Guest Bloggers

A Type of Disconnect

It’s been a difficult thirteen months during shelter in place. From March 2020 to now (April 2021) many of us have felt a spectrum of emotions. Alison Flood eloquently captures what many of us are experiencing: After a month of lockdown, William Sutcliffe wrote on Twitter: “I have been a professional writer for more than twenty years. I have made my living from the resource of my imagination. Last night I had a dream about unloading the dishwasher.” Whether it is dealing with home schooling, the same four walls, or anxiety caused by the news, for many authors, the stories just aren’t coming. “Stultified is the word,” says Orange prize-winning novelist Linda Grant. “The problem with writing is it’s just another screen, and that’s all there is … I can’t connect with my imagination. I can’t connect with any creativity. My whole brain is tied up with processing, processing, processing…

Guest Bloggers

Crystallize A Moment

Today’s guest blogger Nancy Julien Kopp muses about capturing and crystalizing a moment. The Wall Street Journal had an article profiling Maggie Smith, a contemporary poet. One of her quotes was simple but said a lot. “A poem doesn’t have to tell a story; it can just crystallize a moment.” I read it two or three times, then copied it on a notepad.  If you’ve ever been stopped by a beautiful sight or sound and wanted to write a poem, you’ll understand her thought to crystallize a moment. There’s no set number of verses to do that, no rhyming pattern, or anything else . . . just crystallize a moment. Maybe you’ve watched your children interacting, and there was a moment that you wanted to keep forever. It’s then that you should get that little notepad you keep nearby and jot down the thoughts you had. If you don’t do…

Guest Bloggers

Writing Resilient: Why Write?

Guest Blogger Christine Walker: In the house where my husband and I live, there is a room we call the “library.” Books overflow the shelves. Along the walls, five bookcases contain hundreds of volumes stacked top to bottom, back to front, overhanging the edges. One shelf holds books by authors I know—friends, teachers, and teachers who became friends. More books are piled on the floor and in bags, but our local public library stopped taking donations because of the pandemic. The disarray — books, bags, file boxes needing to be sorted — mirrors my emotions. I need to make sense of this room and so much else in my life.  I’ve come looking for a paperback recommended for my zoom book group. I joined the group a year ago, on March 25th, 2020, two weeks after our county shut down for Covid on March 13th. That was the day my…

Guest Bloggers

Pausing to See the View from Here

Guest Blogger Rhonda Gerhard writes: Anniversaries are a time of reflection, whether it be for a celebration, like a wedding, or the loss of a loved one. We are now marking the anniversary of shutdown due to COVID. As we reflect back on this year, we can observe where we, both personally and as a people, are now, in this moment. Like many, I have observed myself navigate this past year on automatic pilot, at times not checking in, just marching ahead. Just marching is our need for survival. March is now here and time to reflect upon marching, right? With the availability now of the vaccine, and the possibilities for change ahead, we can pause. Take a deep breath and ask, “What is my deepest heartfelt prayer for myself at this time, right now?” “What do I really need for myself and how might I hold my life with…

Guest Bloggers

Why not just get busy and write?

I’ve been reading back issues of Tiny Lights and found this gem by Suzanne Byerley, published December 2000. Even though this was written twenty years ago, it’s a perfect piece to share with you in these days of restlessness, as we wade through difficult times to find inspiration and energy to write.—Marlene Cullen “Steps” by Suzanne Byerley. I find myself restless. I prowl about the house in my slippers making sure the cats are behaving themselves, sorely tempted to turn on CNN and see if Florida has picked the next president yet. Maybe I’ll lay out a game of solitaire or fumble through that little Bach prelude my daughter mastered when she was six. What is this wild drive to diversion? Why not just sit down and get at what makes me happy? Why not just get busy and write? Because the steps to the desk are like slogging bootless…

Guest Bloggers

Calm Your Brain

Guest Blogger Suzanne Murray has this to say: With anxiety and fear running high in the world these days, I wanted to share how we can make friends with these feelings and use them to our advantage. Anxiety and fear can prevent us from being creative or living a life we love. To live and create fully, we be must be willing again and again to step out of our old comfortable life and into unknown territory. This always feels scary. Many years ago I read the self-help book Feel the Fear, And Do It Anyway which presents the premise that just because we feel a sense of fear about a project or moving in a new direction in our lives doesn’t mean we are supposed to stop ourselves from proceeding. More recently I’ve been fine-tuning my understanding of what this really means and feels like, how to best use it in…

Guest Bloggers

Details Add Zing

Guest Blogger Lisa Alpine shares tips to spice up your writing. I encourage you to infuse your writing with detailed imagery, passionate feeling, poetic depth and evocative sensual description. Here are some writing suggestions I use when teaching Spice Up Your Writing at workshops globally. These writing tips will show you how to weave poetic description into your prose; cultivate the five senses in describing a place or experience; and develop emotional imagery. 1: Pick a scene from an event in your life that you know has a heart or seed of a story only you can write. Now blurt and spew! Messy is okay. You can clean it up later. Sometimes graceful, sometimes awkward, sometimes downright ugly. Tell the story. Understand what is really going on by exploring and uncovering the deeper currents of the river of life. 2: Set the scene. Describe the weather, doors & windows, environment, horizon. God…

Guest Bloggers

Innovative Technique for Creative Writing

Today’s guest blogger, Mary Mackey, is a gem in a treasure chest filled with innovative inspiration for writers. Mary shares her unique perspective on accessing creative writing. Your unconscious is packed with ideas, metaphors, visions, plots, dreams, colors, characters, emotions—in short, everything you need to write a great visionary novel. But how do you get to it? How do you step out of the social agreement we call “reality,” and dip into this incredibly rich resource? You could go to sleep and try to mine your dreams, but even if you dreamed an entire novel, the moment you woke up, you would forget most of it within seconds, because you hadn’t processed the ideas into your long-term memory. Worse yet, when you dream, you are not in control, so you can’t do specific things like talk to one of your characters or work out a specific plot problem. Granted, some…

Guest Bloggers

History Through The Lens of The Teller

Guest Blogger, Bev Scott, has an interesting perspective on bias of our history. She brings up provocative questions. The following is based on a session Bev attended at the Historical Novel Society Conference in June 2017 by James J. Cotter, titled “The Lone Ranger was Black: Reintegrating Minority Viewpoints into Historical Fiction.” “The title intrigued me,” wrote Bev. “Was the Lone Ranger modeled after Bass Reeves, the first black U.S. deputy marshal who worked thirty-two years in the Arkansas and Oklahoma territories in the late 1800’s?  He may have been.” History Is Biased The conference session addressed the issue of bias in our history. That bias impacts authors of historical fiction. Today we no longer view history as “the truth.” Rather, history is a story told through the lens of the teller. Did you love the Lone Ranger when you were growing up? I did. Audiences assumed he was a courageous (and white) lawman.  That’s…

Guest Bloggers

Writer’s Block = Argh!

Today’s Guest Blogger is Lisa Alpine. Originally published on her blog, Lisa Alpine, Dancing Through the World of Words, Lisa shares her thoughts about how to crawl out of the swamp of writer’s block. Stuck again in the swamp of writing defeat and word avoidance even though I love writing my stories. What’s up?  I’ve been a writer for 35 years. Holy moly. Can’t I just sit down and write? Why do silly menial chores seem suddenly inviting? But I have found, once I chain myself to the blank page and force words to be birthed, with a story in mind, I thrash but the engine thrums and starts. Those dang words begin to flow. I’m ready. I’m willing. I’m psyched. The story emerges—but only after a hell-of-a struggle. And I have a method: I make an agreement with myself that I will write for one hour with no interruption. I set…