Friday, January 30, 2009

January 30, 2009 Writing for fun!

Here's the writing prompt I promised:

Make a list of places where writing hides for you. Instead of "nature," say "In the chipmunk tunneling beneath the snow" or "In the cloud passing across the sun." Instead of "memories" write "In the pocket of my mother's apron" or "In the loaf of bread I'm making."

You get the idea. Now how about this one: Instead of "Love" write. . . you fill in the blank with something specific that defines love for you. Have fun!
January 30, 2009

Joan just posted a comment about her first writing class. You go, Joan! Your enthusiasm has re-ignited my creative juices. All you readers/writers out there, be sure to check out Joan's comment under January 26th Creative Play & Craft Day! And if you've been considering whether to jump into a writing class or writing group, Joan's comment should get you running to sign up or seek out other writers! Write on, Joan!

What is writing like for you? Are you in the flow, a little blocked, has inertia set in? Not every writing day or writing project is the same, but the writing seems to flow the best when we write from our truest, deepest down places, when we find our "heart" connection to whatever it is we're writing. What do you care about? Write about that.

Watch for my next post later today. I'll be giving you a fun little writing prompt.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

January 29, 2009 Happy Birthday!

Today's my husband's birthday, and since he loves to fly fish and because Ernest Hemingway is probably his favorite author (other than me, of course), here's a short Hemingway quote: "If you get a kick out of it [a fish] while he is jumping remember back until you see what the action was that gave you an emotion. Whether it was the rising of the line from the water and the way it tightened like a fiddle string until it drops. . . or the way he smashed and threw water when he jumped. Remember what the noises were. . .find what gave you the emotion; what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling you had. " Happy birthday, honey!

The Hemingway quote on my desk: "I have tried to write the best I can; sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can." Yesterday was that sort of day for me, and today is promising too!

Also, happy birthday to my grand nephew, Kurt Hoover!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 28, 2009 Poetry Day

Today I'm not going to think about the snow
or freezing rain, and I refuse
to worry about the bone-chilling temps,
the blustering wind, the slippery roads,
the chickedees shivering in the blue spuce
trees outside my window, because today
is poetry day, and I get to write a poem,
and draw, and work on my picture book,
and maybe even read.

This is not my poem of the day, but today has been a wonderful day of creativity. Life is good!

If you love nature, look for poetry books by Mary Oliver, who has won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27, 2009 Happy Birthday!

Today is the birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. We all know who he is, but what you probably don't know is that I used to listen to his "Eine Kleine Nacht Musick in G major" on a scratchy old 33 rpm record played on a 1960's HiFi, every night at bed time when I was in high school. Happy birthday, Wolfie!

It's also the birthday of Lewis Carroll of Alice in Wonderland fame. When you read my new book Secrets of Greymoor you might find a little of Alice in the book. Just by looking at the jacket, you'll see a looking glass. But the mirror in Secrets of Greymoor has a completely different significance. What does the mirror stand for? I'll send a free copy of the book to the first person who figures it out!

For more about these special birthdays check out: You'll also get to read a funny litle nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll!

Monday, January 26, 2009

January 26, 2009 Creative Play & Books on Craft for Memoir Writers

I am so excited that Joan signed up for that memoir class. I was deeply struck by what Joan said in her first comment about how she had always loved to write as a child! How wonderful that she is now retrieving the child within who loved to write, to play with words.

When we practice the things we loved to do as children, we recapture ourselves, our innocence, our pleasure in creating, our pleasure in making something. I had spent so much time with words the past seven or eight years with writing, reading, and teaching that I'd lost the joy I once felt doing these things. I felt a deep craving for something, an act of creativity that did not include words, a wordless activity. One of the things I most loved to do when I was young was to sew. My mother and my grandmother Keesler gave me my first lesson in sewing when I was five. I loved to sew, and then one day when I was in my twenties, I quit and did not begin to sew again until last year, nearly thirty years later. I always loved dolls, and when I began to sew again, I created little characters all my own, and my own patterns for characters and clothes, and the joy began to come back again, the joy of creating that comes when we have no other thought than just to create. My little dolls sit on my desk now and when I look at them I smile.

So that is what I've come back to now, bringing back the emotional experiences of childhood and putting a new skin of fiction on them. Today when you pick up your pen to write, instead of calling it work, call it your play, "write" as Flannery O'Connor said, "remembering the child you were." Today I'm going to play with words. I can feel the joy already!

Joan inspired me to look for some good books for writing memoir. So here's a few titles to check out:
1) Courage and Craft: Writing Your Life into Story by Barbara Abercombie
2) Old Friend From Far Away by Natalie Goldberg
3) Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas
Have fun checking these out, and if anyone has a title of a favorite book on the writing craft, I'd love to have you share it here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

January 22, 2009 Books on the Craft of Writing

Here's a partial list of books on the writing craft that I promised was coming today!

1) On Writing by Stephen King. A memoir of sorts, but the last half of the book is where the meat on writing is found, and it's worth the read for any writer.
2) Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly by Gail Carson Levine. This is an excellent book, especially for aspiring young writers.
3) The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers & Screenwriters by Christopher Vogler. A good book for plotting the coming of age story structure that is used in such films as "Star Wars" series or "The Wizard of Oz."
3) From Where You Dream by Robert Olen Butler. Excellent for the serious novelist.
4) Writing and Selling The Young Adult Novel by K.L.Going. If you're interested in writing for this age group, this book by an award winning author of YA, should be on your shelf.
5) Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott is excellent for a writer's survival. Inspires, motivates, as well as packing a wallop of humor.
6) Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose. A better reader makes a better writer, and this book will give you an edge.
7) The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron. Good for blocked writing and good for writers just getting started. It is a course in discovering and recovering your creative self.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

January 21, 2009 Writing--How to get started

Yesterday, I encouraged Joan to go for that writing class, but I know that some of you who live far from the madding crowd as I do, may find that traveling an hour or more to take a class is prohibitive this time of year. So if you want to write, but you don't really know how to get started. Here are a few more things for you to think about:

First of all, try to narrow down the types of writing you'd like to do, and start focusing your reading in those areas and then your writing. Your local library (or bookstore) is a great source for discovery, so spend some time browsing the stacks and see what grabs your interest. Maybe it's mystery or romance, fantasy or science fiction. Maybe you find yourself drawn to the classic writers like Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Updike, Marilynne Robinson, Toni Morrison, to name a few. Maybe it's memoir or poetry. Or maybe you are drawn to non-fiction. Maybe it's writing for children! The important thing is to write about what you care about most.

Next, while you're still at the library (or bookstore), ask if there are any writing groups that you could join. If there isn't one, start one. You can post it to the library bulletin board or have it included in their newsletter if they have one. Be specific. If you want to write memoir or family stories, for example, be sure to put that in your posting. It doesn't mean that you can't have writers with other interests in your group, but it's probably what will be most satisfying and helpful for the group as a whole. I've always liked small groups myself of not more than three or four other writers, simply because trust is built more quickly and everyone has time to share in a time frame of two or three hours. Plan a time and place to meet that's at least once a month. If you're a new group with members not actively writing on a regular basis, assign short writing exercises of character sketches or paragraphs of description, anything that will get words on paper. If you'd like guidelines for starting a writing group, shoot me an e-mail and I'll send you a file all about that:

Finally, like everything else, good writing takes practice, practice, practice. No one expects you to be accomplished the first time you attempt to play an instrument. Writing is the same. So read read, read, focusing on the sorts of books or articles or poetry that you'd like to write. Reading will inspire and stimulate your writing. Then write. And Write. And do not give up. Metaphors be with you! Tomorrow, I'll post a list of books on the craft of writing!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009

Yesterday, Joan wrote in and asked for some suggestions to get started writing. She mentioned that she was considering taking a writing class. That is an excellent idea, Joan! What a writing class offers is a community, which is important for motivation and as a support group. It also creates deadlines, which often create a catalyst for producing, for putting the words down on paper for those great ideas that pop into your head. So go for it!

My first published book, Annie's Choice, was written over a period of two years while I attended a Workshop in Writing for Children at the New School for Social Research in Greenwich Village. Actually, I had been writing for quite awhile by that time, but being in a community of writers, many who were already published, and getting feedback was the charm for me.

I'll be adding more tips over the next several days along with a few recommendations of books that will help you get started. Stay tuned. . .

Monday, January 19, 2009

January 19, 2009 Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday

The news around here seems to be the bitter cold snap -20 the other morning and then the unexpected snowfall yesterday kept us wondering if it was ever going to stop. The possibility of 1-3 inches was predicted, but we ended up with a foot or more. Excellent writing weather though, and I'm happily digging into my YA today. I met with a couple of writer friends on Saturday and they are wonderful cheerleaders. You may know K.L.Going's YA books, but if not, check out Saint Iggy or Fat Kid Rules the World at or the library or your favorite bookstore.

The Borders Bookstore in Dickson City (Scranton, PA) has tentatively set a date for a book signing of February 7th. The release date of the new book, Secrets of Greymoor, is officially Feb 10, but Borders' computers say January 27th. So I'll keep you posted when I know for sure if they can get the book by the 7th.

Here's something to think about when you sit down to write. "Write what should not be forgotten." Wish I could recall where I came across that bit, but I don't.

I'll post more about events soon.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

January 14, 2008

Yesterday, I sorted all my projects into neat stacks on the floor of my office. I have a poetry stack, a stack of fun art projects, a stack for writing workshops that I'll be doing this winter, a stack for activities to share at book signings and talks, a stack of books to read, and a stack of research books, notebooks, and manuscript pages for my novel in progress.

This morning I wrote poetry, and now it's back to the book. My friend and fellow author/poet from the retreat, Claudia Mills, told me this, and I think it's good advice for all you writers out there: "Keep writing it (your book) until it is true."

If you're writing books for younger readers, look for Claudia's.

Monday, January 12, 2009

January 12, 2009

The poetry retreat was the best ever. Today my joy is so huge that I am an expanding universe. Watch for more details, a photo or two, and perhaps a poem. I'd love to know: Who are your favortie poets or what is your favorite poem? If you have too many to count, choose one to share.

If you have a hard time leaving a comment, send me an e-mail, and I will include your comments on my blog. Thanks!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

January 8, 2009

Thank you everyone for helping my fledgling blog fly out of its little nest here in Lookout!

I'm off to a Poetry Retreat in the Poconos today, so I won't be posting anything until Monday, January 12th. I promise to return with a full report of the high points and a photo or two. This year there's an added creativity workshop, and we have been instructed to bring art supplies, so I've packed my box of 64 crayons and glue, my "Great Women Ruler(s) of Literature" (a gift from my sister Ellen), silly scissors, and three B&W photos of me. I wonder what those B&W photos will be turned into?

It's snowing and icy here, so my husband is driving me to the retreat in the Green Hornet--our beloved vintage pickup truck who is very very brave!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

January 7, 2009

A special CONGRATULATIONS to my good friend, Margaret Bruetsch. She got the lead in her high school's production of Cinderella. I happen to know that Margaret is also a very talented writer. I hope you'll all join me in cheering for Margaret! YAY! Way to go! You are a star!

BOOK NEWS: I'm working on announcements to mail out about the new book, Secrets of Greymoor aavailable on-line from The book has a mystery in it, but it's more about what happens when we make poor choices even if it seems like the right thing to do at the time. Poor Hattie does pretty much everything wrong when she tries to make friends, and hiding that letter from her grandmother was a BIG mistake. Have any of you ever kept a big secret from your parents that made you feel like an elephant was sitting on your shoulder? I'm not just talking about kids; I know that you grownups out there have some foibles in your closets, too! Fess up. Hattie's feeling a little lonely. She'd sure like to know that she wasn't the only one to keep secrets and tell lies.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

January 6, 2009

The New Year is always an exciting time. We went to New York City on the 2nd and had quite a hassle getting to see the VanGogh exhibit in its closing days. The MoMA was packed with lines out the door and waaaay down the street. But we persevered! Imagine getting to see "The Starry Night Over the Rhone" up close! And so many others. We had lunch at Brasserie Cognac on the corner of Broadway and fifty something street. It was stellar day!

On Sunday we saw several eagles along the Delaware River and spotted a nesting place in a tall pine tree. While we watched, an eagle soared up the river and flew into the nest! We'll be back to take some photos that I hope come out good enough to share with all of you!

Book news: For anyone living in the region that happens to log on, I'll be at the Border's bookstore in E.Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania on Valentine's Day from 1-3 pm. That's Saturday, February 14th. If you have youngsters, bring them along. I'll be showing kids several kinds of secret codes that they can use to create their own secret messages. Learn more about the new book Secrets of Greymoor

I'll be posting several times a week, so watch for updates! Thanks for dropping by. . .