Posts Tagged ‘expectation vs. reality’

 

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15 September, 2002

The worst night yet for aches, pains, difficulty turning over and lack of sleep. I woke at 4.22 a.m. with the conviction the Braxton Hicks (false labour pains) had changed nature and were stronger. Fortunately, I remembered to breathe.

Some people dismiss keeping journals, however when you’re looking back at one of the major events of your life, after a period of fourteen years has elapsed, and you think, I’ll look that one up, you realize the wisdom in keeping a record of every day.

You have notes on the milestones in your life. This forms a precious record of your thoughts and words at that moment in time. Not sanitised by the mind, not romanticised by distance, but the fresh, raw “moment” captured.

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At this particular point in my life, 14 years ago, I was newly married to my second husband, expecting my second child. My first born child had been delivered when I was a teenager, under crisis circumstances. I’d always had the dream of getting to experience a planned pregnancy, in a family situation.

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It was great to have my husband here, because I felt like a ‘space cadet.’ My head was spacey, my belly felt firm like a melon, my whole body seemed to be vibrating, the cells skittering. Throughout the day, the contractions fluctuated in time and intensity, sometimes bearable, sometimes unbearable. I didn’t feel afraid. Rather, I felt joy; at the “second chance” I’d been given.

Whew. This excerpt takes me back so clearly to this day.

After a long, difficult and traumatic birth, I remember, I climbed from the birthing pool into bed, at last. My husband and I waited for the baby to be cleaned up and examined.

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I wrote in my journal, Instead of our emotions rushing into euphoria, we both felt there was something wrong with the look of his face. Our midwife said she had to tell us, she thought our baby might have Down Syndrome and our emotions rushed into shock and fear instead. We held him and looked at him. He was born at 1.26 a.m.

My own words bring it all back so clearly.

I sit here shedding a few fresh tears at the memory of how devastated we were at the time.

The day followed in a blur of visitors, texting, breastfeeding, and talking, and at the end of the day everyone left.

16 September, 2002

After dinner, I wrapped Sam in blankets and lay him on the bed in front of me, so I could sit with my legs stretched out on either side of him.

Watching my baby and stroking him, I began to truly connect for the first time and feel my heart start to break free of its bonds to stretch towards him.

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At 9 pounds 11 ounces, and long-bodied with it, he was a lovely plump size. And his nature was beautiful, compared to the other babies I could hear wailing and crying, Sam never cried at all, he radiated a gentle sweetness.

From that moment on, Sam and I began our mother-son bond, a connection that has steadily built with every day.

It has been a long and interesting road these last fourteen years with my middle child, my special boy.

We went from the grief and devastation of the early days, to the dawning realisation we’d been graced with a little Buddha in our midst.

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This masterful character who has a heart as pure as driven snow, a spirit as unbreakable as steel, and a wisdom that is as earthy and real and grounded as you’re ever going to meet, has changed us and our lives for the better, forever. None of us in Samuel’s immediate family or even range of influence altogether will ever be the same again.

Little did we know, in our “green” state back in 2002, the miracle that had taken place on that day.

On the 16th September, at 1.26 a.m an angel was born to us. And, we had been forever blessed.

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16 September, 2016

I woke this morning and my first thought was of my middle child, my wonderful son, Samuel, who turns fourteen today.

Happy Birthday, my darling son

You are perfect in every way

You teach me every day how to slow down, how to listen and be happy

Thank you

I love you!

Mama xxx

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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The hero’s redemption (and ultimate victory) hinges on their transcending their self-concern. And it rarely happens unless the writer brings the hero to the point of despair. ~ PJ Reece

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

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At this same time last year, the president of our Toastmasters club asked us, “Who wants to enter the Humorous Speech Contest?” Out of the twenty-five people in the room, four people put their hands up. I put my hand up, too. I’d only joined Toastmasters the month before and I had no idea what was involved. Yet, a number of people I liked and admired, had put themselves forward, and I felt it was only right I should join them.

Evaluation Contest

In my mind, I imagined we’d be delivering our talks, as we did each week, to one another, in the usual club setting. Have a laugh. A cup of tea. End of.

Little did I expect what was to follow.

When I trucked up to our club rooms to give my speech in the contest that day, I was surprised to find the room was full of people. And at least half the people there were strangers. This is always a big step up for any aspiring public speaker. That moment when you go beyond the friendly faces and atmosphere of your club setting.

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My reaction was to go into panic and meltdown.

No one had warned me. I had had no idea that this contest was on a big scale. Turns out there are four big contests in Toastmasters a year, and all of them work to funnel the best speakers in the country to the top of the pile. At the end of each year, the best speaker from New Zealand goes over to the Annual International Convention, this year being held in Washington D.C, to compete against the best speakers from all around the world. Like, it literally couldn’t be any bigger. So, for the club level contests, there have to be guest judges, a contest chairperson, tally counters, the works.

Now, I’m not a competitive person. I never have been. I only entered thinking I was participating in something a bit fun within my club. Once the event was under way, I was terrified, thinking about the scope. I was waaaaay out of my comfort zone. But, it was too late to back out.

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Long story, short, I ended up winning. The moment they called my name, I thought, Oh, crabapples, now I’m going to have to compete at the next level. I tell you, there is no way I would have put myself forward into that position, if it hadn’t happened completely by accident like that. So it was a comedy of errors to get to that point. Like a row of dominoes.

Anyway, on the night of the next level of the competition, my nerves were off the charts. It was the only time I’d experienced a panic attack. When I started speaking, my nerves got worse and worse rather than weaker and weaker. So much so, that I ground to a halt twice during the delivery and went completely blank. I felt I’d flubbed it. But I won second place.

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I came home, shakily, needing a week to recover. I had never been more afraid. I had never felt more exposed. I had never felt more adrenalin. I said to myself that was one of the worst experiences of my entire life. I’m never doing that again!

This week, at our club meeting, El Presidente asked, “Who wants to enter the Humorous Speech Contest?” and I found myself putting my hand up. I know it’s going to be utterly terrifying. I know I’m going to want to kill myself for putting myself in that situation, on the night of the competition. Yet, I put my hand up.

Why?

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Because it’s like I’m in competition with myself: I have to do better than I did last time. Not to come first. But to deliver the whole speech and not to freeze up when I felt so previously stricken.

Yeah, that’s the crux of it: I want to do better than that.

It’s a personal challenge. I’ll let you know how I go.

Which personal challenge are you the most proud of overcoming?

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Talk to you later.

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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I think my securities far outweigh my insecurities. I am not nearly as afraid of myself and my imagination as I used to be. ~ Billy Connolly

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

July 8th. It was the end of the second term and time for our return visit to Grandpa.

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Being winter, I had the car packed with extra bedding, extra warm clothes, and extra everything. We left town at 10 a.m. The boys watched movies on my laptop in the backseat. We were due to meet my father in his favourite coffee shop for lunch, and by the time we neared the turnoff from the highway, we were making good time.

Then, we neared the bottom of the hill, a literal fifteen-minute drive left to Grandpa’s small town.

That was when we saw orange cones across the road ahead of us. Ominously, a council worker stood re-directing traffic.

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“The road’s closed,” said the earnest-looking young Maori man.

“Why?”

“Flooding. No one can get through. There’s been heavy rain and there’s a ‘King tide.’ The tide won’t drop till about 5 p.m.”

“What can we do?”

“Prestcott’s Garage is open. You can go along there and wait with the others, if you want.”

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We opted to go through the barrier, and drive a few hundred yards to the old-timey gas station. It was midday.

We sat waiting in our car, along with about a dozen other similarly-trapped people, stuck in limbo, in the pouring rain.

The laptop then ran out of battery power. The boys started complaining. It was one of those times when you, as the adult, wished there was someone you could complain to!

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We trailed about outside, and were very fortunate that after half an hour, it stopped raining. The kids were able to see it as an adventure then, rather than a punishment.

For the next two and a half hours, we played with a ball, and we took walks around about to look at the flooded fields.

I’d seen the low-lying countryside with lots of big puddles before, but nothing like this. There were cars stuck on the other sides of the roads in all directions, too, we were told. A tree was down across the road, also, for which a special kind of tractor was sent. A car was submerged and a truck had landed in the ditch. A local farmer had had to “teach her heifers to swim.”

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We were wet, cold and tired. Yet, we bided our time and watched the occasional emergency vehicle dash past.

I had spontaneous conversations with all kinds of interesting folk. There was the 95-year-old who had travelled down with his 70-year-old wife, to view a property in the area, and had only been intending a day trip, to travel straight back to the city afterwards. There was a young businessman with neat coiffed hair and immaculately-pressed shirt and slacks, on his way to meet friends. The truck-driver who told me, he would attempt driving through anyway, but he was worried because if he didn’t make it, ‘the insurance won’t cover you if you’ve travelled on a closed road.’ An elderly blue-eyed gentleman blustered, ‘We only just moved here from Auckland. I’m beginning to wish we never had!’

We stood around, talking and commiserating.

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Finally, an authoritative-looking man came from the direction of the flood, and announced, “There’ll be nothing getting through for the next two days. The bridge has moved.”

I phoned dad. He said, “But, couldn’t you come around the long way?” A trip around the top of the Coromandel Peninsula would take another three hours. Yet, we had no choice!

I had never driven the journey in question before, and upon querying others at the station, was told, ‘just follow your nose to the turn off.’ At 3 p.m. we set off back the way we’d come, over the Coromandel Ranges, chased by the pouring rain and howling gale.

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The road lived up to the terrible reputation Kiwi roads have gained overseas. After an hour of hair-raising twists and turns winding up the coast, we headed into the mountains; a route of 25 – 35 km tight twists and turns. This particular trek includes the only “15 km” hairpin bend I’ve ever taken. As the gathering dusk turned to evening, I prayed we would make it to our destination.

Additional to this litany of woes, was the fact I was stuck wearing my dark prescription glasses. My glasses for night time driving were somewhere in amongst our luggage. I was trying to see where the road was going, as it bent and twisted in front of me like a pile of wet spaghetti in the pitch dark!

Another two hours later, we limped into my father’s small town. 6.15 p.m. The first day of our mid-winter break had been an instrument of torture!

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Later, my brother arrived with news the bridge hadn’t moved after all. Someone had gotten the wrong message through to the crowd of us waiting at the garage. 95% of the people waiting had turned around and returned home, while a few of us hardier types had weathered the trip the long way round. Either way, it had been, as a burly blond guy at the scene had said, ‘A bloody mess!’

My father said he was going to talk to the Mayor. The fact that all roads into the Coromandel had been reduced to a single lane for a whole day, and yet, there were no road signs out on the highways, to warn travellers, was “pathetic,” he said. The fact there was no clear authority in charge, once there were holiday goers stuck in limbo, was “hopeless management.” These were serious issues which needed to be addressed by the Mayor and the council, dad said. My thoughts exactly. Bravo!

Thanks, dad. You’re my hero! 

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Talk to you later.

(p.s. The rest of the holiday was great!)

Keep on Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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The hero’s redemption (and ultimate victory) hinges on their transcending their self-concern. And it rarely happens unless the writer brings the hero to the point of despair. ~ PJ Reece

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

“If I were to write a play I’d write it any damn way I pleased and it would come out all right.” ~ Charles Bukowski. ~ “It makes me nervous to read those articles on playwriting, ‘A play must have a premise’ and so forth. I am afraid that the problems of our playwrights … is they are TOLD the proper way to do a thing.”

My thoughts exactly, Charles! Yes, folks, once again we get to visit one of my pet peeves, upon which I’m going to bestow a grand name – #WhySoManyRules?

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Story is not born of convention or following the rules. Yes, we writers must be neat and tidy and write within the lines. To a point. Award-winning kiwi author, Kate de Goldi, put it this way. “I don’t care about the classifications of what constitutes children’s literature. I want to write articulate, textural, demanding fiction. I think current stories are lacking in complex structure, and nuance. Kids need more than a limited diction.”

Kate is my writing hero and I admire her attitude fiercely. She’s how brave I aim to be when I grow up.

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#WhySoManyRules?

You see, I feel stifled a lot of times by the laundry list of modern do’s and do-not’s for writing fiction. The “was police” won’t allow a single use of the word. Using gerunds is never allowed under any circumstances. Descriptive passages are an absolute “no-no.” Flashbacks should be avoided, the same goes for prologues and epilogues. The new one I hear is don’t include maps. And so on, and so forth.

Sometimes, I feel reduced to a kindergartner, unable to make a single coherent decision unassisted.

#WhySoManyRules?

I’m immersed in the happy process at present, of refining the original vision of my book, ‘The Sasori Empire’ i.e. making presentable fiction through the steady process of attrition: the edit-critique-rewrite-critque-edit cycle.

The polishing is necessary but what I question is, do we really have to take out every ‘was, were, had?’ Can’t I use ‘ing’ once, or twice, or maybe thrice?

Why are there so many should’s and should-nots these days?

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When I read classic bedtime stories to the kids, I realize how comforting the old style of writing was for the reader. The boys and I are currently reading Paddington. We all agree how much we’re enjoying the story.

Here’s a sample of the text (italics, mine):

‘The Browns were there to meet their daughter Judy, who was coming home from school for the holidays. It was a warm summer day and the station was crowded with people on their way to the seaside.’

This is a perfect example because a passage like this from Paddington would never get past an editor or critique reader today. You’d have to take all of the italicized words out. This is the sort of constrictive thinking I’m talking about for a writer in these times.

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It was Maya Angelou who said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” This is the truth. Any creative person will know this deeply. The wellspring within must find its outlet.

What do we do when the walls and structures of modern fiction hem us in, watering down our work? Diluting our inspiration?

We compromise. I do take out a lot of was words and gerunds and description in the editing process. But I don’t take them all out. I pick what goes and what stays by how it feels to me, and how important it is to the telling of my story.

As my dear friend, James Preller said when I wondered whether to quit early on editing my first book, “It’s your name on the spine.”

We need to seek that particular middle ground which will serve the spirit of this project.

A delicate balance can be found, I believe, between the popular expectations, and respect for the muse and our own writer’s voice.

We respect that our name will be on the spine of a book which may outlive us.

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Chuck Wendig said, “Writing involves a series of stylistic choices. Sometimes these choices mean breaking rules. It’s okay to make these choices as an author. It’s okay to not like these choices as a reader. The end.”

When I started blogging, author and film-maker, PJ Reece responded to my first post. “The writing world needs more unedited truth. I can see it all now… fans showing up to hear ever more about the king with no clothes on. Is there not far too much conventional thinking in the wannabe writing world? Your site could be the antidote. I`m in! And all the best!

I don’t know about ‘unedited truth’ however, I can visit and re-visit the heck out of my pet peeves.

#WhySoManyRules?

Do we need so many rules for our fiction? Agree or disagree?

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Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Don’t tell me what I’m doing, I don’t want to know. ~ Federico Fellini

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p.s. can you help me choose my profile photo?

I don’t know what it is, but for me, I’m always disappointed when I meet someone with whom I’ve been dealing on social media, and they don’t look anything like their picture. There should be a rule about keeping these things up to date. I’m all for glam, and for putting your best foot forward, however I also like to feel when I’m interacting with someone on social media, that their photo should reflect who they are and not someone they were over five years (or more) ago. Let’s call it a personal peeve.

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My current author headshot is five years old. It was taken by my eldest son, so for that reason has always been special. It’s the image I’ve used across every type of social media. However it now needs to be updated.

It’s one of those jobs you put off. I’ve been meaning to do it and putting off for a while. Last week, I shared how I totally flubbed getting a professional author headshot.

I don’t know what it is about having a photo taken, but it always throws me off my game. As soon as I look into the lens and hear the shutter click, I choke. I feel all my insecurities start up like a swarm of bees.

If you’ve ever seen that meme which roamed Facebook for a while, Help, I’m a twenty-five year old trapped in a seventy-five year olds body! That’s how I feel at the moment. I got old all of a sudden. I never thought about that before trying to update my author headshot. You see how dangerous this territory is!

While something of a minefield between author-being-photographed paroxysms of laughing, saying, “wait a minute,” etc, and the poor photographer, my friend, Nykie Grove-Eades, trying to soothe my ruffled feathers by saying lovely things like, “You’re doing really well,” and “Wonderful,” etc, we did somehow manage to coerce a few decent shots out of me.

I immediately felt I should share what I’d learned.

Here are my top three tips for nailing your profile picture shot first time.

p.s. can you please help me choose my author headshot. Which do you like out of the next three?

 Headshot 1

Tip One: Shoot in your own environment

If you’re having trouble being able to relax into the shoot in the studio, you can always change the venue to one you prefer. Nykie had the good idea to base the shoot at my house this time, so I was more relaxed. Sitting at my computer in this space is something I do every day. I was immediately relaxed.

Tip Two: Play music that makes you feel good

My friend, blogger and author, Anna Simpson, suggested music. She said that by playing the music she loves and that makes her happy, she is able to relax and get a good shot. I played some tracks of aboriginal meditation music. It’s one of the cds my dear friend, who is a beauty therapist, used to play when she gave me beauty treatments, and other times when we’d talk for ages over dinner. She gave me the cd and it makes me think of our friendship and feel good. Therefore having that music playing in the background helped me get into a calm headspace.

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Tip Three: “Look for something in the camera lens.”

That’s what Nykie told me. She said that children make great photographic subjects because they don’t freeze up like adults do in front of a camera, and, “It’s like they’re looking for something in the camera lens.”

Then she said, “You can look at your own reflection in there.” And I added, that I could look at the beautiful colours that were reflected in the lens, also.

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So, that’s what I did. It sounds comical but I think it gave me something for my overactive mind to do, and from that prompt, we got some nicely focused images.

I think these three shots are the best of the lot. Or, I could go with the black and white versions, more akin to my old profile picture. What do you think?

Which would you pick?

(Thank you!)

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Keep Creating!

Talk to you later,

Yvette K. Carol

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I believe in the discipline of silence and could talk for hours about it. ~ George Bernard Shaw

The expectation vs. the reality~

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My expectation of the book launch was that I was going to spend the daytime doing home beauty treatments: facials, hair masques, exfoliation, nail polish, ringlets, etc, getting glammed up at my leisure. The reality was I spent the entire time up until half an hour before the launch trying to figure out how to upload the book to Createspace and Kindle Direct. After that, I ran around like a headless chicken with my hair falling out, throwing on blusher and ear rings with two minutes to spare.

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My expectation was that I was going to practice my speech at my leisure up to three times before the presentation.

The reality was I practiced it once in my bedroom moments before leaving for the venue at a run.

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My expectation was that most of the hundred and fifty-odd friends, family and colleagues I’d invited, or at least half would show up. I warned Bruce, the kindly patriarch of my Toastmasters Club, and keeper of the keys to the hall annexe, that we’d probably need to open the side doors to make room. The reality was about thirty people came. The side doors stayed resolutely closed. However, of all the chairs set out, most were filled.

Speeches

My expectation was I would get lucky enough to get a karakia. The reality was my dear friend, Richie, not only gave the most beautiful, stirring karakia – along with English translations of each piece – but he also sang a song! Unprecedented blessings.

Richie, karakia

My expectation was I would probably cry, crack up or forget parts of my speech. The reality was I remained steady. I had by some miracle managed to memorise a ten minute speech in three days! It went off better than I ever could have imagined actually – but more about the speech side of things in another post.

My speech

My expectation when my youngest son said he wanted to get up and say a speech, was that he would be struck speechless and be too shy to stand up, let alone say anything. If the pattern of his behaviour in the past was anything to go by. The reality was he did fret but in the moment, he did get up and spoke perfectly. I was choked up with pride.

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My expectation was I might sell a handful of books if I was lucky. The reality was I sold 24!

cover artist, Simon Kingi

Si and I – the super collaborators!

What a great day. I was full of the quiet triumph of the writer over the adversity of the empty page!

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My expectation was that the book launch would hopefully go smoothly, however would be unlikely to fulfil all my hopes and imaginations. The reality was it was better than anything I could have imagined. It really was a dream come true. The people dearest to me (most of them) were there, the moment was honoured, the speech was glitch-free, the food good, the champagne cold (even though we drank out of coffee mugs because dear old Frank forgot to turn up with the glasses)!

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My mentor from Toastmasters, Debbie, acted as MC

People surprised me by getting up and speaking. The mythology, the ‘story’ behind the book was shared. The magic delivered. And I got to talk about my book all evening long!

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Then once I got home, and I had unloaded all the party gear from the car, and stacked the boxes of my books in the hallway, I finally began to unwind. I was still on cloud nine. I simply couldn’t stop smiling.

After one and a half weeks of burning the candle at both ends, to finish the book, and organize the launch party, I had stressed myself to the maximum. The party finished at 5 p.m. At midnight last night, I finally stopped pacing around and thinking.

I picked up my copy of this book. I was able to see it and focus on it for the first time. Talk about ‘magic moment’…

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That was when I began to examine it properly. I read the front and back covers, the front and end pages and looked for my pen and ink illustrations.

In all the hurry and haste to make the event a reality I had missed the main point, the book itself is a work of art. It’s everything I could ever have wanted. To be an Indie author is a truly powerful thing to be – to have total control over the finished product. I think I am in love!

What about you – had any dreams come true lately?

 

 Sam love

Keep Creating!

Yvette K. Carol

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Think about the legacy of your vision, what will you leave on earth? – Lawrence Lewis Green