Category Archives: Articles

Guest Post: Babbling Brook “Plein Air” Sketchbook Sunday by Lindsay Weirich

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Many thanks to Lindsay Weirich for this wonderful article and video. You can see more of Weirich’s work on her website, The Frugal Crafter Blog.

Babbling Brook by Lindsay Weirich

Hi friends! Today we are going to travel to the local Audubon trails and do some painting on location!

 

My husband and I filmed on location and I hope you enjoy it.

Click here to see the video and read the rest of this article.

Write Your Best Short Story

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Write Your Best Short Story

I want to be a published novelist. I’ve been working toward this goal for decades.

But I’ve decided to modify my long-form strategy and work on short stories as well.

Why?

  1. Because the skill and discipline of writing a complete story in as few words as necessary will carry over to the writing of a more complex story.
  2. Because it takes less time to write a few short stories than to write one novel.
  3. Because authors who get stories published in literary journals have a track record to show to agents and publishers.writing-helloquence

I’m going through my links to online resources and compiling the best information I can find into a single document, and I thought maybe you could also use a handy list of excellent articles about the art of the short story:

Was this information helpful to you? Please click the “like” button and share on your social media.

Have you had any short stories published? Do you have any on your blog that you’d like to share? Know any good markets for aspiring short story writers? Have any hints that have worked for you? Please share in the comments below.

Creative Juice #94

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Creative Juice #94

A dozen articles to quench your creative thirst.

Quilting Back in the Good Old Days

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Quilting Back in the Good Old Days

In the mid-1970s, as the bicentennial of the United States approached, quilting enjoyed a renaissance. Old patterns from as far back as colonial times were reintroduced. Strip piecing had not yet been invented, so if you were making a plain checkerboard quilt, you started out by making a cardboard template of a square ½ inch larger than you needed. You then traced as many squares as you needed onto the fabric. Since rotary cutters didn’t exist, you cut out each piece by hand with sharp scissors that had never touched paper. Then you marked a ¼ inch seam allowance in pencil. You stitched by hand, unless you were lazy, in which case you used a sewing machine. Back in the day, I had a Sears sewing machine that set me back over $100. It even had a zig-zag stitch. The fabrics in favor were cotton calicos and solids.

Next Door Neighbor photo by Quilting Bear Gal

Next Door Neighbor quilt block pattern; photo by Quilting Bear Gal

I took my first quilting class in 1983. The teacher was the mother of another student in my daughter’s Montessori class. She taught quilting in her home.

My second child, Matthew, was a baby, and my goal for the quilt class was to make a crib quilt for him. I chose the pattern Next Door Neighbor and light and medium blue solid fabrics and two blue prints to make it. I pieced the quilt, sandwiched it with batting and a plain muslin backing (customary in those days) and started hand-quilting it in a large oval wooden quilting hoop. I never finished it, but I still have it, and maybe I’ll get around to it again one day.

Back in those days, there weren’t a lot of books about quilting. The authoritative guide was The Standard Book of Quilt Making and Collecting by Marguerite Ickis, ©1949. I bought the 1959 Dover paperback edition for $3.50. I still have it, but sadly, the 482 illustrations are all in black and white.

Trip Around the WorldA few years later I heard about Eleanor Burns’ technique for sewing a quilt in a day. I bought her Trip Around the World book and made one for our bed and two matching ones for our daughters. They each took me several months to make but using her modified strip piecing method, it was possible to sew the entire top together in one day.

In the 1990s I joined the local chapter of the Arizona Quilters’ Guild. I recommend everyone who wants to learn to quilt join a guild. You don’t have to be an expert—you can be a beginner. Because the guild is dedicated to education, they structure meetings so that a wealth of knowledge can be shared. Most guilds include hands-on projects and show-and-tells among their activities. You can find out about the latest tools and technologies and practical hints and hacks. (It was through the quilters’ guild that  I learned to use plastic to make pattern templates—either from sheets commercially produced for that purpose or from salvaged coffee can lids or bleach bottles.) You can enter quilt shows and learn how to create art quilts.

I stopped going to the guild almost two decades ago, but I joined a church quilt ministry a few years ago. If you want to quilt, it’s beneficial to have friends who quilt, especially if you’ve been away from it for a while. Advances in quilting technology happen every year.  I’ve learned so many neat things from my ministry partners—and from YouTube. Honestly, you can learn anything on YouTube; too bad it didn’t exist when I was starting out.

25 Poetry Prompts

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25 Poetry Prompts

I would never ever have written a poem if I’d waited for inspiration. I am rarely inspired before I work.

Instead, I need a starting point. I start to write, play with the words awhile, and then the inspiration comes.

I managed to write 16 poems during April, National Poetry Month. But only 11 of them grew out of the official daily prompts. Too often I stare at a prompt and think, I’ve got nothing.

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Some of my best poems come from exercises in poetry textbooks. I’ve worked through poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, and I’m currently studying The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop by Diane Lockward. I take the exercises very seriously, as if I were being graded in a college course.

My second favorite source of prompts is The Daily Post. These single words often spark an association my brain wants to explore (like those word-association activities where someone says a word and you say the first thing that comes to mind). I most often interpret these prompts in a poem, though you can use any medium. The added benefit of these prompts is, once you finish your piece (or before, but I wait until after) you can see how other people interpreted the prompt. (Click on a prompt, and choose from the linked responses.)

Poets on the Page hosts an October poetry challenge with daily prompts, and provides somewhat weekly prompts the rest of the year.

Sometimes my motivation for a poem comes from a form rather than prompt. I usually write free verse, but the poems that delight me have meter and rhyme, so I try to experience traditional forms as well. A good resource is the Poetry Types page on Shadow Poetry.

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Here are 25 prompts designed by me to help you start a poem. These are just suggestions, not limitations. Feel free to let them be jumping off points for your own imagination.

  1. Metaphors—tell how one thing is like another (such as how my Mustang is like the space shuttle or my spaghetti dinner is like Medusa’s head).
  2. Symbols—explore a theme with a recurring symbol, like a knife for separation or an alarm clock for aging.
  3. Choose a color and make a list of at least 10 things that are that color. Then write a poem that connects those things by a quality other than color. (What do an apple, a rose, a barn, wine, and blood have in common other than redness?)
  4. Drawing on an incident from your childhood, what do you understand about it now that you didn’t then?
  5. Create a hero and send him on a quest. Write an epic poem describing his adventures over 40 years.
  6. Your grandchildren will never experience certain things that were common during your lifetime. Choose one of them (video rental stores, S&H green stamp redemption centers, telephone booths, boom boxes, Barney the dinosaur) and describe in minute detail.
  7. Describe a time when you suffered from culture shock. (When I was 10, we visited my aunt’s house in Germany, which didn’t yet have a flush toilet.)
  8. What is your favorite flower? Describe it to someone who has never seen it.Yellow flower
  9. Describe a place you where you used to live. How was it unique?
  10. Describe someone who was once your friend. What did you like about him or her? Why did the friendship end?
  11. What is the most important advice you could give to someone graduating from high school or college?
  12. If you had to travel across the country, which form of transportation would you choose? Extol its virtues.
  13. What is the best planet? Explain why.nasa-43566-unsplash
  14. Using all your senses, tell what it’s like to hold a newborn baby (or kitten, or puppy, or calf).
  15. What is it like to watch an elderly person deteriorate?
  16. Enumerate the steps in washing windows.
  17. Pretend you’re a sixteen-year-old choosing a prom dress. What would the ideal dress look like?pete-bellis-422421-unsplash
  18. What do you like to do that other people pay professionals to do? (Paint rooms? Change tires? Lay sod? Plan parties?) Tell about the satisfaction of a job well done.
  19. What is the best thing about early in the morning? Or about late at night?
  20. What is your favorite type of birdsong? Why?
  21. You’re on the lip of the Grand Canyon, or at the North Pole, or climbing hundreds of steps to the top of an ancient Mayan temple. Describe what you see and how it makes you feel.sam-loyd-499655-unsplash
  22. You lost your child at a crowded fairground. What do you do?
  23. What was the worst experience of your life?
  24. What was the best experience of your life?
  25. What is the greatest honor you’ve ever received?

Was this article helpful to you? Please click the Like button and share the link on Facebook and Twitter.

Did these prompts help you to write a poem? Feel free to share it with us in the comments below.

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Ask Me Anything About Writing

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Ask Me Anything About Writing

I’ve been doing this writing thing for a long time.

When I was a young wife in the 1970s, I subscribed to two magazines: Women’s Day and Family Circle. Back in the 70s, they often included fiction. I’d read those short stories and think, I can write better than that. My best friend, Peggy, thought the same thing. We promised each other we’d one day have good stories published in those magazines.

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I got serious about writing in the 1990s. A stay-at-home mom with five kids, I thought freelance writing would be my way to contribute financially to my family. (The reality: I never made more than $600 a year with my writing.) However, I did get numerous articles and book reviews published (enough that a newspaper reporter who interviewed my young daughter about her poetry recognized my name from a local parenting magazine). I wrote worship dramas for my church. I also did lots of other writing for free, including a monthly column in a freebie paper. I considered it paying my dues.

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I set writing aside to get a job that would actually pay bills. But when I resigned from my teaching position, I fell right back into writing again. My critique group started a blog, and I fell in love with the medium, so I soon launched ARHtistic License.

My dream for my blog was that it would become a gathering place for creative people among all arts. Of course, I love writing, and I especially hope to serve writers. I want to earn a spot on a Best Blogs for Writers list. Most months I include at least one article and/or one guest post or motivational quote related to the craft of writing (a total of 394 to date).

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What would you like to know about writing?

  • Is there a particular genre you want to explore? Science fiction, essays, memoir, poetry?
  • Do you want to learn more about markets, queries, publishers, agents, promotion?
  • What problems are you experiencing? Finishing, keeping track of expenses, working in a vacuum?

Basically, if there is something you want to know about writing, tell me, and I’ll include the topic in a future post. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find one, or several. I have a whole library of writing books at my disposal, and I follow lots of writing websites. I can curate resources for you, or even select good ideas from multiple sources.

So, what would you like to know about writing? Share in the comments below.

Creative Juice #91

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Creative Juice #91

Spend the weekend reading to inspire your art.

Guest Post: The Watcher by Donna from My OBT

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Many thanks for this article to Donna, who posts one beautiful thing on her blog every day.

 

Maxwell Whitmore

Maxwell “Coby” Whitmore was a commercial artist from Dayton, Ohio, who enjoyed a long and productive career as an illustrator and painter. His illustrations appeared on the covers of publications including The Saturday Evening Post, Good Housekeeping, Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Sports Illustrated. He contributed illustrations to many national and international ad campaigns as well.

Read the rest of this article here.

Creative Juice #90

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Creative Juice #90

Imaginative creations by artistic people:

Guest Post: Authors and Facebook Live by Sandra Beckwith

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Remember all the buzz about video app Periscope in early 2015? Marketing gurus were bombarding us on social media with videos they created with the new tool from Twitter. In my late 2015 blog post, “Avoid Shiny Object Syndrome,” I warned about investing a lot of time and energy into using new tools until you were confident they could help you reach your book’s target audience.

We might finally have a video app that can do that in Facebook Live. In fact, authors and Facebook Live could be quite compatible.

I’m not going to explain how to use Facebook Live here — you can find lots of helpful information about that online, including this article on the Social Media Examiner site.

My goal with this article is to help you think about how you might useFacebook Live for book promotion and marketing. This piece of it is just important as the technology. You don’t need to spend any time learning about the app until you better understand what you want to accomplish with this marketing tool — and how you’ll do that.

11 ideas for authors and Facebook Live

Here are some ideas to get you thinking. Would a few of them work for your goals, personality, and book? You don’t need to limit yourself to one!

1. Do a cover reveal: You’ve finally selected your cover? Share it with your followers! Or, show them three options and ask them to pick their favorite and tell you why.

2. Solicit reader input: Noodling around ideas for a new character or plot twist? Tell fans and ask them for their feedback.

3. Show a bookstore or other event appearance: If you’re talking about your book before a signing at a store or other venue, recruit a friend to broadcast your event from your phone.

4. Offer advice: Give your followers helpful information that will help them do something better, smarter, or faster. That’s when Tenita Johnson does. The author of Grammatically Incorrect: When Commas Save Your Sentences & Your Reputation nudges people to write their books and offers editing advice. 

5. Ask a friend to interview you: Oh, sure, you could talk about your book forever, right? But a Q&A format with a friend who is off camera, or starts in front of the camera then flips it to show you, is so much more interesting visually then you sharing the same information yourself, talking to the camera all by your lonesome.

6. Demonstrate something: This works especially well for cookbooks and how-to nonfiction. Food historian Amy Riolo, author of  The Ultimate Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: Harness the Power of the World’s Healthiest Diet to Live Better, Longeruses it to give people a glimpse into her cooking classes.

7. Broadcast from your book’s setting: Written a novel set in a real place? Take your readers there!

8. Flip through a family photo album: Written a memoir? Flip through the pages of an old family photo album so fans can put faces to the names.

9. Show your workspace: Readers are often curious about where writers work. Whether it’s your kitchen table or a neighborhood coffee shop, show where you produced the book they love so much.

10. Change people’s minds: After Linda Cohen, author of 1,000 Mitzvahs: How Small Acts of Kindness Can Heal, Inspire, and Change Your Life, noticed people complaining about the inconveniences caused by a crippling snowfall in Portland, Ore., she hopped on Facebook Live to help adjust attitudes by asking followers about the acts of kindness they were seeing. 

11. Host interviews with thought leaders: Arrange to do a series of short interviews with people who influence your audience while you’re at a conference.

Which idea will work for you?

Whether you’re a novelist or a nonfiction author, I’ll bet there’s an approach on this list that will work for you. You can also let it inspire you to think about other approaches you might try. I’ve seen authors host weekly “office hours” where followers can ask questions while others are more spontaneous, pulling out the camera to share an inspirational thought.

Still need more inspiration? Watch the videos on the Harper Collins Book Studio 16 Facebook page.

Just make sure you’re comfortable with the approach you decide to use. For example, you’ll never catch me trying to inspire or motivate you — it’s just not how I roll. I’m more likely to take you into a cool indie bookstore or interview an author or expert at a conference. Be true to yourself.

Once you know what you want to share on Facebook Live, explore how it works. The more you know about best practices and what’s working for other authors, the more confident you’ll feel when you try it yourself.

If you know an author who’s trying to figure out what to share on Facebook Live, be sure to share this post with them.

How are you using Facebook Live for book promotion? Tell us in a comment.

Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to market their books. Three groups have recognized her BuildBookBuzz.com site as an outstanding resource for authors, so you know her advice is author-tested.

Download Sandra’s free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” and you’ll also receive the free weekly “Build Book Buzz” newsletter loaded with book marketing tips and advice.