A writer inspired by nature and human nature

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An Apple Blossom HAIKU by Bette A. Stevens


It’s National Poetry Month

What’s inspiring you?

Apple Blossom HAIKU bas 2015

 

Here in Central Maine the snow is melting at last, leaving bare ground and brown grasses in ever-growing patches where new tints, tones and shades of greens are magically appearing each day. Lilacs and apple trees will soon be budding. I can hardly wait for apple blossom time. We have six varieties of apple trees here at the farmstead and their blooms are more than enough to regenerate this winter-laden soul. Of course, the real blooms won’t arrive until May, but since April is National Poetry Month, I thought I would check out Wikimedia where I found this perfect picture (before my photo and text edits) to inspire the blooming muse inside a little early. We’re finally enjoying some spring sunshine, but ready for some April showers to bring us those May flowers, too. ~ Happy Spring! ~ Bette A. Stevens

What’s inspiring you this spring?

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Five Star Treatment – Defined by Others by M.C.V. Egan


Bette A. Stevens:

Great review of new book by M.C.V. Egan! ~ Bette A. Stevens

Originally posted on Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life:

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Welcome to the Five Star Treatment and today an author who is not just a very talented writer but also very generous in her support of other writers and bloggers. M.C.V. Egan (Catalina) is in the middle of a Blog Book Tour with Defined by Others so your support in sharing this post with your contacts would be amazing.

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About the book

A word, a single word defines a moment for Anne. She needs to find a new one when her spouse leaves her at the age of 47, coming out of the closet literally in a closet. She finds herself back in her hometown amongst her high school friends which she left behind in her past.

An inheritance from a friend leaves her with the means to meddle and spy on the lives of some of their mutual acquaintances. In an attempt to run from her reality Anne gets…

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DOG BONE SOUP – A TREAT OF A READ


Originally posted on Fia Essen:

DOG BONE SOUP: A Boomer’s Journey

by Bette A. Stevens

Book Description:

Shawn Daniels’s father is the town drunk. Shawn and his brother Willie are in charge of handling everything that needs to be done around the ramshackle place they call home—lugging in water for cooking and cleaning, splitting and stacking firewood…But when chores are done, these resourceful kids strike out on boundless adventures that don’t cost a dime. DOG BONE SOUP is the poignant tale of a dysfunctional family struggling to survive in America in the 50s and 60s, when others were living The American Dream.

My Thoughts:

I’ve never read anything quite like DOG BONE SOUP. This novel is unique in the best possible way. In many ways, it was an eye opener for me. 1950s and 60s America was before my time. It was an era I only had the faintest of notions about… until I…

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Amazing Matilda


Bette A. Stevens:

Latest review for AMAZING MATILDA, our inspiring monarch butterfly. THREE CHEERS for MATILDA! ~ Bette A. Stevens

Originally posted on BOOK CHAT:

By Bette A. Stevens

Amazing MatildaMatilda has just emerged from her egg, and already she wants to fly.  The sparrow tells her she has to have patience and follow her instincts. The speckled toad says she needs wings. But Matilda doesn’t know what patience and follow her instincts means. Moreover, where can she get wings? Matilda eats leaves and starts growing, and the sparrow says she is using her instincts. Rabbit told her he practiced and practiced until he could hop onto the rock ledge, but Matilda did not want to hop, she wanted to fly.

This delightful story tells the life cycle of a monarch butterfly in an engaging way that will catch the attention of children.  The award winning AMAZING MATILDA is a lighthearted story that will encourage children to follow their dreams and to have patience. The book is illustrated by author Bette Stevens with charming drawings that…

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Author Lisa Mauro Shares Time Management Tips + Giveaway!


Author Pic LISA MAURO

Lisa Mauro, author of  The Places We Went to Yesterday

 

I’d like to thank today’s host, author Bette A. Stevens at 4writersandreaders blog for hosting, and 4Wills Publishing for organizing this amazing opportunity. I hope you all enjoy the tour!

One of the things I’m often asked—from both writers and non-writers alike—is how I manage my time. “You’re all over the place,” I’ll hear, “how do you do it all?” By day, I’m a pharmaceutical consultant with hours that vary greatly and by night, I’m everything else. That everything else includes being a girlfriend, an aunt raising a teenager, a writer, a reviewer, a singer, a photographer, a Board member for The Women Fiction Writers Association, an active member of Rave Review Book Club and a host of other oddball hats I tend to wear.

Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s not really a secret to it. We’re all given the same number of hours in a day, right? It all boils down to how effectively you do what you do. So then the question becomes “How can I do things better?” Here are some of my tips:

Answer Those Emails

I’ve read countless articles on time management, and most advise that you should allocate one or two times a day only to respond to emails. I tried that and all it did was make responding to emails even more overwhelming. By only setting time aside once or twice a day, you run the risk of not responding to things in a timely manner.

Instead, I stay logged into my primary email (I have multiple accounts) as long as I’m in work mode and respond to emails as they come in. I’ve set up labels in Gmail and I prioritize items as they arrive. For instance, I’m currently working on a launch project for the Writers Association, so those emails get answered above just about anything else. As soon as I’ve responded, I apply the label and move them out of the view of my inbox. I only keep things that need my attention in my main view; everything else is filed.

Also, remember that not every email needs a response. If something is sent just to notify you and doesn’t require an action, file it immediately so it’s not getting in the way of the things you actually need to get done.

Learn Those Programs

Having spent “A Very Long Time” as an administrative assistant, I had a lot of time to get familiar with MS Office. Because of this, I’m now an expert of sorts in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, One Note and Access. All of these have their pros and cons, but they’ve made my life so much easier. I use Word for my writing (versus a program like Scrivener) because it’s so straightforward and I’ve learned the shortcuts. I use Excel to track sales and build ROI models for my promos. One Note is where I keep my project ideas. And believe it or not, my first stab at making my own book trailer was done in PowerPoint. They’re an integrated system and I’ve found that taking the time to master them has drastically increased my efficiency.

Be Honest With Yourself

If you’re not a morning person, then don’t try to set goals or schedule the important stuff in that time frame. This might sound like silly advice, but I know so many people who try to force themselves into a pattern that isn’t conducive to their own biological clock. And in the long run, it doesn’t work.

I am a morning person, so I try to get at least a half hour of writing done in the morning. During the weekday, that’s all I can spare. On weekends, that usually expands to no less than four hours. But the important thing for me is that I have a quiet time set aside to do it. By the evening, I can’t focus on the things that require the creative side of my brain, so I use that time to work on promotional plans and plow through my read/review list.

Go on Autopilot

This is probably going to sound crazy, but I eat the same exact thing for breakfast and lunch on weekdays. Not having to stand in the cafeteria, faced with overwhelming choices and struggling to make a decision means that I can get in, get out and get fed as quickly as possible. If the idea of this bores you to death, then narrow it down to a few items so you’ll still save time making the decision. Also, I don’t bother making elaborate meals anymore unless I’m entertaining. Dinner is something quick or made in the crock pot. I’d rather invest that time elsewhere.

Batch Similar Tasks

I try to batch similar tasks. For instance, I’ll block time specifically for writing and I try not to have to switch to something analytical immediately afterwards. Since I have a long commute, I try to do the majority of my calls in the car – whether they are work-related or simply connecting with friends. If I’m headed out for an errand, I try to do them all at once.

The exception to this—for me—is that I can be involved in social media throughout the day and still manage to deliver my other projects on time.

How Does It Actually Look?

When my consulting job falls into the 40-hour a week range, here’s how my week typically looks:

  Task/Item  Hours Per Week  Weekly                  Balance
  • Work
     40     128
  • Sleep
     56      72
  • Commute
     15      57
  • TV
     25      32
  • Writing (Novels)
     10      22
  • Writing (All others)
      5      17
  • Read/Reviews
      5      12
  • Music
      5        7
  • Photography
      2        5
  • Miscellaneous
      5        0

Now, there are weeks when my consulting schedule is more than 40 hours and I have to “steal” time from some other bucket. There are weeks when I don’t do photography at all. There are weeks when my time for music (i.e. practicing, etc.) is done during my commute to maximize the time. And yeah, I could spend less time watching television, but I don’t feel guilty about it because (a) we all need downtime and (b) I use the excuse that it helps me be a better writer and build more believable characters so really, it’s research, right? And sometimes, I’m reading such a great book that I take that time away from my “sleep” bucket. We’ve all been there.

At the end of the day, you’ve got to understand yourself and how/when you work best. Then create an environment in which you can thrive so you can get the most out of your time.

Author Bio:
Book Cover THE PLACE... by Lisa Mauro

Lisa Mauro is a novelist, blogger and pharmaceutical consultant.  She is the Secretary of the Board of The Women Fiction Writers Association.  The Place We Went to Yesterday is her first novel, published by Heartless Press.  She lives in Boston, MA with her better half, Brian, and an obnoxiously cute kitten, Harper.

Author Links:

4WillsPublishing Links:

banner 4WillsPublishing HOST“This tour sponsored by 4WillsPublishing.wordpress.com.”

 

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AFTERNOON PORTRAIT, Haiku by Bette A. Stevens


Afternoon Portrait HAIKU bas 2015

 

Poem, photography & design by Bette A. Stevens,
a writer inspired by nature and human nature.

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Five Star Treatment – Amazing Matilda by Bette A. Stevens.


Bette A. Stevens:

Many thanks to our amazing friend Sally Cronin for featuring MATILDA on her wonderful blog. Be sure to stop by and say “Hi.” You’ll find lots of great posts and meet new friends there. ~ Bette

Originally posted on Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life:

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I thought that it was time to feature a children’s book in the Five Star Treatment and I was enchanted by the story behind award winning Amazing Matilda by Bette A Stevens and thought you might be too. Especially those of you with young children or grandchildren..

Inspire the Kids in Your Life to Meet Challenges with Patience and Persistence!
This inspirational tale of a monarch butterfly and her meadowland friends is the second children’s book written and illustrated by Bette A. Stevens. The story follows the life cycle of the threatened monarch butterfly.

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Award-winning Picture Book Excellence in Children’s Literature
2013 Purple Dragonfly Book Award Children’s Literature 6+

TOP 10 GITTLE LIST 2013 Children’s Picture Books

About the Book
Unlike her meadowland friends, Matilda doesn’t want to leap onto ledges or bound across fields, she only wants to fly. At first, Matilda’s friends laugh at her because she doesn’t…

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Dog Bone Soup by Bette A. Stevens Review


Bette A. Stevens:

🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 DOG BONE SOUP! Thank you, Pamela.

Originally posted on Poetry by Pamela:

What a delightful story of a young boy growing up dirt poor. Dinner, many times, was dog bone soup. But the children still had fun. They made their own fun. They grew up together. So much I would like to say but don’t want to spoil the story for you.

This is an absolutely perfect book for a middle grade boy, but reads well for a grandmother as well. It illustrates that a good book can be entertaining without foul language or sex.

I fell in love with Shawn. As a grandmother, I think I would have wanted to take him and hold him and protect him from his own life. He is such a good boy who did so much to help his mum and family. This book also shows how much words can hurt a child. Children get made fun of because…

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Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers


Bette A. Stevens:

Awesome advice from one of the greats! ~ Bette A. Stevens

Originally posted on Jens Thoughts:

CA: Premiere Of Paramounts' Remake Of "The Manchurian Candidate" - ArrivalsWant to know what Stephen King says about writing?

1. First write for yourself, and then worry about the audience. “When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”

2. Don’t use passive voice. “Timid writers like passive verbs for the same reason that timid lovers like passive partners. The passive voice is safe.”

3. Avoid adverbs. “The adverb is not your friend.”

4. Avoid adverbs, especially after “he said” and “she said.”

5. But don’t obsess over perfect grammar. “The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story.”

6. The magic is in you. “I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing.”

7. Read, read, read. ”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time…

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Amazing Matilda by Bette Stevens Review


Bette A. Stevens:

Award-winning picture book gets another ★★★★★

Originally posted on Year 'Round Thanksgiving Project:

I love children’s books and read quite a lot of them to children (4-6 yrs). This story of Matilda shows how a caterpillar develops and changes into a beautiful Monarch butterfly. It is done in a way that is just perfect for young children to understand. I think this book could serve as a great introduction to more learning about butterfly development and habitat. And what a perfect thing for children to learn so they can become advocates for the environment.

Five out of five stars
http://www.amazon.com/Amazing-Matilda-Bette-Stevens-ebook/dp/B00AU9ZISA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424649955&sr=8-1&keywords=Amazing+Matilda

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