One More Time

MilkyWay_Java_justin Ng
“My soul is in the sky.” ― William Shakespeare

The signs are all around me,
The storm is raging still.
The wind brings sounds of battle,
From that far distant hill.

I thought this all was over,
I thought my race was run.
But just as I was resting,
My peaceful life’s undone.

Now one final trial:
My guts recoil in fear.
He’s coming soon, despite me,
I feel him drawing near.

 Comes weary resignation,
And anger pushing blood,
Determined to leave honor,
Where once foul evil stood.

Put Your Writing First

Good advice….

Writer's Resource/Sunspot Lit

On a typical day, I work on my own novels and novellas, ghostwrite or revise a business book or novel for a client, edit a memoir or collection of essays for a client, write back cover copy and query letters, research publishing trends, and perform administrative tasks like answering email and filing.

Often fellow authors ask me how I get everything done…but most often they ask how I keep my own novels on track considering that I’m basically working three jobs (writing novels, writing/editing clients’ books, and marketing my own work and the works of clients).

My answer is simple: Do the most important work first. That means I write my own books for the first hour of every day.

The rest of the morning is dedicated to high-level client projects (ghostwriting, rewriting, and editing, all of which require a fresh mind and a sharp focus).

After lunch, I research…

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Calling FDR

I’ve been thinking….

If the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, I’m afraid eliminating our own fear is still only part of the answer.

What about your fear? What if your fear drives you to become alarmed about me for some reason, and to pick up a brick and try to brain me with it? Now I’m afraid of you. And we’re both afraid.

This does not seem to be moving in the right direction.

So for me not to be afraid, you can’t be, either (at least as long as you intend to hit me in the head with that brick). But let’s say, since you’re a reasonable person, that we manage to talk it over and you and I both decide we have nothing to fear from one another. That’s great. We even have a beer over it, and are feeling pretty brotherly. You drop the brick on the floor.

But what about that guy at the next table? He is suspicious of detente, or blue shirts, or the voices in his head tell him God demands a human sacrifice. Today. Who knows why. It could be anything. Maybe it’s my shirt (although I pray it’s yours).

But he picks up that brick you dropped and now wants to brain us both with it. It doesn’t matter which one, either. He’s willing to take it as it comes. Just start with one and then move onto braining the other. The voices weren’t too specific about the precise methods, just really insistent to brain someone NOW!

But — and this is getting a little monotonous, isn’t it? — now we’re both afraid again. This guy, who neither of us knows, has the intention to kill us with your brick. And I have the sinking feeling that if we’re able to deal with this guy somehow (convince him to stop being afraid, or, as a practical option, just shooting him), there will just be more willing to follow in his footsteps.

I don’t know about you, but I’m discouraged. I thought it was just a matter of managing my own fear, and by helping you to manage yours I did that, and more. But there seems to be no end of it, at least theoretically. It’s our ape nature; we’re a contentious and jealous and paranoid lot, I guess.

I guess it does come down to what FDR said, “the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” But what he didn’t say — which would have really messed up the lovely symetry and rhythm of that speech, after all — was that we really can’t totally eliminate fear, either.

All we can do is get a grip on ourselves. If we act as though we have no fear, we’ll eventually have some hope of becoming fearless.

But I know one thing for sure… continually giving into fear, and letting it control what we do, does nothing to lessen it’s power.

And that scares me.

Buy Me A Beer

Reblogged.. That was fun! 🙂

The Migraine Chronicles

buy me a beer
Miss, he said
may I sit here
of course you may
but you must
buy me a beer
you see I didn’t
come to talk or think
I came here
tonight to drink
so sit down
right here
and please sir
buy me a beer
or perhaps
a whiskey
if you don’t find
that too risky
you see
I’d like to get blazed
and no
you are not
getting laid
don’t bother
me your name
it’s all the same
just have
a seat right here
shut up
and buy me a beer
or hey maybe
a vodka
no sir
I don’t wanna
dance or
take a chance
I’m not looking
for love
or friendship
I came
to this bar
to get lit
so sir
if your gonna
sit here
shut your face
and buy me
a beer

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So….Ya want to be a writer?

If that’s you, here are some tips from one of the best…

George Orwell has earned the right to be called one of the finer writers in the English language through such novels as 1984,Animal Farm, and Down and Out in Paris and London, and essays like “Shooting an Elephant.”

Orwell excoriated totalitarian governments in his work, but he was just as passionate about good writing. Thus, you may want to hear some of Orwells writing tips.*

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clearer?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

And he will probably ask himself two more:

  1. Could I put it more shortly?
  2. Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

One can often be in doubt about the effect of a word or a phrase, and one needs rules that one can rely on when instinct fails. I think the following rules will cover most cases:

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

* From Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language.”

Should Authors Have to “Market Themselves”?

Kristen Lamb's Blog

"Crap. Revisions tore my hose. But I need to sell more books and 'market myself'…" “Crap. Revisions tore my hose. But I need to sell more books and get out and ‘market myself’…”
Image via Darwin Bell, Flickr Creative Commons.

All right, don’t stone me, but I feel some of the marketing “buzz words” range from terrifying to annoying to outright offensive. For instance, every time I read “target your demographic” or “target your readers” I wonder if this comes with a Predator Drone or at least a laser sight.

I don’t know about you guys, but I get creeped out being “targeted.” It makes it seem we (seller and consumer) are opponents—one the cunning victor and the other the hapless dupe who landed in the marketing crosshairs.

But the one that’s gotten my hackles up over the past week or so is when writers are beating themselves up. They write things in my comments like, “I know need to try harder to market myself”…

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AWP 2014: Truth & First Person Journalism

We Americans tell 1.6 lies a day; Tips for telling the truth

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

1901147_10152629853947656_1697701726_nGuest blogger Samantha Claire Updegrave responds to the AWP Seattle panel, “First Person Journalism: Tips for Telling the Truth”:

I’m in an end-of-AWP-day-one cranky stupor when journalist, author, and magazine editor Autumn Stephens’ humor lifts me up. I shift my sore hips back into the chain-locked chair, lean forward, and soak up her soft-spoken words. 

“Americans tell 1.6 lies a day,” she tells us, citing a 2010 study. She leans into the microphone and tosses out a few examples.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

We have an open marriage.

There are weapons of mass destruction.”

I’m pretty honest, but it makes me think. I tell that first lie to my four-year-old who demands the book Santa’s Toy Shop at bedtime at least four times a week. He says he’s going to be extra good this year so that Santa will stop at his house with a model…

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Dear Spam Followers, This Blogger Will NOT Be Visiting Your Site

I’ve been getting some from people promising to drive my stats and show me how to do this blog thing. I never return the ‘follow’. If I follow your blog, it’s because I want to hear what you have to say. To do otherwise, and Michelle does below, would be disrespectful of you and the effort you put into this.

The Green Study


I’ve been out of circulation for the last week. I’ve been extremely busy following through on some volunteer commitments. I was astonished to see that my readership had jumped an unbelievable 15% in a week – without having written a single thing. The WordPress bot attacks reported in the news are in relation to denial of service attacks with the installation, so this is a separate issue.

To the people who have legitimately read and found something here that appeals to them, I sincerely thank you. I have so many great “conversations” with you and I value the time that you have taken to read, like and/or comment on a post. I am slow to catch up on my reading, but I try to visit each and every subscribed reader’s blog. Sometimes I follow it as well, if I find a subject that resonates or the writing or story…

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A Day in the Life of Author – Alan McDermott

Here’s what it’s really like for many/most novel writers.

I am delighted to welcome author Alan McDermott to the blog today. Alan is one of those authors that I am in awe of – he writes great books while holding down a full time job, and has twin girls at home too. This is how a normal day for him goes. Amazing!


Being an author is fantastic!  The money, the fame, being able to get up whenever you want, write a couple of thousand words and then play a round of golf or go for a spin in the Lamborghini…

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Speaking in Tongues-TipsyLit Prompted ‘Speaking with Another Voice’

I’m a fan. Give this blog a read and you will be, too.


This originally saw light of day very early on on this blog, at a time when nobody was reading me. However, since this week’s Prompt was inspired by me (thanks Wendy) I decided to resurrect it, modify it a bit, rename it, and stick it in for the Challenge.  So here it is.

In the unlikely event that you did read the original, you’ll see I’ve toned down the language a bit. This is a family show.

If you like the Charlie character, and lots of people do, you can find her and her further adventures in extreme violence and foul language here


When I was still gainfully employed I worked with a really nice Frenchman, Laurent. Highly intelligent though he could sometimes accidentally obscure this fact. He was a pharmacologist for a major drugs firm.

His grasp of English was generally good, much much better than…

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Life will break you…

In honor of “Stealing from Others Saturday”. Never heard of it? It’s new; I just made it up. My motto is “steal from the best.”

Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t, either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.

Tell yourself that you tasted as many as you could.

—Louise Erdrich

Local newspapers: fewer reporters = less content = declining revenue

Until newspapers — or whatever replaces them — can provide a decent living for a reporter to raise a family and legal protection against counterattacks of the wounded powerful, we’re going to suffer an unprecedented wave of public corruption. It’s already happening.

Progressive Culture | Scholars & Rogues

Corporate owners treat news as “product.” As a result, the industry is on life support.

by Patrick Vecchio

I can’t remember how young I was when I fell in love with my local newspaper. It started with a comic strip: Mandrake the Magician. I would wait on our front porch for the newspaper boy, spread the paper on the floor and read Mandrake on my hands and knees. As I grew older, my interest expanded to different sections of the paper. By the time I reached high school, I was reading it from front to back. I loved it.

I never left my hometown, and after studying journalism in college, I began working as a reporter at a tiny daily newspaper about 20 miles away.

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The Greatest Generation


Must Be This Tall To Ride


After my parents came back to the house to tell me which one of them I was going to live with, everything’s a little fuzzy.

I just know the judge picked mom.

So, I said bye to dad—see you in several months!—and mom drove four-year-old me 500 miles east to her parents’ house back in Ohio.

I have memory flashes of sleeping and bathing at my grandparents. We lived there for a while. Celebrated my fifth birthday there.

My first life-reset.

My grandparents lived on a 43-arce farm in the Ohio countryside. A big, white farmhouse with black shutters.

A huge concrete porch where I spent countless hours playing. Barbecuing with my grandfather. Staring at the majesty of the vast night sky.

A red barn. Where I was chased by angry chickens. Where I would sometimes sneak into the hayloft to read books. Where I killed…

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What Makes an Author a Professional?

Got to land the plane. 🙂

Writer's Resource/Sunspot Lit

Recently author Brian Klems offered his opinion on the difference between professional authors and amateurs. He pointed out that patience is one difference, which fits with one of my top tips: be persistent. Publishing is not a race. No matter whether you’re indie or with a traditional house, marketing and outreach take time.

Another difference he noted was focus. It’s fine to work on several projects at once but something at some point has to be finished…otherwise the author will never have anything to send out. Whenever clients ask me about how best to achieve success with a work they’re writing, I tell them to finish the manuscript. Once it’s in a fixed format, any problem can be fixed. Until it’s on the page, it is very difficult to address problems, even ones you know are there. Finish first, then shift your focus to fine tuning the draft.

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Commitment is the Cure–From “Aspiring” Writer to Professional Author

“…The average person out there has no concept of how hard it is to write a book. They think we sit and play with imaginary friends all day, which we do, but making those friends cooperate can be nothing short of a nightmare. Readers only see the final product. They only see what took months or years to complete….”

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Tim Simpson. Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Tim Simpson.

It’s been amazing and terrifying to watch the changes in our industry just over the past six years. For generations, there was only a handful of items a writer needed to do. Write a book. Query. Get an agent. Land a deal. Hopefully continue writing more books. Though this was far simpler, there was a horrific failure rate and most writers never saw their works in print.

In The Digital Age, we live in an exciting time. E-books have offered new life to many works that were simply a bad investment in the paper-based world (novellas, epic fantasy, poetry). Yet, with new opportunity comes new responsibilities.

We must understand the business side of our business. And, as someone who teaches at many conferences, I know that until recently it has been rare to find an in-person conference that offers training outside…

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Writer’s Resource

I’m keeping my promise.

To get the juices flowing as I sit down to blow the dust off of the book project, I’ve reread some sections of a book I’d like to recommend here.

“The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises” by James Scott Bell. It’s full of very practical and pithy ideas for how to work on long-form writing, and adds some useful tips on how to navigate the publishing world. Advice from a best-selling novelist and writing teacher.

$10 at Amazon:

A Poem For Saturday

The Dish


“To a Butterfly” by William Wordsworth (1770-1850):

I’ve watched you now a full half hour,
Self-poised upon that yellow flower;
And, little Butterfly!  indeed
I know not if you sleep, or feed.
How motionless!  not frozen seas
More motionless!  and then
What joy awaits you, when the breeze
Hath found you out among the trees,
And calls you forth again!

This plot of Orchard-ground is ours;
My trees they are, my Sister’s flowers;
Stop here whenever you are weary,
And rest as in a sanctuary!
Come often to us, fear no wrong;
Sit near us on the bough!
We’ll talk of sunshine and of song;
And summer days, when we were young,
Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now!

(Photo by Dwight Sipler)

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CARRY ON CONFUCIUS – A tale of ridiculous proportions!




Random Woman: “You’re that Confucius bloke aren’t you?”

Confucius: “Might be luv, what’s it to you?”

Random Woman: “I’m your biggest fan that’s what. I hang on your every saying. That one that goes, ‘Confucius says, ‘ Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves,’ has always done it for me and I lived my entire life adhering to the spirit of your masterful gem, ‘What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.’ So can you give me one today?”

Confucius: “Don’t know about that luv; I mean if you really want to I suppose I might feel inclined to slip you one.”

Random Woman: “Oh you are a very ribald man aren’t you? No I didn’t mean any of that malarkey. I meant a saying. A proper ‘Confucius says’ one. Anyway maybe you could knock…

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100 years from now

A Hundred Years from Now

by David Shumate

I’m sorry I won’t be around a hundred years from now. I’d like to
see how it all turns out. What language most of you are speaking.
What country is swaggering across the globe. I’m curious to know
if your medicines cure what ails us now. And how intelligent your
children are as they parachute down through the womb. Have
you invented new vegetables? Have you trained spiders to do your
bidding? Have baseball and opera merged into one melodic sport?
A hundred years….My grandfather lived almost that long. The
doctor who came to the farmhouse to deliver him arrived in a
horse-drawn carriage. Do you still have horses?

“A Hundred Years from Now” by David Shumate from Kimonos in the Closet. © University of Pittsburg Press, 2013. Reprinted with permission.


“The lyfe so short, the craft so long to lerne." --Chaucer


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In happiness my words I lack, in grief they overflow.

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Creative Nonfiction & Poetry



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