Book Reviews

A Sense of Place

Armchair travelers, people who like to read biographies, the curious, the interested . . .  A Sense of Place by Michael Shapiro is for you. Michael explores travel writers’ views about the craft of writing, the world, and home, wherever that may be. Michael travels the globe, engaging in intimate conversations with these authors in their homes. Isabel Allende in San Rafael, California Bill Bryson in Hanover, New Hampshire Tim Cahill in Livingston, Montana Arthur Frommer in New York City Jeff Greenwald in Oakland, California Pico Iyer in Santa Barbara, California Peter Matthiessen in Sagaponack, New York Frances Mayes in Cortona, Italy Tom Miller in Tucson, Arizona Jan Morris in Llanystumdwy, Wales Eric Newby in Guildford, England Brad Newsham in Oakland, California Redmond O’Hanlon in Oxford, England Jonathan Raban in Seattle, Washington Rick Steves in Edmonds, Washington Paul Theroux in Oahu, Hawaii Sara Wheeler in London, England Simon Winchester in Great…

Book Reviews

The Creative Spark

Isn’t this a beautiful cover? The Creative Spark: How musicians, writers, explorers, and other artists found their inner fire and followed their dreams by Michael Shapiro. People are talking about The Creative Spark Michael has interviewed some of the world’s most creative minds, bringing sparks of joy, enlightenment, and entertainment into our lives. It makes sense for the next endeavor for Michael to publish these extraordinary interviews in a book. After reading the Lucinda Williams chapter, Solas House publisher James O’Reilly “went straight to listen to her album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone. I must have been living under a rock to not know her. I love her voice and music and intensity. This book is all about meeting people you’ll love who you never knew, or who you thought you knew but didn’t.” “I’ve been asking myself, why did I let music drift out of my life?…

Guest Bloggers

Creativity as magic

Michael Shapiro’s latest book is a winner. Below is an excerpt from the introduction of The Creative Spark: How musicians, writers, explorers, and other artists found their inner fire and followed their dreams. It reminds me of an important message for every one: We are all unique and have our stories to tell. No one else can tell your story. Only you can. From The Creative Spark by Michael Shapiro Something magical happened as I completed this book. One evening just before sunset I was in our backyard watering the planter boxes. On a stem of parsley I noticed a startling pattern of color, concentric rings of orange and black dots. Looking closer I saw the segments of a swallowtail caterpillar and could identify its tiny feet. For the next few days the caterpillar chomped on the parsley plant, absorbing energy for the next stage of its life. I placed a stick…


Yesterday. Prompt #456

Sometimes writing prompts are complex: Physical location and action to describe emotional state – Prompt #12 And: Location, or place as a character – Prompt #8 And: Imagine you are invited. . . Prompt #64 Sometimes writing prompts are simple, like today’s writing prompt: Yesterday . . . Don’t over think. Just write! Prompt: Yesterday . . .

Guest Bloggers

Perfection vs Good Enough

Guest Blogger, David Moldawer, is the author of The Maven Game. He writes weekly essays for writers. Perfection vs Good Enough Take the old quote:   Perfect is the enemy of good. Voltaire might have been the one to say it in this form, but the idea of “good enough beats unattainable ideal” has been around much longer. In fact, it warrants its own Wikipedia entry, if you’re curious to trace its history. However it’s expressed, it’s good advice for a writer. But is it perfect? (See what I did there?) I’ve often said, “remember, perfect is the enemy of good,” to people stuck in the trap of perfectionism, but over time I’ve come to question the effectiveness of simply saying the words. If you’re working on a solo project with no genuine deadline, more can be done to improve it. And even more. There is always a better solution to…

Book Reviews

The Write Spot: Possibilities

Here’s what people are saying about The Write Spot: Possibilities ~ Stories and poems in this aptly named collection remind us of the possibilities that exist when we give ourselves the gift of time to reflect on our life experiences. Writing prompts and resources are generously shared to inspire and encourage readers who might wish to reach for a pen and capture thoughts and memories of their own. These words will touch your heart and might even move your pen.”— Brenda ~ The Write Spot: Possibilities is a collection of playful, experimental, insightful stories as well as prompts, resources, and words of encouragement for the beginning writer. Part anthology, part craft book, Possibilities is a welcome addition to any reader or writer’s bookshelf. —Elizabeth ~ A delightful mix of stories and writing advice. — Adair Lara, author of Naked, Drunk, and Writing OTHER BOOKS IN THE WRITE SPOT SERIES The Write…


Imagine receiving a greeting card. Prompt #455

The last Just Write post talked about writing a messy first draft. Ready to start that messy project? Or continue with something you are working on. Here is a writing prompts to start the messy project: Writing Prompt: Imagine you (or your fictional character) received a greeting card in the mail. It can be from someone you know or a character you create. It can be from a celebrity. It can be sent to the wrong address. What does the card say? How does the narrator react when reading the card? What happens next? Just Write!

Just Write

When the final product satisfies.

Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, poetry, songs, or whatever you write, this might help understand why the final product isn’t working. Excerpted from “Rough it Up,” by Elizabeth Sims, Writer’s Digest Magazine, February 2009, Get messy with your first draft to get to the good stuff.  As Ernest Hemingway famously said, “The first draft of anything is sh*t.” For years, I didn’t understand. When I started writing fiction seriously, I kept trying to get it right the first time. Over time, as I got rougher with my first drafts, my finished work got better and better. Why does a coherent first draft give birth to a stilted finished product? Because it means you haven’t let it flow. You haven’t given yourself permission to make mistakes because you haven’t forgiven yourself for past ones. Admit it: Unless your throttle’s wide open, you’re not giving it everything you’ve got. Creativity in writing…


Angry? Too nice? Prompt #454

Congratulations on being here, taking time to do something for yourself. Sometimes the writing prompts on The Write Spot Blog are serious, sometimes fun, and sometimes instrumental in learning something about writing and learning about ourselves. You are always free to write whatever you want. The prompts are just ideas to get you started. If you are writing and run out of things to say, either repeat the prompt, or write “what I really want to say.” And go from there. When you read the prompt, write it down, and just start writing. Get rid of the editor that sits on your shoulder. Don’t think. Don’t overthink. Write whatever comes into your mind. The writing prompts are meant to encourage you to write what you really want to write (no judgement on good or bad, nice or not nice content). But what if what you really want to write isn’t…