Friday Free-For-All #Influences #Healing #NewYear

Welcome to the first REAL Friday Free-For-All of 2023!

How has your year started off so far? For me, it felt good to get back into some sort of routine after all the holiday disruptions. Don’t get me wrong. I loved all the holiday activities and spending so much time with my daughters and grandchildren.

Now, it’s back to the real world.

I had one more surgery during the first week of January to remove another squamous skin cancer from my face. This week, they removed the stitches, and now it’s on to full-force healing mode. I am a big believer in all sorts of homeopathic and natural remedies. To help jumpstart the healing, I made a concoction of Colloidal Silver, Frankincense essential oil, Helichrysum essential oil, and Vitamin C Serum. Then before I apply that, I put a layer of aloe vera. I have several aloe vera plants around my house, and the juice inside the leaves is so good for the skin. This is my biggest plant. It’s given me lots of babies over the years. My granddaughters call it my octopus plant. It seriously needs a much larger pot.

After only two days, I already see a big improvement.

Now, on to writing in 2023. I finished “A Beggar’s Bargain” before the end of 2022. Of course, it’s a first draft, and I will let it sit for a while before I read back through it.

I’ve started on a new novella that will be part of a collaborative effort, which we will be talking more about in the coming weeks and months. So far, it’s going slow. And this brings me to a question for all writers. How much do you let others influence your writing? Are you a part of a critique group? If so, how does your group work? Do you meet in person or critique online?

Created in Canva

I personally feel that being a part of a critique group, or having a critique partner, is invaluable. Having a second set of eyes on your work can bring about new ideas you may not have thought of, or they can spot plot holes you may have missed. When we write, we see the scene in our heads, but sometimes those pictures don’t quite make the transfer from visual to written words.

That being said, how much do you let those who critique your work influence it? I’m curious. I take to heart any and all critiques for my stories. Maybe it’s my writer insecurity, but I’m always open to other ideas or different ways to put my stories together.

My main goal is to create the best, most engaging story I am capable of. I’m sure your goal is the same.

While on the subject of writing, my friend and Story Empire colleague, Joan Hall, has a new collection of short stories that releases today! So, congratulations to Joan! You’ll be hearing lots more about this new book over the next few weeks, but here’s a link if you want to grab your copy!


In the spiritual part of my life, I have chosen my word for 2023 and placed affirmations where I will see them daily. My word is Abundance. Here is one of the affirmations I have taped to my mirror.

Do you choose a word at the beginning of the year or feel a certain theme for the year? Another thing I do on New Year’s Eve each and every year is pull twelve Tarot cards, one for each month. It’s always interesting to look back and see how accurate they are. My card for January is the Three of Swords. Not a rosy card, as it indicates a deep hurt or sorrow. But I have faith in the process and know that all of life is not roses. There are also thorns.

We are spiritual beings residing within physical bodies. It takes a lot of effort and coordination to keep everything in balance. But we are not alone. We have help from beyond this dimension of time and space. At least, that is my belief.

Have a fabulous weekend and do something today that yourself will thank you for tomorrow!

44 thoughts on “Friday Free-For-All #Influences #Healing #NewYear

  1. I really liked this post, Jan. There’s a gentleness and groundedness as you share your life. I’m glad you’re taking care of yourself and hope your healing continues beautifully. I’m working on my first group-write project too (hehe) and it’s raised some OCD anxiety for me, but what a great experience. I’ve learned a ton. And that’s part of writing, isn’t it? Continually learning, getting feedback, working through our challenges, and becoming better at what we do. I’m totally into receiving constructive criticism. In fact, I thrive on it; it’s how I learn and improve. And I love your word for 2023. I hope abundance is active in every part of your life this year. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for visiting, Diana. I am very pleased with my healing. It’s already greatly improved. I agree about the group-write project raising some anxiety. But what a wonderful experience. And you’re right – learning is part of writing. I love your attitude! Have a great rest of your weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Friday, Jan! Wow… so much going on in this post.

    I have a mammoth aloe plant that started as a baby in a tiny pot on my window sill. It has since grown into a giant that has been transplanted three times and probably needs another change to give it more room. It’s huge! I love your “octopus!”

    I work with two critique partners and find their advice invaluable. I don’t use every bit of feedback and suggestions they send, but I do consider it carefully and probably use the bulk of it. I’ve worked with CPs for over 20 years and highly recommend finding a good CP or two (or even a group) for any serious writer. There is no better resource.

    Finally, I love your statement that we are spiritual beings in physical bodies. I couldn’t agree more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How awesome that you also have a mammoth Aloe Vera plant. This spring, I am going to purchase a much larger pot and give mine a new home that will last for a while. It has such wonderful healing properties.
      I love that you have solid critique partners. Twenty years is a long time to keep it going. But I agree, there is no better resource. Thank you for stopping by and adding to the conversation. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, Jan! Of all the things I’ve done since I started trying to write fiction, the best decision was to find a trusted critique group. I’ve learned so much from them in the past three years. At least 90% of the time, they are right on the money in terms of their constructive criticism.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. First off, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through a cancer scare-never fun-and hope it is soon eradicated.
    I’ve been in a critique group with five other writers for ten years now. We all write in different genres, which helps with creativity and problem solving. I listen to their suggestions, but don’t change what I feel is right. If you change everything, where is your voice?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Jacquie. The skin cancer was very minor (or at least to me it was) and it’s healing up nicely. I feel it is eradicated! How awesome that you’ve been with the same critique group for ten years. I agree about listening to their suggestions, but changing what you feel is right. And yes. If you change everything, then it’s no longer your story but someone else’s. Thank you for adding to the conversation!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I would be nothing without my critique partners. I have belonged to a group in Canada for many years. There are 4 of us and we all write very different stories, which is perfect. I am amazed at how each member finds different things that can be improved. I use about 80% of the suggestions they give me. Sometimes it may be a missing comma or an incorrect word. Other times it can be moving an entire paragraph to a better place. Other eyes (and ears) detect things we would not have. I’m glad your scar is healing quickly and your year is off to a good start.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love that your critique group is varied, Darlene. And how wonderful that you’ve been together for many years. That’s a testimony to the strength of the group. You’re right, though, no matter how many pairs of eyes are on our stories, everyone is going to find something different. That’s because we all see through different lenses. Thank you for the good wishes. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I always appreciate feedback on my work once its in the beta read stage and past that first draft. Even in my critique group the story is already written. I didn’t even want to tell my husband the name of a new character in a story I’m still working on… lol. I did though. I gladly take all suggestions but in the end have the final say in my work. Glad your skin cancer is healing up nicely. I used to have an aloe plant but i think i overwatered it. I keep meaning to get another one. Good to have around. Have a great weekend! Xo

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wish I could give you some of the babies off this Aloe Vera, Denise. I have lots. I like that you wait until your WIP is past the first draft phase before you submit it for critique. I think your method pays off because your last story was fantastic! Someone else mentioned holding your work close to the chest, and I think you just added to that recommendation. Thank you for visiting. Have a wonderful weekend!


  7. Sounds like things are going well. I hope you continue to heal. Good luck with your writing projects.

    I am a member of a writing group, but it has changed over time to where I think I’m closer to having a critique partner. I find it very helpful. A good partner offers honest input but isn’t concerned about input being accepted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so true Dan. When we critique anyone’s work, we cannot be attached to what the author decides to do with that feedback. It is all subjective, and ultimately, the author knows what his/her story needs. Thank you for visiting! Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That is a beautiful aloe vera plant, I am glad it’s so useful for you. Critique groups are our Angels… they inspire and help. I have learned a lot from them. I admire your prolific skills of writing Jan. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thank you for the kind words, Balroop. I do give my Aloe Vera plant a lot of love, and it returns the love in its healing leaves. I like that comparison to Angels. I have definitely learned a lot through critiquing. It helps us to grow. Thanks for visiting. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, unfortunately, we had no knowledge of sunscreen when we were younger and our skin pays the price now. Everything is healing up nicely, though, so all is well. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Sister, I’m so glad you’re in healing mode and your concoction is working. I think your novella is going to be so good. Love the first chapter. Critique partners…they are invaluable. Even if the advice they offer is not what you have in mind, it leads to something else that sometimes can turn the story in a different direction, something you hadn’t thought of. Love you dearly. Abundance is a good word for you. I think mine might be a phrase…Let it be.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that phrase, sister! It is one of my very favorite Beatles’ songs. I agree about critique partners. Even if the advice doesn’t fit what you are thinking, it might open up another idea. Love you, and hope you cross the finish line with your novel today!


  10. I am glad to hear that everything is healing well after the surgery. I support using natural methods so much. Every time again, it is stunning for me to see what power those substances have.
    Wishing you great progress with your new book project, Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ooo…your aloe plant is gorgeous, Jan! I love aloe! It’s a new year for me and I have two words guiding me. I haven’t done resolutions in decades. They never worked for me. It will be interesting to see the path of “directions and illumination” in 2023–my two words.

    I only let my beta readers (have two) read my manuscript after it’s completed. One is a writer, the other a copy editor. They’ve read all my stories and are honest, not brutal, and provide valuable feedback. Do I sway to their opinions? Yes and no. In the end, I’m the writer, yet I treasure their feedback.

    Sending out healing prayers to you, Jan. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Mary. I love your two words for 2023! Such beautiful energy surrounds them. Beta readers are super helpful once a manuscript is finished. How awesome that you have two good ones. Honesty is a must in giving feedback. I feel the same about book reviews. Honesty with kindness is a must. Thank you for the healing prayers! I’m recovering quite nicely. Have a fabulous weekend ahead! Hugs!


  12. What a beautiful plant, Jan! I seem to remember trying to grow an aloe vera plant, but it didn’t survive. I’m not much of a green thumb, but I keep trying. Glad to hear you’re on the mend and that the surgery went well.

    I’d love to be part of a critique group, but it’s never happened. I was close one time, but then Covid hit – so you know how that went. I might have another chance in the next couple months – we’ll see how that pans out.

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hope the critique group works out for you, Teri. Another aspect of being a part of a group or having a critique partner, is that it keeps you motivated to produce something to share. 🙂 I think anyone can grow Aloe Vera as it requires very little care. In fact, it prefers to be left alone for the most part. I’d say it’s an introverted plant. Thank you for stopping by. Have a great weekend, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I think you nailed it, Staci. When we look at critique through the eyes of simple suggestions, it takes the sting out of it. It’s easy to go on the defensive with our stories. 🙂 Self-doubt can cripple a writer. Thank you so much for weighing in! And it was my pleasure to add Joan’s book to the post.


  14. I can feel your enthusiasm, Jan. I’m glad you are healing from the surgery and wish you continued successful recovery. I agree about homeopathic remedies.

    I’m in a critique group and wouldn’t take for my partners. However, I do read through my drafts several times before sending anything.

    And last, but certainly not least, thanks for the shoutout about Menagerie. I’m so excited to see this one released. It was a long time in coming!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Joan. It was my pleasure to add Menagerie to this post. I think the celebration of a release is much sweeter if it’s been a long time coming. I agree about reading through drafts several times. Each time I do, I see it differently. I hope you have a fabulous weekend. Celebrate your success!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m happy to hear you’re seeing improvement following the surgery. Like you, I’m all for natural remedies. It seems prescription drugs help one thing, but then cause another problem which requires another prescription. I hope your recovery continues to go well. It sounds like your year is off to a great start. I love your word choice for the year. Mine is confidence. Have a great weekend! xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I love your word for the year, Jill!! Confidence just shines. I totally agree about chemical drugs. Often they create more problems than they are trying to fix. More and more people are turning toward natural remedies. I forgot to add to my homeopathic mix that I’m still doing the red light therapy as well. Thank you so much for visiting and I wish you a fabulous weekend! Hugs!


  16. Jan, I had no idea you’ve been having surgery and hope all goes well. It is good news that you’re seeing an improvement and I used to have a few aloe Vera plants and they always came in handy! Your largest one here is a fine specimen. Take care of yourself.

    Living life in abundance is a great thought for the year and I feel you’re taking this idea and running with it! Finishing one book, collaborating on another! Such wonderful projects and I wish you enjoyment with them all.

    I agree with harmony about keeping my first draft close to myself before letting others see it. The critique partners have to be chosen with care as they can otherwise knock ones confidence in both writing and ideas instead of being the rocks to suggest ways forward. I’m happy that you have such good contact and encouragement with others.

    Congratulations to Joan on her latest book and look forward to learning much more about it in the coming days and weeks!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend, my friend! x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for all the good wishes, Annika! I sometimes look at my Aloe Vera plant and wonder what the heck I’m going to do with it if it gets any bigger. 🙂 I agree with your comment about critique partners. Their input is invaluable. Sometimes it is the way the critique is delivered that makes a difference. I love getting suggestions of ways to make my story better and am blessed with a wonderful critique partner. Thanks for stopping by. I wish you a fabulous weekend ahead! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. I never let anyone see my WIP until it’s a finished first draft. I learnt that the hard way and have had my confidence destroyed and potential books killed by sharing with the wrong person at the wrong time. (And more than one simply because it wasn’t that person’s preferred genre, which I found out much later!)
    Huge congratulations to Joan on her new book. This is now sitting in my ereader, and I can’t wait to read it!
    I can’t even look at 2023 … I’m taking each hour at a time. At the very most, it’s a day at a time. All plans are soft, lols! I love your outlook and word of the year, Jan. Wishing you much abundance!

    Have a wonderful weekend. Hugs 💕🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can certainly understand why you hold your WIP until it’s finished. Once confidence is shaken, it’s hard to get it back. I agree about Joan’s new book! I look forward to opening it this evening. I know I am in for a treat. Your outlook on 2023 is absolutely realistic, Harmony. All we really have is our next breath. And sometimes that’s iffy. I wish you the very best in the breaths ahead! Thank you for stopping by! Hugs!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I agree with you. Extra sets of eyes are imperative to publishing our best works. I don’t use every suggestion given to me, but I do carefully consider what my critique partners say. It’s easy to second-guess (and even third- or fourth-guess) yourself when someone tells you it’s “wrong” for some reason. I find it easier to consider those opinions objectively if I don’t look at it as “wrong” and look at is as a suggestion. I know more about my work than anyone, so some comments might not be able to take everything into consideration. That said, I have amazing critique partners, so I do weigh those comments carefully and sometimes even have discussions about something.

    Self-doubt is an easy rabbit hole for me to fall down, so I have to be careful. I’m sure you have nothing to worry about.

    And congratulations to Joan. So nice to see a shout-out for her here.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.