Apr 222017
 

There’s nothing like a change of scene to wake up curiosity and creativity. We recently had the opportunity to travel to south Florida to catch up with a family member and, together, did a bit of exploring. Familiar with our love of art and innovation, she whisked us off to Wynwood where the vibe is as friendly and colorful as the wall-to-wall street art. I can’t imagine anyone spending time there without thinking about creativity and where it fits in their lives. Here are some favorite thoughts on the topic.

 

Creativity is not just for artists. It’s for businesspeople looking for a new way to close a sale; it’s for engineers trying to solve a problem; it’s for parents who want their children to see the world in more than one way. ~Twyla Tharp

Creativity is not just for artists. Click To Tweet

Art knows no prejudice, art knows no boundaries, art doesn’t really have judgment in its purest form. So just go, just go. ~ K. D. Lang

Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas. ~ Donatella Versace

I want art to make me think. In order to do that, it may piss me off, or make me uncomfortable. That promotes awareness and change, or at least some discussion. ~ Pink

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. ~ Steve Jobs

Creativity is just connecting things. Click To Tweet

 

 

Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens. ~ Phylicia Rashad

 

When you live under the power of terror and segregation, you can’t ever start a work of art. ~ Jeanne Moreau

 

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Terrorized by your Inner Editor? Inner Critic Kicking your butt? If you’re looking for an answer be sure to check out The Inner Critic Advantage: Making Peace With the Noise in Your Head by Andrea Patten. (On Amazon. Or ask at your local indie bookstore.)

 April 22, 2017  Posted by  Inner Critic, Thinking No Responses »
Apr 172017
 

Today I’m happy to feature my talented friend and neighbor, Florida author Nancy Blanton. Her award-winning historical novels are set primarily in 17th century Ireland and her latest, The Prince of Glencurragh, (published in July 2016) has already won three awards and is a finalist for two others. I put on my interviewer hat to share about Nancy Blanton and her latest release.

I put on my interviewer hat to tell you about @NancyBlanton and the Prince. Click To Tweet

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Picture of Nancy Blanton with my husband.

Author Nancy Blanton and  a different prince.

Nancy, what made you decide to focus on historical fiction?

It is what I love to read. I like to learn as I read, and I feel my time is well-spent. Recently I posted about my favorite book, the first historical novel I read: Gone with the Wind. I learned so much about America’s Civil War and its aftermath. I was fascinated and hooked. Many writers avoid historical fiction because it requires so much research, but for me, that’s the best part. It’s a treasure hunt to discover the details that will bring history to life.

Why did you choose 17th century Ireland?

My father emphasized our Irish heritage when I was growing up. We heard the music, sang the songs, wore the green, marched in the parade—all that. Our family toured Ireland when I was 15, and he sent me to Ireland for a summer study during my junior year in college. That I would want to write about it seems only natural. But when I started researching, I realized books about the 16th and 18th centuries were prominent, but not so much the 17th. A study for the Historical Novel Society found that the 17th century ranks 7th among time periods readers are most likely to choose when buying a book. This surprised me because it’s an exciting time of sweeping change: the Irish clan system is overtaken by the English plantation system and Cromwell led his bloody march. I saw a niche for myself and made it my mission to illuminate this period.

Most novels set out to explore a question. What question did you have in mind when writing The Prince of Glencurragh?

In 17th century Ireland, many hopes and dreams were destroyed, so I was asking, “Is it possible to reclaim a dream once it is lost to the mists of memory?” In this book, a young Irishman faces seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve his father’s dream of a castle and estate called Glencurragh.

Dreams are sometimes fulfilled in ways we do not expect. Click To Tweet

The premise is interesting on two levels. First, everyone has awakened from a dream so beautiful they want to hold onto it, but the longer they are awake the faster it recedes. And second, many of us have seen the sacrifices our parents made and then tried to live their dream for them, only to realize later that it doesn’t satisfy. And dreams are sometimes fulfilled in ways we had not expected.

What themes does the book address?

In many ways, this book is about friendship, the relationship between best friends from childhood. The story is narrated by Faolan’s best friend Aengus O’Daly. I have some very deep and lasting friendships of this kind, and those relationships informed this story in ways I didn’t realize until the end. I am deeply grateful to my friends for that.

This story is also about hope. In great difficulty, when you have no power to change a painful circumstance, hope — the most human part of us — is what we rely on to get through.

What will readers find most appealing about this book?

This book captivates readers right away because it is fast-paced and rich with interesting historical detail. The 17th century is rife with conflict, disaster, invention and change.

The story also is relevant because it focuses on issues we still face today, such as the oppression of ethnic groups and women, the struggle for survival and the struggle to achieve one’s dream. It is also a very personal struggle that most of us can relate to. Faolán is tested, just as anyone is who aspires to a goal. You want this thing, and it seems the mountain grows suddenly higher, the road more rugged, forcing you to show just how much you’re willing to fight for what you want.

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The Prince of Glencurragh by Nancy Blanton, is available in e-book, softcover, and hardcover on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and from other online booksellers.

 

Apr 142017
 

Once upon a time, I got frustrated with waiting too long and paying too much… so I figured out how to build my own website. And, while I can’t always make it do exactly what I want it to? Most days I come pretty close.

Once upon a time, I got frustrated with waiting too long and paying too much... Click To Tweet

The other day I got to help a fellow author launch his blog and, through more trial and error than I had hoped for, we got it up and running. Apparently, if I’m going to remember how to do these things, I’m going to have to use some of the skills more often.

The other thing that complicates this particular learning curve? App developers keep making things better and, generally speaking, this is a good thing… except when I only know one way to do something and the ability to update it has expired. Pfft.

This point was driven home earlier this week when I realized that only my old parenting posts were working their way over to my Facebook page. I guess that’s OK… but I’ve been writing about other topics and wanted to share those posts, too.

Long story short? Evidently, it worked. So, instead of the usual “test post” I decided to celebrate with a picture taken at our former home in New Hampshire. I’m not sure my friend Nancy believed me when I told her we used to live “smack in the middle of nowhere.”

I decided to celebrate with a photo taken from our former home... smack in the middle of nowhere! Click To Tweet

Please enjoy a post celebrating the serenity I feel every time something technical goes well. And providing photographic evidence for my friend the meticulous researcher and award-winning author? That’s just a bonus.

 April 14, 2017  Posted by  Fun & Inspiration, Social Media No Responses »
Apr 132017
 

As part of Women’s History Month, a Cleveland, Ohio bookstore decided to turn all inventory of male-authored books spine IN, effectively “silencing” them for several days.

Fewer than 40% of the titles were written by women. Click To Tweet

The project took ten people more than two hours to complete and, when they were done, fewer than 40% of the titles remained visible: 3700 of 10000 bookstore titles were written by women.  It reminds me of a recent conversation about museums: that it’s far easier for women to get into a museum as an artist’s subject than as an artist. It also wasn’t too long ago I learned that a certain fairly accomplished dinosaur – oops I mean editor just “won’t read” fiction by women. Excuse me? It’s as if seeing women’s words on a page is going to cost him $.22 on the dollar?

Will seeing women's words on a page cost him $.22 on the dollar? Click To Tweet

I don’t often pay close attention to such things but I recently watched an author promote his new non-fiction offering with a blog post about “life-changing books.” He had a long list –without a single female author on it. For some reason, it got under my skin.

I can’t imagine my reading history without all the amazing female authors who have been a part of my life. I was a shy kid who read a lot. My imagination was captured by Astrid Lindgren’s feisty Pippi Longstocking and, as a sometimes farm girl, I was intrigued by Marguerite Henry’s powerful horses. And as I grew older? Who could fail to be moved by Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn or The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath?

And as an adult? I’m all over the place. I’m fortunate to be connected with a wonderful group of local writers. Terri Clements Dean writes non-fiction that highlights the way people learn and grow. Start with Traveling Stories. If you’re trying to sort something out? You might want to pick up the companion journal.

I can't imagine my reading history without amazing women authors. Click To Tweet

Books have brought me a number of wonderful women as mentors. Almost anything by Anne Lamott speaks to me, especially Bird by Bird. Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way helps me take the space I need to write.

And, when I think of remarkable non-fiction by women? Don’t miss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot or Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit.

With such an amazing array from which to choose, can you think of any reasonable reason that women are so under-represented on library and bookstore shelves?

Let’s speak up. Please use the comment space to shout out about your favorite female authors.

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This post was originally part of a “Favorite Books” blog hop with some author-sister-friends. The links below are other posts on the topic.

 April 13, 2017  Posted by  Thinking, Writing and Reading 14 Responses »
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