Some thoughts on clutter & creativity.

On the surface, I am not the neatest person. Clutter seems to follow in my wake. Scenario –come in with the mail, set a magazine on the coffee table, meaning to look at it later. Bills go on the stairs to make their way to my office next time I go upstairs. I have every good intention of tossing the remaining circulars and junk mail in the recycle bin on the back porch – but then I get interrupted between here & there & the pile ends up on the dining room table. Sound familiar?

My office, kitchen, etc. (pics will NOT be provided!) can accumulate piles that grow like I’m fertilizing them! I’m sure you can imagine a messy house. Heck! You might have one yourself! Thank God I’m not a candidate for Hoarders!

You might be wondering what the heck my “messy” confession has to do with creativity. A lot, I believe. A whole lot!

Everyone has their quirks when it comes to creating. Some people need music, some don’t – some need icons or touchstones before their creative period – some like the bustle of a coffeehouse for writing – some need complete quiet – and all of these are subject to change at any time.

But, one given for me is. . .a cluttered space leaves me with a cluttered mind.

I cannot write if I can’t think straight, or if my brain is full of to-do lists (like taking care of all that clutter!)

A successful creative session (for me) consists of working in a clean, clear space where my imagination can take over. Ideas can spill onto desktops, swirl around in the sunlight, dance unimpeded on the floor boards, and eventually find their way into my work-in-progress. Without “clearity” – there is no “clarity” for me.

What about you? Can you create in a cluttered space? Or do you need the beauty of clean desks, floors, counters, and table tops? I’d love to know!

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J. S. Bach & novels

I was listening to a recording of Johann Sebastian Bach’s

violin concertos nos. 1&2 with Isaac Stern & Itzhak Perlman this morning.

Listen to a sample! Bach

Beautiful, right?

Complete? Even righter!

What struck me as I was listening to a particularly poignant section was how Bach made a complete “story” with his music. As the tension builds, the listener has to hear what’s coming next. They have to have the payoff. And, Bach doesn’t disappoint! All tension and emotional build-ups are satisfied.

Same in writing – the tension has to build. The reader must long to turn the page. And, the author must not disappoint.

Are you building tension in your scenes? Do you then provide a satisfying payoff for the reader’s sticking with you? It’s a challenge – but to be a master (as was Bach) – you have to do it!

And – even M.A.S.H. agreed that Bach was a master!


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A little blog hoppy-ness about writing process

A little blog-hopping on the day after Easter
Thanks to Shannon Alexander for getting me out of my rabbit hole & back onto the blog! First – a bit about Shannon!
Writing a bio makes Shannon Alexander cringe more than writing a synopsis, and believe her, she’s one big whiny baby about synopses. She’s a wife, mother of two, and furry dog owner. She’s also a former middle school language arts teacher, book addict, and late bloomer. She only just figured out what she wants to be when she grows up.  In 2009, Shannon lost a dear friend to ovarian cancer. Watching her brave her treatments and stay hopeful in the face of this stupid disease was life altering for her. Losing her was devastating. Shannon writes because her friend gave her the courage and hope to do so.  Shannon is represented by the wonderful Jessica Sinsheimer of the Sarah Jane Freymann Literary Agency. Currently, Shannon is working with Heather Howland at Entangled Publishing to publish Shannon’s debut young adult novel to be released fall 2014, LOVE AND OTHER UNKNOWN VARIABLES.  Learn more at
Head over to Shannon’s to see how this blog hop got started!
There are four questions I am answering about my writing & processes. Here goes. . .
1. What am I working on right now?
        Well, it is something completely different for me. A fairy tale with a twist. Can’t talk too much about it, because that seems to scatter the writing magic when I do. . .
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
        Of course, everyone’s writing is different because we’re all coming from different backgrounds. That said – if you’ve ever been in a writing workshop or done writing exercises, it is fascinating to me to see that given the same writing prompt, everyone who’s participating has their own unique take on the subject. I love that!
3. Why do I write what I do?
        Since the thing I am working on now is so different. . . well, hold on a sec – maybe the biggest difference is that what I’ve published so far is dystopia and what I’m working on is fantasy/fairy tales. Because when I think of some of the themes running through both – they are similar – strong females, integrity, bucking the norm. I suppose then, the reason I write what I do, is because these things are important to me and I can’t escape them!
4. How does my writing process work?
        I generally start with a character who has popped into my head. Granted, many characters pop in, but only a few stick around! When one sticks around, I start listening & jotting down notes. Getting into the thick of the story requires (for me) writing every day. I try to stop in the middle of a thought, so when I come back the next day, I can more easily get into the flow of the story.
        Recently I’ve started outlining after I have general information about my characters(s) – that way I can get a broad idea of where the story is headed. The worst thing is to be tooling along in your story & then run out of steam because you don’t know where you’re going! It’s much better to be headed somewhere specific & then find a side road that takes you through better territory!
        So – that’s a little bit about my writing process. Thanks for stopping by & don’t forget to visit Shannon’s website!
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Divergent Thinking

Here is an excerpt from my essay in SmartPopBooks, Divergent Thinking, YA Authors on Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy.

Check out other contributors’ essays in SmartPopBooks photo album on Facebook!


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Guest Bookselling

I’ll be at the fabulous Village Lights Bookstore in Madison, Indiana on Small Business Saturday (11/30) helping out customers (like YOU!) The idea of authors helping to hand-sell at Indie bookstores came from the amazing author, Sherman Alexie! I’m thrilled to be a part of it. If you’re anywhere near Madison on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, come on by! Also there will be former Indiana Poet Laureate, Norbert Krapf. I’m looking forward to being a part of this event!


Title: Guest Bookselling

Location: Village Lights Bookstore, 110 E. Main St., Madison, IN

Link out: Click here
Description: Following Sherman Alexie’s lead – I’ll be helping out at Village Lights on Small Business Saturday! Books make great presents!
Start Time: 11:00
Date: 2013-11-30
End Time: 15:00

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Sometimes greatness…

is right in front of you for a couple of hours! Spent an evening with Kris Kristofferson last night – it was wonderful! My daughter – who is a huge fan! – was so thrilled – as was I to be able to share this with her. We were both close to tears several times. “Sunday morning coming down…”  Thank you, Kris.


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The Friday Five – Randomness

Busy with gardening, freezing, and canning – so these really are random!

1. There’s always room for popcorn.

2. Putting a cat on a diet when you have 2 cats & one is Jack Spratt & his “wife” is the one who needs to go on a diet… well, it’s HARD!  (History of this nursery rhyme for those who love that kind of thing – like me!)

3. Snapping green beans is meditative.

4. Squash bugs & vine borers are the bane of this gardener’s existence!

5. Summer days can be heaven on earth… except when the humidity is 87%

Hope you are having a great Friday – and – the weekend is upon us!  YAY!

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It’s Caturday! – Frankie & the decoy journal

Since Frankenstein (aka Frankie) loves to lie on whatever I’m writing – I use a decoy to keep him off my real work. Although he was inching towards the original, he managed to keep his rear on the decoy journal! Love that cat!

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Very cool new technology – by accident!

Many inventions have been accidents…

Silly Putty 

Post-It Notes

Play Doh

and now this super-adsorbent material

Very cool stuff!


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Tech Tuesday – the internet news circa 1981!

And we complain about slow page loads!

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