Perils and Pleasures of the Creative Life

creativeI received this little book for Christmas called “Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life” by Dani Shapiro. I connected immediately with her experience of the writing life from an early age:
“I have been writing all my life. Growing up, I wrote in soft-covered journals, in spiral-bound notebooks, in diaries with locks and keys. I wrote love letters and lies, stories and missives. When I wasn’t writing, I was reading. And when I wasn’t writing or reading, I was staring out the window, lost in thought. Life was elsewhere–I was sure of it–and writing is what took me there. In my notebooks, I escaped an unhappy and lonely childhood. I tried to make sense of myself. I had no intention of becoming a writer. I didn’t know that becoming a writer was possible. Still, writing was what saved me. It presented me with a window into the infinite. It allowed me to create order out of chaos.”

Doing the memoir exercises in our recent Artist Way group brought me back to how energizing it was years ago when I first attempted writing short stories. I loved following inspiration and letting it run like a hooked fish to the end of the line. I would check collections out of the library, read and dissect them. I loved uncovering a turn of phrase, a description, a character marker, anything in the prose that highlighted what I was beginning to learn in my own writing and enlightened my ignorance. I admired these writers, but I also felt a sense of homecoming. This is where I belonged. This is the portal I entered as a child when I first picked up a book and stepped into an imaginary world and felt their magic igniting my brain, spirit and soul. I sensed even then the power, rightness and wisdom that came with slipping behind the veil. I had a sense of safety, of endless possibilities. I trusted that I was being held, guided, that I would learn things and experience worlds I never knew existed. Writing led me out of a confused childhood. It opened that “window” as Dani says in a stark room. Writing was and is my lifeline into the real world, even if by now it has allowed me live more in the world and less on the page. That’s a good thing. It’s what writing does. It seeps into your bones and lifts you high and carries you until you meet your true authentic self. Writing is the homecoming.

Don’t fear the blank page. Embrace it.




Interview with David Alan Binder

I really enjoyed doing an interview with David Alan Binder this week talking about the writing process and creativity.  He’s a great supporter of writing for writing’s sake, and you’ll find all kinds of great information on his site:

Writers and Writing

I’ve just finished reading “The Hero is You” by Kendra Levin.  She challenges a writer to use the archetypes in Joseph Campbell’s heroic journey not only in plot and character, but also in their life, all the while guiding them through inspiration to completed MS. I was challenged by the questions it forced me to ask.


We’re half-way through the Artist Way E-Circle group with Julia’s Cameron’s new book. It’s wonderful to join with old friends and new, with keen expectations and trembling fear, to re-kindle the creative fire. We may be unique in our artistic histories, hopes and angst, but we’re comfortingly the same beneath the surface.  I am always amazed that it continues to be a journey of discovery for me.

Artist Circle 2015

writ1It’s that time of year again. The holidays are over and I need some prodding to get back to the page.  So I’m organizing the annual Artist Circle to begin February 1st and run for 10 weeks using Julia Cameron’s book “The Right to Write.” It’s an e-mail group that utilizes the principles of “The Artist Way.” There are 10 spots open, to be filled on a first come, first serve basis. It is not a critique group, but an opportunity to explore personal strengths and stumbling blocks, and to put pen to page at your own pace; while sharing discoveries with a supportive group. For more information you can contact me at

Happy Writing!


Answering the Call X: Writers’ Retreat

art40It’s time! Time to tackle the manuscript you’ve been letting gather too much dust. The fall retreat is scheduled:

Answering the Call X: Releasing the Writer Within


WHERE: The Villa Madonna in Renforth, New Brunswick (just outside of Saint John)
WHEN: November 14, 15 and 16, 2014


November 14, 2012:
5 p.m.-6:00 p.m.- Arrive and settle into your room.
6 p.m. Opening Welcome: Answering the Call by Kathy-Diane Leveille
6 to 9 p.m. Meet and Greet, explanation of weekend structure, sharing optional writing exercise, social

November 15, 2012: Full writing day
7-9 p.m. Optional Critique Group

November 16, 2012:
11:00 a.m. Closing and wrap up.
1:00 p.m. Heading home after lunch and out by mid-afternoon.

FEE: $176.00 which includes single room and board.

This is not a leader-guided writing retreat. Rather it an opportunity to give yourself the gift of uninterrupted time to write. Over the years, Kathy-Diane has created a loose structure that provides touchstones within the weekend’s framework for optional opportunities (between writing) to connect with other writers. How those connections happen vary with the individual and the ultimate shaping of each group. There is no predicting. Sometimes works-in-progress are shared, sometimes tentative ideas are given words and take more concrete shape, sometimes the room door is closed tight and the pen flies across the page. We each go willing to drop the hindrances keeping us from our writing and wait and see what unfolds. Rooms are single and private.
E-mail for more information or to hold a spot.
(*NOTE: Cancellations after November 1 subject to a 50% refund/No refunds after November 10).

Hope to see you there! Send me a friend invite on FaceBook….

Happy scribbling,


“Standing in the Whale’s Jaw is a swirling, twisting tale of intrigue. Two bright and daring young women weave through a cast of characters… to solve one great mystery and open their minds to a greater one. A rollicking ride with many surprises along the way.” -Linda Little author of Scotch River

Writing and Kurt Vonnegut

danceEvery winter I hold an artist E-Circle that follows one of Julia Cameron’s books (Artist Way). This year’s book is “Walking the World.” We exchange weekly e-mails on the chapter readings and spotlight our individual works-in-progress; mostly it helps to share writing struggles and triumphs. Thanks to all who joined up. Speaking of triumphs, congratulations to member, Elizabeth Copeland, whose novella won the Ken Klonsy novella contest and will be published by Quattro books in the fall of 2014. Wonderful news! And thanks too to Kathleen who shared this inspiring letter from Kurt Vonnegut below that she found on-line:

Dear Xavier High School, and Ms. Lockwood…:

I thank you for your friendly letters. You sure know how to cheer up a really old geezer (84) in his sunset years. I don’t make public appearances anymore because I now resemble nothing so much as an iguana.

What I had to say to you, moreover, would not take long, to wit: Practice any art, music singing dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.

Seriously! I mean starting right now, do art and do it for the rest of your lives. Draw a funny or nice picture of Ms. Lockwood, and give it to her. Dance home after school, and sing in the shower and on and on. Make a face in your mashed potatoes. Pretend you’re Count Dracula.

Here’s an assignment for tonight, and I hope Ms. Lockwood will flunk you if you don’t do it: Write a six line poem, about anything, but rhymed. No fair tennis without a net. Make it as good as you possibly can. But don’t tell anybody what you’re doing. Don’t show it or recite it to anybody, not even your girlfriend or parents or whatever, or Ms. Lockwood. OK?

Tear it up into teeny-weeny pieces, and discard them into widely separated trash receptacles. You will find that you have already been gloriously rewarded for your poem. You have experienced becoming, learned a lot more about what’s inside you, and you have made your soul grow.

God bless you all!

Kurt Vonnegut

He’s a wise man!
Dancing home…

Book Launch at the FogLit Festival

foglit2  Join me for the launch of my  new novel “Standing in the Whale’s Jaw” (Tightrope Books) at the opening ceremony of the FogLit Book Festival on October 3rd at 1:00 p.m. in the Saint John Free Public Library at Market Square. Drop by for a reading, signing and munchies. It’s free! Enter a draw to win a gift certificate from Element 5 Day Spa.  A portion of each book sold is being donated to WORLD VISION TRAUMA RECOVERY CENTERS for victims of child trafficking.  If you can’t make the launch, see the EVENTs page for a list of upcoming books signings.

Last time I participated in a book festival in this library, I was ‘piped in.’ A colorful bag piper– complete with kilt–serenaded the authors in a grand majestic parade through the doors and up the stairs. I can’t wait to see what they have in store this time. By the way, the FogLit Festival runs through the weekend and features free writing workshops and readings. Indigo is running the book table so lots of bookworm browsing to be done. There’s ghost stories, historical walks, music and, if you’re 19 or over, a wine tasting. Authors  include Beth Powning, David Adams Richards, Donna Morrissey and many, many more.  The writing workshops run the gamut from memoir, short fiction, poetry and, for the kids, comic books. Be sure to drop by.

See you there!


“Leveille has set her story in a bygone place and time so vividly evoked that the reader is transported to experience it
through the richly realized characters.” -Trudy Morgan-Cole, Author of That Forgetful Shore

“Nineteen thirties rural New Brunswick shines in this multi-layered, coming-of-age murder mystery. I hope we hear from Elsa Byrd and Lavinia Twigg again – they make a first-rate detective team.”     – Laurie Glenn Norris Author of Haunted Girl

Plotter or Pantser?

write7This week Shaun Smith invited me on Open Book Ontario.  He throws out a question on Fiction Craft to authors:

There’s an old question that nicely sums up the plotting challenge: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Meaning, do you plot out your fiction before you begin, or do you fly by the seat of your pants and plot as you write. This month in Fiction Craft, I asked a handful of authors to tell me how they tackle plotting.

The method of plotting a writer uses can be as unique as a fingerprint. Check out Fiction Craft to see how authors James Bartleman, Lauren B. Davis, Janet Gurtler, S.P. Hozy, Claire Mulligan, and Cathie Pelletier work. Oh yeah, and yours truly.

Happy Plotting!



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