Beautiful People Link Up: A portrait of my heroine Ane (with cartoons)

aheartoffireteaser

Beautiful People is a blog meme hosted by Sky @ Further Up, Further In and Cait @ Paper Fury. Every month, they post ten questions to help you get to know your characters better. This post is a link up to their March edition!

Last week, I hit the first quarter mark of A Heart of Fire. The story is urban fantasy with a female heroine for young adults. An almost 17-year-old girl, Ane, discovers that she has magical powers, and has to choose to use them for selfish goals or for the greater good, to find her inner strengths, in order to stand up against evil forces.

I’m aiming for the book to be 90 000 words, which means that I need to have fulfilled all the plot markers of the first quarter by 22 500 words. I already have too many words for the first quarter and need to shorten it, editing the first quarter as we speak!

(That’s the main reason why the word count to the right stopped growing…!)

(Plus, I’ve just had the flu and a throat inflammation for almost two weeks, which obviously slowed me down…)

A portrait of Ane at the day this story starts, Answering 10 questions:

Ane changes a lot during the story. The answers are given with the character Ane in mind – how she is and what she does at the very beginning of book one!

1. What first inspired this character? Is there a person/actor you based them off?

Ane was created when I was almost 17-years-old myself, and I wanted to revenge myself on some guys at school who had been really stupid during sports, without them knowing that it was ME who had been mean to them. I sat in the back of the class room – desperately yearning for magical powers. And in my mind the character Ane started doing all kinds of magical things that I myself was not able to.

Today, almost 14 (!) years later, she has grown into her own “person”, and I am sometimes surprised at her reactions to the conflicts I put her in. Indeed, Ane has showed me quite a lot how I needed to change the original story to make it better and more credible.

Read more here about how Ane came to life

anethisishow

2. Describe their daily routine.

When the first book starts out, this is Ane’s daily routine:

Ane always gets up a little too late, showers, brushes her teeth, does her hair and make-up, eats something healthy, and runs like crazy to catch the bus to school. She is at school from about 8 to 15, then goes to the city to stare through shop windows, admiring things she can’t afford buying. At home she will be making dinner with her mum before she does her homework or at least pretends to, and then either reads, watches TV, daydreams or visits Else (the best friend). After that she will go to bed, lay there and daydream about Eric (the love interest) and and like very evening she will not be able to sleep because of it. Thus getting up late the next morning…

anemorning

3. If they joined your local high school, what clique would they fit into?

The outsiders, together with Else.

Yet, while Else is working her hardest to be accepted by the inner circle of coolest people, Ane enjoys being an outsider – who wants to be just as awesome as the popular people in every way, but more to spit in their faces than to be accepted by them. Ane despises Melinda, the most popular girl in school (and one of the meanest!).

anesecretlycompeting

4. Write a list of things they merely tolerate. Ex: certain people, foods, circumstances in their lives…

Ane merely tolerates the evil of discussing their futures at school and considering career options. Ane has no idea whatsoever what she wants to do with her life and strongly suppresses that she will have to choose soon.

aneweekend

5. How do they react in awkward silences?

Depending on the circumstances she will do one of the two: Either she remains quiet and pretends not to be present, hoping the ground will swallow her whole. Or else she starts talking way too much, for instance by spilling out facts or by making really inappropriate jokes.

aneawkwardsilence

6. Can they swim? If so, how did they learn? 

Yes! Ane learned swimming in school. She comes from a coastal city (Kristiansand, Norway) in which the leaders prioritise for children to learn how to swim at school, as a safety measure.

anesurfing

7. What is one major event that helped shape who they are?

Ane does not have a father. She doesn’t even know his name, as his name is not even on her birth certificate.

No one ever called her their little princess when she was small and she still ponders who he might be and what awful things he has done for her mum not to tell his name in the hospital when she was born.

This experience has given her a deep mistrust towards everyone of the male gender.

anemalesuspicious

8. What things do they value most in life?

Loyalty. To Ane, loyalty is the foundation of all trust and friendships, and the mutual loyalty with Else is one reason why she cherishes Else. Her second most important value is honesty.

aneandelseloyal

9. Do they believe in giving other people second chances? Do they have any trust issues?

Ane has major trust issues – it is one of her biggest issues in life! Before giving anybody a second chance, she would have to at least think about it for quite a while before giving it.

anesecondchancenews

10. Your character is having a rough day…what things do they do to make them happy again? Is there anyone they talk/interact with to get in a better mood?

Eat ice cream. Talk to her best friend, Else, or order pizza from the place across the street with her mum.

anesrecipe

This is where the story starts out! Then, suddenly, in chapter one, everything changes, at a party one Saturday night in October…

Loved this post?

I would love it if you would share it or leave a comment!

I’m working on getting the word out there – that the story about Ane is on its way!

If you would share it – it would be a tremendous help to me and I would be very grateful!

Have a great day, friends!

Best, A.J. and Ane

All pictures were made with the bitstrips app!

 

 

Translation Update: 20 000 words translated!

translationmarkreached

In case you were wondering: YES, I follow my own writing advice, smiling.

In fact, I love researching how I can improve myself, my creative mind-set and how to be a better writer, and the results of this research, is not just my own progress but also my “How to” blog posts to all of you. When I’m researching these topics anyway, I’m thinking I might as well share the information to the benefit of everyone else who is on a similar journey as I am, right?

If you are on a journey to reach your dreams as well:

Well done, you!

Taking the first step is the hardest, but with regular habits we may stick to those important, steady, repeating steps that lead us closer and closer to our goals.

Keep fighting for your dreams! With baby steps any dream can come true! Yours, too!!!

The progress of translating A Heart of Fire is slow but steady, and if I in 2016 keep going like in January and February this book will be translated completely in 2016.

When I soon hit the 22 500 mark (the first quarter mark) of A Heart of Fire I will edit and make sure that I’ve reached all structural and content-addressed quarter mark goals, so that the story flows smoothly. When I reach that mile stone, I’m ready to start sending the first quarter to my proofreader, before I keep translating the next quarter.

Wow. The project really does start turning into something I can actually publish by the end of the year.

That is goose-bumps-awesome.

I feel at the same time humble and proud of my story turning into a publishable product.

Until right now, this Saturday, I’ve almost translated 1000 words, and more to come.

In the part I just translated, my heroine Ane has just heavily insulted the most popular girl in school, and I had forgotten that she would do this, and had to laugh when I rewrote the scene in English. Soon, Ane will hit the second of her big life game-changers, and that will be the end of the first quarter.

Thank you to all of you for following my progress!

I am very, very grateful for each and everyone of you!

Have a terrific weekend!

Yours,

A. J. Lundetræ

AJ5

10 Quick Tips How to Improve the Art of B.i.c. H.o.k. (Butt in chair, Hands on keyboard)

butt in chair ajl letters

Last week we talked about how to set SMART writing goals.

This week I want to take it one step further.

Even if you have set beautiful writing goals, the only way to actually reach these goals is to again and again put your butt in your chair and your hands on that keyboard. Open your word processor. Start with a plan and a few letters. See them grow into words and sentences, then pages and chapters. Repeat until the book is completed.

The only thing standing between you and those written pages are the B.i.c. H.o.k.

B.i.c. H.o.k. is really the art of FINISHING your book, of making sure that you will write until done.

The principle is so easy, yet sometimes it seems almost unmanageable to find the time to place that butt in that chair!

I know it. You know it.

There are just so many things to do in a day, so many responsibilities, so many chores, so many crisis to save other people from, so many hours at the day job, such a nice, soft couch that seems to scream your name at the end of the day.

The art of B.i.c. is really about habit. And discipline. And stubbornness. About really wanting that dream of yours to come true. But mostly about habit. The more often you do it, the easier it gets!

So, here they are, 10 quick tips (so you can soon get back to that text of yours!) on how to become even better at the art of BUTT IN CHAIR, HANDS ON KEYBOARD!

butt in chair ajl2 text

1. Schedule writing time on purpose!

Do you want to be a writer? Then make time to write. Squeeze it in. Write it on your agenda – and meet up like you would to any other appointment. Write your writing appointment down. Meet up. If you do this, the odds just grew enormously that you will become a published writer!

2. Know your goals!

Put your SMART writing goal somewhere you can see it. You already have a timely and measurable goal. How many words do you need every writing session? Or if you don’t count words: How much time do you have to write? Find out what works for you and make sure to write during your writing time! Make your goals realistic so that you can achieve them even on a bad day. It is very motivating to excel your goals regularly! Every word counts – every single word means progress!

3. Keep a journal!

It is very motivating to write down how much you managed to write or edit every session in a journal, and your thoughts on it, what you don’t want to forget editing later, how many chapters are done, etc. Once you start this habit you will soon see in your little, cute note book that you’ve been doing well and that you are actually productive, which is a really good feeling!

4. Don’t respond to any distractions during this time!

Your writing time is sacred. Put your cell phone on silent. Don’t check e-mails. Prepare that cup of coffee or tea beforehand. Don’t even answer the door or go to the bathroom unless you absolutely have to. Don’t do anything else. Write those words. You can do it – one word at a time!

(Exception: If you do have kids you attend to simultaneously, you will obviously have to respond to their questions every now and then…)

5. Make your writing space inviting!

What kind of surrounding invites you to write? Make your writing space this way! Personally, I love it when the desk is free before I start. During the day the piles of notes that were stacked in my shelves grow like mountains on the desk around me, and I love this, too. I still tidy it in the evening, because a tidy desk is a boost to my creativity and makes me want to do it all over the next day. Are there any colours, sayings, decorations, books etc. that appeal to you? Decorate your writing space the way you like it the best to make sure you would want to sit down there again tomorrow!

6. Have a plan for the days when the story seems stuck!

There are several ways to work around the so-called, much rumored “writer’s block”. One way is to use mind-maps about the plot situationin the story and write down what every character is seeing, feeling, sensing and wanting in that moment. Another solution could be to plan the story in advance and just go for it – follow the plan from A to B. It could also be possible to work on another part of the story – you don’t have to write it all chronologically. It can also help to simply reread the last part, open your heart, start writing and see what spills out. I’ve used all of the tricks above several times, and I never really have to stop writing because of “writer’s block”. Know what to do for those days you feel stuck! Make a plan! And use it.

7. Know your characters so well that you WANT to spend time with them!

Know all the characters in your story inside-out! What motivates them? From what point and to what point do they develop during the story? Give them time to develop. Make them sympathetic but flawed. Funny flaws are good. Nobody likes a perfect hero, or even worse, a perfect villain. The more you understand even your villains, the better your story gets. Truly see what’s going on beneath the surface – and enjoy what your characters start teaching YOU about your story… Let your awesome characters take you on for a ride.

my_characters_are_awesome-687960

8. Love your destiny!

Remind yourself often of why you write. Is it an inner urge? Is it the one thing you absolutely WANT to do for a living? If you answered YES – well, that’s awesome! It is your destiny to enrich others with stories that touch us, scare us, make us laugh and perhaps even cry. This is your job. Be proud of it. Own the title. You are a writer. It is your job to be a magician, to use words and turn them into stories. If it is, to you, the best job ever, and you manage to be grateful for your opportunity to actually write, those steps over to your chair and your laptop become so much lighter! For more tips how to work on a positive creative mind-set, to set yourself up for success, read this. A positive mind-set will boost your writing!

9. Stop your writing sessions in time!

Don’t wait until you have absolutely nothing more to say for the day to wrap up the session! It is so much easier to keep going the next day if you stop at a good place, where you still know what you want to write next and it still feels easy!

10. Reward yourself afterwards!

Biologically seen we all really do respond to rewards just as well as Pavlov’s dog, if we manage to find the right one for us. If we get a nice treat (even a cup of coffee, a chocolate, a walk or time with the kids) as a reward after the writing time, we will literally start responding to our writing time with pleasant anticipation and a good mood. You wrote today! Good for you! Now go and be kind to yourself – and allow the feeling of how good it does you!

***

How is Butt in chair working for you?

Do you have any more tips to add to the list?

I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Did you like these tips? Perhaps even found them helpful?

I would as always be absolutely thrilled if you would share my article with others!

Keep following your dreams, guys, you can do it!

Best,

A.J. Lundetræ

butt in chair ajl3 you can do it

How to set SMART Writing Goals (with Infographic and Free Work Sheet)

How to Set SMART WRITING GOALS blog

I am rather often asked how I managed to finish writing three books.

I would lie if I told you it was easy, but I’ll tell you what it was instead: Doable!

Why was it doable?

Because I set very clear, realistic, down-to-earth goals on when to finish exactly what.

Yes, that is my entire secret behind finishing three rather long stories.

Setting reachable goals. Then reaching them. Again and again.

Perhaps you are reading this because you have a story inside of you – how marvellous! – and now perhaps you have hit a road mark where you wonder how you could be more effective or how to make your dreams happen by working more clearly towards your goals.

If so, this post is for you!

I’m here to tell you that since you already have a wonderful idea for a story – or a specific life or a dream – you LITERALLY have what it takes to finish it – and achieve what you want!!!

The secret behind reaching high dreams is to break them down into doable goals, and then work your way towards the goal, step by step. One way of doing this, is by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.

What does that mean?

And how do you set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your writing – or for any dream you might have?

Here it is!

Let me tell you with this little Infographic…

How to Set SMART WRITING GOALS

 

By setting S.M.A.R.T. goals our dreams come a little more within reach.

Ready to set your writing goals?

Here’s a free work sheet to help you get started:

My Smart Writing Goals Work Sheet

The work sheet has three pages and it looks like this…

My Smart Writing Goals Work Sheet-page-001My Smart Writing Goals Work Sheet-page-002My Smart Writing Goals Work Sheet-page-003

Have fun setting your S.M.A.R.T. goals!

I hope you set your own goals and give yourself the time to experience that goal setting really can do magic to your dreams and your ambitions!

Did you find this post helpful? I would love it if you would share it!

Do you think it is important to set goals – or perhaps rather to go with the flow? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

I wish you all a lovely day!

– A.J. Lundetræ

Your writing success is not a coincidence

The infographic was made with canva.com.

10 Ways to Shape Your Creative Mindset

New Mindset for New Results on Chalkboard.

New Mindset for New Results

What is a creative mindset?

Your mindset is the set of assumptions and methods that (also unconsciously) guide you through your weeks, influence your choices and your motivation, ultimately even if you reach your dreams or not. Your mindset is, so to speak, the ideas and attitudes with which you approach your life, your work, your dreams and your goals.

A creative mindset is a positive mindset, influencing not just our thoughts, but also our feelings and how we live life, that allows growth and creativity, joy, freedom, purpose and authenticity. To form a creative mindset means to understand that talents and abilities can be developed when we work at it and keep learning. Shaping your creative mindset means that you steer your thoughts – and even your unconsciounsness – into believing in your dreams and working towards achieving them.

Shaping your creative mindset is absolutely essential for setting yourself up for success!

“Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right!” – Henry Ford

Shaping your creative mindset towards reaching your goals and dreams  demands endurance of you – but it is really rather easy to start shaping your mindset!

Let’s shape those mindsets into thinking that WE CAN!

Creativity

New Mindset for New Results

Here are 10 easy steps you can take to start creating your own creative mindset

  • for success
  • for believing in yourself
  • for finishing that creative project you started
  • for living the life you know you want…

10 Ways to Shape Your Creative Mindset

1. Believe in Your Creativity!

Shape your thinking around your own creativity. Make notes, put them where you can see them, cultivate believing in your own creativity: Know that creativity is important to who you are, it only has meaning when expressed, and it needs to be expressed to honor who you really are.

Using your creativity is beautiful, fun – and, yes, important to your well-being!

Your place in this life is being YOU – and this also means expressing who you are – in creative ways!

Being creative is your birthright. Don’t ever believe less.

2. Find and Show Your True Passion!

Allow yourself to be who you really are.

Being authentic is one of the keys to finding happiness. When you accept yourself as you are, you are free to find out what your talents are – in their many varieties – and what you love to do. Your true strenghts are not found when hiding, they are found when allowing yourself to have talents, to search for them, to appreciate them, whatever they are, to pursue getting better at them.

An affirmation I love to tell myself in order to remember not to hide, but to shine is:

“Everything is gonna be okay and I’m gonna be the most true version of myself. I accept the unknown and let it excite me.”

Young woman muse with creative body art and hairdo

New Mindset for New Results

3. Embrace Your Curiosity!

The next time you feel that playful spark of curiosity, like you just want to know or find out something, with no reason except being curious – react on it!

Any kind of knowledge you accquire is not just fun to learn about – it may be useful later in astonishing, unforeseen ways. The more you know – the more ideas can flourish in your mind, the more “dots” your mind may connect to each other, the more you learn.

Start asking “why” questions to people you meet, try to understand new topics – and persons in situations different from your own.

A curious mind sparkles with ideas – about everything!

4. Treat Yourself More Kindly – Cultivate Positive Self-Talk!

The people who really matter, accept you for who you are. And so should you – with every flaw and every talent, every weirdness and every normalness!

You are the only one thinking in your mind. You can rehearse thinking more and more positively about yourself!

Start noticing how you talk to yourself. Are there any negative patterns that you keep repeating? What optimistic, focused, accepting, loving thoughts could you think instead?

Cultivating positive self-talk is a huge step towards shaping a creative mindset! Confront your present reality step by step – and start exchange those negative patterns one by one with solution-focused, positive ones. Every single positive thought matters! Every positive thought leads you in the right direction.

5. Form Deeper, More Connected Relationships!

It is not just time to learn who you truly are – it is also time to show people who you truly are.

You may become astonished, as I were, at the positive response and support people may give you when starting to show them more and more of who you truly are!

These deeper relationships, to perhaps family, friends, partners, will be a boost for your mindset, towards a life of authenticity, expressing your creativity and who you really are.

 

6. Feed Your Imagination – Be Spontaneous!

Cultivate, grow and expand your imagination every single day!

To successfully overcome challenges and obstacles, creative persons need to be able to think in unique ways.

Feeding your imagination can mean everything from painting, drawing, writing, to cooking something new, go to a new art gallery, visit a part of your city you’ve never been to before, read poems, read something new, look at photographs, listening to music, figuring out the stories in the songs, knit something, play with children, go to the theater.

It can also mean to just look out the window at the clouds –  what shapes are they? What story are the clouds telling?

It can even mean to brain-storm and keep a journal. Or sit at a bench in a park, looking at people, trying to imagine their stories. Or daydream every day wildly for five minutes or more!

Through these exercises you will literally learn to think new and outside of the box.

PS! Aren’t these lovely stock photos a great food for the imagination?

Young woman muse with creative body art and hairdo

New Mindset for New Results

7. Set Clear Goals and Objectives for Yourself!

What does your life vision look like? If anything was possible, what is the most awesome things you would like to happen?

Write down the most awesome dreams, as crazy as possible. And then break it down into actual steps that need to happen to get there. Then break it down into baby-steps for your everyday life. What do you need to do right now to achieve that desired outcome somewhen in the future?

Write down your visions, and remind yourself of them often.

When starting each day with focus, you will better be able to direct your mind and efforts on what will help you attain your objectives.

Remember – a creative mindset is curious, positive and believes in possibilities. Those baby steps ARE POSSIBLE, realistic even. Don’t forget your dreams and goals. With small steps, anything is possible.

8. Rehearse the Art of Just Creating – (With a Silent Inner Critic)!

Critic and editing is for later – it is so important for a creative process to be able to just create, freely, with joy, just letting it happen.

It is okay for the creative project to go through editing later – just not too soon! The inner judge can really kill great ideas in an early stage.

When you get new ideas, write all of them down, to remember them for later – no matter how they may seem at first. There will be enough time for criticism later. The stages without criticism, in which creativity flows freely, are necessay!

Rehearse the art of just creating – and enjoying it. Any outcome is okay!

9. Do Something You’re (a little) Scared of!

A creative life is a life outside the comfort zone. Rehearse living there!

Don’t let fears hold you back. Being your true self is a corageous thing – be proud of yourself for doing so!

How can we beat our fears? In addition to acknowledging them, learning to relax and imagining desirable outcomes, I believe the main way to truly overcome fears is to feel the fear and then to do it anyway.

It is such a relief to stop doing something just to please other people – and do what is the most important to ourselves instead.

Doing something you’re scared of, no matter how little, no matter how small the baby steps are, means to grow as a person. A creative mindset embraces growth. Start embracing your fears, one at a time, and you may experience wonderful growth!

10. Know that Problems lead to Solutions, and Failure leads to Learning how to Succeed

Rehearse seeing the good in the bad!

Problems are not necessarily bad, as they often permit solutions, leading to improvements that were not possible, or would’ve only happened very slowly, without the problems.

There are no problems without solutions. Become a solution seeker!

Problems often give us insights into what we need to learn to be able to move on. They may seem like failures, but really, they are just one stepping stone further on the road to success.

Make a habit out of searching for solutions and learning from failure, and failure – and criticism! – won’t be so scary anymore. They’ll be important step stones for your growth. They will, in the end, make you better – and able to succeed.

Problems can be blessings. If you make them into ones.

Creativity

New Mindset for New Results

What methods do you use to shape a creative mindset? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Do you know anyone else who could profit from reading this post? I would love it if you would share it!

Have a great week,

A.J. Lundetræ

 

All images in this post are sourced from photodune.net :  The artists are @tashatuvango @Nejron @kentoh @focalsource

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet to Create A Life-Changing Morning Routine

create your own life changing morning routine

In January I tested out different variations of the so-called “life-changing morning routine“.

The main result was that, yes, it does make a difference if you crash into the day or if your start it with mindfulness and purpose.

But no, there is no “one fits all” morning routine. There is probably one best routine for every soul out there and if we want a life-changing routine, we need to find our own.

That being said, there seem to be certain content categories to a life-changing morning routine which – with individual content – make up great morning rituals.

It DOES make a difference if we sleep enough – whatever that may mean. It DOES make a difference if we start the days eating healthy (whatever that may mean to your body!) – or eating junk, pondering our dreams – or worrying about the day, having time enough – or running around feeling stressed, being chaotic – or with a plan.

It literally changes the outcome of the day.

The “life-changing morning routine” is NOT to be seen as strict rules, they are rather kind of guidelines. Every new habit that is incorporated is a success. Trial and error is to be expected when building up a good routine that works for you.

Do YOU want to change your morning routine a little?

How can YOU start each day with purpose?

How can YOU change your life a little bit every morning?

Built on my main findings I made you guys a cheat sheet infographic you may use as guidelines to create your own life-changing morning routines!

You may use it to start building up your own great routines, and if you do, I would love to hear from you in the comments!

Anything in particular that works really well for you? I’d love to hear about that, too!

Here it is, the Cheat Sheet:

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet Life Changing Morning Routine

 

Liked this infographic? I would love it if you would share it!

I wish you all an uplifting week!

Best,

Agnete

January Experiment: Testing the “Life Changing Morning Routine”

januaryexperiment

The Life Changing Morning Routine

We’ve all heard about it, haven’t we? And if not, it’s about time you heard about it.

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2015 In Retrospect – Highlights and Game Changers

retrospect2015

2015 was a huge game changer for me!

Due to having the awesome Jodi Nelson as my coach I learned about social media strategy, mission statements, business plans and editorial calendars for creatives for the first time ever. I learned about crowdfunding campaigns, e-book launches and online courses. I’ve been learning so much from Jodi – even about the power of a creative mindset, habits, setting goals and building in contingency.

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