Thursday, April 30, 2009

Iowa Writing Coach: Poem in Your Pocket Day

Everyone should live in a neighborhood with a resident poet. My husband, sons, and I were lucky to have that privilege from 1990-1996, when we lived across the street from Robert Dana and his equally wonderful wife, Peg.

Originally from Massachusetts, Robert attended Drake University and the Iowa Writers Workshop after serving in the South Pacific at the end of World War II. He taught 40 years as Poet-in-Residence at Cornell College. I didn’t realize until recently that he was the founding editor of the revived North American Review, one of my favorite literary journals. He’s published many books of poetry and has also has served two terms as Poet Laureate of Iowa.

Here’s what I learned from Robert during the six years we lived in his vicinity: Gardening is serious business, as is good food. Neighbors are to be greeted enthusiastically – and maybe worked into a poem now and then. Cats make good fodder for poetry, too, and can shade a poem with humor, or lightness, or darkness, or all three. It is an honor to be invited to help proof a poet’s galleys while he reads them out loud, but you’ll be nervous as hell and will wonder if you’re doing it right. And…you don’t have to be religious to see the miracle in the everyday. In fact, too much looking for God can mean missing “air raw with rain” or “the dead blue crab in all its electric raiment.”

Cheers to Robert Dana on Poem in Your Pocket Day. When he read at Cornell College two nights ago, he told the audience that of all his lines of poetry, the last line in the following poem is his wife Peg’s favorite. I think it’s mine now, too.

“Chimes”

Mid-August. Evening. Rain falling.

Cold, bright silk where the street fronts the house.

Out back, it laves and slicks the parched leaves of the trees.
Ragged hang of summer’s end.

I lean against the doorway of the poem,
listening to old patter.

My cat, Zeke, lays himself out imperially.
Eleven pounds of grey smoke
with tufted ears and a curved plume of tail.

Now, a slight wind,
and The Emperor of Heaven’s chimes intone like distant bells,
his court musician’s 4000-year-old pentatonic scales
pealing in slow, clear ripples.

Occasionally, a chord.

Every day I live I live forever.

(From The Morning of the Red Admirals, Anhinga Press, 2004, by Robert Dana) Read more!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Television Musings-Rants and Raves of a Romance Writer


By Kathy Carpenter


Hodgepodge

First thanks to Colleen who commented on my last column (I still don’t know how to reply to comments). She validated I wasn’t crazy and that Cupid was a prior show.

Update on Cupid, it had two episodes I saw, the report was the show was doing well but I have not seen it airing the past two weeks. Is it cancelled or what?

Another new show I have been watching and enjoying is The Unusual’s. This is a New York cop show but what is different is the characters. A cast of quirky characters and somewhat different crimes. Light-hearted cop show.
Hodgepodge

First thanks to Colleen who commented on my last column (I still don’t know how to reply to comments). She validated I wasn’t crazy and that Cupid was a prior show.

Update on Cupid, it had two episodes I saw, the report was the show was doing well but I have not seen it airing the past two weeks. Is it cancelled or what?

Another new show I have been watching and enjoying is The Unusual’s. This is a New York cop show but what is different is the characters. A cast of quirky characters and somewhat different crimes. Light-hearted cop show.
Hodgepodge

First thanks to Colleen who commented on my last column (I still don’t know how to reply to comments). She validated I wasn’t crazy and that Cupid was a prior show.

Update on Cupid, it had two episodes I saw, the report was the show was doing well but I have not seen it airing the past two weeks. Is it cancelled or what?

Another new show I have been watching and enjoying is The Unusual’s. This is a New York cop show but what is different is the characters. A cast of quirky characters and somewhat different crimes. Light-hearted cop show.
Hodgepodge

First thanks to Colleen who commented on my last column (I still don’t know how to reply to comments). She validated I wasn’t crazy and that Cupid was a prior show.

Update on Cupid, it had two episodes I saw, the report was the show was doing well but I have not seen it airing the past two weeks. Is it cancelled or what?

Another new show I have been watching and enjoying is The Unusual’s. This is a New York cop show but what is different is the characters. A cast of quirky characters and somewhat different crimes. Light-hearted cop show.
The Apprentice - I have been disappointed in most of the celebrities behaviors’. Joan and Melissa River’s what spoiled ,,,”s. Joan had been improving the past couple weeks but she walked out because her daughter was fired. That’s not playing the game. And Annie Duke, poker player, who claims to have all these friends, who can stand her? Jessie (not a team player.) Everyone has been putting down Clint Black, but I don’t have a problem with him and he has grown over the weeks. I just realize maybe I have no problem with Clint because he doesn’t complain. Whatever I rooting for him or Brandy (playmate.)

Survivor - it’s time for coach to go. I haven’t like him from the beginning. Of course he is the entertainment of the show this season. Without him it might be kind of boring. Glad Tyson got blind sided this past week, he was so cocky.
Read more!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Don't Quit Your Day Job


Creating and Mom Balance

Bear with me as I explain my definition of what I call, “Mom Balance.” Those of you who are mothers will immediately know where I’m going with this.

I’m home today with my twelve year old son. He has a random school holiday that never seems to coincide with my high school daughter’s random school holidays. He only turned twelve a few months ago and I’m still not comfortable with leaving him alone for ten hours straight. My husband and I usually split these types of days. Last week, he spent three grueling days last week at science camp with my son’s entire 6th grade class, so the least I could do was use one of my vacation days to cover this time.

It ended up working in my favor. The last couple of weeks at my day job have been grueling. I even had to put in some overtime. This is rare for me. I’m not a high energy person so logging in more work hours, on top of my already overflowing plate, has left me pretty wiped out. Add the fact that I’ve missed my writing and blogging, and I welcomed this day of no commitments.

So, here I sit in my sweat pants and ponytail, banging away at the keyboard and pouring my creative guts out. I feel awful when I let days like this slip through my fingers. It’s quite easy to do. I could literally meander the entire day away with household chores and catch up on the little “projects” that fall by the wayside.

See, when you’re a mom the definition of “doing nothing” or “a day to yourself” takes on a whole new meaning. Take “doing nothing.” This is virtually impossible unless you spend the day in cave with no cell phone reception. If your cell phone works, someone will call from home wanting to know where something is. “Nothing” usually means that you did the laundry, but you didn’t fold and put it all away. You made dinner, but let the dishes wait till morning; or maybe you bought dinner, but no matter what, by the end of the day your “nothing” adds up to quite a bit.

Now on to “A Day to Yourself.” This usually means that you repeatedly tell your family you need a day to yourself and they profusely apologize, yet still ask for whatever needs your attention. I’m not insulting my family or anyone else’s. On the contrary, my family has been very supportive of my writing endeavors. It just comes with the territory and it is a fact of life and motherhood. It’s a no win situation. If your family went for long periods without needing your attention, moms would feel unnecessary. Ah, what a tangled web we weave.

The trick is to navigate your way through the “Mother Maze.” As my writing becomes a more prominent fixture in my life, I’m becoming keener at steering through the waters. After having several of these “freebie” writing days, I’m starting to learn what works for me and what doesn’t.
1. Start early. I’m not a morning person. It was actually the toughest transition to motherhood for me. I’m a chronic night owl and the later it gets, the more creative I feel. This, unfortunately, is not conducive with motherhood. I once read a 2002 Writer’s Digest interview with author Michael Chabon, where he mentioned his writing schedule being from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. I don’t know that I would last till 4a.m.; maybe 1 a.m. or 2 a.m., but the schedule sounded like heaven to me. However, since I do have a day job and kids that need to be driven to school, that type of schedule is off the table. Give it up, move on and, if you’re graced with a day away from the work grind, put pen to paper (or more likely fingers to keyboard) as soon as possible. When you’re doing what you want to do, it’s amazing how fast the day can get away from you.

2. Don’t start big household projects. Just because you’re home all day writing does not mean it’s time to tackle a side project. Do not clean out your closet, reorganize your pots and pots or, and I can’t stress this enough, step foot in your child’s room. You can certainly do laundry. Right now I have a load of bedding going. I stripped everyone’s bed down and sprayed Febreze on the pillows. However, save folding, ironing, and remaking the beds until evening when the normal level of chaos returns to your life.

3. Eat. You would think this does not need to be mentioned, but I can’t believe how many times I get so involved in my day that I forget to eat until my stomach is rumbling and I feel awful. Having one kid home is great because they have to eat too. The mom radar won’t let the kid starve. A toasted wheat bagel with cheese and a diet cream soda will definitely get me through the rest of the afternoon.

4. Do not go out more than you have to. The last time I took a day off from work, I ended up not being home at all. I went to be photographed and videotaped for the local newspaper, hustled to obtain a LiveScan for my Notary license (day job related) and then decided to go “pick up a few items” at the store. By the time I was got to my car to load the dog biscuits, laundry detergent and sweat socks I purchased for the family, it was already time to pick the kids up from school! I’m quickly learning that these little “jaunts” add up fast and can suck your whole day away.

5. Be happy with the end result. Regardless of what actually makes it onto the page, pat yourself on the back at the end of the day. My expectations are always extremely out of whack. I could never write as much as I think I will; not to mention that I think I’ll also catch up on all my personal e-mails, clean the whole house and find myself sitting in a luxurious bath by evening. This never happens. It’s been a struggle to be happy with whatever gets accomplished instead of being disappointed that it wasn’t more.

I realize it will be a never ending learning process. Life changes all the time and as soon as you find yourself in a comfort zone, you can be sure things will shake up. So for now, I will strive to find joy in what I’m able to do creatively and work actively towards letting go that which I cannot change. That’s a tall order. I’ve been busting down my personal barriers and I’m sure I can topple this one over too.



Read more!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

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

Spring Trees by Sandra Lee Schubert 2009



Things Blooming



Spring is here. There are flowers everywhere. Hyacinth are scenting the walkways. Daffodils, tulips, and all sorts of flowers are blooming everywhere. The trees are hanging back a bit. Some things take longer to mature.

Spring is here and soon everything will be green and full of color. Everyone laughed when Barbara Walters asked Katherine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be if she were a tree. Hepburn said she would be an oak; strong and solid. As I sat in the park last week the trees were still bare. I knew it would take a couple days of rain and then warm weather and those trees would be bright green with new leaves.

We look to nature to discover rhythms. Everything has a season.

What are your creative rhythms? Are you like Hepburn's oak; slow to grow, but strong and solid? Or do you just need a little prompting to go full blast and bloom? I know I need a little coaxing. There is no way I can just sit at the computer and write. There is food and coffee, a bit of TV. In the morning I am sluggish and thick. My mind is a dark and swirling place that needs to enter into the light slowly. Once I get to that lighter place I am good to go.

I have to honor my internal rhythm and also make sure it doesn't rule me. There are days when I have to hit the life a little harder and faster then I would like. It is a cup of coffee at the computer and I am ready to write. Or, I am outside discovering a world that in various stages of blossoming. Discover your rhythm and honor it. But don't let it be the only way you operate in the world.



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)gmail.com or @writing4life via twitter.

Read more!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Morning Motivators to Slay Your Creative Dragons

By CJ Lyons and Margie Lawson

A Girl Who Can’t Say “No!” from CJ:


I’m just a girl who can’t say No! So goes the song and so goes my life….and my free time, my writing time, my work-out time, my family time…you get the picture.

It’s hard for working writers, especially those of us working from home, to say no.

After all, we’re easy targets. To pick up the neighbor’s packages, answer the calls from telemarketers (how many times have you been in the zone only to have it shattered by a call about mortgage insurance?), run errands, help out with writing groups, etc, etc.

Yeah, we know the rules: prioritize our time, protect our working space and schedule, yadada….but it all boils down to learning how to say No!

So, here I go, my new resolution–I’m going to learn how to say No! How about you?

Thanks for reading,
CJ
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 http://www.cjlyons.net

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 http://www.margielawson.com for more information.


Read more!

Saturday, April 18, 2009


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

A Dream & A Message.

(Sculpture: Lion 2009)
I woke up from a scary dream last week and felt wonderful. I felt a kind of peace, mixed with a curiosity that I haven’t felt in a long time. And I also knew I was remembering the dream because it had an important message for me. I needed to figure it out.

Here’s the dream.

I was driving my car, making a left turn through an intersection when the gas pedal stuck. The car stalled. There I was in the middle of the intersection, the light about to change, cars about to start coming my way and the gas pedal was still stuck. No matter how hard I pushed or pumped, the gas pedal wouldn’t budge. The car was stopped. I was getting frantic when I realized that I had only one option. Take my foot off the gas. This seemed like an illogical move. How could I move forward if I took my foot off the gas? I pumped the gas pedal some more, the car didn’t move. So, I took my foot off the gas. Immediately, there was a popping sound and the gas pedal was no longer stuck. I knew I could go. Carefully, I lowered my foot, gently pushing down on the peddle and the car moved through the intersection. I made my left turn, continued on my way safe and sound.

Here’s the message.

The gas peddle – my energy – was stuck. I was afraid, but no matter how hard I pushed myself, I was not able to move through the intersection. I was literally at a crossroads – a decision had to be made. There was danger to myself if I didn’t take action and forces outside my control, illustrated by the oncoming cars. And it was clear that continuing to push on the gas was getting me nowhere. So I had to face my fear, and take my foot off the gas. When I did, I was able to drive my car through the intersection, making the left turn that I had wanted to make and continue on my way. Healthy and unharmed.

I’ve been working very hard in the last year. And although, I love working in metal, clay and paint as well as writing and teaching and showing, I’ve been driven by fear. This economic recession has hit home. My husband was laid off. My two ‘children’ are living at home. My art work has made money but it’s been small amounts that were ‘perks’ to our family budget, not necessities.

I didn’t want to give up my art work. It’s a career that I’ve been working on for over a decade now. So, I did the only thing I thought I could and that was make more work, show in more shows, and line up more classes. And I’ve done just that, in the last year, I’ve made over 30 new pieces, shown in over 14 shows, written on more blogs, tried new online networking/marketing sites and lined up over 20 new classes. And I’ve made a little more money. But I’ve had a lot of classes and shows that didn’t make anything. If all the classes had gotten sign ups, I’d be teaching in three different places, 3 to 4 times a week. There was a part of me that realized that this schedule was way too busy.

The dream had a message. Stop. Quit pushing yourself. That the only way to make it safely through the intersection of all these oncoming forces out of my control, was not to be more controlling. But to let go. Take my foot off the gas and allow the pedal to pop up on its own. Then I could move ahead in the direction I want to go.

Letting go. Pushing down on the gas gently is the way to move ahead safely. Now that’s a wonderful feeling.

If you’d like to more about the directions I’m heading and the work I’m doing, click on my website at http://www.susangt.com/ or by blog at http://sculpturepdx.blogspot.com/



Read more!

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

video

Sandra Lee Schubert

Dancing on the Head of Pin

The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine offers a spiritual home, as well as, opportunities for inspiration for me. Last week it was the cold and dark of Maundy Thursday and this Sunday it was Judy Collins singing Somewhere over the Rainbow during the Easter service.

This week there was a benefit screening of Man on Wire the film about Philippe Petit's planning and execution of his walk between the World Trade Center's north and south tower buildings. It was the first time seeing the film.

I don't remember the buildings being built. I was in high school at the time and fairly certain I was distracted by that experience. Of course, unlike Philippe, I was not inspired by a dream so huge that it would take over my life and drive the course of my existence. My world was driven by getting a prom date. I never went to the prom and Petit walked in the air. I see a clear parallel between the two of us.


Meeting people who have fully lived out their creative dreams while you haven't can drive you to late nights of drinking and smoking, make you reflect, or push you to pursue your own dreams. I don't drink or smoke, therefore, I am more of a late night of mindless TV watching while reflecting on why I don't more fully pursue my inspired dreams type of person.

How are you inspired? Philippe Petit was driven by a dream so large he could do nothing else but accomplish it. Why did the Muse grace him? And have I been denied divine inspiration by the Muse?

My creative drive may be smaller in comparison but it is mine nonetheless. It is up to me to fulfill my own dreams. Watching Man on Wire I wanted to know the joy Philippe Petit had in the middle of the sky.

Fulfilling a large dream so early in his life did not dull his enthusiasm for the rest of his life. On stage, after the film, his joy was just as unbridled as on the wire. He balanced a flower on his nose. What he wanted us to know was that it was the second of balance that was perfect, every thing else was just wrapped around that moment.

Can I create that perfect second?



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)gmail.com or @writing4life via twitter.

Read more!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Mixing It Up Down Under: Creativity Unblocked


I've always been interested in the subject of creativity and read a lot about it. I don't write much about it at all. Why is that I wonder? I think it is because I leave it up to the experts.

I am reading this post over at Pikaland about creativity blocks. Amy has put together advice from 40 artists on how they deal with the problem. In reading through I realised (again! why do I keep forgetting!?) that we are all experts on ourselves! I am an expert on me! (Actually, I'm glad it's me. I'd hate it if someone else had got the job of being an expert on me.)

I haven't got through the 40 pieces of advice yet, and I don't know if I'm just going to repeat something that is already there, but I thought I'd write about my technique I have to break through creative blocks.


When I can't begin or when I can't progress it is usually my inner perfectionist raising her ugly-but-well-maintained head. I have become too precious about the project, sometimes it is just an idea but already I see it as sooooo wonderful that I could not possibly do it justice. I become blocked. I can't do a thing. My inner procrastinator (actually, it is rarely 'inner' - it is usually my outer coating!) is remarkably skilled at getting me to the computer to spend hours looking at the work others are NOT blocked doing. Or to the bookshop where I'm sure there MUST be a book that tells me exactly what to do. (There never is.) I waste so much time that I have had to come up with a technique to un-precious-ise my idea.


My solution is volume. Instead of beginning the one perfect work, I begin 7. Or 52. Or 3 if I'm being a bit lazy. How can you be precious about 7 paintings!? Well, you can, but to a much lesser extent. I can even convince myself sometimes that it is OK to have, say 2 of those as just pure experimentation. As I progress on my array of works, some naturally slip into the 'later' basket and others I become obsessed with, working at them until they are done. Ahh. Now that is what I was after all along - a little obsession to drag me to the canvas again and again.


If this technique doesn't work I know why. Again it has to do with volume. I NEED a quantity of art materials waiting in my studio. If I'm using up my last canvases, or the 2nd last sheet of my favourite paper, I can't work. I need an abundance waiting on my shelves. This too is a preciousness. If it is the last squeeze of paint from the tube, then I must do it justice, I can't waste it by making a mistake. I find that with a draw of paint tubes I can 'waste' any quantity of paint. And of course it has not been 'wasted' but has gone into something I loved making.


So I go shopping. When I prioritise I often have trouble putting studio time up high on my list of things to do, but I don't allow myself the sabotage of stopping myself from spending money on my supplies. I know from grim experience that there will be no point in putting studio time anywhere on my list if I'm not well supplied.

Now, one of the reasons I'm mentioning this here is purely selfish. I wanted to remind myself of this. How is it I keep forgetting?

This post also appears on my personal blog.
Read more!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

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

night by Sandra Lee Schubert 2009

Sandra Lee Schubert

Night



This Thursday I went to services at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. The service is called Maundy Thursday. It includes the washing of feet and the Cathedral going dark. That is the simplest explanation for this religious holiday. This post is not about religion but about intimacy, being in the dark and seeing new things. The washing of feet is reflective of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. At the Cathedral the priest kneel and wash the feet of each parishioner, it asks the recipient a willingness to be a bit vulnerable. You are not guaranteed you will get your favorite priest; the one who takes times with you, prays for you, takes care of you. The chance is you might get the clumsy priest, who doesn't look at you, and sends you on your way feeling a bit unwashed.

Isn't this how life works? You can't get a guarantee you will get the kind of things that will support you.


The service concludes with the church going dark. In the Cathedral that means a cavernous dark places, the echo of feet and voice, the chill of the spring night. A friend and I went into a chapel to talk. We haven't seen each other in a long time. We sat there having a very normal conversation about art, and creating a life completely in the dark. There was nothing but the shadow and voice to let us know we were there for each other.

At some point the lights were turned up a bit and cookies and coffee were put out for the people keeping vigil throughout the night. Still in this semi-darkness we continued the conversation until we finally moved to the baptistery, where the vigil was being held, to sit and pray.

When I left the Cathedral there was a brilliant full moon. I stopped to take photos of the moon and the Cathedral wrapped in shadow. I tried different features on the camera, zooming in, using the flash. It wasn't until I got home at looked at the photos on my computer that I can see the real differences between the shots.

The one I like the best was taken with the flash and is posted here. At first it looked like a black and white photo. Then I thought it reminded me of veins and capillaries. But when I zoomed in on particular areas I could see the buds on the trees. I thought if I searched further I could find a bird or two keeping watch.

The night is something we fear, shadows hold things we can't see. At the Cathedral I submitted myself barefooted and vulnerable to what could be possible. At first it would have seemed to be a disaster when I got the priest who could not honor me in the way I wanted. But later, in shadow, I could be intimate with someone else. Even if my friend did not take my feet in her hands she took the time to talk with me. The opportunity to talk about art, and money and our hopes and dreams is invaluable. At the end of the day we all want to be heard.

Creating can be such a solitary experience. Then we bring it out into the world and we can't guarantee if anyone will acknowledge our gift. In the dark things are revealed and what we thought was danger in the shadows is something much more. As a creator I struggle with demons. Sometimes those demons turn out to be friends I have forgotten and ignored. We all need to find out what the night holds, allowing ourselves vulnerabilities and intimacies to create.



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)gmail.com or @writing4life via twitter.

Read more!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Career Inklings from Columbia


Commitment
By Janet M. Ruck

Not quite in the throes of spring, the weather in the mid-Atlantic promises more every day. The perennials poke out of the ground, seemingly not quite trusting that this is the right time to burst forth.

But, we know the time is here. The calendar tells us that spring has been here for a few weeks now, and, although the weather has been sporadic, the golden sunshine, emerald grass and red-breasted robin confirm its long-awaited arrival.

Do you find yourself often facing the inevitable with hesitation and trepidation? Unsure of what signs or trends to trust and believe, do you find that you waste precious energy in the abyss of indecision? Maybe you’ve been stagnant for a long time, fearful of making a move out of your comfort zone. Perhaps it’s time to seek a job or career that challenges your skills. By taking action at the first hint of change, you create a cycle of momentum that can propel you forward. And, that is what the calendar tells us every year: change is coming. Be prepared, embrace it, and bask in its energy and power.

Flow with the change, give yourself perspective and commit to the growth that will sweep you forward.
Read more!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Monday Morning Motivators to Slay Your Creative Dragons

By CJ Lyons and Margie Lawson

DON'T GO IT ALONE! from CJ

Attending the PASIC conference 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 alot of help from their friends!

Thanks for reading,
CJ
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 http://www.cjlyons.net

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 http://www.margielawson.com for more information.


Read more!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

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


Sandra Lee Schubert



Erratic Spring



One week ago the air was balmy and breezy. I was wearing my favorite red denim jacket. Yesterday it was balmy, gray with thunderstorms and high winds. In my apartment I am hot, then cold, switching the fan on and off trying to get the temperature perfect. Welcome spring, erratic and unapologetic about the need to be what it wants to be at any moment.

But can I fault spring? Assigning it a personality reflective of my own, I am both overly conscientious and then scattered and forgetful. I write like a fiend and then forget it all in a fit of TV watching and avoidance. I crave community and relationship and then push it all away.

None of this serves me in any healthful way. My friend and I were talking about other friend who is unsentimental. Not to say she is without empathy or feeling but she is not driven by them. Here is an example, when she lost her job she didn't mourn and fret about it, she picked herself up and moved across country and set out to get more work.

I know more then a few artists who are more like me floundering, or succeeding on the whims or winds of the environment. The advent of spring leaves us distracted, and moony, while other artists are pumping out work. Not crappy factory style stuff, but work with real meaning and substance.

I would like to be unsentimental. I want to be less distracted and much more proactive. At this very moment I'm not. I hope. I wish. I crave. I want to be a producer of mass amounts of fine work. I hope. Some day.



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)gmail.com or @writing4life via twitter.

Read more!

Thursday, April 02, 2009


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

A Walk In The Park:
An occasional series.


To quote poet, ee cummings, “in Just spring when the world is mud-lucious..”

Here, in the Pacific Northwest it couldn’t be more true. Spring arrives here in waves of rain and wind. Some call it liquid sunshine. I call it wet, windy and cold, but it does make everything bright green and mud-luscious with occasional sprinkles of pink snow from blossoming plum trees.

As I walk Jilly around the lake, the geese squawk loudly alerting their community to our presence and warning us to keep our distance from their nesting areas. I respect their homes and their beaks. You don’t want to mess with a protective goose, it’s dangerous. One thing that never fails to amaze me is their unity as a goose community. They all watch out for each other while at the same time protecting their own nests. They group together for nightly swims, and once the goslings are hatched, they all take part in protecting, feeding and teaching them. The goose unity always amazes and inspires me to search for such group unity in my own life.


As we head out of the park and through the suburban neighborhood, I notice some daffodils that have popped up one by one through the grass in someone’s front lawn. It’s obvious they weren’t planted there. They just came up from somewhere beneath the sod on their own. The bright yellow trumpets are even more spectacular against the green grass. And the fact that they ‘stand alone’ independent of a flower bed or planter, seems amazing.

It makes me wonder. It fills me with awe. It shows me that life will spring forth out of the unknown to bloom in the most unexpected places.

In these difficult times, when I’m fearful of all the unknowns in life, these little daffodils make a powerful point; that life grows up from the dark soil, through the tough grass and blooms brightly.

That gives me hope to believe that while I might be in the dark about the future, that doesn’t mean growth isn’t happening. As I walk along my path, there’s new life springing forth and blooming. Perhaps, all I have to do is remember to lift up my eyes and see it.

Visit my website at http://www.susangt.com/ or my blog, Susan’s Art & Words at http://sculpturepdx.blogspot.com/
Read more!

Television Musings - Rants and Raves of a Romance Writer

By Kathy Carpenter

Cupid

Hey I don’t see my last post. It said it posted, oh well. This week I want to talk about two shows, One old and one new,

The first one is Cupid. Only natural for a romance writer, right? Can anyone tell me if this is the same show from six or seven years ago? I remember watching a show call Cupid. The show was on a few times and we really liked it, then it was cancelled. After watching this week I believe this is the same premise. My sister does not remember the show and thinks I’m crazy. Any help proving to her this show was on before would be appreciated. Anyway, this guy thinks he is Cupid and needs to bring together 100 couples in true love to be returned home to Mt Olympus. He was put in a physiatrics hospital. The female lead helped him to get released, (she was tricked), and must now watch over him. It;s one of those feel good shows because it’s almost like magic when the right two people meet and come together,

The second show I wanted to talk about is Medium. They gave Alison a new power this week. And it’s rather unique. It’s a buzzer sound. Yeah you heard me right, a buzzer. Whenever someone lies this buzzer goes off and only she can hear the noise. She knows when her kids lie, her husband, and of course the bad guys.

Whether this was a one time show or not I’m not sure. You may say she already knows the bad guys from her dreams. Well she doesn’t always know for sure what her dreams mean. But now she has the help of a buzzer.
Read more!