Category Archives: writing

Taming Your Inner Toddler (So You Can Get Back To Work)

In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I offer this advice (from my point of view as a novelist and a preschool teacher.)

Good luck meeting your writing goals this month!!! 🙂


In the writing world, we often hear about turning off our inner editors so we can freely create our masterpieces without the burden of worrying that our work of art is really a piece of crap. But what if we can’t even begin to create? What if we stare at that annoying-as-heck blinking cursor and no words will come? Not even crappy ones? What if we can’t make our way over the clutter of our lives to the computer desk?


Sometimes it’s not the inner editor preventing us from working. It’s the inner toddler.


That screaming, stomping, whining toddler commands our attention and stands in our way of getting any work done. What can we do about that droopy-diapered monkey who’s climbing over our desk and demanding to be fed right now? I’m far from a writing expert, but I have a lot of experience with young children. So here’s my advice—for me as much as for you—on how to handle the demands of this anti-writing demon.


  1. Feed her. If you feed a toddler cookies and candy and the yummy-but-bad-for-you stuff, she’ll get all crazy and sick and need even more attention. We don’t want that. Nope, we need to feed her the good stuff. The green stuff. The stuff that’s full of vitamins and minerals and gives you energy and mental clarity. Good nutrition helps productivity.
  2. Exercise her. Toddlers need to move! Run, walk, dance, wiggle—movement helps the brain in so many ways. Exercising your inner toddler will magically open your creative brain!
  3. Clothe her. Maybe your inner toddler loves running around naked. Maybe she likes the ratty pajamas she’s insisted on wearing all week. But if she’s not letting you get any work done, maybe she needs to get dressed up to feel like a big kid. Big kids settle down longer than toddlers, right? If words won’t come, something as simple as putting on a pair of decent pants and brushing your hair might help you to feel like the professional you are.
  4. Entertain her. She’s bored. She’s understimulated. She needs culture, darn it! Writer brains need fuel. If words and ideas aren’t flowing, try something new! Your inner toddler might need a trip to the art museum. She might love to see a show at the local community theatre. (Or, hey, your toddler might be mature enough to handle Broadway!) She might need to eat a meal in a restaurant with real people, or a long walk through a beautiful garden. She might need to run through a field with her bare feet. Your inner toddler needs to experience the world through her senses. Connecting with our senses can help our creativity to flow.
  5. Socialize her. No matter what a pain a toddler is to take into public, you can’t keep her locked up. Take her some place—a park, a mall, any populated area—and let her watch people. If she wants to scribble some notes, let her. Don’t teach her not to talk to strangers—that advice is outdated, anyway. Random conversations with strangers can lead to sparks of story ideas. When a writer is fed real-life stories, inspiration is sure to follow.
  6. Read to her. Toddlers need to be read to. Writers need stories the way plants need water. If you’re having a hard time creating a new world on that blank canvas, you may need a reading vacation. Read anything—a book, a magazine, the short story on the Chipotle bag. You’ll remember what made you want to be a writer in the first place.
  7. Take her to the doctor. Toddlers get sick. They need frequent check-ups. If you’re experiencing any underlying health issues, don’t ignore them. See the professionals. This includes taking care of your toddler’s mental health. Depression, anxiety, and other issues can seriously impair your productivity, but help is available. Please don’t ignore your inner toddler’s cry for help.
  8. Bathe her. I know, I know. You’re sick to death of hearing about self-care. But we’re not talking about taking care of We’re talking about taking care of your inner toddler. Trust me—if you don’t fill her cup and meet her needs, she won’t let you work. Take the time necessary to care for her the way you would your child, your pet, your aging parent, your partner. Let her take that luxurious bath. Maybe even give her the cool bubbles.
  9. Indulge her. Let her cry over the sad commercials. Let her binge watch the full season of the latest, greatest show if she needs to. Whatever makes your inner toddler feel cared for is what you should do for her. In moderation, of course.
  10. Discipline her. Kids need discipline. So, too, do writers. Notice I didn’t say “punishment.” Set goals. Write them down. Achieve them. Repeat. If your inner toddler can’t handle a big goal (she’s not going to learn not to whip her diaper off and toss it across the dinner table the very first time, you know, especially if the entire family broke out in raucous laughter when she did it…), then break the goal into small, manageable goals.
  11. Give her a cozy corner. Toddlers need friendly spaces that meet their needs. Writers do, too. Whether it’s a desk, a chair, or a wall of your own—designate it as your professional spot and be territorial!
  12. Nurture her. Use positive reinforcement. She wants to let you create amazing stories. She may just need a nice hug and some kind words. Go ahead. Hug your inner toddler. Don’t be ashamed. Your writing time will be more productive when all of your toddler’s needs are met.

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Filed under Uncategorized, writing

Three Cheers for Kenzie Rose!

Welcome to our wild and wacky Author Interview, featuring the lovely Kenzie Rose. Thanks for joining us, Kenzie! 🙂


About Kenzie:

Kenzie Rose lives on the Central Coast of California with her husband and grown children where she is surrounded by ideas and inspiration for her books. When not writing, you will find her sitting on the deck reading romances and listening to the waves.

She also loves to cook and throw parties for friends and family so this is her excuse to spend way too much time on Pinterest. She loves talking to readers and connecting with them on Social Media.

Kenzie’s Books:

*Everlasting Love, Book 1 in The Vineyards of Love Series



Barnes & Noble 


*She’s My Destiny, Book 2 in The Vineyards of Love Series (tentative release December 27, 2016 (Cover reveal November 21, 2016)

*Unexpected Love a Vineyards of Love Novella (Tentative release February 21, 2017)

How to Connect With Kenzie:



*Instagram: @kenzieroseauthor

*Facebook Readers Group


*Snap Chat: authkenzierose

*Website is under construction.

And now it is time to introduce my friend, author Kenzie Rose! Thanks for stopping by, Kenzie!

What do you write?

Contemporary Romances with HEA’s set on the Central Coast of California where I live.

What’s your favorite book of the books you’ve written?

Right now, it’s Everlasting Love, the first book that I wrote.

Who is your favorite character in one of your books?

Abigail Anderson, she lost her boyfriend who she loved in High School suddenly and decided that she couldn’t take a chance on love again because of the possibility that she might lose someone else too. But she is no match for Anthony.

Please tell us a little about your current writing project (your work in progress)

 This book is different than book 1, it has a little bit of action but it has been fun to write. Sam and Marco are a very earthy couple.

Here’s the synopsis:

Samantha thought she had finally found love – her bad high-school relationship only a memory. But memories have a way of coming back to haunt as Samantha’s old boyfriend is determined to stick around. Even his mere presence is threatening to derail her newfound happiness…

Marco has waited years to find “the one” and he knows that he’s found her in Samantha. With a new business, barely off the ground, he knows he has a lot to prove and the last thing he’s looking for is for her former ex to change his destiny – the destiny of him and his love.

Only Fate can decide if Samantha and Marco will be together and if their true love will conquer all.

Who is your favorite character in a book written by someone else?

That’s a hard one. I think Madeline Keller from Second Chances by Bernadette Marie. She is a very strong woman who battles Breast Cancer and learns that Second chances are possible.

Please share a few details about your writing process.

I have always been a visual person so believe it or not it all starts with a dream. I dream about the book, very vivid dreams, then I wake up and write. I also do a lot of research. I love it when I can read a book and visualize it. So, I pay attention to details. I write a chapter then my editor will read it then edit it so when I finish my first draft I can start right away on the editing. With this WIP it has been different, I wrote scenes or chapters while I was writing book 1, my ideas can come from hearing a song or seeing something like a winery or a hotel.

If you have pets, please share a memory—can be funny, poignant, sad…whatever you choose!

No Pets….

Please describe your ideal reading spot. Does this differ from your ideal writing spot?

I can read anywhere but my favorite place is in a bubble bath. I write anywhere the mood hits me.

If you won millions in the lottery, what would you do with it?

Quit my job and write full time and travel.

Where have you traveled? Where do you hope to travel?

I have been to the East Coast (Delaware and Pennsylvania) Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Nevada and Arizona. I would love to go to New England in the Fall and England, Ireland and Scotland. Now that I have written a book about some very Italian men I dream about going to Italy. Specify Tuscany and Lake Como.

If a movie was made about your life, who would play you? What would the title be?

Julia Roberts and it would be called My Way.

What’s your favorite candy? Favorite baked good? Favorite vegetable?

Favorite Candy is Peanut Butter Cups; Baked goods would be Brown Butter Cookies. Favorite Vegetable would be fresh green beans.

Do you have any hobbies? What are they?

I love to craft, make jewelry. I made Christmas Ornaments that are from my books again this year.

Do you collect anything? If so, what? 

Besides signed books I collect cookbooks. I love to cook.

If you could have a two-hour lunch with anyone (living or dead, fictional or real), who would it be?

E.L. James and Kelly Elliott. (I couldn’t pick just one.)

If you were to design a t-shirt with your life motto, what would it say?

You got this!

What animal best reflects your personality?

A cat.

What should we make for dinner tonight? Do you have a favorite recipe you can share?

Chicken Piccata

Ingredients 4 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup all-purpose flour or more as needed 2 extra-large egg 1/2 tablespoon water 1 cup Panko Bread Crumbs Good olive oil 6 – 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 – 6 lemons), 1 lemon sliced in reserved 1/2 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Place each chicken breast between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap and pound out to 1/4-inch thick. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a shallow plate. In a second plate, beat the egg and 1/2 tablespoon of water together. Place the bread crumbs on a third plate. (I use aluminum pans for easy cleanup.) Dip each chicken breast first in the flour, shake off the excess, and then dip in the egg and bread crumb mixtures. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium to medium-low heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until browned. Place them on the sheet pan and allow them to bake for 5 to 10 minutes while you make the sauce. For the sauce, wipe out the sauté pan with a dry paper towel. Over medium heat, melt all but 2 tablespoons of the butter and then add the lemon juice, wine, the reserved lemon slices, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Boil over high heat until reduced in half, about 2 minutes. Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and swirl to combine. Serve 1 chicken breast on each plate. Spoon on the sauce and serve with a slice of lemon. I serve this with white rice but my daughter makes it and serves pasta.


(Yum! I’m going to add this to my menu this week! -Amanda)

Who is your favorite book boyfriend/girlfriend?

Josh (Faithful by Kelly Elliott)

What’s your favorite sport or physical activity?


Are you a Mac or PC person?


Android or iPhone? Or are you more of a flip phone kind of person?


Black socks, white socks, or funky colored/patterned socks?

Depends on the mood

How do you take your coffee or tea?

Southern Sweet Tea

What’s your idea of an incredible date?

Dinner and then my husband taking me to the bookstore.

What did you want to be when you grew up at age 5?

Olympic Gymnast.

What motivated you to write what you write?

I was told growing up that I had dyslexia so I just should plan on being a housewife. I wanted to prove them wrong, so I devoured books. Then I became a book blogger and an editor. Then one day I sent my best friend 4 chapters of something that I had written. She told me she wanted more. 6 months later Everlasting Love was finished and I had several books planned by then.

What makes you choose a particular character to develop? Do you have any special techniques for developing characters?

Nothing special I just write what wants to be written.

What would you say is your greatest success in your career so far?

Finishing Book 1 and hitting publish.

What do you want to be remembered for?

My family always comes first.

Please tell us something about yourself that hasn’t been covered in any of these questions.

I love to plan parties; doesn’t matter what kind of event I just have fun planning them.

Thank you so much for joining us here on my blog, Kenzie! Happy writing! xoxo, Amanda 🙂 

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Filed under Author Interview, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Please welcome Christine Mazurk! :)

I’m thrilled to have the fabulous author, Christine Mazurk, visit my blog today. Please check out her interview below!

Here’s Christine Mazurk’s professional biography:

I’m an accomplished business woman and Ironman triathlete, who decided to quit my job to write fulltime!! Persistence, determination, and passion allowed me to reach my dream of becoming a published author! It took eight years to find my agent, and she sold my first book within six months. I’ve never looked back. Only forward for my next stories!!!

Some of her amazing books:
Passion’s Race, Passion’s Spirit, Mystical Connections, and Sisters Of Spirit, an anthology written with three lovely friends.

When you’re done reading this interview, you’re going to want to stay in touch with Christine. Here are some options for connecting with her:




*Email: or 

And now it is time to journey into the wonderful imagination and life of Christine Mazurk! Don’t feel like you have to hold your applause until the end… 😉

What do you write, Christine?

I write contemporary fiction with romantic elements. Currently, I have two series going: One is an athletic journey series – two books published to date. The third is my current WIP. The other is a spirit with a message – one published to date, I’m working on the second one in tandem with Passion’s Promise!! Lots going on in my head right now! Characters fighting for the spotlight can make a person a bit loopy.

Who is your favorite character in one of your books?

It would have to be Uri in the Passion’s books. He’s a side character described as a blocky German. He’s one of CJ Fallon’s team mates and the man knows how to make you laugh!! He’s such a gentle giant with a huge heart!! Of course, I love all my heroes: Nick Madison, Mike Dawson, and Aidan Scott!!

Please share a few details about your writing process.

My best writing comes when I’m out for a long run or bike ride or hike. I see the next few scenes like a movie in my head, letting them take shape, so that once I’m showered and back at the computer, the words flow!! Mother Nature is an amazing muse.

If you have pets, please share a memory—can be funny, poignant, sad…whatever you choose!

My two 18-year-old, black and white cats passed away 3 months, 3 days apart. Thirteen days later, on a cold, wet, windy Christmas Eve as my son, DIL and I were walking their three huskies, a tiny black fur ball came running from under a bush and sat on my feet! Our Christmas present from our fur angels!! We adopted a brother for her the following week!! The Universe certainly works in mysterious ways!! (Awwwwww!!! -Amanda)

Please describe your ideal reading spot. Does this differ from your ideal writing spot?

I have two favorite reading spots. It depends on where I am – Florida or Utah. Sitting on the beach and listening to the waves crash or roll over the sand is so peaceful, but sitting under a large shade tree with the red mountains surrounding me is just as spectacular! Do I have to choose? My writing spots vary on my moods or what’s happening in the story. Can you tell I like to move around a lot? (Sounds heavenly! If I ever run away, I’m coming to find you! -Amanda) 

If you were to design a t-shirt with your life motto, what would it say?

“The heart of change is the change of heart!!”

What animal best reflects your personality?

Any large cat; Panther, Tiger, Lion. They are strong yet graceful.

Black socks, white socks, or funky colored/patterned socks?

Funky, fun, fluffy colorful socks!

What’s your idea of an incredible date?

A nice lunch out with my hubby. Favorite foods with an outstanding bottle of wine.

What did you want to be when you grew up at age 5?

I wanted to be a teacher. As I look back on my career, I did become a teacher, only my students were executives in business! I earned my degrees in Business Management and Accounting and climbed the corporate ladder to manage and train executives.

What makes you choose a particular character to develop?

Do you have any special techniques for developing characters? I travel often and love to people watch. It’s the best way to develop interesting characters with unique mannerisms and tics!!

What would you say is your greatest success in your career so far?

I’ve heard from several readers that my stories have motivated them to lose weight or to live heathier, more positive lifestyles. One reader did his first sprint triathlon after reading my Passion’s books. He has since gone on to complete several Olympic distance races and just last month, he finished his first Half Ironman (a 70.3-mile race)!! Hearing these stories makes my heart happy!!!

What do you want to be remembered for?

My empathy toward others, my generosity and sharing heart. I love to give and watch the smiles blossom.

Thank you so much for sharing this insight into you, Christine! I enjoyed learning more about you! 🙂 ~Amanda 🙂 


Filed under Author Interview, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Introducing…Author Dorothy Callahan!

Please join me in welcoming Dorothy Callahan, author of the newly released (today!!!) book, Crazy Little FlingShe’s agreed to answer some of my questions to help us get to know her. Following the Q&A session, you can read her professional bio and find ways to connect with Dorothy! 🙂

So here we go…

Thanks for joining us, Dorothy! 🙂 We’ll just go ahead and dig right in.


*What’s your favorite book of the books you’ve written?

I think if you ask any author, he/she will say it’s the last book written. I think mine is a tie between CRAZY LITTLE FLING and IMPENETRABLE: Let No One In. Both are a fast, roller-coaster of a ride. IMPENETRABLE is about 2 people with severe trust issues who must rely on each other, even as they mean to take each other down– professionally. CRAZY is about a veterinarian whose vacation means she can take a break from making life-saving decisions, only to be tossed into a situation that jeopardizes the lives of everyone she holds dear.

I tend to write about very different people, so what resonates for me or you might be different for someone else. My sweetest story to date, A DECADE FOR DARIUS, is far tamer and was nominated by Sweet ‘N Sassy Bookaholics as “Best of the Best Reads of 2015.” Still has action/adventure, but a lot more heart to the story.

*Who is your favorite character in one of your books?

I tend to enjoy writing about angry heroines, those who lash out first and take stock later. That would include Rayleigh MacPherson from TAMING THE STALLION, Maggie Walsh from IMPENETRABLE, and an upcoming story featuring Cora, the veterinary technician who works with Dr. Krasinski in CRAZY LITTLE FLING.

Maybe it’s because these characters are so different from me? Who knows? 🙂

*If you have pets, please share a memory—can be funny, poignant, sad…whatever you choose!

Oh, boy, do I have pets. Or ghosts. Or cats who chase ghosts. Or just naughty cats. My day goes something like this: I walk into the house and yell, “Get off the counter!” to a cat who shouldn’t be on the counter. They know this. The rules have not changed since I got my first apartment when I was 21. So, why were they up there? Invisible bugs on the ceiling? Staring down ghosts? An innate need to challenge those who deliver kibble to their bowls? Or we walk into the kitchen and find our bills scattered on the floor. Well, since the cats aren’t allowed up on the counters (right? right?), it must be ghosts!

Then, let’s consider the reason I bought a computer desk with a hutch. Did I need storage? Not really. What I *needed* was a place to store my cats while I wrote. I made sure the hutch was JUST TALL ENOUGH that any cat’s tail dangling down would not obstruct my monitor.

I was off by 1 inch.

True stories.

*Please describe your ideal reading spot. Does this differ from your ideal writing spot?

My *ideal* reading spot involves a lounge chair and sun glinting off waves. Eighty degrees. Flip flops. Bathing suits. Siiiiigggh. Where I *read* is usually on the couch or settee. Add a cat. Or three. But my writing spot is my desk. I’ve never read at my desk, except that one time my Kindle ran out of juice mid-book. Thank God for apps!

*If you won millions in the lottery, what would you do with it?

See above regarding ideal reading spot. Siiiigggghhhhh. No, I’d move to Key West and buy the Hemmingway House. (Everything’s for sale if the price is right.) Then I’d donate to animal shelters. I think I’d probably turn my home into a kitty shelter at some point, too. A real one. Not just for furry social deviants who like to scatter my mail across the floor.

*What kind of pet have you always wanted but have never had?

My initial answer is 5 horses: a palomino Appaloosa, a Kiger mustang, a Freisian, a Tennessee Walking Horse, and a Gypsy Vanner. Barring those, a turquoise fire-breathing dragon. Oh, yeah…..

*Black socks, white socks, or funky colored/patterned socks?

The funkier, the better. With Halloween this week, I’ve worn Boo ghost socks, gray bat socks, and black socks with little white bones on them. 🙂

*What’s your idea of an incredible date?

I’m sure Gerard Butler will maintain his silence. Oh, the kilt…..

Thank you so much, Ms. Torrey, for letting me join your blog today! I had a great time. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to reach out. I’d be happy to chat. 🙂

Thank you for joining us! By the way, I’d love to have a dragon, too! Maybe our dragons can have playdates? 🙂 ~Amanda 🙂 

Here’s how you can connect with Dorothy: (And I do recommend that you reach out to her–she’s amazing and highly entertaining, both in person AND online!)




Twitter @Callahanauthor

About the Author

Dorothy Callahan is one of those authors who annoys other authors by refusing to be tied down to one genre. If a tale demands to be told—even if she’s never read a single story like it—she’ll find a way to write the book of her heart. This is the only way to quiet those demanding characters begging to be heard.

She lives in New York with her wonderful husband, a pride of demanding cats, and two loyal dogs, all rescued from shelters (well, not the husband). Her love of both animals and writing prompted her to start READ AND RESCUE, an organization where animal-loving authors and readers can find one another. The unique aspect to this group is that each author pledges a portion of proceeds to his/her favorite animal cause.

When Dorothy is not writing, she enjoys shopping for antiques and renovating their pre-Civil War house. If you are interested in learning more about Dorothy or how to help other animals in need, please visit her at,, Facebook at Dorothy Callahan Author, or Twitter under Dorothy Callahan@Callahanauthor.

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Filed under Author Interview, reading, Uncategorized, writing

Rediscovering Myself

Depression has a way of slipping into my life without any warning. No provocation. No invitation. Sometimes I don’t even know it’s there.

That’s what happened recently.

I tend to be a very happy person–almost too happy for some people’s tastes. 🙂 I live life fully and with the goal of having no regrets. I am surrounded by loving, caring people who would do anything for me. I am blessed beyond measure, and constantly grateful.

So why have I been feeling so overwhelmed? Why have I lacked focus? Why have I fallen so far behind? Why have I been so wracked with self-doubt? Why have I been unable to produce anything creative?


I won’t go into all of the details–I’ll save that for a future post. But I will say that acknowledging the fact that I have been depressed for months has helped me (once I got past the surprise of this revelation!) I’ve put a name to it. I’ve discussed it with my loved ones. Though I don’t want Depression to make herself too comfy in my life, I’ve been working on living with her. If she needs to be here with me for a bit, she needs to learn that I need to be in control of my own life. I can’t continue to allow her to make me feel overwhelmed. I need the spinning thoughts to stop. I need to commit to a plan and follow through.

So this week I made lists. Lists help my spinning brain to regain focus. When I start to get off track and get frustrated and ready to quit, I consult the memo on my phone. Now I can feel successful rather than like a failure. Small things amount to big changes, right?

I’m also working on other ways to regain control. Working on eating better, planning weekly meals, shopping for ingredients so I don’t have a chance to get overwhelmed and order pizza “one more time.” Maybe this is the week I’ll make it to the gym since I know exercise will help my brain. But no matter what, I’m not going to beat myself up for any perceived failures. I’ll just remind myself of my plan and move forward.

And this is the week I’ll go back to writing. I’m committing myself to NaNoWriMo. I’m going to go to a kick-off party and force myself to both be social and to work on a new project that I’ve delayed for many months. I need to refocus and rebuild a career that has been derailed thanks to good old Depression.

Most importantly, I’m going to speak kindly to myself. Positive self-talk is so important, and something I preach all the time yet somehow forgot to utilize myself.

Thanks for reading my ramblings–I don’t normally share this sort of stuff, but I think it’s important to talk about these issues that affect so many of us. If you have ever had the unpleasant experience of having Depression as an unwanted visitor, you have my sympathies. And all my love.


~Amanda 🙂




Filed under depression, Uncategorized, writing

Achieving Your Dreams Through Positive Visualization

{Originally published in Romantically Speaking (Rhode Island Romance Writers), May, 2008. Written by yours truly. 😉 }

The power of visualization is not a new concept; it has been successfully implemented for more years than we can know. But how can we use it most effectively? How can we move beyond simple daydreaming, into the realm of making our dreams come true through the power of our thoughts?

Before you dismiss me as crazy, recall a few famous examples of successful people who have used positive visualization to accomplish their goals. Every time Tiger Woods gets ready to hit the ball, he pictures the ball going into the hole. Simple, right? He allows no other picture to enter his mind—only success.

Dr. John Gray advanced his career by visualizing himself speaking in front of a crowd of thousands, even if there were fifty people in his workshop. Now he’s an internationally known author and speaker.

Perhaps the most famous example is Jim Carrey’s story. While struggling to make an acting career for himself, and long before he was ever paid the big bucks, Jim Carrey wrote a check to himself for ten million dollars. He told himself the check was payment for acting services, and postdated the check for Thanksgiving, 1995, many years after writing the check. Imagine his surprise when just before Thanksgiving, 1995, he signed a contract for—you guessed it—ten million dollars. It all began with him doing work for free and visualizing success.

If this still sounds whacked out to you, please imagine that your mind is a computer. It “listens” to information that is programmed into it. So if you think negatively, or doubt your impending success, then negativity is what comes out, just as if a programmer had messed up his code.

Based on research and intuition, my belief is that you need to not only imagine success, but feel it, believe it, and get excited about it. I think of this in the same way as the old writing adage “show, don’t tell.” Writing yourself a check isn’t going to make you achieve—It is simply a tool used to help focus your mind in order to create a reality.

Let’s take it a step further. For the first few times of practicing the “showing” aspect, I recommend finding a comfortable, solitary area, where you can relax. Close your eyes and imagine that you are a character in your own book (after all, we are the authors of our own lives!) Imagine yourself in the situation which you’d like to be a reality. Let’s use publication as an example. You really, really want it, right? So close your eyes and see yourself writing your book. Feel the keyboard under your fingers (or pen in hand), hear the tapping of each keystroke, see the words filling the page. Now see yourself mailing the completed manuscript off to an agent or editor. Taste the envelope as you lick it to seal, feel the cold metal of the mailbox as you open it, hear the sound of the envelope dropping. See the agent clearly in your mind, holding your manuscript, reading it with deep interest. Imagine her smile as she realizes that she has found a gem, the perfect manuscript at the perfect time. Now see yourself reading the acceptance letter. Feel your heart racing, the adrenaline pumping through your body as your dreams are coming true.

Now delve even deeper and feel the excitement as you open the package that holds your author copies. See your name on the cover. Open the book to see your dedication, your words in print. Smell the new book, feel the paper in your hands. See yourself surrounded by your friends and family, all of them congratulating you for achieving your dreams. See yourself at a book signing, hear the compliments your fans are giving you. You can take the visualization as far as you’d like. Imagine yourself speaking in front of hundreds at a conference, see your name on the bestseller list, feel the joy of cashing that six digit advance check, hear your agent’s voice telling you that your manuscript is up for bid at auction. The more you believe these things, the more excited you will feel as you visualize, and the more you will act to achieve your goal.

(Edited to add: Not a writer? That’s fine! You can use this technique to help you achieve absolutely anything! Want to buy a house? Change careers? Become healthier? Visualize it and then take steps toward that goal!)

You’ll need to picture your personal scenario frequently, and if any doubt pops into your head, you’ll need to kick it out immediately. Remember, you become what you think about. Make your success the first thought you have when you get up, imagine it while you eat, before you write, while you’re driving, and before you sleep at night.

If you still have doubts, realize that visualization works for many things. Trying to eat healthier? When a craving for something naughty hits, imagine a yummy salad. Taste the tangy dressing, feel the crispiness of the lettuce and cucumbers, the juicy tomatoes. Your mouth will water, and you will want that rather than the cookie you may have had. Women’s magazines always tell you that if you want to have a more active intimate life with your significant other, simply take some time to imagine the sensations, the comfort, the excitement, and your body will prepare you to act on it.

Achieving your dreams is never an easy process, but visualizing it regularly and intensively will help you bring it to reality. I’ve included some quotes below, and I recommend writing them down and hanging them prominently around your home, office, or in your car. The more you believe in yourself and your dreams, the closer you will be to seeing them play out before your eyes.

Quotes to live by:

“Some of the world’s greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible.” Doug Larson

“Our limitations and success will be based most often on our own expectations for ourselves. What the mind dwells upon, the body acts upon.” Denis Waitley

“To visualize is to see what is not there, what is not real—a dream. To visualize is, in fact, to make visual lies. Visual lies, however, have a way of coming true.” Peter McWilliams

“Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture… Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.” Norman Vincent Peale

“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” Buddha

“Daydreams are the first stage, but daydreams alone are not sufficient. Do not make the mistake of mixing up creative visualization and daydreaming. They are two different things. The former may give some pleasure, but employing the latter correctly is utilizing a real power.” Remez Sasson

“Reality is the mirror of your thoughts. Choose well what you put in front of the mirror.” Remez Sasson


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Solitary Writer at the Boston Book Festival

Each year, I try to attend the Boston Book Festival, held in October. It’s a well-organized event that has a little something for everyone.

As usual, I made sure to attend the event I look forward to each year, Writer Idol. It is exactly what it sounds like–a literary version of American Idol. Brave writers submit the first page of their work, and someone reads them aloud. Three agents listen intently. They raise a hand when they would have stopped reading the submission, and when two of the three agents have raised their hand, the work stops being read. The agents then explain why they stopped reading.

I have never submitted my pages for this event (I am SO NOT BRAVE!), but I love listening to everyone else’s work, and it’s always interesting to watch the agent’s faces as they listen. It’s especially interesting to hear their thoughts on why they stopped.

Here are the takeaway lessons I got from this year’s Writer Idol event.

*New writers often “over-write.” The agents stressed that excellent writing should sound like the author barely put any effort into the prose. It should not be clunky or “too creative.”

*Writers need to simplify. Or, as one agent put it, “You don’t need all that shit!”

*Get rid of all the adjectives.

All of these lessons are sort of the same idea, but since I’m not allowed to over-write my manuscript, I figured I could take advantage and spell it all out in a blog post. 😉

I commend all of the brave, thick-skinned souls who submitted their work to be torn apart for the benefit of all.

So to my reader friends–please feel sorry for the writers who have to craft stories around all these dang rules we’re given every other minute. (No adverbs, no adjectives, no over-writing, no under-writing, no this, no that, blah blah blah). And to all of my writer friends–have a great big drink (and don’t forget to invite me!)


Amanda 🙂

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Making Things Up As I Go Along

I’m a writer.

I make things up.

Stories, conversations, people.

When I write a story, I don’t model my characters after anyone I know. This can be hard for non-writers to understand.

Don’t get me wrong, bits and pieces of everyone I encounter make up the characters I create, much the same way we are all made of stardust. I can’t pretend to understand where my ideas come from… nor will I ever be able to truly explain the process. I shock myself with some of the things that happen with my characters and my books.

Do my characters act like me? Ha. I’m rather boring in person, so I hope not! My characters make decisions based on who they are, not who I am. (Imagine how boring the book world would be if authors only wrote about themselves???) Readers are way too smart–we know when a character acts in a way that isn’t congruent with their psychological profile. How many times have you screamed at the television, “She’d never do that!”

Just as I/we read to escape, I also write to escape. To dream up a world with problems that are different than mine. To coax two characters toward the happily-ever-afters they deserve. To give my characters the opportunity to say the things I wish I could or would say. (You know what I mean–like when the perfect comeback forms in your head HOURS after the argument? In a book, the author can go back and add that bit of dialogue when it percolates. Don’t you wish you could do that in real life from time to time?)

Writing can feel like magic. Seeds are planted early on in a story, and I’ll often have no idea WHY a certain something was mentioned. Later, it becomes clear. “Oh, so THAT’S why he grows flowers!” Or whatever. By the time the story is written (and rewritten, and rewritten, and oh, did I mention rewritten?), I hope to have pieced together enough of the magic to bring the characters to life in a way that can make them feel like living, breathing characters.

So someday someone can play the guessing game about who I modeled my characters after. Because if I tell you that the hot hero on the cover is really tied up in my basement, you probably won’t believe me.  But if I tell you that the people you’ve grown to think of as friends (hopefully!) were complete figments of my imagination and not my friends, family, or neighbors, it may be even harder to believe.

Loving a Wildflower - Amanda Torrey 1600x2560


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