Guest Bloggers

Let Go And Create

Guest Blogger Suzanne Murray writes about how surrender can help creativity: We can’t force creativity. We know this intuitively. If we told a painter that we wanted a masterpiece by five o’clock tomorrow, he or she would look at us like we were crazy, that we clearly didn’t understand what being creative was all about.  An important part of being creative is learning to surrender to the flow of the universe, allowing something greater than our everyday self to move through us. It’s not something we can figure out with our linear mind. Of course, if we want to paint we need to learn how to work with our chosen medium and studying the work of the masters can help. If we want to write it’s really valuable to read widely and deeply, to show up daily to put pen to paper and perhaps take a workshop on form we…

Guest Bloggers

Begin with the low hanging fruit.

Guest Blogger Jan Ellison talks about truth in short stories and novels. Years ago, when the first short story I published was included in the 2007 O. Henry Prize anthology, I was standing out front of my kids’ school when a woman I hardly knew poked her head out of her car to say that she’d only read the first paragraph, but would I be willing to tell her how much of my short story was true? It was the first time the question had been posed to me, and I had no idea how to answer it. Did she only want to read the story if it was “true,” or if it was not? Sometimes the question comes in other forms. What gave rise to the novel? What was the inspiration for your story? Is it autobiographical? I am as guilty of wanting answers to those questions as any…

Guest Bloggers

Cultivate Creativity

Cultivate creativity: Grow awareness and eliminate distractions. Like gardening: Pull what you don’t want (those darn weeds) and nourish what you want to grow. The following Guest Blog Post is an excerpt from Suzanne Murray’s 1/14/17 blog post. I started writing before the development of the personal computer, when cut and paste meant I was down on the floor with a pair of scissors and a jar of that thick white glue that smelled vaguely of peppermint. It was in many ways a simpler time with far less pulling on my attention.Every morning upon rising I would make my single cup of French roast coffee, dripped through a Melitta, and then sit down to write. There weren’t thoughts like I’ve got to check my email or Twitter feed to interfere with putting words on the page. If I needed to do research, I went to the library, the sacred hall…

Guest Bloggers

Short essays can be a goldmine.

Today’s guest blog post is excerpted from Anne R. Allen’s Blog… with Ruth Harris. Writing about writing. Mostly.  Book length memoir is a hard sell, but short essays can be a goldmine. Memoir is the most popular genre at any writers’ conference. Unfortunately, it’s the hardest to write well—and the least likely to be successful if you’re an unknown newbie writer. That’s because book-length memoir isn’t likely to become a bestseller unless people already know who you are. So how do you get people to know you? You could become a reality TV star, run for political office, or be related to somebody who marries into the British royal family of course, but not everybody has that option. You can also work to get yourself known through social media, which I recommend for all memoirists. Start a blog, podcast, or vlog on the subject or setting of your memoir and…

Guest Bloggers

A Memoir is Not a Voodoo Doll

Guest Blogger, attorney Helen Sedwick, writes: Memoirists are the bravest of writers. In exploring the journeys of their lives, they delve into the private (and imperfect) lives of others. Can a memoirist write about surviving abuse without getting sued by her abuser? Can a soldier write about war crimes without risking a court-martial? Yes, but a cool head is key. Considering the thousands of memoirs published each year, there are relatively few lawsuits. Claims are difficult and expensive to prove. Most targets don’t want to call attention to a matter best forgotten. However, it’s important for memoir writers to be aware of the legal risks. You can’t avoid risk 100% of the time, but you can learn to take the ones that are important to your narrative arc and minimize those that are not. What is Safe Territory? You may write about a person in a positive or neutral light….

Guest Bloggers

Envision your best year ever

Guest Blogger Suzanne Murray writes: Amid what seems like a world gone mad, can you relax, take a deep breath and consider the possibility that all that is happening around us, that seems so disturbing, is really an opportunity for so many to awaken to the divine spark within each of us? The place that holds the light and the creative solutions our world so very much needs. This, I suspect, is what Albert Einstein meant when he said that the problems we face won’t be solved by the same level of thinking that created them. We need instead to approach the monumental challenges we face in our lives and the world from the level of our heart, soul and spirit. We need to work with our creative imagination which is really our hotline to the divine. From here we can respond to situations from a place of love that we…

Guest Bloggers

When Tough Love becomes True Love

This past year has been difficult for me (Marlene), not just during the long month of November. I have been playing catch up all year, trying to whittle down my never-ending to-do list. Susan Bono’s guest blog post reminds me to stop, notice, and savor the moment. Susan writes: Even those of us who start the day with a list know what it’s like when unplanned-for events start coming our way. In spite of our intentions, we start tackling the unscheduled instead of working on what we had planned. Emergencies come up, of course; we can’t control everything. No one can plan for bad news or times we are suddenly needed. But the list of unanticipated tasks is endless, and after a while, we just start doing what comes to us, instead of what we had intended. You should have days when you follow your bliss. In fact, have them…

Guest Bloggers

From Chaos To Creativity

Guest  Blogger Suzanne Murray writes: What if the chaos we experience in the world today and in our lives is actually an invitation to let go of the old ways and create something new. What if in letting go in the face of fear of the unknown we actually make room for the new to enter. Often when we give up trying we find a sort of magic that can bring unexpected opportunities beyond what we thought possible. We tend to resist chaos. We associate it with war or natural disasters or with the unraveling of the structures that we have always thought of as solid. We cling to what feels comfortable. Chaos can rattle our bodies and emotions leaving us feeling overwhelmed. It can trigger a reaction of fight or flight which puts us in our reptilian brain which is incapable of creative problem solving. What we call chaos…

Guest Bloggers

How to start your book . . . not with the weather, not with a dream . . .

and not with “my name is.”  So . . . how could you, how should you begin your novel? Guest Blogger, Bryn Donovan, writes about: What Happens on Page One: 30 Ways to Start a Novel. Note: This post contains spoilers for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Note from Marlene:  Edited for brevity. Scroll down for link to original post. Bryn writes: Even when you have a basic idea of your story, sometimes it’s hard to know where to begin it. One of the best things you can do with your first five or ten pages is to get readers to care about what happens to your main character (or one of them.) In my opinion, and in the opinion of most editors, a prologue that only serves as backstory is generally a bad idea. It makes a novel feel like it’s taking too long to really get started. You can weave…

Guest Bloggers

Connecting to Nature and Creativity

Guest Blogger Suzanne Murray writes about: Connecting to Nature and Creativity as a Gift for Ourselves and the World. Nature and creativity are doorways to the sacred. They can help us connect to the deeper parts of ourselves, the knowing of our hearts and souls. They can assist us in being more present in the moment and give us access to expanded capacities of intuition, inspiration and imagination. Connecting to the natural world, which is inherently creative, opens us to our own creative gifts, which allows us to bring forth new possibilities and solutions for our own lives and our troubled world. The ongoing tragedies in the world combined with instant access to these events through the news and social media can leave us feeling helpless and hopeless. Our psyches and nervous systems overwhelmed. Spending time in nature as well as creative play can be a balm for heart and…