How to Havea ZenEngagement

How to Have a Zen Engagement

First off, Happy New Year!

In this blog post, I would like to talk a little bit about how to avoid stress during your engagement, including through all your wedding planning, which is why I titled it: How to Have a Zen Engagement. If you’re like me, you immediately want to begin planning every little detail, but STOP! I know you are organized and organization is what keeps you from getting stressed, but think about this: If you throw yourself into planning immediately after becoming engaged, how are you going to ENJOY being engaged at all?

You’re Engaged!

Congrats! I would like to officially welcome you to the sisterhood of engaged ladies. It’s not actually a thing, but I just started it. So, welcome! Bask in the happiness and excitement of that beautiful ring on your finger and the love flowing through you.

Take the First Day or Two for YOU 

I mean “you” in the plural sense, as in you and your fiance. Enjoy your time together as you let the new titles sink in. You and your hunny can also start talking about when you’d like to get married (for example, this year, next year, the season, etc.) but don’t make any final decisions.

Tell Your Family and Friends

Honestly, if you are close to your family, I recommend telling them FIRST and waiting until they all know before telling your friends. I only had to tell my parents and my fiance’s parents. We knew they would tell everyone else in the family for us. Once I told them, I told my CLOSE friends the news.

Wait a Week or More to Post on Social Media

Why? It gives you time to tell everyone that absolutely needs to know first. It also lets you further solidify the fact that you’re getting married!

Take the Next Month or Two for YOU.

Yes, that’s right. Don’t even think of starting to plan yet. If you really have the itch, I recommend looking for ideas on Pinterest for wedding dresses and that’s it.

You and your fiance can finally start talking seriously about what kind of ideas you have for your wedding. Is it big or small? Inside or outside? What kind of venue, a hotel, getaway, etc.? Write down your ideas somewhere. I bought a special notebook/portfolio for all my wedding stuff. The most important is to discuss the potential dates for your wedding. I say potential because there’s always a chance that the venue you want is not available on the first date you pick, so it’s always good to have a backup.

Journal

Maybe you don’t like writing stuff down in a book, and that’s fine. You don’t have to write in a book, you can just keep a document on your computer or even Google Drive that you write in daily or weekly about how you FEEL about being engaged, especially after you discuss dates, venues, and some other things about your wedding. Pay attention to any negative feelings that you may have and try to figure out what’s causing the negative feelings/energy.

I’ll be working on a post later on on journaling prompts specifically for engaged women to work through, or ways for you to journal about your feelings. If you want some ideas on journal styles, you can always check Pinterest. I just buy regular lined notebooks from Wal-Mart or any stationary store and write typical journal/diary entries.

Meditate

Meditating isn’t just good when you’re stressed, it’s also a great preventative measure to take so you DON’T get stressed. Spending three to ten minutes a day just clearing your mind and welcoming any new energy in is a way to help keep you zen during your engagement period, especially after the planning begins.

My favorite app to use for meditation is Insight Timer. You can read my post about it: Finding Time to Meditate. There are many great FREE features on that app and it’s helped me a lot over the past year as I began my journey into meditation.

Yoga/Exercise

Yoga and figure skating are the two ways for me to relieve stress. After I do any of the two, I feel so much better. Yoga also helps me focus on the here and now as well as allowing me to be creative in my practice by experimenting in my poses and paying special attention to my body and how it feels during each pose.

If you’re like me and need guidance, you can check out some of Brett Larkin’s videos on Youtube (or any other instructor’s videos). She also has a Facebook community called Yoga Hackers, which is the group for the free membership. The Uplifted Facebook group is for paying members, which get exclusive yoga videos, live calls, and other special perks. (I am a paying member, but I do NOT have affiliate links. This is just an honest opinion). I love Brett’s style of classes because she really focuses on breathing and movement of poses gracefully. Her classes are great for all levels of yogis from beginner to advanced.

Stay tuned for more engagement/wedding related posts! I’m getting married this year, so things will be updated slowly as I have some spare time between figure skating, wedding planning, yoga, and working on my side businesses as well as working as an ESL teacher!

Next up: How to Save Money Planning a Wedding.

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Mizuki Beautiful Moon Chapter One Fate (Unme)

Enjoy FREE excerpt of my first self-published novella: Mizuki, Beautiful Moon! If you like it, feel free to purchase from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Amazon.co.uk

 

All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2011-2018 Eren Wiebe. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

 

Chapter One

Fate

運命

(Unme)

December 28th, Keiô 3, 1867

Sadayuki was walking back to the Shinsengumi headquarters when he looked at the sky and realized that the sun was setting. He paused momentarily as some snowflakes fell gently to the ground. He held out his hand and a snowflake landed in his palm before it quickly melted. He looked back at the sunset just as the sky had turned a beautiful tinge of dark pink.

He had wandered over to his favourite dango shop for dango and green tea before he practiced for a couple hours and called it a night. The sky had slowly started to get darker and was now tinged with dark orange and purple, the pink completely faded away.

He suddenly felt calm in that moment as he continued to watch the sun slowly set behind the hill. He continued walking back towards the headquarters occasionally glancing at the sky to see how far the sun had set; hoping that he wouldn’t miss the last peep of light before it completely disappeared behind the hill.

He quickened his pace, but before he could reach the headquarters, the cloth on his geta[1] broke. Just as the last lingering light from the sun disappeared behind the hill, Sadayuki started falling towards the ground. He braced himself for the fall and suddenly felt dizzy. As he crashed to the ground, he closed his eyes and groaned at the pain he felt in his hands.

When he opened his eyes, he blinked a few times before he realized that the scenery in front of him had completely changed. He was sitting in front of some sort of building that was constructed in such a way that he had never seen before. He rubbed his eyes thinking that it was just his imagination; however, when he reopened his eyes he realized that it was not a dream. The weird building was still there.

A flash of light suddenly appeared above his head and Sadayuki jumped to his feet quickly. He looked up at the light that seemed to be attached to some type of pole, also made out of some weird material. Sadayuki squinted as he tried to get a better look at the light just as he heard some sort of purring sound coming from his left.

Sensing danger, he whipped out his sword and turned to face the sound. Some big rectangular thing came charging at him, it also had two bright objects in the front. It made a loud sound that sent a startled Sadayuki staggering backward out of its way so that it could pass. Sadayuki could only stare after it stupidly. He was unsure of what had just happened. He quickly placed his sword back in the sheath and blinked rapidly with confusion.

He heard footsteps coming towards him as he looked at the ground and noticed that it was not made out of dirt, but some black kind of stuff and it was very smooth. The footsteps stopped near him and he looked up at the person. It was a boy probably around the same age as Sadayuki’s twenty-two years and he was wearing some sort of western styled clothing. The boy looked at Sadayuki with surprise noting the blue haori, the hakama, and the swords.

“Shinsengumi?” The boy said. Sadayuki stood up tall and nodded his head.

“That’s right. Kindly direct me to the Shinsengumi headquarters.” Sadayuki politely requested.

“Excuse me?” The boy asked in confusion.

“Shinsengumi headquarters.” Sadayuki repeated.

“The Shinsengumi…” The boy shook his head in disbelief. “I don’t know what you are playing at, but they haven’t been around for many years.”

“Excuse me?” Sadayuki asked with surprise. This was impossible! How could the Shinsengumi not exist? He had just been walking back towards the headquarters when…suddenly it all came flooding back to Sadayuki and he realized that after he had tripped, he somehow ended up in this weird place.

“That is impossible. I am Ishii Sadayuki and I must speak with Hijikata Toshizo.” The boy’s eyes widened with surprise.

“Ishii…Sadayuki?!” He exclaimed. “But…you were born in 1846!” The boy said in disbelief.

“What is this ‘1846’?” Sadayuki was growing more confused by the minute and he wanted an explanation.

“Never mind that.” The boy almost laughed. “I almost forgot about the legend. Come with me!” The boy exclaimed.

Sadayuki followed the boy as he went towards the weird building that Sadayuki had been standing in front of. The boy allowed him to pass through a hard door and Sadayuki was amazed at the space in front of him. It was very western styled and there were some things, at least he was guessing, to sit on.

They took their shoes off and the boy led him through this open area with the things to sit on and took Sadayuki into another room. He flicked something on the wall and the room lit up, Sadayuki looked up at the ceiling and wondered what was causing the light. There was too much light for it to be a lantern.

“Sit.” The boy offered a chair, but Sadayuki chose to sit down on the floor. He adjusted his sword so that he was able to sit down properly. The boy sat on some sort of futon that was very high off the ground.

“You must tell me everything that happened!” The boy waited eagerly. However, Sadayuki did not begin as he was waiting for the boy to introduce himself. The boy suddenly realized what Sadayuki was waiting for.

“Ah, sorry! I’m Ishii Yuuto. I am a descendant of yours.”

“Then, I will tell you what happened.” Sadayuki thought about what Yuuto had just said. “EH?!!” He exclaimed with disbelief.

“I will explain later, just tell me what happened.”

“Well then. I went to the dango shop and on my way back to headquarters I stopped to watch the sun set. After a while, I started to head back. My geta cloth broke, I tripped and somehow…”

“Well, now I will tell you my story. When I was little, my dad used to tell me a story that he said he heard from his dad. I guess they passed this story generation to generation, but the story is that one of our ancestors somehow time slipped to present day, which is 2017 by the Gregorian calendar. I don’t know what happened to our ancestor, if he was able to go back to Edo or not.” The boy slid off his bed and knelt on the floor in front of Sadayuki.

“We didn’t know which ancestor time slipped either, but now this all makes sense. I thought my dad was just telling me some crazy story, but…I think he was right.”

“I don’t understand. You say I am in the year 2017? But I was in the 3rd year of Keiô, how is this possible?”

“You time slipped. Somehow, you managed to slip through time and you are now in the future. Edo is called Tokyo now. Advancement in technologies, medicine, and so much more has happened since!”

There was a knock on the door. “Yuuto-kun[2]? I’m coming in.” The soft voice said from behind the door.

The door opened and a foreign girl stood in the doorway wearing western clothing and if he remembered right, they were called pants… Sadayuki was in shock. Why was there a foreign girl here? Why was a female wearing men’s clothing?! Not to mention her hair was short and left down. It was dark and a little past her chin.

She closed the door behind her before she noticed Sadayuki. Their eyes met and he noticed that her eyes were bright green and they were wide with surprise.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know you had company.” She apologized in Japanese. How was it possible that a foreigner could speak Japanese as though it were her native language? Her pronunciation was very good and she was very polite. She had just been about to exit the room when Yuuto stopped her.

“It’s ok! You don’t have to leave. I want you to meet my friend.” Yuuto held his hand out towards Sadayuki to introduce him.

“I am Ishii Yu-“ but before Sadayuki could finish introducing himself by his other name, Yuuto cut him off.

“Ah! Genjiro! But you can call him Yuki!” Yuuto exclaimed frantically.

Sadayuki looked at Yuuto with surprise. Why had he cut him off? Why had Yuuto used his nickname instead?

“Nice to meet you Yuki-san[3]. My name is Santiago Mizuki[4].” She introduced politely and in Japanese, she even bowed.

“Why do you have a Japanese name?” He questioned.

“My real name is Elena, but when I came to Japan I picked a Japanese name because I thought it would be easier for everyone.” She answered. “Ah, well I don’t want to interrupt any further. I will go make you some tea.” She excused herself, exited out of the room, and shut the door behind her.

“Why didn’t you tell her about me?” Sadayuki questioned with surprise.

“Well…it’s not the right time yet…”

“And who is she?” Sadayuki questioned further.

“She is my friend from university. She is an exchange student from Canada, she learned Japanese for about a year before she came here, but don’t tell her who you are yet because-” Before he could finish, there was a knock on the door again. It opened and Mizuki carried a tray with two cups of tea on it.

Sadayuki thought about what he had just learned about her. She was going to university? That meant that a woman was getting an education! He could hardly believe what he had heard.

He watched as Mizuki set the tray down on a desk and placed a cup in front of Sadayuki on the kotatsu table. She then placed a cup in front of Yuuto before Sadayuki and Mizuki’s eyes met again.

Now that she was closer to him, he realized that her eyes were very big and surprisingly easy to read. He could tell that she was interested in his clothing.

“Shinsengumi[5], right?” She asked, continuing to speak Japanese. Sadayuki nodded his head, but did not say anything since he did not know what else to say.

“Speaking of Shinsengumi, I finally watched Ryoma Den. I really liked the way Fukuyama Masaharu portrayed Sakamoto Ryoma. It’s exactly the way I imagined him.”

“You know of him?” Sadayuki asked with surprise. He had heard of him before he joined the Shinsengumi and he was even lucky enough to meet him once, by accident. Although the Shinsengumi chased after him from time to time, Yuki actually respected the man’s vision for Japan’s future.

“Of course. He’s my favorite historical figure.”

“Historical figure?” Sadayuki asked quietly enough that she didn’t hear him.

“I’ll leave you two alone again, it was nice meeting you.” Mizuki had been about to leave when Yuuto stopped her again.

“Yuki is visiting from Mie prefecture so he will be staying for a while.”

“I can prepare the spare bed in the other room.” Mizuki offered.

“Excuse me?” Mizuki looked at Sadayuki with her bright eyes. Sadayuki was not used to looking at colored eyes, so every time their eyes met he felt surprised.

“Will I be sleeping on something like this?” He pointed towards the bed behind him.

“Hai[6]?” Mizuki was confused.

“Ah…he’s used to sleeping on a futon.” Yuuto answered for him. Mizuki suddenly understood why he was asking.

“I can find the futon. I think your mom put one in the closet.” With that, Mizuki headed out the door leaving Yuuto alone with Sadayuki, now going by Yuki.

“I always wondered…what do you think of foreigners?” Yuuto questioned.

“From the foreigners I have met and heard of, some are very rude. They don’t understand Japanese customs or language at all.” Yuki replied.

“Well, I think you will be surprised by Mizuki-san. She surprises many Japanese because she tries so hard to learn the language and the customs. She’s always aware of etiquette when she goes to shrines, restaurants and all that. She also knows a lot about Japanese history and learns on her own time.” Yuuto paused thoughtfully.

“My mom has been teaching her how to cook Japanese food and she really loves dango[7]. If you ask her what she wants to see the most since she came to Japan she will tell you that she really wants to see sakura[8].”

Yuki was taken aback by all this information. It seemed that Yuuto and Mizuki were very close and Yuki couldn’t help but wonder if Yuuto had feelings other than friendship towards Mizuki, although he could tell that Mizuki remained slightly at a distance from Yuuto.

“You two sound very close.” Yuki observed.

“She’s a very good friend. We met a year ago through a website-” Yuuto stopped and realized that Yuki wouldn’t understand so he tried a different approach.

“We wrote to each other for a year before she decided to move to Japan for university. My parents let her stay with us and they really like her because she is so polite and helpful.”

They remained silent for a while, Yuuto with a thoughtful look on his face and Yuki studying Yuuto.

“You should tell her how you feel.” Yuki finally said, noting the way Yuuto looked as he spoke about Mizuki.

“No, I can’t.” There was silence again while Yuuto continued to think. He was the one to break the silence.

“Anyway, it’s getting really late now. Tomorrow is Saturday so we can go find you some clothes. We only wear kimono and yukata on special occasions like festivals or weddings now.”

Yuuto led Yuki towards the spare room, which was down the hall from his room. Yuki noticed an open door and as they passed, he spotted Mizuki sitting on the floor at the kotatsu[9] table writing something in a book. Yuki’s realized that his room was right next to Mizuki’s.

Yuki saw that the futon was already laid out for him and he knew that Mizuki had prepared the room for him. Yuuto made sure that Yuki had everything he needed before he exited the room and went back into his own room to sleep.

Being the gentleman that Yuki was, he went towards Mizuki’s room.

“Shitsureishimasu.” He excused himself as he stood at the door. Mizuki stopped writing and looked up at him with surprise. She had seemed to be very involved with whatever it was she had been writing.

“Thank you for preparing my room.” Yuki bowed at her for her hospitality.

“It was my pleasure. Since you are next to my room, please let me know if you need anything.” Yuki nodded his head, excused himself, and headed back into his room and shut the door behind him.

He followed Yuuto’s earlier example and flicked the thing on the wall in the opposite direction and there was suddenly no more light. He was tired, but being in such a different world now, he didn’t feel comfortable sleeping on the futon. Instead, he pulled out his swords and laid the wakizashi beside him. He propped himself up against the wall and rested his katana against his legs with the hilt resting on his right shoulder and his left arm resting against the sheath. He closed his eyes and eventually fell asleep.

Like what you read? Buy the full novel of Mizuki Beautiful Moon: from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Amazon.co.uk

[1] Traditional Japanese sandal.

[2] Kun is an honorific suffix normally used between friends.

[3] San is an honorific suffix that is normally used with people that are strangers/acquaintances.

[4] In Japan, people introduce themselves with their last names first then their first names.

[5] A special police force that was originally created by the Bakufu/Shogun (military government).

[6] In this case, roughly translates to “excuse me?”

[7] A delicious snack made from rice flour. Usually three rice balls on a skewer colored white, green, and pink.

[8] Cherry blossoms. Tiny pink flowers that bloom in the spring for a short period of time.

[9] A small Japanese table covered with a futon or heavy blanket. The table top sits on top and it is used mostly in winter because of the heat source found underneath the table.

Want to read more? Buy the full novel of Mizuki Beautiful Moon: from Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, or Amazon.co.uk

 

All Rights Reserved

Copyright © 2011-2017 Eren Wiebe. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the author.

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Mizuki Beautiful Moon

In 2011…

 I wrote my first novel that I EVER finished. For a long time, it didn’t have a name. It wasn’t until I had finished the book that I decided to call it Mizuki Beautiful Moon.

How I got the idea for the book…

2009: Before I went to Japan, I was watching some Japanese dramas, one of them was called Samurai High School. I thought it was really funny, though sometimes cheesy. After that, I forgot about the show as Hana Yori Dango took over my life. I was also writing a story about figure skating that also took up most of my time, but I stopped writing as I lost inspiration for the  book.

After I got back from Japan in 2010, I watched even more Japanese dramas, one of them was Ryoma Den. I was immediately sucked into the world and the rich history that surrounded Japanese legend, Sakamoto Ryoma. I had already heard about the Shinsengumi (from Rurouni Kenshin), and I stumbled across a music video called Kagen no Tsuki  (下弦の月) by Domoto Koichi. In it, he dressed up like Rurouni Kenshin and the music video had a fight scene that sparked the idea of the story. I wrote out some of the plot, but didn’t get around to writing it yet.

University, 2011…

I was taking a lot of Japanese history courses as well as Japanese language courses in university and I was doing a lot of research on samurai. That’s when I learned a lot about the way of samurai (Bushido) as well as learning more about the Shinsengumi. It’s from all that research that I was able to start writing my story in the spring of 2011 after I finished all my final exams.

Problems…

I always find a picture of someone that helps inspire me and use that picture as my “muse.” I had originally chosen Sato Takeru as my lead character, but I tried to write the first two chapters and they never seemed quite right. That’s when I kept searching and found a picture of one of my favorite actors, Miura Haruma, dressed up as a samurai and I remembered the drama Samaurai High School. I knew he was the perfect fit for my character. Immediately, I snagged all the photos I could find of him playing his character and printed them, pinning them up on my bulletin board next to my computer so I could look at them every day and find inspiration. Thanks to the change in muse, I was able to pour my heart out, spending all my free time writing the novel from early in the morning, to late at night.

September 2011…

I think I finally finished the first draft in September, but because I was starting my fall semester at university, I didn’t have time to look at it again. I became so busy with school that I forgot about my novel.

January 2017

I was laid off from work for a month and had a lot of thinking to do. One of the things that I wanted to try was to publish my writing for the first time. I decided to try out self-publishing first and so, I opened up Mizuki Beautiful Moon and started editing my own novel. It took months for me to finish editing because I eventually went back to work, and I edited through once. Then I went back and reviewed all my notes and finally, I edited it again, but this time I made some changes. When that didn’t work out, I edited it again, and then one more time.

April 9th

I finally finished editing the book on my own birthday and published it the same day. Of course, considering I have a lot of bills to pay now, I can’t afford to pay someone to make a cover for me, so I had to make my own. I know that it’s not the best cover, but I’m hoping one day to either get published by an actual publishing company, or save enough money to splurge and get someone to make me a nice cover.

Synopsis of Mizuki Beautiful Moon

Sadayuki is a samurai and member of the Shinsengumi. On his way back to headquarters, his life changes forever. He is catapulted into the year 2017 where he meets a descendant of his and Elena. Sadayuki and Elena accidentally get transported back to the dangerous Keio era. Can Elena get back to her own time or is she stuck in 1867 forever?

Want to buy Mizuki Beautiful Moon? It’s available on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com!

From the UK? It’s also available at Amazon.co.uk

Want to read the first chapter before deciding? Check out the first chapter of Mizuki Beautiful Moon FREE. 

How to Make Time to Write

How to Make Time to Write

We all have busy lives because of work, extra curricular activities, or raising children and taking them to their extra curricular activities, so how do we mange out time efficiently enough to find time to write? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer, if there were, we’d all be writing right now instead of reading this post! However, I’ve put together some tips on how to make time to write, which are ones that I implement almost every day.

How to Make Time to Write:

  1. Commuting to work by bus/train.

    If you commute to work and find yourself with some free time, even if it’s only ten minutes, use that time to your advantage! You can brainstorm ideas, find music to inspire you, heck, you can even write your story on your cellphone! Search for places, information, or books that might help you with your own book (research, etc).

  2. Arrive early to work.

    Most of the time I get to work early enough to spare ten to fifteen minutes of writing or brainstorming. If you arrive early and find that you have some free time, why not use that time to write or brainstorm or search for things to inspire you?

  3. Write as soon as you have some alone time.

    Do you come home before your spouse/children? If yes, WRITE! Are your children young enough that they need naps? Write when they are asleep! Even if you only write for fifteen minutes or half an hour, every little bit counts and gets you further.

  4. Write down new ideas before bed.

    If you’re like me, my head is always spinning with ideas for plot, characters, etc. I have trouble sleeping if my mind is too full, especially since I’m worried I’ll forget them in the morning. I’ve learned to keep some paper and pens near my bed so I can write down ideas as they come to me. That way, I have a much better sleep, or if I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, I can write it down and go back to sleep. I also use paper and pen because using my cellphone makes it harder for me to sleep (even with the blue light filter on.

  5. Too crowded/noisy at home?

    Take your laptop, iPad, cellphone, paper, whatever you use and take it to a nearby park. I find that I’m inspired by the new smells and sounds, I’m also a lot calmer.

  6. Get distracted with other things at home? For example: laundry, cleaning, etc?

    Take your laptop, or whatever it is that you use, and go somewhere else. You can even go to a coffee shop.

  7. Can’t decide between going to the gym and writing? Why not do both?

    I’ve been known to go to the gym and do my cardio while working on a story. I use my cellphone to write when I’m on the elliptical. If you can’t do that, then just brainstorm some ideas for the next part of your story.

  8.  Set aside a certain time every day to write (even if it’s only once a week).

    The most important thing that I’ve learned about writing is this: if you want to write, you have to find time to write. I have three jobs, so I know how difficult it can be to write, but I make sure that I put aside some time to do just that, write. No one is allowed to bother me when my door is closed and I even turn my cellphone to silent so I can get work done. If you want something badly enough, you will find time to do it,

 

I hope these tips on how to make time to write is helpful for you and I wish you the best of luck with your writing! You can find my first self-published book on Amazon : Mizuki Beautiful Moon.

How to Writea Bookin 10Steps

How to Write a Book in 10 Steps

How to Write a Book in 10 Steps

  1. Get a story idea

Everyone gets their story ideas from different places, all it takes is a little inspiration to spark an idea and from there it takes off. I usually get my ideas from music, situations, or even stories I hear from other people (in this case, one small scenario causes my brain to come up with something completely different based on one small detail).

  1. Brainstorm the basic plot and characters

For a book to be good, you need to have an engaging plot to keep readers turning the pages as well as believable characters. Readers need to be able to relate to the main characters as well as hate the antagonists.

  1. Research (if needed).

This includes finding the perfect names for your characters, where they live, the surroundings, their world (especially if it’s fantasy), historical references, etc. This part is important if you want the world you are creating to be believable.

  1. Make your characters come to life

Making copious notes on your characters from simple things to their characteristics like personality, looks, and other background information that might not even get mentioned in your book. All this extra information lets your character become believable, just like a real person.

  1. Flesh out more ideas for your plot especially the crisis and the solution.

It’s important to flesh out the details before you start writing because you can run into problems in the plot later on. There may even be some key details that need to be strategically placed throughout the book, which you cannot do if you don’t plan things out.

  1. Decide how you’re going to write

Are you going to write a prologue? Is the prologue essential? Are you going to write in first person or in third (omniscient) person? It all depends on what you want your readers to know and not know. It also depends on whether or not you are going to be writing from one perspective or more than one.

  1. Start writing.

Enough said. Write to your heart’s content and don’t stop (by “don’t stop” I don’t mean write for days on end without eating, drinking, etc. Please do the necessary things you need to do in order to stay alive. If you die, who’s going to finish your book?!)

  1. Keep detailed notes

As you write, it’s a good idea to make notes as you go along. Perhaps while you are writing, you come up with some good ideas as you flesh out the story. Write those down so you can easily access them, especially what you were thinking. It’s also a good idea to write down when you want certain things to happen or appear in your book. For example, perhaps one character has something special about them that you don’t want the readers to know until just before a pivotal moment or not at all.  For example, I have one character give another something, the importance behind the gift isn’t what the gift is but the reason behind giving it and what it means for the character that gave it. This idea popped in my head when I was still in the early stages of writing and planning my story.

  1. Check your notes/timelines (make sure you’re still headed in the right direction).

When you’re writing, it’s useful to constantly check your notes and timelines to make sure that you are still writing what you originally planned. There are many times that I wrote something that trailed off course that had nothing to do with where I needed the characters to go, so I got rid of that extra stuff. It’s important to keep the stuff that the readers need to know in order for the plot to work, anything extra isn’t going to help your plot much and is unnecessary.

  1. Finish writing and edit, edit, edit.

When you’re finished, I recommend taking a break from the book. Take a week off or longer or even start working on something else! When you go back to it, you can look at it with a fresh pair of eyes. I wrote a book in 2011 and didn’t look at it again until 2017 (not the BEST idea of a “break”, but I had my reasons). When I delved into the book again, I was able to see my characters from a completely new perspective and see the things that were unnecessary as well as add in more details of the characters’ interactions together to make them have a better and stronger relationship with each other.

 

My first self-published book Mizuki Beautiful Moon is available on Amazon for purchase!

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10 ThingsWriters Do

Ten Things Writers Do

Ten Things Writers Do

Take a look at some quirky things that writers do!

  1. We always carry around something to jot our notes, ideas, and inspiration in (cellphone, notebook, post-its, etc).
  2. We always observe people when we are out. What they are doing, what they are wearing, how they are behaving, etc.
  3. We have a hard time finding the perfect name and often won’t use names of people we know in real life that we associate with negatively.
  4. We spend hours on baby name websites searching for the perfect name with the perfect meaning behind it.
  5. We write something and think it’s genius only to have that particular scene bother us for the next twenty-four hours. We lose sleep over it until we finally change it.
  6. We often get angry when people interrupt our creative thought process, especially when we are brainstorming, on a roll writing, or imagining a scene in our head.
  7. We like to lock ourselves in our offices/rooms to write and turn off our cellphones/phones.
  8. Our rooms/offices are full of notes, outlines, timelines, character information, pictures, etc. either on the walls, floors, desk, or all the above.
  9. Some of us keep notebooks full of all our old stories ideas, even if we scrapped them.
  10. We often decline social invitations because we need to write, even if that means staring at a blank page for three hours without inspiration.

 

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WhyITook3YearsOffBeforeUniversity

Why I Took 3 Years off Before University

Why I Took 3 Years off Before University

Dreams as a Child

When I was a little girl, my biggest dream was to become a teacher. However, as I got a little older, my dream jobs changed like the seasons. I wanted to be a teacher, writer, actress, lawyer, vet, and the list goes on. When I entered high school, I was just as confused. I learned more about psychology and hair styling, which made me want to become a psychologist and hairstylist. What to choose?

Dreams in High School, Dashed

I didn’t have the best grades in high school, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to enter the university I wanted for what I wanted. I happened to talk to my teacher’s assistant who gladly gave me information about the university in my city. I was so disappointed at all the requirements that you needed to get into psychology, education, and veterinary studies that I gave up my dream. On top of that, I went to many casting and modelling calls and never got picked for anything, not even an extra.

Graduation

Even by the time I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was still sad that I couldn’t get into university with my marks (school never came easy to me and I had bad study habits), and I wanted to move out from my parents’ house to live on my own and experience life on my own. Without knowing what I wanted to do, I decided that I would just have to find a job to make some money until I could figure out what to do.

Second Job

I got my second job ever working at Hallmark. It was an easy job and I loved the couple that owned the store. I learned a lot about running a small business as well as responsibility. It was the first time that I had many responsibilities at my job. It was because of my manager that I learned how to count the float at the end of the night, make a deposit, organize the materials, keep track of what sold during the day, and open and close the store by myself. For an eighteen year old, it was a lot of responsibility, but I enjoyed every minute of it.

Moving Out

I eventually moved out of my parents’ house and moved to Vernon, B.C. It was in Vernon that I really learned the stress of becoming an adult at a young age. I was still eighteen years old and had been a very sheltered young girl because of my traumatic experiences when I was younger. (Read about My Journey Through PTSD, Anxiety, and Panic Attacks Pt 1). I didn’t know anything about the major responsibilities that would fall on my own shoulders without my parents.

First Job in a New Province

I started working at Staples and it was enjoyable, at first. However, I had some issues with some of the people that worked there as well as that came into the store. The environment was completely different from what I was used to at Hallmark, so it was really hard for me to adjust.

Living Situation

My living situation was hell. I was used to a clean house because my mom is very clean and organized. Imagine my surprise when I started living with my new roommates and couldn’t see the floor. The TV was on at all hours of the day and loud. It was nearly impossible for me to sleep, there were bugs crawling in through the window at night, the apartment was a complete mess. To top it all off, I also lived close to the sewage treatment plant, so it smelled disgusting every time I walked by.

Paying Bills

I not only had messy roommates, but I also had to pay bills for the first time in my life. I understood what it meant to save money because I had bills. I had to pay rent and buy my own groceries as well as buy things for the apartment that I needed. Working at Staples wasn’t enough since I couldn’t go to full time with them at the time and they were cutting back my hours. I needed more money, so I decided I needed to get another job.

Two Jobs

I worked with a girl that had a second job at an Italian restaurant. She told me all about the people she worked with and made it sound like so much fun, so I handed in a resume. Thanks to her putting in a good word for me, I got the job. I started working there a week later. It was at this job that I learned how to have patience and work quickly. I loved working there so much that I eventually quit my job at Staples and worked at the restaurant in the evenings. Eventually, I worked in the mornings for a while for a change and it was here that I discovered what I wanted to do.

My Birthday Present

Since I was working a lot and making decent money in tips, I decided to treat myself for my birthday a year later. I went to the local hair school there and pampered myself. It was there that I talked to the girl about how she liked being a stylist and what the school was like. I really enjoyed watching her cut my hair and the other girl doing my nails and that’s when I decided that I wanted to become a hairstylist.

Six Months Later…

I started at the same school in the fall with some other girls. We got all our necessities on the first day, including the huge book that we needed to study. Imagine my surprise when I learned that we would have to learn about parts of the body inside and out. We also had tests every week and they weren’t exactly easy. However, I wanted to be a stylist so badly that I immediately went home and studied my butt off. It was because of hair school that I learned how to study properly, and had the satisfaction of getting the highest marks in my group.

Opening Up

At hair school, I had to talk to my clients as well as the other students in the school. I was really shy in those days because of my past, but there were two girls in particular that I eventually opened up to. It was because of these two girls that I learned what it was like to have true friends and it was because of one girl in particular that I learned that it was okay to be myself, no matter what my own personality was actually like.

Graduation

After I graduated, I moved back to Alberta to live with my parents. Hair school wasn’t cheap and I was still working my job after school. Living on my own was tough, and I missed home and my parents. I said goodbye to my new friends and headed back home. I found a job at a local salon and apprenticed. My hair styling license was for B.C so I had to do a test to get my red seal. I worked my butt off and had fun in the process. I had the nicest boss ever and learned so much from her when it came to hair and waxing.

Health Happens

Unfortunately, a few months after I received my red seal, my wrist started to hurt I went to the doctor and he told me that I had tendinitis. He also told me that it wasn’t going to get better but worse if I kept doing the same repetitive movements. I also developed the most painful headaches I have ever had, tension headaches. These health concerns had me stressed about what I was going to do with my future. It was because of my love for anime and Japan that I was talking to a client about it and he recommended teaching English in Japan. I had never thought of that before, but it sounded like a lot of fun!

Options

I looked into what I needed to do in order to teach English in Japan. The best decision I ever made was taking two years off before university. Sure, I’m not a hairstylist anymore, but I’m still qualified to work in any province and I cut my own hair from time to time as well as my friends’ hair when they need it. Now, because they considered me an “adult” in my twenties, I could upgrade a second language, science, or math. Of course, I went for the second language, which was Japanese. Everything was working out in my favor; I was even able to transfer from the college I started out in to the university, my dream university!

Working

After I started college, I quit my hair styling job and landed a job working for one of my clients. I cut his hair before and when I applied for the job, he pretty much hired me on the spot. I worked at that pharmacy for over three years and worked up from a cashier to a supervisor, I even helped out in the pharmacy from time to time as a “replacement tech.” That was a lot of fun because it gave me more hours and more experience in something different. I also trained in the Post Office, so I was able to cover their breaks in the evenings.

Work and School

I worked my butt off and saved every penny I made. I barely went out at all when I was in college or even in university for that matter. I was able to save enough money to pay for my college and university tuition as well as live comfortably off my own money when I moved out again. I worked a seasonal job at the Bay to make some more money and I saved that money to help with groceries, help with my sick dog, and pay rent. My study habits from hair school really  helped me out here. I was able to get top marks in Psychology because of my study habits. I was also able to graduate from university with a Bachelor Degree in English Literature and pass my Geology class. I also studied East Asian History, Japanese, and Music despite many tearful and stressful nights.

Experiences

I had some bad experiences in university again that triggered my anxiety and panic attacks, and to make things worse, I developed PTSD because of something that happened in university. All of these bad experiences taught me a lot about myself and the people that I had chosen to surround myself with.I also finally opened my eyes and met the love of my life, although I didn’t know it at the time since he was only my best friend.

Overall

Things fell into place for me and I was really lucky. I think that taking a year or two off after high school is important for teenagers because they need to experience what life really is. Not only that, but as a teenager, you’re still trying to figure out who you are as a person. You have so much room for growth and it’s only when you are out in the real world that you can truly begin to understand things about yourself. You also have experiences that help shape your future.

I didn’t travel like most people, but I lived in a different part of Canada. It made me appreciate my parents even more, especially my mom. My mom and I always fought when I lived at home as a teenager. After I moved out, I realized  how much my parents did for me. We were able to build a much stronger relationship because of this as well.

What I Learned from University

There were many times that I felt like giving up. The desire to get a degree and move to Japan was strong enough that I fought the urge to quit. I kept moving forward even when certain people told me I would fail. I kept going just to prove them wrong. Coming from someone who usually gives up easily, this was a huge feat for me. All my experiences before and in university taught me so much about myself and other people. I feel like I finally know who I am. It took a long time, but I finally discovered who I really am. When it comes to work, I know what I want now. That’s all thanks to my experiences after university.

Wait, What about Japan?

That’s a long story that I might talk about at a later time! Stay tuned!