Keys for “the Beautiful, Rowdy Prisoners”

keysAllen Arnold is a writer who both took the time to mentor me and inspired me greatly as the keynote speaker for last summer’s Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference. He blogs at Novel, and a week or so ago introduced me to this beautiful, haunting quote that has not left me since that day.

The small man builds cages for everyone he knows – while the Sage, who has to duck his head when the moon is low, keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners.         ~Hafiz, 13thcentury Persian poet

Thank you Allen. Your words continue to inspire me.


Creativity and the Collector

seashells-graphicsfairy005bAs a fiction  writer, the concept of creativity fascinates me. Where does it come from? How do I nurture it? What have brain scientists learned about it that can help me to be more creative? Therefore, I follow the Susan K Perry’s blog, Creating in Flow, on Psychology Today.

Posts from Psychology Today’s blogs usually come with a list of links to similar topics, as well as a list of related topics on the blog you’re reading, and the most popular posts of the day. Therefore, when I receive on of Perry’s posts, it is of value in itself, and a doorway to more, fascinating posts.

Today, through a series of links, I came across Michele and Robert Root-Bernstein’s post, “The Collection Connection to Creativity” on their blog, Imagine That! They start by noting that many creative people are also collectors. Naturally, the collections themselves can inspire creativity. However, the act of collecting, in itself, exercises valuable cognitive skills. Collectors hone their ability to make observations, discriminate between similar objects/ideas, and recognize patterns, exceptions to patterns, and what is missing from a pattern.

Whew! As a yet unpublished novelist (my publishing credits are all folk tale retellings) I worry that I might not have what it takes to be a good author. So when I read about creativity, I often compare myself to the qualifiers proposed and judge myself passing or failing at this crucial quality necessary to writing fiction, especially fantasy! Well, if collecting is one sign of a creative brain, at least in this domain I pass brilliantly.

What do I collect? Books, paper, ephemera, rubber stamps, art materials, reference images for drawing, bead crafting supplies…and then there is the granddaddy collection of them all–Pinterest. I have boards for book ideas, writing information, story structure, characterization, settings, historical reference, education, art (I love art!), crafts (with multiple boards for jewelry making), travel, and recipes.

Do I have time to actually use any of my collections? Very little. Between working nearly full-time and writing, I don’t have much leftover time for jewelry making, drawing, or sewing. But I love collecting and sorting the ideas, (and actual materials). I hope I live long past retirement, then someday I may have an opportunity to try all these other outlets for creativity.

What do you collect? How does it inspire you or bring you joy?

~Art courtesy of

New Year’s…Goals

Weekly Goals



Happy new year–to those of you who live by the public school calendar! Today the true new year begins.

This week at the Downtown Learning Center we will be talking about goal setting. The lessons will focus on SMART goal setting, which advocates for goals that are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

We’ll begin by having students set a goal for the school day. The next day we’ll have them select a goal for the week. During that week we’ll work with then to practice thinking more long-term, concluding with them setting a goal for the school year.

So, am I practicing what we’ll be teaching? Yes. You should see the daily goal lists I’ve had for myself this week. And wow, has it made a difference in how tidy my home appears. I even had a weekly goal: to have a new section of my nonfiction picture book ready for writer’s group on Saturday. I brought 6 pages for critique.

What about long-term goals? Here is my list of weekly goals for this year:

  • Bible–read 1 chapter  5 days/week
  • Writing–500 words written or revised 4 days /week (This beyond my regular Wednesday writing days.)
  • Set in Stone, my middle grade fantasy novel, sent out to a new agent or editor each week
  • The Swallow’s Spring, my retelling of the early portions of the medieval Romance of Tristan and Iseult, sent out to a new agent or editor each week
  • Walk for fitness once per week. (I know, that number sounds ridiculously low, but I have not been doing even that these last few months I’ve been battling colds.)

What about you? Do you have any goals for 2015? Just hit reply and share them. I’d be glad to cheer you on.