My novel Where the Sun Rises Released today!

After three years of research, writing, editing and travel finally my novel, Where the Sun Rises is launched today! Where the Sun Rises follows the story of two Kurdish women who take up arms against ISIS in the Syrian town of Kobane. I’m very excited to finally release my novel.

Click on the link below to order the e-book, it is available in print as well. Contact me for further info about how to get a hold of it. 🙂 Thanks so much! 🙂 Kind regards, Suz (It is available in other countries on Amazon and is available in print as well, it will become more widely available as well :))

Here are some reviews:

‘Where the Sun Rises is an ambitious, compassionate and powerful novel. Sensory memories accessed through scents and tastes are used brilliantly to evoke the physical strain, tenderness and revulsion of war for female soldiers in the fight against ISIS. Their story deserves a far wider readership and Strong’s achievement lies in her ability to take us into their dangerous world.’

Dr Toby Davidson, Lecturer, Macquarie University, Sydney.

“Strong has taken care to accurately present the reality of the lives of Kurdish women and the dramatic choices they make as fighters defending their land. The story is remarkable for the authenticity of the detailed portrayal of the geography, the intimate lives of the women fighters and the ferocity of the killing in which they are involved…Strong makes good use of the senses to convey the sounds and smells of battle and death and contrasts it with the delights of singing and dancing, the smell of freshly baked bread and the taste of goat’s cheese. The extraordinary amount of research undertaken pays dividends. Recollections of peaceful days and olive groves are neatly woven into the narrative, as are the reassuring pots of tea.

Powerful and credible, Where the Sun Rises is an eye-opener to a story we rarely hear.’

Dr Lynne Spender, Lecturer, UTS, Sydney.

Editing of my novel…

Hey guys,

Today I started another whole edit of my novel. Since I made some plot changes a few months ago, I gave myself a little break from writing/editing so I could come back to the manuscript with a fresh perspective. 🙂

It has been an excellent idea. I have actually printed my manuscript as a book and I am editing in this way, whilst sitting in the sun in wherever I choose for that day. 🙂

I am enjoying the process. It is a good idea to give yourself a break from the writing process, write something else so you can come back with fresh eyes. 🙂

I started my second novel a few months ago. This made me feel very good as now I can explore a new narrative. So try that as well it keeps the creative juices flowing and keeps us exercising our writing muscles. 🙂

Have a fab day! Go well. Suz

Freedom Writing Workshop at Retreat…:)

Hi guys,

I just wanted to share a few pics from the workshop I did on the weekend. What an amazing time with some brave, strong, beautiful women! It was my privilege to hear their stories and share with them writing therapy, that they can use to get through various things that have happened to them in their lives. I have been through quite a bit of what they went through and it was a beautiful time of honesty and sharing between women who were supporting each other.

It was a lovely time, and such a beautiful place. As usual the poetry exercise at the end was amazing with people sharing some poignant and life affirming imagery in their poems. So wonderful. Thank you to the ladies who were there, I love you all. 🙂 Stay strong, safe and loving. Kind regards, Suz

Writing Therapy Workshop Response :)

Monica, a Social Worker, recently attended my Expressive Writing Therapy Workshop and this was her written response.

“I attended the workshop as a personal and professional development opportunity.  I already knew of and experienced the therapeutic benefit of writing, however I wanted to learn more about how this works- particularly the benefit of writing as a way of working through previous trauma.

The workshop was excellent.  As I had attended a previous workshop with Suzanne, I knew of the quality of workshop she facilitates and this workshop did not disappoint. 

I got the most out of the part where we were encouraged to write about something negative or traumatic.  I found that the exercise was confronting, yet liberating.  I could feel the tension in my body as I wrote the words on paper but as the story unfolded on the page and came to an end, that tension dissipated and I felt at ease.  This was a very powerful experience.

Probably the most challenging part of the workshop, for me, was the task of writing a poem.  Because I am so used to writing in far less creative ways, I found myself struggling to even contemplate what to write.  I went ahead and did it anyway and actually surprised myself about how lovely it was to use words in this way.

Time seems to go by very quickly when you are immersed in these types of exercises.  I would love it to have gone for a few hours longer. I did feel a release of tension having tackled one of my current issues in one of the exercises.  Overall, I left the workshop feeling inspired to continue using these exercises frequently to help process and manage my challenges.

The writing I did in the ‘life story’ exercise gave me the opportunity to step out of my current life circumstances and instead almost take a bird’s eye view of my life so far.  That did bring up areas that I had not thought about for ages and it allowed me to put into perspective some of the things that are happening now.  That experience allowed me to recognise that I have gotten through many difficult situations in my life and anything I am experiencing currently will be resolved and overcome- just like past challenges have been.

I felt very positive after the workshop.  It is a powerful way of releasing built up stress.  It was also lovely to share the experience with the other participants.”

If you’re interested in my writing therapy exercises, my book Freedom Writing goes into detail about this;

Daydreaming reveals creative & intellectual strength…

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.”

Albert Einstein

 

Hey guys,

I found this interesting article and news item recently. I used to have a partner who was extremely critical and who micro managed me when we worked together. Amongst many things he didn’t understand me. When I taught at university in the Creative Industries we taught about creative people and how they operate differently to other people.

Creative people can be extremely creative for a few hours a day and then may need daydreaming time to allow this to be activated later on in the day. Or possibly the next day. If creative people are given space to be creative, they will be extremely productive for a few hours and then may need to not focus so much for the rest of the day. In doing this, though they produce very creative, innovative products, solutions or art.

However, recent studies have been examining daydreaming and its effect on us and its positive benefits. I thought it was worth sharing with everyone. In her article called “The 3 Scientific Benefits of Daydreaming” written last August 20, 2018, Annabel Blake who is a Researcher for UNSW Science of Innovation Lab and summarises some of the findings.

Blake writes there are three main benefits to allowing ourselves to daydream during the day. This is also called mind wandering and she states that researchers estimate we do this 30-50% of our days.

  1. Daydreaming can help to focus and be motivated for our future goals

Blake writes that Dr. Gabriele Oettingen, professor of psychology at NYU says that fantasizing about achieving our goals assist to spur motivation on and keep us committed. Dr Oettingen states that by reflecting on reality and comparing it to fantasies about a desired future outcome, we are compelled to act. In other words, imagining the fulfilment of a dream she argues will lead us to being extremely committed to achieving this. Using our imagination we can stimulate our motivation and our action. Instead of thinking that daydreaming is useless it is actually very useful.

Blake (2018) also writes that Freud believed in the power of daydreams, that they represent “the human desire to alter the existing and often unsatisfactory or unpleasant world of reality.” She states also that studies have discovered mind-wandering that focuses on future planning, and tangible steps to reach the goal, help us to better prepare.

Therefore daydreaming a few times a day and imagining future possibilities can be important for your planning of what you wish to achieve.

  1. Daydreaming improves creativity

Mind wandering has been shown to light up connections across a series of interacting brain regions known as the default mode network (DMN). Studies have suggested that creative thinking is enlivened when this part of our brain is activated. The DMN helps us to connect associated ideas, also known as creative ideation. This process can lead to a steered actionable response. In fact, people who daydream demonstrate increased connectivity between these two networks.

This means If you daydream your ideas out, then you are more likely to come to an actionable outcome.

  1. Daydreaming promotes patience, helps decision making and improves achievement…

Studies have shown that adults who were tested with how long they can wait for a delayed reward, rather than settling for a smaller immediate reward. Research found that people whose minds wanders tend to be more patient, and then make better decisions. This could be because daydreaming allows us to escape everyday discomforts of real life, which allows us to withstand frustration in waiting for a delayed reward.

This may be because daydreaming allows us to escape the discomfort of real life, meaning we can withstand the frustration of waiting longer for a reward. This kind of escape also reflects memory consolidation mirrored in sleep. Researchers also found that taking a break between training tasks to let your mind wander, meant that the people studied performed better on the task on the following day than those who focused the whole time.

The take away from this is that it is okay and positive to let your mind wander. 🙂 Don’t let people tell you, you are wasting time.

Similarly, in an article by Sarah Berry in the Age and The Sydney Morning Herald (2017) found that a study in Georgia Institute of Technology showed that daydreaming improved creative and cognitive ability of those who were tested.

In this study, they took 100 participants and scanned their brains while they stared at fixed points for five minutes. After this, the participants completed tasks measuring creative and cognitive ability and completed surveys about how often they daydreamed daily. Those whose mind wandered scored more highly on creative and intellectual tests and had more efficient brain patterns.

Co-author, associate Psychology Professor Eric Schumacher said that people with “efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering.”

So this research shows that if you are allowing your mind to wander, roaming and imagining, and even resting from the pressures of daily life, then you are the opposite of ditzy, you are actually sharp intellectually and creatively. In the end you will be able to achieve your goals, and dreams in a more effective way than those who don’t allow their minds to roam. Don’t let anyone tell you, you are ditzy or vague, cause these things allow your mind to focus when it needs to. We should allow our minds down time, just like we allow our bodies downtime. We need this rest to pursue that which we wish to either create or achieve or accomplish in our lives. All of us have different desires in life. Either way, daydreaming is going to make our lives better, by allowing our minds to rest and relax and even enjoy roaming!

Go well and happy dreaming!

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