Week 1 – #WritingWednesday Challenge

As promised, today is the first edition of #WritingWednesday!!!

write1#WritingWednesday is an easy, stress-free, writing exercise. Or if you prefer, we can call it a weekly writing challenge! All you have to do is read the writing prompt below and then spend 5 minutes writing. Don’t edit yourself as you go! Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, etc. You can choose to respond to the question/writing prompt literally or you can respond through the voice of a character you are currently writing. Remember, it is important that this be a stress-free activity. So, DON’T EDIT yourself as you write. The goal is 5 minutes of creativity.

IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE PERFECT!!!

Today, I’ve elected to write in the voice of Sophie, a character from the manuscript I am currently working on, The Beast Within

Today’s writing prompt:

What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

Saturday, just another day spent at home alone. I’d go out, but the streets of Seattle haven’t been all that safe lately. With three murders in less than four months, all within walking distance of my apartment, I’ve taken to staying home with the doors securely locked.

I can hear Ms. Jenkins banging around in her kitchen next door and wonder if she realizes how thin the walls really are. Then the smells hit me, she’s cooking spaghetti. Not the kind of spaghetti you get from a jar either, this is the real deal. I haven’t had a home cooked meal like that since I left Alabama and my stomach starts to rumble. 

knock–knock–knock.

I wasn’t expecting any visitors, but Kim, my only friend, didn’t have the same reservations about going out that I had. She had lived in Seattle a lot longer than me and she happily walked the mile from her place to mine, on a regular basis, day or night. 

“What are you doing?” Kim asked, as she pushed her way around me and into my small one-bedroom apartment.

“Just working…” I said, a bit hesitant. Kim wasn’t just a friend, she was also my boss and although I loved my job down at her shop, what I really wanted to do was programing. That’s the other reason I spend all my extra time locked up in my apartment, a slave to my laptop and the crazy world-building game I’ve been developing. 

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Alright, now it’s your turn. I’d love to see what today’s writing prompt inspires in you. So, if you are willing, go to the comment section below and start typing. Take 5 minutes and let’s see what you come up with! 

What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

Author Interview ~ Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D

Featured Interview with Professor M. S. Rao Ph.D.

So, Professor Rao, where do you call home?
I live in India.

Obviously, we know you are an author, but some writers have other jobs as well. Do you have another occupation? Do you believe you’re any good at it? Do you like what you do?
I am a fulltime author. I deliver keynotes and training programs upon request.

What is your family like?
I have a wife and two sons.

If it doesn’t bother you, can you let us know what your childhood home looked like?
It was a hut. I hailed from a poor family background. I rose from humble origins.

It’s impressive that coming from such a poor background, you’ve been able to do so much with your own success. Do you have any hobbies, other than writing? What do you enjoy doing?
I go to the gym every day because I am a fitness freak.

That’s great. Like most people, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to get into the gym more. I’d love to just be passionate about working out like you. So, tell me, what is your greatest dream?
To become the President of India.

WOW, those are so high expectations. Obviously, you feel you are the right kind of person for that job. So, what kind of person do you wish you could be? What is stopping you?
I want to become a global ambassador for peace and prosperity. It is always the external challenges that prevent me from accomplishing my goals.

Not to pry too much, but do you remember your first love?
My first love is reading books.

Well stated. What is the most terrible thing that ever happened to you?
Many terrible things happened to me since childhood.

I can understand if you don’t wish to go into detail, I will respect your privacy on that one. What or who inspired you to start writing? And how long have you been writing?
My passion to share knowledge with the world free inspires me to write. I became an author from the year 2010.

What was your dream growing up? Did you achieve that dream? If so, in what ways was it not what you expected? If you never achieved the dream, why not?
I had a dream to serve my nation since my childhood and I served in the Indian Air Force.

Who is your role model?
No role model but Abraham Lincoln is my inspiration since my childhood.

That’s very interesting. You don’t hear a lot of people name Abraham Lincoln as their inspiration. What is your greatest fear?
Most times, things don’t happen the way I want. My life is full of struggles and sufferings.

I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, and more often than not things don’t turn out how we hope they will. So, as a reader, do you prefer e-books, paperbacks, hard-covers or audio-books?
Paperback.

Have you ever read a book more than once?
Sometimes I read books a second time if I don’t understand the essence or if the book is very good.

What is your opinion of novellas?
No opinion.

Have you ever read a book just based on its cover?
No.

What is your favorite book genre at the moment?
Management, Leadership, and Self-Help.

What books have made it onto your wish list recently? And why?
My award-winning book, ‘21 Success Sutras for CEOs’ URL: https://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Ceos-Rao/dp/162865290X

What book are you reading at the moment? And in what format?
Work is Love Made Visible by Frances Hesselbein, Marshall Goldsmith, and Sarah McArthur. Hard copy.

If you could invite any four (4) celebrities (alive or dead) to your dinner party, who would you invite and why?
Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, and Barack Obama because they inspired the world.

Four amazing choices, thank you.
What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 20 or fewer words, what would you say?
“Soft Leadership: An Innovative Leadership Style to Resolve Conflicts Amicably through Soft Skills and Negotiation Skills to Achieve Global Stability, Peace and Prosperity” URL: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1628655909 This book introduces and explores soft leadership to achieve global stability, security, peace, and prosperity. It explains the causes, effects, and remedies for global conflicts and wars. It draws a blueprint to resolve conflicts amicably. It offers innovative negotiation tools and techniques for soft leaders to resolve conflicts amicably. It illustrates with inspiring examples of great global leaders including Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. It emphasizes Mahatma Gandhi’s twin principles of truth and non-violence. It implores to replace religion with love to build a better world. It implores to love your mother but don’t hate another person’s mother.

perf6.000x9.000.inddIs the above book part of a series?
It is exploration of ‘Soft Leadership’ from the perspective of global peace and prosperity.

How did you come up with the cover? Who designed the cover of your book(s)?
The publisher designed it.

Did you listen to any particular songs while writing your book(s)?
I write books when there is peace and tranquillity.

How did you come up with the title for your book(s)?
It is based on the content in the book and search engine optimization.

What first gave you the idea for your latest book?
I wrote articles on global peace and prosperity. Since I am known globally as the father of “Soft Leadership” I applied this innovative leadership perspective to achieve global peace and prosperity.

That is interesting that you are known globally as the father of “Soft Leadership”. You must be a renowned expert in your field. What is your writing style like? Are you a pantster or a plotter?
A plotter. I create a tentative outline of the book and write. I take deviations during the process of writing and retitle the book accordingly after completion of the book.

Have you come across any specific challenges in writing or publishing? What would you do differently the next time?
Publishing books is a big challenge as I have to search for publishers. Getting timely endorsements and forewords from apt celebrities globally is another major challenge.

Are you a self-published/Indie author or did you publish through a traditional publishing company?
Traditional publishing company.

What’s the best advice that you have been given when it comes to writing?
I have not received any advice from others to write books. However, I advise upcoming authors as follows: Be passionate about writing. Be patient and persistent. You cannot expect results overnight. It takes years of efforts and energies to excel as an author.

That is excellent advice, thank you for sharing it with our readers. If my reads are interested in following you, where can they find you? Please list links to any applicable websites and/or social media accounts.
I am very active on social media platforms. I share lots of articles on my LinkedIn and my blog ‘Vision 2030’ freely without any charge. When you google my name as ‘Professor M S Rao’ you will find my social media platforms. You can follow and read free articles. My books are also available on Amazon. Here are the links of my social media platforms to join and share with your connections.
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.-S.-Rao/e/B00MB63BKM
Vision 2030: https://professormsraovision2030.blogspot.com
LinkedIn: https://in.linkedin.com/in/professormsrao
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Professor-MS-Rao-451516514937414/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/professormsrao
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+ProfessorMSRao
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/profmsr7
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/professormsrao
Soft Leadership: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1628655909

Can you explain your Vision 2030: One Million Global Leaders?
I served in the Indian Air Force due to love toward my nation and passion for the uniform. I served for some years and acquired several qualifications including DME, BSc, MA, PGDCLL, PGDBM, and MBA. After I left the Indian Air Force, I pursued research and earned a Ph.D. in Soft Skills in 2011. I led a painful life both in defense and civil as I was born into a poor family and encountered innumerable challenges in my personal, professional and social life. Additionally, I encountered some rogue relatives who were responsible for financial challenges to me, my wife and two sons. While serving in the Indian Air Force I acquired knowledge on leadership as military makes the best leaders due to the kind of tough training soldiers receive and the kind of unique challenges they encounter during war and peace. Hence, I developed a passion for leadership. While serving in the Indian Air Force, I did not appreciate the way things were happening in India due to the unscrupulous politicians dividing society in the name of region, religion, caste, and communities. Additionally, lots of money goes into the private coffers of politicians rather than reaching to the poor people in India. I was very much disturbed with the conditions in the Indian society. In fact, corruption has become cancer to the Indian society. Hence, I thought to train leaders with a global mindset to enable them to develop the nation, promote fraternity and work for global peace and prosperity.

I entered into the teaching profession as educational institutions are the ideal places to shape students and equip them with leadership skills and abilities. Second, I focused on students as they are in teenage, and they can be molded easily as leaders the way military recruits the young cadets and grooms them as soldiers and leaders. I started getting overwhelming support from students as they were inspired during my teaching and training programs in educational institutions. Students loved me and crowned me with a title, ‘Professor M.S. Rao is Born for the Students’ URL: http://professormsrao.blogspot.com.

As a leadership researcher, I do a lot of research on various leadership styles and how leadership can be used for the benefit of global society. During my research I came to know that there is a looming leadership challenge globally due to the retirement of baby boomers (old people) and the Gen Y who is also known with different names including millennials (young people born between 1980 and 2000) are not geared up with global leadership challenges due to lack of effective leadership development training programs. That means when the experienced leaders exit from service there is an alarming leadership vacuum globally as the young inexperienced people are not ready in the leadership pipeline to take up the leadership roles and responsibilities. Although it is a threat globally, I viewed it as an opportunity to contribute my best. I decided to train students as global leaders to enable them to grow with leadership skills and abilities. So far, I have taught and trained more than 35,000 people. I started taking the support of social media to articulate my vision and share my articles and videos regularly URL: https://professormsraovision2030.blogspot.com on my social media accounts. Since I belong to Gen X (middle age) I can serve as a link between the baby boomers (old people) and the Gen Y (young people) to bridge this global leadership deficit. I considered my age and experience in military and academia, and above all, my interest in leadership and passion for students an opportunity to serve students to groom them as global leaders. Hence, I pray to God to give me health, knowledge, wisdom, strength, and lifespan to build one million students as global leaders by 2030.

authorAuthor Bio:
Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. International Leadership Guru
Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D. is the Father of “Soft Leadership” and Founder of MSR Leadership Consultants, India. He is an International Leadership Guru with 38 years of experience and the author of over 45 books including the award-winning ‘21 Success Sutras for CEOs’ URL: http://www.amazon.com/21-Success-Sutras-Ceos-Rao/dp/162865290X. He is a C-Suite advisor and a sought-after keynote speaker globally. He brings a strategic eye and long-range vision given his multifaceted professional experience including military, teaching, training, research, consultancy, and philosophy. He is passionate about serving and making a difference in the lives of others. He trains a new generation of leaders through leadership education and publications. His vision is to build one million students as global leaders by 2030 URL: http://professormsraovision2030.blogspot.in/2014/12/professor-m-s-raos-vision-2030-one_31.html. He advocates gender equality globally (#HeForShe). He was honored as an upcoming International Leadership Guru by Global Gurus URL: https://globalgurus.org/upcoming-leadership-gurus/. He serves as an Advisor and Judge for several prestigious international organizations including Global Leadership Awards in Malaysia and Middle East Business Leaders Summits & Awards in Dubai. He coined an innovative teaching tool―Meka’s Method; leadership training tool―11E Leadership Grid; and leadership learning tool―Soft Leadership Grid. He invests his time in authoring books and blogging on executive education, learning and leadership. Most of his work is available free of charge on his four blogs including http://professormsraovision2030.blogspot.com. He is a prolific author and a dynamic, energetic and inspirational leadership speaker. He can be reached at msrlctrg@gmail.com.

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Comment below if you have additional questions for Professor M.S. Rao, Ph.D.

Becoming Mindful

I have been pretty vocal, via Facebook and other social media, over the past 12-18 months about the importance of being mindful and the practice of mindfulness. However, I’m not sure I’ve ever really talked about it here on my blog. So, as I look at the changes I want to make in myself over the next year and how I’d like this blog to grow in 2019, I’ve decided to kick off a new weekly post: #MindfulnessMonday 

 

mindfulness#MindfulnessMonday – In this weekly post, starting February 2019, I will be sharing some mindfulness tips and tricks. I will also share a weekly mindful journaling exercise that can be done in just minutes. Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube series #MindfulnessMonday so you never miss an episode.  

 

CURRENT EPISODES: 

EPISODE #1 ~ What is Mindfulness?

EPISODE #2 ~ Tips to Reduce Stress and Anxiety!

EPISODE #3 ~ MindFULness NOT MindLESSness!

New episodes are posted every Monday, on the YouTube channel, so check back often! 

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Want to take the 52 week challenge and experience a more mindful existance? Check out The Invisible You ~ 52 Weeks of Meditations, Activities, and Writing Prompts to Help you Discover You!

*I’m certified in Holistic Stress Management and Mind/Body Fitness. I’ve been practicing Mindfulness for 10+ years and am passionate about helping others in their pursuit of a more mindful existence. 

 

 

 

My 2 Cents… VICE

VICE

Title: VICE
Director: Adam McKay
Writers: Adam McKay
Stars: Christian Bale (Dick Cheney), Amy Adams (Lynne Cheney), and Steve Carell (Donald Rumsfeld)

SHOW RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★
Story: ★★★★
Acting: ★★★★★
Makeup: ★★★★★
Editing: ★
Overall: ★★★ (3.6)

 

 

Storyline:
The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.

My 2 Cents:
If you’ve been reading my movie reviews, you’ll notice I added two more categories to this one (Makeup and Editing) because I really believe they needed to be mentioned. Let me start with makeup… OMG!!! The makeup was phenomenal in this film and if it doesn’t win some awards, I will be truly shocked. Just check out the photos below:

Editing… well, that left much to be desired. The movie was all over the map in terms of timeline, and maybe it was because I was watching a SAG Award Viewer Copy, but the weird credits that ran in the middle of the film making it feel like the end of the film was just weird. Not to mention the fact that the timelines were all jumbled up, which made the story hard to follow.

I can’t blame it all on the editing… the writing wasn’t top notch either. Maybe it was true to the situation, I don’t know. I guess I’ll never really know.

The story… well, it was based on a true story, so I guess its only as good as real life can be.

Acting… Other than makeup, the acting is where this film excelled. Christian Bale, Amy Adams, and Steve Carell were outstanding in this film. They embodied their characters, and even when you hated them you could appreciate their commitment to their roles.

You can watch the official trailers here:

https://youtu.be/aSGFt6w0wok

Amy Adams as Lynne Cheney was AMAZING… Check out her performance here:

https://youtu.be/L1tDnzx-5iA 

ELEVATION by Stephen King

elevation

TITLE: Elevation
AUTHOR: Stephen King

RATING OVERVIEW
Writing: ★★★★
Story: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★★
Appearance: ★★★★
Overall: ★★★★ (4)

 

AMAZON DESCRIPTION:
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The latest from legendary master storyteller Stephen King, a riveting, extraordinarily eerie, and moving story about a man whose mysterious affliction brings a small town together—a timely, upbeat tale about finding common ground despite deep-rooted differences.

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

From Stephen King, our “most precious renewable resource, like Shakespeare in the malleability of his work” (The Guardian), Elevation is an antidote to our divisive culture, as gloriously joyful (with a twinge of deep sadness) as “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Buy it HERE on Amazon!

THE CRITICAL POINTS
The cover says ‘ELEVATION a novel” but it really isn’t a novel. At only 146 pages, small pages at that, I’m guessing ELEVATION can’t be 50,000 words. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d say it’s probably a novella. I read one review that called it a short story, and for Stephen King it is, but in reality its more than that.

WRITING: It’s Stephen King, so the writing is spot on.

STORY: Elevation takes ordinary people and puts them in an impossible situation. So basically, its your typical King story. I loved that there were two main stories going on here, the first being the communities lack of acceptance of the new lesbian couple that moved to town, and the second being Scott Carey’s inexplainable weight loss. At first glance it doesn’t seem that these two stories make sense together, but in the end everything comes together.

There wasn’t a lot of backstory. We don’t find out what brought Missy and Deirdre to town other than the affordable restaurant space. We don’t find out what causes Scott’s drastic weight loss. We don’t even find out what happens after everything comes to a head and he loses those final pounds, not really anyway. What we do find out, and the message behind this story, is how a single act of kindness can change everything. I won’t go into more details, if you want to know what I mean… read the book.

CHARACTERS: There are four main characters, with a few smaller characters sprinkled throughout. Again, not a lot of backstory and even less character development. Yet, somehow, it works for this book. As readers, we come into the lives of these characters for only a brief moment. We are the proverbial fly on the wall. It’s a very voyeuristic reading experience and at times you feel guilty for watching, but by the end you care for the characters you know so little about and, if you’re like me, you just might cry.

APPEARANCE: The cover is beautiful, but you won’t understand it until the end.

MY FAVORITE QUOTES:
“Not a wind, not even a high, exactly, but an elevation. A sense that you had gone beyond yourself and could go farther still.”

“Gravity is the anchor that pulls us down into our graves.”

Check out my YouTube channel and the video review below… and make sure you hit subscribe so you never miss a video.

https://youtu.be/ciWORKbC3O4

#WritingWednesday

Do you ever just feel creatively stifled? I know I do, and I’m pretty sure most writers… and artists go through this from time to time. Over the years, I’ve learned that writing prompts can often help to get my creative juices flowing. With that in mind, and my desire to boost other’s creativity, I’ve decided to launch a new weekly post #WritingWednesday! 

write1#WritingWednesday – In this weekly post, starting January 30th, I will be sharing a weekly writing prompt. Of course, if you want to share in the comments what you write, I would love to read what the writing prompt inspires in you. If you prefer to keep your writing private, I hope you will use the prompts to help boost your creativity and push you toward more active writing.

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Are you working on a manuscript, but need a little help getting organized? Check out SO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK ~ An Indie Author Guide to Outlining and Planning Your Next Novel

 

 

Author Bullet Journal 8x10 Front Cover

 

Want help meeting your writing goals? Check out JUST WRITE: The Ultimate Author’s Bullet Journal

Author Interview – Karina Bartow

 

Check out this great author interview with Karina Bartow, author of Forgetting My Way Back to You. She was featured on Marie Lavender’s blog http://iloveromanceblog.wordpress.com. If you haven’t checked out her blog before, make sure you do it. 

 

I Love Romance Blog

Hi, readers! I am beyond pleased to announce a very special post today on ILRB.We’re doing something a little different.This is our third official author interview on this romance blog! I know in the past, we did character interviews then switched over to the author’s take on it, but this approach is a bit unusual.

We have a real treat for you, readers. Today we get to speak one-on-one with the talented author of contemporary romance, Forgetting My Way Back to You. Please join me in welcoming Karina Bartow to ILRB! 🙂

Marie Lavender:  Hello, Karina. Please have a seat.

Author Karina Bartow:  Hi, Marie! I really enjoy your blog and your love of romance.

Marie:  Aww, thanks! It’s such a pleasure to see you here!

I’m going to throw in some standard questions first.

Obviously, we know your occupation as an author, but some writers have…

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