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Archive for December, 2007

Mare Cromwell is the author of the award-winning book If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . Searching for Spirituality in America. It was a finalist in the ForeWord Magazine 2003 Book of the Year Awards and received honorable mention in the 2003 DIY Book Competition. We met at a small coffee shop a little while ago to discuss her book, the interviews featured in the work, why she decided to write it and self-publish, and her upcoming projects.

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If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . explores spirituality from many different perspectives—from an 8 year old child raised Episcopalian, to an atheist, a prison inmate, a Sufi spiritual master and others. The book was self-published through her company, Pamoon Press (http://www.pamoonpress.com). As many know, self-publishing in this way is far from easy and often very costly. It requires–among other things–purchasing one’s own block of ISBNs, finding a printer, hiring an editor, and finding a cover designer. For those that are interested in knowing more about it, this interview may also help to shed some light on the process.

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About the Author (from the author website): Mare Cromwell is the Director of Sacred Dog Productions. She is a sustainability specialist and author. With a Masters in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, she has worked in the environmental field for 26 years both internationally and locally in the Baltimore-Washington region. Most recently Mare was the Executive Director of the Prettyboy Watershed Alliance. She trained in The Natural Step framework under Karl-Henrik Robért and Paul Hawken and has led dozens of sustainability workshops in the Mid-Atlantic region. In addition to her sustainability consulting efforts, Mare occasionally speaks on Deep Ecology, simplicity and “Right Relationship”.

Interview with Mare Cromwell
NG: What inspired you to seek out different perspectives for this book?

MC: I was raised Catholic but since my early twenties I was sort of spirituality shopping, or whatever you want to call it, and I wrote the book in my thirties. The Catholic church didn’t fill me up; while there are many good points about the religion, it just wasn’t for me. It took me seven years from the start of the book to complete it.

NG: What does the question mean to you?

MC: Well, spirituality is really an ongoing thing. It’s not like you can just come to a point where you’ve stopped growing spiritually. It’s an ongoing dialog, so I guess that would really be it. The ongoing activity of asking questions and finding your personal spiritual answers that resonate and feel like spiritual truths.

NG: What interview did you find yourself connecting with the most when you edited the book?

MC: There are so many. As you know, there is the Sufi mystic, and that interview took place just after 9/11, so that was very powerful. But I didn’t connect with the religion itself, you know what I mean? Now I’m studying with a Native American spiritual healer, and that’s what works for me.

NG: You encountered some interesting people while you were doing your book tour for this book. Some people loved it, some thought it was sacrilegious. Can you tell us a little about that?

MC: It was an adventure. There were a lot of people that wanted to debate and get into arguments about what is spiritually right and what is not right, and that’s not what I’m about. I wanted to present this for people to make up their own minds, to ask their own questions about who they are and what a spiritual life means for them, and for people to see religion and spirituality from other points of view. And there were times when I got rather upset, when people said some pretty hateful things.

NG: Why did you decide to form your own publishing company for If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . ?

MC: There were a number of reasons for that. I had sent it out to a few agents but did not find one that understood what I was trying to do. They wanted to change the title or other things about it because they weren’t sure how to promote it to publishers. It had God in the title, but it didn’t fit strictly into the Christian category. Also, time was a factor. I just wanted to put it out there. The book took years to write, and I didn’t want to wait any longer to have it published the way I wanted it published.

NG: What was the process like?

MC: I hired a consultant and printed about 10,000 hardcover copies. The paper used for the book was 100% recycled so there were no trees cut, and that was an expensive process. The company had to be formed, ISBN purchased. And there was a book designer, a copy editor. There are a lot of people you need to hire to put out a book, you have to hire everyone yourself and make sure they understand your vision. This was before Print on Demand (POD) was really an alternative, when most of the POD companies you see now were in their infancy and didn’t provide many options, like editing or custom cover designs, or the option to ship books to stores on a ‘return’ policy–a big factor in getting your book accepted by book stores. Getting a book distributed successfully to a broad set of bookstores is another huge challenge for small mom and pop publishers. I liked the process of putting everything together, but it was difficult.

NG: What about promotion?

MC: That’s a huge amount of work also. I worked with several promotional companies which were not inexpensive. I spoke at churches, went on book tours all over the country, did radio shows, and arranged other speaking engagements. There’s so much to go through, and it really is amazing if you break even. I still have copies of the book at my house, if anyone would like to purchase one!

NG: What are you working on now?

MC: I’m working on a spiritual journey memoir. It incorporates much of what I’ve studied—yoga, Catholicism, and it covers my work with the Cherokee spiritual teacher.

NG: How has working on If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . prepared you for your next project?

MC: I’m just writing and not concentrating on anything but that. Obviously you want your book to be interesting. I think it’s a rare person that doesn’t care about the reader. And that is a part of the promotional aspect. But right now I’m just writing, just trying to get it all out; I’m not worrying about that aspect.

NG: What was the hardest thing about working on your last book?

MC: Promotion, definitely. Major reviewers aren’t often interested in self-published books. And I had a hard time, I think mostly because God was so prominent in the title. One promotional company stated, after the fact, that they believe that they were not able to get good publicity on the book because of that. Barnes and Noble initially shelved the book in the Christian Inspiration section, but the book is far more than that. However, there are no general spirituality sections in their stores. I eventually convinced them to put it in the New Age section. It seemed the only okay fit for the book. Libraries are a huge chunk of the market, but they base their selection primarily on certain types of reviews, like the Library Journal. And publications like that are wary of self-published books no matter what.

NG: What advice would you give to writers?

MC: Just get it written. Don’t criticize yourself while you’re writing, because there are going to be plenty of people/editors out there to do that when you’re finished with the book. Don’t give up, just allow the creative process. For anyone interested in publishing their writing, I highly recommend going to Elizabeth Gilbert’s website [http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/writing.htm. Author of Eat, Pray, Love]. She has posted a letter that she wrote for writers, and it gives the best advice to encourage us writers to not get held up by our internal critical voice.

If I Gave You God’s Phone Number . . . can be purchased at the book website at http://www.tocallgod.net/html/tcg_orde.html, or at any online book vendor site. You can also visit Mare Cromwell’s website at http://www.sacreddogllc.com.

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This group blog was started a year ago. It’s been through many changes, and various writers have had some great success stemming from participation here, as well as from their other external efforts.

I won’t bore anyone with a rundown of the evolution of the blog. I will say that recently the erudite “Jon Swift” asked me to send in what I thought was the most popular post of the year. There were so many popular entries from all of the authors, but I finally settled on the Interview with Ellen Datlow, one of the most clicked on entries of the year. I also sent in one of the recent carnivals, but it was a one-per-customer deal. Check out www.jonswift.blogspot.com to read more about his Best of the Year list.

To read some of the insightful, funny, intelligent, and sometimes wonderfully weird posts by the writers here–both past and present–go to categories and click on “Blog Entries by . . .” That will take you to all of the postings by that author.

‘Nuff said. Have a happy New Year!
Nancy O. Greene
http://www.portraits.bravehost.com

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For those who haven’t heard…Dan Fogelberg passed away from Cancer at 6am this morning. He died with his wife, Jean by his side at home in Maine. He was 56 years old.

He leaves behind a wealth of songs and artistry. For me? I was slow to warm up to his music, but I remember when I did get hooked. The songs were “Stars” and “To the Morning.”

Dan also used to lived in Kingston Springs, Tennessee which is about 30 minutes outside Nashville. Hearing stories around town of when he lived here made him feel like a neighbor even if he didn’t live next door to me. I’ll miss Dan. Thanks for the music and lyrics.

To The Morning

by Dan Fogelberg
Watching the sun…watching it come Watching it come up over the rooftops
Cloudy and warm…maybe a storm You can never quite tell from the morning

(Chorus)

And it’s going to be a day There is really no way to say no to the morning
Yes it’s going to be a day There is really nothing left to say but come on morning
Waiting for mail Maybe a tale from an old friend or even a lover Sometimes there’s none
But we have fun thinking of all who might have written

(Chorus)

And maybe there are seasons And maybe they change
And maybe to love is not so strange

The sounds of the day Now they hurry away Now they are gone until tomorrow
When day will break and you will wake And you will rake your hands across your eyes and realize

That it’s going to be a day There is really no way to say no to the morning
Yes it’s going to be a day

There is really nothing left to say but come on morning
And maybe there are seasons and maybe they change
And maybe to love is not so strange
Dan Fogelberg
1951 – 2007

Come on Mornin, indeed….Rest in Peace.

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Taryn Simpson is a freelance ghostwriter who will miss Dan Fogelberg terribly.
http://www.Taryn-Simpson.blogspot.com

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By popular demand, I am offering some Southernisms for some Holiday Cheer!

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Ann Richard-ism: “Poor George, He was born with a silver foot in his mouth”

Translation: None Needed. He’s an idiot.

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Southernism: “I’m going to have a Come To Jesus meeting with Ralph”

Translation: I’m going to have a heart to heart conversation with Ralph.

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Southernism: “If you don’t shut up, I’ll shoot and take you from a rooster to a hen with one shot! And, don’t think I can’t do it!” Dolly Parton

Translation: If you refuse to be quiet, I’ll shoot you in a strategic area that will cause you to speak in a high voice for life. And don’t think I can’t do it.
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Statement: “I feel sure I got the job”

Southernism Response: “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.”

Translation: You can’t be certain until an offer is made.
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Southernism: “We’re in a mell of a hess”

Translation: I don’t wish to curse, but I intend to say, “We’re in a Hell of a Mess”.
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Southernism: The printer is printing documents wampy- jawed.

Translation: The printer is printing documents in a crooked fashion
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Southernism: “Wash up as far as possible, wash as far down as possible, then be sure to wash possible.”

Translation: Take a shower or bath and be sure to wash your groin area.
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Southernism: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”

Translation: It’s best to secure a sure thing rather than rely on a possibility.
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Mamaw-ism: “A problem is like white meat. The more you chew on it, the bigger it gets.”

Translation: The more you think about your problems, the more it will consume all of your thoughts.

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Southernism: “I’m so hungry, my stomach’s touchin’ my backbone”

Translation: I’m very hungry, I haven’t eaten anything all day.
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Mamaw-ism: “I see said the blind man to his deaf and dumb dog”

Translation: The statement you made doesn’t make any sense.
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Southernism: “Opinions are like belly buttons, everyone’s got one.”

Translation: Everyone is going to have an opinion.
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Mom-ism: “I could squeeze a nickel so hard, I could make the buffalo take a crap.”

Translation: I’m very frugal with money.
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Southernism: “That boy’s not right. He’s one fry short of a happy meal”

Translation: That boy doesn’t seem to have all his mental facilities.
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HAPPY YULE Y’ALL! IF YA GOT SOUTH IN YOUR MOUTH, FLAUNT IT!

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Another humorous southern infested blog by Taryn Simpson
http://www.Taryn-Simpson.blogspot.com

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I dislike the onset of winter.

I don’t mind the cold. Actually, yes I do. It’s a bummer to go from mid-80s to a teeth-chattering 30s within a month. But once I get used to it, the cold’s not that bad. I like snuggling under blankets, making kettles of warm soup, taking it easy when it starts getting dark around 4pm.

But I do dislike the fact that my writing productivity plummets along with the temperature. The end of November to the end of December feels like one long, perpetual Holiday. It seems that I can never get things done, much less focus on things to write. And for a stay-at-home mom like me, that says a lot.

But you know what else sucks the productivity right out of you? Changes. Big changes. Big, big, massively big changes.

My husband has just accepted a new job. It’s in Madison, Wisconsin, which is roughly 130 miles away from where we live in Illinois. Taking the job means, of course, that we will be moving up there.

Moving is probably the number 1 worse writer’s nightmare. Having a baby would be first in most people’s minds, but with the house market being the way it is, I’m sticking it at number 2 (and no, I’m not, BTW. I got enough stresses for now.) Having relatives come over to spend the holidays in your house would be nightmare number 3 (that would be the other stress I mentioned in the previous sentence).

But here’s the clincher: there’s a good chance that once we make the move, I will need to go back to working full-time again. The possibility of going a stay-at-home mom to a full-time working mom again… well…that sends all the other nightmares shrieking off to suck their thumbs under the bed. That’s the mother of all writer nightmares.

So with all the cleaning and searching for housing agents and arranging for inlaws coming and worrying about the future, you bet that my writing productivity went down. I couldn’t focus on any of my projects. When I did sit down to write, I’d be so frazzled, I couldn’t think straight. I spent more time freewriting than actually working on something constructive. I felt like I was getting nothing done.

That’s when I realized that, instead of haphazardly working on whatever I felt was screaming the most, I needed a plan.

So I took a night to go to Panera and hash out a writing schedule for the next couple of months. I gave myself lots of leeway–I don’t have the scads of time that I had before all the changes occurred (not that I had scads of time to begin with, but I did have at least a couple of hours every day that I devoted to writing). I scaled back the projects I’m working on now to just my novel and a short story (and thank God my novel is in the early editing stages–I don’t think I could’ve handled all this chaos and finish a novel at the same time). Working on something for 15 minutes a day when I used to have a couple of hours hurts, but I’ll adjust. At least I’m getting something done.

And I’m choosing not to worry what will happen once we get to Madison. That will come in its own time. And who knows, maybe by then I would find a way to work from home, or we won’t need me to find another job, or my husband goes insane and runs off to Canada…

I’m not afraid being forced to stop writing altogether. I know for a fact that won’t happen. Writing’s in my blood now. It’s what keeps me going. When I don’t do it, I get itchy, twitchy, grumpy. It’s a fix that I gotta have, every day. The only thing that might change is the amount of time I spend on writing, that’s all.

And even then, who knows what the future holds?

I would love to get some advice from you other writers. How do you deal with changes in your writer life? How do you discipline yourself when things are going crazy around you? Do you barricade yourself in the basement? Write between the hours of 3am to 5am? Steal a few moments to use a Blackberry and hash out a sentence at a time?

And while I’m asking, anyone wanna buy a house?

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I don’t know if the writers that lurk here have been to a therapist or not, but I personally think they not only add value to your state of emotional well being, but they add value to your writing as well. At least, in my case.

I tend to look at my shrink as my “emotional coach”. You have a coach for working out, learning new skills, mentoring and so on….why not an emotional coach? And, lets face it, if you have a clear head, your writing improves automatically. The trick is to let yourself absorb the value, take a deep breath and plow ahead in your emotional journey. A good emotional coach will touch nerves at times and that is good. It’s like doing spring cleaning, no one likes to do it, but it looks and feels great after you do it.

So, if any of you in cyberspace are thinking of seeing a therapist, do it. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Ernest Hemingway would have sought help so long ago.

There’s no rule that writers have to be tortured.

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Taryn Simpson is a freelance ghostwriter – visit her online presskit at http://www.Taryn-Simpson.blogspot.com

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Welcome to the December 2, 2007 edition of writers from across the blogosphere. Browse, read, enjoy!

Sagar presents 17 Specialty Search Engines Every Web Developer Should Bookmark posted at Virtual Hosting.

Danogo presents The 2 Simple Ways to Get Your Website into Google Search Results posted at Danogo.com – Discover. Inspiring . Media, saying, “For blogs on a budget the inexpensive way to promote your site is right in Google’s search results.”

Jason Hughey presents What is a Conservative Part 2 – Social Contract and the Role of Government posted at Logical Consistency, saying, “In Part 2 of “What is a Conservative?” I go over the social contract theory of John Locke and explain how that ties into the role of government.”

Jason Hughey presents What is a Conservative Part 3 – Moral Beliefs of Individuals Theory posted at Logical Consistency, saying, “In the third article of the “What is a Conservative?” series, I present the Moral Beliefs of Individuals Theory (MBIT).”

Alfa King presents Writing for free? posted at Alfa King Memories.

Alfa King presents Beginner or professional? posted at Alfa King Memories.

Jason Hughey presents Part 4: What is a Conservative – The Declaration of Independence & The U.S. Constitution posted at Logical Consistency, saying, “In Part 4 of “What is a conservative,” I explore the undeniable relationship between the two founding documents: the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.”

articles

Robinson Go presents Persuasion 101: How to Make People Buy posted at The Robinson Go Blog, saying, “Make Money Online Now. Waste No Time, Make the Sale! Be Persuasive!”

Tiffany Colter presents Reaching more people with your blog posted at Writing Career Coach, saying, “if you post this please let me know and I will post a link to your blog on mine…..also check out my 9 year olds book reviews…..thanks”

seanjames presents The Actuality of College Life posted at Practical Jokes, Blogging Tips, Adsense, Insurance and Phew!!.

Michael Fowke presents A vision of Canary Wharf posted at Money is the way, saying, “My vision and a mystical celebration of the Canary Wharf financial centre in London’s Docklands.”

CG Walters presents Djalma : Mystic posted at Into the Mist, saying, “Excepted article from Sacred Vow by CG Walters (ISBN 978-0-9774271-0-9, visionary fiction).
Ian has met a young mystic, Djalma, who is trying to explain how Ian has been traveling into parallel lives to meet with a mysterious woman that he seems incomprehensibly bonded to.”

blogs

Christine presents GoogleAds, Keywords and Website Content: Making Money Online Using Web Content, Keywords and GoogleAds posted at Me, My Kid and Life: An American Single Mom Living in France, saying, “Writing about what drives your spirit and allowing that force to generate an income for you!”

Matt R presents Elizabeth Banks (C’96): GQ Photo Spread! posted at Dueling Tampons, saying, “Entertainment news about UPenn alumni and undergrads”

Robinson Go presents Don?t Have A Blog? Start One Now! posted at Advice, saying, “I vastly improved my creative and technical writing skills through blogging.”

Sagar presents Top 100 Social Media and Social Networking Blogs posted at Virtual Hosting.

CG Walters presents Sisterhood of Crones posted at Into the Mist, saying, “This excerpted article is from the novel, Sacred Vow (Dragon’s Beard Publishing, ISBN: 978-0-9774271-4-7, paperback, Fiction: Visionary/Metaphysical). There is a rift in the Collective Consciousness because people are not bonding one to another. The Sisterhood of Crones (a description of the order, not their name–as their name is without word) is about to perform a ritual to receive a message from the Collective Consciousness…”

Elvis D presents My Gal Poison posted at 365fiction.

Kathleen Gage presents Is Blogging Necessary? posted at Street Smarts Marketing.

Wakish presents What Is Search Engine Optimization – SEO posted at Wakish Wonderz.

book reviews

Ian Welsh presents Call for Book Reviewers posted at The Agonist.

Carole G. McKay presents One Man’s Legacy: The Politics of Reason posted at McKay Today, saying, “A review of “Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver” and how one man’s focus and passion changed a nation’s social policies and can continue to inspire us today.”

GrrlScientist presents Chosen By A Horse posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “by Susan Richards, this wonderful book is about horses, love and life, and tells the true story of how a rescued horse actually rescues the author. [book review]”

GrrlScientist presents Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted): All Things Reconsidered posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “by Roger Tory Peterson, the world’s most famous bird watcher, this collection of true-life essays recounts RTP’s travels and life with birds. [book review]”

GrrlScientist presents Birder’s Conservation Handbook posted at Living the Scientific Life, saying, “by Jeffrey Wells, this book presents information about the 100 most at-risk bird species in North America and what we can do to protect them. [book review]”

books

Andrew Edgington presents By Anthony Robbins Offers Successful Life Strategies In Free Book – London – Adzooks.co.uk posted at Anthony Robbins, saying, “Check out this book and it´s FREE, well it is if you live in Europe.”

interviews

Liz Lewis presents Interview with a Travel Writer…Pam Mandel posted at My year of getting published.

Natasha presents Interview with Faye L. Booth | web stuff 4 writers posted at web stuff 4 writers, saying, “Interview with debut author, Faye L. Booth, focussing on how she’s used the internet to promote her book.”

Susan Johnston presents 5 Q’s with Sarah Jio posted at The Urban Muse.

life

Warren Wong presents How To Feel Better And Be Happier posted at Personal Development for INTJs, saying, “Some practical tips you can use now to feel better and be happier.”

Yazan Manasrah presents Uncluttering your mind posted at The Blasted Crossing, saying, “Want to find out how to gain the focus and mental energy to accomplish the daily tasks you must do?”

kcawley presents Break posted at Tomorrow’s Confusion, saying, “Take flight”

philosophy

Jeremy Neal presents Don’t Be One of the Herd posted at Thoughts on Quotes, saying, “Fear causes a herd mentality. Have the courage not to be one of the herd.”

kcawley presents House, Not a Home posted at Tomorrow’s Confusion, saying, “Poetic tale, ironic and short where the hero is nameless and the plot is unkown”

politics/current events

Madeleine Begun Kane presents First Pakistan And Then? posted at Mad Kane’s Political Madness.

Jeremy Neal presents Save Yourself from Government Regulation posted at Thoughts on Quotes, saying, “Government should protect us from each other, but not ourselves, says Ronald Reagan. Citizens must get involved to ensure government stays within due bounds.”

Jason Hughey presents What is a Conservative Part 1 – An Understanding of Natural Law posted at Logical Consistency, saying, “A summary of the natural law theory (as argued by John Locke and Sir William Blackstone).”

Alex presents The Iraq’s standard of safety posted at Samson BLinded.

publishing

Peter Huang presents Jade Raymond Comic posted at As You Want It, saying, “About something that happened in late November.”

reading

Rebecca Wallace-Segall presents Schools: Celebrate Teen Writers posted at a community of young writers in new york city.

religion

James DeLelys presents Home posted at HOME, saying, “What is Love?”

writing

JJ LOCH presents Sailboat Masts, Arnold Mackinac Ferry, and a Bell Tower posted at Nature Shows and Dreams.

Wakish presents Writing the GP Essay – Write to convince! posted at Wakish Wonderz.

patrick treadway presents How To Write A Haiku posted at How2Blogger.

Natalie presents 3 ways to brainstorm ideas for lyrics posted at Quaxle, saying, “This is a short post about ways to creatively find ideas for stories. This was aimed at writing song lyrics as my blog is about songwriting but this can be applied to any kind of fiction writing.”

Elvis D presents Mortality Acknowledged posted at 365fiction.

Elvis D presents Wiggle Room posted at 365fiction.

CG Walters presents Writing Sacred Vow : Letting a Spirit Story flow posted at Into the Mist, saying, “For me, one of my most powerful connections to the Absolute—the Tao, or whatever you may call the unified intelligence—has turned out to be through just the right story: something that takes the form of an extended mantra, imbued with a rhythm and symbolism resonating so personally that it seems surely to be a direct manifestation of my intuitive self.”

Elvis D presents Chasing Fame posted at 365fiction.

Rebecca Wallace-Segall presents Lessons from the Newest Generation of Writers (& Thinkers) posted at a community of young writers in new york city.

Wakish presents Method Of Presentation Of Topics posted at Wakish Wonderz.

The Career Counselor presents The Scoop on Freelancers Union: How and Why You Should Join posted at ask the CareerCounselor, saying, “Although there are perhaps two or three freelance unions in existence, by far the most well-known and far-reaching union is the nonprofit Freelancers Union. In 1995, Sara Horowitz, a former labor lawyer, launched the Working Today organization in an effort to meet the many needs of the growing freelance and independent workforce. In 2001, Working Today created the Portable Benefits Network (PBN) to help bring affordable benefits to freelancers across New York City. Finally, in May 2003 PBN changed it’s name to Freelancers Union.”

Missy presents Setting the Scene posted at Incurable Disease of Writing, saying, “Three basic questions to ask yourself when creating a scene…”

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