Blog 31: 2013 The year of energy! #NaBloPoMo

What will you do to energize yourself for 2013?

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So a month ago I decided this year was one where I was going to achieve lots. One month in – how am I fairing? Pretty good. I have completed everything on the work side of life that I need too and am ready to get back into instructing tomorrow. There’s a lot to do and a few discussions that need to happen, I will not be working more than my paid hours this year, there are too many other things I need to achieve. On the writing side I am on the way to having The Homework Goblin published. This week I approved the back cover, so it’s down to text and front cover. I am also about to start an author blog challenge (tomorrow) in which I intend to plan my chapter book for the challenge I am doing in March. I have also begun editing my other two manuscripts. So looking good there. The one place I continue to lag is marketing. I do everything I can, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to result in sales. I am half way through a program with my publisher, and yet to see any real results. I have some ideas though, so hopefully sales of my first two books will pick up and the third will start well. Lots to do here though!

On a more personal level I have taken the muchkins ice skating, to the zoos, helped them write stories, made books, got back into gymnastics and settled into school and kindy. We have had lots of fun as a family and the planning of big munchie’s birthday is well underway. Lots of fun still to have.

So far I have to say my year of energy has been a success. I am firmly back into my exercise routine, semi getting eating under control – always needs focus. I feel fit and healthy though, so it can’t be too bad. There has to be room for improvement somewhere.

Okay month one is a good start, now how to keep it up for the next eleven. That’s easy I’m going to take a leaf out of my dog’s books. These four beauties are my team. Tug, Stitch (big head, I know), little Rory and the star of my writing Obi. They have the best attitude to life. When it’s time to work they put their heart and soul into it. When it’s time to play they give it their all. Then when it’s time to rest they snore and sleep like there is no tomorrow. There is no rat pace with these dogs. Basically if it’s worth doing then it’s worth doing with energy. That’s how I am going to keep this up for the next eleven months.

To all those who have joined me on the first part of this journey I thank you, it’s been great to read your comments. I hope you continue to join me, I intend to keep reading your posts too. That is after all why

Blog 30: Energy to the rescue #NaBloPoMo

Benjamin Franklin said, “Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Do you agree or disagree?
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My puppy Stitch would certainly agree with that – after all his boundless energy used to conquer Obi all the time. Now he gets conquered by Rory and the other puppies, that is until they finally poop out! Then the big boys show they have the real power. They hide it well when the puppies are around, but their energy can conquer up to twenty kids in one day. It amazes me that even in the third and final session of a day our labs will still run around and oval, do all the obedience tasks, pull the kids around if they’re not paying attention, chase each other, bark, play and generally be loved! So yep in terms of a labrador working at Labs ‘n Life energy certainly conquers all. It’s just important to have time to recharge.
So does this work in human terms? I would say yes. Today my energy conquered the organisation service, lunch service, taxi service, cleaning service, homework service, reading service and never-ending repetition service that I run all day. In addition to this I also did a work out while the munchkins were at gymnastics and managed some editing!!! Yep energy conquers all and right now I’m conquered! Time to veg out and recharge with a good book! Until tomorrow – have fun!!!

Blog 29: I’ve lost my mind…. #NaBloPoMo

My next character - Stitch!
My next character – Stitch!
What reoccurring thought uses up a lot of your mental energy?
That’s easy it’s usually that I’ve forgotten something. I always remember the scene in the first harry Potter when Neville gets his rememball – I can’t remember what it is that I’ve forgotten!!! That’s me. Quite often, sometimes even more than once a day I am pretty sure I’ve forgotten to do something. Usually I’ve actually done it, or it really isn’t important anyway. Still I’m pretty sure I would have more mental energy if I didn’t waste so much on what I’ve forgotten. I try to do lists – I usually lose them ha! I even have a task manager on my phone – now that has actually been useful if I remember to write things into the program. I rarely forget to go somewhere, I am very good at keeping my calendar up to date ao that’s generally not an issue. I have note books everywhere, if only I was more organised. Still I don’t think I would be me and get half the things I do done if I was more organised. I’m pretty sure an organised person would look at my life and think – “you’re crazy to do all that” They would probably be right. For example at the moment I am doing this blog challenge, working, starting a new initiative at work, training staff, of course spending time with my girls, being a taxi service, coach, listening to them read, taking them to sport, playing games, walking the two dogs, writing a new book, editing two books, having one published and about to start my second blog challenge for the year. Not to mention going to the gym, playing volleyball and organising a 6th birthday party. So is it really any wonder I usually think I’ve forgotten something??? Still life is meant to be interesting, would hate to be bored. Still I’m pretty sure there was something else I was going to do tonight…. No idea, oh well, until tomorrow – have fun!

Blog 28: Anger Management #NaBloPoMo

What emotion do you think is the biggest waste of energy and why?
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To answer this question I take a leaf from my amazing dogs. They never get angry. If there is another dog hassling them or even challenging them they simply walk away. No I know not all dogs behave this way. Even some Labradors will show signs of anger and react. Not my boys though. They kind of give the other dog this look, as if to say “Why woudl you do that? What’ the point?” Then they just leave. Obi and Stitch are completely content that all is right with the world because they are in it! I watch them every day and I have to agree. There is not point getting angry. It wastes so much time, energy and brings up all sorts of other emotions that are just useless.
So how do we stop feeling angry?
Well when things go wrong just take a step back, breathe and think. There is always a soloution. Or if on the odd occasion there isn’t then really there is nothing oyu can do. My advice do not waste time, energy or give yourself into that feeling. It takes practice. Some things I find that help are exercise, getting fresh air, cuddling a puppy, doing something completely different or if all of that is failing then as a last resort I woudl suggest a bar of chocolate!!! Yep only as a last resort, but it works too. Of course I rarely get that far because I have Obi and Sitich to calm me down!
Until tomorrow – have fun!

Blog 27: Sunday Sillies for a change #NaBloPoMo

Rigger and ObiA Dog’s Daily Routine
The day is divided into two important sections: the all-important mealtime, and everything else.
I. Mealtime
1.Just because there does not seem to be anything visible around to eat certainly does not mean there is nothing around to eat. The act of staring at the underside of a table or chair on which someone else is eating sets in motion a chain of events that eventually results in food.
2.It goes without saying that you should carefully check the lower third of any space for edibles. Mouth-sized things which cannot be identified by sight or smell are considered gum.
3.When you actually receive a meal, submerge your head into it as you would a shower. Never, never look up again until a minimum of at least fifteen minutes after the obvious food is gone. This is important. Just because your dish is empty does not mean that it is time to stop eating.
4.Remember that all food is potentially yours up until the time that it is actually swallowed by another. The lengthy path a piece of food will take from a plate to a mouth via a hand is as good a time as any to stake your claim to it.
5.When it comes to selecting an appropriate beverage, location and packaging mean nothing. There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule.
6.If you really see something you want, and all your other attempts at getting it have failed, it is only right to grovel shamelessly. As a second tactic, stare intently at the object of your desire, allowing long gelatinous drools to leak like icicles from your lower lip.

II. Everything Else
1.There are really only two important facial expressions to bother with: complete and overwhelming joy and nothing at all.
2.Any time that is not meal time is potentially nap time. The best time to take a nap is when you hear your name being called repeatedly. The best location for a nap is dead center of any street or driveway. The most relaxing position is on your side, all four limbs parallel.
3.The most practical way to get dry is to shake violently near a fully clothed person. A second effective method is to stand on a light-colored piece of furniture.

4.Personal Safety
o At the first hint of any irregular noise, run from room to room barking loudly. If someone actually comes into the house, rush over to them whether you know them or not. Then kiss them so violently that they lose their balance or have to force you away physically.
o The greatest unacknowledged threat to life as we have come to know it is squirrels. No matter what you must do, make sure there are none in your yard.

5.Recreation and Leisure
o Ball: There are two equally amusing sets of rules you will want to know.
1.The Common Form, in which you receive a thrown ball and return it.
2.The Preferred Form, in which you receive a thrown ball and eat it.
o Car: As you know, any open car door is an invitation to get in. Once inside, your only goal is to try to get out.
6.Health: In the event of a trip to the doctor, always be on your guard. If you are vaccinated, urinate on the physician.
Until tomorrow – have fun!!!

Blog 26: Happy Australia Day #NaBloPoMo

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HAPPY AUSTRALIA DAY!!!
Hope everyone has had a very Aussie day – swimming, beach, Vegemite sandwiches, Lamintons and Pavlova!!!! All the good things to help us all enjoy this amazing country we live in. Lots to be thankful for on Australia Day. I love travelling to other places and seeing the world, but Australia is special. It’s unique, it has amazing sights, animals, people and weather!!! It is a great place to live and bring up children. Australia is and will always be home!

As Always – have fun!!! This time Aussie Style!

Blog 25: Third time lucky #NaBloPoMo

My next character - Stitch!
My next character – Stitch!

Grrrrrrr I just submitted my information for the art and media department for my third book (The Homework Goblin http://sbpra.com/presaleashleyhowland/ ). That’s fantastic!!!! Yes it is, but it took forever, because for some reason the form kept refreshing itself and deleting all my hard work. NOT HAPPY!!!! Certainly not what I needed on a friday night. It took me three goes, and no I d not want to do it three times! Still it is done and I can now sit back and wait for the first viewing of my cover! I’m pretty sure I can log this one under the waste of energy title, especially after running training and development for two days. The good news is today Stitch was our demo dog and he was absolutely beautiful. So I guess a little frustration is okay. At least I did finally have success and now I’ve had enough so I’m going to go and watch the tennis. Until tomorrow – have fun!

Blog 24: Sweat it out #NaBloPoMo

What is your favourite thing to do when you lose energy in your home and can’t use electronics?
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When you have no energy there really is only one thing I can do – EXERCISE!!! It might be going to the gym and sweating it out in a combat class or on the treadmill. Sometimes though even that’s too much effort. Those days it’s great to take the dogs for a walk. Fresh air really revives the weary soul. The problem with working your dogs during the day is they are absolutely stuffed when you get home. Even picking up their leads isn’t enough to make the move. Sometimes they are so exhausted they almost need a straw to eat their food. Well okay, not quite, they are Labradors after all. So on those nights I will do some exercise on the fit ball or bike outside. Yes sometimes I do it in front of the TV, but even when I really have no energy I make myself do something. For example today I ran and training and development session and it was another scorcher. So by the time I got home I was lacking in energy. Still I dragged myself to the gym, did a combat class and now I have enough energy to get this blog done and am looking forward to editing my next book!

Every now and then exercise is just not going to happen. Let’s face it we all have sloth moments. So what do I do then? Well that’s pretty simple, find a good book and lie down with my boys and read. The great thing about Labradors is they will keep you company even when you are doing nothing! Until tomorrow – have fun!

Blog 23: Conserving Energy #NaBloPoMo

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What is the most creative way you conserve energy in your home?
That’s quite a question to ponder. After yesterday’s post I could say we procrastinate a lot! Mmmmm we probably do, but that doesn’t really help. Let me think we do all the normal things, solar power, high efficient appliances, turning off TV’s at the power point, turning off lights and not leaving things running. That’s all pretty standard. I don’t like being normal and it did ask for creative ways so here’s a list:
Stitch inhales his food – conserving energy by not chewing
Kids conserve energy by not cleaning up
I conserve energy by wearing blinkers so I can’t see the kids haven’t cleaned up
Husband conserves energy by staying outside, therefore ignoring the mess
Obi currently conserving energy by only using all four legs when a walk is suggested
We all conserve energy by throwing everything in the dishwasher
I could say the dogs lick the plates clean, but that’s disgusting so no conservation there!!!
Writing, best way to conserve energy because I can escape into another world!

And the number one way we all conserve energy
Using a voice recorder for repeating ourselves!!!!

Okay some of that is true. Actually most of that is true, really should get around to doing those voice recordings. Would start with turn off the light, make sure the tap is all the way off and did you hear me???
Until next time – have fun!

Author Interview Andrew Goodman

Today Stitch says has Andrew Goodman in the hot seat – let’s fine out what he has to say:
AG
When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
I’ve pretty much always been writing, in some format but it was during the autumn of 2006 when, in a combination of the nature of my work and terrible weather, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. A friend bought me some writing software and I started to really research the nature of writing – how it all hung together rather than just putting words down on the page. I did a lot of reading. Not just novels but books on how to structure stories, developing character, generating through-lines and how to complete a story arc. Some of the most useful books on how to develop a story were screenwriting books, notably Save the Cat by Blake Snyder.
The main impact I suppose it’s had is that I’m a lot more confidant in my abilities now. Not that it lessens the hurt a rejection letter gives, but it does mean that the Standard Rejection slip doesn’t make me want to throw my hands in the air and give it all up as a bad deal.
I’ve met a lot of great like-minded people, both in person and via social networks and it’s fantastic that almost all of them to a man (or woman) are happy to offer tips and advice on writing without recompense. It’s like we’re all one big family.

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
My latest piece of work is a novel called Tiberius Found available on Kindle and Kobo as an eBook. It’s a near-future Young Adult action/adventure written in a similar vein as Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider stories. The story follows Daniel Henstock who, on his sixteenth birthday, discovers that his life has been a lie. He’s been genetically engineered and those responsible want him back. To survive Daniel has to run, and run hard, but it was never going to be easy or simple. He hides himself away in America but when his liberator is captured he decides to return home and puts his life on the line to repay the debt.
Tiberius Found started life as a short story for a competition that had a genetics theme. The comp had a reasonably short word count and I felt that there was more to the story than the 2,500 words limit. I continued with Daniel’s story as a follow-up short for another competition but still felt it had more legs. I developed the full story arc over a period of months then got down to serious writing and after about a year of edits and rewrites I eventually let it go into the world.
Tiberius Found is the sort of boys’ own action story that I used to read as a child where the adventure is mixed with believability, and from the feedback I’ve had so far the readers have said they could well see the background events happening in the near future. Also, the most readers so far have been girls (or rather, women) who have all said that they have enjoyed the story, so it’s not only for boys.
Tiberius Found may be found here:
• Kindle UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tiberius-Found-Emperor-Initiative-ebook/dp/B0084U5M5Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1358077203&sr=1-1
• Kindle US – http://www.amazon.com/Tiberius-Found-Emperor-Initiative-ebook/dp/B0084U5M5Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1358077366&sr=1-1&keywords=tiberius+found
• Kobo – http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Tiberius-Found/book-go-osJH4UUKphQCHPPsBoA/page1.html?s=JYplrZFJr0qILN4Gb2WgFw&r=1

What are your future aspirations as an author?
I reached the point in Tiberius Found, close to finishing the final edit, when I decided that the story wasn’t finished. I’m not a huge fan of the ‘trilogy’ – it seems to be a bit of a literary cliché, but there was enough scope in the story to justify another two books which will complete the series with the overall ‘title’ of The Emperor Initiative.
So … at the moment I’m about three-quarters the way through sequel, which is called Tiberius Bound. This book follows on almost directly from the end of Tiberius Found and continues Daniel’s quest to have a ‘normal’ life. Daniel thought his troubles over but he realises – too late – that danger lies much closer to home. Once again Daniel has to fight to not only save himself but also protect those he cares for, and he has to make some very difficult decisions along the way.
Tiberius Bound should be available in late spring 2013.
The third, and definitely last, book in the series will be called Tiberius Crowned. It’ll conclude Daniel’s story where all the loose ends are tied up and – hopefully – bring the trilogy to a satisfactory conclusion. I’m looking to have a release date for this of around spring 2014.
I’ve also got a series of Young Adult historical adventure stories planned, which take place in 1926. The central character is a fourteen-year-old boy who, in the first book, is drawn into a world of myth, legend, ghosts and a cult who want to unearth an ancient collection of artefacts in order to gain dominion over Europe then the rest of the world. When the chips are down he realises that if he doesn’t risk everything then the bad guys will win – but at what cost to himself?

Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
Where do any of us get our ideas? I listen to the news, deliberately overhear conversations and generally let my mind wander. The biggest question I ask myself is: what if? I think that should be the Writer’s motto.
I’ve planned table-top role-playing games since I was a young teenager so I think my imagination has been ‘open’ for a long time. Any fiction is effectively ‘fantasy’ and as long as a writer concentrates on the story then the setting should add to it rather than dominate. For instance: I thought that Spartacus: Blood and Sand was one of the finest stories of loss, revenge and friendship ever told – and the fact that it was set in ancient Italy only added to its depth rather than taking centre stage.

What do you do to improve yourself and a writer?
As I’ve already said: I read a lot. Reading stories in the genre you’re writing in helps enormously. I read novels by authors I admire or who have sold well. I don’t copy them – I have my own style and trying to copy another author’s would be a big mistake – I try to pick out the bones of how their work hangs together; their story arcs, sentence structure, word choice etc.
There are many ‘how to’ books, some of which are considerably better than others, and it’s difficult to know who to listen to and which to ignore. If I read any book which states ‘This is the ONLY way’ then I usually pass on it. What works for one person may not gel with another and I don’t like the arrogance of some ‘how to’ authors. What I try to do is be open-minded and take snippets of advice and work methods which ring a bell with me.
One of the best ways I know of how to improve is: keep writing. The more I write the better I feel I’m getting at it. Writing is an art and I wouldn’t expect to be able to sculpt a block of marble on the first attempt but with practice and patience I probably would, given time. I give myself permission to write a bad first-draft then hone it down during the editing stage.
Stitch Says is currently enjoying reading Tiberius Found and will post a review once finished. Watch this space, because so far it’s a winner!!!!

Thank you Andrew for dropping by on Stitch Says! Best of luck.
As always keep reading, keep writing.

If you woudl like and author interview or review on Stitch Says please contact me at ashley@ahowland.org