Tag Archives: feedback

Your parenting legacy

Growing up, on the rare occasions we would go out for dinner, my family and I would invariably encounter a surly waitress. You know the sort: plonks the menu on the table with a sigh, takes your order as if it’s the most boring thing in the world and practically thumps you one when you ask for extra cutlery! I exaggerate but you get the idea. 

When this situation arose, my Dad would say something like: “A prize for the person who can crack a smile from the grumpy waitress!” At which point my sister and I would groan, sinking further into our chairs. 

Next time the waitress would appear at the table, my Dad would make a comment along the lines of: “Bit busy in here tonight.” Often this would be all it took and we’d watch the waitress relax, her face softening with a small smile.

If she was a tough nut to crack he’d try again. Maybe put a fake snake on the table next time she came around. (You need to know that it’s usual for my father to carry props like this around with him – he has been known to put a glass eyeball on his plate in the hopes of successfully rising a squeal or two!) Or maybe he’d balance a fork on his glass, anything out of the ordinary to get a smile.

If all this failed and our waitress was particularly dour, he would say, with a twinkle in his eye and a cheeky grin: “Are you having a horrible day?” I don’t think I’ve ever seen this technique fail! A comment like this would completely disarm our server and from then on she’d be putty in our hands…and full of smiles!

My Mum was the same. She’d often strike up a quick chat with people here and there as we did our shopping along the high-street. An old man waiting to cross the road for example or the woman in front of us in the check-out queue.  She was always, and still is, ready with a smile or a nod. Especially with elderly people. “You should always say hello,” she’d say to me. “You might be the only person they speak to all day.”

As a kid I would find the whole thing hugely embarrassing. I would roll my eyes at both my parents and wish I was invisible.  It was mortifying. I didn’t get the point at all.

But as an adult I do get the point and I find myself doing exactly the same thing as my parents. What’s more I do it in front of my children who find it just as insanely embarrassing as I did. “Why do you always talk to the check-out girl!” My daughter will hiss as we leave the supermarket. “Do you know that man at the gas-station?” My son will ask. “I’m just trying to be friendly!” is my reply. Because what harm is it to smile at someone or pass the time of day? It costs nothing but gives so much more. 

So as I happily watch my children writhe in humiliation (an unexpected joy of parenting I find) I realise that this is part of my parents’ parenting legacy. As a mother of children still pre-teen, I tend to think of parenting as a relatively short period of time, while my children are living at home and need me to wipe their noses or buy their shoes, but it runs much deeper than that. It’s in everything we do, every decision we make and it lasts a lifetime. 

So why not teach them the value of a smile or a friendly hello instead of how to argue over a parking space? Why not teach them the beauty of giving someone the benefit of the doubt instead of rushing to take offence? Why not teach them how to extend a hand to their fellow man rather than how to pick a fight?
What will your parenting legacy be? 🙂

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under children, education, Inspiration, life journey, life lessons, motherhood, parenting, self discovery, Uncategorized

Too good to pass up…

I saw this quote a couple of days a go and it’s been on my mind ever since.  It’s just good to pass up so I thought I’d share it on my blog.

“Try and fail but do not fail to try.”

I love it because that’s exactly the theory I apply to my writing…or at least I try to anyway!  The fact is that when you’re working away alone on a computer, typing (or not, as is often the case) it’s hard to keep the negative thoughts from floating to the surface and getting in the way.  It’s far too easy to find a reason not to write, a distraction to keep you from sitting at your desk. 

I’ve been procrastinating recently.  It’s been an age since I had a good solid couple of hours to write.  And I’ve been getting frustrated but tomorrow is the day.  I will not answer the phone, I will not drive out in the car, go to the supermarket, write emails or do the washing.  I am going to hole up in front of my computer, make a pot of tea and eat toast all day. I don’t know if I’m going to produce anything worthwhile but I’m going to TRY! 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Chick Lit, creative writing, fiction, life journey, novel, publishing, self discovery, self publishing, Uncategorized

The thing about writing…

Life is all about extending your comfort zones right? Well in December I plonked myself bang in the middle of a new comfort zone and it made me edgy and excited all at the same time!  In July I published my debut novel High-Heels And Slippers, first as an ebook and then in paperback too.  That  in itself was a huge learning curve but then in December I took part in a book blog tour during which my book was reviewed by fifteen people.  I had no idea what they would think of my book but whatever they thought was made public in blogosphere for all to see – eek!   I must have been crazy, I mean no one made me do it; I signed up for it voluntarily!

But that’s the thing about writing: it makes me want to push my personal boundaries.

I began to write consistently about five years ago when I had some ideas for children’s books. I joined the SBCWI, attended a regular critique group and went to a children’s writing conference inNew York. 

A couple of members of my writing group were writing YA novels.  They had reams and reams of work and I was completely in awe of their ability to produce such large amounts. How did they do that?  How did they have so much to say?  Their word counts were in the thousands and it was completely daunting to me. 

 I kept on revising my five hundred word picture book manuscripts, trying to perfect each line and all the time wondering what it must be like to write a full length novel.  I was tempted but lacked the confidence to give it a go. 

Then one evening, I decided to try it.  I sat down with a blank Microsoft document and began to type. That’s when Josie Jenkins, the heroine of my novel, first came alive.  For the next few months her story just poured out of me.  I would stay up until three in the morning pounding away on the keys of my laptop.  Before I knew it I had written several chapters. 

I wanted to bring this new work to my critique group, after all I relied on their good sense and perceptive critiques, but I lacked the courage.  Meeting after meeting, I chickened out, and kept the printed sheets hidden in my bag. 

But although it’s tempting to hide away and succumb to one’s hermit tendencies, a writer cannot afford to be reclusive for long, because receiving and being receptive to feedback is essential for a writer’s growth and eventual success.  Or at least that’s what I’ve come to believe. For it seems to me, that all feedback, even the negative, hard-to-take stuff, is valuable.

Most people have a fear of rejection, and I’m certainly no exception, but the thing about writing is that makes me confront my fears.  So I drew a deep breath and finally took the papers out of my bag.  Before I began to read, I apologized: “This is probably going to be useless…” I muttered as I passed out copies to everyone.  “It’s just something I’m working on…so you know…it’s pretty rough…”  The group smiled knowingly back at me.  They knew the feeling of course, the feeling of putting your creative self on the line.

When I began to read my palms went clammy and my voice stuck in my dry mouth.  I was utterly nervous; it felt pretty much as if I had just stripped naked in the middle of Barnes & Noble. 

Yes it was nerve-wracking but it was also exhilarating.  And I have come to the conclusion that it was also addictive.  Because that was over three years ago and I have continued write and to learn so much since then. It has been a series of highs and lows which have been taken me to depths of despair one minute and soaring on a crest of a confidence-wave the next.  And I’m still learning and I’m still trying to navigate through the ups and downs.  The thing about writing is that it’s fluid; I never know where it’s going to take me and let’s face it, that’s part of the buzz!

In the beginning, I have to admit, I rejected the idea of self-publishing.  And when aNew Yorkagent showed an interest in my work I thought I was on the road to finding a publisher (and a guest spot on the Oprah show; well we writers do like to dream!) But after six months I still had no contract and I was struggling with an overwhelming sense of failure.  For a while I couldn’t bear to go near my manuscript, I couldn’t handle the thought of sending out more query letters and waiting again for another six months, time after time, only to find that years may pass and I could still be in the same situation.  Life’s too short to wait around, twiddling your thumbs.

There’s a latin proverb which goes something like this: “If the wind fails, take to the oars.” And that’s exactly what I decided to do.  There had been an explosion in epublishing, more and more authors were choosing to publish their work this way. I decided to have a rethink about self-publishing and give it a try because by doing that I could get Josie’s story out there, I could get the feedback I needed from the people that really mattered: the reading public.  I knew nothing about epublishing world and so I embarked on a massive fact finding mission.  And even though it was perplexing at times, I was happy to do it because the thing about writing is that it makes me want to take on a challenge.

Part of that challenge, for me, is accepting that High-Heels And Slippers isn’t perfect and not berating myself to bits for that.  I have tried and tried to make sure it was typo-free and well-edited but there’s always room for improvement.  And the thing about writing is that I want to get better and better. 

So I will take everything I have learned from this and feed it into my next book.  And while I’m working on that, I’m sure I will learn a whole bunch more because that’s the thing about writing: no matter how much you write and how long you do it for, there’s always more to learn.

I would love to learn from your writing experiences!  What are the things about writing that give you a buzz?  What challenges you?

Leave a comment

Filed under Chick Lit, creative writing, fiction, life journey, novel, publishing, self discovery, Uncategorized, writing

The Callum Interview!

Your chance to interview High-Heels And Slippers! heart-throb CALLUM DOHERTY  – post a question for him on Josie’s blog right now! http://highheelsandslippers.wordpress.com/  (I wonder if this is a good idea? Eek!)

Also check out my guest post on “The Thing About Writing” @ http://jerseygirlbookreviews.blogspot.com/ and thank you Kathleen for the FAB 4 STAR review: 

High-Heels & Slippers! was one hell of an entertaining book to read!”

YAY! 🙂

I hope you’re having a productive day everyone! Ella

3 Comments

Filed under Chick Lit, creative writing, fiction, novel, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

Writing Retreats!

Thank you to Tea And Scribbles (FAB name for a blog btw!) for posting my guest post on writing retreats today: http://teaandscribblesbooks.blogspot.com/ 

If you have time please nip over to have a look and check out all the book reviews at the same time! 🙂

Cheers – Ella 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Chick Lit, creative writing, fiction, novel, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

Book Blog Tour and TOMS GIVEAWAY!!!!

The High-Heels And Slippers blog tour is well underway and I must say it is incredibly exciting (and just a bit nerve wracking) watching the reviews come in.   So far the response has been great – yay!  I thought it might be fun to see Josie’s reaction to the feedback and unsuprisingly she seems to be a little dramatic about the whole thing! 😉 Check it out here: http://highheelsandslippers.wordpress.com/

Thank you to Michelle @ Just Jump for her rave review: http://lovelivejustjump.blogspot.com/2011/12/book-review-high-heels-and-slippers-by.html

And to  Molly for her 5 Book rating and review @ http://lovelivejustjump.blogspot.com/2011/12/book-review-high-heels-and-slippers-by.html 

Thank you both so much – I’m thrilled you enjoyed the book! 🙂

Well that is definitely enough about me! I am VERY excited to say that I am taking part in the TOMS Book Blog Giveaway!!!  I’ve  just finished reading Blake Mycoskie’s book “Start Something That Matters” and loved it! I’ll be posting a review in the next few days and I have one copy of the book to GIVE AWAY!!!!  YAY!   And I will send it anywhere in the world! 🙂 I’ll keep you posted with details of how you can win this FREE copy. 

In the meantime if you have never heard of TOMS shoes please check out their website: http://www.toms.com/  The one for one programme is such a FAB concept and the shoes are super-comfortable – really everybody should have a pair! 😉

Have a FAB day everyone! Ella

2 Comments

Filed under Chick Lit, creative writing, fiction, novel, publishing, Uncategorized, writing

A quick update! :-)

Wow so much going on and hardly any time to write it all down – eek! First I wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU for all the support I received at my book launch a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time and I was absolutely bowled over by the turnout and encouragement – it was just FAB!!! I will be posting pics on the blog as soon as I can get my hubby to download them from his Mac!

I also wanted to let you know that High-Heels And Slippers is currently on tour!! Many thanks to Rea for her review! 🙂 You can read it here:

http://reabookreview.blogspot.com/

As part of the book tour I’m currently participating in my first ever author interview with blog tour organizer Samantha Robey.  Eeeeeeeeeek! You can read it here (and laugh at my answers as I try to sound important!) at:

http://chicklitplus.com/interview-ella-slayne/
And there is a new Josie blog up – see how she reacts the first review of her novel! 😉

http://highheelsandslippers.wordpress.com/2011/11/29/josie-jenkins-responds-to-first-official-review/

 

I would love to hear from you so if you have chance to comment please do! 🙂 Have a smiley day! Ella

Leave a comment

Filed under Chick Lit, creative writing, fiction, novel, publishing, writing