5 Lessons From A Writing Challenge

Thank YouFor A Wonderful Month

Plunging into a new experience, such as participating and leading a challenge of any kind, comes with new tasks and lessons. As I reflect upon the fun moments I was honored to share with the accountability group from WritingChallenge.org, I wanted to share my closing reflections with you all. I have come across lessons that others and I have learned throughout these writing challenges, and wanted to share them with you.

Here we go:

1. Hard work pays off
Well, like most people, I already knew that and applied it (mostly), but watching people who have worked hard on their projects finish them, publish them, and some of them make it on the bestseller list reiterated that sentiment, and made it visible. Hard work does create results, even if at times it seems like there is no progress, eventually you will push through, and come out stronger at the other end.

2. Consistency is essential
Not only is it important to work hard, but to work hard every day, without allowing yourself to slack because of a bad day, as builds discipline and a continuous flow. Writing daily makes it easier to get back into the grove of your story and stay there, this is even more important if you are writing genre novels. Your connection with your story deepens, and you build a more stable and realistic relationship with your characters which translate upon the page and to your reader.

3. Do not compare yourself with others.
When logging word counts or tweeting about your results, it is important to not compare your progress with that of the other in the group. Everyone has different circumstances and different work environments, therefore the results will not be the same, no matter how much you wish you could log as many words as that other girl on the challenge. The only thing this type of comparison will get you is a feeling of guilt, which might even keep you from writing and participating.

4. Ask for help.
Groups like the writing challenge are there to assist you. Because we all come from different backgrounds, experience levels and years of writing, we all have different knowledge to contribute, which you might not expect. If you have questions about a particular subject related to writing, ask. Most likely someone is either in the same shoes that you are in or has the answer to your question. Either way, it is a win.

5. Celebrate progress
You worked hard, you deserve to pad yourself on the back. Really, this is an important step in the process because by celebrating yourself, you can see what you have already accomplished, and reflect on the lessons you have learned, which in turn motivates you to keep on going. You are writing a book, a process that has been compared to running a marathon. Keep in mind, many people are simply saying that they want to be writing a book. You are actually doing it. That alone is worth celebrating, don’t you think?

If you have never been a part of a writing challenge, I highly suggest that you start with the upcoming April Writing Challenge #AprWritingChallenge on Twitter. For more information, visit writingchallenge.org, where you can sign up, find out how to log your progress, and where you find the rest of us. We are here to cheer you on!

Grateful For A Busy Week – A Celebrate The Small Things Post

Avalon Media: Gratitude For A Busy Life

This week has been incredibly busy, and I am loving it! I want to share with you a few things that happened, and that are in the plans so you can follow me along, and not only do I get to express to you how grateful I am to have you as a reader, but maybe I can give you the inspiration to do what others have given me the inspiration to do. Follow my dream. Go for it. It’s incredibly busy but a lot of fun!

1. I am grateful for the fact that my book Mixing Spices: A Flavorful Guide To Creating Awesome Herb And Spice Mixes
is available for pre-order now! It will be released on April 2nd, and I am totally excited to present it to you.

2. I am also grateful that the month of running #MarWritingChallenge has been awesome. What a wonderful group of people those writers are, I am honored to be a part of them. Next month, one of our own Sara Whitford, who has just published her book, which is in the top 10 on Amazon called  The Smuggler’s Gambit (Adam Fletcher Series Book 1)(buy it now!)
I am so proud of her – will be taking over as the head cheerleader. The month of April will be time for a different set of challenge, which I will talk about in the next point.

3. I am excited and grateful to have a theme for the A to Z challenge, and guess what, at the end of the challenge (April 30th), I will be given away a pdf of the entire series to anyone who signs up for my email list. In honor of my books theme, I am writing a  Quick  A to Z Guide to Herbs And Spices. So if you want a copy end of April, leave me your email here or in the comment section below.

4. I am so very grateful for the following news: I have three more books that are almost done, waiting to be released! One is a Flash Fiction collection “Flashes of Light”, which is in the final editing phase, and two other Kindle books, that are in the same series as the book I mentioned above. One is about creating your own dog food ( I mentioned last week that I have special care dogs, and I cook for them, so I am sharing my recipes), and about making tea blends – I just love teas! Stay tuned for exact publishing dates!

Enough about myself, what was your week like? I hope you had a lot to celebrate!

Blessings!

Claudia

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Book Review: Making Vegan Frozen Treats

Is there a way to make ice cream and frozen desserts healthy, cruelty-free, vegan and yummy? The following book is attempting to teach us just that:

Book Review: Making Vegan Frozen Treats

Title: Making Vegan Frozen Treats: 50 Recipes for Nondairy Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, and Other Delicious Desserts. A Storey BASICS® Title

Author: Nicole Weston

Publisher: Storey Publishing

Release Date: March 24th, 2015

Rating: 5/5 Stars

What a delightful book, filled with information and recipes that are easy to follow, yet produce a wonderful result! I am impressed by the easy-going style, and the clear instructions of this recipe book, that not only includes 50 recipes, but additional information for anyone who is transitioning to a vegan diet, or has already adopted the lifestyle. Even if you are not following this way of life, this book can open your eyes to the possibilities of treating yourself with healthier choices. What is not to love? The chocolate ice cream alone makes me want to run and get a second ice cream maker. But the Vanilla and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream is my all time favorite. I am inspired by the possibilities!

(Disclaimer: This book was given to me for free from the publisher, via NetGalley, in return for an honest review)

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Fire – A Flash Fiction

Flash Fiction: Fire

Your heat engulfed me with such a force, that it became hard for me to breathe, but you weren’t even close.
The mere presence of you attracted an undeniable sensation, I could not ignore, and never had. But, until this moment, until your passionate dark blue eyes rested upon mine, I thought you had never even noticed me. With a smile, you whispered my name, and my heart bursted into flames.

Copyright Claudia H. Blanton 2015

This post is a part of the Five Sentence Flash Series hosted here

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Mixing Spices – Resources

Resources complimenting my book Mixing Spices: A Flavorful Guide To Creating Awesome Herb And Spice Mixes

I love finding little things that make my life easier, and I have found some products that make making my own herb and spice mixes easier and a lot more fun. From creating to storing, the following tools are not essential for making your own herb and spice blends, these tools are not just practical but convenient and useful. Here are my top picks for making herb and spice blends:

Top Spice Grinder:

The KRUPS F203 Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder with Stainless Steel Blades, Black is the bestseller in its class. Durable and light weight, it can handle even the coarse jobs such as grinding small amount of nuts and seeds. It is less expensive than the Kitchen Aid grinder but does the same job, just as well.

Top Storage Containers:

These  Kitchencraft Homemade Set of 6 Stainless Steel Spice Jars KCSPJARSET are my favorite because of two reasons, first because I prefer stainless steel over glass containers for my herbs, and secondly, I just love their design wit the little window. Perfect size, these spice jars are durable and priced right.

Top Labeling Idea:

Creating as many mixes as my husband and  I have, makes labeling is very important. If you want to make bigger patches of blends or use the containers for storage that you already have, these  Complete Bundle of 40 Unique Chalkboard Labels with Liquid Chalk Marker – Premium Stickers for Jars arethe coolest. Durable, they come with a liquid chalk pen and are in cute, decorative shapes.

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Writers, Mind Your Words – How Our Statements About Ourselves Determine Our Future

How Our Words Determine Our Future

As writers we are aware how important it is to choose our words carefully. Expressing the deeper meaning our characters actions, takes a deliberate focus upon each aspect of the story, from what words we put in, to what words we leave deliberately out.

But do we take as much care of our words when it comes to ourselves? Are we as careful about the statements that express what we are, how we feel and what we expect?

I advise you to take a moment and evaluate how you finish most of these sentence.

I am…

I feel…

I will…

I do…

These seemingly simple beginnings of a sentence have a far more powerful force upon your existence than you might realize. What you choose to put behind those words determines your day, the way people feel about your presence, and most importantly the way you feel about yourself.

If those sentence fragments often finish with a positive sequence of words, then you are doing a fantastic job working toward whatever goal you have in life. Your actions spring from these platforms with a burst of energy and move you closer to your end goals.

If however, your sentence conclude in negativity, expressing distress more often than not, those statements have a profound effect on keeping you in that negative state. You continue to feel bad, you continue to look at a situation with negativity, and through those dark colored glasses, miss opportunities and potential expansions that are right in front of your eyes.

You can talk yourself into success, and you can talk yourself out of it.

Your choice.

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Book Review: The Witch of Painted Sorrows

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Title: The Witch Of Painted Sorrows
Author: M. J. Rose
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: March 17th, 2015
Rating 3.5 Stars
Like with many stories that are written in first person, I never connected with the novel. In order for it to work well, I must care deeply about the character who’s head I am about to spend time in, their thoughts and perception of the situation has to matter to me. The only way to do that is to make sure the writer connects the reader immediately, from the first page on. At no one point did  The Witch of Painted Sorrows, manage to do that for me.
Which in itself is a shame, I really wanted to love the story, wanted to know the many twists and turns the premise promised. While it was really well constructed, I never really cared deeply, feeling like a distant bored observer rather than an involved party.

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(Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley, in return for an honest review)