Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #46

Herewith, the latest collection of writing prompts from my Tumblr blog, where I post a prompt a day. I hope they help you write tons and tons this week!

#316  They tell me I should never have let anyone know what happened.

#317  “Honey, I’m home!”

Your main character’s significant other just walked in the door.  How does she/he react? With joy or dread? Eyes lighting up or shoulders slumping? Excitement or fear? 

Write about their reaction and what happens next.  

#318  Does your main character like to pretend? Maybe he likes to pretend he is married to someone else. Or she likes to pretend she lives in Paris.  Or he likes to pretend he is happy.  Write about all the ways your character (and maybe you) pretend.

#319  “Why, I remember when you were just a little tyke,” she said. “And, um, look at you now.  What in the hell happened to you?”

#320  “All at once I hear your voice, and time just disappears.”  Bonnie Raitt

Whose voice does your main character want to hear? Who do they miss?

#321  Is your main character an outdoorsy type or one who prefers being inside?  If he’s an outdoorsy type, write about how he feels when forced inside.  If she’s an inside type, write about how she feels when she must be outside.

#322  She breathed a huge sigh of relief, because the thing she’d been struggling with was over at last.  Or was it?  Because all of a sudden….

How's your writing going?  What are you working on?


8 Ways to Blow Up Your Writing Brain by Journaling (+ Tips)

I'm an off-and-on journaler.  I've had periods in my life--long stretches, like ten years--when I got up every day and wrote in a journal first thing.  (And to prove it, I've got three huge tubs of them.) I've also had journaling droughts, where I don't actively write in a diary. Copy_reflexion_author_260936_l

Article after article suggests that journaling is good for you in a number of ways, including your mental health. Studies show that journaling is linked to reducing stress, helping to deal with traumatic events, and  increasing your physical health (it boosts your immune system and lowers blood pressure). It has even been shown to help in sports performance and reduce employee absenteeism.  (You can read more about these studies here.)  And that is all well and good--really good, actually--but the bottom line for me is whether or not journaling helps me with my writing.

And  I'm here to tell you that the times when I am writing in my journal regularly are much more productive and creative for me than the times when I am not.  I actually thing journaling is good for everybody from writers to visual artists to musicians to business people.  Journaling helps you sort things out, process life, and come up with ideas.  And I don't care what you do in the world, those are valuable processes for everyone .  For writers, one of the biggest benefits I see is that it helps us see life as story, and that stories abound in life.

But sometimes, I will admit, I open my journal and my pen hovers over the page and I can't think of anything to write.  So over the last few months I've been keeping track of the various ways I use my journal and I now present them to you.  I've also included some handy journaling tips at the end of this post.

So you can blow up your writing brain (I mean this in the best of ways) and your creativity.

Account of day to day life.  This is probably the most traditional kind of journaling, the kind of activity we used to call writing in a diary.  It can be a great starting point for a journal entry (see below).  Austin Kleon calls it keeping a logbook, and makes a case for doing it regularly. It is probably the kind of journaling I do least, but when I do do it, I love looking back on the accounts of my days..

Idea incubator.  One of the best reasons to keep a journal as a writer.   I think every writer should have some kind of notebook where you record ideas, things they've seen, books to read, etc., even if you don't actively write journal entries.  (You might like the bullet journal idea below for this.)  For a fantastic post on using the writer's notebook, check out this post.  I love it so much I'm going to print it out and put it in my bullet journal.

To sort things out.  This is the kind of journaling the mental health professionals want you to do, and with good reason--because it works.  Process your crap on the page and deal with it, instead of waiting for it to come out at an inopportune moment.  (Talkin' to myself here, too.)

As a vessel for the spiritual.  Those of us on a spiritual path know that writing in a journal can help you figure out your relationship with the divine, talk to God, converse with angels or spirits--whatever you desire.  I would go so far as to suggest that journaling can become a form or meditation or prayer.  I know it often is for me.  My favorite writer for this is Janet Connor.

As a bullet journal.  This is how I organize myself, and until I found this system I was constantly searching for the best way to keep my life together on paper.  (No, I do not use a digital system.  I hate phone and computer calendars.)  But the bullet journal is much more than just an organizer or planner--it can hold all your thoughts and ideas.  Mine has become a hybrid which I use for my journaling entries as well.  If you are interested in this system start with the original link, and then google "bullet journal."  You'll find a ton of helpful post and articles about it, complete with clever hacks.  I find mine works best, though, if I keep it as simple as possible.

Morning pages.  Julia Cameron popularized this version of journaling in her book, The Artist's Way, and it is a perennial favorite because it works.  The process is simple--you get up and you write three pages without thinking.  That's it.  You don't have to craft beautiful sentences or write about how your boyfriend stood you up.  Just write and see what comes up.  Not only is it helpful to get your ya-yas out, over time, certain themes will emerge that may help you see your life more clearly.

A space for free writing.  Sometimes you don't know what to write but you know you want to write.  Your journal is the perfect place for this.  Grab yourself a prompt and have at it.  Set a timer and write for 20 minutes without lifting the pen from the page.  Miraculous things will emerge.

A place to write about your current WIP.  I spend a lot of time writing about my current novel.  If I get lost in the plot, I write about where I might go.  I write about characters and their back story.  I write about the homes they live in and the places they work.  Writing in a journal is a godsend for helping you figure out your story.  You may want to keep a separate notebook for this, so you can easily access the information when you need it.

Those are just some of the ways I use my journals, and there are a ton more that I don't have room for--like making lists or mind mapping.  You'll come up with your own favorites.

Tips:

Start where you are.  I had a friend who found journaling a great help when she went through cancer, but then she stopped.  She wanted to get started again, but felt she had to commit to the page everything that had happened since she had last written.  Nope.  Just start where you are, with whatever you want to write about.

Index!  This sounds tedious and overly organized, but it is a lifesaver.  It is a key part of the bullet journal and I've started using it for my all my journals.   Label a page at the front or back of the book as an index, then number your pages and when you write something you want to keep track of, note it.  Oh, and I recently found the Leuchtturm journals, which not only have page numbers already printed on them, but also a pen strap and a gorgeous rainbow of colors! I can't wait to order one.

Keep at it.  As with everything we do, at first it can seem awkward and useless.  But the more you write in a journal, the more you'll see the various benefits and keep at it.

Maintain a list of prompts.  It's really helpful to have a page in your journal where you write down prompts and then if you don't know what to write about, there you are.  Feel free to use mine--there's a ton of them here.

If you really get stuck, go back to day before and write what happened. It's as good a starting point as any!

Do you keep a journal?  What's your favorite technique for journal writing?  Please comment!

 


Why Going to the Movies is Good for Your Writing

Pink-gold-mirvish-1852743-hIn my last post, I revealed the sorry state of my latest reading.  I've not read nearly as many novels as usual recently.  But one thing I have been doing is going to the movies.

If there's one thing I love to do on the weekends, it is to go to the movies.  I love, love, love it.  Love deciding what to see, buying popcorn and water (it used to be Diet Coke, but I've repented), entering the darkened theater and watching the ads that precede the film.  I love the trailers, and, oh yeah, the movie itself.  I love when the credits roll and you can sit and figure out who all the actors were that you recognized but couldn't quite put a name to.  And I love talking about the flick afterwards.

But we don't go to movies often.  There's always so much to do on the weekends--work around the house and the yard, for starters.  And nearly every weekend we have some kind of family dinner, which requires grocery shopping and cooking.

However, lately, we've been going to films on the weekend, mostly at small, restored theaters in town like the Academy and the Roseway.   We've seen movies old and new, because my movie taste is as eclectic as my reading taste.  And I feel like I've been inhaling story in all its aspects.

This is why its good for writers to go to the movies (or watch them at home, but that's not as much fun).  Because you will learn SO much about how to put a story together while you watch.  When I want to read about structure in the novel, I usually choose a screenwriting book, because these guys have it going on when it comes to structure.  Watching a movie helps me absorb and internalize it. When I read novels these days, I no longer read as a civilian.  I read as a writer, noticing everything the writer did as she wrote--how she plotted, and characterized and used dialogue and setting.  But because I don't actually write movies, I can watch them and just take it all in without stopping to think about every detail.  And as I launch into writing the next novel and trying to figure out what happens and how it all goes together, I'm finding that my movie watching habit is standing me in good stead.

(And I also highly recommend this book, which I wrote about in my last post.)

 Movies Seen

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  J'adore.  Ditto for the first one.  Its a great series.  Funnily and predictably enough, the theater was full of old people.  I read that this movie hit #1 in the U.K. the weekend it was released, shocking the experts.  Because, yeah, there really is a movie-going audience beyond teenage boys.

The Graduate.  The Academy Theater is showing a bunch of old movies this summer, and we couldn't resist going to see The Graduate.  Dustin Hoffman looks about 10 in the opening sequence, but he was 30.  And Anne Bancroft, the "older woman" he has an affair with? She was 36.  I kept thinking what a great job they were doing with the period details--and then I remembered.  It was the period!

Big Eyes.  We watched this one at home, on demand which isn't nearly as much fun as going to the theater, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  It's the story of how Walter Keane took credit for all those awful popular big eyed paintings in the 70s, when his wife was actually painting them.   What I loved was a bit at the end (not giving anything away) that said Margaret Keane, at age 88, still paints every day.  

Mad Max Fury Road.  You guys, this is a feminist movie.  I adored it! Some of the heroines are kick-ass old ladies.  So freaking cool.  As I watched it, I marveled at how they ever shot this thing.  Really fun and worth a couple hours of your time.

And, because this is a post about movies, I thought we ought to at least have a trailer.  But before you get distracted, what movies have you seen recently?

 


Books I Read In May

Nightingale_hc_lgI can't figure out what's going on.  I know I read a ton last month, but I can't seem to bring any of the titles into my mind.  (As soon as I press publish on this post they will flood into my brain.)  So here's a quick list of the books I remember:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  This is on the best-seller lists and is getting a lot of buzz, and deservedly so.  It's quite good.  I learned history from it, too, such as the fact that gazillions of people evacuated Paris when the Nazis first occupied it.  And I was reminded of the hardships that Europeans faced during World War II.

That's the only novel I can think of that I read recently, and I usually inhale novels like crazy.  But, I have been dipping in and out of a lot of writing books.  I don't so much read them cover to cover, because they have inspiration and exercises in them that lead me to the page.

Wild Women, Wild Voices by Judy Reeves.  I wrote a whole review of this book here.  I'm still working with it for journaling ideas and I like it a lot.  Its not so much a book that's going to help you with plotting or characterization, but more the basic writing stuff, like expressing yourself on the page.

The Plot Whisperer by Martha Alderson.  This is a book that will help you with your plotting (and there's some info on characterization as well).  I bought it on a trip to Seattle and wrote more about it here.

Naming the World, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston.  This is most definitely not a book you sit down and read cover to cover, because it is a book of writing exercises.  (Although each exercise is preceded by an essay from the author who submitted it.)  Good stuff in here.

Into the Woods by John Yorke.  This is a book on structure and I am loving it.  I ordered it from a bookseller in England (through Amazon) and it took forever to get here and then my husband set the envelope aside under a pile of mail so it took even longer for me to actually find it, but it was worth the wait.  An amazing, excellent book on structure, and its readable, too.  I embedded a video below of him relating "how all storytelling has worked since the beginning of time" at Google UK.

All this reading on story structure has led me to another activity: going to movies.  More on that in my next post.  In the meantime, what have you been reading?

Previous months posts are (which I offer in case you need recommendations):

Books I Read in April (and Part of May)

Books I've Been Reading

Books I Read in January


Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #45

It is sunny and hot here in Portland, hot like in the nineties.  Not my favorite.  My office is upstairs for the time being (I'm working on moving it downstairs) and it gets hot up here so I'll be driven away from the computer soon enough.  (I'm pretty sure we're going to see the movie Mad Max this afternoon--I've been a movie going fool lately, and besides, the theater will be air conditioned!)  But before I go, just because I love you so much and want to make sure you write tons this week, I compiled the latest collection of prompts from my Tumblr blog for you.  Hope it is lovely where you are and that you're having a great weekend.

#309 Viva la revolution! What does your main character feel strongly enough about to agitate for?  To take to the streets in rebellion?  To protest if it were taken away from him?

#310  She worked furtively on the project for months, hiding the papers she took notes on or the computer screen when anybody walked by.  In the end, when she finally revealed the project, it was for  __________________.  

Either her project works amazingly well, or its a huge fiasco.  Write about her project and its results.

#311  Main character (or you): primly tidy or near-hoarder? How does this make him or her feel?  

#312  Ever patiently, he sharpened the knife.

#313  “Why do people act like that?” she asked, watching as a group down the hill started to __________________.

#314  Although there was nothing wrong with his leg, he always walked with a cane.

#315  She poured cream into her coffee and gazed into the cup, hoping it would tell her a secret.

By the way, those last few prompts are from something I found when sorting through crap stuff in my office. More on that soon.  In the meantime, how's your writing going?

 


The Love-Hate Relationship With the Creative Process

MosaicHeartBeing immersed in the creative process--writing a novel, creating a class, knitting a sweater, planting a garden--is my most favorite thing in the world.

Until I hit a block.

And decide that the novel stinks, nobody will want to take the class, the sweater won't fit, the garden won't grow.  And then I hate the creative process.

I was reading about this very thing on another blog this morning when it hit me.   The tension between the love part and the hate part is what keeps us working at it.  If the creative process--say, your writing practice--was all good all the time, you'd get bored.  And if it was all bad all the time, you'd get frustrated and quit.

A well-known psychological principle is that of intermittent reinforcement, and that's what we're talking about here.  This principle states that reinforcement is doled out in an intermittent manner is far and away the strongest motivator.  Why? Because we never know what we're going to get, and we're always hoping for the good outcome--the wonderfully satisfying writing session as opposed to the time when you sit and stare out the window.

But we're also talking about tension, the lifeblood of all stories.  It's what keeps readers turning pages, the tension in the story itself and the tension the author has embedded in the story.  Without tension, or conflict, there is no story, its a simple as that.  Which is why, of course, the news is full of awful stories about horrible things happening.

While it is frustrating to hit the lows of the creative process, if you just remember that its all a cycle and the highs will soon return, I think you can ease yourself through the times you hate everything you create.  Remind yourself that the work would not be nearly so compelling if it were all easy, all the time.  

And take yourself back to the page once more.

How do you handle the lows of the creative process?

Photo by Carbon NYC.


Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #44

Bon jour! Here is this week's collection of writing prompts, a bit later than usual because I went out to breakfast at my favorite French cafe.  And I bought macarons, which are calling to me from the kitchen (they can be a rowdy bunch), but they are for dessert at my sister's dinner tonight.  Anyway, these bits are from my Tumblr blog, where I post a new prompt every damn day.

#302 Write about something that surprised you or your main character.  It could be something small or huge.

#303  Ah, a holiday.  All day to relax and do what she wanted.  But, oh crap.  Then this happened….

#304  “We’ll forget the sun, in his jealous sky, as we walk in fields of gold.”  Write about what Sting was singing about.

#305  Use the word promise, bird, and thunderstorm in a sentence and then use the sentence as a prompt.

#306  He just could not make the decision.  How do you–or your main character–make a decision? Do you use a logical process (if so, explain) or rely on intuition?

#307  Does your main character believe in angels? Spirit guides? Or for that matter, God? If so, how do these beliefs manifest in his life?  If not, same question.

#308  You’re at your desk.  It’s a beautiful summer morning.  The window is open, and you hear birds singing and the soft summer air blows through.  But then, ____________ happens.  And things are never the same again.

 As always, share inspiration from these prompts or your writing life in the comments! 


Cement Your Writing Habit (A Proven Process)

PowerofHabitbookcoverOne of the best books I've read this year is The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.   He spent a few years studying habits, how people form them, and how they can un-form them, and then distilled his findings into this book.  You'd think it would be about as exciting to read as watching grass grow but the way he writes and tells stories, it is fascinating. 

You don't even really have to read the book to get the concept, though I highly recommend it because it is entertaining and he uses a lot of different examples that really set the idea in your head. (Though if you truly feel pressed for time, there's a cool study guide here that will give you the gist.)

And the best thing about it is that you can apply his techniques (which are all scientifically based) to anything.  Like, um, oh, I don't know...your writing, maybe?

To start with, you need to understand our basic habit loop, which is how habits are formed.  (And bear in mind, that we humans need habits, to, oh say, get us to work on time, feed ourselves, take care of children...you get the drift.)  The habit loop is three steps, and once you remember these steps, you'll be able to apply them to anything in your life:

1.  Cue.  This is what signals your brain to go into automatic mode.  You enter the library, and boom, you're ready to study.  You smell food (or in my case, see it) and ta-da, you want to eat, even if you're not hungry.

2.  Routine.  This is the behavior that leads to the reward.  You study for your test, eat the doughnut that appeared in front of you, drive to work the same way you do every morning.

3.  Reward.  What you get out of the routine.  For instance, that sweet taste of sugar on your tongue, or a raise from your boss because you've been so timely.

You change habits by manipulating this loop.  If you want to change a bad habit, you look at what cues you to overeat or smoke or drink and then you look at the reward.  Once you've figured that out, you can change the routine (the habitual part) in the middle.

So what about writing?  What struck me as I was writing about the habit loop, is how many writers have had routines or rituals to get them to start writing.  I wake up in the morning, stretch, get my coffee and water, and head to my desk.   I usually start by hand writing, in my journal or my novel notebooks, because--if I open my computer odds are I'll head to my email inboxes.  Booyah--habit loop.  The cue is opening the computer, the routine is checking email (just in case there's anything important, I tell myself), and the reward is the rush of news.  I've cemented my first-thing-in-the-morning writing habit by changing the cue (not opening the computer).  Other ways to do this might be to close down all your inboxes and tabs before you go to sleep, or set Freedom first thing upon rising.

The key is to look carefully at what your habit loop is, and adjust accordingly. Though I am a lover of, and consequently a firm proponent of writing first thing in the morning, because I like to do my most important thing first, I know others for whom this doesn't work at all.  If you're a dedicated night owl, trying to force yourself into becoming a lark just ain't going to cut it. 

Here's an interesting article on the habits of some famous writers.  I love the Jodi Picoult quote, "You can't edit a blank page."  And another article from Brain Pickings which has some choice quotes.  And here is a whole Tumblr devoted to the routines of various writers.

So here's how to cement your writing habit:

1.  Pay attention to what you currently do.  The thing about habits is that they are automatic, so we often don't realize what we're doing.  Next time you get yourself to the computer (which I hope will be today), stop and think for a minute what you did before you got there.

2. Identify if you have a good habit loop or a bad habit loop.  Do you grab coffee and sprint to your desk when its your allotted writing time? Or do you grab coffee, talk to your spouse, decide you better put a load of wash in, then pet the dog, then make more coffee and by the time you get to your desk your time is up?  First example=good.  Second example=bad.

3. Look at your cues, routines, and rewards and modify accordingly.  In the first example above, the writer is grabbing his coffee and getting right to work.  The cue is the coffee, the routine is the writing, and the reward is likely that feeling we get when all is right with the world because we have written.  In the second example, the coffee is a cue to fart around.  The second writer might want to find a different cue, or change her routine so to be more like the first writer, with the coffee getting her right to the computer.

4.  Read some of the links provided above for insight into how other writers do it.  If your routine is not working, some fresh ideas might help.

5.  Create a plan and work it.  Figure out what a workable positive habit loop might be for you and then put it into action.  It might take a few days or even weeks to make it happen, and you'll probably backslide along the way, but stick with it.  The rewards are worth it.

So that's it, and I hope you'll try it.  Do you have a writing routine that works for you?  Please share in the comments, as it will help other writers to read about it.


Book Review: Wild Women, Wild Voices

WildWomen_CvrWild Women, Wild Voices: Writing From Your Authentic Wildness

by Judy Reeves

I was provided this book by the publisher, New World Library (whom I adore, because they always give me wonderful books to read) to review.  And then I promptly forgot about it.  Actually, the book got buried under a pile of papers on my desk and only was unearthed when I started cleaning up.  I wish I'd found it sooner, because its a wonderful book.

And here's my problem with writing about it: I start reading it and then stop to go do some of the exercises and follow the prompts.  And so I am slowly--very slowly--making my way through it.  And in this case, the slowness is a good thing.  There is a ton of material to absorb in this book, and for anyone wanting to explore the wild side of their writing (something to which, really, we all should aspire) it is well worth it.

You may be familiar with the author, Judy Reeves,who calls herself a "writing practice provocateur," through one of her other books.  The one that's been on my shelf for years is The Writer's Book of Days.  (It really has been years--I looked up the pub date, and it was 1999.) She, like me, encourages discipline as a path to letting the wild woman out--discipline as in writing every day.  Besides that, what I really like about the book is that her exercises encourage digging deep and cutting loose.  It is this kind of attitude toward writing that leads me back to the utter joy of it.

Wild Women, Wild Voices grew out of a workshop Reeves taught, about which she says, "And though I've been a lifelong daily journaler, it was the prompts, questions, and explorations initiated by our work that took me into the deep waters of memory and experience."   

Here's a look at what the book covers, which is based on the cycles of a woman's life:

--Claiming the Wild Woman--rediscovering the deep connections with ourselves and others

--Mother/Sister/Daughter and family connections

--Loves and Lovers

--Friendship--the wild woman in community

--Artist/Creator--the authentic work of wild woman

--Life Journeys--quests and pilgrimages 

--Death and Legacies--the unveiling of the wise woman

And, just for fun, here's a couple of examples of exercises (which she calls "explorations") from the book:

--Write the story of your name.  Where did it come from, what does it mean, how does it fit you?  Or how doesn't it?

--In Desert Solitaire, Edward Abbey wrote, "Every man, every woman, carries in heart and mind the image of the ideal place, the right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary."  

Write about your "right place, the one true home, known or unknown, actual or visionary."

--Have you ever met someone on a journey, and did the connection change your life, even though you may never have seen or heard from the person again?

 Have fun with these explorations and do check out the book.  

What kind of writing books do you like to read, if any?

 


Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #43

Hi, I hope you've had a great week with lots of writing.  And guess what?  It's a long holiday weekend, at least here in the states.  Surely you plan on using at least some of it to write?  Of course you do. Here are some prompts from my Tumblr blog for your inspiration.

#295 Two women walk into a bar.  The entire place goes quiet, and all heads turn toward them.  It is not because they are beautiful, but rather….

#296 Would you please stop that right now?  Right this minute! It drives me absolutely crazy when….

#297  The sky darkened and lights flashed.  It wasn’t an electrical storm, though, it was….

#298  Two women sit at the bar of a fancy restaurant, one blonde, one brunette, both gorgeous.  The blonde sips her martini, sets it down on the bar and gaze at the brunette. “Now it’s your turn. I’ve told you my story.  What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for love?”

Write both their crazy-for-love stories.

#299  Describe your main character in three words.  

Now take each of those words and write more about how it manifests in your character.  Dive deep.

#300  Sometimes–often–wisdom, ideas and inspiration come in odd ways, such as a comment from another person, a song lyric, an evocative smell, or a glimpse of an image that reminds you of something.  Write about signs you’ve received recently.

#301  Write about your own style of dress and things you might be know for–wearing crazy ties, or colorful scarves for instance.  Now do the same for your character.  Does he or she have a unique style or is it more mundane? What does this say about him or her?

 There you go!  Have a wonderful time writing.

 


Are You a Right-Brain or Left-Brain Dominant Writer?

ElliottBayBooks
A Stack 'O Writing Books

I learned a different way of looking at my writing this weekend, a way that I think will help inform how I plan and plot a novel. (One of the things I love best about writing is that there's always something new to learn.  It's impossible to be bored by it.) I'm thinking this thing will help you, too, so let's discuss.  But first, some background.

This past weekend, I went to Seattle with my daughter.  We took the train up and back (the best way to travel), stayed in the Roosevelt Hotel downtown, and reconnected with an old friend and met her new family.  (One of the most adorable two-year-olds on the planet, second only to my own granddaughter.)

One of the best times we had was Saturday afternoon, when we hung out at the new (to us) location of Elliott Bay Books.  The bookstore is dotted with large tables at which you can while away the afternoon.  Which is exactly what we did. It felt like the height of luxury to spend a couple of hours doing nothing but looking at books.  My daughter perused books from the design section, and I pulled out stack after stack of titles from the writing section.  I read through many of them,  took notes from some, and ended up buying two:

Naming the World, and other exercises for the creative writer, edited by Bret Anthony Johnston.  I remember being at AWP years ago right when this book came out. It is comprised of brief essays and accompanying writing exercises from a wide variety of writers.  I'm always looking for exercises for myself and my students--I'm not sure why I haven't bought this one earlier.  It is excellent.  (I especially love the section of Daily Warm-ups at the back.)

PlotWhispererThe Plot Whisperer, by Martha Alderson.  I've read her blog, but for some reason shied away from the book, which has been out a few years.  I'm only a short way in, but the book is excellent.  And the thing that has grabbed my attention is the distinction she makes between left-brain dominant writers and right-brain dominant writers.  To wit:

The left-brained writer thinks in language more often than images and is quite comfortable with action.  He might also be analytical and detail-oriented.  Alderson says that if you crave action and "spew out dialogue at will" you are a left-brained writer.

The right-brained writer thinks in pictures rather than language and likely starts his writing developing characters or emotional moments in the story.  He takes a more intuitive approach.  If you fall in love with your characters and love to ponder theme and meaning, you are more right-brain oriented.

Raise your hand if you recognize yourself in one of the descriptions above.  Me! Choose me!  I'm a right-brained writer through and through.  I can't think of a novel or story I've written that didn't start with a character, and because of this I also have a few abandoned stories littering my computer, because I didn't know how to develop action for the character.

It doesn't matter which one you are, but it helps to figure that out from the get-go.  Because just as I've struggled with action in my stories, the left-brained writer will struggle with getting character emotion and detail into her work.  And if you know that going in, you'll know where your weaknesses lie and you can figure out how to correct them.

You'll know that if your left brain tends to be more dominant, you'll need to learn to focus on character, imagery, and emotion.  Conversely, if your right brain rules the roost, you'll have to focus on plot and goal and structure.  (There are ways to do this without freaking yourself out.)

Alderson has an interesting offer on her website.  (I'm in no way affiliated with her, just intrigued by the info she's presenting.)  It's called Writing a Story Takes You on an Epic Journey, and since it is in beta, it is really inexpensive (like $14.99, amazing). 

So that's what I learned this weekend.  Does the concept of left-brain dominant and right-brain dominant writers resonate with you?  Which are you? Do discuss in the comments.

All images are by moi.  I've been using Instagram a lot lately.  Come follow me there, why don't you?


Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #42

Like clockwork, like magic, like butter on bread, here it is, my weekly round-up of writing prompts from my Tumblr blog.  I'm in Seattle this weekend, but you should be writing. Kidding! Or not. Anyway, Enjoy!  Or don't enjoy, but use them to write like crazy.

#288 What was your main character’s relationship with her mother like?  Happy and loving? Polite but distant? Very, very contentious? Write about it for 15 minutes–or more.

#289  Everyone else was sad when the rain started falling after a long string of gorgeous days.  But not her.  She was delighted.  Because rain meant …..

#290 Who does your main character love? Who loves her?  Do they match up?

#291  Write about a time you, or your main character, was so engrossed in an activity that time flew without him realizing it.

#292  But you know, you could also do it this way.

#293  I know you don't agree with me, but tough, because ....

#294  It's Saturday.  What's your character's drink of choice this evening?  Wine (red or white), beer, tea, coffee, water, a cocktail, Diet Coke?  How much of it will he drink?

Go forth and write!  And add the results to the comments if you so desire....


Life's An Adventure! Or Wait, is it All Just Routine?

Once upon a time, I lived and worked in Sun Valley, Idaho, taking a semester off from college.  I lived in a dorm that had a fire pole from the second floor with a bunch of other ski bums.  Sometime near the end of my tenure there, three young women appeared to live in the dorms.  In retrospect, I realize they weren't like the rest of us--college students working playing for a semester.  They had moved from a nearby town for the work.  (Most of us were on the housekeeping staff.  Fun job, said nobody ever.)

I don't remember their names or even their faces.  I'm embarrassed to admit that in my memory they all sort of look alike.  But what I do remember is the motto of one of them, repeated over and over:

Life's an adventure! SunValley-01

This admonition has rung in my head ever since.  I've had times when I believe it, and times when I don't.  When I believe it, good things happen:

--My writing flows.  And in my world, when the writing flows, all else follows.

--Fun abounds.  

--Nothing fazes me.  (Case in point: I once missed a connection in Denver.  Instead of fussing and fighting, I said to myself, life's an adventure, and trundled down the concourse to my favorite restaurant there to run into a fellow passenger and have a delightful time drinking wine together.)

--Mysterious, synchronistic things occur.

--Life really feels like an adventure.

And in the times when I don't believe it, everything is vaguely fuzzy and dull, like things aren't quite in focus.  It is very, very easy to forget that life's an adventure.  So how to stay focused in this mindset?  Sometimes, its enough to repeat the mantra.  Uh-huh. Right.  The problem with that is remembering the damn mantra in the first place.

Funnily enough, one way to live life as a grand adventure is to stay rooted in routine.  Take writing, for example (as you knew I would).  When you are writing routinely every day, you fall in love with the world.  Or at least I do.  But I suspect you do, too.  Maybe you don't describe it in quite the same words, but I'm sure we share the same feeling of things just being right.

And when things are just right, they fall into place as they should.

And when things fall into place as they should it feels as if there's a benevolent king arranging things just for our benefit.

And then life truly does feel like an adventure.

All because you committed to a routine of writing daily.

At the workshop I taught in Nashville a couple weeks ago, THE MOST POPULAR THING WE TALKED ABOUT was the idea of writing 15 minutes a day.  (#15minsday on Facebook and Twitter.) Because when people realized they could create a satisfying writing practice in 15 minutes a day, it gave them hope.

So commit to your writing habit--and watch the life of adventure blossom around you.

How do you cultivate a life of adventure? Please discuss.


Books I Read in April (And Part of May)

WhatremainsHerewith, my semi-regular list of books I've been reading.  Why? Because I love and adore reading posts what others have been reading (so write more of them, y'all).  And I figure you might get a few ideas from my list.  

Here goes:

Fiction

Crossing on the Paris by Dana Gynther. (See bonus author video at the end of this post.) I enjoyed this novel about three women of different classes crossing from Europe to New York on an ocean liner.  Parts of it were a bit contrived, but it kept me turning pages.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson.  This is the story of a single woman who owns a bookstore in Denver.  Nothing so rare about that, right?  Well, this was set in the sixties, so it was unusual.  But every night she goes to bed and dreams that she has a whole other life, complete with adorable husband and children.  I thought this one was really well done.

The Shortest Way Home by Juliette Fay.  She's a wonderful women's fiction writer, and I think I've now read all her books.  This one is about Sean, a male nurse who comes home after spending much of the last 20 years working in war-torn countries.   Right in my wheelhouse. Loved it.

Secrets of the Lighthouse by Santa Montefiore.  Whoops.  Didn't finish this one.  Slow in starting and I lost interest.

My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante.  I started this one in April, and finished it in May.  Ha.  I actually read it on the plane to and fro Nashville.  As I've been telling people this one is brilliant.  It is dense and gritty and claustrophobic and sometimes difficult to keep track of all the characters (buy a hardcopy because you'll continually flip back to the cast of characters in the front), but brilliant.  It is the first of four in the series called the Neapolitan Novels.  They are set in the city of Naples and follow the intense friendship of Elena and Lila from childhood on.  Oh, and I love this--the author's name is a pseudonym and nobody knows who she really is.  I've got the second one in the series and have to sit on my hands not to rip through it.

Besides the novels, I read (more like perused) a couple of beautiful books on embroidery. (But have I yet picked up needle and thread? Um, no.) I also leafed through a title on homesteading, hoping to glean inspiration for you own little back forty and read part of a book on how to plot your novel. (I'm still working on that one so don't feel I can list it yet).

I've already finished a couple of really great titles in May, but they will have to wait until next month's post.  And, up next....ta dum....

My friend Helene Dunbar's book, What Remains.  When I was in Nashville last week, I was so honored to receive one of her first two copies of the book.  Years ago, at a now-defunct writing retreat called Room to Write, Helene and I brainstormed ways to end her novel.  Mostly what I did was sit and listen to her talk, but she credits that conversation with saving the book.  I am SO excited to read it!

 Here's that video I promised:

What, pray tell, have you been reading?


Je Reviens: The Power of Scent

JeReviens1Many, many, many, many, many, many (okay, I'll stop now), years ago in college, my favorite perfume was Je Reviens.  This was a perfume that stopped men in their tracks, causing them to ask me why I smelled so good.  I clearly recall one instance of this when I sat studying in the EMU Fishbowl.*  A frat boy sitting two booths away yelled over to ask the name of the perfume that was distracting him. There was just something about this scent--and maybe the way it reacted to my skin--that enticed people, including me.  

Now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure my sister Alice, who was an airline stewardess for TWA back in the days when they were still called stewardesses and TWA still existed, must have brought me bottles of Je Reviens from Paris. I quit wearing perfume for a long time and forgot about Je Reviens. But flash forward a gazillion years, to last summer, when the hub and I were in Paris on our way home from Pezenas.  I decided to try to find a bottle of Je Reviens to take home.  The glitzy--and intimidating--perfume store on the Champs Elysees, which sells every perfume known to man, didn't have it.  And the bored ladies who worked there hadn't heard of it.  I asked everywhere I found a place they sold perfume--at a cute little store at the base of the Sacre-Coeur Cathedral in Montmarte, at a shop in Montparnasse, where we stayed.  But nobody seemed to have heard of it.  (I'm certain my terrible French pronunciation had nothing to do with it.)

Upon my return home, it finally occurred to me to ask my friend Angela about the perfume.  She is a perfume writer, you see (as well as being a wonderful mystery writer).  She immediately told me she had some vintage Je Reviens she'd found in an antique shop and she would decant some for me. (See photo.)  She also explained that the perfume had gone through several incarnations recently and was still available, albeit in a watered-down, drugstore version.  I carried my sample home with reverence and stuck it in my bathroom cabinet to use for special occasions.

I am wearing it today.  I'm not going anywhere special--I'm not going anywhere at all.  I sprayed it on to cheer myself up after the WORST allergy attack that anybody has endured, ever, happened to me yesterday.  And it has done the job.   It brought back all kinds of pleasant memories, as noted above, and it has also made me ponder the power of scent in writing.

Firstly, smells transport us to other times and places.  A whiff of a hawthorne bush, and I'm a little kid again, at my Aunt Betty's house in Hillsborough, California.  The smell of corndogs and I'm at the Rose Festival Fun Center carnival that assembles itself every year along the waterfront here in town.  (They call it CityFair now to try to jazz it up.) The aroma of sage transports me to New Mexico. Inhaling Je Reviens brought back all the memories I wrote about above.  And these are rich veins, people, rich veins.  You could do worse than to line up some smells to use as prompts.  Take a whiff and start writing.

And second, smells can be just as evocative in our writing.  Adding aroma to your descriptions helps to bring it alive--and yet it is probably the least taken-advantage-of sense.  In my just-submitted novel, The Bonne Chance Bakery, my agent challenged me to do a better job of evoking the smell of the protagonist's macaron shop.  Erp.  Here's what I came up with: 

And there was no other word for the smell of it but heavenly—that faint whiff of sugar, like cotton candy at the fair, or an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, the aroma that called to mind the best day of your childhood, or maybe your whole life.

Not holding myself up as the paragon of descriptive writing here, but rather illustrating how I equated smell with emotion rather than try to evoke it exactly. Because, how do you describe smells, other than to use the noun of what they come from--rose, for instance, or grass?  I think that's why writers shy away from using smell in their descriptions.  But I urge you to try.

So, yeah, 700-some words later and I've written a blog post, all inspired by my perfume.  The power of scent, indeed.

*The EMU at the University of Oregon was the scene of the famous food fight in the movie Animal House, and also one of my favorite scenes of all time, when John Belushi says, "I'm a zit."  Just to balance the sweetness of this post, here's the clip:

 

How do you use smell in your writing?


Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #41

This week's collection of writing prompts from my Tumblr blog:

#281 If your protagonist could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

#282 You can’t go home again.  Or can you?  Has your main character stayed home? Or was he a person who couldn’t wait to move as far away as possible?

#283 They were sad when it was over.  So they started up again.

#284 The plane rose in the air.  She looked out the window at the landscape below, trying not to grip the armrests quite so hard.  Then a noise, like a pop, and the plane shook.  “Don’t worry, its just turbulence,” the man beside her said.  But she didn’t know whether to believe him or not.  Should she? 

#285 Oh God, not that.  Anything but that.

#286 Two men walk into a bar and realize there are only women inside.  Tall women, short women, gorgeous women, plain women.  What gives?  Is it a gigantic book club meeting?  A lesbian bar?  A feminist convention? Do the men stay? What happens if they do?

#287 She opened the window to let the cool morning air in, but instead, what rushed past her was …..

 I love it when you guys post starts from these prompts in the comments!

 


From Spark to Story Workshop Report

SBCApril2015
Scarritt Bennett Center

I am back from Nashville, y'all.  

I went there to teach a workshop with my good writing friend Terry Price.  We called it From Spark to Story, and planned it to be just that: a journey from gathering inspiration, to getting it onto the page, to shaping it into a story.  

It worked brilliantly.

Well, okay, so maybe I exaggerate just a little.  But the 17 people who were there (20 signed up but several had last minute snafus) seemed to enjoy it and get a lot out of it.  And I know that Terry and I loved teaching it.  Here are some of my main take-aways:

--15 minutes a day is all it takes.  Both Terry and I came to this separately and planned to present it as a method to find your way back to your writing and, just as important, sustain a writing practice. It resonated deeply with the participants, and many of them tweeted and posted on Facebook on Sunday morning that they'd done their 15 minutes.  (We created a hashtag for it if you're so inclined: #15minsday.)

If you were to, starting now, write 15 minutes a day every day you could have a novel written in a year.  Really.  I'm not kidding.  Do the math.  And the other thing is that often when you tell yourself all you have to do is 15 minutes, you get so engrossed that you end up writing longer.  But that's not even necessary.

--Prompts are good.  We worked some with a variety of prompts on Friday night and Saturday morning and our writers found them useful as portals to all kinds of inspiration and epiphanies.  So often writers sniff at prompts as being the province of beginners, but I use them all the time (hence, my prompt blog).  If you've not had luck with them in the past, try again.  Just remember to keep your pen moving across the page.  Its when you stop to ponder and stare out the window that prompts aren't as effective.

--Clustering can unleash you from your left brain.  More often now called mind-mapping (I like clustering better), this technique was popularized by the late Gabriel Rico in her book Writing the Natural Way.  To tell you the truth, I'd forgotten about it, but Terry is a fan and he made people try it.  Since I was icing my foot (I had a terrible attack of plantar fascitis while there) I didn't do it in the workshop, but I've been playing with it since and I can see its value.  Give it a whirl.

--Get thee to a labyrinth.  Scarritt Bennett Center, where I stayed, and where we held the workshop, has a labyrinth modeled on the one at Chartes, France.  It is a marvelous creativity jogger.  You ask a question or think of a problem before you enter, walk to the center, pause to listen, then walk back out again.  Note that a labyrinth is different from a maze.  With a maze, you're trying to find your way out.  With a labyrinth, you're finding your way in.  Take a journal with you because you'll likely have an inspiration or two to write down.  It has never failed me yet.  To find a labyrinth in your area, try Labyrinth Locator.

I'm sure more thoughts will bubble up over the next few days and weeks and I'll report.  For me, it was a rejuvenating experience to be back in Nashville and reconnect with a city I love and so many of the people I know and love who live there.  Southern hospitality truly is the most generous in the world and I've always been welcomed so warmly.

And stay tuned--because we are cooking up a Spark to Story Part Two to be held in the near future!

 


Inventive Writing Prompt Round-up #40

Hello from Nashville, y'all!  Here's my latest collection of writing prompts from my Tumblr blog.

#274  Use the words cat, rain jacket and orchid in a sentence.  Now use that sentence as a prompt.

#275  Write about what your main character did yesterday, from the time he woke up until the time he went to bed.

#276  Her cat was the most annoying cat in the world, especially when he.....

#277  The biggest difference between southerners and northerners is....

#278  Is your main character a walker or runner?  How often does he exercise? Or is he an exercise slacker?

#279  Does your main character procrastinate or get things done quickly and efficiently?

#280   When the drumming started, she couldn't help but dance.

Feel free to post any results from the prompts in the comments!


Amp Up Your Writing With A Travel Mindset

Nashville_skyline_before_earth_hourI'm in Nashville this week, teaching a workshop called From Spark to Story, with my dear, wonderful friend Terry Price.  I used to come to Nashville at least twice a year, sometimes more often, in order to teach at the Writer's Loft, (now called Write. ) But lately the orientations have fallen at the same time that I'm in France, for my Let's Go Write workshops.  So, um, much as I love Nashville, I chose France.

Wherever I decide to go, I love to travel, and it informs and inspires my writing.  (The idea for my just-about-to-be-submitted-to-publishers novel, The Bonne Chance Bakery, was inspired by one of my trips to France.)  I believe travel opens up my brain to all kinds of new ideas and inspirations that I wouldn't find any other way. However, it has come to my attention that some people really don't like to travel.  They much prefer to stay home.  

I get this.  I really do.  After all, to travel is to catapult yourself into the great unknown.  There's the hassle of airplane travel.  And a hotel or motel that might be iffy at best.  Maybe landing somewhere you don't know the language.  You may will say something wrong.  You'll feel like people are laughing at you. The food will be strange, and God only knows what is actually in that dish of stew. 

In other words, it's scary out there, people!  

But if you are the sort who likes to stay at home but you still want to jazz up your writing, I have a few suggestions on how you can apply a travel mindset to your writing.  

 1.  Seek discomfort.  This is the number one reason people don't travel.  Because, as mentioned above, you will have moments of extreme discomfort.  Plain and simple.  In 2013, the first year I traveled to Europe alone, I was terrified.  When last I'd been to Paris, waiters sneered at my feeble attempts to speak French and everyone was rude.  But once I realized that what I was really afraid of was discomfort, my whole attitude changed (and I actually have found the French to be lovely).  So, quit being so damned self-protective and catapult yourself out of your comfort zone.  Since I don't know what your particular comfort zone is, I can't offer any recommendations.  But you know.  I know you do.

2.  Cultivate a different mindset.  Part of the reason travel is so fun is that your usual boundaries and filters are off.  While you might hesitate to talk to a stranger at home, when traveling you might be forced to ask directions of one.  You become fearless because you have to be. You walk long distances because you get stranded miles away from your hotel and you don't know how to hail a cab.  You stay up late because you're having so much fun.  You eat sweets when you usually don't allow yourself to touch them at home.  And so on.  You can just as easily do this at home, it's just that we forget this and get mired in our regular routine.

3.  Seek out new sights and sounds.  Pretend you're a tourist in your own town and go visit new places.  We've got a fabulous Chinese garden here in Portland, and I'm embarrassed to admit that until I attended a wedding there a couple years ago, I'd never been there.  So visit tourist traps. Take part in corny local festivities. Drive to a different part of town, park the car, and walk. Seek out a new coffee shop.  Go hear a band you've never heard of perform.  Sit in a different part of the sanctuary at church.  Even the smallest change can give you a new viewpoint.

4.  Try different food.  Part of the fun of travel is sampling different foods. Food is a portal to sensory stimulation and sensory stimulation is a portal to inspiration.  Bear in mind, much of my recent overseas travel has been to France, where "different" means chocolate croissants for breakfast, Croque Monsieurs for lunch, and macarons for dessert.  Um, yeah.  But, as noted earlier, eating macarons in Ceret, France inspired a whole novel for me.  And I still recall the lamb dinner I ate at a small cafe on the Boulevard Montparnasse, after walking miles and miles on a sore knee. (The wine was damn good, also.) Surely your town has some wonderful restaurants that feature different cuisines.  Try them out!

5. Take your journal and go sit somewhere and write.  (This works especially well if you tend to stay tied to your desk at home, as I do.)  Record what is going on around you.  Write a description of the barista with purple hair.  Describe the dialogue you can hear at the table next door.  Hell, be really brave and strike up a conversation with the people at the table next door.  One of my fondest memories of being in Paris last year was all the people my husband and I met at bus stops, in our hotel lobby,  and on the street--people from Montreal, from Australia, from London, from all over!  There's no reason you can't do the same without leaving home.

6.  Change up your habits.  This is, in many ways, the easiest way to encourage a travel mindset., because most habits involve relatively small things.  But in some ways, it is the hardest, too. Because even though habits are small, they are deeply ingrained.  Here are a few modest suggestions: Drive a different way to work. Take a shower at night instead of in the morning. (Or don't shower at all!)  Go grocery shopping at 7 AM in the morning.  Drink tea instead of coffee.  Drink beer instead of tea. Drive through McDonald's for a burger instead of eating dinner at that luscious 5 star restaurant. Stay up late! Rise early!  You get the idea.

The point of all this is, of course, to shake up your brain and get some new synopses firing, which in turn should get those words flowing onto the page.

As always, I'd love to hear from you.  Do you like to travel?  Does it inspire your writing?


Guest Post: How to Write a Novel Without Even Realizing It

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago in which I trumpeted the value of writing for even a few minutes every day--and Amanda commented on her success in following that prescription.  I was emailing her to write a guest post before I even finished reading her comment!  And here it is, and I find it very inspiring.  Amanda has appeared on these pages before--you can read the interview I did with her last year here.  Scroll down and read more about her wonderful novels!
 
Clock-clocks-alarm-546827-lWrite before you wake up…or, how I got so far into my next novel without even realizing I was writing it.
 
Recently, Charlotte wrote a post about writing every day. In it, she said, “So, how important is it to write every day?
 
Well, I think its every thing.  Every damn thing.  I do.  I believe that writing every day is what we should all strive for. … And that is what it really boils down to.  Whether or not you actually want to write.”
 
I’ve read similar articles before. I’ve heard similar advice. I usually reply with “but…but…but…”
 
I want to write every day, but I have 2 kids.
I want to write every day, but I have two other jobs.
I want to write every day, but I volunteer.
I want to write every day, but it’s the weekend.
I want to write every day, but the last season of Mad Men is finally on Netflix.
 
A week before Charlotte’s article I watched a webinar with the founder of The Organized Artist Company, Samantha Bennett (she’s also a former SNL writer!) and she gave a lot of similar advice. Just. Do. It.
 
That week, with my husband away at a conference and my children running around like the banshees they are, and my first week in a brand new job at a company, where everyone was away for the same conference my husband was at, I thought I was losing my mind. I hadn’t been writing in my journal, much less working on any creative writing. I was in the place in between projects where it’s easy to get stagnant: waiting for feedback on one manuscript but not sure how to start the next. Sam said that all creative work can be accomplished in 15 minutes a day, as long as you’re consistent with it. In the morning, before you check your email, before you turn the TV on, before you see Facebook or any part of the internet…15 minutes. Before your brain has time to think.
 
This is the same concept that Julia Cameron uses for working on Artists Pages right away in the morning— you’re not awake enough to self-sensor. First-thing Artists Pages don't work for me, because I’m not engaged enough with it and fall back to sleep. But, with two days left until my hubby got home, I decided to give actual writing a shot. 15 minutes, immediately, before I did anything else. Which meant I had to write long hand, because if I’m near my computer I must check email and Facebook, just as I must breathe.
 
I woke up, stumbled down the stairs, told my son to go back to bed, it was too early to be up (when he asked why I was up I said I was writing. In our house, this is code for leave me alone. I’ve trained them well.) and I started to write. 
 
I did it again the next day.
 
And the next. 
 
After about a week, started waking up before my alarm, knowing what I was going to write. I had my first book dream, in which I was one of the characters. 
 
It’s been a little over a month now, I haven’t been perfect, but I’ve done it almost every day since. I have a full notebook of handwritten scenes. As I’ve re-read them, I’m kind of amazed. They’re a lot better than most of my first draft stuff. More direct. Less tangents. I have to wonder if it’s because I was more focused while I was writing. This isn’t the fastest I’ve written, but it feels different. More complete in some way. And I’m in a MUCH better mood each day for getting the words on the page, first thing.
 
It’s not hard to get up 15 minutes earlier. If you’re not a morning person, (I’m totally not one) it will feel hard, I know, but just tell yourself it isn’t. You can program your coffee pot so it’s ready when you get to the kitchen, pour your cup, and go. Or sleep with your notebook or computer next to your bed, so you don’t even have to get up to get writing. It’s just 15 minutes. You can totally do it. 
 
Amanda_Moon_Headshot-Smaller_FileAmanda Michelle Moon writes novels inspired by real events. Her first two novels, The Thief and The Damage, tell the true-life unsolved mystery of a pair of Wizard of Oz worn ruby slippers from the perspective first of a fictional criminal, and then of the people affected by the theft. In May she is launching her first audiobook! Both books can be found at www.stealingtherubyslippers.com. When she’s not writing, she lives with her family in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and works for NoiseTrade Books. Connect with her at www.amandamichellemoon.com.


Alarm clock photo from alan_cleaver2000.  Author photo from Amanda! 

What do you think?  Can you find 15 minutes in your day to write? Can you rise a little early?