Robin Roberts: An Inspiration to All Women

I love Robin Roberts. I’ve been watching her on Good Morning America for as long as I can remember. I’m an ABC girl and I’m not ashamed to say so.

When I was in school and thought about becoming a journalist, I started to really pay attention to the female journalists that I loved. Robin Roberts was one of my top three. I began to, and still do, admire her because she is real;  always at ease. I wanted to be able to tell the story of another person with such finesse. I wanted to be good at what I did despite whatever was going on in my personal life.  I still aspire to have the ease and love of the job that Robin shows us each day.

I start my day with Robin and the GMA team. I followed along with everyone else when she announced, underwent treatment for and beat breast cancer. I cheered to myself the day that she came back to the GMA set because I missed having her in my life each morning. Robin is part of my routine.

As I watched the video of her announcement this morning, I thought back to when I was in college and when I decided I wanted to encompass the traits of my favorite journalists. But today, it’s not only the job-related traits that I admire in Robin. I admire her strength, courage, fight and openness to share with the world her struggles and her hope.

All women can take lessons from Robin Roberts. Find happiness in who you are; strength when times are tough; peace in knowing you are not alone; and always remember to smile.

Robin, I wish you the best as you fight this new challenge in your life. I just know you can beat it!

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Seven Questions with your Favorite Blogger/Writer: Jeanne Bowerman

I’ve always been curious about what inspires my favorite writers. Whether they are bloggers, freelancers, scriptwriters, TV writers or novelists, they have to draw inspiration from something.  I want to thank all of you who contributed your questions and I hope you enjoy the first of my new monthly Q&A series.  Look for this new feature on the first Thursday of every month. If you want to see your favorite blogger/writer interviewed, contact me.

Name: Jeanne V. Bowerman

Profession: Writer of Things

Blog:  http://jeannevb.com/

Twitter: @jeannevb

Her impact on me: I “met” Jeanne in an online class.  We connected on Twitter.  She’s been great in connecting me with awesome people. She’s a truly inspirational person. 

Person of Letters: Why did you start writing/blogging? Was it for personal or for professional reasons?

Jeanne V Bowerman:  My blog was conceived after I started using Twitter. I noticed so many other writers sharing their work via their own websites that I had to jump in. After I started the blog was when I realized all the potential it had to showcase my work and help me gain exposure.

POL: How long do you think about what you are going to write before you write?

JB: I mull it over for a  few hours and either jump in or change subjects entirely. With my crazy schedule, as well as a weekly column, I only have time to post once a month. (Note: You should check out her Balls of Steel Column and her Ask Jeanne column, especially if you’re into scriptwriting)

POL: Is there something you carry with you at all times to write ideas that may pop in your head? If so, what is its? A notebook, your smartphone, a scrap of paper?

JB: All of the above. I also use a digital recorder when I run – thought it’s tough sometimes to understand the playback of my thoughts while breathing heavily!

POL: How do you battle writers block?

JB:  Running or just getting out of the house. Nothing helps me more than simply either moving my body or living my life.

POL: What is your favorite book/blog? Do you draw inspiration from it?

JB:  Jane Friedman’s blog is by far one of the best sources of information and inspiration. But my greatest inspiration truly comes from observing people, not from reading.

POL: Along the same lines of the previous question, which writers from the past have inspired you? (more points for naming obscure writers)

JB: One of my favorite books is A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry – 624 pages of pure edge-of-my-seat reading. The story follows four people who live in Inda, examining the caste system and political upheavals of the time. Fascinating, gripping, and heart-wrenching read. It was reading that book that made me realize I didn’t just want to write stories; I wanted to move people with my words.

POL: Tell us something about you and your writing that we might not know.

JB: When I was a freshman at Cornell, studying at the Hotel School, I was required to take a writing course. After the class was over, my professor begged me to change majors to Creative Writing. I gasped and stared at him as if he had twelve heads, saying, “Who would ever want to read what I have to say?” I wasn’t ready. Not by a long-shot. It took me until my 40s to finally let go of that fear and share my words. Honestly, I have no regrets. I needed to live my life before I had enough experiences to share and the confidence to share them.

 

Seven Questions with your Favorite Writer/Blogger: Michelle Timian

I’ve always been curious about what inspires my favorite writers. Whether they are bloggers, freelancers, scriptwriters, TV writers or novelists, they have to draw inspiration from something.  I want to thank all of you who contributed your questions and I hope you enjoy this special edition of Seven Questions. If you want to see your favorite blogger/writer interviewed, contact me.

Name: Michelle Timian

Profession: Writer

Website: http://cursedthenovel.com/

Twitter: @michelle_timian

Her Impact on Me: Michelle and I have been working together for 3 1/2 years. Her dedication to her writing is insane as she continues to type ferociously on a daily basis. I’m proud to say I helped with the creation of this blog and I’m happy to help her celebrate it’s relaunch on October 24th.

 

 

Person of Letters: Why did you start writing/blogging? Was it for personal or for professional reasons?

Michelle Timian: There’s not a definite moment when I thought to myself, I am going to be a writer!  I’ve always known it.  I remember being five and making picture books for ridiculously swiping epics.  But it wasn’t until my disastrous first semester in college when I realized biology was not the major for me and that I really should change my major to English and Creative Writing.  That’s when I knew I had hit the “no turning back” point.  And it’s been great!  Since graduating college, I’ve been working on one project/idea or another. 

My novel CURSED, while it’s still a very new project (unlike some that’s been with me for years and several different format incarnations (comic books anyone?)), has been my greatest success so far.  A great deal of that stems from the cursedthenovel blog, which allows me to post pages of my novel online.  I’ve never created a blog before, so it’s been an exciting experience, especially seeing how many people have read my novel because of it.  My plan in the future is to use the cursedthenovel blog to talk about more than just page updates: I have ideas of discussing the inspirations behind CURSED, where the character’s names come from, what countries inspired Ladamay, etc. 

POL: How long do you think about what you are going to write before you write?

MT: Years.  Literally.  At least, that’s when I feel like I am writing at my best.  For my novel The Elevator, it took me about five years to reach the point where the heroes Jason and Samantha visit a character I’ve been planning since the idea for the novel struck me in 2004.  I really like getting a very specific plan for everything happening in a novel, which is essential when working on a long epic fantasy series like Elevator, and that takes a while (for me, at least!). 

For CURSED, things are different.  I’ve had the idea for this book in my head since March of this year before I started writing it in May.  I spent two months really plotting out the whole story, gaining an understanding of the emotional growth the characters go through, where I want the story to eventually end up at, and what needed to be done to get to that point.  So when I started in May, I had a pretty good idea where I was going.  An outline.  For example, when I planned the scene I will post on October 24th, my plan was “Treve and Leo are interrupted from talking; Treve goes to the prison temple.”  I had no clue how to get between these ideas until I was in the process of writing, and the answer was a huge surprise!

That really is the best part about writing.  I definitely love having a plan, but I also keep my expectations loose enough for the story to take me whenever it needs to go.  I like being as surprised and excited about my novel as the reader.

POL: Is there something you carry with you at all times to write ideas that may pop in your head? If so, what is its? A notebook, your smartphone, a scrap of paper?

MT: I have a creative journal with me at all times, but it’s not really vital to me; if I lose it, I won’t lose all of my ideas.  For CURSED, I have notes such as “Treve wears purple a lot” and “Remember the white mule.”  If these details don’t make it into the novel, it won’t be a catastrophe or create a plot hole…it’s just things that are so small that I might forget them.  Everything else is in my head. 

The only time I have gone crazy with taking notes was when I was traveling through the Slovenian countryside.  The moment I left Ljubljanain route to Zagreb,Croatia, I knew this was the landscape I wanted CURSED to be based in.  I kept writing down details I saw (such as the red, red soil and rocky meadows) and what buildings looked like and how the country people were dressed.  Pictures didn’t do it justice and I didn’t want to forget anything.  I mean, I wrote down what birds I saw and the color of trees.

On the far end of note-taking, I can never write out a whole summary before writing a novel.  To me, that’s like creating the whole story.  The thrill of creation is gone.  So I go over plot points in my head, over and over again, until it comes to the point where I write them.  It means I do a lot of thinking for my books, but I couldn’t have it any other way!

POL: How do you battle writers block?

MT: I let it run its course.  I never force a moment in the story if it doesn’t want to come, because I believe either something better is brewing in my subconscious or I just haven’t reached the point where I could write it.  I’ve never had a problem putting a story on hold to let it stew a while.  If I am desperate for something to write, though, I usually turn to something silly and pointless to get words on paper: stories that never get finished.  Eventually I get back to the “real” writing.

POL: What is your favorite book/blog? Do you draw inspiration from it?

MT: Hands down, The Lies of Locke Lamora.  For writers of any genre, but especially for fantasy writers, this book is simply amazing to get inspiration from.  The dialogue is the most sickeningly, wonderfully, well-crafted dialogue I have ever come across anywhere (except Shantaram, which is a lesson in making each character talk and sound completely different from one another).  His characters are so finely developed I have on several occasions felt afraid for their well-being.  The world-building is the best I’ve seen anywhere…to the point where I’ve noticed literary agents actually requesting works with as much flawless details as Lamora.  Plus, best part is…its fun.  It’s silly.  It’s hilarious, clever and so easy to get pulled into.  It’s about con men who aren’t really the nicest of people but they are so easy to root for. 

Any time I pick this book up, I keep analyzing it to see at what point I utterly believe in these characters, at what point they and their world become real…its amazing.  If I can ever achieve this level of perfection, I can call myself a good writer.

POL: Along the same lines of the previous question, which writers from the past have inspired you? (more points for naming obscure writers)

MT: One author I can never get enough of is Mervyn Peake.  He isn’t a favorite author of mine, but his novels are so incredibly whimsical, powerful and just plain bizarre (think Neverending Story soap opera) that I fall under his spell any time I pick up his books.  The world-building is so perfectly done, it’s fantastic.  I challenge anyone to read Titus Groan and not feel like you’ve actually entered some other world…everything Peake writes carries that kind of conviction.  I’m always inspired by it (and Lynch’s world-building too) that I would love to reach those same heights myself.

I am also a HUGE fan of Hergé’s style of adventure and always try to capture something similar in my own stories…something that can be just plain fun and exciting and sweeping without throwing too much angst into the mix, which is what turns me off of so many novels and comic books out nowadays.  I just want a fun book!

When I was a young writer, I really wanted to make something IMPORTANT and SERIOUS that would wow readers with how great my writing was.  I would only read the most literary books I could find and scoffed at anything that wasn’t a Pulitzer Prize winner or literature bestseller.  I read Roots when I was 11.  So you can imagine just how terrible and self-important my writing was back when I first started putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) in high school. 

Then I went to college.  After 4 years of reading nothing but classics and heavily important literary works and discussing all sorts of themes, I had enough.  I needed something light, fun, airy.  That was really when my writing turned around.  Some of the most eye-opening reads were William Goldman, T. H. White and especially Lawrence Block’s Hitman series.  Oh, and Wodehouse.  Which is a perfect read to start taking yourself less seriously.  It was almost a relief to find out that you can still make readers fall in love with the characters (Goldman), still have moral issues (Block) and still have an amazingly beautiful lessons to teach (White)….and still be silly.  Those are my goals for my own writing.

POL: Tell us something about you and your writing that we might not know.

MT: None of my characters have ever been based on real people.  You know, like cameos of friends, family, oddballs…  Instead, all my characters are based on myself.  I take some small aspect of my personality (good or bad) and make it a character’s defining quirk.  It makes it so much easier to write them!!

Seven Questions with your Favorite Blogger/Writer: Rachael Judd

I’ve always been curious about what inspires my favorite writers. Whether they are bloggers, freelancers, scriptwriters, TV writers or novelists, they have to draw inspiration from something.  I want to thank all of you who contributed your questions and I hope you enjoy the first of my new monthly Q&A series.  Look for this new feature on the first Thursday of every month. If you want to see your favorite blogger/writer interviewed, contact me.

Name: Rachael Judd

Profession: Copywriter, Blogger

Blog: http://mumblingmidnightmom.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @RachaelJudd

Her impact on me: Rachael has been one of my biggest supporters since we connected through Center Square Journal. She’s a frequently comments on this blog and is a talented writer.

Person of Letters: Why did you start writing/blogging? Was it for personal or for professional reasons?

Rachael Judd: I started writing for personal reasons, like most 20-somethings, I wrote for extra money.  City life, while exciting, was expensive.  With a college focus on English, writing was a logical way to use my skills.  I started taking freelancing seriously as a job possibility in 2008.  What was extra fun money now provides a part time income to help support our family.  Freelancing also inspired personal ideas and I took the the blogosphere in 2010 which has been a slow, but amazing, personal growth experience

POL: How long do you think about what you are going to write before you write?

RJ: It depends on the project.  Most projects have deadlines so you are limited to how much time you have to think things through.  My preferred time though is about a week of brainstorming.  It is great to talk to a client, get to know them and then begin to think through their business, their needs and their style.  While brainstorming a project or even a personal blog idea, you will find that the more time you have to think it through the more you can see the company/business/organization in every day life affecting you or someone you know.

POL: Is there something you carry with you at all times to write ideas that may pop in your head? If so, what is its? A notebook, your smartphone, a scrap of paper?

RJ: Notebooks – plural!  I am a disorganized thought collector to say the least.  I have a notebook in my purse (that is also a daytimer), a personal journal and I have a notebook at my desk.  Wherever I am I grab the closest item and jot down notes.  At the end of the week I collect these all electronically.

POL: How do you battle writers block?

RJ: Grabbing my personal journal and just letting it all out the old fashioned way – paper and pen!  It has been discussed here (http://personofletters.com/2011/09/01/whens-the-last-time-you-handwrote-something/) but I find sitting down to hand write whatever is on my mind helps clear the air.

I find that writers block isn’t generally a lack of ideas, but just the opposite.  I have the hardest time focusing on a single project or subject when there are too many ideas floating around.  Taking to my personal journal lets me put everything on paper,  personal and professional.  It clears the way for focus on the task at hand.

POL: What is your favorite book/blog? Do you draw inspiration from it?

RJ: This is a hard question! I am overwhelmingly inspired by writers who wear their heart on their sleeve.  But I find that writing, new via blogs or old via the classics, boils down to our relationships.  As a freelancer I want companies to connect with clients and as a blogger I want to encourage others in their every day life relationships.

That being said I am most inspired to write by Jane Austen (Sense and Sensibility to be exact!).  Austen was a women who could translate life’s relationships in regards to work, love and even spirituality into comical, serious and inspiring words that ring true even now.

POL: Along the same lines of the previous question, which writers from the past have inspired you? (more points for naming obscure writers)

RJ: As I mentioned, writers of old are my greatest inspiration!  Here are a few to consider:

Herman Hesse: The Glass Bead Game (Das Glasperlenspiel) is a MUST READ for anyone that wants to understand the use of  metaphor intertwined on multiple levels. This book is a challenge.

Madeline L’Engle: Her fiction is world renowned, but her non-fiction is inspiring, check out Two Part Invention. Most authors are not what they appear.

Henri Nouwen:  A priest. A writer.  A sociologist.  A person of questions. Although Henri Nouwen is a spiritual guru to most, he still has more questions than answers like most of us.  Check out the Genese Diary.

Amy Tan: Writing fiction from our own history can run its course OR it can inspire a generation of people to look at life differently.  Skip the Joy Luck Club and get experimental with her novel Saving Fish From Drowning

POL: Tell us something about you and your writing that we might not know.

RJ: Although I make a living as a copywriter, I am most passionate about blogging and using my story to inspire others to positive action.  This is still a work in progress but right now one of my driving goals to keep writing. Hopefully my writing, whatever the platform, invokes in people a sense of self that is valuable, unique and needed in the world we live in.

What Would You Ask?

I’ve decided to introduce a new features to my Person of Letters blog. As writers, we all learn from one another and their experiences. Many times when I read my writers, I wonder what made them start writing , what their inspiration is and other thoughts. Then it dawned on me that I should start asking them.

Once a month, I plan on asking my favorite writers the same questions and I will share their answers with you all. But I need your help.

What would you ask your favorite writers? Is there something that  you are dying to know? Share you questions with me in the comments sections below and chances are they will appear in next month’s inaugural post.

I look forward to your ideas!

I’ve Been Feeling Uninspired…

First and foremost I want to thank all of you who have been checking back to see if I have written a new blog post. I’ve been uninspired. Very uninspired. I don’t know why, but my new inspiration came through one of my other blogging gigs. Many of you know that I blog for BookEndBabes once a month.  My new-found spirit to write is a result of my BookEndBabes post.

I feel like this is another new beginning for me. It’s not often that I feel like I can relate to someone, but Ms. McNeal’s journey touched me in a way I have never felt before. I didn’t feel so alone in my writing journey. Now I am a girl with a plan and a new mentor.

I didn’t decided to be a writer for the money. None of us did. We do it because we love it. To survive, many of us used our charge cards for what we though were necessary things at the time, but in retrospect was not a good idea. (I really didn’t need those shoes…) I include myself in this category. I knew it was an issue, but McNeal brought to light that I can get out of debt by doing things that I love.

Starting next month, I’m going to be a Frugalista. And I’ll be sure to share with you all of my freelance gigs and ways I am expanding my professional growth. I don’t know what is in store for me, but I feel like some good things will be coming my way.

Be sure to check out The Frugalista herself. I hope you are inspired too.