Pearannoyed Press

Writing, art, and random acts of creativity…
  • .: I’m not paranoid… :.

    But I AM pearannoyed. I'm learning to Think Sideways, find my sweet spot, listen to my muse, and write until I'm finished. I'm defeating Safe, Perfect, Victim, and Feel. I don't know where I'll end up, but I'm headed there with enthusiasm.

    If you are a member of How To Think Sideways, you will find the password for my protected posts on the HTTS Walkthrough Blog Forum.

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    News Flash – I have a published Flash Fiction story!

    Posted By on August 4, 2014

    stephanie casarez / Flickr / CC 3.0

    Something is becoming clear to me that I’ve been aware of for a while. I’m actually a pretty good writer, but I’m a terrible blogger! Big surprise.

    That said, I’m excited to announce that I’ve been selected (in my guise as mild-mannered Elizabeth McCleary) as a winner in an online flash fiction contest. It was hosted by Reader’s Lane, an up-and-coming book blog.

    The story is called Full Circle and you can read it for free at readerslane.com.

    I fervently hope that you enjoy it! And if you’re interested in more free writing from me, you can get a short story by joining my mailing list at Elizabeth McCleary.com. I promise, no spam!

    Take the summer writing challenge!

    Posted By on June 13, 2014

    I’m super-excited about this!

    HollyLisleI just learned that my friend, mentor and writing instructor, Holly Lisle, is hosting a summer writing challenge.

    She did this last year with her Flash Fiction class and Mugging the Muse. This year, you’ll have a choice of 6 different workshops to play in. Pick one, or pick several, and commit to getting writing!

    To participate, go to HowToThinkSideways.com and click on the link for the Summer Writing Workshop Challenge. Holly’s an amazing teacher, and if you’re serious about learning to write good fiction, I can’t recommend her highly enough.

     

    Please note: my links to Holly’s shop are affiliate links. When you purchase through these links, I may receive some compensation.

    Checking in on my goals

    Posted By on June 12, 2014

    The year is almost half over. I can hardly believe it!

    And a busy year it has been, too. But has it been productive? Well, let’s check in on that and see how I’m doing.

    I’d set myself some goals at the beginning of January. Basically, I wanted to:

    • Write more consistently
    • Read more often
    • Improve my health

    I can’t say I’ve exactly knocked it out of the park on any of these counts, but I actually feel pretty good about where I’m at right now.

    Writing

    I was hoping to have thousands of words written by this time. The plan was to write at least 500 words a day, at least 4-5 days a week. That could have put me at about 50,000 words by now.

    Surprise. I’m not there.

    However… I am in the midst of planning a series of short stories based on a story I published earlier this year. I’m pretty stoked about getting that story out, and I’m excited about the possibilities for expanding a world that I think has a lot of potential.

    The first story is free. If you’re interested in reading it and being notified when additional publications become available, sign up for my mailing list at elizabethmccleary.com.

    Reading

    Since I’m a writer, one of my primary tasks, in addition to writing, is reading. Reading as entertainment is awesome, and it exposes the reader to concepts and ideas, conflict and resolution, vocabulary, culture… all kinds of things that can be assimilated and repurposed for “real” life. As a writer, it’s good to take note of all those things, PLUS examine plot, voice, pacing, story telling techniques… every book is a potential learning experience.

    I had hoped to read 50 books this year – just under one a week. As of today, I’ve “read” nineteen books in 2014. That’s in quotes because the majority of those books have been listened to on audiobook rather than strictly read. And that’s good, but as a writer it’s not ideal.

    Listening doesn’t give me the same opportunity to dissect what makes a particular story good or… ummm… not so good, that reading a printed book would give. For one thing, it makes it awkward to take notes – especially if I’m listening in my car. For another, it’s much harder to go back and examine an earlier piece of the story if my Muse starts jumping up and down telling me to pay attention to this.

    But listening allows me to be “reading” a book while I’m driving, or walking, or in the dark. There are a lot of advantages to audiobooks, and a few disadvantages. So I’ll keep listening, but I’ll try to get some additional print matter into my que as well.

    FWIW – my favorite book I’ve read so far this year – Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. If you enjoy epic fantasy that is completely unique, Brandon Sanderson is a must-read author.

    Least favorite? The Whodunnit? books by Anthony Zuiker. Best thing I can say about them is that they were free downloads at Audible.com.

    Fitness

    Last year I lost roughly 25 pounds and drastically improved my health and sense of personal well being. I had set a goal to continue the trend this year by working out roughly 5 days a week and continuing to make healthy eating choices.

    My results so far have been hit and miss.

    The good news is that I’ve continued to lose weight. I’m down approximately another 20 pounds for a total of about 45 lost so far. That’s awesome.

    Less good is that I haven’t been as consistent as I wanted to be with my workouts and eating plan. Not terrible – I’m still getting regular exercise and paying much closer attention to what I consume than I used to. But I know if I practiced a bit more discipline, my results would also be quicker and more consistent. I’ve plateaued a bit, but I’m mentally ramping up for my next round, and I’m not beating myself up for not being further along. And I’ve got to admit, I do like it when people notice the changes that have already happened. I know how far I have left to go. They can see more clearly how far I’ve already come. :)

    If you’re interested in joining me in the next stage of my fitness journey, you’re welcome to join the BeachBody challenge group I’m co-hosting with my own coaches, Brian and Jessica. The only requirement is that you’re following a BeachBody workout plan, and that you’ll post regularly in our FaceBook group. Feel free to contact me if you need help choosing a program, or if you already have a program and want to join our challenge group. Sometimes a little support is all it takes to keep you motivated and make a real change.

    What’s wrong with free?

    Posted By on April 25, 2014

    Have you ever joined one of those lists? You know the ones… they send you a regularly scheduled email (usually weekly or daily) telling you where you can get all the free ebooks.

    I did. Actually, I think I joined four of them.

    When I got my first Kindle I was all about finding all the free content I could. I downloaded literally thousands of books in the first couple of months that I owned this nifty, neeto, gee-gosh-wow device. Thousands. That’s multiple millions of words. Maybe billions. Guess what… I’m not that fast a reader.

    During that same period of time I probably actually read maybe 3 or 4 books. And the ones I read weren’t free… they were books I paid for.

    In all honesty, I probably spent more time acquiring free content that I will never consume than I did consuming the content I acquired. No joke.

    Right now, some of  you might be nodding knowingly. Others might be rolling your eyes and thinking I’m a dork. (And, by the way, yes, I am a dork. Thanks for noticing.) Still others might be wondering, yeah, what’s your point. Or maybe even, yeah, what’s the problem.

    Well, here’s my point. Free for the sake of free is no bargain. The same could be said of cheap (or inexpensive, if you prefer).

    Don’t get me wrong. There are times that free or cheap is a lifesaver or a Godsend. For the single mom raising a couple of kids, getting that 80% off coupon for school supplies or shoes or whatever might mean the difference in her kids having what they need to succeed. For the retiree on a fixed income, being able to download a few free books might mean keeping his mind sharp by reading instead of spending a few more hours staring at reruns on the TV.

    But all too often, that thing that we didn’t need to pay for actually costs a lot.

    Time

    I’ve already alluded to this one. Sometimes getting a freebie costs time. Either you’re spending time hunting for something. Or you’re spending time in a line waiting for something.Or maybe once you have the free thing, you spend time doing something that, maybe, you really didn’t have time for–time you should have spent doing something else. (Like, if you actually read those thousands of books you downloaded.)

    Let’s face it, most of us can’t afford to waste time. We all have busy lives, and losing even an hour or two a day can have far-reaching consequences on our productivity, our sleep, our health, and our relationships. I have decided that for me, personally, the bargain hunt isn’t worth it.

    Integrity

    This is a big one. I know a lot of people who would never consider swiping a $.50 candy bar from the store, but who have no problem downloading a $20 movie from a file sharing site. That’s not cool. It’s stealing. Don’t. Just don’t.

    And even if all your downloads are 100% legal, if you’re spending time doing that instead of, say, the job your employer pays you to do, especially if you are knowingly violating a company policy about internet usage to do it, it’s not cool.

    Likewise, if your acquisition of something free means that someone with a bigger need than you doesn’t get the free thing, don’t do it. It’s not worth it to you, and it might be life-changing for them.

    My point here is that it’s all-too-easy to allow the hunt for the bargain or freebie subtly alter your core values. I’ll say it again, louder to make sure you notice. It’s not worth it! Make sure you’re being true to who you are and who you want to be, regardless of how much you think you want whatever-that-free-thing-is.

    Dignity

    Being dignified isn’t necessarily all it’s cracked up to be, and I’m a big believer in people letting their hair down and giving dignity the brush-off every once in a while. But that doesn’t mean you should act like an idiot just for the heck of it. The hunt for the bargain can sometimes make otherwise perfectly reasonable people act in completely unreasonable ways.

    Don’t believe me? Go to Toys-R-Us at Christmastime.

    Just as with the personal integrity issue, don’t let the desire for a bargain make you act in ways that you’ll be embarrassed to admit to later. (For me, it’s a little embarrassing to admit to how much time I spent downloading books that I will never read. What a waste!)

    Where’s the value?

    Bottom line is this… consider the actual value of something free in order to determine if the cost is actually worth it to you.

    “Free Pizza for a Year!” might sound great to a teenager. But to someone who has spent 2 years losing weight and getting fit, the cost won’t be worth it.

    “Free book downloads!” sounds fantastic. Unless the books aren’t anything you’d read, and the time spent downloading should have been spent doing something more productive.

    So, yeah. Go for the freebie if you actually want it. But don’t forget to think about what it’s actually going to cost you.

    It’s finally here!!

    Posted By on April 1, 2014

    WatchNight-KindleIt’s up, it’s up, it’s up!

    I know I haven’t been communicating as much as I intended lately, but partly that’s related to the fact that I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on my short story!

    Or… ummm… Elizabeth has been putting the finishing touches on her story. Whatever.

    Anyway, Elizabeth McCleary’s story, Watch Night, is now available for download. The catch is, the only way to get it is to join her mailing list. You can do that by going here and signing up. (And never fear, Elizabeth hates spam. This is a low-volume list that is only to let you know what is coming up in her publishing world.)

    “Elizabeth” is looking forward to hearing your feedback on this, so make sure you go sign up now!

     

    A New Beginning!

    Posted By on January 1, 2014

    Happy-new-Year-2014-Wallpapers-Images-3Happy new year, everybody!

    Another year is in the books, full of yesterdays and memories. Another year is just beginning, full of fresh possibilities.

    I’m not making any resolutions this year. Resolutions, I think, don’t really work, because resolutions tend to be about what we’re going to do different than we have done before. They have a built in comparison to what has gone before. Resolutions, by their nature, keep us looking backwards.

    Think about it – how many people do you know who have made a resolution to lose weight or exercise more? Pretty much everyone… and it happens pretty much every year. And what do people say when they make that resolution? “Maybe this year I’ll do better.” Not the most hopeful outlook to start the year thinking about how you’ve failed in the past. Yikes.

    This is not to say that I’m not making plans for the new year. I’m just not calling them resolutions. I’m thinking of it more as setting intentions. While some of my plans are related to things I’ve done in the past, I’m not approaching things as if I’m starting over. It’s January 1, but the new beginning is only of the year. In the goals I’m setting for myself, it’s more like moving on or moving forward. I’m looking less at what new I can accomplish, and looking instead at what more I can accomplish.

    The difference? In no way am I minimizing what I did in the past. I didn’t lose as many pounds as I had hoped last year. But I did lose weight. I didn’t write as many words as I had planned. But I wrote more than I did the year before, and I had a story published.

    I’ve just decided that I have very little interest in focusing on what I didn’t do, and instead I’m going to focus on what I can do. So with that said, here are the intentions I’m setting for 2014.

    pen-and-inkWrite (almost) every day

    Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I have been a “writer” for years. But like a lot of people, I’ve talked about writing, thought about writing, read books and took classes about writing, and haven’t always gotten to the actual writing part of writing.

    This year is going to be different. I’ve joined Jeff Goins challenge to write 500 words every day in the month of January. That’s a commitment I want to keep, but I realize it’s probably not realistic to keep that up for the whole year. A 7-day-a-week schedule is bound to burn me out eventually. So the ongoing goal will be to actively write 4-5 days every week throughout the year. I may need to take a few days off here and there if I’m traveling or have other commitments for my time. But in general, it is my primary goal this year to go from being a “writer” to being a Writer. Time to get rid of those quotations marks!

    As a sub-goal of daily writing, I intend to publish several short story anthologies in the coming months, and finish writing my first novel. I’m hoping to actually get a full-length work published before the end of the year, but as long as I keep moving in that direction I will not feel like I’ve failed if I don’t make it.

    catalog_bookRead 50 books

    I didn’t read as much as I wanted to in 2013. I spent more time staring at a TV screen or a computer than I did staring at a page. I’m not anti-TV or anti-internet. But I spent a lot of time on passive media consumption rather than active media consumption. I’m changing that this year. I probably read 15 or 20 books last year (I wasn’t really counting). This year I’m going to try to more than double that. 50 books is roughly a book a week, with a couple of weeks off for when life just gets too hectic. I think it’s a reasonable goal.

    I have no particular plan for what books I’m going to read. Most will probably be fiction, but I do want to make an effort to include a good selection of non-fiction and educational/personal development type books in there too.  I’ll keep you posted on how things are going with things like book reviews right here on my blog.

    r-HEALTHY-FOOD-large570Keep pursuing better health

    I made some good progress in 2013 towards being more fit. I’ve lost about 15 pounds since the end of September and about 25 pounds overall. A huge part of what made that possible is that I have been more intentional about eating real, whole, fresh, healthy foods; I’ve worked at limiting the processed and fast-foods that I consume; and I have made an effort to make exercise a regular part of my routine.

    I haven’t been perfect. In fact, I left 2013 on more of a whimper than a bang in that respect. I traveled twice in November which made it hard to keep my schedule. Then I wasn’t feeling well. Then it was the holidays. And this last week I’ve been experiencing some dizziness that I think is probably related to being sick a few weeks back. But no excuses – I could have continued to work out even if was only walking on the treadmill. I chose to let it slide. But I’m not beating myself up over it. I’m just choosing to re-engage with my goals. I gained back maybe a pound or two in the last few weeks, but I’m ready to get back on track and see those numbers going down again as I march into 2014.

    So, like my writing goal, I’m setting an intention to work out about 5 days a week in 2014. I’m also going to incorporate even more fresh, whole, organic foods, and limit refined sugar and all the other junk that’s available and all-too-easy to reach for.

    So who’s with me?

    I want to personally invite you to join me in any or all of these goals, or set some of your own and let me know what you’re planning. If we all do it together, we can support each other and encourage each other. We can help one another get back on track if we lose focus. And if any of us starts to discover that we’re in over our head, we can remind each other that the results are less important than making progress.

    Let me know if you’re in by leaving a comment below. I want to be able to keep track of you. :)

    Surviving Christmas

    Posted By on December 23, 2013

    Here it is, almost Christmas. And am I prepared? Not at all.

    Ok, everyone. At least pretend to act surprised. Or not. Whatever. I know I’m not the only one in this boat.

    Fact is, there are always people who feel overwhelmed at this time of year. There are always people who feel like they’re behind the power curve.

    Part of it is the level of expectation surrounding the holidays. All the rushing and buying and cooking and decorating can make even the most organized person a little crazy. And for those of us who are maybe a bit less than organized (we know who we are) it can potentially throw us into a major tail spin.

    Another part of it is just that it’s the end of the year. It’s a time that we often take a moment to reflect on all the grand resolutions, plans, and hopes we had for the year that we have utterly failed to complete. A lot of people feel not just overwhelmed, but like they’ve failed. Or worse yet, like they’re a failure.

    And I’ll admit it – I can be as prone to a holiday slump as anyone. But here are my best strategies for surviving Christmas.

    Get enough sleep.

    Sleep is one of the most restorative activities we can engage in. So skip watching White Christmas for the 6th time and go to bed. You’ll feel better for it.

    Get some exercise

    Same concept as the sleep. We all tend to overindulge a little. Counteracting the Christmas cookies with a little extra movement such as a walk with friends will not only make us feel better right now, it will pay benefits going forward when it helps limit the “holiday creep” that happens on the scale.

    Pay it forward

    Do something for someone who can’t reciprocate. Whether it’s spending a few hours feeding the homeless, donating food or presents to a local charity, or inviting someone who might need some extra companionship to dinner, focusing on others can help you remember how good you have it.

    Take some personal time

    This can be a little tough if you have a house full of visiting family. But scheduling time for a soak in a hot tub, or reading a few chapters of a favorite book can go a long way toward minimizing that feeling of being completely overwhelmed and out of control.

     

    Remember why we do this

    Most important is to keep things in perspective. Ultimately, Christmas isn’t about the decorations, the pie, the presents, or the parties. It’s about the hope represented by the Christ child. It’s about knowing the love God has for us, and reflecting that love back to others. It’s about making real connections with the people who matter to us.

    So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed (like me) just relax. Do what you can, but don’t make yourself crazy. That’s not what Christmas is all about, and it might be better to just let some things slide than to stay so busy that you forget to enjoy the holiday.

    Advent Calendar News!

    Posted By on November 27, 2013

    I mentioned in my last post that I was participating in an Advent Calendar with some friends.

    For those who may not know, an Advent Calendar, at it’s most basic, is a means of counting down the days from December 1st until Christmas. It started as a German tradition, but has taken hold almost everyplace where Christmas is celebrated. Many such calendars hold daily surprises for the children they are intended to instruct. I’ve seen them with tiny pictures behind the numbered doors, or tiny books with stories to read. Many people have Advent Calendars with candy or other goodies waiting each day of the countdown.

    The Advent Calendar I’ll be participating in is being sponsored by Katherina Gerlach, a wonderful fantasy and folk-tale author who publishes in both German and English. She and 5 of her writing friends (yours truly included) will be sharing original stories, character sketches, recipes, and even a few songs. Each of us writes in the fantasy genre, so some of what you receive will be fantasy. But much of it will also be seasonal fare.

    And just so you don’t get confused, my entries will be under the name Elizabeth McCleary. (I’ll still be maintaining this site, but Elizabeth now has her own web site as well.)

    I sincerely hope you’ll join the fun and sign up for the calendar. Our commitment is that you’ll receive 25 daily emails, and then a reminder next year to sign up for Advent Calendar 2014. No spam. (Of course, you’ll also have the opportunity to follow any of the participating authors on their own lists, should you choose to do so.)

    To sign up, go here. ==>> http://www.katharinagerlach.com/advent2013/calendar.html

    Ack!

    Posted By on November 20, 2013

    I have been busy. Very, very busy. Between travel associated with my day job, training associated with my self-employment, working to get something published, training for a half-marathon, and assorted other things eating my time, I have not been posting much on this here blog.

    Perhaps you noticed. *insert eye roll here*

    Anyway, I hope to get back to a semi-regular schedule sometime soon.

    In the mean while, let me give you a hint at what I’m working on.

    • I’ll be participating in an “advent calendar” on a friend’s site. If you join the fun you’ll get a free download every day from December 1 through Christmas. (details coming soon)
    • I have chosen an official pen name and am currently working on getting my new site in order. I’ll link to that here when it’s ready for public viewing.
    • I hope to have a flash-fiction anthology ready to go in the next couple of weeks. This won’t be a full-length project, just a half-dozen or so short-shorts. You’ll probably hear me whooping and hollering from wherever you are when it’s done. But in case you miss it, I’ll post a link here when it’s up on Amazon.
    • I’ve been working out regularly and have a plan to run the Miami half-marathon in February. If you hear me groaning you’ll know why. I won’t be the fastest by a long shot, but if I finish without dying I’ll consider it a huge success. 😉

    More may be coming, and I’ll try to post updates when I have them.

    Out of the chrysalis…

    Posted By on September 24, 2013

    Vacation is a good thing. I feel refreshed and renewed (now that I’ve recovered from vacation, anyway). I had time to relax and catch-up with family and friends that I don’t see nearly enough. And I got enough distance from my day-to-day that I gained some new perspective. This is a good thing.

    Here’s what that taught me.

    1. I cannot EVER allow daily life to become boring or drudgery. If I do, I lose perspective and can get depressed. I have to constantly be doing something that is just for me: reading a book, visiting a museum, going for a walk, painting, writing. Whatever. Keep life interesting.
    2. I need to increase my income. There are too many things I want to do (like travel more!), and many of them cost money. I enjoy what I do for the church, but I’m not exactly earning a “living wage” there. That said, I don’t want to walk away from that either. So I need to make money, but it needs to be on my own terms. I can’t go back to working retail or working in a corporate environment because those things wouldn’t let my life breath the way I need it to. The solution is to find a way to make money doing what I enjoy.
    3. I never want to go 3 weeks without working out again. It really wasn’t convenient to workout on the road, but I regretted it when I got home. Part of why vacations are not as energizing as they should be is that we use them as an excuse to eat badly and not exercise. Enough of that – from now on, a healthy lifestyle is going on the road with me.

    In the coming weeks, I will be working towards a different and better life for me and my family. I plan to generate income from my writing, and potentially in other areas too. I plan to pursue what is important to me and not just what is in front of me. I plan to finally put the required effort into my health and fitness so that weight and poor health don’t keep me from doing what I want to do.

    To that end, I’ll be setting up a mailing list for those who want to come with me on my journey, or just root me on. If you’re interested in my writing, or want to join me on my health quest, there will be options for both of those (and you’ll be able to opt-out of what doesn’t interest you, too).

    So watch this space. The cocoon is breaking open. I wonder what the butterfly will look like.

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