Where Dreams Meet the Business of Writing

Archive for May, 2014

Today is Mindfulness Day !

Ute smile

Wishing you a great Mindfulness Day!


Mindfulness is the energy of awareness. It’s being conscious of the existing moment. Of living life deeply throughout each day and being fully alive, right here, right now. It is connecting with what we do and also with what and who is around us.


Jon Kabat-Zinn puts it a bit better
‘Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non judgmentally’


The most precious gift, we can offer others is our presence.

When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Have an awesome, mindful day!

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How To Format Your Query in 5 Easy Steps

Queries, queries – what is a writers life without them? Here’s some handy tips.

Carly Watters, Literary Agent

stock.xchng.1280072 If you follow these tips not only will you avoid the spam filter (which is triggered by strange fonts), but you will make it easy to read and fast to consume.

How To Format Your Query in 5 Easy Steps:

  1. Always use the default settings: remember no italics, bold, or colours.
  2. Capitalize your book title. That way it stands out without having to bold or italicize it and it’s transferrable across all email platforms without confusion.
  3. Keep your query to one page on the screen. That way we don’t have to scroll and it’s easy to consume speedily.
  4. Use a three paragraph format. Paragraph 1: Title, Page Count, Genre, Hook; Paragraph 2: Pitch that reads like back cover copy, not a synopsis; Paragraph 3: Your author bio, it’s okay to call yourself a debut here.
  5. Include a signature with your contact information, website, and social media.

And a few…

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Fat and Sassy: Alvin’s Pet Rat

Summer 1955

Alvin walked proudly all the way home, the paper sack he carried rustling and wiggling with every step. It was his, all his. He’d wanted one of these for a long time. It took several weekends of mowing yards for the neighbors and doing odd chores, but he’d finally collected the fifty cents he needed. He felt all grown up when he’d handed the money over, a nickel and a dime at a time.

Getting closer to the house, he had second thoughts. Maybe his mother wouldn’t be nearly as excited about his new pet as he was. He peeked in the door. Whew! She wasn’t at her usual spot behind the ironing board. He stepped in cautiously and moved slowly through the front room. Clanks and scrapes from the kitchen gave away his mother’s location. He tip-toed quietly back towards his room.

pet ratThe old rusty cage he’d found out in the alley a few weeks back, discarded by the neighbors and set out with the trash, had cleaned up quite a bit. He pulled it out from under the bed and sat it on the orange crate that doubled as a chair, or nightstand, whatever it was needed for. After a few twists back and forth on the latch, the cage door sprang open, ready for its new occupant. Alvin gently unrolled the top of the brown paper sack and tipped the opened bag into the cage. The little white rat tumbled out and sat for a moment, temporarily dazed. “There, there, Buster, it’s all right,” Alvin consoled the confused creature. “I’ll go sneak you a piece of Mama’s bread in a little bit.”

He wandered through the kitchen, where Bea stood stirring a pot of beans. He tried to look casual. “Can I have a piece of bread Mama?”

“It’s too close to dinner, you’ll spoil your appetite.”

“Just one Mama? Please. I’m awful hungry, after walking all the way downtown and back.”

“All right Bubby, just one. Hep yourself, it’s over there.” Bea pointed to the counter, where a loaf of bread lay almost hidden behind stacks of breakfast dishes still needing washed. “You want some pear honey with it?”

“No Mama. I believe I’ll just have a plain slice of bread today.” Taking a piece from the bag, he took a bite, then shoved the rest in his pocket as he strolled out the back door to the tiny, cluttered yard.

The area around the clothesline was clear, excepting a pair of Papa’s overalls hanging next to a pair of sheets. Piles and stacks filled the rest of the yard. Old bottles, boxes, pieces of furniture that needed repairs, hangers, bicycle tires, more orange crates, a wagon missing a wheel, old skillets. It was a mish mash collection of everything imaginable. One of the side effects common to many of the people that had lived through the Depression. After years of being poor and not having anything, the survivors tended to hoard anything that was useful or may be needed in the future.

junkAlvin didn’t think too much about it. He didn’t remember the years when everything the family owned could be packed up in the car and moved across the country with hardly a thought. Now that they’d been settled in one spot for almost ten years, the ‘useful objects’ had slowly accumulated and was just there. Which made it handy for a nine year old boy in search of a water bowl for his new pet rat.

With the bread distributed to the rat and a small dish filled with water, Alvin went on about his business, playing and running around on the corner lot with neighborhood boys. He was so busy that he’d almost forgotten about his newly acquired pet until a screech sounded from behind the screened door at the front of the house. “Alvin Dale Jones!”

He went running. He knew that tone of his mother’s voice. He also knew it was never a good thing to be called by all three names. This was big trouble.

Bea stood behind the door as he entered. “What in tarnation is that in your room?” The whole neighborhood probably heard Bea and knew that she was not happy.

“That’s Buster. My pet rat.”

“You are NOT keeping a pet rat. I won’t tolerate it. You go let him go this instant.”

“But Mama …”

“Don’t But Mama me. No sassing back. Jist go do it. Now.”

“All right Mama.” Alvin hung his head and dragged his feet towards his room. He muttered under his breath, “But it’s my pet rat. I saved up the money and spent fifty cents of my own money. I should be able to keep it.”

“Alvin Dale … I can hear you.”

He bit his tongue and didn’t talk back anymore. But that didn’t erase the thoughts running around through his head. He’d worked hard for that money. It was his money. He should be able to keep what he spent his money on. Well, there was no way he was going to let this sweet little thing loose in the outside where a cat would probably find it and eat it. It was his rat, by golly, and he was going to keep it close. He’d let it loose all right. He walked up to the cage and reached for the cage door. He opened it and stood back. “C’mon Buster. You’ve got to go.” He stood back and waited. “C’mon little guy. After all, Mama didn’t say I had to let you go OUTSIDE.”

Buster scampered out, now quite sure what to think of his new found freedom. It didn’t take him long to figure it out. He flew away as fast as his little feet could take him. For quite a while afterwards, Alvin spotted him here and there and knew he was still around. He never did find out if his mother knew that he’d let Buster loose in the house or not.

Staying Focused – Tips from Carmen Welsh, Jr.

Writer’s Zen welcomes a guest blogger today, Carmen Welsh, Jr.

She writes. She blogs. She tweets. She creates artistic works far beyond what my fumble fingers can draw or paint. And in her spare time, Carmen is in graduate school furthering her education, completing papers, taking tests and completing the myriad tasks and assignments that go along with graduate work. How does Carmen maintain focus in the midst of constant deadlines and demands? Here, she shares some tips and inspiration with us about how she stays focused.

Thanks for stopping by at Writer’s Zen and sharing your thoughts with us!


Stay Focused

kayfeyFor me, staying focused is constant list making, jotting down odd vocabulary, and check boxes.

It’s putting up reminders – on my desktop, in journals, on a cellphone app, and on a netbook. It means Stickies and Post-Its(r). It means raving about my work-in-progress on my blog and other social media.

How I stay focused is to tell others who give a damn while I’m in a draft desert. Sometimes, they cheer me on. Other times, they tell me to shut up and go back to write. I guess we writers often need masochism.

Staying focused for me means to surround my outer world with references to the craft, to the topic at hand. That involves research both offline and online.

It’s jumping to a new project when I’m stalled on another; this helps to get the juices flowing and my fingers going. Both on paper and on the keyboard.

Being focused means to immerse myself in research notes and other writers’ voices so that when I am stuck in my head for too long, I will be bombarded by the very things that knock me back.

Staying in focus means there isn’t a writer’s block if the neighborhood is a constant source of inspiration.


BIO: Carmen Welsh Jr. (yes, I’m a girl) holds an AA in Art Ed and a BSc in IT. She’s published artwork, short stories and articles in fanzines, magazine anthologies, e-zines, and other literary blogs. Two of her early short fiction became podcasts. She says tweeting is an addiction. She’s an official member of the Furry Writer’s Guild and AWP. Carmen is currently in grad school. Her official site is http://TabbertheRed.com. You can find her ranting and raving about many topics on Twitter @kayfey. Her ongoing art portfolio with works old and recent can be found on http://CopperSphinx.deviantart.com

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