cosmic chaos

cultivating calm & creativity in my corner of the world

Welcome 2017!

If my Facebook Newsfeed is any indication, 2016 was a difficult year for many people.  I am no exception.  2016 brought a number of personal and professional challenges that left me feeling drained and depleted.  As you can image, it also took a toll on my creativity.  My writing has screeched to a near standstill with only a handful of poems being completed. Last night I said a very happy  goodbye to 2016.

As I move into this new year, I am resolving to leave the negativity of last year behind.  Life isn’t always easy or fair.  Challenges arise without warning or adequate preparation.  Tragedy can blindside.  When these things happen, it is easy to give in to despair and sorrow.

It is ok to acknowledge the sadness and anger we feel; after all, those are legitimate emotions.  But if we submerge ourselves in only the bad feelings, we risk missing out on the good things that happen everyday.  So I will approach my days with gratitude in 2017, looking for the everyday miracles that make this an amazing world.

 

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Happy New Year!

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Thursday’s Thoughts featuring author Anna Muir #paranormal #urbanfantasy

Introducing fellow author Anna Muir who was featured on The Opinionated Woman’s Musings.

The Opinionated Woman's Musings

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Welcome to TOW bi-monthly feature Thursday’s Thoughts. On the second and fourth Thursday in the month, I share the thoughts of a featured author in the form of answers to questions posed to them.

One of October’s featured authors is Anna Muir.

How long have you been writing?

When I was a toddler I would give my mom a pencil and a pad of paper, and she would write down the story I told her. Thanks Mom!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

I really love the idea of a nom de plume. The idea of letting my work stand on it’s own, without people attaching their ideas about who I am to it, is absurdly thrilling. I kind of feel like I’m getting away with something.

Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?

Pachacuti built Machu Picchu, and I’d love…

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Thursday’s Thoughts featuring author @CharlotteEhney #paranormal #urbanfantasy

Thanks to The Opinionated Woman’s Musings for the feature!

The Opinionated Woman's Musings

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Welcome to TOW bi-monthly feature Thursday’s Thoughts. On the second and fourth Thursday in the month, I share the thoughts of a featured author in the form of answers to questions posed to them.

One of September’s featured authors is Charlotte Ehney.

How long have you been writing?

I have always been an avid reader so I decided to try my hand at writing a mystery novel when I was 12 years old. I didn’t get very far but I had the writing bug and never stopped.

What comes first when you decide to write a story: the characters or the plot?

My stories usually start with a “what if”. I may see a news article or hear about something that sticks in my mind. I will start asking the “what if” questions and a story line starts to form. Then I figure out who is involved in my story.

What…

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Sooner or Later, We All Sing the Blues

I’ve been in a funk for the past few months.

It seems like at the end of December/beginning of January, I always get excited about the possibilities of the new year. It’s the new calendar syndrome — a blank slate just waiting to be written.

Except, this year I just can’t seem to pull it all together. Instead of  tapping into vast creative opportunities, I have found myself lost in Netflix and Bejeweled Blitz marathon sessions.

I tried to trick myself into becoming productive.  I decided to really focus on my art again.  I had squirreled away canvases and paints just waiting for the day I could start experimenting.  I bought a tabletop easel.

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And there the canvas sat, on my kitchen table, mocking me. I stared it repeatedly but could not muster the courage to pick up the paintbrush to start.

I decided to go for something less intimidating — sketching. So with a very inexpensive sketch pad and a No. 2 pencil, I began to draw.

I am a little out of practice, but the whole point was to just do it and hopefully get better along the way.

So I started.

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My wolf cub did not turn out very well.  But I was drawing.  So I kept going.

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The picture of my son turned out a little better.

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At first I was not happy with my wolf sketch, but the longer I looked at it the more I liked it.

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My lady is not perfect but better.

Tonight, after sitting ignored for a month, I picked up the paint brush and added paint to the canvas.  It will need a lot of work so I am no where close to showing it. My first images where totally wrong so I had to paint over them and start over. But that was ok.  In fact, I realized that this first canvas is  learning process.  Whatever I do is ok because and I am doing something new and creative. Hopefully, it will be what I need to break out of my funk.

From time to time, we all get the blues.  Maybe it is because we are overwhelmed at work or at home.  Maybe it is because life just got hard and we don’t know what to do. Or feel helpless to do anything.  Maybe it is when we compare ourselves to others and find ourselves lacking. We feel down and move to avoid feeling or thinking. So we do something mindless like zoning out in front of the TV or computer. And then we beat ourselves up for wasted time and opportunities.

Every journey starts with one step. Sometimes our path is blocked and we have to back track before we can move forward again.  The important part is making that step. Then keep stepping.

 

 

Family Vows Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Family Vows by Charlotte Koon Ehney

Family Vows

by Charlotte Koon Ehney

Giveaway ends May 18, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

Lessons Learned – Part 2

“If You Build It, They Will Come — Not!”

After many years of writing, re-writing, and querying I finally published my novel Blood Adversaries as a both an e-book on Kindle and in print.  As I pressed the publish button, I imagined my book traveling through the internet to find its way into the hands of eager readers.

I had done enough research to know that I would need to promote my book.  I created an author page on Facebook. I announced the release on my blog and on LinkedIn.  I outlined ways to promote my book.  I thought I had a solid promotion plan.

What I found was that it isn’t all that easy and sometimes life just gets in the way of committing all the time necessary to promoting.

The majority of my marketing plan centered on social media.  I had read tips on using Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Goodreads as conduits for creating an author platform and promoting a book.  So I created author pages, shared links to my book and blogged about my book release.   I contacted friends who liked the paranormal/horror genre and asked them to share my link with their friends.  I scheduled a free giveaway of the Kindle version of my book on Amazon.  Then I sat back and waited for the likes to come in and books sales to happen.

Except — it didn’t.

Just a few weeks after releasing my book, my husband was sent out of state for a four month work assignment.  My time was consumed with taking care of my sons with their very active schedules and our home. Then my work position changed increasing my responsibilities threefold.   There was not a lot of time for promoting my book.  Before I knew it, a year had gone by and my book sales were minimal.

My takeaways on promoting a novel?

  1.  Authors absolutely need an electronic presence.  Social media is a key element to promote authors and books.  But social media alone is not enough.  Authors still need to have face to face meetings to promote themselves.
  2. You have to get out of your comfort zone.  Talk to people.  Plan a book signing.  See if you can be part of another event.
  3. Keep at it.  Rarely is there a true overnight success.  Read about some of the best know breakout authors and you will find years dedicated to writing and self promotion before they become household names.
  4. Really, keep at it!  Promoting a book is an on-going process.  Add new things.  Build on what works.
  5. Stuff happens.  Things don’t always run smoothly.  If you stall, don’t let it stop you.
  6. Just do it!

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Blood Adversaries Giveaway on Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Blood Adversaries by Charlotte Koon Ehney

Blood Adversaries

by Charlotte Koon Ehney

Giveaway ends February 29, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

I am giving away four signed copies of my novel Blood Adversaries through Goodreads.com. To get more information and enter, click the links above.

Get-a-way

 

Everyone needs a get-a-way to relax and regroup.  My husband and I took a quick trip to the South Carolina Lowcountry.

I love the beach any time of the year but there is something special about going during the off season.  The beach during winter offers peace and solitude.

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View from the balcony — Isle of Palms

A walk on the beach led to some amazing finds.

 

There is a sense of awe being in the presence of the Angel Oak on John’s Island.  This tree is thought to be about 500 years old, although some people believe it is older.  The Angel Oak is registered with the Live Oak Society.

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Angel Tree – John’s Island

The highlight our our trip?  Visiting Poe’s Tavern on Sullivan’s Island which pays homage to Poe’s brief stay in the area while enlisted in the Army.  The tavern is full of Poe memorabilia.  Can’t wait to go back!

Sand and surf, ancient oaks and Edgar Allan Poe — does it get any better?!!

Lessons Learned – Part 1

“It’s Not as Easy as You Think”

Twenty years ago, snippets of a story started swirling in my head.  I jotted them down and kept asking myself what happens next.  On and off, I worked on my little story until I knew the characters intimately.  I thought about these characters all the time.  About five years after I had started, I had a complete story.  My first novel was done.  I set it aside to rest.  I needed a break from my story.

A few months later I read my novel. My excitement melted away as I realized that it was horrible.  There were holes in the plot, cliche scenes and bad transitions.  It didn’t work. But I loved my characters. I knew they had a story worthy of telling and was not willing to give up on them.  A couple of months later, I decided to started all over.  I tore my novel apart and re-wrote everything.  This too took a number of years to complete.  But finally, I finished.

I began the query process, convinced that it would only be a short time  before I landed an agent and soon after that my book would be in bookstores all over the country.  Except, it didn’t happen.  I started getting rejection letters.  In fact, all the queries I sent were rejected.  There is an old adage that if you continue to have the same issue with people over and over, maybe you are the problem.  Once again, I re-read my novel with a critic’s eye … and I found it lacking.  Back to the drawing board.

I took some time and re-wrote my entire novel. I studied writing magazines and updated my query letter.  Then I started the query process again.  This time I actually got some interest.  Several agents asked for partials (the opening chapters of the book) to read. Alas, those too ended up being rejected.  But I felt really good about my novel. Several people who liked the paranormal genre test read my novel and the feedback was very positive.

I decided that if I truly believed in my book, I needed to self publish.  So I released Blood Adversaries as an e-book through Amazon Kindle.  E-books are great.  They are easy to obtain and convenient.  Storage is not a problem.  But book signings are a little difficult with e-books.  When I went to my writer’s guild meetings, I couldn’t help being a little envious of my fellow authors who had print versions of their books they could actually hold in their hands.  At a book festival I attended, I learned about Create Space.  It wasn’t long before I had a print version of Blood Adversaries available.

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My takeaways from this process?

  1.  Writing a novel is both art and skill.  You can be a gifted writer but you still need to take time to learn the writing process.
  2. You have to be critical of your own work.  You can love your story but to make it publishable you have to be willing to make changes to improve your novel –changes that sometimes alters your original characters and story lines.
  3. Rejection is not terminal.  If you put your work out to the public, some people will love it, some people will be ambiguous and some will hate it.  You have to be confident in your own work (and yourself) to face rejection and keep on going.
  4. Where there is a will, there is a way.  Today more than ever you can get your work published.  Research the options and know what you are paying for.  At Create Space, I was able to use their templates to upload my manuscript.  I edited my own work and designed my own cover.  The only costs I had were the printed proofs I purchased.

10 for the Win

I have always struggled with clutter.  As a girl, I remember going to friends’ houses and their rooms were neat and orderly.  I never seemed to be able to accomplish that.  I just didn’t know what to do with my stuff.  I also hung on to every little item that reminded me of someone or someplace.

As an adult, I’ve had “junk rooms” in the places I’ve lived.  As my children got older, the “junk room” became “junk areas”in main rooms of the house.  At some point, things got out of control.  When there was going to be company coming over, items got swept into boxes that were hidden in closets.  At some point, there just wasn’t a place to put stuff and it got left wherever.

Last year, I got to the point where I decided that enough was enough.  The things I was holding onto were stressing me out, not making me happy.  I decided it really was time for a change.

I’ve subscribed to different blogs and Facebook pages for tips on becoming organized and decluttering.  Then I realized that my life didn’t always fit into someone else’s schedule or plan of how to get organized.  Often I would become overwhelmed and avoid doing anything at all.

The thing is, nothing changes without effort.  And with some effort, I found a method that is working for me.

Everyday I commit at least 30 minutes to an hour for cleaning my house.  First, I maintain the areas that are already straightened.  I very quickly go through the house picking up stray items and putting them away.  I sweep or vacuum the rooms that need it.  I make sure dirty clothes go into the utility room. Then I go through 10 items in each room and decide if the item is trash, recycle or keep.  If it is keep, I put it away in it’s permanent home.  Ten items don’t take long to deal with.  Because I know it is a limited amount, I can tackle it and move onto the next room.  I am not doing anything in my sons’ bedrooms at this point.  Eventually, I will but my attention is on areas that other people may see.

I’ve been using this system for a couple of months.  There are days I get off track, especially if there are school, sports or Boy Scout events going on.   But I have seen great progress.  I have thrown away a lot of items that where clearly trash, but just kept getting moved from one place to another.  I have recycled a huge amount of paper, especially junk mail that never got sorted.  I have gone through clothing and donated bags of things that I realized I didn’t want or need anymore.  Some days, I have extra time and I am so happy with my progress that I do multiple rounds of sorting 10 items the rooms.

I don’t think I will ever be a minimalist.  There are things with sentimental value like cards signed from loved ones now deceased that I choose to keep.  But I’m being more selective in what I keep and with what I choose to bring into my home.  I’m constantly asking myself “Do I really need this ?”  Quite often, the answer is no.

 

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