Saturday, December 26, 2009


Here are a few of the ideas that I gleaned from a commencement speech by Mr. Jobs. In three short stories, Mr. Jobs hits some deep truth.

Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick, keep moving on. To do great work, love what you do. Good advice. I hope you work hard to redeem your days this week. Life is, oh, so short.

After that Mr. Jobs talks about cancer his fight with cancer. I'm so close to that, living that moment when you are wondering if you are going to have any more life to live. This experience makes you understand how precious life is. I've been there and it has made me fierce to seize each day.

Don't waste your life. Follow your heart and intuition.

Here is a link to the entire speech from Mr. Jobs.:

This week, I hope you thank God that you're here and you have yet more opportunity to follow your dreams.

No doodle this week, instead a photo. I call this "Wild World." I took this pic of the Pacific south of Monterey, CA, last February.

Here is the quote for the week: Follow your heart even when it leads you off the the well worn path. Steve Jobs

Saturday, December 19, 2009

2009 Christmas Poem

Here's my annual offering, folks. Not much but heartfelt.

Christmas morning!
Hear children open their stockings.
Shouts. Arguments. Hugs. Pandemonium.
And it's just beginning.
Stacks of blueberry pancakes,
and then children rip paper off packages.
I bask in the glow of tree lights.
Over the squeals and peals,
songs that Mema sang wrap around me.

Not everyone gets what they want.
The cat rolls in the catnip.
I think back to Christmas with my mom and sigh.
No, it's never a perfect morn,
but it's always good.

I love Christmas morning.
A pearl of a day on life's journey.
And I pause and feel the love.
I know we folks are more than we think.
I lift up my face in thanks.

These moments are a taste
of the good things to come.
A breath of thought,
my soul is near the light
of the incorruptible.
Like cleansing rain,
it washes away
the heaviness of the past year.
All my cares fall away
And I open to Emmanuel.

I know God with us.
An unsung song fills me.
My heart, touched by His Son's day.
An unsung song floods me.
Room is made in this heart of mine.
and I smile every time,
and repeat the sounding joy,
Born, crucified, risen,
coming again. Amen.

I love Christmas morning. Selah.

Here is my Christmas doodle:

And now my quote:

Be content with what you have, for God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid."

Hebrews 13:5,6

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Hi, folks, this can be a busy time of year. Life speeds along. On top of normal hustle and bustle, I'm in for big changes in 2010. The biggest will be a relocation to down-home Texas from fair Washington. Pretty big stuff, so I'm facing a few months of working in the margins. In ideal life, you block a good 25 hours a week for writing, add on another 8 for marketing and finish everything off with blogging, networking, and arranging the office supplies. This is the ideal writing life.

In the real life, you have 40 hours of other business commitments each week and then another 20 to 40 hours on top of that for family commitments, and then you write your book in all that spare time left-over. You write from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. and crawl out of bed at 6:30 a.m. and try to squeeze in 30 more minutes of writing. You write 100 words as many times as you can in short bursts all day. You breathe. You are very kind to yourself and others around you. You fill up the margins with your writing life.

I hope that you all scribble in the margins some over the coming weeks.

I call this week's doodle, Funky Face.

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

And the quote for the week. Something to think about.

I am a part of all that I have met; yet all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move. Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


I have a flexibility of thought that opens me up to a belief that I can. Whatever it is, I can. How did I get in to the territory of infinite possibility? I think some of it is hard-wired. I was born with it. I find that most creative folks have a decent slice of "impossible dreamer" within them.

This works for you and against you. You may have many outlandish dreams and have to figure out which one is worth pursuing. Another thing, half the battle is to channel all that flexible thought into something salient on the page. Yeah, not so easy.

Unfortunately, no matter how clear my vision is, I can't get the stuff inside me on the page without some serious work. To this day I don't I've ever been able to let the pure light that heats me up within to shine fully out. But I have hope that I'll crack open someday and the light will flood. I have found that you must be on the journey to get to the place that your wish to go. So keep plodding forward, that is one sure way to get there.

On the backside of all my flexibility and creativity is a worry that my point of view is uninteresting and lacks perspective. It's like being a wren. How so? You know, there are lots of plain old wrens out there. They're a dime a dozen. How do you stand out? How do you get your voice heard? Does every wren get her day? I hope so.

When I feel different, plain, awkward, tired and old, this little lyric from childhood sings in my heart:

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your tail is mighty white.
Yes, my lord, I've been gettin out of sight,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your coat is mighty gray.
Yes, my lord, it was made that way
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your ears are mighty long.
Yes, my lord, they were put on wrong,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

Mr. Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, your ears are mighty thin.
Yes, my lord, they're a-splittin' in the wind,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

Mr Rabbit, Mr. Rabbit, I'll bid you good day.
Yes, my lord, and I'll be on my way,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine,
Every little soul's gonna shine, shine.

So here's your gift for the day. Every little soul's going to shine. Don't lose heart. Keep working. Keep creating. You can. You will.

A little rambling today, but still I hope something in here sparks that moment 0f recognition in you, "Ah, here is some one who see things like me", or perhaps, I've spurred you on to say, "I can!" Good. I hope you step out and do.

See you next week with more reasons to seize the day.

Doodles return! I call today's doodle: Angels. There may be a story in here somewhere.

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

I hope that this quote gets you to embrace a "can do" attitude.

Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.
John Wesely

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Winners of the 2009 Golden Coffee Cup.

Hi, folks, thank you for hanging out! Really we are all winners.:) Thanks to my son Jesse Blaisdell for creating our nifty award.

Still, the winners of the real live coffee are as follows:

Janet Lee Carey said...

Hooray for the Golden Coffee Cup and for Molly B!

I finished the first third of revision for Bound By Three -- now for the rest. Took a while to get into the swing of this revision but now it's rolling. The Golden Coffee Cup got me through some bleak days so Thank You! Miss Molly B! And thanks to all the coffee cuppers who posted in the blog or left comments. They helped too.

jesse joshua watson said...
I birthed my novel this month, which was my goal. I had carried the story around in my brain for years and this month it came out. (talk about a long pregnancy ... and a month long labor. ouch.)

Now it can stand on its own baby legs. (Until I knock it unmercifully to the ground with the editing hammer.) Yee haw. Thank you, Molly!

Laurie Thompson said...
Ha! I guess I should've gone back to see what my original goals were before the last day, since it seems I changed them mid-month without realizing it! ;) Either way, I'm not quite finished in time, but I made so much progress that I STILL feel like a winner, and I know exactly what still needs to be done so I have a clear plan for finishing ALL the goals before the holidays. Thanks for the much-needed incentive AND inspiration, Molly!

Michèle Griskey said...

Yes, I completed my work-in-progress. I thought I would be done early in the month, but I finally finished yesterday. Oh well, at least I finished it before the deadline.

Thank you for a great month Molly and everyone.
And here's to a cup of coffee and a new writing project. :)

Send your address to me at and I will send your card good for a cup of piping hot java!

If you want me to email the Award picture, I will, but you can cut and paste it if you want. :)

My mother drew a distinction between achievement and success. She said that 'achievement is the knowledge that you have studied and worked hard and done the best that is in you. Success is being praised by others, and that's nice, too, but not as important or satisfying. Always aim for achievement and forget about success. Helen Hayes

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Day 28 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Christopher Cheng

Hi folks, whew, two more days until the Golden Coffee Cup ends. Yee haw! Get cracking, folks. Sands are slipping through the hour glass!

No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

Today's Down Under high five comes from Austrailian (Oz) author Christopher Cheng. He's holding up a 5 1b. Christmas cake too, in case you are an inquiring mind who wants to know. I bet that goes good with coffee.

Here Chris offers some inspiration to create master works.

I keep a note book filled with ideas -- okay I have about 10 notebooks at the moment. They range from the crazy things I see; like

* kids picking their noses on buses and wiping the extracted clump of fluid under the seat (true it really did happen); to

* kids complaining about their parents; to

* spooky noises that I heard one night (this is now a picture book that is coming out with Random House in 2011); to

* kids saying that they can't do anything to improve the environment (after teaching an education class at the zoo which became my first picture book One child,

I use them as record keeping. I use them as inspiration. They are there to store the inner thoughts of the 9-12 year old me!

... I love just writing. I write something EVERY day!

AND you can't be a writer if you don't write. so ... grab those pens (and not the keyboard ... the physical pen on paper jot down those ideas what am I thinking thing!)

Write something.
Write a letter.
Write to Molly.
Write to Me.

Just write. and with Christmas approaching why not write cards this year ... yes physically write. What do you put on that card? Why not simply tell your wife/husband/kids/grandparents/best friends how much you love them - and WHY you love them, or the funniest things about them, or the craziest thing they did this year or .....!!! Go on put pen to paper.

And what are you thinking right now!

This guy is writing twaddle? Then write it down ... but also write down words the you would write better.

If this guy is writing some words of wisdom ... then improve those words of wisdom and write down your words of wisdom too.

If you want to read Chris's blog, want to head to an SCBWI Australia/NZ event, or check out new Aussie kids books, click away.

I think the upshot is clear here, folks. You better get busy. For the artists, I have noticed that all the artists I know do this notebook thing too, but they draw pictures instead of writing. Perhaps you need to create your own Christmas cards this year.

Well, that's the hot java for today. I hope you brew some of your own today. :) See ya manana.

I write journals and would recommend journal writing to anyone who wishes to pursue a writing career. You learn a lot. You also remember a lot... and memory is important.

Judy Collins

Remember: If you reach your goal from Nov 23 to Nov 30, and post on the blog, you will be receive your Golden Coffee Cup picture. There is no verification process, I believe you. Send in your email address to and your Golden Coffee Cup picture will be emailed to you. Display it proudly as wallpaper, post it on your blog, print it out and tack it on your bulletin board for year-long motivation. Goal reached or not, write a great post and you might win the real coffee!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Day 26 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Thankful

Oh, Happy Thanksgiving, folks. Welcome to day 26 of the Golden Coffee Cup. No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

I reserve this day every year for a-hug-from-my-beloved-mother high five. That girl with her tongue stuck out is me. I cannot tell you how much I miss my mom. I am so thankful for her. I'm so thankful for the simple wisdom she gave me.

I'm going to share a little something from her journal this year. My mom had this wonderful voice. It's shimmers in her writing. In this excerpt, whe wrote about a book she dreamed of writing.

When I am in tune with the earth, God will answer my prayers, as he always does, slowly sometimes with the turning of the seasons. When he gave me my heart's desire thought, it was as if lightning had struck in my heart and soul, all at once. So, you can't tell.

My book, it will be the story of the family, their friends, what they do, how they care about each other, and how damaged people stumble about doing more damage and the ways people react to them, and whether or not they allow themselves to be damaged or go on around the the troublemakers of this world.

For everyone, in the Golden Coffee Cup, I hope you open up your hearts and search out your story like my mom. I will be back tomorrow. I hope you will too. You need to send in your emails, folks, so I can send you the 2009 Golden Coffee Cup to print out or post on your blog or your refrigerator, or on the inside of the visor of your car... Also 4, folks, will receive a real live cup of hot java.

Remember: If you reach your goal from Nov 23 to Nov 30, and post on blog, you will be receive your Golden Coffee Cup picture. There is no verification process, I believe you. Send in your email address to and your Golden Coffee Cup picture will be emailed to you. Display it proudly as wallpaper, post it on your blog, print it out and tack it on your bulletin board for year-long motivation. Write a great post and you might win the real coffee!

Here is a quote she loved:

Happiness -- The full use of your powers along lines of excellence. JFK 10-31-63

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Day 24 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Chris Eboch

Glory! We have reached day 24 of the Golden Coffee Cup! I know this is a busy week but try to carve out time to feed your creative soul. Post your successes and I will do some holy snappin'! Snap! Snap! Snap!

No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

Today we get a-gripping-the-wall high five from Chris Eboch. Chris is the author of a wonderful spooky mystery series, HAUNTED. There are three titles currently: THE GHOST ON THE STAIRS, THE KNIGHT IN THE SHADOWS, and THE RIVER BOAT PHANTOM. I hope lots of Christmas trees have these stacked underneath. :)

In max adventure form, today Chris pours out the piping hot stuff:

Sometimes getting through a manuscript feels like climbing a cliff. But people do climb cliffs, with the right training and equipment. You can climb your way through your manuscript, with your writing tools, and your support group holding onto the other end of the rope. Take a rest when you need to, but keep heading for the top, one desperate fingerhold at a time -- the view from up there is worth it.

All good writers know we must drag our characters through hell and back before they can achieve their goal and win their rewards. It's only fair that we struggle too, as we get those stories down on paper. Then their joy in achievement will reflect our own.

Well, I hope you all are hanging out there on a rope. Don't let go! Keep climbing. You are about to achieve something fantastic! Come back tomorrow for another hot cup of java.

Creating a new theory is not like destroying an old barn and erecting a skyscraper in its place. It is rather like climbing a mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections between our starting points and its rich environment. But the point from which we started out still exists and can be seen, although it appears smaller and forms a tiny part of our broad view gained by the mastery of the obstacles on our adventurous way up. Albert Einstein.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Day 23 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Holly Cupala

Oh, happy day! I'm so glad you have hung in there. Keep working. The end of the Golden Coffee Cup is in sight! One more week!
No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

Today's high five comes from the wonderful Holly Cupala. Holly is all about the heart and soul and, yes, she actually can translate both into written words. Her book, TELL ME A SECRET, chronicles seventeen-year-old Miranda’s unexpected pregnancy and her gripping journey to navigate the labyrinth of her bad-girl sister Xanda’s life, unravel the mystery of her death, and free herself in the process comes out early next summer. Mark your calendars and get your tissues ready, folks. Librarians prepare shiny stickers.

Holly is serving up our hot java today:

I believe that we as humans have been made with purpose wired into us, into our very DNA. Not a thing is wasted in the continuum of our lives, neither hurts nor joys. Every one of those experiences weaves into our reasons for being.

If you are here, that probably means your purpose is laced with stories, perhaps one story that pursues you relentlessly. To claim that purpose, you must step forward with courage. Surround yourself with fellow travelers. Prioritize time to soak in inspiration, time to create. Learn to recognize the voices (many of them in your own heart, or voices from the past or present) that would stop you. Listen to the one true voice, the one that knows your purpose with absolute certainty. Then do whatever it takes.

Your story and your destiny demand it.

Great stuff, Holly. This is the heart of the Golden Coffee Cup, folks. I hope that you have really been searching out the depth, width, and breadth of your work. You have a purpose. I will be here tomorrow with more of the hot stuff. I hope you will be, too.

The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning. Mitch Albom

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Day 19 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Conrad Wesselhoeft

Day 19 of the Golden Coffee Cup. Whoo hoo! I can just feel the momentum. The euphoria is beginning. But if you're struggling, take a deep breath, wipe the slate clean, and remember again, this is yet another day with no mistakes. It's never too late to start a journey or get back on track.

No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

Today is comes a toast-with-your friends high five. Clockwise Conrad Wesselhoeft, Me, Megan Bilder, Cathy Benson, Susan Greenway and Louise Spiegler.

Conrad Wesselhoeft, author of upcoming ADIOS, NIRVANA from Houghton Mifflin, offers more piping hot stuff. I'm sure it will super charge your work.

First, Conrad connects plot and a sneeze:

The way I plot a novel pretty much parallels the way I sneeze. That's because a good story, like a good sneeze, both contain:

1. The "inciting moment" when you know something's going to happen and all other thoughts fly out of your head.
2. The mindful build-up that contains a sense--and hope--of inevitable culmination
3. The culmination itself--very cathartic and satisfying.
4. The mopping up.

Next, for all the storytellers on this journey, Conrad puts our journey in a nutshell:

It boils down to the importance of storytelling. Sentence-writing and paragraph-polishing are important, of course, but storytelling is the key. This is not too different from what our ancestors sitting on the river bank, around the smoky fire, were doing 25,000 years ago. Telling stories.

And last from Conrad, a special key to help you move forward.

Faith is another thing--faith in self. It can be hard to sustain, in this funny business of writing fiction. Specifically, faith that what we're doing is important. (It is!) And faith that the creative mists of the mind will ultimately crystallize--that we will have that breakthrough. (We can only hope.)

Have a little faith today, folks. I'm sure you will find magic on the page. See you tomorrow for the next cup of hot java.

Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass. Anton Chekhov.

A friend might well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature. Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Day 18 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Conrad Wesselhoeft

Whoop for day 18 of the Golden Coffee Cup! You have got to feel pleased today. Take time today to flip through your pages. You rock!

No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

Today is another fist-bump. My friend and colleague, Conrad Wesselhoeft bumps fist with Seattle sports impresario and rock 'n' roll drummer Michael Kelly.

To me, Conrad W. is one of the best writers that I have ever read. He's got a book coming out next year called ADIOS, NIRVANA from Houghton Mifflin. I borrowed this from Publisher's Marketplace: ADIOS, NIRVANA is about a teenaged poet-musician who survives the first anniversary of his twin brother's death with the help of a dying blind man, the best group of thicks a guy could have, a demanding school principal who wants him to play the "pussiest song in the world," at graduation, and one very special guitar, for publication in fall 2010. Watch for it. This guy writes the bone -- sturdy, ageless stories that I'm so thankful that he's taken the time to craft.

He's bringing the java today and tomorrow. So Yay!!!!

First, Conrad offers some insight how to improve the structure of a novel, stressing the profitableness of revision. This should bring some peace and hope to you all, and help you press forward with your projects. Conrad writes:

The nice thing about the structure of a novel--as opposed to the structure of, say, a cathedral--is that the revision process lets you go back and add bolts and girders, without everything imploding. I'm finding with my book (ADIOS, NIRVANA), even this far into the revision, that adding one little bolt (just a phrase or sentence) in chapter three, for example, can definitely strengthen the rest of the book, in terms of plot. And yet I wasn't aware of the need for that bolt until now. So time, puzzling and pondering are great friends. They give answers, eventually.

I love this next bit about how to create a meaningful character. Here's another sip from Conrad:

I believe that the more a character "confesses," or shares, of his or her deep worries and feelings, the more interesting that character is, and the more the reader wants to get involved. A confessional tone can both relieve tension, and cause it. There's a fine line, though. Some writers are so agile, that their characters confess virtually nothing, but they imply much, through action. The challenge is to find the balance--how much to share.

Think about it? Are your characters confessing?

I know this is a venti java today. Thanks, Conrad. Come back manana for more, folks!

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. Edward Abbey.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 15 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Daydream

Hi, folks, this is the top of the mountain for the Golden Coffee Cup. It's all down hill from here. We have reached the half-way point. Yippee!

No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

Today I'm introducing something new to the Golden Coffee Cup, instead of a high five, we have a fist bump from my friend and colleague, filmmaker Paul Michael Gordon, and Spider-man. If you want to know something more about Paul, check out his short, ALMAS.

Paul offers this fab bit of java to help you on your way today: The inspiration for some of my best work does not come from tedious research or an endless amount of education, but instead the hours I spend daydreaming, reminding myself I am just a little boy wanting to be a part of a great adventure.

Paul and I are working on a screenplay project, CHARLIE STARK: CHIMERA AWAKENING. The plot centers on Charlie Stark, a teen who once led an elite team of child soldiers in a secret war. Mix in alien technology and a madman with a horrific eugenic vision for the world -- Charlie must get back in the Game, take down the madman, and work hard to not become one himself. Ya, I'm having lots of fun.

You might remember I'm finishing up this screenplay for my goal. Currently, I'm right on track. Snap! Snap! Snap! Drop your successes in the comments and I will do some more holy snappin'.

I have to SHOUT OUT another collaborator today, Chris Cheng. He just won the Lady Cutler Award in Austrailia. I wrote number of articles on The Spectacle blog about our collaborative novel, THE FOUR WINDS, written by Chris Cheng, Chris Eboch, Louise Spiegler, and me. Check it out if you wish.

That's the java. You better get busy and idly stare out the window for a while. I hope your daydreams rock!

Today we have learned in the agony of war that great power involves great responsibility. Franklin Delano Roosevelt

With great power, comes great responsibility. Stan Lee

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Day 10 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Trudi Truet -- Humor

Yes, we are at day 10 of the Golden Coffee Cup. Hopefully you are ahead with your goals and deserve some holy snappin'. Snap! Snap! Snap! If not, don't panic. We still have two thirds of the Golden Coffee Cup to go. Ramp up your efforts or consider revising your goals. The GCC is about keeping it real.

No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

Today we have a hanging in there doodle high five from Trudi Trueit.

Trudi is also pouring out the daily hot java. She's revved up for the Golden Coffee Cup this year and is working on a new middle grade fiction novel.

Trudi writes about her doodle: It sort of sums up why I became a writer - angst, so much angst! It was either be a writer or a comedian and since public speaking makes me throw up I figured everyone's clothes were much safer with me writing. Humor books for kids are some of my favorite books to write, because humor is so vital to life. Laughter helps us get through the hard times, learn about ourselves, and step out of our pain to reach out to others.

So, true, Trudi. Honestly, folks, laughter is the only thing that keeps me sane! Thanks for the affirmation!

Trudi also sends three tibits of inspiration for you:

1) Take the work seriously but not yourself.
2) A writer is not defined by the binding, or lack of one (I was a writer long before I got published).
3) Keep your sense of humor. Who knows? One day you may actually get paid to use it!

Now for the SHOUTOUT! If you want to learn more about Trudi, check out her blog, her website, and her author page at Simon and Schuster, (At this site Trudi says: I have answered a TON of trivial personal questions like, 'if you were a bird, what sound would you make?' Okay, it's not that bad but close.)

Hope you use that sense of humor today. See ya tomorrow for the next hot cup of java to spur you on with your goals.

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily. Zig Zigler

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Day 4 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Make Em Laugh!

Yippee! Another day with no mistakes in it! Keep going Golden Coffee Cuppers! You've made a great start.

No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here.

Today's high five comes from the talented and funny Jeff Kinney author of DIARY OF A WIMPY KID and the sequels. He's a genius at making people laugh.

If you've got time check out this awesome interview with Jeff. He chats about real life stuff like how to stop wasting time and focus on what is really important. That's a lesson for all of us. I think that we need to do what we love. Please, please, make room for that today!

I think almost all art can use some humor. Take a lesson from the Road Runner and smash the Wylie Coyote of your story. Pour on the pain. That can be really funny. Hey, add the unexpected too. Destroy the Earth to put in an Intergalactic Highway. That's unexpected. Don't forget to lie your head off. We have a self proclaimed liar among us, Benjamin James Watson. And, ya, he's as funny as spit. Hanging out with funny bones can make you funnier.

A couple of more funny quick tips: Don't forget to be punny. And always search out the scientifcal intrestingness of writingful enterpression.

I hope you find a reason to laugh today, and that that finds its way into your work. :)

See you tomorrow. Molly

A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerated the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable. Billy Graham

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Day 3 of the Golden Coffee Cup: Sydney Salter

Howdy, Golden Coffee Cuppers. No clue what a Golden Coffee Cup is? Click here. We are on day three. Are you feeling the groove? Let me know how it goes and I will do some holy snapping in the comments!

Today we have a happy high five from the talented Sydney Salter. Time to SHOUT OUT! Sydney is the author of several books. I've read the the first one. Funny stuff, folks. Here's the current list: MY BIG NOSE AND OTHER NATURAL DISASTERS, Harcourt/Graphia, JUNGLE CROSSING, Harcourt, SWOON AT YOUR OWN RISK, Harcourt/Graphia, 2010. Please consider giving Sydney's blog a look:

Sydney's Novel Fairy Tale

Once upon a time....

NaNoWriMo taught me how to break free of my writing limitations--I CAN write when I don't have time, when my kids are fighting, when I have to make Thanksgiving pies... I'm a three time NaNoWriMo winner and both of my YA novels were written during that wonderful flurry of words. Best of luck, everyone! --Sydney Salter

...and she lived happily ever after.

I hope today's shot of java has helped you press past the the problems of today and think about the big picture. Yes, visualize that book in your hands and then under the covers at night with a kid and their flashlight.

And last of all, a quote to ponder.

The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow. Thomas Paine

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

The Fourth Annual Golden Coffee Cup begins tomorrow. Get your goals in. The wild rumpus is about to begin. :)

My halloween treat -- I was invited to a fun Halloween party. It was an interactive art project party. The idea was to create a collage in a silhouetted part of your body that expresses a time of change in your life. I chose the life changing event of getting glasses: the blur before glasses to the sharp-edged world after. We created our collages and then responded to the collages of others outside their filled in silhouettes. So much fun!

Anyway, I did this instead of a pumpkin this year. Here is a portion of my silhouette and collage response because my scanner is not big enough to even show half of it.

I think it is in collaboration that the nature of art is revealed. Steve Lacy

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Golden Coffee Cup begins on Monday, Nov. 1.

Well, the first day for the Fourth Annual Golden Coffee Cup is coming and the goals have started to show up on the blog and in my inbox. Click that link above to learn the ins and outs of the GGC rules.

One more week, so I thought I would give you some goal making tips.

First, try breaking down your goal into a task list. If your goal does not break down into a managable task list, you probably need to revise your goal. Goals are intensely personal. Take some time and think about what you really, really want. Your goal must also be tied into your values. What do you believe in? And speaking of belief, you must belive you can achieve your goal. Also take some time and picture the end result of your goal. Finally to be successful it is paramount that you share your goal with some one.

Time to make those goals! This goal event already has rewards and a deadline built in. It also comes with daily reminders and encouragement. Consider subscribing to my blog if you wish the daily GCC posts to show up in your inbox. So here's the other news: you will have to work. Roll up your sleeves and get cracking.

At some point in time I was inspired by Laurie Halse Anderson and her novel SPEAK to draw the following doodle. I hope that you are inspired.

A good quote to keep you on task for the days ahead.

Never give in! Never give in! Never, never, never, never - in nothing great or small, large or petty. Never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.
~ Winston Churchill

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fourth Annual Golden Coffee Cup is coming!

It's that time of year, folks. The 2009 Golden Coffee Cup held from Nov 1 to Nov 30 will be awarded for a month of goal setting and achievement. Win free coffee! Click the link to find out more.

Do you have the "write" stuff. :)

Want to be featured in the 2009 Annual Golden Coffee Cup? Send me ( a digital picture that expresses your "High Five", a link to your blog, website or book, and up to three sentences of inspiration. This opportunity is open to children's writers and illustrators only. You do not need to be published. I will fit in as many as I can.

I'll leave you with a last thought. Spill some exhuberance into your work this week. The creative process should be a rush. Be equally unrestrained and elaborate as you you move forward this week. Do what ever it takes to set yourself free with great joy. Cut loose. Get out of that rut. Go home a different way. Ask yourself a new question. Go with the flow. See what happens. :)

The important thing is to strive towards a goal which is not immediately visible. That goal is not the concern of the mind, but of the spirit. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Flight to Arras, 1942, translated from French by Lewis Galantière

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Fourth Annual Golden Coffee Cup

ATTENTION, FOLKS, Boo, cut and paste. My email below was wrong! Sorry! Sorry! If you want to be featured in the Golden Coffee Cup use this email address: See the instructions below. Thank you!

It's that time of year, folks. The 2009 Golden Coffee Cup held from Nov 1 to Nov 30 will be awarded for a month of goal setting and achievement.

Win your very own Golden Coffee Cup.

Let's bring some excellence into that creation!!!!!
Here are the Motivational Coffee Cups. Feel the power pouring into you!

Want to be featured in the 2009 Annual Golden Coffee Cup? Send me ( a digital picture that expresses your "High Five", a link to your blog, website or book, and up to three sentences of inspiration. This opportunity is open to children's writers and illustrators only. You do not need to be published. I will fit in as many as I can.


In honor of National Novel Writing Month, I have a little event on my blog for anyone one who needs an extra boost of motivation to get their current project rolling. If you don't know about Nanowrmo, National Novel Writing Month, this is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. This is a kamikaze approach to writing, it's about quantity and not quality.

The Golden Coffee Cup is a different kind of motivational thingy. This coveted award (an awesome picture of a coffee cup emailed to you that you may display it with pride) will be given to the successful November goal setters.

EXTRA, EXTRA INCENTIVE!!!!! Four lucky winners will receive a card good for a real paper cup of genuine coffee. Winners will need to send me( address to receive their card.

This is my answer to that "interesting concept" (cough, cough) of requiring writers to churn out 50,000 incomprehensible words in one month. I do the judging and it is wholly subjective. You do not have to be my friend to win, really, honestly, cross my heart hope to die stick a needle in my eye.


1. Post your November creative goals on my by blog by Nov 1. I'll make sure they are all moved to the November 1st post. That is the deadline, folks.

2. Come back weekly for general cheering and wild ruckus, celebrating your successes. We'll do some holy snappin'. For extra motivation, celebrity guests will be on hand to offer high fives for your achievements!

3. If you reach your goal from Nov 23 to Nov 30, and post on blog, you will be recieve your Golden Coffee Cup picture. There is no verification process, I believe you. Send in your email address to and your Golden Coffee Cup picture will be emailed to you. Display it proudly as wallpaper, post it on your blog, print it out and tack it on your bulletin board for year-long motivation. Write a great post and you might win the real coffee!


The Golden Coffee Cup is about making a goal and keeping it.
If you are a novel writer, you can write something new with a realistic word count goal, keeping your life in mind. Your goal might also be making your first novel submission (think Delacorte Contest) or a revision of a novel you've already written. You can do this!

If you are a picture book writer or artist, hey, picture books are harder to write than they look. I don't really care about the word count because if your project is over 500 words that might be a problem. Picture book artists tell stories too. You might be an artist making a dummy and a dummy is certainly as hard to create as a novel. This is about quality not quantity.

The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment. - Earl Nightingale

Sunday, October 04, 2009

What is story?

I've got an idea rolling around in my head.

What is story? Yes, I have pat answers that just leap out of my head when I ask the question, but I think there is more to story than my pat answers. Story is certainly about what we want. It's about who we are. Stories also offer information about how to thrive where we dwell. Yes, stories have profound things to tell us about how we are going to get out bed tomorrow when a tsunami of grief has washed over us in the night. Stories help us through the valley of the shadow of death.

Stories have ancient rhythms, and they thrum within me. Who knows how many campfires men sat around before someone came up the with technology of writing to store stories on paper instead of in flawed earthen vessels? It's really true that stories don't need words. Meaningful stories can be told in the silences. Story is also a way to share our journeys of survival, our struggles with faith, our dances with hope.

I, for one, am hungry for stories. I love the rhythms in stories. I love the sense of joy and tragedy in stories. I love to meet interesting characters that somehow teach me something about myself. I love a satisfying ending. My inspiring advice for today is to step away from the words and just let a story play out in your heart. Feel the beginning, middle, and end. Let it all wash over you, through you. Then and only then try to capture the thing with your words.

Were you surprised?

Here is my doodle for the day. It's called "Shepherd".

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.
Maya Angelou

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Non-Fiction -- I ain't lying (Part 3)

Hello, folks. I'm happy to be here. The world is a wonderful, weird place, full of surprises. I'm going to close up my series on non-fiction by sharing just a bit about how to generate great non-fiction books.

First, I'm trying to convey something that is fascinating. A great non-fiction title has a "whoa, I didn't know that" slant. Keep the text simple and let the story speak for itself. Next, every non-fiction book really needs a beginning, middle, and end. The story also needs to touch it's audience on an emotional level, it needs to be relevant to the whole world, and also should fulfill the reader's need to finish "once upon a time."

Last, I'm looking for a new angle. I think that great non-fiction just turns the way you see the world upside down, a new slant, shedding light on what was hidden in the darkness. A great non-fiction book will shake your conventional belief system, and it will make you want to go find another book about the subject.

Last of all. Remember, you must be fearless. Be willing to chase after what may seem impossible. I hope something here helps you move forward with the great non-fiction idea in the back of your head.

This week's doodle is from one of J2, and, yes, I love it. It's called "Two Pears". :)

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. Steve Jobs

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Aloha, folks. I'm in Hawaii, soaking in the sunshine. I will be back with the last of my non-ficition series when I return. I'm planning to write a KILLER picture book. I hope that really happens. Spending time with the male Js this week. We went snorkeling today, and saw SOO many fish. I've got a great idea for a non-fiction picture book series about the sea! I love the inspiration of life. I've found building in time for play to be one the most important pieces of the creative life. I don't know how many times I've said this today, the world is a BEAUTIFUL place. Refuel and write. Be kind to yourself. Quit the negative talk and embrace some inner optimist.

My quote for the day: Samantalahin mo ang momento! Guess what that means.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Non-fiction -- Janet Fox -- Part 2

Hi folks, this week, I'm serving up some non-fiction wisdom from the talented Janet Fox. Janet is from my old stomping ground in College Station, Texas, where I lived for 13 years. Janet is a writer, former teacher, and ARA of the Brazos Valley, Texas, affiliate of SCBWI. She found her way into children's writing in the mid-90s. Her son’s learning differences led her to develop ideas described in her award-winning book for Free Spirit Publishing, Get Organized Without Losing It (2006).

Janet's a super-star on the rise for sure. Her other published work for children includes fiction (Spider Magazine) and science non-fiction (Highlights for Children). Her young adult novel, Faithful (Puffin/Penguin), debuts in spring 2010, followed by a sequel in 2011. She is currently a student in the MFA/Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. You will probably want check out her blog for more fun info: Kidswriterjfox.

So like any good writer, I'm always looking for the best advice. Janet was able to offer insight into my burning questions. First she gave her take on a "best research" tip.

Janet's take: Biggest research tip - that's a tough one, because I have two! First, research your market thoroughly. I wrote a non-fiction self-help for kids, and once I created my outline and sample chapters, I researched the market to find the right house. I must have done well in that respect because I only queried one house and they bought the project. Second, some up front research is necessary in order to sell a project, but most non-fiction is sold before the book is written (unlike fiction!) I did my preliminary research but waited until the book was sold before going deep. This saved me from being out of date, and from researching in areas that the publisher might not have wanted in the book.

I'm also always on the look-out for the pitfalls, so I can avoid climbing out of the ditch. Janet had some great advice - My biggest pitfall? The process was pretty straightforward for me. I did have two editors - not something I did, but the house changed my editor in mid-project - and that caused some miscommunication. I think I would be more forthright today, and discuss the project with the publisher or senior editor, if that happened now. But I feel much more confident than I did in those days.

Wow, good stuff. Thanks, Janet! Check back next week for the last in my non-fiction series.

Here is the doodle for the week:

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.
Zora Neale Hurston

Saturday, September 05, 2009

I Ain't Lying (Part 1)

Hi folks, sorry about last week, I was little down and didn't mean to spill over.
Thanks for putting up with me through the doldrums.

I'm going to shift gears this week with a three-week series on non-fiction. I'm mostly a fiction writer, but a piece of me likes to tell it like it is. Note readers, don't go running into the hills because I'm focusing on non-fiction because let's face it, a novel requires as much research as any popular non-fiction book.

I come from a world were kids don't get exposed to as many ideas a middle class kids do. I'm blue collar all the way, but my parents made it a habit to get me to museums, zoos, and galleries all the time as a child. Most of my friends weren't so lucky. This experience and knowledge of deprivation put a fire under me to provide kids with books that make them think, make them learn, that introduce them to the world of wonder that books bring to us.

I think half the battle of writing non-fiction is finding a topic that is big enough to take on a book and then finding a way to convey that topic to the reader with vim, vigor, and vibe. The topic has to be more expansive than what you would find in a magazine article. A great non-fiction story just screams, "Everybody has got to know this."

The foundation of non-fiction is meticulous research. I love libraries and I love the Internet. We have more information at our finger tips than any other generation. The job of the researcher has gone from being one of just finding the sources to being the one discovering what sources are authoritative and which are so much bunk. Research is all about exploring my favorite technology -- Writng.

Non-fiction must have a compelling story to be successful. I cringe a little every time someone writes another "Why does poop stink?" book. I know. Inquiring minds want to know. Like every genre, "shock value" titles have their place, but personally I gravitate more toward thinker books. I do think non-fiction needs a compelling hook, a big surprise, or a new-fangled twist, so much the same as fiction in that regard.

I've got tons more to say and will get through it slowly. Seize the day, folks.

Instead of doodles this week, we have(YAY!) books in the mail! I got my little brown box of author copies of IF YOU WERE A QUADRILATERAL and IF YOU WERE A CIRCLE from Picture Window Books. I wanted to share the beautiful covers with you. The brilliant illustrator is Francesca Carabelli. Kudos!

Lovc, love, Guys and Dolls. Here's a fav number: Nicely, Nicely singing "Rocking the Boat."

My quote of the week is:

I've written six novels and four pieces of nonfiction, so I don't really have a genre these days. Anne Lamont

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Screaming at First Chapters

Hi folks, well, I guess you can tell that the writing has not been going so well this week.

Oh, my gosh, I want to toss all my work-in-progress books out the window right now. I'm not going to do it, but the feeling is there. I'd don't know if I can write a great first chapter. I can write a perfectly adequate first chapter, but a stupendous sizzling first chapter seems to be beyond my grasp.

A first chapter is really the last chapter of a book. It serves as the cornerstones. Most people create that last chapter after they have set a whole universe in motion. The first chapter makes the promise, hooks the reader, and sets the bar for what is to come. I can square up my books, but it's nothing fancy, like my house, a big brown box of a house. It's design is truly the "cardboard box." I want more, but it's all I can seem to achieve.

I have little advice for you this week. Howl at the moon. Kick against the pricks, ouch!. Hit the wall. But don't give up. One thing you might want to do to get past this is bump in the road is to envision what it's like on the other side of that wall. Remember that feelings are fickle, and next week, eh, this will be a forgotten memory. Last of all, be nice to yourself.

I copied this off a petroglyph at the Petroglyph National Monument in New Mexico. Writing books is like this. I call my doodle, "Juggling Guy".

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

The playlist hit this week is Brendan James and "The Other Side". Yes, the journey makes us stronger.

And last, a quote to tuck in your heart for the week.

Hear the other side. St. Augustine

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Gift of Today

Sorry this is a little late, folks. Whew, life is busy. I've got many irons in the fire.

One of the great life lessons for me is the gift of today. I've run into some whirlwinds along life's road that have made me so aware of my mortality. These storms, more than anything else, have opened me up to change and have put me on roads to better places. As a writer, this sure awareness of what a precious gift each breath is has sharpened my storytelling skills. When the storm clouds part, the unimportant stuff is gone, and the stuff that remains, this is the sturdy stuff you can depend on.

Ultimately after the storms, I know what I want. This knowledge helps my stories find their way. I want to be happy, I want to be free, I want to make a difference. It simple, isn't it. I went digging around in my files the other day. I keep idea files with short written explorations that have come to me on my journey. I laughed at lack of focus the further back I went. I winced at stories that I had sent to editors. What was I thinking? Ah, ignorance, be banished be from me and let wisdom's light flood even my darkest corner. Yay for life lessons! Yay for the gift of today!

Days like this I wish I were a poet and could really spin out some words. Sigh.

Wrapping up, next time you are going through the wringer, I hope you remember something of this post and let the stuff that can be shaken be taken away by the wild winds of change, aftewards, write your heart out. Seize the day. It's a gift.

Last week I featured J2's doodle, this week I will feature J3. I'm calling this, "Thinking Man."

The song of the week is Brendan James and "Take the Fall." We are all ordinary with extraordinary reasons.

Today's quote for the day is an arrow piercing my soul. So true.

In the midst of winter, I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.—Albert Camus

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Keep the creativity fire burning

For the first time since June, I had a paying gig this week! Yay! This week's post will have to be short because my brain is sort of fried from work and birthday mayhem. Yep, I'm a year older.

One of the most difficult things I have to face as a creative person is the never ending journey of keeping the creativity fire burning. I will be honest. I usually feel overwhelmed, half-baked, and in treading water mode. Writing is difficult, time-consuming work and for me not exactly lucrative. Let's just say the minions of McDonalds receive pay that I only dream of and they get benefits, too.

This season of life has been particularly tough. The recession is steaming rolling over us here in little Woodinville, and many of my friends are in the same boat --unemployed and trying to survive on a teacup worth of life savings. I'm trying to keep breathing and creating.

In general, my success is so-so. I keep the fire burning by surrounding myself with the best and brightest talent on the planet. I try to have fun every day. I take a moment each day and let the beauty of the world soak into me. I hug my cat, my kids, and my sweetheart everyday. I keep breathing.

I send a hug to everyone out there. Times are hard, but keep your creative fire burning!

Hey, I got my scanner working so doodles are back. For my birthday, I'm posting one of the Js drawings. The Js are my kids. From J2: "Girl". I pulled this out of the trash. I really have to monitor our trash.

Remember: ©Molly Blaisdell, all rights reserved. If you want to use my cool doodles, ask permission first. It is so wrong to take people's doodles without permission!

My playlist hit is the number one song on my birthday and one of my fav feel good songs, too: "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles.

My quote for the day:

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, August 09, 2009


This week, I'm going take a stab at the need for brevity in writing. We live in a age when children slog through thick fantasies like the Potter and the Twilight series and others of that ilk. I don't mind a long book if its needed to tell the story, but when the little "editing" sprite in my brain is tapping my noggin with her red pen as I read, enough is is enough. It's the fashion to not save a tree, to waddle excessively in the words, and take ten ponderous chapters instead of two brief ones. My editing sprite is just worn out with her imaginary editing. She keeps finding wordy sentences, redundant paragraphs, and unnecessary chapters in every book. She's not sleeping at night. Did I mention "she has fix your crappy writing" insomnia? Enough already! Enough I say.

I'm going to let the little "editing" sprite in my head take her red pen to the above paragraph to prove my point.

This week -- my stab at the soul of wit, brevity. Must children slog through thick fantasies like Harry Potter and Twilight? Why waddle in words? Why take ten chapters instead of two? Save a tree! Listen to my "editing" sprite.

"Wordy, redundant, unnecessary!" she screams. "I suffer from crappy writing insomnia.
Edit your work! Enough already."

Have a great week. Get out those red pens! My "editing" sprite thanks you.

No doodles this week, sorry.

This week's plays list hit a special version of Julie Andrews singing "Do, Re, Mi." Reminds me of good times in college, specifically, Devo. We just brought the singing, but it was glorious.

Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit,
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief.

~William Shakespeare, Hamlet

Sunday, August 02, 2009

World Building

Hi folks, I've started world building on another sci-fi project, and thought I would talk about some of my process. I'm a random thinker, so I get a pack of 3x5 cards and begin to write my scene ideas. They come to me in flashes. I see vivid "movies" of the work in my head, and I keep a pencil handy for describing the scenes. Strangely enough, this happens for me when I read books. I forget everything and all I can see is the book playing out in my head. It's a very intense experience.

Another step, I also get a OneNote Notebook going and a real paper notebook. Here I fill out character charts, plot charts, playlists, back story sections, setting sections. This list is long. The goal is to know as much about the world I'm creating as possible. I play the what-if game. I up the stakes over and over again in this document. I make sure everyone suffers! I know what every character is carrying around in their pocket. I know what they are going to do when they grow up. I understand the shape of my plot.

It's a noodling process. Turning the idea over and over. It's like refining clay that will be eventually used to make a pot.
World building is a place to refine the kernel of an idea. I hope you have the chance to refine an idea this week

No doodles this week, sorry.

My playlist hit is from ShineDown and is called "Shed Some Light."

My quote for the week:
Hell is yourself and the only redemption is when a person puts himself aside to feel deeply for another person. Tennessee Williams

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Welcome, folks. Lazy summer days abound, hence I'm keeping it short. I'm calling this one "Kraft" because of Kraft macaroni and cheese -- you know, the comfort food in a box. Add milk and butter. For some reason almost no kid will object to KM&C. So what in the heck does that have to do with writing? I think the familiar is something important to understand when writing books. I think there is a place for stuff outside our experience, but I also think it is important to be aware of what makes childhood magical, personal.

I think the magic of childhood is discovery of the familiar through new eyes. I'm young at heart. I still like to play, pretend, and imagine. I'll never grow too old to make a mud pie. To be an effective writer for children, you need to open up to the child you were. Go back in your memory. Pick an emotional moment in childhood. Whatever comes to mind. Happy. Sad. Excited. It doesn't matter.

What does matter is what was closest to the surface in your memory. That memory tells you a lot about what you should be writing about. Take some time and really put that memory on paper. Write about every detail, interior self and exterior world. When you are finished take the same scene and try writing it from a fictional point of view. I hope something exciting happens. Happy writing.
I put this doodle up in celebration of this year's ComicCon. I call this one "SuperHero Eggs".

I can't resist The Barenaked Ladies and this week's playlist hit: "If I had a $1,000,000." This is one I remember singing at the top of my lungs with my kids on cross country trips.

My quote for the week: "If I had a million dollars, we wouldn't have to eat Kraft Dinner, but we would eat Kraft Dinner"

My favorite line from "If I had a $1,000,000."

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Oh, yay, for summer days. I went on a thirty mile bike ride today, and I am full of amazing snapshots: the little tiny white dog that was sure it could take on a bike, the woman riding her bike with her parrot, and the man who said he knew the secret formula for time travel. I'm always collecting images -- the time travel thing, that's a whole novel.

My friend Katherine Bond has been chatting with me about her need to feed her muse. This is the kind of muse that is the source of an artist's inspiration. I'm going toss out some quotes here because back in the day everyone was into their muse.

Dante Alighieri, in Canto II of The Inferno:
O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!
O memory that engraved the things I saw,
Here shall your worth be manifest to all!
(Anthony Esolen translation, 2002)

John Milton, opening of Book 1 of Paradise Lost:
Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful Seat,
Sing, Heavenly Muse, [...]

William Shakespeare, Act 1, Prologue of Henry V:
Chorus: O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!

Yep, having a muse is something to think about.

My inspiration comes from several things. I like to do something sort of crazy beyond my skill set and experience. My 30+ miles bike ride was just that sort of thing. I've walked on erupting volcanos, jumped out of third story windows (there was a net!), and learned how to throw a set of dishes on a pottery wheel. This sort of buzzing activity jazzes my creative self.

Another big infuser of muse power into my universe is to chat. Oh, how I love a good conversation. I live to hear others tell me their story. I also love a good book or a fine movie -- not as good as a conversation, but pretty good. Yes, surprising really, I'm a writer, but I love a good conversation more.

Yet another muse connection is to play certain kinds of thinking games. I do not know how to explain this but it is true. I especially like Scrabble, Boggle, Settlers of Catan, Backgammon, and Risk. A good game will make me want to stay up all night writing. I'm not sure what games are firing up in my brain, but they are.

I have other muses, but hey, folks, I've got to sleep sometimes.

I talked about a tangential subject to MUSES in a blog entry back in March, Pure Genius. Please check it out if you need more inspiration.

I hope that you take some time this week and follow your muses. See where they take you.

My doodle for the week is "Up in the Sky".

Today's playlist hit is musical madness: "Lonesome Polecat" from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Singing and dancing!

Health is the first muse, and sleep is the condition to produce it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Doorway into the Unknowable

Another lazy summer day, yay! Holly Cupala tagged me this week with the question: "What are 15 books that I will never forget?" First there aren't 15 for me. I'm not sure how many, but way over 15. I do think there is some value in seeing what comes to mind, right off the top of your head. I found that I had not one but two allegorical books at the top of my list, and I nearly added a third. I really love allegory. I also love signs and portents. The Urim and the Thummin have also always fascinated me. The mysterious lights and perfections of the Hebrew people kept in the breastplate of a priest for the purpose of divine communication has always intrigued me. These mysterious objects were a concrete way to connect with the Divine's will. Like the prophets, along with dreams and visions, God's voice could be heard.

The Divine is out of fashion in these days. The idea that everyone used to read the stars, tea leaves, and even decks of cards to know the future and understand now makes me think we are losing something as the years roll by. I know people still do these things but they have become very National Enquirer and part of the sideshow of life. I live in such a rational world, but there is a part of me that never forgets that there are deep waters, secret places, and unfathomable mysteries all around us. I hope that my writing is always a doorway into the unknowable. Writers are about the future. Some might call them prophets. They delve into the mystererious, the secrets, the deep.

My best advice, tell you story, and don't be surprised if the very act of communicating sheds light in a dark place, and that place might be you.

My doodle this week is called "Comprehending".

The playlist hit is an oldie from America and is called "Lonely People".

The quote for the week:

Whatsoever that be within us that feels, thinks, desires, and animates, is something celestial, divine, and, consequently, imperishable. Aristotle

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Oh, Say Can You See

Today will be short again. Happy 4th of July, Americans! I know there are a few readers out there who live down under or across the pond who might not have the 4th on their radar. I'm hearing unending explosions right now. They really love fireworks around here. The air smells acrid and the smoke is shrouding the full moon. We zipped around about 5 police cars surrounding a wild party at house on the way home from a family gathering. Ah, the 4th.

This week I was thinking about the power of the things you don't say when writing. It's the heart of showing. Don't tell me your character is angry. Slam a fist into a wall. Kick the bedstead. Throw out a string of angry words. The heart of story is to not say things but invoke the undstanding of these things in the reader. You have to search for the words make your reader think. The words that open their eyes. Don't be satisfied with the surface of your writing. Dig deeper.

The best writing has a bible of subtext. Some of this subtext will always be subconcious for the writer. You won't be aware of it but I do think that there are ways to sense it is there. Your passion for your work is a good barometer.If you feel so deeply about your work that you are laughing and crying while you write, this is a good sign. Let the work speak without trying to shovel out what you mean. Be crafty. Be delicate. You might surprise yourself. Enjoy the journey.

Today's doodle is a quick watercolor of one morning a few months back. I call it "Washington at Dawn."

The playlist hit come from the US Marine Band with a nifty version of The Star Spangled Banner! I know there a few Marines out there who visit this blog. Thank you for your service! Remember to write every day.

When you wander, as you often delight to do, you wander indeed, and give never such satisfaction as the curious time requires. This is not caused by any natural defect, but first for want of election, when you, having a large and fruitful mind, should not so much labour what to speak as to find what to leave unspoken. Rich soils are often to be weeded. Francis Bacon

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Million Words

Blue sky outside, perfect weather, so I'm keeping it short, folks.

I'm going to write about the painfully honest today -- what it takes to write a book. There is no magic fairy wand, no incantation, no gift of the Irish, no talent, no brilliant idea, no flash of genius -- writing springs out of practice. Reading thousands of books helps, but the biggest thing you have to do to write a salient manuscript is to press a minimum of a million words to many sheets of paper.

You can't run a marathon, climb a mountain, or sail around the world without some work, and you can't write a book without some work. That's why you keep hearing the advice to write every day. Most of those words are about learning how to write. If you have a writing dream, fan it this week. Toss on kindling. Throw on dedication. Make some tangible goals. Mix in some accountability. Stop dreaming and get on your yellow brick road. Press some words against paper.

My computer is on a slow boat back from China but good news for all of you who love the doodles : here is a doodle. I call it a "Scribble."

Today's playlist hit is "Mr. Blue Sky" from ELO. This song spun around my turntable soooo many times through junior high and high school.

Here is the quote of the week!
The conditions of conquest are always easy. We have but to toil awhile, endure awhile, believe always, and never turn back. Marcus Annaeus Seneca

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Creating a First Draft (Part 4)

Hi folks, this week will be short and sweet. I'm scoring the not-t0-be-named test this week, and the hours of reading are wearing me out.

With no further ado, I'm going to talk about fearlessness and feelings. Here's the bad news: There are no new stories. Here's the good news: You bring your originality to everything you create.

This week, I want you to really take risks with your first draft. That crazy idea that's hovering in the back of your brain. Pull it to the front and just do it. Put it on the paper. If you feel what you are doing is crazy...if you feel that you have taken a dive off the deep end...if you think this move is close to losing your "freaking" mind...yay!

Next, "Search your feelings, Luke." Find the path of least resistance as your write. Get into the stuff that is exciting. Here is the feeling that you need to seek: "I feel this is too easy. This work is easy-peasy. I can see this book like a movie in my head." It's counter-intuitive but our best writing is like slicing butter, it comes out smooth and spreads easy. If things are easy, you are on the right track.

Here is a task for you. Search for a picture of your main character. Wherever. Look on the Web. Search you drawers, your books, the library...find that picture. If you are an artist, draw it yourself. Keep the picture close at hand as you write. You will thank me.

Sorry, still no doodles. China is far away.

Well, this week's playlist is fab fab fab. Nickelback singing "If Today Were Your Last Day." This song is like the whole theme of this blog.

Quote for the week comes from our playlist hit:
Against the grain
Should be a way of life
What's worth the prize
Is always worth the fight
Chad Kroeger

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Novel Writing: Celebration, Revision, and First Drafts

Hey, folks, welcome!

I'm going to do triple duty this week. I'm going to CELEBRATE!, give some revision tips for the SUMMER REVISION SMACKDOWN with Holly Cupala and Jolie Stekly, and add something about First Drafts (Vijaya Bodach, I hope you are humming along.)

First up, a big shout out for my author friend Conrad Wessehoeft. Congrats to him and yay! for his fab agent Erin Murphy. Conrad and I have been in the same critique group for 11 years (yes), and this is a book you will will want to watch for. Persistence is everything, folks. Really.

Here's the announcement: World rights to Conrad Wesselhoeft's YA debut ADIOS, NIRVANA, about a teenaged poet-musician who survives the first anniversary of his twin brother's death with the help of a dying blind man, the best group of thicks a guy could have, a demanding school principal who wants him to play the "pussiest song in the world" at graduation, and one very special guitar, for publication in fall 2010, to Kate O'Sullivan at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's, at auction.

Here is my wonderful group:

From left to right. Back row: Louise Spiegler, me, Conrad Wesselhoeft. Front row: Susan Greenway, Cathy Benson, Megan Bilder.
(Note: this is not my only wonderful group. I'm blessed beyond measure when it comes to the writing journey.)
Now for all the Smackdown folks. You never finish books. You only abandon them. I always feel like a worn-out, wrung-out dishrag when I'm finished with a revision draft.
As promised, here are some tips to handle flaw types.
Typos- It's a good idea to keep a list of your most likely typos so that you can keep an eye out for them.
Stuff that doesn't make sense: You are working too fast. Slow down and give yourself extra time to think as you move forward.
Deleted stuff: Never really delete anything. I keep an extra file called the dump. Any time I delete, that bit goes into the dump and occasionally I do go dumpster diving.
Stuff I've got to move is orange. I use symbols to make moves, like "o, p. 22" and on page 22 you will find the 'o'. That is the destination.
Stuff that is awkward or needs better wording is yellow. It's called a thesaurus, folks. Use it and often.
Stuff that I need to add to is green. If it is short, I just write the addition on the manuscript. If it is longer, I often keep some lined paper nearby and freehand a needed paragraph and staple it to the page.
I hope one of these tips helps you.
Now for the first drafters, what happens when you are stuck? Yes, sometimes a draft grinds to a halt. This is the most disheartening thing ever. I've found a few things that can help this. You can try rereading the manuscript from the beginning. Print it all out and don't take a pen. Just read. This can jump start you. Another thing to try is to skip ahead. Jump to a section where you are sure what to do and get to writing. Here's another thing to try. Pull out the Hero's Journey checklist and start marking off your story points. Is something missing? The last one is stick the manuscript in a drawer for a month. Let you unconscious mind work the problem out. It will sometimes. Hope this get you out of any miry patches.
This week's playlist hit: Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey singing "When You Believe". I hope it inspires you to keep going forward whatever stage you are at.

No doodles this week, hopefully my computer will come back someday and my tech stuff will be set right.
So here is your quote for the week. Have faith, folks.
Faith is like radar that sees through the fog. Corrie Ten Boom