Give to Others First this Christmas

Christmas is coming! So this year instead of asking your children for a list of things and wishes for themselves, ask them what they want to buy someone else.

Yes, a little radical? Not at all! Christmas is about giving not getting, right? So, start at home. Here are some tips:

  1. For every toy your children get, they have to give you one they do not want. It cannot be broken or useless. Something they hung onto because more is better.
  2. Adopt a family. Buy for someone else this year. The economy is hard on everyone, so find a family that needs help this year and buy them presents.
  3. Take the children shopping for someone else. And, for that one day, do not allow them to express their wants. Training is your responsibility as a parent.
  4. Give a family a gift card from the grocery store. Give someone a great Christmas dinner.
  5. Set aside some money. Randomly give people some of it on the street. Do not stop to find out who they are or what they do with it. Just give it away. It teaches you to open your hand more.
  6. Buy a stranger a cup of coffee.
  7. Pay the toll for the car behind you.

These are just a few ideas. Yes, it is a time of giving. So, go ahead, give away. You do not have to be rich to do this. Do what you can with what you have.

Here are my wishes for you:

I wish you satisfaction for peace of mind
- comfort in the knowledge that you are cared for
- peace on the inside no matter what storms rage around you
- contentment for where you are in life
- enjoyment doing what you love to do
- gratification in doing for others
- fulfillment in your life.

Merry Christmas.

The Cahokian by Zoe Saadia

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Book Review:
At the end of The Cahokian, I was left with tears in my eyes at the intensity of the lessons learned by all involved. A tremendous achievement in terms of a historical novel. It was written with care and love. As though the author knew the terrain, loved the people.

Zoe managed to reel me in the very first chapter with sing song writing and delightful metaphors. Instead of Autumn or Fall, we hear of the season of falling leaves. I loved her writing. Loved the love story behind it all….moreI just finished The Cahokian. I was left with tears in my eyes at the intensity of the lessons learned by all involved. A tremendous achievement in terms of a historical novel. It was written with care and love. As though the author knew the terrain, loved the people.

Zoe managed to reel me in the very first chapter with sing song writing and delightful metaphors. Instead of Autumn or Fall, we hear of the season of falling leaves. I loved her writing. Loved the love story behind it all.

In the end I found the life lessons real and applicable in our modern times. We believe ourselves to be cultured, educated and scientific. Yet, when we meet other cultures that we deemed barbaric, we see that they are also people with their own merits and strengths.

I loved this book. A little sad that it ended.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. It represents everything I enjoy and share in life.

Sitting around a meal together with people I love or people I bring in to bless with good food and company, is always a rush to me. It is a time for giving, a time for sharing and a time to be appreciative not only for what we have, but for life itself. A welcoming entrance.

No, it is not on the lower scales of holidays, it is on the upper echelon of Special Holiday. Food brings people together. Sitting around a table or with a plate on your lap makes no difference, enjoy the company and thank the hands that prepared and the ones who worked hard in jobs to put food on the table.

My daughter is the hostess this year for our Thanksgiving dinner. No, we are not having turkey. We are having seafood. We are surrounded by ocean in Hawaii. Seafood seemed the most plausible and the most delicious.

Menu:
Crab legs – Garlic Shrimp – Fried Calamari – Mussels
Bakes sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar
Corn – Baked Acorn squash with butter and brown sugar.

A menu fit for kings. Excellent company and a precious family. Overwhelmed with gratitude for my life. I thank God for health and love.

To everyone: Happy Thanksgiving!

Kindness, the two edged sword

Kindness is never rated when you are doing well. Kindness matters when the chips are down and times are hard. In the end when kindness is expressed, it will leave the person receiving it with one of two states: thankful or resentful.

So, it matters little what the reaction is to kindness. Always do the kind and right thing and allow the rest to float in space and time. It is hardship to lay your head down knowing you have insulted or taken advantage of another. In the end, it comes back to you, in blessings or in the same way you have treated another.

Response to mercy and kindness should never be the factor for the act. You never know how a person will respond to you. They may be having a hard time, or life is dealing them a blow, or they are not good receivers. On the whole, it is better to be merciful than vindictive.

If ever you believe you are being wronged, offer an explanation but step back and away when it is not accepted. If you are shunned and ignored, they were never meant to be in your life for long. Never try to be right. It does not matter in the long run even if you are. As long as you have done what is right, sleep and rest in the knowledge and comfort of a clear conscience.

My prayer for you is this:
May you live many days to offer caring
May you rise every morning to give a blessing
May you fill your heart with mercy
May you use your wit for kindness
May your thoughts be filled with peace
May your mind remain at rest
May you lay your head at night in the comfort of a clear conscience.

When One Door Closes, Another Opens

“No dreamer is ever too small; no dream is ever too big.” – Anonymous.

We plant the seed, water it, nurture it, watch it grow weathering the seasons and see it bear fruits of your toil…that’s your “dream.”

I am a firm believer of Paulo Coelho’s words that the universe will conspire in helping you achieve what you want. Sometimes it may take years for your dream to realize and sometimes things just fall into the place and your dream materializes immediately. It took me more than 10 years to realize my dream of high altitude trekking. Don’t lose heart, patience or hope. Keep believing in yourself and in your dream.

I wrote a blog earlier last week about how disappointed I was, having failed to register for the Mumbai Marathon 2012. I was heartbroken and distraught as it has been my dream to run for years. My husband asked me to check and see if any other running events were happening in the near future. And, I was amazed as to how things fell into place and just like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, everything fit perfectly.

I am from Bengaluru (the Capital city of Karnataka, South India) Incidentally, I am going there for Diwali, the festival of lights and to my sheer luck there is the Bangalore(former name for Bengaluru) Ultra Marathon happening on the 13th of November. Unbelievable!! I signed up for the 12.5k run. It is still difficult to digest that I’m debuting as a runner in an ‘Ultra’ marathon, which can be on roads, trails or tracks usually to enormous distances.

All I had to do was to reschedule my return journey. This also meant that my kids will be missing their classes. As a mother I should be feeling guilty on compromising and interfering with my children’s studies. Well, no. This dream is too big and important for me.

Right now, I am ignited with determination. I am glowing with purpose and focused on my goal. It is a new high for me. I am amazed by the strength of the mind. Only that we don’t always realize its potential, until put to test.

“There is nothing impossible to him who will try”- Alexander the great.

Everything happened so fast that I did not have the time to think about the “what if?” scenario. If I hadn’t signed up for this marathon, I would probably still be wallowing in self-pity. It is also important to ‘feel’ the disappointments, frustrations and the anger. Only thing is we should not let them linger on our mind for too long else, they will make themselves comfortable and take up residence there.

Only when one has experienced the pain of failure, will the success taste so sweet.

Believe in yourself and in your dreams, the universe will take care of the rest. :)

Sonia Sez: I was introduced to Janu by Corinne Rodrigues A home-maker, mother, wife and daughter, she also is a wonderful friend and writer. In her journey of discovery, she takes one with her with kindness and gentle persuasion.

Acts of Redemption and Children of Discord

Author C.C.Cole

Hi, all readers and writers! I’m author C.C.Cole of the two “Gastar” novellas, four when completed. The medieval dark fantasy story follows the teen assassin Shevata as she journeys through the history of the city of Gastar to seek redemption for her past actions and to re-gain her soul. As a dark heroine trying to become a normal girl with hopes to find love, happiness, and family, she is a complex but very capable character. She is a Goodreads action heroine winner.

The first, “Act of Redemption” was published in 2009, and has been listed as Best Independent Novel on Goodreads. Shevata kills a group of evil priests without a death order, so she is punished for murder. Her soul is removed and she is imprisoned. The story moves into the future of the city of Gastar, after its fall, and the remaining people gather their strength for survival with the help of soldiers from the past, the dragon Harathgus, and Shevata against the demon lord Zermon who plans to make the remnants of the city part of his domain in hell.

The second novella, “Children of Discord,” was published in 2011. It won an NABE pinnacle award for fiction. Shevata is summoned back into Gastar many years later by unlikely allies. She had been searching for the traitor boy Goldeon. Though Gastar has grown, the people are ignorant of the powerful children, and their inner war places the entire city in danger. And yes, vampires play a role in this novella. Shevata takes her first important steps to reclaiming her humanity.

The third novella “Point of Return” is in the writing process now. For Shevata-fans, I don’t think they will be disappointed.

Generally, the Gastar series is medieval dark fantasy/action/adventure, recommended for ages 13-15+ for intense battle scenes. Minimal profanity and no erotica are used. Though short and intense, some humorous dialogue gives the reader a moment to take a breath.

About me: I’m from rural Mississippi, and currently live in the suburbs with my family. My educational background is medical, and other interests besides writing/reading are martial arts, medieval and 20th century history, and adopted racing greyhounds. I write regular articles about new authors and writing on my blog http://www.shevata-cccole.blogspot.com, as well as book reviews.

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C.C.Cole is a talented Fantasy Action Adventure author. The Gastar Series are incredible and as a grandmother of a thirteen year old boy, found them amazing reading. C.C. writes to spark their imagination with solid content.

An Author Interview with Linda Ballou

Wai-Nani book cover by Linda Ballou

What is your day job?

Real Estate sales person in Studio City, California

What is your book about (in a few sentences)?

Through the eyes of high chiefess, Wai-nani, you experience the Hawaiian society as it existed when Captain James Cook arrived at Kealakekua Bay in 1779; ride the billowing seas with Eku, the wild dolphin she befriends; learn why she loved the savage, conflicted ruler, Makaha; walk with her as she defies ancient laws and harsh taboos of the Island people; share the love she received from all who knew her and learn how she rose to become the most powerful woman in old Hawai’i.
??Most challenging part of the writing process: Staying true to the culture was extremely difficult. As one would expect there are many contradictions in a 200-year-old oral history. Deciding which version was most correct was not easy. Not using modern words like plastic that would snap the reader back into the 21st century became an enormous challenge. You don’t realize how hard that is until you try!

What motivates you to write?

The goal is self-actualization. Writing expands and excites my universe while providing purpose to my adventures. It is my form artistic self-expression that allows me to be a part of the “Long Conversation” that is our civilization.

Did you experience writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?

As with any task, the hardest part is getting started. I force myself to get the first paragraph of any writing project onto paper. This helps formulate what it is I am trying to accomplish and the rest follows. Sometimes, I have to go back and rewrite the opening paragraph because the story that has revealed itself to me is different than what I thought it was going to be when I started.
?How long did it take you to write this book? It is the culmination of a 30-year love affair with the Islands and the woman who inspired this tale Ka’ahumanu, the favorite wife of Kamehameha the Great. It became my mission to visit all the places in the story that I could so I could absorb the mana—that is the spiritual essence –of the people of old.

Why did you decide to self-publish this book?

I wanted to do it my way. Agents and traditional publishers are looking for block buster material that will pay their mortgage payments. That means they will change your work around to fit a pre-existing mold that has succeeded in the past. I don’t believe they are interested in pure literary efforts unless the author can show them that the work is commercially viable. One way you can do this is to self-publish and let the reading public write reviews. If people love your book and share it with friends you can convince a traditional publisher to invest in you. In my case, I had no choice, in terms of my own psychological development I had to get Wai-nani out of my drawer and into the hearts and minds of readers. It was necessary in order for me to move forward with other writing projects and my real estate career. The process has been empowering, rewarding and has allowed me to interact with the wider world as a writer.

What is the biggest misconception about writing a book?

Writing is not a gift as much as it a craft that has to be polished to perfection. Writing Wai-nani and getting it into to publishable format is the hardest thing I have ever done, but sharing Wai-nani’s story is also my proudest achievement and has proved extremely rewarding. People often say, ‘You are a great writer, how about writing my story for me?” They don’t understand we all have our own stories to tell with limited time on the planet to do so. I have more stories in my drawer than I can ever get done in one lifetime.”

What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book?

This story is set in pre-contact Hawai’i, a sensual age that fired my imagination. I lived for one carefree year on the north shore of Kauai. The romance of the place and the beauty of the culture is what inspired me. Writing this book allowed me to surf with the royals, dance the hula with beautiful hula sisters, and imagine would it be like to live in lush Waipio where cliffs sparkle with triple-tiered waterfalls. I actually stayed in the famed valley a couple of nights hoping to capture a sense of the place for my readers.

What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book?

The internet is the way the truth and the light for self-published authors. Brick and mortars are simply not cost-effective. They have limited shelf space and most of it is dedicated to big publishers who pay them for their best advertising slots. They return books that are not sold in thirty days and that eats up any profit you might have made on other sales. Without the internet alternatives for marketing, that are often free, I don’t know if I would have ventured onto the self-publishing path.
Blogging seems to be the most effective tool I have used so far. My blog posts go to Facebook, Twitter, my page on Amazon, Kindle, and Goodreads.com automatically, as well as other places that I chose to post manually. I am an adventure travel writer, so many of my posts are about my trips. I published my travel collection Lost Angel Walkabout in May of 2010, so I have reviews of that book as well as for Wai-nani on my website and blog.

I also give talks at various venues around southern California about my books. I love to take Wai-nani to Polynesian fests which are a lot of fun with hula and Hawaiiana of all kinds.

What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion?

One of the dangers of the internet is that it can be a real time drain. Yes, it is all fascinating, but you need to stay focused on getting your own writing work done. If you are like most people you have limited time for your creative endeavor. You must be very selective about how many newsletters, writing tips and you- tube videos you are going to view on any given day.

I’m a writer – if I stop writing, I am nothing. -Wilbur Smith? Is this true?

Surgeons cut, writers writer. If you have invested yourself in the craft and it is your form of self-expression, I would say yes! I do not feel good about myself if I am not devoting my best energies to my writing projects. I feel very satisfied when I finish an article or essay that really hits the mark! It makes me feel that I am living up to my promise as a human being.

Inspiration is the act of drawing up a chair to the writing desk. – Anon How do you feel about this statement?

As I said earlier, the hardest part is getting started. Your mind will automatically help you organize and structure something it can see, but if it is just a jumble of ideas whirling in your head, it can’t. You have to kick start the process. I enlist my subconscious in this endeavor by reading at night about the subject I’m trying to get going on and write first thing in the morning before the pressures of a busy day set in.

Thank you Sonia for this opportunity to share my thoughts. If readers would like to become one of my “Hot Contacts” and receive blog posts they can come to my site and enter their email address. I have lots of articles and photo essays there for them to enjoy.