Thoughts and Inspiration for Creative Writers

-from Chrysalis Editorial

Kieran Scott: Three Authors, One Writer

Posted on | August 1, 2014 | 1 Comment

By Zakiya N. Jamal

kieranScott1Kieran Scott, Kate Brian, and Emma Harrison. Combine these three amazing writers and you get one amazing woman: Kieran Scott. Writing two New York Times best selling series along with over 50 books Scott has taken over the young adult literary scene.

As Scott churns out about two books per year and always seems to be working on her next project, it’s amazing that she does anything but write all day. But she does. Scott is more than just an extraordinary writer; she’s also a regular, every day person just like the rest of us. Scott took me through the history behind her names, what she does when she’s not writing, what she’s got planned next, and how we can somehow become her someday.

The Secret Behind the Names

Many young readers have heard of “Kate Brian” but not everyone knows that Brian and Kieran Scott are the same person. Many have tried to figure out what prompts the change in names when it comes to Scott’s writing but the truth is probably less complicated than you think.

Scott, who began as an editor, had a friend who worked for Alloy Entertainment (best known for their work on Pretty Littler Liars and The Vampire Diaries). The company had a book in the works, The Princess and the Pauper, which had been assigned to a different writer at the time.

“The author wanted to have two different names and she wanted to keep her name for her adult books,” said Scott. “[The publishers] came up with this fake name, ‘Kate Brian’, for this work. The work came in very late [however] and it was badly written. My friend called me and asked me if I would be willing to rewrite it for them but I had to rewrite it under this name because they already printed the commercial material.”

Thus began Scott’s transition into “Kate Brian”. “Then the publisher wanted more books by ‘Kate Brian’ and that was me,” said Scott. Scott now uses “Kate Brian” for all her Hyperion published books and Kieran Scott for all her books published by Simon & Schuster.

Besides Brian there is one other pen name that you can find Scott’s books under that many people don’t know about. “Emma Harrison was a name I came up with to write TV tie-ins and things that weren’t my original ideas,” said Scott. “I wrote things like Charmed, Everwood, Alias, Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen books and Disney books under that name, and then a few paperback romances.”

Different from her pen name “Kate Brian” Scott came up with this one all on her own. “Emma Thompson is my favorite actress and Harrison Ford is my favorite actor,” she said. “I’m not sure whether I’ll ever use it again unless someone comes to me with a great job that I can’t refuse.”

“It seemed like an impossible thing to achieve.”
Though it may seem crazy to us now, Scott didn’t always think she would be an author. “I never really considered that I could be a novel writer when I was growing up,” said Scott. “It seemed like that type of thing that a lot of people aspire to but only a few achieve, like being an actor or president or something.”

Although Scott grew up in a household where reading and writing was the norm Scott still feared that being a novelist wouldn’t happen for her. Therefore she set her sights on a different goal. “I set out to be a journalist,” said Scott. “I was an English and journalism major and I didn’t really like it that much. I just never had the self-confidence to go up to someone and ask for an interview. That was always really hard for me.”

As Scott got closer to graduation and realized journalism was not for her she began to wonder what she would do. That’s when she saw an ad for a job that was perfect for her.

“I answered an ad for an editorial position at this book company,” said Scott. “It was really the first time that I considered that people edited books. It’s not just the author; there are editors also. And that’s sort of how I got into it. And I thought if I could make a living by reading, how great would that be?”

Through her experience working as an editor Scott began to learn how making a book worked and started writing her own fiction again. “After a few years of working for hire I broke out on my own to see if I could make a living out of it and I’ve been doing it ever since.”

She’s Just Like Us

Many people know Scott as “Kieran Scott” and “Kate Brian”, the writers, but what many of her fans don’t know is who is Kieran Scott, the person? Besides being an amazing author, Scott’s biggest role is being a wife and mom. Scott has two sons, ages six and three, who keep her busy and when she’s not doing that (or rather during that) Scott is just like anyone of us.

“I spend a lot of the time at the gym,” said Scott. “I also like to bake. If I have a free Saturday or Sunday afternoon I’m always baking cookies or cake or something and then going to the gym to work them off.”

Outside of the gym, Scott is also an avid reader and TV watcher, though she may not be watching what you’re into. “I love to read and I’m a huge TV addict although whenever someone says to me, ‘Do you watch Game of Thrones?’ I say, ‘No’ or ‘Do you watch Breaking Bad?’ and I say, ‘No,’ then there seems like there’s twenty TV shows that I don’t watch but I feel like I watch so much TV.”

When it comes to Scott’s reading habits she can’t help but stray back to her own genre of fiction. “I end up reading a lot of teen fiction because I do all these panels and I hear all these people talk about their books and I really want to read them because they all sound amazing so that’s kind of an occupational hazard.”

Some of her recent reads include The Darkest Minds series, Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality, and various thrillers to help her try her hand at writing a thriller novel. “I like when a book surprises me even when it’s not a book that’s supposed to surprise you.”

What’s Next?

So far this year, there is already two books by Scott scheduled for release: Endless, the last book in the Shadowlands trilogy and Only Everything, the first book in her newest trilogy that ties in some mythology into a romantic series. Only Everything focuses on a teenage female Cupid who is banished to Earth and must match three couples in order to save the love of her life from the wrath of the gods. And she has to do all of this powerless.

“I just imagined what it would be like for a goddess who is so used to getting what she wants and being able to do whatever she wants, and counting on these powers to be thrust into Earth without these powers,” said Scott. “Really she has a complete inability to act as a human and so that was so much fun to write.”

Some Advice

Now that you know exactly who Kieran Scott is, it’s no surprise that you’re wondering how you can become her. Well here’s her advice for one of the most well known struggles of an aspiring writer: getting stuck. “Go back and reread what you’ve written and see if there’s something in what you’ve written that made you get stuck,” she advised. “Sometimes [there’s] an answer in what you’ve already written.”

Also, Scott advises to just write, even when you’re not sure what you’re writing about. “If you have a day when you have time to write but you can’t seem to get started just write whatever,” she said. “Write something even if it sucks or you think it’s the dumbest thing ever. I have done that where I start out and I write some really lame dialogue and after a few paragraphs, I get into the groove and I start writing stuff that’s good.”

To learn more about Kieran Scott you can visit her website or follow her on her one of her Tumblrs (here and here). Only Everything released in stores and online in May 2014.


Zakiya Jamal is a junior at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.  She also writes freelance articles for Georgetown’s The Voice and USAToday College Blog in her free time. This article was originally published on her own blog called, Books, TV, and Me.

A Reader and a Traveler: Paris

Posted on | July 18, 2014 | 3 Comments

By Jenny Gelbman


Paris, France, famously known as “The City of Light” or “The City of Love,” is known throughout the world for its beauty and charm. After returning from a week-long visit to Paris as a tourist, my mind was teeming with popular sights, crepes, and ideas of romance. Still caught in a Parisian state of mind, I scoured the local bookstores of my home in New York in hopes for a little something magical to transport me back to that beautiful city. That’s when I stumbled upon the New York Times bestselling novel Paris, by Edward Rutherfurd. “Paris. City of love. City of dreams. City of splendor. City of saints and scholars. City of gaiety. Sink of inequity. In two thousand years, Paris had seen it all.” As the novel began with these riveting opening lines, I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for…

This historical novel follows the stories of a mélange of interconnected families and individuals as they fight for their dreams, their love, their religion, and most importantly their city. Do not let the novel’s length or density scare you off;  It is filled with many strong-natured characters whose vibrant and unique stories will easily allow you to lose yourself. The stories provide an intimate view of Paris in the 1800s through the lens of all classes of wealth.

There is the striking story of Jacob ben Jacob, a Jewish man who facing  expulsion from England,  who is forced to make the bold decision to convert his expanding family to Christianity. In leaving behind his faith he loses his community, which changes the course of his family’s future and opens him up to frightening consequences he never could have dreamed possible.

There is also the story of Thomas Gascon, an iron worker who helped build the Eiffel Tower. The novel follows him from his youth, growing up in a tiny house built into the side of Montmartre, to old age where he finds himself in the same location yet so much has changed . He is courageEiffelous and a hard worker. His story comes full circle as he grapples with the meaning of love and the meaning of life and death. In the beginning of the novel he risks his life protecting his brother, and in the end his brother may not feel that same desire to protect him. Whether it is love for his family or the city of Paris, he is conflicted by doubt and controversy in the government. As his younger brother becomes more involved in politics he believes could cause the ruination of Paris, he has to make the same difficult decision again and again: what is more important, his brother or himself, his beliefs, or the city he would die for?

Those are just two of the many stories about the ordinary folk of Paris contained in this novel. However, the novel also follows the aristocracy and the royalty, and shows how they are connected to the ordinary people through love affairs, fights, and unknown lineage. The story of the noble de Cygne family is heart-wrenching as they shelter a Protestant orphan child whose life is in danger, suffer heartache as they try to find suitable wives for their sons, and experience war and devastation.

Also among the nobles is the story of Amélie, who was sent to the court against her will to be a maid of honor to the dauphine and finds the kingdom lined with dark secrets.  There’s the story of Louise, a young woman who is corrupted by Thomas Gascon’s brother. She runs the most famous, elite brothel in Paris and becomes a spy against the government. And we’re treated to the story of Marie and Clarie Renard, a dynamic mother and daughter duo, who fall for the same man and take a certain liking to an American gentlemen.

These stories all intertwine in ways I would never have thought possible, leading from one surprise to another. Through his beautiful writing, Rutherfurd also takes the reader to famous locales and the hidden gems of this ancient city, which are alive with history.

Reading Rutherfurd’s book I learned about the creation of the Eiffel Tower as Thomas Gascon is commissioned to help build it. I also got to revisit  other famous sights and parts of the city I had just looked upon in wonder the week before, like Notre-Dame, Rue de Rivioli, Place de la Concorde, Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Tuleries Garden, The Sacré-Cœur Basilica, Le Marais, Luxembourg Gardens, and more. Except this time I got to experience the exquisiteness through the eyes of my new friends, these characters from a different era.

I met Monet and began to understand his inspiration for his large-scale impressionist water lilies painting, which I visited in the Musee de’ l’Orangerie; and I got to meet Hemingway in the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, whose beautiful collection of books and charmingly musty smell will forever be engraved in my memory. I can honestly say that not only is this novel a must-read, but it reminded me how much fun it is to explore different places through a book – because getting lost in the world of literature is my favorite way to travel.


-Jenny Gelbman is currently pursuing her BA in English, with a Communication Minor, at The George Washington University in Washington, DC.



Sneak Peek: A New Novel by Tom Coffey

Posted on | June 26, 2014 | 1 Comment

Oak Tree Press

Tom Coffey







A big congratulation is in order for our wonderful author Tom Coffey whose novel, Bright Morning Star, has been acquired by Oak Tree Press! We at Chrysalis Literary are very proud of Tom’s work. For more on Tom, and some of his other work, go to

Bright Morning Star is a stunning and suspenseful volley between the years 1900 and 1902, featuring Emma Pierce, the quintessential “new woman” in a changing 20th century American landscape. Tom makes it easy to root for Emma all the way through the novel, from her struggle with a restrictive life at her father’s side, to a painful break from her family and home, and finally to a brave solo career, becoming a magazine writer in New York City.

As a new reporter Emma is assigned to cover the case of a soldier returning to America from the war in the Philippines. He has been court-martialed for violent crimes against civilians and faces a 20-year prison sentence. But the case is more serious than just Emma’s first assignment. It’s personal. The convicted soldier is none other than Caleb Johnson, the quietly captivating son of a revivalist preacher, who Emma fell in love with two years earlier. It was an infatuation that led to the estrangement from her family and steered her toward living in New York.

We are proud that Tom has championed a novel that will enchant a variety of readers because it delivers it all: suspense, history, adventure, politics, and romance.

Once again, congratulations, Tom! We all look forward to reading Bright Morning Star in the spring of 2015.

What Simple Steps on LinkedIn can Increase your Following and your Job Opportunities?

Posted on | June 25, 2014 | 2 Comments

By George Campbell

In April, LinkedIn announced they have over 300 million members; enough to make LinkedIn the fourth largest country in the world! This vast network of industry professionals serve as a lucrative audience for aspiring writers. Listed below are a few methods, of which you may not previously have been aware, that you can implement within your LinkedIn profile. Some of these processes will be more helpful to writers who reach their audiences predominantly via blogging and others will be better for freelance writers looking for more work. By following whatever of these four processes makes the most sense for your line of work, you can effectively engage with, and promote your writing to an immensely influential online community.


1. Capitalize On Your Profile Heading

Many people set out with the intentions of creating a comprehensive LinkedIn profile, but overlook seemingly minor aspects which can actually facilitate vital promotional possibilities. For instance, within your LinkedIn profile lurks your profile heading; a function which comprises of your name and the sub-heading under it. This small yet effective description can be used to optimize your search result rankings on LinkedIn and generate a larger amount of online traffic towards your profile and consequently, your writing. Utilize this small sub-heading to implement industry keywords associated with your blog content. As such, you ensure that those who discover your profile will possess an active interest in your blog subject matter, and therefore will be motivated to recommend it to others or seek your literary services. Additionally, include your email address within this profile summary, as it will enable users to easily communicate with you and inquire further about your writing services.

2. Combine LinkedIn Groups And Social Networks

LinkedIn is all about forging relationships and establishing professional networks with members of your industry. A great way to do this is by combining your LinkedIn groups with your other online social networking communities. Digital marketing specialists Premier Choice Internet enthuse about the potential of social media networks for achieving “exposure with the right audiences, campaigns that drive traffic and that give you a real insight into how your customers see your business.” By adopting similar methods, you can introduce a broad spectrum of online users to your writing and generate interest towards your blog content. Davina Brewer, principal at 3Hats Communications, is a perfect example of how you can effectively promote yourself by using LinkedIn. She utilized LinkedIn and a blog post to get a speaking engagement by cross-posting her blog to Twitter and to the SoloPR group on LinkedIn. Brewer deduced that the audience would identify with her thoughts, and subsequently, after syncing the blog post, she was able to acquire a professional speaking engagement. If you can emulate Brewer, and combine your social networks with relevant LinkedIn groups, you can promote your writing to like-minded individuals and generate professional interest in your blog content.

3. Utilize LinkedIn To Find Freelance Jobs

A little known fact about LinkedIn is that they list freelance jobs! This provides a great opportunity for aspiring writers to locate work and affiliate themselves with employers in their specific industry. Simply type Freelance Writer into the search bar at the top of the page, and select “Jobs” for where you would like to search. Upon doing so, you will be presented with a list of professional paying jobs from a host of clients. What’s more, many of these freelancing posts will inform you of how many people have applied for each job, enabling you to easily ascertain which jobs are worth applying for and which are already likely to have been assigned!

4. Implement LinkedIn’s New Recommend Button

LinkedIn has recently added a Recommend button to their host of options, permitting members to publicly endorse a product or service. This function presents you with an opportunity to have your written work actively endorsed by seasoned professionals within your industry. Simply go onto the LinkedIn Developers page and generate your own Recommend button. This will enable your LinkedIn members to read your content and endorse it to fellow potential clients and business partners. As a result, this function can expose your writing to a vast online professional audience who will see that your work has been endorsed and therefore trust your literary credibility. This exponentially increases the likelihood that they will discover your work and recommend it to others, or even potentially seek your writing services for their company.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez: What I Learned About the World Through His Work

Posted on | June 18, 2014 | 1 Comment

By Rachel Word

It’s funny how books sometimes “find you.” You are browsing the library for a new read and then one title just sticks out to you. For me, it was during my freshman year of college while studying creative writing at Susquehanna University that I found Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books: or more accurately his books found me.

I worked at the university library that first year. I didn’t have many desk shifts, and my main job was to put books that had been checked out back on the shelves. Not a lot of fun, but as a writing major and avid reader, it was one of the best opportunities to be introduced to new writers.

The first of his books that “found me” was Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. This book caught my attention because I had seen the movie starring Javier Bardem, Benjamin Bratt, and Giovanna Mezzogiorno several years ago. I had enjoyed the movie, so I decided to check out the book.

Later that night when I settled into my bed, my pajama pants on, cozy under the covers, I opened the book and read the first line. It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. And I laughed out loud.

Freshman year + unrequited love = the story of my life.

I had a huge crush on a trombone player named Dave that I played in band with. He was a senior (i.e. way out of my league) and I told no one about how I felt. Marquez’s book had found me just at the right time. I experienced a wonderful catharsis as I was swept up in the whirlwind love triangle between Florentino, Fermina, and Urbino.

Now that my interest in Marquez had been sparked, I started to learn more about him. He was born on March 6, 1928 in Aracataca, Colombia. When his parents moved away from the area, Marquez was taken in by his maternal grandparents. Marquez’s grandfather was affectionately known as the Colonel, because of his service in the Thousand Days War of Colombia, and had a large influence on Marquez’s upbringing. The Colonel was a liberal activist and well-known voice in the community. He was an avid storyteller and the one who ignited Marquez’s love for the written word by teaching him from the dictionary and taking him to circuses.

After reading Love in the Time of Cholera, I was required to read Marquez’s short story “Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” for my Introduction to Fiction class. This story depicts the ordinary life of Elisenda and Pelayo, a couple living in a small, banal town, whose lives are radically changed when Pelayo finds an old man, wearing tattered rags, who happens to have huge, angel-like wings. Elisenda and Pelayo take him in and house him in their chicken coop. Instead of helping him, providing new clothes, food and a warm place to sleep, Elisenda starts charging visitors an admission fee for visitors to come gape at the old man.

This very poignant image of an angelic creature being treated so poorly calls attention to the way that we all react when we see someone less fortunate. Think of when people turn their eyes away from homelessness or change the channel when a tragic news story begins. Marquez is challenging us to not turn our eyes away, and to address these problems head on in order to pioneer change.

I realized the effect that this story had on me when I worked at a temp job in near Washington D.C. There were many homeless people in the area that I was working in and one man in particular always begged for money at the top of the escalator leading out of the metro. Before I read Marquez’s story, I would have done the same as my fellow commuters. I would have walked by without acknowledging him. However, because of my experience with “Very Old Man with Enormous Wings” I felt a deep and tangible empathy for that homeless man. I made sure to never dehumanize him.

Marquez’s beautiful, eloquent novels challenge us to recognize the most valuable parts of life before our time runs out. Throughout his whole life, he urged his readers to bring love to the world. As he writes in Love in the Time of Cholera, “The only regret I will have in dying is if it is not for love.”

When Gabriel Garcia Marquez died on April 17, 2014, the writing world experienced a huge loss. Marquez won numerous awards throughout his career, including the 1972 Neustadt International Prize for Literature and the 1982 Nobel Prize in Literature, and moreover he inspired young and old readers alike to treat each other with dignity and respect.

By George, I think I’ve discovered a new genre of books!

Posted on | November 7, 2013 | 11 Comments

There used to be Young Adult (there still is), but now there’s also New Adult! You’re all familiar with Adult fiction, Literary fiction, Women’s fiction, not to mention “Chick-Lit” and Romance. But over the past few months, I’ve read four novels that I think might constitute a new sub-category of adult/women’s fiction! A category I plan to contribute to.

The four novels I’m referring to fall somewhere between literary and commercial…riveting and fast-paced…well written with complex protagonists…a strong plotline…and so on. But what distinguishes them from other adult/women/etc novels is the subject matter. They are all about parents and their children…sometimes poor parenting…sometimes misbehaving children…sometimes misbehaving children and misguided parenting…almost always over-anxious, overly protective, overly involved parents…

The novels I’m referring to include This Beautiful Life (by Helen Schulman), Schroder (by Amity Gage ), Defending Jacob (by William Landay), and The Dinner (by Herman Koch). They each make astute observations about facets of parenting…the challenges we face as mothers and fathers…and also the increasingly complicated world our children must navigate, which includes the pitfalls of social media. As a mother I’m drawn to these stories and have enjoyed each one. In fact, I’ve written my own version (The Dangerous Edge of Things)—two women, two daughters, one phony Facebook profile—and now feel qualified to wax poetic about these four novels—not wild about two of the endings, would have liked an additional point-of-view in one, object (a bit) to the unreliable narrator in another.

There’s more, but I’d rather hear what you have to say if you’ve read any of these novels. And if you think they actually make up a new GENRE? If so, what’s it called?

Got Questions? Here are Answers.

Posted on | June 13, 2013 | 3 Comments

I sat down to write a blog entry promoting an article compiling 150 resources for writers that cover a wide range of subjects and problems when I realized that I didn’t know how to write a blog entry. This is coming from the student who recently agreed to spend her three-month study abroad program writing a blog for her university’s home page. I poked around various webpages a bit, going through the archives of this blog and reading previous entries to get a feel for what was expected of me, when I realized that I was absolutely and completely oblivious. I looked at the article I’m supposed to be promoting, and lo and behold, the very first link under the very first topic heading led me to a source telling me how to write an acceptable blog post. Problem solved.

So it is with genuine appreciation that I commend this snippet of the Internet to my readers: “150 Resources to Help You Write Better, Faster, and More Persuasively,” as compiled by Claire Morgan. Basically, it’s a page with a lot of links to a lot of resources to help you with your writing. It’s organized into subsections depending on subject so you don’t have to dig through a pile of ambiguous hyperlinks until you bump into something useful, and the resources vary from very formal (Creative Commons, dealing with copyright and licensing) to informal (Wikipedia, because let’s face it, we all use it); from literary (American Society for the History of Rhetoric) to casual (, for those beginning to dabble in writing and who want some quick feedback). There’s a lot available here, and it covers a wide range of writerly needs. So whether you’re a well-seasoned pro whose kryptonite is “its” versus “it’s” or “lie” versus “lay,” a college student trying not to get kicked out of school for plagiarism because of citation issues, or someone who happened to scribble a poem down one day and kind of would like to know what this whole writing thing is about, there will be something for you here.



Contributed by Leah Shamlian, Summer Intern, Chrysalis Editorial

The Writer and Depression

Posted on | February 13, 2013 | 10 Comments

“Depression is more likely to occur in people who have a larger measure of life’s gifts, who tend to be more sensitive, more driven, more intelligent, more empathetic. And these very attributes are part of the vulnerability. They feel life more acutely.”

– Dr. Frederick Goodwin, Former Director of the National Institutes of Health

As Scott Peck says in the opening line of his book, The Road Less Traveled, “Life is difficult.” And it seems, much of the time, it is even more so for writers. It is well documented that creative people tend to be more susceptible to mental illness. In fact, authors are in one of the top ten professions in which people are most likely to experience depression. So it’s not just the high profile writers like Virginia Woolf, William Styron, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Ernest Hemingway, and Emily Dickinson who have suffered with bouts of depression, but also many of us who are engaged in creative pursuits without enjoying fame or fortune. Four of the writers from the above list of six actually committed suicide.

In his book, Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, William Styron describes his personal descent into the despair and turmoil of a depression that included fantasies of killing himself and, ultimately, hospitalization. Sylvia Plath put her head in an oven, Anne Sexton used carbon monoxide poisoning, Hemingway a gun, and Virginia Woolf drowned herself in a river. Despite the sometimes fatal outcome of depressive illness, many of us still harbor a romanticized image of the depressed writer, scribbling in his garret, creating works of profundity and great meaning.

Because of the solitary nature of writing and the lack of available feedback, many writers are plagued with negative thoughts about the quality of their work. “Am I really good enough to be published?”, “How can I call myself a writer when I’m feeling so blocked?”, “Can I really make a living at this?” are some of the old tapes that can easily play in a writer’s head. The very nature of the work of a writer tends towards isolation, economic insecurity, self-doubt and lack of exercise – the “perfect storm” for experiencing depression – either mild and situational or clinical, serious and worthy of a doctor’s intervention. When you spend long hours sitting on your own, digging deeply into yourself to create a work of art, self-examination and self-doubt can easily lead down the path to clinical depression and anxiety.

On the other hand, it seems that creative expansion, spiritual depth and increased emotional sensitivity often entail a journey through fear and pain on the way to genuine growth. Therein lies the dilemma – can depression ever be a good thing? While a writer’s gifts often include heightened intellect and creativity, we must be careful not to glamorize the illness of depression or assume that every creative or dynamic person is going to go through the agonies of serious mood swings. There is nothing productive about being miserable and hopeless, and speaking from experience, most of us in a depressed state of mind do not have the motivation or the energy to get out of bed, much less write a great novel or poem. So what can you do if you find yourself slipping into a mild or even severe depression? Here are some suggestions that can help:

• Sit down at your computer and write, even though you don’t feel inspired. There is nothing like constructive activity to distract and elevate your mood.

• Read an upbeat book or watch a funny movie to feel relief from dwelling on yourself and your woes.

• Write out a list of positive affirmations (positive statements about yourself or your situation written in the present sense as if they are already happening).

• Write down ten simple things in your life that you are grateful for. – it is difficult to hold onto fear and anxiety when we are in a thankful state.

• Reach a hand out to somebody else in need – witnessing someone else’s difficulties or pain and doing something to support them can release you from dwelling obsessively on yourself and your own problems.

• Get a massage, take a walk in Nature, listen to your favorite music – do anything that inspires you and makes you feel spiritually connected to something bigger than yourself or your mood.

Don’t be misled to believe depressives have some mystical insight into creativity or that depression (or bi-polar illness) enhances the creative process. On the contrary, for most of us, depression leads to writer’s block, diminished courage, less motivation, less imagination and less resilience to everyday life. Finally, if you experience inordinately long and serious bouts of the “blues”, don’t pick up your pen…pick up the phone and get the professional medical help that will put you on the road to recovery.

Please feel free to share your own experience as a writer with depression and how you have constructively dealt with it.

Kathleen Pasley is currently at work on A Hurt in Your Soul – Depression and How to Heal It: A Practical & Spiritual Guide.

Key West Literary Seminar–an absolute must!

Posted on | February 7, 2013 | 10 Comments

Okay, imagine palm trees, Hemingway’s house, 6-toed cats, balmy days, and almost equally balmy nights (in January), 4-day workshop sessions with talented writers and leaders (like Mary Morris, Billy Collins, etc.), parties where innovative mixologists pour delicious cocktails, and where you taste native Republic of Conch food (mmm…yummy), and where you mingle with other aspiring writers and famous authors (yes, really!)…

And it doesn’t stop there. For three days you get to listen to published authors discuss, kick around, mull over and muse about some literary topic. This past January the theme was Writers on Writers. Included were writers who’d written novels featuring famous authors (such as Colm Toibin’s The Master, featuring Henry James; Kate Moses’ Wintering, featuring Sylvia Plath; Ann Napolitano’s A Good Hard Look, featuring Flannery O’Connor; and others). These authors (Toibin, Moses, Napolitano, etc) were paired with authors who’d written biographies about these same people! The conversations were deep and wide, fascinating and wonderfully revealing. Inspiring and delicious.

The entire experience was like eating chocolate decadence for a week and not gaining weight! And at an affordable price! All the evening events and festivities were included in the fee. I admit I was pleasantly shocked.

Next year’s theme: The Dark Side, with such famous authors as William Gibson, Carl Hiaasen, Joyce Carol Oates, Alexander McCall Smith, Scott Turow, Megan Abbott, and many others talking about the literary thriller (and also mystery and crime)…

Next year’s dates: January 9th and January 16th. Visit for details.

Mary Morris:


Links: Oulipo, Paris, and Bad Writing Advice

Posted on | January 29, 2013 | 8 Comments

Here’s a quick list of links to recent publishing and writing-related articles that we enjoyed:

(Also…see the comments below and join in the discussion.  How do you get past those wasted minutes?)

Jeffrey Eugenides’s Advice to Young Writers

“To die your whole life. Despite the morbidity, I can’t think of a better definition of the writing life. There’s something about writing that demands a leave-taking, an abandonment of the world, paradoxically, in order to see it clearly. This retreat has to be accomplished without severing the vital connection to the world, and to people, that feeds the imagination. It’s a difficult balance.”


How the Creative Response of Artists and Activists Can Transform the World

“For me, creative response is the antidote to the individualism, consumerism and cynicism that now define our culture.”


The End of Oulipo? An Attempt at Exhausting a Movement

“Whatever one’s methods, avant-garde art must stage a continual intervention in the status quo if it is to resist being co-opted, and defused, by the mainstream.”


Punk in the University


Bad Writing Advice From Famous Authors


Top 10 Philosophers’ Novels


Poetry and Paris


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