Category Archives: Uncategorized

10 Rules for Writers From Maya Angelou

C43Vu3ZWEAATB-uIf you had the privilege of attending any of Maya Angelou’s speaking engagements, then you came away with much to think about. She remains one of the most quoted Americans, and many of her quotations speak to writers.

Read these and apply them as rules for your writing routine.

49044_original“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Rule 1: Aim for the hearts of your readers.

bfa24e57befa55db2ef97a5ce3fceb58--writer-quotes-business-writing“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Rule 2: Don’t allow your stories to languish. Write!

EACH-OF-US-HAS-A-POWER-AND“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

Rule 3: Be willing to take risks when you write.

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.”

37d6866494084accb0ff9045731c6a74Rule 4: Decide not to be knocked down by rejection and criticism.

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

Rule 5: Make self-worth your definition of “success”.

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

Rule 6: Do what you love, and do it well. 

07c4a21d55b019c76a35bd92e1c01fe0--literary-quotes-beauty-quotes“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Rule 7: Learn from those times when you feel defeated.

“If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”

Maya Angelou quote_0Rule 8: Open yourself up to all the creativity within you to discover your own unique style.

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

Rule 9: Get below the surface when you write. Dig deep. Go for the roots.

fc969a38be0a4565bded730636e0d966--true-quotes-daily-inspiration“Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”

Rule 10: When you edit, don’t complain. Be willing to rethink what you’ve written and be open to change.


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Filed under Encouragement, Famous Authors, Inspiration, Movtivation, Uncategorized, Writing goals

One Vintage Photo Can Inspire a Best-Selling Novel

miss-peregrines-home-peculiar_book-coverDid you know that a vintage snapshot provided author Ramson Riggs with inspiration for his best-selling book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children?

Browse through the following collections of vintage photographs, and, who knows, one picture might be the inspiration for YOUR best-selling novel!

Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Catalog

The Prints and Photographs Online Catalog (PPOC) contains catalog records and digital images representing a rich cross-section of still pictures held by the Prints & Photographs Division and, in some cases, other units of the Library of Congress. The collections of the Prints & Photographs Division include photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings.

National Archives Library Information Center

The National Archives site will keep you busy for hours with links to scores of additional vintage photo resources.

State Historical Societies


Suffrage parade, New York Historical Society

Search for any state historical society online, and you will find collections specific to the state and its cities.

Flicker Commons

In January of 2008, Flickr launched a new project aimed at increasing access to publicly held photography collections in civic institutions around the world. They called it The Commons. The idea was to provide a space for the public to contribute their historical knowledge to compliment the information the institutions already had.

Washington, D.C., 1922. “Department of Agriculture. First device to accurately measure a loaf of bread in cubic centimeters/SHORPY

Shorpy is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. It includes unusual, and even bizarre, photos not found in other sources.

Ancient Faces

Launched in 2000 as a place to share vintage family photos, this site now also includes family stories and even recipes. Photo tags make it easy to look for pictures of everything from cowboys to royalty.

Old Photo Archive

8 Things Parents Did In The 50s & 60s That They Could Never Do Today exists to preserve and share history by telling stories through old photos. Browse the Story Archive, and you’ll find plenty of inspiration!

And here are several other places to look:

Google images

Type in a decade or a specific year. You can also refine your search by topic (ex. 1940s fashion, cars, inventions, etc.)


Ebay is another source where you’ll find unique vintage photos (for sale). Search “vintage photographs” or “antique photos”. The collection is ever-changing.



ce6634cdf9dfd1f0d9e4415b4eb6f371Pinterest is the best site to find just about anything, and vintage photographs are no exception. Search “vintage photos” on Pinterest, and you’ll find plenty of pins that lead you to blog posts and other fascinating online destinations.

Visit my Pinterest board where I’ve collected photos of vintage Santas.

And a bonus site, not for photographs but for historical manuscripts online:

The Shapell Manuscript Foundation

The Shapell Manuscript Foundation is an independent educational organization dedicated to the research, collection, and exhibition of original manuscripts and historical documents. The Foundation’s focus is on the histories of the United States and the Holy Land, with emphasis on the 19th and 20th centuries. Its extensive holdings include American presidents, especially Abraham Lincoln; Mark Twain; Albert Einstein; Custer and the Little Big Horn; and Theodor Herzl.

Now, get busy and start writing!
A picture is worth ten-thousand words.


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Filed under Inspiration, Movtivation, Tools for Writers, Uncategorized

How Autumn Can Supercharge Your Descriptive Writing

1Autumn is the best time to sharpen your descriptive writing skills. Stop whatever you’re doing! Follow this advice from poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Grab a notebook and pen, get outside someplace quiet, and write.

Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them —
The summer flowers depart —
Sit still — as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.

Let these poems guide you. Think about how the words transform into pictures and create specific moods.

b7de59d48ed1cea22aa91ad133972040.jpgLi Po, known as a poetic genius, lived in China during the Tang Dynasty. He wrote many of his poems while wandering the Yangtze River Valley. In this short poem, carefully-chosen words create a powerful image.

Autumn River Song
The moon shimmers in green water.
White herons fly through the moonlight.
The young man hears a girl gathering water-chestnuts:
into the night, singing, they paddle home together.

86378e3310293fcc925b5362baa288d6--goldfish-autumn-fallThe 20th century Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, is well-known for his lyrical style. Notice his use of comparisons.

The leaves are falling, falling as if from far up,
as if orchards were dying high in space.
Each leaf falls as if it were motioning “no.”

And tonight the heavy earth is falling
away from all other stars in the loneliness.

We’re all falling. This hand here is falling.
And look at the other one. It’s in them all.

And yet there is Someone, whose hands
infinitely calm, holding up all this falling. 

700-00681295And, finally, study this poem by the contemporary British poet, Michael Shepherd. How do all five senses combine to create an image for readers?

Autumn Gardener

Gathering rosebuds with my rake; 
the wooden tines scraping
over the gravel path
bringing a token of order 
to the autumn of a life; 

rosebuds, nipped at the neck
by frost; dead leaves
curled like begging or covetous hands, 
coloured like rich memories, red, orange, brown, 
dry husks, spilt seed, 
now crisp, eager to surrender to the fire, 
its scented smoke curling like a pyre against
a cold blue sky now welcoming
a tidy offering up; 
how clean, how sharp the autumn air

478586728.jpgdarker under the trees
the leaves still wet
limp and flat as hope defeated, 
pressed together as
words not meant, or
something missed; 
next year the leaves
will remember innocence, 
the tree broader, eager, 
brown as wisdom tipped with exploratory green.

gathering rosebuds with my rake
the season with its woodsmoke, evocative, 
tempting to metaphor, hovering, 
a garden of lost meaning; 
no longer, this cooling autumn, a construction, 
but speaking its own seriousness.

how clean, how sharp the autumn air 
scented by surrender.
(© Michael Shepherd)

Don’t let autumn slip away.
It’s like a fire burning hot, awakening the senses,
fueling the desire to write.
But . . . it won’t last forever.


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Filed under Autumn, Creativity, descriptive writing, Inspiration, Poetry, Uncategorized