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August 2012

Interview with Me

Yesterday it was an interview with author Pamela Jeanne, today it's an interview with me, myself and I. 

I had so much fun doing this interview with Beverly Army Williams and I think you'll enjoy it, too.  She asked great questions that I really enjoyed answering, so head on over to her website, read it and comment.

By the way, I'm off to the beach but I'll have another post here on Thursday.  See you then!


Interview with Author Pamela Jeanne

I'm pleased to present an interview with naturopath Dr. Pamela Jeanne.  She and I worked together on her just-released book, Healing Matters, and in this interview she opens a window into the self-publishing process.

HealingMattersCould you start by telling a bit about the book?

The main theme of the book is celebrating and honoring the value women bring to healing. My writing addresses the fact that medical historical information both past and current, of the contributions by women on all levels of health care, has been missing and/or undervalued throughout recorded time. Most medical books have been written by men, moreover, there have been important works by women in which full credit was not given and even worse some works were co-opted by male writers.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

My original inspiration came when my first year history professor in medical school failed to present in the course work any woman or her contributions to medical care. I remember becoming quite furious at the end of that school term! He is a really great guy but lacked the consciousness that women have made and still make tremendous contributions in medical care.

How long did you work on it from start to finish?

I’d say about 3 years from actually sitting down to begin the writing process to the actual ‘birth’ of this baby. Many of my ideas, however have been percolating for more than 25 years!

What was the writing process for you? PamelaJeanne

It has come to me that writing is an art form, a process and a tremendous opportunity for growth. My prior belief was that I could not write, but I stayed with my clear intention and was able to attract into this project, all the best people to help me. I call them my angels as each appeared at the right time when I needed extra coaching or help to complete this dream. Charlotte Dixon was one of those angels. (Editorial comment:  thank you!)

What was the process of publication for you? Can you speak a bit about self publishing?

Again, as I progressed deeper and deeper into my writing, and could see a shape appearing, the next person would appear. Mostly it was effortless. I was led to a publishing company, through my women’s network, who specialized in helping women authors to self publish. Wyatt-MacKenzie Publisher is owned by Nancy Cleary and I have only praise for her support, responsiveness and clarity. There was no groping around looking for answers in a very complex publishing industry; Nancy led the way to help with a successful self-publishing event. Early on in my book project, I felt I needed to find a publisher, but later decided that self publishing was best for me. I was ready to self promote and did not want a company to own my work and then decide to stop printing if sales were not up to their quota. This is a good route for first time writers.

How will you do future books--the same? Different?

I would do the same for future books because it went so well. Yes, there were a few glitches, but Wyatt-MacKenzie has been very responsive to the problems that came up. This is a service I really appreciate.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Here is what I have learned still continues to teach me: Publishing a book is a tremendous accomplishment. At first whole task seems daunting, but my intention remained firm and clear. I did not waver because of the message I wanted to get out to the world via the book. So if you have something that is burning inside of you, get clear what that is, set your intention, be open for what comes up, then don’t waver from the outcome you’d like to see. Also it helps to have a few cheerleaders on the sidelines. My partner was that for me; she did not waver either!

Thanks so much for your insight into your publishing process, Pamela Jeanne!  For more information on Dr. Jeanne and her work, please visit her website.

What about you--have you considered self publishing?  Feel free to comment.

Photos courtesy of the author.


The Writing Life: Update on My Novel

So, I hadn't heard from my editor in a long time.

I signed the contract for my novel in the early part of May and then, nothing.

I wasn't too worried, because my friend who had his novel published by the same house said that happened with them.

But still, time passed and no word.

Meanwhile, my friend Dan, one of three people in my writing group to get a book contract this year, got his edits and sent them back to his editor.  And he got his novel accepted after me.

So I kept thinking I should write my editor.  But then I didn't.

I, um, procrastinated.

Because what if something was wrong?  What if they didn't like it after all?  What if they decided to back out of the contract?

I know, silly thoughts.  But maybe they weren't.  Because you never know.  Shit happens.

Finally, last week I screwed up my courage and wrote my editor.  She cheerily wrote back, saying edits would be done this week or next and not to worry--that there were no massive changes that would take a huge chunk of my time (another one of my worries).

When will I ever learn that most of the things I worry about are baseless?

Probably never.

Anyway, it looks like we're on track.  Or I should say, I'm on track, because my editor was never off-track.  I'll keep you informed about the editing process, as a matter of writerly interest, when it happens.

Meanwhile, do tell: do you worry about writing-related things (or non-writing-related things)?  How do you control your worries?

**Speaking of novels, I'm teaching a novel writing class starting August 14th.  You could join us if you wanted, and if you're interested, click here.

 


Balance for Writers

(This is a bit of a departure for me.  I usually only review books because I figure that's what you, my beloved reader, is interested in.  But I thought it might be kind of fun to feature something different here and see how it turned out.)

So, yeah, balance.

I'm not good at it, are you? Untitled

I know well how the creative process works for me: I'm either all in or all out.  As in, I'm writing, writing, writing, all the time, or I'm Not Writing.   Doesn't seem to be a lot of in-between.  And I desire in-between, I do.

Which brings me to a recent discovery: the art of balance can be found in small pleasures.  You can take time to do something nice for yourself and enjoy yourself a moment that leads to more peace of mind.  And that, in my world, leads to more writing.

When I feel good about myself, I feel good about writing, and that means I do it.  Contrary to the popular image of the tormented writer, I get way more writing done when I'm happy.  When I'm depressed, I crawl into my little Cancerian crab shell and wither.  (Well, that's what it feels like anyway.)

So I was pleased to discover the pleasures of Dove Body Wash.  I'm generally a soap and water kind of girl, yes I am.  So when I was offered the chance to review the Dove VisibleCare Renewing Creme Body Wash, I wasn't entirely sure I was going to think much of it.  I like soap that makes me feel clean and unstinky.    I didn't think the body wash was going to do that for me.

But I discovered something better instead--a moment of taking loving care of myself that does wonders for my state of mind.  The body wash is soft and creamy and feels luxurious against the skin, like you're having a mini-spa moment. The tag line they suggested I use for this review is the following: Visibly more beautiful skin from a body wash.  But if I was running the campaign, I'd be emphasizing that moment of serenity that using the body wash makes you feel.

It's good stuff.

Tell me, how do you find balance as a writer?  Do you look for it in big ways, or little ways?

Visit Dove® VisibleCare® to get a coupon for $1 off!

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The Art of Commitment

Commitment. Alcatraz_prison_jail_1009101_h

To me, the word conjures up images of confinement to a mental hospital or a jail, which gives you a good idea of the negative cast I imbue it with.  And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.  We creative types like our lives free and easy, unshackled by any kind of constraints.  We want to be free to create when and where we like, on the spur of the moment, or not for months, whenever the spirit motivates us.

Uh-huh. 

Turns out that old "don't box me in" attitude really isn't the best for a regular creative practice because it can foster a tendency to soar completely away from your writing.  And it turns out that a healthy dose of commitment is exactly what is needed to keep you at it.

So let's talk a bit about commitment and what it looks like:

1.  Commitment isn't big, it's little. It's about returning to the page, over and over again, even when it's really difficult and you don't want to because you don't know where to go next.  Commitment is about making the decision to write again and again and again, and it is measured in minutes, the minute it takes for you to decide to do it, not hours.

2.  Commitment might be painful. Because it's sitting down to write at the appointed time when you've got a terrible headache and would really rather go take a nap.

3. Then, too, commitment might actually feel good.  You're making regular progress on your novel.  You write every day on your memoir and suddenly you see the arc of your life in a way you never have before.  You're making great progress on the WIP.  These are all things that will make you feel good, and fuel the desire to keep writing.  But they only happen through commitment.

4. Often the worst part of commitment is thinking about it.  Your brain can actually trick you out of committing to a writing session, if you start thinking about how you don't know what the next scene should be or how to write it.   Sometimes you sigh and wring your hands and worry about the writing and then when you get to it, everything is fine.  And you wonder what all the fuss was about.  Obsessing about it is way harder than doing it.

5.  Commitment is satisfying. Yeah, it's hard, and your brain will try to trick you out of it, convincing you that cleaning the kitty litter or mopping the kitchen floor is a necessary activity, but ultimately if you keep up with your commitment to your writing, you'll find enormous satisfaction in it.

6.  Commitment is a muscle.  The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets.

7.  Commitment is the only thing that gets the writing done.  Because without commitment to the craft, there is no writing.  Period.

How do you get committed?  What tricks or techniques do you use to get to the page regularly?

**If the project you've made a commitment to write is a novel, consider signing up for my Get Your Novel Written Now class, which begins August 14th.  We'll discuss all the things you need to know to write a draft, and also talk about the writing process.  It's going to be great fun!  Go here for more info.

Photo by kathycsus.


It's My Birthday Week, and I'm Giving Someone a Present

It's been quite some time since I gave stuff away. Cake_birthday_party_240688_l

And since July 17 is my birthday (no, I'm not telling you which one, a lady never divulges such things) I figured it was about time.

So, first the gift.

I had a hard time deciding what it should be.  But since I love getting books more than any other present in the world, I decided I'd give you what I love getting.

But which book?

Should it be a copy of the Rust Hills classic, Writing in General and The Short Story in Particular, which I just recommended to a client?

Or should it have an all-around motivational bent, like The Fire Starter Sessions by DanielleLaPorte?

I couldn't decide.  So I wimped out.  And decided not to decide.  Thus, the present is a $20 gift card to Amazon, which ought to get you the book of your dreams.

Next, what do you have to do to win the present?

Well, now, that's a good question. 

All you have to do is answer this in the comments:

If you could wave a magic wand and have anything in the whole wide world that you wanted for your next birthday, what would it be?  Bear in mind, there's no limits here.  You could have anything your little heart desires, such as a bestselling novel, world peace, the entire Amazon catalog in a wood-lined room, a Ferrari, a Grand Tour to Europe, and so on.  I'm talking true, mad, deep desires.

You have until Friday the 20th to post a comment.  I'll use a random selector to generate a winner and post the results this weekend.  Good luck!

Photo by blueblitz.


Clarity for Writers

So, there's clarity for writers, and clarity about writing. Flowers_daisy_daisies_249172_l

In a post about writing clarity, I'm being clear as mud.

So let me explain.

A few days ago, I was sitting in the backyard of a friend.  Gorgeous summer night, and the surroundings were gorgeous, too: neatly mowed lawn and perfectly weeded and edged garden beds.

I thought to my own backyard, which is full of flowers, but in a wild, uncontrolled way.  My husband's currently working on a garden path when he has time and let's just say you might see a weed or two back there.

The comparison of my friend's perfect back yard with my own wild one made me feel bad for a bit.

But then I remembered something: earlier this year, after a valiant but losing battle with weeds in the front garden beds, I got very clear about something.  And that something was that I didn't want to spend a lot of time gardening.  This year I hate gardening.  (I reserve the right to love it again in the future, as I have in the past.)  This year I want to focus on writing my novel and working on my business.

Clarity for this writer.

Which makes my life so much easier.  Because I know that I have goals other than a perfect garden in mind, I don't have to waste time making myself feel bad about it.  And this goes for other things, too.

Which is where the clarity about writing comes in.

I know exactly what I want to work on in the next few months: my next novel, my writing retreats, my novel-writing class, and my coaching.   You may also know exactly what you want to write, and I hope you do, because this, too, makes life easier.  There's no fussing about with deciding what to do, you just do it.  (If you don't know what to write, may I suggest checking out my Punch for Prompt page? Choose a prompt and write to it for 20 minutes.)

Clarity is essential for writers and writing, and if you don't have it, I suggest you work on getting it.  You'll get a lot more writing done.  And you can quit making yourself feel bad about the weeds.

Do you have clarity about your writing?  If you reach a murky point, how do you get clear again?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

**Need clarity about your novel?  My new Get Your Novel Written Now class starts August 14th, and I'd love to have you join in.  You can read more about it here.

Photo by unit25.


7 Ways to Keep Writing in Summer

Waiting-landscape-tourism-4870-lAh, summertime.

Blue skies, sunshine, lazy days and heat-induced lethargy. Barbecues, vacations and great, relaxing fun times.

But what about the writing?  When does the writing get done in all this fun?

Relaxation is great for the heart and soul, but it can be hell on the writing.  All the good times can leave little time for writing, and even if you have the time, you might not have the mental energy writing requires.

So what's a writer to do?

Here are a few suggestions, taken directly from my own life.  Because, you see, all of a sudden I'm back in love with writing my novel and I'm doing whatever I can to find time to work on it, which sometimes means coming up with some creative solutions.

1. Find nooks and crannies of time.  This is my best advice for busy times.  You can get a lot done in 15 minutes.  Even 5 minutes lets you reconnect with your work. Set a timer and go.  Work on your current project, write to a prompt, do a journal entry.  Writing breeds more writing and the more you write the more you'll write.  Do you really need to catch up on the news about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise? Does that email have to be done right now? Write instead.

2. Write outside.  Working inside on beautiful days can feel confining.  So take your writing outside.  I love sitting with my laptop on my deck, writing.  I spent Saturday afternoon out there reading manuscripts.  When my kids were little, I'd take them and my journal to the park.  I'd sit at a park bench and write while they played.  Never failed to re-inspire me.

3.  Get up early.  It's still lovely and cool in the early morning hours.  The birds sing and you can watch the sun rise (or at least see the sky lighten--my office faces west).  Nobody else is awake yet to bother you and you can get a lot of writing done.

4. Write on vacation.  Yes, really.  Travel inspires my writing and so does, in some strange way, movement.  I love writing on planes and in cars.  If you are bothered by motion sickness, try Sea Bands, which you can get at your local pharmacy.  They are cloth bracelets with a plastic tip embedded that stimulates a pressure point on your wrist and they work like magic.

5. Set your intention.  Never underestimate the power of thought!  Set the intention that you're going to make time to write and repeat this intention to yourself often.  Makes it much easier to follow through.

6.  Get fired up.  As I mentioned above, I'm now in love with the novel I'm writing.  It took a bit of slogging to get to this point, I'll admit, but now that I'm here I'll do anything to make time to write.  So get yourself fired up--and honestly? The best way to do this is to work regularly until you find your groove.

7.  Release the worry.  Think of all the energy you spend worrying about not writing.  I know I do.  Let it go and release that energy for your writing.  Often when you give up the obsessing it clears the mental space you need to focus again.

These are my best tips for getting the writing done during these glorious days of summer.  What are yours?

**It's not too late to register for the Authenticity + Creativity class tomorrow night.  Click the snazzy button to the right of this post or check out our special page.

Photo by mterraza.


Self-Love For Writers

I've got a guest post this morning over at Sandi Amorim's blog.  It's on how authentic creativity is self-love.  Won't you check it out?  Here's the site: Deva Coaching.

And I've got one more thing for you.  Remember how I reviewed the Artist's Way Toolkit site?  Well, the site is offfering a free promo.  If you want to try the tools for a month, go ahead and register using BLOGHER as a promo code.  You will need to put in your credit card info, but it's only because that's the only way the registration works--there's no tricks, no continuation after the free month unless you want it.  Check it out.

But go read my guest post first.

UPDATE:  The Authenticity + Creativity class is next Tuesday night!  You can still register.  Check it out on this page.  (And thanks Heather for the reminder that I needed to post this today.)

 


What Inspires You and How?

Jelly_blue_party_18598_hIn the overall scheme of writing things, it is relatively easy to get inspired.  (See my list of things that inspire me at the end of this article.) But the more important question is: how do things inspire you?  What is the process by which inspiration translates to action?

Having inspiration is meaningless if it doesn't propel you to do something about it. Inspiration is a thought that lodges in your head and, hopefully, moves you to action.  Most often inspiration moves me to write, but I can also be inspired to donate money to a cause, volunteer time, call a friend, book a trip, buy an item of clothing--you name it.

I'm interested not only in the things that inspire us but also the process by which this works.  Here's my theory: a thought or idea enters your head or an event occurs, which creates emotion, and that emotion moves you to act.  For instance, I read a blog which tells a story about a suffering family (idea)which creates sympathy (emotion)which moves me to donate to aid their support (action).

I know, I know.  This is somewhat obvious, at least in theory.  In reality in can be murky as all hell and sometimes the first two steps get engaged but the last, and most important, lies dormant.  And that is what truly interests me--idea to emotion to action.

The process might not be quite so clear cut for writing inspiration, because, as we all know, the muse works in mysterious ways.  Sometimes it works in an oblique way, as in I watch somebody, say, an athlete, excel at an activity and that makes me want to go excel in my own activity of writing.  The important thing to recognize is what actually makes you get up from the couch and go write.

To activate the process of inspiration, you first have to look for it.  To assist you in that endeavor, I've listed some of the ways that I get inspired below.  Steal as many ideas from it as you want and use them as you compile your own list.  Think of it as an ongoing, ever-changing list. And then expose yourself to these sources of inspiration as often as possible to allow it to motivate you to take action.

The Inspiration List

1. My family

2. My friends

3. My clients

4. Napping

5. Walking

6. Reading

7. Writing (of course! Writing inspires more writing.)

8. Travel

9. Movies

10. Story

11. Flowers

12. Freedom

13. Athletic Events

14. Counting my blessings

15. Animals

16.  To be continued...

Now, tell me.  What is your process of getting inspired?  What will you add to your inspiration list? Please let us know in the comments.

And remember, there's still time to sign up for the one night teleclass on Authenticity + Creativity.  Click on this page to learn more, it's going to rock!

 

Photo (its a jellyfish) by Steve Jurvetson.


An Approach to Writing Scenes

During one of the free sessions I did last month, I talked with a writer about foreshadowing and how sometimes getting it in is really clunky.  Like, you might as well scream it from the rooftops, "I'm foreshadowing something important here," clunky.

And since I went right from that session to working on a chapter for a novel, I thought about how sometimes writing a scene is like that, too.  Sometimes everything is just too obvious: your dialogue is informational, and the point of the scene might as well be written in neon.

But sometimes if not always, you've got to let obvious rule the day, knowing that you can come back later and smooth it out, tamp it down, and make it less obvious.

As I was writing and pondering all this, a sort of seat-of-the-pants framework for writing scenes occurred to me.  Actually that makes it sound like it was a new idea, and it wasn't.  Rather, it was a discovery of my process, which occurred to me might be helpful to you.

So here it is (and this applies to all kinds of scenes, fictional and non-fiction, as in a memoir):

1.  Note the elements of the scene.  You can do this on a notepad or in your head, but I'm so visual I like to write it down.  This is just a list of the things that you know have to happen in the scene, plain and simple.

2.  Trust yourself and begin writing.  Plunge in, the water's fine.  Actually the water is probably a bit cold and scary at first, but shortly you'll get used to it and wonder why it took you so long to jump.  And here is one of the most important things I can impress upon you (and remember myself): more nuances of the scene will come to you as you write.

3. Use the concept of the placeholder.  Sometimes you know you need to get something in but there's no clear way not to make it clunky.  Just put it in, as noted above, knowing that you can come back to it and make it work later. 

4.  Write the scene all the way through.  The writing can be bad, the dialogue stilted, the descriptions laughable, but you'll have a finished scene.  And now you've got, on paper, all the elements of it (and you've probably discovered more as you followed #2).

5.  Rewrite and move on.  I'm a big believer in writing the discovery draft from beginning to end and then starting on a second draft, but I also like to do a rough rewrite of chapters as I'm writing the discovery draft.  This feels like part of the shaping of the story to me--so much comes out in this process that it's good to hone it a bit.

So that is my process for writing scenes, what's yours?  Do you tear your hair out over getting all the elements in or is an easy thing for you?  Please comment!

And don't forget the upcoming Authenticity + Creativity class that is coming up next Tuesday.  Woo-hoo!  Square-Peg Karen and I are going to be rocking and rolling this topic.  Just click the snazzy button to the right for more info.