Archives for December 2016

Creative Inspirational Wisdom: Arranging a Personal Work Zone

This week, guest blogger Tricia Pimental explores the merits of a creative garret.


First, I’m glad others will be contributing about the business side of writing (thank you, Kathleen Vermaelen). That’s definitely not my strength, so I look forward to learning from those posts.


As far as creative inspirational wisdom goes, what follows are a few thoughts on arranging a personal work zone. Writer’s Digest editor and author Elizabeth Sims gives plenty of useful tips in her book, You’ve Got a Book in You. They’ve helped me, and perhaps they will do the same for you.


Sims refers to the place where we hopefully will get our brains into gear as our “garret.” Two factors to consider when creating a garret are: 1. it’s a frame of mind, as in “Nothing and no one can distract me from writing,” and 2. it must have usable work space.


A room in your house is nice, but family members will still sense your presence. They’ll feel free to knock on the door, or worse, barge in while you are in the middle of constructing a clever metaphor or the most brilliant plot line ever conceived.


If you’re lucky enough to have access to a real garret—a cozy attic space—try that out. You’ll probably have a window and literally feel “above it all.” Barring that, a corner in your local library or favorite coffee shop might do nicely. Even part of your garage, provided it’s heated and well-lit, could work. Avoid basements if possible, as they can be dark, musty, or chilly.


Next time, the elements in your garret: Music? Snacks? TV or no TV?


Tricia Pimental is the author of three award-winning books. Articles, short stories, and poetry have appeared in The Florida Writer, A Janela (the quarterly magazine of International Women in Portugal), International Living, and anthologies compiled by The Florida Writers Association, NLAPW, and others.  A member of FWA, NLAPW, and SAG-AFTRA, Ms. Pimental is also a former Toastmaster. Follow her on Twitter: @Tricialafille. She blogs on her website:

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WANTED: GUEST BLOGGERS! Pen Women are invited to submit guest posts for two new series: Creative Inspirational Wisdom and It’s A Creative Business. Please visit this link for more details. We look forward to reading your material!

Poem of the Week: On Wings of Gold

Sarah Byrn Rickman
Pikes Peak, Colorado Branch


Fog shrouds the wings; dawn, but a shard of light.
Twin engines labor, eager to unbridle the horses.
Toes, hard on brakes, check the trembling aircraft.

From the tower, “Cleared for takeoff.”
Brakes off. Throttle to the firewall.
Spine thrust back against the seat.

Rolling, rumbling, reaching,
Wheels eat up runway. Lift.
Ease yoke back. Climb!

Eyes on instruments. Don’t look out!
The Pacific, invisible, lies below.
Altimeter reads seven…eight…nine hundred feet…

A shock of blue—a cloudless sky.

Execute a 180, bearing due east.
Sunrays strike silver wings, turning them gold.
Oh to pull over, stop in mid air, drink it all in!

Below, murky black stuff;
Ahead, two snow-covered peaks,
Sunlight rising through the pass between them.

Above it all, a sleek P-38 flies on wings of gold.


© Sarah Byrn Rickman

This poem is inspired by, and dedicated to, Betty Huyler Gillies (1908-1998), second in command, Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron, 1942-1944. In an oral history recorded in 1996, Betty described her first flight in a P-38 twin-engine pursuit aircraft that she ferried from Long Beach, California to Newark, New Jersey.


Creative Inspirational Wisdom: Shine Your Light

This week, guest blogger Mary Joan Meagher shares “enlightening” advice for creatives.


From time to time, writers are caught in darkness. Shadows obscure choices and chase one down hallways of doubt. A writer sits at her computer and feels blocked, lacking in vision, miserable. How best to find the light and how best to flee the darkness becomes her quest.


Those of us who live in Minnesota and other northern states are very familiar with the experience of living in darkness. During the winter months, our days are shortened day by day, and sunlight retreats to the South, angling itself lower and lower on the horizon. Clouds cover the sky in November, hiding the rim of the sun in gray tatters, bringing cold rain, damp wind, and then the snows of winter.


But look at the artists in our midst who paint with light for films and television. They bring us laughter and joy. Look at the rainbow itself, the spectrum of light arched across the sky, shattering the darkness of the storm that has preceded it by crystallizing the raindrops into prisms. We see light refracted into all its colors, promising hope and happiness to all.


Writing our truths is one way to bring this light to others. Perhaps at one time or another one may be in the pits or lost in the blues. We need someone or something to lead us out.


Writing in a personal journal is always therapeutic. Write your truth freely, sorting out your feelings, examining your perceptions of time, place, and life events. Getting your thoughts and feelings on paper is the best way to unblock your creativity. Reaching out to others, asking for help, and finding a listening ear brings us grace and light to share with others. Once we have been gifted with this light or these insights into life, we too can spread it to those in need.


The psychologist Carl Gustav Jung says, “As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” It is up to each individual to kindle this light for all those who are part of our daily lives.


Life is light, and warmth, and love. We all have plentiful supply of those qualities. Make each twenty-four hours a gift to your associates by living each day with truth, sympathy, and unconditional love, by unblocking your creativity, and by writing the truths you have discovered, passing them on to your readers. Just as you turn your face to the sun to soak up its rays, so turn your face to others to give them the gift of your light. In the dark days of winter, you can bring the light of spring to those who surround you.


As an old African-American spiritual says, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine/Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”


Mary Joan Meagher worked as an English and speech teacher at Regina High School in Minneapolis, MN, for 24 years. She has taught journal writing at Bloomington Community Education and wrote scripts for The Time of Our Lives Show there for 20 years. She is a poet, a water-colorist, an essayist, and a member of Minnesota Branch NLAPW.



Poem of the Week: Canvas of Life

Barbara Clarke, Atlanta Chapter

Life’s journey is played out beginning on the upper part of the canvas
bright colors are intermingled at the entrance of a new soul.
Love between us is heightened with hues of a symphony of emotions
when we welcome a new being into our fold.

In times of despair and downtrodden state of affairs
dark cacophony of colors swirl around us and
we strive to live above ordinary circumstances that
drag us down to the bottom of the canvas.

It is the Creator that lives within us that provides
the White Spirit to push on through the grey abyss
of troubles and tribulations that plague us in this canvas life.

When your soul is bleak and the canvas has you stifled
where your creativity seems to have subsided,
you stumble around not being able to bring forth. . . . .

a friend calls with yellow enlightenment and words of promise
encouraging you to pick up your brush and paint pushing through,
you then see the rainbow that shines through friendship
propelling you to move higher up the canvas
breathing life into the continuation of your masterpiece.

The ups and down of canvas life is captured in your journal,
it holds your most heartfelt sentiments and feelings
about this journey you’re treading on. You paint in your journal
expressions and impressions, memoirs as you move on down
the canvas of life. You speak in your journal about the
emotional highs and lows that ebb and flow from living.

When one looks into your journal after you have moved on
into the other realm; gaining insight and a glimpse of the
picture you painted expressing your innermost secrets
and emotions about the canvas of life. They take your memoirs
and hold them in their hearts and keep you alive forevermore
from the picture you created on your journey collage.

It is a way of safekeeping you high up on the canvas
for the picture you painted is held within their view
never forgetting the journey you made
and the love they held for you.


It’s A Creative Business: So Your Book is Finally Published… Now What?

We’re grateful to Kathryn Kleekamp of Cape Cod Branch NLAPW for sharing her professional expertise about book promotion in this guest post.


Whether your book is published by a major publisher or self-published, your masterpiece will sit in its carton unless it’s actively promoted. Although my publisher (Schiffer) lists my book in its catalog and distributes it to Amazon and traditional book stores, I’ve found the tips I offer below essential to boost sales. Many authors and artists either shy away from or dislike marketing, but believe me, it will grow on you. As an author and artist, I’ve met many delightful people at signings and book talks. If a piece of art or book subject resonates with the viewer or reader, it makes for an instant connection between two strangers.


In my case, casual meetings with those who have purchased my work have led to some satisfying and long term relationships. At a marketing seminar I once attended, the very successful speaker said that most of one’s sales will come from repeat customers. For me, it’s been true. After purchasing a book or artwork for themselves, many have come back time and again to purchase gifts for others.


Here are some suggestions for ways to promote your book and increase sales:


  1. Visit local book stores, gift shops and museums to arrange signings. Establish yourself as a real person, not just a title. It makes a world of difference.
  2. Create a simple website and Facebook Page. You can offer useful tidbits from your book without openly proclaiming, “Please buy my book.” Post things that are insightful or helpful to the reader.
  3. Approach your local community television and radio stations to arrange an interview. Be prepared to give them a book beforehand. If they interview you, post the video on your website.
  4. Depending on the topic of your book, contact regional book clubs, women’s clubs, libraries, churches, retirement communities, Newcomers clubs, senior centers etc., to arrange a book talk. It’s important to assess your audience beforehand and narrow your comments to things they would be most interested in. Keep your presentation fresh for yourself as well as your listeners.
  5. Send a query letter or story idea to local newspapers and magazines to see if they will write a human-interest story about you and your book. News organizations are always looking for fresh material to print. It’s important to indicate why your story is of interest to their readers. What sets you and your book apart from all others?
  6. Do a little research to find out who local media book reviewers are.  Send them a copy of your book with a cover letter to see if they would be willing to write a review. As you accumulate reviews, even if they’re from a friend or colleague, print a list to display wherever you have a talk or show.
  7. Many communities have outdoor summer fairs or holiday bazaars. The cost to rent table space is small and usually there are large crowds.
  8. To make point of purchase sales, the Square app for your cell phone is a wonderful way to process credit card sales. There is no monthly fee and a very small processing fee.  Many purchases are impulsive; you don’t want to miss out on buyers who may not have cash.


Inspired by her life on Cape Cod, Kathryn Kleekamp’s oil paintings bring the unique beauty and charm of this special place alive for the viewer. Her work is in collections throughout the United States and abroad. The second edition of Kathryn’s book, Cape Cod and the Islands: Where Beauty and History Meet will be released in June of 2017. Visit her website at or her Facebook page:


Creative Inspirational Wisdom: A Journey into the Heart of Creativity

For our first guest blog post in our Creative Inspirational Wisdom series, Dr. Patricia Daly-Lipe reflects on her creative journey.


Maybe I am a late bloomer but, finally, I have arrived at an important juncture in my life. What I used to consider a pastime, I now consider a passion. Two creative arts, painting and writing, have become the focus of my life.


I crept slowly into taking my art seriously. As a child, I watched my father paint. I learned to use watercolors when a woman down the street from my home in California opened her house to the neighborhood children and taught painting. Often we would take our tablets down to the rocks and attempt to paint images of the incoming surf.


Later I attended the local Art Center’s painting classes for children in a little white wooden building with trellises laced with flowering Wisteria vines in front. My work won at some shows, but for me, art was just a pleasant thing to do.


I took art classes in school and later in college, but still it was not enough of a passion to warrant full-time study. As a young adult, I studied figure drawing. My likenesses were quite good, but the paintings lacked depth. They were more like caricatures or illustrations. I came to find between years of learning to draw figures with proper proportions and dimensions, tones and contrasts, and learning to paint with style, my own style, there exists a leap of faith. It takes knowing how to draw things and people as they really are to be able to draw or paint them as they appear to you the artist—and knowing who you are is the center piece of creativity.


Vincent Van Gogh said it best. In 1879, he wrote: “I know of no better definition of the word ‘art’ than this: ‘Art is man added to nature,’ nature, reality, truth, but with a significance, a conception, with a character which the artist makes evolve, and to which he expresses, that he frees up, illuminates.” I believe deep down within our very being lives the creative muse, and she is yearning to find expression. It is she who connects to the primal rhythms of the universe. Watching a sunset, looking at the snow-covered bare limbs of a tree, peering into the opened petals of a rose, all these scenes are captured by our creative muse, who stores them in our memory. Someday, she will find release. That is, if we allow it.


But creativity is not confined to art. The writer, be he or she a novelist or historian, a biographer or a reporter, also allows creativity to find expression. For the writer the words paint the picture. Consider poetry. Poetry celebrates feelings. “No tears in the writer; no tears in the reader,” Robert Frost said. This is true of the poem and equally true of literature. Just as “a poem begins with a lump in the throat,” so too a good book should entice the soul, draw upon the emotions and require reflection.


The artist considers the media to use; the writer chooses the words. There is an affinity between musical rhythm and literary rhythm: repetition/meter/movement/harmony. One of the most powerful mimes defining life is sound. Take the ‘motion’ out of ‘emotion.’ Music is motion. Life is motion. For some, the creative muse finds her expression in music. Words are not necessary. The visual is not necessary. Music takes us beyond the external world and draws upon our inner selves, our emotions.


So be it writing, art or music. “Within each of us is a creative core that actively creates the universe,” Robert Hand said.


Man is both creature and creator. Creative energy creates. The journey never ends, and it is the journey, not its destination, and the creating, not the created, that opens our minds and hearts to more than logic, science, or technology can ever know.


Dr. Lipe is a past president of La Jolla Branch NLAPW and DC Branch NLAPW. She is the author of eight books with the ninth—Historic Tales of La Jolla, published by The History Press—due to come out in January. Patricia is the recipient of numerous awards. An artist as well as a rescuer of thoroughbred horses, Patricia shares her love of nature and animals with her husband, Dr. Steele Lipe, at their farm in Virginia. Please visit