Moving from Passion to Purpose and Power ~ Lisa Sellman


Lisa Sellman, owner and professional dog trainer at Aloha Pet Care; Dog Training, volunteers for half a dozen charitable organizations. She believes that community service is its own reward, a message that resonates throughout her new children’s book The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake.

Moving from Passion to Purpose and Power 

By Lisa Sellman 

Mirror neurons have been named the most important recent discovery in neuroscience.  A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when a subject acts and when a subject observes the same action performed by others.  Founded in 1992, neuroscientists observed that the same neurons in the brain of monkeys fired when they themselves picked up a nut as when they observed another monkey picking up a nut.  

Mirror neurons explain many behaviors that a humans exhibit.  Excitement at a sporting event, celebrity endorsed products, or even being prejudice can be explain by mirror neurons.  In reality, the crowd is not playing the game, the purse does not have magical powers, and all humans are unique and not limited to the color of their skin.  

The challenge of being human is that we can see others suffering and feel that pain ourselves.  Our true self wants to take that pain away so we don’t feel the pain within.  We all year to live a life free of suffering and it starts by asking yourself, “How can I serve others?” 

Each time we answer that question with an action, we are saying yes to our true self and yes to the life that we are leading.  This leads to empowerment and you will step out of the victim mentality which is so pervasive today.  Being positive changes the way you see the world.  The seeking desire that others have the answers you seek changes when you can fulfill the needs of others.  We comfort others as we comfort ourselves.   

I started choosing to volunteer in 1997.  I happened across an article in the travel section about a canoe trip in the 10,000 Islands chain in Florida and it sparked my interest.  I contacted the organization, Wilderness Inquiry, and found out there was an opening for a volunteer to assist on the trip.  The trip was in about 10 days and I had time accrued at the hospital where I worked.  I have found this happens all of the time with volunteer activities.  You don’t really plan them – they enroll you and you are just along for the ride. 

That week 14 years ago, has led me to continue volunteering with Wilderness Inquiry for trips in the Boundary Waters, Cascade Mountains of Washington, Dog Sled Trips in Northern Minnesota, and just recently a canoe trip in Montana this past July.  I also daily seem to find something to do to help out somewhere for other organizations and individuals that inspire me.  The people that I am suppose to “help” instead help me to see that we are all alike.  Just like me, they seek happiness, avoid suffering, and may feel loneliness and sadness.  Just like me, they want to fulfill their needs and learn about life.  

My own passion, I have discovered, has been feeling this connectedness that never goes away.  I see what is real in life and no longer only see the concepts that separate us. A happy life for me is one where I feel accepted and know that my ideas and actions are making a difference in the world.   

Isolation and a feeling of hopelessness was very real to me at one time.  Seeing what is the reality and possibility in my life through helping others and being open to the needs of others has healed me and led me forward to a life of purpose. 

Had you told me that I would be writing and that I would publish a children’s book about being of service in your community last year, I would not have believed it.  By following my passion and purpose, my power leads me on paths that bring more and more joy to my life.  Inspiration comes to me now in many forms and I am able to discern quickly what resonates with my true self.  The words that I write, the actions I take, the choices I make, all are aligned so that I can best be of service and encourage others to see their lives as one of meaning and miraculous potential.  The moment I start feeling lack or even fear for my future, it is like wearing a wool sweater that was put in the dryer by mistake.  It used to do the job and I wore it often.  Now it is just an itchy thing that needs to be thrown out and replaced with something that fits.  

Love Christian Speculative Fiction? Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is.

Susan Mitchell sees herself as an ordinary soccer mom, until she’s pulled through a portal into another world, where a nation grappling for its soul waits for a promised Restorer to save their people.

She has always longed to do something important for God, but can she fill this role?

While she struggles to adapt to a foreign culture, she tackles an enemy that is poisoning the minds of the people, uncovers a corrupt ruling Council, and learns that God can use even her floundering attempts at service in surprising ways.

This new expanded edition of The Restorer includes an in-depth devotion guide for readers who want to dig into the spiritual themes of the book, bonus scenes providing glimpses of the story through a variety of characters, and fun extras including links to songs and recipes.

“I love it when what’s typical gets twisted around, and Sharon Hinck has done that again…Brilliant…Highly Recommended.” Christian Fiction Review

“What a ride! Hang on to your speculative seats!”


Larger Than Real Life Characters

This weekend while writing in a coffee shop, I was distracted by real life characters. The people around me, like this guy who greeted this girl with three kisses. His wife? Girl friend? I watched how they talked and interacted. How they were overly considerate and accommodating to each other’s needs. They were obviously dating, or newly married! But they were fairly normal. Nothing special about their interactions, so I went back to my writing.

Then I noticed the guy who came into the coffee shop panting, a backpack slung over his gray sweatshirt that was ripped at the shoulder and soaked, his pants tattered at the cuff. He grabbed the free water, sweat dripping from his forehead, and hunched over just a bit…obviously overheated. I watched him out of the corner of my eye. He downed the water, filled his cup again, and set his backpack by the computer, telling the barrista he’d order something…but in a bit. I wondered…who is this guy? What’s his story?

He looked out of place in a yuppy coffee shop, but ordered a frozen drink. Was he homeless? I didn’t think a homeless person would spend $5 on a drink. Down on his luck? Maybe. Running from an axe murderer? Probably not. So why was he there? Where had he just come from? And why was he wearing a sweat shirt on a 100 degree day?

This is the second time in two weeks in two different coffee shops that I’ve witnessed an out of place, larger-than-real-life character that made me stop and ask, “What’s his story?”

In “Writing the Break Out Novel,” Donald Maass talks about larger-than-life character qualities. He says, “A larger-than-life character is someone who says, does, and thinks things that we would like to but never dare. This does not necessarily mean turning your characters into wise-crackers or pulp clichés. It does mean pushing them out of their own bounds, whatever those might be.”

It also means putting them in out of the ordinary situations.

Those are the kind of characters and stories people like to read about and those are the characters we need to write. The affectionate couple in the corner were ordinary. I gave them a once over, then moved on.

I. Moved. On.

To something more interesting. Someone more interesting.

How do you create larger-than-life characters so your readers can’t move on, but are compelled to ask “What’s his story?” 

Gina Conroy, a.k.a. “the other Gina,” is a new monthly contributor to Novel Rocket. She’s the founder of Writer…Interrupted and is still learning how to balance a career with raising a family. She is represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary, and her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January 2012.

Staying inspired is daunting

Alice J. Wisler grew up in Japan as a missionary kid in the sixties and seventies and now writes Southern fiction from her home in North Carolina. In memory of her four-year-old Daniel, she teaches writing through losses workshops and founded Daniel’s House Publications, a grief organization. Her fourth novel, A WEDDING INVITATION, is about belonging, being invited and accepted, something she feels each of us yearns for.
Staying Inspired!

Inspiration hits you and you know what we’re going to do. You push aside the urge to make Grandma’s Grits Casserole, decline an invitation to the local high school play, forgo coffee with a friend, and set out to fulfill your heart’s calling. Filled with ideas that are brimming with brilliance, you can hardly wait to have that time for yourself to begin. The task? You’re going to write a novel!
You’re so inspired, it’s crazy. Wow, if only your ninth-grade literature teacher could see you now. You open a Word document, the empty file beckoning you to fill it with drama, adventure, romance, and hey, you’re good, let’s add some witty dialogue.
No distractions for you. You tell your children to hold all phone calls. You’re busy here, blazing a new trail. “Make room, Charles Dickens and Jane Austin, I’ll be joining your ranks soon,” you say as a smile expands across your face.
The words fly from your ingenious mind onto the computer screen. Your fingers type rapidly, each word a work of art. After completing a page, you decide that it’s time to read your masterpiece. Aloud, you begin. “It was a dark and stormy night.”  Uh.  Really? A voice that was so encouraging just hours ago, now betrays you by speaking in a squeaky voice to taunt, “This sounds like a first grader wrote it.”
Stepping away from the computer, defeat filling every crevice of your creative mind, you head to the kitchen to cheer yourself up with a piece of chocolate. As you eat another piece and another, you conclude that the world doesn’t need another novel anyway. You call your friend to say hey, your hectic schedule just opened up and you can make it for coffee, after all.
What killed your muse? What caused you to stop when you started with such inspiration? Only a myth. The myth is that writing is easy. Remember that inspiration is only one percent of the equation.  Perspiration is ninety-nine percent. Getting inspired to write—scanning the newspaper or community news bulletins for ideas, eavesdropping on others at Starbucks—is a piece of pie compared to that other word you seldom hear about these days—discipline.
I’ve been writing stories and novels since I was six. Embarking on the task was easy. I bought pencils, notebooks, and scented erasers (my favorites were melon and strawberry) from the local stationer’s store in Awaji, Japan, picking out just the right ones to accomplish my inspiration. On the walk home from the store, certainty gripped me. Within the pages of this newest notebook, I’d be able to create a story so worthy of awe and praise that I’d be the talk of the town (in a different way than I was used to being talked about as a tall, noisy, blonde-haired gaijin with the American nose).
Dare I admit that over the course of my childhood, I had a closet of unfinished projects? Or were you already suspecting that?
So the question that continued to nip at me even into my adulthood was: How do you stay disciplined?
My two cents on staying inspired and motivated would include:
Make sure you have an idea for a novel that you’ve thought through really well. You know, action and some sort of crisis and characters that are real. I think romance is always nice, but it might not fit into your genre. By all means,  toss in a recipe or two (I do and then when I’m weary from writing and go to my kitchen and make the recipe, chalking it up to research. That’s why each of my published novels has recipes in the back).
Add to the plot and subplots each day for at least a week before you start to write. Have a design for your work, just don’t point and shoot. Keep layering it, layer upon layer. Outline if that helps. A thorough synopsis is an invaluable tool, allowing you to see more clearly how your storyline all fits together— if you can stomach the tediousness of forming one.
Write with music! Write even when you aren’t inspired. Chances are that if you keep at it for fifteen minutes (you can set a timer), you’ll be motivated to continue by the end of the fifteen-minute segment.
As we say in the South, get ’er done!  Keep at it. Whether it is adding to your page count or word count, set a goal and stick to it. Make realistic daily goals, somewhere between 5 to 7,000 words. The reminder on my desk is: “The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.” I loathe running, but the prompt keeps me focused.
Oh, there are so many more nuggets of wisdom I could tell you about how to stay inspired, but hey, this article is getting kinda dull to write and I’d rather be outside walking in the autumn leaves.  Plus I heard that there’s a new batch of Hello Kitty scented erasers on sale at Target.
Gotta go! As we say in Japan, gambatte (good luck)!
A Wedding Invitation
It’s hard to concentrate when the past keeps shoving its way into your thoughts…

After returning home from teaching in a refugee camp in the Philippines, Samantha Bravencourt enjoys her quiet life working at her mother’s clothing boutique near Washington, D.C. When she receives an invitation to her friend’s wedding in Winston-Salem, NC, she’s excited to reconnect with her college pals.

But the wedding turns out quite differently than Sam expects. A chance encounter leads to a reunion with Carson Brylie, a fellow teacher and the man who once broke her heart, and Lien, a young Amerasian girl who desperately needs Sam and Carson’s help.

But working with Carson might put Sam’s tender heart at risk once again. Is she willing to forgive the past and take another chance on love?