Do You Have a Psychic Vampire Critique Partner?

Continuing from Monday’s subject of critique groups, here’s the always awesome Kristen Lamb advising us, as only she can, on the importance of choosing critique partners. Maybe writer’s garlic will help… 🙂

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Several months ago, in my Enemies of the Art series, we discussed Psychic Vampires. Psychic Vampires are all around us, and likely, we will never be rid of them. PVs are most likely to show up at a number of critical junctures. They sense the energy shift, and since that energy is no longer all about them, they will fight tooth-and-nail to bring balance to The Force (of Manipulation).

While many of my posts are directed toward writers, most people have these same issues. If we don’t learn how to guard against and handle PVs, we will always be their victims. Psychic Vampires will always feel renewed and refreshed, namely because they just sucked the life out of their victims (us).

Psychic Vampires abound in the arts, and they’re also prevalent in many writing groups. They are vamps dressed in writer clothing. Often they are so self-absorbed they can’t even…

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Guest Blogging at The Chipper Muse

Today I am honored to be guest blogging over at The Chipper Muse. Come by and check out my post Critiquing Without Losing Your Mind. Do you have a tip about how to find a critique group?  Share your thoughts or ‘war stories’ about critique groups over at The Chipper Muse.

While you’re at it, check out the series The Chipper Muse has been running on critique groups, and lots of other good posts. If you are looking for a cheerful blog full of creative advice and writerly wisdom, look no further. The Chipper Muse is just the ticket.

Write Anywhere #66

It’s been a quiet summer here on the blog. I needed to take a break because of carpal tunnel symptoms, so I took a blog vacay through July. I geared up to start again in August, and life slapped me in the face. Instead of working on my blog editorial calendar, I ended up dealing with some sad and serious family events, and traveling across three states alone to do it. So I’ll be devoting my next 10+ Write Anywheres to my strange adventure. I hope you’ll come along and discover like I did, that you can find the fuel for creativity anywhere, in any situation, if you choose to keep your heart open and make room for it.

That Saturday morning started out great. I attended a local writing workshop and learned some great tips on writing, publishing in both traditional and self-publishing formats, and enjoyed hanging out with fellow writers. I even earned second place in a first page contest. I walked out of the workshop and into the hot afternoon feeling somewhat accomplished, so I decided to treat myself to a cool reward that took me back in time.

Write Anywhere #66: Snow Cone Shack


I drove over to the local snow cone shack for some icy refreshment. The shacks pop up around the area throughout the summer, but there are one or two that take their snow cones very seriously, and because of that they have a strong customer following. The offerings range from traditional to weird, but people stand in line every hot Friday and Saturday night for their favorites. When I showed up on a Saturday at 3 pm, the sun baked the sidewalks and not a soul stood in line. I ordered a simple cherry limeade ice, and made my way to a picnic table under the shade of a lone tree.

Ahhh... snow cone, post-modern style

Ahhh… snow cone, post-modern style

Spooning the sweet ice from a modern styrofoam cup got me thinking about the Snow Cone Man who used to drive around my childhood neighborhood in South St. Louis so many summers ago. Playing in the heat, ignoring the sweat dripping down our necks, we’d take off toward the sound of his musical truck. We’d happily fork over our quarters for a scoop of ice in a paper cone, watching in fascination as the bright white globe took on color from the flavor sprays. The flavors back then were pretty straight forward: cherry, 7-up, and berry, which didn’t really taste like anything but made your lips a deadly blue. If you had the extra coin, you could get a bomb pop-inspired cone and have all three. Then we’d try to slurp the melting concoction down before the majority of it ended up on our hands and legs.

We always tried to catch the Snow Cone Man on Neosho Street, or Nottingham Avenue, but if he got as far as Murdoch Avenue, we didn’t get a snow cone that day. We didn’t go on Murdock Avenue. That’s where the gangsters lived. Yes, real live gangsters that were part of a well-known crime family in the city. I accidentally became friends with the daughter of a gangster. Tina was in my second grade class. We played together at recess and one day she asked me to come to her house to play after school. I asked my mom and she said sure (parents were much more trusting back in the day).

We walked home from school together on Brannon Avenue. When we got to Murdoch Tina said “We turn here for my house.” My heart started racing because I knew the street was filled with gangsters. There was a row of houses no one went near, and that’s directly where we headed. Because I was taught to always be polite, even if being led to a gangster’s house, I said nothing.

With knees knocking, I walked up the steps and went inside, maybe to never see the light of day again. Who knew what happened in gangsters’ houses?

Well, I lived to tell about it. Turns out gangster’s kids play Barbies, have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and watch Tennessee Tuxedo on television. No gun battles, tough guys, or  fights. Tina was a nice girl. Her older brother was a little creepy, though.

After I told my mom what happened, I never got to play at Tina’s house again, but we still remained friends through the second and third grade. As for the gangsters, Tina’s uncle, who lived next door to her on Murdoch Avenue, was arrested and convicted for a car bombing that killed another gangster. Real live gangsters.

As I finished up my shaved ice, I got out my notebook and wrote down a few of the memories the refreshment had brought back to my mind. With a little research, it might make a pretty good short story. Then my cell phone rang.

I slurped up the last of the snow cone, and the sad news on the other end erased all thoughts of snow cones and musical trucks and Murdock Avenue, and started me on a journey full of grief, joy, discovery, hard work, and traveling mercies.

Where did you write this week?

Do you have any interesting memories of the neighborhood where you grew up?

Don’t miss the latest post on kristin nador writes anywhere. Subscribe via email or RSS today!

We’re The August Featured Blog on Write.Blog.Connect

Write.Blog.Connect, a website devoted to connecting and promoting bloggers, has chosen kristin nador writes anywhere as their August featured blog. Check out the site and if you’d like a friendly place to promote your blog posts, Write.Blog.Connect’s Facebook Group is hopping. They really have a heart to let bloggers share and connect in a friendly non-competitive way. Thanks Angela!

The Dumb Google Mistake I Made That Cost Me All My Blog Friends – Can You Help?

Caïn venant de tuer son frère Abel, by Henry Vidal in Tuileries, Paris, France courtesy Alex E. Proimos, Creative Commons

Caïn venant de tuer son frère Abel, by Henry Vidal in Tuileries, Paris, France courtesy Alex E. Proimos, Creative Commons

I was sad when Google announced they were discontinuing Google Reader RSS content aggregator on July 1st 2013. I had only recently discovered Google Reader in the last year, and it was a beautifully streamlined way to keep track of all the great blogs I was connecting with through blogging. Being able to catch up and comment on posts, favorite special ones that particularly spoke to me, and easily categorize groups of blogs was a win-win.

What was I going to do without Google Reader?

Throughout the blogosphere many offered comparable RSS content aggregator suggestions. Feedly had the most accolades. It’s structure is very similar to Google Reader, and made moving your Google Reader data into Feedly easy with a click of a button. Sign me up!

I’ve been reading my blogs on Feedly since May and it’s been great. When I took a break from blogging for carpal tunnel symptoms I also took a vacation from reading blogs. When I returned and pulled up Feedly, it was empty! Where were all my blog subscriptions?

Well, Feedly’s easy click of a button lulled me into a sense of security. I failed to read the fine print on making sure my Google Reader info stayed there once Google pulled the plug. What I should have done? Saved all my data by getting my OPML file, zipping, unzipping, and all sorts of things I didn’t do.

Thus Google Reader gone, Kristin’s blog subscriptions gone.

Lesson: read instructions carefully.

So now I am left with an empty Feedly account and all my blog subscriptions somewhere in the Bermuda Triangle.

And here’s where you, Dear Bloggy Friends, can help.

In honor of my dumb mistake, I’d love it if you could give me some blog recommendations. I love blogs about writing, book reviews, blogging, social media, photography, creativity, mom blogs, grandma blogs, humor blogs, pop culture blogs, history blogs, current events blogs, basically if a blog is well-written, I’m going to check it out.

Post a list of your favorites, and don’t leave out your own. Let your blog friends know so they can give a shout-out selfie here on Ye Olde Blog. Feel free to scroll through and snag some good ones for yourself.

Let the shameless plugging commence.


7 Tips For Finishing The First Draft

Love this post about tips for finishing the first draft of your story. “Manners are for second and third drafts.” Brilliant!

Writers In The Storm Blog

by Erika Marks

First draft.

Talk about two words that manage to strike both excitement and fear in the hearts of all of us who write, yes?

After having published three books and now deep in the middle of my fourth, I’d like to think I’ve got this whole first draft thing sewed up.

Except, well, I don’t.

But while I’m no pro at this yet, friends, like all of us, I’ve amassed a decent catalog of tried-and-trues that work for me.

Since everyone has her or his own tip sheet, what works/what doesn’t when they sit down to write that often elusive, sometimes terrifying but always consuming first draft, I thought I’d share some of mine with you all today. And I’d sure love to hear some of YOURS in the comments section.

Okay. Here goes…

First off, don’t sweat the small stuff.

I have found that nothing…

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Are You Alienating Fans on Facebook & Fracturing Your Platform?

Some great advice from always frank social media goddess Kristen Lamb on what NOT to do as an author with your Facebook account. Social media is a wonderful tool for authors if we learn to use it correctly. Use social media tools, don’t act like one. 🙂

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Writers are NOT salespeople and marketers. We aren’t. If we were AWESOME at sales, we’d be in SALES. Sales pays way better than playing with our imaginary friends and hoping we create something others want to read. In fact—and I might be going out on a limb here—I would wager most of you are not thinking, “Well, I’m only doing this writing thing until I can land my dream job in sales.”

I work to be very forgiving when writers make social media faux pas because I get that you are trying to be responsible and that “sales” is unnatural for most of us. I’ve also dedicated years and a good quarter million words (most of them free) to educating writers the proper way of using social media.

I created WANA methods to let writers focus on what we are best at doing—writing. The WANA approach works. It’s been responsible…

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Discussing Creativity with Creative You Co-Author David B. Goldstein

A fascinating interview about the connection between creativity and personality type on Patrick Ross’s awesome blog ‘The Artist’s Road’. Hope you’ll be inspired to learn more…

When It’s Time To Listen

It started as a popping in my right wrist. I didn’t think much of it, because I’d been writing a lot, using the computer a lot. I just needed to take more breaks, and the pain would go away. Took some pain reliever, used a wrist brace, rubbed it with Bio-Freeze, and did some stretches. I got some relief and thought that was the end of it.

Then my left wrist started popping.

I had the same thing happen with the left. I chalked it up to an overabundance of computer use, and maybe age. I treated it the same way, and it started to resolve. I was glad because I needed to work on blog posts, my volunteer work with my local writers’ group, my WIP, emails, and keeping up with social media, besides the regular activities of life. So I got back to work.

Then the right wrist pain roared back with a vengeance.

Wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder, and even fingers have been aching, throbbing, with feelings of burning and tingling thrown in for good measure.

Besides the obvious discomfort from the pain, I’m concerned I could be dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, or even some fibromyalgia symptoms that up until now have been fairly low level. I’ll be checking in with my doctor and chiropractor for diagnosis and treatment suggestions.

Are you like me, you normally push through pain, too busy taking care of others that you put yourself last on the list?

It’s taken me several years and several physical battles to learn to listen to my body. Pain, in whatever form, is not normal for your body. It’s a way for your body to warn you that something is not right and needs attention. I’m going to listen right away this time. My ability to be productive as a writer may depend on it.

I’ll be taking about 3 weeks off from this blog for a ‘summer break’ to rest my hand/wrist/elbow/shoulder, have some medical evaluations, and possibly go back to my physical therapist to do some intensive rehab-type exercises. I may reblog a blog post here and there, but otherwise it will be quiet around here for a few weeks. Don’t worry, enjoy your summer, and I’ll be back.

If you suffer with carpal tunnel, repetitive motion muscle soreness, or just want some preventative TLC, try these wonderful exercises from my yoga lady, Esther Ekhart. She is the best.

The programs are only around three minutes long, not too long to help you take care of your assets. If you’re a writer, you need to keep your tools in shape. You need your spirit, soul, and your body to be at their best so you can create your best work. Keep your hands, wrists, shoulders, back and neck healthy.

Do you have any home remedies for carpal tunnel or back and neck issues that writers regularly deal with?