Increasing Your Creativity

20 12 2014

Albert Einstein HeadI’ve often heard the Albert Einstein quote, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” But just this week I received an email from Jean Houston, who actually met Einstein in person and was encouraged to read more fairy tales. I’m posting that story and her own inspiring comments (in red italics) here:

When I was eight years old, I attended a school in Manhattan where they felt it would be good for students to meet some of the great elders of the time.
 
One of those elders was Albert Einstein, and one day we were trotted across the river over to Princeton University to his house there. He had a lot of hair and was very sweet.
 
One of my smart-alecky classmates said to him: “Uh, Mr. Einstein, how can we get to be as smart as you?”
 
He said: “Read fairy tales,” which made no sense to us at all.
 
So another smart-alecky kid said: “Mr. Einstein, how can we get to be smarter than you?”
 
He said: “Read more fairy tales!”
 
We, of course, didn’t fully understand him at the time, but what he was actually encouraging us to do was to nurture and grow our imaginations.
 
He understood something that almost all highly creative and successful people do, that the imaginal realm is where the most potent ideas—the ones that can change your life or change the world—are held.
 
And the more you can nurture your imagination by diving into that imaginal realm, the more often that dive will inspire a stream of creativity when you resurface.

I wanted to post the Einstein story along with Jean’s words because at this magical time of year, it’s good to think about creativity. As the days grow darker and the weather gets colder (for many of us, anyway), many of us go into hibernation. Those hibernation periods, although they may seem unproductive, are actually a time for the ground to go fallow in preparation for spring growth.

This also holds true when you’re in a creative slump. Allow time for rest and rejuvenation. And remember that one of the most productive things you can do is to fill your mind with fairy tales.

Indulge yourself this winter by curling up with beautifully written books, soaking up inspiring music, and strolling through gorgeous art collections. Pamper yourself, and you’ll emerge on the other side more creative than ever before.

*Jean Houston‘s a wonderful teacher who inspires many people to reach their full potential, and she’s has upcoming classes for those who might want to challenge their preconceived notions of what’s possible.




Easy Revisions for Your NaNo Novel

4 12 2014

plot chart

Have you finished your NaNo novel or did you get stuck partway through? If your story needs revision, but you have no idea of how to get started, here’s the perfect solution.

Agent Jill Corcoran and “Plot Whisperer” Martha Alderson are offering a novel revision course packaged in video form, so you can watch each lesson at your convenience.Plot Whisperer

I first met Jill and Martha in their online course on editing picture books. A small group of us met each week to get feedback on our manuscripts. By the time the class ended, I’d received a valuable gift: Jill had identified a fatal flaw in my manuscripts, a flaw that no one in my critique groups had noticed. And Martha’s instruction showed me how to fix it.

So I’m indebted to both of them, and I’m happy to introduce a wonderful program they’ve put together to help authors revise their novels.

They’re both here to share about their new program. So take it away, Jill and Martha…

VIDEO SERIES

We offer writers two video series with more in production:
1) PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month

8 videos, 5.5 hours + 3- hands-on exercises

Congratulations! You have written a draft of a novel. You’ve accomplished what many writers merely talk about and dream of doing – you have written an entire story from beginning to end. When you finish celebrating, it’s time to revise: to re-envision and rewrite what you’ve written into a novel that agents, editors and readers will devour.

Writing a great plot involves craft and skill and know-how. Before you undertake a major rewrite, first consider your story from all angles with the help of step-by-step instruction and daily exercises. You know you’re ready to rewrite when you’ve checked all the essentials elements for creating an exciting story with compelling characters and a meaningful plot.

—–//—–

2) How to Write and Sell a Picture Book with a Plot

7 videos explain how to plot, write and sell picture books + provide exercises how to immediately integrate the concepts into your own unique story. Learn about all the different kinds of picture books, examples of character-driven and action-driven picture books, how to develop winning picture book concepts, what the major turning points are in every great picture book plot, writing, voice, character goals and motivation, how to revise, testing your theme and take-away, who to submit to and so much more…

Here’s How the Video Series Work

Each video includes an in-depth look at the specific elements promised and how to consider these essential story principles as you write, revise, rewrite, sell your story.

Writing assignment(s) guide you with step-by-step instruction.

Whether you decide to watch all the videos in a row and then go back and do the exercises or jump right into the 1st video’s exercise, work at your own pace and take more or less time on the step-by-step exercises. The series are designed to fit into even the busiest of schedules. Sign-in and watch video lectures, complete homework assignments, and ask questions in a public forum on a timetable that fits your needs.

Shout Outs:

**The 1st draft you let yourself write any old way. Now revise your story from every angle.

**Can’t seem to #finish your #novel? Ready to give up? Before you do, revise.

**I’m finding the revision process FUN! Did I actually say that? Loving this process, thank you!

**Friends don’t let friends ‪#revise alone.

Let’s introduce you to Jill and Martha now:

Jill Corcoran bio

Jill Corcoran Jill Corcoran is the founder of Jill Corcoran Literary Agency and co-founder of A Path A Publishing.

 

 

Martha Alderson bio

MarthaMartha Alderson, author of The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of Story Structure Any Writer Can Master, is known as “The Plot Whisperer” for the help she offers writers worldwide. She is the founder of PlotWriMo: Revise Your Novel in a Month and the award-winning blog The Plot Whisperer.

Jill and Martha not only offer these amazing author tools, but also have another service with two levels of Participation (Participants and Observers):

Office Hours

2nd Thursday of every month

9:30-11:30am Pacific

online
Active Participants and Observers

ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS: 8 authors each have 15 minutes to work with the Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson and Literary Agent Jill Corcoran on whatever you want help with. Read part of your manuscript, query, discuss energetic markers, concept, brainstorm plot, characters, etc., and receive feedback you can immediately apply to your work.

Active participants must watch either Plotwrimo: Revise Your Novel in a Month or How to Write & Sell a Picture Book Videos. This gives us a common language and baseline understanding of underlying plot and story concepts for better communication.

Receive a critique of your First Pages, Query, Concept, or get help with your Characters, Where to Start your Story, Crisis, Climax, etc. It is your time…your choice

***OBSERVERS: 15 observer spots. As an observer, you do not participate/read your work, but listen and learn from others during these sessions.

HERE’S WHAT REVIEWERS ARE SAYING ABOUT THESE VIDEOS AND SERVICES:

Reviews of the series:

“Don’t wait until you have a first draft to get the video series. If you have an inkling of a concept, get the video series. The videos will show you how to define your energetic markers. You’ll learn the difference between crisis and climax. The 8 videos constitute a ‘top to toe’ writing course. 
Jill Corcoran & Martha Alderson, thank you for giving me the opportunity to call myself a writer with pride.” ~Dolly D. Napal

“I have been writing, writing, writing, and reading about writing, but I knew I was still missing the mark. How I write and rewrite books will be forever changed for the better. ” ~Wendy McLeon MacKnight
“I felt overwhelmed with my latest revision. I feel like a weight has been lifted and I’m just on day one.”
And after you’ve completed the videos, Jill and Martha also offer a follow-up workshop. They also have a free Facebook group that’s open to everyone, whether or not you’ve taken their courses.

A Path to Publishing Workshops:

We often tailor-make advanced workshops for writers who have watched the series to ask questions and receive feedback on your own individual story.

A Path to Publishing Facebook Group

Everyone is welcome to join A Path to Publishing Facebook group created by Literary Agent Jill Corcoran and Plot Whisperer Martha Alderson as safe, smart, fun alcove for writers and illustrators to share and learn about the craft of writing and the book biz. This is NOT a place to sell your books but a wonderful forum for us all to advance our skills, our creativity, and our dreams plus learn about what Jill and Martha are up to at A PATH TO PUBLISHING.

Be sure to follow along and see what others are saying about these services and how they have helped them! Read individual reviews and more information about how this video series can help you!

December 1 https://www.facebook.com/nordlinger
December 1 http://writingclassesforkids.com
December 1 http://inkandangst.com/
December 1 taffyscandy.blogspot.com
December 1 Rebeccalacko.wordpress.com
December 2 http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com
December 2 http://1st10pages.com
December 2 http://thestorytellersscroll.blogspot.com
December 2 www.katherine-hajer.com
December 3 http://www.jordanrosenfeld.net
December 3 http://robyn-campbell.blogspot.com/
December 3 http://aditebanerjie.com
December 4 lje1.wordpress.com
December 4 http://writtenbymikey.blogspot.com/
December 4 www.PenInHerHand.com
December 5 www.ChristineSang.com
December 5 Susan P
December 5 www.ChristineSang.com

AND NOW, JILL AND MARTHA ARE OFFERING SOME AMAZING PRIZES. SO BE SURE TO ENTER AND SPREAD THE WORD ABOUT THIS EVENT AND THEIR VIDEO SERIES.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

And you can stop at each blog to enter more than once. Hope you’re a winner!





A Trip to the Maine Coast

1 11 2014

marcia-promo-final-close-upTo celebrate the start of a new month, I’m welcoming another friend with a book release, Marcia Strykowski. Marcia’s second book, AMY’S CHOICE, debuts today, so I invited her to tell a bit about herself and give some tips to aspiring as well as experienced writers.

So glad you could join us, Marcia. I have plenty of questions, so I hope you’ll settle back with a cup of tea and enjoy a long visit.
amychoice_front-smaller
Where are you from and how has that and/or where you have lived/visited influenced your work? I grew up in Massachusetts, but often traveled to Maine and New Hampshire. Most of my stories reflect my love for New England. Amy’s Choice definitely shows your love of the coastline. :-)

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Many things…from a ballerina to a puppeteer.

Marcia at 6

Marcia at age 6

When did you start writing? As a kid, I was always drawing little comic strips and making storybooks. And then in high school I was thrilled when they offered a new class called Children’s Literature. I also took creative writing classes whenever I could in college.

What advice do you wish you could give to your younger self? Don’t worry about the future, everything will fall into place. Or, as the old saying goes: Most of what you worry about will never happen. So very true!

What hobbies and interests do you have? I dabble in many things—mostly art, music, and crafts. For example, I love paper-cutting, such as wycinanki and scherenschnitte as the craft is called in Poland and Germany. Beautiful!
wycinankiRed - Copy

What made you write your novel? For Call Me Amy, strong memories of my grandparents’ home on the coast of Maine gave me a setting that needed a story. After that book was accepted for publication, there were still ideas I wanted to wrap up, so I continued to write her story in Amy’s Choice.

What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your book? To stand proud and be that special you and to know that everyone has a voice worth hearing.

Can you give us an idea of your writing process? Rather than outlining, I usually have a small story with a beginning and an end. From there I plump up all the middle chapters. I repeatedly polish until it’s a full-size manuscript. Unfortunately, I am not at all consistent with my writing schedule, rather, it comes in spurts with great gaps in between.

workspace 2 - Copy

Marcia’s writing space

Which authors have influenced your work? A collection of my favorite authors would include Harper Lee, L. M. Montgomery, Richard Peck, Katherine Paterson, M. M. Kaye, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Willa Cather.

Any tips for new writers? There is no one way to write. Many authors are long-winded and later they have to chop a lot of words. Others, like myself, write first drafts sparingly and then have go back in and plump everything up. Do what works for you.

Any tips for more experienced writers? Don’t give up and try not to submit your work until it’s as good as your favorite book.

Do you have any secrets/advice for dealing with rejection? It’s important not to take rejections personally. Writing is subjective and is really, after all, just ink on paper. Because someone doesn’t like your writing, it doesn’t mean they don’t like you.

What are you working on now? I’m working on a YA novel about a boy, Mateo, who lives in a big city and has a unique hobby. Hmm…can’t wait to find out what that hobby is!

If you had three wishes, what would you wish for? World peace, health, and food for all. :-)

What super power do you wish you had? The ability to slow down time. Now that sounds like one I could use too.

Have you ever climbed into or out of a window? Definitely. Both. Both, huh? I won’t embarrass you by asking about the circumstances, but I must admit, I’m definitely curious.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you choose to go and why? Probably Scandinavia to find my roots. Ah, so that’s where your love of the sea came from as well. Will you find you’re descended from the Vikings, I wonder.

Did you experience anything new while researching your book? I attended a seal release at the University of New England. They have a Marine Animal Rehabilitation Center where they nurture orphaned baby harbor seals back to health and then when they’re strong enough, release them back to the ocean. Five pups who started out at about 15 pounds and now averaged 50 pounds were set free on a mild day in August. How wonderful to see the healthy pups swimming out to sea as nature intended.

seal four pic

Seals heading out to sea

Where can readers find out more about you?

Website/blog = http://www.marciastrykowski.com

Facebook = Marcia Strykowski

Twitter = MarciaStry

And here’s a blurb about Marcia’s latest book, Amy’s Choice, a sweet story that takes you back to the early ’70s,  followed by her booktrailer:

Amy’s freshman year starts with a new best friend, Cat, and a newfound confidence. But she misses her crush, Craig, who has gone to live with his aunt in Boston. Craig has promised to write, and Amy checks the mail daily, but to no avail. There are new adventures, even so. Cat’s brother, Ricky, seems interested in Amy, but is she interested in him? And a new friendship with Finn, the lighthouse keeper, who Amy discovers is a talented artist, keeps Amy and Cat busy as they arrange for him to exhibit his work. But things get complicated when Craig returns from Boston and Finn is accused of arson. There are more questions than answers for Amy as life becomes as turbulent as the cold and stormy ocean of her coastal Maine town. Ideal for preteens, this novel is the sequel to the critically acclaimed Call Me Amy and touches upon issues of friendship, boyfriend troubles, and the power of believing in oneself.

“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.”—Kirkus for Call Me Amy.





Halloween Madness: Little Dead Riding Hood

31 10 2014

Because it’s Halloween, I wanted to showcase something scary and literature-related. What could be better than announcing a friend’s new book called –yep, LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD? So welcome to Amie and Bethanie Borst, who agreed to talk about the book and share some of their secrets about how they came up with such a creative idea for their SCARY EVER LAUGHTER series, which also includes CINDERSKELLER and SNOW FRIGHT.

Oh, and be sure to read all the way to the end for a chance to win a free copy. Just enter your info in the Rafflecopter and maybe it’ll conjure up an autographed book just for you.

So take it away, Amie & Bethanie…

Thanks so much for inviting us to your blog, Laurie, as part of our tour for LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD! We’re glad to be here!

You know things are going to suck when you’re the new kid. But when you’re the new kid and a vampire… well, it bites!

Unlike most kids, Scarlet Small’s problems go far beyond just trying to fit in. She would settle for a normal life, but being twelve years old for an entire century is a real pain in the neck. Plus, her appetite for security guards, house pets and bloody toms (tomato juice) is out of control. So in order to keep their vampire-secret, her parents, Mort and Drac, resort to moving for the hundredth time, despite Scarlet being dead-set against it. Things couldn’t be worse at her new school, either. Not only does she have a strange skeleton-girl as a classmate, but a smelly werewolf is intent on revealing her secret. When she meets Granny—who fills her with cookies, goodies, and treats, and seems to understand her more than anyone—she’s sure things will be different. But with a fork-stabbing incident, a cherry pie massacre, and a town full of crazy people, Scarlet’s O-positive she’ll never live to see another undead day.
Not even her Vampire Rule Book can save her from the mess she’s in. Why can’t she ever just follow the rules?
Add Little Dead Riding Hood to your Goodreads to-read list here Purchase LDRH at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or your favorite Indie bookstore!
***
Bethanie was only 9 when she came up with the idea for our first book, CINDERSKELLA. She had written the title on a packet of paper and drawn a skeleton in a casket. I knew immediately that she was combining the Cinderella story with a skeleton. Images of Tim Burton’s THE CORPSE BRIDE came to mind, and it only felt natural to write the story as she intended it.
But that was the hard part. There weren’t a lot of monster stories in middle-grade novels. There were plenty of fairy tale retellings, but finding other comparable books was difficult. We knew that the story needed to have this paranormal element for it to work properly, so we went with it despite the odds!
Coming up with the series was easy at that point. We brainstormed cool monsters, our favorite fairy tales, and then tried to come up with ways to change their titles to reflect the monster element. LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD with her red cape just had to be a vampire.
Currently we’re working on book three, SNOW FRIGHT, where Snow White will be a zombie!
We hope middle-grade readers will love our paranormal/monster stories as much as we do. Hopefully they’ll find a laugh or two, as well!
About us:
Amie Borst is a PAL member of SCBWI. She believes in Unicorns, uses glitter whenever the opportunity arises, accessorizes in pink, and eats too much chocolate. 
Bethanie Borst is a spunky 14 year old who loves archery, long bike rides, and studying edible plant-life. She was only 9 when she came up with the idea for Cinderskella!
Little Dead Riding Hood is their second book in the Scarily Ever Laughter series. Their first book, Cinderskella, released in October 2013.
You can find them on facebook. Amie can be found on twitter, pinterest, and her blog***

We’re having two great giveaways as part of our blog tour! The first is for a copy of LITTLE DEAD RIDING HOOD! So be sure to enter the giveaway by following the steps on the rafflecopter form below.a Rafflecopter giveaway
THEN – as soon as you finish that, be sure to stop by my blog for a second contest! I’m having a SCAVENGER HUNT that you won’t want to miss with lots of extra great prizes! All you have to do is make sure you enter the contest below first then hopping over to my blog and filling out the rafflecopter form there! Super easy! Here’s the rafflecopter form for my blog just in case you missed it!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

See you soon!

Fingers crossed that YOU are the lucky winner.
And thanks so much, Amie and Bethanie




Painting on the Canvas of Your Life

21 10 2014

I’ve been reading Panache Desai’s Discovering Your Soul Signature and wanted to share one of the meditations from the book:

Imagine that your life can be portrayed on a canvas….When you look at this canvas, you’ll see see everything that’s been placed there. And most of it doesn’t originate from you…. As you’ve moved on through life, external labels have been superimposed on the canvas…. People have told us who we are, and this fills the canvas too.

Now start pulling off those labels…. Peel away those limitations. Remove all of those different words that are getting in the way of being a blank canvas…. As you do this, experience the freedom (or perhaps the terror) of the blank canvas.

When an artist approaches a blank canvas, all that is possible is a single brushstroke at a time….
What splashes, splatters, or messes did you erase?

Now what will YOU choose to paint?
soul signature

(excerpt taken from p. 179-180, 182)





Domestic Violence Victim Speaks Out

9 10 2014

For more information:Advance Praise for Almost President, by Scott Farris
Jessica DeFranco
203/458-4646
jdefranco <at> rowman <dot> com

 

Domestic Violence Victim Speaks Out

Former abuse victim Alexis Moore helps abuse and cybercrime victims.
Now she shares her secrets in her book Cyber Self-Defense.

To tweet this news, copy and paste: http://bit.ly/1rjG05m to Twitter with #noexcuseforabuse

Everyone wonders why Janay Rice didn’t just leave. Alexis Moore, a former abuse and cyberstalking victim has the answer. “Deep inside many victims blame themselves for the violence, and leaving is no guarantee the abuser won’t track you down and kill you,” says Moore, who endured a nightmare life before founding Survivors in Action (SIA) to help other abuse victims who, like her, often found little help from domestic violence organizations.

Every day Moore is contacted by hundreds of people who need help, but many people are afraid to reach out for help. Concerned about these victims, Moore has written a book that she hopes will help people break free from the cycle of abuse.

Cyber Self-Defense, co-written with Laurie J. Edwards explains how to:

Cyber Self Defense book cover

Cyber Self-Defense

⦁    identify possible abusers before getting into relationships

⦁    safely leave bad relationships

⦁    effectively stop cyberbullying, cyberstalking, stalking and other forms of abuse that often occur after leaving

⦁    recover emotionally and financially after being attacked

⦁    combat embarrassing leaks of personal information

⦁    restore a damaged reputation

⦁    protect yourself online

Many abuse victims suffer from PTSD, low self-esteem, and suicidal thoughts. Moore herself even reached the point of suicide, so she understands the emotional pain people face. Cyber Self-Defense offers many techniques for healing the devastating psychological wounds of abuse.

All of the case studies in the book come from Moore’s years as a victim advocate with Survivors In Action. She has helped many victims escape from seemingly impossible situations. Those stories are recounted in Cyber Self-Defense to give people hope that they, too, can break free from even the worst forms of abuse.

Moore’s poignant story has been told on Stalked: Someone’s Watching, and she frequently appears on news programs to offer helpful advice to domestic abuse victims. Her advice has been packaged in an easy-to-read form in Cyber Self-Defense: Expert Advice to Avoid Online Predators, Identity Theft, and Cyberbullying, which she hopes will help the millions who are trapped in this cycle and see no way out.

The book’s publisher, Rowman & Littlefield/Lyon’s Press, released Cyber Self-Defense in October because the Department of Homeland Security has named this month National Cyber Security Awareness Month to increase the public’s understanding of basic cybersecurity practices.

Cyber Self-Defense is packed with information to help businesses, individuals, schools, and organizations who need up-to-date information on preventing cybercrime, cyberharassment, and cyberbullying.

REVIEW COPIES AND INTERVIEWS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

###


For review copies and interviews:
Jessica DeFranco
Rowman & Littlefield
203/458-4646

jdefranco <at> rowman <dot> com

About Alexis Moore

Alexis Moore is the founder and president of Survivors in Action and collaborator with state and federal legislators worldwide for Internet legislation. She is considered a lead pundit on cybercrime and has appeared on CNN, Fox, Headline News, and Good Morning America.

About Laurie J. Edwards

Laurie J. Edwards, a freelance author and editor for more than twenty years, has an MA and post-grad training in creative and emotional recovery techniques. She speaks at school, libraries, and conferences around the country.

About Survivors In Action

Survivors In Action (SIA) is a non-profit, all-volunteer victim-advocacy organization based in the United States.

Praise for Alexis Moore:

“Alexis you have singlehandedly changed the landscape for women (and men) survivors and I couldn’t be prouder!” ~Linda Lowen, writer, journalist, radio host, and 2009 Recipient of the EMMA award

“Ms. Moore is dedicated and works diligently to assist in changing legislation. Her commitment to helping victims of crime and her expertise in Internet crimes will be helpful as criminals are increasingly using electronics to monitor and stalk their victims.” ~Betsy Ramsey, author of Stop the Stalker: A Guide for Targets





Feeling Overwhelmed by Life?

2 10 2014

Sometimes when problems pile up, it’s easy to get discouraged. Here’s one family’s refreshing way of teaching their daughter to never quit, never say can’t. It’s amazing what someone with a “can-do” attitude is able to accomplish. After watching this, you’ll never look at your problems in the same way again. And often, life has even greater surprises in store.








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