Category Archives: Inspirational

Renewal Giveaway

 

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UPDATE: Congratulations Barb, your name was chosen to win the bookmark. Thank you so much for commenting. I hope you like your bookmark as much as I like mine. If you send me your address to my email maribethpgraham at comcast.net I will forward your bookmark to you.

Somewhere along my travels of the mundane days of work, I got lost. I stopped dreaming. I stopped envisioning a life other than the one necessary to survive. I stopped trying. I stopped writing.

And when I did, I lost myself. I betrayed myself. I am a lot of things to a lot of people, daughter, wife, mother, sister, friend, employee but in order to be good at any of those positions, I must first be true to myself.

I’m a writer. I’m eccentric at times. I have a weird sense of humor (and usually connect best with those who share it.) I’m a daydreamer. I’m an empathetic human who can see myself in everyone I meet. I can be an air head at times but also a force to be reckoned with. I’m silly but intense and will not apologize for my imagination. It is the gift I was given.

We all have a purpose. We all have struggles, self-doubt, moments of self-hate, but we all possess, beauty, talents and share collective thoughts. We need to inspire each other to become the best versions of ourselves. We need to help one another see the gifts within. When we start to do this, small parts of the world will change.

I may have taken breaks through my writing journey,but, I always seem to come back to the craft that makes my soul feel at home.

To celebrate my renewal of spirit and my newfound excitement to get back into what I so adore, I’m having a giveaway.

These hand-crafted book marks are made by Trades of Hope. These women have faced many struggles. They use their talents to help support their children and community.I’m in love with these bookmarks. I want to share one with you.

All you must do is comment on my blog a positive word. I’m old-school, the list of winners will be thrown in a hat and picked at random.

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Filed under BLOG, books, contests, Giveaway, Inspirational, life, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, Writing

A Divergence Test For Writers (Inspired by the book Outliers)

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Happy New Year! I hope each and every one of you see success and productivity in 2013. May you write many words, imagine great stories and read tons of books.

Currently, I am reading the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a story about success. I’m very interested in the facts Malcolm shares about the world’s most successful people. There are so many things that contribute to a person becoming successful and to be honest it’s simply fascinating. Yes, hard work is at the center (according to his findings it takes about 10,000 hours to achieve success) but so many other things come into play as well, such as birthdays, geographic locations, opportunities and sometimes being in the right place at the right time.

I stumbled upon a chapter in the book that made me think blog post. The section talks about geniuses and the studies done on groups, scholars thought or claimed to be the most intelligent. A test given to them is called the “Divergence test.”  My interest was piqued when Malcolm explained that this type of test requires you to use your imagination. Perfect for writers, right?

So, let’s do it together (the sample he gave) and see what different types of answers we can come up with. Below you will find two words. The book says write as many different uses you can think of for each item, but for this post I will say five. Don’t read my answers until you come up with yours, then let’s compare. Okay, Ready, Set, Go! Be sure to use your imagination, don’t just write the obvious.

1. Brick
2. Blanket

Look over your answers, can you use any of them for a story you are writing? What do you know, this just became a writing exercise.

Here is what I came up with for Brick.

1. Build a House (my obvious answer)
2. Protection (A brick can do some serious damage)
3. Book Ends (Why not?)
4. Use to jump over when running an obstacle course (Be sure to be careful if doing so)
5. If you have a window that won’t stay up on its own, a brick can be used to help prop it up.
6. To stand on if extra height is needed. (I know I said five but I couldn’t help myself)

7. A planter (Yes, I’ve seen it done on Pinterest)

 

Here is what I came up with for Blanket

1. To cover yourself for warmth (my obvious answer)
2. To use as a roof when making a fort (my children do this all of the time)
3. To cushion something if transporting (if you are traveling, you can wrap a blanket around something fragile)
4. To cover a window (think college students)
5. To spread out on the ground while picnicking or a beach while sunbathing
6. To cover a body (Some of us write crime novels right?)

Okay, how did we compare. Now look over my answers and your answers. Can you use them in your story? Perhaps the eccentric neighbor invites you in for a cup of coffee and you notice she uses painted bricks as book ends. You get the idea. I love being inspired, and this book and the test listed in the book did exactly that. I hope I have inspired you today and would love if you list your answers in the comment section. I’m super curious to know what you come up with.

Happy Writing!

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Filed under Inspirational, Uncategorized, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Perseverance

If you really want your writing to become something then you have no choice but to persevere. When I began writing, I thought, How hard can this be? Write a few stories, submit to some major publishing houses and instantly become discovered. Ten years later, I look back at my younger self and think, Wow are you naïve. Sure, a few things happened early on that made me think no sweat, but the prize I’m searching for has not yet been found.
I am proud of the recognitions I have received along the way but I still have hopes for more. The goal at this point in my life is to land an agent and see my manuscripts in print. Currently, I have possibilities which completely excite me but if for whatever reason they get denied, I plan on persevering.

For today’s a to z challenge I have decided to list a few of my favorite perseverance quotes. Which was one is your favorite? Do you have one you would like to share?

• “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” Walter Elliott

• “All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

• “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful men keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” Conrad Hilton

• “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.” [Proverbs 24:16] Bible

• “In order to get from what was to what will be, you must go through what is.” Anonymous

• “What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” General Dwight Eisenhower

• “Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.” Richard L. Evans

• “Perseverance is a positive, active characteristic. It is not idly, passively waiting and hoping for some good thing to happen. It gives us hope by helping us realize that the righteous suffer no failure except in giving up and no longer trying. We must never give up, regardless of temptations, frustrations, disappointments, or discouragements.” Joseph P. Wirthlin

• “Defeat is simply a signal to press onward.” Helen Keller

• You may not receive what you hope for today, but tomorrow may bring the reward you weren’t expecting. Keep writing for tomorrow because it will eventually come. Maribeth Graham (aka me)

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Filed under books, Inspirational, life, rejections, story writing, writer's life, writers, Writing

THE TEN D’S ALL WRITERS NEED

1. Diligence – You must push forward, even when you don’t want to.

2. Determination- Believe in yourself. Trust that others will see the beauty in your written word.

3. Dedication- Once you commit to becoming a writer set aside time each day to hone the craft.

4. Drive – A writer with drive and passion will eventually get noticed.

5. Desolation- Find solitude so you can create without interruptions.

6. Daily Routines- Writing should be done every day. If you set a routine, you will be less likely to break it.

7. Deadlines- Give yourself deadlines. Eg. Chapter one must be finished by Monday. The short story has to be completed by Saturday.

8. Dreams- Dream big. Never let anyone make you feel that your dreams are not possible.

9. Desire- You must want to write. If writing doesn’t feel like a necessity it might not be your passion.

10. Decision making abilities- Chapters need to be edited. Word counts need to be cut. Favorite sentences need to be chopped. It’s not always easy making decisions as a writer but it is required. Characters need to love, get hurt, evolve and occasionally die. You have to be able to make those decisions in order for your masterpiece to appear.

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Filed under character, editing, Inspirational, story telling, story writing, writer's life, writers, writing, Writing

Coming Soon To My Blog

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I might be biting off more than I can chew but I just committed myself to The A to Z April blog writing challenge for the month of April. When it comes to writing, my blog is always what ends up suffering. I need this discipline. I hope I don’t disappoint anyone. Wish me luck.

See you Monday.

Want to take a stab at it with me? Go to their site and sign up.

http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/?spref=tw

(I aplologize, I’m having difficulty with their blog address posting to my site. Instead of clicking on it, you can try the old fashioned way and type it in your search engine.)

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Filed under creating, Inspirational, writer's life, writers, Writing

Supporting Rachel Harris-Cover Debut and Book Exerpt

Today’s blog is dedicated to the upcoming book My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century by author Rachel Harris. A few weeks ago I was blog surfing when I was introduced to this book. Rachel was super excited that she would soon be able to reveal her book cover and asked fellow writers and bloggers to help her celebrate. I love witnessing other writers dreams come true so I thought Why Not!

Isn’t this book cover AWESOME ? I would love to own that dress.

Being that I am Italian, this book already piques my interest.

                                                                       EXCERPT

I hear their muffled whispers and understand every Italian word. Every witty comment made at my expense.

It’s like my brain is automatically translating.

I bunch the soft fabric of the dress in my hand and then reach up to feel the ribbon in my hair. I lightly skim my fingers over my chin and feel my lack of zit. I take in the costumes of the crowd, the stench of the animals, and the Italian I can now speak and understand. And suddenly it hits me.

Reyna must have pulled some kind of gypsy mojo.

Maybe this is one of those nifty “change your life” magic scenarios like in the movies. I mean, mostly I’m still expecting to blink and be right back in the midst of overpriced, gaudy tourism, but for now, the gypsy-time-warp explanation is infinitely better than thinking I’ve lost my mind. As I decide to go with that option, I feel my frantic tension melt away.

The growing crowd seems to notice my change in demeanor and begins shooting one another amused looks, but I don’t care anymore. A smile stretches across my face. Evidently, I was wrong earlier; Reyna is a psychic mind reader, because if this is her special brand of bibbity-bobbity-boo, then she made my exact daydream from earlier in the courtyard come to life.

The long red gown, the braided hair, the Italian merchant’s daughter, the time period. I am in Renaissance Florence.

I stare dumbly at the ground, the words and reality sinking in.

I’m in Renaissance Florence!

 

Sounds great right? This book  goes on sale September 11th, 2012. You can pre-order at Amazon or Barnes and Nobles. Don’t forget to go on Goodreads and add it to your TBR list.

Don’t forget stop by and wish a fellow author luck.

www.RachelHarrisWrites.com
www.twitter.com/@RachelHarrisYA
www.facebook.com/RachelHarrisYA
www.goodreads.com/RachelHarris

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Filed under Author Interview, books, Inspirational, platform building, writer's life, writers, Writing

Inspiration Isn’t Always Pretty

If you have been watching the news you should have seen the devastation that poured through my hometown and all surrounding towns this past weekend. Yes, Northeastern Pennsylvania watched in horror as the floods swept away homes (my sister-in-law’s was one of them), flooded streets and brought people to their knees. Our bridges were closed. We had curfews. I myself sat on the only open bridge for an hour and a half trying to make it home to my family. I felt as if I was on the set of a movie. It was surreal. It was inspiring?

As I watched the news something the reporter said initially struck me as odd. She was talking about how people just couldn’t help but go out and see what was happening. “It was like viewing a car wreck,” she said. “You know you shouldn’t look but you just can’t help it”. She then went on to say a situation like this was inspiring. Inspiring? At first I felt a little offended (I know the writer in me should have immediately knew what she meant) but because everything was so close to home (Literally. The only thing that saved my street was a makeshift dike built out of dirt by a bunch of heroes) I didn’t like that she used that word. To me, inspiring meant beauty. The word itself even sounds pretty. It couldn’t relate to something horrible, or could it? Of course it can.

As I thought about her broadcast my flooded mind receded and my thoughts became clearer. I began to understand exactly what she meant. Something horrible can be inspiring. Devastation like the one my town recently endured inspired many things. It inspired communities to rally together to help save homes. It inspired newspapers to share heartbreaking stories. It inspired photographers to snap photos so we can remember and others will be able to see history. It inspired me to write this blog.

Writers don’t only write about sunny days and perfect lives. If you want to write about the human experience you have to be able to be inspired by things not so pretty. How boring would books be if there was never sorrow or obstacles to overcome?

Because we observe unhappy situations and then later write about them does not mean that we are freaks or disaster lovers, it simply means that we are interested in writing about life experiences. I am not happy that the flood happened. It saddens me that so many people I know had to suffer. I don’t find joy in writing about their pain but in a strange way I do feel inspired.

Have you ever been inspired by an unfortunate event?

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Filed under emotions, Inspirational, life, random, story telling, writers, writing, Writing