Guest Bloggers

Belinda Pollard: Personal Stories Enhance Your Writing

Inspiration from Belinda Pollard on how to use memoir writing in any of your writing. Excerpt from “Putting Your Self Into Your Writing, Exercise 1,” by Belinda: Memoir is a popular genre these days, as people tell their personal stories and inspire others to overcome obstacles, cope with life, or laugh at someone’s funny antics. But personal stories go much further than memoir. They are great additions to many types of non-fiction, especially self-help. They are wonderful in travel narratives. How-to can also become more engaging and effective if you tell about your own ups and downs as you learned a particular skill. And your fiction writing can improve as you learn to tell your personal stories well. I’ve edited biographies and memoirs, and other types of books that use personal story. One of the elements that work really well is when the author finds a way to give readers…

Guest Bloggers

Listen To Your Heart

Today’s guest blogger, Nancy Julien Kopp, has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books 22 times! Her story: A good many years ago, I submitted to a Chicken Soup for the Soul  book for the first time. The story was a simple one, a childhood memory, that I thought might work for the Fathers and Daughters book. Maybe. I hesitated to send it. Why? My pride told me it was impossible because rejection hurts a lot. Experience added that I hadn’t been writing very long, and the Chicken Soup editors received hundreds, maybe even a thousand or more, submissions for each book. My chances were pretty slim.  Reason stepped in and sneered at me as it said it was pointless to submit this story. What would it matter to the rest of the world? Then they laughed and I whimpered. All three had ganged up on me, and then a funny thing happened. My heart…

Guest Bloggers

Bella Mahaya Carter & The Priority Pyramid

Today’s guest blogger, Bella Mahaya Carter offers inspiration with a “Priority Pyramid.” The following is an excerpt from her original post. Last November, I worked with Dan Blank, author of Be The Gateway: A Practical Guide to Sharing Your Creative Work and an Audience. In his book, Dan recommends an exercise to help creative professionals get clear about their life and work priorities. If you’d like to try this exercise, get fifteen index cards and write down one word on each card indicating what’s important to you. Then prioritize your cards into a pyramid, with your most important priority at the apex, and work down from there. These cards are a wonderful reminder of what matters if you lose your way. Each person will obviously have different words on their cards. Here’s what mine looks like: For me, a deep spiritual connection with Self comes first. When I lose that…

Guest Bloggers

Jeff Goins & His System

Today’s guest blogger, Jeff Goins, shares the system he uses to write books and blog posts.  Excerpt from Jeff: Most writers think writing is a one-step process . . . it’s a three-step process: coming up with ideas, turning those ideas into drafts, and then editing those drafts into publishable pieces. The Three-Bucket System . . . how I get my writing done. Bucket #1: Ideas Capture ideas [and keep] in a place where you can return to. Bucket #2: Drafts Pull an idea out from the first bucket and start writing. Save in a draft folder. At any given time, I have a whole bunch of half-finished chapters and blog posts on my computer begging to be edited and completed. The point of this system is to think as little as possible and just do the next thing. Bucket #3: Edits Pull out one of those drafts and edit it. Either schedule it…

Guest Bloggers

Anne R. Allen & Indie Publishing

The following is an excerpt from Anne R. Allen’s December 22, 2019 blog post. You, too, can be an indie-author. It helps to be informed with willingness to do the work. From Anne: In a few days we’ll be leaving the twenty-teens to enter the 2020s. We’ll be saying goodbye to a decade of wild upheaval in the publishing industry. It’s been quite a ride. On January 5th, [we hosted] agent Laurie McLean from Fuse Literary Agency, for her annual “Crystal Ball” predictions for publishing in 2020. But today I’m thinking about the decade that’s passing, and how it disrupted and radically changed the way authors approach publication. A lot of us got to behave like teens—experimenting with radical publishing ideas and trying on lots of new writing venues for size. Amazon’s Kindle had the right name. It fired up the writing community in a major way. Self-publishing became a…

Guest Bloggers

Nathan Bransford

Guest Blogger Nathan Bransford reflects about this past decade with the constant of books by his side. The following is excerpted from Nathan’s December 30, 2019 blog post. So much can change over the course of a decade or two. Thank goodness the books we read and write will still be there waiting for us when we need them. When the clock struck midnight to ring in January 1, 2010, I was a literary agent with Curtis Brown Ltd. in San Francisco, I was married, and the ink was barely dry on my first book deal for the Jacob Wonderbar series. Little did I know that within a year and a half all that would change. Amid all this change, amid all of this upheaval and turmoil, there’s only one thing in my life that hasn’t changed. Books. The first time I visualized my current life was during a vacation in 2010…

Guest Bloggers

Commenting on Blogs. Good idea?

Anne R. Allen’s post about commenting on blogs elicited 100 comments! Anne writes about commenting on blogs to build your author’s platform: I’ve seen a steep decline in the number of people commenting on blogs over the past few years. I’m not sure why that is. But commenting on blogs is still an easy, painless way to get your name into search engines and build an “author platform.” I realize I’m partly preaching to the choir here. We have wonderful commenters on this blog. But I see a lot of great blogs devoid of comments these days. And there are lots of people who seem to prefer to respond to the link to a blogpost on Facebook or Twitter rather than on the actual post. Unfortunately, sometimes they haven’t read the post, but are responding to the header, which isn’t a good idea. That’s a good way to look like…

Guest Bloggers

Staying Grounded and Centered.

Today’s insightful post is by guest blogger, Rebecca Lawton. I have a dear friend who jokes that, in 2020, we’ll have no need for glasses. A long-time wearer of glasses himself, this friend also loves punning. With or without glasses in 2020, we who love writing and reading want to see clearly in all our endeavors. For me, seeing clearly means staying grounded and centered, understanding what I’m observing with all senses. Doing so requires that I stick with various creative practices, whether in writing, communicating, playing music, reading the work of others, or learning new skills and ideas. Basically, for everything. I consult writing-related resources as well. This time of year, I offer a list of them on my blog. For the first time ever, I’ve also included a few references for clearing the mind. May your practice buoy good health and happiness, for you, yours, and those you meet. May the goodwill you generate extend to the well-being of the planet. I join you…

Guest Bloggers

I didn’t want to go.

“I didn’t want to go but I’m glad I did.” Bella Mahaya Carter’s title for her early December email caught my attention, probably because so many times I didn’t want to go but I was glad I went. Here’s what Bella wrote: Dear Friends, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are enjoying the holiday season!  Today’s post is about showing up for ourselves and for each other.   This past Monday night, I did not want to attend Forest Lawn’s annual “Lights of Remembrance: An Evening of Honoring the Memories of Your Loved Ones.” I was tired (hadn’t slept well the night before) and felt like I was getting sick. I also didn’t want to drive twenty miles at night to a place I’d never been, or go alone (my husband was too tired and my friend declined). I wanted to stay home, lounge by the fireplace, and watch The Crown. …

Guest Bloggers

Early Christmas Morning

As I write this, it’s early Christmas morning, 2019. It will be a quiet day here at Chateau Cullen, except for the swishing of a broom while I sweep the porch and the hum of the washer and dryer, getting ready for our holiday party this weekend and for my granddaughter’s third birthday. Today will be a busy day for some, filled with happy feet and sparkling eyes as young and old open presents under a decorated tree. For others, it will be quieter. Today’s guest blogger, Bella Mahaya Carter shares her holiday thoughts. Dear Friends: I hope you’re enjoying the holiday season—or getting through it with as much grace and ease as possible. One thing that helps keep me calm is walking our dog, Katie, who insists upon frequent and leisurely outings. I don’t mind (usually), because they provide exercise, time outdoors, and inspiration. Check out this leaf she’s…