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…

Guest Bloggers

Sankalpa

It’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day busyness that we forget we have an inner spiritual core that is the basic strength for everything we do. What do you do to support this core? I recently learned about Sankalpa when experiencing a guided meditation class called Yoga Nidra/iRest with my friend and meditation/yoga instructor, Rhonda Gerhard. Guest Blogger Rhonda writes: Yoga Nidra is a meditation of self-inquiry. In the beginning of this practice, we ask ourselves: What is my Sankalpa (a heartfelt desire or intention) towards healing, strength, and wholeness? We welcome our unique Inner Resources—calling up peaceful places or protective and nurturing beings—so that we can draw on our deep inner knowing and loving-kindness. With continued practice, we build our resilience. Sankalpa means an intention formed by the heart and mind—a solemn vow, determination, or will. A Sankalpa is a way to refine the will, and…

Guest Bloggers

Choices

Guest Blogger Nancy Julien Kopp wrote about choosing a path and exploring your choice. It seems like a perfect writing prompt for the start of a new year. Nancy wrote on her blog: Life is full of choices. I think often of Robert Frost’s poem that tells us of two roads diverging in a yellow wood, and the poet said he took the one less traveled by. But don’t we always wonder if this choice would be better than that choice or another one?   For a writing exercise today, look at the four photos. Each of them is somewhere you can walk. Two have water while the others are filled with green trees. What is your choice? Where would you prefer to walk? A, B, C or D?  Choose one and write a paragraph or several paragraphs about the photo you liked best. Study the photo and ask yourself a…

Guest Bloggers

Help Your Creativity Blossom

Guest Blogger Suzanne Murray shares why freewrites inspire writing: I have taught the creative writing process for more than twenty years, working in part with a technique known as “freewriting” where I encourage participants to “just let it rip”. We don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar or whether it is good. We suspend the censor and let our first thoughts spill out onto the page. People new to the class are always nervous about this kind of letting go. Since I write and share my own raw writing with the group, I was rather nervous when I first started teaching the classes but found that by maintaining a safe and sacred atmosphere of unconditional acceptance for whatever wanted to come forth it really calmed the fear for everyone. We learn quite early to fear making mistakes. We all have a well-developed censor that confines us within the limiting parameters of…

Guest Bloggers

Are You Starving Your Soul?

An honest evaluation by Guest Blogger Nina Amir: I had to get really honest with myself. And then I had to get honest with others . . . I have been unhappy. I have not been successful. I have given away my power. I have not followed my own path. I have lived up to other people’s expectations. I have not lived the life I wanted to live or done the work that is my purpose in this lifetime—my life’s work. And something had to change. I had to change. My life had to change. I’d been starving my soul. Now, I am feeding it. I am creating, day by day, a life that feeds my soul. And every day I’m a bit happier and fulfilled. I’m starting to recognize myself again. I’m making little changes that put me back on the path I want to walk. People have asked…

Guest Bloggers

Is “Go Big or Go Home” Right for You?

Guest Blogger P.A. Cornell explores measuring success with writing . . . when can you call yourself a writer?           Not so long ago I was speaking with someone about how much I’m enjoying being a short fiction writer. I was trying to convey all the great opportunities that short fiction can offer: variety in setting and characters, finding your voice, etc. They kept nodding, but I could tell my words weren’t really penetrating, and when I finished, they said, “Okay…but why think so small? You’re working on a novel, right? I mean, go big or go home is where it’s at!”           Is it though?           In our society we tend to equate success with tangible things like fame and income, and this does have some validity, but is this the right measure of success for all of us? When it comes to writing, there are some very specific…