Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category

robin williamsActing Out Optimism

My daughter and I had just returned from our first trapeze class after a year’s absence from “flying.” It was late (we’d stopped for dinner on the way home), and I was whirling around the kitchen, simultaneously shooing her into the shower, feeding our two cats, and having a quick catch-up call with my beau. In the midst of the chaos, I heard my beau say, “It’s awful about Robin Williams, huh?”

Before I could answer I had to pause to holler up the stairs at my daughter (again), and aggressively tap the remaining bits of canned cat food off the spoon I was wielding. “What?” I asked. He explained. About the death. About the suspicion of suicide. None of it registered. I made some meaningless response, something about it being a terrible tragedy and such a shame; and then I said I’d call back later and hung up.

Early the next morning, still tucked in under the covers, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed in an effort to come fully awake. As I read the dozens of posts honoring Williams and grieving his death, I began to cry. Even now, as I sit here typing this post, tears are welling up.

I’ve come a little unglued.

After all, I did not know Williams personally. I have been a fan since his Mork & Mindy days, but I haven’t even seen all of his movies. I admired him and his work; but I if you’d asked me a week ago to name my top ten performers, he wouldn’t have made the list. And yet, knowing he is gone broke something in me. Like so many other people I’ve talked to, I find myself unexpectedly touched by his sudden absence.

I’m still processing my emotional response to this loss. I’m still trying to figure out why of all the heartbreak in the world, the loss of this one entertainer has left me so bereft. I need some private writing time before I can share my thoughts with more clarity. There is one quote of Robin’s, however, that I would like to share. There are so many making the rounds on the Internet now that he is gone. I think the one that I’ve seen most often is “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lost it.” Though I love that one, there is another that I find more intriguing, “Comedy is acting out optimism.”

Despite all the death and injustice and sorrow in the world, despite being locked in constant battle with his own demons, despite the intense pressure of life that we all feel – whether we are Hollywood icons or simply a member of the PTA – despite all of this, Williams chose laughter. He chose joy and kindness and generosity. In the face of all the darkness, he chose light. And he shared that light with the world. This, to me, is the highest purpose of any art – to express hope and optimism.

I think Zelda William’s said it perfectly in her lovely statement about her father:

“Dad was, is and always will be one of the kindest, most generous, gentlest souls Ive ever known, and while there are few things I know for certain right now, one of them is that not just my world, but the entire world is forever a little darker, less colorful and less full of laughter in his absence. We’ll just have to work twice as hard to fill it back up again.”


What I’m Writing:

tweet conv professionalsI continue to swim upstream against a strong current of crunchy deadlines for fairly intense projects. I’m grateful for the work on my plate, but that gratitude does not dispel the stress that comes along with juggling multiple clients and projects.

Last week, I had a quick little Twitter exchange with fellow copywriter, Donnie Bryant. I had never met Bryant, but a quote he tweeted caught my eye, “Amateurs wait for inspiration; professionals do it with a headache.” It just so happened that on the morning I read that quote (as retweeted by Craig McBreen) that I was sporting a doozy of a headache and was working off of only four hours’ sleep. Though I felt physically awful, Bryant’s quip made me smile.

Though I am now and always will be a work-in-progress as an author and storyteller, I earned the right to call myself a professional writer years ago. It wasn’t the caliber of my clients or the monetary value they placed on my work that gave me the confidence to call myself a pro. It was the fact that I always got the job done. No matter what. A hobbyist has the option to say, “Not today. Maybe tomorrow.” A dabbler can decide to go to bed early instead of staying up to meet the deadline. A poser can happily act the part without actually producing anything. But a professional? A professional must deliver. An MIA muse is not an acceptable excuse. A sick kid is not an acceptable excuse. A headache is most definitely not an acceptable excuse. If you’re a professional – paid or not – you get the work done. Period. End of story.

It’s that simple, and that hard.

What about you? Do you call yourself a professional? Is that even important to you? What’s your take on being a pro vs, being a dabbler?


What I’m Reading:

faerie magWhen I’m not so exhausted that I’m falling asleep on the way upstairs to bed, I am still managing to fill any remaining nooks and crannies in my day with small but still joyful moments of reading. I am not, however, finding making enough of these moments to get through some of the bigger reads I have on my plate at the moment.

So, while I continue to enjoy those in bite-sized morsels (and will share here once I’ve finished off the last, delicious bits), I’ll share with you today a little diversion that arrived at my PO Box this week: Faerie Magazine.

It happened like this: I was scrolling through Facebook (geesh, I seem to spend a lot of time on Facebook), and saw a picture of a beautiful fairytale cottage. (It may have even been fellow Live to Write -Write to Live blogger, Wendy, who posted it. I’m not sure.) Anyway, the image had been shared from the Facebook page of this beautiful print publication. It was rather late at night and I was struggling with the day’s final deadline, so – of course – I decided to take a little side trip via a click to the magazine’s site. A few minutes later, I was a subscriber.

The reason I share this with you is to illustrate the power of the niche audience. This is a beautifully produced and written print magazine (supposedly a dying breed) that is on its 27th quarterly issue, so it’s been in print for nearly seven years now.

If you have a passion for a particular topic or genre, there is a publication out there that is serving other people who share your passion. In fact, there are probably multiple publications (especially if you consider both digital and print) catering to the exact audience who would most appreciate your writing on that beloved topic. Find these publishers. Get to know their work and their readers. You never know when you might find a perfect home for the writing you love to do best.


And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

spark madness williams

Here’s to hope and optimism and finding the courage and joy to let your spark of madness shine. 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

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Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: Is there any genre of books that you secretly love to read but are embarrassed to admit you enjoy? Confess. 

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I’m not embarrassed to admit I read erotica, but it’s difficult to take those books in public, so I have to keep them at home, or tear the covers off (and I don’t destroy books, so, reading at home it is!) Some dark fiction books I enjoy have graphic covers, so it’s difficult to take those anywhere, too. I don’t want to offend anyone — or scare the crap out of anyone. I read whatever attracts me and can pull me into a new world. I love reading young adult books, too, and sometimes get asked if I’m a teacher if someone sees me reading that genre. “No, not a teacher, just a reader enjoying a good story.”

Susan Nye:
It’s not a secret and I’m not embarrassed but I’m a fan of shoot-‘em-up detective stories and legal thrillers.



headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: My reading tastes run far and wide. From Tolkien to Tolstoy, I’ve probably dipped my toes in almost every genre. In some cases (Stephen King – horror), I jumped right back out; but for the most part my book selection bounces from genre to genre like the “Squirrel!” dog in the movie Up.  The only genre that am a little embarrassed to admit I enjoy is “Chick Lit.” Now, there’s literary Chick Lit (which I have no problem with), but once we start getting into beach read territory, I start to feel a little uncomfortable. The truth is, though, that any story you enjoy is a story worth reading. Do I sometimes watch stupid movies or watch inane television shows? Of course I do. I actually have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to my guilty pleasures. I figure that guilty pleasures are a great way to a) unwind the brain and b) remind us how fabulous our non-guilty pleasures are. ;)


photo: M. Shafer

photo: M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin: I’m clearly too serious and have entirely too little time to read, so I’m grateful for the above – and I’m especially interested in Lisa’s recommendations!






wendy-shotWendy Thomas:Like many of the other writers here, I constantly read. If it’s not a book I’m reading for an article’s research, or a book I’ve been asked to review, then it’s a book I’ve heard someone crow about and I want to see what it’s about.

That said, one of my guilty pleasures is Cozy Mysteries – you know the Murder She Wrote type of story that involves an unlikely detective along with a pretty large dose of humor. For some reason, they just tickle my reading bone.

Like Jamie, I also enjoy a good “chick-lit” story every now and then. Interestingly, I tend to read those in the summer instead of the winter when I usually turn to “heavier” reading (non-fiction, research.)

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pin voicesThere are voices in my head. And, not the good kind.

As a writer, you are probably used to having voices in your head. You are probably even grateful that they are there – the voices of your characters telling you what they want, what they need, where you’ve gone wrong in your story, and how to get it back on track. No matter the time of day or night, the world inside our skulls is always filled with the murmur of these voices playing out myriad lives in the space between our ears. For a writer, this is not an inconvenience, it’s a necessity.

But, then there are the other voices – the crazy ones that talk over your characters and inner muse. These voices are rude. They are disruptive. They kind of suck. I’ve written about them before in a post aptly titled Must. Stop. The Voices in which I covered the three types of inner dialog that plague me: Distraction Mind, Inner Critic, and Eternal Editor. Bunch of blowhards.

This week has been very taxing in terms of both the quantity and complexity of my writing tasks. Amidst the joyful insanity of summer chaos (including my daughter being home without any camp and the two of us having to scramble to keep up with all her dog walking clients) I had to hit two major deadlines: a 5,000-word ebook on a complex, “thought leadership” topic and a half dozen hybrid case study/personal stories for a medically-focused project. I got it all done (well, the personal stories are almost done …), but I had to battle past The Voices each step of the way.

While the part of my mind that was under my control tried to focus on getting the next word down, the unruly part of my mind split itself in two and commenced an unremitting barrage of unwanted commentary. On the one side, a boorish and disdainful voice kept up a ceaseless drone of disparaging remarks about my abilities. This voice tried, by any means necessary, to convince me that I didn’t have what it took to even finish the piece, never mind do a half decent job. It played out imagined feedback from my client telling me that this wasn’t at all what he had in mind, that he was sorry he made the mistake of hiring me, that the whole thing was a mess and we’d have to start from scratch.

In the other corner of the ring, a much more supportive, but still unwanted voice tried valiantly to undo the damage of the first voice. This kinder, gentler voice quietly reminded me of my past successes, my experience, and my skill. It encouraged me to, “Buck up, kiddo,” and have faith that I would not only meet the deadline, but deliver a draft that was as close to perfect as could be expected for a first draft. This voice assured me that the client would be duly impressed, complimentary, and thrilled to have found a writer who “got it” as well as I did. This voice did everything short of picking up a pair of pom-poms and giving me a rousing cheer.

I felt like a child trapped between two warring parents – one telling me that I’m a useless, talentless, hopeless excuse for a human being and the other telling me that I’m incredibly smart, creative, and capable. I hated them both. I wanted to put my hands over my ears and scream, “Shut up! Just shut up!” But, try as I might, I didn’t seem able to drown them out. It was like they couldn’t even hear me screaming, they just kept talking over me – sparring with each other and completely ignoring my presence.

I share this story not because I can provide a cure. I can’t. I share it because I don’t want you to think that you are alone, or perhaps crazy. You’re not. These voices are totally normal. I cannot remember the source, but the best bit of advice that I ever heard about dealing with these intrusive voices was to take a moment to acknowledge them, but only long enough to pat them on the head, tell them you understand what they are trying to say, and then inform them – gently but firmly – that they must run along now and let you get your work done.

And if that doesn’t do it, put on your headphones, roll your eyes at them, and just get back to work.


What I’m Writing:

Matt Cheauvront's dog, Cowboy

Matt Cheauvront’s dog, Cowboy

I have been beating myself up a bit over how often this space in the Weekend Edition is filled with lame excuses about why I’m not doing much writing. Part guilt and part shame, this feeling is like a little rain cloud in the otherwise bright blue sky of the time I spend writing this weekly post. And then, earlier this week, I read a piece by Matt Cheuvront (@mattchevy) called Look at It With Their Wonder. Matt reminds us how important it is to pause and look at our accomplishments with the eyes of someone who doesn’t take them for granted:

Whatever it is you’re building – creating – making – and/or working toward, you’ll undoubtedly have moments where you’re absolutely sick of thinking about it/working on it. But once it’s out there for the world to see, create a ritual for yourself similar to my own.

Set aside time, even if for just a moment, to admire your hard work, experience it, and look at it with their wonder.

With that in mind, I decided to take an informal inventory of the writing I have done so far this year:

  • 15 columns for my local paper
  • 47 posts here on Live to Write – Write to Live
  • 15 case studies
  • 2 marketing ebooks
  • 7 point-of-view papers
  • 3 ghost-written articles
  • 7 brand messaging briefs
  • 12 architectural house descriptions
  • 5 websites

All told, I have cranked out in excess of 100,000 words since January 1st. (And that doesn’t include all my journaling which would add about another 100,000 words, or the bits and pieces of fiction practice I have managed which would probably add another few thousand words.). Also – because all but 10,000 of these words have been for paying jobs – I have been able to support myself and my daughter with this work.

Does this writing represent my legacy? No. Is it the novel I want to write? No. But I shouldn’t let those truths besmirch the accomplishment or belittle the value of the writing. I should look at that list and that word count with wonder and appreciation and gratitude. And I should stop beating myself up for “not writing.”

What accomplishments do you need to inventory? What have you done – writing or otherwise – that you need to look upon with wonder in order to appreciate its value? Go do that now. You’ll feel less guilty, and – interestingly – more inspired. 

What I’m Reading:

book short guide happy lifeLike writing time, reading time has been hard to find these past few weeks while the workload has been so heavy. Though I’ve stolen a few minutes here and a few minutes there, I haven’t had the chance to sit down for a real read this week. This morning, before I sat down to write this post, I decided to treat myself to a quick reread of a favorite “tiny book” that was calling quietly from the bottom shelf of the bedroom bookcase.

The book is called A Short Guide to a Happy Life, and it was written by novelist and columnist (not to mention Pulitzer prize winner), Anna Quindlen. My friend bought me a copy of this slim tome when she went to see Quindlen speak at a local college. I wasn’t able to join my friend, but she kindly not only purchased a copy of the book for me, but stood in line to have it signed. I have wonderful friends.

The book is very brief, but it is what they call a “little gem.” The text is an essay about learning to appreciate life and really live, instead of just existing. There are no earth-shattering epiphanies in Quindlen’s words, but the earnestness and truth of what she says always strikes me at the core. I also love the design of the book – its small format, rough edges, and the collection of beautiful photographs that she chose to complement her words. The book is a lovely and perfect little gift that you can open over and over again, and always be filled with delight.

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin instructions for life

Wishing you a week filled with listening (but only to the right things – the things that matter and make you happy), seeing (with wonder and gratitude), and telling all about it in your writing (whatever kind of writing you do). Have a lovely weekend. See you on the other side! 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Illustration behind the Mary Oliver quote is from a vintage children’s book called In the Middle of the Night, written by Aileen Fisher and illustrated by Adrienne Adams.

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Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: We’ve all been there. Sometimes, you pick up a book with great expectation only to find that you just can’t bring yourself to finish it. Whether you’re one chapter in or three-quarters of the way to the end, what types of things make you give up on a book? For extra credit – as a writer, how to you try to eliminate those “crimes” from your own stories?


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: It has taken me half a lifetime to get over the guilt of abandoning a book that I just can’t seem to finish reading. But, now that I have finally learned to be more discerning about how I spend my reading time, abandoning books that aren’t living up to my expectations has become something of a sport. My knee-jerk response to the question “What makes you abandon a book?” is this: I’m bored. I don’t mean to say that a book needs to be full of non-stop excitement and over-the-top adventure. Far from it. In fact, many of the books I’ve enjoyed recently have been what I call “quiet books” in which nothing (or hardly anything) seems to happen at all. But still, despite the lack of outward activity, something is happening in these stories – something that gets under my skin and keeps me coming back for more, page after page. I will confess that I still give each book I read more than one chance to win me over, hanging on just in case the story gets better. I think the death knell is when I realize that I feel apathetic towards the characters. Once I’ve come to the conclusion that I just don’t care what happens to them, it’s all over. Good night, Irene.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: First, I have to chuckle that there is an extra credit question. I haven’t had one of those since my college years! Wow. Flash back! I don’t have an answer for that one other than I try my best to write well every time.

As for what makes me stop reading – editing and grammar issues, hands down. If I see more than 1 blatant issue in a chapter, I’m hard pressed to keep reading. Multiple issues within a few pages and I’m absolutely done – the book (gasp) might even get thrown away. If I can tell an author hasn’t even run a spell check on a book, there is no way I’m giving my time to reading it.

When I was younger, I’d force myself to read a book even if I lost interest in it — it’s been many many moons since I’ve done that, but I certainly know that if I lose interest in a story for any reason, unbelievable characters – characters I can’t get behind – unable to suspend my belief – whatever reason, I will close the book and move on. Thankfully, I’ve only stopped reading a handful of books, so far.

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: I read a book not too long ago that had so many errors in it–glaring mistakes where people who were standing up suddenly “stood up,” and people who were out in the rain carrying umbrellas suddenly had arms full of flowers–where did the umbrellas go? that I actually kept reading because I was so fascinated by how bad the writing was. Usually, though, I put down a book, like Jamie and Lisa, if it’s poorly written or if I’m bored and don’t care about the characters. Also, if something happens that’s so implausible I find myself saying, “Come on!” as I toss the book aside. in Gone Girl, I didn’t necessarily like the characters, but I was definitely interested enough to keep reading!

As far as the extra credit question, one of the reasons I kept reading the book with all the mistakes was to try to make sure I didn’t make any of those mistakes! (I’ll probably just make different mistakes!)

Susan Nye: It is exceedingly rare for me to toss a book aside without finishing it. The few books that I just couldn’t bear to finish committed no great crimes. For the most part, they were written for someone else. I seem to remember dumping one because it was too violent. Another was a best seller with teenagers but it’s been a long time since I was sixteen. Still another was dry as dust but well respected by historians.

So, when it comes to dumping a book, I can with all sincerity reassure the author that … it’s not you, it’s me.



M. Shafer, Photo

M. Shafer, Photo

Deborah Lee Luskin: I’ve been reading library books on my Kindle, which are on a two-week loan, so if I can’t finish it before it’s due (and disappears) – poof! I don’t finish. Simple as that.


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One day to live

play moneyHave you ever played the if-I-had-a-million-dollars game? It’s fun to fantasize about what you would do with your life if you won the lottery – where you would live, where you would travel, the things you would buy (for yourself and others), and – perhaps most important to literary types – how you would spend your now ample free time. (It goes almost without saying that our days would be filled with long, luxurious stretches of reading and writing and exploring the world through the senses of a writer.)

The possibilities are endless. Money is no object; your time is suddenly free and clear – all yours. You can do almost anything.

But what if, instead of buying your freedom with money, you bought it with your life. What if, instead of winning the lottery, you drew the short straw and learned that you only had a year to live, or six months, or one day. Getting such tragic news would grant you a freedom of a different kind. Instead of suddenly having countless options, you would have to limit yourself to only the things that mattered most. You would have to make hard choices. You would have to give up your dream of seeing the Eiffel Tower in order to realize your dream of seeing Galapagos. You would have to let go of your desire to learn how to salsa dance so that you would have time to learn how to scuba dive. Or maybe, being a writer, you would finally sit down and write that story you’ve been thinking about for years.

Having all the money in the world may seem to buy you time, but all it really buys you is the illusion of time. There is a danger in that kind of temporal wealth. You start to believe that your time will never run out. You begin to lean on doing things tomorrow, because – well, you know, there’s always tomorrow.

Until there isn’t.

I like to daydream about a carefree life on easy street as much as the next girl, but while those kinds of musings are pleasant enough, I don’t find them terribly motivating. They are, if anything, a distraction from the things that really make me happy. Though some might consider it morbid, I find that asking myself what I would do – how I would spend my precious time – if I knew I only had a little time left a more inspiring exercise. When you look at your life and your dreams through that smaller lens, you are suddenly able to focus with great clarity on exactly what you want to do – what you need to do – in order to live a life with no regrets.

I do not like to dwell on my own mortality, but I do like rediscovering my sense of purpose and passion. I like feeling a sense of excited urgency about my work. What about you? What would you do if you only had a year, six months, or one day to live?

What I’m Writing:

grub street typewriterThis past week was the first of three camp-free weeks for my daughter. For the first time, we’re experimenting with having her at home while I continue to work on my deadlines. I have to admit that I was somewhat apprehensive about the challenge of keeping a ten year-old entertained (and relatively quiet) without needing to lean heavily on TV and electronics. I’m happy to report, however, that we sailed through the first week with flying colors. She spent the first few days listening to audio books and painting, and the latter half of the week giving herself henna tattoos and playing, among other things, big sister to the three year-old boy next door.

Still, my working mama’s brain continued to search for fun projects and activities to keep my daughter’s nose out of her iPod. And, you know what? I found an idea that is not only giving her something to do, but it’s helping me get some writing practice in.

We – me, my daughter, and my mom – are collaborating on a story. I created a Google doc (in what Google now calls drive), and I wrote the intro to a story. I then shared the document with my daughter and mom, inviting them to pick up the story where I left off. Now, the three of us can go back and forth, each of us adding bits to the story. I’m having so much fun with it, and I am very impressed by my daughter’s imagination and writing voice.

Here, for anyone interested, is the intro to our story:

Things you should know before beginning

There are two kinds of people in the world – those who believe in impossible things and those who don’t. Nearly everyone begins life as a believer, but the insidious pressures of modern life are a stealthy and cunning pack of predators. They first appear as mere shadows of obligation and responsibility, but all too soon they have circled and there is no escape. Fairytales fade, daydreams die, and the language of the wind and the birds is lost forever.

There is nothing extraordinary about this tragic transformation.  It is, however, quite extraordinary when a person reverses the journey and makes her way, usually quite by accident, down twisting byways – back to a world that is brimming over with impossible realities. Sadly, most people develop a proverbial blind spot which shrouds the signposts that mark such paths.  A person might, for instance, catch a glimpse of an unexpected appendage on a fellow subway rider or be given a particularly pointed look by a stray dog; but odds are that her logical brain will explain these anomalies away before they have a chance to upset the balance of the Real World.

This is the story of a young woman whose life was upset just so. Fortunately for you, dear reader, she was so bored with the Real World that she chose to keep her eyes wide open. Instead of ignoring the improbable events of her fourteenth birthday, she became curious. She hadn’t had anything to be curious about in ages, so it took her a while to remember how to go about it. Thankfully, curiosity, once set in motion, is a force to be reckoned with.

What I’m Reading:

breakfast bookMy reading time took a big hit this week, and that was particularly bothersome since I just started reading two great books, one fiction and one nonfiction. Since I’m not ready to share those with you, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ways for sneaking a little reading in on even the busiest days:

  1. Read while you eat. If you eat alone (as I often do during the day), invite a book to be your dining companion. I used to grab lunch while I worked, but I never really got much done. I figure my time is better spent feeding my brain than trying to get a few more emails out the door.
  2. Use a reading break as a bribe. Many writers swear by the Pomodoro Technique – a time management method based on working in a focused way for twenty-five minutes and then taking a five-minute break. Guess what you can do during your five-minute break?
  3. Read while your waiting in line. At the bank, school pick-up (soon, soon, can’t wait!), at the DMV – always have a book on-hand (or loaded on your Kindle app) so you can get in a few paragraphs anywhere, anytime.
  4. Read before bed. I used to miss out on this opportunity because I was so tired at the end of the day, I figured I’d just fall asleep. Experts say, however, that it’s really important to “unplug” before bedtime. The typical rule of thumb is to get away from all screens (computers, tablets, TVs, smartphones, etc.) at least a half hour before bedtime. Switching to a good old-fashioned book is the perfect way to segue between the chaos of your working day and sleep.

What’s your favorite way to shoehorn a little extra reading into your day?

And let’s not forget the blogs. Here are a few of my favorite writerly posts from this week:

Finally, a quote for the week:

pin joy success

Here’s to finding your joy and letting it lead you to success. Happy reading. Happy writing. See you on the other side! 

Jamie Lee Wallace is a writer who also happens to be a marketer. She helps her Suddenly Marketing clients discover their voice, connect with their audience, and find their marketing groove. She is also a mom, a prolific blogger, and a student of the equestrian arts, voice, and – occasionally –  trapeze (not at the same time). Introduce yourself on facebook or twitter. She doesn’t bite … usually.

Monopoly Money Photo Credit: Giovanni ‘jjjohn’ Orlando via Compfight cc
Breakfast and Book Photo Credit: Silvia Sala via Compfight cc

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Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

This week’s question is part of a series based on 100th episode (“Ask The Readers Anything” ) of the UK-based podcast, The Readers. We thought it would be interesting (and fun!) to answer these questions from the perspective of writers who also (obviously) love to read. 

QUESTION: We find new books to read in all kinds of place and via all kinds of winding paths. Sometimes, the best books turn up in our lives in the most unexpected ways. How do you find new books – recommendations from friends or family, reviews, podcasts, publishers, serendipitous happenstance?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I’d say that I get the majority of my books from publishers and authors seeking a review. The past few years I’ve limited (or tried to) my spending on books simply because I have so many book cases of books To Be Read already! Sometimes a book cover or title will catch my eye, though, or a book featured in one of my interviews with an author sounds so delightful that I just have to get it. I do have a couple hundred books downloaded to my Kindle that I’ve yet to read, too. So many books, so little time!

headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: I see books everywhere. EVERYWHERE. I can’t help it. I find new books even when I’m not trying. Maybe especially when I’m not trying. I read a lot of blogs about writing, and many of them frequently feature books by the writers on the blog. I listen to literary podcasts that review and critique books, I flip through that free Book Pages flyer at the local library, I browse bookstores (I particularly like the staff picks shelves of indie booksellers). I cruise goodreads. I attend book sales, ask friends what they’re read lately, and look over the shoulders of people reading in the local coffee shop. I linger over the ads for new books in Poets & Writers and Writer’s Digest. I pay attention when the authors I admire talk about the books they are taking to bed. In other words, I am 100% open on all channels to hear about new books. Go ahead, breaker, I’m all ears.

hennrikus-web2 Julie Hennrikus: I find out about books several ways. First, in my mystery writing community, I have a lot of author friends. I try to support them if possible. And in my mystery reading world, I have a few authors and series I read. I always go the the “staff recommendations” sections of libraries and bookstores as well. And then if I hear or see an author interview, I will take note of the author. One idea I have started to use–when I hear of a book I want to remember, I download a sample on my Kindle. It becomes my to be read pile.

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: Like many of the other writers here, I live for books and as a result I have far too many. Does this stop me from buying more? Nope. I like ideas and books encompass new ideas. If someone recommends a book, like Jamie does in her Saturday posts, I’ll check it out. If I listen to a show that references a book on a topic I’m interested in, I pull out my amazon One Click (which is glorious and dangerous option) and it’s on its way. When friends write books, I get copies. When I read a review in a magazine that sounds particularly good, I’m there.Basically, if I catch some excitement about a book, I check it out.

I don’t do drugs, but I definitely do books – they are my fix in life.

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Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

This week’s question is part of a series based on 100th episode (“Ask The Readers Anything” ) of the UK-based podcast, The Readers. We thought it would be interesting (and fun!) to answer these questions from the perspective of writers who also (obviously) love to read. 

QUESTION: If you could coerce or inspire any retired or deceased author to write again, which author would you choose and what would you have them write?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: If I could I would ask Harper Lee to write another novel. I was in an advanced reading program when I was in 5th grade and we read a couple of classics that had children as main characters in them–To Kill a Mockingbird was one of them and I loved it and have never forgotten that first reading of it. I was always sad that Harper Lee hasn’t written any more novels.



Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I’d love to read more from Shirley Jackson (no relation to the author, although I do have an aunt with that name!) “The Lottery” is the first short story I remember having made an impact with me – I was pulled into the story immediately and didn’t see the ending coming. I think it was my first foray into dark fiction – the dark side of human nature (which scares me more than monsters).

I’d say she could write anything she’d like, short or long. Or if she doesn’t feel like writing something, I’d be happy to sit with her and chat about writing. I won’t be picky!


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: I’m going to go with Kurt Vonnegut. I have always loved Vonnegut’s books and have a re-read of Galapagos planned soon. His official bio on vonnegut.com captures beautifully why I am drawn to his writing, “His chaotic fictional universe abounds in wonder, coincidence, randomness and irrationality.” Vonnegut’s writing has a wry sense of humor, a deep intelligence, and a heartbreaking sense of sadness. He is also someone who says what he means and means what he says. And he doesn’t pull any punches. In addition to his fiction, I very much enjoyed his collection of essays, A Man Without A Country. There is nothing particular I would wish Vonnegut to write. I just think the world – literary and otherwise – would be a better place with him in it.

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: Hands down, J.K. Rowling. I realize that she is still writing, but I so want to go back to that whole wonderful world of Harry Potter. It was such a huge part of my and my children’s lives, I feel like it was a real place. I want more, much more of that magic.


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