A Quick-Tip Post For Melanie

Last week, the Magical Words community lost one of its own. Melanie Otto, known to many of you, died after a sudden and severe brain bleed that left her in a coma.

I knew Melanie for several years and was privileged to join her and and the other Roaring Writers of The Million Words blog for a week-long writing retreat. I was the instructor for the week, and Melanie and her life partner, Judy, were my contacts for the event. In the planning stages, and then during the retreat itself, they treated me like family, made me feel welcome and at home, made sure that I was comfortable in every sense.

Melanie was a talented writer and a skilled professional photographer. But more, she was a wise and kind soul, a gentle spirit with a wicked sense of humor, a generous and caring friend. I cannot begin to imagine the […]

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Balancing the Tribal

This blog is about… Gardening.

Not really. But it is a blog about balance—the balance of living a life that is comfortable, fulfilling, healthy, full of creativity, full of wonderful words, activities away from the job—or in my case, jobs—and deadlines.

I wrote not too long ago about cutting harmful things and toxic people out of our lives. Yeah, I know, some of those toxic people are family, and may not be cut-able, but most of us can limit the amount of time we spend with toxic people, even family, to improve our lives’ balance.

And most of us make time for the good-for-us (non-toxic) family and friends, and make time to go out into the world in social situations like parties, lunch out, tea or coffee with special people. We remember to exercise (sometimes), pray or meditate, and learn new things (which can be read as research, too). But […]

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Balancing Words and Description

I’ve been reading The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, the sequel to his stellar book The Shadow of the Wind, and noticed his eloquent use of description. Passages swoop and soar with metaphor and simile in a way that brings life to the mundane. Likewise, fantasy author China Miéville uses his extensive vocabulary to create a verbal feast for even the most basic of descriptions. Yet sit in any writing class nowadays and you will be told to avoid this type of prose. So what’s a writer to do? We love words and the wonderful images the perfect word can create (if we didn’t, we’d be in some other profession), yet time and again we are told to avoid such things.


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