Finding Gifts and Inspiration: The Blessings of a Writer’s Relationship with Nature

During a recent lunch-break walk at my day job, I almost stepped on a bird feather. It might not sound so extraordinary. After all, birds are part of the everyday outdoors. But unlike fallen leaves, clods of dirt, or patches of grass, it’s not every day that your foot comes in contact with a stray feather. So I stopped and picked it up.

Two thoughts crossed my mind then. First, the feather itself. Gosh, was it gorgeous. It was slender, slightly curved, and mostly brown with white horizontal bars that became indistinct closer to the tip. And at over 1 foot long from shaft to tip, it was also HUGE. I still haven’t identified what species it belongs to. (Someone suggested the wild turkey, and it seems to be the closest match.) But as I twirled the feather between my fingers, what bird once wore it didn’t matter. What did matter was how I felt at that moment: as if I’d found a piece of treasure.

Second, as I returned the feather to the ground, I thought about writing. For me, nature and writing have been deeply connected for a long time. In fact, they might be more so now than ever before. Continue reading

The 2017 Blogoversary, Part 2: The Writerly Wisdom Giveaways

Last week was the launch of this year’s 8th blogoversary “party,” with a giveaway featuring ten unique fiction books I highly recommend. (Sunday, July 9th was the actual blogoversary.) Today, it’s time for conclude the celebration… with two more giveaways! And since both prizes are writing-related, I’m calling them the Writerly Wisdom giveaways, after my semi-weekly Writer Wisdom quote series.

So which books are options for the first giveaway? (Hint: Check out the banner image above.) What did I find so enriching or inspiring about each one? And, what is the mysterious second giveaway? Read on to find out!
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Looking Back on 2016… and Looking Ahead to 2017

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Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed the December holidays and had a fun, safe end to 2016. 🙂

Looking back on the year, one of the words that comes to mind is “growth.” This site especially was booming. Thanks to all your shares, likes, and comments, 2016’s stats in terms of page views and visitors doubled 2015’s. And that’s despite the fact that I slowed my blogging schedule to once a week. I may be the one who writes and runs this site, but you, the readers, deserve much of the credit.

So, thank you for stopping by and coming back, for sharing your thoughts and offering feedback, for spreading the word and celebrating milestones with me. But most of all, thank you for encouraging and inspiring me. Yes. You inspire me to be not only the best writer I can be, but also my best and fullest self. And for that, I’m truly grateful.

So, let’s get to the annual year-end wrap-up, along with some quotes that reflect my feelings about 2016 and my hopes for 2017.
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GoFundMe Campaign for Iceland Writers Retreat Begins Today

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I’m sharing some AMAZING news with you today – and asking for your help in making a dream come true, and an incredible learning experience be within reach.

(*takes a deep breath*)

Today I’m starting a GoFundMe campaign to fund a trip to the 2017 Iceland Writers Retreat, with the hopes of raising $3,500 USD by February 4, 2017. After the jump, I’ll share links to the retreat and the campaign page so you can see the cost breakdown, perk levels (yes, PERKS!), and so on. But first, let me explain why I want to go and why I need financial assistance to do so.

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The Power and Importance of Compassion in Literature

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I’ve been thinking about compassion lately. It’s impossible not to, with everything that’s going on in our world. Terrorist attacks, increased racial tensions, insensitivity toward other minority groups, and the most vitriolic U.S. presidential election I can remember (notice the timing of this post, fellow Americans?)… From a social perspective, 2016 has been a bleak year, and I’m deeply worried about where we as a society are heading.

But let’s not discuss politics. Instead, let’s focus on a topic that I think many of us will agree on: the power of compassion in literature. By compassion, I mean moments when characters show kindness, mercy, and similar qualities. These actions can draw us closer to those characters, move us to tears, and make those stories all the more memorable. And during these turbulent times in our world, finding – and writing – stories that demonstrate compassion may be more important than ever.

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Using Archetypes to Learn More About You and Your Characters

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One of my favorite blog series is Ariel Hudnall’s Archetypes in Literature, a collection of essays on the archetypes conceived by Swiss psychologist Carl Jung and examples of each in literature, film, and television. I can’t remember if what followed next happened in a comment one of her Archetype posts, or in a side conversation on my blog… But she introduced me to Archetypes.com, which features a quiz that helps visitors discover their unique blend of archetypes.

So, I took the quiz. And as soon as I got my answers, the “writerly” wheels started turning in my head. 😉

You see, archetypes can help us understand our own behavior patterns as well as those of our characters. It’s sort of like taking an MBTI test as your protagonist to see where she might fall on that spectrum. So, how can you use archetypes to learn more (or confirm what you already know) about yourself and your characters? Plus, how accurate are the quiz’s results? You might be pleasantly surprised.

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Who Were the First Five Authors You Read in Your Favorite Genre?

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Looking back on the books and authors that introduced us to our favorite literary genres can be a fun trip down memory lane. That nostalgia can bear even more meaning for writers. Sure, those authors built the foundation for our reading tastes. But if we consider our “relationship” with their work closely, we can also discover how their stories or writing have influenced ours.

Today, let’s discuss the first five authors we read in our favorite literary genre, or the genre we prefer to write in. I’ll go first with my first five fantasy authors (since fantasy is more than just my great literary love), as well as one takeaway from each that has impacted my writing. Then, you can respond by either commenting on this post or writing about it at your own blogs. This isn’t just for fantasy writers, by the way. Book bloggers and avid readers of all genres are welcome to jump in – so, please do!

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The Freestyle Writing Challenge, Part 2

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Last year I tackled the Freestyle Writing Challenge for the first time. It was a fun way of writing about whatever I wanted (within the topic chosen by the blogger who nominated me, of course) and seeing how many words I could type in a short amount of time. Today, I’m *finally* accepting Sarah J. Higbee’s nomination to take on the Challenge again. Thanks, Sarah!

Here are the rules for the Freestyle Writing Challenge:

  1. Open an new Microsoft Word document.
  2. Set a stop watch or timer for 5 or 10 minutes, whichever challenge you think you can beat.
  3. You topic is at the end of this post, but DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH A TIMER.
  4. Fill the Word document with as many words as you can. Once you begin writing, do not stop.
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spellings and grammar with spell check in Word. This Challenge is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought flow, not your ability to write the right spelling and stick to grammar rules.
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation and capitals. However, if you do, it would be best.
  7. At the end of your post, write down ‘No. of words =_____’ so that readers have an idea of how much you can write within the timeframe.
  8. Copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees, and include these rules with your nominations (at least 5 bloggers).

So, Sarah’s topic for her nominees this time was… Continue reading

Writing Spaces, Rituals, and Other Habits

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Ahhhh… Isn’t that a lovely view? Sometimes I think the beach would be my writing space paradise. Other times, I know I’d be so distracted by its beauty that I’d be better off indoors. But one can always dream, right?

Today I’m sharing tidbits about my real writing space, from my current “Draft #3 Central” to rituals and other habits when working on my WIP. This topic was inspired by recent posts by Jessica Matteliano and Rae Oestreich. In fact, I’m sort of copying Jessica’s format, which was based on questions from a recent #Storycrafter Twitter chat led by Faye Kirwin of Writerology. (Hope you don’t mind, Jessica. *winks*)

Curiousity piqued? Then let’s dive in!

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Five Reasons Why The DIY MFA Book Is a Must-Read for Writers

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While I love a good book on the craft of writing, I wouldn’t normally say that such a book would be one of my most anticipated reads of the year. Gabriela Pereira’s DIY MFA, however, is a exception – and perhaps biasedly so. I’ve been a staff writer at DIY MFA’s website since November 2014. So, not only have I been eagerly awaiting the book’s release ever since Gabriela broke the news to us, but I also agree with her philosophy and the concepts she presents.

Last month, the DIY MFA Book was published last month by Writer’s Digest. I’ve had a chance to read it, and I’m thrilled to say it surpassed my expectations. Writing a review for a writing reference book, however, is different than writing one for fiction. I don’t want to spoil too many of the insights that Gabriela shares. Instead, I’ll give Five Reasons Why The DIY MFA Book Is a Must-Read for Writers. Then, if you like the sounds of it, you can fully immerse yourself in the DIY MFA learning experience. Ready?

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