Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Newly Published Jordan Advises Not to Get Caught in What Others Say!

Cathy Jordan and I have been a part of numerous writing workshops together and exchanging drafts on our 'novels-in-progress' during the last several years.  This summer her first book "Seeking Samiel" was published by Sunbury Press. Since I had been privy to one of the novel's earlier drafts, I became a fan and very elated (but not surprised) it had been published.  Cathy has always been an inspiration to me, as I've been amazed at how she makes her writing happen with children still in school, a lawyer husband, and a household to run. I know you  all will be inspired also!  

1) Tell us a little bit about your book that was just published—“Seeking Samiel."   Seeking Samiel is about desire—wanting the wrong things for the wrong reason. Who hasn’t ever been bitten by that little demon? I wanted the story to be a horror/thriller because that’s what I like to read, but I’d found a lot of those stories were either over the top or just not relatable. So my response was to make the story relatable with “desire” and to make it as realistic as possible with a cool twist. Demons, in my belief, are real. My twist was making Eva, the main bad girl, the anti-Christ. 

2) Did you always want to write thrillers? Why?   Yes! Thrillers keep me engaged in any story whether I’m reading it or watching it. So, I decided I’d try to write a thrilling novel. 

3) You have a full life with 5 children, a household to run, a husband, outside activities, when do you find the time to write and what keeps you motivated? (Given that most writer wannabes struggle with finding the time and stamina.) Writing is my creative outlet. If I wound up on a deserted island, all I’d need are pencils and paper. I could die scribbling. I find the time when the kids are home and pre-occupied with friends and homework, and late at night when they’re in bed. I stay up pretty late, sometimes until 3:00 a.m. and am ALWAYS surprised that time has moved as if only minutes had passed—and that’s what motivates me.

4) You are well into the sequel to “Seeking Samiel,” when will that be published? I hope by June of 2013 so it can hit the market in time for Halloween(not that it is only for Halloween reading.

5) Have you ever participated in National Novel Writing Month in November? No, but it’s on my “to do” list. What is your advice for getting the bare bones down to a novel in a certain amount of time? My advice is always the same: write! Write, write and then write some more. Don’t get hung up on typos, POV, or writing rules. Just pound out what comes into your head. Let the words flow. Allow each sentence to lead to the next. Clean-up is for after the party, not during. Do you think it is a good idea to do this? If a writer finds it motivating, then I think it’s a great idea. You never know when inspiration will hit, but it often does when under a time constraint.

6) What were some things you’ve done, like hypnosis, writing classes, writers’ groups, writer conferences, to build your skills and keep going with your novel? Writer’s groups really help me. I love the critiques, the advice, and the motivation I get from others. Conferences are a great way to gain contacts and to recharge.

7) Anything else you wish to add? If you really, really love to write, then write. Forget the rules. Don’t get caught up in what others say can or can’t be done. If you love what you do, success will follow. And everyone has their own definition of success. I succeeded when I wrote “The end” on my manuscript. Publication was a grateful bonus. Anything after that is fun, fun, fun!

Cathy Jordan's book SEEKING SAMIEL can be purchased from Sunbury Press by going to or at

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Writers' Block--Writers Need to Step Out of Their Own Way, PART II

Finally PART II of my interview with Sue Nordemo, RN,, on how hypnosis can help writers' block.  The summer here in PA has been long and hot.  Long because I've been working on fixing up an apartment with my husband.  Something that took me out of my comfort zone.  I was happy I did it because it gave me more confidence and who knows, now I can always tap into the experience if need be for writing purposes.

"It’s learning how to be in a highly 'open' state [of mind], and not letting that conscious mind be in the way." --Sue Nordemo, RN

Q: I know you’ve been saying this throughout, but anything to add on the benefits of hypnosis for the writer?  It’s going to get [them] very relaxed, and it’s going to increase self-confidence, boost self-esteem, and when they go to a publisher, it’s going to give them the confidence, especially if they have to talk to someone on the phone.  If you’re going to a big-time publisher, being confident when you walk in there, the hypnosis can certainly help you with that there’s no question about it. addressed also.  It’s very individual, very individualistic.

Q: How exactly do you get to a ‘state of hypnosis’?  I do a relaxation [technique] and use guided imagery as part of what is called the ‘Induction’ where you’re getting the person into a nice relaxed state.  So I find out “Do you have a specific place where you like to go on vacation and relax, or maybe your backyard, or your bedroom?” I have people describe that to me.  And maybe get some names, and I will jot some notes down.  The more [specific], the more real it becomes. You’re literally painting a picture for them.  

Q: How do you know when they’re in that state?  I can tell they are, I just know that they are.  Because for a long time I was doing hypnosis with very little vision (about 12 years I was legally blind), and I can remember having to rely on my hearing and sense of feeling, which became much more pronounced.  And it was interesting because I talked to my former teacher, and I told her about it.  She said, “Oh, you shouldn’t be doing hypnosis.”  I said, “Excuse me, you’re telling me blind people can’t do this?  I’m going to tell you right now I totally disagree with you.” And I gave her my reasons why and she called me a week later she said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I had this blind psychologist call me wanting to learn hypnosis.”  So she said, “I took her into my class and she was one of my best students!”  

I just trust they are in it, sometimes the eyelids will flutter, their breathing may increase a little bit, before they start to become relaxed, I just know by looking at them.  I’ve only been doing it for about 17 years.  That’s how I stopped smoking. It’s good for all kinds of issues, all kinds.  

You know the main cause of writers’ block I think is what I’ve been saying … somebody may say something to them, in the past or in the present moment, that triggers a memory.  Or it does something to their self-confidence, puts them right down instantly. That’s stuff I’d have in the script-work. Some hypnotists will write out an entire script with their client,and I don't do that.  I pretty much do it off the top of my head.  I may have a script in front of me that addresses specific issues, but then I'll interject what I've gotten from my client into that script. 

Q: What’s the benefit of having the hypnosis session placed on CD?  You listen to it as many times as you want, like getting a private session every time you listen to it!  The key here would be is to teach people how to do the self-hypnosis because that's what it is.  You're not going to have [a hypnotist] sitting there every single time while you're trying to write your book!  You need to do it yourself, so I think certainly wording has to do with self-hypnosis yourself, it's very important, that's part of the 'piece' as we call it the hypnotic writing.  

Q: Can you elaborate on Hypnotic Writing?  When I was painting, you get into that hypnotic state where you're so focused on what you're doing, you're totally unaware of everything else that's going on around you.  You get into the ZONE; you've heard sports people get into the zone, runners, and tennis players.  Basically you're getting into the hypnotic zone to do your writing, to do your painting.  

You can spend two or three hours, all of a sudden you have no concept of the time going by; it's like “WOE, where did the time go?”  You were in a hypnotic state, that's all it is—It’s learning how to be in a highly "open" state [of mind], and not letting that conscious mind be in the way.  The more you practice, the better you get at it. 

I just thought of another writer, I saw her interviewed, the one who wrote TWILIGHT [Stephenie Meyer].  That first book, she had an incredibly vivid dream, every detail of one of the woodland scenes.  Fascinating to hear her talk, when she woke up she based the whole book [on the dream].  I remember her saying that, "Safe to say, all creativity comes from the subconscious mind."

When I look back, Edison, I can remember going to see his summer home in Florida, then we went into his laboratory and there was a cot where he used to take ten naps he never slept for 6 or 7 or 8 hours, he'd sleep for an hour or so, and when he woke up that's how he got all his inventions.  I'm sure of it, he was in a hypnotic state, he wasn't really asleep.  So he was tapping into his subconscious mind.  

I now encourage my clients to do the three steps that I teach for self-hypnosis, which is very easy. I just send them the three steps and review it with them. This is very important as it helps them with any issues that may come up during the writing process.

Susan Nordemo RNWhether it's weight loss, smoking cessation, overcoming fears, or achieving success in your personal or professional life, Certified Hypnotist , MTT practitioner, and Reiki Master Teacher Susan Nordemo will help you unlock your potential for success.  Contact Sue at or (603) 882-4944.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Mowing Your Writer's Lawn

There's something relaxing about the sound of lawnmowers and washing machines.  It's the consistency of the sound, kind of like a lullaby and knowing dirty clothes will be clean and the lawn that has grown way too high will become neat and tidy. 

This can be the same type of satisfied feeling you get when you mow down some of those weedy words that grew in the middle of your novel or short story.  The minor character that doesn't move the story forward or the lengthy description of someone's china cabinet with its crystal goblets. Sound familiar?

It is sometimes hard to see those things that really don't belong in your writing piece.  Your writing just got so overgrown you missed them.  But as the revision process takes it course, your critique partner or group can help pinpoint them.

Don't be hesitant to cut your writing and tighten up your text, so readers are able to view and take in the lovely landscape you set out to write.  It's all part of being a writer, having passion for every part of the process, the pruning as well.

PS: Part II of my interview with Sue Nordema is up next, promise.  It's just been a summer of renovating some apartments for me and my family.  Hopefully the fall will bring a more settled time for me and more blog posts.  Happy writing!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Writers' Block—Writers Need to Step Out of Their Own Way, PART I

"We all have the ability … it’s just getting out of own way and asking for assistance.” –Sue Nordemo, RN 
I recently was seeking to find out about hypnosis for the main character in my novel-in-progress.  Talk about a great connection! A family member connected me to Sue Nordemo, a certified hypnotist and registered nurse. During our first conversation I felt like I already knew Sue, with her great sense of humor and calming voice.  Since so many writers I know talk about having writers’ block, I saw this connection as a great opportunity to pass along the wealth of information from my interview with Sue.  Enjoy!

1) What would you tell a writer in a couple sentences why they should do hypnosis to help alleviate writers’ block?  Hypnosis will help by-pass the critical thinking in the conscious mind and help access the subconscious mind in order to move forward. Remember, you already have the information you need, it's just getting past all that critical stuff!

2) What are the steps when a writer comes to you for this service?  It depends on what's going on for the person. If it's something that's been an ongoing problem, it's more than just the writers' block going on, and it may take more than one or two sessions. 
      I know the first time I ever used it was on myself, I was supposed to do an article on Reiki for my local nursing magazine, which went out to about 100,000 nurses.  I kept putting it off and putting it off because I got scared. I thought Oh WOW, I'm going to be writing an article, and all these nurses are going to be looking at it, what are they going to think? Then I sat down one day and thought "If you don't write it soon, someone else is going to write it, and they won't want your article."
      I thought, "Why don't you do what you tell your clients to do?"  So I just got into a very quiet space, turned phones off, put on relaxation music, closed my eyes, and got into a very quiet state and I said to myself, "OK, I need the title and I need this written in an hour."  I opened my eyes and stayed in that trance state and got the title instantly and had it written in one hour!  When they published it [article], they published it almost word-for-word, which was unheard of with nursing publications.
HYPNOTIC WRITING: I had actually taken a course in hypnotic writing; I can teach anybody to do that.  I have a class that I teach, a six hour program on how to do self-hypnosis.  So I can take that class and just turn it into a class of learning self-hypnosis to do hypnotic writing.
     Two examples that I always remembered, Mark Twain, all of his writings and humor came from his subconscious mind.  He would get into a meditative state, sit there quietly, and BINGO up would come all of his information he had written.  And Robert Lewis Stevenson he would do the same thing.  That’s where all of his novels and writings came from; for him I believe the story goes, every time his bank account got low, he’d say, “Oh, I need another novel, and he’d get into a meditative state and there it would be.”
     All it is, is a highly focused state [of mind] and letting go of your critical thinking; allowing your subconscious mind to take over because you have all the information stored there.  All your ideas, all your creativity, come from your subconscious mind.
     A couple years ago, I saw Paul McCartney being interviewed on TV.  This is very common for people who are musicians, song-writers, it comes to them in a dream state. Our subconscious mind works 24/7, so they asked him where did your song “YESTERDAY” come from and he said “I dreamt it.”  He said when he woke up, “I had the whole song written.” “Well, how did you come up with a title?”  He said, “When I first woke up I wasn’t sure if I dreamt it or thought of it Yesterday.”  And he had the title.
3) What happens then after the initial step?  After the interview, I have them fill out an intake form, I get a history from them, and find out exactly what they want to have happen [during the session], what is it they are looking for?  The more information that they give me, goes right into a script. 
Then I find out, how they take in information, do they tend to be a very visual person or audio, hearing or kinesthetic, which is touch.
We all have a certain amount of each but there’s usually one there’s more of. 
     Say they’re stuck on a Chapter, they can have the beginning and end all done but the middle they’re just so stuck.  I can take the theme or the content of what they’re looking for and put that into the hypnosis script. 
     For instance, depending on the person, I may take them through a library to get a sense of imaging themselves in a library; I do this with people with test anxiety.  And then they're sitting there and you can have them working on a computer, you can have them looking for books, you can have them look in the file system … there's all kind of stuff you can have them do, it's fascinating!
Sue Nordemo is a registered nurse with more than 30-years experience, a certified hypnotist, a Reiki master teacher, and a Meridian Tapping Practitioner.  She is the founder of Healing Crossways, which employs a holistic approach to help you achieve your goals.  Visit to learn more about Sue and what hypnosis can do for you!  She also offers hypnosis over the phone, 603-882-4944, 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Filling your writing well -- Q&A with Ann Elia Stewart

Ann Elia Stewart has been a writing workshop facilitator for a decade now in Central Pennsylvania. I am fortunate to have been in most of her workshops. It has made me a better reader and writer, and I recently had a short story of mine published with other writers (who’ve been in Ann’s workshops) in a collection Ann edited, A Community of Writers (available now on Amazon). Ann always has much wisdom to share in regards to writing and writers, so I interviewed her for this blog. Enjoy! Her book, twice a child, will be available in June 2012, from, on Amazon where you can download it on a Kindle!

Q: Your background is in Journalism, how did you get into fiction writing and teaching it?

A: Fiction has always been my “first love,” beginning with Nancy Drew mysteries and short stories in my mom’s Good Housekeeping! I used to grab the magazine before she got it and go straight to the short story that usually took up a spread. When I got into college, I took every English Lit class I could and discovered an innate enjoyment of analyzing the stories not only for their content and meaning but also for technique. 
        Fast forward to a career in journalism and advertising, where I was able to hone my writing skills and make a living at it. But something was always missing for me. When I decided to become a stay-at-home mother in the early 90s, I used the baby’s naptime to self-study. The first novel I had broken into pieces was Anne Rice’s Queen of the Damned. It was a complex story and vivid. I wanted to know how she had achieved the “reality” of it. I then got my hands on every writing book I could, studied them, analyzed them, and when I had discovered Rabbit Hill Writing Studio in Lititz, PA, in the mid-90s, I had already had a few pieces under my belt.  Of course, Rabbit Hill was the start of it all – me even thinking I could write fiction, let alone teach it!
        The literary magazine that I had founded in 2001, PHASE, followed after I had earned a fellowship from the PA Council on the Arts – validation! The workshops came about first as a way to look for more writers for the magazine (as well as readers), but as time went on, I found it to be a great way to stay rooted in fiction and meet others of like mind. And it all just kind of rolled along from there.

Q: I recently had a young cousin of mine ask me where she should start with writing.   What would be on your list to answer this person?

A: Well, I’m glad to see that a young person is interested in writing.  My first piece of advice always is: read everything. Reading helps you pick up technique, cadences and rhythms of language, character insight. After that, write about whatever moves you, either placing yourself in the story (first person), or developing a character with whom you can identify to help move the story forward. Find ten minutes a day to write, every day.

Q: What are your favorite how-to books for writers?

A: There are so many out there, but the best one, by far, is “On Writing,” by Stephen King. After that, “Creativity Rules,” by John Vorhaus, a step-by-step approach that breaks down parts of a story, and “The  First Five Pages,” by Noah Lukeman, an agent and editor who writes with a great deal of knowledge as to what pitfalls to avoid when you’re ready to submit a manuscript … or you think you’re ready.

Q: What are some of the major stumbling blocks you’ve seen with your students and their writing during the last decade or more?

A: Point of view has always been a sticky wicket! Because a writer’s mind must juggle so much, it’s easy to slip into another character’s point of view within the same scene or paragraph. That’s always one of the first mistakes I catch. Another is keeping their prose economical – saying what you want to convey in as few words as possible. Again, it’s easy to go on and on and on, but very difficult to condense a thought or scene to its essence. I have witnessed, to my pure delight, huge growth in the writers who continue to attend my workshops. So many have gone on to publish and write novels. It’s astounding what a little encouragement can do.

Q: Ever get Writers’ Block?  What are your fears that sometimes keep you from writing?

A: Writer’s block, someone once said, is simply not having enough information. I have had it, of course, but I realized that all the anxiety and silly rituals we writers sometimes put ourselves through boil down to one thing: We need to fill the well again, whether it’s in the form of more information or getting to know a character better or stepping back to see where the story is taking us so that we can move forward.
        For a long time, I was worried that some of my characters may resemble people in my life – for that’s where fiction emanates, real life – and that I may offend them. When you write fiction, you must be brave to get the story down, even if your story or characters may be composites of what’s happening around you. The other fear is that I would spend all this time, energy and emotion in creating a story or novel and no one would read it.  I got over that one – a writer has to write and if I can attract readers to my work, that’s the icing on the cake!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Waiting Game for Inspiration

I'm back. I've been fighting a really bad sinus infection that seems to be hanging on. Anyway if I would wait to write until I was 100% better, it could be another few weeks and missed opportunity.  That brings me to this week's blog.  Many creative people often comment that they haven't been drawing, painting, or writing because they are waiting for inspiration to come knocking.  I picture them standing at the BUS STOP FOR INSPIRATION, waiting and waiting, wondering if it will ever pick them up and transport them to their desired creative destination, so they'd be able to create!

I used to wait to write. I'd wait until I was sure my writing would be perfect. I'd wait until my "critical editor" would shut up. I'd wait for confidence. I'd wait until I had more time. I'd wait and wait until there wasn't any writing getting done. Inspiration came once I started to write.  Once I took action.

It doesn't take a lot to find inspiration, you just have to stop waiting for it to come to you.  Look around and notice the details of your daily life.  You will soon be in wonder how you missed the  many things that can get your creative juices going and flowing.

For me it's been writing even when I'm unsure about what to write, even when you don't feel a surge of electricity. The Internet, the library, music, photographs, a conversation, newspapers, traveling, magazines, history, etc., all can inspire. Sometimes just thinking about the different events of you life or what interested you as a young child. 

It can be a matter of your perspective and looking at something differently for a change, like inspiration. Change things up and you will be more than pleasantly surprised!!!  I know when I took on a proactive approach, I no longer had to wait for inspiration. So what inspires you into action?

Monday, February 13, 2012

How do your characters reveal their secrets?

It's been such a long time and it seems I've lost the last three months to a big editing project at my job and the holiday frenzy.  The good news is that I have been writing and actually had a short story of mine accepted into a local library's Anthology.  A great accomplishment to begin 2012. 

There's a story about this particular short story.  It had gone through numerous revisions until the "story" became crystal clear.  Or until I discovered how my characters would reveal their secrets. 

First you have to unearth what secrets your characters are keeping. All characters have secrets.  Then once you know what those secrets are, how will they be uncovered or not? I felt like I was digging and digging with this story, each time deeper and deeper to tap into the secret that was at the heart of my story. A secret I didn't get to until more than 8 revisions.  

My one character happened to stumble upon the secret and wanted to explain it to the other character whom it impacted.  But she, like many, wanted to stay in denial and then a crisis had to occur before she had to face the secret.  

The creative process can be so magical. Each time I write, it is a different experience.  What I plan to write soon goes somewhere unexpectedly.  The characters take the stage and before I realize it, they are doing everything they can not to tell me their secrets.

I have to persevere and listen closely so they come forth with their remorse, truth, and hidden agendas.  So how do your characters reveal their secrets?