The Power of Belief

Self-belief can be a wonderful asset for a person to have. ‘I believe in me and my abilities’ can be a life affirming and life fulfilling statement but what if, like the rest of us mere mortals, you are plagued with doubts as to your own abilities? What if your confidence in yourself ebbs and flows like a tide? If that sounds like you then I would argue that the most powerful sentence you can hear will be that spoken by another person and that sentence will be ‘I believe in you’.

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Geminid Spiral by Jason Jenkins courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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When someone else tells you, either by their words or their deeds, that they believe in you it can be a powerful and potentially life changing moment. Depending on where you are in your own life, someone else’s belief can either spur you along the path you were already on or it can send you along an entirely new route you never envisaged.

I think the most powerful example of belief is when someone spots something in you that you haven’t seen in yourself. How wonderful when they have confidence in your ability to achieve something that wasn’t even on your radar. In that situation you have the chance to view yourself through someone else’s eyes and think ‘If they see me like that perhaps I ought to see myself like that’.

The times when that happens are the times when you feel as though someone has given you wings and allowed you to fly. If you stay aloft not only do you repay that person by showing them that their belief in you was justified but you also discover new things about yourself that you might never have known without a gentle push in the right direction.

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Soar by Mayeesherr courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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I have been fortunate to be the beneficiary of such belief and can attest to the power that knowledge unleashes. The things I have done are things a few years ago I never would have thought myself capable of achieving.

Once the bottle of belief has been uncorked, your confidence will grow with every sip so that not only can you excel at the thing you first attempted but you carry on excelling in different ways and all because one person told you they believed in you.

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Your Oyster Knife by Cris Crissman courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

Self confidence and self belief are wonderful attributes but the real gift is to be believed in by someone else. We should all get the chance to experience that moment but why not start the ball rolling by telling someone in your life that you believe in them and then sit back and watch them fly.

 

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The importance of teamwork

As the John Donne quote says ‘No man is an island’. I have recently been working on a large project for my day job. The scale of the job was huge and the logistics of it were all a little terrifying. Having identified a problem and offered a solution it was down to me to put the plan into action and make it happen. The weight of responsibility I felt was so heavy I tried not to think about it too often. If you’re walking along a ledge don’t look down!

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Don’t look down by Mat Hampson courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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There were a few occasions in the planning stage when I thought I had bitten off more than I could chew but I was so far in there was no way out by then. I did a lot of planning but the best bit of planning I did was in picking the team of people I would be working with. I asked two colleagues to assist knowing they were hard workers, sensible and trustworthy. I also hired outside help, working with someone with whom I have worked before and who, again, I knew to be hardworking, sensible and trustworthy. He then brought two more people with him. When you trust the person you choose to work with, it becomes easy to trust their judgment on the people they are bringing along and so it was.

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Trust by Vic courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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The six of us made a formidable team. There were no weak links. We all brought something slightly different to the project and consequently the mountain of a task that had seemed so unassailable a few weeks ago has now (almost) been scaled.

It is amazing what a strong team of people can achieve when working towards a common goal.

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Teamwork by Brian courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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As crucial as it is to pick the right people to work with it is just as important to lead by example. You should never ask someone to do something which you are not prepared to do yourself and you should never allow your team to put themselves in danger, even if it means taking on those tasks yourself if they absolutely have to be done.

A strong team that brings the best out of the people within it is just about invincible as I have discovered this week. So next time you have a project that is too big to cope with alone be sure to pick your team wisely and part of the battle will already have been won.

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Celebrate by Zaskoda courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Can anyone be an author?

In the broadest sense yes. With a bit thought, application and practice we can all write something of merit be it a Facebook post of a tweet. But it takes a certain type of person to be an author of books.

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Typewriter by Sarah Scicluna courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

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Essential qualities all authors must have:-

  1. Realism – it’s a tough world out there for writers.
  2. Optimism – someone, someday will see my potential.
  3. Pain management – it hurts to write (if you’re doing it properly), it hurts not to write (if you are driven to write).
Pain
Pain by Lien C. Lau courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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4. Levelheadedness – they love me, they love me not. Rejection can be death by a thousand cuts. Can you withstand that and come back writing?

5. The ability to daydream – Where do you think all those crazy ideas come from – even the ones that never make it to the page.

6. Dogged determination – Never give up, never give up, never give up!

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Determination by Emil Ovemar courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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7. Pragmatism – if something isn’t working, is there a way of doing it better or doing it differently?

8. Stamina – It’s a long haul to write a book, a longer haul to edit and market it. Have you got what it takes to become the literary equivalent of a marathon runner.

9. A thick skin – they said what about me? Shrug your shoulders and move on – it’s not you, it’s them!

10. The ability to multi task – there will always be at least three writing related things to do – six if you are an indie author. Make like an octopus!

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Octopus by Karyn Christner courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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Can anyone be an author? Yes but to be a successful one I think you need all of the above. What do you think?

The Flower Seller Cover and Blurb
Have love and loyalty gone out of fashion? The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes available from Amazon now https://goo.gl/KFi7kw

 

The Battlefield of Life

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Barbed wire by James Whitesmith courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

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More often than not life feels as though it is a never ending series of obstacles to be got over, around or under, a relentless battle. The times when everything runs smoothly and everyone we care about is well and happy tend to be all too brief ceasefires in the otherwise constant barrage.

When our spirits are up we can solider on through the troubles refusing to be beaten down but when we are already feeling a little low the continual problems and niggles can weigh us down.

Shred me
Shred me by David Goehring courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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We’ve all had our hearts broken at different times. The natural reaction is to protect our battered heart behind a shield so that feelings can never penetrate that deeply again and no new heart break can be suffered but to live a life like this is to live only half a life, unconnected and adrift. If you are not fully connecting with people and engaging with the world around you, you will miss out on all the good things life has to offer, of which there are so many. It would be like living your life behind glass. Safe but anodyne.

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Behind glass by Storebukkebruse courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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So next time you suffer a shock to your emotional system it’s okay to take a timeout in the field hospital of life to repair the damage and renew your spirits but never be tempted to linger there for long.

In order to hide away and save yourself from pain you would also be forfeiting the chance of joy because a life well lived is one that experiences both extremes.

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Happy and Sad by Michael Coghlan courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-SA 2.0

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Only then can you truly appreciate the good times when they arrive.

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Joy by 夏爱克 courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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If you’ve been following my blog this week you’ll know The Flower Seller is taking part in Author Shout’s Cover Wars.  Voting closes at 1.00 p.m. GMT 8.00 a.m. EST today (Sunday). Thank you to everyone who has voted so far.  I have been overwhelmed by the support!

As I type this I am in second place. Your vote could make all the difference!  If you love the cover and would like to vote you can do so by visiting the Author Shout site http://authorshout.com/cover-wars/ You will need to like their Facebook page, tweet or G+ them and then you are able to vote for your favourite cover BUT you must only vote once in every 24 hour period of your vote will not count.

#goteamellie!

The Flower Seller Cover and Blurb
Have love and loyalty gone out of fashion? The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes available from Amazon now https://goo.gl/KFi7kw

Stronger than you think

Several years ago when the winter storms hit I thought I was going to lose part of my back fence. The fence had seen better days and should have been replaced but time and funds stopped me. So now there I was in the teeth of a gale with a fence that looked like it was going to end up in the neighbour’s garden if I didn’t take action.

As a temporary measure, I got some rope and tied the flapping fence to one of my trees. I figured that the tree was accustomed to giving with the wind and would help bolster the fence while the storm raged. Then when the spring came I would move getting a new fence up the list of priorities.

The rope did the trick and I managed to keep the fence going until it was replaced the next spring. At that stage I cut the rope but somehow forgot to ever remove the rope from the tree. Truth being, I forgot about it until I happened to be working in that part of the garden recently. The tree has now grown around the rope, its trunk enveloping the rope so that rope and tree have become one. I couldn’t detach it now even if I wanted to.

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Tree trunk growing around rope – Ellie Holmes

Seeing how the tree had adapted to the presence of the rope, accepted it and continued to thrive made me think about the shocks, emotionally and physical, that we sometimes face. From relatively minor upsets to major life blows like cancer or bereavement we have a tendency to think we are not strong enough to cope but like the tree and the rope we always find a way through, a way to be ourselves in the teeth of the gales of life. We take the shocks on board and the wounds become part of us, subsumed we carry them with us until the rawness subsides and scar tissue forms. Battle hardened but smarter we are more resilient from having been tested and grow strong enough for the next onslaught and the next.

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Resilient, the tree adapts – Ellie Holmes

We are all moving through the different stages of this cycle continuously. If you find yourself at the stage of heart bleeding rawness, where you think you cannot cope, think about the bark of the tree gathering the rope to it and growing around it. One day your body and mind will fully absorb the shock of what you are going through and you will come out the other side. I know because I’ve done it. You are stronger than you think.

Be strong
Be Strong by Susan Ackeridge courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

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Let’s do it all again

Even before The Flower Seller was launched I had already turned my mind to my next book conscious of the mantra of write, publish, repeat. My next full length romantic novel White Lies will be out in June 2017. White Lies was written a few years ago and did the rounds of the main publishing houses (as The Flower Seller did). I had some nice comments but no takers and so it went into a box and was tucked away. In my blog on 12th May 2016 I talked about Diamonds in the Drawer https://goo.gl/AchuZW those pieces of writing that have been discarded for various reasons but which might, with a little loving care, live to see the light of day once more.

Diamond in the Rough
Diamond in the Rough by Orin Zebest courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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So it is with White Lies. It’s been a number of years since I last looked at the manuscript. I remember the characters and the main plot points but I couldn’t remember every little detail because so much time had passed. In one way I found that exciting – how often have we wished to have the ability to see our writing through the eyes of a stranger, as if reading it for the first time. Now I would come as close to achieving that as possible. But I’ll let you into a little secret. I was scared of starting the read through.

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Panic by Krysten Newby courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY-ND 2.0

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I’m a busy person so finding reasons to put it off was easy, so easy in fact that I didn’t even consciously register I was avoiding it until the avoidance became extreme. When I did finally grasp what was happening, I knew I was running scared in case reading it with fresh eyes opened my eyes to the fact it wasn’t very good and perhaps it would be better not to find out.

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Hide by PhotoAtelier courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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But I’m a practical person who believes in meeting problems head on so I pulled myself together, poured myself a stiff drink and started to read. Three days and one hundred thousand words later I was finished. My assessment? It needs work but not as much work as I’d feared. The characters and the plot hold together. It needs a good edit and some finessing and I need to tinker with the structure at the end but it’s all doable. I even started to feel excited at the prospect of tackling the rewrites.

A couple of things struck me as I read the story through. I began to remember the scenes I had struggled with and sure enough they still don’t read as smoothly as the ones which came easily but at least now I could spot why this was. What really irked me, however, was the fact that on three occasions I ducked the scene.

Crucial scenes were told either in flashback or reported by one character to another. Reading the story in 2016 I can’t now remember why I did that. Perhaps it was the pressure of the word count (the story was bouncing up at 120,000 words at one stage) but I think it was more likely the case that I considered the scenes too big for me and the coward in me ran and hid instead of toughing it out and getting the scene down on paper.

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Trust, Focus, Strength by Dideo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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I stopped ducking scenes years ago but remember this was a story from a long time ago, I obviously still had the habit back then. My writing has now matured and instead of being scared that I’m not capable of doing justice to those scenes they are the scenes I am actually most excited about working on, their potential has got my mind fizzing with enthusiasm. I wouldn’t be surprised if when the book is finished, those scenes don’t end up being amongst the stand out scenes in readers’ minds. We’ll see.

The moral of this story is don’t duck the big scenes through fear. Readers are likely to feel cheated if you do. Back yourself as a writer to do them justice and you may find yourself pleasantly surprised…..I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

The Flower Seller Cover and Blurb
Have love and loyalty gone out of fashion? The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes available from Amazon now https://goo.gl/KFi7kw

The Liebster Award – Part Two

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Belief is a fragile thing. Self-belief even more so. My belief in my own abilities washes in and out like a tide – sometimes I’m riding the crest of a wave, other times I’m submerged and overwhelmed. It’s at times like these that you have to find the strength to push through and carry on regardless.

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Submerged by mpclemens courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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It’s especially hard to keep that enthusiasm going with no input or encouragement from others. We tend to think we are alone in our struggles, that we must be the first to experience these feelings and that no one can truly understand but we are wrong. Even the most outwardly confident person battles demons of doubt.

Whilst we are all special snowflakes I bet the majority of our angst has been mirrored by others and that someone, somewhere will have been brave enough to blog about their feelings. That’s why it’s good to look beyond the boundaries of the world we have constructed and seek out new people. You may find a kindred spirit.

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Horse looking over a wall – head in the clouds by Muffinn courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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And how much easier the struggle would be if someone believed in us and what we are doing. What a shaft of sunlight that would be on the days when we are convinced the world is a cold and unfeeling place. I was delighted to discover my humble little blog and I had been nominated for a Liebster Award. What a wonderful validation. A pat on the back for all those times I have dragged myself to the keyboard when I literally wanted to be anywhere else. Finding out someone cares can make all the difference.

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Random Acts of Kindness by Kweez McG courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons licensed by CC BY 2.0

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In April I blogged about the importance of having a cheerleader and crucially being a cheerleader for others. You can read that post here https://goo.gl/f8LFc7   The Liebster Award is cheerleading in action. If you can take part, do so – you won’t be disappointed.

For the rules of the Liebster Award go to http://theglobalaussie.com/the-official-rules-of-the-liebster-award-2016/

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The Flower Seller Cover and Blurb
Have love and loyalty gone out of fashion? The Flower Seller by Ellie Holmes available from Amazon now https://goo.gl/KFi7kw