Friday, January 17, 2014

To Unfollow or Not?

I'm over at From the Write Angle today talking about Twittequette (Twitter Etiquette). I enjoy the Twitter-verse because it's a no pressure way to make connections with lots of interesting people and to learn a ton. Plus it's fun!

But some people don't seem to understand the unwritten rules and they drive me bonkers ... at least until I unfollow them. My biggest pet peeve is the self promo fanatics. They never tweet about anything or anyone else.

And it's not just on Twitter, I've seen it with a few (very few) bloggers as well. They only talk about themselves and their products. It's probably the same with folks on FB (which I still haven't joined!) and the other social media forums. People don't change their personalities despite the change in venues!

I actually don't unfollow lightly, and I've only done it on Twitter. I know some people unfollow blogs as well, but I tend to just not revisit.

What's your unfollow style? What are some of the reasons you unfollow people?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tell Me When

The lovely Stina Lindenblatt is hosting the Tell Me When blogfest. Her new release TELL ME WHEN deals with the aftermath of a stalking incident that ended in a kidnapping. Powerful stuff. For each post in the blogfest this week, Stina will be donating to her local women's shelter.

As a teacher I've been involved in a very minor way with stalking incidents. I've seen the effects its had on the kids. Scary stuff.

In several cases, I've had kids in my class who've had to move and hide from an abusive parent. Restraining orders don't always work and these kids live with the worry that they'll be found. They often don't make friends easily for a couple of reasons. First, they know there's the probability that they'll need to move again - and at a moment's notice. Making friends only to have to break off all contact with them later is really, really hard. Second, they don't want to divulge much personal information and it's difficult to develop meaningful relationships when you don't discuss your personal life.

One day I hope we live in a world where kids can grow up in a safe environment where they never have to worry about a parent stalking or abusing them.

Check out Stina's blog for more links to the blogfest.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Story Sprouts and The Beauty of a Moment

Please welcome Alana Garrigues to the blog today!
First off, thank you Jemi for hosting Nutschell, me and the entire crew of Children's Book Writers of Los Angeles on your blog today! You are such a great hostess!
Jemi fans, welcome to the Story Sprouts worldwide blog tour! I'm very happy to make this virtual stop in Canada today, even if temperatures are frigid and the great wide north is deep in snow banks! I hope all you local Jemi fans are staying warm, and the rest of you visiting from warmer climates (like my current SoCal home) are appreciative of the sun's rays.

Story Sprouts is a collection of writing exercises, tips and tricks, and an anthology of 38 short stories
by 19 authors, created by the CBW-LA writers during a one-day workshop. Released in October, it is the first in a series of Writing Day Workshop Anthologies, which we plan to publish annually. As a bonus, now through January, we're donating 50% of the proceeds from all sales of the book (Kindle and Paperback on Amazon) to Philippine Relief Efforts! So, you can support fellow writers, get 10 great writing exercises and donate to charity for as little as $4.99 - great deal!

As I was planning this post for Jemi, I perused several of her previous blog posts to get a feeling for her style and you, her loyal fans and readers, and I found two themes pop up - the importance of connecting with readers, and the freedom to let go and allow the story to tell you what it wants to say. So I want to take you on a little journey into the world of immersing yourself in the story, a journey similar to where we took our 19 writers on their writing day workshop last June.

This is an exercise that you can use anytime you find yourself grappling with writer's block, trying to sort out a problem in your current work-in-progress, needing to let off some steam, or just reconnect with the joy of language. I find it works best when you feel connected to your words in a very tactile way, so I recommend a pen or pencil and your favorite paper, but if you're an all digital sort of writer, that's okay too.

First, take a couple of deep breaths to center yourself. Rest and relax. Breathe in and breathe out. Find a calm place to send your ego on a little trip and allow your mind to open up to the story that wants to flow through you. Give yourself the freedom to get lost in the beauty of a moment.

Now, pull out the pen or pencil, or your keyboard, set a timer for five minutes and start writing. Free write, anything that comes to mind or to your fingertips. Don't chase any thought. Don't dwell on any thought. Ignore punctuation and reason and all of that nasty editing nonsense, and relish in your words. If you don't know what to write, say so. Play with sounds. Feel free to write anything that appears - deep thoughts, mundane nagging thoughts, random ticks and tocks, streams of light, surprises that you didn't know lived inside of your soul. Just put it down. Get it out.

Once your timer beeps, put down the pen or stop typing that last word, and breathe again. Stretch your fingers and your neck, and give your body a little shimmy shake to get the last of the free write out of your system. Now, look over your free write gobbledy gook, without judging, and circle your favorite words and phrases and thoughts. 

If you see something new or different, or something that makes you smile, something that terrifies you, something that grabs at you and forces a visceral response, circle it. That is the story that wants to be told. That is what will connect you with your reader. That is the essence of the reading and writing experience in its raw form. That unplanned nugget of goodness is why you started writing in the first place, long before story outlines and plot twists and character lists and first drafts and revisions. It is your truth.

Now, with that truth, go back to the writing you must do - your blog, your first draft, your sixth revision - and take the feeling of what you discovered along for the ride. If you are inspired to write a new story, go for it! If you are inspired to change something about your character, do it! If you found a way to tap into the essence of what your story wants to say, rather than you intellectually telling your story what you want it to say, clear your calendar for the rest of the day and jump into your writing discovery!

And please, share your success with all of your fellow bloggers here!

To get our writers at the anthology workshop ready for the day, trusting their instincts and the story within, we led them on a similar free writing exercise, followed by a guided free write on the topic of writing, which they ultimately pulled from and morphed into a poem or essay and submitted as their first published piece. The results were phenomenally varied and true, speaking to and from writers from all walks of life from amateur through professional. For every person has something to say, and every person should have the capacity to communicate what it is that they need to share, for themselves and for their connection to the world.

When you connect that need to communicate with the story that wants to be told, you find magic! I wish you all success in your writing careers, and I speak for both Nutschell Anne Windsor, my co-editor, and I when I say we'd love to hear from you anytime you have questions or thoughts on writing. If you're ever in the L.A. area, please join us for a critique session or a workshop, and if you're visiting from afar, please don't hesitate to send an email or drop by one of our blogs to say hello! We'd love to talk with you.

Thank you again!
·         Paperback: 240 pages
·         Publisher: CBW-LA Publications (October 18, 2013)
·         Edited by: Alana Garrigues, Nutschell Anne Windsor
·         Language: English
·         ISBN-10: 0989878791
·         ISBN-13: 978-0989878791
·         Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
·         Shipping Weight: 13.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
·         19 Authors
·         38 Combined Anthology Entries – 2 per Contributing Author
·         6-hour Workshop
·         10 Writing Exercises (included in Story Sprouts)
·         Dozens of Photo, Character and Conflict Prompts (included in Story Sprouts)
·         240 pages
What happens when linguistic lovers and tale tellers workshop together? Inspiration. Wonder. Discovery. Growth. Magic.
Brave and talented, the writers featured in this anthology took on the challenge of dedicating one day to the raw and creative process of writing.
A rare view into the building blocks of composition, Story Sprouts is made up of nearly 40 works of poetry and prose from 19 published and aspiring children's book authors.
This compilation includes all of the anthology writing exercises and prompts, along with tips, techniques and free online writing resources to help writers improve their craft.
Learn more about Story Sprouts at
Join the Children’s Book Writers of Los Angeles at 
Find Nutschell at:
Blog      Twitter     Linked-In     Pinterest
Find Alana at:
Website     Blog     Facebook     Twitter

Free writing is awesome! It's amazing what comes to mind when you force yourself to turn off the thinking part of your brain! Do any of you free write?
Thanks so much for the visit Alana and good luck with the book!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


May 2014 be the year we all...

laugh like 2 year olds

cry for someone else

reach out with willing hands

find one true treasure

make a new friend

find time for simple pleasures

step toward our dreams

love with all our hearts

inspire someone

take a risk that scares us

give hope where it's needed

create something magical

Best wishes for you all!
What would you add to my list?