So You Wanna Write for The Feisty Writer. What’s Next?

The Feisty Writer Logo a Hand Holding a PenAh, jeez, thanks for your interest! We’re thrilled you love our site and want to join our roster of talented and spunky writers. As we approach our one-year anniversary, we’re looking for even more unique voices that offer fresh and original insights on writing and the writer’s life.

Is that right up your alley? Are you already feisty by nature? Great! Please look over our guest blogger guidelines below and then send in your submission. Best of luck and thanks again for your interest.

The Feisty Writer Guest Blogger Guidelines 

Submit blogs to The Feisty Writer Co-Editor, Tracy Jones, at tjjones1@gmail.com. You will receive a response within ten days of submitting.

Word Count: Short and sweet is best. Blogs should be at least 350 words and ideally no more than 1,000 words. If truly needed, blogs up to 1,300 words will be considered.

The Feisty Writer Voice: Of course, feisty. Punchy writing. You have something to say and aren’t afraid to shout it from the rafters. You have a distinct point of view. You’ve got something to get off your chest. You’re honest. You’re not scared to be vulnerable. You are not shy. Different is celebrated here.

The Feisty Writer Topics: Writing and the writer’s life but with a twist.

What’s the twist: your creativity and originality in how you approach writing. How to Be a Feisty Submitter—The Mustard Factor, Writing Through Trump, Establish Your Code: Navigating the Rules of Writing, Genderqueer, 5 Things My Inner Critic Says and How I Shut Her Up, Racist Bitch, Hitting the Wall, and Bring the Lover to the Bedroom are just a few of our favorite blogs.

We love informative blogs that show our readers the time, research, and love you spent in creatively organizing important information.

We live for inspiring blogs. Blogs that showcase how you overcame a writing challenge or roadblock, got to the other side, and how they can do the same thing, too. Share success stories that will have our readers dying to write.

A sense of urgency that ignites a flame under our readers’ butts, that the time is now to write, and that we’re going to be on this journey with them.

Embrace the Feisty Tribe: We want our readers to feel informed, inspired, and that they are part of a growing Feisty Writer movement. We want our readers to get to know YOU through your blog. Share your soul; let your freak flag fly. Almost any personal story, shitty experience, triumph or quiet moment can teach about writing or tell us something about the writer’s journey.

Risk, Dig Deep: This is the site where if you’re a little scared to hit submit, you’re probably on to something great. Be brave. Risk it all by being your most creative, vulnerable or opinionated self. Dare to be different.

If Accepted: We reserve the right to edit your piece including picking a new title that we feel may generate more clicks and views. You might also be set up with one of our two site editors to further edit and polish your piece. They’re experienced, easy to work with, and invested in helping our writers perfect their posts.

We will need a headshot/selfie, preferably one that showcases your personality and is more creative or fun compared to a corporate headshot. We will also need a short bio to include at the end of your blog. Again, highlight what you do in two to three sentences, and, if you can have a little fun, all the better. If you would like to add a link to your personal blog/website/Amazon page, we will happily include it.

A Note on Rejections: Due to our site’s unique voice and development of The Feisty Writer brand, not all guest blogs can be accepted. We are writers, too, and have had more than our fair share of rejection. We, too, hate rejection and understand your pain, anger or frustration if your blog isn’t right for our site. But know, it just isn’t a fit or a fit for now. And, it may be perfect for any other number of blogs out there. Please don’t let a ‘no’ from us deter your writing in any way. Keep writing, submit to other blogs, and if you have a more “feisty natured” blog in you, please resubmit!

Enlivenment Along the Way

White Jasmine Blossoms in San Diego
White Jasmine Blossoms in My Yard

When the jasmine plant comes into bloom, first two or three tiny petals open, whispering the hint of what is to come.  Soon another and another burst forth.  Others die off, but the tempo increases until enough have bloomed that a symphony of scent reaches its climax.

Sometimes, whole climbing arms die off, leaving the plant looking a bit withered and worn, but a little water and warmth revitalize it.

Before long, the tempo increases and the plant comes back again into full bloom, delighting me with its sweet, faintly musky, sensuous and intoxicating scent.

It is a delicate scent, however, that dissipates quickly in the night breeze. Hopefully the trace left lingering invites me to seek more—to stop and sit awhile in the bounty, like a child with a pole at a great fishing hole, enjoying one of life’s prolific, if fleeting, offerings.

Enlivenment is like the night blooming jasmine.

When I became an empty nester, it was as if one entire arm of my inner jasmine bush withered and died. Being a mom lit me up. Sure, cooking and cleaning, dealing with tantrums and making sure they did their homework exhausted me, but I relished it. Every day offered a whiff of something precious—a moment to notice, a memory to cherish. When the kids were little we’d dive into spontaneous crafts together, make homemade pasta noodles, and grow vegetable soup. We’d read books, play games and laugh—a lot—well, almost as much as we cried, anyway, but even that was enlivening.  

When the kids grew older we went on adventures: hiking and backpacking, rock hounding, swimming with dolphins . . .

For me, motherhood was naturally enlivening. Sure, there was a subtle underlying goal to help the kids grow confident enough to fly on their own from the nest, but it was never a goal I focused on. Never a goal I worried about. I didn’t set out with the intention to reach that goal as efficiently and quickly as possible. No. I caught the sweet scent of life in each moment on the breeze and happily lingered, like the child with a fishing pole, abuzz with contentment.

Of course, the kids did grow up and fly from the nest I built, and I—withered  jasmine vine that I’d become—had to regroup. I had to find new enlivenment.

I set out with gusto.  But without the kids’ blossoms lingering on the breeze enticing me to stop and play, to be content, I was left with only my adult conditioning, which seemed to alternate between running desperately toward society driven goals (make and spend lots of money) and collapsing into distraction (wine and movies.)  

I thought I was doing right for myself, actively going after my new enlivenment—a loftier title, a sexier product, a bucket load of more money, the respect of my peers. I thought when I caught that golden ring, I’d be enlivened again.  Someday.

Meanwhile more arms of my jasmine bush wilted and died.

It took a while to remember how to care for myself, how to offer my dry roots water and how to wrap myself up in my own warmth and inner encouragement.

Then the company I worked for went bankrupt and I lost my job.  All the goals I’d been reaching for disappeared.

But in their absence, I remembered: enlivenment is not something you go after—something you can grab on to. It’s more delicate than that. It’s the faint scent on a light breeze that tickles something inside and makes you smile. It’s a field of yellow flowers, a rainbow, a moment with a friend, an afternoon in bed with your beloved. Enlivenment grows by paying attention to this moment. This one.

I got out a pen and paper and started writing personal essays again, capturing moments. I took myself out of the “to do” list arena—out of the “make a deadline” or “meet a goal” mindset—and back into something that encouraged me to slow down and pay attention—to mull things gently over in my mind. To let things be.

One day a little blossom burst forth tentatively telling me I was on the right path, so I joined a writing group. It made me happy to be compelled to write regularly for no reason at all. When the juices got flowing, I found it easy to start a cooking and storytelling blog. Another blossom opened.  My world unfolded with potential writing fodder—so long as I paid attention to the nuances of each moment.  How would I capture that mood? How would I describe that setting or that moment with the hummingbird?

By and by, my jasmine bush came into full bloom again.

Enlivenment, I saw, is not something to go after with gusto, but rather something present along the way—a mindful essence, a sweetness that emanates from within. It comes forth naturally when I stop and listen, when I play—and, for me, when I write.

Maybe writing holds this potential for you too.

If you find yourself withering on the vine, try this: get out a pen and paper and write. Write what is before you right now. Write about the thoughts and feelings swirling. Write about what it feels like to be withering. Then get quiet and write about what you love, what you notice lights you up, what brings you to your knees in a simple moment of awe. Write about what enlivens you.

Photo Credit: Marijke McCandless

Wherever You Go

girl runing away from a lamppost with her arms backDid you ever have to move countries to find the freedom to write? It’s a bit more aggressive than leaving home because you have a case of the suffocating creativity clap that you just can’t shake.

Needing separate space to create is a real thing. Yeah, I know, it’s all in our minds—wherever you go, there you are—but it’s true. And sometimes, a seismic geography shift is what it takes to snap the cords and bring you closer to self, truth, and bravery.

I grew up in small town New Zealand. You didn’t get clapped on the back for being creative. On top of that, my idea of art was to move like a Solid Gold dancer to Richard Clayderman (don’t hold it against me), write like Virginia Andrews, and paint like Monet (one of the only painters I knew by name).

Think low social economics, too; we had no classics except Treasure Island on the shelf (next to the wad of NZ Women’s Weekly and Reader’s Digests), and the closest to maestro was Dad strumming Ghost Riders in the Sky on an ill-tuned guitar. We had family art on the wall, but Mum shot it down for not looking real.

It felt like only a couple of people understood the depth of my need. I’ll take this as my chance to say thank you to Diane Wana (I’m sorry it’s too late—I hope you always knew. To Patrick, her son, instead—your Mum changed my world) for her encouragement and for trusting a 12-year-old girl with The Bone People.

I wrote.

I was shy, but my potential to know fear and run towards it was strong. So I said yes to travel with my grandparents for a month at 11. I heard about exchange programs at 14. Bingo. I told Mum and Dad, “That’s what I’m doing… And I’ll be going to a country where English isn’t the first language, thank you very much.” I was a pretty uppity 14-year-old, with all my ass-pir-A-shuns.

At 16, I walked away from academic surety and took a year to fuck and get high in Brazil. Whoops. I mean to promote peace and study hard. On my return, Lord knows how I got into the courses I wanted, but one psych/English lit degree later, plus a year of waiting tables and bartending, I had a thousand bucks in the bank, so I moved to Europe for two and a half years.

The whole time I was searching, listening, looking at myself and the world around, thinking, “I could write that. I really think I could.”

But there was the fear. So there I went, making do; waitress, chauffeur, translator, pot seller, fudge delivery van driver, waitress, unreliable English teacher and picker of fruit.

You see, my fear of competing against white privilege meant I continuously went for the low brow wins that relied on map skills, grit, flirting, and common sense.

I penned words on serviettes while waitressing in Chelsea, on bartender order pads, on my driver’s record book that tallied which rich or famous person I delivered as though they were chicken carcasses, and I wrote in my Škoda waiting in Brixton’s high-density housing estates. Waiting for women to ‘turn up’ (I knew they were there—felt their bodies hiding behind scratched up doors). I was determined to sell them my gilt-edged cookware. And these Nigerian and Ghanaian women were determined to feed me, laugh, and make me a second wife to their brothers.

“You are good for my brother—I’ll call him!” To her friend she’d grin, turning me with warm hands, “Look! She just needs more here,” pointing to my arse, “You need to eat more fufu.” Phone calls were made, my velour rug got stood on by kids, the pans glanced at, and yes—desired—but nine times out of ten, I‘d be turned out with a full belly and empty pockets.

But I’d write—about the houses, the lack of furniture, the marriage offers, and the laughing that always unsettled me, the doubter, the five-, six-, and ten-year-old in me that was the youngest butt of too many cousin jokes, she recoiled. I sat in my little Škoda, stalking clients, and writing.

My New Zealand home was, well, tougher. When I arrived at Mum and Dad’s, my pen slowed. I sat on the terrace, senses on fire. I was on a cliff gazing absently at sunlit green seas and a freaking steaming live volcano.

“Thanks, Mum,” I’d say as she proudly served me a latte (“We have a machine now”). The bush smell that I missed so much was blowing in from across the road.

The ink dried after four sentences. That was it. Shut down happened. I couldn’t write a Mills & Boon if my life depended on it.

What’s your deal? Do you get the urge to write in your childhood home? Eyeball your Dad over the roast chicken then write furiously in your childhood bed? Do words just flow when you’re sitting at the kitchen table you threw cheerios off?

I’m hoping there’s a shift, cos I’m about to head home. Maybe the veil is down. Maybe I’ll take my advice and write through the feeling. I figure it’s all about noticing when you’re in avoidance mode—when you feel possessed by a sloth spirit.

I’ll walk into my composition book, pen like a dart, and write just one word.

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com/en/girl-at-night-running-cloud-162474/

5 Ways to Build Your Fan Base

Rock Concert CrowdBuilding my fan base is probably one of the most annoying and difficult things to do. It also creates a fair amount of anxiety, because being popular isn’t something I’ve ever had much luck with. Nevertheless, it’s something that has to be done if anyone besides my friends are going to read my work. And even they get tired of my writing eventually. But below are the 5 ways I’m trying to be popular build my fan base.

  1. Write like crazy. Write, write, write. If I only ever wanted to write one book, there would be very little chance anyone at all will find that one book. And an even smaller chance that a lot of people will find it. Keep writing. Keep publishing. Keep putting my work into the world where more people are likely to bump into it. And then write some more.
  1. I got a website. I’m not going to go into the nuts and bolts of this since there are so many directions one can go in, but I did my best to set something up that was pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate. It isn’t fancy. It does reflect what I do. I even keep a blog there. I make sure to keep my website up to date and engaging and make sure people can contact me and find my writing either for free or for sale.
  1. Build my email contacts. I’m working on this one. It’s really fucking hard. I don’t know why, but sending people an email from a list feels, well, kinda sleazy. Like I’m selling Viagra or something. But the truth is, I sign up for newsletters that are totally (okay, mostly) legit. Why wouldn’t someone want to sign up for mine? This way, I have a direct line to my audience (which currently stands at a whopping 16 people) whenever I have something to say (which, let’s face it, is all the fucking time). I try to send emails regularly. Once every four months is not enough. People forget. There isn’t one right answer for how often you should send an email to your contact list, but it’s somewhere between once a week and once a month. Right now I try to send something every other week. Do what’s right for you, then do it religiously.
  1. Set up an author page on Facebook. This is a starting point and requires maintenance. I try to post something about once a day. It’s not groundbreaking or difficult, but results can be slow. This is the long game, folks. Not instant stardom, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see a ton of traffic for a while. I have about 100 likes on my page, and some of them I don’t even know. So I’ll take it.
  1. Talk to other authors. Especially those that write in a similar genre. Read their work. Let them read mine. The truth is, we’re all in this together, and the writer who doesn’t support other authors is in for a tough road indeed. But here’s where there is the chance for cross-pollination and synergy. Say you meet a writer, and you like them and hopefully their writing. You read their book. It’s great! Who are you going to tell? Your contacts and readers, of course. It’s not a quid pro quo kind of thing, but there’s probably a decent chance they’ll give you a shout out as well to their fan base. Additionally, it gives us contact with people who understand the joys and frustrations of being a writer, whom we can commiserate with, whether we need to celebrate or support. Either way, you’re finding more work that inspires you, and hopefully will spur you to keep writing, which takes us back to #1 and starts the cycle all over again.

Photo Credit: https://burst.shopify.com/photos/rock-concert-crowd

The Gift of Not Breaking Things

laptop computer with explosion on the screenAdieu, fair computer
Oh, how I will miss thee—
Your greasy screen
Your peeling space bar
The large dent on your front right corner from the day I dropped you
When
You
Still
Had
Shiny
Stickers
On
Your
Keyboard.

Adieu.

I will miss the sensitivity of your tab key,
Your stubborn L,
How you sometimes hide icons and then surprise me with them
when
I’ve
all
but
given
up.

How rapidly do you scroll?
I know this answer.
I live this answer.

How speedily do you search?
Here I pause, because while fair, strong, and true,
You are also a web sloth.
Like yesterday when I asked you,
What is the capital of Tasmania?
I hit the spyglass and waited
And waited
And waited
As you spun
And spun
And spun
And finally transported me to a place
of pale gray emptiness,
where nothing I could do
would convince you to accept your mission,
not
even
at
your
usual
snail’s
pace.

Now Tasmania has no capital.

This was not the first time,
not even the fiftieth time you said,
NO. NO, I WILL NOT SEARCH FOR YOU TODAY.
That you made me wish for a wall of Encyclopedia Britannica.

I recognize our relationship has changed to one
where I practice patience, deep-breathing, and mantra repetition while trying
not
to
scream
or
break
things.

And this lesson has value; I cannot deny it. So thank you.

But perhaps it’s time for new lessons.
For memorizing the curves and contours of a new keyboard—
The one my work gave me
FOR
FREE.

So adieu, Beloved.

Let’s allow this new day,
dedicated to electronics recycling at this high school gym
and smelling faintly of sports socks

To be the day someone else inherits
the gift of not breaking things.

Adieu.

 

Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/search/computer?photo=z8lfwpQVXJo

Hitting the Wall

a gas station in the darkIn addition to being a book publicist, I’m also a business instructor at a local community college, an author, a blogger, a volunteer, a participant in a number of community and writing groups, and a wife and mother.

While I enjoy doing all of that, at my age (I reached the magic number 60 this year) I often find that sometimes, inexplicably, I hit the proverbial wall. Hard. No energy, no ideas, nothing.

This concept was driven home for me recently when I was headed back to my house late at night after teaching a college class and noticed that my car was almost out of gas. I drive a new Honda Accord and had never driven it before with the gas indicator lit, so I wasn’t sure how many miles were left before it ran out. I wasn’t near any gas stations and had no idea how much further the car would go. My two options were to stop and call my husband to come and bring me a can of gas or to wing it and trust that there was enough left in the tank to bring me home.

Sometimes we find ourselves in similar situations with our energy levels. We over-commit ourselves and pile so much on our plates that eventually, if we’re not careful, we can find ourselves suddenly drained of initiative, sitting on the couch for hours, staring at the wall.

But here’s the thing—it’s okay to hit the wall sometimes. There are instances in our lives where we just plain do too much, especially those of us who are writers in addition to being committed to our clients and employers, our families, our social and online communities, and our friends. Eventually, we find ourselves physically exhausted, psychologically drained, and out of gas emotionally.

And sometimes, this can be a good thing. Our bodies and minds are telling us, “Hey, time to take a break.” It’s as if the universe is forcing us into a cosmic time-out so that we can rest, rejuvenate, and get ourselves back out there doing all the wonderful things we do, including writing.

Something else I learned from that evening of driving my new car home on empty is that even when we may feel as if we’re out of gas, we often have enough in reserve to make it through whatever we’re facing. As it happened that night, I made it, maybe barely, and maybe with just fumes to spare. But I took a chance and soldered on and was able to get home.

So the lesson is this: Even when it appears that we have nothing left to give, we can get through it. the key is not to panic, to realize that our bodies and minds are giving us a much-needed reminder about self-care, and to trust that our emotional reserves will be there to see us through.

Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/search/gas?photo=o8IfF0RUTTs

______

Paula Margulies is a book publicity and promotions expert in San Diego, California. You can reach her by email at paula@paulamargulies.com, view her website at www.paulamargulies.com, contact her on Twitter at @PaulaMargulies, or say hello on Facebook at Paula Margulies Communications.