Tag Archives: The Little Engine that Could

How a children’s book forever changed my way of thinking…


What a great topic prompt today!! This blog piece is writing itself because my answer is so easy – and is one I’ve covered a bunch of times on my website.

Without a doubt, THE book that has influenced my life more than any other is THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. 

First published in 1930, in 2007, the National Education Association named the book one of its “Teachers’ Top 100 Books for Children”.

In the tale, a long train must be pulled over a high mountain. When other, larger engines are asked to pull the train, they refuse. One small engine agrees to try. Repeating to itself over and over, “I think I can,” the little train succeeds in pulling the bigger one over the mountain to its destination. The book ends with the little engine declaring, “I knew I could!”

I’ve said this several times over the years, but this book is, for me, the best version of self-motivation I’ve ever read.

The engine tried to do a task he’d never done before, or even considered doing. He set his mind to it, thinking he could accomplish his task,  he told himself he could – believing it and putting his desire into words, then action – and then did.

What an amazing message for children – and adults, too!

When I started out on my journey to book publication, the first thing I told myself was “I can do this- I can write a book. I’ve got the story in me and I just need to get it on the page.” Telling myself that and believing it, I wrote my first book Skater’s Waltz in a little less than 3 months, mostly between the hours of midnight and 3 am because, well, menopause insomnia! Once I finished the book I then told myself, “you need to get this published.” I not only thought it, I put action behind the desire, entering contests and seeking out agents. Contest won, a publishing deal came next. All because I told myself I could do it and believed I could. Me. A 55 year old, bottle blond, chubby, menopause induced insomniac.

Many times during those first few months when the book was released I thought back to The Little Engine that Could, the book’s underlying message, and how true it was then and is today: If you believe you CAN, you WILL.

I tell myself that every single day. Every. Single. Day. It’s my one undeniable truth.

If you’ve never read THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD, do yourself, your children and your grandchildren a favor, and do so. The message may be simplistic, but I’ve often found that the best lessons to learn in life are the simplest ones.

And since this is an author blog hop, hop on over to these other writes and see which books influenced them in life. I’m sure you’ll find one that resonates with you, as well.


 


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It all begins with #MorningMotivation

SO, about 6 weeks ago I started using my Instagram account to post daily pictures and quotes about 3 concepts I strive for on a daily basis: self-motivation, believing in myself, and personal growth. Since I started that, my account has doubled in people who follow me. I didn’t start doing this, though, to garner new followers–although that’s a wonderful side benefit–but to keep me focused on those three concepts. Posting my daily motivational quote is the first thing I do in the morning, social media-wise, and it sets the tone for my day.

First, I find motivational quote. Pinterest is great for this.

I swear Pinterest was invented by a writer! Self-motivation has never been one of my strong points. Since I’ve been such a people pleaser throughout my life, I’ve tended to put myself second, or even third, when it came to encouraging myself and pushing myself toward a goal. I’m a great cheerleader – ask any of my friends – and I will push anyone towards the finish line of their choice. Myself? Not so much. Recognizing that, I started the daily motivations to help me focus on myself and what I want, for once. Some may see this as selfish, perhaps, but it really isn’t.

What did we ever do before the thought to use a hashtag for promotional reasons became a thing? After the motivational quote is uploaded to my account, I then promote it in an attempt to help others. The hashtag #PersonalGrowth is a great one for this.

I truly try to grow every single day: as a writer, as a wife and mother, as a human being trying to navigate through the quagmire our society has become. Uplifting my thoughts is a good way for me to start my day and do this.

You can’t expect to accomplish anything if you don’t accept and aspire to my third daily tenant, #BelieveInYourSelf.

No one is going to magically make you a success in life. You have to work for it and you have to believe that you can succeed. And you really need to believe it. Just saying the words mean nothing. Deep down in your very soul, you must feel as if you can do anything you set your mind to. Anything. Believing you can do something is the most important tool you have for achieving personal success.

Having a positive outlook in and on life can go a great way in making your days better. There’s a mindset that believes what you speak out into the universe is what you’ll get sent back to you. Negative thoughts, morose mindsets, and critical thinking, if put out there, will become a major factor in what is given back to you from other people and the world in general. Having a positive outlook, not believing everything you do is going to wind up bad or not to your liking, goes a great way in making your days happy and productive ones.

Everyone knows my favorite book of all time is The Little Engine who Could. I truly believe this is the best book about self-motivation and self-actualization ever written, and it’s a children’s book! But, adults can get the takeaway message — he thought he could, so he did — as a mantra for their lives. That little engine let nothing stand in his way to prevent him from getting up and over that hill. Again, this book was written for children to help them accept, see, and know that they can do anything they set their minds to. Why, as adults, do we forget that?

SO, that’s how I start my day. Every morning of every day. Thinking positively, believing in myself, and recognizing I must grow to survive. It all beings with #MorningMotivation

Other places you can find me being positive are: Tweet Me//Read Me// Visit Me//Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me// Triber// Book Me

 

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Words….

Everyone who knows me knows I lovelovelove words. My favorite Christmas present when I was a kid? A dictionary. When I’m writing, that old tried and true tome is never far from my side. I know it’s easier to look things up in an on-line dictionary, but in this one case, I am a purist.

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Words give meaning and purpose to my life. When I come up with a dynamite sentence filled with words that just sing to me – one that even I sit back and say “Well done” to – I am in word-writing nirvana.

I think my first favorite word ever came to me when I was 5 years old.   Motivation.

The reason motivation was my first favorite word was because it was the theme in my very first favorite book The Little Engine that Could. That little train was so determined to get up and over the mountain he let nothing stop him. I realize he was self-motivated, but to me it’s the same thing!engine

Skip ahead a few years and I’m now 11 and reading Pride and Prejudice for the first of 45 times – and that’s a true statement. I’ve read it every year since I was 11 so that makes me….you figure it out. Anyway, the next favorite word was: Universally, as in “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Love that word because it is all–encompassing. When you read the word you feel a sense of commonality and connection with, well, everyone else! It’s…universal.

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The teenage years brought with it new aspects of favorite words – many of them body parts and therefore unmentionable here – but two of my all time favorites were individualistic and oxymoron. Oxymoron, meaning contradictory terms appearing in conjunction, and Individualistic as in independent and self-reliant. As a writer, these two words spawn so many wonderful plot lines and character traits. Jumbo shrimp, clearly misunderstood, deafening silence, dull roar, small crowd. These are some of my favorite oxymorons. And the best part? Most people say them and don’t even realize what they are saying. Love that!

A few decades later and my favorite words are now mother and love. The mother one is easy: I became one and there has been no greater joy in my life. The Love one is also relatively easy: I write contemporary romance. The end product of every romance is a happily ever after ending with LOVE as its dominant force. So, DUH!  Of course it’s my fav.

Any words you particularly like or use often? Come on… share. I love learning new words.

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And if you’re looking for some new words to read, here’s a book filled with good ones!
THE VOICES OF ANGELS

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Love is the last thing Carly Lennox is looking for when she sets out on her new book tour. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine profile based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.

Mike Woodard is ambitious, and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else. As he tells her, he’s a patient man. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. Carly Lennox is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him-may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.

Buy Links: Amazon /// TWRP /// Kobo /// Nook

If you need to find me, you can:  Tweet Me// Read Me// Visit Me// Picture Me//Pin Me//Friend Me//Google+Me//

 

 

 

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Filed under Author, Contemporary Romance, Dialogue, Life challenges, Literary characters, love, MacQuire Women, Romance, Romance Books, Strong Women, The Voices of Angels, The Wild Rose Press, WIld Rose Press AUthor

The little book that could…

It is no secret to anyone who knows me or has ever read an interview I’ve done, THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD is hands down my favorite book of all time. Even at the age I am now ( 21++++,etc) I still feel the message in that children’s book is the most empowering one I’ve ever read. The entire book screams with the treatise of self-motivation and dedication to a goal. That little engine thought he could get over that mountain, and because he had confidence in himself and self-will  and determination, he did.

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I’ve started writing a new series of books about another family ( of course!). My MacQuire Women series is almost complete, so when the idea for this new family burst in my brain, I went with it. The reason I’m telling you this is because the first thing I do after the idea pops up is to discover my characters and their motivations. Why a character acts the way she does, does the things she does, and says what she says is very important for me to know ahead of the writing. I’ve said before that using Deb Dixon’s book Goal, Motivation and Conflict (GMC) has been instrumental in helping me get inside the heads of my peeps and knowing what’s what with them. The book makes you dig deep into your characters to find out what their internal and external goals  are, what’s behind their motivations for each, and then asks you to detail the conflicts that will make attaining their goals difficult.

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I usually devise one wipe board per book with my major characters on it, listing the GMC’s.  Here’s the current one for the new series. This is book one, as of yet untitled.  You can’t really tell from this shot, but I’ve got my heroine, hero  and the “villain” all plotted out here. What they want, how they can get it and what will keep them from achieving their goals.

This keeps me focused – something I have real trouble with – and will hopefully eliminate plot holes along the way. Sometimes I do discover something about the character I didn’t know in the beginning and it will be added to this board, with the concurrent problems and motivations added.

Character Motivation is important when writing, especially in writing romances because if we didn’t give our characters fully formed goals and obstacles, there wouldn’ be anything interesting to write about. It would simply be boy meets girl. Boy gets girl. The End.

Boring, no?

COMING SOON:: 3 Wishes, A Candy Hearts Story…check back soon for buy links! 2/8/16 release from The Wild Rose Press

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The things I love about my favorite book(s)…

I have 3 favorite books.  They are all different genres, cater to different age groups, and I’ve read each one at least 5 times ( one waaaaaaay more than that- you’ll see why in a minute.) I tend to reread them because they are such central, integral  parts of the themes of my life and of what I write about.

As a child, I read The  Little Engine That Could probably close to 500 times. When my daughter was born I read it to her an equal number. This is truly -in my humble opinion- the best book EVER about self actualization. Whenever I think I can’t do something in life, whether it be get a book published, or learn a new tech savvy maneuver, I remember that little train, the mountainside, and the end result of his journey, and I KNOW I can do whatever I put my mind to.

The Wizard of Oz was quite simply the perfect book for me to read as a child because I had the same wanderlust and wishes to find my heart’s desire Dorothy had. I never appreciated what I had, and I was frequently on the look out for something better. It was only when I was married with a child of my own did I realize the truth of this statement: there’s  no place like home.

So, Gone With The Wind was the first complete romance novel I ever read – and I don’t think it was marketed as such when it was published. But it has everything a true romance reader loves: an amazingly strong, conflicted, beautiful heroine; a rakish, devilish and debonair hero who truly loves the girl; a sweeping cast of characters who live to show the H/H why they should be together, and a plot that continually pulls our main characters apart. Couple that with the heightened emotions of war, poverty and death and you have  an historic epic of love and loss. Now, the H/H don’t end with their HEA, but like the last line says, while putting hope in the mind of the reader that they will, “Tomorrow is another day.”

So, each book has the same facets and themes that I love: a strong, central character; an internal need coupled with a struggle for acceptance; a journey or task that needs to be accomplished; a lesson ( or many) learned about self; and an ending where the main character is a better person(or  in one case, a better engine!)

Why are your book YOUR favorites? Let’s discuss….

 

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The 10 Book Challenge

Recently on Facebook, I’ve seen several posts about people who have been challenged by friends and family to list 10 books that changed their lives. No one has challenged me, but I think this is a great blog topic, so here goes.

The 10 books that have had a profound impact on me during my life are – in no particular order:

1. The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper. Best book about self actualization ever written.

2. The Wizard of Oz ( Dorothy’ Adventures in Oz)  by Frank L Baum. Because there really is no place like home.

3. Irish Thoroughbred by Nora Roberts. First Nora I ever read. This story and this writer gave me my love of romantic fiction.

4. Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss.  First romance with actual sex in it I ever read. Quite an education, in addition to being a great story.

5. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey. Helped me focus on the goals I wanted to attain during my lifetime.

6. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. In my opinion, the most perfect book ever written.

7. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. As a child raised in the 1960’s and 70’s, this book brought home the meaning of racial inequality like no other to me.

8.  The Oxford American Dictionary. Hello! It’s filled with WORDS!! Fabulous words!!

9. The Bible. This one needs no explanation.

10. Become a Better You by Joel Osteen. This book really did help make me a better person.

So, what are the books that have influenced you?

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