Your Guide to Mindful Parenting

My feature article on Your Guide to Mindful Parenting has just been published in the most recent issue of The Green Parent (UK) magazine. You can find it on Page 22. The article focuses on mindful living and finding the balance in everyday life. It also touches on how parents can become more present and aware.

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If you’re not in the UK and can’t pick up a print copy, you can also subscribe electronically.

Enneagram for Character Building

In the early stages of beginning a new WIP, I’ll spend days (even weeks) developing my characters. I write pages of notes about them. They write me 1-2 page letters telling me about themselves. I have conversations with them in my head, and although I get to know their likes and dislikes, what I’m mostly concerned with is what they’re really like inside and what makes them tick. I need to know why they would or wouldn’t do things. I get to know them so well, that they begin to feel like real people!

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I believe that getting to know your characters inside out is essential to developing your character arc. Getting clear on how your character will change, grow or shift perspective throughout your story before you begin writing it, can save you a lot of redrafting later.

Once you know your character well, you can answer questions like:

- What is my character like at the beginning of the story vs the end of the story?

- When (and why) does he/she begin to change and what brings about this change/shift/growth?

One handy tool I use to help me with character building is an enneagram. The enneagram is a geometric figure that maps out 9 fundamental personality types. There certainly can be an overlap between personality traits but I’ve found that it provides a good way of learning more about personality traits, and can also spark some really good ideas for your characters.

I’d love to hear how other writers out there approach character building. Do you use the enneagram? If not, how do you go about developing or getting to know your characters?

Chain Hop: My Writing Process

I’m happy to join this blogging chain-hop of writers, answering four questions on our Writing Process. Thanks to Laura Brown for nominating me!

What am I working on? 

I’ve spent the last few months polishing and revising THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE. Since then, I’ve been filling up my cup of inspiration and been doing some research for my next book.

While I have a few more ideas and outlines for books saved on my hard drive and in the back of my mind, I don’t want to say too much about them because my ideas tend to change and burst open like a flower in full bloom once I begin writing and plotting!

For the book I’m currently writing though, I came across an inspiring story somewhere and I was so intrigued by it that I knew in that moment that I wanted to write a novel about it. I took some time to let some ideas flow to see whether I felt passionate enough about it and when I couldn’t stop thinking about it, I linked up all my ideas, let the characters come to life in my head, did some research and plotted an outline. Then I began to write.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I like to delve deep into a character and how they see life. I’m fascinated by people and will often ponder why everyday people act the way they do when faced with certain obstacles or events in their lives. I love picking apart emotions and getting into a character’s head.

I love to travel and as such, I love injecting a bit of flavour into my stories through unique settings. Travel has enriched my life and I love when a book can not only transport you into someone else’s life but also into a new culture or setting.

Why do I write what I do? 

At it’s simplest: because I can’t not write! Ever since I was a little girl I’ve dreamt of being an author. I enjoy writing that allows me to immerse myself deeply into a character’s feelings and motivation for their actions. Oh, and while I adore a great love story, I like my characters to be dealing with big stuff too.

How does my writing process work? 

My stories usually find me, and they don’t let me go until I’ve written them! I don’t have a strict process though because I find that stifles my creativity. My writing for THE FLORENTINE BRIDGE was inspired by my former life in Florence, Italy where I lived for several years. I adore Italy for so many reasons: the lifestyle, the culture, the people, the food, its unique beauty… there’s just so much to love (and write) about it! Once I sat down and wrote the first pages I found the story between Mia and Luca just had to be told and I had very little sleep until it was finished. During the writing process I’d carry around a notebook with me everywhere and at night I would sleep with it beside my bed. Usually lines of dialogue or scenes come to me when I’m driving or about to fall asleep.

That’s me done!

I’m now passing the Writing Process chain on to the next writers. Next week (Monday 17th March) you can discover their answers to the 4 fast questions. In the meantime, please take a look at their bios and where to find them!

Jodi Gibson:  Jodi is a thirty something freelance and corporate writer, blogger and aspiring novelist. After graduating from the Australian Writers’ Centre writing for Newspapers and Magazines course in 2012 she has been published in a number of online websites and continues to pursue her love of writing. Fiction is her true love and in between wrangling four children, a husband and a menagerie of animals she has managed to complete a draft of her first novel ‘Rest Stop’ – A tale of emotion, love, heart ache and the choice we all face in life; to follow our heart or our head. Now in editing mode Jodi is looking forward to one day being a published author and seeing her name in lights. Well, at least of the cover of a real book!

Nicole Tone Nicole is a 24 year old MFA Candidate and has been published in a few college literary magazines. When she’s not working or taking classes, she spends a lot of time traveling—usually with her husband. When at home, she’s kept company by her three cats and German Shepherd, Peyton. Nicole just finished her first book, Lake Effect, a New Adult novel following a nineteen year old art student, and is in the planning stages of her second. 

{Giveaway} OTI Monthly Planner & Diary!

There’s something about stationery that makes me feel all kinds of happy. It’s March, and while I probably should have tried to get organised in January, I was kind of tied up in heavy writing and edits. So, it’s a little later than planned but I want to share with you the wonderful Monthly Planner and Diary that the folk at OTI Organisers have recently gifted me.

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First up, I love the Monthly Planner. Mine goes on the fridge (yes, they even thought to put a magnet on the back of them) and the handy tear off sheets allow you to start on whatever day you choose, so you don’t have to use the sheets in month order. There’s a spot along the side for a To-Do list and it’s perforated (genius!).

Secondly, the diary. Aside from the fact that it’s my favourite colour, it’s got everything you need – space for goals, organising your holidays, and planning events! These guys have thought of everything.

Big thumbs up for OTI. So… who would like one? For your chance to win a Monthly Planner and Diary valued at $44.00 all you need to do is tell me (by Monday 10th March) in 50 words or less why you want one and how it will change your life. *Australian residents only please!*

Article Research: Raising Girls Who Love Their Bodies

I’m currently crafting a 2000 word feature article for an international parenting magazine on the topic of Raising Girls Who Love Their Bodies, a topic I’m really passionate about. And yes, that image makes me want to cry. Which is why I’m thrilled that this message of empowerment is going to be published for a wide readership.
Mothers of little girls: if you would like to share any insight or personal stories on how we can empower our little girls to love their bodies and/or share any personal experiences of how your mother’s perception of her body influenced your own body image as a child, I would love to hear from you.

You can email me at vanessa {AT} vanessacarnevale.com no later than the 5th March.RaisingGirlsWhoLoveTheirBodies

When you run out of juice, fill up your cup

When the threads of inspiration effortlessly weave their way into my heart and onto my page, life is great. Being in the flow is living life like a work of art, creating as you go, letting your ego and all sense of time fall away as you immerse yourself completely in what is a new creation.

But sometimes the juice runs out and the mind goes blank. It happens to us all. What I’ve learnt is that this isn’t a reason to give up and walk away. It just means it’s time to fill up your cup.

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Over the past several months I feel like all I’ve been doing is exchanging emails with Critique Partners. Immersed in editing, redrafting and revising, I’ve been getting a lot less sleep than usual. Although I wouldn’t change my life as a writer, I’m ready to sink my teeth into another novel for which some ideas have been brewing but aren’t yet fully cooked. So, I’m spending the next month or so filling up my cup.

Walks in nature, ocean waves, summer afternoons reading under a tree, and giggles with my girlfriends should do it for me.

How do you fill up your cup of inspiration?

Eyes on these blogs

It seems you guys liked my Eyes on these blogs post last month so it’s back again this month. This is where I share my favourite blogs for the month whether they’re for writing, health, or plain ol’ inspiration. Be sure to share the links to your favourites or your own blog below. I’m always on the lookout for blogs to share with my tribe!

Here are my top 5 blogs for the month of February.

1. HEALTH & WELLBEING: BRENDA JANSCHEK HEALTH & LIFESTYLE

She’s a mama, a health coach and wellness blogger. Brenda is a great role model not only for her own kids but for other mamas like me. All eyes on her healthy recipes – I’ve tried and tested lots of them and they deliver; especially her Notella!

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2. ADVICE FROM A LITERARY AGENT: JANET REID

Lots of Q&A’s and fabulous advice on writing, manuscripts, as well as do’s and don’ts. I think it’s really wonderful when a literary agent takes the time in his/her no doubt busy life to blog about the industry which educates writers of all genres. This is one blog I know I’m super grateful for and have learnt a lot from.
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3. INSPIRATION: NURTURE & SHINE

Amelia is a holistic wellness coach and her posts are always inspiring and positive even when she’s posting about the tougher times. I think that’s one of the things I especially love about her. She ain’t afraid to get authentic. Get on this one lovelies!
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4. WRITER: LIVE, WRITE, THRIVE

The blog of author CS Lakin for writers. Here she shares some really valuable tips and insights. Have fun trawling through the archives of this one – there’s lots to learn here.
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5. LIFESTYLE: TINY-MOMENTS

The blog of my dear friend and past collaborator of Mindful Moments: Sharing Happiness through Gratitude, Cath Connell. Our little free eBook project for parents brought us together a while back and I’m glad to say we’ve remained buddies. You’ll love her outlook on life and those tiny moments you want to first of all notice, and then hold onto forever.

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What are your favourite blogs? Scroll down and share yours with me below and I might just share it here next month.

Five tips for getting into the flow

Sometimes it’s nice to set an intention to help get your creative mojo kickstarted. Here are my five tips to help you get into the flow and draw on your creative inspiration.

Step 1: Boot off. Switch off. (Yes, all of it)

Step 2:  Music. Of your choice. Scent. Essential oil of your choice. Burn it. Diffuse it. Spray it.

Step 3: Pen. Notebook. You. Presence.

Step 4: Write: Today I let the words flow through me.

Step 5: Let the words + ideas flow through you. Write. Write. Write.

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Optional: Swap your intention in Step 4. Eg: Today I am at peace. Today I want to bring xyz into my life. 

How’d you go? Did it work for you?

Eyes on these blogs.

This year I want to do a bit more sharing. Each month I’m going to share with you five websites and words that inspire me. So, who’s making me feel happy and inspired this month?

Here are my top 5 blogs for the month of January.

1. WRITER

The blog of Allison Tait. She’s writes about writing, books and life in general. And you can always join her Pink Fibro Bookclub on Facebook too.
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2. ADVICE FROM A LITERARY AGENT

I recently stumbled upon Sarah Nego’s site. She’s a literary agent for Corvisiero Literary Agency. What I lurve about her blog is that she dishes up some really great advice on writing, querying and what agents are looking for. So, if you’re a writer and wanting to learn about the big beautiful world of traditional publishing and its intricacies, be sure to check her out over on Twitter too – some of the knowledge and info she shares there is gold. I would have loved to query Sarah one day but I later read that she’s not so into contemporary or NA. Awww! (Insert: Big sad face!)
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3. INSPIRATION

I breathe in and let out a big beautiful ahhhh whenever I read this one, plus I know first hand that Rach is a super wonderful coach. Inspiration a-la-carte all wrapped up in the package full of soul food that is In Spaces Between. Plus, this girl has such an incredible voice. Love, love, love her writing.
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4. FOR MAMAS

No matter where you are on your parenting journey, I guarantee you that Amy gets it. She really does. This is the place to go on the bad days when you’re tearing your hair out over the roller coaster journey that is parenting. And when you’re having a good day, which I hope is more often than not, grab a tea or coffee and soak it all up.
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5. LIFESTYLE

A life less frantic – the delightful blog of Kelly Exeter. This one’s great for a lighthearted read – I often find myself nodding with an “oh, I so know that feeling” when reading Kelly’s posts. Worth a read.
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What are your favourite blogs? Scroll down and share yours with me below and I might just share it here next month.

Scenes of Tuscany in my head.

I’ve been using Pinterest lately as an inspiration tool for my writing. When I write I usually see the scenes in my mind almost like a movie that’s playing out in front of me. I’ve been blown away by some of the images I’ve found on Pinterest that look almost exactly like the scenes I’ve seen in my head! If you’re highly visual, I recommend giving Pinterest a go; especially in those moments where you get stuck and the words aren’t flowing.

Here’s my Book Inspiration board for The Florentine Bridge, which is the current novel I’m writing – set in Florence, Italy. Enjoy!

Follow Vanessa Carnevale’s board Book Inspiration on Pinterest.

So tell me… do you use Pinterest for your own writing inspiration? Comment with your username so I can see what you’re up to!