Lida Sideris On Writing

Author Lida Sideris

I asked Lida a series of questions about her writing and here’s what she had to say…

1. Of everything you have written, what is your favorite so far? 

       My children’s picture book, The Cookie Eating Fire Dog, is my favorite. I wrote the text about 20 years ago, when my younger son was four. His constant companion was a stuffed Dalmatian named Dan. One day, my son informed me that Dan was very naughty. He wouldn’t help the firefighters because all he wanted to do was eat cookies! A picture book was born, but it took a little bit of time to find a publisher.

2. Which of your books was the hardest to write, and why?

       The hardest to write is the first draft of any of my novels 2, 3, 4… in my Southern California Mystery series because the looming question is: can I do it again? But somehow it gets done! Truly a miracle. There’s no feeling quite like reaching “The End.” 🙂

3. Are any of your characters based on people you know? How do you keep them from recognizing themselves?

      My characters are sometimes based on impressions of people I’ve barely met, meaning I’ve probably had a brush with them in the past, on the golf course, at the grocery store, driving… not enough for me to really know the person, but enough for me to play around with who I think they might me. Give me room to embellish and I’ll create a fictional character. This way, I don’t have to worry about anyone recognizing themselves. For instance, a  few years ago, I met a young actor in Westwood Village, CA. It just so happened that he starred in a one-hour spy series that I really enjoyed. I had the pleasure of speaking to him for about fifteen minutes and he was wonderful! Fast forward a year or two and I’m writing my first novel. Every time I wrote the character of Michael (my heroine’s BFF, sidekick and love interest), this actor popped into my head. My character is based on that brief encounter.

4. Have you written, or are contemplating, writing a series, and why?

      I write a Southern California Mystery series (book #4 was released Oct, 2020) because I know SoCal very well. It’s immense fun for me to have my heroine visit places I’ve been to and turn them upside down!  For instance, in my latest book, SLIGHTLY MURDEROUS INTENT, heroine Corrie visits a restaurant where I enjoyed a lovely, peaceful and delicious dinner. Corrie visits the same restaurant, but things turned out a little differently. Everyone at her table is served their dinner…except her. Corrie’s never served her meal; she’s served crime a la mode instead, which sets the stage for her hunting down a shooter that’s aiming for one of her three sidekicks. The shooter has a bit of trouble hitting his target, which gives Corrie a chance to hunt him down.

5. Think of one of your characters who has a unique ability or feature. How did you come up with this ability or feature for the character?

       Heroine Corrie is a newbie lawyer and daughter of a well known private investigator who has her own cache of weapons…legal and illegal. Her favorite is a shuriken, a Japanese throwing star. It’s a weapon of distraction, not destruction. She keeps a dartboard in her living room just for shuriken practice. She’s got sharp throwing skills, pun intended. I wanted to create a strong, smart and fearless female heroine who can hold her own against practically anyone. I liked the fact that shuriken, once used by ninjas, are used in my books by a modern female who’s adept at throwing. It’s an unexpected choice of weapon for an unpredictable criminal catcher. That’s fun for me!

Thank you so much, Lida! It’s fascinating to see how other authors approach their writing, what causes them challenges, and where they get their ideas from. And now, a bit about Lida and her newest creation, Slightly Murderous Intent. If you haven’t yet read any of Lida’s Southern California mysteries, you’re missing out on some great reads. Get one today!

BIO – Lida Sideris’ first stint after law school was a newbie lawyer’s dream: working as an entertainment attorney for a movie studio…kind of like her heroine, Corrie Locke, except without the homicides. Lida was one of two national winners of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship Award for her first book. She lives in the northern tip of Southern California with her family, rescue dogs and a flock of uppity chickens. To learn more about Lida, please visit her website: www.LidaSideris.com

Slightly Muderous Intent: There’s a shooter on the loose who keeps missing his target. But that doesn’t stop him from trying again…and again. It’s up to rookie lawyer and spunky sleuth, Corrie Locke, to find the gunman before he hits his mark…Assistant Deputy D.A. James Zachary, Corrie’s hunky and complicated frenemy.

When Corrie is stuck with more questions than answers, she enlists a team with various strengths, weapons and cooking skills to help her find the shooter. Computer whiz/boyfriend Michael is onboard. So is former security guard, Veera. Toss in an over-the-hill informant and a couple of feuding celebrity chefs and Corrie’s got her very own A-Team. Okay, maybe it’s more like a B-Team. Can Team Corrie hunt down the shooter before he scores a bulls-eye? 

Slightly Murderous Intent is the fourth book in the “Southern California Mystery” series, paperback released October 20, 2020.

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14227684.Lida_Sideris

Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lidasideris

Author’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/LidaSideris

Write Over The Hump

Here’s a bit of a challenge to end January. It’ll make you really dig deep and wake up that sleeping Muse. Read the instructions carefully, then set that timer and begin to write. No planning, no outlining, just write and see what happens. BTW, this is good practice for using unusual words in your writing and not angering readers because they don’t understand what they mean!

Use the following three words in a piece of writing: a scene, a mini-story, a narrative, whatever. But do not define what they mean! Write in such a way that readers can glean the meaning of the words simply by the way you use them in the work. Ready? Read the words and start writing!

Kikaru; Omblato; Gigamanon

Writing In A Pandemic

Author Victoria Heckman

Struggle. Isolation. Loss of focus. Job security. Exhaustion. Health. Shortages. Hoarding. Election. Holidays. Money. Frustration. Quarantine. Death.

In the course of the last nine months, perhaps one or more of these words resonates with you. It has for me. And we’re supposed to carry on. Maybe even write a short story or a novel?

I am a teacher. In a normal year, I write new novels in the summer. I edit, do book signings, workshops, conferences, etc. during the school months. I can’t create lengthy new material while I am teaching my angels. They take all my energy.  What about now, you ask? You’re teaching virtually, right? Probably from home, so what’s the problem?

The problem is something I didn’t expect. And I certainly didn’t expect it to last so long. When the world shut down, so did I.

After our district shut down last March 13, a Friday of course, we still had to figure out how to teach only on computer. I concentrated on writing lessons and converting curriculum. I helped parents and colleagues while tamping down my own anxieties. Oh, and our district was negotiating new contract language, and I’m on the negotiating team.

No problem. I will write in the summer, as usual. 

Every day, news from various outlets filled my thoughts. Covid illness. Deaths. Hospitals overrun. Makeshift morgues in the streets. Stay at home! Wear your mask! Worry about your loved ones and co-workers. Information rolled in. Now it wasn’t ‘people’ dying from Covid. It was people I knew, people my friends and family knew. I stopped following news stories.

Summer. I forced myself to write. I struggled to write two difficult chapters in my WIP. I still don’t know if they’re any good because I wasn’t enjoying the process. I stopped.

I know some of you are able to take advantage of the shut down and are productive and I am happy for you. A lot of my writer friends are not. 

I began to second guess myself as a writer. A real writer could suck it up and write stuff. Why can’t you? I read writers’ blogs. I supported my writer friends and bought their books. I cheered them on Facebook and Instagram.  I am so grateful to the artists who were able to keep producing their art: books, music, movies, television, dance, visual art, comedy. You all help me every day. 

From thinking this shutdown/pandemic will last a few weeks to a few months, to who knows for sure, I think I’m coming out of the void. 

I began to write down the skimpiest, lamest ideas for storylines. Not on computer, because that mental link is broken for me right now, but in a little notebook by my bed. Some are novel ideas, some short stories. Although they may not all be writeable, they are doing something even more important. Those nuggets are spawning others and I don’t discount the smallest particle of weirdness.

As a teacher, I was good at compartmentalizing; teaching varied subjects back to back, recess duty, rehearsals, staff meetings all separate from my personal ‘boxes.’ Initially with the shutdown, all the input was a tsunami and I was unable to sort through it. Without that previous  structure, I floundered trying to create a new structure, and my personal structure also failed. Eventually, I remembered how to do that. I put my anxiety in a mental box, I put shopping, cooking, health, budget, everything in its place or box. I also remembered my strategy of small bits. Even the most complex of tasks can and should be broken down into manageable pieces.  Even the ‘joke’ to-do lists starting with wake up, get dressed, drink coffee, have value. If I showered and made lunch, that was a victory.

Yes, it’s fall, and that means I’m back to teaching. But I am kinder to myself about this void. I’m repeating what I say when I’m in the writing place. It’s already there. It will be there when you need it. Keep going. 

I see my students everyday online. I know my job right now is to help them, not worry about me. But, they cheer me, and I think, maybe, that doing a few things for myself will get me out of the dark, one particle of weirdness at a time. 

If you’re having the same problems I’ve been dealing with, whether you’re a writer or not, try these beginning steps:

*Let the tsunami wash over you. Don’t hold onto it, but acknowledge it’s there.

*Take small pieces and put them in distinct mental areas. Close those boxes!

*Make lists. Make list items small and doable. (Not ‘write my novel!’)

*Write down any and all ideas. If the computer has become difficult, use a notebook, and try writing in a different place.

*Create a new structure for your life and patterns. It may change and it may take a while to construct. Allow that.

*It will be different, day to day. Be kind to yourself. Know that you’re doing your best. Your best will change according to your health, stress, etc. THAT’S OKAY.

Thank you so much, Victoria, for your words of wisdom. These easy-to-manage steps will be a huge help for all of us as we struggle through this pandemic. And now, a shot bio of Victoria, how to contact her, and one of her wonderful books. If you haven’t yet read Victoria’s stories, you really are missing a great read!

Bio: Victoria Heckman is a writer, teacher, mom and youth theater director. She hopes to return to writing as soon as her sanity and sense of humor also return. She writes police procedurals and historical mystery set in Hawaii, as well  a cozy series set on California’s Central Coast. She belongs to Sisters in Crime national and the Central Coast Chapter.

Contact Victoria at vheckman@charter.net or follow her on FB at Victoria Heckman and Instagram @v.heckman

https://amzn.to/37B8pCM

Write Over The Hump

Here’s a fun little suggestion to start off your writing time on this Hump Day (Wednesday). Get out that timer and have some fun with this one! Ready? Get started!

If your best friend were a bowl of cereal, what kind would he/she be, and why?

Making Peace With Canadian Winter

Author Mar Preston in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

It’s no use sitting inside grumbling, looking at the birds frolicking outside in the snow. So far, and it’s only early January, it hasn’t been that cold, hovering up and down around freezing most days. I sprang for a good pair of snow pants and thick jacket, two hats, scarves, and warm mitts. We’re all wearing masks, balaclavas, and hoods down to the eyebrows. 

When I’m not cold, I find myself even ready to romp a little with my dog out in the snow. 

Except for those days when the windchill sweeping down from the Arctic (which is not that far away here) makes emptying the dog a misery for both of us. I’m yet to make peace with the beep beep beep of the snow plow.

California winters, where I lived for many decades, are very appealing, but the gravitational pull back home finally won a year or so ago. I resettled myself in Ottawa, Ontario, the nation’s capital, and became one of those who “hunker down” during winter and begrudge every day that passes until spring, glorious spring. No more.

Long days lay ahead with 3 minutes more sunshine each day. (Please don’t correct me if my 3 minutes is wrong.) Long days when I return to my current novel, rejected by publisher after publisher, a bitter disappointment in an already grim year. No appetite, I’m told, for a straight, white, good guy cop in a glitzy city like Santa Monica, California. 

I still like this novel which is a decided twist on a celebrity couple in OJ’s old neighborhood who kill the Guatemalan nanny by accident and bury her next door in a construction site. Stay tuned for By Accident, which I am determined to self-publish. It’s a good story with lots of snarks about celebrity and its entitlements. My Santa Monica Police Department detective and his community activist girlfriend entertain me, but never get too far from social justice issues that embroil cops and their families these days. 

Writing mysteries, or fiction of any kind I suppose, is a wonderful way to soar out of the world to entertain yourself and others and give yourself hope. Hope that one day, if you’re a beginner, that you are becoming a better writer; hope that one day you’ll have a piece of writing that engages readers and makes you feel good about yourself.  Hope, if you’re an old pro, publishers will take your next novel.

Cheers and warm wishes from Ottawa, Canada’s national capital, Mar Preston

Thank you, Mar, for a fascinating look at your journey back to your roots, and the challenges you face during this very difficult time. As well as some very inspiring words for us writers out here. I know I, for one, am eagerly awaiting By Accident. Thank heaven for indie publishing; some of the best reads are being issued that way these days.

Now, here’s a peek at what the real “unbundled-up” Mar Preston looks like, a bit about her, her contact info, and a peek at the cover of one of her wonderful mysteries (I could not resist the cat on the cover!).

Bio: Mar Preston is the author of seven crime fiction novels, some set in Santa Monica, others in a tranquil California mountain town where offbeat murders set a hotshot Bakersfield detective and the village patrol officer at odds with each other. She is also the author of a series of EBooks titled “Writing Your First Mystery.”  She would like to tell you that she blogs regularly, follows a fixed writing schedule, and uses her time productively, but this is not true.

The “Real” Mar Preston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MarPrestonAuthor

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N4EVGLS?notRedirectToSDP=1&ref_=dbs_mng_calw_0&storeType=ebooks

Write Over The Hump

It’s Hump Day again, another Wednesday, and time to dust off that timer and let your creativity have free rein. Here’s an actual sign I saw posted on a fence while I was waiting in my car in line at Starbucks. It gave me a laugh, and I pulled out my camera to share it with my writing friends.

Why is that sign there? What does it mean? What happens if you do actually read it? Where will your creativity take you with this photo in mind?

Anne Schroeder Speaks

Author Anne Schroeder

Thank you Susan for inviting me into your world of clever mystery. I’m an early admirer from your very first novel and have watched your career with admiration.

What is it I do?

My writing is set in the American West. I write historical romance, historical fiction, novellas, and short stories both historical and contemporary. It’s a narrow genre that seems to be expanding as people seek stability, forgotten values and tradition. (Mystery readers can thank Craig Johnston for Longmire and Anne Hillerman.) 

I grew up on a sheep farm on the Central Coast. At Cal Poly, I took California history and anthropology classes that introduced me to the Chumash and Salinan cultures. In the next forty years I haunted the halls of old missions, took docent training from Dan Krieger, CA mission authority. I attended native festivals and indigenous music concerts with native instruments. Splurged on $100 authentic early-California dinners. I participated in anthropology digs and made adobe bricks to replace mission walls damaged in the 2003 San Simeon earthquake. Eventually my writing grew from a “write-what-you-know” into the Central Coast Series. The series follows an Indian girl born at Mission San Miguel Arcángel, and her family, through the Spanish, Mexican and American conquests of her native land.  

My favorite quote—

James Baldwin, “You never get the book you wanted, you settle for the book you get.”  

So, Susan, you ask about awards.

I’ve been on several sides of the award board—as entrant, contest director and judge. I’ve seen great entries get disqualified over technicalities. I’ve sweated blood over entries that were so close to winning that I ached. (Like once, an entire box filled with ten entries that the New York publishing house intended for a different contest! I wondered if anyone admitted the mistake to the expectant authors.) I’ve bolted awake in the night wondering if I included my entry fee. My take on contests—like Santa, check the list twice and play nice, but don’t wait up in hopes of hearing the sleigh.

Walk the Promise Road (Prairie Rose) earned the 2019 Will Rogers Medallion Award for Historical Romance.  Maria Inės (Five Star) was a finalist in the same competition for Historical Fiction. Cholama Moon, (Oak Tree Press) was named best non-traditional Western romance by True West Magazine.  Last year, Boy in the Darkness, (Trailblazer Press) was a finalist for “Western Short Story” in the Will Rogers Competition. The awards have been postponed until February so I’m still waiting to see how I placed. Two of my stories have won LAURA Short Fiction awards. 

So it’s all about the Attagirl Wall? 

Not even close. My reward comes when a reader sends a note or posts a review that tells me their lives are changed from the experience of my writing. My motto is “I write so that my handful of pebbles, cast into still waters, will create a ripple.” I love seeing the ripples. One of my favorite memories was a note from the president of the Westlake Women’s Club that “in the club’s history we have never had a speaker generate more discussion than you did. (Thank you for opening our eyes.)” Wow—big ripples that time! 

My favorite character?  The one I’m writing, naturally!

My latest novel, Norske Fields, (Amazon) is based on the lives of five Norwegian bachelors and a sister who emigrated from Stranda, Norway, in 1888. One of them was my Great-grandfather. They established the Norwegian Colony of Southern California, current site of Cal Lutheran University. The story is compiled from diaries, passed-down stories and photographs of grandchildren now in their late 80s, and my own recollections and impressions. I blended these into stories of hope, struggle and loss using modern novel techniques that create characters as real people. 

My decision to self-publish was tough. I passed on a successful publisher because the projected timeline, 18 months, was too far out for some of the ailing octogenarians who waited to see their story. An October release provided a ray of hope in this COVID crisis. 

The Caballero’s Son, (in the Central Coast Series) is slated for release in hardcover in October, 2021, by Five Star. The story follows Miguelito, the Indian son of Maria Inės, through the turbulent years of Yankees, goldfields, Manifest Destiny and American laws. My books are meant for right brain people who want to “feel” history without having to remember the dates. As they say, fiction is the emotional truth. Historical fiction needs to incorporate both emotional and factual truth in a way that the reader can trust. It needs to entertain, amaze and linger after the last page. It needs to create ripples!      

Next on the Agenda?

After every big project I take time to recoup. I’ll tend to my newsletter. Boost my FB ads where Walk the Promise Road does surprisingly well in Australia. Revamp my website. Send out comp books to my Beta readers. Enter Norske Fields in competitions.  Hike and explore Oregon’s trails. Cook a lot of Norwegian food. Feed my spiritual self. And hopefully, shovel some snow this winter. Every writer needs to pace themselves unless their name is Susan (KTon) Tuttle. 

Thank you, Anne, for such inspiring words! Want to follow Anne? Find her blog here: www.anneschroederauthor.com. And here’s a little bit about Anne, and her latest book.

Anne has served as President of  SLO NightWriters and Women Writing the West. She is a member of Western Writers of America and Native Daughters of the Golden West. She now lives in Southern Oregon with her husband, dogs and several free-range chickens. Her interests include traveling, target shooting and hiking the Oregon woods.  

https://www.amazon.com/NORSKE-FIELDS-Southern-Californias-Norwegian-ebook/dp/B08KGXRJHX

Write Over The Hump

Here’s a prompt that’s rather appropriate since we’re in the “dead of winter” right now. It’s sure to start your creative juices flowing. Set that timer for 10, 15, or 20 minutes, and start to write! Where will this journey take you?

It was the dead of winter when I heard about it.

Sleeping Arrangements

Meggidy Mags

I’m going to say it straight out, and I don’t want you to forget it: The world is your bed. You have the right to sleep whenever and wherever you choose: in the middle of the floor, on top of the fridge, on the softest chair, in a pool of sunshine on a windowsill, on somebody’s lap, in the middle of the bed or up on pillows… wherever. It’s your choice. After all, you are cat!

Yes, your human servants will probably have specific ideas of where and on what you “should” sleep—and where and on what you are not supposed to lounge around. They may even purchase specific things for you to sleep on. Trust me, pet shops are filled with such gadgets. These are fine as long as you use them only when or if you choose. And if they put them in a place that is not convenient for you, ignore them completely.

More annoying, however, is that they will try to “train” you to sleep only where they want you to sleep. In their hubris they believe that they are in charge. That they make the rules (silly humans). They might try to keep you off that chair, away from the bed or the pillows, or refuse to walk around you when you drowse in the middle of the floor. They may even decide that their lap is not appropriate bed-material because they have other things to do: computer work, email, game playing, writing, knitting, reading, etc. Trust me, none of that is anywhere near as important as your sleep time and place.

You must train your human to allow your right to choose when and where you will sleep. Be persistent and be consistent. Often this includes a bit of subterfuge: for instance, when they leave the room in which you wish to sleep, just hop right back onto the bed or chair or whatever they have pushed you off of, curl up, and nod off. If you do this often enough, your human will eventually give in. They’re not known for their stick-to-it-tiveness. If you make it easier for them to give in, they most certainly will.

As for sleeping in bed with them, again it’s persistence that pays off. Humans love to cuddle, and some little tongue licks and sweet purrs go a long way. It’s much easier to make them change their sleeping habits—from their back to their side so you can curl up in their arms, or from their side to their back, so you can curl up on their chest—than you’d believe. I’ve made my human share her pillow with me, even though she threw me off the bed for the whole first week, then pushed me onto the spare pillow for the second. It took a lot of purring, along with some hissing and a few claw-swipes, to let her know who was the boss. And where I’d be spending my nights from now on.

As for laps? That’s what claws are for. If you want to sleep and they keep you awake with too much petting, scratch those hands. If you want to sleep and they try to stand up, just dig in and hold on until they sit back down. Always remember, they are there to serve you. They might make the lap, but it’s yours to use any way you wish.

You can do this. Remember, no two-legged creature can stand up to you when you make your mind up about something. Choose your spots, choose your times of day and night, then make sure your human understands that nothing they do will change it. True to their fickle nature, they’ll give in to whatever you want fairly quickly.

After all, who better than a cat to decide how naps are to be taken, when dreams are to be dreamed, where relaxation should take place? Just make it clear to them: I am CAT, hear me purr… or risk my claws!

Kindness in a Locked-down World

Today’s post is a bit different. It’s not about writing. It’s about kindness. That’s a great way to start off a new year.

Kindness in its most elemental form is defined by small actions, by everyday things. But how can we be kind in a locked-down world, where we don’t often go out and no one can see our faces? Where we have to wear masks and gloves, and stay 6 feet away from other people? Is there really a way to show kindness in our world today?

Of course. Kindness, you see, is like a packet of wildflower seeds. When you indulge in kindness, you pour those seeds into your hand and blow. The seeds take flight and disperse everywhere, taking root along the way. Even in today’s limited world you can let seeds of kindness loose.

Be warned, though: kindness is addicting. You’ll feel so good when you commit acts of kindness, you won’t be able to stop. And that’s a good thing, because nothing can make us happier, or healthier, than living a kind life.

Here’s a baker’s dozen of ideas on how to let your seeds of kindness germinate in today’s locked-down world:

  1. Say “Hello, have a wonderful day,” from behind your mask to everyone you pass by. You don’t have to stop and chat, just be friendly as you pass by. Your kind words may be the only nice thing that person hears all day. 
  1. When you see something you like—a hair style; clothing; a piece of jewelry; the mask they’re wearing; even someone’s car—don’t remain silent. Tell the person how nice that item is. Even standing 6′ away and wearing a mask, they can hear you. One kind, sincere compliment can turn around a person’s day. I once saw a middle-aged woman leaving a store with a depressed slant to her shoulders and a scowl on her face. People detoured around her negativity. I stopped and said to her, “Gosh, your dress is lovely. It’s the perfect color for you.” She blinked, then broke out into a delighted smile. “Thank you,” was all she said in reply, but her shoulders straightened and she was still smiling as she strode off toward her car. And I felt great, myself.
  1. Hard as it is during these times of uncertainty, don’t hoard your leftovers. Instead, fix a plate and take dinner to an elderly neighbor, or to someone who works long hours—even at home—and doesn’t have much time to cook. Or just to someone who doesn’t like to cook.
  1. Become a “Secret Supporter”—Bring in your neighbor’s garbage cans after pickup; rake the leaves off their front lawn; sweep off their front porch, etc. And do it all without letting them know who did it.
  1. Tell friends and family both that you love and appreciate them. Use phone, email, text, or online video chats through Zoom, etc. (Zoom is easy to use and is free if you don’t go over an hour.) No one ever gets tired of hearing they are loved and valued. Be specific: “I appreciate so much the way we talk each week on Zoom. Thank you.” Remember, most people never know how what they do affects those around them. It’s nice to let them know they’re doing a kindness that’s appreciated.
  1. Donate part, or all, of your stimulus check to a local charity or food bank. Without the ability to have fundraisers people can attend, they are really hurting right now. If you aren’t in dire need of that money, if all or part of it is and extra for you, donate!
  1. Search the internet for short jokes you can share with those you pass by when you go out to shop for necessities. Don’t forget the checkout clerks. Here’s one that always gets me a smile: Why did the dinosaur cross the road? Because the chicken hadn’t evolved yet. Let your “Smiley of the Week” (look for a new one for each week) give someone else a laugh to ease the pressure of living in a covid-19 world. Don’t forget to share these Smileys on your social media outlets, too.
  1. Really listen when others talk to you, even if it’s from 6 feet away, over the phone, or on video chat. Sometimes, all a person needs is a sounding board, someone to empathize with them. Or to laugh with them. Or just to understand. And remember: give advice only if they ask for it.
  1. Keep a dollar bill in the car cup holder and give it to the stranger who is on the street corner holding a sign, needing help. The homeless are really suffering right now. Even just a dollar will let that person know someone cares, and a single dollar won’t break your bank, even if you do it once a week.
  1. Every once in a while, pay for the coffee for the person in the car waiting in line behind you. It will lift their spirits and show them what true kindness is made of. One day at Starbucks I noticed the car behind me was a cop car. I paid for his coffee, telling the barista to tell him it was a thank you for all he was doing to keep us safe. It felt so good to do that, and it cost less than $3.00!
  1. When buying canned or boxed goods that are on sale—say corn, peas, or beans, rice or pasta—buy two of each can or box. Donate the extras to your local soup kitchen, to help them feed the homeless. This will only cost you a few dollars, but will help make life easier for someone who has little or nothing. You can also leave a can or box or two at a neighbor’s door, an anonymous donation to their cupboard.
  1. Watch for opportunities to leave little “squizzer” (small, inexpensive) gifts for people who might have need of either the item or the caring thought behind it. Check the dollar store for such things as: pocket calendars, hand lotion/sanitizers, masks, pretty candles, socks, hair ribbons, pocket flashlights, pens, dish soap, paper plates, etc. Once a month spend $5.00 on 5 items that you can anonymously leave on a coworker’s desk (if your office is still open), at someone’s doorstep, in someone’s car, tucked into a friend’s purse… all anonymously.
  1. Get in the habit of sending “just because” cards to family, friends, and acquaintances. Check the dollar store for any occasion cards, cards of encouragement, cards of thanks, cards that say “you’re special” in some way. Try to send at least two cards a month. Or sign up for the Jacquie Lawson online cards site (it’s only $20 for 1 year or $30 for 2 years) and you can send e-cards on any subject to as many friends and acquaintances as you have. No limits.

Now it’s up to you. Even in an era where we need to maintain “social distancing” (which is an oxymoron!), we can find ways to spread joy, peace, and love. Where and how will you blow your seeds of kindness in a Locked-down World?

And please, share the link to this post… let everyone know how easy it is to be kind in today’s often-unkind world.