Archive for ‘Talking books’

2017, October 13

Review: Diana Raab’s, Writing for Bliss

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Diana Raab’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout October.

Some of you may know her poetry, as well as her work in psychology.  She has a new book out called, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.

~~~

“… sometimes the simplest of inquiries require the most complex answers. When posing the more personal questions about our lives, sometimes it can take years to come up with the answers.” ~ Diana Raab, Writing for Bliss

I loved Diana Raab’s book, Writing for Bliss, because it is filled with so much knowledge presented in the most lovely form of writing. An experienced writer and Ph.D, her how-to guide doesn’t come off as condescending in its advice and teachings, but rather through Diana’s creative journey guides the reader through his own journey.

The seven steps to follow are: preparing to write, cultivating self-awareness, speaking your truth, examining your life, finding your form, unleashing with poetry, and sharing your writing.
By using the writing prompts scattered throughout the book, the writing techniques, topics and other tools, the reader is also encouraged to not follow the book to the T, since as Diana herself explains it, creativity is not a linear process. I certainly agree with that statement.

Reading this book has made me think about my own writing. A lot. Losing track of time is good.

I started my blog in 2008, and ever since then, I have written blog posts, poems, flash fiction and short stories for many different reasons; to lose myself, to let go of stress, to get together with my writer friends, to have some “me” time, to feel healthy, to be a part of writing events and communities.
There are many other reasons why writing is a part of my life, it is a part of me and who I am.
My dearest friendships have been formed because of writing…we often say that we solve the worlds problems during our writing. And certainly we have come up with amazing ideas that have been expressed and have been featured in several online magazines, on different writing websites and in both e-format and print anthologies.

Using the book as a guide has resulted in lots of writing on my part, and I am so happy for it!

~~~

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Published by Loving Healing Press, you can find Dr. Raab’s 238 pages long poetry book, Writing for Bliss, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as her other publications which range in a myriad of topics (see below).

More about the author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge.
Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust.

As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self.

Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Diana Raab’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook Author Page

Advertisements
2017, October 6

Book Spotlight: Writing for Bliss by Diana Raab

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Diana Raab’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout October. I will also have a book review up, so make sure to check back next Friday, 13th of October.

Some of you may know her poetry, as well as her work in psychology.  She has a new book out called, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.

~~~

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Those who can benefit from writing a life narrative may have been exposed to early-life trauma, loss, or addiction. Writing your story is a way to reclaim your voice, reveal a family secret, or simply share your story with others. Journaling is a cathartic and safe way to work through your feelings and “direct your rage to the page.”

With the help of this indispensible guide to therapeutic writing, you’ll understand yourself better and be able to deal with various challenges in your life, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, loss of loved ones, diseases, and life transitions.

Offering step-by-step practical exercises for journaling your thoughts, emotions, and memories, along with techniques to jump-start your writing, Writing for Bliss will help you achieve the therapeutic results of writing for healing, and provides essential information for using this technique to transform your life in a meaningful way.

Published by Loving Healing Press, you can find Dr. Raab’s 238 pages long poetry book, Writing for Bliss, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as her other publications which range in a myriad of topics (see author bio below).

~~~

The book has already received advanced praise!

“Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ‘permission to take… a voyage of self-discovery.’ The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ‘read like a writer,’ on practicing mindfulness meditation, and on addressing readers as if ‘seated across the table from [your] best friend.’ Raab covers big topics such as the ‘art and power of storytelling’ and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ‘finding your form’” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Writing for Bliss brims with the truths of Raab’s life, as well as that of other established and beloved authors and philosophers. Writing for Bliss is far more than a “how-to-manual”; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure.  Bravo to Bliss!’   LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton and Bespotted: My Family’s Love Affair With Thirty-Eight Dalmatians

More about the author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge.
Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust.

As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self.

Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Diana Raab’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook Author Page

2017, April 7

Finding your awesome

Today I want to take a second to talk about a very cool, illustrated creative journal, FIND YOUR AWESOME, by my friend Judy Clement Wall.

It seems to me that everyone lately is only thinking about themselves, and it makes me sad.
I think when people are dealing with some things in their lives, they tend to forget that everyone else also has stuff to deal with – more or less difficult then they themselves are. This is where it’d be great to also focus on others, because it really doesn’t take much time or effort to be attentive, and if one can, why not make someone’s day better? Even by simply smiling at them, by saying hello and asking how they are, it’s already a step in the right direction.
We need to be better, to be humans and care. Thinking about others will always make you a better person.

That said, it also seems to me that among family and friends, many people rarely put themselves first, or do, or buy things for themselves.
Yes, doing things with others will help make them be/feel special in your life.
But on the other hand, I believe that we need to take care of ourselves in order to fully be able to be the better people I described above. For people to truly be able to love other people and be kind, it all starts with self-love.

This is the message my friend j transmits through her creative journal. Go read her blog post about it, and watch her very cool animated book trailer!

In her own words, she wrote and illustrated FIND YOUR AWESOME not to help people become someone new, but to help them uncover the imaginative, openhearted, amazing selves they already are. She truly believes that if one completes this book, committing oneself to just 30 days of self-discovery and celebration, it will change how they move in the world and infuse their life with love, fun, connection, and creativity.

I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the journal! I believe that it’ll be, like everything j creates, a beautiful piece of art as well as a very useful tool for people to well… find their awesome.

J also has a challenge in store for her readers and friends – 30 days of self-love! Here’s the excerpt from her website:

“On May 15th, I’ll be embarking on my own 30-day self-love challenge using FIND YOUR AWESOME, and I’d love for you to join me. There will be a Facebook group, short daily emails of encouragement, and more animated videos to inspire you. It’ll be free, fun, and good for your soul, plus if you sign up, you’ll be automatically entered to win a signed copy of FIND YOUR AWESOME. (Even if you’ve already purchased my book , sign up. These little journals make wonderful gifts.)
I’ll be posting more about the book and the challenge over the next several weeks.”

Haven’t done a self-love challenge in a while, so I’ve already signed up, and I think I’ll post a little summary blog post every week on Fridays while the challenge lasts. They were fun to do during my year of following the 52/52 e-guide‘s assignments every week, so I’m looking forward to it!

2017, January 6

My 2016 in books

In 2016, I challenged myself to read 20 books and made it to 23 instead. I have to admit, that includes both reading for fun and for work, but hey, at least sometimes I’m getting paid to read so I won’t complain!

At the end of 2015, I won an Amazon gift card at work, and promptly ordered a few books for myself, which my dear friend from London was so kind to bring with her when she visited her grandmother so I could make use of Amazon stores “free shipping in the UK” policies. I have to say, I haven’t finished reading half of those titles, but I am very happy to have them close by.

my-year-2016-in-books

I read in several genres, from murder mystery, romance, young adult, to poetry, recipes, instructional books, and even fairy tales and a comic book.

One book that I regret not finishing this year is the DOODLE ART HANDBOOK: The Non-Artist’s Guide in Creative Drawing by Lana Karr, Olga Dee,  especially because I would’ve liked to doodle more, and this book is wonderful for someone just starting out in that department.

The total page count only comes to 3521, with the longest book being The Chicago Manual of Style by University of Chicago Press at 1026 pages.

My favorite reads of 2016 are actually series rather than single books this time around:

  • Banana Muffins & Mayhem, by Janel Gradowski – In June, I took part in Janel Gradowski’s book launch tour, and for this occasion I re-read the novels I finished before, and read the ones I haven’t from her culinary competition mystery book series.
    When I finished reading Banana Muffins & Mayhem, the fifth novel, I came to the conclusion that it was my favorite of the series. As much as I love the main character, Amy, I really loved getting a different POV from her best friend Carla in this novel. Reading the book coincided with a pretty complicated year in my life, and especially some of the advice given to Amy regarding life and family I have taken as my own silver lighting and put my worries aside for now.
  • These Are the Moments, by Jenny Bravo – I have to say, I fell in love with Jenny Bravo’s writing style! She writes with such ease, yet conveys such raw, complicated and powerful emotions through her characters, that I was drawn in from the very first sentence of each book.
    Although I loved every single one of the books, These Are the Moments was my favorite of the series so far. As the book’s description befittingly states, this young adult and new adult fiction novel dares to ask the questions: Do people ever really change? Do two people, who can never make it work, actually make it right? And most importantly, do they even want to?
    I actually read the Those Were the Days: A TATM Short Story (in a heartbeat!) first, which was free on Kindle (Amazon), and immediately bought the novel and also the novella Moments Like These: A TATM novella. I look forward to reading the newest novel in the series which I bought right after it was published in December, That Was the Year, and already can’t wait for the third novel!

Below is a print screen of all the titles I’ve read last year. Take a look, and check out the list itself on Goodreads. Who knows, you might see something you’d also like to read.

2016-in-books

Now, please let me know in the comments below how many books you’ve read this past year? And what are your favorite reads for 2016 (or previous years)? Don’t hold back, I always love a good book recommendation!

Since I would’ve liked to read even more last year but did end up surpassing my goal, I decided to challenge myself to read 25 books in 2017. That was my goal in 2013, too, and just like that year, I totally plan to update this with higher numbers over the course of the year!
I am already ahead of schedule with a book I finished reading on January 2nd ;)

Here’s to a great 2017, filled with lots of reading!

2016, September 30

Review: George HS Singer’s, Ergon

PoeticButton

Today’s blog post is a stop on George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, this Autumn. Last month, I received the poetry book, Ergon, for review. At first, even though I do love poetry, I wasn’t sure I’d have the time to finish reading it, but after securing an end-of-the-month date for the blog tour stop, I said “Yes.”

Ergon is a mix of poems about George HS Singer’s life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life after he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

ERGON_coverPublished by WordTech Editions, who describe this book as: “George Singer’s Ergon is precise, delicate and fierce in its engagement with the world.”, you can find the poetry book, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as his other publications which range in a myriad of topics from education & teaching, parenting & social sciences, to medical books.

My copy of the book arrived in the week before I left for holiday, and given it’s 86 pages long, I decided to take it with me. I’ve taken novels on holiday with me before and then after arriving home felt all sorts of bad about not having enough time to read more than a couple of chapters.
Well, Ergon was the perfect holiday read!

The book is composed of four parts: Visiting, Ergon, Our Quotidian and Immensity. They, in George’s own words, cover the themes of:

  1. “The beauty, humor, and difficulty of living as a Zen monk.
  2. Coming to terms with a very mixed childhood and its insistent residue.
  3. My sense of gratitude for having found a soul mate in my wife.
  4. My sense of the unutterable wonder of existence and that there is enough of it that can be taken in and joined with to keep from staying down after inevitably and repeatedly falling down.
    the stars across the axis of the sky,
    light enough to walk without stumbling.”

The poems aren’t too long, they can be read in a fast pace, and as you can see listed above, their themes are varied in complexity. I can honestly say I haven’t read a poetry book quite like this one before. The poems give the vibe of being written with such ease despite the depth and warmth carried through.

My boyfriend read some of the poems as well, we read together; and I highly recommend this book for any couple if they want something truly interesting to read and talk about curled up on the couch together.

Here’s the early praise for the book:

“Singer’s work is wise, vulnerable, empty and full, erotic and spiritual, intimate and lonely, his source of metaphor the keenly-witnessed natural world. Ergon  is a book about abiding love but also illness, lobotomies, and long-held grief; its landscape is one in which the buffaloes with ‘eyes sad as Lincoln’s’ plow through the fence and break into the temple, where the Buddha is ‘poised with one palm open, one touching the trampled ground.’ Go to the forest or the shore and read this book, and while you’re at it, don’t underestimate the ferocity of these deeply adult and nuanced poems.”—Diane Seuss

“With his first book of poems, Ergon, George H. S. Singer takes his place among a rich tradition of California poets for whom the literary sphere is outlined not only in aesthetic terms but in natural, ethical, and spiritual dimensions as well.  This humane poetic runs recently from Hass to Hirshfield, Snyder to Herrera, but traces its origins to the ethos of Aristotle, who defines ‘ergon’ as ‘the core function or purpose of something or someone’; virtue then ‘arises when ergon is realized fully.’  Singer is a maker of contemporary devotions out of the dross and commotion of a daily life—out of false teeth, frayed cords, mouse nests and into the sphere ‘of celestial fire where the souls / of extinct birds are turned into gems.’  It’s not alchemy but faith. It’s not caprice but capability to see the spirited world within the known one, capability to approach in language the ‘eternal silence of these spaces between the stars.’”—David Baker

“With dignity and that slight irreverence that convinces you he’s telling the truth, George Singer creates his rich, lucid poems about the core of our human condition, our Ergon. Moving, surprising, erotic and profound, Singer’s poems take us around the world and through personal history—from the unexpected humor of daily life inside a Buddhist temple to the terrible inverted logic of a sanitarium for the insane, or from a sexual spark in a long marriage, to eons of geological time. Ergon marks the debut of a splendid poet with a sensibility that might make you more observant, and far lighter on your mental feet. A person could get wise reading poems of such warmth and depth.”—Molly Peacock

GeorgeSinger_AuthorPicMore about the author:

George HS Singer is a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.  He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life.  Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

2016, September 2

Where George HS Singer’s poetry comes from, in Ergon

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which lasts throughout this month. I will also have a review of the book up, on September 30th, so make sure to check back in for that.

In her description of the blog tour, Serena Agusto-Cox, mentioned that George Singer is a former Buddhist monk and professor in his 60s, who has written his first poetry collection with the help of Molly Peacock. That immediately drew my attention, and I wanted to know more about George’s background.

I always find it fascinating to find out where poetry “comes from”.

~~~

ERGON_coverHow has being a monk and professor, and publishing a first poetry book later in life shaped you?

Becoming a Zen monk has shaped my life as much as any of the major influences most of us experience— the family we are born into, school, friendships, the encounter with history, and marriage. I became a monk as a young man of 20, took up the practice and the relationship with my Zen master with great enthusiasm and stayed with it for ten years. Although later in life I developed a bit of distance from the belief system, I have meditated everyday since in one form or another and my experience of it is central to my on-going experience of life. I was never very good at being a monk. I’m very spacey and so as an example of a mindful person I am an embarrassment. However, the tradition I was exposed to (Serene Reflection Meditation—Soto Zen) has offered me the experience of something fundamental that I think of as mercy. Early in my time as a monk one of my brother monks lost his sister to suicide. One of my poems in my book is about how my teacher helped him through his grief. There is a lot of silence in a Zen monastery and much is communicated through bells, clanging of mallets on wooden blocks, drums, and chimes:

…each ting of the little bell,
the inkin, rode time all the way

to the periphery, trailing off out
of reach of the ear— the same
with the in and out of breath.

The silence and the wordless signals came in time to say something to me about mercy. Here, from the same poem, is my imaging of how my friend gained some relief from his terrible loss:

He thought then that Jean, his little sister,
would somehow be alright and, if
there were to be rain, he would be
the downpour. And he was taken up
by something like mercy.

Regarding being a professor, mostly, I feel that academia has offered me a kind of safe harbor where I am able to exercise my strengths and where people are generally tolerant of my several weaknesses.

I found that the kind of writing and teaching that I do as an academic rarely allows for expression of the emotional and spiritual dimensions of my life that seem closest to my sense of who I am and how I belong (or not) in the world. Initially I thought that I might use poetry to honor my Zen teacher and our tradition. However, I soon branched out and also eventually realized that I was sounding preachy in my writing and needed to try to be less some kind of font of wisdom and more simply to express the voice of the mixed and necessarily limited person that I am. If I have a credo in my poetry it is the notion that nothing is unmixed—that life is inexpressibly wondrous and terribly painful and both arise together at the same time. I also know that the experience, which is most fundamental to me, is wordless and so there is an inevitable limitation in trying to write about what is most important. To me the tool kit available through the art of poetry allows the possibility of at least hovering over that which I wish could be said, if not to enter into it. I am forgetting who said that language does violence to experience but that poetry is the language that does the least of such violence.

Probably anyone who is reading this remembers a first experience as a child of reading a poem or a passage that really spoke to them. For me this happened in 6th grade after the death of my best friend. It seemed to me that everyone around acted as if death was not real or should not be talked about. A poem by Longfellow with the phrase “foot prints in the sand” struck me like lightening one day in class. I realized that I was not the only one who had thought about mortality. I started finding that literature was a balm for loneliness and that it offered a way to touch upon, if not enter into, other people’s minds and that there were extraordinary writers who offered this communion. So I hold onto the ambition that one of my poems might serve this purpose of dispelling isolation for someone else who might be in need of communion with another mind concerned about some of the basics.

What themes have you covered in the poems?  

  1. The beauty, humor, and difficulty of living as a Zen monk.
  2. Coming to terms with a very mixed childhood and its insistent residue.
  3. My sense of gratitude for having found a soul mate in my wife.
  4. My sense of the unutterable wonder of existence and that there is enough of it that can be taken in and joined with to keep from staying down after inevitably and repeatedly falling down:

the stars across the axis of the sky,
light enough to walk without stumbling.

Have you always written poetry or only after “retiring” from the monastery?

I wanted to be a poet when I was in college. I fell in love with French literature and thought the musicality of the language got at something beyond the meaning of the words. I stopped writing after dropping out of Yale and becoming a monk and did not take it up again until I was 40. I entered into a wonderful mentoring relationship with the poet, Molly Peacock, who continues to help me with my writing over a quarter of a century later. I also have benefited greatly from the wonderful opportunities to learn at the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H., summers. I’ve been particularly appreciative of faculty there including Patrick Donnelly, David Baker, and Diane Seuss. Over the years I have developed an intense love of poetry as an art. It gives me great joy to encounter a new poet or to be given the gift by a fine writer of a new poem.

Thank you for your questions and the opportunity to address them.

~~~

Ergon is a mix of poems about George HS Singer’s life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life after when he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

Published by WordTech Editions, you can find George’s 86 pages long poetry book, Ergon, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as his other publications which range in a myriad of topics from education & teaching, parenting & social sciences, to medical books.

GeorgeSinger_AuthorPicMore about the author:

George HS Singer is a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.  He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life.  Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

2016, June 16

Treasure Hunt Blog Tour: Banana Muffins & Mayhem, by Janel Gradowski

BMandMTourBanner2

This week I am starting my blog post with a banner image and posting a day early, because I am taking part in the treasure-hunt-type blog tour organized by my friend Janel Gradowski in honor of her 5th mystery novel being published from her culinary competition mystery book series. Go congratulate her! You’ll find in her blog post the schedule of the blog tour as well for the rest of the stops, and the Rafflecopter widget to enter her giveaway.

Read the guest post, then see the book description and the treasure hunt clue for the secret word below!

~~~

Facing Your Fears

Being a fiction writer is a wonderful career, but it isn’t all about making up characters and giving them life dilemmas to deal with. A writer does far more than have conversations with the people who only exist in her mind. One of the most important things that any writer can do is face her fear.

Fear comes in many forms for authors: fear of rejection, fear of criticism, and fear of blank pages are just a few of them. The thing is, these fears – in whatever form they manifest, can have a detrimental effect on careers. How you can ever be published if you are too afraid of rejection to submit your manuscript to a publisher?

So I make it a point to face my fears and go past them. Sometimes that means running at them head on, and other times it means carefully stepping around. A recent encounter with another writer taught me a valuable lesson in fear. If you don’t let it stop you, great things can happen.

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote the blockbuster hit “Eat, Pray, Love”. Her most recent book is called, “Big Magic”. It’s far different than her tale of traveling to exotic countries. While “Eat, Pray, Love” was her journey to finding a life that is perfect for her, “Big Magic” is a guide for helping others find and hold onto their creativity. There’s even some very good advice on fear (you have to work with it, not against it).

During the winter I discovered that Liz was coming to Michigan as part of her “Big Magic” book tour. I immediately made up my mind that I would go see her. The venue was a two hour drive away, very near Detroit where the nearest freeway exit resembles a plate of spaghetti because of all of the entrance and exit ramps. A scary driving experience since I live in the countryside between two towns that have collectively three stoplights total. But I bought a ticket for myself the day they went up for sale.

First I convinced my husband, who knows the metro Detroit area well because of his work, to drive me to the church where the event was being held, if I didn’t go with a friend. Then I posted on Facebook and talked with friends, trying to find someone who would go with me because I was apprehensive about going alone. (By apprehensive I mean I was afraid. The big, old, nasty fear monster thrashing around.) Nothing worked out, and so I had to face the fact that I would be going to a three hour workshop surrounded by literally thousands of strangers. A bit of a nightmare for a person who leans toward being shy and introverted.

But I never once thought of not going. It wasn’t the price of the ticket. It was the fact that I was going to get to be in the same room with one of my literary heroes, to hear her speak about creativity – the lifeblood of my writing career. The night before the event, suddenly all of the knots of fear loosened and I knew everything would be okay. It occurred to me that maybe I was meant to go alone.

The next day, after creeping through the traffic jam caused by so many people going to the workshop, my husband dropped me off. I checked in then walked into the auditorium. For some reason, the woman who entered right in front of me asked me to sit with her, even though her friend was coming. We struck up a conversation, then ended up talking a lot more throughout the workshop. Because, guess what? One of the first things Elizabeth Gilbert did was request that people who had come with friends move so that they were sitting next to a stranger to do the creativity exercises with.

I made a new friend that day. She even hugged me at the end and thanked me for sharing my stories of my life as a writer with her. I also wrote a letter to my fear, which was another part of the workshop. It was such a moving experience to be in an auditorium full of people who were facing their fears because they wanted to live a life full of creativity. I’m very glad I didn’t let my fear of going alone stop me from attending.

~~~

Book Description

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000031_00001]Culinary competitor Amy Ridley is as excited as anyone in Kellerton, Michigan to have DIY Home Improvement star, Phoebe Plymouth, come to town for the first annual Cabin Fever Cure event. However the TV personality’s sour attitude quickly curdles people’s opinion of her. When she’s found dead, at the business owned by Amy’s husband, Alex, the heat is on to catch the killer before his professional reputation is ruined!

When Amy seeks help in preparing for a vegan baking recipe contest, she also finds assistance from an unlikely team of sleuths who want to help her catch the murderer. But things go from bad to worse when Alex and his business suddenly suffer a series of less-than-random attacks. Are the murder and attacks related? Amy vows to figure it out before her and her husband’s lives are ruined… or ended permanently!

Purchase the e-book from AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooksKoboSmashwords, or the print book.

~~~

The Treasure Hunt clue for Life’s a Stage is: !

Collect all of the letters to spell out the Treasure Hunt word then use it to gain extra entries in the Grand Prize giveaway. You can find all of the blog tour stops and enter the giveaway at JanelGradowski.com.

~~~

janelMore about the author:

Janel Gradowski lives in a land that looks like a cold weather fashion accessory, the mitten-shaped state of Michigan. She is a wife and mom to two kids and one Golden Retriever.
Her journey to becoming an author is littered with odd jobs like renting apartments to college students and programming commercials for an AM radio station. Somewhere along the way she also became a beadwork designer and teacher. She enjoys cooking recipes found in her formidable cookbook and culinary fiction collection. Searching for unique treasures at art fairs, flea markets and thrift stores is also a favorite pastime. Coffee is an essential part of her life.
She writes the Culinary Competition Mystery Series, along with The Bartonville Series (women’s fiction) and the 6:1 Series (flash fiction). She has also had many short stories published in both online and print publications.

You can find her via her Website, sign up for her Newsletter, or follow her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and Goodreads.

%d bloggers like this: