Saturday, December 19, 2009

What Writers REALLY Want for Christmas

I’ve had several requests to revive a little Muse You Can Use ditty that I wrote circa the winter solstice in 2003. So here it is, my gift to all of you fabulous writers out there:

12 Days of Writers’ Wishes

In honor of the season (and because “public domain” copyright law permits derivative works, ha, ha), I’m revising the lyrics from “The 12 Days of Christmas” to offer inspiration to those of you who’ve been working with the word this year.

I’ve omitted the “my true love gave to me” portion because we writers know that no one – not even our truest loves – can give us what it takes to inventively emote on the page. That gift comes from within and above.

I’ve also deleted the “days” idea (wow, this looks nothing like the original work!) and replaced each verse with things that writers REALLY want—none of that piping and drumming nonsense. Of what use are milking maids or geese-a-laying anyway, unless you own a cow or have a fetish for large waterfowl?

What remains after all this editing are 12 gifts that I hope you will receive in the coming year, if you so desire!

12 Drummers Drumming = 12 percent (or more) royalties

11 Pipers Piping = 11 hours of heavenly solitude to write, write, write

10 Lords a Leaping = 10 larger-than-life fiction characters leaping off the page, including one bad-ass antagonist and a main character who makes your heart melt

9 Ladies Dancing = 9 muses dancing in your head, rousing your imagination all year long

8 Maids a Milking = milking each of your first-rights-only articles 8 times through serial rights

7 Swans a Swimming = 7 article acceptance notices swimming in your e-box

6 Geese a Laying = 6th sense about when your project is rightfully “done,” and the patience to keep incubating until it is

5 Golden Rings = 5 testimonials from readers saying how much they enjoyed reading you

4 Calling Birds = 4 call-in talk show offers, at least one in syndication

3 French Hens = 3 AAR literary agents offering representation (I don’t mean to infer that agents are hens)

2 Turtle Doves = 2 editors-in-charge of imprints, cooing for your manuscript (auction!)

A Partridge in a Pear Tree = a screen adaptation and a call from Oprah’s executive producer



Thursday, December 10, 2009

Writing a Memoir in 2010?

Interested in writing a memoir? Check out this podcast I recently did with fellow author Sharon Lippincott. And while you're listening, have a glass of creamy (organic, of course!) holiday eggnog or a sweet hot apple toddy to get those creative juices flowing.

Cheers, Gina

Thursday, December 3, 2009



'Tis the season to make your lists, check them twice . . . then shop 'til your drop. Huh? Nah! For one evening, put aside the "to do" lists and take a little time for reflection. Join us for an evening of relaxed camaraderie and robust conversation amongst gal-pals. The Muddy Cup is serving up gingerbread lattes and special holiday treats in its bakery just for us. Learn more about the Salon and register here:

Blessings of the season,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving. (Kahlil Gibran)

Take a spare few moments this holiday weekend to write about what you are most thankful for. Pen your own daily prayer of gratitude and refer to it often throughout the coming months.

Wishing you a blessed holiday,

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


New website is live!
Go to it:

Thursday, November 12, 2009

TESTING, 1 . . . 2 . . 3

Okay, the test pages for my new website are live. Still have some kinks to smooth out . . . so this is an official sneak peak for loyal Muse You Can Use blog followers!

Let me know your thoughts:

Good day, Gina

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Troy Polamalu in Faith & Family

A portion of my PITTSBURGH Magazine August cover story on NFL super-hot dude Troy Polamalu was just reprinted at Faith & Family. Check out: Faith & Family : Features : The Mane Man

Go Steelers! :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Interested in Filmmaking? Have a Script?

Film Factory Competition Kicks Off Tomorrow...

Emerging talent in southwestern Pennsylvania will get a chance to have their scripts read and material developed by Film Factory advisors, who represent some of the finest filmmaking professionals in Hollywood and in the Pittsburgh.

Saturday, November 7
10:30 a.m., Melwood Screening Room
477 Melwood Avenue
Oakland, PA

The Steeltown FILM FACTORY Filmmaking Competition is Pittsburgh's own version of "Project
Greenlight." Get your script ready! To learn more, visit

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Apparently, Nature is the Mother of All Inspiration

The results of this blog's creativity poll are in!
After a tally of the numbers, it appears that the
majority of you (more than 80%) find your best
creative inspiration in nature, such as walking in
the woods, on the beach or through a clover meadow.

To a lesser extent, some of you glean inspiration from
reading elegant prose from literary writers. And even fewer
poll takers reported being inspired by swilling a cosmo
(not too surprising) of falling in LUV (which I DO find
surprising). Hmmm.....what does that say about the state
of the "union"?

Mother Nature, you win!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Major Tom to Ground Control

Okay, so I've had to postpone my website launch for a short bit due to (1) my html person getting a hellacious flu and (2) astrological reasons. No kidding. I consult with my one-and-only astrologer on matters of personal and professional importance such as launching new ventures. I thought November 1 had a lovely ring to it but he ixnayed that idea. Anyway, I prefer to have the oomph of the solar system behind me, so sit tight, people, we'll have liftoff soon. Take your protein pills and put your helmets on.... :-0

Monday, October 26, 2009

Taking My Own Advice . . .

I’ve been acting like the doctor who never gets a check-up, the mechanic who skips oil changes, the accountant who owes back taxes. You see, part of my work is to help individuals and companies put their best foot forward in words, and I’ve been remiss at doing the same with my writer website. For a while, I’ve been saying that my site needs to better reflect who I am and how I serve. Well, the time has come to put my money where my mouth is. Time to quit being loquacious and just get down to it.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. One of the many hats I’ve been wearing these past few months is “doyenne of web redesign.” Far from being another chore on my marketing agenda, I’ve been giddy with excitement about reinventing this site. I assembled a highly creative and talented team—photographers, stylist, graphic designer and web master (the accompanying photos tell a bit of the story)—but in the end, it came down to doing what I do for everyone else: put pen to paper (actually fingers to keyboard) and, as Rumi says, “open the window in the center of your chest and let the birds fly out.” Ah!

My newly refashioned site launches on November 1. You DON’T want to miss it.

Stay tuned!


Friday, October 23, 2009


This research just out: the average annual salary for full-time bloggers is $122,222. Is it time to rethink the definition of blogging from self-absorbed schlock to a tool used by serious, informed journalists? Click on this link:.

Write on,

Monday, October 19, 2009


Join me this weekend!

The Guiding Light Farewell Event
Saturday, October 24, 4 to 8 p.m.
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Pittsburgh International Airport

Beth Caldwell (founder of Pittsburgh Professional Women) and I will be signing books at this fabulous farewell to the soap opera Guiding Light. (Apparently, the ‘Burgh has a largest GL fan base in the country!)

Meet the cast, enjoy a strolling dinner and live musical performances. More than 1,500 tix have been sold so far! Proceeds benefit the Young Women’s Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Join me this week for my workshop, "The Conscious Writer: How to be Prolific in Your Art, Your Heart and in Your Life."

  • View the world as the fount of glory that it is, and use this as delicious fodder for your writing or chosen art
  • Rise up from the umpteen demands on your life and stake out time for your creative self
  • Attract a conscious stream of achievement with your writing endeavors
  • Widen your “PVC pipe” to higher guidance
  • Burn through the thoughtless, negative junk that others have said about your creative dreams
  • Take small yet radical steps to change things up in your life so you can swim in a stream of inspiration

We will also do a fun (no pressure!) writing exercise that includes enchanted music, the moon and intentional swooning on the subject of your choice.

Wednesday, October 14, 6:30 - 8:30 P.M.

The Book Place Piazza Plaza, 20550 Rte. 19, Cranberry Twp., PA 16066

$25 Includes a copy of the book Everything Matters, Nothing Matters, which Gina will use in the workshop.

Enjoy freshly brewed Tazo teas, chai and cool kombucha (Don’t know what that is? Come find out!)

TO REGISTER: 724.776.7220

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just announced: Women Who Dare Salon exclusively for EMNM readers!

As promised in my previous post, I am hosting a Women Who Dare Salon exclusively for EMNM readers. We will gather at the hip, comfy and easily accessible Muddy Cup Coffee House, just a tad north of the city of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, November 4
7 to 9 p.m.
Muddy Cup Coffee House
541 Lincoln Avenue
Bellevue, PA 15202
Fee: $15

Salon details:

Are you on the verge of awakening to a greater sense of who you are but need a blast of encouragement to do so? You are so in luck.

At this soiree you will find:
A temple of feminine camaraderie in a cozy café setting

Encouragement to safely explore the outer limits of your longings and what you wish to create in your life

Empowerment to drop-kick the mental/emotional debris that others have carelessly scattered around you

How to use the ritual of celebration as joyful medicine to snap out of the “I can never do enough” stupor

Why the Global Sisterhood Manifesto is one you should personally commit to
Best practices for living a life of exquisite calm, euphoric creativity and divine clarity

Sponsored in part by the Women’s Connection Group.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Women Who Dare Salon

Wow! The Women Who Dare Salon announced on 9/18 sold out in less than a week. (Think we're onto something here?) I applaud each and every women who signed up for this event and look forward to frolicking with you on October 7.

For those who contacted me after the salon sold out: If you'd still like to be a part of the salon experience, please let me know and I will be happy to schedule a second event in November.

For my faithful EMNM readers: The October 7 salon is designed to expand the EMNM message to those who haven't yet read the book. But many of you have asked to join in the salon. I would be thrilled to host a special salon expressly for those of you who already have a copy of the book. Simply respond to this email and let me know that you're interested . . . if you dare! (Of course, you do!)

Just now hearing about the Salon? Email me to learn more:

Cheers, Gina

Friday, September 25, 2009

Catch me tomorrow in Cranberry!

Join me tomorrow!

The Book Place

Saturday, September 26
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Piazza Plaza
20550 Route 19
Cranberry Township, PA

I’m thrilled to be signing and reading excerpts from EMNM right in my own community! Come check out this new bookstore that serves northern Allegheny County and Butler County.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monroeville rocks!

A big hug to everyone who came out to my talk last evening in Monroeville. With so many events happening around the G-20 in Pittsburgh this week, it was a privilege to see such a robust turnout for this program. I had a blast. Hope you did, too.

Next on the calendar, a book signing this Saturday at a brand new bookstore right in my community! I salute you, book lovers! Visit my book site for details of all upcoming events:

Blessed Autumn to you,

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Join me this Tuesday @ Monroeville Library

Join me Tuesday, September 22, for:

Everything Matters, Nothing Matters: How to Live with Exquisite Calm, Euphoric Creativity and Divine Clarity—Especially During Challenging Times

Tuesday, September 22, 7 to 9 p.m.

Monroeville Public Library,

As we progress through life, our soul’s desires can become shrouded, squelched, devalued or ignored altogether. Especially in times of emotional and economic crisis, the tendency is to shut down, lose faith, think small. Forced to choose between our heart’s desires and everyday practicality—or necessity—we deny that most authentic part of ourselves or put it on a shelf to be looked into "some day" when things are "better." This talk will challenge you to consider that now is the exact right time to begin to live your higher story—in spite of what "outer circumstances" might be happening.

Best always!

Monday, September 14, 2009


First of all, thanks to everyone who stopped by my author table at the Bridgewater Book Fest this weekend. What a gorgeous autumn day here in the Northeast! And books only added to the beauty! I'm joined in the photo to the right by Dave Hanson of "Slap Shot" fame.

Are you ready NOW . . right now! . . . to do something with your book idea? If so, I invite you to listen to an audio recording I just did for Pittsburgh Professional Women. In this interview, I share details about the process for getting your book published, working with agents and publishers, and how to know whether you should self-publish or work with a traditional publishing house. Respond to this post and I'll send you a web link to the podcast!

All the best, always!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Bridgewater Book / Literary Fest: THIS SATURDAY

Meet me at the Bridgewater Bookfest in Bridgewater, PA on Sept 12, 2009!

Bridgewater Bookfest
Saturday September 12, 2009
9:00 - 3:00
Bridge Street
Bridgewater PA 15009-3040

Only minutes from Pittsburgh.

I will be signing copies of "Everything Matters, Nothing Matters". This is sure to be a fun party!
Check out


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

It's all about emotion

Cheryl Klein, senior editor at Arthur A. Levine Books (an imprint of Scholastic) recently shared with Writer's Digest the best publishing advice she's ever received. "It's all about emotion," she said. "First, the emotion the author can create in me, the reader. Then the emotion I, as an editor, carry into the house, passing my excitement on to our sales staff so they'll carry it forward to booksellers and thence to readers. And then the readers discover the emotion in the book all over again."

Emotion is GOOD!

For query tips and more, visit Cheryl's website


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


I am intrigued by the theme of this year's annual essay contest: Invisible Writing.

Submit 750 words or less on this theme, which you can interpret any way you'd like. Enter the $5 entry fee category and vie for $200 or the NO entry fee category and compete for $50. Deadline is October 31 (just in time to polish off those final words and head to a costumed Halloween party!).

Winners are announced December 1. Whether seen or unseen, get writing!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Green Writers A Go-Go

As writers, we not only pay witness to what’s going on in the world, we report on trends that can benefit all. One trend that I’m happy to see turning into a national lifestyle is the green movement. It’s not just for us Grape Nuts types anymore. More people than ever are wising to the fact that we’re dust if we don’t take care of our mother—Mother Earth, that is. Here are three ways in which you can be an environmentally conscious writer.

STOP KILLING TREES. The time is now to go paperless, and the technology is available to do so. For years, I’ve been inching towards a paperless office, and now with my nifty new iMac and full proof Time Machine as backup, I feel more confident than ever storing mostly everything electronically. I send pdfs instead of faxes. I scan docs in e-format. I even threw away my leather-paper day timer and use iCal exclusively. If I have to print items for internal use, I at least print on both sides of the paper, thereby cutting in half the amount I use. For the paper that you do use, purchase recycled paper.

STOP FILLING LANDFILLS. The amount of trash I throw away—in my office and in my home—has diminished over the years, partly due to my mantra that whatever can be recycled, reused or resold, is. Just this past week, for example, I sent back 2 toner cartridges to the manufacturer, sold an unused wireless router on craigslist and donated a decent but unwanted desk chair to a local nonprofit. Visit for information on recycling and where to donate old equipment.

GIVE YOUR PC SOME REM SLEEP. Electronics use as much as 40 percent of their energy when they are plugged in, even if they're turned off. So, if you’re going to be away from your office for a while, don’t just turn off your equipment; unplug them. And if you absolutely must leave your computer on, set it on “sleep” after 10 minutes. Oh, and next time you need to replace light bulbs anywhere in your office or home, buy the new energy saving spiral type.

It’s easy to be green,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thanks, Writers!

Thanks to all the kind writerly souls who came out for my workshops/author discussions this month. I enjoy meeting each and every one of you and hearing about your writing aspirations. it is a joy for me to talk about writing. It's almost as much fun as writing itself!

Here's a pic of me with 2 fellow authors at the Champions Series author panel hosted by Spahr Consulting. Please check back here soon...I will be announcing 2 more upcoming writing workshops, along with a special surprise I have planned for those who are really, truly serious about moving their writing project to the next level--and far beyond.

Continued happy summer, everyone!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Good summer, all,
I've been invited to participate in 2 events in Pittsburgh this month, both which will address writing and publishing:

Publish, Don’t Perish: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting Published
Women’s Small Business Association Small Business Week
Monday, July 13, 1 p.m.
Season’s Reception and Event Center
Comfort Inn, Pittsburgh East
699 Rodi Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15235
Be a part of WSBA’s Small Business Week, July 13-17, with great topics to help business owners market and grow their businesses on a budget. My talk will help you assess your writing project, deciding on a publishing venue, and learn how to submit your work to publishers and literary agents. Check out the full week’s topics at the above website.

Writing a Book: From Thought to Publisher
Tuesday, July 21, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Fifth Third Bank, 5834 Forbes Avenue, Squirrel Hill
Join me for an author panel discussion of getting published, part of the Champion’s Series sponsored by Spahr Consulting.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Imagine. Connect. Act.

Writerly types,

A colleague just turned me onto this great website that lists oodles of opportunities to volunteer around the globe (which can be parlayed into stories to write about and ideas to pitch to publications). also is a good place to find a summer intern--which is what I've decided to do (business is so good I need a little help!). Conversely, if you are looking for an internship in journalism or various other fields, check out the postings on this site:


Thursday, May 28, 2009

“In these economic times,” freelancers are booming...

I read an article yesterday that noted how often the phrase “especially in these economic times” is being used in the media. As an unstoppable optimist, I’d like to turn news of our current economic downturn into an upswing for all freelance writers out there. Here are some positive things that have happened this past year:

1. I’ve found that while more companies have laid off full-time employees in their marketing departments, they still have work that needs to get done. Hence, freelancers save the day. Freelancers are a bargain because companies don’t have to pay health benefits, paid days off or sick time—something that costs employers an average of 20-35% of a full-timer’s comp package. And we don’t stand around the water cooler, idling.

2. I’ve found that once I’m “in the door” with a client company, I can parlay project work into a long-term relationship. Even after the Great Recession passes, I believe companies will still be looking to run lean and mean. Again, freelancers save to day (and the budget). Just remember to do kick-a** work.

3. Building on point #2, I’ve also been able to parlay project-basis assignments into larger scale ones. For instance, a client that hired me to rewrite their web content now has me overseeing all their company marketing/branding/PR efforts.

4. It has been incredible how much my current clients have been referring me to other potential clients. I humbly take this as a sign not just that I’m adding value but that, as a freelancer (who is nonexclusive), taking on projects with other companies is not viewed as being disloyal. And I love the feeling that no one company “owns” my time. Don’t be shy: tell your clients that you’re looking for referrals.

4. Many folks who are in between jobs or careers are taking time to delve into drafting “the book they’ve always wanted to write.” My time spent with potential authors has gone up, not down this past year. I’m just happy to see that those in transition are using their time wisely . . . and productively. A handful of clients have even gotten books onto Kindle in as little as three months.

Please feel free to share your “positive” stories of freelancing in our current economy . . . and write on!


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Amazon Launches Publishing Program

Online Bookseller Starts AmazonEncore

By Rachel Deahl -- Publishers Weekly, 5/14/2009 7:50:00 AM

In its most significant foray into publishing, Amazon has acquired world English rights to a self-published novel by a midwestern teenager called Legacy. The acquisition is the first for the e-tailer's newly launched publishing banner, AmazonEncore. Amazon is re-releasing the fantasy title, in hardcover, in August. The book, by Cayla Kluver, is part of a planned a trilogy--it was published under the banner Forsooth Books, founded by Kluver and her mother--and, according to Amazon, is the first in a currently unknown number of titles from AmazonEncore.

Jeff Belle, v-p of books at Amazon, said the new publishing program, while focused on self-published books with promise, could also target out-of-print titles from major houses. Belle was vague about both the criteria used in the selection of Legacy and the terms of the deal with Kluver. (Kluver does have an agent, but Belle would not disclose any details about the nature of the deal Amazon struck with her.)

In terms of the criteria used to select Kulver's title, and future AmazonEncore titles, Belle said the company is relying on a combination of sales data and customer feedback. When asked what feedback was used, in addition to the customer reviews on the site, Belle said "customers have many ways of interacting with us" and would not elaborate. And, when asked about the validity of the customer reviews, which in the past had come under question with certain customers (or authors) submitting multiple reviews, Belle said "certain controls are built into the process for customer reviews." (Kluver currently has 15 customer reviews for Legacy, 12 of which are five-star reviews.)

Belle said that Legacy was one title on a lengthy list of potential AmazonEncore books, although he declined to say how many books Amazon may release annually, noting the list will be decided by "how many great books we can identify." As for the editorial process used by AmazonEncore, Belle said a "team of editors" read a number of manuscripts on the list and their literary judgement were taken into consideration along with "what they think the incremental sales opportunity might be."

In addition to the hardcover, Amazon will release Legacy as an audiobook (through Audible) and as an e-book (as a Kindle edition). Belle said the company will make a decision about a first printing--the company's using an offset printer for the title--based on pre-order information and other data. And, moving forward, print runs will be made on a title-by-title basis.

Amazon will also work with wholesalers to get the title into bookstores.
When asked if he thought publishers might be leery of the industry's most dominant online retailer moving into what looks like traditional publishing, Belle said he doesn't see why AmazonEncore would make anyone fearful. "I wouldn't say this is a new model; there are other examples in the marketplace of retailers who've done similar things," he said. He then added that a number of publishers he spoke to about the program gave positive feedback, noting that "publishers want to see how we could work together on this model," returning to the example of AmazonEncore bringing back into print a publisher's oop title.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2 Upcoming Events

The spring weather here in Pittsburgh is so lovely . . . lush and green, flowerbuds and butterflies, warmer breezes. Step out and meet other writers and creative professionals in the 'Burgh at these 2 upcoming events:

The Mary Roberts Rinehart Pittsburgh Chapter of Sisters in Crime
Monday, June 1, 7 to 9 p.m.
Mystery Lover’s Bookshop, Oakmont, PA
Join in my discussion and Q&A of “The Conscious Writer: How to be Prolific in Your Art, Your Heart and in Your Life”. Sisters in Crime is an international organization of writers, readers, booksellers, agents, editor, reviewers and teachers interested in promoting the work of women mystery writers.

Women’s Power Lunch Spring Mixer
Wednesday, May 27, 7 to 8 p.m.
Morton’s Steakhouse, 625 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222 (map)
Join me for upscale networking at one of Pittsburgh’s finest restaurants, with wine and appetizers to die for. The Women’s Power Lunch organization has a special magic. Its mission is “empowering women through networking”.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jim Carrey is My Hero

Hey all! What does my new book, Everything Matters, Nothing Matters have in common with Jim Carrey, one of Hollywood's top actors? (and one of my favorites!) Find out by reading a review in the May issue of PITTSBURGH Magazine, on newsstand now!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Need More Time to Write? Get Organized!

Several clients have said to me recently that they cannot seem to find time to write. There’s a lot I could say about that but for the moment, I’m going to suggest that one of obvious ways to find more time to write is to get organized. These five tips, when followed, will make you more productive.

1. Get in the Zone

Pick one task to accomplish and stick to it. Set a goal in your mind that your chosen project will be finished by a certain time (lunchtime, end of day, before next week). Zone out and tune into that project only.

Multi-tasking certainly has its value (and so does its opposite, multi-slacking, ha, ha) but when we split our attention among tasks, oftentimes none of them get done right. If you find yourself in a perpetual state of having projects started but not completed, then multi-tasking may be working against you. Choose one assignment and move it to completion. Trust me, you’ll feel good afterwards.

2. Get Out of Dodge

Once you commit to number 1, above, don't allow yourself to be interrupted by unnecessary phone calls, emails, texts, office visitors, etc. Screen calls, close your email inbox and tape a do-not-disturb sign on your office door, if necessary. (Just pretend you’re at a hotel.)

3. Get in the Habit

Once you’ve mastered 1 and 2, make them a habit. Use a trigger to remind you to do so. I set my writing time as a task in Microsoft Outlook. If you keep a timesheet, block out writing time just as you would for other work projects. I treat myself like a client—meaning that I honor my writing time as much as I do my billable client time.

4. Get Good Tools

Using the right tools on any job can increase productivity, and writing is no exception. Some of the latest software that offers templates for outlining and plotting a novel, e.g., could be just the ticket. Upgrading to a faster-running PC may be what you need. Even low-tech stuff, like having a supply of ink pens that actually work can be helpful. And using a comfortable, ergonomic chair is a must.

5. Get Inspired

Before you dive into your chosen project, take a few minutes to clear you mind and free your heart for the work ahead. Go for a quick walk, do a 15-minute meditation or gentle yoga stretches to get the blood flowing, or take a few minutes to pick some flowers from your garden to enliven your workspace.

So get organized, surround yourself with the proper tools, stop briefly and smell the roses . . . then get to work. After all (as I always say), writers are people who write!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

2009 BookExpo / Writer's Digest Writer's Conference

Write Better, Get Published
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
New York City

I had the pleasure of attending BookExpo America last year in Los Angeles as a new author. What an exhilarating event . . .so many people who love books in one place (as many as 50,000 people)! My publisher, St. Lynn's Press, arranged for me to sign at BEA, and I was in great company along with Barbara Walters, Mark Victor Hansen, actress Marilu Henner and a slew of best-selling fiction authors.

The Writer's Digest Books Writer's Conference is in its seventh year at BEA. This one-day intensive conference has become one of the country's leading writing conferences, with motivating workshops where aspiring writers can learn how to hone their craft in all genres of writing, as well as receive information on getting published. Admission is $199. Register at

Perhaps best of all, it's being held this year in Manhattan, one of my fav places on earth. What's not to love about being in the Big Apple around a bunch of book lovers?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lack writing focus? Try these tips!

A question that I’m asked frequently by aspiring freelance writers is this: “How do I get and stay focused on my writing?” If you’re just starting a freelance writing career and need a bit of help in this regard, here are some tried-and-true tips.

1. Give yourself time to brainstorm and make a list of all the things you would like to write about. Then breeze through that list and narrow it down to your top areas of interest. Write on these two topics for awhile and set aside all else for the time being.

2. At the beginning of your week, sketch out a plan for the week and include only tasks that include your two chosen topics. Whatever you’ve decided to write about—whether molecular fusion or growing a patio garden, for example—focus on the kinds of articles you want to write. Studying various publications and get a feel for the kinds of articles they publish. Then, get busy and write some queries to a few of these markets.

3. Start small by making a few simple changes in your life that give your writing greater priority. If you're trying to develop a freelance career while working a full-time job, ease into it. Giving yourself just 30 minutes each day to write queries, research markets or polish an article draft will be enough to get you moving in a productive direction. It doesn't matter when you schedule those 30 minutes—it could be early morning or on your lunch hour. The important thing is to do it consistently.

4. Part of your weekly plan should include networking with other businesses and writers, even if it’s just through Facebook, blogging or joining a local writer’s group. Contact with other writers will keep your passion for writing alive, even when the pressures of work and family threaten your focus. Of course, networking can result in writing assignments, as well.

5. Have fun. Writing should be a joy not a chore. If you’ve tried all these things and are still unfocused, consider hiring a writing coach (me or someone else) to give you an assist in this area. It can make all the difference in your writing path spiraling up instead of out of control!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yes, You CAN Write a Book!

For writers in or near the Pittsburgh region, consider joining us for what is sure to be a informative and inspiring conference. Here's the low-down:

Yes You CAN Write a Book!
Tuesday, April 7, 9am to noon
Registration & Book Signings begin at 8:30am
The Sheraton Station Square
300 West Station Square Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Have you been thinking of writing a book, articles, blog or workbook for life or business? This inspiring workshop will get you started! Would you like to meet and get tips from women who have been there...done that?

Meet these dynamic local authors:
Jennifer Antkowiak
Gina Mazza Hillier
Eleanor Schano
Dr. Nancy Mramor
Mary Jo Rulnick
Carole Obley

The panel will be sharing their experiences and tips to help YOU! Come and rub elbows with the finest and most accomplished business women in the area. Meet the authors in person for book signings before and after the workshop.

Cost: $35 for Members and $39 for Non-Members
Register now ONLINE ( or call 412.928.3663

Monday, March 30, 2009

Silver Lining Contest

I just read about a writing competition called the Silver Lining Contest and I thought it was worthy of passing along word about it.

This competition, a partnership between Adams Media (the Cup of Comfort anthology publisher) and Redbook magazine, will award $1,000 to a Grand Prize winner. The winner's work will be excerpted in the magazine and published in full on the Cup of Comfort website. To enter, write a 1,000- to 2,000-word personal essay about finding comfort in today's economy.

Deadline is May 15. There is no fee to enter. The contest is open to legal residents of the US and Canada, 18 years of age and older. To learn more, visit

Good luck!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Healing Power of Words

Last weekend, I had a chance to attend a 3-day interactive experience at The Chopra Center in southern California called Healing the Heart. Chopra Center co-founder David Simon, MD led about 130 of us through a deep process in which we explored our emotional constraints. Integrating the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda with modern psychological principles, we identified, mobilized and released the pain in our hearts, and replaced it with emotional freedom and an expanded capacity to forgive, heal and believe in love once again.

The first full day of the course was intense. Many of us ended that day feeling spent and unresolved. Stories were shared. Tears were shed. Wounds were exposed. “You’ll feel worse before you feel better,” David cautioned us, “because you’re calling your ‘stuff’ out of its hiding place.” He likened it to what happens when cleaning a fish tank—the bottom gunk gets stirred up. Everything looks murkier. The fish thrash around, confused. But eventually, things settle into a renewed clarity—which they did by our final day of the course.

Part of what made this process so effective was journaling our thoughts. David gently glided us into the writing process by way of meditation, music and reading soul-stirring poetry from 14th Century Sufi master Hafiz. As we each found our still point, David instructed us to keep our pens moving until he said “stop”. What came out of me and onto the page was my own internal jagged poetry about my present life—expressions of disbelief, grief, acceptance and surrender. Writing is what moved me, by day three, into the light of self-understanding. My own words freed and healed me.

So when you’re feeling conflicted and murky, stir things up even more by grabbing a pen and going further into that space. Do as Hafiz advises:

Your loneliness so quickly.
Let it cut more
Let it ferment and season you
As few human
Or even divine ingredients can.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Lyrical Reality

I've got to say, there's nothing like music and lyrics to add a shimmer of inspiration to one's writing day. Lucky for me, my teen-age son is an iTunes afficionado, so I've got an impressive playlist on my Mac that I can tap my foot to while I work. My words become melodious. And sometimes, the lyrics so move me that I have to stop what I'm doing, go to a site like or and read each verse. A well turned phrase can get me "high on intellectualism" (Sheryl Crow) or spur me to "celebrate the malleable reality" (Jason Mraz). So, it's all in a day's work...but I've heard it sung that a Working Class Hero is something to be . . . (uh, John Lennon).