Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Value of Written Works

Concurrent with the start of a new political administration, I recently started school again. In Creative Writing II, the curriculum is portioned into three segments—non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. We started with non-fiction, which is good as I have a work in progress. The downside—essays.

I wasn’t always a fan of essays, probably because I never felt savvy enough to write a good one. My work as a life coach encourages people to speak up and voice their feelings and viewpoints, but it doesn’t appeal to me to share my personal opinion in this form. Essays make me doubt myself. What if I am wrong, inaccurate with my research or make a ludicrous false claim? What if my interpretation of a topic was so far off as not to make sense?

When first reading literary essays, I thought as long as a group of obscure words were strung together, like black pearls on a jute cord, it was immediately considered “raw and edgy” or brilliantly clever, even when it made no sense to me.

Then I go on to consider genre fiction, works I enjoy reading as well as writing. I immediately think of the word prose, a word that I feel almost contradicts itself. Prose refers to the “ordinary form of spoken or written language…” It also means “matter-of-fact or dull expression.” So, if I write genre fiction, is my work immediately assumed to be ordinary or dull?

Writing the truth, whether in a memoir or a fictional character’s viewpoint, creates a strong connection to the reader. Maybe because academic essays are too well organized and detached—the point is to remain factual with an air of objectiveness—to me, that makes the essay feel without emotional fiber. It’s just overblown or watered down rhetoric. (Prose?)

Well-written genre is infused with creative intensity. Hitler and a multitude of other misinformed leaders appealed to ignorant minds, not taking much to convince followers to believe in an illusion. However, making an intelligent and informed mind believe in something that isn’t real is more of a challenge. To me, that is what makes fiction exciting to write.

Literary works often end like an international film that leaves one scratching their head. I get it. They want you to think, to provoke a response by presenting an unclear resolution where you choose what you believe to be true. But some of us just want to be entertained. Sometimes we doubt ourselves, and we want a break from accountability. We don’t want to read vague endings and guess what they mean whilst escaping.

I read once that fiction was the worst thing that ever happened to written expression, like bottled water being bad for third world countries and the environment. I wonder if literature outside of non-fiction is always intended escapism—a way to avoid day to day realities or people just wasting time. Perhaps, I’m doing a disservice by wanting to entertain my readers rather than provoke them into thought or teach a new skill through my personal experiences in non-fiction or my fictionalized characters. So, does that make only non-fiction works worth writing and reading? And then there’s the entertainment aspect of videos and social media. Are they also outcasts of what should be acceptable material to digest?

Thus far, my quandary as a writer has been which book to get out next. Perhaps it should be which genre. Writing is self-expression, but can I help it if someone finds my expression entertaining?

I journaled these thoughts at 4 a.m. unable to sleep because I can’t stop thinking about writing. Sometimes I have colorful dreams, terrific fictional stories based on who I want to be, would dare not be, or maybe was in the past. They have to be written. Little snippets, truisms occasionally come through, as well as these unintentional half-formatted essays.

I suppose, what it all boils down to is doing what I love. Non-fiction memoirs and essays are crafts I still need to learn, but I’m still going to keep writing fiction.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Mentoring and Satisfaction

I started another Creative Writing II class this week. It isn’t needed for a degree requirement, but I enjoy the writing prompts that keep my writing muscles flexible. Reading assignments help me gain knowledge about the writing craft that I may not have known before. However, the most appealing part of the class is the interaction with the students who have an interest in writing.

I enjoy partaking in the editing and critiquing process with others. Those who take constructive criticism personally won’t benefit from anyone’s help, but those who do, thrive and flourish as potential authors. It gives me immense satisfaction to contribute to their improvement as I watch them polish their stories.

Those who mentor benefit just as much from the process as the people they mentor.

Every one of us has knowledge or talent we can use to mentor others, be it in job or life skills. Mentors help set goals and provide steps to realize them. Each time we help a young person achieve a goal, their self-esteem is impacted for the good. Everyone’s outlook is positively affected and stress is reduced. Young people who are mentored are less likely to be involved in at-risk behavior. They are more productive and can mentor others with their new expertise, keeping the wonderful cycle in motion.

Whatever your skill or talent, consider teaching your craft to someone who would appreciate your time and energy. It’s a helpful, creative, and satisfying way to make a positive difference in the world.


Monday, January 4, 2021


Today is Monday. In the “olden days,” when I went to school or to work, I reacted to the first day of the week as if life was temporarily over, because I had to give up a weekend of fun, relaxation, or social connections.

Most of my jobs made me miserable. Either a difficult boss, snarky coworkers, mundane work, physical discomfort, and a list of other reasons existed for my Monday workday blues. Why didn’t I quit and find a better job? Why didn’t I quit and pursue my passion of writing? Why didn’t I quit so I could be happier and healthier without the immense stress?

Sure, I had an apartment to pay for, but I worked paycheck to paycheck and struggled to make ends meet. It wasn’t worth it. I should have rented a room and made the best of it until I could get a book off the ground or found other work that felt more satisfying. I should have gotten past my fear of starting my own business. If I had moved past my fears, I can’t imagine what I would have accomplished at such an early age.

Now that I work from home, the days blur and weekends are only different because of traffic patterns. The big difference is I’m happy doing what I love.

If you find yourself miserable every Monday, if you don’t look forward to going to work be it at home or in the office, it may be time to consider doing what you love, following your passion. Starting a new business, especially during a pandemic, is a frightful proposition, but many people are doing it successfully, tailoring their services or products to the temporary socially disconnected world. Use your imagination and let it inspire you to move past your fears  and out of misery, unhappiness, boredom, or whatever else is overwhelming about your current position.

Granted, this isn’t possible for everyone. For some it may not be feasible to leave a demanding, unchallenging, or wretched position because of dire financial obligations, but even they can start planning for something new and brighter outside of work hours.

The old adage, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?” still holds true. Give it some serious consideration. You’re worth the effort!

Sunday, January 3, 2021


I have a confession to make. My daughter, Marisa Ynez, said she accepted a challenge recently to grow her life coaching business. The challenge is called “The 365 Day Challenge” and is simple. Post at least one line every day on social media. I doubted she could do it (Sorry, Marisa) so I volunteered to help keep her accountable. Then I did something possibly insane—I took on the challenge as well.

The intent of challenge is to get our business brand names out to the public. For my daughter, it's promoting her business in relationship counseling, including sexual dysfunction, helping women to step into their power, and other thigs necessary for couples to create a strong, healthy relationship, as well as other social connections. (One-time shameless mother plug: Marisa is an amazing coach! For me, it's promotingmy books at and supporting women at my website Healing Through Awareness and Self-expression at

But we don’t have to mention our work in all posts—just our names and we don't have to post at the same social media sites. The idea is to discipline ourselves to post and seeing its affect. Today is the third day of the year and I’ve made my goal so far. Granted it’s only 3 days, but that’s a start.

For those of you who want to build your brand name or product, there are still 363 days to go. It’s not too late. It may help to find an accountability buddy who will encourage your success.

Happy New Year to all. May you enjoy health and peace in 2021!

My writing blogs: or (I'm in the process of deciding which writing blog gets more hits.)

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Are You an Aggressive Driver?

If you yell at slow moving vehicles in front of your car, if you give stink-eye to someone who enters an intersection before their turn at a four-way stop, or if you flip a single finger to a person texting on their phone who swerves into your lane, then you might benefit from this simple suggestion.

It’s not to say that your anger isn’t justified, but that’s a lot of hostile energy you’re putting out there, which will only cause you more stress and may make the other driver angry. Since strong emotional energy has proven to be effective in creating change, why not send good, positive energy to the other driver so they can be safer on the road and so you can have a better day driving?

This easy and simple procedure can be applied not only to drivers who annoy you, but to others in any social situation, no matter where it takes place. First, think of something or someone who invokes a feeling of profound love in you. It could be a person, a pet, or a place you feel safe. I visualize my dog, Bostrum, who died a few years ago. A gentle animal, he was old, but every now and then he acted like a playful puppy. He loved being loved and gave it easily. He is my symbol for unconditional love.

So when you drive and run into someone annoying, think of your love image. Let the energy of that image recreate wonderful feelings inside of you. Imagine that the other driver is your love image. I would never give the evil eye to dear Bostrum or shout at him in anger. 

Remember that as you send out good thoughts to that driver, they will be positively affected and be more thoughtful on the road or towards other people.

Give it a try, and you will find peace on the road, reduce your stress, and do something subtle that will have a profound change on the world!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Novel Story Locations

Need a good idea for a story location in your novel? Thanks to fellow author, Clive Gill, for sharing these oddly named U.S. cities:

 1.  Toad Suck, Arkansas
 2.  Climax, Georgia
 3.  Boring, Oregon
 4.  Hooker, Oklahoma
 5.  Assawoman, Maryland
 6.  Belchertown, Massachusetts
 7.  Roachtown, Illinois
 8.  Loveladies, New Jersey
 9.  Squabbletown, California
10. Monkey’s Eyebrow, Kentucky

    The resort beach community of Loveladies on the East coast has a fluctuating population. In summer, it soars to over 200,000, but in winter, only 10,000 locals stay in town. It was a 10-acre area founded in the late 1800s by Thomas Lovelady located next to a U.S. government agency established to save shipwrecked victims. The whole area was called "Lovelady's," then the spelling changed to "Loveladies."

    The Toad Suck Festival is an annual event in Central Arkansas with live music, food, games and much more to see. The festival was moved in the 1990s to Conway, Arkansas because Toad Suck floods out quite often. The beautiful community of Toad Suck is included in the Perry County census because it's too small to count as its own city.

    Hooker, Oklahoma was named after the settler, John "Hooker" Threlkeld in 1873. He was a cattle rancher, extremely talented at "hooking" calves out of a herd for branding purposes. This town has a population of about 2,500 people. The locals are good-natured and make light of its name. You can buy a T-shirt saying, "Once a Hooker, Always a Hooker." Their city motto is, "It's a location, not a vocation."

    What do you think would make a good suggestion for a story location?

    Thursday, April 30, 2020

    Moving Beyond Your Fears

    Mark Leslie Lefebvre
    After seeing several worthy blogs, including a wonderful webinar sponsored by Jane Friedman on Creating Income and Connecting with Readers Using Short Fiction with Mark Leslie Lefebvre, I was inspired to dig out a few old short stories, most of which were written in college. My intention is to post them and see what happens.

    There is a learning curve with Kindle Direct Publishing. Admittedly, I chose them out of laziness. Amazon is a huge firm and a few solid hits will move my name as an author. Also, Kindle is an easy enough program to use, not that all their instructions are well-written, but no major hair pulling needed. I guess I needed a platform for my short stories and this fit me.

    But more important than where this can take my work is my desire to get my work out—to share my stories, be it my personal point of view through my characters or creating an entirely fabricated person I wouldn't ever agree with at any level that matters. Writing is my passion. It is what I love to do. That we do what we love, that we move beyond our comfort zone and out of fear is the most valuable thing we can do for ourselves.

    If only in the first grade a substitute teacher didn't butcher my first story with red ink—dozens of corrections and a huge red F displayed in the corner—I'm sure I would have felt the satisfaction of accomplishment and achieved many worthy goals at a early age, especially in the field of writing .

    Why do we wait for motivation, for inspiration, for the right kick in the pants before we set out to explore, to do, to live, to learn, to achieve? Two of my top five favorite quotes are “What would I do if I knew I could not fail?” and “What other people think about me is none of my business.” Every time I speak these words, I question why I let fear be a constant influence when it comes to things that matter so much to me.

    Now that many of us have the virus to thank for the unexpected gift of time, and even if it didn’t put us in quarantine, don’t let the opportunity pass you by that could otherwise serve as time to do what your heart as always desired to accomplish. If something brings you joy, if it serves you and the greater good, it’s worth doing.

    Don't wait for something outside of you to spark your fire within.
    Make your dreams happen because you're worth the effort!