More writing quotes

I've said before that I collect quotes, and I've  posted writing quotes on Choices many times. Well, I just came across a list of seventy-two more that I have saved in my Documents Folder for the last couple of years. I'll share some with you now and more later in the year. I don't want to bore you if you're not into this as much as I am. By the way, some of these authors are unknown to me. I think it might be a good idea to get to know about them, so I've marked those with an asterisk (*). I'd love to know what you know about them. “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” —Philip Roth “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” —Stephen King “Who wants to become a writer? And why? Because it’s the answer to everything. … It’s the streaming reason for living. To note, to pin down, to build up, to create, to be astonished at nothing, to cherish the oddities, to let nothing go down the drain, to make something, to make a great flower out of life, even if it’s a cactu … [Read more...]

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Five reasons to be in a writing group

I joined a writing group a couple of years ago. It’s called The Last Sunday Writers because we usually meet the last Sunday of the month. Today’s meeting was cancelled because of lack of a quorum. Only two of us plus our leader planned to attend, and we weren’t prepared to read this month. So what’s the point? I usually want to read at the meetings, but I’m still a little traumatized from the feedback from my novel beta readers. I need to give putting myself out there a rest for a while. However, I’m very glad I was invited to join. I had known several people in the group because we attended workshops together. Or if we hadn’t met before we had worked with the some of the same writing instructors in the past. So we are a well-knit group with similar goals: continue to write, get feedback from our fellow writers, and network. Five things I like about being in a writing group are: It encourages me to prepare a piece for review once a month: this can be a new essay, story, poem, art … [Read more...]

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Writers’ inspirations

I love to collect quotes - especially by writers I admire. Here's a few I'd like to share with you - perhaps for a little inspiration - definitely something I need right now.           … [Read more...]

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How to survive a relationship with a writer

The singer and writer Janis Ian, famous when I was a teenager for her song, "At Seventeen," posted these top ten tips, and my friend Marla Miller shared them with her Facebook friends. I had to share as well. Actually,  my husband seems to be surviving very well. He's gotten used to me going into my office and spending most of the day there. However, once in a while he'll stand quietly at my door - I usually leave it open, rap lightly with his knuckles and say, "Knock,knock." Sure it's disturbing - I'm probably in mid sentence, it gets me out of my zone, but it usually happens just at the time I need to take a break. Plus it's nice to see him once in a while during the day. Here's the Top Ten Tips   … [Read more...]

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Renewed hope for 2014

For our belated holiday lunch our writing group leader asked us to provide each other with the  "GIFT OF WORDS!!! - give everyone a gift of a short essay less than 1000 words that reads to the theme of New - as in Newness, New Year, new promises, memories of new years past, debauchery of new years past, hopes for the new year, new cars, new loves, anything that evokes the freshness & hope of something new!" Here's mine. About how my hope was renewed even in the face of deep sorrow. 2013 was a year with too much traveling, too many surgeries for my husband, and the deaths of two long-time cherished friends. Because those deaths happened in December  – one funeral was on New Year’s Eve day, and Shiva took place in the first few days of the New Year – I haven’t had much enthusiasm for writing about “newness” and “the freshness and hope of something new.” However, while thinking about writing this piece I’ve realized how much children – babies all the way up to adult children – have … [Read more...]

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2013 reflections

I like to reflect a bit at the beginning of a new year, so here goes. 2013 for me and my family was a mixed bag. My husband Bob and I traveled a lot – I think more than any other year in our lives together (to Denver three times to visit family; to London, Kenya, Tanzania, Dubai and Paris with dear friends; to Oakland to spend a weekend with another friend, and this month to Savannah, Charleston, Miami Beach on our own, and then on a Caribbean cruise – again with our family – all sixteen of us). We also hosted several rounds of visitors – cousins and friends – who stayed in the guest room of our home. Bob had two surgeries in 2013 – a complete hip replacement in early January (that made the bells and whistles go off every time he went through an airline security check) and carpel tunnel in late November. And even though the timing was very soon before we left on our Africa plus trip, I drove up to Big Sur California on my own to take a poetry workshop at the Esalen Institut … [Read more...]

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Welcome the editors of the new anthology, Beyond Belief, The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions

I'm so excited to offer you a giveaway of the anthology Beyond Belief, The Secret Lives of Women in Extreme Religions. This is also your opportunity to join Cami and Susan for a discussion on: "Why Women Stay in Religious Communities." Thank you, WOW Women on Writing, for inviting me to host Cami and Susan today. Beyond Belief addresses what happens when women of extreme religions decide to walk away. Editors Cami Ostman (a de-converted fundamentalist born-again Christian)and Susan Tive (a former Orthodox Jew) have compiled a collection of powerful personal stories written by women of varying ages, races, and religious backgrounds who share one commonality: they’ve all experienced and rejected extreme religions. Covering a wide range of religious communities—including Evangelical, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Calvinist, Moonie, and Jehovah’s Witness—and containing contributions from authors like Julia Scheeres (Jesus Land), the stories in Beyond Belief reveal how these … [Read more...]

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Wonderful memoir writing advice from Kathy Pooler

Kathleen Pooler was guest here last November and happily agreed to bring her memoir writing wisdom back again. Please welcome Kathleen to Choices. I'm sure you're like me and can't wait to read her memoir once it's launched.   I look forward to your reading Kathleen's six writing tips.   Six Tips for Honoring the Story Within: A Memoir Writer’s Challenge By Kathleen Pooler   “Your sacred place is where you find yourself again and again.” Joseph Campbell   Writing a memoir is hard work.     I know because I have been writing mine for the past four years.   That’s not counting the vignettes I started writing about thirteen years ago and the journaling I’ve done since I was a preteen. But I didn’t get serious about my memoir writer’s journey until 2009 when I started memoir writing workshops and started attending regional and national writing conferences.   It’s very humbling to learn what you don’t know, a … [Read more...]

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Introducing Karen Levy and her new book, My Father’s Gardens

Karen Levy's book, My Father's Gardens, was released last April to rave reviews. I'm pleased to introduce her and her book to you. My Father’s Gardens is the story of a young girl who comes of age in two languages, and on two shores, between warring parents and rules that change depending on the landscape and the proximity of her mother. Struggling to find her voice and her place in the world as a result of her frequent travels between her native Israel and the United States, she feels that she must choose a place to call home. As her scenery alternates between warm Mediterranean and snow capped mountains, loud-mouthed Israelis and polite Americans, so do her loyalties: Is she more Israeli or American? How will she know when she has arrived? And while she chooses she is slowly transplanting bits of her father’s gardens on foreign soil.   This story will appeal to young adults, people with duel citizenships, those who live in dysfunctional families, and those who are tra … [Read more...]

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Sherrey Meyer says we’re never too old to write

I'm so happy to have Sherrey Meyer back at Choices for a return engagement. I hope you'll revisit her last guest post on June 24. Her words about writing to heal and the memoir writing process are always right on. Today she writes about writing into old age, something that I can definitely relate to. That's exactly what I'm doing and I plan to keep writing no matter how old I get. I think that's what keeps me vibrant and happy. Please welcome Sherrey back. Too Old to Write? Proof the Answer is “NO!” by Sherrey Meyer Lately I’ve been asked by friends and family what I'm doing with my time in retirement. Since I left my position with a local law firm in 2006, I've spent a lot of time with expensive surgeons who have corrected my eyesight and repaired a lot of bones. I discount those months as paid medical leave (paid by me and my retirement fund) and explain that I'm at last fulfilling a lifelong dream of writing.   The responses I have received are jarring, startl … [Read more...]

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Eleanor Vincent’s lessons on finding balance

Eleanor Vincent joined me here on Choices last March 16 for a long interview about writing, grief, and healing. Today she gives us great advice about finding balance between writing and doing the necessary hard work writers need to do to market our books.  I hope all my writing friends will benefit from Eleanor's wise words. She is a great example for all of us.   Author vs. Writer: Finding your Balance by Eleanor Vincent "Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony." Thomas Merton In our hyper-connected, ping-me-now world, an author’s work is never done. You could spend 24/7 promoting your book and never check off every task. So how do you keep your writing vital and alive while also promoting a book Since Dream of Things reissued my memoir, Swimming with Maya, it’s been a whirlwind. And yet, somehow I’ve completed the last chapter of my new book, written several long essays, and a few shorter ones, as well as a raft of blog po … [Read more...]

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Deborah Kalan says, “Just do it”

I’m so pleased to have Deborah Kalan back here at Choices. Since we met in a Pilates class about a year and a half ago, our friendship has blossomed. We get together socially with our husbands, and we always have our writing projects to talk about.  Yet, sometimes life events seem to interfere with our writing. Deborah tells how the obstacles play havoc on her determination to keep sitting in her chair in front of her computer. They are wise words indeed.  How to Begin Your Daily Writing  (when you just don’t think you can)    by Deborah Kalan  There are three obstacles that often interfere with my writing.      1. Getting started      2. Going back to a previously written piece      3. Staying focused  Getting Started  Some days I’ll flip open my computer and what do I see in front of me? No, not a blank page. That would be easy. What I see is my Yahoo page with a multitude of hooking h … [Read more...]

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Introducing Susan Weidener, memoirist, fiction writer, and teller of life stories

I'm so delighted to have Susan Weidener as a guest on Choices. Her words about writing - Write What Is Relevant to You - are so helpful and true. Please read about the book she is working on now, which she calls true-life fiction, and the ways she advices her group, the Women's Writing Circle, how to hone in their writing. I certainly can attest to Susan's excellent writing. I read her memoir, Morning at Wellington Square, in about two days. I couldn't put it down. Please click here to read my review. Please welcome Susan Weidener. Write What Is Relevant to You by Susan Weidener Although I had written two memoirs and contributed to an anthology of short stories in the last three years, another project had long simmered in the back of my mind.  I can’t call it memoir and I can’t call it fiction. So, maybe, “true life fiction” works. The story comes from my imagination, but the male character’s story is based on excerpts from a memoir written by my late husband, John Ca … [Read more...]

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Proust’s Thirty-Five Questions to Ask Your Characters

I’ve been reading the Write Practice for several months and always find the posts informational and provocative. I was particularly taken with today’s post about delving into the lives of your novel’s characters. I’m in the midst of the first revision of my novel and I’m looking for ways to round them out. Marcel Proust’s Thirty-five Questions to Ask Your Characters will definitely help. Here’s his list, written in the late nineteenth century. By the way, his answers sold in auction for €102,000 in 2003. 1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? 2. What is your greatest fear? 3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? 4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? 5. Which living person do you most admire? 6. What is your greatest extravagance? 7. What is your current state of mind? 8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? 9. On what occasion do you lie? 10. What do you most dislike about your appearance? 11. Which living person do y … [Read more...]

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The talking rock

My five days of writing at Esalen at Big Sur, California were some of the most wonderful days of my life.  I wrote five poems and heard some valuable new writing information, of which I plan to share with you over the next couple of weeks. Esalen is getting more and more into the twenty-first century. They've added Internet service in the dining room; this is where everyone congregates whether there is a meal or not.  We were lucky to have the same Internet service in our meeting room as well. However, there is no cell phone access anywhere on the property. I usually take a walk first thing, as I do at home. Last year I saw a young man, probably an Esalen staff person, standing on top of a large rock by the side of the highway talking on his cell phone. So I decided to investigate and, sure enough, I got cell phone reception.  It was not the best, with  only three little bars, but it was definitely enough to make a call. Also, it helped that the young man told me which directio … [Read more...]

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Taking an Esalen break

I'll be taking a few days' break from here while I attend my yearly poetry workshop at Esalen Institute in Big Sur California. In about an hour, I will be leaving for the six-hour drive from our home in southern California to go to central California. I love this workshop as it's a time for reflection, relaxation, and some heavy-duty poetry writing. We have a craft talk every morning and then go off to write until we get together again to share our work mid afternoons. I'll take good notes on the craft talks and share them with you when I get back. In the meantime, here are a couple of my favorite photos from the Esalen grounds. And reflections from one of my favorite times at Esalen when my husband and I went there to celebrate my sixtieth birthday.   Turning 60 As 60th birthdays go it wasn't too bad. But how would I know any difference? This was the first and last time I'll ever turn 60. Bob kept toasting me with a "here's to another 60 years." Ha! Now, … [Read more...]

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Sunday gloom

I took my usual Sunday big long walk this morning, and it drizzled throughout. Though it was a light drizzle it was enough to wet my jacket and pony tail, but not enough to soak me through and through. I liked it. I prefer walking when the weather is gray. Another gray day (photo by Keith Alan Hamilton)   However I had to watch my step. The sidewalks and Strand walkway were slippery. As a matter of fact, as I was walking downhill toward the beach I thought about the possibility of falling. With my husband and son both out of town I pondered whom I would call for help if I fell and broke something. Just then I walked over a sewer cover and slipped, fortunately catching myself before I fell. But getting into balance was enough to reactivate the nagging soreness I’ve had in my left calf for the last two weeks. I thought I was over it until I attempted a Spinning class yesterday. I was okay peddling sitting down, but after a few minutes of peddling while s … [Read more...]

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Guest author Donald R. Dempsey: review of Betty’s Child, Q&A, and giveaway

I am honored to host author Donald R. Dempsey during his WOW-Women On Writing blog tour. His memoir, Betty’s Child (Dream of Things, March 2013) is the story of one young man’s ordeals with poverty, religion, physical and mental abuse, maternal insanity, and the dire need for confidence and direction as he attempts to come of age. Here’s what three noted reviewers had to say. “Heartrending and humorous. In scene after vivid scene, Dempsey presents his inspiring true story with accomplished style. Dempsey’s discipline as a writer lends the real-life tale the feel of a fictional page-turner.” Kirkus Reviews ”Honest and raw, yet full of humor, pathos, and no-holds-barred dialogue. Fasten your seat belt and get ready for a roller coaster ride. Highly recommended.” Dr. Alan Gettis, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and author of The Happiness Solution ”This memoir is for everyone who has ever known someone abandoned, someone unloved, someone with barriers that seem impenetrable. With wit … [Read more...]

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Want to sell a ton of books?

I’ve been a member of The Greater Los Angeles Writers Society for almost three years, participating at monthly informative gatherings, book festivals, and special conferences and seminars. And I always come away from these events energized to create, market, or, as reminded by last Saturday’s guest speaker Carolyn Howard-Johnson, about ways to “Sell A Ton of Books.” Howard-Johnson is best known as The Frugal Book Promoter. She is also a literary writer, poet, and very savvy marketer. (See her complete bio on her Amazon page.) She is also generous with her knowledge. She gave us a long list of ways to sell more books without costing us a ton of money. One of the first things she said: speaking is the best way to market. However, not all writers are speakers, so we can still accomplish our marketing goals just by sitting at our desks and making use of resources online. For example:   Make lists of media, business, and personal contacts and organize them by email address … [Read more...]

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