Sunday, March 29, 2009

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Creating and Being Overwhelmed

Excuse me while I find a towel. Here it is…and now, I’m throwing it in. I wanted to devote this blog to the challenges of creating while maintaining a 9 to 5 job. Now, with all the economic upheaval, I find my original trials of trying to carve out writing time pale in comparison to the survival mode I now find myself in.

In a climate of record unemployment, many of us try to find comfort in the fact that, “We’re lucky to have a job.” There’s a twofold problem with this. Most of us with jobs have seen cutbacks, layoffs and re-distribution of work duties. This equates to the folks that have retained their jobs having a lot more on their plates. The second problem is stress. With Americans watching their 401K’s and home prices plummet, we’re not only working under the fear that our job will be next, but how long will we need to keep working in order to recoup our personal losses.

What this all means on a personal level for me is that my pipe dream is dead. I’ve never been a regimented clock puncher. Like most artists, “the man” watching over me does not bring out my best. Although I’m a hard worker (few sick days, never late), my consummate mantra for putting up with the daily grind is, “Some day, I’ll write myself out of this job.” Understand that this is not a ridiculous fantasy. I’m not an executive; I’m not even a supervisor or manager. I’m what the working world calls a “cog.” I’m necessary to keep the wheels in motion, but I’m not a heavy hitter. I could feasibly have moderate success as a writer (and other writing based endeavors) and basically earn slightly less than what I currently bring home now.
Knowing that soon my children will be grown and gone and that my husband and I have always maintained a fairly simple existence lends credence to fact that one day, if I could make a modest income with my writing, I could walk away from punching the clock. Now, I’m not so sure.

A common thing that holds people back is security and I’ve certainly fallen into the trap of not wanting to take risks in life. The riskiest thing I’ve done in my life is remain in my home state of California. Hey, maybe I’m more risk-orientated then I give myself credit for! Now, I watch my home’s value plummet and see everyone around me losing their jobs and/or, their lives savings, I know I can’t complain about being busier at work. Yet, much like anger and resentment that keeps us from moving forward, how long can we sustain ourselves when we are constantly spread so thin?

It was already difficult for me to find time to write. Now, I come home so drained and stressed out, I not only have less time, but less inspiration. And what has the country morphed into? Should we ever leave a job that supplies a steady paycheck, medical coverage and paid vacation? My dreams of a writer’s life are beginning to change. Maybe I should be looking towards less personal responsibilities and time commitments in the next several years. This may ensure that my day job won’t zap so much from my writing life. What if I could do both? I often feel that the particular job I have poses more of a challenge than other careers that working writers may have. There’s absolutely no flexibility with my job. One of the most crucial aspects of my job is that I be there everyday at the same time.

The good news, if you can say that these days, is that I’m a long ways from ever giving up my day job anyway. The current economic climate did not change that for me. I certainly wasn’t planning on leaving my job tomorrow, or the next day, or even the day after that. What it did do was change my perception of retiring from the grind a decade or so before I turn sixty-five. I’ve been working full-time since I was seventeen years old and the thought of showing up everyday till sixty-five or seventy seems too daunting to even imagine. Maybe the only way to get through it is to put myself on auto-pilot and keep plodding along. Things change. I probably should not look too far ahead, especially in such volatile times. I need to hang onto my original manifesto of “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” and stop worrying about it becoming, “Don’t EVER Quit Your Day Job.”

Read more!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wild Woman of Queens: Notes on Urban Creativity from across the East River.

Light in the darkness by Sandra Lee Schubert 2009

Sandra Lee Schubert

Looking for the Light

The show "Rescue Me" has been filming in my neighborhood. The theme of rescuing has been running in my life since my layoff in November 2008. I appreciated the irony of them filming outside my door. I have taken several photos of the the camera and lights suspended above the neighborhood on a large crane. When the lights are out you might not notice they are up there.The crane is black and blends in perfectly with the night sky. But when the lights are on everything is illuminated.

When I feel a bit at the affect of life's circumstances I look for meaning in the oddest places. Is it real meaning? I don't know.

Meaning like inspiration seems to be something I must fabricate for myself. It would be nice if I was a fount of it, continually drinking from a deep well. Alas, I seem to need to find the water to pour into the well. It's not a bad thing to go find my inspiration. It means it is not left up the whims of a capricious universe.

Today I choose to find what I need to be a creative and fulfilled being, or, the world may bring it to my door. Either way, it is up to me to use it well.

Sandra's e-course leads people to be their creative best through telling their stories. She is a creative vagabond, a poet, writer who co-facilitates the Wild Angels Poets and Writers Group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own. Visit her blog: Email her sandraleeschubert(at) or @writing4life via twitter.

Read more!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Morning Motivators to Slay Your Creative Dragons

On not just surviving, but thriving in hard times.
From CJ

I just returned from a wonderful and inspiring writing conference sponsored by the Published Authors Chapter (PASIC) of RWA.

"Wonderful and inspiring" might seem like the wrong word choices given the universal doom and gloom messages that the industry professionals on the panels gave us.

Publishers, editors, agents, publicists....they all spoke about how these were hard times for anyone supporting themselves with a writing career. And that we should expect things to get worse before they get better.

And that all us mid-list, non-blockbuster-superstars will probably need to accept even less money for our work than we already are. And that we should seriously consider trying to write more books, better books, faster. Oh, and that we need to take over all our own publicity and promotion (and pay for it) because our publishers, well, they're spending all their money on the blockbuster-superstars and don't have any to spend to get our books noticed....even though our books often make them more money than those over-priced blockbuster-superstars.

Wait. Did I say "inspiring?" I sure did. And here's why.

This group of authors, around 75 of us, accounting for millions of books sold worldwide, sat and listened to all the information the industry pros gave us.

And then we smiled. And laughed. A few even broke out into song. (Hey, I never said there wasn't a little wine involved!)

Because we know something the industry pros had overlooked in their doom and gloom assessments.

We know that especially in tough times readers are going to turn to books for entertainment. We know that we all pour our hearts and souls into our books and always turn in the best book possible.

We know that the reason the publishing industry is in dire straits right now has nothing to do with the quality of our work. Although the industry pros seemed desperate to blame it on they not realize that without our books, they would have no product?

We know that humans have turned to storytelling in good times and bad for thousands of years and no new technology is going to change that.

So yes, this weekend was wonderful and inspiring.

It was fantastic sharing my own passion, vision, and commitment for my writing with other authors who felt just as strongly about their work.

Too bad the industry pros couldn't take a step back from their doom and gloom to see the opportunities they're missing with their tunnel vision and need to play the blame game.

Because if they don't learn to be as passionate and committed to excellent story telling as these fine writers are, then their industry is indeed going to go the way of the dodo bird.

But our stories? No matter the technology used to tell them, they will survive. And thrive. And sustain and inspire and empower our audience during their own time of need.

Because that's why we do what we do. And history has proven that there's nothing more powerful than powerful stories.

Thanks for reading!

As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009. Contact her at
Read more!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Creating and Giving People a Break

I’d like to piggyback on Sandra’s wonderful “Fondling Typos” post last week.

I too can relate to her experience because I had a similar one recently. A few weeks ago I was a “guest blogger” on a high traffic writing blog. I was excited for my upcoming post and I had my overworked husband proofread/edit for me. However, he missed a couple of things and so did I. I didn’t realize my errors until one of my writing group buddies e-mailed me (I proudly e-mailed the blog link to the whole group). Then, someone else posted a comment directly to the blog, pointing out the same minor errors. This was followed up by the author of the blog stating that the entry was not written by her and she had now noted and fixed the error.

After all that, I didn’t bother to look anymore. The errors I made did not change the content of what I had written and it was easy to figure out what I meant to say. Needless to say, what I thought would be a proud moment made me feel like an unprofessional loser. One thing that has held me back from writing for so many years is my lack of technical skills. I did not go to college and my grade school training seemed to emphasize lots of reading, but little nuts bolts when it came to writing structure. I always prefer to have someone proofread my writing and, lucky for me, my husband and daughter are always happy to oblige.

Still, I work very hard to try to be more proficient. I study books constantly and I’m hoping to enroll in a grammar basics class at the local Junior College this summer. I look forward to the day when I can confidently write, edit and post my own entries quickly and accurately.

One of the things that attracted me to blogging was I thought it had a forgiving nature. Everything I read about blogging points to the rawness and immediacy of the writing. We all see mistakes on blogs everyday, yet it seems some people’s favorite thing about blogs, is picking them apart. Although none of the comments I received were mean, I still felt like Berger in an episode of Sex and the City.

The episode centers around the main character, Carrie, who is a writer dating another writer whose book has just hit the shelves. She praises his writing style, yet points out to him that his female “Manhattanite” character trots all over town wearing a hair scrunchie and apparently, a true, hip Manhattan gal would never do this. The point is driven home when Berger directs Carrie towards a woman in a nightclub who is, in fact, wearing a scrunchie. But when Carrie takes it one step further and actually goes over and talks to the woman, we hear her southern drawl and squeals of small town naïveté, to find that people thought she could be a “real New Yorker.” Carrie wins the argument, but of course puts an unrepairable dent in her relationship.

The important part of all this was that the book already went to print. Why point out something that can’t be changed? Last week I just finished a novel, a hardbound book where I found a couple of errors. One was a homonym error and the other was a misspelling. Did I take this back to the bookstore and demand a refund? Of course not. Did it take away from the plot, character development, or my enjoyment of the book? No. Is the author aware of the errors in her book? Probably so. Can she do anything about it? Well, you see where I’m going with all of this.

A good blog has content that is relevant to you, the reader. You enjoy a blog because it teaches you something or you can relate to the author’s content. The second thing that makes a good blog is one that is constantly updated with new material. For most bloggers, this means being their own editor. This comes down to the fast edit. How many errors do you see in the newspaper in comparison to a print novel? Personally, I still do all my blogging on Word and cut and paste it to my blogs. I also try to “sit” on whatever I’ve written and re-read with fresh eyes. Lastly, I try to get my husband or daughter to proofread for me and help with my run-on sentences (I’ve greatly improved in this area). This all equals very little content being posted in comparison to how much is actually pouring through my fingers. I admire the bloggers that just “put it there” and could care less if it’s perfect. Bravo to you!

For the grammar snobs, I’m sorry to tell you a new day has dawned. Our correct use of the English language is taking a major hit and for that I understand you trying to fight the good fight. I wouldn’t write if I didn’t love language, structure, punctuation, the whole gamut; but we have to find a way to work together in this new world of immediacy and less than perfect prose. Until we find our common ground, all I can say is, “Can you please give us a break?”

*I respectfully apologize for any errors I may have missed.
Read more!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Wild Woman of Queens: Notes on Urban Creativity from across the East River.

My Muse Sandra Lee Schubert 2009

Feeding the Muse

When my muse is not well taken care of she gets hungry. She gets a bit angry too. It is my obligation to feed and care for her. My muse is not a pet but a living breathing part of myself that needs to be honored and nurtured, not with food, but creativity.

I am a fickle guardian, flush with ideas and then nothing for long periods of time. My task is to strike a balance between feast and famine.

Creativity does ebb and flow. We aren't at full blown creating mode all the time. There are times when we are cultivating ideas, planning them out. Then we can go full out- writing for days on end. Afterward, there is the completing process of editing our work- finalizing it. Depending on the work on hand this process could take a day for smaller work or years for larger works, like a book.

The challenge for you and me is to create a pattern of creation that is consistent. Instead of a flurry of activity and then nothing for a long stretch we create a pattern that feeds into the other. As example, I am writing this blog but also thinking about the essay I have to write. The completion feeds into the idea stage. If like me, you have smaller pieces to write, this process could happen a couple of times during a day or a week. I can be editing a story, while taking notes for a possible poem.

My aim is not to have a hungry and angry muse but one that is contently flowing with creativity. The highs and lows of creativity have provided a sense of excitement for me in the past. Now is the time to move on to a more mature form of creation.

The muse taps on my computer, close the game, email, twitter, there are low rumblings being heard. Before I hear an aggressive, "FEED ME, FEED ME", it is time get to work. Feed your muse with something healthy, solid and rich with meaning. We will all be happier for it.

Sandra's e-course leads people to be their creative best through telling their stories. She is a creative vagabond, a poet, writer who co-facilitates the Wild Angels Poets and Writers Group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine. Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own. Visit her blog: Email her sandraleeschubert(at) or @writing4life via twitter.

Read more!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sculpting a Life:
Susan Gallacher-Turner’s turn in the Pacific Northwest.

Making and showing art in the suburbs:
subject object show at The Kingstad Gallery.

There’s a prejudice out there about the suburbs. People who live in city say the suburbs are a bland, boring, homogenized, cultural wasteland. I’ve lived in the suburbs for many decades now, and I’m here to tell you it’s not true.

Take a walk in the park, 5 minutes from my house on a Saturday and listen to all the languages spoken. According to a recent survey, there are over 90 languages spoken in Beaverton alone. The resources include large public libraries, parks, lakes, bike paths, recreation centers, dog parks, farmers markets, and, yes, art galleries.

On third Thursdays every month, at The Kingstad Gallery in Beaverton, you can view a wide range of art, savor and sip delicious food and wine, and mingle with artists, musicians and performers who might also be your friends and neighbors.

The new show, ‘subject object: exploring the human impulse to hunt, gather & tell tales’, features paintings, sculptures, watercolors, photography, mixed media collage, assemblages and mosaic work from over 20 national, regional and local artists.

On opening night, I took in the wonderful array of work by local artists. I saw Becca Bernstein’s elder portrait series, Buck Braden’s ‘Street Car of Desire’ series, Allen Schmertzler’s powerful political paintings, Kurumi Ishikawa Conley’s gorgeous, fused glass pieces, Mark Randall’s ‘Life in the Circus’ series, Celeste Bergin’s wonderful paint boxes, and Uta Felhaber-Smith’s found object collages, just to name a few. And I’m honored that my Shapeshifter series and two of my Myth series pieces were also on exhibit.

This relatively new gallery in Beaverton shatters the assumptions of the suburbs in many ways. The art is professional, the crowds diverse, and music eclectic. The building also houses a comedy club and theater group as well as hosting many local meetings and luncheons all year long, giving the art and artists a wide viewing audience.

I think once you see the exhibit at The Kingstad Gallery in Beaverton, you’ll realize that powerful art and talented artists live and flourish in the suburbs, too.

For more information about The Kingstad Gallery, drop by at 15450 S.W. Millikan Way in Beaverton, Oregon or visit their website at

Read more!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Career Inklings from Columbia

New Growth for All
by Janet M. Ruck

Spring starts tomorrow. Yet, despite the calendar’s annotation, nothing will really “happen” yet. March is a finicky month. Here in the mid-Atlantic, we’ve gone from almost a foot of snow at the beginning of the month to temperatures close to 80 degrees a few weeks afterward. Even though the promise of spring is still but a faint whisper, there are signs all around. The robins are back, sure harbingers of the change in season. Bunnies abound. Cherry blossoms are still in buds, but the hint of pink on the branches suggests that one warm day will burst forth the dormant hues. Our old friends crocuses and daffodils have already made their presence known, with their nodding heads shimmering in the sunlight.

Spring’s promise is in the air, that’s for certain! For me, the beauty of the changing seasons provides me with an opportunity to take stock of changes in my life and career. This is always a good time to reflect upon the change that I can create in my life, and focus less on the ones that somehow get imposed on me.

Do you have a promise to make to yourself this season? Maybe you’ll get some more training to increase your job skills…or, you’ll begin thinking about how to parlay your talents into community or volunteer work…perhaps it’s time to totally rethink the path you’re on and transfer your skills into another career…possibly you’ll follow the advice of all those career guides and really start networking for your job search.

Take a few moments and think about what direction you’re heading and the process you’re following to get there. Ask yourself how you can develop yourself so that this season you’re bursting with new growth.
Read more!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Television Musings - Rants and Raves of a Romance Writer

By Kathy Carpenter


The new show Dollhouse is somewhat creative. They take people who are like a blank canvass. They exist is a neutral and live at this spa type place taken care of by the people they work for. Missed like the first three episodes so I not quite sure how they came to be there.

People hire the company for certain type person with a set of skills. The company takes these people existing in a doll-like state and inject through computers a whole persons life. They have memories of a whole life and the skills they need to complete the job. The one first one I watched the girl had the skill set of a master thief. At the other one I saw she had become a blind girl taken in to a cult. They had a camera implanted to see what her eyes normally would. Interesting.

After they complete the task, they are wiped and return to the doll state to await their next job.

The other new show I watched is Castle. The new romantic comedy detective cop show. It pair up a Mystery writer and a female cop, who solve real murders together. Cute. Reminds me of the old Moonlighting series with Cybil Shepard.and Bruce Willis
Read more!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wild Woman of Queens: Notes on Urban Creativity from across the East River.

Mistake by Sandra Lee Schubert 2008

Sandra Lee Schubert

Fondling Typos

The writing group I co-facilitate just finished its ten-week session. I would post a recap on my blog and send it to the group. This went on for four weeks when I got a snarky (I thought) email from a friend about the number of typos and glaring grammar errors in all my posts. He had ignored them until now but could no longer contain himself. My response to him was that it was not helpful to say I had errors and not let me know what they were. He said that these were errors that could have been easily found in Word by ANYONE. He then offered to edit all my blog posts, if he had time, before I sent them out.

Can you see where this is going? My response to him was not do the recaps. I showed him. Then I ran into someone who was not in this current session but really enjoyed reading the recaps. The shortened recaps went out.

The original email just hit me the wrong way. First, I will admit to being a lousy copy editor. While I am at it- my grammar skills suck too. Despite years of writing, and many grammar books, my skills seem to be deteriorating. I am sure someone could tell me why this is, but, for now I must contend with this odd development.I was hurt and offended by my friends comment. It seemed terribly condescending to me and it was not supportive. If he had offered to do the recaps, spending the time to do so, I would have happily have passed them along. In the end, he didn't have the time to do them, or provide me with the corrections. He had the time to criticize.

Let me tell you one thing about grammar that disturbs me. In our writing group we have a lot of first time or closeted writers. They are nervous about the words they write. They bravely come to class and share their very delicately crafted pieces. Most of the time the work is wonderful, touching moving and very revealing. What happens? The first thing out of the mouths of the group is a comment, not about the writing, but about a grammar mistake. "You know you should have a semi-colon here not a comma".

This bothers me. A person shares something intimate and what is noticed is not the lovely interplay between words and characters, but its a misplaced comma. I do not advocate typos or bad grammar. In fact, I do cringe when I read my past blog posts here and see errors I missed in the original editing process. It is a shortcoming in my writing I hate. Nonetheless, I enjoy reading a story that has meaning and substance in it. A misplaced comma will not stop that enjoyment.

My friend has suggested I submit my blog posts to our other writing group. I have declined that offer, he will never understand the immediacy of blogs. In the meantime, I am taking my favorite book, The Grouchy Grammarian, off the shelf. I don't really want to humiliate myself in public. I continue to read stories for people and help them with their content. I leave the grammar to someone else. If you see typos/grammar errors here, please let me know. Oh, if you could tell me what they are...

Sandra's e-course leads people to be their creative best through telling their stories. She is a creative vagabond, a poet, writer who co-facilitates the Wild Angels Poets and Writers Group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

Writing for Life: Creating a Story of Your Own. Visit her blog: Email her at: sandraleeschubert(at) or @writing4life via twitter.

Read more!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Creative Blog for Photographers

By Andrea Avari Stevens
Fractal by Wynne Stevens


There is a creative call out to photographers from a blog at Tina Harris, from central Oregon is the host of this blog. Every two weeks Tina chooses a random word and asks photographers to send in their photo interpretation of that word. The blog is fairly new, beginning last July.

The word for this two-week span is 'fear'. Each photo that is submitted has a short writing attached to it explaining the picture. The deadline for this offering ends March 15th. A new word will be chosen at that point. I spent several hours walking today....and although I forgot my camera....I had great fun looking for creative interpretations of the word 'fear'. Check out Tina's blog and new word next week and see if the concept sparks your creativity in new ways.

Andrea's website is
Read more!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Television Muings - Rants and Raves of a Romance Writer

By Kathy Carpenter


How could I not write about the biggest story on Television last week? The Bachelor aired it’s final episode on Monday of last week. Everyone was wondering of course who he would choose. We had even been teased with Deana’s return who had of course not picked Jason. It was no surprise when he turned her offer of another chance down. What was a surprise was the events to follow.

Jason turned Molly away. After doing so broke down and really cried. Then he went on to return to Melissa and propose. Most people probably liked both girls. I did. However, I did want Melissa to win even though personally I thought he would take Molly.
The real surprise came on the after show. He dumped Melissa on National television and then pursued Molly. Melissa was naturally upset. Molly gave Jason another chance.

Here’s my problem with the whole thing. Jason did exactly what Deana did to him only he did it sooner. They and it probably happens to most of the Bachelors and Bachelorettes pick with the heads and not their hearts. They pick the fun one. Only to realize the other one is the right one after they get to spend quality time together. Or at least the other one is the one they have a better chance at long lasting happiness with.

My other issue is - Jason broke down and cried and he cried hard. That means he really cared for Molly. Then he turns around and proposes to Melissa. I mean he could of said let’s see how this goes.

Now Melissa is on Dancing with the Stars. Her first dance after only two days was pretty good I hope she stays around awhile she deserves some happiness.

Let me know what you think.
Read more!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monday Morning Motivators to Slay Your Creative Dragons

By CJ Lyons and Margie Lawson

Don't Go it Alonefrom CJ

Attending the South Carolina Book Festival last week reminded me that even though writers toil in solitary, it really does take a “village” to ensure success in this business.

Everyone needs a little help from their friends–and writing is no exception. This help may start before you write a single word with an encouraging spouse who covers for you with the family when you seclude yourself in your writing cave. Or a friend who doesn’t mind you brainstorming the best way to hide a body as you’re strolling through a crowded mall.

Writing friends who act as critique partners, first readers, early editors, instructors and mentors. Published authors who give you encouragement, advice, and blurbs. The industry pros who help you break out: agents, editors, assistants, copy editors, publicists, reviewers, booksellers, sales force, librarians, etc, etc. And finally the readers who tell us when we’ve done something right–and who don’t let us get away with anything!

So the next time you’re banging your head against your keyboard wondering if you’ll ever get anywhere with your writing take a moment and reflect on everyone around you. Give thanks to your invisible support team, because no one gets by without a lot of help from their friends!

Thanks for reading!

As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a national bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, is due out January, 2009. Contact her at

Margie Lawson -- presenter, psychotherapist, writer -- lives at the top of a Colorado mountain west of Denver. Margie merged her two worlds, psychology and writing, to develop psychologically anchored editing systems and techniques that teach writers how to write page turners. A former college professor, Margie works as a psychotherapist, writes fiction and nonfiction, and presents full day master classes for writers internationally. Go to for more information. Read more!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Creating and Losing an Hour

Daylight Savings starts tonight, which of course means me we lose an hour. I’m always so pressed for time that I cannot afford to lose an hour.

Let’s start with the fact that all my writing fell by the wayside this last week. My day job exploded with a massive amount of work, my son had two big tests that he needed help studying for and I physically felt like a zombie the whole time. By Friday, instead of feeling completely wiped out, I was filled with vigor…I could finally get back to my writing.

I think it’s a great sign that I miss my writing now. I used to go for months and even years at a time without writing a single word. It would take a rare day to myself, or troubled feelings, to get me to put pen to paper. Now, it’s beginning to feel odd to go more than a couple of days without creating. It’s definitely a good sign, yet sometimes it’s another thing for me to feel guilty about. My son leaves on a week-long camping trip tomorrow. This crowds my weekend writing time with shopping for items he’ll need and helping him pack. On the other hand, it will free up my weekday nights. For one week, there will be no homework demands, one less drop off and pick each day and a quieter household.

As a mother, the real challenge will be to use this week as a gift to my writing and not a week of fretting and worrying about my son. Easier said than done. My son, although twelve, has never been away from home this long. Last summer, he stayed with my sister for a week, but that was different. This week he’ll be with his 6th grade class, hiking, sleeping in a cabin, eating whatever food is served, finding his own shoes in the morning… basically caring for himself exclusively, without me.

Often when I feel this way, I can clean and accomplish many duties around the house, but creating is difficult. My mind tends to be adrift and I guess I almost feel guilty if I’m not concentrating on worrying about the welfare of my children. Is he having fun? Is he getting along with the other kids? Does he miss home? My natural instinct is to pine away instead of take advantage of the free time I’m bestowed.

So, yet another challenge awaits me. Can I create while the emotions of motherhood are in the way? Before I know it, my children will be grown and gone .It’s actually good practice for them and for me.

Instead of bemoaning my lost daylight savings hour, I should revel in all the extra time coming my way this week. That’s what I’m going to do. Today, I’m going to run around and gather last minute items for my son’s trip (sunblock, a knitted cap, the list goes on) and then focus on productive and fruitful week-long writing.
Read more!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Wild Woman of Queens: Notes on Urban Creativity from across the East River.

My Left Hand. Sandra Lee Schubert 2009

Sandra Lee Schubert


What if you were handed a guidebook that told you exactly who you were in the world, your life lessons and what gifts you have, and you ignored it? A person taps the book and says, "look at page 22. It says writing is what you were meant to do." Would you stare at them blankly? Would you doubt the authenticity of the book?

My friends and I have often wondered why there couldn't be such a book that would lead us down life's path in a more orderly fashion. On my radio show this past week my guest, a hand analyst, told me that indeed such a guidebook does exist and it is literally right at your fingertips.

Ronelle Coburn has taken the carnival out of palm reading and put the science back into it. She explained how our day to day actions are revealed in our hands. The very creases, lines interesting twists and turns reflect where we have been and who we are. Our hands also tell us our tendencies, our gifts and our struggles. What is reflected in our hands is the fabric of our DNA. Ronelle gave me a live reading on what my hands say about me. My reaction to this reading was to be sick for two days.

This post is not about hand analysis but about what we do with our gifts. How we react when we are acknowledged, shunned, or even given an outline of what are life could look like if we followed the path laid out before us. So often we say we don't know where to go or what to do. The truth is we do know and are too afraid to take the leap.It is so much easier to hang out in the background playing safe.

What would you do if fear wasn't a factor? I know there is a great play, poem or memoir that is sitting safely inside you. Our gifts are given to be shared. Believe me I know the feeling of fear but I am willing to take a chance. Spring is almost here do you want to come out of the dark and play a bit? There is a wonderful garden path we can follow. There are guideposts and everything, even if we get lost we'll find our way again.

Sandra's e-course leads people to be their creative best throught telling their stories. She is a creative vagabond, a poet, writer who co-facilitates the Wild Angels Poets and Writers Group at the historic Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.
Visit her blog: Email her sandraleeschubert(at) or @writing4life via twitter.

Read more!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sculpting a Life: Susan Gallacher-Turner's turn in the Pacific Northwest.

An old kiln with a new life:
A gift from one artist to another passing the creative flame.

When I had my open studio in October 2008, I had many wonderful visitors. One special visit came on a Sunday morning, from Ed and Dorothy Wilbur, a lovely couple who not only admire, respect and collect art from artists but over the years have created many of their own masterpieces.

Their home is filled with art inside and out, included in this amazing space are many pieces they created as well. There are masks, paintings, sculptures, garden art, artfully painted walls, stencils, a miniature house with art, quilts, and much, much more. Including several workshops where they’ve created their artwork over the decades.

The day Ed and Dorothy came to my open studio, they noticed my clay sculptures around my home. And they wondered why they’d never seen them in the gallery. I explained that I’ve never shown these sculptures, because I never had enough of them to make a ‘body’ of work. Why? Because I never had consistent kiln access that would allow me to build a body of work. Ed offered me his kiln and I accepted.

A truck had to be rented. The kiln was moved. An electrician had to be found and scheduled to come out and put in a 220 Volt line in the garage. This took months. Then, a kiln expert was called to come out, inspect, repair and set the kiln up for firing.

Now, at last, the kiln is ready to fire my clay sculptures. During this time, I’ve been working on new clay pieces and five are in process. I bought a kiln manual, so I’ll have some idea how to fire up my kiln without blowing up my pieces. Soon, I’ll be loading my own kiln, with my own pieces and bisque firing them. I’ll let you know how it goes, until then, here are some pictures of my new/old kiln and new sculptures in process.
For more updates on my studio progress check out my website at or read my other blog, Susan's Art & Words at

Read more!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Career Inklings from Columbia

In Like a Lion
By Janet M. Ruck

Up and down the east coast, March roared in, befitting its regal status as king. For those who breathed a sign of relief when February made its exit, Mother Nature’s message, delivered loud and clear: “We’re not done yet!” In my last post, I talked about the importance of reflecting and revisiting, preparing and repairing, creating and carving out the next chapter of life. With this recent blast of cold weather and snow, I wonder if Mother Nature is giving us yet another reprieve from the busyness of the spring which lies just around the corner. Perhaps we haven’t yet learned the lessons gained by hunkering down, turning inward and revitalizing. In our zeal to heal from the many recent messages of gloom, maybe we’re rushing to the next season, the next activity. Just possibly, Mother Nature is extending our respite.

Have you taken the time you need to look inward and reflect, to connect with your inner wisdom? Do you feel ready to face the challenges that accompany the foray into the warmth and sun? Spend a few minutes and ask yourself the questions which will help you face what comes next. Don’t rush headlong into life. Let this reprieve allow you the luxury to savor the solitude to fortify yourself for the life that lies ahead. By living your life from the inside out, by connecting with your internal strength and fortitude, you can prepare yourself for the beyond. When we disconnect from our internal foundation and try and tackle life without internal stability we falter too easily.

Once again, in her infinite wisdom, Mother Nature has given us another chance to heed the clarion call of silence and reflection. And, once again, unlike the exhausted child who fights sleep and bedtime, I am happy to oblige. This may be my last chance before the balmy winds of spring surge across the mid-Atlantic. Let this time be the charm.
Read more!

Monday, March 02, 2009

Television Musings-Rants and Raves of a Romance Writer

By Kathy Carpenter

Academy Awards

I know I’m a week behind. However how can I do a television blog and not comment on the Oscar’s,

Hugh Jackman. What’s not to like? He sings, dances, Is Australian and incredibly sexy. I loved the opening number New this year they drew you into the supporting actor and actress which are the first awards of the night, by using five past winners. One for each nominee focusing on and giving more importance to each nominee. The night end in the same fashion with best actor, and actress. I enjoyed this aspect.

I have one last comment. How Did Slumdog Millionaire win best movie and 8 of ten nominations when it had no actors or actress’s nominated? I did not see the movie but having found out it’s a romance, might
Read more!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Creating and Technological Ineptitude

The more I blog, the more I realize just how much about computer technology I don’t know.

Take last week’s post. Try as I might, I could not get the Read More feature to work. I even delayed my post by a day to see if it would work in the morning. I finally had to give up and post “as is.” The main problem is that I really don’t even know where to begin in solving a problem like that. Sure, maybe it was Blogger having issues, but more often it’s my lack of knowledge.

I try to go on message boards to solve my dilemmas, but it’s still tough for me to figure it out. At times, I waste hours doing technical things instead of writing. It can be quite frustrating. I have so much envy for those people that you ask, “How did you learn to do all this?”

“Oh, it was easy. I just played around with it, you can figure it out!”

No I can’t. I really need someone to show me, walk me through the steps and allow me to take copious notes. It seems that the more we become entrenched in a technology-filled world, the more we techno-deficit individuals fall behind.
I finally have decided to put the word out. I’ve asked my computer technician friend to be on the lookout for someone with specific knowledge of Blogger and Amazon... preferably, someone who has their own blog/website and easily knows what I want to accomplish. To date, I’ve had help from friends and even help from fellow posters to this blog. I’ve had people walk me through my tasks and I eventually get it done, but I’m now at the point where I’m so tired of “trial and error’ and feeling stupid. I would like to compile a list of specifics and hopefully find someone to come to my house and get me on my way.

It’s a service I’m willing to pay for. I think it’s important to realize when your time is worth more than money. If I’m always trying to find time to write, I shouldn’t waste a whole afternoon trying to figure out how to post a video to my blog. I did finally figure it out, but it really did take a whole afternoon! There’s also something to be said for not feeling stupid anymore. I constantly struggle with the emotions that I’m out of my league as a writer. The, “Who am I kidding?” syndrome, sits on my shoulder 24/7. Then, when I can’t even grasp the simplest computer concept, I sink ever deeper into feelings of inadequacy.

Okay, maybe I’m blowing this out of portion, but lately I feel like I’m on the path to knowing exactly what I want to do and I want to continue to take steps in the right direction. I don’t want to hold myself back because of lack of knowledge or skills. If I’m going to take my writing seriously, it’s also important that I learn how to resolve barriers and seek out the knowledge of others.

So, I don’t know how long it will be before I find the guru who can answer all my questions, but in the meantime, I’ll compile my wish list of knowledge and keeping plugging away. Maybe someday I can pay it forward and say to a future technically challenged writer, “Here, let me show you how to do that.” Read more!


When Life Dumps Doo Doo . . .

Wouldn’t it be awesome if life handed us exactly what we wanted?

Of course. But then we wouldn’t BUILD CHARACTER by learning how to process disappointment and rejection.

I’m sure you noticed I emphasized BUILD CHARACTER . . .

Sometimes life dumps doo-doo on us. Bad news is bad news – whether it’s in our writing world or our real life.

It’s not right, it’s not fair, it’s not bearable.

Try this triple rational—irrational—rational response set.

First – Be rational. Stay calm and deal with the disappointment like a trooper.

Second -- Let yourself go irrational. As soon as you’re behind closed doors and not near impressionable children, let your emotions fly. Cry, stomp, yell, call your best friend and tell them about it – that it’s outrageous and unfair.

Verbally vomit. Cathart. Be as irrational as you dare.

Third – Be rational again. Process the bad news in an adult way. Tell yourself the right things. Be the adult you are.

This triple-whammy allows you to deal with life’s doo doo on several levels. You’ll feel better and begin to heal.

Plus – you’ll have those full rich emotive experiences to deepen your fictional character on the page. Tap in to your visceral responses when you’re upset and you’ll build your character as well as know how to build your character’s character.
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a national bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller." The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, is due out January, 2009. Contact her at

Margie Lawson -- presenter, psychotherapist, writer -- lives at the top of a Colorado mountain west of Denver. Margie merged her two worlds, psychology and writing, to develop psychologically anchored editing systems and techniques that teach writers how to write page turners. A former college professor, Margie works as a psychotherapist, writes fiction and nonfiction, and presents full day master classes for writers internationally. Go to for more information.

Read more!


The Green Veil of Envy

by Lisa A. Riley

“Envy comes from people’s ignorance of, or lack of belief in, their own gifts.”
– Jean Vanier

Envy can catch us by surprise. It can rear it’s head at a collogues art exhibit; reading an article featuring a local writer we went to school with, or during an interview with a celebrity on TV. Feelings of jealousy reawaken our own fears, insecurities and self-doubt. Those dormant skeletons of unfulfilled desires, we tried to bury under excuses. You know the ones, not enough time, not enough money and the voice that recites that familiar mantra, “you’ll never be successful.” Those unforgotten, but faint passions that hadn’t quite left us alone, come to focus. It seems that in the green veil of envy, resentment, projected at another, keeps us paralyzed. Preventing us from facing our own road blocks and pursuit of our dreams. We interpret someone else’s accomplishments as further proof that it has already been done and why we ought not to bother.

Jealousy easily enables us to avoid possible success and instead breeds inaction. When we focus on the wishful misfortunes of those who have gone before us and thrived, we avoid looking authentically at our own dissatisfaction and self-doubt. In spite of that, envy isn’t all that dreadful, but can in fact be a catalyst. If used as a mirror it can serve as a means to shake up those dusty dreams, hopes and artistic pursuits. Instead, gifts us with another chance to revisit them. By choosing to harness the energy in jealousy, which compels us to negate and judge, we stimulate renewed inspiration. Envy is a plea for action, utilize it to take the first steps or pick up where you left off.

Jealousy demands acknowledgment and appreciation of our own talents. If we listen closely to the true message of envy, once again we are aroused and prompted to manifesting our creative calling.

Lisa is a psychotherapist, painter and writer. She has spent the last 25 years integrating various forms of self-expression as a way of life and an avenue towards healing. Because of her background in the arts she understands the unique challenges of the artistic personality and has spent the last 8 years working with artists, writers, actors and musicians in helping them gain self-awareness and a deeper understanding of themselves as artists.
Lisa has her own private practice in Southern California. For more information visit Read more!