had traveled? Weren’t there people who would love to know more about the setting, the places mentioned in the story, if they knew they were real? I could add a back section to each short story with links and photos and. … More goose bumps.

Plus not everyone had the time to read or even focus on novels. My short noir-travel stories could be read while sitting in the car waiting for the kids to get out of school, during the inevitable long wait at the doctors, eating pie and drinking coffee at a café while their car was being fixed. With the back travel section, the reader could plan a trip to the setting or just live vicariously off the photos and links.

Sometimes life works in your favor. Over the 2015 Holiday season on a two-week vacation in Paris with Dan, I’d kept a journal and saved every receipt and brochure. Gold! I fleshed out a character and a plot, and wrote my first Noir Travel Story “Revenge in Paris.”

And that’s why and how I ended up writing crime, or more accurately noir.

My first e-story in the series “Revenge in Paris” will launch December 1 to coincide with the holidays, and the story will be FREE to download to your e-reader. I’m giving it away to celebrate my launch of the NOIR TRAVEL STORY SERIES. Plus, you’ll have access to a gift card to print out and insert in your holiday cards so you can give this free NOIR TRAVEL STORY to everyone you know.

Because you’vebeen with me a long time, you get the first peek at the cover—before I reveal it on my social media!

Thanks for following me. You’ll receive an announcement when the e-book is available.

And, please, if I end up in jail, post my bail. I’ll mention you in the credits of my next noir.

Au revoir,

Val








For more fun with NOIR click on these links:

WOMEN CRIME WRITERS ARE NOT A FAD




 

April is the Cruellest Month: Loss, Suicide, and Finding Joy During a Tough Month

Tia--a good day on the canal
Simon and Garfunkle's "April Come She Will" has been playing in my head since April 11th, the day we lost our pooch, Tia Maria, to liver cancer. It was a rough five weeks from diagnosis to the day when we had to call the vet.

Dan and I loved that little dog. Never having been without dogs or cats, our empty house seemed to echo the time when I lost Dad to suicide and our family had no anchor. I also haven't been able to get T.S. Eliot's first four lines of his poem "The Waste Land" out of my head either.

April is the cruellest month, breeding 
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain.

I remember Mom often saying, "I hate April," that month when you expect birth from winter, the land greening with newness, the flowers and trees blooming, the sun finally remembering it needed to shine. Warmth, birdsong, goslings waddling behind their parents, calla lilies spiking through dirt.

April seems a schizophrenic month that promises a new start, a leaving of winter and a thriving of all living things but tests everything and everyone. Sometimes after seedlings burst, April will deliver a frost. Birds are wild with mating, but lose their head and smash into windows. Frenetic energy brings mistakes. The season is full of beauty and the stirring of desire--from sexual desire to a need to garden. It's all about planting of seed and escaping winter.

And this brings me back to suicide and the seasons.

Many believe the rate of suicide peaks in the cold and dark months of winter, but that's not true according to research. Suicide is prevalent in late spring and early summer months.

My theory on this is that the holiday season keeps us engaged and filled with interaction with loved ones. My dad made it through pain and emotional suffering the winter of 1969 surrounded by family and celebration. There was hope. Then the need to carry this through with New Years and the idea that something would change, a better year, a different year. By March it's pretty damn clear that nothing has changed for the person suffering, and when April comes, so does the frenetic energy, never mind taxes and the responsibilities of clearing, growing crops, pruning, weeding, the long hot summer ahead meaning work, maybe the craziness of not being able to mate or let go of that pent up energy, and like a bird flying into the window, the mistake is made. 
Dad, me and my brother Kent working in the garden 1955
So today, on the anniversary of Dad's death, I offer this letter to you, one I wrote to him today in the hope that I can pass on more info about the pattern of suicide. I have no idea if any of this will help anyone, but I do know the rate of suicide is brutal for the men and women in our military. Maybe, just maybe, if we understand more, have more information, and keep a list of resources handy, we might keep someone from leaving us, someone who if they live might invent something amazing or give birth to the next great leader. Who knows? I am ever hopeful.

Today is the first day of May. Yay! May brings birthdays, my oldest granddaughter and mine. May also brings new life. We're so excited because on May 19th we bring little Stevie, our new Havanese puppy, home.

Stevie at four weeks
Embrace life. Love and light to you all!
Val

* * * * * * * * * * *

                                                                     30 April, 2016 


Dear Dad,



On this day forty-six years ago, April 30, 1970, you committed suicide.

I understand why you did it. You were in pain, struck down from an autoimmune disease that hit in 1944 when you were an officer during WWII. You spent a year in a Texas Army hospital that couldn’t diagnose your illness. Later it would be called PTSD.

April 3, 1970 was your 54th birthday. You told us not to buy you any presents. You were gray-haired, skin and bones, and physically worn out. You still had two kids at home, a 17-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. I was going to have your first grandchild in July.

But you couldn’t wait. And as I said, I understand.

You were always self-sacrificing. You thought your family would be better off.

The truth however is something you didn’t understand and I didn’t discover until much later—the idea of suicide is addictive like a drug. The pattern is the same, the same spikes and plateaus, the ever-shortening relief brought on with the bigger the need. The idea of suicide brings relief at first, but then needs to be fed more and more to get ever larger doses of serotonin, the calming, happiness-producing hormone.



I don’t know when you first thought of suicide as a possible way out. It could have come rather innocently.

Maybe it came when you had to call into work sick because your body felt aflame. Perhaps a bill came due that you couldn’t pay or it was the day you scraped your beloved new blue Oldsmobile against the side of the garage and realized you no longer had control. Maybe it was from me dropping out of college, getting pregnant, and marrying a Vietnam Vet with his own demons who I thought I could save. Possibly it was when your business partner bailed and your business failed.

The day I drove you to the VA Hospital in Vermont for tests, you thought you might have cancer. You hadn’t felt good for three years you said. Because the hospital had no doctors on staff that day or over the weekend, they said to go home. We went for coffee. You seemed calm and relaxed. In an unusual confession, you told me you had never wanted children because of your condition, knowing you wouldn’t be a good father, even admitted to being too controlling, like your father was. Later, I would realize that this was your way of saying sorry, and goodbye. Thank you for that. Later, it would give me understanding and closure.

           

Whatever first put the idea of suicide into your head, you thought of it and experienced your first hit of serotonin. You were back in control and had a way out if need be.

That didn’t last however.



The next time you experienced stress and your body was wracked with pain, you thought of suicide again, and that brought relief, only this time not as much. When the pattern repeated, relief came when you started planning your suicide. Now the relief was stronger and longer.

The family doctor had given you painkillers. That’s how you’d do it. A big surge of relief this time. You functioned for a while and felt back in control.

But it didn’t last long, and the next time some incident brought back the pain, you were ready to be done with it. You calmly took that bottle of pills and laid down on the bed, waiting for relief. Instead, you slept for three days. Probably you’d built your drug tolerance too high. Mom had me go over to change your sheets and I found you in the bed, and you were breathing, but wouldn’t wake up. Only nineteen and scared, I called Mom, but Mom said let him sleep. He’s tired. He sleeps a lot. So I covered him and left.

After the failed attempt, you no longer felt a big surge of serotonin. So this time you started carefully planning, took your time, and made sure your business was in order, from making sure your insurance policy had no suicide clause to figuring out how much paint it would take to finish painting the garage. The serotonin surged. You were acting happy around that time, even for your birthday on April 3rd.

By the end of the month, you’d finished writing a love letter to Mom and telling her how and why you were doing what you were doing. You’d convinced yourself that since you couldn’t provide for your family anymore and no one could help you medically, you’d end up being a financial burden on your family. You said you hadn’t felt good for three years and didn’t want to get out of bed in the morning. I wondered if you cried as you wrote that four-page letter. I can imagine you also felt relief. You felt free. You’d done the right thing for your family. You gave Mom instructions on everything she’d have to do after you were gone, including having me paint the rest of the garage. You told Mom how much you loved her and the best days of your life had been with her. You said how sorry you were. You even apologized to me for not being there to see your first grandchild and made a joke that we would probably not name our baby after you, Albert Horace. You also told Mom where the police could find your body. You didn’t want Kent and Wendy coming home from school and finding you.

You folded the letter, sealed it in an envelope, and left it along with a copy of your insurance policy standing against the fruit bowl on the kitchen table.

Then you drove to town, bought a new license for the dog, paid all outstanding bills, got a haircut, drove home to leave the license and pick up your gun.

At one of your former favorite hunting grounds in Sanbornton, you parked your car. That beautiful blue Oldsmobile that you loved so. The day was sunny. A lovely flood of serotonin hit. You no longer had to worry about your family or the burden you’d become. You’d no longer be in pain. The gun felt familiar in your hand. I don’t know if you were crying or smiling or just ready to go. Then you shot yourself.

You were free. But we had to suffer the burden that suicide leaves on a family.



I’ve had many years to heal from losing you. I still write letters to you and one year I even bought a Father’s Day card for you. This year I want you to know one thing: I don’t blame you, Dad, for what you did. Many forces were at play.

I blame war and our stupid fixation on what is heroic. I blame a system that hadn’t identified PTSD as real or the health system that failed you and still fails others in our military. I blame the Greatest Generation’s belief that they could control everything and valued keeping an outward appearance of perfection vs. recognizing when a family or person was in trouble. You couldn’t ask for help. It was too embarrassing and would be a sign of weakness.

Suicide is not painless. We would have rather had you alive even if it meant hard times, because suicide caused rough years for all of us. Twenty years after your death, like a gateway to grief, when my two dogs died in one year, I finally felt your loss and grieved so hard I thought I’d never stop crying.

I love you. And as I said, I understand your decision. I don’t even look at it as the wrong decision. It was the only one you thought you had at the time, and who knows? I cannot see into the parallel universe that would have been if you had lived.

All I can say is you were and are deeply loved and missed. I forgave you years ago for leaving so soon. You missed so much joy with Jason and his girls and the two great-grandsons.

Yes, there is pain in life, but joy is always around the corner. You just need to be patient and keep the light on.



Love always,

Valerie




 

5 Ways to Inexpensively Create a Standing Computer Station—and Add Years to Your Life

Long before I heard “sitting is the new smoking,” I knew I was killing myself. As a fiction writer, I’d sit for hours, immersed in a story with no sense of time. When I did take breaks (to make a cup of tea or hit the bathroom), I’d stretch and do breath work, but I still had to go to a massage therapist to work out the kinks. But as time went on and the computer became even more of a shackle with the internet, webinars, and research, I found my muscles not as easy to use in dance class and my ability to stretch shortening.

When I started having trouble rising from a sitting position, I knew I had to change my habits, so I looked online where I found a number of great tables that converted to standing, but were too expensive.

The solution came when I started writing in a Barnes & Noble cafe and moved from the short tables to the tall. I found I could stand, on and off, for the five hours I was there. That gave me ideas, and now I stand and work more than I sit. Standing also reminds me to stretch and breath and move. An added benefit is I don't hunch over.

Here are five ways you, too, can create standing stations or find places to write with standing capability.

CAFES
I often write in cafes as it takes me away from phones, laundry, dog, husband, etc. The first photo is of me standing at one of the B&N tables. The second photo is at Cafe Vero, an old Victorian house, where Sonny the owner put in a shelf along a hallway and included a strip of plugins. The chairs are high, the counter just right for standing.


At B&N
Cafe Vero
Tip: start out standing for a short, comfortable time period and increase as you get used to it.

REGULAR TABLES
Everyone has a regular table at home. 

I often attend writers retreats at Oregon Writers Colony’s Colonyhouse. Because I was desperate to stand while working, I first stacked oversized books from their library on the dining table for a pedestal effect, but the books were cumbersome and not sturdy.


Then I remembered my mom’s lap desk we’d stored at the house. This is the easiest conversion as it’s portable, folds up, and goes with me to Colonyhouse. Bed Bath & Beyond carry them for around $12-15. An additional feature of this lap desk is that the top adjusts for a slanted surface, perfect for writing with pen and paper, say for example, when you’re editing hard copy or writing in a journal. Also works when reading a magazine or book.

Tip: to make standing easier on your feet and back, buy a gel pad for the floor. You can find these in the kitchen section of many stores as they are usually used on tile floors in front of a sink or food prep area. Mine is a GelPro.

EXISTING SHELVES OR COUNTERS
I fortunately have a shelf in my writing room that’s perfect for standing and gives me a beautiful view out the window of our front yard. I use this when I’m working on my laptop and don’t need two monitors. Almost any shelf can be used like this if one is available. 


A shelf under a window can easily be constructed out of shelf brackets and a board. At your neighborhood home improvement store, they may even have something already available. Look for, say for example, a shelf that normally holds potted plants. Or ask for help on something that could easily be anchored to the wall.

REGULAR COMPUTER TABLE
If you’re working at a regular computer table, one that has a back shelf for an external monitor and a pull out extension for a keyboard, you’re in luck. This type of computer table is usually  inexpensive to buy or can be found at second hand stores like St. Vincent dePaul. I often need to use both my laptop and an external monitor when creating a blog, doing research on my novel, or watching a webinar while taking notes.
 

When I'm sitting

When I'm standing

I was at a loss, at first, as to how to convert this area for standing. But then I thought that, if I had a way to raise my laptop on the pullout shelf, I could stand. Unfortunately, the lap desk was too big for the keyboard-size pullout, and piling books would be too heavy, BUT if I had a smaller version of the lap desk that would fit the pullout shelf, I could make it work.

With my husband’s help, I drew up dimensions for what looks like a little footstool, and my husband made it in his shop. It’s even a bit fancier than what I’d asked for, but if you have a handyman or woman around who can cut out plain shapes and screw them together, you can do this, too.

As you can see in the photo, I use my laptop on the pullout with the mini-table, and I change the external monitor’s slant so it slants upward. Now I can see both monitors while standing, although I have to use my laptop keyboard instead of the ergonomic.

Tip: To make up for not being able to use my ergonomic keyboard, I found a great accessory that helps with my hand position and keeps my laptop from overheating. Made by Road Tools, the Podium CoolPad goes with me everywhere. It adjusts in height and swivels, letting you use it slanted up or down. At the B&N tables, which are high, I use it slanted down so I don’t crimp my hands.


OTHER POSSIBILITIES
Search websites for "standing computer stations." Im not familiar with this site, BizChair, but they offer this inexpensive laptop table thats portable and moves. My only concern would be the rollers causing it to move, something that I wouldnt want, but might be OK if the rollers locked or the table was on carpet.

If you like your standing station solid and made of wood, podiums, like the type used in classes or for presentations or even churches, are often the right height for a laptop. They also usually have a nook for storing small things, something I need when working as I usually need pen and paper and my cellphone. (I use my cellphone for a timer as it keeps me aware of how long Ive been writing and standing.) If you frequent second hand shops, ask the owner to keep an eye out for a podium or computer desk and to call you if one comes in.

Drafting tables or graphic design tables, although large, can be adjusted to a standing height. I don't think theyre as popular as they used to be because most drafting and design are done on computers, so its possible there are a number of them out there no longer in use. Maybe a school or college would be worth checking out?

Dont forget your friends and family. Let them know what you're looking for, either via Facebook or email. Check sites like Craigslist. If you have a friend who works in wood, maybe a swap is in order.
A panorama of my writing room

Tip:  I bought my Mac ergonomic split keyboard from the folks at The Human Solution and their service is beyond compare. They sell amazing desks and chairs, too. Even for my simple questions about a keyboard, they responded quickly and checked on me after they responded. Someday, when my ship comes in, Ill buy a set-up from them.

ONE LAST SUGGESTION
Keep moving! I love to dance and my body loves me for it. I keep a few YouTube videos for taking a break. Since Im already standing, its easy to play one and move for ten minutes. My feet always say thank you!

I Love Zumba: One of my Favorite YouTube Channels

WHY SITTING WILL TAKE YEARS OFF YOUR LIFE
If you
re wondering what all the fuss is about sitting, this article explains the research behind the perils of sitting for long stretches of time.

7 Ways a Sedentary Lifestyle is Killing You

Sitting will kill you isn't exactly a happy message. But just as with the days when we used to smoke, ignorance is not bliss. So I leave you with this.

Keep dancing, keep writing!
Hugs,
Valerie

Whats next on Gobsmacked? A peek at my writing life and a giveaway, with an emphasis on Paris.

 

Different New Year Resolution & Why Writing Makes You Healthier


Did you know that of those who make resolutions (45% of us) only 8% successfully achieve them. For more fun facts and statistics click on this link:

New Year Resolution Statistics and Fun Facts


THE POWER OF IMAGES
 

This year, I found a different way to approach resolutions. In my Christmas stocking, Santa left my annual  Marilyn Monroe calendar. (Isn't he a sweetie to remember what I want?) When I saw January's photo of the great MM, I knew how I would use the image.

Look at that expression! All joy and hopefulness. I'm using that image for my 2015 emotional rudder. She’s lit up and gorgeous, isn’t she?

TO MAKE NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS OR NOT?

Ok, some of you feel compelled to make resolutions. I understand. If so, read this post. I think it will help. Oh, and btw, it's ok to change your resolutions, refine them, ditch them, or even map them out over time. Whatever works. Just remember: be good to yourself, be kind, be reasonable. Ask yourself, would you want your son or daughter or mother or father to make resolutions like yours? Can you really achieve that? Or do you need to break that massive resolution (Publish a novel!) down into doable parts (write a chapter a month).

Resolutions Best Served with Humor


WRITING TO FEEL BETTER? YOU BET! PLUS, WRITE TO HEAL FASTER. NO KIDDING!

For those of you who don’t consider yourselves writers, I have news for you. Maybe you should try it. Not for publication, heaven help you, but to increase your life span and improve mental health.
   
In a 2005 study on the emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing, researchers found that just 15-20 minutes of writing three to five times over the course of the four-month study was enough to make a difference.

Another study proved that wounds healed faster and cancer patients improved the quality of their life. Here’s a link to one article about the studies:

Science Shows Writers Have a Serious Advantage Over the Rest of Us

Grab one of those lovely journals or, if you hate messing up a lovely journal, a pad of lined paper. Dabble, scribble, pen your thoughts, your dreams, the ideas that you never want anyone else to see. You’ll be amazed when you let go of that perfectionist streak that keeps you from being messy. Face it! Thoughts are messy.

When you’re not worrying about what other people think about your writing, you don’t have to contain, perfect, or edit what you write. Just gloriously stream-of-consciousness get it down on paper. Or in the sand, on a wall (yours preferably), or across a roll of brown wrapping paper. I’ve written on napkins. (No to phones or laptops. You have to connect directly with pen, crayon, or pencil with any other surface.)

Wow. Doesn’t that feel good?

WINNERS OF NADINE GORDIMER & PD JAMES NOVELS

Congrats to Tonya Rice who won the Nadine Gordimer collection Life Times  and to Judith Watt who won the detective collection that includes PD James. What a great way to start the new year!

Hugs to you all,
Valerie

Coming Up! 
Sitting is the New Smoking: How to convert your writing space for a healthier you
 
 
   
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