THE CREATIVE HABIT:  LEARN IT AND USE IT FOR LIFE.  A PRACTICAL GUIDE.  By Twyla Tharp.  NY:  Simon & Schuster 2003.  $25 Hardcover, $16 Paperback.

I was surprised when I saw a 2003 copyright on this book.  I thought it was a more recent release.  My next response was, “Why did it take me so long to find this?”

Twyla Tharp is one of the iconic artists of modern times.  She is a unique and groundbreaking choreographer.  Broadway audiences know her as the creative of MOVIN’ OUT, set to Billy Joel’s music.  She has a reputation as dedicated, passionate, and resolute.

This book reinforces that reputation.  Tharp shares of one of my strongest beliefs about creation — one doesn’t “wait” to “have” time — you make time, steal it, wrest it, wrestle it.  If a life in the arts is your choice, it is also your priority.  That means you have to remove other non-essentials that do not serve your life.  There are no excuses for not “getting around to it”.  If you are an artist or a writer or a choreographer — you DO it.

Tharp talks about triggering rituals (such as athletes use).  She talks about the need to subtract certain things from her life during intensely creative periods, such as movies, multi-tasking, numbers, and background music.  She has a system of creating “boxes” for each project (similar to my project-specific bins), keeping all her research and notebooks together and easily re-accessible once the project is complete.  She talks about “scratching” for ideas, categorizing, and making the most of one’s skills, and how to get out of creative ruts.

She mixes personal experiences and anecdotes with exercises.  A word of advice — don’t skip the exercises.  Because she is a choreographer and works in terms of movement and dimension, her exercises will get you off your butt and into action.  Although I discovered the volume at the Sandwich Library, I’m investing in my own copy.  This is a book I will return to year after year to shake me out of my own creative ruts.

–Devon Ellington

Amazon buy link here.

Today’s guest: Jessica Tomese!

coverlinked-thru-timeLet’s give a warm welcome to today’s guest, Jessica Tomese!  Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us.
Devon Ellington:  You used your father’s family as inspiration for the book — how did you find the characters evolving away from their original inspirations?  Did you ever struggle with that?
Jessica Tomese: I guess I always kept their personalities in mind, but no one character is a specific person. I took strengths and stories I remember hearing about certain relatives and incorporated them into the story. My main goal was to take the real, genuine way of life my father’s family lived and keep it alive for myself and any others that read the books. My father’s family was poor in money but rich in values and character. I tried to keep that the focus in my character development. I also never wanted an aunt or uncle to read the book and think, “Oh, no! Is that me she’s talking about?” I took the best of what I admired of people and combined them into all my characters.
 DE:  As someone who was born in the 1960’s, I shudder to think of it as an historical period, which of course, it was!  😉  Can you see yourself exploring other historical eras?  To which are you particularly drawn?
JT:  In my sequel, Lost Through Time, I go back to the early 1900’s, to a time in Baudette’s history when an epic fire wiped out 300,000+ acres. The courage to rebuild and start over in such a harsh environment really spoke to me. People hid in tiny streams and cellars while fire blazed all around. Some survived…some didn’t. But I love history in general. I think my generation is very spoiled when it comes to luxuries, free time, and choice. I am drawn to know the courageous ancestors before us that had to fight tooth and nail just to make it each day. Specific time periods that fascinate me are during the time of Henry VIII, the French Revolution,  Colonial America, and stories from the Old Testament.
DE:  How much outlining do you do? Or do you research, and then just sit down and write?
JT:  I do a quick chapter outline, basically making sure I know what I want to include in each chapter. But, my main style is to sit down and start writing- walk away for a few days- then edit.
DE:  What is your favorite marketing tool?  The hardest part about marketing?
JT:  I am horrible at marketing. I am trying to reach out to fellow bloggers and authors to help support each other. I use a lot of giveaways and hope for notice on I can’t sell myself- even though I believe in my books, it’s not my personality. However, I have received such great feedback from my books, it inspired me to make the first into a trilogy. When a random stranger says they love my book, or character, it’s the greatest feeling in the world!
DE:  Have you thought about what you want to write beyond the trilogy?  Can you share that with us?
JT:  I do want to wrap up the trilogy and get back to my initial book series, which is a children’s chapter book series that I am self- publishing. I have visited a few schools and the kids love my first adventure book, so I want to keep that up. (M&M Twins, Lost in Browser Cave). And I have ideas for two more YA books- a futuristic one, and a more coming of age style one. I am excited to keep the creative outlets open.

Jessica was recently voted Solstice Publishing’s 2012 Author of the Year!
Jessica Tornese’s debut novel, Linked Through Time, was inspired by her home town Baudette, MN. She graduated from high school there and continued her education at Minnesota State University – Moorhead where she earned a degree in education. She spent several years coaching in the Junior Olympic volleyball program in Minnesota as well as the junior varsity team for Lake of the Woods High School in 2010.
Her favorite hobbies include reading, scrapbooking, playing volleyball, and extreme outdoor sports like caving, ziplining, and white water rafting. Jessica is also active in her church and has run several Vacation Bible School programs and Sunday school programs. She enjoys working with kids of all ages!
She hopes to finish her Linked trilogy soon, and continue writing. Recently, she self-published her first juvenile fiction book for kids online. (see M&M Twins)
Jessica is married and has three children. Her family recently relocated to a small town in south Florida.
Twitter- @jltornese

Linked Through Time-
Fifteen year old Kate Christenson is pretty sure she’s about to experience the worst possible summer at her grandparent’s farm in rural Baudette, Minnesota. Without cable, cell phones, or computers, Kate is headed for total isolation and six tedious weeks of boredom. Until the storm.
A freak lightning accident has Kate waking up in 1960. But she is not herself. She is the aunt she never met, but has eerily resembled her entire life. Thrust into living a dirt poor, rural farm life, Kate struggles to make sense of her situation- a boyfriend with a dark side, a “townie” who steals her heart, and the knowledge that 1960 is the very summer her aunt drowns in the local river.
Even with every precaution, Kate cannot stop fate, and an unexpected twist adds to her dilemma. To her horror, Kate finds out firsthand her aunt’s death was not an accident or a suicide, but something much, much worse.

Steering carefully into the gravel drive of the Rapid River parking lot, I swore under my breath as the bike’s rear wheel slid on loose gravel. Trying to right the bike too quickly, I ended up swerving sharply to the left and crashing into the brush at the side of the gravel lot. Flying over the handlebars, I landed in a patch of overgrown weeds, my knee striking a rock hidden in the ground. Pain radiated from my knee, paralyzing me for a moment. I lay sprawled face first in the grass, breathing in the smell of earth and dry grass, cursing myself and everything on the planet.
Emotions overwhelmed my frazzled, fragile mind and I let loose with a string of profanities that would have definitely earned me a whipping. Rubbing my throbbing knee, I groaned.
Lightning flashed and the breeze picked up as if on cue, sending the cattails above my head into an agitated dance.
With great effort, I stood and flexed my leg. I could feel the slightest trickle of blood dripping a warm path down my shin. Perfect, I grimaced. Can anything else possibly go wrong tonight?
My vision had adjusted slightly to the moonless night, but I still had to partly feel my way to the place Travis and I spent the evening. Pushing through the brush, I couldn’t help but sense that uneasy, creepy feeling that comes from wandering in the dark, as though eyes watched you and monster hands waited to grab at your feet. My heart pounded loudly in my ears, the tingling creep of fear working its way from my head down through my limbs. I forced myself to keep my eyes forward, ignoring the nagging feeling that someone or something watched me from the shadows of the rocky shore.
Limbs of the interlocking pines poked and prodded my bare arms as I threaded my way through the trees. The pounding of the rapids had increased with the coming of the storm; the wind tossed the water upon the rocks, sending spray high into the air.
When I broke through the tree line, I stood mesmerized by the awesome power of the roaring water. It looked as if the rapids were fighting to break free of their rocky channel, its watery fingers washing over the rocks, reaching far down the wall, only to withdraw and try again.
Above the churning waters, a simple two-lane bridge hung defiantly in the air, its thick concrete arches planted firmly around the dangerous rocks. Suddenly, a semi loaded with logs thundered across the bridge overhead; its headlights lighting up the darkness for a matter of seconds. I used the momentary help to break my gaze from the water and search the outer banks for my sweater.
A flicker of movement amidst the trees caught my line of sight, and I focused in on a ring of pines to my right; the very place Travis and I had been a few hours earlier.
“Travis?” I called out hopefully, thinking he had remembered to retrieve my sweater.

Lost Through Time cover copy

Melinda Pierce shares “Both Sides of The Fence” with Us!

Our guest this week is the lovely Melinda Pierce, who’s worked on both sides of the writing desk and shares some of her insights.  Thanks so much!



Both Sides of the Fence


Thank you, Devon, for allowing me to share with your followers a little of my writing world experiences today.

When I started my writing journey in 2009, I’ll admit, I was blissfully ignorant. This meant sitting down at my laptop, throwing down words on the blank page, and calling it a day. An avid and voracious reader all my life, I believed my foundation was strong enough to produce quality. I started entering the Writer’s Digest prompt short story competitions held every other month on their website. Flabbergasted when I was never named a winner, I began to wonder if I was missing something.

Are you laughing yet?

That began my foray into writing communities. Probably the best decision I ever made was to join several and participate. (note: participation is key) Having extra time on my hands, I also volunteered. Volunteering opened up an avenue in my writing career I never thought I’d take – a job in admin at a publishing company. I can honestly say I now know more about the behind the scenes in publishing than I ever wanted to know. And I think I’m a more understanding author for it.

Over the last couple of years, from what I’ve seen, a few publishing companies are under attack from unhappy authors. These same authors have been very vocal about their discord, using their blogs and other social media to call out the companies. And from this, I feel a black cloud has formed over publishing companies portraying them as a “big evil” out to steal your hard earned royalties. I don’t think it’s fair, and though I no longer work with the publishing company, I have a great respect and admiration for those tough souls who continue to work in an industry that is ever changing. With this, I hope to give everyone a little perspective about how the process works from my point of view and second hand experiences.

As an author, you write your book, polish it, love it like family, and then send it out into the publishing world with the hopes it’ll land in an agents or editors inbox, and they in turn will see potential. As you are waiting, you begin to write your next book. As the weeks pass by you begin to let the seeds of doubt take root. You wonder what’s taking them so long to respond, after all, didn’t you just see them on Twitter talking about a lunch date. How dare they take the time to eat, your book is waiting! You’ll just write and email and pull your submission. Self-pubbing appears to be pretty easy anyway. All the control will belong to you, and you’ll only be waiting on yourself.

From the other side of the fence, an editor receives their thirtieth email since breakfast. An author refuses to make edits. Another doesn’t like their cover. Half are submissions passed on to you from the slush pile, but wait, you can’t get to those yet because several agents expect their clients’ manuscripts to be frontloaded. Your super useful intern just quit. She’s going to work at a competing pub company, and she thanks you for all the hours you put in teaching her the ropes. A senior editor needs notes on a fully edited manuscript by morning, and you have to have edits back to two of your authors in two days. At the management meeting, the publisher told you the latest masterpiece you and your author produced won’t be picked up in every store. By the way, did you know the contracts girl had her baby early? This is great, since you have proposed authors that will take other offers or self-pub if they don’t get their contracts today. And you’re late for a lunch date with your spouse who you’ve barely spoken to in weeks.

Sounds super fun, doesn’t it. And that’s just an editor. A publishing company houses so many people that work hard on making your book a final, publishable product. The cover artist, the proofreader, the copyeditor, the managing editor, a publicity director, and all the admin that support them want your book to be the next USA Today Bestseller. But not just you, yours and every other author they put their energy in with the hopes it’ll add up to a paycheck so they can make their next mortgage payment.

By no means am I saying that an author has it easier, I’d simply like to point out that publishing companies aren’t full of executives riding around in limos, laughing as they toss your manuscript out the window. They are full of hardworking people just like you.

I, for one, am breathing a sigh of relief to be back on the author side of the fence. I worry about me and mine and that is all. But, I also understand that there’s more than just me when I send out an email to anyone at a pub company. I understand that they need a little compassion in their day in order to keep the spirit of producing great books alive.

That’s my endgame goal – a great book. And if I’m sharing my royalties with a company who shares my goal, then I’m happy to do so, and I hope I’m not alone.

What about you? Please feel free to share your experiences, whether they are positive, negative, or neutral. I’d love to hear them. Also, with Savvy Authors launching its updated site in the next few weeks, I’ll give away something from the Savvy grab bag with the new logo to a random commenter. Just leave your email addy in the comments.

Thanks for stopping by, and always Happy Writing!



Bio: Melinda B. Pierce is an author hobbyist, mother of two, and Membership Director for Savvy Authors.  When she has time she writes in almost every sub-genre of romance and refuses to follow the path of most resistance. Connect with her on twitter @MelindaBPierce

KC Sprayberry, Mixed Up Words, and Softly Say Goodbye

softly say goodbye (478x640)

Today’s guest is KC Sprayberry, and she talks about something that, as an editor and teacher, makes me absolutely froth at the mouth!  Thanks for stopping by, KC!

Those Mixed up Words!



You post a status on Facebook. Or drop a tweet into Twitter, and you’re immediate reaction is “Did I really do that?” Just what do you think is right in the sentence you just wrote, or perhaps wrong?


Maybe you blew it with one of the many homophones in our language. You know homophones – those words that sound exactly alike, but have meanings nowhere near each other. And now you’re at risk of the Grammar Police nagging you until you do an edit, but what word do you use? How fast can you get this corrected? After all, no one wants a grammar cop on their case. Oh, you’ve seen people make fun of them, but those folks don’t have one stalking them right this very minute.


How do you avoid these mistakes? There are some very simple rules to follow, and we’ll go over some of the most mixed up words known to man today.




You’re is the contraction of you are, as in: You’re a great friend.

Your is the possessive of an adjective or an indication of a group or person, as in: Let’s go to your house.




Than is a conjunction, a word that joins other words, like and, as in: I’d rather go here than there.

Then has many meanings, but it’s popularly used as next or afterward, as in: Then we’ll pick up Jack.




Accept means to receive, admit, or regard as true, as in: Accept was Susie’s first thought when she ripped open the thick envelope from Stanford.

Except means to exclude, as in: The whole class except Bill, Jane, Joe, and Teresa will go on the field trip next Tuesday.




To is used as a preposition before a noun or as an infinitive before a verb, as in: He went to work, even though his friends took off for the beach.

Too is a synonym for also, as in: I’d like one, too.

Two is a number, as in: Jane picked up two oranges.




Their – third person plural, possessive adjective for things belonging to them, as in: Their horses cantered across the field.

There – a verb meaning opposite of here or a pronoun to introduce the noun or clause, or an adjective that emphasizes which person, as in: There is a problem with your car.

There is the contraction of they are, as in: They’re leaving now.




Passed – the past tense of pass, as in: He passed the accident, after gazing at the destroyed vehicles.

Past is related to time, as in: Long ago and far away, in a time long past, humans had no idea machines would rule their world.




Bear – to carry, endure or tolerate, or maintain direction, or several other things, including a rather mean animal, as in: She lost the dignity she bears once the grizzly bear made its presence known.

Bare – uncovered, naked, or exposed, as in: Your low pants bare far more of your anatomy than I want to know about.




Its – possessive of it, as in: The door bang shut. Its slam echoed through the house.

It’s – a contraction of it is, as in: It’s a dog, but there is a cat running fast in the other direction.




Do – a verb meaning to carry out, as in: I have so much to do.

Due – payment or a date something must be turned in, as in: The term report is due tomorrow.

Dew – moisture or condensation, as in: There was heavy dew this morning.

Doo – is slang for a hairstyle, as in: My new doo is so great.




Opinion is mixed on this word, however if you write about historical fiction or even historical non-fiction, you might want to remember this difference.

Till – a cash drawer, as in: He opened the till.

’til – is the contraction of until, as in: Wait ’til we get there.




Pique – a verb meaning to arouse or stimulate, as in: The invitation piqued his interest.

Peak – is a verb meaning to reach a high point, or a noun meaning high point, as in: They climbed for hours before reaching the mountains peak.

Peek – a noun meaning a quick look or a verb meaning to take a quick look, as in: Her quick peek caused the soufflé to fall.

These aren’t all of the mixed up words, or homophones as they’re properly called, but they are the most abused. SO, the next time … excuse me. There’s someone at the door.


Oh, goodness! That was the leader of the Grammar Police. He just gave me a shiny new badge, and then he swore me into their corps! You too can earn one of these badges by watching out for mixed up words.





I am happily married to a man I met while in the Air Force. We recently celebrated our 18 years of marriage. Our teen, the youngest of 8, keeps us on our toes with his band activities. Writing is something I’ve done since I was very young. At first, it was in a diary and then I poured all my energies into English compositions, earning praise from my Advanced Composition teacher in high school for an extremely visual project. While in the Air Force, I placed second in the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge’s annual contest and from then on, was hooked. However, the reality of a military career and raising children forced me to put off attempting publication until my husband and I moved to Georgia. It was after the birth of our now teen that I began taking courses through The Institute of Children’s Literature, Long Ridge Writer’s Group, and Writers Digest in an effort to make my life’s dream come true.

We live in Northwest Georgia, in a small town, where I write Romance, Westerns, Young Adult, and Middle Grade stories, both short and book length. More than a dozen of my short stories have appeared in magazines such as Listen Magazine, Brio, and The Pink Chameleon website. I also have two short stories in anthologies, Passionate Hearts Anthology and Mystery Times Ten. My westerns have garnered interest by avid readers and appear on The Western Online and Frontier Tales.

My work appears under the pen names of KC Sprayberry and Kathi Sprayberry. Softly Say Goodbye, a young adult novel, was my NaNoWriMo winning project for 2010. This story was inspired by a quote from a song and hearing of an auto wreck involving teens and drinking.





Google +:







Erin Sellers, an eighteen-year-old high school senior, hates teen drinking. She and her three friends – Bill, her guy, Shari and Jake – decide to use Twitter to stop a group, the Kewl Krew, from using their high school as the local bar. But the members of this group are just as determined to stop anyone from messing up their fun. Despite veiled threats to her safety, Erin continues her crusade.

To make matters worse for her, the stress of school and extra curricular work mounts and suddenly, shockingly, booze-fuelled tragedy strikes. Erin is now under greater pressure as she spends all hours to produce a mural and other work to commemorate the death of a teen friend. Bill, Jake and Shari support her in all this…

But more tragedy lurks nearby… until it’s time to softly say goodbye.

Buy Links:


Solstice Publishing:

Barnes & Noble: