5 ways to help the planet, your health and purse

With the beginning of the New Year many of us are trying to improve their lives, whether it’s health, work, wardrobe, or social relationships. But this year I also want to focus more on my impact on the environment. I very much want to be part of the solution and not the problem. So this year I will observe these new rules:

Lay off the Meat
I love my steak like the next person but I also understand that I am not doing a favor to the planet or my health. So I decided to cut meat in my daily diet to just two days a week. I see this as a chance to improve my cooking skills and doing something for the planet.

Ecosia
Planting trees while surfing the web. Ecosia is a search engine that does exactly that. While I’ve been using this search engine in the past, I want to encourage more people to do the same. So ditch Google and try this one.

Fairtrade
I am not rich and I know that Fairtrade products are more expensive than others but I see it from this side: one package of Fairtrade coffee from the supermarket is still cheaper than a cup of Star Bucks coffee. Same goes for any other product. A couple of cents for me make a huge difference to people in poorer parts of the world.

Vintage all the way
Saving some money is one of the priorities for me this year. So going vintage will certainly help me and the planet. Whether it’s clothes, furniture or anything else, I want to buy only second hand. I am doing a good service to my own purse and that of someone else instead of a multinational company. This way I am not going to put a strain to precious resources.

Palm Oil
Fact is, the production of palm oil is destroying rainforests all over the world. And it is now used in many products, as a butter substitute in food or a fat substitute in many cosmetic products. So before buying something I will check whether it contains palm oil and choose an alternative.

How about you? What are your strategies to help the environment?

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How to keep New Year’s Resolutions

Every year I am making New Year’s resolutions. And every year on the 12th of February I abandon them for reasons that sound a lot like excuses. So apparently I am doing something wrong. This year, I did a little bit of research on how to actually go through with your resolutions. Find here the concise wisdom of the internet!

  1. Keep it short
    I had about 12 resolutions on my list. The chance of actually achieving all of them are as slim as I want to be. Internet says, focus on 2 or 3 which are really important to you and relevant to your life (no becoming a unicorn this year).
  2. Keep it specific
    So far all my resolutions were far too vague. Becoming healthy. Becoming more confident. Becoming a successful author. None of them are attainable because how do I know when I have achieved it? Choose a specific goal and set a timeframe. So this year I write: I want to publish my first book by the 1 of September. Now I have a precise goal to work towards.
  3. Keep it silent
    According to internet telling all your friends that you’re writing a book creates a false sense of achievement which leads to not completing the task anymore. Instead it is recommended to use the buddy system. Find someone who will hold you accountable, if you don’t write your book. But find also find someone who is kind. There’s no point in hearing every day what a failure you are.
  4. Make a plan
    We need a plan, captain! Or a route. Anything really. To have the goal of publishing a book in September sounds nice but if you don’t specify how you gonna get there, you will probably deroute and end up in China. Make little subgoals, set a time frame and reward yourself for achieving them: Finish first draft by February, finish editing in May, finish marketing in June etc. This way you won’t have to wait till September to feel great about yourself and you will be motivated to keep on going.
  5. Review and focus
    Is the route you’re taking still the right one? Did you load more than you can handle? Did you load less than you can handle? Take a moment to review your progress so far and adapt if necessary.
  6. Keep it positive
    So you slipped. You ate that chocolate. You didn’t write this chapter. And you’re so close to abandoning the whole thing altogether. DON’T! Slip ups don’t matter. It happened, you move on.
  7. Remember why you started
    Choose a goal which is really relevant to your life and that matters to you. In the beginning write down why you want to achieve this goal and when you’re down, reread it. Motivation should always come from within. No-one is forcing you to do this. You’re doing it because you want to. Because your past-you knows what’s good for you.

My goal this year is to publish my magical murder mystery novel. And I wish you all the luck and dedication in the world to achieve your resolutions. What are your resolutions?

2017 – Books I read. Things I learned.

 

On my social media accounts I claim to be an avid reader. For reasons unknown to me I managed to read only 12 books this year. But still, I learned a lot from them. So if you’re looking for some reading inspiration for next year or just want to glee about the fact that you read more – hop on!

The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
The year started philosophically. I was in Morocco at that time and found this to be a very fitting read. It’s basically a book about never giving up and pursuing your dreams and finding your true purpose in life. It also made me wanna open a tea-shop. If you’re standing at the crossroads in your life –  read it!

The Ballad of the Sad Café – Carson McCullers
There are books were the words are as smooth as the sea after a storm. This book is one of them. It was an accidental read. I found it in the hostel I was staying in but so glad I did. It’s not as famous as “The heart is a lonely hunter” but also very worth reading. If you like good prose and profound sadness – go for it!

How Life imitates Chess – Garry Gasparow
Written by world famous chess Grandmaster Garry Gasparow this non-fiction is an interesting way to spend an evening. It’s about how chess strategies apply on everyday life and ultimately how to get better at it. It really does help if you want to further your career or start a new one and I recommend it – not only for chess players.

1984 – George Orwell
It’s a classic. You probably heard all about it. Moving on.

Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
Okay, now I have to explain. You see, I refused to read classics as a teen because all the cool kids read them and I never was a cool kid. But now I am slowly picking up and working my way through the classics. All I have to say about this one: It’s not about censorship. It’s really not.

My Cousin Rachel – Daphne du Maurier
I saw the trailer for the movie with Rachel Weisz and had to read it! It’s a masterclass on unreliable narrators, plottwists and mystery. Read it!

Maskerade – Terry Pratchett
The depiction of witches in modern day literature. Aw! Screw it! I pretended to do research for my own book with this one but I simply love Terry Pratchett and this one was fun to read. Also Nanny Ogg publishes a book and bargains hard with the publisher. Get your tricks here!

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle
This really was for research. Murder, mystery, old mansions in the countryside. Loving all of it!

Bali statt Bochum – Natascha Wegelin
Nope. This is not a spin-off Eat, Pray, Love. It’s a really good finance advice book. In the middle of the year I decided that I finally wanted to become a real adult and deal with my finances myself and in a professional way. This book is a good start for doing just that. Sadly only available in German.

The Wee Free Men –  Terry Pratchett
Introducing: Tiffany, the witch! Pratchett’s first real young adult fiction and a wonderful at that. The story of a little girl fighting fairies and discovering her true self. One of my favorite discworld books.

The man who mistook his wife for a hat – Oliver Sachs
It’s truely amazing how much can go wrong in your brain. Written by a neurologist in the Seventies and Eighties a fascinating read on mental illnesses caused by accidents, wartime trauma, syphillis and many others. Sometimes funny, often sad and shocking. You will value your fragile sanity after this one.

The Very Thought of You – Rosie Alison
Closing the year with a light read. What I learned from this book? To keep writing my own. Stories need to be told, otherwise what else is there?

And that’s it from me. How many books did you manage? Did you like all of them? Comment in the section below.

 

Granny, tell me about the witches

My grandmother provided the inspiration for my NaNoWriMo story. She’s no witch, mind you. But like all grandmothers, mine is special. She was raised in Siberia, a land where stories are in every fiber of the people that inhabit it. A land where people get lost in snowstorms and disappear as if taken by the snow queen. In winter packs of wolfs come down from the mountains and prey on the weak and vulnerable. And of course there were witches.

They didn’t live in a remote hut in the forest – it was too dangerous for that. They lived in the little communities of the villages. Sometimes undetected, sometimes not. Some were evil, some were not. Believing the accounts of my grandmother, the evil ones prevailed.

They would curse people with diseases, they would make the milk go sour, they would make the goats get lost in the woods. They seemed to have a particular animosity against children. In one instance, a harmless looking elder woman picked up my mother’s neighbor’s baby boy, weighed him in her arms and then proclaimed: This one’s for the water. The boy drowned, when he was three years old. Or so the story goes.

But one story stroke me in particular. It was the story of a healing woman, a Babka. She told my granny about her life. That she always had that gift, ever since she was a little girl. Whenever a sheep would go missing, she would know which neighbor took it or in which part of the forest it was roaming aimlessly. She knew who was sick and who was dying, just by looking at them. And she could heal people.

But although she was a good one, people feared her. And because they feared her, they hated her. The stealing neighbor once almost beat her to death. Her life was dominated by exclusion and abuse. And still she kept on healing without ever taking money.

So this is the kind of story that I want to write. About the injustice of little minds and the acceptance of one’s own fate in the face of resistance. And about murder, because there was grandpa with stories about Sherlock Holmes.

What was your inspiration for your project?

NaNoWriMo – What I have been doing wrong

This is not a post about how to stay motivated. This is a post to tell you why on day 9 I am behind my NaNoWriMo word count although I have not been that busy.

1. I forgot to read.
I don’t mean research. I mean reading for pleasure. It’s a good way to get out of your head and indulge in a nice story. It will also give you some inspiration which you will need later on.

2. I wrote alone.
Now, if you are an introvert like me, the mere idea of meeting people you don’t know and writing with them, sends chills down your spine. But I’ve done it! And it wasn’t only okay, it was fun. You get out of the house, you meet cool people on the same journey as you are and you get some writing done. Win-Win I’d say.

3. I don’t do daylong breaks. 
But… but… my word count. That were the words in my head. But it’s nonsense! Work ahead and then treat yourself to a break. It’s important to do brakes. You can get entangled in a story and not know, where’s what. You don’t really need to go anywhere. Just keep away from your novel for a day.

4. I treat myself with sweets.
DON’T! WHAAT?! Yes, don’t. We’re not dogs. Besides the sugar will make your insulin levels rise, you get a high and then a down, and won’t be able to write (or not feel like it). Also it’s not nice if in the end of November instead of getting 50.000 words you get 5 pounds on your hips. And then Christmas hits and boy! you better start stick to those New Year’s resolutions. (Speaking from experience).

5. I treated myself with TV or Netflix.
WHAAAAAAT?! First candy, now this. Yes! Believe me. Yo’re hearing it from the mountain. Don’t do it. Studies show that your brain does not relax when staring at a screen. If you want to watch your favorite series at the end of the day, go for it. But if you intend to write again in the day, just go for a walk.

6. I don’t check Social Media.
You think I am with messing with ya. I ain’t. Interacting on Social Media – within limits – helped me to stay motivated and inspired. @GerNoWriMo and @NaNoWriMo do frequent word sprints which are always fun. Also, posting about your own accomplishments will give you a boost and telling others about your project will make you fall in love with it again.

7. I only wrote when I was inspired.
What an amateur! I know. I know. Shame. Shame. (Lady ringing a bell.) But writers don’t wait for inspiration. Writers drag that biatch out of that Netflix marathon she has been hiding in and get to work. Now, seriously. Usually inspiration turns up on page three, when you have been beating through the bush of mediocracy for 1000 words. But she will come. You just have to work for it.

And that’s all from me. Do you have any NoGos concerning NaNoWriMo? Tell me!

PS. Just in case you are wondering where I get the ideas for my ridiculous headlines. I watch a lot of Youtube. 😉

Magic, Murder, Mystery – Introducing my NaNoWriMo novel

NaNoWriMo’s a bitch. I am looking forward to an amazing experience but I also know that there will be times when I don’t really feel like writing. And nothing’s worse than an inconsistent writer.

Now, if you’re anything like me, there’s nothing that motivates you more than people who hold you accountable. So I decided not only to shout out all over Social Media that I am indeed writing a novel in one month. But I also want to introduce it here, so hopefully you – faithfull readers  and casual walkers-by – will ask me about it. And say: Hey, Ily! Where’s the novel you promised us?

So this is what it will be about:

1557. Magic returned to England. Out of the ashes of burned abbeys and dissolved monasteries the magical force transpired from the ancient grounds and reclaimed what was once its own, before Christianity entered the island.
In this turmoiled world young governess Zara Nesbit is send out to an old abbey to prepare a little girl for the evils that lurk in the dark. But she cannot keep the dangers of the magical world at bay. A farmer’s wife is found dead and soon everyone in the village and abbey are on the hunt for a witch. But was it really a magical being that killed the unfortunate woman? Or is there a greater mystery to solve?
Zara must find the murderer before any more victims start piling up and the villagers lose their heads in a mad witch hunt. But she soon finds out that she is out of her depth in this mysterious case and that the murder was just the beginning.

So, tell me what you think. I’d love to hear you opinion. And are you writing a novel yourself? Then tell us all about it!

How to kill your inner snowflake

At one point in our life we all think that we’re special. I am particulary blaming my mother for this. Of course in those early childhood years in a big scary world, it’s important for a child to know that it matters. Problems start when you carry that thought into adult life and develop something called: the special snowflake syndrom. We all know that one person and most of us have been suffering from it ourselves. Here’s the thing that I realized:

Thinking I’m a special snowflake keeps me from doing anything!

Because special snowflakes are not like the others, they’re unique. And if you’re unique that’s a quality in itself. So you’re done. You don’t have to do anything anymore. Some adventure will come your way surely. There are millions of books and movies that play on that premise. Oh, she’s so special. Blah blah blah. Which makes young impressionable readers and viewers think they want to be special, too. But they don’t. And you don’t! Because there’s gonna come a moment in your life when you find out:

There’s someone just like you!

For me that moment came three days ago, when I realized that my very original idea of writing a novel for NaNoWriMo17 about witches and murder and mystery wasn’t that original at all. There are at least seven people in my Twitter feed alone that had the same idea! My inner snowflake went in a rage, which made me notice it for the first time. I also realized, the problem are not the others. The problem is the snowflake which blames the world and others for my own unoriginality and shortcomings. So that was the point when I decided: That snowflake needs to go!

Here’s how you get rid off your inner special snowflake:

  1. Realize you’re not unique – and that’s a good thing. Someone struggled just the way you did and they made it, so you can make it, too. There’s solice in that.
  2. You’re not original – and that’s a good thing. Someone is also writing a book about witches and magic? Good! It means it’s a popular genre. There are potential readers who are as passionate about it as you are. Now find your own voice and make it happen.
  3. No adventure will come your way – and that’s a good thing. Yes, it is, you lazy bastard. Want an adventure? Get out there and find yourself one! Take your life in your own hands.
  4. You’re not a lone wolf – and that’s a good thing. There is so much help out there. Get it. Jenna Moreci‘s Youtube channel is a source of advice and inspiration. Rachael Stephen I also just can’t stop watching. And there are tons of forums and groups you can join and get help or help others.
    It takes a village to raise a child. And it takes a community to write a novel.

So melt your inner special snowflake to a drop of water and let something nice grow out of it. (So poetic of me). And tell me what you think in the comments below. Did you kill your inner snowflake? What was the moment of truth for you?

The Real Meaning of NaNoWriMo

If you’re anything like me you have at least a dozen of unfinished manuscripts wasting away in your drawer or on your computer. All complete with their own world, inhabited by interesting creatures waiting to finally live their story. The problem is: they don’t. Why? Because I don’t tell their story.

I wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid imagining the pigsty in our yard to be a witches house and I was the little girl trapped in it by an evil hag (my sister) or the other way around. I love stories more than anything in the world. I live them everyday. Writing? Not so much.

When I was a kid I imagined being a writer to be very easy. To publish a book, you just need to write it. Little did I know (internal sobbing). And I am not talking about the hustle of finding an agent, a publisher or even a beta-reader. I am not even at that stage yet. Today, 20 years after I decided to become a writer, I don’t even have a finished first draft yet.

Why? Because life. Because doubts. Because I chose a secure job instead of focussing on my art. Because after a long day, I don’t feel like writing. And when I do write, there is that voice that tells me: Who are you kidding. You’re not a writer. This is awful.

And then I found about NaNoWriMo. The month where you write your novel. Where you forget your doubts and fears and excuses and just write. Where you say: I am a writer and writers write. Woody Allen poignantly said that “80 Percent of Life is just showing up”. And that is all you need really. Commit yourself to your writing. Show up everyday and complete that 50 000 words draft. I am not going to be next Bukowsky afterwards but I will be one step closer to my final goal: Being a writer. And that is what NaNoWriMo is for.

So come along with me on this fantasical adventure, if you dare. I am glad for all the company I get. And what about you? What kept you from writing? And how do you keep yourself motivated throughout the month? I’d love to hear your advice in the comments below. 🙂