I feel so scattered in my writing. I randomly write a piece of my science fiction story as a thought runs through my mind. I quickly capture a place or feeling from a trip or conversation. Anything in my life can be part of my story. A fear, a beautiful place, a train ride; they are all parts of my story. The story is bits of my life from a time and place that are not mine. The people transform before me as my protagonist takes her journey.
Until I read that the famous Roald Dahl was always jotting down tidbits that might grow into a story, I thought I was unorganized and probably would never be able to put my story together. I am pleased that it is a writing style used by one of the most imaginative writers.
As Shannon Maughan writes in Publishers Weekly to honor this prolific author, “Legendary author Roald Dahl (1916–1990) was, very literally, an idea man. He was forever jotting notes—kernels and tidbits that might one day grow into a story.”
Although my story may not become a movie, I will put the pieces together and get it published. I will write, I will produce, and I will get it out there to my audience and see what happens.
Maughan, S. (2017) Big Dreams, Big Prizes, and Willy Wonka Spur Roald Dahl’s Imaginormous Challenge. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved from:
How fun to see someone sharing my Editing Guide on a photography site no less. The article, Making Photos With a Story from small things, is about putting together a Set Design using small things like toys to create an image(s) that tell a story. There are some very creative story ideas in the article. It’s well worth reading.
Paul Robertson says, “The ‘story’ can be anything you like but since we are using toys; you might like to make it a fun or humorous story in this case.” He suggests these scenes can be created using toys like Legos, for example, to illustrate scenes in a children’s book. (He says to be sure to get permission from a product’s manufacturer before using them for profit of advertising).
The author includes my Editing Guide at the end of the article, which includes Tip #3:
Do the illustrations (children’s book):
- Fit the story theme and tone
- Bring the story to life
- Fit the age of the audience
- Follow the order of the story
The author shared my bio so I forgive him for not including the link to my Ediing Guide on my Teal Dabblers Blog, but a link to the source should always be included along with the author of the article. http://www.tealpublishing.com/teal-dabblers-blog/editing-guide.
Miller, NJ. Editing Guide. Teal Dabblers Blog. http://www.tealpublishing.com/teal-dabblers-blog/editing-guide.
Robertson, P. Making Photos With a Story from small things. Manawatu Camera Club APG Open Night. Retrived from, http://www.manawatucamera.net.nz/sites/default/files/Making_Photos_With_A_Story_From_Small_Things.pdf.
This Thanksgiving may be continuing cherished traditions and stories from years past or creating new ones with people you care about.
You have the power to create your story says Michael Margolis in his latest brief video, Realizing the power of your story.
You can create a story of loss and conflict intermingled with joy, or you can take the joy, recognize the conflicts and create the Thanksgiving you want for yourself and your family. If you don’t have family available, you can create a sense of belonging by giving your time to others who don’t have family. New traditions help create a new and different story if you want change. I like to take from the past and add my own story to create the warmth and traditions I want to bring to my family.
We have a small family group this year for Thanksgiving. My mother is not with us this year, my sister and her husband are traveling, and one daughter’s family lives out of state. But we will have a wonderful Thanksgiving with my daughter, son-in-law, two grandkids, and sister-in-law and brother-in-law. We will share favorite Thanksgiving food, and I am planning to create an uplifting Thanksgiving story this year.
Shortly before Thanksgiving, my daughter that is out of state, met me on a layover flight and went with me to Boston to help with my husband’s aunt. His aunt was very thankful that we would come and take care of some much needed business. Then I met a cousin I hadn’t seen in many years. I wondered what could cause these separations where families don’t see each other and maybe not even hear about one another. I was just thankful for all of the connections I was able to make.
Whatever your family situation, you have the opportunity to create your own values and beliefs through your stories and celebrations. You can create your own happiness and fill in any gaps in your life. Make it a blessed Thanksgiving and share your happiness.
What sets up a mental block for you in your creative work?
Distractions, interruptions, or anything that just feels like work can create a mental block. Distractions and interruptions are annoying although some interruptions end up being fodder for writing. I say that because interruptions can be messy, seemingly meaningless, or dried up but often food for thought.
Food for thought comes from all around us: the messy office, children playing, horses naying, birds singing, or someone calling our name. When I hear my name, my first thought is, “not another interruption!” But these interruptions can sometimes bring up a scene in a story or an informational article. Humor can even be applied to life’s interruptions.
A mental block is a completely different animal. You look at something or a thought races through your mind––then nothing. Blank. You had a great idea or a line for your story and it’s gone. It feels like a roadblock that stops you in your tracks.
Today I realized that looking at my emails is a roadblock for me. Not the interruption necessarily, but thinking about all of the things I need to do. Work in the sense of a duty, labor, or task that needs to be done. I need to unsubscribe to this one, I’d like to read that one later, another needs a response, and I’m not sure what I want to do with it. Many tasks that don’t fit with the creative work I want to accomplish. The last one just feels like work. When I hit a roadblock, I want to read a science fiction novel or watch TV and eat lunch. When I closed my emails and put them out of my mind, I was able to sit down and write about my roadblocks.
Whenever possible, saving your roadblocks until after your creative work is done, will move you forward in your creative writing goals.
Find your muse or just write right now!
I was a little nervous about submitting "Vegetable Kids in the Garden" to Kirkus Reviews. I read that some of the reviews were not positive. Although you can keep your review private if you don't like it, I was afraid it would affect my self-esteem in a negative way to get a less than stellar review. I was getting excellent comments from readers young and old who loved the book, but submitting the book for a review made me nervous. I wanted to know what an outsider who had not even picked up the hardcover book might say, so I did it!
I was thrilled with the review. I believe the reviewer described the activity and fun in the book better than I did. Not only did the review give me more confidence, I had a description I could happily share.
"Cousins Lucas and Emma love to spend time in their grandparents’ garden. One day, with the help of Grandpa and Nona (their grandmother), Lucas helps plant various vegetable seeds while learning about the uniqueness of each one. To his dismay, the plants aren’t ready by dinnertime, but he and Emma find plenty of fresh, scrumptious vegetables at the store. On another day, the two ride their bikes to Nona’s house again, but this time their friends Dylan and Zoe tag along, and the garden as a whole turns out to be as much a source of fun as it is vegetables. The four of them dig up treasures, discover bugs, and get into a jovial conversation about who would be which vegetable and why. After much laughter, Nona calls the kids in to make homemade pizzas and they eventually enjoy a delicious and healthy dinner together.
An ample serving of entertainment, a full measure of health education, and a dash of Christian thought, perfectly blended and served in a non-preachy way." –Kirkus Reviews
There are many layers of editing to create a polished interesting story that will entice your audience. This guide helps me systematically get through the layers when editing a story. Some layers you can self-edit, ask friends to read for interest, and hire an editor to do final editing or content editing if needed. When I wrote my first draft of Vegetable Kids in the Garden, my daughter whom I hired to edit the story said, "You didn't think you could write a children's story in three hours did you?" My other daughter thought the talking dancing vegetables sounded like they were on drugs. After content self-editing and rewriting, my editor helped me with the flow, content, and grammar. A year later, after hiring Russel Wayne to create amazing illustrations, I publishing the book. I was pleased I took the time to publish a book I was very proud of.
Story Editing Guide by Nancy J. Miller, M.S.
What does a writer do when hit with a tough virus that is hard to knock out? This one watches “Once Upon a Time” on Netflix and reads Outlander on my iPad. Enjoying amazing imagination and creativity while venturing into alternate time and space is quite the best medicine. A little Niquil relaxes the cough and puts me in a pleasant daze for zoning out on fantasy.
Sometimes our bodies tell us we need to stop and heal gaining new insights and direction. Visiting enchanted lands and sliding into the past or future brings a new dimension to writing, thinking, and the creative mind. I ask myself, “If I wasn’t stuck in this office, if I could travel wherever I wanted, what would I do?”
If I wasn’t afraid of monsters, dragons, or what people would think, what could be possible? I often feel like I am not afraid. I am doing all that I can do until I face the unknown; the impossible; the dive out of my comfort and see what is possible.
If this seems a little foggy, unclear, or unnecessary it may be the cold medicine. Or maybe it’s because of all of the time spent with heroes, villains, bold princesses, and the tough Highland Scots. I highly recommend indulging in fantasy whenever possible.
I took a 3-mile walk to my daughter’s house on a warm February morning in the California Central Valley. I listened to the 10% Happier podcast about the value of meditation. Then with sleeves rolled up I ran around with 2-year old Lexi, had a tea party at her house, and then started home. As I got out my ear buds to listen to another podcast, I thought about mindfulness. A 2-year old notices everything on a walk. The birds, the cracks in the sidewalk, and her hair blowing in the wind.
I decided to take a mindful meditation walk and let my mind relax rather than feeling like I need to learn something as I often do. It was time to give my mind a break.
I looked up at the trees, listened to my feet hit the ground, noticed the sound of the gulls, the geese eating grass, and the cloudy sky. I was so entranced with my mindful moment that I had to stop and take a picture. I felt the humidity and realized it would probably rain tomorrow. Within a few minutes I was seeing what was around me, being mindful of the moment, and emptying my mind of random thoughts and things to do. When I got home I was able to think and write more clearly.
Research at Yale University and Harvard suggest that we can actually change our brains through meditation and have less anxiety and depression. In fact, it seems we are less happy when our minds wander from thought to thought.
Rather than relaxing in a chair to meditate, a mindful meditation walk is an exhilarating way to exercise the body while quieting the mind to make room for new adventures. With so much change and anxiety in our lives and work this simple practice appears to have many stress reducing benefits.
Jim Brown is the owner of Bravos Soup and Sandwich Shoppe. He says you can find him there almost anytime during the day except when he leaves every now and then to take care of his horses.
Jim chose this business to recreate who he is. He says he was an engineering contractor for 30 years and when the economy crashed he decided to recreate what he was and make something different out of himself.
When I asked Jim what makes the restaurant successful, he said he believes his success comes from connecting with the community and bringing a local product to the customer. The natural products, herb seasoning, and low sodium bring out the flavor and create communication. Everybody likes to talk about food. Jim explains that these days everyone likes to take pictures of food so he likes to make a good picture plate as well as good food. He says a great staff and Chef José, who is an answer to prayer, are an important part of his success.
For Jim, the best part of his job is meeting people; some people even say he is like a people magnet. I would have to agree. Coming from the rough and tough engineering environment, he says the restaurant business has really opened up his friendly side. He has a chance to start a conversation when he asks, “How do you like your food?”
Jim says he has always liked to cook and most of the recipes here are a reflection of what he did when he was a little kid. He was raised by his grandmother, who was a great cook, and mentor to him. Jim says, “We made jellies, relishes, sat on the porch snapping beans, and went out in the wheat fields harvesting wheat.” He says it was a great life for a little boy growing up.
Chicken and Dumpling soup is Jim’s favorite dish at his restaurant. It is a recipe from his great grandmother. He explains that his recipe comes from the 1880’s when his great grandmother came to Oklahoma in the land rush from Tennessee. Jim recalls that it reminds him of his grandma and that’s why we have it here everyday.
I asked what experience or education helped him in creating this business. Jim said, “I challenge myself at all times.” He went on to explain, “When you think you don’t have anything else to contribute you dig down and find something you can do.” He saw a possibility and put the elements together. He said, “I’m a developer and contractor so putting plans together and following a method is second nature to me. Like a blueprint.”
Jim and his wife, Lisa, designed Bravos with a farm and musical décor. As I notice the seat I am sitting on, Jim explains the seat is his design like red alligator boots, and the back is his wife’s design. She has been a ballerina all of her life and he says he’s probably been to more ballets than any cowboy he knows. They bring together fresh farm produce and musical posters and songs. It’s a fun place to share a delicious meal.
Jim says they have plans to open more restaurants. His plans for the future include a restaurant in Galt. He wants each restaurant to fit the community and use local products. In Elk Grove everyone’s going somewhere. The theater theme fits the fast-faced diverse culture.
Do you have a unique story you would like to share? Contact Nancy to submit your story.
Nancy J. Miller, M.S., Personal/Career Coach, had the pleasure of interviewing Jim Brown January 12, 2016 at Bravos in Elk Grove, CA. Nancy is author of, Vegetable Kids in the Garden and Fire Up Your Profile For Lifework Success.
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Nancy Miller, M.S. is a Career Counselor, Life Coach, and writer. Nancy will assist you with story ideas, organizing your book whether fiction or nonfiction, and choosing a method for publishing and printing.