Category Archives: lifestyle

Find A New Dream

by Diane Holmes, (a) Chief Alchemist of Pitch University, (b) lover of learning, and (c) writer of fiction, non-fiction, and the occasional manifesto.

dream bigYour dream is about writing.  I already know that.  But what I want to know is if you’re living your big writing dream today? 

Because I’m not.

And, in a way, I’m farther away than ever.

(How in the world 20 years of hard work can lead you farther away, I have no idea!  But reality is like that.  It’s illogical and ill-behaved and apt to squash your hopes and dreams.)

Now, some of you are getting close to your dreams, so this article won’t help much.  But if you have worked hard every waking moment and still aren’t “there,” then this article might help you ask The Big Questions.

Should I let go of my dream?

Should I stop giving it CPR?

Should I find a new dream to dream?

The more you fear these questions, the more important it is to ask them.

And yes, your new dream can be a new writing dream. Or not.  I’m not imposing rules on your dreaming.  Not my job.  But basically you have all of reality to play with, so don’t panic.

The Importance of Today

In all my years of hard work and dreaming, what have I been doing?  I’ve been clawing my way toward a future goal.  The Dream.

I thought that was how it was done.  Everyone said so.  You set your sights on a big dream and then you don’t give up.  You use your fingernails if you have to, as you dig in and keep going. 

But now, I’m not so sure.

  • What about all the todays on the way to your dream? 
  • What if you don’t reach your big dream, ever? 
  • What if your fingernails break before you get there? 
  • Does that mean you have no dream to live, because you never made it to your dream location?

What if the future is today?  How would that change things?

The folks over at The One Question put it this way:

“…to find your life purpose you have to live your life purpose. You can start living your life purpose immediately.”

If you don’t live your purpose (or your dream), then you’ll never find it.  And if not today, then when?

Just For Today

Instead of a big dream, I wonder if the key isn’t found in what you dream just for today?

What you live for today

Maybe all you have to do is find your dream for today.  Or as John December says:

Find a way to gain some aspects of your dream today.

The pieces of the dream ARE the dream, just smaller.  To ignore these small pieces is to miss the whole point of having a dream.

Gain your dream, piece by piece.

Own your dream, today by today.

By owning a piece of your dream today, you are eliminating the space between you and your dream.  In fact, you and your dream are one.

Dreamer and dream.

Now Back To The Big Questions

Is it time for a new dream?

It really comes down to today, doesn’t it?

Do the small pieces of your dream create a wonderful today?

That’s the one question this whole article comes down to.

Until you can answer this question, you can’t ask any of the others. 

How can you know if you should let go of your dream–if you should stop giving it CPR–unless you ask yourself about the reality of how you live your dream.  Or how you don’t.

After all, if your dream doesn’t even exist until some dim future, then what are you planning on letting go of?  Something that never existed?

And what about if you decide to let go?

There are so many, many changes you can make to your dream and how you experience it.  And beyond that there are a multitude of dreams you can call your own.

You’re the dreamer.  It’s your call.

It’s okay to make a change.  It really, really is.  And it’s okay to keep your dream exactly the same.

I just wish we talked about the small pieces more.  The day-to-day tasks.  the way we tried to move forward.  About how we see these small pieces as “living the writing dream.” 

I think we might be a lot happier with a dream we live just for today.  A dream we can touch.  A dream that makes us… US.

clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

Is It Really a Vacation If You Work?

My wife and I recently took our summer vacation — a 12-day trip that took us to Massachusetts, where we enjoyed the company of family and lobster; Las Vegas, where I can’t tell you most of what we did, because that stays in Vegas; and San Diego, where we chartered a sailboat and alternated between utter peace and quasi-mayhem in one of the world’s busiest harbors.

Now, here’s the confession: We both had our laptops and iPhones (mine equipped with a mobile hotspot) in tow, and I had my digital recorder and earbud microphone.

It’s a shame to ruin your time off with work, isn’t it? Doesn’t that just defeat the whole principle of getting away and decompressing?

Meh, not really. There have been times where we’ve taken completely unplugged vacations; this time, it wasn’t really an option. My wife is finishing up her master’s degree and had assignments due. I had received a plum writing assignment two days before we left from one of my longest-term and most lucrative clients. (I didn’t even tell her I was going on vacation.) I’d need to do the interviews, though not the actual writing, from the road. At the risk of sounding like a professional athlete, “It is what it is.”

And at the risk of sounding like a politician, make no mistake: We didn’t work the whole time. Indeed, we compartmentalized our work bouts to as short time frames as possible — and were 100% in vacation mode every other waking minute. And that, right there, is the key.

Yes, it required a mind-shift and significant self-discipline to leave a hot craps table to interview a CPA about tedious multistate tax issues and the rapid increase in IRS audits. In an ideal world, I surely wouldn’t check emails from a secluded little harbor where we were the only ones anchored.

But at the risk of sounding like a goon in a mafia movie: It’s just business.

Jake Poinier is the owner of Boomvang Creative Group, a Phoenix-based editorial services firm, and writes an advice column for freelancers at

5 Reasons You Need Another Writer’s Brain

Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery by Diane Holmes, Chief Alchemist of Pitch University

It’s a mindset.

One of my long-time writing friends flew in for a long weekend of Being a Writer.  It’s not just an event, it’s a mindset.

writinggroup - nadar

You know what I mean?  It’s special when you’re with other writers, brainstorming and talking over the juicy aspects of craft for the sheer pleasure of geeking out on Being A Writer.

Some spouses can do this for us.  Writer stand-ins.  But not many. 

I mean, how many hours can they stay enthralled with the many nuances of point-of-view or the thesis topic “storytelling is essential to human existence”?

Not that many.

Us?  As long as we breathe.

And we’re better for it.  Better in our work, and better in our head, too, which is the source of everything.

Let’s face it; we think for a living. The end result is words on the page (web or print), but the method is all in our heads.

Simply speaking, we are brilliant.

Being brilliant is our stock and trade.

And yet most of us work alone, and it’s darn hard to be brilliant (or feel brilliant) without another writer-brain to ignite the fire.

So, here are 5 reasons you need another writer’s brain

1. The Stillness of Logic

.We can convince ourselves, “sure that works,” when, in fact, it does not.  We have stretched, pulled, and ripped the fabric of credulity, yet we’re clinging to our personal need for ‘it’ (the writing equivalent of ‘x’) to work.

Another writer can throw out the life preserver (‘cause we’re in our own ocean of thought, far, far from shore), and reel us back in.

2. Outrageously Better

There is a point where we have come up with our best.  Our good-as-we-can.  But when placed in the room with another writer, we discuss it like it’s a real thing, except now it’s illuminated by two brains, not just one.  And it’s that simple. 

As we hash it over, we own the entire universe of two brains.  We explore the best thing ever:  new terrain.

You see, it’s not just what’s written.  It’s pretty much everything that has now or ever will exist.  And then… suddenly there’s a doorway to a parallel universe, too. Suddenly, things are Seuss-i-fied.  Oh, the place we’ll go.

It take a fellow traveler to hold the door open for us to see what is hidden and beyond.  Hint, It’s hidden from us.  How can we see it?

And that is how we make things outrageously better.  Normal is our world.  Better is the universe.  Outrageous is what is beyond that.

(I think I’m implying that writers may be time-travel portals, but that’s the subject of another article.)

3. Shoved Off-Balance

Being shoved off-center, losing our balance, is the most creative thing another writer can do for us.

Without realizing it, we fight to keep our sense of level, to keep our writing world plumb.  We seem to automatically make our thoughts “exactly vertical” to fit the narrow parameters of the assignment.

But the best ideas, the ones that captivate readers, are often askew, unexpected, or what we call ‘fresh.’

Another writer can hip-check your thoughts, knock you into new thoughts.  Together, you create writing magic.. (And magic, as we all know, is a juxtaposition to order and reality… or else it wouldn’t be magic.)

4.  Sanity Check

Sometimes you just can’t get a “goodness read” on your writing.  It’s easy to edit and edit and edit, without making anything better.

You need a sanity check, before you destroy your own prose.

And you need a writer for this, because she or he can tell you why, which is often where the sanity is involved.

Does it work or not?  No matter what “you” say, why should I believe you?  It’s in the why.  And we need a why that speaks writer.

It’s one thing to hear, “Yes, this works.” 

It’s another to hear,

“Yes, this works, because it brings a beautiful parallel construction to your opening and ending scenes, and it illuminates the small heartbreaks that accompany survival.  When I read that, I knew your character would survive and had learned that she wasn’t a victim.”

Now, I believe it works.

5. Fun

Okay, you might think I’m a little simplistic here, but the reason we writers write is because we like it.  It’s satisfying and meaningful and challenging, and above all… FUN.

Yes, it’s full of angst.  Yes, it’s the hardest, most grueling thing we’ll ever do, but ultimately, it has to be fun.


Because no one is asking us to do it.  No one said, “You must go to college and become a writer.  The world can not function without electricians, doctors, police officers, and writers.”

Now we might feel that way.  For many of us it is a calling.  We do hope to make the world better.  But honestly, it’s us driving the career choice, not society and employers.

Frankly, I’ve never heard of a shortage of writers.  Or that we must outsource writing, because there’s so much demand.

* Okay, all you tech writers.  You probably are the exception. 😉

For almost every writer, it is our dream.  Our passion.  Our quest to be a writer.

So, for Pete’s sake, have fun. Cause I’ve got news for you.  Your angst, dreams, hopes, and fears will only sustain you for so long. 

Fun is eternal.

But, it’s hard to generate lasting fun all alone.  Lasting writing fun.  For that, you need another writer. Seriously, who’s going to laugh at that semicolon joke with you?  Or think 10-minute-writing-bursts are a “good time?”  Or believe critiquing and brainstorming = Par-TAY?‘

Yup, you need another writer or 12.  You just do.

And you can quote me on that.

clip_image004Diane writes two alternating columns for Freelance-Zone:Fiction-Zone: Leaps in Fiction Mastery and Marketing-Zone:Marketing-Zone: Marketing Yourself and Your Book.

Interview With Author Kelli Lawrence

Today we have a book author with us to share a bit about the experience. Anyone who is starting out or thinking about writing a book can benefit from reading this interview–and if you like skating, you’ll really enjoy reading this book!

Please welcome author Kelli Lawrence…

Lawrence_skating_cover_pic1. Tell readers a bit about your book.

Skating on Air basically traces a symbiotic relationship between figure skating—long known to be one of the biggest draws at any Winter Olympic Games—and the media, particularly television. Skating became popular in the U.S. thanks in large part to Sonja Henie’s film career and incessant touring in the 1930s and 40s, and really came to be appreciated as a sport (not just a source of entertainment) when the Olympics found its way to TV in the 60s. Then the “figures” part of skating faded, and popularity grew and grew till it exploded with the infamous Tonya/Nancy incident in 1994… then remained as mainstream-popular as its ever been for the next decade or so, but got into a backlash situation of sorts with the pairs judging scandal at the 2002 Olympics. All of these things in skating’s narrative (and much more) were perpetuated by its visibility on TV, and I wanted to tell that story.

So, 30+ interviews, countless YouTube videos, and dozens of photos later, here I am. The interviews are with skaters, skater/ broadcasters, commentators, and many behind-the-scenes broadcasters (directors, programming execs, etc.), and the lion’s share of photos come from the personal collections of folks at ABC and CBS that snapped shots while a major skating event. 244 pages in all, including 5 separate appendices, bibliography, and a very detailed index!  Whew!

2. What writing experience did you have prior to writing this? Continue reading Interview With Author Kelli Lawrence

Quality Sleep = Freelance Productivity

Freelancers and Sleep ApneaIt’s no secret that a poorly rested freelancer is tired, cranky, and probably less productive than he or she would be with a decent night’s sleep. There are plenty of observations about this, among them the blog post 10+ Ways To Get a Better Night’s Sleep. But staying away from caffeine, alcohol, and an inactive lifestyle aren’t going to help some people enough to change the game.


Between 30 and 50 percent of the U.S. population snores, “at some time or another” according to data from the University of California, Irvine. Snoring itself is not the problem, but sleep apnea can be for between four and 13 percent of snoring U.S. citizens, as many as 18 million people depending on which data you read. Sleep apnea is essentially a type of breathing interruption during sleep. Symptoms include “excessive daytime sleepiness”, a feeling of being mentally dull or not up to 100% effectiveness. Headache, sore throats, and even hypertension can be linked to sleep Sleep apneaapnea.

Some cases aren’t severe, some are more serious. But the freelancer who snores or suffers from sleep apnea is likely not getting good rest, and suffering from that lack of rest more than people who simply have to watch the coffee intake after lunchtime or adopt a healthier lifestyle. Do you snore? Are you tired and washed out reading this blog post? Looking for something to do about it before it seriously affects (or continues to affect) your freelance career?

A personal sleep study may be a good idea to consider, but there are a few things you can try to reduce your snoring first. Avoiding alcohol close to bed time is a no-brainer, but using “breathing strips” such as Breathe Right to open your nasal passages could have surprising results.

Don’t take that as encouragement to avoid seeing a doctor, getting an expert opinion or trying a sleep study. Sleep apnea can be a major problem for some sufferers and expert medical advice is crucial in such cases. But for those who snore, suspect they might have a sleep interruption because of it, and want to try a low-cost solution could find the breathing strips in combination with other suggested healthy sleep steps like avoiding caffeine and alcohol to be a very good move toward more healthy sleep.

I write all this to say that in my own case, being one of those four to 13 percenters who likely have snoring and/or sleep apnea related issues, the breathing strips really do work. I notice a remarkable difference in the quality of sleep with them, especially in combination with allergy meds during the hay fever season, plus diet and exercise changes. These things, working together, make my daytime hours much more productive. Learn more about sleep apnea at the University of California Irvine official site.

Joe Wallace is a writer, editor, social media addict, and rabid audio consumer. He is currently working on his book WTF Records: The Turntabling Guide To Weird and Wonderful Vinyl and blogs about all things vinyl-related at

New Travel Writing Market: Overnight Buses Travel Magazine

by Catherine L. Tully

ONB_Issue_1_CoverToday I’d like to share a new travel writing market with you–it looks intriguing!

Overnight Buses Travel Magazine is a new magazine for the iPad currently accepting submissions for the second issue. The first issue is already in the App Store and can be downloaded for free so you can take a peek and see what the writing style is like.

The current pay rate is between $250 and $350 (U.S. Dollars), depending on quality and length. They are looking for longer travel stories, preferably between 1000 to 5000 words, and the main focus is personal essays and travel narratives with the occasional book excerpt thrown in. They don’t publish guides, recommendations or accept queries; authors should send final manuscripts only.

Guidelines can be found on the website at and submissions can be sent directly to (Tom) at submissions (at)