The Greatest Gifts

eileen-blog200x200As a writer, I’m deeply aware of how wonderful it feels to be contacted by someone who’s read my work and felt moved enough by my ideas to reach out and let me know how much I’ve touched them. That’s why, as a reader, I’ve personally never been shy about reaching out to those authors whose works have in turn touched my own heart, to let them know that their effort has not been in vain.

Some of my most treasured friendships have arisen from these connections. And of the countless times I’ve reached out to thank a writer, nearly all have responded with gratitude for having been well received. I suspect it’s because a writer’s life can be a lonely path. It may take years for a book to move through a writer’s mind, heart, hands and down onto the page, and from there to make it into printed form for consumption by the public. During that long and thankless time, we writers are typically plagued with bouts of self-doubt. We’re convinced our work will be unpublishable; our ideas will seem worthless or too mundane; our energy will have proved to be utterly wasted. We’re also occasionally accosted by people who – with the best of intentions – wonder aloud why we don’t go out and get ‘real’ jobs. Our friends and family members have been known to “helpfully” bury us beneath distressing statistics about the failure rates for new authors, and inundate us with articles that discuss how impossible it is to get readers to notice new books.

That’s why, for me, it always feels like a bit of a miracle whenever someone reaches out and bridges the time-space continuum that exists between that original struggle of my sometimes painful process and this place I am today, just to tap me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you…great job. I loved your work. It moved me; I’m forever changed for having read this book. Thank you so much for having written it.”

In those precious, quiet moments of heartfelt reconnection with my own past efforts, I can at last feel vindicated for having stuck with a project; for not having chucked it during one of those dark and lonely periods when feedback was nonexistent, and when all I had to rely upon was my faltering faith in myself. Moments such as these are, at times, exactly what it takes to keep me going – to inspire me to sit down again and breathe life into yet another labored page.

We like to think of Muse Harbor as a place where we, as writers, are helping other writers reach new readers. As part of that commitment, one of our most sincere desires is to serve as a well-lit way station where those readers can connect with the writers who’ve moved them, and who have maybe even changed their lives for the better. So if you’ve read a book by one of our authors and have loved the message it sent, the story it told, or the characters that the author has breathed into life…please. Reach out and say so. I promise you, every writer feels an endless hunger to hear that. And don’t be surprised if you make a new friend for your efforts. As a person who toils in solitude, I know I’ve developed an appreciation for all of these human connections that nourish my soul. It’s a beautiful gift, and it’s free. All the greatest gifts are.

 

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Need Freedom from Suffering?

book6Telecall by Popular Communications Expert/Author Dr. Ralph Huber Teaches It – Feb 5th 6 pm MST
Muse Harbor Publishing’s “Awakening Into Perfect Peace” Author Dr. Huber Teaches Tools for Inner Peace on Hummingbird Living School’s Telecall

Santa Fe, New Mexico (PRWEB) January 31, 2014

On Wednesday, February 5, 2014, from 6:00 – 7:00 p.m., MST, Hummingbird Living School in Santa Fe, New Mexico will host a one hour telecall with Dr. Ralph Huber, popular Communications Expert/Workshop Leader and Author of “Awakening Into Perfect Peace: Reflections on Freedom from Suffering.” Although the telecall is no charge to the public, listeners need to register prior to the call by clicking on hummingbirdlivingschool.org. Space is limited and previous calls have been oversubscribed, so listeners are encouraged to register soon.

Dr. Huber will teach ways to free oneself of life’s personal drama, confusion and stress while aligning with Spirit to boost creative capacity.

The topic is “Co-Creating with Spirit: Keeping in Resonance with our True Nature of Infinite Wisdom and Oneness.” Dr. Huber will answer:

 

  • How your should-thoughts stand in the way of keeping in resonance with Spirit
  • The role humility plans in aligning your thoughts and actions with Spirit
  • How heart-felt expressions of appreciation strengthen your ability to keep open to Spirit’s guidance.

Dr. Huber asks, “Do you want to experience a life filled with confusion and drama by resisting life’s unfoldment, or do you want to experience a life of clarity and peace that comes from welcoming all of life – as it is?”

Dr. Huber believes that inner peace is achieved through the path of least resistance, which is often the simplest path to take. “Most of life’s conflict is self-inflicted,” says Huber.

“Awakening” recently launched on 2013’s International Day of Peace from Muse Harbor Publishing. It can be found on Amazon.com and museharbor.com.” An engaging, inspirational speaker with practical “inner peace” tools that benefit any reader, listener or viewer, Dr. Huber can be reached for further interviews, including Radio, TV, Print, Online Blogs and event speaking engagements, by contacting Margaux(at)museharbor(dot)com.

Ralph Huber’s professional background includes educator, corporate trainer and vice-president of a New York based management consulting firm that offered services to major communication and retail industries. He is currently a member of Hummingbird Community in northern New Mexico and serves as board president for the Unity Church in Santa Fe. Dr. Huber holds a Ph.D. from New York University’s Department of Communication Arts and Sciences. He has an affinity for Advaita, Zen and Christian Mysticism.

Friend Dr. Huber on Facebook and for information on Huber’s personal coaching and seminars, visit awakeningintoperfectpeace.com.

Muse Harbor Publishing, based in Sea Ranch, CA, was founded in 2011 as an organization of “writers helping writers, in service to our readers.”

Hummingbird Community provides and hosts educational programs, conferences and retreat experiences that support conscious evolution, loving relationships, regenerative living, new economics, health and well-being.

 

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Create Abundance in Today’s Economy?

book6Awakening Into Perfect Peace is This Season’s Ticket to Ahhhhs
Wall Street Expert/Visionary Author of “Sacred Economics” Tells How on Telecall Wed, Jan 22.

Santa Fe, New Mexico (PRWEB) January 15, 2014

Financial Expert/Visionary Author of “Sacred Economics: The Currency of Life,” Eileen Workman is offering a 1-hour TeleCall through the Hummingbird Living School, at no charge to the public. This conversation between Eileen Workman and Rich Ruster, Ph.D. – Economic Visionary and Steward of Hummingbird Community – will focus on “Sacred Economics and the Co-Creation of Abundance.”

Workman says, “We’ll address current economic issues in the press, focusing on current obsessions with debts and deficits and the recent denial of extended unemployment benefits. Listeners will learn the advantages of shifting attention away from money (illusion of wealth) to real wealth, (the actual tangible resources people use and need.) I’ll ask and answer common public concerns such as ‘Why is debt necessary? How can society overcome greed? Why does poverty exist? Is a moneyless society possible?'”

The Workman-Ruster financial visionary team will also explain:
1) Why so many of the things our society needs to do aren’t getting done
2) Ways people can shift their attitudes and behaviors to help change the economic paradigm
3) How America’s patriarchal society undervalues feminine work and values, leading to fewer “paying” jobs that serve the people

Workman and Ruster will be offering Q & A time between each topic, giving listeners with questions a chance to get direct answers.

Listeners will learn innovative ways to create this new economic paradigm, re-imagine the nature of genuine wealth and help weave both masculine and feminine energies of a new, resources-based economy into a whole living organism.

Hummingbird Community states that the registration is filling up and will likely sell out. Although the call is no charge, listeners must register prior to the call. To register, please click on this link: http://www.hummingbirdlivingschool.org.

“Sacred Economics: The Currency of Life” is available at https://www.museharbor.com and Amazon. com. Formerly a First Vice President of Investments with a top international Wall Street firm, Workman is available for seminars, speaking engagements, radio and TV interviews by contacting margaux(at)museharbor(dot)com.

Workman is currently CFO of Muse Harbor Publishing, based in Sea Ranch, CA, which was founded in 2011 as an organization of “writers helping writers, in service to our readers.”

Hummingbird Community provides and hosts educational programs, conferences and retreat experiences that support conscious evolution, loving relationships, regenerative living, new economics, health and well-being.

 

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Simple, But Exciting (Part 2)

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Rules-headerA notebook for fiction writers and aspiring novelists. An editor’s perspective.

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Simple, But Exciting (Part 2)

A writer will also utilize three necessary components to successfully navigate a successful story—and you’ll continually weave these elements throughout your writing, like spiraling filaments in a thread.

In no particular order:

• Scene Setting. As a reader, I want to be grounded early in each new chapter or scene. Give me a glimpse of where I am, and who I’m with and, if appropriate, when. (After dark? Before lunch? Late autumn?) Depending upon your writing style, setting a scene can be elaborate enough to fill several pages (a la George R.R. Martin), or as sparse as a few suggestive wordsI walked into Charlie’s ramshackle Bar & Grill. The place smelled like old cigarettes and older sweat. You know, the kind of establishment where patrons paid in dimes and quarters, where cockroaches and winos went to die. — enough to impart sufficient information to identify or intuit the whereabouts of your character(s).

• Character Development. Give me essential information that builds or strengthens or reveals the important nuance of a character. Not all at once, of course… but bits here and there. Character development often relies on subtle nuances, appropriately placed.

• Plot Development. Give me essential information that builds or strengthens the plot. Sometimes nuanced, sometimes with the speed and intensity of a runaway train. But keep pushing the plot forward. It’s as simple as that.

In each scene you write, you’ll combine elements of scene setting, plot development and character development. Include nothing else. If you find yourself writing material that doesn’t further the plot or distinguish a character or ground the reader in time or place, those words probably don’t belong in your novel. (And if the words feel important to the the story, look closely—they’re likely one of the above ingredients.)

These three key elements, by the way, comprise Rule #5: Continually scene set, character build or move the plot forward. In novel writing, nothing else matters.

Okay, so here’s a brief hypothetical:

Barnaby awoke before dawn, shivering beneath the insufficient weight of a blanket that smelled of manure and wet straw. The frigid air lay heavy with smoke drifting from a myriad of scattered campfires that burned in the meadow. He gazed upward through the misty tendrils, into a coal black winter’s night. High amid the heavens, he could see the constellation Orion. The hunter.

…Come daylight, he knew, they would all become hunters.

He could hear a distant murmur of sleepless men, of braying horses. Somewhere in the tall grass, a young soldier sobbed. Even though he’d slept, Barnaby instinctively sensed dawn’s approach—soon the drums and bugles would beckon the war, and with its arousal, an unmitigated savagery would descend upon the brigade. Before sunset, many of those stirring restlessly around him would lay dead.

Not long ago, he might have wept at the thought of the carnage that morning would bring. But staring into the heavens, he wished for only solace. He longed for an eternity absent of fear, of hatred, of misery. For the first time since the fighting had begun, Barnaby found himself anticipating the absolute surrender of death, and relished its embrace.

…….….……
In the above paragraphs we find a piecemeal semblance of scene-setting and character development, although not much plot. Yet by the end of the passage, we infer a battle’s brewing (basic plot development) and, if properly scene-set, we suspect our character to be a soldier of some bygone era. Campfires. Horses. Bugles. Even by the discreet choice of names—Barnaby—the writer implies a subliminal clue. No, we don’t know which war…but we assume we’ll be told fairly soon and, if the writing moves us, we’re willing to wait. Nor do we have a clear physical description of Barnaby (our protagonist we presume, although still uncertain)—and yet we’ve glimpsed the lost fear in his soul. Another important character trait.

By juxtaposing well-considered snippets of information, each sentence becomes an integral piece of an enormous puzzle, yet none of the overall picture which will be revealed in haste. The writer utilizes only those pieces that properly fit, and has already begun interlacing individual filaments (of plot, character and grounding) that will eventually weave into a narrative tale. We may not know key elements of the character until far into the novel. We’re learning about this man piece by piece. We may not learn about the writer’s true intent in telling his story—perhaps not the war itself, but rather a young man’s journey to find himself, through various aspects of fate. The writer’s only begun to build a mystery of voice, of plotting, and yet each sentence is precise and methodical, like so many footprints in the sand, one after another after another in meticulous formation toward an inevitable conclusion.

* * *

One last note: When is simple too simple? When simple becomes passive. So keep your simple sentences active. (See Active Voice.) For instance:

Passive: John was sleeping. (Simple? Yes. Exciting? No.)

Active: John’s snores reverberated through the house with the fury of an approaching thunderstorm. (Better.)

Remember: Simple, but exciting.


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Simple, But Exciting (Part 1)

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Rules-headerA blog for fiction writers and impending writers. An editor’s perspective.

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Simple, But Exciting (Part 1)

If I could distill the fundamentals of potentially great storytelling, my advice would be this: Keep it simple, but exciting…exciting, but simple.

While such advice may seem paradoxical (“Paint it black, but paint it white.”) you’ll find a marvelous co-dependency at play in writing a novel that: A) moves the story swiftly forward, without confusion or unnecessary intrusions, and; B) imparts a breathlessness, a passion, a cerebral metamorphosis that transforms the reader’s reality into one entirely of your choosing.

One manages such duality by keeping: A) the fundamentals simple, and; B) your voice exciting.

Simple: The mechanics and structure of your writing, the clarity of your language. (In other words, grammar.) Note that simple doesn’t mean uninteresting or brief, nothing synopsized or truncated—but rather clear and concise.

Exciting: The unique personality of your style and voice, the ebb and flow of your journey (that is, the structure of your plot), your joie de vivre. Your subtle—but oh-so-witty—nuance. Your tantalizing dialogue. (See Exciting, but Simple. Also see Dialogue.)

Even those writers who attempt to climb (metaphorically speaking) the Mount Everest of epic adventures or those who navigate the Pan’s Labyrinth of complicated plots, the basic mechanics of fiction remain fundamentally simple: Write in clear, precise sentences. (That’s Rule #7, by the way.) Communicate to your reader in intelligent thoughts, carefully constructed, while providing a constant, continual procession of relevant information.

Think of writing a novel as being similar to a long trek through the Sahara. As a reader, I’m following the trail you’ve intentionally set out on page one. I must be able to follow (e.g.; comprehend) each footstep you take along the way. A misplaced thought or a convoluted sentence will give me pause. What did you mean? A muddled chapter and I may be stymied. Am I still on track? Which way did you go? Lose readers midway through the desert and they’re likely gone for good.

My advice? Don’t get deviously clever or snarkingly cute with your audience. Do not withhold necessary information or keep secrets—intending a sleight of hand later in the story. Do not write under the influence of an advanced thesaurus. Do not assume we’ll dig deeply enough to catch your subliminal brilliance, your existential aura, your interpretive, Nureyev-like rond de jambe. Yes, your characters can be devious, but not your language. Sure, your plot can be multi-layered, but not your innuendo. Your protagonist may be shrouded in mystery, but do not shroud your words from the reader. Maintain clarity. Keep it simple.

Stagnation = Boredom. Movement = Drama.

Another fundamental? Every sentence you write, every scene, every chapter, every act, must constantly push your characters toward trouble (a.k.a. conflict, a.k.a. tension, a.k.a. drama), or else snatch them away again.

You’re either pushing your lovers toward elusive but everlasting happiness, or else dragging them away.

You’re pushing your swashbuckling adventurer toward a buried treasure, or wrenching her away again.

You’re pushing your Hobbit toward Mount Doom, or dragging him away (…again and again and again and again).

You’re pushing a hapless antihero toward a life of crime, or pulling him back—perhaps toward that carefree Montana horse ranch where lithesome Marilyn toils, pining for a good man. But, wait! Her ominous, one-eared stepbrother, Bart, also has lusty designs on Marilyn. Why? Because one can (and should) impart many tug o’wars into a story, often working in simultaneity. A writer is continually pushing or pulling each character into or away from situational danger, continually building or relaxing tension—with always a final goal in mind.

Such constant motion need not include physical expression (sprinting, dueling, skydiving without a ‘chute) but rather be certain that your writing is rich in emotion and dramatic impact. For instance, you’re concocting elaborate schemes inside your prisoner’s head that will ultimately spring him from his tiny cell, or you’re creating unforeseen obstacles that pull him away from his anticipated freedom.

See a pattern developing? If you’re not constantly pushing or pulling, you’re miring the plot, your characters, in mundanity. Think of movement this way: A novel is like an aardvark. Both have to constantly breathe—inhaling, then exhaling; inhaling, then exhaling. A flat plot or uninteresting characters or passive writing (see Active Voice) is pretty much total exhalation. Ask an aardvark to exhale continually for 300 pages and what happens? Right. Dead as a door nail.

Hint:

Inhale: A thousand snarling, brain-craving zombies lurch through a dark tunnel, hungry for you and your family. At the other end, you find the tunnel’s hopelessly blocked! But, wait! You discover a service hatch! While you all scramble safely through that well-placed emergency exit, Aunt Mildred trips over her shoelaces and gets munched. (An inhalation scene is typically visually rich and plot-oriented. A war. A hot romance. A mystery revealed.)

Exhale: Sobbing afterwards, safe and sound, you and your family mourn poor Aunt Mildred. But, wait! Wasn’t the dear woman carrying your only map to the Zombie-Free Safety Zone? And also your last bottle of water? Now you have neither. You all stare at one another, aghast. Overhead, thunder rumbles ominously. (An exhalation scene is typically informational and character-oriented; poignant or empathetic, revealing or mysterious. An important conversation, a brewing plot. An inner monologue.)

Thus, Rule #8: Keep your characters moving. Either push your characters toward drama or pull them away again. (a.k.a.: Inhale, then exhale; inhale, then exhale; inhale, then exhale…)
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