Thursday, November 8, 2018

IWSG: Reflecting on my Writing Life

How has your creativity in life evolved since you began writing?

Bear with me. I start with the negatives but end on a positive note. I've been writing for many years now, but only recently was my fiction published. I actually found a publisher (a small press). 

Initially, I was over the moon excited, as only my nonfiction had been published before, and this was the novel I'd spent 10 years rewriting. Out of the gate sales were okay I guess, but then dropped to practically nothing. (It's been 16 months). 

Now I'm wondering what (if anything) I did wrong. The publisher did do some marketing, but most it would seem depended upon my efforts. I hear other writers complain about their low sales and wonder. What are normal sales anyway? I've followed all of the online advice, setting up a Blog, Twitter, FB, Instagram and have spent an enormous amount of time learning the process. 

Allowed to fester, this kind of thinking gets me in a rut. I contemplate silly things like:

--My profile photo online. Should I smile more and look less serious? Maybe a caricature would be better. How about a younger photo?    
--Embarrassment. I committed to doing the NaNo this November, but now I'm so pitifully behind, it's a 'why bother'. 
--Feeling like I'm in a popularity contest. Why did "they" get so many reviews? Why did "they" get so many visits and comments at their blog?  Oh....the road to jealousy is a bad one, folks.
--Blog overhaul. Should I go with a different color? A new theme? Would it be more energizing? Would it generate sales? Do ads even work?

This kind of thinking feels like such a time waster. Feeling sorry for one's self never accomplishes much, other than to rewind and start all over again.Thankfully, I'm too busy to linger long. The best therapy is really to get back to work....whatever the task at hand is. 

Truth is, I enjoy writing. When I wrote a garden column for our local newspaper this summer at zero pay, I didn't mind. I had always wanted to write about gardening. I've gained confidence as a writer over the years. A younger me would have felt unqualified to write for a newspaper. As an academic editor (now retired), I learned the importance of "less is more." Academic writers tend to be overly verbose and I got pretty good at red-inking their manuscripts. If nothing else, I learned that 'rough' drafts are indeed that--they always need work. 

Freelancing with an educational publisher later helped me stay focused on the topic at hand. I tend to wander in my thoughts, easily distracted with the details. I still have a certain editor's voice in my head ("stay on target"/"keep your focus). I learned how to research history too, at the library and online when it was still the wild, wild internet west. We have so much data available today. It's almost scary. I've done quite a bit of pioneer women's history at my blog as a result. 

I'm more reflective these days and find myself wanting to write poetry. 

View of sunset from author's home.

I'm a slow writer but I'm okay with that. I tend to be a perfectionist and like the results. I've been reading a book about happiness. It talks about the importance of the three P's in life: Purpose, Pride and Pleasure. I took a little quiz and I came up short on having enough pleasure in my life. I recently returned to church, which should help, as socialization is key to finding healthy pleasure. I fully understand the other P's. Purpose and Pride in what I do are important to me. Right now, I'm helping my mother write her memoirs and it's taking precedence over my current novel. She's 93 and I love being able to honor her in this way. I'm learning so much about our family too.

Last but not least, I found a better way to connect with the IWSG group. Turns out Facebook is an easy way to connect with other members (as opposed to the blog-o-sphere). Members responded quickly to a question I had asked recently about autographing books. Linking my blog post to FB and IWSG site will help promote this post too. There is always a learning curve isn't there? I'm looking forward to connecting with more writers in this group. I live in a rural community, an hour's drive to any writers' groups. IWSG is starting to fill that void.

Sharon M. Himsl
Published: Evernight Teen 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Celebrate the Small Things: My Granddaughter and Badass Ladybugs

My granddaughter Liza surprised me with a special gift over the summer, a 'little' something she had made at school. Assigned in class to make a book cover for her favorite book, she chose mine, The Shells of Mersing!  Take a look...

An image of (MC) Callie when she examines the shells on her bed.
Callie discovers who the killer is in this scary scene.

In typical shy-free "Liza style" she also informed the school librarian that the school needed to order my book for the library. God bless her. I was so flattered and bursting with appreciation inside. I'm terrible at doing my own promotion. She then informed me she wanted to play "Callie" when my book made it to film. Talk about a great confidence booster. I need to hire this little girl as my public relations person, but alas....she is twelve. 

Turns out my occasional nickname for Liza, "Ladybug," is just perfect for her. Ladybugs, as many of you know, are pretty 'badass' in the garden when it comes to fighting aphids and protecting their own. Liza is not only 'badass' in promoting her grandma's writing, she plays a pretty mean game of soccer as the team's star goalie. But don't get me wrong, she's all girl too. She has loved her dolls over the years. Below is a photo of Liza at ten with her fabulous Barbie Doll collection. Unfortunately, I lost the original picture of her holding the book cover she had made. My smartphone fell in the toilet on a camping trip later and shorted out everything! (Another storyπŸ˜•)

Liza, at ten. With her fabulous Barbie doll collection.

So thinking about the 'badass' ladybug as one of my favorite garden bugs, I decided to do a bit of research. Years ago at the house on Grant Street I came upon a large ladybug nest at the base of a tree in my family's backyard. It was the first time I'd ever seen such an anomaly and I couldn't believe how big it was. If memory serves me right, the nest was two feet across. It was swarming, and if you've never thought a lady bug could bite, think again. Several bit me. Small stings really and of no consequence, but the bites surprised me. 

I liked ladybugs. I had spent years letting them crawl up my arms and legs, and encouraged my children to do the same, which they did. The orange track marks they left behind on your skin, releasing a stinky fluid from their legs, was the only drawback. I have since found out that the fluid is really ladybug blood. I had no idea, did you? Ladybugs release this blood to keep predators from eating them. That's why you will never see a bird eat one. Ladybug blood is their first line of defense, whereas biting is secondary, which explains my surprise. Since I had discovered the home nest, I can only assume that the "ladybug guards" were defending their own. Plus, they were hibernating for the winter. 


A familiar nursery rhyme most of us know:

Lady bug, ladybug
 fly away home. 
Your house is on fire and 
your children are gone.

I have released more than one ladybug into the air with this innocent little rhyme, but as with most British nursery rhymes of old, the meaning is far from innocent.

In Britain, Ladybugs are called Ladybirds, which is an old Catholic reference to "Our Lady." In the 1500s and 1600s, a law known as the Act of Uniformity (1559 and 1662) punished Catholic worshipers for refusing to attend the Protestant church. Punishment was severe. Priests were hung and some burned alive at the stake. Worshipers were jailed and fined heavily. The rhyme served as a warning cry for Catholics to escape. I wonder how many lives were spared with this clever use of words. 

I think I will try adding this 'badass' red bug with black spots to my garden in the spring. If I can get them to stay (I have plenty of aphids to dine on), I might have a better gardening season (summer 2018 was a fail). 

Meanwhile, hugs, hugs, hugs to Liza my sweet granddaughter and "ladybug" for inspiring this Celebrate the Small Things post!!

Special thanks to 'Celebrate the Small Things' 
host, Lexa Cain. 
And co-hosts: L.G. Keltner @ Writing Off The Edge Tonja Drecker @ Kidbits Blog

Sharon M. Himsl
Published: Evernight Teen 
The Shells of Mersing

Sunday, October 28, 2018

National Chocolate Day: Shoes Are Like Chocolate

Just had to say a few words about chocolate today, since I'm such a chocolate fan. One nice thing about being older is not worrying about the pimples (and cramping) chocolate caused me in my younger days. 😐

  Quote Typographic Background about shoes             (

Thought it was funny someone had compared chocolate with shoes. Well, maybe, I'm thinking.....if I had a larger closet. I could certainly find more to buy if I had the room.

If I did, I want the closet actor Kurt Russell built in the 1987 movie, 'Overboard' for actress Goldie Hawn. Did she not play the perfect 'rich bitch'??? Just loved those two together and the fact they had married in real life. I hope they are still together. Don't tell me if they aren't. It's one Hollywood fairy tale I'd like to believe πŸ˜ƒ.

How about these shoes?

Fashion quotes om nooit te vergeten

Fashion quotes om nooit te vergeten
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A woman can be sexy, charming, witty or shy with her shoes. - Christian Louboutin

I still have my feet on the ground, I just wear better shoes. - Oprah Winfrey

Be well dressed, behave like a gentleman, and keep your shoes shined. - Joseph Abboud

More shoes at my Pinterest link.

 landscape grass sky field agriculture season trees shoes clouds publicdomain relaxation sneakers converse shoelaces drygrass rural area grass family

So enjoy some chocolate today
....and maybe,
a new pair of shoes!

Sharon M. Himsl, Writer / Author
Published: Evernight Teen 
The Shells of Mersing


About Me

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You could call me an eternal optimist, but I'm really just a dreamer. l believe in dream fulfillment, because 'sometimes' dreams come true. This is a blog about my journey as a writer and things that inspire and motivate me.