Monday, February 5, 2018

Reads for Writers: Tribe of Mentors by Timothy Ferriss

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

            I am reading Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World by Timothy Ferriss who asks over 130 people from all walks of life the same 11 questions including: What book do you give as a gift the most or what one to three books have most influenced your life? What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life? How has failure set you up for later success? If you could have one gigantic billboard, what would it say? In the last five years, what new belief or habit has most improved your life?  

Here are some of my favorite quotes by authors/writers:

“…Real work and real satisfaction come from the opposite of what the web provides. They come from going deep into something—the book you’re writing, the album, the movie—and staying there a long, long time,” says Steven Pressfield. (page 9)

“…Obsess over figuring out the funnest, most exciting, most natural shape of yourself as a writer and start doing that…” Tim Urban (page 47)

“…Don’t let someone knock you off course before you reach your destination. Trust the work. Always trust the work,” says Soman Chainani. (page 72) “Make sure you have something every day you’re looking forward to…,” (page 73)

“…the metric I now use to judge my efforts and goals is: Did I do my best, given who I was and what I knew at that particular time? And what can I learn from the outcome to make my best better next time?” says Neil Strauss (page 98)

“Courage over comfort,” says Brene Brown. (page 233)

“Don’t let the weight of fear weigh down the joy of curiosity,” says Peter Guber. (page 281)

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear,” says Aisha Tyler quoting Jack Canfield (page 432)

       Thanks to Tribe of Mentors, I have many new titles on my reading list as well as a lot of good advice from writers and many other successful people.

The book is a great gift idea, especially for new graduates. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

For Avid Readers: Books That Recommend Themselves

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

All of these books have characters or the author recommending many other books. As an avid reader, I can never have enough book recommendations. Enjoy!


          Ann Hood’s memoir, Morningstar: Growing Up with Books, is a perfect example. As she shares her childhood memories of growing up in West Warwick, RI, she also discusses books she read that expanded her horizons. As the daughter of immigrants that couldn’t or didn’t have time to read, there were no books in her home so Hood cherished any book she could get her hands on at school, the library, or, joy of all joys, a bookstore.

When she was only four, Hood had one thought: “I want to live inside a book.” Later, she decided to be an author and make her wish come true.

          Join her as she reminisces about Little Women, Marjorie Morningstar, The Bell Jar, A Stone for Danny Fisher, The Harrad Experiment, Rabbit, Run, and many more books that impacted her life and career.

          Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Dirda shares his love of books in Browsings: A Year of Reading, Collecting, and Living with Books. In his essays, Dirda covers favorite authors, books, and thoughts on writing and the times we live in as well as what he reads while traveling. His On Conan Doyle memoir is also a great read. (See post dated 11/23/15.)


If mysteries are of interest:

The Secret, Book & Scone Society, by Ellery Adams, is set in Miracle Springs, a delightful town that is known for a healing spa that attracts many tourists. There is also a bookstore run by Nora, a bibliotherapist—a person who knows just which books customers need to read—and a bakery owned by Hester that specializes in off-the-menu comfort scones—original, made-to-order scones with the fragrance and taste guaranteed to bring back fond memories to each customer.

One visitor who meets Nora on a bench in town needs her help, but first he takes her advice to buy a comfort scone then head to the bookstore for recommendations, but he never arrives—suicide or murder? The disreputable and misogynist sheriff deems it suicide without much of an investigation. Nora, Hester, June, a worker at the thermal pools, and Estella, a beauty salon owner, are determined to get answers and so the Secret, Book & Scone Society is founded.

          Ellery Adams has written many other books including a book retreat series, starting with Murder in the Mystery Suite, set in a small town in Virginia. It’s the home of Storyton Hall, a 50-bedroom mansion privately owned, but run as a hotel for bibliophiles. There are several libraries and reading rooms for visitors including the Jane Austen Parlor, the Ian Fleming Lounge, the Isak Dinesen Safari Room, the Daphne du Maurier Morning Room, and the Beatrix Potter Playroom.

          Owned by Aloysius and Octavia Steward, their widowed grandniece, Jane, manages the hotel as well as her six-year-old twin boys. She is also planning a murder mystery event which, of course, turns deadly seemingly over the book given to the winner of a scavenger hunt.

          Jane is shaken by this event, but her life turns upside down when her aunt has a stroke and the Steward family secrets about Storyton Hall are imparted to her.

          The adventure continues in Murder in the Paperback Parlor and Murder in the Secret Garden.

          The Three Pines series by Louise Penny is set in a tiny village in Canada just north of the Vermont border. Centered around a village green, there is a gourmet bistro, a B&B,  a general store, a bakery, and a bookstore owned by a retired therapist.

Residents are friendly as most have lived there their whole lives, but how well do people ever really know each other when one of them is a murderer? Inspector Gamache and his big-city homicide team are going to find out in Still Life.

          The 13-book series continues with crimes that lead back to or take place in Three Pines, but Inspector Gamache and his team are also under attack from within the police force. Mistakes are made. People die. But through it all, Inspector Gamache stands for justice. (See post dated 8/14/17).


          Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver includes poems she has written during her over 50-year career. Known especially for her poems about nature, this book gives readers a feel for her work as each section is based on one of her previous books. If you enjoy any of them, you can read even more by going to the original books. As a dog owner, I am a big fan of her pieces from Dog Songs, but most of her poems speak to me so I’ve read a dozen of her books.

          I also recommend Blue Pastures for all writers. Selections from this book are not included in Devotions, but Blue Pastures tells the story of how Mary Oliver came to be a writer and poet. (See posts dated 3/21/16 & 4/4/16.)

          Just for Fun:

          I’ve discovered a series of inspirational paperback journals (Write Now Journals) with fun and/or thoughtful quotes and drawings on the covers and throughout. Among my favorites are: “I must be a mermaid..I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.” –Anais Nin; (a dog-themed journal) “…our friend for always and always and always.” –Rudyard Kipling; and “Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.” –Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati.

These are fabulous pages for jotting or recording books you’ve read or books you want to read. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

One Thought a Day: A Five Year Memory Journal

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          A few years ago I watched a documentary about a photographer in his early 60s who decided he needed to shake up his life. He had spent years traveling all over the world taking photographs for magazines, but one year, starting on January 1st, he gave himself a new assignment. He was staying close to home and taking only one photograph a day.

          He lived with his wife in a cabin somewhere in the snowy MidWest. Every day he would set out on a walk with his camera knowing he could only take one photograph. Not one scene that he could frame and reframe, but just one shot—good or bad.

          He would look around on his walk noticing trees, birds, prairie grass, brooks and ponds, deer, and once a wolf. He could see interesting and gorgeous scenes everywhere, but knew he could only shoot one. He had to pay attention so he didn’t miss a shot, but he also had to consider that there might be a better one on the other side of a hill, in the woods, or by the water.

          Once he took his photograph, he walked back home still looking for shots even though he couldn’t take them. Sometimes he saw scenes that might have made better photographs and sometime he didn’t.

          Since this was a documentary, a camera crew was following his every move so viewers got to see the scenes he didn’t shoot as well as the ones he did. All his choices and the consequences were captured on film.

I thought he was courageous to limit himself to one shot a day when photography is his livelihood as well as his passion. He had to work harder to find the shot of the day knowing all along if he waited he might find a better shot or not—a gamble every day.

I’ve decided to follow his lead.

I just came across a journal entitled One Thought a Day: A Five Year Memory Journal. My choices will be a bit easier as I can reflect at the end of the day which memory to record, but I will also be paying attention to moments during the day so I have lots of choices to consider.

It all comes down to paying attention to life—to what’s happening right now—savoring it even as another moment starts. Then reflecting on these moments to choose which one I appreciate the most.

Or should I be as daring as the photographer and choose during the day knowing a more memorable moment might be missed?

Well it won’t be missed because I’ll be looking for these moments. It just won’t make it into the journal—so maybe I’ll have two: one fearlessly choosing a moment in the moment and one at the end of the day. It will be interesting to see how often they are the same moment. Also, having a record of two memorable moments each day will make for a great year.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 18, 2017

The Power of the Pen

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          As a writer, I love pens. I have two favorite brands, but I’m open to trying new ones.

          I’m always looking for light-weight, fast-writing pens. My thoughts come to me more quickly than I can write them down so I don’t need a heavy pen that slows me down.

It also helps if the pens are nice to look at as I often stare at my writing hand while I wait for inspiration.

Recently, I discovered a set of six ballpoint pens, sold in two-packs. They range in color from white to pinks to blue to purples. But that isn’t the only reason I like them. Each one has a message on the barrel.

When I look down and see FIERCE AND FABULOUS or BADASS AND BRILLIANT or RISK TAKER, I’m motivated to write fearlessly. MAKE IT EPIC, UNSTOPPABLE, and GET IT DONE work well at deadline.

They make me feel more powerful as I write with them.

They also make great gifts. A friend just said to me that she wants to be a Badass in 2018. Well now I have the perfect gift for her as well as some of my other friends. Who doesn’t want to be a Risk Taker and Unstoppable?

Here’s to a fierce and fabulous New Year!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Bonus Post: Perfect Gift for a Writer

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          It’s the gift-giving time of year—so what to buy for the person who has everything, or an office gift, or something for a writer? How about a wall clock? I discovered some fun ones online.

          If you know a dancer, there’s a clock that says only “and 5 6 7 8.” For those who enjoy adult beverages, a clock with all 5s as it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. For musicians, a clock with various notes that equal the usual numbers. Also, a Dr. Who spiral of numbers clock for Sci-Fi fans.

          There’s a Who Cares, I’m Retired clock and a Whatever, I’m Late Anyway clock both with all the numbers in a pile at the bottom of the face of the clock; ones with math equations instead of numbers; and one that has the word Now in every spot instead of numbers.

For writers, the clock has no numbers just “write now” across the face. Of course, that’s my favorite. Genius! 

You name it, there seems to be a clock perfect for everyone. Gift shopping done!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Be a Fearless Writing Warrior

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

Fearless Writing in action: Don’t write what you know. Write what you love.

According to William Kenower, author of Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence, “Love is the foundation on which every successful writing career is built.” (page 43)

I can attest to this. I love my over-15-year-long writing career.

Every month for two magazines and their Facebook pages, I write at least five essays and every topic is one I love. While the word counts run from 450-1,000, I can write them on demand simply because I choose topics I love. Words just flow out onto the page. When the words stop, then I rewrite, revise, edit, and polish until I’m happy with the essay and it meets the word count. This doesn’t even feel like work, but it does take a lot of time.

I also write several articles monthly. While I don’t always get to choose the topics, I love writing these articles so readers discover something new or are entertained, or, hopefully, both. In truth, this feels more like work, but it’s work I love so I count myself lucky.

Added to that, I’ve spent over five years writing weekly posts for this blog. It’s never felt like work because I’m writing about writing—a topic I love.

In another example, best-selling author Louise Penny notes she had spent five years writing a book she thought she should write. Frustrated, she looked at her nightstand and saw only murder mysteries, which she loved, and realized she was writing the wrong book.

Now writing a book a year, she is thirteen books into her Inspector Gamache series. She has won five Agatha Awards and the loyalty of legions of fans as well—including me.

Write what you love and you will never be afraid of a blank page.

You’ll also be a Fearless Writing Warrior.

Next post will be on January 1, 2018.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Fearless Writing Warrior Moves to Monthly Posts

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

As I wrote last week: I’m at a crossroad. Do I continue to encourage others to write even though Fearless Writing: How to Create Boldly and Write with Confidence by William Kenower is the best book on writing/being a writer I’ve ever read? (Frankly, if you want to be a writer read that book. If it doesn’t help you write I honestly don’t know what will.) Do I stop writing the blog and concentrate on my writing projects that have been planned, but now, motivated by Fearless Writing, I’m raring to complete and generate income? Or do I also write the blog as a Fearless Writing Warrior (FWW) as Cheryl now calls us?

I have decided to continue writing the blog as a Fearless Writing Warrior. I am changing this blog to a once a month post as I have a lot of writing to do for my income-generating projects.

Please check in on the first Monday of each month to see fearless writing in action.