December 22, 2011

Steve Martin and My Metaphysical Writing Group

About two years ago I started a hypnotherapy journey. I am now a hypnotherapist and love using it to help writers and myself really enjoy the writing process and dig into their creative depths. Well, last month after finishing a non-fiction book project that has taken much of my time for my the last 2 1/2 years, I started working on my own memoirs again, (mostly a collection of stories from my childhood -some of the published ones are archived here) and it is bringing me so much joy. I have been using all of my own tools and finding great surprises along the way.

The funnest part about this journey is that I have started a new writing group. Steve Martin, who I adore as a writer, is in my group. Some of you know that I have been wanting to meet Steve for a while. Well, I finally met him in a metaphysical imagery journey in which we were both sitting in two chairs by a cozy fire in a cabin in the woods. If you are wondering, yes there was a stream outside. Ah, the mind.

Warning. This blog is about to enter the realm of the metaphysical and unprovable. Right where I like to be. Most of the best things in life are unprovable. Like poetry. How does it work? How does it break the chains of time and space and shift us when we hear it read aloud next to paintings of flowers and haystacks. No one really knows, and when we try to talk about it, we are using the part of our mind that doesn't really believe in it anyway. That's why analyzing and talking about the metaphysical always feels woo-woo.

But back to my writing group. Steve and I really connected when we met and we decided to start a writing group. He insisted that we invite his friend Julie, because she is a very good workshopper and has been very valuable to him in his writing journey, and I trust him completely. So we invited her. I don't know her well yet, but she seems to be quite lovely. I wanted to invite Annie Dillard, but Steve was not sure at first. He's much shyer than you'd think. I'm not sure what his hesitation was, but once we got her on Skype she was great and we all had great chemistry.

So we meet like that, the 4 of us, weekly around my square dining room table, and sometimes we are serious and sometimes we laugh and sometimes we lie on the floor and listen to a recording of some hypnosis track that I made earlier. And sometimes... well no, I won't share everything.

Suffice it to say, I'm happier than ever and producing great writing. Perhaps I will even update Cartoon Physics, soon. I hope everyone is enjoying the writing life as much as I am.

Who is your metaphysical writing mentor?

October 20, 2011

The Winners are...

Memoirs Ink is happy to announce the winners of the 2011 Annual Writing Contest:

First Place: The Narrative Voice, by Emily Gambone

Second Place: A Great Love, by Sue Granzella

Third Place: The Circus Inside Me, by Re McBride

Honorable Mention: To the Edge, by Patricia Schultheis

Please read and enjoy them and pass on or comment on any stories you enjoy. If you would like to enter our next contest, you can view the guidelines here.


August 26, 2011

Life Histories and Colorado Peaches

I'm in a very small town in the northwest corner of Colorado right now, conducting a life history interview for an 87-year old man. The interview is interesting so far, as always, and I am enjoying being in the high desert after a long absence from this part of the country. On the 88 mile drive from Grand Junction to Rangely, I saw wild horses, deer, and cattle grazing on the side of a precarious cliff. There is a quietness here that has a buzzing sound to it. I couldn't help stopping at a peach stand and I am now living off of Palisades Peaches (which is apparently the place to get peaches around here.)

It has been some time since I have traveled for work, and I'm surprised how much I am enjoying it. Lately, instead of traveling myself, I have been training others in the art of "Life History Facilitation" and certifying them through Memoirs Ink. The plan is to create my own army, because there is only one me and there is a lot of work to be done in the world. The demand for recorded life histories is growing, and I love training people. What better job could one have than to be paid to listen to interesting stories, learn new things and sometimes travel to interesting places.

Here are just a few of the things I learned about today:

The Road to Berma
The Flying Tigers
Mount Everest
The Forbidden City in Tibet
Gurkas
Riding an Elephant

August 18, 2011

2 Memoir Genres That Will Change My Life This Fall

I'm a memoirist. It even says so on my cards. But for some reason I have largely ignored the sub-genre stratification of memoirs. A memoir was a memoir. But now I see my error. There are war memoirs, there are midwifery memoirs, there are political memoirs, and so much more.

Let me tell you about two genres of memoir that are currently on my radar and why. They are: food memoirs, and dating memoirs. Culinary memoirs are on my radar because I love food and because Memoirs Ink just started a food memoir blog called Heart of the Platter. Starting this blog has changed my culinary life and brought me and others around me much joy. (I'd like to invite readers to think about food stories, too and submit them if they have them. They are fun and easy to write.) The latter genre, dating memoirs, came onto my radar when Tamara Duricka Johnson showed up in The Writer's Mind Class this February.

Tamara was in the editing phase of her dating memoir, 31 Dates in 31 Days, which is forthcoming this October 2011 from Seal Press. I got to hear her story and read some of the chapters. It was fun to see how her dating experiment changed and stretched her, and ultimately brought her true love (but you'll have to read it to find out how). I realized that dating memoirs are a legitimate genre. And so in honor of Tamara (who is now a dear friend), and her forthcoming book, I have decided to do her 31 date challenge this fall. Lucky for Tamara, and some good men out there, I am currently single, rooted in self-love and open to any and all learnings. Seems like the perfect time to do it.

Eek!

However, I am not quite crazy enough to attempt 31 dates in 31 days, so I will be doing the 30 dates in 60 days (September and October), and the 31st date will be a second date of my choice sometime around the end of October.

Just to satisfy the highly voyeuristic, I might blog about it here every other week or so and let you know how it is going. And I'll be doing a guest post on Tamara's 31 Dates blog sometime in October.

So fun! May the force be with me.

Me at my last Art, Music, and Spoken Word Salon. (Before I spilled tea and honey on my shirt.)
P.S. If you are in Los Angeles and want to set me up with someone handsome and healthy (nerdy welcome too), or be part of my date quest yourself then hit me up through the blog. In general, I'm only saying yes to people who I know through someone, but hey, there's no harm in trying. That is a lot of dates to fill.

July 19, 2011

Editor Quote to Consider

W.H. Auden said, "A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language." I believe this to be true of all writers. Do you agree? Tell us why or why not here.

Looking forward to reading all of your feedback.

xo,
Christina


July 12, 2011

Editor Tip: Stop Making Excuses—Write Now

I am in awe of how many people believe that in order to write a memoir you must be a celebrity, elderly, or on your deathbed. While having a huge following (as celebrities do) will help you get published, it's not necessary. As for being elderly or on your deathbed, where would we be without such great memoirists as David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day), Annie Dillard (An American Childhood), Steve Martin (Born Standing Up), and Jeannette Walls (The Glass Castle)?

Just Write
Don't create excuses for yourself. Memoir binds people together; it is the day to day, the conversations at bus stops, a missed exit on a train ride, a stranger at the supermarket, an eccentric family or friend that create great works. Don't think you need to climb Mount Everest or win an Oscar to write about your life; there is value in your story, so write itand then sharewith your parent(s), child(ren), friends, family, Memoirs Ink, and the world.

Looking forward to reading your stories.

Cheers,
Christina

July 5, 2011

6 Simple Editor Tips on How to Win the Writing Contest

As Memoirs Ink's Senior Editor, I have seen the writing contests (half-yearly and annual) from start to finish for nearly 3 years. As a result, I have compiled a list of friendly tips to help you make sure that your essay lands in the coveted "yes" pile.

I hope these tips will also help you to stand out as a writer, not just for our contest, but beyond.

#1 Stay Focused
As these are short essays, stay focused. Avoid rambling. Your essay should read like a mini-memoir, not a journal. The reader should know what your essay is about after the first two paragraphs. If you start to stray away from the topic you initially introduced, go back and remind yourself that you need to stay focused. Also, you must proofread your work thoroughly. The piece you submit should be your final draftdo not submit a piece that you have not proofread. This may seem trivial, but spelling errors/typos will land your essay in the "no" pile. Proofread until you are certain there are no mistakesand then have someone else read your work: Enter tip #2.

#2 Two Pairs of Eyes Are Better Than One

Have a friend, fellow writer, trusted companion, teacher, professor, neighbor, or other willing person(s) to review your work. Something that makes sense to you, especially in memoir, may need a sentence or two of clarification for an outside party (your reader(s)). Have someone read your work before you submit your piece to the contest. Don't have someone to help you edit your piece? Don't worry. Memoirs Ink offers feedback for writers after the contest; submit your piece along with a check for feedback and one of our judges will provide you with feedback on how to strengthen your writing skills and make your piece stand out amongst the pile. This may not help you win the contest you initially enter, but you can revise and re-enter your essay for another contest. I strongly recommend doing so.

#3 Review the Guidelines

This is a note on format: Your essay must be typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12 pt. font. Single-spaced essays strain your readers' eyes, and after reading hundreds of entries, judges are less likely to read your essay all the way throughdo yourself a favor and play by the rules for all the writing contests you enter. Also, you must start your essay halfway down the first pagedo not start your text at the top of the page. Your essay must be previously unpublished. Follow the rest of the guidelines here: http://www.memoirsink.com/writingcontestguidelines/

#4 Read, Read, Read

In order to publish the next great memoir, novel, etc. you must read the greatest memoirs, novels, essays, etc. Before you write, read a vast array of literature and familiarize yourself with all the greatest writers. And then read the not-so-great works and learn from their mistakes.

#5 Use Your Senses

Fill your work with imagery by using your senses. Make sure your reader can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste everything that you are describing. By using your senses, you will show, not tell, which is important in all writing.

#6 Have Fun with Your Work

If you don't want to write your essay, chances are people will be less likely to enjoy reading your work. Nothing is greater than a writer who is itching to share his/her story with the world. Be that writer. Find the joy in your work and others will too.

I have been honored to read the essays for our contests, and look forward to sharing in your writing journey. I hope these tips will encourage and inspire the writer in you. Best of Luck writers!

Cheers,
Christina

*For more tips from the editor, notes from the president, and inspirational quotes to keep you writing, follow us on Twitter: @memoirsink and friend us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Memoirs-Ink/25070364520

June 24, 2011

A Tasty Announcement --Guest Post from Emily Chang


Years ago, when I was interning for Memoirs Ink, I learned a lot about running a business, but I also learned how to cook lemongrass. You see, the biggest perk of working out of Felice's home office was that we could take breaks to satisfy our crazy cravings in the kitchen. Whether it was sushi, xao xa ot ga (chicken with lemongrass and chilies), or vegan shepherd's pie, our cravings knew no cultural bounds. The longer I worked at Memoirs Ink, the more I came to understand the connection between food and memoirs; in a lot of ways, Felice and I are an example of a relationship founded on a shared love for both. Food, at its most basic, exists to nourish us, but it often does so much more -- it can open doors to the most wonderful relationships and experiences.

After graduating from college, I moved to New York, thousands of miles away from Memoirs Ink and Felice’s kitchen. Now I order xao xa ot ga from Cafe Asean in Greenwich Village instead of wrestling with lemongrass in my tiny studio kitchen. But Felice and I are still cooking up ideas – this time, metaphorically rather than literally. Memoirs Ink’s new pet project, is called  Nourishing Narrativess: Memoirs that Get to the Heart of the Platter. It is a blog that celebrates the perennial connection between food and the beautiful stories it evokes (and vice versa). Our ultimate end goal is to publish a collection of stories and recipes that nourish the heart, mind and stomach.

I know a lot of people are much more comfortable with sharing a recipe than a story; I would love for my father to reveal as much about his younger days, as he reveals about his cooking secrets. But recipes also have a power of their own: they can serve as a gateway to old memories, while creating new ones. Proust’s madeleine is the classic example of how a taste can transport people back to the experiences that shaped them as individuals. Digesting and recording those memories into memoirs is a challenge, but one well worth taking. We want to taste your “madeleine,” read your stories and make your food. Indulge our minds and stomachs – submit your story (750 words or less) and recipe to nourishingnarratives at gmail dot com.

You can visit the blog at www.heartoftheplatter.com.
Also, feel free to become a fan on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. We will be having lots of yummy giveaways for our fans.

May 10, 2011

How You Can Write and Finish Your Book - For Real

Memoirs Ink has been cooking up a solution to some common struggles that creative non-fiction writers face when trying to write or finish a book. Some of these problems include isolation, lack of structure or momentum, lack of support, lack of financial resources, and often times, lack of fun in the process.

So we have combined the answers to all of these problems into a simple, fun, affordable solution. Our bi-monthly webinar series will inspire, instruct, structure and forwardly move you toward a finished book. The best part is that you can participate from anywhere (no driving), at any time that is convenient for you-- all for only $67/month.  (Newsletter subscribers who register in May or June 2011 pay only $57/month.)

A webinar is like a seminar in that there is a speaker and a chance to interact and ask questions. This webinar also has some extra features, including a chance to make book promises and be held accountable at the next webinar. We also have a 2-minute dance party, a forum for subscribers to interact and support each other between webinars, and a few other surprises.

Memoirs Ink has helped hundred of people write and finish their memoirs. Please join us for a completely awesome new way to finish your book. Register Here.

You can also watch our fabulous trailer here:

video

May 3, 2011

Transparency About 3rd Place

Since some people want to know more about what happened with third place and why we chose not to award it to anyone, we will tell you what we can without slandering anyone.

After choosing the winners and having them all sign agreements that their work was original and previously unpublished, we discovered that 3rd place had already won a contest and published elsewhere more than a year ago. This is a violation of our guidelines and because it was not disclosed to us, but rather discovered by us, we were especially unhappy. Occasionally, because we allow simultaneous submissions, people get good news calls simultaneously, and if they disclose it to us, we are usually cool about a story being published in a non-competing avenue simultaneously. This has happened 2 or 3 times in 8 years. However, in this case we were either lied to or there was a grave misunderstanding on the writer’s part about what “published” means. So we had to disqualify the entry.

I thought this was good news, since the woman who came in 4th place was my personal favorite, but she declined the honor of 3rd place, because she had already submitted elsewhere and was hoping to get a better offer. There was a tie for 5th place, however, both stories had significant problems, and we decided that they weren’t publishable as they are. Because this is a writing contest, we can’t edit the stories to make them winners, no matter how much we want to. We realize that there may have been other stories that were winner material that may have fallen through the judges’ notice for whatever reason. Judging is a highly individual process and some people have wildly different likes and dislikes. In the end, we had to stick with the top stories that were chosen.

So that brings us up to date. We are committed to helping writers tell their stories and supporting them in that journey. We realize how not awarding 3rd place looks—that we are depriving some other author of a prize, but this actually gives us the opportunity to do more with the prize money that is sort of hanging out in space waiting to be used. We aren't sure what to do with it, but we'd like to use it to forward our mission of helping writers and promoting storytelling. We have several ideas and would like readers to vote in the comments.

  • Give away more money in the next contest.
  • Give each of the remaining 6 of the top 10 finalists free feedback/formal critique (normally $40).
  • Give it the most disgruntled entrants to make them happy
  • Give it to Write Girls, a charity that helps teen girls through writing mentorship. OR Ask readers to submit nominations for a teen girl or boy who could use it.
  • Start a scholarship fund for writers with merit who can't afford classes.

Other ideas? Vote or leave your comments in the blog.

May 2, 2011

Annoucning the Winners - 2011 Half Yearly Contest

Okay there was a little bit of scandal, but we are over it. Here are the winners.

First Place: Hockey Night in Canada by Ariadne Hawkins

Second Place: Tasty by Lauren Leatherman

Third Place: In an unprecedented incident, we have disqualified the 3rd place winner for violation of the guidelines. The judges and staff at Memoirs Ink, annoyed and disheartened, have decided not to award it to anyone else.

We will be adding like buttons to our winner archives soon, so make sure you "like" them if you like them. Thumbs up. Smiley Face. Yay! Lots of exclamation points.

March 30, 2011

Random Scraps of Paper

Do you ever open your notebook and wonder what the heck you were thinking? Just now, I was trying to find a file on my computer and realized that it was probably not in there yet, since I only just transferred it from my brain to paper. I looked through a small stack of stuff on my desk. In it were different sized papers, a colored drawing from my daughter, several blue post-its, a few receipts and $10 off card to Victoria's Secret. The stack is starting to sound large. I promise it is only medium-ish. Anyway, in the sorting I came to a piece of paper with a list in thick sharpie and this is what it said at the bottom of the list--(the part that was sticking out):

Salmon Rushdie (underlined)
Aaron Smith
Katie

I have no idea why Salmon Rushdie's name is on a list with a friend I haven't spoken to in ages and another friend I talk to every other day. It is definitely not a jihad list.

I don't even dare tell you what I sometimes find in my notebook. Instead, I'll tell you about someone else. The other day a friend brought me her husband's scratch pad the other day and this is a list I found in it:

Pedro?
Pontiacs are blue.
Gold is a precious metal.
Bob is a nice guy.
I don't like swordfish.
Latin America?

Classic stuff. He works in finance. Not even a writer.

March 13, 2011

Last Day of Class

This week was our sixth and final week of The Writer's Mind workshop. It feels almost too sacred to talk about. But this is what we did after class. We are planning on uploading some of the portraits to JR's global art project.


The next class will begin in April. I pushed it back from the 6th to the 13th. Six Wednesday nights in Culver City. Online class coming in June. If you want to be on the waiting list, please let me know. It is already half full.

March 9, 2011

Inside Out

A student in The Writer's Mind Class sent this to me. If you haven't heard about Project Inside Out, it's inspiring. We are going to submit an image as a class.

Here's a video. There is a long and short version. I recommend the long one.




The website for the project is here. Short video here too.

March 7, 2011

Quest Posting

I love it when I am dyslexic or just a bad typer, because my mistakes often are more interesting than my original intent. I just wrote "quest post" instead of guest post. I don't know what it means. But I'm sure it could mean something cool.

So, if you were to define Quest Posting, what would it mean? Post your definitions or thoughts in the comments. And if you have an image that would go with the phrase "quest post," link it here, too.

March 6, 2011

What's With All the Stiff Author Photos?

Seriously. What's the deal?









I found all of these images over at literaryquotes.com and they seem to have a thing against smiling authors. Guh. I'm so tired of the serious writer and the suffering writer. Writing is joyful and healing on some level or none of us would do it.

Does anyone know any statistics on this?
Do writers sell more books if they smile in their author photo?
It would be a fun study to conduct.

February 27, 2011

The Opposite of War

The opposite of war is not peace, it is creation. Art. I can't find who to credit for saying this first, but it seems to be well known, and also well ignored most of the time.

I had a realization a few days ago that in The Writer's Mind class, I am helping to heal some very great writers--from fear, from blocks, from the negativity that surrounds us--and in doing so, I am helping to heal the world. When a dictator takes over, the first thing they do is get rid of artists because writers and artists speak truth. We add beauty and clarity to the world. We create out of a place that says, "I must" and through it, there is a transfer of inspiration, wisdom, healing, and a knowningness that one is not alone in this world.

Especially memoir. That which is the most personal is also the most universal. Who said that? It's true. Every time a writer accidentally lapses into the second person "you" I immediately start to want to argue with them. But when they stick with their personal experience and their truth, I see myself on every page.

I am thinking about doing a little social experiment. I can't say too much about it right now, but the goal is greater communication, inspiration, and healing on a community level. If you are fan of this, pass it on. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter. I'll keep you posted. We're going to heal a great wound.

February 25, 2011

Dreamers

Last night was the fourth meeting of my Beta class, The Writer's Mind. After every class I feel so inspired and want to blog about it, but do something else instead, like my own writing, or bathtub reading, or sleeping. Last night one of my students shared a piece about swimming nude and other outdoor water related recreation. She mentioned rope swings, cliff diving. There was one phrase I am thinking of now and that is the "flinging oneself into oblivion." This is how I feel about teaching this class. As far as I know no one has ever combined a writing workshop with hypnosis, imagery, EFT, dream therapy, and all the tools I am using and giving to this cozy group of willing subjects. I have no tracks to follow, I'm just flinging myself into open space. I do this often in life and sometimes there are bruises when I fall on my elbow, but other times, the payoff is wonderful. As in this case.

Basically, we go in and out of trance sometimes several times a night and then we workshop writing and I teach them cool stuff about the mind--like how to re-frame some of those negative internal voices, how to release negative emotion, connect with their muse. Last night I taught them how to interpret dreams and stimulate dreams to give them information. They all left a little skeptical that it would work, but this morning I got 2 emails and one call by surprised and excited dreamers.

February 13, 2011

Re-use, Recycle, Renew - A Video Diary About Cutting Up My Wedding Dress



To give you an example of video diary, here is one I made about what I did last week. As you can see, it doesn't have to be fancy. But it's different than home videos in that it tells a story directly to the camera. Video diaries are usually short. They are moment or slice of time. But a series of them can piece together some cool insights over time. And like a poem or a personal essay, they can be about anything--about tripping on the sidewalk, riding your bike, or watching your neighbor's move.

These days everyone has a video camera in their pocket. Either as part of their point and shoot camera or on their phone. So if you don't have a pen and paper, whip out that camera and record your thoughts or experiences this way. Memoir and personal stories are not limited to paper and ink. And each new way of recording our stories has it's own unique value. This two and a half minute video tells a lot more about me than what I did this week.. I hope you enjoy it and that you make your own and send us your links.

February 8, 2011

Send Us Your Video Diaries

In the spirit of expanding the genre of memoir, we'd love to see your video diaries. What's a diary? I'm not sure I want to be pinned down in to a definition. But let's just say it is a video, or series of videos that documents some part of your story. Maybe just a moment in time, or something that captures a larger range of moments--but all in a few minutes. Send us your links and if we like them, we'll share them. They don't have to be fancy or professional. Of course, we'd love to see those, too--but what we are most interested in is what is real. What is your reality. Your truth. And hoping that this inspires others. Hooray!

January 24, 2011

What Makes a Best Seller? The Secret About Readability Statistics

What do these books have in common?
I can not take credit for this information. I am not obsessive enough--although I admire the discoveries obsessive behavior has led to in this world.

So here's the story and the secret. More than 10 years ago I went to a writing conference and heard a writer named James V. Smith talk. I guess I would classify his writing as military/sci-fi/fantasy. Not really my thing, but he had some cool things to say about writing. He lived in Montana where I guess he had a lot of time on his hands and so wanted to discover if there was anything best sellers had in common. By best sellers, I mean everything--from pulp romance (think Danielle Steel) to Pulitzer prize winners like Wallace Stegner. So he spent a good deal of time typing in entire chapters from these books into his word processor then running readability statistics on them.

He discovered, that every best-seller had similar readability stats. Readability stats are what sometimes pop up after you do a spelling and grammar check in Word (if not, click options in the spell check dialog box and then click show readability statistics). They look like this:





Of particular note was the characters per word count. He found that best sellers of any genre all had a characters/word count of less than 4.5. Most were less than 4.3 In fact, the lower it was--let's say 4.1, the better the seller.

Best-sellers also had a Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of 6th Grade or lower. That means that the text could be understood by a 6th grader. This doesn't mean the content would be interesting or appropriate for an 11-year-old, but a 6th grader could understand it and read it.

Reading ease is also interesting. Apparently a sentence's reading ease is inversely related (roughly) to how many words are in it. For example, a one word sentence would be understood by 99% of people. A 10-word sentence can be understood by 90% and so on. The software takes an average from your whole document. This is another reason to vary sentence lengths and make sure your long sentences don't have more than half of readers lost.

Of course, not much of this applies to academic writing--don't even dare run readability stats on your college thesis project-but for fiction and memoir, it's brilliant. I have to say that I have tried out James's little theory and after ten years, it is still by best trick in the book. Of all the pieces I have written and sold, the ones with a characters/word count of 4.1 sold the fastest. The ones above 4.3 have never sold.

So the secret to writing a best seller is really in revising. How do you do it?

I don't do it until I am totally done with the creative revisions and when I think it's ready to send out--because this type of revision uses a very analytical part of the mind and I don't want to introduce it in the creative part. But once I'm ready, I turn into a machine. Here's what I do.

First, I go through each paragraph and try to shorten it by a line. So if it ends with a little widow line of two words, it's not too hard to find a few words to cut out and shorten it. If it is a longer line, it becomes more challenging. A fun challenge. Sometimes I do it by shortening each line by a word and other times I see a whole sentence that doesn't need to be there. This helps my goal of shortening each page by a paragraph. Lastly, I go through and try to see if each word could be replaced by a shorter word that does the same or a better job.

It is literally like combing your hair one strand at a time. Some of you might find it a tedious process, but it can also be terribly fun. Try it out and let me know about your experience.

January 21, 2011

An Open Letter to the Smiley Face After an Insult

You know how we feel about emoticons. For the most part, I have been relaxing my stance on this, just because if I didn't, I might have to hate everyone, and as the writer of this awesome letter we found at mcsweenys.net says, I have to say "No" to hate. But there are still some things that drive me crazy. Here's how Jade Ologunja begins her letter:

Dearest :) ,

So there you are, just smiling directly at me immediately after an unfriendly statement has been typed. As if my crushed spirits are suddenly supposed to be lifted because you decided to suddenly emerge out of nowhere. You're meant to reside directly behind mean statements so as to reduce the impact of an insult.

"Your shirt is very ugly." :)
"What happened to your face in this picture?" :)
"Wow, you are not photogenic." :)
"You're a douche." :)

Smiley Face, you normally have a stupendous reputation. You're able to turn someone's frown upside down right? ....

You can read the rest here.

The letter is a great personal essay form, and is often easier to begin than a more traditional style essay. If tend to compose letters in your head or find yourself narrating your day in the form of a conversation with someone, this might be the form for you. To be honest, I like this form, and we don't get many in this style submitted to our writing contest. So if you try it out and like it, send it to us--we might like it, too. :)

January 14, 2011

The Writer's Mind

That's what I am thinking of titling my new writing class, and the book that I foresee coming out of the class. Or perhaps the Creative Mind--because most writers are also doing a million other creative things and the tools and benefits of this program will be applicable to all creative modalities. I am working on the syllabus now, in a happy trance. Mmm.

If you have been thinking about taking this class, it's filling up.

January 11, 2011

Hypno-What?

I have been getting quite a few questions about our upcoming writing class. Here are the answers:

  • It is a personal essay class.

  • You can expect to do writing assignments, read essays and critique them, and have brilliant discussions over tea.

  • Fiction writers and screen writers are welcome. All writing comes from personal experience so it should help your craft, regardless what your favorite genre.
  • Yes you can get (most of) your money back after the first class if you don't like it or think it is weird.
  • No you will not bark like a dog.
  • Hypnosis is a natural state--nothing like a stage hypnosis show. What Ms. Austin will be doing is actually called Therapeutic Imagery. Which means you use your imagination. Imagine that! You should be good at it by now. It's actually quite fun and relaxing and has dramatically changed my life. But that is for another post.

Please direct any other questions to me or Ms. Austin.

Happy Writing!

January 3, 2011

New Class - Hypnosis and Writing

Blocked? Need motivation to write? Want to get in and out of flow easily and effortlessly? This is what we have been up to. Felice Austin, president of Memoirs Ink and hypnotherapist has put together this unique and totally awesome hypno-writing class. Right now it is only for Los Angeles residents, but we hope to make it available online in the future. Check out this video and if you live in L.A. enroll today! To learn more about the unconscious mind and it's power to transform your life, visit www.treeoflifehypnosis.net.