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Herein, children's writer Molly Blaisdell raves, rants, and rambles about her craft. She also muses about juggling a job, motherhood and writing books, and there is a good dose of rallying, psyching up and inspiring for anyone who needs to seize the day.
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1. Novel Craft: Pottery Lessons

Hi folks, I'm writing a series about how certain artistic skills enhance other artistic skills. I am an artistic and crafty person. I buzz around art. I will dip my toe into most forms of expression. There are a few that I've focused on and have found that those experiences have informed my novel craft. This week I'm going to talk about pottery lessons.


Once upon a time back in my college days, I had the time learn how to throw pots. I have found that those long ago pottery lessons have always been with me as a writer.  At first, you need much support to even begin to throw a pot.  Someone else chooses your clay. She walks you through how to prepare it. You are give many hints on how condition the clay to make it suitable for throwing. Beginning writers need this same kind of support. I needed others to help me recognize my viable ideas versus my dead-in-the water ideas. I needed advice on how to approach ideas so that I could even get on the road to producing something that would engage readers. Seek out help in the beginning. 

Throwing a pot is about finding the center of the clay, and getting all the other clay to revolve around that center. At first it feels impossible. The clay bulges in weird ways. It will even go flying off the wheel. My hands and elbows would be scraped.  I practiced again and again.  Experience is everything. Finally the day came. I slapped the clay on the wheel and pressed it with my hands, and the clay instantly centered.  I had to have confidence and a steady hand. The first important step to writing is finding that story center.  Stories revolve around their centers.  It took much practice to throw the clay of an idea onto the wheel of my imagination and then center it with the force of my will.  I always feel that sense of knowing when I center a pot or center of a story. It is unimaginably satisfying. 

One more pottery lesson, once a pot is formed and hardened, it's time to fire it. A glaze is applied to the exterior of the greenware.  This glaze will harden into shiny coating when extreme temperature is applied.  All stories must go through a refiner's fire to come to elegant completion. This is a dangerous time for a pot and a story. I have worked hard to get it to this place, but the refiner's fire can destroy my work.   Pots crack, Glazes wonk. You may end up with something very different from your initial vision. You may end up with a muddy mess that has to be thrown into the scrap pile. Stories are the same. In writing, the fire is revision. Revision may lead to a new novel or it may lead to a worthless disaster. Regardless, it is the only way to success.  You may feel fear during revision time. You are right to be afraid. You will have to apply your hottest thought force to make your finished story emerge, and there is a good chance you will fail. Writing is not for the faint of heart. 

I hope these pottery lessons help you on your journey. One more week of lessons is ahead. Drop back by for it. 

Here is the doodle.



Here is a quote for your pocket: 

Beautiful forms and compositions are not made by chance, nor can they ever, in any material, be made at small expense. A composition for cheapness and not excellence of workmanship is the most frequent and certain cause of the rapid decay and entire destruction of arts and manufactures. Josiah Wedgwood.

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2. Novel Craft: Sewing Lessons

Hi folks, I'm writing a series about how certain artistic skills enhance other artistic skills. I am an artistic and crafty person. I buzz around art. I will dip my toe into most forms of expression. There are a few that I've focused on and have found that those experiences have informed my novel craft. This week I'm going to talk about sewing lessons.

I love textiles. I always have. I know how to knit, embroider, and crochet. I can even do some tatting. I know how to dress a loom and weave fabric. I also sew. I learned how to sew in junior high. I've made over a hundreds of shorts, jackets, Halloween costumes, dresses, pants, toys, and quilts. I know how to use a pattern. I know how to create my own.

When I write, my sewing skills always come to me. Sewing starts with a provocative idea. Making a well made garment takes time and work. I fully envision the garment I plan to make. I fully envision the book I plan to write too. This is something in my head. Yes, I draw sketches and doodle on paper, but the big work is a complete internal vision. I see the thing I want, then I proceed to bring it into the light of life. Writing a book follows the same process. Just like a physical garment, I must envision a physical book at the beginning of the process.

To sew something I need a pattern. I have to decide do I want to use a pattern off the shelf or do I want to try and go it alone. I start by looking through books of patterns. For writing I look at books in the genre. I gather together patterns that are close to my vision. I always tweak patterns for sewing and writing. I feel a need to put my stamp on my sewing work and my writing. I have certain sleeves that I love, and often those sleeves go into the WIP garment , even if the pattern calls for something else. I don't like the way certain collars look so I will modify to put on a collar that is more of my thing. In writing, I have certain scene structures that I use often. There are some sorts of pacing that I will never use. The list goes on.

After I've got my pattern, chosen my fabrics, picked out my notions, gathered my tools, I'm ready to sew. In writing, I gather scrap art, pick characters, research subjects, gather thematic elements, and gather my tools. I cut out the pattern, and it's time time to sew. I write an outline and it's time to write. Sewing is painstaking work just like writing. You have to pin each piece just so. You must also fit in each scene just so. I have sewn in pieces backwards, upside down, and on the wrong side. It hurts to pick out all those stitches. No matter how slow you work, there are always necessary adjustments. It's the same with writing. I put scenes in the wrong place. I have to reorder events, sometimes I have to edit out huge swaths of my planned plot. I've got too much going on.


Sewing helps me write.

I often find myself working through writing problems by comparing them to sewing problems. The comparison helps me find my way. Perhaps you have some artistic skill that will help guide you, Will help you out of tight spots, Will help you complete your WIP. Good luck on your journey. I will be back next week with more lessons.

Here is a doodle for your week: This was a doodle I did when envisioning a dress.





Here is quote for your pocket"
Sewing mends the soul. ~Author Unknown

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3. Novel Craft: Screenplay Lessons

Hi, folks! I am an artistic person, and I buzz around art. I will dip my toe into most forms of expression. There are a few that I've focused on and have found that those experiences have informed my novel craft.  This week I'm going to talk about screenplay lessons.

I've written a few screenplays. This experience has helped me with novel craft.  A screenplay is a working document, it is not the finished product: the film.  I've learned about writing novels by writing screenplays. Here are three useful bits that I've learned:

First, screenplays force you to think about scenes and pacing.  A screenplay has a tight structure. It is much more compact than a novel and rarely has any room for internal thoughts. Becoming more aware of scenes has made me more aware of what to cut in my novels. Every scene in my novel must argue for its right to be there.  Novelists tend to be in love with the beauty of the words, and sometimes that is at the expense of storytelling. Each scene in my novel must move the plot forward, develop the journey of the main character, offer serious conflict, offer a glimpse of the internal working of the main character, have laser focus on the goal of the story, and offer some beautiful language and deep internal thought. If I can't achieve this with a scene, I toss it on reject pile.

Second, screenplays can help you move forward when you are stuck.  Like picture books, screenplays are a visual medium. Sometimes, I reach a place in the novel that I'm not sure how to proceed forward. I break open Final Draft or Celtx and move forward with my novel in a screenplay format.  My first drafts are now always a mix of screenplay sections and narrative. Writing a screenplay is analogous to sketching. A rough draft is a sketch of the novel. All the needed scene pieces are broken apart: opening with setting, dividing the dialogue, dropping in an emotional tag, and then describing the action can keeps me from bogging down in a first draft.  Next time your draft grinds to a halt, try writing the next scene in screenplay format.

Finally, screenplays can help you beat the static parts out of your novel. Screenplays do not welcome big chunks of dialogue, must keep action swirling on screen to entice the film goer, and must be aware that the person who plays the character in the screenplay is paramount in making that character come to life. I avoid prosy dialogue. Screenplays have made me aware of this. No one wants to read about nothing happening. It's surprising how easy it is to write about a character watching the sunrise or swimming in the lake, or reading a book.  Blow up that sun, fill that lake with piranhas, and have the heroine  toss that book into that arrogant so-n-so's face.  Also characters must be nuanced. I really cast my characters now when I write. I learned this from screenplays. Character on a great journey is still a working document, the character in the screenplay vs the character in a film. It's the little things that set characters apart and make them spring from the page. You have to know if your character loves chocolate, scream when she is angry, or bite her fingernails.

Novels need to breath with life. Screenplays have helped me achieve that.

Hope something here is helpful. :) I will be back next week with more novel crafty lessons.

Here is a doodle: Clown


Finally a quote for your pocket:

When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing. George Orwell

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4. Novel Craft: Picture Book Lessons

Hi folks, a brand new shiny year! Love it! I hope that you are making goals and opening up to new possibilities. Fold up all those disappointments and failures. Take anything you learned from these experiences and move on. Look forward. Huzzah!

In January, I always explore one of my great passions and that is novel craft. I'm a novelist at heart. My first published book was PLUMB CRAZY.  It was out from Swoon Romance in June 2014, but is going away soon. Cancellation--just like so many fantastic TV shows that get cancelled (cough, Firefly), so goes my book. C'est la vie.

Don't despair, you who hunger for a paperback of PLUMB CRAZY to hold. I am going to self-publish the book for anyone who is interested. It's going to take a little time to put that together, but the book should be ready to be a summer read again. :) Thanks to all the people who have supported this first novel publishing effort of mine!  Galaxies of stories are ahead!

Anyway, onto to novel craft. I am an extremely visual person. I see three dimensional landscapes in my head. I also write in many genres and find that the skills I use in one genre inform me as I approach a different genre. These skills serve me well.  Writing picture books helps me write novels.

When I write a picture book, I write the text and then I write what is going on in the picture. From an absolute telling perspective, I write what is going on in the scene before I actually write the text for the picture book.  I do this for every page. It turned out that this is an effective technique to write novel scenes, especially ones I'm stuck on.  I just tell what is going down in the scene in a fat paragraph. When I'm finished I write the scene with that word picture I created in the back of my mind. Writing the scene rolls out a lot more smoothly.

Picture book structure helps me plan the structure of my novels. Picture books have the same beats as a novel but they come much faster. I make sure that my novel has clear beats that echo picture book structure.  What is a beat?  Plot points, turning points, plot twists. If you are having a tough time figuring out if your novel has a decent story arc. Study a few picture books. What launches the action? How does the mc react? What happens at the midpoint? How does the action rise? What is the climax? How long does it take the story to resolve? All these questions and a picture book in hand should send you on your way while writing a novel.

Well, there is a tea cup of usefulness for your creative journey. I hope you come back next week for more Novel Craft.

Here is a doodle. :)  PINK



Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. Robert F. Kennedy






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5. Gifts: Good News

Hi folks!  This is the last post on my series called Gifts. This is also my last post of the year. This week I'm celebrating the idea of good news. I've always been moved by a prophesy in the book of Isaiah that declares good news to the poor. The people are longing for for good news and the prophet tells them that is coming. 

Writers for children are really about sharing the uplift of good news. Stories for children tend to be uplifting -- good news.  It's something inherent in our work.  

Here's a word to creative folk inspired by the words of Isaiah.  

Good news is for everyone!  Proclaim it whenever and wherever you can!   

Do you see the brokenhearted? Bandage their wounds. Stop the bleeding. Do you see someone in prison? Throw open the doors. No more bars for you. No more dark cells. Anyone in darkness? Bring them into the light. 

Listen. If you do this, everyone will throw a party. Every broken down house will be fixed up. Every forgotten town will be remembered. 

Things will stop sucking.  Forever. 

If you spent this year creating books, thank you!  I hope that you will find a place for that story! I will be back next year with a new series. 

Here is a doodle. Blue Boy




The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, Isaiah 61:1

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6. Gifts: Hope and a Future

Hi folks,

I'm continuing my series called Gifts.  In the Bible, in the book of Jeremiah, there is a startling prophesy that so resonates with me. A holy people have been sent into exile for seventy years, and they really need to know what is coming to put up with this long exile.

The Lord spoke to his people through Jeremiah.  He sent encouragement. I don't know if you have ever read something that you felt was speaking to your situation and your life.  I feel that about these words in Jeremiah.  This is what I hear.

Your writing life isn't where you want it to be right now, but I am the one who brought you to this place. Don't despair. I want you to keep writing and keep helping other writers. Enjoy any small success that comes your way. And also, the things you learned back you were in the thick of it, I want you to think about those things. Let your creative self prosper and don't complain that you don't have a place to share a voice, that you don't even know how to get there. That's a waste of your time.

Don't keep on taking on projects that aren't your vision. Those things are just wasting your time. You have to keep waiting and that might be for a very long time.  But I've got a plan and I'm going to put your writing life back together. I have plans for you, plans to help you write brilliant stories, plans to give you a hope and a future. Be patient. Wait for it. The good days are ahead. 

Hope this stirs you up like it does me. I hope that here words that speak to your situation and your life. I hope those words help you stay on the path. I am so glad we are journeying together. 


Here is the doodle. 


Here is a quote for your pocket. 

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves. William Shakespeare. 

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7. Gifts: Prophesy to these dry bones

Hi folks, ah, the holidays, and of course, I'm running a little behind. This month I'm offering a little series I called Gifts. This will be short and sweet. There is a story in the Bible in the book of Ezekiel. This my retelling. Here how it starts. The Lord takes Ezekiel to valley of dry bones and asks him if the bones can live.

Ezekiel answers, "Lord only knows."

The Lord tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones.

(We don't prophesy in these days, and I sure do feel left out. The idea of a prophesy is to let someone know what is coming in the future. If you are a writer, you might understand this more than most.)

Back to the story. Ezekiel shouted to those bones."You dead bones, this is the Lord talking and not me -- I'm sending breath in you. And you will come alive. I'll put tendons, and flesh, and skin on you. I'll say it again, I'm putting breath in you, and will be alive. And the whole world will know I am the Lord!"

After that there was a noise. Bones rattled! They snapped together. Then came the tendons, and flesh and the skin. But instead of folks, there was a pile of dead bodies.

The Lord told Ezekiel to prophesy again. "Wind from the four corner of the Earth come into these dead bodies and make them live." And the wind came and a mighty army sprung up, rearing for a fight.

Then the Lord told Ezekiel what it all meant. "Those bones are my people.They have lost hope. They think they are dead.  I'm going to make them alive and I'm going to give them the little corner they are hankering for. Let them know I'm doing this because that's the way I am."

To wrap this up, if you feel like an old pile of dead bones, and you are wondering if you will ever get a chance to snap together and march out there and take your corner.  Remember this story. Wait for the wind.

I will be back next week with another of the Gifts series.

Here is a doodle.  "The sun, Moon, and the stars"




Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. Marie Curie

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8. Gifts: The Grace of Kindness

Hi folks, I'm ending the year with Gifts. This has been one of my most challenging years as a writer. I've struggled more professionally than at any other time in my life. My book PLUMB CRAZY is soon to go out of eprint. The paperback is cancelled. The book after it is cancelled. The small publisher has decided to go in a different direction. I put a lot of myself in that book and this wasn't the news I wanted. I turned 50 this year. I have the most mundane part-time job on the planet. I've slipped into depression, the real kind that takes some support. This week, to add insult injury, I came down with a skin infection that has left me soo tired. A bumpy part of this road of life, but I'm determined to find the silver lining.

So what gift do I have for you? Here goes. The Grace of Kindness.

I'm a person people tell secrets to. Some are small. Some are mighty. Some people I know, some I don't know. Sometimes in the grocery store or when I'm buying gas. Sometimes over coffee or on a walk.  I try to do little things every day that will help somebody. I build some margins into my life so that I can have time to listen and help whoever gets in my path .I'm nothing spectacular. I'm a small time kindness operator, but small kindnesses are as natural to me as breathing.

Kindness has been a part of me since I was very young child. Just like my flaws of a hot temper and my whining tendency (Hope I didn't whine too much above! Working on it.), I've had the grace of kindness. It's hardwired. I'm not perfect. My faults have spectacularly let some down when then really needed my grace. Still, in spite of me, the grace of kindness has generally reached out to others. And like all good grace has lifted me up in process and given me a sense of meaning when almost everything else has failed me.

I believe every person has some grace.  Some sing like angels. Some are the most long suffering folks that have ever lived. Some have the gift of gab and can say a perfect word at a perfect time. To me, grace means unmerited favor. Something in you that is just in you. It's hardwired like breathing. Sometimes in our life the things we've worked for get stripped from us. We lose our job. A relationship doesn't work out. Our dignity is taken away. We suffer great injustice. What should we do?

For me, I lean into grace in my life during these times. I'm a storyteller. I forge on.  I'm an organizer. I find something to organize. I'm kind. I find a place to pour that kindness.

Be aware of the grace in your life. For me all grace is a bit of the light of the divine, tucked away in the most flawed earthen vessel, I continue my journey to let it shine.

I will be back next week with more gifts.

Here is the doodle: The sun, moon, and the stars.


And a quote for your pocket.

You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

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9. Gifts: Keep the faith

Hi, folks,  


I try to be honest on my blog and also keep things upbeat.  Here at the year end, I know this to be one of my most challenging years as a writer. I've tried things and found many that don't work. I haven't found many that do. I yearn with the depths of  myself to say something that useful that will be of great help to many. I haven't found success. I wonder if this is what is like to wander in the desert? I hope that I find an oasis soon. I'm keeping the faith. 

I have been grateful for my routine during this season of wandering. I cling to it. Write every day. Read every day. Take a walk every day. Do your chores. Do the shopping. Answer the emails. Cuddle the cats. Look for the moon. Watch the weather. There is something so beautiful and comforting to me about routine of my days. The sum of these moments are my life. 

I think that routine is what I love about writing. Writing is walking an ancient path. I'm searching for the touchstones of story. There is magic in this journey. I rejoice when I find a touchstone. The first touchstone is the moment everything changes.  My hands shake and my stomach does flip flops when I find this moment. It doesn't matter if I wrote the story or if someone else did. 

Finding the touchstones of story is like skipping across a creek from stone to stone. I looking for the call to adventure, the turning point, the darkest moment and the climax and all the wonderful touchstone in between. These are the defining stones of who we are and what we want. It is my desire to find a pathway that connects with readers. So much I cry when I think about it.  I don't know how to describe this ache within me. Many believe that I will find my way. I have no words for my gratefulness for the support. 

As I journey on, I keep in mind that each sucky moment is what leads to lovely ones.  Wherever you are on your creative journey, keep going.  This unseen place that feel is ahead, you will find it. This story that is brewing within, it will appear. Just don't stop. 

I will be back next week with more Gifts. 

Here is the doodle. Tossing out my Star Wars: "Patience, you must have." 



Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep. Carl Sandburg

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10. Uplift: The Conversation of Freedom

This is my last week of my series Uplift. This week I'm going to do a response blog. I was really moved by this talk by Ursula K. Le Guin. This statement in that speech just made me want to stand up and shout: "There is a difference between a market commodity and the practice of an art"  and this statement: "the profit motive is often in conflict with the aims of art." I felt like someone hit the reset button within me. So here goes my meandering.

It's really hard to live a life that thumbs its nose at the idea of making money. Somehow money making is connected to popularity in my head. I call it the Frisbee effect. People will buy a thing because everyone else is buying a thing. There are very few people who will actually use the thing. The market is looking for the next BIG book that will sell like a Frisbee. Art is not necessarily that. There is a force called capitalism in our society. The idea is supposed to be that financial success is a result of hard work. In a perfect world this would be awesome. That said, I am no fan of forced wealth redistribution either, but I  do wonder if freedom in the market place -- the gain as much as you can philosophy -- actually works to withhold freedom from many people. There must be some central balance between the extremes that will give us the best of both ideologies. This of course is my hope.

That said, I came into this world with nothing. I will leave with nothing.  I am a dreamy sort of person. I am always hungry for viable thoughts, things not so much. Black Friday was yesterday and I didn't go to one store and buy anything. I didn't order anything online. The acquisition of goods means little to me. I like to buy things when I need them. On top of that, I find the greed driven, those addicted to experiences: travel, clothing, games, entertainment, housing, idleness, etc. to be an epic tragedy. A select few on our planet living a premium life seems off kilter to me. I admire those who have spent their life pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. I admire those who are content in whatever circumstances they find themselves in. These folks always seem the most wealthy to me.  

There is a cost if you want to be an artist/writer. A popular bit of advice has come my way again and again. It goes like this: You are going to have a hard time reaching an audience because you write to a not so chic and not so urban teen. And then you expect teens to face serious issues like pregnancy, poverty, and prejudice without acting like their lives suck because you believe "your life is your life and you get to define if it sucks or not." There is my deal. I do believe that. The one power you have as a human being is to define yourself and not let your circumstances define you. I like to write about that. You are greater than all the stuff life throws at you. You just are. I get it. This is not a money making scheme.

So what  am I all about? I'm interested in the practice of art and not in market commodity.  Hence, many will admire my work but few will get behind it.  I am not a sure thing.  What kind of nutcase refuses to bet on a sure thing and places all their money on the long shot?  I  totally understand that.  I am the long shot. I may be irrelevant. I may waste my days. I may never achieve what I am seeking. Can I live with that? I have, can and will. I have been blessed in life. I have food. I have shelter. I have a life dedicated to art. I hope to add something to the conversation of freedom. I hope that you will consider adding to the conversation too.

I will be back next week with a new series. Thanks for dropping by.

Here is the doodle for the week: "Ark"



Here is the quote.

There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why... I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? Robert Kennedy

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11. Uplift: The Infinite Possibilities of Imagination

Hi, folks! This month I'm calling the series Uplift. The idea of uplift is to improve socially, culturally, morally, spiritually, etc.  We are all hungry, our hearts beating, struggling for contentment and a sweet spot to thrive. This part of my journey for uplift. 

Short and sweet, this week, folks. I  have to say that my imagination is my biggest gift.  It bubbles around inside me. It is the best part of myself. I had a fun conversation with an imaginary friend this week, and bonus it was not my imaginary friend but Sam Garton's imaginary friend.  Sam is the otter keeper of Otter. You might want to check out this blog: I am Otter

I followed Otter this week.  You can too: 

Here is our conversation.




 I have to say, my conversation with otter was one of my favorite things this week. 

Here's the deal. My capacity for play has never diminished. I still have my favorite doll from childhood. I still color and draw almost every day. I never stop making up stories.  I love to imagine the possibilities. Even in my darkest days, the angel of my imagination stirs within me. 

There are journeys ahead, friends. Trust the infinite possibilities of your imagination. 

I hope that your are jazzed this week!  Please consider letting your imagination run wild. Let it take you beyond the possibilities to the impossible. Open a new door. Turn a new corner. 

I will be back next week with the last in the series. 

A doodle from me: Twos.



When you have exhausted all the possibilities: remember this. You haven't.  Thomas Edison

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12. Uplift: Respect Trying

Hi, folks! This month I'm calling the series Uplift. The idea of uplift is to improve socially, culturally, morally, spiritually, etc.  We are all hungry, our hearts beating, struggling for contentment and a sweet spot to thrive. This is part of journey for uplift. 

This week I'm going to wander some, but I hope that you capture the uplift from my words and find ways to thrive.

Here is a little story from my life. Recently, someone expressed disappointment in my lack of faith in in my writing and art. She seemed very assured that my work is total genius and the fact that I'm not doing more with it is a crying shame. She derided for my lack of respect for my own abilities. Part of me wanted to scream: You think I don't have faith in myself? You think I don't believe that my work is profound? You don't think I've tried to find a place for my voice? I had to squelch the wave of anger inside me and recognize that someone believed in my work passionately. I felt gratefulness for the connection. 

Writing is a passion of mine. Almost every writer has a different reason why he or she writes. For me it is to connect with an audience. I want to say something that will kindle light within multitudes of readersI literally ache with this need to connect. I am seeking an army of friends. This is a soul hunger within me. Some people want shiny stickers, truth on the page, I long for scores of letters and emails from people who have been moved by my art. I want to write back and rejoice in our connection. 

My major writing goal is to travel close to the bone, and hence I put a lot of myself on the page. Here is some full disclosure honesty: my book, out this year, PLUMB CRAZY, was an intimate journey for me. My veins were opened and blood poured onto the page. My craziness. My laughter. My sadness. I know a few of you fell in love with my book, but that number is basically limited to my dearest friends and few new dearest friends. Of course, I TREASURE those who were moved by my literary journey, but I had great expectations that more people would love this book.  

I've considered a new vocation of howling at the moon, but the better angels of my nature have appeared. My better angels whisper: all journeys bring gifts into your life. This is so true. I've learned a few things this year. My readers don't want prizes or swag. They don't want curse words. They really appreciate uber careful editing. I also see that my wheelhouse is sweetness, kindness, friendship and family, hence my sexy cover isn't exactly connecting for many. These are all good things to know. 

I am not done. As I move forward on my creative journey, I plan to avoid the pop culture glue of brittle success and positive thinking, and guide my heart toward completeness and authentic thinking. I find denying failure and negative thoughts as a worthless endeavor. I embrace failure and negativity. These are a part of me, but I am so much more. I am joy and light, too.  I am sinner and saint.  I am angel and devil. I am art and craft. I am ridiculous and profound. I am mouse and lion. For me, true life is about being open to all this contradiction and embracing all of it with a tender heart. I will continue to put my garbled real on the page.

I will keep trying. I can respect this even if I ultimately fail. Giving up. This is the thing I can't respect. So stay the course or plot a new one.  You may chose to abandon a dream but never abandon dreaming. 

Come back next week for more Uplift. 

Here is a doodle for you: "Cone Flower."




Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

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13. Uplift: Take Off the Mask

Hi folks, This month I'm calling the series Uplift. The idea of uplift is to improve socially, culturally, morally, spiritually, etc.  We are all hungry, our hearts beating, struggling for contentment and a sweet spot to thrive. This is part of journey for uplift. 

Today was  a big creative day for me. I went to a workshop with Jodell Sadler pacing workshop with SCBWI Brazos Valley. I had a big uplift at this workshop. The idea that I found so provocative is to stop keeping an arm's length  from your story. Of course this true, but immersion in the fictive dream is an absolutely terrifying place to be. You have to open yourself up. 

I find that I want hide behind a mask in my writing. It's like in the early days of theater when actors put masks in front of their faces. The mask was supposed to help the actor vanish in to the role. It was used to transform the actor, to help the audience pretend to be someone else. Finally someone figured it out, if you drop the mask, it's much easier to project the pretend life -- that the audience would connect with the actor's emotional story in a more realistic way if the wooden mask were removed and the audience has access to flesh and bone. 

I struggle to put down the mask. If I put it down, my flaws show. People see my double chin, the age spots on cheeks, the asymmetry of my eyes, the end of my bulbous nose. How will they every connect with my heart behind those eyes? There is this nakedness that must happen to write a true and viable story. It's a thing that resonates in me. It takes bravery to allow others to know you. We are all messed up. That's just the truth. Allowing others to see the blemishes also allows them to see the heart.  Peel off the mask and let the sinew and bone show. Your soul will never escape if mask it. 

I hope that this bit of uplift helps you on your path. I will be back next week with more uplift.

Here is a doodle for the week: "Star in her pocket"


And a quote for your pocket too! 

Take this soul
Stranded in some skin and bones
Take this soul
And make it sing


Paul Hewston

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14. Uplift: Maybe the Whole Universe is Alive

Hi folks, I love November. The air is getting a little crisp, and I might have to put away my sandals soon. This month I'm calling the series Uplift. The idea of uplift is to improve socially, culturally, morally, spiritually, etc.  We are all hungry, our hearts beating, struggling for contentment and a sweet spot to thrive. This week I'm going to respond to a quote by Stephen King article  in Rolling Stone because it got me thinking. 

This statement was the one that caught me though the whole article is good. I've thought about it a lot this week: "maybe all intelligent races hit this level of violence and technological advances that they can't get past. And then they just puff out. You hit the wall and that's it." Something deep with in me just goes all "Gene Roddenberry" at this statement, you know, that whole positive view of the future of the ending of wars, moving on from money, and  focusing on exploring the galaxy.  Maybe we rise up. Maybe be we do better. Maybe the whole universe is alive, and we just haven't found that way to perceive it. We started out with smoke signals back in the day and now we have interwebs. Who knows what is next?  

I don't watch the news much because they are not in the business of sharing what is good and right about our lives. The bright light of gratitude and goodness doesn't seem to draw in the throngs like doom and despair. It's a little weird to me too, because everyone knows focusing on the positive is a sure way to success. You have to deliberately cultivate a life that sees good. I know I'm a broken pot like so many of us, but  I have seen glory in a rock on the side of the road. I've seen it in my cat rolling on the sidewalk. I've seen it in the tree growing next to my driveway. Why can't the Voice in Suburbia says something useful and uplifting? 

I find it helpful to put away the troubling thoughts in life, and do the Scarlet O'Hara thing, "I'll think about that tomorrow" and turn my thoughts toward lofty ideas. This desire has helped me respond positively to the suffering and degradation of life and find new directions. I think of this response like flinging open my arms and embracing the moment. I leap in faith. My deep-seated belief is good triumphs, death is not the end, and love never fails. I leap with these thoughts. 

So what is the end game of this little rambling? There's an updraft, dear, perhaps you should jump in it and see where it takes you. Sounds good. 

I will be back next week with more on Uplift. 

One more chicken doodle: "Chicken Angels."


And a quote for your pocket.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.  Abraham Lincoln 

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15. Chicken by Chicken: Shaken to the Core

Hi folks,

I'm continuing the series of Chicken by Chicken. This week I'm writing about being shaken to the core. Have you ever had a period a time when you are working, and you are just not feeling IT? What is IT? IT is a sense of assurance that you will find your way, a deep internal knowledge that your work will reach others, and some kind of genetic thing that you are meant to do what you are doing. This feeling of IT has been with me for decades. I think that Socrates called this his divine something that guided him along his path. This divine something never told him what to do, but nudged him this way and that to find the sweet spots that would rocket him forward along the river of destiny.

So this IT feeling has left me.

I don't know exactly when. A few months back, I think. You can see it in my recent blogs. I'm digging into the bedrock to hold on. I want the feeling back, but I don't know how to make it return. I'm living my own little Ecclesiastes, Chapter 1. Meaningless. Meaningless. But I'm fighting back with there is a time and season for everything under heaven. There is a season to dig up the ground. And here I am digging. What have I found so far? Long walks lift me up. I think. I sing. I watch butterflies. It's good for the soul. Kind thoughts also help. I try to think of what I would tell someone that is the same place I am. Then I say those things to myself. I listen to Burl Ives songs. Here is a link.  I say my prayers. I keep on working, even though it is slow going. I do little artist things. Go to lectures. Hang out with other artists. Find ways to be helpful.

I'm shaken to the core, but I am confident that what can't be shaken will remain. I'm holding to that right now. I have a deep desire to do more as an artist, to jump up to something more profound, but I didn't see this piece of the journey ahead. I have no idea where to jump. I'm whispering hourly, "Heart find your way."

Every little soul will shine. We all go through deep waters. Rise up! Don't give up. I will be back next week.

For doodles this month I'm featuring doodles from my ebook Halloween project: Chicken Take Over Halloween.   This one is "Robot Chickens."



A quote for your pocket. 

Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.
― Franz Kafka

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16. Chicken by Chicken: Accepting Who We Are.

Hi, folks, this week is another response  blog. I heard a song called Constellations by Brendan James and it resonated with me. This is a long ramble, a thought journey, inspired by that song, and I hope that you find something to take with you.

I feel like don't really understand the world, and it makes me cry. I feel so out of step with the seasons and times. I can't stand reading the news, or even checking out my Facebook half the time. There are too many wars. Nation against nation. Neighbor against neighbor. Here inside me, I hunger to see people come together, to take a deep breath and just figure out where to go from here. I hope bridges are built, coalitions are made, and every voice is heard. I dream that we would all listen and find better ways. I don't want to join the madding crowd that wants to heckle the stupid, drop bombs, and dehumanize others, all in the name of a better world.

I see the Universe at night and how it is able to spin out wondrous things and at the same time wreak great destruction. I feel the transience of life and yet eternity hums in my heart. Everyone I know is trying to get through the day without dwelling on the darkness. Some take the "be positive about everything" route. Some take the "find a cause" route. I swing between the route of despair and the route of hope, that I might be the voice that breaks through the noise and says something helpful.

I have had unshakable confidence throughout my life that if I got a chance on a stage that I would move the hearts of those shivering on the edges. I have believed that I would grow like a wild weed, but now see so clearly that my life is just a breath and is gone. A Monarch butterfly was caught in between the window and the screen in my house. Some hapless caterpillar crawled between the window and screen and formed a chrysalis. The butterfly emerged and now would die if I did not figure out a gentle way to remove the screen and let it go on it's way to the graveyards of Mexico for the day of dead. When I figured out a way to set the butterfly free, it occurred to me that all of my life might be just for that. Perhaps those beautiful wings have more purpose than I will ever have.

This brings me to the heart of this thought journey. I have hungered for purpose. I have believed all my life that a day was coming that the gifts within me would become visible, like the span over us -- Orion, the Pleiades, the evening star, the moon, and the swath of the Milky Way. I have believed my gifts would come clear like those lights in the heavens. But here I am making less than minimum wage and imploding under the stress of another miss in terms of my intended goal.

In the end we are not in control of our story, and hence I must embrace the days given us. I find embracing the smallness of who I am is difficult. Megalomania is expected in rock stars, but not here in Suburbia. I have to laugh at myself a little and laugh at my little dramas.There is certainly a ridiculousness to me.

Ah, you are just a onion flower in the yard. Most folks will pass by the onion flower but, hey, go ahead and bloom. Touch ten hearts, fifty hearts, A copper star for you.  Not the silver, not the gold. That's all, dear. Work it out.

Thank you for dropping by and remember every little thing shines.  See you next week.

This week is a page from my Halloween project: CHICKENS TAKE OVER HALLOWEEN. 


Here is a quote for your pocket.
The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.John Locke.

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17. Chicken by Chicken: My love/hate relationship with the Kindle

Hi, folks, as promised my amazing chicken doodle project will be featured at the end of this post!  I am over the top busy right now, but that is a good thing. This week I continue my "Chicken by Chicken" series.  This week's topic I'm talking about this Mess: "book products," Kindle, and why I feel there is big time mucking up going on with something I love. I'm in a ranting/ramble mood. I hope something in here resonates with you.


I'm totally not against writers making money. In fact, I am totally for it, but the technology books has sort of ruined books for now. I have this thing called the Kindle. I buy books on said Kindle. I sell books on the Kindle. I use it daily. But I am as not as happy as I could be! I have formed an opinion. I love this Kindle technology, but I hate the business side of the Kindle, that has turned book selling into a big box store enterprise with a store interface that is over the top annoying. The wonky Kindle interface makes finding good books VERY difficult. You can't trust the reviews because businesses exist to make reviews. You can't trust the ratings--people pay for stacks of ratings.You can't trust the search or rank features because Amazon is a publisher too and, yeah, they want to sell their books most-est....

So I'm stuck in a bookstore that has an agenda, and that agenda is to deliver me the content they love (cough,they've negotiated the best deals with the publishers), and curtail my access to any other content. Let me say this here: superior technology is not ruining the pleasure of buying books, it's the inferior book business of the book technological innovators. These technology gurus have invented an awesome way to deliver books to us all. I totally cheer that, but dang it, they are not content delivery innovators. If I could buy a Kindle and rip out their "buyer" interface I would do it in instant. I want Kindle to change. 

I want to buy books from whoever I want on the Kindle, from Mom and Pop Bookstore on the Kindle. Period. I should be able to put what ever book buyer interface I want on my Kindle!  You remember when every had to use Explorer? That is so over. Currently, I use Google to find books. I use bloggers to find books I want to read. I ask my friends what is hot. It's a way better method than the Kindle store. My method is OK but not great. Technology innovators please figure out a way to separate the book interface from the store interface! Can you imagine if the printing press had locked up selling only specific content back in the day? Boo, Kindle. Boo.

Here's the best way to buy books. Every reader in the world knows this. Mom and Pop decide to open a bookstore. They decide to make it a fun place to serve coffee and offer books.  They do not sell tons of toys, games, and Doctor Who cookie jars (Okay, I will allow the cookie jars because I am a fan.) Mom and Pop read all the time. All their friends read. They love to chat up books. Their employees read. This crowd does not care who wrote the book, who published the book, how much marketing was spent on the book. They care that they like the book.  They care that they offer books they hate too because these folks ought to have a free speech flag flying above their door. I love Mom and Pop. 

The downside of Mom and Pop, they sell a book for $20 that can be purchased on the Kindle for $3. Overhead is a problem. Listen to me, we all have fewer dollars to pass around. This is a growing trend. I hear Marie Antoinette telling me to eat cake if I don't have bread, and we all know how it turned out for her. We need an innovative online way to sell content to readers on the Kindle that respects that some of us lack moola. And for me from small city Texas without even an independent bookstore,

 I need everyday folk access.I want independent stores on my Kindle. Allow the middle man into your business, kind of like channels on TV. Make it happen. 

Okay, rant is over. I feel better.  I will be back next week with more of my series. 

Here is my cover or my chicken project.  Here is the link. 



Here is a doodle for your pocket:
It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. Epitctetus

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18. Chicken by Chicken: Chopping Your Own Path in the Wilderness of Art

Hi folks, I am working hard right now: a little fun project that features my chicken doodles (more to come about that) along with the first draft of my next novel (Top Secret Title). On my chicken doodles, I am an amazing chicken doodler.  This is, of course, self-aggrandizing praise and has no meaning, except to inform you that I really like my chicken doodles. Prepare to be dazzled.

Anyway, on to this week's topic: chopping your own path in the wilderness of art is akin to breaking new ground in a garden. It's back breaking work. The yields are going to low until the ground gets its mojo going.  Weeds will war with your newly turned land. Everyone will admire your work, and at the same everyone will say you aren't doing it right. They may mention your method is too complicated or too different. Or that you are growing a crop that no one wants. Many will say you are too obscure. Dear Lord, apparently there is no room in this world for the unusual.

Pardon me while I howl over the Grand Canyon. I like the echo.

I love art that goes into the wilderness. I had to wake up to this fact a while ago. I'm an outsider. I've dedicated my life to chopping new paths.  Like most folks on who travel into the wilderness, I have no idea where I am going. I have a feeling something is out there, somewhere, beyond -- it's difficult to say. I am pioneering. Like Willa Cather said in O Pioneers, “A pioneer should have imagination, should be able to enjoy the idea of things more than the things themselves.” You must embrace the  unseen if you want your own patch in the wilderness.

Here I give you encouragement to follow you crazy ideas. Yes! Here are your new words: Why not! If the road isn't working for you. Cut into the field. Look up at the stars as you go. I get plenty of strength from the stars. There are new patterns to be explored, There are new stories to be told. To understand now you might have to look to the future or the past. How can I be so sure. I see this written in the stars. You don't have to know where you are going. I think that there is room for pioneering in art. I believe we need unique voices. Don't let folks shut you down with their fear of the unknown.

Finally, if you got down this far, you're probably a fan of my work.  I have a book out there called PLUMB CRAZY. If you can give it some reader love, I would appreciate it.

Here's a newsy item. the Cybils, a bloggers award for children's literature,  are open for nominations. You can nominate your favorite books. 

I will be back next week with more musing.

Here is a doodle: Gandalf Chicken


If you are going down a road and don't like what's in front of you and look behind you and don't like what you see, get off the road. Create a new path! Maya Angelou

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19. Vulnerability

Howdy, folks: Plumb Crazy is coming out in paperback. I'm celebrating with the Book and Boots giveaway. Enter to win a signed Plumb Crazy and $100 Gift Card to Cavender's Authentic Western Wear. Follow this link of details. http://tinyurl.com/mv2ku8y.  I so greatly appreciate the support that has come my way for Plumb Crazy, and thank you  all for every tweet, mention and, of course, every ebook you have purchased. 


This week, I'm going to offer a rambling chat about vulnerability. I came by the knowledge of vulnerability through a difficult journey that involved a lot of shame and fear. I'm going to sort of wander here. Perhaps one of my twists or turns will be what you need. 

My vulnerability story goes like this. Once upon a time, I used to dream, hope, and pine that I would write stories that would capture the entire world. I also desired this feeling that I was connecting work with others and being true to my art. But I was coin with two sides. I also wanted to be wildly successful, to make enough money to help my kids go to college, to see my books on the shelves of stores across the world, to see my name on the list of favorite books, and to see shiny stickers on my books. 

I worked hard and made no sales. I was so far from the coin; there are no words for the shame and fear I felt and cause other around me to suffer. It was stupid and awful. One day I realized I could basically write anything and shoved my art to the back of my desk and wielded my craft. The purpose was to make some money. I mean every $30 is a pair of blue jeans, a meal out for my family, or a chance I went about writing books like a business and that did lead to publication, but also to a  terrible discomfort and uneasiness that I was somehow missing the boat of myself. I went on like this for a decade, but then began to back away from the blue jean work.  

I don't know what to say except that losing my art was like losing myself. Art has to be like the morning bird song for me. It must be the vastness of the universe. It must  be the twinkle in a eye. For me, art can't be about making money. This makes me want to curse a little.  Money allows for vacations, extras, and freedom. I also  live in a society that the measure stick of success is fame and fortune. Art infuses me with worthiness. Losing the extras has been hard, gaining an internal sense of worth has been priceless.  

I turned 50 this week and here is a true confession. I've felt like a failure for much of my adult life because I've focused on the negative about myself. I've felt deep shame because I suck at so many things many find success at. I suck greatly at making money, like I was born into a world that put its foot on my neck and laughed at me because I didn't have a chance in hell. My shame has gone deep. I also suck at academia. I've been so ashamed of this. Many of my friends are so freaking bright and pick up degrees like those things grow on the side of the road. I have always struggled in school. I was lucky to get a B.A. I was the bottom of my class. I do learn, but not the "right way." I think the education world is a lot like the business world, not my forte. 

Also with 50, I'm embraced the good about me. I'm a good helper, and I dwell in a place where I create for the joy of creating and nothing more.  Few writers are privileged in this life with the opportunity to make connection and money. I used to be green with envy about that fact. That has faded away. I am happy for all the art that binds us together.  The binding is a group effort. My stitches count. I am as sure of this as gravity. Here is the way I see it. Time to strip naked and stand on the edge of the road. My form may not capture the interest of many.  Many, many people might pass me by. I'm holding my head high. Every little thing shines. It does. 

So in my vulnerability, I hope you read Plumb Crazy because it is part of me, the depths of me on a page, and that on those pages that you might find part of yourself. I have found myself on the pages of book many times. I hope that you laugh when you read my pages because every giggle, chuckle, and smile is part of why I am here. I didn't follow the rules when I wrote Plumb Crazy. I followed my heart. Writing for me is a joy. There is something so uplifting about finding the voice of a story and then spinning out a tale that it brings to tears and laughter and a feeling of spread wings and flying. Seek it. 

I'm working harder to follow my heart now than ever before. I am trying to add to the ancient paths of story, and I hope that my efforts inspire you. I hope that you join me in prayer and thoughts that I will find good places to share my gifts. Be vulnerable. 

I will be back next week with more thoughts. 

Here is a great TED talk from Brene Brown about vulnerability.   This is really about the journey of your life.  

Here is a doodle for your enjoyment. 

Here is a quote for your pocket. I hope the write the greatest poem. 

This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.  Walt Whitman

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20. Should My Work Be Branded?

Hi. folks, this week is a response blog to Janet Lee Carey's post "I am not a brand."  For more on this topic, check out a manifesto statement from Maureen Johnson. 

This is another meandering post.  I felt fire and pain while writing this one. I will wander here some. I hope that something strikes a chord.

Branding is a human activity. We are inherently drawn to symbols. We slap them on everything from our faith to our hamburgers. A good brand offers a clear message. It also offers assurance you will receive a similar experience with branded products. A good brand will also stir up a targeted audience emotionally, will motivate a customer to place money on the counter, and will bring back customers again and again.

Here's a question I circle around. Should my work be branded?

On the surface, it seems to make sense. A book is a commodity. It's sold at the store with a publishing brand stamped on the book's spine. Beyond this, authors who offer readers similar fare time and time again usually find the most success. If the author writes one thriller, then writes ten more, that usually attracts a greater readership. The writer will have to tend that stream of content for a lifetime. Hey, this is a business, folks.

Branding helps writers stand out in the marketplace. So, authors, get in line. Learn the formulas. Refine your message and sell it! Be all bossy and pushy about that message. Hog every stage. What you have to say is the most important thing. To Market!

Sigh. Do you ever think you were born into the wrong world? The problem with "comodifiying" the story journey and branding imagination is this for me: We are all quicksilver. You can't really pin us down.  We shift and change on you. We are fickle. We are not who we were yesterday. We will not be the same tomorrow. If I go all branding on myself, instead of being who I am, I ditch who I am. Not okay.

For me storytelling is an ancient human art. This art circles around two questions: Who are we? What do we want?  These are the two things you own in this life. No degradation can put out the spark of you. Your hunger for what you want will cause you to risk everything. You may have to join a team who dared to have a dream and ended up martyred. But take to heart, they shaped the future.

Storytelling is too precious to mankind to force it into the branding mold. I'm with a little band of others that hop and holler, "Your heart, that's the holy ground! It sure is! Here is a lodestone for you." That said, we have no intention of sparing your feelings. We understand suffering has a purpose.We are immersed in the life-saving art of creating lodestones for the human heart, story maps that will help readers navigate through the rough seas of their lives.

A great book sets you on a journey toward your true north. It will turn you away from stupidity. It will rattle your cage. It will break your bonds. It will help you understand your days. It will help you find your best possible self. No question!

I hope you create something priceless. If you get some money for that, well, people need to eat. If you don't get money for it, well, people don't live on bread alone.

Peace.

Here is a doodle for you.


and a quote for your pocket from the great poet Bob Dylan:

Come writers and critics who prophesy with your pen
And keep your eyes wide the chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon for the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who that it's namin'
For the loser now will be later to win.

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21. Inspiration Must be Cultivated

Hi folks,

Inspiration doesn't just show up when you want it to.It's something that must be drummed up from the earth of you. Imagine you are a garden --Butchart Garden, a Japanese tea garden, a rose garden-- you pick.  This garden did not just happen. It took planning, work, and weather to create this dazzling place. A cultivated garden bursts with inspiration. The ground of you is the same and to be a place of inspiration, you'll have to work at it.

First up, you have to be rich ground.  You will enrich your ground by reading books -- lots of books, all kinds of books. This adds nutrients to the soil of you. You will absorb fantastic ways of approaching stories. You'll find rhythms, turns and surprises that will inform your work. You'll become of aware of things that don't work. Books will take you on life changing journeys. Without this influx of story, you will struggle to find inspiration.

There is more to the enrichment process than simply reading. You will open up to experience.  Douse yourself with regular bucketfuls of the arts. Engage your senses. Participate in the art. Draw, sing, dance--. If you like to bake culinary masterpieces, go for it. Don't let anyone sniff down their nose at your lowbrow pursuits. If some bachelor reality show inspires, watch it. If some monster truck rally appeals, go. Allow yourself freedom, and you will be welcoming inspiration into your life.

Another important enrichment step: go on adventures. Don't let anyone define what an adventure is to you. If you find visiting tiny off-the-road museums meaningful, huzzah! If you like a walk on the beach, huzzah! If you want to jump out of an airplane. OK. If your idea of adventure is shopping in the garment district in New York, go for it. If your idea of adventure is visiting a website like Atlas Obscura and heading out, so be it. Allow yourself to follow your heart, and you will be opened up for inspiration.

There is more to the cultivation process. All this enrichment will help you on your inspiration road but you must also work. You must work regularly in your creative area to easily access inspiration. This requires you to open up your definition of what work is. Work for me isn't just writing. It's staring out the window. It's taking a nap perchance to dream. It's moving through the manuscript backwards looking for typos. All this work helps prime me for inspired moments.

You've added nutrients to the soil, you've been working, but you need the right weather to make this garden thrive. You know certain things grow in the desert. Certain things grow in the rain forest. Your climate is important. Are you hanging out with a bunch of folks who have no artistic vision? Is anyone supporting you as an artist? No? You MUST expand your circle of friends. Surround yourself with the best and the brightest. Be sure you are in the right climate for this garden to thrive. This is a necessary element for inspiration.

Work on the garden of you this week and you will find that inspiration springs up. It just does! I will be back next week another series on Writer Myths. :)  

Here is a doodle:


Here is a quote for your pocket.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart. Helen Keller

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22. Literary Aspirations with Sharknado Thrown In

Hi, folks,


A confession. I have literary aspirations but with some serious Sharknado thrown in. That moment in the movie where the guy slices open a shark with chainsaw, that never gets old for me.  I want to write something meaningful and uplifting, but you know with some geekiness in the mix. So I have a I-want-to-write-something-important complex, but I also want to create something so epic-geek-weird-that-it-creates-a-cult-following-lasting-for-generations. I know this is messed up. I'm good with that.  

It's time for me to write another book. Part of me want to cling to the myth that I can study the formulas and create a bestseller, but  I know the deeper truth -- I'm blowing on some dice and am about to throw them out on a table. I wish that so many decisions weren't a crap shoot. I wish life wasn't that way. But I am living on a molten ball of lava that is covered by a thin skin of rock material near a massive fusion reactor (the Sun). Life is fragile, unpredictable, and I have a mere heartbeat of time to share my thoughts with the universe. I have little control and have learned I must take my chances. These are my only days. 

So I started a new book this week. I have no idea if anyone will ever like it. I have my literary aspirations with my geek slant as usual. This time I'm adapting Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing into a down-home Texas mold. I'm making my choices. I will live with them. Life offers no guarantees.

I'm taking my chances. I hope that you take yours too, and if that includes some Sharknado, so be it!

I will be back next week with more.

Here is a doodle:


As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world - that is the myth of the atomic age - as in being able to remake ourselves. Mahatmas Ghandi

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23. For the Wallflowers and Those Picked Last

Hi, folks, this is a meandering post, but maybe I've said something that resonates.


Where do we fit? There is a day we all come to, at least I hope so. On this day we allow ourselves to be ourselves.  We embrace the fact that we are whatever we are-- animal, mineral, vegetable, you know whatever. We embrace our contradictions and our harmonies. This is awareness began to grow in me when I wrote my Rembrandt book. Van Rijn's message was so clear. He was after capturing the shadow and light he perceived in the world. His self-portraits speak so much to me. He drew his face over and over, recording the ravages of time, the gifts of wisdom, and the emerging soul, His art stamped the idea of capturing the world as it is into my artistic vision.

I tend to be on the edges of the party of life. I like to find a corner and a good conversation, The rest of time I hang out by myself. In groups, I like to sit up front, in the back or along the edge. I'm only a mild introvert; this edge thing is something else.  I march to the beat of my own drum. It's not something I want to do. It something that I do whether I want to or not. I'm out of step with the times. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes its unfortunate, but at the end of the day it is me. Rembrandt opened my eyes to just being what I am and being comfortable with that. 

One decision that I've made over last few years is to read what interests me. There are entire movements in the book world that just go right over my head. You know whatever shadows and lights draw me in, I go after them. I don't have to read the rest of it. It makes me a really eclectic reader. I'm good with that. I've given myself permission to skip books that I don't connect with , even if everyone loves that book. I also get to read whatever cheesy popular read that I want to. I have freedom. It's alright be out of step.If you are out of step with world, embrace it. Stylizing yourself to fit in just doesn't really bring out great art in my opinion. The space to be yourself will help you bloom. 

If you are a wallflower in the world or have been picked last more times than you can count, don't worry about it. Watch the world from your corner and do something amazing with the knowledge. Put that "picked last" into perspective. I mean, folks on the edges generally have big imaginations. I find that they have schemes percolating within. That's a good place to be. Stay away from the myth that you must find your place. It may not exist yet, and you may be carving it out. 

Will be back next week. 

Here is the doodle:

Here is a quote for your pocket: 

The finest clothing made is a person's own skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this. Mark Twain

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24. The Indomitable Struggle for Meaning

Hi folks, This is a real ramble this week. I was out having breakfast at my favorite little breakfast stop yesterday. It was late morning and I was the only one in the place. I took some pages of my WIP, bought my obligatory cup of iced tea (this is Texas), and picked up the provided newspapers to sift through. I still like to read a newspaper one or two times a week. It brings back warm memories of growing up when my family shared the Sunday paper. 

One of the employees was reading from her phone. 

"Oh, I love Shel Silverstein," she exclaimed.  

Her fellow workers all chimed back similar love.  Immediately. 

"Which one are you reading?" one called.

The phone reader called out, "You have to hear this. Hug O'War."

She read it. Tables stopped being wiped. The kitchen grew silent. The manager put down his tablet.

When she finished, I heard murmured happy comments of how much they all loved Shel Silverstein and how they have treasured him their whole lives (18 to 25 years). They called out his book titles; Light in the Attic, The Giving Tree, and Falling Up! And when this conversation ended they launched into the The Giver by Lois Lowery. 

I felt like a very happy fly on the wall.This conversation brought me close to my life's mission -- I'm caught up in the indomitable struggle for meaning.  I know, I have a life mission. I'm fighting the sound and fury part of life. I'm kicking against entropy.

This hunger to share something of who we are and what we want feels like rocket fuel inside me. Unfortunately, failure is an option that I have run into again and again. You see, I really want to create a morning in a breakfast shop in the future where someone reads from their phone, shares my words, and heads nod in happy communing over these familiar words. I so want to contribute a verse. 

I keep searching for that spark of meaning that will light the fire of human souls. I call this an indomitable struggle because I will not quit. I will not, but I must be honest. I've been feeling like Moses looking over into a promised land this week, wondering if I'm just barred because I hit a rock in frustration to make water flow. I'm feeling like Apollo Thirteen astronauts who got  mighty close to the moon but their story became one of just getting home and the wonders of duct tape. The worst of it, I'm feeling like the member of a host of women whose quiet serviceable lives are lost amid the clamoring voices of the flashier members of our species. 

I am the most pedestrian creature to have a far flung dream. I'm off the beaten track, dwelling in the yawning wilderness of suburbia, You really don't hear much about the "Voice that Cried from Surburbia!" I live in a "little box" on a street of ticky-tacky houses. I'm a housewife and a mother. I think the government calls me unemployed. My everyday projects are a garage sale and going grocery shopping. I might mow the lawn.  

And yet I'm caught up in this indomitable struggle for meaning. Here I am, hoping to rattle the bones. You know, a weed will spring up in any crack in the concrete. I hope that you hold onto your struggle. I hope you find meaning on this journey of life. I hope that you share it. Bloom, even in that impossible place. I have a deep seated belief that "every little thing is going to shine."

Will be back next week with more musing. 

Here is a doodle.



In our life there is a single color, as on an artist's palette, which provides the meaning of life and art. It is the color of love. Marc Chagall

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25. How Play Helps Me Find My Groove

Hi folks, I've been pressured this week. I have a deadline looming. It's a few months off, but it mocks me from the distance. A ton of work is between me and that deadline. My creative self is just not happy being forced to perform. The writing is feeling very mechanical, and I've been feeling edgy. I can do the ton of work ahead, but I have to have an infusion of fun or this is going to be a dismal project.

As a professional writer, I don't have the luxury of waiting for a muse or finding the right mood. That said, without the muse or the mood, I struggle to get anything on the page that is infused with awesomeness. Without finding my groove, my work is painful and generally worthless and uninspired.  To find my groove, I have to give myself time to play, a lot of time to play, This week I started up a project that is really for the fun of it. It's a silly project that is self-indulgent, silly, and sarcastic. No one wants this project. It's just for me. I delight in it.

Allowing myself to do something that lights me up, whether anyone else cares or not, fuels me with energy. The project has one targeted audience and that is myself. I am always working on projects like this. I doodle. I bake, I crochet, I knit, I sew, I sing, I play my flute, pluck on my dulcimer, weed my flowerbeds, chase with the cats or let them chase me, joke with my kids, write silly bits. I play. There are reasons for this creative play. One, I must be able to finish things because it makes me feel jazzed. Two, I must be free to complete something for my own self, something that sends a sense of accomplishment into my soul. Three,  I get to call the flaws in my work character.

Play is like taking a tub of olive oil and tumping it on my head. It a lubricant that cuts down resistance. I jump into my work and slide forward with a rush of speed. I'm ungummed from the commercialization and commodifying of imagination. I find that sweet place of the song bird, croaking frog, or shimmering cicadas.  I find what heart tells me to do. The dreaded deadline no longer looms. It's just a date on a calendar that happen to coincide with the marvelous creative journey I'm on. This dear readers, is the GROOVE.

I hope you have some fun and find your groove this week!  I will be back with more musing next week.

Here is a doodle.


Here is a quote for your pocket.

Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been. ~Mark Twain, Following the Equator

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