Book Giveaway: Creative Strength Training

I’m giving away (and reviewing) Jane Dunnewold’s book on  my other site.  There are a lot of readers on this site who will want to read the book, too.

Here’s the beginning of the review. At the end, there is a link to the other blog site, so you can leave a comment there for the giveaway. Please do not leave a comment here–the winner will be chosen from the other site.

“There are a lot of books on creativity that combine art-making exercises with encouragement.  All the more reason to love a new book that is wonderful, tempting, helpful and encouraging. When it turns out to do what it promises–help you become creatively stronger, more sure or your creativity, and more curious about the world around you–it’s a keeper. One you will want to read quickly, just to enjoy, then read more slowly to work through and use regularly.

Creative Strength Training: Prompts, Exercises and Personal Stories for Encouraging Artistic Genius by Jane Dunnewold is just that book. You will find yourself nodding your head in recognition. ”  Continue reading the review here.

Word of 2015: Ready? (and a Giveaway)

We are still weeks from the New Year. You are probably overwhelmed with cards and holiday planning. It’s about a week from the beginning of Hanukkah and two and a half weeks to Christmas. So why start thinking of the Word of the Year?

Words make the portrait. "Zappa" by konstantinek: http://bit.ly/1vDDdLq

Words make the portrait. “Zappa” by konstantinek.

Because you can’t come up with it overnight. It takes a bit of planning, thinking, and trying on a few to see how they fit before you choose the right one.

Here are some ways to start choosing words:

1. Write down words you like. You can like the sound or the meaning, or just feel attracted to the word. Write them down without numbering them, scattered across the page, not in any order: Torque, branch, flood, heart, live, thrive, shine. Any words that appeal to you. Do that for at least a day.

2. Around each word, write some words you associate with the word you wrote. Let’s use “torque” as an example. You might write “revolution,” “turn,” “twist.”

Decide if any of those words are interesting for you. Let’s say you like the idea of “turn.” So write a few phrases with the word you like. “Turn around,” or “turn your head,” or even “do a good turn,” and “a turn for the better.” Keep working on word groups and phrases for a day or so.

3. Try out a few words and see if they fit. Do any phrases strike you as important, even if you don’t know why? Do they feel like words you’d love to use a lot? Words that call to you require a fitting session. Write the word on a piece of paper and carry it around for a day. Every time you touch the paper, think if the word fits you.

4. Narrow your words down. Choose a few–no more than three.  Work from there. Talk to your friends about what they think when they hear the word. You might get new ideas. Type it into Google and see what happens.

5. Sleep on it. Put the piece of paper with the word written on it under your pillow. Any interesting dreams? Any ideas or association within an hour of waking up?

The final word has to be rich and deep–something you can chew on for weeks51wed0j1hTL and months.

The Giveaway. Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments, along with the word, when you choose it. You have some time–but not enough to put it off.  On December 15th, I’ll choose one of the comments to win Wild Mind–Living The Writer’s Life a book by writer and writing teacher Natalie Goldberg.

The book is a great addition to your head and heart–how to balance daily responsibility with a commitment to write, coming to terms with success and failure, and how to find time to write.

—Quinn McDonald is choosing her word for next year.

Meaning-Making Books, and Giveaway

Meaning making is an important concept in my life–it is my life’s purpose. Fame, celebrity, happiness, or even a ton of money don’t do it for me, although I enjoy paying bills on time and meeting the mortgage. Past that,  the purpose of my life is making enough meaning to act each day in a meaningful way–and exactly what that is varies over time.

New World Library sent me two books to read and mention:

Life Purpose Boot Camp: The 8-Week Breatkthrough Plan for Creating a Meaningful Life, by Eric Maisel Ph.D.

Hop, Skip, Jump,: 75 Ways to Playfully Manifest a Meaningful Life, by Marney K. Makridakis.

Both of these books tackle meaning making in different (very different) ways. But both of them know that meaning-making exercises are important for your career, your personal growth and your peace of mind. If you want to skip to the giveaway, it’s at the end of the post.

51wHcDzsiUL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-big,TopRight,35,-73_OU01_AA300_Life Purpose Boot Camp, by Eric Maisel, Ph.D. New World Library, 172 pages. Maisel uses the boot camp metaphor as a way to rally yourself to your own defense. Maisel was a drill sergeant at one point, and he uses this no-holds-barred, get-yourself-into-action voice throughout the book. After all, it is a boot camp, and it’s time to get up and get busy.

Maisel bases a lot of his logic thread on his “natural philosophy,” his term for the style of atheism he promotes. Some of this is reasonable–Maisel posits there is no “Universe” that blesses or curses you, your fate is in your own hands. So you must focus on what constitutes meaning making.

Maisel writes, “Many things that upset us, sadden us, or make us anxious may not be things that genuinely affect our ability to live our life purposes. If they aren’t, let them go!” The how-to guidance Maisel gives is “. . .to ask yourself, ‘Are these among the circumstances that I can improve?’ If you don’t regularly ask that question, you won’t give yourself the chance to positively affect those circumstances that would allow you to help yourself.” In my opinion, many people are mired in their own disbelief and would not know an honest answer to the questions. If they could answer the question, they may not know what circumstances they should create. But those problems are in the first 80 pages of the book, and the book does give advice.

Maisel also writes,”If one of your life purposes is to write novels, it matters whether anybody is publishing novels and whether anybody is reading novels.  . . . To imagine that we can live our life purposes independent of reality, is well, fantasy.” To keep your meaning together, Maisel suggests a “Meaning Repair Kit” containing a reminder bell, an evaluator thermometer, a personality tap, an aligner level, an investment planner and a reality tester. Again, I find the applications for these devices’ use devoid of soul. Which is exactly the benefit of the existential life Maisel promotes. Oh, and on page 94 he tells you what he wants your life purpose to be. Spoiler alert.

Maisel has a huge fan base and has received only positive reviews (five of them) on Amazon for his book.

Boot Camp Chapter Titles:

  • Creating Your Menu of Meaning Opportunities
  • Creating Your Mix of Meaning Opportunities
  • Upgrading Your Personality
  • Dealing with Your Circumstances
  • Naming Your Life Purpose
  • Creating Your Life Purpose Statement
  • Creating Your Life Purpose Icon and Mantra
  • Living Your Life Purpose

*    *    *    *    *    *
Hop, Skip, Jump, by Marney K. Makridakis. New World Library, 282 pages.51vi7Op-i3L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

On the other end of the spectrum is Marney Makridakis, a peripatetic creative who specializes in play, games, puns, jokes, and staying in action through activities that seem like fun. Makridakis, in the introduction, says that manifesting something “you see as being part of your meaningful life” is the likely reason people would read her book. The beginning of the book includes a quiz to help the reader determine if they are hoppers, skippers, or jumpers–different “natural inclinations to manifest.”

In her 282-page book, Makridakis talks about the importance of play, particularly to adults. She includes trivia, haikoodles (haikus that invite doodles) and AcroWhims (acronyms in which existing word functions as a magical abbreviations for a message), and Manifestingrams (an anagram with manifesting powers.

Example of  AcroWhim: PLAY = Purposeful Love, Activating Yes.
Example of Manifestagram: MANIFEST = “Amen” fits!

As with all her books, she brings her whole life into the book–her family, her experiences, her ideas and her thoughts. When you buy one of her books, you get the whole package. You are not required to read the book front to back, you can skip around and find parts that appeal to you. As a sequential reader, I found that reading it from front to back has a purpose–to explore different approaches to fun, find the way that works for you, and manifest meaning through fun.

The book is divided into three parts: Hop, Skip, and Jump. Each have a particular meaning, which she describes in detail.

There will be giveaway and assorted deals on Marney’s website tomorrow, Tuesday, November 11, 2014. To date she has three five-star reviews on Amazon.

Some chapter titles (there are 75 chapters in all):

  • Playfully Pressing Your Reset Button
  • Hopping with Hope
  • Twenty-Eight Magic Minutes
  • Play with Creative Blocks
  • Improvisational Skipping
  • Manifesting Mood Rings
  • The Animation of Everyday Objects
  • Leaving Some of Your Toys Behind

*   *   *   *

The Giveaway: I’m giving away Eric Maisel’s Boot Camp book. It’s not a preference for his book,  it’s practical: I never limit my contest winners to the Americas, and it is easier for me to send the smaller volume overseas, if that’s where the winner lives.

Leave a comment to qualify for the book. The winner will be announced on November 16, Sunday. Check back then to see if you’ve won.

Disclosures: New World Library furnished both books for me to review. Eric Maisel was both an instructor and a coach of mine, both over 10 years ago.

—Quinn McDonald loves to read about meaning-making, including books that are strict, fun, or thoughtful.

Life in Small Details

Maira Kalman’s vision of the world is by turns, quirky, wonderful, intriguing and 24671359absurd. Her 2007 book, The Principles of Uncertainty is her diary of one year in her life. It covers the absurdity of life– p. 122 reads, “Which leads me to my candy collection. The JEWEL of the collection is the CRATCH bar, purchased in Cuba. It sounds like a disease more than a candy trat, and I like to imagine the naming session.”

There are several pages of her collections–egg slicers, suitcases, sponges. She draws them all. The book is really an art journal-each page a full color illustration of some aspect of the day. Some of the pages relate to each other, others do not. Kalman is interested in whether or not people know who they are, an always interesting question.

© Maira Kalman

© Maira Kalman

The simplicity of this post and the depth of what it did and didn’t say, is fascinating.

Go to Google Images and type in her name, you will find dozens of Kalman’s illustrations. The book is both an inspiration and a journal prompt all its own. It’s an autobiography and a diary. Kalman may be the best emotional multi-tasker I know. And a mental magpie, collecting ideas and emotions at random.

kalman-coffee1

© Maria Kalman

What I love most about the book is that she was not afraid to write and illustrate an odd, fascinating, philosophical, funny book that doesn’t fit into a common genre, and, I imagine, defended it to an editor or agent. Still, quirky and odd, the book is 63,500 on the amazon.com list. (The hour I checked.) Compared say, to Kitty Kelly’s book on Oprah, which is 96,100 and two years younger. Or Stephen King’s Carrie, which is ranked at 61,380, and a perennial best-seller.

Why, that gives hope to all of us journalers of details.

Quinn McDonald loves to take a peek at other people’s lives.

Right Brain Business Plan: Giveaway

Jennifer Lee is the author of The Right-Brain Business Plan: A Creative, Visual Map for Success. (This Jennifer is not the author of Frozen, this Jennifer runs Artizen Coaching.)

51fqoGkYJxLIf you run your own business, you have either avoided business plans or mastered them. There’s not much room in between. Lee’s idea is that business plans are left-brain based and that makes them hard for right-brain people. So she wrote a book that helps right-brain people write that business plan.

The book is laid out with lots of color and worksheets (which you can download from her website.) Many of the steps look like art projects. If you like the idea of mind mapping, you will love this book!

She has a left-brain, logical approach (with process steps) on how to use the book and why you should have a business plan. Then she helps you do it, creative style.

Chapters in the book:

  • The Skinny on the Right-Brain Business Plan Process and Structure
  • Where Is Your Business Headed, and What Do You and Your Company Stand For?
  • It’s a Big World Out There–Where Do You and Your Business Fit In?
  • Find and Connect with Your Perfect Customers?
  • Develop a Financial Plan with Fun and Flair
  • Build a Creative Playground of Business Support So You Don’t Have to Go It Alone
  • Make Your Plan Real with Goals, Strategies, and Action Steps
  • Put the Finishing Touches on Your Right-Brain Business Plan
  • Keep Your Right-Brain Business Plan Alive

Book Info: 220 pages from New World Library

It’s an interesting book, I bought it because I’m always interested in new approaches to old ideas. And I am always interested in how very different people communicate with each other.

Giveaway: I’m giving one book away on Thursday (August 7, 2014). Leave a note in the comments if you want to be entered in the drawing for the book. Check back on Thursday’s blog and see if you won!

Who Won the Book? The winner of The Right-Brain Business Plan is Barbara Storey! Congratulations, Barbara! Drop me an email and let me know your address and the book will be on its way.

Disclosure: I purchased the book on my own.

–Quinn McDonald is interested in how people handle new ideas and change. She is a creativity coach who helps other people re-invent themselves and deal with change.

 

Books for a Creative Life

wimd-34If you want to live a creative life, you’re going to need some help. Books are my first place to start. Here are some books I’m reading now that are a great help for your creativity.

Writing is My Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor. Simon and Schuster, 2013. Love this book that helps you discover who you are through writing. A good story by a woman who knew she was a writer, but just couldn’t write. Till she took some risks.  Each chapter has writing suggestions at the end.

Become a Life Change Artist by Fred Mandell, Ph.D. and Kathleen Jordan, bookPh.D. Penguin Group, 2010. These two Ph.D.s teach you seven creative skills to reinvent yourself at any stage in life. And they do it by breaking down how creative people do their work and then applying it to your life. The seven skills are:

  • Peparation
  • Seeing
  • Using Context
  • Embracing Uncertainty
  • Risk Taking
  • Collaboration
  • Discipline

Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way, by Jennifer Lee, New World Library, 2014.  OK, I haven’t read this one yet, but it’s on my desk. I love the idea that right-brain strengths can be applied to a traditionally left-brain activity–building a business.  Again, business is considered an art (good idea if you are an entrepreneur), and you need some of the same skills to be successful as left-brained people. You’ll learn about taking a stand and making an impact and attracting clients–the right ones.

The Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee, New World Library, 2011. art-books-highlight-261x199This was Lee’s first book, and it shares a lot of design elements with the second book: tips, success stories, worksheets, and a friendly, approachable format.

I bought all these books in the paper-book format. I do love ebooks, but when I’m reading for research (and all of these books are for becoming a better coach), I like to take notes on paper. In this case, I’ve put those convenient #8 shipping tags in the books as bookmarks. I take notes on the tags, keep them together with colorful binder rings, and can flip through them to find the notes I need. And yes, I do color-code them.

Now, here’s a question for you: If you were to take a week-long creativity course, one that focuses on writing, but not on one style or genre of writing, what would you want included? List as many items as you want. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Comments can include topics you want covered (memoir, poetry, fiction, non-fiction)
  • How you want to spend the day (traditional teaching lessons, writing and reading your work, critique,)
  • How important it is to write in class and get personal feedback
  • How much you want to read your own work or hear the work of others
  • Special topics you want covered (why write a book? Collaborative writing)

And yeah, I’m creating a class. Might as well get feedback from the smartest people I know. My idea right now is that the class will have an online component and an in-person component. You can form community and start working on a project online, then meet for the in-person class. You can also experience each part separately. Don’t ask me how I will do this yet. I’m just thinking.

—Quinn McDonald is creating a new kind of class.

 

 

Writing Wild (Book Review and Giveaway)

Tina Welling is a fiction writer, known for Cowboys Never Cry, Fairytale Blues and Crybaby Ranch. This book, Writing Wild, is non-fiction; in fact, it is a book about writing.  Here’s how Welling describes the book:

Everything we know about creating, we know intuitively from the natural world. Over and over, nature shows us the rules of creativity. . . Writing Wild offers writers, journal keepers, and those others of us who wish to live more fully a direct pathway into a stronger relationship with wildness, both inner and outer. The result is writing that inspires, heal, enlivens, and deeply engages both writer and reader.

writingwildAs a model, she takes Joseph Campbell, who wrote, “The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.”

Welling lives in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a place where (I imagine) you love the natural world, or you move away.

She believes in using all five senses in writing, and has several exercises to show you how to do that, too. She uses a method called “Naming, Detailing, Interacting,” which she describes in detail, so you can learn how to get the most out of a nature walk, and bring it into your writing.

She also shows us how to truly inhabit our body. For many of my coaching clients, the body ends right at the neck, there is a vague connection to fingers (for writing or typing) and then. . .nothing. I’m always surprised at how many writers live their entire lives in their head. Welling pries you out of it with gentle, easy exercises that make you realize how much of your truth lives in your body.

Once you have learned to connect your body to your head, she guides you to understand that intuition is a knowledge we all have, but often don’t trust. And that writing is the healing action that combines body and soul.

One of my favorite parts of the book is the idea that we do not, after all, write what we know. Instead, Welling says, we write to know something, and that something is ourselves. (I found a hint of Inner Hero here.)

Chapter titles include:

  • Nature as a Writing Partner
  • The Body Never Lies
  • Creativity and the Four Elements
  • Lessons from the Natural World
  • The Energy of Writing
  • Follow Your Longing
  • Wild Spirit

This book is certainly not for everyone. But for hikers, naturalists or writers curious about the world around them, you will find help, validation, and some interesting exercises to help you become the writer you already know you are.

Giveaway: Leave a comment that you want a free copy of the book. On Saturday, I will announce the winner. Make sure you stop by on Saturday, May 10 to see if you won and send me your mailing address. Good luck!

Note: Congratulations to Kaisa Mäki-Petäjä, who won Writing Wild. I love her blog, here’s the link to the boulders she draws in her journal. Send me your mailing address to QuinnCreative AT yahoo DOT com. The publisher sent me two books, and I’m giving away the second one as well. Congratulations to Diane Becka, new owner of the second book!

Thanks to everyone who left a comment!

Disclosure: New World Library kindly sent me two copies of the book because I wanted to keep one and give one away.

—Quinn McDonald is a writer who loves to read books about writing.