Exploring Tomes and Tombs

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energy-saving-lamp-shape-heart-8297227So my purpose for today’s blog is to remind to myself that “energy flows where attention goes,” an adage that I used to motivate myself when I was engrossed in writing my memoir “Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.” Once again, I need reassurance from myself that time spent writing will be worth every minute in personal fulfillment payoff.

There is a person of interest in my family who I have begun researching. The information about my ancestor here-to-fore has been very sketchy and for me, of little interest. Thanks to help from a genealogy librarian, I now have more reason to turn my attentiveness to this person, a blood relative removed by a few generations.

I have been inspired by members of the genealogy club and the genealogy writers group at the Bud Werner Memorial Library to move forward with the knowledge. The tracing of the story will most likely require some intercontinental research. I’ve seen through other people’s genealogy projects how in this  day and age of digital technology, there are fewer obstacles to finding out information originating in other countries than there was decades ago.

If you are interested in genealogy, you might enjoy the PBS Show Finding Your Roots, with Henry Louis Gates, a Harvard scholar. The purpose of the show is  “to unearth the family histories of influential people helping shape our national identity.” See the website to confirm when it is broadcast in your area.

To sum things up,  I am pursuing an interest that begins with my family roots. The historical value in the family member should not be allowed to smolder and die. To me it’s important and hopefully to others it will also be interesting.

Ultimately I’d like to shed more light on the historical story through my writing if I can do it in a way that will not take the rest of my lifetime!

This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Home Grown Pleasures

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It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” – Lewis Grizzard

“Come, you’ve got to see this,” said my father before I’d even set my baggage down for my annual visit.”

What is it that’s so urgent? I thought. I ‘d expect an impatience in my mother but not my father. He is the more serene in personality of the two.

“You’ve got to see my heirloom tomatoes. Your brother Scott gave me jillions of seeds of all kinds.” My dad gave me a tour of his garden, with plants in all stages of development.


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Heart of the Stories

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“A good story should make you laugh, and a moment later break your heart.”― Chuck Palahniuk

Do you miss those days when the words commitment, pride and work ethic really meant something? Are you tired of reading news stories that are sensational and shocking because healthy relationships are missing? The good news is stories about valuing oneself and others who are different than us do exist.

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Lessons of Heart & Soul, is a collection of stories that go back to the days when things were much simpler and when kids learned and understood what decent values were all about. These ten short stories which were cut from the award-winning book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected were previously unpublished. They are bound to put a smile on your face.

If you are looking for something to make you feel good and lift your spirits, both publications will remind you of a time when life was not so complex. You’ll love Fanny the central character in the story and her pearls of wisdom. You’ll want to learn even more about her in the award-winning book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, if you haven’t already read it.

Where is the best treasure in the story? Check out the memorable voice in the audio book, narrated by the author. Prefer to read it on a different platform? Select the paperback or e-book.

Remembering Leaps of Faith

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If you have ever been successful at anything against all odds, you come to understand that sometimes risk is worth it.  There are valuable lessons to be learned when we let go and take a leap of faith. Without some element of believing in something greater than ourselves, it is hard to move forward. For instance –
I remember….

When I was in my late teens our family vacationed in the Thousand Island region of Canada on a lake called The Opinicon. On many of the islands that dotted the lake there were huge rocky cliffs, perhaps 20-30 feet high. We’d jump off the crags into the water. It was scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

I’d run up the edge of the cliff all filled with vim and vigor and then stop just before going over. Finally after a few failed attempts, I’d surrender and take the big leap. Why? Because in life there are few certainties and I knew my life had been saved by grace and providence before. And, I must be honest. I was not going to let myself be outdone by my siblings! I couldn’t let that happen since I appeared to be weakling among them.

This article outlines why having faith is important to our future.

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Deciding not to let being an inexperienced writer stop me from writing and publishing my memoir is just one leap of faith I’ve taken in my life. Others you can read about in my award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling.

Exploring Roots and Characters

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I believe that the memoir is the novel of the 21st century; it’s an amazing form that we haven’t even begun to tap…we’re just getting started figuring out what the rules are.”  ~ Susan Cheever

Have you ever considered how our lives are made up of stories? Everyone has stories to tell and some people are natural storytellers. However, sometimes getting stories down on paper is not as easy as telling them orally.

Think about family stories for a minute. Unless these rich narratives are written down and published, future generations will never know them. The characters who sprouted from the family tree will be lost.
Not to be overly-dramatic, the truth is that unless we share family stories through the form of memoir writing, in a few generations down the road we risk becoming like be a nation of adoptees who don’t know who their parents or grandparents were.

The good news is, we are living in an age where ordinary people can write and publish their stories independently. You don’t have to have a big family name behind you or sensational story to tell in order to become published. Resources are freely available for ordinary people.

Publishing a story for personal fulfillment is reward enough. But future generations will greatly appreciate knowing something about their family narrative because so many tales just get lost.

family link to the past and bridge to future

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard. Author of an award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Tred Carefully

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Since I was young, I have always known this: Life damages us, every one. We can’t escape that damage. But now, I am also learning this: We can be mended. We mend each other.”Veronica Roth

A few weeks ago  I did a presentation on memoir writing. On Thursday I look forward to a similar presentation when I’ll talking with a geneology group at the Bud Werner Memorial Library in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Throughout my various book tours and presentations, I’ve had numerous people say to me that if they wrote their life story it would be filled with people who have taken advantage of them or made their lives difficult for one reason or another. Thus,  I am very aware of the need to mention “that sadly not everyone’s life story is happy and some people write for cathartic reasons.”

words have power“Something to think about,” I say, “is to share your experiences in a way that helps other people.”

The typical response is “I hadn’t thought about that approach, I just was thinking of voicing my anger.”

If you have had an unpleasant childhood or difficult life experiences, memoir writing is a great way to rise above it. Your readers will be looking for something they can relate to and learn from. Give them your story of challenge to triumph. Everyone likes to hold onto stories of champions and hope.

Here is a good article about why it is beneficial to read memoirs. http://memorywritersnetwork.com/blog/eight-benefits-of-reading-memoirs/.

Things to keep in mind as you go forward with your memoir writing.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. Click on the title for information on these publications:  Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected or short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

 

Rise and Meet the Moment

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Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take many small steps. – Helmut Schmidt

I’ve had memoir writing on my mind lately since I gave a presentation on the topic on Monday. When you think about it, our whole life is comprised of stories we tell.

The internet has changed the way we tell our stories. Words and images are now so easily shared through digital platforms, such as by publishing e-books. If you know how to use social media effectively, marketing e-books is made easy.  If properly “indexed,” finding your target market is no longer like taking a shot in the dark.

To further explore my path of thinking, the other day I was looking in our kitchen cabinets for something portable to put in my backpack to stuff my mouth with. I came across a box of Blueberry Crisp Clif ® Bars that I didn’t know we even had.

Hiking ArtistI noticed the verbiage on the packaging “No. 14 Adventure Challenge ‘Embrace the Uphill’ then followed the words “Share Your Adventure #MeettheMoment.”

The point is, we all have dreams, adventures and challenges in life and careers. If you are working on an  independent publishing project and don’t know how to use digital platforms effectively to draw people who are truly qualified leads, social media can be a big time waster.

There are companies who specialize in e-commerce and e-marketing for independent publishers. “Embrace the Uphill,” as Clif ® Bar suggests. Don’t shirk away from challenges. Get help if you need it in order to finish your writing and publishing project. There is no shame in that!

I can tell you as a published author that the feelings of accomplishment that come with having a published book far, far exceeds what having unfinished manuscript feels like. Every step, big and small, was well worth the effort in feelings of personal fulfillment.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard. For more information on her book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

 

 

Published! At 100 Years Young

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Life is like a great big canvas; throw all the paint you can at it. ~ Danny Kaye

Today I am scheduled to speak with the Routt County Council of Senior Citizens about memoir writing. I will be im_no_spring_chicken_wooden_signintroducing my publication Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. After discovering the work of Virginia Wade Ames, I am feeling as if I have published my memoir as a spring chicken!

The WayfarersCentenarian Virginia “Ginny” Wade Ames has become a published author at 100 years young. Her book The Wayfarers: Journeying through a Century of Change is her latest creative endeavor. She has been an artist all her life and when macular degeneration made it difficult to see, she turned her attention from various mediums of visual arts to writing. She has four more manuscripts in the pipe-line for publication.

Throughout her life she has worked in many mediums – perfecting her passions for silk-screen printing, watercolor, acrylic, and pastel painting.  She has even tried her hand at hat making! To learn more about the art of this amazing woman who has found a lifetime of personal fulfillment through her art, please visit her website.

For information about her book, which is said to be witty and full of advice on how get along with one another, please visit this link.

My husband’s cousin, Mary, had the privilege of having lunch last week with this woman at a facility in Arizona called Lifecare. It came as great surprise to Mary that “Ginny Ames” is 100! Described as bright, vocal and intelligent, she comes across with the vibrancy of a seventy-year old woman.

See you tomorrow. This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her publications.

 

Time with the Seniors

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“Language allows us to reach out to people…, it’s the greatest legacy you could ever leave your children or your loved ones: The history of how you felt.”
~ Simon Van Booy

On Monday, June 1st, I look forward to speaking with the Routt County Senior Citizens. Since AARP has determined that at age 50 we are “senior citizens,” we could have a wide range of ages in the group. Many would argue that age 50 is too young to be tagged as “retired.” People go on to live vibrant lives for many more decades beyond that landmark.

There can be gifts in early retirement and even forced retirement, as it provides plenty of opportunity for new beginnings and starting new life chapters. Having the gift of time and thanks to the independent publishing industry an increased number of “seniors or retirees” are taking the opportunity to share their careers, life journeys and life experiences through writing.

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On June 1st, I look forward to sharing an overview of my memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, an anthology of short stories, with the Routt County Seniors. We will also be discussing the value of memoir writing  and how to get started writing.

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This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Time with the Girl Scouts

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Children are our most valuable resource ~ Herbert Hoover

It’s been said that spending time with children heals the soul. Yes, indeed, it does. Friday was a splendid afternoon spent sharing “One Day in the Life of a Writer” with  Junior Girl Scout Troop #12622, ages nine and ten.

Writing desk in GS meeting room

Photo: My writers desk in the Girl Scout meeting room

I asked each of the girls to bring a question that they’ve always wanted to ask a writer but have never had the opportunity.  I gave them my Girl Scout promise that I would do my best to serve them further by sharing their questions and my answers today on All Things Fulfilling:

Is that you in the photo on the book? ~ Alison

Yes, it is me, thirty-five years ago on the day I got married.

Do you write on weekends? ~Ella

Sometimes I get brainstorms and write a whole bunch in one day so I won’t have to write on weekends. And I try not to write on weekends to take a break. But, sometimes I get ideas and can’t help myself.

Are you writing a new book right now? ~ Margaux

Yes, actually I am working on two. I have the goal of publishing one in time for Valentines Day 2016. It is fiction, an imaginary story. The other is about independent publishing. That will take more time because I want to share the knowledge a little differently, and I am trying to decide how that might be. I have some ideas…

What are the names of the books? ~Molly

I only have working titles for them at this time, but nothing final.

When were you born? ~ Caroline

1953, I am not quite 62. (Another little girl piped up and graciously said – “Oh! Then you’re not old at all!” To which I smiled and replied “Thank you for saying that!”)

What kind of fiction book are you writing? ~ Jade

One of the awards I won for Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected was in the Young Adult category – for ages 12 and up. I like writing for young girls, so this is the genre I’ve decided to write this next book for also. My first book was a memoir. A real life story. This new publication I am working on is not based on real characters but it is based on things that girls sometimes face in life.

Do you think we could read your book even though we are not 12? ~ Caroline

That would be up to your parents. The dialect of the character of Fanny is written a little differently than the way some people talk but there is no bad language such as swear words in it or anything else a nine or ten year old should not read. Since I just read you a chapter and you heard how the star character Fanny talked, you probably wouldn’t have trouble reading it.

What inspired you to be a writer? ~ Margaux

Back in 1998 I started working for an artist who has won every major art award in America. He independently published his own books and videos on painting. Back then very few people did that and I very inspired by it. When I started my own business, I started a blog called All Things Fulfilling and started writing daily. I realized how much I loved to write. I had a story I’ve wanted to tell all my life, and decided to write and publish independently. It’s won several awards.

Where can we buy your books? ~ Alison

On Amazon.com and it is available in paperback, e-book and audio book. By selling it over the internet, anyone from all over the world can purchase it. The real treasure is in the audio book because I narrated it and you can hear me speaking in Fanny’s voice. It won a 2nd place award in the audio book category.

Could you teach me  how to make those flowers? ~ Margaux

Absolutely! I would love to. But, I’ll have to come back and spend more time with you Girl Scouts.

Note: I read aloud the chapter from Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected called Paper Roses. I surprised each girl with one of my own paper flower creations that I learned to make when I was a Junior Girl Scout. After my presentation, the girls worked on a project that will give them a firm foundation to write on in coming days. You’ll learn more about Girl Scout Troop #12622’s  art project when you return tomorrow to All Things Fulfilling.

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This blog is brought to you by award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard author of Gift of a Lifetime Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and Short Stories: Lessons of Heart & Soul.