Sunday, April 28, 2013

"if you want to write"

This week's post comes to you compliments of Brenda Ueland, from her work titled, "If You Want to Write--A Book About Art, Independence and Spirit."

At the end of the book she sums it up this way: If you want to write:
  • Believe that you have talent, are original and have something important to say.

  • Believe that it is good to work. Work with love and think about liking it when you do. Think of it as easy and interesting. It is a privilege. There is nothing hard about it but your own anxious vanity and fear of failure.
  • Write freely and wrecklessly in your first drafts.

  • Tackle anything you want to--novels, plays, poetry, anything.
  • Don't be afraid to write a bad story. To discover what is wrong with it write two more and then go back to it.

  • Don't fret or be ashamed of what you have written in the past. Often it is a way of anticipating critcism, saying hurriedly, " I know this is awful!" before anyone else does. Fight this tendency which is, much of it, due not to splendid modesty, but to a lack of self-respect. Very bad and very cowardly. It is so conceited and timid to be ashamed of one's mistakes. Of course they are mistakes. Go on to the next thing.

  • Try to discover your true, honest, untheoretical self.

  • Don't think of a tangle of nerves in the skull that will not work unless you drink coffee.

         Think of yourself as an incandescent power, illluminated perhaps and forever talked to by God and his messengers. Remember how wonderful you are, what a miracle!
  • If you are never satisfied with what you write, that is a good sign. It means that your vision can see so far that it is hard to measure up to it...The only unfortunate people are the glib ones, immediately satisfied with their work. To them the ocean is only knee-deep.

  • When you are discouraged, remember what van Gogh said: "If you hear a voice within you saying, "You are no painter." then paint by all means, and that voice will be silenced.

  • Don't be afraid of yourself when you write. Don't check-rein yourself. If you are afraid of being sentimental, for heaven's sake, be as sentimental as you can. Then you will probably pass through to the other side and slough off sentimentality because now you understand it and really don't care about it.

  • Don't appraise yourself, wondering if you are better or worse than other writers.
Kinda makes you want to begin again, doesn't it?
"We start out in our lives as little children,
full of light and the clearest vision.
Then we go to school and then comes on the great army
of schoolteachers with their critical pencils,
and parents and older brothers and cantakerous friends,
and finally the Great Murderer of the Imagination--
a world of unceasing, unkind, dinky, prissy
--Brenda Ueland--
So far, the response to the release of "Empower! Women's Stories of Breakthrough, Discovery, and Triumph" has been overwhelmingly positive! I know I couldn't put it down once I started reading everyones' stories. You can order it here: My chapter is titled, "Begin Again", of course! Thanks for your support.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

down time

We all deserve a little "down time" now and then, don't you think? Even Mother Nature can't be at the top of her game every day of every week of every season. Which is why it's the middle of April and parts of the country are still buried under snow...
...and those of us who have been spared are still worried our tulips will freeze.
Although, to her credit, Mother Nature did share a moment of inspiration with us last week when she let loose with four days of glorious, though unseasonably...dare I say it?...HOT weather. But now it's back to the same old thing--the cold, the wind, the mud--just when things were looking up. It makes you wonder. Will spring ever come to stay? Will summer ever get here? Does Mother Nature just need a little "down time"?
This comes to mind because that's just how my writing has been going lately. I've been slogging back and forth through the last three chapters of my WIP for weeks, not making much progress.

Except for a rare moment of inspiration, I have been stuck. I sometimes wonder if I'll ever get to the end. If I'll ever move on.
Like Mother Nature, I think we all need a little "down time" in our writing, because, in Brenda Ueland's words,
"Inspiration comes very slowly and quietly...
The imagination needs moodling--
long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering."
Patience. Optimism. Nuturing. You can no more rush a thought into being than you can hurry the seasons along.
Eventually, summer will get here. Sooner or later the story will finish itself.
Do you ever experience "down time"? Do you let it discourage you? Are you open to what will come of it?
" is the way you are to feel when you are writing--
happy, truthful, and free,
with that wonderful contented absorption
of a child stringing beads.
With complete self-trust."
--from Brenda Ueland in "If You Want to Write"--
Next week I may work up the courage to share an idea about another book with you.

Monday, April 15, 2013

"EMPOWER!": now available

This week marked an important milestone for me, the aspiring writer. One hundred copies of our book, "Empower!--Stories of Breakthrough, Discovery and Triumph" arrived at my house the same day the book appeared on Amazon. We are now officially open for business!

I say "we" because twenty-five of us contributed to the book, and I want ot give credit where credit is due. In fact, today I am going to introduce you a few more of the women who share their stories in this book. If you are ready to break through your fear, overcome the obstacles to your fulfillment, and embrace your life, the stories in this book will inspire you to share your special gifts with the world.

Mandy Cunningham is a marketing and lifestyle expert who strives to be an agent of inspiration and positive energy in the world. She is a founder and president of West Virginia Young Professional Women in Energy (YPWE). Her passion is to inspire women to succeed in life and in business. Learn more about her at She writes about difficult decisions and making the right choices for ourselves:

"...take time to develop your dreams,
nurture your passions and
determine what is non-negotiable in your life.
Define the life that you want to live
and hold tight to the path that will produce that life."
Susan Purifoy is the director of Convey Services at Copper Services in Atlanta, Georgia. She learned to persevere against the odds following a disabling stroke at the age of 41. You can learn more about her journey at She writes:
Susan Purifoy New Photo
"That's the resolution of the whole thing,
my ability to accept who I am today and to see others around me.
I know that my stroke was a gift
to help me focus less on the woman in the mirror,
to pay attention to life as it presents itself, and to encourage others who  struggle."
Marcie Mauro is driven to help women find more freedom, more fulfillment and more fun by creating a satisfying and financially rewarding business they love. You can meet her at She overcame her own inner critic to allay fear of the unknown. She writes:
"Fear is not an indication that you should give up
or that failure is imminent.
It's simply an opportunity to check in to see if you're on track,
if you are growing in the work you are meant to do,
if you are helping the people you are meant to help,
if you are caring for yourself in the way you would care for others."

Finally, Amelia Roncone insists that:
"Decision is the biggest barrier to making a change.
If you risk nothing, you risk everything.
Most people think and dream of better lives or sexier jobs,
but the courage to make that leap is what separates
the dreamers from the doers.
You are not a finished product until you choose to be."
Amelia founded Young Professional Women in Energy and also serves fine cuisine to business and social gatherings through her catering business, Amelia's Elegant Catering, at .
This is just a small sampling from a few of the women who contributed to "Empower!".  I can almost guarantee that you will see yourself in one or more of these stories, that you will be touched by the honesty and truth of what you read, and that you will be inspired to think about your own life, why you are here, and what you are meant to do.
I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as we enjoyed creating it for you. We would love it if you could give us a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads.
"EMPOWER is an international soup of inspired stories
flavored by women of all persuasions
who have been there and lived to tell about it."
--Gima Mazza--
Happy reading!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

music to an agent's ears

I'm just two or three scenes away from finishing my second novel...meaning that before too long, I'll be sending out a flurry of query letters. With luck, someone will ask to see a few pages of my manuscript. The problem is that the entire piece of work will be judged based on just a few opening lines. I never understood that. It didn't seem fair to me...until this week. Now, I get it. If you enjoy good music, you will, too. Let me explain.
I was flipping through the tracks of a favorite CD this week, looking for something--I don't know what--something sweet and sad. I often use music to set the mood for a scene I'm writing and this week the scene marked the end of a blossoming relationship between my protagonist and the woman he was falling in love with.
 As I went from track to track, I found that I could tell within the first few chords whether the music was right for me or not--not too heavy, not too energetic, but melodic and tender.
I knew in a flash if the piece was by Bartok (whose music I dislike) or Bach (whose music I love), if it was orchestral or choral, if it was raucous or lilting. I didn't have to listen to the whole piece to know what I wanted.  

And this, I think, is how it is with agents. It works the same way for them. They can tell in the first few lines if your book is what they're looking for.
Is the genre something they represent? Is the voice strong and clear?  Can they expect humor or suspense or horror? Are there mistakes in grammar and punctuation right from the start? If the first few lines don't appeal to them, why would they read on?

Why would you listen to Bartok when you can have Bach?
"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about,
but the music the words make."
--Truman Capote--
Spring is still holding out on us.  I would love to see some green grass and cherry blossoms in time for my daughter's bridal shower next weekend. My book, "Empower!" should be available soon. Lots going on...