Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Poem 2010

I hope this day is full of grace for you.

Thoughts at Midnight...

A cold winter morn.
Nothing has turned out
the way I hoped it would.
And yet the sun shines, the world spins,
new wonders are around the corner, ready to be found.

This Christmas I'm glad for breath,
a place to sleep at night, I'm glad for friends and family.
I'm glad for a creative spirit. Joy, come in! Peace, flood my soul.
Let the fire within me burn brighter from this day on, let it roar like a bonfire.

My one gift -- imagination, given to stir up souls,
Imagine no debts, imagine every thing that's owed is paid,
imagine no more sickness,imagine no more tears, imagine no more hurting,
imagine no more war, imagine no more death, imagine God is with us. I am no dreamer.

We are more.

See you next year!

Here is a doodle I thought I lost, but found it in the move. I call it, "Praise Him from the Heights."

My quote for the day:

~ Love until it hurts. Real love is always painful and hurts; then it is real and pure. Mother Teresa

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Simple Things

Hi folks, we are all generally busy right now so I will keep this week's post short. I want you to hold to the simple things. Appreciate your sky. Take time to see the patterns in the grasses, the leaves, the trees. Take a peek at the stars. Feel the wind, the rain, the sunshine.

Expand out your imagination and feel the movement. Inside, you are a mass of bumping around atoms; you are a lump of busy cells. You are part of a community and a bit of an ecosystem. You are whirling around on a blue ball that is whirling around a burning sun, that is whirling around a spinning galaxy, that was flung away from spot in space called the big bang. Feel that. Feel yourself slipping into the future.

Be aware. Be grateful for your days. Be kind to yourself and others.

Here is a doodle I call, "Snowman."

Quote for the day:

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.

Simple Gifts by Elder Joseph Brackett.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Slice of Craziness

Hi folks, this is a busy time of year. I'm busy too, but not for the same reasons. While so many are caught in a whirlwind of activity, I'm sneaking away any chance I get to work on a manuscript. It's a little surreal to hang out with folks who are bustling around thinking about presents, football games, and food. These activities hold little meaning for me.

My head is stuck on writing scenes and chapters. I'm following my heart. I'm trusting the inner me, guiding me to a the place of creativity and wonder. I'm taking time to form my own deeply considered opinions. I ask myself the question, "What do I have to say?" And then I spend hours trying to capture my elusive thoughts on the page.

I know that this urge to write seems crazy to some, but if they could hear the words whispering within them that I hear, I believe the would begin to forgo sleep and tinsel to capture the stories hovering. If you have this sort of passion of expression within you, don't bottle it up. Give it a place. Nothing great comes into this world without a decent slice of craziness.

Seize the day. I will be back next week.

This week's doodle is called: "Roses."

Passion, it lies in all of us, sleeping... waiting... and though unwanted... unbidden... it will stir... open its jaws and howl. It speaks to us... guides us... passion rules us all, and we obey. What other choice do we have? Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love... the clarity of hatred... and the ecstasy of grief. It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion maybe we'd know some kind of peace... but we would be hollow... Empty rooms shuttered and dank. Without passion we'd be truly dead. Joss Whedon

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Quietly Listen

Hello, folks. Back with the weekly posts. November is a marathon of creativity for many of us. We end it worn, ready to rest until spring.

I pull back in December and slow down. I feel the rhythms of the Earth deeply. Winter has crept over the world. Grasses have turned a warm honey. The sky is often blinding blue. I even grab a jacket in the evenings when I go for a walk. The world sleeps, and I listen for the whispers in my soul of the new stories that are to come.

I hope you take time to be quiet, to wait, and to listen as we in the Northern climes march toward the winter solstice. Here's a little thought I jotted down earlier --

Quietly Listening

My life stands still
I breathe slowly
And enjoy the amber sunlight
Slanting through Chinaberry branches.
Golden leaves form a messy ring
around a slender white trunk.
I’m not in a perfect place,
but I quietly listen.

I hope you hear the first whispers of some epic work today. Seize the day. See you next week.

Doodles are back. I call this one "Hug a Lion."

A friend is one before whom I may think aloud. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

The Winners of the 2010 Golden Coffee Cup.

We were a small band this year by dedicated. Thank you for hanging out! Really we are all winners.:) Thanks to my son Jesse Blaisdell for creating our nifty award.

Feel free to save this to your desktop for year round encouragement. Now for the winners of real live coffee and The Golden Coffee Cup pic suitable for tacking on the fridge, the car visor, or near your computer for year long encouragement. Remember we are about quality, not quantity! The winners are:

Sumel said: So...I had three goals...
Morning pages most days? Yeppers got that one!
Complete the NaNoWriMo challenge? Not so much. Seems I kinda fell in love with the characters, decided they deserved my full attention, so I have mapped out more of a trilogy. Blogging? Eh, not so much. Oh well.

Trudi said: For GCC, let the confetti fly. I'm just a few pages away from finishing the first draft of my tween novel for girls! I usually write for middle grade readers, so this is a new twist for me. I'm so glad that I dared to stretch my wings a bit.

Holly said: Just the words I needed to hear! I'm constantly amazed and inspired by Janet's groundedness amidst a whirlwind career. I've been a bit down about not making more progress on book manuscript this month, but then I've been tremendously productive in general and also filling up the cup in other ways. Thanks for the perspective, Janet and Molly.


Vijaya said: I worked a few days on my novel revisions.
I wrote six short articles and got paid for them.
I am working on a short story.
Made a re-commitment to work on novel daily, at least for 30 min.

If you are one of the winners, send me an email (, and I will pop your coffee and pic in the mail! Yay!

Again, thanks to everyone who participated this year. I send special thanks to Janet Lee Carey (you really encouraged me!). We had so many wonderful folks drop by and take part in this journey. Thanks to you all!

We return to my weekly blog. Seize the day! Here is a last quote to warm you up.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of leave the world a better know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 29: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Janet Lee Carey

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

Today’s joyous high five comes from Janet Lee Carey author of many wonderful books and recent wonderful fantasies: STEALING DEATH and DRAGONS OF NOOR!

I love Janet's work; she brings such a sense of the interconnectedness of everything. She pours out the java for us today:

Fiction is a faith walk. The kind of faith required only grows as a writer pays close attention and sets the words down upon the page. Even if you’ve successfully written one or more novels you can’t expect to reproduce that success. We all have to start with a tabula rasa and begin at the beginning each time. Over the years while working on my novels, I’ve used a journal to play with plot ideas, create characters, and stay open to story. My journal keeps me fresh. It also keeps me honest when I let it. My inner storyteller knows what I need to hear and lately my journal has been telling me to slow down.

Dueling deadlines has had me on a fast writing track in the past few years. I’ve had to write a lot each day to make my deadlines, but page count and word count are all about quantity, not quality. As I slow down and seek my own rhythm, the story unfolds at its own pace, my breathing pace, my heart rate, and I begin to hear my storytelling voice more clearly. If you’re like me and you’ve been writing in a rush maybe you’d to try slowing down a little, and finding your own natural rhythm. Fiction is a faith walk. If you walk at your own pace where might it take you?

Oh, what hot java for the penultimate day of the Golden Coffee Cup! Snap! Snap! Snap! See you back tomorrow. Post your goal stories, and I'll announce the winners on Dec. 1st.

You are all SO awesome.

Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. St. Augustine

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 26: The Golden Coffee Cup -- NOT SAVING ANYTHING

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

Welcome! I hope you go for a walk today, then I hope you get to work. We've only got a few days left. Snap! Snap! Snap!

Stasia Kehoe is one of the most human, humble, fun folks I know. Here’s a link to her blog. If you don’t know about Writer on the Side, yes, you will thank me later. Her upcoming book AUDITION (Viking, Fall 2011) is going to flip your world. Her words reveal reality -- no easy feat. Here her secretary offers a furry high five!

Stasia brings today's hot java:

I am so happy to be sharing a few thoughts about writing during Molly's Golden Coffee Cup Challenge. I've been writing for many years (okay, decades) but just got an agent and book deal about six months age. It's been a process of great joy and discovery and, honestly, I wouldn't trade all those child-rearing, writing-on-the-side years for anything.

Along the way, an important discovery I made is that writing is about getting close to the bone: Connecting personally to the characters you write--telling their truths. And, most importantly, NOT SAVING ANYTHING.

What do I mean? If you find yourself thinking, "Oh, readers are going to be shocked when they discover what I'm going to write three chapters from now" or "I love this turn-of-phrase but I'd like to keep it in another manuscript I've got in the drawer--not use it for this one," then you are SAVING. Holding back. Staying a bit too far away from the raw edges, the breathless moments.

To use a sports metaphor, you've got to leave it all on the field--to run every race so that you're so tired you feel like you'll never run another. Sure, it can be scary to have something major happen to a character early in the novel, or to use up every great metaphor you've ever constructed in just one manuscript (trust me, you'll think of more).

To be clear, I'm not saying that pacing isn't important and that plot secrets can't be kept but there's also a way in which you've got to feel like you're giving everything over to your story in each moment.

For me, I have to let the story own me--to feel like I'm standing, blinking under a magnifying glass, a blinding light--and to allow myself to react without hesitation and worry about the consequences later.

So, seize every moment as you write, put your passion on the page, and don't save anything. Happy Writing!

Come back for more hot stuff tomorrow!

Today's quote: Only with absolute fearlessness can we slay the dragons of mediocrity that invade our gardens. George Lois

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 25: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Liz Mertz and Vijaya Khristy Bodach

Hi folks, Hope Thanksgiving is awesome! Take a walk. Stay warm. Today I have two high fives from very thankful friends who are participating in the Golden Coffee Cup and sent in some special high fives.

First, a "very new" high five from SCBWI BV Regional Advisor Liz Mertz's grandaughter. It's more of fist bump, but remember this little gal is very new.

What could be more motivating than a future reader!

Next, comes a joyous high five from talented author and my close friend Vijaya Bodach and her cat Finn.

I have a cat buddy to write with too! Nothing like cat therapy to keep you moving foward with your work. :)

Vijaya offers this bit of the hot stuff to keep you warm on your journey:

I don’t have a great many words of wisdom, but these:
1. No writing is too small.
2. Take as many writing gigs as you can.
3. It’s all good. It will help you become a better writer.
4. Enjoy it.
5. Write the stories that burn in your heart.

Great stuff! Ooh, stay warm today! Seize the day! I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving Day and come back tomorrow for more hot coffee!

I have two quotes for the day because I couldn't pick one!

My idea of a perfect image is where I have created a beautiful environment, and the baby has given something of its personality. That extra spark in the image is always supplied by the baby. When you look at one of my images, your eye is always drawn to the baby's face, regardless of how complicated the setting is. The babies are always the most important aspect of the image, and so they should be.Anne Geddes

From the living fountain of instinct flows everything that is creative; hence the unconscious is not merely conditioned by history, but is the very source of the creative impulse. It is like Nature herself - prodigiously conservative, and yet transcending her own historical conditions in her acts of creation. C. G.Jung

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 24: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Chris Eboch

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.
Oh, I hope you are on track! If you have swerved off the path, get back on track now. If you are tired, take a deep breath, center and get going again. You can do this!

Today’s hot java comes from my friend Chris Eboch. Chris is a powerhouse author of several books, most recently, her HAUNTED series. Here she is with a "Resting on a big hike" high five.
Here's a note from Chris: Here I am in the Grand Canyon last June. The hike in was 14 miles, during a heat wave, with temps over 100°. Here, we are 3 miles from the top during the 10-mile, 5000 feet-elevation gain hike out. Do I look tired? I was beyond exhausted. Kind of like how you feel during your umteenth revision, when you know in theory you're getting closer but the end still seems too far to reach. And the key to success is the same with writing and with hiking. Take a break if you need one. Give yourself plenty of fuel. Give and receive encouragement to others slogging along the path.
Best advice ever, and I hop you listen to it. You are going to reach your goals. Keep going. I know what it is like to be weary, too. Be kind to yourself. Come back refreshed and ready for more piping hot java.

And a last thought to ponder as you go forward today.
Life always gets harder toward the summit - the cold increases, the responsibility increases. Friedrich Nietzsche

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 22: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Kathy Whitehead

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

I hope that you are enjoying the rhythm of the work. We are near a holiday, a tough spot on a journey. We have lots of obligations. Breathe. Think about the plan and move forward with boldness.

Today's high five comes from one of my cheery friends, the ever optimistic Kathy Whitehead.

You might want to check out her book, ART FROM HER HEART. She’s here today to offer some useful advice about how to keep the home fires burning. In Kathy’s words:

Sustaining goals can be tough, especially when the end can feel so elusive. I am fortunate to work in a 'lesson-planned' work mode which harkens back to my days spent as a classroom teacher. The lesson plan usually has a similiar daily structure and adheres to time restraints. I even build in a morning recess for myself - walking my dog Toby.

The beauty of a a lesson planned day is you don't waste valuable mental energy deciding when you will write. It gives your day a natural flow and balance, qualities helpful for long term projects.

My focus and effort can be directed toward my writing, instead of decision making about how to plan my day.

Oooh, good stuff. I feel more focused, and I hope you do, too. Come back tomorrow for more piping hot stuff. Hey, let me know you are out there! Post your progress and I will do some holy snappin'.

Here is a quote to help you on. Be of good cheer. Do not think of today's failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow. You have set yourselves a difficult task, but you will succeed if you persevere; and you will find joy in overcoming obstacles. Helen Keller

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 20: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Conrad Wesselhoeft

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.

Today’s "fist bump" high five comes from West Seattle author Conrad Wesselhoeft and his lovely daughter Jen:

Here are a few tasty shots of coffee from Conrad that I lifted off some of my manuscripts.(I am so blessed to have such a talented author write such helpful stuff on my manuscripts.)

Here's a first bit:

I’m concerned that the early paragraphs read more like a “telling” than a “showing.” Not that this is wrong--because the voice is so strong. Also, "telling" leads have been used to powerful effect by many successful YA writers. (This is classic Conrad; you can tell if you want but you better be brilliant.)

And more: On the other hand, your character seems bent on communicating a whirlwind of information right away. I'm not sure we need so much so soon. Information that might be better served as a full-blown scene. Would that scene be stronger if expanded, with full dialogue?
How about this great advice: I like this line’s snap and clarity: “I’m about fractals. They mirror life to me. …” These lines are good enough to open the book with. You have a good lead as is, but give it some thought.

or this:
Watch out for passive voice. A little's OK, but not more than that.

or this: Because this one line raises hairs on the arm, consider making this the end of a chapter, or at least a chapter break.

and last a cup of you-are-getting-there golden hot stuff:

Molly, I like where you're going with this. I want your character to go out in the world and become transformed. As a reader, I want to go with her. Others will, too.

I’ve had the honor of not only being Conrad’s friend but for a long time showing up at libraries and bookstores and bringing pages and spending hours going over our work making it stronger, better, richer. What a gift.

I hope these notes help you see the power of not going alone today. You are with friends. Keep working and come back for more of the hot java.

And here is a quote from his recently released novel. This one will really warm you up:

By itself, the moon rising is nothing. It's cliche. But the girl falling asleep and missing the moonrise is everything. It blasts the poem with pain and possibilities. Figure out what those possibilities are and you've got a poem. That's the secret -- to close your hand on jagged glass, then open it and find a butterfly. Conrad Wesselhoeft (Adios, Nirvana)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 15: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Paul Michael Gordon

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.
Let me know how it's going and I will offer you some coveted holy snappin'. You are at the halfway mark!

Today's high-five comes from visionary film maker: Paul Michael Gordon. He created the book trailer for Holly Cupala’s TELL ME A SECRET, nominated for School Library Journal’s first Trailee award. Check out his brand of film-making.

Uh, umm, Paul, uh, hmm, there is just no high-five in your photo, but it is somehow inspiring. I believe in film-making this next photo is called a stand-in. Here is a double high-five from two pandas that can follow instructions...

And now an energizing thought from Paul for your creative journey:Pandas are just bears with right-brained fur. Put on your panda suit.

Here is another bit of motivating advice from Paul: M&M's for breakfast, Red Bull for lunch and some healthy exercise to the fridge is what keeps me creative. Oh, and don't forget the cold pizza.

All kidding aside, Paul is just one of the most positive people I know. If he even thinks a negative thought I’m pretty sure he wrestles it down like Godzilla taking out Mothra. I mean, you are never going to reach your goal if you can’t get some “positiveness” going. Open up! You can do this! You can complete your goal. Go, Golden Coffee Cupper, go! I think I like your hat, too.

See you tomorrow with more of the hot stuff.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. One should, for example, be able to see that things are hopeless and yet be determined to make them otherwise. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Day 3: The Golden Coffee Cup -- Linda Joy Singleton

Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup. Today my friend, the incomparable Linda Joy Singleton is here to cheer us on!

This is the best kind of high five. Linda offers a high five on a Caribbean cruise excursion train ride around the island of St. Kitts. In her words,

"I was touched by these school kids who seemed so interested in learning and excited by tourists passing by. There had also been a traveling Logos Hope ship docked next to our cruise ship. I asked about it about found out the ship is a traveling library from a Christian group that invite uniformed students aboard. Students lined up all day to come in to the library where they have the opportunity to enjoy books and take books home. I was impressed with their travels sharing a love of books.

I've always loved books. In 4th grade I came in 2nd for a contest to see who read the most books and I read about 30, mostly mysteries like Nancy Drew. This interest led to my writing a fan letter to a favorite author and amassing a collection of juvenile girl series that fills up an entire room. My dream at age 14, written down in a writing school application, was to have my own mystery series. And it happened with the 1995 publication of MY SISTER THE GHOST from Avon books. Then came CHEER SQUAD, REGENERATION, STRANGE ENCOUNTERS, THE SEER, DEAD GIRL and upcoming 2012 GOTH GIRL Mysteries.

When it comes to goal setting, I make writing a daily habit. I get up every morning, turn on my computer then check email to clear my head and then turn to my latest creative project. I take a break for lunch and exercise them come back and often stay at my computer all day.

Right now I'm going through an uncertain time. After having book contracts to work on for the last 6 years, I'm waiting to find out what my next project will sell. It's hard to wait on other people's decisions, so I work on the things I can control. And I can control my daily writing. So even though I'm not sure if I'll suddenly be offered a new contract, I've started a new project that may or may not ever sell or even be finished. But I've written a first chapter and I'm excited by this story. So I'll keep writing. It's what I do best.

Linda Joy Singleton's new book is out -- MAGICIAN'S MUSE/Flux. Check out her website or on Facebook or Twitter. And around the corner is her next book, GRAVE SECRETS - A Thorn Goth Girl Mystery coming 2012 (Flux)

I hope that you are as moved as I am by this. If this inspiration doesn't warm up your heart for the creative journey, I don't know what will.

Quote of the day:

If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun. Katherine Hepburn

Monday, November 01, 2010

Day 1: The Fifth Annual Golden Coffee Cup Begins!

Welcome, Golden Coffee Cuppers! Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup. Any late comers? You have until midnight Nov 1 to post your goal here! Create your best work. Maybe you'll win a cup of coffee

I'm awed and thrilled to be journeying with such a talented group of creative souls. I know we will find good success! Every journey comes with its rewards, highs, and excitement, but there are also bends, set backs, and wrong turns. Be kind to yourself. Remember all journeys also have their surprises, their ah-ha moments, and "take your breath away" summits. Look for them. Let them really fill you up.

I will cheer you on the whole way!

Snap! Snap! Snap!

It's my tradition to start out this year journey with some high fives and spiritual advice from some folks who know way more than me.

Here is some inspiration from Anne Frank.

Here is a good thought for the road from Anne. Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don't know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!

Next up is inspiration from Harriet Tubman. Here is some hot stuff from Harriet to keep you warm as you go: Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Some timeless wisdom from Nelson Mandela, brave soul. If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. I hope we all write in the language of children and our creations light up hearts.

We have to hole up to work but take time to listen to the wind, to smell the Earth. Gather strength from the natural world. Look up at the night sky -- the swath of the Milky Way, the Moon, and the planets; it feels like things are just inching forward up there but in truth things are moving very fast. Remember this while you work.

Carve out time to work every day. Take some silent moments and breathe. Life can be so busy, but search out the quiet moments. Take care of yourself.

Think about this: you are brave just because you are here. Snap! Snap! Snap! Let's get to work.

I have gathered all the goals so far here so that they are easy to see. We will go far and do much. See you tomorrow for more hot java!

One last quote: Let your mind start a journey thru a strange new world. Leave all thoughts of the world you knew before. Let your soul take you where you long to be...Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar, and you'll live as you've never lived before. Eric Fromm

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Golden Coffee Cup begins Monday!

Hi, folks, A short post today! Click here to learn more about the Golden Coffee Cup.
We will begin our own odyssey on Monday. I'm excited about making a goal and keeping it. Be sure to post your goal by Monday at midnight. Hot stuff is coming.

I try to see the sunset every night. Here is a recent picture of Texas big sky:

I ask myself, "Look at the beauty of the universe. Look how immense and breath-taking it is. How do I want to respond to it? Who am I? What do I want?" I am moved to write, to captures some filament of the truth woven into the fabric of what I see. Oh, in the end, I'm sure my art is not enough, but I must try. I must.

Here is a quote to get you going:

I don't care how much power, brilliance or energy you have, if you don't harness it and focus it on a specific target, and hold it there you're never going to accomplish as much as your ability warrants. Zig Ziglar

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Win Coffee! Join the Golden Coffee Cup on Nov 1

I hope that you are getting your goal ready! Yay for the folks already in! 31 days of CHEERING YOU ON blogging is about to begin on NOV 1. Here are the quintessential motivational coffee cups:

Make a goal and finish it. Share in a creative journey. Join the 2010 Golden Coffee Cup. Want to make a good goal for the Golden Coffee Cup? Check here.


In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO), I have a little event on my blog for anyone one who needs an extra boost of motivation to get their current project rolling.

The Golden Coffee Cup is for children's content creators or anyone who might like to hang with us (Come on over, Nanos!). Artists, writers, screenwriters, if you fit the bill, this is for you.

The Golden Coffee Cup is a different kind of motivational thingy.

THE RULES: 1. Post your November creative goals on blog by Nov 1. I'll make sure all goals are moved to the November 1st post so we're all on the same page. Nov 1 at midnight is the deadline, folks.

2. Come back daily for general cheering, inspiring, and wild ruckus. We'll work hard and do some holy snappin'. For extra motivation, virtual 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 your story on my blog, and you will receive your Golden Coffee Cup jpg. There is no verification process, I believe you. Send in your email address to me(, and I'll email your Golden Coffee Cup. Display it proudly as wallpaper, post it on your blog, print it out and tack it on your bulletin board for year-long motivation.

4. EXTRA EXTRA Incentive! Write a great post and you might win real coffee! I will select the four best goal stories, and the winner will receive a STARBUCKS card for a cup of coffee. 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. (Ahem, if you don't like coffee you can totally buy tea - the CHAI at Starbucks is mighty tasty.)

Get ready, folks! Major high fives, holy snappin' and so many inspiring folks are ahead. You can do anything you put your mind to. Really.

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

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Life Inspiring Fiction -- Janet Lee Carey, author of THE DRAGONS OF NOOR

Please check out my upcoming Golden Coffee Cup and the following Opportunity, but to create meaningful work, we have to get the fire within burning. The answers to our writing journey are threaded through our life journey. On this journey, we find the themes that we circle around and explore in our stories. Most of us find that we spend our entire career revealing these heart-felt themes.

Talented fantasy author Janet Lee Carey is here today to share some of her insight into how we move the inspiration of our life into the fiction that we write. Janet is the author of many books including STEALING DEATH, THE BEAST OF NOOR and its sequel THE DRAGONS OF NOOR. Today we’ll be taking a close look at how Janet’s real life passions and interests connected with and inform her newest fantasy novel THE DRAGONS OF NOOR. This blog is in celebration of her newest book.

The natural world is a huge force in your work, please suggest some practical ways that you draw strength to create from the natural world.

I’m lucky enough to live by a lake where I can watch the morning mist rising over the water. The lake changes moment by moment. I look down to read a paragraph and when I look up again the light has gone from gray to rose, new birds have flown in. I’m constantly thrilled and challenged by the fierce beauty of the natural world, so it’s not surprising that it’s central to all of my fiction. When writing new scenes I try to let the setting speak. For this to happen I have to get out of the way and let the natural surroundings say what needs saying in the story at that particular moment. Everything the story needs is right there in the scene.

Describe the how and why of the moment the kernel of an idea was formed for THE DRAGONS OF NOOR.

There were two parts to the original vision. One came from a daydream I had years ago where I saw children stolen by a wild wind.
Children fly when worlds are shaken,
Now the children are Wind-taken.
Seek them there, seek them here, before the children disappear.
The first few lines of the poem above came early in the writing process. Sometimes poems arrive like signposts. It’s my job to follow the signposts into the story to see where they take me.

The second kernel had to do with an image of the ancient forest toppling down through some mysterious blight. Funnily enough the question, “Who will speak for the trees?” raised by Dr. Seuss’s book THE LORAX, accompanied the vision.
These two images collided in my mind. I knew the loss of the ancient trees and the wind-stolen children were connected somehow, but I didn’t discover the internal story map right away. I had to write the first draft to understand the connection.

Caution: allowing the imagination elbow room and writing discovery drafts leads to a lot of cutting and revision down the pike. Still I wouldn’t write any other way.

Trees, it’s all about the trees. In THE DRAGONS OF NOOR, the azure trees are dying, connections between worlds are severed, heroes must rise up and save these connections, could you share some stories of how trees have inspired you and how they made your way into your story?

I grew up under the towering California redwoods, and I mean under them. The ancient trees dwarfed us. I think this gave me a unique perspective growing up. I felt there were older living beings around me -- that I was a small person in their world. Because of this I see all the manmade structures, our houses, buildings, bridges, as necessary to our survival, but I also feel we are building on ancient terrain.

The forest was a presence. I felt the trees surrounding me walking to and from school. I also read fantasy books up in the boughs. In ON STORIES C.S. Lewis says “[the reader] does not despise the real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all the real woods a little enchanted.” This was certainly my experience. The books I read made me see the redwood forest with a deeper appreciation.

Some seedling thoughts I discovered writing THE DRAGONS OF NOOR.

Trees play an essential role in the human psyche. Our bodies, hearts, and brains need their silent majesty, green boughs, and shade.

Trees are rooted in humankind’s childhood. When we cut them down we sever ourselves from our wild past and chop down our most ancient playground.

The tree deya, Evver, says to Hanna as they part ways:
~Feel the ground beneath your feet as you walk. Heart to root; remember the ones who hold you up.~

You’re sending donations to PLANT A BILLION TREES as part of the celebration of the release of THE DRAGONS OF NOOR, could you explain why you’ve chosen to support this organization and what it means to you?
Of course! I knew when the book came out I’d be looking for just the right outreach to celebrate. The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees is the perfect fit.

Plant a Billion Trees goal is to restore one billion native trees to Brazil's highly endangered Atlantic Forest over the next 7 years.

Nature Conservancy says, “Tropical forests are the lungs of the earth, filtering out ten million tons of car-bon dioxide from the atmosphere every year. Every day these valuable trees help reduce global warming.”

Readers who want to help restore the forest can check out the “Giving Back” page on my website, or go straight to Plant a Billion Trees campaign page.

More Celebrations:
Local Seattle area readers are welcome to join THE DRAGONS OF NOOR Book Launch Party at Parkplace Books in Kirkland, Oct 23rd 7-9 pm.

Thanks for the great questions, Molly. It was a pleasure to visit Seize the day today.

In lieu of this week's doodle, here are some lovely trees to inspire you on your journey.

credit Tom Carey

Sometimes I go about pitying myself
And all the while I am being carried across the sky
By beautiful clouds

Ojibway saying

Friday, October 08, 2010

Fifth Annual Golden Coffee Cup is Nov 1!


Put on your thinking caps. You need to make a really good goal. Keep it simple. Complicated goals tend to get tossed. Be reasonable. How long would it take you to get in shape for a marathon run? Give yourself that much time if you have a big goal. Keep it real, folks.

If you can't make a deal with yourself to make a goal, well, you need to work on that. Discipline is about practice. Try making four 1 week goals. You have to think about the amount of work, but be aware of the amount of time you have available. There is still no way to stop time. Your goal needs to jive with the time you have available. I am serious.

Goals are just that, not another reason to kick yourself, not another reason to eat that tub of chocolate brownie caramel fudge ice cream, not another reason to say that you are just a big mess up. My advice, if you are caught in this glue, go talk to someone. OK?

So now that you have settled on reason itself, put a pen to paper and write down your most awesome goal. Next, start preparing yourself for success.
Most of all, have fun!


In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO), I have a little event on my blog for anyone one who needs an extra boost of motivation to get their current project rolling.

The Golden Coffee Cup is for children's content creators. Artists, writers, if you fit the bill this is for you.

The Golden Coffee Cup is a different kind of motivational thingy.

THE RULES: 1. Post your November creative goals on blog by Nov 1. I'll make sure all goals are moved to the November 1st post so were all on the same page. Nov 1 at midnight is the deadline, folks.

2. Come back daily for general cheering, inspiring, and wild ruckus. We'll work hard and do some holy snappin'. For extra motivation, virtual 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 your story on my blog, and you will receive your Golden Coffee Cup jpg. There is no verification process, I believe you. Send in your email address to me(, and I'll email your Golden Coffee Cup. Display it proudly as wallpaper, post it on your blog, print it out and tack it on your bulletin board for year-long motivation.

4. EXTRA EXTRA Incentive! Write a great post and you might win real coffee! I will select the four best goal stories, and the winner will receive a STARBUCKS card for a cup of coffee. 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.

OPPORTUNITY to featured in the Golden Coffee Cup.

A quote for the week: First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end
. Aristotle

Friday, October 01, 2010

Want to be featured in the 2010 Golden Coffee Cup?

OPPORTUNITY! It's that time a year again! Want to be featured in the 2010 Annual Golden Coffee Cup? Send me ( a digital picture that expresses your "High Five", a link to your blog, website or book, and your favorite bit 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 (NANOWRIMO), I have a little event on my blog for anyone one who needs an extra boost of motivation to get their current project rolling.

The Golden Coffee Cup is for children's content creators. Artists, writers, if you fit the bill this is for you.

The Golden Coffee Cup is a different kind of motivational thingy.

THE RULES: 1. Post your November creative goals on blog by Nov 1. I'll make sure all goals are moved to the November 1st post so were all on the same page. Nov 1 at midnight is the deadline, folks.

2. Come back daily for general cheering, inspiring, and wild ruckus. We'll work hard and do some holy snappin'. For extra motivation, virtual 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 your story on my blog, and you will receive your Golden Coffee Cup jpg. There is no verification process, I believe you. Send in your email address to me(, and I'll email your Golden Coffee Cup. Display it proudly as wallpaper, post it on your blog, print it out and tack it on your bulletin board for year-long motivation.

4. EXTRA EXTRA Incentive! Write a great post and you might win real coffee! I will select the four best goal stories, and the winner will receive a STARBUCKS card for a cup of coffee. 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.

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. C.S. Lewis

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hi, folks, I'm exhausted this week. It's hard work to live a creative life. There is never enough time. I have discussions about cloning myself on a weekly basis. Anywho, I've been thinking about memes this week. Memes are the equivalent of viruses in terms of culture. A virus is a bunch of chemicals that aren't exactly alive (yes, I know that is a whole other conversation) that fall in a specified sequence and basically go around either wrecking havoc or in some cases actually improving stuff. Regardless, viruses get your attention and so do memes. Memes are ideas that spiral out quickly, and we all catch them.

So a meme, a real meme, is viral: it propagates, it mutates, and it can die. Think about the ideas or patterns of behavior that seem to hit you out of nowhere and suddenly there you are receiving and delivering them willy nilly -- texting, blogging, facebooking, tweeting, oh, the meme delivery systems are endless, I think back in the day it was more like talking, cave drawing, smoke signaling, newspapering, radioing, phoning, CBs and my favorite meme delivery system: BOOKS!!! Lots of communication technologies spread memes. Memes are out of control, and they don't usually get it right. We waste lots of time on insignificant cultural fluff, but on some level even with all the missteps, memes do seem take us in useful directions, they challenge us, they open our eyes. Hopefully, if we use our good sense and open to the good stuff, they will take us toward our better selves.

I think as a creative content person, I'm sort of in the meme business. I really want to send ideas into the world that are viral, that propagate, that mutate and in the most basic terms reshape us in some way that is definitely better.

When you buzz about whatever is inside you, go beyond just what can an will be heard. Yes, I'm talking to you zombie-alien-clone-baby-angel-devil-hottie-vampire-ghost busters. All I've got to say if you're going there, go deeper. You have some deep well of MEANING within you. In the slush mud at the bottom of you are nuggets of gold. Put that stuff out there. Infect me with your golden memes. Do it. Light the world with the brightness of that treasure.

I'm still on gravity defying animals. My doodle for the week: "Ten Platypuses Glide"

This week's quote.
Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new. Ursula K. Le Guin

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Hello, friends, hope you had a creative week. I've been thinking a lot about honesty lately. Here is a thing I've learned -- if I am brave and write down the things that I'm afraid to write down, then I find that my writing stretches beyond me. Locked doors open inside me as I let the deep things I think live on the page. I find this whole bravery thing snowballs into my work. My vision clears. Writing what I think helps me. I see what is right and true. And if anything is wrong with what I am thinking that comes out to. Putting my thoughts on the page helps me get at heart of things.

I've also found all this honesty spills into my work. I am more willing to take risks. I don't feel the weight of censors or critics, and I get to the business of shaping my stories the way they want to be shaped. I'm able to make my way into the deepest water of understanding. Emily Dickinson wrote a little poem that sticks with me. "I never saw the moor. I never saw the sea. Yet know I how the heather looks and and what a wave must be. I never visited God, nor visited in heaven, but sure am I of the spot as if the chart were given." Her assurance of things unseen gives me boldness. Her truth changes me. I hope you are getting the sense of the absolute power of writing what needs to be written.

So this week, write down your secret, write down that thought you don't write down because you know it will offend others, write down your anger, your grief, write down something hidden. See what happens when you open wide the door of honesty. I'm just saying, try it. Seize the day. See you next week.

My doodle this week is a little collage. I call it "Sunrise".

The highest compact we can make with our fellow is - "Let there be truth between us two forevermore." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, September 04, 2010


Hi folks, summer is sliding away and fall is moving in. I love the changing of the seasons. For one, it reminds me that no matter how much of a rut I'm in, I don't have to worry, I'll get out it. I just will. Seasons change. It's something to count on.

This week I've been thinking about serendipity. You can't make serendipity happen, but you can create a world where serendipity is more likely to happen. It's really about showing up. So many dream, but few make dreams happen. This is the work part of the equation. I honestly believe if you move forward with the work, serendipity will come after you. You step and the universe answers. If you you don't step, nothing is ever going to happen.

So this week ask yourself, what is my next step? I like to write things down. It makes things more concrete for me. Take that baby step. Get in the habit of taking the next step. You will come to big leaps. Take the leaps! Keep moving toward your goal and something you are not seeking is going to come after you, something good but unexpected. After the work, expect serendipity.

I hope you take the baby steps, the regular steps, and any leaps that come your way this week. Serendipity will follow, of this I am sure. See ya next week. Seize the day.

Doodle of the week. I love to doodle cute critters defying gravity. Love it! Here is: "Two Lynx Leap"

Serendipity is the art of making an unsought finding. Pek van Andel

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Will I?

Hello, friends, I hope you had a creative week. This week is a little nudge for your self talk. No one really likes being told what to do. I have found that I don't even like telling myself what to do. So I ask.

"Will you write to day? Will you write 2000 words? Will you keep trying?"

All that -- "you must, you have to, if you don't," I grow very weary at the heavy handed approach. I always disappoint myself. Coming up short, whoa, am I good at that. What I have learned is to guide myself gently forward.

I whisper, "Will you consider getting up and trying again? Tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it."

Mix in the positive and nix all that negative talk. It besets me. If I put it aside and ask, "Will I, today and now? Will I?" This opens me up, and I feel myself answering back, "I think I will."

So be kind and encouraging in your thoughts as you create your masterworks. Be open- minded instead of driven. This is for me the better way to create art. I hope this helps you in your journey. Seize the day.

This week's doodle is called : "Hope Within".

If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge. Those are the three things the ego is doing all the time. It's very important to be aware of them every time they come up.

— Deepak Chopra

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Hi, folks, whew, it's hot! We are way over the century mark here every day. Today I'm going to talk about unloading the stuff. One thing I have noticed is that if I'm not taking care of myself, my writing suffers. People are complex and need lots of care. Recognizing that is the first step.

For me, I have to keep the emotional shelf unloaded. This includes talking with friends and counselors, and writing honestly about my feelings. Emotional baggage means no work for me. I also have to keep the spiritual shelf unloaded. This plays out in a number of ways. I have to pray and also have to connect with art in multiple disciplines -- music, visuals, writing, dance, and whatever else comes my way. A lack of spiritual connection leaves me nervous and keeps the words from flowing.

I must keep the family shelf unloaded. I have to "mom" my kids and spend quality time with my spouse. I am a great believer in friendship and keep space in my life for that too. I also have to keep the physical shelf unloaded. This is doing the mundane of life: making the bed, washing the dishes, the clothes, sweeping. The basics of life better be happening or my heart get so weighted down I never get anything done.

Time has to be given to all these things. If daily I work to keep things unloaded then I find my writing is smooth and moves with power and purpose. If not, my writing frustrates me. My words jumble on the page and the work loses the spark that makes it worthwhile. So today work on unloading what you need to be successful. You might not be finishing that book because you are not giving yourself the chance to take care of your needs. You can't finish projects if you are not bringing yourself out of the high seas into to the calm waters of rest.

I hope you take this heart. Unload, then seize the day, seize the night, and create art for the ages.

This week's doodle is called "The Wise Old Owl".

This week quote is some good advice. There is a lot to do each day, turn this thought over and see if it helps.

We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.
John Newton.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Necessary => Possible=> Impossible

I hope that all is well. Dog days of summer. Whew, it's hot here, 100+ every day. I relish the slower pace of lazy summer days. I love the sunshine, the heat, watching the pears turn red.

Today, focus on the necessary. It will always grow into the possible. That grows some more and then over time great things come. I keep a mustard seed with me. I guess that's as close to a totem as I get. The seed is tiny, a speck, and it grounds me. I don't think that our creative force is random. I see it as a gift, but it is like a seed. You've got to water it. You've got to put fertilizer on it. You've got to make sure it gets plenty sun. Respect the spark of life within you today. A seed has got all the blueprints in it. It need to be nurtured.

It's taken me half my life to put it together that all the small moments are what make the big moments possible. Life is all about nurture. You must embrace commitment and let it lead you to action to truly see the growth that you are dreaming of. Be kind to yourself, nurture the creative spark within. Don't push it aside. Give it a chance to grow.

I hope you take this to heart and really let the good stuff grow in you. All that amazing stuff hovering on the inside of you, it really can do exactly what you think it can do. Respect that this week. Keep working. Seize the day.

Here is the doodle of the week: "Wind".

And the quote that got me thinking: Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you're doing the impossible. St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Society's Big Event

Hey, dear friends, I'm back from the City of the Angels. Thank you to the Society (after years of not knowing what to do with the big name of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, I have decided to just call us the Society, like the film folks call themselves the Academy.) Thank you to Lynn and Steve the Grand Poobahs of the Society. If you want to read about the Society's summer conference in great depth try The Official SCBWI Conference Blog.

I have a mega-load to cover today so please forgive a longer post.

I'm always nervous about conferences. Will I know anybody? Will I fit in? Will I make any new friends? Most groups have been a bad experience for me. I know what it is like to be an outsider and unwelcome. The Society is such a wonderful thing. I saw Jesse Watson, Richard Watson and Kevan Atteberry on the flight down, and they set the whole tone for me. I was hanging with my folks, my people, my peeps. Soon, I was chatting with Laurie Thompson, Chris Eboch, Chris Cheng (the Society's member of the year and one of my co-authors of THE FOUR WINDS, our novel in four voices), Gail Carson Levine, Verla Kay, Sue Ford, Marion Holland, my roomie Melody DeLeon, blog friends: Michelle Griskey and Molly Hall(rising stars in the Society in my opinion). I made some new connections: Illustrators -- Shane Watson, Dan Santat and Joey Spiotto. Writers -- Jenn K and all the Houston and the Austin Society folks. I think I wore some of these folks out, hugging their necks so much. In the Society, I'm with a family I'm not born to, but belong to anyway. I can't help hugging them. It's a great gift to be a part of them and it makes me feel like one of the most blessed people ever.

One of the big draws to this conference for me was the chance to really hear some of the genius that is Tobin Anderson. I'm going to focus on his talks in this post because there is no way to cover this whole conference. I'm also to gush a bit about him some. I have dreamed of meeting M.T. Anderson for a long time. I've read a number of his books: FEED, The OCTAVIAN NOTHING series, WHALES ON STILTS, BURGER WUSS and THE GAME OF SUNKEN PLACES. I did go up and say hi. I'm sure I was just a face in the sea of faces, but it was the best moment on my part.

In one session, when Mr. Anderson brought up THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK written by Jon Stone and illustrated by Michael Smollen, two fat tears trickled down my cheeks. I'm a blue collar girl who depended on the public library, my school library, and the wonder of what I call affordable books (mass market) as my connection to great literature as child. THE MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK was a big favorite of mine and in a magical way made me feel like Grover was a personal buddy with all the same neurotic fears that I have. I was glad to hear such a world-renowed author recoginizing the genius of this book without an ounce of literary snobbery. A good book is a good book regardless of how it happens. Sometimes people seem to get too caught up in the shiny jacket, the weight of the paper, and the price point, and forget the content. I'm all about the content.

I offer two fiery ideas shared by Tobin in a session. First, ask yourself dangerous questions. Stop being so safe and contained in your stories. Shake it up. What are you avoiding in your work because it so freaking dangerous? And second, don't be afraid of your own weirdness. This hits home for me. I'm practically Piglet with all my worry. Yes, I have watched every episode of every Star Trek series and every episode of Dr. Who. I do not understand anyone's obsession with sports, any sport. I can always understand animals, people not so much. I am terrified of dentists, losing my glasses and keys, and being considered inconsequential as an artist. I'm afraid if anyone knows this stuff, that I will never get a shot at my dreams.

Thank you, Mr. Anderson for sharing a little bit of your Genius with the Society.

This is a great conference. Marion Dane Bauer and E. B.Lewis made me bawl. The cathartic release of pent up emotion is always a gift. I appreciated the honest stories of their works. Gail Carson Levine, Gennifer Choldenko, and Paul Fleischman all offered expansive writing advice. Michael Reisman made me think that Hollywood was not quite such a bad place. I cannot begin to express the full value of the Society's International Conferences. My advice, start saving your pennies and get to one.

I hope something here gives you a little boost. Seize the day! My son has asked me to include this: Carpe Noctem! Seize the night! (In case you are a night owl. :)!)

Here is a doodle from my conference notebook. It's the Grand Poobahs from several different children's publishing houses. They were all so happy. I was proud to be a part of such a kind and meaningful industry.

Next, I love a great conversation. Here I am with Chris Eboch and Gail Carson Levine having just such a conversation.

I'm shifting gears here at the end for big SHOUTOUTS! Want a good book to read? Two book trailers came out this week from two of my dearest writing friends.

First from Holly Cupala -- the TELL ME A SECRET trailer with a big nod to Paul Michael Gordon who created the trailer.

Next, from Conrad Wesselhoeft -- the ADIOS, NIRVANA trailer.

Last is my quote for the week:

If ever there is tomorrow when we're not together.. there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart.. I'll always be with you.
Winnie the Pooh aka A.A. Milne.

Friday, July 30, 2010

City of the Angels

Short post. I'm off hanging with peeps. I'm in Los Angeles for the Summer SCBWI International Conference. This is like the best of the best times. I want to hear, to learn, and to grow. They have really good fertilizer for this stuff. Yay!

And now I will prognosticate: There is a secret in the back of your head -- a thought, something crazy you want to do, something that will require some sacrifice, some complicated planning, do it! I have found that chasing after a dream is a good thing to work toward. It is good for everyone around you too. You can put that in the bank.

Ask yourself what is that secret something and start working toward it. Write about it on a piece a paper, tell a friend, start making plans. Don't be afraid. Peace on your journey, readers. Peace. Seize the day. See you next week.

Here is my doodle of the week: "Girl and Texas Hills"

Here is your quote for the week: We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself. ~Lloyd Alexander

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Not Feeling It

Hi folks, today is a big secret day about stuff I depend on to write on a daily basis. Many days, I'm just not feeling it. No inspiration, no drive, nothing, nada, and my secret? I work anyway. Sometimes this can go on for days. I have found a odd grouping of things keeps me motivated that has nothing to do with actually writing books.

1. Walking. A long walk makes me loosen up and helps me discover the power within. It's always on mile three. When I get to mile three on my walk, I punch the air and jump up and down. I feel like I could hop to the moon.

2. Reading books. I read wide. I love so many genres, so many types of books. Some books are so bad I feel desperate to write something that will put something meaningful out there. Other books are so profound that I marvel that we can fly so far with our art, and I want to chase after that.

3. Conversation. A conversation opens up my creative self. It forms all kinds of new connections in brain. It makes me understand the forces within me, the stuff driving me to create. I'm back in storyteller land here in Texas, and I have to admit, it is wonderful. I always feel so satisfied after a good conversation.

4. Sky. I am back in big sky country and it feels like my whole soul is saying yay! It's like being reunited with a long lost friend. I've found my routine has fit in the sunsets and the sunrises as much as possible. I'm going to see the Perseids for sure this year. The expanse of the sky is a vast canvas that is like a living thing to me, full of intensity, beauty, and surprises.

5. Routine. Something about going through a routine works this magic within me. The repetitive tasks of making the bed, loading the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, etc. It's like you can trust these things to add together and fill you with a sense of order and purpose. When I string words, nouns and verbs together, I feel the power of routine and know that from these simple steps will come a reflection of the galaxies that spin overhead. I trust the process.

So this week, think about the strange alchemy that motivates you. Wake up and trust it. Let this mix of things help you on your journey to create fine arts to share with the generations. Seize the day. See you next week.

Here is the doodle of the week. "Sunrise behind a tree."

Quote of the week:

Novelists do not write as birds sing, by the push of nature. It is part of the job that there should be much routine and some daily stuff on the level of carpentry. William Golding

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Be Aware of the Great Battles

Today I want to focus on kindness. What is kindness to me? It's tenderhearted concern, to be sympathetic and understanding. I've been thinking about a Philo of Alexandria quote again: Be kind, for most everyone you meet is fighting a great battle. I think about this almost daily. It's important terms of story telling. I've learned to see that all my characters, the good (of course) and the bad (not as intuitive), are fighting great battles. As I turn my mind's eye toward concern and sympathy, my characters grow and expand. The cardboard cutouts disappear and multi-faceted jewels replace them.

This isn't the hero talk. Generally heroes are likable. Bad guys, not so much. I do think that the bad guys need the most kindness. If you don't try to understand what is motivating them, if you don't try to see the mosaic of good within their evil-slanted psyche, then they end up seeming fake, one note. It will weaken your story. So today, think about an antagonist in your story, what mercy could come his or her way? Why is the character bent on harm? What thorn is in his or her side to cause such pain? What good things do he or she want? Yes, the darker the character, the more difficult it is for the audience to understand. Cut in strands of light to make your darkest characters more human.

Hope this thought helps you as you move forward with creative works. Seize the day, folks.

I call this doodle, "Fire".

A quote for the week:

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.
Albert Camus

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sleep On It

This was an intense writing week for me. I had these three chapters that were driving me bonkers! I tried all kinds of stuff to make them work. All I want is my plot threads to be totally unified, to draw the reader in and keep them interested. Is that asking so much? Instead of moving forward, I kept muddying the water of the story. Instead, it really started getting wholly confusing. How annoying is that?

The plot tied in knots, so convoluted. I made changes that were bending the manuscript out of discern able shape. I'd have to write the whole thing again. Erk. I called my sister and explained to her all of it. How I had all these good dijointed, wonderful stuff -- great scenes, no glue. She laughed and told me to simplify. I threw up my hands and went to bed, grumbling.

When I woke up in the morning, and the fog was gone and I knew exactly what to do. Something about sleep helps unravel tangles of thought. So if you are backed into a corner in your work and are not sure how to proceed, find a friend and explain the ins and outs of the problem, not to solve it but get in the open so you can see it better. Then sleep on it. What happens in the morning? Things are clear. Yay!

Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes. Get things moving forward at a good pace. Seize the day.

This week's doodle is "A Pig Flies".

A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor's book.Irish Proverb

Friday, July 02, 2010


It's raining dingos, lions, and bathtubs here. I'm working through FINDING WATER: THE ART OF PERSEVERENCE by Julia Cameron. One thing I've learned in this book is the need for a weekly Artist's Date. This is a bit of time set aside for creative pursuits that will fuel your spirit.

I'm finding a lot of energy at the monthly BRYAN, TEXAS's FIRST FRIDAYs. Tonight I headed by the Brazos Glassworks and chatted with artisans there. Then I went to The Frame Gallery where the band plays rather awesome and soothing jazz. I took a chair at their wonderful art table, where they provide paints, palettes (paper plates) and paper (more paper plates :)).I paint whatever is in my head.

I will admit the table had a good mix of kids and grownups. The little girl next to me happily shared my paints. She declared that painting rainbows is the best, it's too difficult to paint an entire plate red, and that the color that goes with red best is white -- good to know. I also headed over to Must Be Heaven and had some Blackberry Chess Pie. Yum. Highly recommended. Pie is a total art form and I am deeply inspired by it.

So Happy Campers, go out this week and refuel. Find your perfect slice of pie, some dedicated artists to chat with, some tranquil tunes to soothe your spirit, a few paint brushes to splash paint on the paper. Whatever you do, open up your creative self. Seize the day.

I was definitely channeling Carroll here. My doodle on a paper plate, "Grinning Cat".
Sorry about the image quality 3D art and 2D scanner.

The quote for the week comes from Lewis Carroll's ALICE IN WONDERLAND:

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Avoiding Perfection

Hi folks,

Lovely day here, hot and sunshiny. I worked hard this week. I'm weaving the deepest magic I know in what I'm writing right now. I keep comforting myself by avoiding perfection. I feel turned inside out with all the complexity of the work: reviewing scenes over and over again, quibbling over line breaks, changing a word and then putting it back for the tenth time -- and then the twentieth, cutting away my "darlings". shoring up the sub-plots, making sure the transitions are better than adequate and reaching the eloquent levels, smything the words with every bit of blarney stone, Texas tall tale juju I can toss on...

I don't know about you, but there is something inside me that wants my work to be perfect. I'm begging for something to rise up in me and shake the foundations of the world. I hunger to write a book that lasts through the ages, relevant for all time.

Uh, I think I've set the bar pretty high, and I'm cool with that. But all this lofty principle has a biting downside, it can really kill my creative flow. How do I avoid creative death by freezing myself in the headlights of the potentiality of doing something unendingly meaningful? Believe me, the pressure is unbearable.

I've found a solution.I've learned to navigate to the middle ground between the tortured artistic diva who must create an earth-shattering work to be satisfied and the ten shekel shirt, snake-oil hawker, TWILIGHT junkie, and talented hack writer corrupted by the glitz of possible $$$.

Believe it or not, I find genius in the middle ground between these two gals. I find fire there, and I'm jogging down that tight-rope to find my best book.

Are you taking a balanced approach to your work? One that gives you the freedom to actually achieve something? Be kind to yourself. Look for your own middle ground this week and see how that gets the creative inferno going. Seize the day.

This week I'm posting the cover of my newest book 'cause I think it is nifty. It's called THE TRUTH ABOUT UNICORNS written by me and illustrated by Necdet Yilmaz. Artist friends, do yourself a favor and check out Necdet's website, very cool-O. The book should be out in a few weeks.

This bridge will only take you halfway there, to those mysterious lands you long to see. Through gypsy camps and swirling Arab fair, and moonlit woods where unicorns run free. So come and walk awhile with me and share the twisting trails and wonderous worlds Ive known. But this bridge will only take you halfway there. The last few steps you have to take alone. Shel Siverstein

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cardinal Song

A short post this week. Lazy summer day, that's my only excuse. I love bird song. A cardinal sang in my backyard today, and I couldn't help but sing back. After, I was trimming the hedges and found a perfect bird's nest nestled in the branches. I think it is my wonder at this world we live in that makes me a writer. Surprises are woven into the fabric of spacetime. Much of our journey is discovering these things.

Relax. Be open. Let the world speak to you. That's the most important thing. After you hear, write it down. Do it every day. My writer recipe.

I've uploaded a ton of doodles. I call this one "Storm".

Last, your quote of the week. A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting. Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tough Week

The post is short this week. Oh, I had a rough week with no hot water, little sleep, and two four-hour drives to Houston and back -- I'm sooo tired.

I'm going to share a bit from a little writing exercise I did a few years back. I was asked to take a few minutes to write down the most obvious stuff in my world. The following is what was obvious to me, at least in that moment.

The Obvious

Pumpkin pie spice
Warmth from a fire.
Bath time.
Story time.
Sleeping in on Saturday morning.
Hot sun on my back at the beach.
Plain vanilla ice cream and pound cake.
Sunsets, rain showers and sunlight in the fall.
Teenage daughters, sons.
Puppies, first bowls of Cheerios.
Realizing you have eyelashes.
Knowing eyelashes have a name.
Attics are filled with pink pillows.
Everyone is like their mother.
We all bleed.
Everyone suffers just as much.
Time does heal all wounds.

Perhaps my thoughts have sparked something about the obvious in you. I hope this inspires you to write. I hope you add the obvious to your stories. Seize the day.

A recent painting, I'm calling it "Moon".

And finally a quote:

Don't be too clever for an audience. Make it obvious. Make the subtleties obvious also. Billy Wilder

Friday, June 04, 2010

Wind for the Sails: Bethany Hegedus

I had the opportunity to go to a workshop with Bethany Hegedus . She is the author of BETWEEN US BAXTERS and upcoming TRUTH WITH A CAPITAL T, edits the children's section in Hunger Mountain: the VCFA journal of the arts, and is the Austin host of Her workshop was based around Francine Prose's book, READING LIKE A WRITER. Thank you, Bethany, and thank you also to Brazos Writers for hosting the event!

I will be honest now. I could not think of what to write about in the blog this week. I'm so tired from unpacking boxes, figuring out where the stores are, and finding good food for the table, and then working on my side job of reading on top of it all, and tossing in several hours of home schooling every day, and wedging in a family emergency, or two, ay, yi, yi, I am busy.

I keep pecking at my stories, but my creative ship has been becalmed. As Bethany moved us through a little exercise about our favorite movies and favorite books, and more, and then asked us to look for connections, I was baffled and then I began to see! I'm all about the underdog getting a day. I'm all about families figuring out a way to coexist in peace. I am about people taking care of each other. I am about putting together families from odd mixes of folks. I could feel the wind, and my sails began to billow out. The ship of my creative self began sailing again. As always, sometimes we need that surge of creative input to get moving through the deep waters of story.

Do something for yourself this week that will get your creative ship sailing. You know the stuff that moves you. Get off the beaten path. Mix it up. Get yourself in a place where the wind will hit your sails. See where it takes you. Seize the day. See you next week.

I have a photo today of pattypan squash, tomatoes, and green beans from my daddy's garden. I'm calling it: "Bounty", taken by talented daughter Jubilee Blaisdell.

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous... Thomas Merton

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Virus and Thinking

Hi, folks. I spent most of this week in bed with a fever and an incessant cough. A week like this can be discouraging. It's a setback. All the goals have to be pushed back at least a week. In a normal week, there is hardly ever any time to get anything done, and I spent most of this week, huddling under the covers and struggling to be patient for my body to heal.

The good news is that I've had time to think. And thinking has led me to consider what I am trying to say. What I love about novels is when they reveal something about the human condition that I was either unaware of, or I was aware but never had the right words to express my feelings about. A good novel brings me to understanding -- what it means to be human, what it means to be me. It is some deep alchemy that wrests this from my heart and soul.

So, in a way, writers are modern day alchemists. We stir together the elements of life, in hopes that we will find the gold of meaning. We mix together circumstances and personality in search of the elixir of longevity -- perhaps our words will cure some of disease of heart and soul, or, at least, alleviate it with our words. In the end, we spin out the wisdom of the ages, the ancient paths, so true and noble. Great story telling is grand adventure, it's self discovery, it's excitement, but it's ancient, a cord that ropes together the generations.

Let's dig deep and shake the foundations, folks. Will we find the foundations solid? Will we find stuff built on sand? Whatever, let's find out. Good luck.

Today's doodle is "Tree".

This week's quote:

The Road goes ever on and on down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, and I must follow, if I can, pursuing it with eager feet, until it joins some larger way where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say. J.R.R. Tolkien