Tag Archives: creativity

Writing tips from Patricia Harman (a midwife and author)


FROM WENDY: This blog will be on hiatus for one week (July 11 – 17). Please enjoy this guest blog post with Patricia Harman, author of “Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey” and “The Blue Cotton Gown.”

Patricia Harman, author of
Arms Wide Open: A Midwife’s Journey
and The Blue Cotton Gown

In your writing life, how do you keep yourself focused and productive?
Sometimes I’m asked, “So how do you do it?  You have two books out and a third on the way in five years.  Lot’s of us have stories that we want to tell, but writing a book is such a commitment…”

When I’m working on a book, I am compelled, obsessed.  The story goes on like a movie reel in my head, while I’m biking, while I’m gardening, while I’m cleaning house.  I’m a midwife, so it stops for a while when I’m at work at our women’s health clinic.  Other people have stories too, and I have to listen.
Here are some things I do that move me along.
I Plan Ahead.   The night before my writing day, I think about where I’ll start in the manuscript, so I don’t waste time staring at the computer screen.  When I sit down at my laptop, much of the work of writing, the plot, story-line, dialogue,  arc of the narrative is already in my head;  I know where I’m going for the next few hours.  That doesn’t mean I can’t change things at a moment of inspiration.

I work in the same spot.  My computer and notes are set up next to a day bed where I can look out the window at a plum tree.  Few distractions and I don’t have to mess around setting up my scene and getting comfortable.

I set time devoted to writing:  I have two days a week off work each week and on those days, I get dressed, meditate and have breakfast, then write all day.  I have to remind myself every few hours to move around, that’s how intense I am about it.  Sometime’s I’ll throw a load of laundry in the washer or put a stew in the crockpot, but I keep myself focused.  My kids are all grow and that makes a difference.  When they were young, the only writing I got done was my journals or occasional poems in the middle of the night.
 I don’t stop to edit until I get stuck:  I don’t stop to edit until I finish what I have to say.  When I run out of steam or hit a hard part and am stewing in my juices, I use that time to edit, go back a few chapters and read what I wrote.  Sometimes editing will take all day, but by the time I’m done, I’m back in the zone.
 If I’m down, anxious or distracted, I put those feeling on paper.  Like everyone else,  I’m sometimes worried or sad or in a bad mood.  I’m tempted to just lie on my back and stare at the ceiling, but if I take those feelings and start writing them in the voice of one of my characters it becomes therapeutic and I just may learn something about him or her.  The paragraphs written might stay as part of the story, they might be moved to another part of the book or it might be junked, but it gets me going.
I never thought I would be an author.   (I was a mom, a midwife, a lover, a peacenik, an unpublished poet, for a while, a revolutionary.)  The author role wasn’t in my life script.  Now, I guess I am.

To contact the author go to www.patriciaharman.com



10 QUESTIONS FOR…Fleur Bradley, YA thriller writer


Author interview with Fleur Bradley

Dozens of Fleur Bradley’s mystery short stories have appeared online and in print, including the Deadly Dames anthology. She’s written a YA thriller her agent is now finding a home for in New York. It’s cold over there in winter, so let’s hope this happens soon.

Fleur also writes freelance, and lives in Colorado with her husband, two daughters and way too many pets.

1. Tell us about your latest book.

The Ground Crew, my YA thriller, is about David, who’s that guy with the bulls-eye on his back. The bully target. He just got grounded for Spring Break (for speeding in his cool new car), and has to sit out his punishment in the basement of a neighbor, since his dad has to work.

He gets to know his fellow groundees—The Ground Crew—and just as he’s making friends, someone is targeting The Ground Crew, making them pay for their sins. David has to figure out who’s out to get them, before it’s his turn.

2. How did you get started as a writer?

I loved to read, and one day I thought: I can do this. So I wrote a novel, which really stunk. I mean, really, really bad.

But I caught the writing bug, and I read somewhere that short stories were a good practice. So for the next six years or so, I learned to write. I got some stories published, and eventually sunk my teeth back into novel writing. After a few more stinky novels, I wrote The Ground Crew.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

I start with some coffee and email answering. Then from 9 until noon, I write on whatever work is in progress. The afternoon is for freelance work, teaching, blogging, etc. How boring, huh?

Unfortunately, boring is how the work gets done. Those hours when I work on a novel are fun, though. I get to travel in time, hunt for a bad guy, drive a car way too fast, and fall in love—all from my trusty computer chair and with a cat on my lap. Being a writer is such a sweet gig.

4. Describe your workspace.

I have a desk, bookcases full of papers and folders, a futon where my dog naps, and a window overlooking my yard. My desk is usually covered in papers, notes, and candy wrappers—I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Actually, make that a huge sweet tooth.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

I love Jordan Sonnenblick’s Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie because of its awesome YA voice. Tedd Arnold’s Rat Life, Graham McNamee’s Acceleration, and Markus Zusak’s I Am The Messenger are perfect YA mysteries.

For those of you unfamiliar with YA, I recommend you read all of those—you’ll never want to leave the YA section of your bookstore again.

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you

1. I was born in Holland and grew up there. When I’m really mad, I curse in Dutch.

2. My favorite food is French fries with mayonnaise, curry sauce and onions. It’s a Dutch thing.

3. I’ve been known to eat all of the leftover desserts at convention banquets, and not even be one bit embarrassed about it.

7. Favorite quote

Don’t really have one, because I’m not a fan of quotes. If you think hard enough, you can find profundity in a stop sign, fortune cookie fortunes, and Miley Cyrus lyrics (“It’s the climb,” anyone?).

If I live by anything though, it would be to roll with the punches. Live in the moment, and take whatever comes your way. It’s a good attitude to have, for writers especially, I think.

8. Best and worst part of being a writer

Best part: getting lost in your imagination, hands down.

Worst part: the rejection. But I’ve learned to focus on the best part when the worst part is threatening to take me down.

9. Advice for other writers

Just write. It’s easy to get caught in the business, other people opinions, the self-doubt. In the end, even Stephen King writes his novels one word at a time.

Surround yourself with other writers, encouraging friends who will bring cookies when the rejections get to be too much. I am fortunate enough to have a crew of writer friends, and they’re priceless.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.

After polishing it to a shine, I sent one of my first short stories to a mystery magazine that was being published at the time called Hardboiled. My story was rejected, but the editor, Gary Lovisi, wrote a nice note on the rejection letter.

About seven years later, a writer friend referred me to an invitation-only anthology that was coming out. My story was accepted, and the editor? Gary Lovisi.

Publishing is a small world, and you should never give up.

Where can people buy your book and learn more about you?

The Ground Crew is still trying to find a publisher, but you can find lots of links to my short stories on my website: www.fleurbradley.com

Also, come check out my blog YA Sleuth: http://yasleuth.blogspot.com/ I keep you posted on all things YA, including news, book reviews, and sometimes a picture of a polar bear and a pumpkin, just because. It’s fun, so come join me!

Poetry and short story competition


September 1 deadline; $4 Euro entry fee; $200 Euro prize for each genre; 3,000 words max for stories; 30 lines max for poetry    http://www.ilkleyliteraturefestival.org.uk/user/Competition.php

10 Questions for…Gary Unger – “How to Be a Creative Genius”


Author #4: Gary Ungercreativegeniuscover-sm-1

Gary Unger, author of "How to Be a Creative Genius"

Gary Unger, author of "How to Be a Creative Genius"





“The guy can see around blind corners.”  Author, speaker and advertising consultant Gary Unger received this high praise from a client after yet another successful engagement. Gary is a creative powerhouse and gifted humorist driven by his passion to share both gifts with the world. His message is clear: Be yourself and have fun doing it!  His clever and insightful writing style never fails to inspire laughter and deep thought, sparking the fountain of creativity buried in the minds of his readers.

Gary Unger’s message in How to Be a Creative Genius (in five minutes or less) has been honed by more than a decade of success in the advertising industry. Currently, Unger is an advertising consultant who has worked on creative campaigns for industry titans such as Chick-Fil-A, General Motors and the National Basketball Association. He is the originator of AutoZone’s “Get in the Zone” ad campaign, the longest running ad campaign in the company’s history. Gary’s creative work has been featured in numerous publications and has also earned him a place in the Levi Strauss T-Shirt Hall of Fame. 

Unger is the creator of a proprietary creative process called XDO, a process blending actions, material and the existential in order to unlock the creative potential of its practitioners. If creativity requires only a spark to ignite, Gary Unger, in the words of BrightHouse founder and certified creative genius Joey Reiman, is “box of matches.”

A native of Reedsport, Oregon, Gary currently resides in the Atlanta, Georgia area with his wife and three children. To learn more about Gary, please visit www.garyunger.com.

1. Tell us about your latest book. A tongue in cheek look at being creative. I attack the myths that people think about creativity and help them make their own path to being more creative. As people read each line and consider what I am saying, they’ll forge in themselves mental alerts later on that they can change and be more creative. I also give direct tips from history’s geniuses.

2. How did you get started as a writer? I’ve always been able to write short stories or poems. I’m not good at grammar and punctuation, so I fell into advertising instead. : ) I still don’t really consider myself a writer I prefer to think of myself as someone who creates. That can be art, writing, philosophy, design, social economics, etc.

3. What does a typical day look like for you? Pretty sporadic. I have certain routines like getting on social networks in the morning for a few hours, then they paying work, phone calls, emails, family time and then to close out the night I check in on the social networks again.

4. Describe your desk/workspace. I have a pretty large office. It used to be the formal dining room, but we never entertain, so I took it over. I have a large desk with a two monitor Mac. I keep one side of my desk as the “in” side and the other side as the “done” side. The done side is usually ignored for a while since its already “done” and I usually delay in filing that side for a long while. On the other side of my office is a small work desk where my kids do their school work.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers). How To Be A Creative Genius (in five minutes or less) by Gary Unger. “Why didn’t I think of that” by Charles McCoy. “Green eggs and ham” by Dr. Seuss

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you. 1) I’ve been close to death for numerous reasons 4 times. 2) I won’t eat tomatoes but love salsa. 3) I grew up on the Pacific Coast but never been on the ocean.

7. Favorite quote. “I used to try and change the world, now I try to change myself”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer. Putting ideas/self out there for others to criticize.

9. Advice for other writers. Write! Even if no one reads it or likes it. And you don’t have to write every single day, but set aside times to write often. My other piece of advice would be to get on the social networks. The one that has worked best for me is LinkedIn.com (www.linkedin.com/in/garyunger) but writers should get on a bunch of them and see where their market is and focus on that one (keep the other sites maintained too, you never know when the market will switch). You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, FriendFeed, and about 15 other sites.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. When I had the idea for Creative Genius I knew that if I tried to write a verbose “know it all” book, I’d never finish it. I also knew that if I wrote it based on my own humor and taste for sarcasm, many people wouldn’t immediately get the idea of the book. It took me six months to write my little book, 2.5 years to get it published and almost 9 months to see it in stores. After the book came out I was surprised to see that people do understand sarcasm and the affect it has on the reader. Even some reviewers (2 out of about 25 reviews) remember my book when they find themselves in a rut. It’d be nice if they reposted that review though. : ) Also in my writing experience I have found it hard to take but if I push through the negative responses from my writing, things work out. From my little book I’ve been able to produce a TV show, get paid to travel to other states and countries. Never give up!

Where can people get your book?  You can buy my book directly from my site www.garyunger.com if you want it autographed. You can also buy it at any brick and mortar store like Barnes & Noble, Borders, Tower, World wide (too many to list here), etc. and of course Amazon.com