Guest Bloggers

Good Old Writers

Today’s guest blogger, Victoria Zackheim, writes about how to keep up the energy, faith, and courage to write. I recently walked into my newly built kitchen and discovered a large, grayish rectangular stain on the quartz counter. Had I placed a hot pan there? Not likely. Spilled bleach? Definitely not. I wiped, scrubbed, gently scoured… nothing helped. And then I lifted my arm and noticed a change in the shape of the stain. I had been trying to remove a reflection of light coming through the kitchen window. This is the opening paragraph of an essay I wrote about aging. I smiled as I wrote what I expected to be the preface of my new book. However, I’ve been told by literary agents and several editor friends that writing about aging might be cathartic for me, the writer, but it doesn’t stir up much interest among the public. Really? In…

Guest Bloggers

Crafting Short Fiction

“If I had more time, I’d write a shorter story.”— Mark Twain Today’s Guest Blogger, Guy Biederman, talks about crafting short fiction. I’ve always been intrigued by the challenge of creating something small that has big power. Giacometti said he wanted to make a sculpture the size of a matchbox, but so dense no one could lift it. The first micro story I remember reading was “Coup de Grace” by Ambrose Bierce, with a gotcha ending. O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi used” a similar technique. I was astonished by the wallop a short piece could pack. As a young writer, I cut my teeth on Raymond Carver’s work. Carver’s stories weren’t always short, but they were spare and vivid, conveyed feeling, empathy and understanding, and explained very little. I didn’t know what he was doing or how he did it. I only knew that reading his work was like…

Guest Bloggers

Do you need a developmental editor?

Guest blogger, dev-editor, and author Shirin Yim Leos, answers the question she’s most often asked: What is developmental editing, does it really make a difference, do I need it and how much—HOW MUCH?!?!—can I do for myself? What is Developmental Editing? It’s the big, high level, Is the book working? edit. Does it make a difference? Resoundingly yes. Ask any author with a career. Do I need it? No writer can accurately see their own work. It’s a fact, like refraction through water or distortion through atmosphere. How much does developmental editing cost? It varies, but here are some recently published rates in The Write Life. How to be your own Developmental Editor Can I do it for myself? Try to duplicate a dev editor’s distance. They come to your pages cold and you can replicate that: Put your writing away in a drawer for 3-6 months. I can hear…

Guest Bloggers

Create a Hygge Calendar or List

We hear a lot about being grateful, giving thanks, gratitude lists, and silver linings. But what if you just aren’t feeling it? How about creating a hygge calendar? I read about this in a Facebook group. Make a list of things to be mindful about, a way to help get out of the doldrums and into a feeling of calm, care, and positivity. Pay attention to one item each day. Personalize your calendar and use it as advent calendar, or as a way of looking at old things in a new way. Hygge: A quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being, regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture. Hygge Advent Calendar ideas, or a list of how to create a feeling of coziness: 1. Light a candle during meals. 2. Chalk a friendly greeting on a sidewalk. 3. Share an uplifting poem or…

Guest Bloggers

Doubt is the Devil

Guest Blogger Matthew Félix shares his rebound from doubt. “Doubt is the Devil! Show doubt, and he’ll be back!” I woke up with the quote resounding in my mind. It was as though an old woman were standing over me waving her finger, scolding me to make sure I got the point. A couple of weeks earlier, I had received the comments on my novel from my editor. Like a tsunami coming out of nowhere (or, in this case, raging up the coast from Santa Barbara), twelve pages of feedback wiped out half the world I’d spent so many years building. I expected it. I wanted it. Nevertheless, in the days and weeks that followed I was overcome by wave after wave of self-doubt, at times nearly drowning in it. Was I up for the challenge? Did I have the energy to make the changes? And, by the way, what changes? My editor…

Guest Bloggers

Rescue Your Stories

Guest Blogger Nancy Cullen writes: “I am a rescuer of stories hidden among the ordinary.  I give these stories voice as a template to inspire others with untold stories so that they will know the satisfaction of rescuing their own stories.”  – Nancy Cullen My BLOG, THE STONEBRIDGE, began as a place I could record and share stories.  Stories stemming from four areas outlined on the BLOG’s “About” page. It is my version of a Sacred Bundle, a practice began by my father. Capturing, or as I like to say, rescuing, stories from our thoughts, memories, and obscurity is a learned skill. There are processes, template frameworks, and yes, a bit of discipline involved. These are not apparent as one reads a particular post but run in the background like a good operating system in a computer. Although, not complex, nonetheless they must be identified and adapted to your own style. Once in…

Guest Bloggers

Qi Gong To Calm The Mind and . . .

. . . might help with your writing. Note from Marlene: I have wondered why we humans seem to easily focus on the negative and sometimes have difficulty seeing the positive. The following from Qi Gong teacher Lee Holden explains why we tend to think about things that cause stress and anxiety: The nature of the mind is to dream and wander. Even when the present moment is completely perfect, it’s normal for thoughts to run off into the past or future. Sometimes, daydreaming can provide valuable insights that lead to joy. However, most of the time, the mind isn’t quite so generous. More often than not, the mind’s natural tendency is to ruminate on thoughts that produce stress or anxiety. Luckily, Qi Gong provides powerful tools for calming the mind and returning to peace. In this article, we’ll discuss the nature of human thinking, as well as share three…

Guest Bloggers

Help might be where you least expect it. Just ask.

Excerpted from “Where Do You Hang Your Hammock?: Finding Peace of Mind While You Write, Publish, and Promote Your Book” by Bella Mahaya Carter. When you’re out there promoting your book, you’ll have to ask for all sorts of things. This might feel hard. You may make up stories, such as I don’t want to “bother” people or be a nuisance. You may feel as if you have no right to ask for what you want. You may even feel, deep down, as if there’s something wrong with asking. Of course, nobody likes rejection, either. We don’t want to hear the word “no.” But how people respond has more to do with them than with you. If you can blow by the nos, you’ll pick up enough yeses along the way. So don’t let that stop you. Those stories running through your head, that make asking for what you want seem unsavory, doesn’t mean…

Guest Bloggers

What’s in a letter?

Guest Blogger Emily-Jane Hills Orford writes: No, I’m not talking about the twenty-six letters of the English alphabet. And I’m not talking about emails, text messages, private messages and whatever electronic form of letters and messages are out there on any current platform. I’m talking about the REAL letter: the one you write in longhand (you know cursive writing, the secret code of a previous generation), fold carefully, tuck into an envelope, seal it, address it, place a postage stamp on its corner and drop it in the nearest mailbox (the snail mailbox variety, varies in color depending on what country you live in). Letters have long been the most poignant written form of communication in any language: a means to share stories, convey important (or unimportant) messages, or, basically, just to connect. Have you written one lately? Or, perhaps you are the lucky recipient of a letter in your…

Guest Bloggers

Surrender to Creativity

  Guest Blogger Suzanne Murray encourages creativity by surrendering.   SURRENDER IS CRITICAL TO 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, they 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 (or fingers to keyboard) and perhaps…