Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Importance of Creativity

by Beth Ferree
Throughout history creative genius has been connected with mental illness. Edgar Allen Poe died in the streets, drugged out and dried up. Emily Dickinson created poems secluded in her room, seeing only family and a few friends. It became fashionable to suffer for your art.
Psychologists have discovered a link between those who are highly creative and the tendency to develop bipolar disorder. Indeed, the very process of creating may sometimes seem to be a manic depressive episode. When inspiration hits it is a recalcitrant child. The need to create sits at your feet and kicks its heels until you pay attention. Then, when the ideas start flowing, they come at a pace any sprinter would envy. Often it is difficult to write fast enough to keep up with the thoughts as they tumble out. Once the poem is written, or the painting is finished, there is an exhaustion. If you are not emotionally stable at the outset, it would be incredibly difficult to deal with this inspirational cycling.
When you consider the emotional turmoil the creative genius often experiences, you must wonder what possible advantages there could possibly be to creativity. In reality, these cycles of inspiration don't occur with everyone and the benefits of exercising your creative muscles far outweigh the disadvantages.
Creative people tend to be more intelligent and curious than the average person. Pablo Picasso once said, "I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it." Never stopping to rest on his laurels, he died in his 90's, some of his greatest work created the last 25 years of his life. Ironically, Picasso was afraid to paint. Creative persons face their fears head on.
If you are wondering how to develop your creativity, odds are you aren't interested in creating The Mona Lisa or writing the next Great American Novel. You are probably far more interested in how creativity will benefit you in business or personal life. If you've ever tried to solve a problem that seemed to have no solution or dealt with a contrary child, you definitely understand that creativity is an essential tool for success.
There are certain personality traits creative people possess that you can learn to develop and nurture. By mastering these, you will not only become more creative but your self esteem will blossom. Someone who is creative tends to be flexible and easy going. They do not rattle easily and tend to take life in stride. They are motivated and tend to be very knowledgeable about their field of expertise. Risk takers by nature, they aren't afraid to try new things or, when fears begin to plague them, they plow ahead regardless. These are the people who bring about change in the world.
One of the most admirable traits of the creative is the ability to be a nonconformist. It is probably also one of the most difficult to emulate. Wisdom is one of the end results of creativity, and true wisdom is impossible to achieve if you are constantly concerned with the thoughts and actions of those around you. Creative genius is one of those rare commodities bestowed upon a blessed few at birth. Only in the last two decades have scientists been able to determine what it is and discover those who have it. However, creativity dwells within each of us and taking the time to nurture it will reap you many rewards.
Beth Ferree is the author of two ebooks and numerous print articles. She currently works as a ghost writer on a fantasy novel and as a virtual assistant for an online clothing company. Her third ebook, Tickle Your Muse, will be coming out shortly.
You can read this article and others at Article reprinted with permission from EzineArticles

Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Jerry Springer Show Experience

I guess you're probably wondering if I have a screw loose. I mean, come on. For goodness sake…The Jerry Springer Show?
The dh is a huge Jerry Springer fan. He’s watched the show just about every day for at least the past ten years. So, for his birthday this year, I decided to send for Jerry Springer tickets. I figured it was something different, the tickets were free, and it would give me an excuse to get away for a day.
Why not?
If you don't live in the Chicago area, you're required to write or email your ticket request. As it happens, they only tape from September through April, so I couldn't get tickets for his birthday, which is on the 4th of July. But, I thought, what the hell. I'll send for them anyway. And I did.
In February I asked for tickets to attend a September taping. Since I was told they would get in touch with me sometime in August and that the tickets were issued on a first come, first serve basis, I put in my request then forgot about it. Then, the last week of August I received a call from the show asking for my confirmation. Apparently, I got my tickets.
On Monday, September 10, 2007 we left Michigan and drove 5 1/2 hours it takes to get to Chicago. We were to attend the Tuesday, September 11, 2007 12:00 pm taping of The Jerry Springer Show, and, we learned, the theme was "HILLBILLY SMACKDOWN." OMG, what an experience!
We entered the city around seven o'clock and inched our way through the horrific Chicago traffic. Then, before we found a motel for the night, we decided to locate the NBC studio so we'd know how to get there the in the morning.
The next day after breakfast, we made our way to the city limits and looked for a parking spot. The NBC Studio parking lot was full, so, we had to find another place to park. After driving in circles for about an hour, to our relief, we finally found a parking structure with an open spot. Once we parked, we walked the five or so blocks to the NBC studio and took our place in line.
After retrieving our tickets and going through security, we found our seats and eagerly waited for the show to start. To begin, Todd who is Jerry's new right-hand man (Steve has his own show now-what a surprise), came out and tutored the audience on the correct Jerry Springer etiquette. He gave us instructions on how to react to his signals and when.
When he claps, Todd informed us, we clap (and we were instructed to clap for 30 seconds unless he said otherwise). When he gives us the signal to laugh, we laugh. When motions for us to shout the famous "Jerry, Jerry" chant, we chant. And, we were told, to "make sure it's LOUD."
Todd also informed us that we weren’t to ask for Jerry Beads until the end of the show, and when you did ask for them, you were to flash completely and do a full circle so that everyone could see, or you wouldn‘t get your Jerry Beads.
He informed us that if the hoe-down music started to play, the audience was to go on stage and dance (which it did but we didn‘t). He told everyone to be as silly and obnoxious as they wanted, and, he added, if anyone was offended, he suggests they go two blocks down and one block over to the Oprah Winfrey show.
After our tutorial, we settled in to enjoy the show. Jerry made his entrance by sliding down a fireman's pole and cracking a few jokes. He shook a few hands and made a couple of snide remarks about Todd, then he got down to business.
His first guests were two brothers. One of the brothers had a girlfriend that the other brother, and their family, hated. The brothers argued a few minutes then got into a fist fight, which, by the way, wasn’t an act. You could actually hear the smacks and see the red marks on their bodies (they'd pulled their shirts off for the fight).
Next, the parents came out and the whole family, mother, father and two grown sons, proceeded to get into a screaming match. The mother even slapped the son with the girlfriend. Then, you guessed it, they brought out the girlfriend and the mother and the girlfriend got into a scuffle. Nice, clean, family fun, wouldn’t you agree? That episode ended with Jerry counseling the family and then it was on to the next guests.
Next up were two best friends and long-time fishing buddies. One was married, the other was single. When the married friend got drunk, took off in his car to get his pregnant girlfriend a snack, he got into a car accident and was incarcerated. While he was away, his friend and his girlfriend hooked up. Of course, the two fishing buddies immediately got into a fist fight, then, you guessed it, they brought out the girlfriend.
Jerry did his little talk and gave his advice, then asked the girl to choose which guy she wanted to be with. She chose the first one, the father of her baby, and the second guy proceeded to cry. The audience laughed and jeered at the him and the effects guy played a baby crying sound while the audience continued to make fun of the poor, heartbroken man. Then the audience was allowed to ask questions and put in their two cents.
When a man in the front row made a rude remark, the first guest came to the end of the stage and mooned him. A young couple in the first row just inches from his bare behind apparently didn't appreciate that and followed Todd’s advice to go down the street to the Oprah show, because they got up and left. Then the hoe-down music began to play and the first three of four rows in the audience went on stage to square dance.
After the dance was over, Jerry came into the audience to ask questions and a few girls got their Jerry Beads. Jerry then gave his final thoughts of the day, and the show was over and everyone filed out, single line.
Phew, what an experience! The only thing we can complain about besides the traffic and the parking, is our seating. My husband can't hear very well and we were seated in the back and over to the side, so he continually asked me what was said.
All in all we had an...interesting time. Just the alone time with the dh was worth the trip. My husband says never again, but I'm sure I can change his mind if I want. Now that we know what to look for, what NOT to look for, and a little about the area, it won't be so bad if/when we decide to do it again. However, I do believe we'd visit some place other than the Jerry Springer show if we did go back to Chicago. Once, in my opinion, is enough.
According to the Jerry Springer website, our show will air on Tuesday, 10-03-2007. If you decide to watch the show that day and happen to see a bearded, biker type guy and a auburn-haired woman sitting side by side in the audience, that’s us.
And there’s a good chance we may be seen, too. Jerry talked to a woman right in back of me, and talked to another woman (one with a pair of hanging balls who ended up on the pole-lol) right in front of us and the camera was right there, so we just might be on television. Superstars. lol
It won’t be our proudest moment, but hey, what the heck!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Josh Holloway, Hunk

Like a lot of romance novelists, some kind of visual inspiration really helps me along when it comes to creating my characters. Because of this, I spend a lot of time online searching for graphics, photos, videos, movies and music. I have dozens of photos on file and I'm always looking for more.
I had a really hard time finding a visual that was "just right" for my hero, Travis Santiago aka the notorious Santana in my historical western novel, Dangerous Desires. I'd been looking for months and months for someone to fit his profile.
Every now and then, I'd run across a photo of a model or an actor that I thought might work, but always there was something that just didn't click. So, you can imagine my joy when I ran across a YouTube video of the 38 year-old, 6' 1" hunk Josh Holloway, who's best known as the sexy, southern, bad-boy James "Sawyer"Ford in the ABC hit series LOST. I'm not a Lost fan, so I'd never heard of Josh Holloway. But when I saw him in the YouTube trailer, a light bulb went off. I'd finally found the visual inspiration I'd been looking for for all these months! He was a hunk, no doubt about it, but I didn't know anything about him. So, I decided to see what I could find.
I learned that Josh is quite popular. In 2006 he was voted the "HOTTEST HUNK ON TELEVISION" by In Touch Weekly magazine. In 2005 he was named one of People Magazine's 50 MOST BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE where he was listed along with superstars Brad Pitt, Angelina Jole, Orlando Bloom and Julia Robert. That's quite an accomplishment!
The former model was born in California but grew up in Georgia. He attended the University of Georgia, but after a year he left to pursue his modeling career. Eventually he ended up in Los Angeles where he landed a part in the comedy Doctor Benny. From there, he slowly began getting parts in well known TV series, such as CSI, Angel and Walker Texas Ranger.
He's been featured in magazines, such as Cosmopolitan, InStyle and Vanity Fair. He played a purse snatcher, along with Alicia Silverstone, in the 1994 Aerosmith video Cryin. This year, in addition to LOST, he will play Max Truemont in the upcoming supernatural thriller, Whisper , which is due to be released this November. AND he's the spokesperson for the mens fragrance COOL WATER by Davidoff. He's definitely got his plate full.
Impressive, huh? I'd say so. I'd say it's damn impressive.
For those of you who, like me, have never heard of Josh Holloway, I've listed a few links to some of his sites throughout this post. Also, for your viewing pleasure *grin*, below is the trailer I found on YouTube. It celebrates Josh Holloway's birthday and was put together by titacosta. I think he/she did a great job. I'm sure you'll think so, too.

So, what inspires you when creating characters?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

2007 Brava Novella Contest

This was taken from the Bravalla Authors website. Looks like a great contest.
Good Luck to all who enter!
It’s back… The contest that launched several successful publishing careers and brought readers hours of joy is back! Are you ready? The Rules: 1) The 5th annual Brava Novella Contest will begin accepting entries at midnight central time on August 1, 2007 and will cease accepting entries at midnight central time on September 30, 2007. 2) All entries must be made using the online entry form (which can be accessed by the link below.) No email or snail mail entries will be accepted. 3) Entries will be 750 words (computer count/actual word count) and entrant’s choice of any scene in the novella. Entries over 750 words will be disqualified. 4) This year, for the first time, the contest will have a theme. Entries must be written to the theme of: reunited lovers. 5) All entries will be judged by established Brava authors with the top twenty finalists being judged by Kensington Editorial Director Kate Duffy. As in previous years, there will also be voting by readers with the highest voted entry being named the “Readers’ Choice.” 6) Judging will be held during the month of October with winners announced by November 15, 2007. 7) One entry per person (multiple entries is cause for disqualification.) Open to unpublished authors and those published with houses other than Kensington. The Reward: If your 750 word entry is selected as one of the 20 finalists, your entry will be read by Kate Duffy. Take a look at the books in the sidebar and below to see how many previous Novella Contest entrants became Kensington authors because of having their entries read by Kate. Got Questions? Visit the message board’s Contest Forum and post them there. The contest will be run through the message board, so get accustomed to it now! Submit your entry now!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Muse Online Writers Conference

Not too long ago I happened onto an awesome FREE online writers conference. It's THE MUSE ONLINE WRITERS CONFERENCE sponsored by authors Carolyn Howard-Johnson , author of the HOW TO DO IT FRUGALLY SERIES and Lea Schizas, author of THE MUSE ON WRITING and creator of THE MUSEITUP CLUB online critique group. You won't believe the courses they offer and the impressive presenter line-up. I registered my courses of choice (which were quite a few) yesterday and received my confirmation the very same day! If you haven't done so yet, I suggest you hurry on over and get your registration in. The week long conference and classes begin Monday, October 8th, 2007. In addition to the great workshops, there will be door prizes, free ebook downloads and more! The Muse Online Conference was also voted Writer's Digest 101 Tob Web Site 2005 & 2006.

You'll be sorry if you miss this one.

The Muse Online Writers Conference The MuseItUp Club Carolyn Howard-Johnson Lea Schiza

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chase the Dream Writers Contest

Well, I've come across another contest. And guess what, it's FREE! That's right. FREE. No entry fees! It's the second annual CHASE YOUR DREAM contest and it's sponsored by romance author's Leigh Michaels and Rachelle Chase. Here's the blurb: Enter your 1,000 word unpublished romance novel or novel with a romantic theme, and you could win fantastic prizes and get your work in front of agents and editors. Last year's finalists all received manuscript requests from editors and several resulted in book sales.
RULES Categories: All subgenres of romance, as well as chick lit/mainstream fiction with romantic elements, will be accepted. Entries in other genres will not be considered. Judging Criteria: Weekly winners will be selected based on an entertaining opening that makes the reader — in this case, Rachelle Chase — want to read more. Submission: All entries should be:

Emailed entries should contain “Chase the Dream Contest Entry” in the subject line. The body of the email should contain the real name or pen name of the entrant, the title of the entry, the subgenre, and the 1,000 word submission. Entrants can re-enter non-winning entries or submit new entries each week. However, an author can only enter one entry per week and may not continue to submit entries once (s)he has become a finalist. Winners of the weekly mini-critiques may not re-submit that particular entry, but may submit the first 1,000 words of a different work. Entrants who do not want to be considered for the mini-critique must specify this at the beginning of their entry. Entrant must be the author of the work submitted. Entrant can be published or unpublished. However, work submitted cannot be published or under contract at the time of entry. Deadlines: Contest deadlines are as follows: September 1, 2007 - November 12, 2007 Entries accepted September 18, 2007 - November 20, 2007 Weekly Finalists posted and Mini-Critique winners posted November 21, 2007 - November 30, 2007 Readers vote for winner December 2, 2007 - Winners notified via email December 12, 2007 - Winners and interview posted November 20, 2007 - December 12, 2007 Panel of Experts read entries

Hurry and get your entries in. I've already submitted mine! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Making A Book Trailer

Lately, I've been hearing a lot about making your own book trailer. Everyone has a book trailer these days and quite a few author's are even making their own. Doing it yourself isn't that difficult. There's a couple of free programs you can use to make a trailer. My computer came with Windows Movie Maker pre-installed, which is what a lot of people use. But, if you'd rather have a professionally made video, there are companies that specialize in making book trailers and teasers. I've seen their finished products, as I'm sure you have, and they're all really nice. Don't get me wrong. I think it would be worth it to hire a professional-if you can afford it. But, if you're a pre-published author like me, or maybe even a new author, it would be better on your pocketbook to make one yourself. Doing it yourself saves money, and everyone likes to save money. I say, if you can make one yourself, why not do it? As a creative person, someone who likes to learn new things, and a hope-to-be published some day author, I felt it was in my best interest to learn to make my own book trailer. Heck, so what if my book's not finished? I have an outline, a blurb (25 words or less) and a halfway decent synopsis to go by. And when my book is completed, at least I'll know how to make my own book trailer. So why not give it a shot? So I did. I made my own book trailer. Or, at least, I attempted to make my own book trailer. I opened my Windows Movie Maker for the first time and played around with it a little. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. After tinkering with it for a little while I got the general gist of it, but there were a couple of things I didn't get, so I decided I could use a little help. I did a little blog surfing and found a few nice posts by authors who'd already been down this road and who were nice enough to post tips and instructions for all of of us Windows Movie Maker/book trailer illiterates :) One of the first things a couple of the blogs suggested was to make sure you had some good graphics. One article said you should plan to set aside a whole day just to search for the right ones. And after doing a little looking around, I found that that was darn good advice. It did take a whole day, plus some to find the right ones. And I'm not even satisfied with the graphics I found! I did find some that I felt were decent enough to get by with. So, needless to say, I've made my own book trailer. Now, just for the record, my novel isn't complete, so I'm not trying to advertise or promote, or anything. I just wanted to see if I could make a book trailer and if I did learn to make one, how it would turn out. This is defiantly a rush job, as it only took me about a half a day to make it. As I said before, I love to learn new things, but, I'm very impatient (one of my worst qualities). I couldn't wait to see how it would turn out, so, this isn't my best attempt, but, at least now I know I can make a book trailer. And the next time, I'll know to take my time. If you'd like to see how my "do it yourself" book trailer turned out just take a look below. Enjoy!

Amateurish, I know. But, what do you expect? I am an amateur.
I had a heck of a time with the formatting, which, I'm sure you can see if you played the video. Some of the fonts on the first lines are bigger than the fonts on the second lines. That's definitely not what I intended. When I formatted this, everything looked fine, but, well, you can see for yourself how it turned out.
The formatting thing absolutely drove me nuts (a first born, perfectionist trait. See my previous post about birth order to see what I'm talking about) and just like I do half the time with this blog, I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out what the problem was. Needless to say, I still don't have a clue.
Seriously though. If you're interested in learning how to make your own book trailer, below are a few links to some awesome "Make Your Own Book Trailer" articles. I'd really like to hear your opinion on this fiasco, so if you have a minute, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Happy video making! How to Make Book Videos: The Basics by Michelle M. Pillow Publishers Weekly Article: Trailers for Sale or Rent by Barbara Vey

Saturday, September 1, 2007

I'm A Winner - Yet Again!

Woo-hoo! Yessiree! Yee-haw! I'm a winner-again! Boy, I really am on a roll. I can't even believe this one. I just received an email from Donna at saying that I'm one of sixteen chosen to receive goodies and a copy of IN HER BED by Deborah MacGillivray! Woo-hoo! (Carol doing the Snoopy dance)

This is the THIRD, I repeat, the THIRD time in the past month that I've won a book! I'm a very happy camper!

Just yesterday I was notified that I won a copy of THE MOTIVE by John Lescroart (HC) over at J. Kaye's Book Blog. And before that, I won a copy each of ENSLAVE ME SWEETLY by Gena Showalter and a copy of WILD, WICKED, & WANTON by Jaci Burton from TKA Blog(The Knight Agency). It all started when (I totally forgot about this), I won a free thirty day trial membership to Essence of Romance at a Night Owl Romance chat. Gee, do you think that maybe I should play the lottery? Happy Reading (and Writing)!

Happy Labor Day!

Have a safe and happy holiday weekend, everyone! Free Comments and Graphics at Get More Graphics at