Writing Tips from Fitzgerald, Ishiguro, and Vonnegut

If you’re feeling stuck or just craving inspiration, or if you’d love to get a peek at the creative process of a favorite author, these are for you, thanks to 1st Books* and Boing Boing:

8 Writing tips from F. Scott Fitzgerald (courtesy of 1st Books*) GreatGatsby

My favorite of Fitzgerald’s: “I think it’s a pretty good rule not to tell what a thing is about until it’s finished. If you do you always seem to lose some of it. It never quite belongs to you so much again.” Read the rest of his tips here.

6 Writing tips from Kazuo Ishiguro (also courtesy of 1st Books*)

RemainsofthedayMy favorite of Ishiguro’s: “Focus on the relationship, and the characters will take care of themselves.” Read the rest of his tips here.

8 Writing tips from Kurt Vonnegut (courtesy of Boing Boing)

My favorite of Vonnegut’s: “Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them–in order that the reader may see what they are made of.” Read (or hear; they have the audio!) the rest of his tips here. Breakfastofchampions

*I recently discovered 1st Books, and I LOVE this blog. It’s all about writing, and it’s filled with inspiring pieces about the creative process. 1st Books is hosted by New York Times best-selling author Meg Waite Clayton.

Cloud migration consulting

Cloud migration becomes a necessity in business development. This is relevant not only to the IT area. There are many kinds of businesses that already use cloud computing in their IT operations. Every business needs to store data, count expenses, plan logistics or perform other operations online. Cloud migration allows to make all these processes faster and optimize the work of the whole system. The best way to move to the cloud is by referring to one of cloud migration companies

Types of cloud migration

There are three common ways to execute cloud migration. Before starting the migration process, cloud migration companies choose the approach suitable for you. Your software consists of three following layers: operating system (OS), database (DB) and the application itself. You can move them with or without changes. It depends on the application state. Thus, you might move to the cloud by one of the following ways:

  1. Lift-and-shift. This approach also is called “moving as is” because you don’t change almost anything, just copy your software from local hardware and paste to the cloud environment. You might ask if it’s so simple, why do you need a consulting company in this case? Well, there are some details. For uninterrupted work of your system, you should pay attention to the continuous dataflow. Data will come to the system while it is moving to the new environment. Dataflow is split into two streams – one goes to the local copy and another to the cloud. So, it is crucial to merge the application with two dataflows in the right way.
  2. Technical migration. This way of migration means changes in the OS and BD. The application stays without big changes. On-prem OS and BD are usually replaced by their cloud analogs. This layer can be provided independently or as the interim step before the next step.
  3. Application migration. This approach includes changes in all three layers. It is used when software couldn’t be moved without changes. Usually, in this case, the application, OS and BD versions are old or incompatible for cloud. Sometimes this is the only right way of the cloud migration. It can take more time and resources but as a result, you’ll have a powerful, optimized, cloud-native system.

As you can see, cloud migration is a complex process that can be peculiar sometimes. It is very important to work without pauses while your software is moving to the cloud. You should pay attention to a lot of details to implement cloud computing without losses. The best way to do it is by hiring a cloud consulting partner which will take care of all the processes.

How does the cloud migration strategy look like?

Basic cloud strategy includes the following steps:

  1. Choosing the Managed Service Provider (MSP). Maybe, the most important step. Experienced MSP can make all the processes almost invisible to you and you’ll see only the result. In the same way, unscrupulous MSP can fail the work completely.
  2. Building a plan. On this step, you and your MSP make the migration strategy that suits your company. A lot of companies perceive building such a strategy as an unnecessary step, but a good plan will protect you from a lot of mistakes in the future.
  3. Choosing the cloud provider. There are two biggest cloud providers – Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud Platform. Both have own features and it is important to find a suitable one.
  4. Making software refactoring. This step means preparations before moving the software to the cloud. On this stage, application, OS and BD can be modified for the new environment.
  5. Building CI/CD pipeline and allocating resources. This is the final step where MSP implements Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Deployment (CD) to increase system efficiency. Also, on this step, MSP allocates resources for future scaling. This makes your project flexible.

Conclusion: why do you need cloud migration consulting?

Moving to the cloud is a complex process with a bunch of details and features you have to deal with. Thus said, you need a reliable MSP with wide experience in this area. A trustworthy MSP will make a strategy with you, discuss all the details and wishes, and make migration as convenient as it can be.

Goodness grace-ness me – handling it with aplomb

Grace. The word or name conjures up wonderful feelings of spirituality, humility and beauty.

It also reminds me of the importance of having grace under pressure.

In my professional and personal life I have endured many high stress situations and events.

Working in crisis communication for example meant always expecting the unexpected, and sometimes horrible things happened and you had to be one to keep your cool and put appropriate words to it.

I’ve always been great at handling the BIG STUFF pressure and handling it with aplomb.

However it’s everyday pressure I’m not great with.

When small things happen that trigger my dominant personality traits, my instant reaction is to…react.

I don’t like the feeling that I may miss a deadline, or won’t deliver on something I promised or to the standard I wished, despite the fact I never miss a due date and my work is always high quality.

This perceived fear is my danger zone.

So when I’m up against delivery I tend to get more extroverted (I have to let everyone know I’m up against it), and that is not when I adopt extreme laser focus beyond all reason and become totally intolerant of interruptions.

Not pleasant I know.

Coping mechanisms perhaps. Learnt behaviours maybe. The good news is that I am a lot more aware of my reactions and can temper them more quickly or avoid them all together at times.

My ultimate goal though is to always act with grace under all types pressure. To be elegant and show great restraint under even the most trying circumstances.

I’m going to be that duck on the pond—above the water it all looks to be gliding smoothly, although underwater those legs are going a million miles an hour. Better yet…I’ll be a swan.

‘Grace’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my . 

Being Vulnerable Can Be Your Biggest Strength

Someone told me once, ‘you don’t wear your heart on your sleeve, you wear it all over you’.

I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment.

I asked myself, should I be less passionate? Would I better off having a poker face?

The answer is yes sometimes I would, because it would make me less vulnerable or less polarising in some situations. It would enable me to navigate workplace politics better.

So it would be easier in some ways, but it wouldn’t be authentic…it wouldn’t be me.

I’m okay with everyone not liking me…well most some of the time.

I’m not really interested in workplace politics.

And I’m okay with being vulnerable.

The below quote says it perfectly for me.

“Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and beauty. Don’t mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it. The new goodness that is coming to you, in the form of people, situations, and things can only come to you when you are vulnerable, i.e. open.”
― ,

Be vulnerable.

Share your story and self with others.

Take risks to go after what you want most.

Put yourself out there.

Show emotion and sadness when you need to.

Trust others.

Opening your heart to possible hurt and rejection also opens it to opportunities.

‘Vulnerable’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my .  

Are You the Person Holding Yourself Back? It’s Time to Hold Yourself to Account

I like to think I hold myself to account. That I’m a responsible person. That I do what I say I’m going to do.

And when it comes to my clients, delivering on promises to friends and family, I’m pretty damn reliable.

When it comes to my own desires, goals and ambitions, I’m terrible at being accountable to myself.

I am going to finish that book, this year….next year….no the year after.

I’m going to eat healthier.

I’m going to look after myself.

I have great intentions and well laid out plans with big actions broken down into smaller ‘achievable’ tasks, but when it comes to the crunch I’m full of excuses for why I didn’t deliver on them.

I was busy with work, my family, I don’t have enough time or money, what if I fail…I should be doing [insert any task that’s for someone other than me] instead.

It’s time to hold myself to account.

The Cambridge Dictionary says someone who is accountable is for what they do and must be to give a for it.

So I’m failing on two fronts.

I’m not taking responsibility for myself, I’d prefer to shift the blame to everything and everyone else, and I don’t have a satisfactory reason for not delivering.

What exactly is stopping me from doing my personal tasks and sticking to them?

How can I make them an unbreakable and positive habit? I think the answer lies in deliberate practice.

I believe positive habits can only be formed if there is some form of positive reward and result. Positive results come from improved performance. And improved performance only comes from practice.

But not just any practice — .

I’m a complete novice when it comes the principle of deliberate practice, but I do know that it shouldn’t be confused with traditional practising methods.

I really like this article by James Clear:  that outlines the difference between practising with purpose and consciousness, compared to mindless repetition.

He explains that deliberate practice is purposeful and systematic, and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

“Deliberate practice always follows the same pattern: break the overall process down into parts, identify your weaknesses, test new strategies for each section, and then integrate your learning into the overall process.”

He says the greatest challenge is to maintain focus, because we can easily fall back into mindless repetition of tasks, and overlook small errors and daily opportunities for improvement.

Clear goes on to explain that one of the biggest differences between deliberate practice and simple repetition is feedback gained through measurement and coaching.

“The things we measure are the things we improve. This holds true for the number of pages we read, the number of pushups we do, the number of sales calls we make, and any other task that is important to us. It is only through measurement that we have any proof of whether we are getting better or worse.”

I want to improve. I want to be accountable to myself. Perhaps deliberate practice is the key.

‘Accountable’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my .  

Stuck in a Rut or a Funk? It’s Time to Reboot

We all have those days, weeks or years even.

You’re stuck in a rut, or a funk that you just can’t escape from.

Maybe you feel like you have no energy, or so overwhelmed by the tasks ahead that you do nothing instead.

Or maybe you feel like you have lost your mojo.

I for one, have just come off an incredibly busy few months of refining my and , where I set myself some very ambitious targets.

The great news is that I completed all the tasks I needed to do, but now I have fallen flat.

I know there is a bunch of things I should be doing now, but I feel a little deflated and the fuel tank is empty.

It’s time to reboot.

Like when your computer is running a little slowly or not performing as it should, there are times we need to reboot.

Unfortunately it’s not as easy as pressing an on-off button, or clicking ‘refresh’.

I’m not an expert in this rebooting stuff but here’s a few things I’m going to do this week.

  • Get some rest
  • Take it easy on myself – what really needs to be done, and what can wait?
  • Get some exercise and make some diet changes
  • Revisit my goals and work plan
  • Take some time out and enjoy myself
  • Reconnect with family and friends
  • Congratulate myself and celebrate what I have achieved so far
  • Remind myself that I am on the right track and will start moving again after a short rest stop
  • Put a deadline to the rest stop.

So Ciao for now…I’m going offline to reboot.

‘Reboot’ is today’s word out of the jar. Read more about my .  

 

3 Things Infinity War Can Teach Us About Belonging

Belonging is a key theme in my fiction writing. To stay in the know about my writing projects and to receive regular writing tips and articles like this, .

How to Stay Motivated When Writing a Novel

Tips for Staying Motivated

Want to Make Money as an Author? Start Thinking Like a Brand

If you think that creating a beautifully written book is enough to guarantee a best-seller, I have bad news for you.

A well-written book is a great start, and if you’ve got one ready to go, I congratulate you on the herculean effort I know that went into it.

Unfortunately though, if you want to make money out of book sales, you need to wrap your head around something that may seem like the complete antithesis of creative writing.

You need to start thinking of yourself as a brand.

If you write strictly for a hobby, that is, you don’t want, or need, to make money from selling your books, at ease. You can go back to trawling through social media/watching reality TV/reading a book, doing whatever you were doing before.

The rest of you though, don’t go anywhere. Trust me, I’ll know if you stop reading now. : )

Run It Like a Business

A very wise publishing friend of mine recently told me that the most difficult part of working with his clients is convincing them why they should act like they are running a business.

The leap from writing books to running a business, isn’t as big as you may think.

Businesses sell products – you (I assume) want to sell books (products).

Running a business requires financial and time management – so does writing. Whether you’re squeezing it in between your day job or family commitments, you will need to juggle your time and resources to pursue a career as an author.

Importantly, successful businesses need to invest time and effort into marketing.

For authors, aspiring or otherwise, your marketing (or lack of it) has the potential to make or break your writing career.

This is why, you hear so much about why you should build your author brand or platform.

Start Thinking Like a Brand

Authors are brands, whether they like to think of themselves that way or not.

***Brand is the only thing that matters when the market is saturated***

Okay, brand may not be the only thing, but I don’t need to tell you that the book marketplace is super competitive, and brand is often the difference between an author gaining cut through or not.

While it pains me to say this, many brilliantly written books may never make it to a book store, or generate the sales they deserve, without brand recognition.

When Should I Start Developing My Brand?

If you’re an aspiring author, you may believe you don’t have to worry about this ‘marketing stuff’ yet.

Sorry to rain on your parade.

The best time to start marketing yourself as an author is ASAP!

The more time you have to build your platform and generate interest, as well as followers, the easier it will be when you do publish your book. This applies whether you self-publish or have a traditional publisher.

First-up, you want to create a brand that agents, publishers, influencers and other book industry types want to support and invest in.

Start creating a brand now that your target audience, and readers, can really connect to, so when you do launch your book, you have a ready-made fan club buying it, and telling all of their friends to buy it too.

So What Do I Do?

Fortunately, I’m not just hear to dump bad news on you.

I want to help.

In the spirit of sharing the love I created a FREE mini e-course on how to .

The course is based on my successful HOW TO Marketing program I use with business owners, and informed by 21+ years of my professional writing experience, and what I know as a Certified Practising Marketer.

How Does It Work?

Once you sign up for FREE, you will receive one email-lesson a week with simple tips on how to build your author brand. It is completely up to you how and when you complete the suggested activities.

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for the  and you can get started immediately.

KonMari, the Cabinet and the Cliché – Flash Fiction

Another freakin’ candle. How many was that now? I’d lost count after the eleventh one. I read the embossed label. Leather and cedar infusion – what the…?  

“Okay, candle. Thank you for…I don’t know what, and goodbye.” I chuck the candle into the donation box.     

I was nearly finished with the fourth KonMari category, komono, or miscellaneous items.  

Now you won’t find any Instagram posts of my perfect rows of underwear and fitting sheets standing to attention in their origami-like forms, because that’s not why I’m doing this.  

The ‘clean-out’ had been a long time coming – my therapist will attest to that. Marie Kondo with her ‘Does it spark joy?’ test was just the final kick in the butt I needed. It gave me permission to move on and dispose of things that no longer served me.  

When I started with clothing, I shed rivers of tears farewelling the maternity clothes, a collection of the barely and never worn. Then there were the piles of T-shirts and shorts he hadn’t bothered to take with him. Next, were our shared mountains of books, paper, and endless komono. 

Then I got angry. Angry that I was left to clean out his…‘our’ crap, and that he’d been able to tap out when it had got too hard. He’d left his…‘our’ life behind. He’d got his clean slate with Lisa, sweet and uncomplicated Lisa, super-fertile Lisa. How many kids did they have now? That was another thing I’d lost count of.  

The anger had sustained me over the weeks. It had enabled me to deal with even the most sentimental items. Sorry, Marie, I jumped a step, but damn it felt good when I burnt that box filled with love letters he’d written me, the movie stubs from our first date and the wedding garter he’d insisted I wear.  

Now all that was left was the hall cabinet. I’d nearly forgotten about it. I walked past it dozens of times every day, but its shelves and drawers were nothing more than a catch-all for all forms of junk. It was where useless and half-broken items went to die – a shrine to things that had outlived their purpose. 

The ‘goodbyes’ came thick and fast as I tossed everything from loose screws and dried out tubes of super glue. In no time the cabinet was empty. It was completely bare and waiting to be refilled with new junk – junk from my new life. All of a sudden, I felt scared, terrified of the ‘what ifs’ that lay ahead. Would the new junk be any better than the old junk? Then it hit me.  

For the first time in my adult life, it would be ‘my’ junk and the ‘what ifs’ would all be of my own doing. I had chosen to live with the possibilities of ‘what if’ instead of surrounding myself with daily reminders of ‘if only’. I smiled stupidly to myself because as clichéd as it sounded, I had chosen joy.   

To stay in the know about my writing projects and to receive regular writing tips and content like this, .