Coming Soon – a brand new website for book writers

I’m on the hunt for great stories to turn into books.

 

www.needhelpforbook.com is coming…..

 

Find the joy in your writing…

I’ve been writing a lot of years, since the early 1990’s.  I’ve written a novel, a self-help book, and self-published them, too.  I’ve written essays, articles for newspapers, for magazines, press releases, photo captions, blogs, website copy, enewsletters, most everything under the sun.

Now, I want to help others write:  maybe a book, a college essay, a college application essay, a press release, letters that get attention, whatever.  The list goes on.

I’ve experienced the joy of writing, and want to pass on what I’ve learned, the tactics I use, the rules I ignore, so that my client can experience that joy.

Unfortunately, we believe we can’t write, we can’t draw, we can’t sing.  We are so full of can’ts.

I say that you can.  Plain and simple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes the writing itself is its own reward

I am reading this wonderful book by the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert of the famous, Eat, Pray, Love memoir.  It’s a hard cover, so it was costly, but I knew it would be one of those books I’d keep always.  I’ve dog-eared practically every other page, and wrote in the margins, and added exclamation points where she and I heartily agree.

It’s part inspiration, part memoir about her writing practice, and it calms me down as a writer. All the crazy thoughts I have, she has had, and many goofy things she’s done as a writer makes me smile.  We writers are a tricky lot, we want to write, we think about it every day, and yet, rather than write, we clean out a closet.  We torture ourselves, and just knowing that everyone else does that, I feel a lot better

The fact is, we’re more concerned with the end result of our writing — the book, the finished manuscript, just wanting it DONE already.  That’s not helping.  We need to enjoy the writing journey.  Writing this blog, right now, is enjoyable for me now that I’ve opened up the laptop, given my dog a bone to chew so she’s not pawing at me to play, and have a bottle of water next to me so I don’t have to get up and make something to drink.  I’m enjoying taking the thoughts from my head, putting them onto this page, fixing this, tweaking that.  Maybe I’ll add a photo of the book, or a picture of the author.  Maybe I’ll add a nice quote, or a funny one.  Right now, I am the creator of this little blog universe.  It will be the best part of my day today.

What I want to share is that along with wanting to write a book, a memoir, a book of short stories, whatever, we gotta make room to enjoy the writing time. Period.  We need to look forward to that time alone with our thoughts, with the characters we’re going to write about.  If we are not enjoying the writing, even a little, then maybe we aren’t writing the right book.

 

magic

Celebrate the fact that you wrote for 15 minutes today, or that you wrote for an hour on Sunday.  Take away the guilt, and replace it with the desire to have that time of joy in your day.  Putting that time into your day makes you “join the club” so to speak with all the great writers that have been.  Now, that’s something to ponder.

This is how Elizabeth writes about the followup to her bestseller.   liz gilbert

“…I’d had a thrilling intellectual and emotional experience writing The Signature of All Things — and the  merits of that creative adventure were mine to keep forever. Those four years of my life had been wonderfully well spent.  When I finished the novel, it was not a perfect thing, but I still felt it was the best work I’d every done, and I believed I was a far better writer than I’d been before I began it.  I would not trade that encounter for anything.”

 

 

2-Day Writing Workshop: June 11 and June 25

Welcome summer with two writing workshops:

June 11 and 25, from 9am to 3pm

BumbleFly Enrichment Center, 32 Smith Clove Road, Central Valley

These two-day writing workshops offer:

  1. Ways to step on the ANTS – those pesty “automatic negative thoughts” that interfere with your writing.
  2. Relaxation techniques that open up your creativity.
  3. Writing exercises to help move your story along.
  4. Positive critiques about your writing project – so bring what you are working on to share.
  5. Time for informal discussions about the writing process
  6. A safe and warm environment to share your writing concerns
  7. Snacks and light beverages — and COFFEE!!

No matter where you are in your writing project: just starting out, halfway through, or just beginning.

(While I encourage you to attend both workshops, you do have the option of attending one if that’s all you can do.)

Limited to the first 10 who register.  I will confirm send confirmation emails to all attendees a week before.


Workshop Options



5 ways to stay motivated to write and finish your project

#1

 

When I did the informal survey recently of the one thing that you are struggling with, it all came back to “staying motivated.”  It’s one of those things that writers can’t avoid, but what works for one writer may not work with another.  It has to resonate with you, cause that inner resolve to kick in.  I listed the five that I use, and so far they’ve worked.  And, to tell you the truth, one way may work one day, and not another, so feel free to mix them up.

Send me what works for you and I’ll share it in a later blog.

#2

Okay, here goes:

The 5 best ways to stay motivated in your writing:     

  1. Remember the satisfaction you feel when you call yourself a writer.  Everyone in the middle of a project is a writer, and everyone who is contemplating a writing project is one as well:  they just don’t have the story completely down on paper.
  2. Remember that this writing project is not forever, and the sooner you get the first draft done, the faster the project will move along.  You will be able to return to your favorite TV shows before you know it, or whatever it is you do in your spare time.  (DVR your favorite shows and hold them as a treat for when you’ve done a few days of continuous writing.)  Treat yourself in other ways:  a Dunkin’ Donuts break, go read your favorite book, or play on the computer.
  3. Design and create a book cover for $5 from Fiverr.com.  You don’t have to even have a cover in mind, just give them the title, your author name, and the gist of your story, and let them design a cover.  Most of these artists are extremely talented, and this book cover can sit by your computer, ready to motivate you when you need it.  (I will create a blog on how to go about doing this.)
  4. Every week and every month that you let your project sit increases the chances that you will never get to it, or that you may actually leave this world without having done it.  As Dr. Wayne Dyer put it, “don’t die with your music still in you.”  Use this time on the planet to make your mark, get your story out, share your wisdom.
  5. I like positive affirmations and put them around my writing station:  one says “I will write my novel and have it completed by the end of 2016.”  And, then I take the New York Times bestseller list, white out the number 1 title, and then neatly print my book title at the top.  Look at it every day as a reminder that your book is just as deserving to be on that list.

I’m planning to host more writing workshops at BumbleFly this spring. I’d love to know if you’re interested, and if weeknights or weekends are preferable.

Be well, and stay warm,

MJ

Thanks for the memories

Blog, blog, blog.  When I hear that phrase, I just want to cringe.  It takes time to write an interesting and informative blog.  Plus, who truly has time to read all the blogs out there?  I think that twitter has the right idea.  Say what you gotta say, 140 characters or less.  Confucius probably would have been a good twitterer.  Gandhi, too.  Sometimes less is truly more.

But I digress.

story

I’m here today to blog about a memoir writing class I am just announcing.  It’s in November, and the reason I picked November is because that time of year, I am filled with memories of growing up in Brooklyn.  From November to March, we were truly in “family-holiday-birthday” mode.  There was Thanksgiving, then a birthday in December along with Christmas, then New Year’s, then a birthday in January, another in February, and a third in March.   And, then we had a big long break until a birthday in June, then another in July and another in August.  (But Kentucky Derby day was like a holy day of obligation, so I should include that May event)  So, with all those family parties, there was a lot of traditional baking, meal preparation, gift-giving, card buying, and then eating, and usually going to Mass.  A frenzy of family memories that come upon me as soon as the Halloween candy has been given out.

I think for many of us, Thanksgiving provides one of the most striking memories, whether you had a big turkey dinner at home, or travelled miles to family, or got take-out from a local restaurant.  We usually experienced sensory overload, shopping fatigue, overeating, and family times of some kind.  Whether or not we want to admit it, or enjoyed every single gathering, these experiences made us who we are.

OK, here is where I get to the theme of this blog: it’s to introduce the idea of writing your memoir.  And, don’t let the term “memoir” intimidate you.  It doesn’t mean a life story, it’s a simple memory written in as much detail as you can, from your perspective (and no one else’s).   It can be for your own satisfaction; to remember a passed family member; it can become a story that can be passed down to your kids; it can become an article for a magazine; or if you really get into it, it can become a book (or ebook).

memoir covers

I particularly love reading memoirs; plus, they’re being published more than ever before; many have become movies.  If you got a great story (and most of us have one), then write it down.

If you’d like to join my class coming up in November, then click here, and you will join a group of like-minded story-tellers.  And have a blast, and drink coffee.

 

Why we need books.

I noticed the other day that a kitchen drawer did not close all the way.  On further inspection, I discovered that piece of wood from the back was hanging down, preventing the drawer from closing fully.  Being the “do it herselfer” that I am, I retrieved a flashlight, removed the drawer and really gave the back of the drawer a good look-see.  Now this drawer was right above a cabinet, so, once the pots and pans were removed, I could really see that all I had to do was apply some hot glue, or Elmers on to the wood, and hold the part of the wood that was hanging down in the back until the glue dried.  (Stay with me, I’m getting to the books part.)

The problem was finding a pile of something tall enough to reach up and hold the wood in place.  Imagine a pile of books, of various thicknesses, and the right combination of thin and thick books and how perfect that would be in creating a very nice support for this piece of wood for, at least, 12 – 24 hours.  I have a book collection that worked perfectly, and it was very satisfying that something so ordinary as a collection of books, about 10 in all, would come in so handy in a do-it-yourself project.  While an eReader could hold upteenth books, it really would not suffice as such a support for a glue-project.  (It worked, by the way.)

index

Also, sometimes when a window doesn’t stay up, I slip a very thick Merriam-Webster dictionary in the space, and just like that (snapping my fingers),  another dilemma solved.

So, in addition to the wonderfulness of a real, live book, one that has a real book smell and requires more dexterity and motor skills to turn a page than just a swipe of a finger, I’ve just provided two additional reasons why one must have the real thing around the house.

I’m very excited about my December book events (click on for more information)

December 6 at Thrall Library, Middletown

December 8 at Chester Library, Chester for a “creative writing class”

December 10 for a Writing and Publishing Workshop, Monroe

TTYL,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complete your book and get it ready for publishing in 2015

I tell this story often.  When I was about 15, I got hooked on Mary Higgins Clark books; I couldn’t stop reading them.  At the same time, my love for writing started to emerge.  I decided way back then to write a novel, similar to Clark’s suspenseful style.  I had a pen name picked out, and kept the idea in the back of my head.  Thirty years later, that dream persisted, and in a rare quiet moment, I sketched out an outline for a story in a notebook, and stuffed it in a draw.  Months later, the desire was still poking at me and I gave myself six weeks to complete it.  The novel, The Bench, was completed in 2007, and while it didn’t reach the heights of a Mary Higgins Clark book, the satisfaction that I had completed it, that it had a story that made sense, with believable dialogue, is probably one of the greatest achievements of my life.  (Except for my children, of course.)

MJ BookI say this because I know what it’s like to have a book crying to get out.  When you see a new book, similar to what you have in mind, it gnaws at you.  You think, I can do that.  And the thing is, you can.  Why keep your story hidden?  Why go another year without getting the book completed?  As we head towards the end of 2014 and the start of 2015, let this be the time when you make a pledge to yourself to get it done.  Believe me, once you get into the writer mode, you will be guided along by whatever guided me along those six weeks.

Over the past two years, I’ve been hosting a popular creative writing and journalling workshop throughout Orange County.  I know that there are very creative writers out there, with great stories to tell, and nothing would please me more than to help others get that same satisfaction of writing a book.

It takes work, takes discipline, and sometimes when you just want to plop down on the couch and watch TV, it means heading to the computer instead.  But, there is an end, it’s not a forever project, and I hope you will join me on Wednesday, December 10 in Monroe for a fun night specifically designed to provide all the information you need to get your book ready for publishing.  I guarantee it!  Hope to see you there.

Click here to be directed to the workshop sign up page.  Please note that I can only accommodate the first fifteen who register.

The Book Whisperer

That’s my new name. 

imagesRobert Redford helped horses find their inner horse, and I will help humans find their inner writer.   Everyone has a book in them, whether they have a hobby to share; an engaging memoir; a great story about how their parents met; or what they or their dad, aunt, or uncle did in the war.  And, the time has never been riper for reading, believe it or not.  While we may not be holding a real live book in our hands as much (let’s bow our heads for a moment of silence), we are reading more than ever before, on tablets, phones, laptops, whatever.  Books are more and more in demand.  I say, Don’t take your great story to the grave.  Or as Dr. Wayne Dyer says it, Don’t die with your music still inside you.  (Sorry for all the references to death, but it is Halloween as I write this.)

florida library

 

So, you’re asking, Why are you telling us?  I do this because it makes me commit to the world, it also lets you guys start thinking about the book that is inside you.  Right now, I am working with three authors: one has a great story about living in Scotland at the beginning of WWII, another has a series of business books on becoming a successful entrepreneur, and the third has a memoir about her crazy youth.  My duties are to use all of my writing and book publishing experience to move their projects along via emails, or face to face meetings.  I’m ready to make my knowledge and experience available to a larger audience. 

About a year ago, I worked with a wonderful therapist from New Jersey who had a collection of self-help tools, advice and wisdom to share.  She didn’t really know where to start.  We connected, and over the course of four or five months, we worked together in her Franklin Lakes office, and last summer she released, Born Perfect, the book that is now helping countless people in her community, but also around the globe. What a legacy. 

So, with that said, I will be announcing a Get Your Book Done Now, Already! series.  It will be a collection of webinars and live events in and around the south Orange County. 

I think that 2015 will be a banner year for books.  I hope yours is one of them.

imagesCAC0SB0K

That Cruise Offer Was No Scam!

They come in the mail every day.  An offer to take a cruise for, like, no money.  Just pay the fuel charges, taxes and whatnot.  Oh, and we can extend our time by taking a few days at a Florida hotel.  $99 for three days and two nights. Where?  Fort Lauderdale.  When? Anytime within the next two years.  A cruise?  Yes.  For $190 dollars, including an upgraded, ocean view room?  I was game.  I said, “where do I sign?”  Before my conversation ended, and after I verified my credit card with their credit card validation department, they read me the agreement. All I had to do was take a timeshare tour.  Was I over 21?  Um, a little.

I was now the owner of a three day, two night stay at the DoubleTree/Hilton at Deerfield Beach, and a two day cruise to the Bahamas on the Bahamas Celebration.  I went into this very tentatively, thinking, this has got to be a joke,  lost money.  There is no such cruise line, and the hotel will actually be an abandoned warehouse on the bad side of town.  Did that stop me from booking two airline flights?  One for my daughter and I?  The worst case scenario (my way of making risky decisions), is that if we land, get our rental car and find that our cruise to the Bahamas was actually a cruise to nowhere, and our DoubleTree hotel had closed down years ago, was that we would be in Fort Lauderdale, minutes from the beach.  We’d find a place to stay somewhere.  (Hello to my buddy Phyllis in Jacksonville!)

We headed to Newark Airport on Friday, August 15, anticipating a five day adventure of some kind, and oh yea, a possibly long and grueling sales pitch to buy a timeshare.

And, it all came true!  We had five days doing just what my original potential scam-mail promised, but the only discrepancy was where they said a 90 minute timeshare “tour” ended up being a four hour exercise in stamina-building, and discipline.

I have become quite the timeshare connoisseur, having taken quite a few of them on past trips to Florida.  They feed you and give you lots of coffee, and candy, too.  So, when you’re full and on a sugar-high, you have to find that strength to say “no,” when they keep dropping the price of a one week stay anywhere in the world.  (I will admit that I was a timeshare owner for about ten years, and we used it a lot, but it tends to become an albatross around your neck, or a monkey on your back, some kind of animal that just pulls at you.  So, this is not meant to bash timeshares. They can be very fun.)  Emily could just about keep her eyes open by the fourth hour, and finally, after what was their final, final bottom price, I said a firm, “Thanks, but no thanks.”   Our cruise vouchers were soon in our hands and we were off, like kids just let out of school for summer break.

The next day, we left the DoubleTree Hotel, drove south to the Port of Palm Beach where the Bahamas Celebration was actually taking on their passengers.  How great was this?  It was all true.  A valet parked our car, and we rolled our luggage up the ramp, checked in, and were given our cabin keys.  My 21 year old, recent graduate, with a lot of experience dorming at college, let no time go pass before she had 32 ounce “Bahama Mama,” in her hand.  From then on, she had a different drink each time, and she’d let me try a few sips.  Her bar tab was longer than my shopping list at ShopRite.  But you’d never know it, she held it like a champ.  She must have some special drinking skill. But I can’t think too much about that.

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The rest of the trip was busy and relaxing.  An excursion to the Grand Lucayan Resort for beach time, and a snorkeling adventure, shopping at the local markets, playing at the casino in the evenings, watching for shooting stars when we just wanted to let time move more slowly.  And, lots of food.  Really great food, and excellent service. It was an absolutely delightful time, especially when we thought we might’ve ended up being the victims of a well-executed con.

 

0902142218(This photo — well worth the entire experience — shows our absolute delight when knew we were really going on a cruise!)