December

Celebrating Christmas

Kate's Choice   

Kate's Choice

 

Christmas is here in less than two days. Every year I think about where I've been during the year and where I might be headed in the coming year. I prefer to leave my goal planning for after Christmas though when all the reminiscing about the past year has settled down with family and friends. The Christmas celebration for me is the culmination of the year's activity and time to unwind and let it go.

As an ex-army spouse, Christmas was usually associated with posting time. We would pack up our home early in December and our belongings would be sent to our new posting and then into storage while we waited for our new home. So Christmas was usually spent with extended family or friends while we travelled to our new location. That's army life.

When my then husband left the service we celebrated Christmas at home. It was a lot of fun preparing by baking, buying presents and decorating the tree with my son. We had my sister and her family over for Christmas Day and had a great time reminiscing about the year behind us. Somehow, we never wanted to talk about the year ahead and that is probably why I don't think about the coming year until after Christmas. In the army days there was always the settling in to our new home to be done and learning as much as we could about our new location.

After eleven years of marriage, my characters in Kate's Choice, Kate and Dusty understand the stress separation puts on a marriage and how living away from family can leave a hole deep inside that feels as though it will never be filled. It can be especially difficult at this time of year when the soldiers are serving overseas. My first wedding anniversary and Christmas was spent alone in Brisbane. It was the first year I lived in the city and I found it difficult to make friends. I had to change a few things about myself in order for me to meet new people. I joined as many interest groups as I could and this helped immensely. From then every time we were posted, joining interest groups and looking for work were my priorities.

Kate and Dusty's Christmas after Dusty came back from Afghanistan was difficult. Both had much to deal with personally, and in their relationships. This is the fallout of army life and it puts so much strain on a marriage. If you are with a service family this year extend patience and grace toward them. If they exhibit unpleasant behaviour, it is because there is something deep inside them that they are battling and are not sure how to deal with it. Emotionally they could be fragile. Take the time to listen to them and hear what they are saying. They could be calling out for help. I have been in the pressure cooker and said and done things I wished I hadn't. It was a call for help that those around me understood and I am so glad they practised forgiveness toward me to help me get through that difficult time.

We all make mistakes. Sometimes all we need is a listening ear. Take the time and you might just make a friend or save a life.

Have a wonderful Christmas break wherever you are and whatever you are doing. See you the other side of Christmas. By the way, if you haven't already liked my Facebook page, click here: https://www.facebook.com/authorLauraOConnell/

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Good Writing Habits

Book signing...Web of lies

Book signing...Web of lies

I've often been asked by many aspiring writers about my writing habits. It's as if by finding out about my daily writing routine they will be validated in some way regarding their own habits. If they're not yet published it's as if they try my routine then they will surely be published.

Every author has a different routine. Some write in the early hours of the morning before they go to their day job. Some work into the long dark hours after a full eight hour day or more. Another snatches bits of time when the baby is asleep (this was me when my son was young). Others write during their lunch hour, while waiting in the doctor's surgery, or sitting on the bus or train on their daily commute. I know of one successful author who only wrote on the weekends because she was a busy teacher all week.

It's the flexibility and freedom of writing that attracted me to this work. I am definitely not a nine to five worker. When I was in the workforce in my other life, working that nine to five shift, I felt I was in gaol for the whole eight hours. For most of that time I was stuck in a work area where I couldn't see the outside world. When I started writing full time I made sure there was light and the natural world around me. For variety, I go to the beach or a park or outdoor coffee shop to write. It's good for my health and it fills my creative well; double benefit.

As to my current routine, I write every day without fail. Week days, eight hours or more, while weekends for only a couple of hours per day. I believe it's important to keep the writing habit moving. I have this fear that if I miss a day, I may never get back to it. However, every year, I stop writing mid-December and don't come back until about mid-January. I may make some random notes, but that's all. This is my down time. Summer makes me come alive. It's my time to bask in the hot sun for a few minutes then take a cool refreshing swim in the surf. It's time to absorb the world around me into my heart and spirit and let nature take hold of me for those weeks. It's also a time to meet new people and make new friends whom I like to connect with in the year ahead.

Writing is my life, and  the more I write I'm finding out more about myself and how I relate to this wonderful planet we live on. Ideas are limitless, they are everywhere I go. As to that writing habit: I just do what feels right for me. I expect you will do what works for you.

Happy writing!

How about you? Do you have regular writing habits or do you have to squeeze time to write out of your busy day?

Inspiration for Web of Lies

Web of lies

Web of lies

I believe all writing is inspired by experiences in our lives. Certainly, African Hearts and my soon to be released, Web of Lies have been inspired by my life experiences.

The countdown for Web of Lies is on. Thirty-one days to release date on 1st December in bookstores and on Amazon. This novel was inspired by my teenage years when I began to think more about my world, the people in it, and why they do the things they do.

In the late sixties and seventies, I lived in a country town and was aware of teenage girls who suddenly left town for several months and then returned unexpectedly with no explanation for their absence. Eventually, my curious nature got the better of me and my investigations revealed that the young women had gone away to have babies which they gave up for adoption. I was horrified to think this sort of thing was happening in the town in which I lived.

Back then there was no government assistance and the responsibility had to fall back on the families. Also, unwed mothers were ostracised and often thought of as having loose morals in some country towns. The only option available to these young women who’d made a mistake was going away to have their baby and give the infant up for adoption.

I then wondered, what if some of the children secretly came back to be reared by a member of the unwed mother’s family, as in an aunt or other relative. This thought was the germ that created Web of Lies.

Through reading this novel, I hope you, my readers, will be encouraged, and realise mistakes can happen to anyone at any time. Lies can be told with good intentions to cover up mistakes, but what happens in later years when lies are revealed and the trust that has been with a family is destroyed? Can the knowledge of the truth bring a family back together so that all can be forgiven, or are the relationships destroyed forever? Read my novel to find the answers to these questions. Copies can be pre-ordered from Even Before Publishing, Amazon or from the "Books" page on this website.

My website is in the process of being upgraded and should be finalised this week. In the meantime here are the links:

http://evenbeforepublishing.com/lauraoconnell.html

http://www.amazon.com/Web-of-Lies-ebook/dp/B009LJH8A6/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1351486835&sr=8-13&keywords=web+of+lies

I'd also like to know if you've told lies trying to protect those you love. Leave me a comment.

Living In The Smog

The smog will kill you if you don't rise above it.

The smog will kill you if you don't rise above it.

Sometimes life can be tough. We get caught in the daily grind of living, making decisions that affect the rest of our life. Some of the decisions are good and some send us into a spin. Usually, the decisions that send us into a spin are the ones that have been blurred by stress and not taking the time to think the situation through.

I've suffered more than my share of making myself miserable because I did something without thinking. I brought my son up encouraging him to think, think, think about everything he does and before he says it. He does it all the time, somehow I don't always heed my own advice these days. Am I too busy, too lazy, too caught up in what others might say or have I lost some of the self-confidence I've had because of life's struggles? Possibly all of these.

During the last four months I've been on a journey of self discovery. I thought I knew myself pretty well. I've always had a sense of adventure and an insatiable curiosity about others' lives. Six months ago I was given the personal papers of a woman who died last December. I glanced at the contents of the boxes knowing I would get to them sometime soon. I've just completed my third book which is under consideration with a publisher as I write.

I'm about to move house again, so it's time I looked at that box. This week I sifted through the papers and the bits and pieces and found some interesting information. However, my head is in a space where I'm not thinking clearly. The person who gave me the boxes phoned me recently to say she was closing her second hand store and would I pass on the boxes to the historical society when I finished. Yes, I would do that. Aware of my fast approaching move, I picked up the phone to see where the historical society contact lived. Can you believe she lived across the street?

Deep inside of me I had doubt about giving the boxes back, but because I'm stressed at the moment, I ignored that feeling and thought the story wasn't interesting enough. Our son is visiting this weekend. I found a phone number on a loose piece of paper. He insisted I phone knowing my head wasn't clear. The person at the other end of the phone was the deceased woman's daughter. She gave me the contact name for a person in Mackay who has researched the deceased woman's husband's family.

Extraordinary! All the pieces of this story are coming together because my son insisted I stop a moment and think about what I'm doing. I thank him for his commitment to me and my career and his own career, and for seeing things that I can't because I'm caught in the smog of life.

Are you missing opportunities because you're living in the smog?