Tag Archive for: “Change”

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by Saralyn
my lifetime, I’ve witnessed a multitude of tragic, life-changing events:  hurricanes, assassinations, explosions,
riots, terrorist activities, and deaths. And now a pandemic and outrageous acts
of racism, both of which shake our value systems to their very roots.
phrase, “May you live in interesting times,” often attributed to the Chinese,
comes to mind. The first time I heard this platitude, it was meant to comfort
me after a devastating loss. I researched its origin and learned that its
meaning is misleading. Instead of consolation, the phrase is actually a curse,
the extrapolation of which is: “It is better to live in uninteresting times.”
In other words, times of peace and tranquility are uninteresting, while people
are more fascinated by times of trouble.
one aspect of life-changing experiences that offers hope for the future is the term
“change.” Events bring opportunity, in real life and in fiction. This fact has led
me to examine quotations about change, and I thought I’d share some that
resonate with me.
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it,
change your attitude. -Maya Angelou
I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across
the waters to create many ripples. -Mother Teresa
Every small positive change we make in
ourselves repays us in confidence in the future.
Alice Walker
No matter what people tell you, words and ideas
can change the world. –Robin Williams

my opinion, authors have an extra layer of opportunity, an extra layer of
responsibility in troubled times. Our words, our ideas, our plots, our
characters have the potential to reach numerous readers. We may bring light to
readers in darkness, hope to readers in desperation. We indeed can change the
conversations with my Muse these days, I ask for extra doses of inspiration,
sensitivity, compassion, patience, persistence, and good-heartedness. In
addition to good health and safety, I wish these same doses for you.
strives to make the world a better place, one
book at a time. A member of Mystery Writers of America and International
Thriller Writers, she has won several writing awards, including the Killer
Nashville Silver Falchion Readers’ Choice 2019 award. Her children’s
Naughty Nana, and her Detective Parrott Mystery series,
 Murder in the One Percent and A Palette for
Love and Murder,
 have earned her a world of readers, both
young and adult. Look for 
A Murder of Principal, which will be released in January,
Visit Saralyn’s Amazon Author Page at https://www.amazon.com/Saralyn-Richard/e/B0787F6HD4/ref
or her website at http://saralynrichard.com.

Things Change, but Stay the Same

Change, but Stay the Same by Debra H. Goldstein

I was thinking about how as much as things change, they stay the same.

example, the Stiletto Gang recently welcomed three new members: Kathryn Lane,
Saralyn Richard and Robin Hillyer-Miles. That means, every day of the month, readers
will continue to find an interesting blog to read on The Stiletto Gang.

Thursday, I received edits on one manuscript and galleys on another. Both have
drop dead deadlines. So does a class I’m preparing to teach, a group of
speaking engagements I have scheduled, and lots of family events. My first
instinct was to panic, but then I remembered that if I do one thing at a time,
they all will get done. It’s just a matter of starting and doing rather than
giving in to that moment when I was overwhelmed. The reality is, I’ll get
everything done – and hopefully, at the quality level I want.

I opened an e-mail. It was the schedule of my youngest grandchild’s school year
for 2020-2021. Why did I get it? Because I’m a mom and a grandmother and my
daughter and her husband want me to know the dates they may need a little babysitting
help. Last week one of our other children called to ask for our Verizon code.
It seems he needed a new phone and because he’s still on my account, he needed
access. He paid for his own phone, but he wants to stay on my family plan because
it is a lot cheaper than if he headed his own phone plan. What do both these
things say to me – they may be grown up, but they still need me the same way
they did when they were toddlers.

I have
a birthday coming up. For that event, there will be many dinners and lunches
with various groups of friends. One will be bittersweet because it will be the
first one missing a friend – the youngest in that group. We’ll raise a glass in
her memory, and then we’ll laugh and cut-up because we’ll still be there
together supporting and, if I can say it, loving each other.

husband and I are thinking of downsizing again. After twenty-three years in our
first house, we downsized fifteen years ago. We never looked back. The idea of
going into something smaller, but on one floor, is daunting, but I bet once we
find the right house and get settled, it will feel like we always lived there.

writing is like that – ideas come; ideas go, but the beat goes on. That’s what
it’s all about, isn’t it?

Everything That is Not An Elephant

by J.M. Phillippe

I am notoriously bad at remembering the source of stories, so I can’t remember where I heard this story first. I have been using it, and telling this particular version of it, for as long as I can remember. This is the version I tell:

There was a master sculptor and an apprentice sculptor, and one day the Master set a huge block of marble down in front of the Apprentice.

“Apprentice,” he said, “I want you to carve me an elephant.”

“But Master,” said the Apprentice, “I don’t know how to carve an elephant.”

“It’s simple,” the Master replied. “Simply start by carving away everything that is NOT an elephant.”

The moral, I tell people, just in case they have missed it, is that sometimes the best way to figure out what we are is to start by carving away everything we are not.

(When I looked up the story to try to find the origins, I found many versions, several attributed to Michelangelo about carving “David” by carving away everything that was not “David”. In some ways that’s an even more apt analogy than the version I tell, but I’ll stick with mine because I like elephants and not everyone wants to try to carve out themselves as a Greek version of the perfect man.) 
I break out this story whenever people talk about mistakes. “Feedback, not failure” was a popular motto at one of my old jobs. Every time we find a way toward a goal that doesn’t work, and every time we carve away some part of ourselves that is “not an elephant”, we get closer and closer to success, and to finding who we really are. Mistakes, for better or for worse, shape us.
Most people will be starting the new year with a list of resolutions. In therapy, I prefer to use the word “intention” because it doesn’t have that same “do or fail” feeling to it. While resolutions often feel like a destination, intentions are about the journey. Intentions make room for all that wonderful feedback that will come from finding all the attempts at change that don’t work.
Here is my other grand piece of advice: motivation will fail you. Trust structure. If you want to change your life, reshape your day, and build into that day space for the habits that will lead to change. Start with one habit a week — eating breakfast, going to bed an hour earlier, stretching. Keep in mind that your day is already filled with those things you currently think of as bad habits, so you will have to replace an old habit with a new one if you want to actually change. Sleeping instead of more time on social media. Exercise instead of that extra hour of TV a day. If you want to know what changes you actually will be able to make, start with a list of things you are willing to give up in your current routine. Carve away everything that is not part of the kind of day you want to have. Fill the space with your elephant of choice. And be prepared for finding lots and lots of ways that replacing “bad” habits doesn’t work, until you finally find the way that does work (personalized to you). 
For the record, none of this is as simple as it seems. Change always seems simple to someone who has mastered it, and terrifyingly difficult to the apprentices just starting out. And it seems like every turn of a new year makes apprentices of us all. 
Happy carving everyone!
J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness and the short story The Sight. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She works as a family therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one wax-on at a time.

A Moment of Discord

by J.M. Phillippe

What makes a person change?

This is the question that fills my life — my life as a therapist, and my life as a writer. How does a person grow and evolve? What makes them change their minds, their hearts, their views? According to Wikipedia, “a character arc is the transformation or inner journey of a character over the course of a story. If a story has a character arc, the character begins as one sort of person and gradually transforms into a different sort of person in response to changing developments in the story.”

In fiction, the character arc — and the general plot of the story — begins with the inciting incident, or the thing that starts the whole plot rolling. Without this incident, there would be no conflict, no push forward. Without the inciting incident putting events into motion, there would be no reason for the character to have an arc, for the character to change.

Real life rarely has a linear plot, and so it’s really hard to find inciting incidents in it. Sometimes big events happen that force people to deal with them, like death or moving, or gaining or losing a job. And yet the event itself doesn’t necessarily lead to any sort of lasting change. Events come and go in a life, and it is how people respond to those events that actually lead to change or not.

From what I’ve seen, the most common event in a person’s life is a moment of discord — a moment where something that someone thought, believed, or knew as an absolute truth gets challenged. In fiction this might be something as big as aliens landing on Earth, or a character seeing a ghost. In real life the moments tend to be smaller and much more frequent, like hearing a story that surprises you about your friend, or meeting someone from a group you were sure you knew everything about and discovering they are nothing like you imagined they would be.  

With every moment of discord comes a choice — either a person can double down on what they thought they knew to be true, or embrace the discomfort and move to change. Often, in fiction, it takes several beats and/or chapters to get from an inciting incident to the thing that locks the character into the plot and toward the course of change. Even in fiction, we recognize the human need to resist change, to cling to old ideas or ways of being. We deny the ghosts in front of our eyes, the aliens walking down the street, or even the possibility that our long-held view of the world could be anything but right and true. It takes  more discord, more discomfort to lodge us from the path we were already walking and lead us toward something new.

Some people never lock in to their action, never embrace the change. They stay constant in how they act, in how they see the world, regardless of what events unfold in front of them. They likely don’t make very good protagonists, since their arcs look more like straight lines.

I don’t see many of those types in therapy, since the act of going to a therapist is about actively seeking some sort of change. But even if people want to change, it doesn’t mean they don’t resist it. There are barriers, there is push back, there are relapses and setbacks. In a story, this is the series of conflicts that creates tension while driving the story forward. In real life, these are the things that drive people crazy.

Change in a story comes at exactly the point the author needs it to come so that there is some sort of resolution. Change in a life is a process that may or may not have a definitive end. Both types of change take commitment, time, and perspective.

So what makes a person change? I’m still not sure. Lives are scattered with inciting incidents and moments of discord nearly every day. Events don’t change people — people change themselves.

In the end I think it comes back to my favorite social work joke: how many social workers does it take to change a light bulb?

One, but the light bulb has to want to change.

Everything else is just the story of how.

* * *
J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness and the newly released short story The Sight. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She worked as a freelance journalist before earning a masters’ in social work. She works as a therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one wax-on at a time.

Embracing the Change

by J.M. Phillippe

Like many other writers, I have a day job. I am a social worker and have spent the last four years working in child welfare. While this can be a very rewarding field to work in, it is also a very draining field to work in. Self-care is a constant challenge due to the demands of the job. When you rarely get time for lunch, it is even harder to make time for writing — which has not been good for me, or my publishing schedule. 
It’s not just the hours, which are long, or the paperwork, which even the most prolific of writers would find daunting to keep up with — it’s that the constant stress leaves you so little mental energy to dig into character and conflict. Writing is work, of course, but it began to feel like more work than it ever had before. 
Every writer, regardless of their outside life, struggles to fit writing into that life. Writing is a very time consuming enterprise, and much of that time is spent away from other people, and away from the maintenance of every day living. It’s hard to write and do dishes at the same time (though so easy to get dishes done when you are avoiding a particularly challenging writing session). Time spent writing is time AWAY. You have to have the time to spare (or the ability to create it).  I was running out of away time to dedicate to writing (or laundry, which was piling up on the regular). Something had to give. 
So I sought out and found a new job at a mental health clinic — I will now be working as a therapist full time. What I am hoping this means is that I will have more time — and energy — for writing. 
And yet, change is hard. Change makes people very uncomfortable. (As someone who helps people change their lives for a living, I can attest that most people find it at best, a frustrating experience). So even though I’m very excited for this change, I am also nervous. What if this doesn’t work out the way I hope it will? What if I start to feel burned out again? What if I don’t make time for writing in this new schedule? 
Change comes with risk — it invites the unknown into your life. It leaves variables on the table that only time and experience can solve. And at this point, I’m still not sure what X will turn out to be. 
It feels very much like sitting down to write a new story with only a vague outline in mind, and no real idea how it’s going to end. So you’d think I’d be used to this feeling, used to facing down the unknown. The very act of writing is the act of embracing change over and over, solving for x time and time again. Writing is meant to be uncomfortable and challenging, or else it wouldn’t also be rewarding. Change, like writing, is hard every single time. It also is the only way that something new, and potentially amazing, can happen. 
Here’s to opening the door and inviting in the amazing!

J.M. Phillippe is the author of Perfect Likeness and the newly released short story The Sight. She has lived in the deserts of California, the suburbs of Seattle, and the mad rush of New York City. She worked as a freelance journalist before earning a masters’ in social work. She works as a family therapist in Brooklyn, New York and spends her free-time decorating her tiny apartment to her cat Oscar Wilde’s liking, drinking cider at her favorite British-style pub, and training to be the next Karate Kid, one wax-on at a time.


by Sparkle Abbey

Change. This past
Sunday we had a book signing for our latest release. It was during the question
and answer session we realized it was four years ago to the exact day we had
our very first book signing, November 1, 2011. From book one, Desperate Housedogs to book eight, Downton Tabby.

have things changed in four years.

in a bad way – things are just different. Publishing has changed in a big way,
our families have changed, our day jobs have morphed. Our lives are richer but
certainly busier. Things we stressed about four years ago aren’t even a blip on
our radar now. Of course, there are other things to worry about that we were
too new then to even see on the horizon.

thing that hasn’t changed is the joy we feel when we reflect on our publishing
journey so far. A bookstore talk like we were able to do this week, reminds us.
We’ve crammed a lot of fun into the past four years. Traveling, conferences,
workshops, panels, making new friends, meeting readers, plotting stories and
brainstorming new titles.

season has its own beauty. Change is good. It helps you to grow.

changes have you been through in the past year? 

To stay up on the latest news, new releases or upcoming appearances, sign up for the Sparkle Abbey newsletter at www.sparkleabbey.com 


By Kay Kendall

A few times during my
many years, I’ve reached a level of calm stability. My home life and work are
nicely balanced. My near and dear ones are healthy and reasonably happy. All
seems well.
When I realize I’m in
this condition, then I think, ah, this is
. Once this stability becomes stasis, however, I get a little bored. And
then things* change, and the hits
just keep on a’comin and they don’t let up. At this point, I long to
be bored again.
Last August I‘d reached the
point of stasis. However, by then I’d learned enough to fear what lay ahead. And,
boy, was I right.
>My elderly mother-in-law declined,
and my husband spent a month in her faraway city tending to her. She passed on. 
>He immediately was diagnosed with a bad illness and went into gruesome
>My daughter-in-law had a
strange illness that no doctor could fathom.
>A dear friend was
diagnosed with terminal cancer. She proceeded to have two strokes. I visited
her today in the nursing home.
>My writing had to give way for three months.
>My hairdresser of 22 years retired. 
In short, the roof fell in.                                              
And then the house next
door was torn down. See photo.
Now, here’s a funny
thing. That house was the worst on our block and had been deteriorating visibly
for twenty years. We waited and waited for someone to buy it, to tear it down
(this being Houston, after all, and everything gets torn down), and to rebuild.
I dreamed of when we’d live beside a McMansion, and our
home’s value would soar.
When all that finally,
finally began to happen, did I rejoice? No, I did not. Instead, I worried. The
jackhammers tearing up the cement would hurt our foundation. Our house would
develop cracks. The new neighbors would be dreadful. Things, in short, would
all go to hell. Or so I worried.
I have discerned a
pattern in myself regarding change. After I look forward to—even long for—change,
then when it finally arrives, I am displeased. Well, perhaps I do exaggerate.
I’m upset a little, and then I do adjust. But not until I have gone through a
period of great gnashing of teeth and ranting and raving.
Thank heavens that upset stage
has shortened over the years. These days I tend to get on with doing what I
must until, one day, I look up and see that everything is all right with my world
again. I used to fear I’d get stuck on a cycle I abhorred. Now I know that’s
not true. Things do change, whether you really want them to or not. They
My husband’s illness has
taught me to stay in the half-full position. I eschew the half-empty one. That
way happiness does not lie. His condition is dangerous…it could be so much
worse. The doctors are fabulous in my large city. He will get well. So the
treatment is tough. He will get well. He is lucky. I am lucky.
I now apply this
half-full approach to everything I can think of that torments me. I haven’t become a Pollyanna. I don’t think everything
works out for the best
. Instead, I’ve learned good things can grow out of
bad. If you only let them.
While all this may not make
sense to you, it does to me, and it took me a while to arrive at this
philosophical state. I celebrated a major birthday this week, by the
way. As my friend (since kindergarten) likes to say, we are still on the right side of the grass.

Once I thought her saying
was gruesome. I don’t anymore. It’s accurate. I know I’m lucky to be achieving
this large number of years. Some people never do. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Tell yourself that, too, no matter what. It can always get worse. Enjoy what
you have….By the way, I gave myself a new nickname. You may call me Zen. Or at least…Zen-esque
* For brevity’s sake, I
use the inexact term things to cover
a multitude of events, conditions, situations, settings, etc. etc 
Kay Kendall set her
DAY WOMEN (June 2015) shows her amateur sleuth Austin Starr proving
her best friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in
Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical mysteries, Kay does for the 1960s what
novelist Jacqueline Winspear accomplishes for England in the 1930s–present
atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age. She is also an
award-winning international PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband,
three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she
loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. 

Change Ain’t Easy

by Evelyn David

For the past six months I’ve kvetched, whined, worried, and conversely
delighted in and even laughed at all the changes in my life. All were for the
good in the long run, but that’s not to say, that most didn’t involve serious
hard work.

To recap the last six months:

We prepped, put on the market, and sold our home of 24 years

We bought another home, after a ragged month of haggling
over minor details (them, not us)

We moved on a day that topped 95 degrees

We had the house painted and a few minor repairs completed while we
lived in this new house

Son number two announced that he’d gotten a fantastic job
opportunity. Only downside, at least for this devoted grandma, is that no
longer will adorable grandkids be 45 minutes away. Instead they were moving to…wait
for it…Paris.
Yes, I know, I shouldn’t whine about Paris, but
do you know how far away Paris
is and how much I loathe flying? They move after the first of the year.

Son number three also announced that he had gotten a
fantastic job opportunity, only downside is that instead of living 25 minutes
away, he would now be living in Seattle.
See objections above.

Then there were the glorious moments:

In May, adorable grandson was born. He is the child of son
number one and his wonderful wife.

In September, son number three announced his engagement to a
wonderful woman.

And ten days later, adorable granddaughter #2 was born (to
son number 2 and his wonderful wife who are moving to Paris).

Seriously, can you keep up? I can’t.

So, with all this change in my real life, I am now faced
with another move, this time a virtual one, in my mystery writing life. The
Stiletto Gang, of which we are proud founders, is moving to Facebook. It’s an
easier way to connect to readers.

Writing this blog has been a lovely way to memorialize some
special moments in our personal and professional lives, as well as to get off
our chests some issues we feel need addressing. And you know what? We still
plan to do that – just on Facebook. If you haven’t already, please “like”
our new page, The Stiletto Gang. Stop by, chat, and catch up on all that’s
happening with our gang.

All best wishes,

Marian, the Northern, frazzled half of Evelyn David



Evelyn David’s Mysteries 
Audible    iTunes

Audible    iTunes

Brianna Sullivan Mysteries – e-book series
I Try Not to Drive Past CemeteriesKindleNookSmashwords
The Dog Days of Summer in Lottawatah KindleNookSmashwords
The Holiday Spirit(s) of LottawatahKindleNookSmashwords
Undying Love in Lottawatah- KindleNookSmashwords
A Haunting in Lottawatah – Kindle – NookSmashwords
Lottawatah Twister – KindleNookSmashwords
Missing in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords
Good Grief in Lottawatah – KindleNookSmashwords
Summer Lightning in Lottawatah – Kindle NookSmashwords
Lottawatah Fireworks – KindleNookSmashwords

The Ghosts of Lottawatah – trade paperback collection of the Brianna e-books
Book 1 I Try Not to Drive Past Cemeteries (includes the first four Brianna e-books)
Book 2 – A Haunting in Lottawatah (includes the 5th, 6th, and 7th Brianna e-books)
Book 3 – Lottawatah Fireworks (includes the 8th, 9th, and 10th Brianna e-books)

Sullivan Investigations Mystery series
Murder Off the Books KindleNookSmashwordsTrade Paperback
Murder Takes the Cake KindleNookSmashwords Trade Paperback 
Murder Doubles Back KindleNookSmashwordsTrade Paperback
Riley Come Home (short story)- KindleNookSmashwords
Moonlighting at the Mall (short story) – KindleNookSmashwords

Love Lessons – KindleNookSmashwords