Category Archives: Freelance Writing, Blogging, Entrepreneurship

How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women


Happy  October everyone!  I love to watch the seasons change and fall is one of my favorite times of the year, just because Mother Nature brings vibrant colors that are so darn awesome 🙂  This is also the time for freelancers to take stock and do inventory on their accomplishments and yes, failures, in order to make strategic plans to learn more, grow more and implement better. Knowledge is power and I love learning.

On that note, I’m happy to share information on another upcoming Iowa University’s free fiction writing class. This class, although opened to everyone, is geared specifically toward women stories! Take a look-see  🙂

Registration begins on Oct 11th for Iowa University’s~How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women. I think these 6-8 week classes are valuable because seasoned writers and newbies get to interact on  the class forums, with these alumni professors of writing and teachers who critique your work and offer valuable nuggets to drive your stories to publication. And did I mention that the classes are free?!

Participating writers who take the class are provided class discussions before assignments are handed out and get to share with other writers who become this family of creatives from different areas and stages in their careers. I love this class and recommend it to all who want to up their game. Certifications are available to those wanting to showcase their achievements.

I look forward to seeing you all there. https://novoed.com/how-writers-write-…

As you all know, I will be posting at my sites monthly, preferably on Mondays, but I wanted to get this info out because the time to register is fast approaching and for all of you  Johnnie-come-latelys, you can opt to register later, but who wants to be late for an exciting writing class!

Quote:

freelancers feel more empowered, respected and motivated than ever before. Let’s use that energy to come together and make freelancing better for all.

Yours in solidarity,


Sara Horowitz
Founder & Executive Director
Freelancers Union

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Special Guest Interview With CEO And Publisher of Dream Quest One ~Andre West


DreamQuestOne120x120Maya Angelou — ‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

I really got serious with my writing in 2000, whereas, before, I’d write stuff and put it away in my file cabinets. Submitting my poems and short-stories in competition, in hopes that one of my babies just might get published, was a bit intimidating. I felt awful whenever my work came back solidified in a cold detached form letter.  One day, I opened another rejection to another submission, only this one differed from the usual cold form letters, in that small side-notes of encouragement were written along the edges of the paper.

The editor had taken time to encourage me to keep writing, telling me that I was an “excellent” writer!  Since, then, I’ve written numerous articles, stories and poems and even managed to write and publish a book or two. My writing definitely improved.  And I never forgot that rejection letter.

How fitting that on the last week of National Poetry Month,  Clara54 gets to interview the person whose kind words kept me from throwing myself a ‘pity-party’ and motivated me to keep writing… Please join me in welcoming CEO and Publisher  of DreamQuestOne, Mr. Andre West to the blog:

Welcome, Andre! We haven’t met personally, but I feel like I know you through  your creative ‘rejection’ of my short story and now, our  LinkedIn connection.

Can you share a bit of background with my readers?

Clara, first and foremost, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being a gracious host and for interviewing me to be featured in your prestigious Clara54 Writer’s Blog. I truly admire and respect your undaunted encouragement, warm-hearted inspiration and endearing support for the fine arts and writing community.

I appreciate that, Andre. Thank you.

About me, hmmmm? Well, uhhhh, mmmm, okay! In my early childhood, besides playing with Lincoln Logs and Army Men toys, I remember reading books and learning Mother Goose nursery rhymes. Particularly, I really loved the times when my mother would read bedtime stories to me. So about the age of five or six years old, I began reading books on my own. This is when my mother would let me read bedtime stories to her. She enjoyed my reading so much that I would read her to sleep. Of course, it was supposed to be the other way around. Heh heh! Enthusiastically, and with childlike confidence, I wanted to read stories and nursery rhymes to my dear mother, in order to show her that “I can read.” In doing so, it made me feel great to start and finish reading a complete book. As a child, my favorite book to read was “The Bike Lesson” by Stan and Jan Berenstain. I guess you could say that I was hooked on phonics at an early age. I still have my old favorite book to this today!

I’ve learned that a picture is worth a thousand words. Noticing that many children’s books contained illustrations, I saw that those pictures only reinforced what I had already read. My imagination teleported me to far off places in the universe, where I may visit kingdoms by reading just words alone. Therefore, in my youthful mind, pictures had become redundant. Not that there was anything wrong with a colorful illustration, but pictures seem to replace words I could be reading. I then asked my mother to get me books without pictures. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a word is worth a thousand and one pictures, I imagine. Mother brought me all sorts of new and exciting tales to read.

My imagination began to grow and develop as my mind opened to new concepts. I lived with my family at a government housing project in the row houses called the “The Village” at the A.B.L.A. Homes, in Chicago, Illinois. Located on the near West Side, I lived right across the street from Fosco Park. Donnie, my big brother and I use to play in the dirty field, ride bikes, skateboard, roller-skate, fly kites, and even ice-skate during the winter months at Fosco Park. We always had what we needed, so being poor didn’t bother us that much. We hardly even thought about it sometimes, but we knew the deal. Occasionally, we use to eat maple syrup and bread sandwiches back then. Hey, it kept us alive. I’d still eat one today, but I prefer wheat bread.

As the years went by, I was considered a “gifted” child at Medill Elementary School. I really didn’t know what “gifted” meant, since I didn’t receive too many gifts back then. All I remember, is that a few other students and I had to take more advanced classes than homeroom peers. I went to different instructors for reading, music and art classes. At this time, my reading comprehension, vocabulary, and verbal skills were considered above average. I didn’t understand what that really meant. All I wanted to do was have fun and play with my friends. Although it was nice taking a break from the monotony of being in the same classroom setting all day.

So from first grade through junior high school, I remember attending Junior Great Books reading classes. We read stories such as “The Velveteen Rabbit,” “The Ugly Duckling,” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Then we discussed what happened in those stories, as a group. It helped develop the essential skills of reading carefully, thinking critically, listening intently, and speaking and writing persuasively. I enjoyed participating in those group discussions and did very well in English grammar. We wrote essay compositions and poems for classroom exercises and homework. I never stopped reading books. My teachers would always praise my ability to produce interesting creative writing. I felt great while writing, whether it was a short story or a poem, transforming thoughts and feelings into words, conveying messages to readers, or producing a desired outcome or effect. I love writing. It’s that simple.

At school, I remember having my essays, stories and poems posted in classrooms and hallways. I continued writing but there was something else about me. I always wanted to fit in with the popular students. And being smart was not very popular in these circles. Also, there were some negative influences from family members, and so-called friends that steered me to mischief at times. So I became shy and timid about showing my gifts and talents in writing to those around me. I tried to please everyone as I grew up. In doing so, I was never fully able to express myself or “be myself,” so to speak. I usually wrote a story or a poem or two, as required from my teachers. Once in 5th grade, I kept a composition book filled with essays that I wrote throughout the school year. There was a time when I went home with a note from my teacher to my mother. She told my mother that she didn’t believe I had written a certain composition and ‘please don’t do your child’s homework for him.’ Well, my mother didn’t help me. I wrote the story while sitting alone in my room. The night before turning in my homework, my mother couldn’t believe I had created such a great story. Nonetheless, I wrote it. Unfortunately, at the end of the school year, my composition book thrown into the trash. I really regret throwing those stories away. My mother said she wanted to keep that book, too. Usually, I write a story or poem when inspired or motivated by a profound person, a memorable place, a wonderful thing, or an outstanding event in my life.

Mrs. Smiley, a strict and disciplined school librarian, at Gallistel Language Academy, once pulled me aside. She said, “Andre, you really have a talent for creative writing. Keep it up. I want you to remember that.” She even wrote her wonderful praise to me in my elementary school graduation autograph book. At the time, writing a book became somewhat of a dream that might be possible. But I never went deeper into the thought of it.

Why do you write?

There was always the fear of rejection that haunted me for many years. I always sought approval from others for fear of being criticized. I was also afraid of failing and succeeding. Thinking disaster would come to bring me down and out, of my introverted comfort zone. I was scared too, of taking risks, making mistakes, letting go, and living life as I believed in my heart. Sometimes family members mean well, but they may also discourage one from pursuing her or his ‘calling’ in life. They may sound like Glum from Gulliver’s Travels saying, “You’ll never make it”. They are called, “dream-killers.” All the wasted time I spent trying to be whatever someone else wanted me to be, has passed. I got tired of being afraid to venture off into the unknown. In spite of any opposition from others or within, I choose to write because I feel more alive while writing. I’m able to express myself freely and creatively through the art and craft. In my heart, I’ve always been and always will be a writer, a poet and a dreamer, but not in that exact order. I’ve always loved poetry and writing even through high school and college. I wrote more stories while taking English courses. Upon receiving an A.A. degree in Liberal Arts Education and Business Administration, I continued pursuing a degree in Finance. To support myself I have been a landscaper, a front-end maintenance worker for a major supermarket chain, a postal mail-carrier, and a computer information systems expert. “In whatever job I choose to do, I like to do it right or I won’t do it all.”

What does Poetry mean to you?

During high school, I occasionally wrote poems and stories about my life and the things that I have done. In the year 1986, there was a local writer’s newsletter, which sponsored a poetry contest. Inspired by a girl, whom I liked very much during my sophomore year of high school, I entered the following poem.

“Imagine This”

Sweetness is for her, body’s motion on a staircase

About seven feet down the lane, staring upon that lovely face

Looking upward as a matter of fact

Walking forward to be exact

 

Gracious is her style, thus owning one principle

Glorious is she, who audaciously attracted me

A host to her mind, the waiter for her heart

Frequency of the wave, the commencement of a start

Imagine this,

Knowledge of love, it has no definite flaws

Throughout friendship we understand

there’s certain common laws

Thresholds of peace, insinuations I may

Intimations I may. Instilled visions of rhymes

Instituting our day

Imagination,

is a powerful tool. Don’t interpret me wrong

I’m nobody’s fool

There is just so much that you must see

Imagine this, you and me

Though this is the beginning and not the end

Imagine this,

my marvelous friend.

By © 1986 Andre La Mar West

To my surprise, I won an honorable mention and received a big red dictionary. Clara, that contest really gave me a healthy dose of inspiration and confidence to continue writing poetry. I began reading and sharing poems with students at school. When a poem makes your feel as if your head is spinning and you are falling off planet Earth: that is poetry to me. When I can read or write a poem that makes me think and feel like I’ve been turned right side up, to me: to me that is poetry. If it moves me to feel pure emotions such as; joy, anger, empathy, sadness, love, hate, pain, ecstasy, fear, or enlightened, because its composition is a true self-expression: that is what poetry means to me.

Andre_West-DreamQuestOne

Are you all enjoying this interview as much as I am?!  Want more ? Great, because we’re not finished… Part two of my interview with Andre West continues next week! I wanted to give you all of Andre’s powerful writings, publishing and living life as an artist insights!

You don’t  want to miss part two of this interview. Andre shares his vision for Dreamquestone and gives us his take on winning poetry and writing contests. In the meantime, you can access Andre’s site to get the 411 on upcoming submissions – http://www.dreamquestone.com/rules.html

Happy writing!

Two New Book Releases To Kick Off Your New Year


thdog readingHappy Friday, Creatives!

So, we’re in the middle of those dog days of winter and by the way, Happy New Year 2016! I hope you’re not letting the cold melancholy and sluggish weather keep you from your creative juices! If you can’t write at the moment, at least do a good deed for someone and read a book or two.

Dontcha know, some of my best friends are  readers. “Ruff”

Speaking of the latter, I have two new books by two different authors  that landed on my desk recently, that I think y’all might like.  Although, I’m not in the zone to do book reviews, right now, I keep receiving these amazing books. Never look a gift horse in the mouth!

indext the vicious cycle I read The Vicious Cycle over the holidays and it is an awesome true life account of one woman’s mission to re-educate and prepare inmates about the reality of the real world, once they’re released from prison. This book is based upon the author’s real experiences coming from living that life.

For more information about the author, feel free to visit her social media sites:

TargetEvolution.org

The second book is one I hope to read when time allows because the subject matter seems more aligned to my purpose brand. Here’s a snippet from A Monk’s Way:

n9q5_bookcoverart_1“Insightful and at times enlightening, “A Monk’s Way,” posits an alternative to blindly following the conventional dogma of organized religion and presents readers with the tools to ultimately cultivate a more meaningful relationship with a higher power.”

For more on this author visit www.clarkeide.com and follow him on Twitter @clark_eide.

I receive many books from public relations people, on behalf of their clients, either looking for a review or offering an author interview. In most cases, I will offer the author space on Clara’ writer’s blog to promote their work and also give y’all an opportunity to read these books. I know, sowing those seeds girl, sowing those seeds!

Are you a relative new author, having difficulty selling your books with folk in your inner circle? If you are, I invite you to join the conversation happening on Friday the 15th, where the topic asks the question:

“Are authors being supported by their friends and colleagues in their book sales? If not, why not? ” Seasoned authors we value your input and want to hear your take on the subject as well.

Send your responses to clarawriter@att.net to be included in the conversation.

Today’s writer quote:

“My urge to write is an urge not to self-expressionism but to self-transcendence. My work is both bigger and smaller than I am.” — Susan Sontag

September Writing Contests


Happy Friday, all! Let’s face it, writers cannot get enough of sharpening their skills by competing in writing competition. This is another arena for the creative to pit their abilities against fierce competitors for the big prize. Sometimes we do hit a home run and take home the trophy!

Writing competitions in any genre are beneficial to the creative because we can gauge our writing ability against the best of the best and still lose gracefully in the agony of defeat. We know that writing for us is a win/win, no matter if we place in the competition or not.

For those of you who want to compete for the prize or see how far your writing skills take you, here are three great writing contests you might enjoy entering in September:

novel14WOMEN'S MEMOIR

Mslexia is holding a women’s memoir contest for women with a story to tell and who want to compete in the competition for their share of the monies. Go here for details- https://mslexia.co.uk/shop/ncomp_enter.php

Still working on your memoir and don’t really want to share your first draft for competition? How about sharing your dynamite opening paragraph instead? Go here to find out about your first memoir paragraph competition:
http://womensmemoirs.com/memoir-writing/pamela-jane-bell-announces-womens-memoirs-opening-paragraph-contest/

Creative Non Fiction Magazine is holding an essay contest in September called “Waiting.” Go here for guidelines on submitting to their essay contest-https://www.creativenonfiction.org/submissions/waiting

Entered a writing contest lately? Which do you prefer,those with or without fees? Share your experiences with us here on the writers blog and chime in on an upcoming writer’s debate where we discuss paying vs. non paying contest markets.

Authors Seeking Book Reviewers


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TGIF! I know right? In order to promote their books and great works, many established authors are seeking book reviewers to help them do that. I’ve been asked to do many book reviews over the years and loved doing it because I’m a book voyeur from way back:)

Do not be fooled, doing book reviews is no easy task as it’s time consuming, demanding and can interrupt your personal writing and time schedule. For this reason, I’m more selective when choosing books for review- so many wonderful books, so little precious time (sigh) The books posted today are available for review from their authors and ones that you might consider reviewing on your blog.

The Redeemers Tale- Book One by J.P James is an epic fantasy of good vs evil, with some magic and romance thrown in for good measure. Mr. James invites readers to visit his lpjamesblog.com to get details of how to download a complimentary copy for review. You can also visit www.smashword.com/books/view/404767 and use the coupon code TF62U. And get it via the promotional site at Tomoson.com, along with a giveaway for your readers.

When you sign up at Tomoson.com you will be on their book reviewer list for promotional book and product reviews and giveaways for your blog readers. Some products and books come with prerequisites such as number of FB likes or Twitter followers. If the author is familiar with your work,however, they will sometimes waive prerequisites and contact you directly. Such was the case for Hugo The Happy Starfish author, Suzy Liebermann, whose line of children books are educational learning tools introduced in the schools.

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The author will be leaving Tomoson. com in March and asks that any blogger wanting to review her line of educational books for children, contact her at http://www.suzyliebermann.com or email HugoTheHappyStarfish@gmail.com.
I have committed to writing an honest review of Hugo, just because my grandchildren might get a kick out of hearing about Hugo and how he solved problem faced by so many of today’s’ children.

What do you think of authors seeking book reviewers for their projects? Have you had to turn away books for review?

A Recommended Resource for the Creative Introvert


Happy Saturday creatives! I missed my usual Friday posting because I was out doing business for the home-front. I have to tell you, I was so relieved to get back home, climb into bed and sleep away the anxiety that had built from having to participate in face to face forum.

If you’re one of those people who likes the party, but rather not become the life of the party or when you were in school and knew the answer to a question and didn’t raise your hand because you wanted to avoid calling attention to yourself and how about this one; Your creative writing instructor praised your work in front of the whole adult continuing education class and you cringed from all of the attention!

If any of those things and more happened to you, chances are, you’re an introvert 🙂 Oh, don’t go getting your pants in a bunch, some of the most renowned people in the world are “Shy” and “introverted” who rather skip the preliminaries,Well, sometimes, in order to shine, we introverts have to step out on faith, a wing and a prayer and educate ourselves on how those introverted experts do it.

410gSPDWtWL._SX180_ introverts

Joanna Penn is one of many introverted best selling authors that found a way to educate herself out of her shyness when confronted with having to do speaking engagements and be present and under the scrutiny of total strangers. The more your work becomes known, the more every writer and author is going to have to step away from the computer and the safety net of email, telephone, youtube and google hangouts- all great avenues for communicating, for sure, but in person and face to face presentations are a huge part of promoting your art.

I’ve purchased a few books on Public Speaking over the years, but, “Public Speaking for Authors, Creatives and other Introverts” speaks to me. This is not a review, but a hearty recommendation from one shy creative to another who knows it’s way past time to step up and educate themselves on ways to share with their welcoming audience, the very best of themselves.

Okay, shy creatives, weigh in. What do you do to combat the anxiety of public speaking?

Clara54’s End of the Year Writers’ Advice


thbe original

Wow, it’s nearing the end of 2013 and because I’m one of those original type of girls who loves making up her own words/slogans and quotes, I get a bit perturbed by how some writers out there take the work of others without their consent.

Imitation might be the highest form of flatter, but to me, a writer and lover of words, I’d much rather come up with my own wise-doms or jokes or food for thought. I read where critics are saying that no one is an original anymore. Does that mean we’re allowed to steal the works of others? I’m one who is fighting hard to be that original, in my personal and professional world. I have a unique gift as do you. I’m all for spreading the popularity of other writers,but, I’m not trying to claim their flavor as my own.

thbe you

I suppose my end of the year writers’ advice would be to honor the gifts we have as individuals. Work your butt off to become great at what you love doing and take credit for having succeeded at doing it your way. It’s alright to learn from the best creative masters out there, but, when we take their original works and promote them as our own, we’re not being true to ourselves or to our readers. Plagiarism runs rampant in the blogosphere, so before you become victim to someone stealing your creative works, take extra precautions and seek resources like Grammarly’s plagiarism checker to nip that thief in the bud-(not my words promise)

Have you been a victim of plagiarism? Have you unknowingly plagiarized another artist’s work?

I’ll see you in January!