Apr 29, 2010

Author Marilyn Randall on Getting Rid Of All The Clutter



When my surroundings are cluttered and everything is in disarray, I have a terrible time trying to write or for that matter, do anything that makes sense. I have found that for me to be creative and be able to write without the stops and down times, my environment needs to be fairly neat and tidy. The more organized I am outside my head the more I am inside my head and the easier the material flows that I am working on.

To keep things organized I set aside a few hours each week to do nothing but clean and straighten up my surroundings so that when I sit down to write, my mind is also uncluttered and I can expect to have a far more productive day than I would have if I had tried to force it when I knew there were other things that needed to get done.

When I am deeply involved in writing and I am in a situation where I can’t take the needed break to get things cleaned, then I have been known to hire someone to come in and clean for me just so the environment stays neat and the worry of something being left undone is not nagging at the back of my mind. Once things are neat, organized and everything is back in it’s place, I can sit and write to my hearts content and the content always needs less adjusting and re-writing.

As I continue my writing career, it is important for me to know and understand this about myself so that I can continue to be as productive as I can be with the time I have to write. Getting rid of the clutter on the outside seems to get rid of the clutter on the inside as well and this little trick has saved me many hours of useless productivity over the years.

When writing the pieces for my book, My Heart And Soul, it was always important to follow this rule as the better work always came when my thoughts inside were as organized as my outside environment and surroundings. This rule of thumb for me has been true for each project I have started, including all of the children’s books, which I also illustrate. The more organized and clutter free the surroundings, the less cluttered and better the finished product.

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Marilyn Randall has an extensive background in the graphic design industry. Her art background is varied, including business logo design, printing design, silk screened shirt design and miscellaneous mediums for her paintings and illustrating.

She published her first book of poetry and prose in 2009 titled My Heart And Soul, following soon after she published six children's books which she has both written and illustrated. Her newest book and first fiction novel is Quicksand. She is currently working on her seventh children's book which she plans to release in the summer of 2010. Originally from Medford, Oregon, she continues to write from the serene surroundings of her home on Whidbey Island in Washington State.

You can visit her website at www.marilynrandall.com.

Apr 23, 2010

Author Richard Arneson on Writing Humor

I think when you write humor, you have to be careful not to self-edit too much. When I wrote Citizen Dick, oftentimes I couldn’t help but imagine my father-in-law, a strict Catholic and very straight-laced, reading it and wondering how his daughter could have married a person with such a dark, cynical—often sick--sense of humor. But then I’d write something and think, “I bet he’d think that’s funny.” But what I’m proud of is that I never left anything out of the book that I thought might be offensive to somebody. I stuck to my comedic guns—if I thought it was funny, I left it in. If it didn’t make me laugh and it was supposed to, I pulled it out.

Along those lines, you’ve got to write for yourself. Your writing has to be what you find funny, not what you think an audience would find funny. I love Albert Brooks movies, and his stuff isn’t for everybody, but I’ve always been impressed that he’s seemed to stick with what he finds funny (I’m guessing that’s what’s happening because each movie’s humor is very much the same). So often you read reviews about his movies, and they’re awful, but I’ll find the movie hysterical. Once you try to write for an audience that you don’t have a kinship with, I think you’re sunk.

If I tried to write a novel or screenplay that had a lot of action and/or suspense, it’d suck. I don’t find that genre interesting, so, in turn, if I wrote about it it wouldn’t be interesting. I wrote a screenplay a while back called The Turners Fraternal. A lot of production companies liked it, but most of them said that it wasn’t “big” enough. It could have easily been made for a few million dollars. What they meant was that it wasn’t Hollywood enough. But I can’t write that way—I don’t find it interesting. And if I was asked to write a romantic comedy, it’d be a disaster. I just don’t think—and find humor in—those types of situations that you see in that genre.


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Richard Arneson’s thirteen years working in corporate America drove him up a tree—literally. Once he escaped the telecommunications industry after ten years of service, he built a tree house—ostensibly for his two young sons—installed electricity and cable TV, and set out to fix himself, deciding that dealing with the memories of working in the goofy-as-hell world of corporate America could only be accomplished by getting them down on paper. Citizen Dick is the result.

Arneson is currently working on his next novel, The Tree House, which, ironically, is not being written in his tree house but in the cab of his 1950 Chevy pickup truck. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and their two sons. He has plans to build a second story on his tree house in early 2010, one large enough to accommodate a baby grand piano and two dental chairs.

Visit his website at: CitizenDick.com

Apr 22, 2010

Humor Author Richard Arneson on Inspiration



It’s hard for me to talk about letting life inspire what you write, because it’s just always been so natural for me to have life inspire me to write. All the time I hear something that somebody says and I think, Boy, I’ll use that some day in my writing. I’ve just been so tuned in to that way of thinking for so long that it’s second nature.

Also, writing about something, whether painful or hysterical, is, for me, the very best way to deal with it. If something is painful, writing about it takes a lot of the pain and pressure out of the situation. It’s weird, and I can’t explain why it does, but it just softens it. Also, when I see the words down on paper, I often think I can handle this. It’s as if I’m reading about somebody else, and the events of their life don’t seem that tragic or life altering.

In terms of writing comedy, I’m sure there’s something I hear or see every day that inspires me to write it. I think it’s because I find humor in so many things that others might seem as depressing, dark. I think this has more to do with my childhood than anything else. I’m the youngest of five kids, and we never, ever had any money. My parents were always fighting—mainly about money—and my dad was an alcoholic, so often the fights were liquor-fueled.

Somehow, and I’m not how this all started, I became the clown of the house, the one who’d lighten things up. This made me really see things different than other people see them. There are certain things, of course, that’ll never be funny, like child molestation, something like that. But there have been a lot of comedies where death is a central theme…the funny stuff is all around; I see it clearly, maybe for others they have to look a little harder for it.

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Richard Arneson’s thirteen years working in corporate America drove him up a tree—literally. Once he escaped the telecommunications industry after ten years of service, he built a tree house—ostensibly for his two young sons—installed electricity and cable TV, and set out to fix himself, deciding that dealing with the memories of working in the goofy-as-hell world of corporate America could only be accomplished by getting them down on paper. Citizen Dick is the result.

Arneson is currently working on his next novel, The Tree House, which, ironically, is not being written in his tree house but in the cab of his 1950 Chevy pickup truck. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and their two sons. He has plans to build a second story on his tree house in early 2010, one large enough to accommodate a baby grand piano and two dental chairs.

Visit his website at: CitizenDick.com

Apr 20, 2010

Spotlight on Brian McClure - Author of The Raindrop



Ohio born native Brian McClure is the Founder and President of The Universal Flag and its affiliate companies. He is an author, human rights advocate and messenger of the oneness of all. Inside of the Universal Flag Companies, he set up a Non Profit Foundation to help relieve the suffering which he has witnessed in third world countries, along with spreading the Universal Flags throughout the World. The flag was recently paraded and flown at The United Nations as part of World Peace Day.

Brian has been interviewed on countless national radio shows and has been in a number of publications including CNN, CBS & NBC TV. He is the host the hit radio show, “A Call To Consciousness” – which is heard weekly on KTLK 1150AM in Los Angeles and KFNX 110AM in Phoenix Arizona.

He has spoken at many organizations, churches and institutions including The Agape Spiritual Center, The Inside Edge and The Onion based at the Unity Spiritual movement Center. Brian’s humanitarian efforts have extended worldwide. Recently Brian took it upon himself to visit and document impoverished communities in Sierra Leone which had just ended an 11 year war several years before, and Uganda. Upon his return he has been very proactive creating awareness about the real conditions which go largely unreported in the US.

Brian once stated: ”The power of a symbol cannot be underestimated. Politicians use symbols to gather and mobilize support. Corporations use logos to create effective, profitable brand loyalties. Now, the world has a new symbol, the Universal Flag is one that calls forth promise and potential for all. It defines our interconnectedness and oneness with ALL.” As Brian has said many times, “the Universal Flag Symbol acts as a signpost reminding us of our deepest truths. The symbol represents a world filled with infinite possibilities.”

Brian has developed an awareness of equality among all people and nationalities. His primary goal is to help people remember that inside each of us we hold the higher truths that are transforming our world.

You can visit Brian online at www.universalflag.com and www.briandmcclure.com/mediablog.





Though the uplifting rhymes and profound messages of acceptance, respect and understanding, author Brian D. McClure educates and entertains children, parents and grandparents in the adventurous journey of The Raindrop. In this story, The Raindrop experiences many emotions as it travels from feelings of uselessness to the discovery of its importance and Interdependence of all things big and small.

The Raindrop like the other seven books in The Brian D. McClure Children’s book series offer universal life lessons that empower and educate the whole family.

Apr 19, 2010

Author Brian McClure on Book Design

Writing a book is the easiest part! When you write a children’s book and you are not an artist, the next hurdle you face is finding an illustrator. Once you have found an illustrator, you need to have a legal document drawn up and signed in order to protect both parties. Once that is in place, if you are like me, you will want to have input on the page breakdown and pictures. This is not a quick process, as pictures are first conceptualized and then agreed upon. The final product can take months.

Prior to having the pictures drawn, you have to know what size your book is going to be, (7” x 10” or 10” x 11”) etc. in order to tell the artist what size to make the art. If you are finding your own sources to print or publish your books as I did, you will need to find a source to scan the finished artwork in HD and placed on discs. This company most likely will also be your source to pick out fonts, layout, text, etc. You need to figure out covers, inside flaps, pricing, additional writing on the inside flaps etc. You have to purchase ISBN numbers and assign one of them to your books. You will also have to know what price you are going to charge for your book in order to have the ISBN number printed correctly on your book.

Once you have made all of the necessary decisions, the book is put together on the computer and sent to you for proofing. This is where you make any and all corrections, from spelling to design. Once you sign off on the final proofs, your book is placed if print format on CD discs and given to you. You will then have to have an agreement with a printer covering paper quality and style, book cover quality and dust covers etc. Once you have signed off on all the decisions, they will print you a final proof for you to sign off on. If you have ordered thousands of books, you will have to have a place to have them shipped to, either a book distributor or wholesaler or warehouse, depending on your distribution system.

All in all, it can take anywhere from six months to a year to get a book to market. The thing you need the most after you have written a book, is patience!!!



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Ohio born native Brian McClure is the Founder and President of The Universal Flag and its affiliate companies. He is an author, human rights advocate and messenger of the oneness of all. Inside of the Universal Flag Companies, he set up a Non Profit Foundation to help relieve the suffering which he has witnessed in third world countries, along with spreading the Universal Flags throughout the World. The flag was recently paraded and flown at The United Nations as part of World Peace Day.

Brian has developed an awareness of equality among all people and nationalities. His primary goal is to help people remember that inside each of us we hold the higher truths that are transforming our world.
You can visit Brian online at www.universalflag.com and www.briandmcclure.com/mediablog

Apr 14, 2010

Author Tinisha Nicole Johnson on Life in the First Draft

Life in the first draft can be exciting and fun, but for others, I can understand how it can be a drag. With five published books so far under my belt as of this posting, I’ve found that I pay more attention to the overall story while writing the first draft.

Once I get a story in mind, I write and I write, until I the ending is complete. I will usually write on a consistent and fast pace basis. I once heard that a writer should write for the wastebasket. I love that phrase. It basically means that you write from your heart. Don’t pay attention if others will like it, or what they may think of it. Write whatever you want to write, but write the best you can.

After you’ve finished writing your complete project, then go back over and critique it then. The analogy behind this is that you will have more fun and passion for what you write about if you write for the wastebasket.

I like to write in the mornings, because my mind is fresh and my house is quiet. I’ll spend anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours writing depending on what project I’m working on. There are times I don’t feel like writing, although I do love writing in general. It’s sort of ironic. It doesn’t happen often, but at the times I do feel like that, I’ll set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour, and I’ll make myself write for that time period. I have found afterwards that I wrote quite a bit, and it keeps me on schedule.

My long-term goal is to get to page 300 if I’m writing a book, or close enough to it. My daily or short-term goal is to write for at least 1 hour Monday-Friday. After I get close to my specific page number, then I go back to page one and pay more attention to flow, style, sentence structure, and use of words and tone. With each book written, I’ve learned to write faster.

With the first draft, I do capture some details on a separate page along the way. If I don’t capture those details on another page that I can reference to, I’ve found myself in the middle of writing my book wondering if ‘Character - John’ had dark brown hair or medium brown hair earlier in the book.

I know some authors like to begin their stories without an outline of some sort. I did that with my first book and I vowed not to ever do that again. So, before I even write the first word to my draft, I make an outline. It’s not a very structured outline, it’s more of 1-page description of the overall story, similar to a synopsis.

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Tinisha Nicole Johnson is an author, writer, and poet. She resides in Denver, Colorado with her two children. Besides writing, Tinisha also hosts political and sports teleconferences as a profession. To date, Tinisha has written five books. She is also co-founder of Authors Supporting Authors (ASA) a non-profit group that provides support to other authors and promotes literacy. You can visit Tinisha’s website at:

You can visit Tinisha at www.tinishanicolejohnson.com

Apr 6, 2010

The Long Road by Anne Vincent



People have often told me that the most difficult speech to write is the shortest one, that your toughest audience is the smallest one. I believe both of these to be true. And I also believe that the most worthwhile things in life may indeed take a very long time to develop.

Our project began in 1996 at the encouragement of our practice clients and at the request of the Spiritual Journeys Class (a program my mother started 27 years ago) at First Presbyterian Church, Nashville, TN.

I have boxes of drafts, dozens of hours of tape recordings, and binders of ideas for chapter titles and illustrations. Did all of these elements become incorporated into the final form of “The Way to Stillness”? Certainly not – many dropped away like old winter coats. Over the past 14 years, a journey through deaths, divorce, illnesses, and the onset of Gayle’s vascular dementia provided numerous opportunities to give up our writing.

However, even through the dark days of her progressive illness and deterioration of her short term memory, “The Book” (as Gayle likes to call it) remained her Light. My mother and I are extremely different in many ways which made the building of a counseling practice together since 1989 quite challenging. One day, she quietly whispered in my ear, “Honey, I really do realize I am difficult to work with at times.”

Our common goal and vision to feed as many souls as possible with the truth of our experience has always triumphed over our differences. My years of intensive communication with Gayle served us both well in the process. She often struggled to articulate a misplaced word or phrase slipping just outside her mental grasp as her always been brilliant brain began to fail her. I could usually supply it for her.

Even in the sadness, frustration, and anger of the dawning reality of her disability, my constant question to her has been: “ Mom, how will it feel for you to be an author by the age of 90?” Always a grin spread across her beautiful face.

With so many setbacks, it often seemed we were so “behind” in this process – that we were not going to beat the clock – that we might not make it. At the time of this post, I’m pleased to say that we are 3 years ahead of schedule (she’s 87). Don’t you think this brings a smile to her face?




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Anne Alexander Vincent, Ordained Minister of Pastoral Counseling, is the Owner of Cottage in the Woods, a licensed ministry center of the National Christian Counselors Association. She is completing her PhD in Clinical Christian Counseling through the NCCA. With more than 30 years of counseling experience, she has completed her 8th year of intensive training under Dr Patrick Carnes, PhD as a Certified Multiple Addictions Therapist and Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist and with the International Trauma and Addiction Professionals as a Trauma and Addictions Therapist.

You can find Anne online at http://annescottageinthewoods.com/

Apr 5, 2010

The Importance of Place by Anne Vincent

I learned early in life that being confined to one spot with one pen to one time frame did not produce creative flow within me. My first actual writing experiences occurred at 7 and 8 years old in the forest behind my Tennessee childhood home. There was a pile of discarded Christmas trees under a canopy of tall old pine and maple trees. I would drag a quilt over those to create the softest most exquisite writers haven. My dad’s blue fountain pens would regularly and mysteriously disappear from his study as would second sheets of my mother’s parchment stationary from her desk drawer. With a bag of Oreos in tow, my Junior Writers Retreat was in full swing.

Interestingly enough, today, over 45 years later, after several detours, Cottage in the Woods, my wooded retreat is just a few hundred yards away. The title of our book The Way to Stillness can actually be traced back to the afternoons spent on that quilt 4 decades ago.

If you have read our book, it is obvious to you that our family was certainly not spared its share of chaos and sadness. My little girl way of coping and soothing myself was actually a model for the contemplative tools we offer.

As a child, I would contemplate hour after hour the intricacies of the rings in an ancient tree stump, how acorns once separated made perfect tiny teacups, how green, gold and red leaves were nourished by a perfect system of veins just like my little first hands. Their hands would wave back at me from their lofty perches as if to say, “We’re here, too, right here with you. Isn’t this wonderful?! We have everything we need right here.”

Today that childlike awareness and mindfulness is an internal freedom I guard and treasure. Often a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye along with the inner nudge from my spirit reveals new life truths to me. Just before attempting to participate in this blog (my first ever, by the way J, I was given a surprise gift by a dear friend. You guessed it – a magnificent fountain pen complete with backup blue ink cartridges. So stay tuned for more from the Cottage in the Woods . . .



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Anne Alexander Vincent, Ordained Minister of Pastoral Counseling, is the Owner of Cottage in the Woods, a licensed ministry center of the National Christian Counselors Association. She is completing her PhD in Clinical Christian Counseling through the NCCA. With more than 30 years of counseling experience, she has completed her 8th year of intensive training under Dr Patrick Carnes, PhD as a Certified Multiple Addictions Therapist and Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist and with the International Trauma and Addiction Professionals as a Trauma and Addictions Therapist.

You can find Anne online at http://annescottageinthewoods.com/