It’s Thanksgiving Week – What Are You Grateful For?

This Thursday is Thanksgiving in the U.S. and many people have the day off (and some even have Friday off for a 4-day weekend).

For the most part I’ll have the 4-day weekend to do what I want, including working on my NaNo novel (National Novel Writing Month). I’m a lot behind on the word count, but I’m determined to hit that 50,000 word goal by midnight on Nov 30th. Very grateful for the quiet time!

I enjoy this time of year, in particular, to take more time to pause, reflect on the year-to-date, and to give thanks.

  • I’m thankful for my family, friends, roommate, and exceptional business associates.
  • I’m grateful for my accountability system that includes tools, of course, but most importantly weekly, monthly, and annual checkins with fellow writers.
  • I’m thankful for new writing opportunities.
  • I’m grateful for variety in many things – music, friends, work, projects, exercise routines, places to work, adventures to try, and places to visit.
  • I’m thankful for my new place – its convenience to everything important to me, its newness, layout, accessories, and size.
  • I’m grateful for technology that enables me to work from anywhere at any time.
  • I’m thankful for this blog – my co-bloggers and you readers – I’m always learning something new!

If you’re traveling this holiday – I wish you the safest and smoothest travels and hope you make great family memories.

If people are coming to your home, I wish you many hands to make meal prep easy and that you can find a few minutes to take a breath and appreciate those gathered around you.

(I’m also thankful for fleece socks, flannel sheets, new journals to write in, and new books to read.)

What are you grateful or thankful for as we approach the end of 2016?

Special note: Over the next few days, we’ll be moving to If you have trouble reaching us, please be patient as the new domain name resolves. Thanks for your patience! The NHWN Team.

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Writer’s Weekend Edition – On Finding My (Civic) Voice

pin-innocent-wordsWhen we writers talk about “voice,” we are usually thinking of our artistic voice. I have written a number of posts about literary voice including this one and this one. But the changing political and social landscape of the country I live in has me pondering a different kind of voice.

The piece I’m sharing today is a column that I wrote for my local paper just before the election. I hesitated to submit it to my editor because both the topic and tone were a departure for me. Most of my columns, which are read by friends and neighbors and acquaintances that I may run into on the street, are about the seasons, family, and nature. My themes are usually about slowing down, taking time to appreciate the small things, and being kind to each other.

Despite the small voice of concern in my head, I did submit the column; and now that the election is over, I find that I am revisiting these words with renewed attention and a deeper sense of responsibility.

··• )o( •··

Politics is not even remotely my area of expertise. Growing up, I paid little attention to elections because I didn’t really grasp that the machinations of politics ultimately affected my life directly. For that reason, politics existed for me in a sort of blind spot. They were “important” but not “urgent,” so they routinely slid to the bottom of my priority list. Other than the discussions we had in social studies class, I was blissfully (in retrospect, embarrassingly) unaware of a great deal of what was going on in the world, never mind right here in the United States.

As a young adult, I tried to be more informed and I voted, but I still didn’t invest that much time in learning about the various candidates and issues that appeared on the ballots. I trusted my gut instincts (as untrained as they were) and typically voted along party lines. I did what I did more out of a sense of civic duty than a belief that I was actually making any kind of difference.

Then I became a mom, and the gravity of politics was suddenly much more tangible as I contemplated how certain political outcomes would change my daughter’s life for better or for worse. I no longer suffered from cynicism or apathy because my stakes in the game had changed.

And now we have this unprecedented election — an election that has been, without question, one of the most overwhelming, stressful, and depressing political events in recent history. What I’ve witnessed over the course of the last year or so has left me by turns confused, shocked, infuriated, disgusted, and terrified. And, I’m sure that voters supporting the other side of the ticket feel much the same as I do, only for different reasons. Fair enough.

The sordid details of this election have literally kept me up at night. And yet, except for a small circle of family and friends, I do not share my political opinions with many people, either privately or publicly. Though I have very strong feelings about certain policy topics and about certain questions of human decency, for the most part I unleash those feelings only within the privacy of my own home. After all, politics is not my area of expertise and — like religion — it is not considered a topic for polite conversation.

But I’m beginning to feel that avoiding conflict in order to preserve comfort is a problem. I’m beginning to realize that being “polite” can enable the bad behavior of less respectful individuals. I’m beginning to feel the rumbling growl of my inner mama bear telling me that it’s time to learn to speak up.

Because though I am not a political pundit, my voice matters. Just because the other person shouts louder doesn’t make my opinion any less valid. I may be relatively new to the political arena, but I’ve spent a lifetime as a human being, which makes my insights just as valuable as the next person’s.

As the grueling campaign journey begins to wind down, I have found myself drawn to the middle-grade fantasy adventure novels that I loved when I was a kid. At first, I didn’t recognize this pastime for the coping mechanism it is; but once I’d thought about it, it made perfect sense.

Those stories are the ones in which the heroes and heroines are smaller, younger, and less well equipped than their foes. The protagonists in those tales aren’t experts and their opinions are often ignored by grown ups. But despite their lack of resources and experience, the kids always figure out a way to defeat the monster and save the day. And as they battle their foe, the kids learn and grow. They find the confidence and courage to speak their minds.

Politics will never be my area of expertise, and it may never be yours, either. But that doesn’t mean that our votes and voices don’t matter.

Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.

Site Admin Note: Over the next few days, we’ll be moving to If you have trouble reaching us, we hope you’ll be patient as the new domain name resolves. Thanks so much from the NHWN Team.

Photo Credit: DiariVeu – Flickr via Compfight cc

Listen up writers, we have work to do

If the recent U.S. Presidential Election has shown us anything, it’s that we are a lazy people with regard to how we get our news.

Far too many of us have relied on social media for all of our news needs. And why not? It’s a lot faster than sitting down and watching a half hour of news on the TV and besides who wants to see another piece about the economy where there are PUPPIES!! to look at?

We have become complacent. We have accepted as truth too many stories shared on social media not because they contained verified facts but because they got our attention by first being sensationalistic and then by filling us with blatant lies. That’s how they hook you in – it’s called click-bait. People get paid big bucks for this.

That’s not news. That’s brain rot.

But we hit that share button, didn’t we? (I have to admit, I’ve been guilty as charged.) Gee, don’t know if it’s true, but take a look at this one!

I was recently privy to a Facebook political page where the following discussion took place:

“Anti-Trump: I am willing to give him a chance but his hiring Bannon makes that extremely hard to do.

Trump supporter: I am very happy that you are willing to give him a chance, thank you. I think he deserves that chance. But again, I have no idea who Bannon is so I can’t even reply to that, I’m sorry.”

Here’s a suggestion. If you don’t know who Bannon is, then sit down and shut up.

Sit. Down.

Or better yet look him up. Seriously, do a Google search on Bannon and then tell me what you think.

We, through our complacent ignorance, through our click-bait “articles”, and our never ending lust for making heroes out of reality TV stars have brought this entirely upon ourselves.

We know more about bachelors and real wives then we do about political appointees. For the love of America, the world, and all that is good – things absolutely have to change. They simply must.

So what can we do?

  • First and foremost- limit your time on Social Media. Guess what? Facebook and Twitter are not real life. They’re an insulated bubble in which all your like-minded friend have a protected conversation. If someone says something you don’t like – it’s easy enough to block them. In real life, you can’t block people – you have to listen to them. Start talking to real people. .
  • Stop sharing news that is not news. What someone wore on the red carpet while interesting is NOT news – stop pretending that it is.
  • Start vetting “news” that you see on your pages. If it’s a lie call it out. There are sites like Snopes that research suspicious articles.
  • While there is free speech, no one needs to put up with unacceptable hateful rhetoric. Identify it when you see it. Don’t allow someone to bully or say hateful things in the name of Freedom of Speech – they’re just being a jerk. Let them know.
  • Subscribe to a reputable newspaper – Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post are a few – there is absolutely no excuse for anyone not knowing who the alt-right poster boy is in America. (And if you don’t know what alt-right means, please, please, please, look it up.) Papers have been dying because of the internet. Subscribe to a good one to make sure that we continue to get unbiased news from respectable journalists.
  • Expand your horizons. Begin watching news hours from trustworthy non-biased agencies like NPR and BBC – believe it or not there is an entire world outside of America.
  • Take a look at the list at the bottom of this post compiled by Melissa Zimdars, a communication and media professor from Merrimack College in Massachusetts, of fake news sites and stop getting your news from these sources. Immediately.

As writers, it is absolutely imperative that we go forward with eyes wide open. It is our responsibility to use our words in order to raise awareness, to identify injustice, and to tell the truth. We have a powerful tool – we need to powerfully wield  our swords.

Be critical.

Be intelligent.

Do your job.


The following is the list of fake news sites compiled by Melissa Zimdars, a communication and media professor from Merrimack College in Massachusetts.

As an update to this post, the following has been reported by the L.A. Times –

UPDATE: Nov. 17, 5:52 p.m.:The professor who created the list has taken down the Google doc. She said it was a safety measure in response to threats and harassment she and her students and colleagues had received. She is continuing to work on it and plans to release it in the future in a format other than a Google doc.

False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources

Disclaimer 1: All of the contents in this document reflect the opinion of the author and are for educational purposes only. This resource was split into categories around 8:00pm EST on 11/15/16.

CATEGORY 1: Below is a list of fake, false, or regularly misleading websites that are shared on Facebook and social media. Some of these websites may rely on “outrage” by using distorted headlines and decontextualized or dubious information in order to generate likes, shares, and profits. These websites are categorized with the number 1 next to them.

CATEGORY 2: Some websites on this list may circulate misleading and/or potentially unreliable information, and they are marked with a 2.

CATEGORY 3: Other websites on this list sometimes use clickbait-y headlines and social media descriptions, and they are marked with a 3.

CATEGORY 4: Other sources on this list are purposefully fake with the intent of satire/comedy, which can offer important critical commentary on politics and society, but have the potential to be shared as actual/literal news. I’m including them here, for now, because 1.) they have the potential to perpetuate misinformation based on different audience (mis)interpretations and 2.) to make sure anyone who reads a story by The Onion, for example, understands its purpose. If you think this is unnecessary, please see Literally Unbelievable.

Note: I will be updating the categorizations and adding links gradually through the next couple of days.

Many of the websites on this list continue to offer valuable journalism and/or satirical commentary. For example, a website included on this list wrote an overall thoughtful piece about the list, but the headline suggests that every source on this list is fake, which misrepresents the list. Finally, I do not condone plug-ins that automatically block any of the websites listed below. And as a reminder, not all of the sources listed below should be considered fake. (2,3) (1) (2, 3) (1) The Free Thought Project (3) (1) Politicalo (1) (2, 3) *Website Removed* (temporarily) PoliticusUSA
Addicting Info (3) (1) (3) (includes 4)
Associated Media Coverage ProjectVeritas Huzlers (4) *Website Removed* (temporarily)
Being Liberal IfYouOnlyNews React 365 Indecision Forever (1) IJR (Independent Journal Review) (1, 4)
Bipartisan Report (3) InfoWars (1, 2)
BizPac Review Red State (3)
Blue Nation Review (2,3) Reductress (4)
Breitbart (2, 3) (1, 4)
Call the Cops (4) Satira Tribune
Cap News  (4) (4) (4) Liberal America The Blaze The Free Thought Project (3) (1) LibertyUnyielding Borowitz Report (4) (4) The Onion (4) (2) LMR/ The Other 98% (3)
CollectiveEvolution (3) (1) The Reporterz (2) (1) The Stately Harold (2) (1)
ConspiracyWire ( (2) (1) (2) Naha Daily (4) National Report
*Website Removed* (temporarily) (1) (1) (3) NC Scooper NCT (New Century Times) *Website Removed* (temporarily)   
*Website Removed* (temporarily) News Examiner USA Supreme
Daily Wire (1) US.Blasting.News (1) US Uncut (3) (1) Newslo (1, 4) (1, 4) *Website Removed*

(temporarily) Newswatch 28 (1) Newswatch 33 Winning Democrats (4) World Net Daily Now8News World News Daily Report (4)
Empire Herald
Empire News (1) Occupy Democrats (3) ZeroHedge

Tips for analyzing news sources:

  • Avoid websites that end in “lo” ex: Newslo (above). These sites take pieces of accurate information and then packaging that information with other false or misleading “facts” (sometimes for the purposes of satire or comedy).
  • Watch out for websites that end in “” as they are often fake versions of real news sources  
  • Watch out if known/reputable news sites are not also reporting on the story. Sometimes lack of coverage is the result of corporate media bias and other factors, but there should typically be more than one source reporting on a topic or event.
  • Odd domain names generally equal odd and rarely truthful news.
  • Lack of author attribution may, but not always, signify that the news story is suspect and requires verification.
  • Some news organizations are also letting bloggers post under the banner of particular news brands; however, many of these posts do not go through the same editing process (ex: BuzzFeed Community Posts, Kinja blogs, Forbes blogs).
  • Check the “About Us” tab on websites or look up the website on Snopes or Wikipedia for more information about the source.
  • Bad web design and use of ALL CAPS can also be a sign that the source you’re looking at should be verified and/or read in conjunction with other sources.
  • If the story makes you REALLY ANGRY it’s probably a good idea to keep reading about the topic via other sources to make sure the story you read wasn’t purposefully trying to make you angry (with potentially misleading or false information) in order to generate shares and ad revenue.
  • It’s always best to read multiple sources of information to get a variety of viewpoints and media frames. Some sources not yet included in this list (although their practices at times may qualify them for addition), such as The Daily Kos, The Huffington Post, and Fox News, vacillate between providing important, legitimate, problematic, and/or hyperbolic news coverage, requiring readers and viewers to verify and contextualize information with other sources.

Bio: I am an assistant professor of communication & media, and this list started as a resource for my students, who are learning about journalism/social media/media literacy.

Update 1: I’ve received hundreds of emails with suggestions, very few of which are duplicates, so it will take me a while to sift through and verify them. I will add them as appropriate. (EDIT 11/15/2016 @ 3:42 EST: I have a list of sources, suggested by all of you, that will take me a long time to get through)

Update 2: Yes, I am considering further coding/categorizing these sources for clarity and creating a more durable/dynamic database. This is likely just step 1.

Update 3: Some people are asking which news sources I trust, and all I can say is that I read/watch/listen very widely, from mainstream, corporate owned sources (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes) as well as The Atlantic, National Public Radio, and various local and alternative sources with different political perspectives, some of which are included on this list. The problem: Even typically reliable sources, whether mainstream or alternative, corporate or nonprofit, rely on particular media frames to report stories and select stories based on different notions of newsworthiness. The best thing to do in our contemporary media environment is to read/watch/listen widely and often, and to be critical of the sources we share and engage with on social media.

Update 4: A group of AWESOME librarians will be working with this list to provide more detail, examples of the news articles in question, etc. I will post what they make here when it is complete.

Update 5: It should be noted I’m not the first person to call out some of these websites. When I first started compiling this specific large list on Monday, some friends alerted me to many websites doing similar and great work, such as Ed Brayton’s recent post at Patheos (I included many of the websites on his list after checking them myself if I was unfamiliar). I plan on providing more links to outside resources in the near future.

© 2016  by Melissa Zimdars.

The work ‘False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical “News” Sources

is made  available  under a  Creative Commons

Attribution 4.0  International  License. To  view  a copy of  this license, visit


Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). ( She writes about her chickens for GRIT, Backyard Poultry, Chicken Community, and Mother Earth News.

When We Expand

When we do big things that require a lot of effort, it’s normal to feel a little let down after the fact.

When we expand, it’s normal to contract a little—to try to go back to the way things used to be. But once we expand, we can’t go back to the way we were. We have to learn to inhabit our new, bigger, life. We need to get used to who we are now.

It takes a little while for that to happen.

I have noticed this expansion—contraction—too spacious—just right—process for many years.

It happens every time I go on a retreat or attend a conference where I focus on just one aspect of myself or my life.

It happens every time my husband and I reach a new level of understanding with each other.

It happens every time I go from seeing myself as a student to seeing myself as a teacher.

It happens every time I complete NaNo. (Go NaNoWrMos!)

It happens every time I try to do something I’m not quite sure I can do—whatever the outcome: Because the catalyst to me being bigger is my effort, not the result.

I have been having this feeling of having a little too much space this week—I’m a little scattered, a little unfocused. Luckily, I’ve been here before so I know what to do.

In this case, I’ve been studying for the Family Medicine boards for months. Last week I traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to attend a Family Medicine Review Course, where I earned 56 hours of CME credit.

On Monday, I sat for the Family Medicine Recertification Exam. It’s an 8-hour test on general Family Medicine knowledge.

No matter the outcome, I am different for having made the effort to take (and pass!) the exam. I’m bigger.

So this week I’m rattling around inside my life, trying to figure out what to do next.

The only thing I really have to do is give myself permission to process this most recent effort, before moving on to the next.

I’m taking a few deep breaths, taking care of a few mundane chores that were neglected recently, and enjoying having done something difficult.

For everyone who is in the midst of NaNo and for everyone who is tackling some other new project or way of thinking: Can you give yourself permission to take a little time to become this new person? Just allow it to unfold.

When you do, you will honor your process and allow whatever’s next to reveal itself to you in it’s own time, rather than trying to muscle it into reality.

This is the process that works for me. Will it work for you?

Diane MacKinnon, MD, Master Certified Life CoachDiane MacKinnon: Hi, I’m the slacker who’s not doing NaNo this year! But really, you can’t do everything, right? Even though I sometimes (often) convince myself I can do everything, this year I’ve finally faced reality–at least with regard to NaNo! Best wishes to everyone slogging through their daily word counts!





Telling Stories

On August 15, 2016, we started our hike from Massachusetts to Canada on The Long Trail.

On August 15, 2016, we started telling stories as we hiked from Massachusetts to Canada on The Long Trail.

Hiking eleven hours a day is hard, but it was never boring, because my hiking buddy and I took turns telling stories.

Jan and I met in college and have been living apart ever since: she in Alaska and me in Vermont. We’ve kept in touch with infrequent letters before email and Facebook, rarely saw each other, and never phoned.

All I can say is: we were busy. We had careers and jobs, husbands, children, and nearby friends. Nevertheless, the friendship we formed in college has sustained us through long periods of separation. Hiking the Long Trail was a chance to catch up.


Jan started by narrating the story of her recent divorce, ending a marriage that appeared rock solid for thirty-seven years, until he fell in love with a co-worker. It took about five days to tell it from beginning to end, during which time we covered fifty-five miles over two significant mountains. But who noticed? I was too busy listening.

Storytelling helped us endure the effort of hiking nearly 300 miles in 25 days.

Storytelling helped us endure the effort of hiking nearly 300 miles in 25 days.

Generally, I walked ahead and set the pace while Jan served as my live audiobook, telling me a story that’s rich, complex, heartbreaking and wonderful. Yes, wonderful. While the process of decoupling was at times harrowing and heartbreaking, Jan is on a new path of enormous personal growth. And in addition to the through line – the divorce – Jan filled me in with lots of backstory about her last thirty-odd years in Juneau, stories about her children, her siblings, parents, co-workers, and friends.

Eventually, Jan’s story caught up to the present and it was my turn. I told Jan about my work “advancing issues through narrative; telling stories to create change,” about my life in small-town Vermont, my children, my brothers, my parents, my friends. I also told Jan about my surprising thirty-year marriage.

Right after I decided I would never marry, I met Tim, pictures with me here, thirty years later.

A month after I decided I would never marry, I met Tim, pictured with me here, thirty years later.

Right after college, I was the one who decided I’d rather be single than marry one of men I’d dated and dumped. In July of 1984, I’d decided I’d probably never get married or have kids, and I was okay with that. In August, I met Tim. Jan’s never dated, so I told her the stories that led me to develop my rule: the worst thing about a partner had to be better than the worst thing about living alone.

Since we were walking the length of Vermont, I also told her stories about the Green Mountain State – history, personalities and politics – topics I’ve researched for two novels, countless commentaries and many public lectures.


At day’s end, we took time for quiet reflection.

Occasionally, one of us would ask for fifteen minutes of silence. It never lasted that long. Almost all the time we were walking, we talked. This may help explain while we never saw any charismatic mega-fauna like deer or moose; they would have heard us coming. But once we made camp, we stopped. Off the trail, we retreated to quiet reflection.


We quickly realized that storytelling helped us endure the effort of hiking nearly 300 miles in 25 days.

Once we’d run out of autobiography, we told stories about mutual friends, about books we’d read, about movies and plays we’d seen, music we’d heard and other adventures we’d had in different parts of the world.

And because we’re both the sort of people who like to find meaning in what we do, we carried on a meta-discussion about the hike itself: what we were learning from walking day after day over challenging terrain. This led to Lessons From the Long Trail, a series of essays which you can read on my blog.


Storytelling is a distinctly human activity. It’s how we make sense of the world, and how we connect with others. Telling stories shapes our experience, and hearing them expands our knowledge. Knowing the same stories creates community.

Telling stories is central to the human experience. Being a storyteller is an honorable job. Keep writing your stories.

At the US-Canadian border on Day 25.

At the US-Canadian border on Day 25.

Deborah Lee Luskin tells stories every Wednesday on her blog.

Building Confidence As a… Writer (9)

Sorry for the lean week of posts last week, readers! We’ll be better this week.

beinghappyI’m going to call this series a wrap after today. The past 8 weeks have talked about building confidence as a writer, with posts covering: early morning feel good, daily writing, eating for energy, act-as-if, focus on others, plan to avoid panic, appreciate your differences, and list accomplishments at the end of the day.

Most of these tips can be used for any aspect of your daily life, not just a writing-focused one.

Today’s tip is to soak up the good mojo by hanging around positive, happy people. I refer to it as ‘finding your tribe.’

These people can be:

  • Other writers
  • Small business owners
  • Readers (of your type of writing)
  • Locals (neighbors, people you meet at the local cafe, and so on)
  • Those you connect with through networking
  • Members of any organizations you belong to (writing & non-writing)
  • Social media connections
  • Fellow gym members, walking friends, hiking buddies, and so on
  • Clients
  • Fellow hobbyists (areas other than writing)

In New Hampshire, an organization that I find quite full of happy supportive people is Women Inspiring Women. I’ve made several great connections through networking on LinkedIn, particularly the 603 Networking Group (almost 6,000 people to connect with in the state). I also have friends with great inspirational posts all the time – Charlene and Steve. And they each have *so many* inspiring connections, that it’s easy to find a smile-along-with-a-kick-in-the-pants when I need one.

In my fiction life, I have fellow mystery author friends and connections through Sisters in Crime New England. And this month, there are fellow writers I’m meeting at NH regional “write ins” for National Novel Writing Month.

You can find your ‘tribe’ just about anywhere – they are the people you are attracted to and who are attracted to you for mutual support, inspiration, and camaraderie. They are people who can lift you up when you need a boost, hold you accountable for goals you’ve set, and be a familiar face in a crowd when you need one.

Having coffee, or lunch, or a drink, or an ice cream with someone from your tribe on a regular basis is great for giving you perspective, pulling you out of the isolation that writing can create, and keeping you looking forward to achieving and doing more with your business.

positiveenergyWe can’t all be positive and happy every minute of every day, but like honey is better at attracting bees than vinegar, keeping a positive and happy mindset goes a long way to moving forward toward your dreams than a negative and upset mindset.

Where have you found your tribe? What type of people do you turn to when you need a positive or encouraging boost?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.