"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Rediscovering Lost Loves ...

Lately, I've been re-discovering lost loves. You know: the simple things that make your soul sing.Things that give you peace...make you pause. Pleasures that don't require a lot of money or resources.
Perhaps it's the slower pace of the fall season. Or the reflective nature of getting older and the desire to live a life of greater meaning and better choices.

It's a timeline and journey that began with my brother's unexpected death. Since then, each month, year, each opportunity I can, I try to simplify and modify, so that I have fewer regrets and more memories worth cherishing.

Taking baby steps. The other day, while going through my vast music collection, I stumbled upon one of my former "loves".  A Norah Jones  CD. Her "Feels like home" feels like heaven!
Norah's music is soothing, sultry, transformative. It's like music therapy.

My passion for music has also inspired me recently to perform karaoke as a co-host of a local event.
(Incidentally, it's the same one that I initially bombed at. Remember?)

In September, I started writing commentary for a local magazine; which believe it or not, I found on Craigslist.
Adding to this list is a poetry collection (and a possible cookbook). I hope to have these projects completed by the end of this year.

The moral of the story here? The purpose of today's post?
In continuing my journey of re-discovering lost loves and pursuing new paths, the posting schedule at Pen and Prosper will change.

Effective November, 2019 (until further notice) I will update maybe once or twice a month.
During this time, I will be monitoring blog comments; the level of engagement; the number of page views; to determine our future journey here.

For in the words of Plato:"The unexamined life is not worth living."
Thanks for reading.

Your turn.

Thoughts? Any Norah Jones fans out there?
What lost loves are you re-discovering these days?
How do you feel about the new schedule?

Image credits: Pixabay.com
CD cover: Amazon.com

Friday, October 11, 2019

Food For Thought Friday* Motivational Quotes


If you love quotes, you'll love today's post. A collection of an array of philosophies, principles and words of wisdom from writers, leaders and thought influencers.

So, grab a cup of your favorite brew and let's begin...


"There is great power in letting go, and there is great freedom in moving on."
"Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value."

"Poor companions are like the buttons on an elevator. They will either take you up or take you down."
"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than an atom bomb."

"When things go wrong, don't go wrong with them."
"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."--Eleanor Roosevelt
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."--Dr. Seuss
"Why fit in, when you were born to stand out."--Dr. Seuss

"Being more is better than buying more."
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt.”
Charles M. Schulz
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
J.R.R. Tolkien
Thoughts? Your favorite quote or one you live by? Do tell.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Web Reads, Creative Leads, Reviews* The 3Rs Series
















One of my favorite things to score from the Dollar Tree Store are the movies.
Many times I'm pleasantly surprised and delighted with the vast selection and variety of genres available for just a buck. What I dig too, is that these often "undiscovered gems" may not be "box office hits" but provide great entertainment value, compelling stories, and ideas for future writing projects.


Based upon a true story, this is a psychological thriller that chronicles the life events of a nurse who accidentally hits a homeless man and the attempted cover up that unfolds.
Stuck, starring Russell Hornsby, Stephen Rea, and Mena Suvari is riveting, intriguing, well-crafted and unexpectedly humorous at times.
Be forewarned: this movie can be a bit graphic and there's a considerable amount of blood and violence. If you can stomach it, it will definitely be worth the view.
I give STUCK **** 4 stars out of 5 for the O.M.G. (oh my God) factor!
It will "stick" with you long after you've watched it.
Thoughts? Seen any good movies lately?
Image credit: Pixabay.com

Monday, September 23, 2019

How Karaoke Taught me to Be a Better Blogger!

It was a Friday night. And the joint was jumping!
My friends had been inviting me for months to join them in this night of fun, escape and expression (that they participate on a regular basis). And I finally decided to tag along.
A popular event, structured similar to a talent show: you can sing, do comedy or even recite poetry---if that's your thing.

When I arrived, the place was a bright yellow trendy cafe, filled with folks of all ages, sizes, shapes and colors.
Soul food was being served and a few tables were decorated with bottles of fine wine and champagne. The atmosphere was lively and the people were friendly.

Still unsure if this was my "scene" I figured, if nothing else, I could get some good writing material by observing the night's unfolding. Did I mention that I'm an introvert by nature?

After about an hour or two, (and encouragement by people at my table) I calmed my nerves and decided to jump in. I scoured the vast selections of songs in the big orange karaoke "hit list" book (ranging from the 1950's to the present). Donna Summers is always a good choice.
But, at the last minute I decided to do a song I had sung many times successfully at home in the shower, in my mirror, etc.

Before I got up to perform, I admit that I had been snickering all evening at my friends who, though very "entertaining," couldn't carry a note if it were in a suitcase! Of course, all in good fun. LOL 
I was convinced that I would do much better. I was wrong. I bombed!
But, in my own defense here, I chose the wrong song. And plus, the pace of the song was faster than I remembered. And I forgot some of the lyrics. And I should have had a drink. And "the dog ate my homework."
Well...you get the point, right?
Anyhow, when the rotation of performers came around again, I didn't even sign up. I figured I would go home and retreat to a safe place of anonymity. Maybe nobody would remember me.
All in all though, it was a great time that imparted some important lessons in sharing my "performance" with the public.

Here are a few take-aways that can be applied to writing and blogging:

  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Don't worry about always getting things "perfect." Perefection  Perfection often leads to procrastination. Sometimes it's more about the "connection" than the impression! Belting out that tune (albeit not perfect), and getting lost in the moment felt very liberating.
  • Feel the fear and do it anyway. Try a new genre; submit to a different market; seek speaking engagements in your area. There's no growth in always playing it safe. "If it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you."
  • Always keep your sense of humor. Laughter is good for the spirit and is reportedly therapeutic.
  • Stay humble. Don't let your ego get in the way of your excellence. Learn from others. Learn from your mistakes. 
  • Remember that practice makes perfect. The more you write, read and "perform," the better you become at your craft. Better writing leads to bigger platforms and greater reach.
  • Change your "routine" for greater success. Consider a new form of scenery. Take a nature walk.  If you always sit down to write at 6:00 a.m. why not try 6:00 p.m. to see what happens?
  • Keep singing!  Even amid editors' rejections. Through feast and famine cycles and lost clients.
Embrace the joy. Find the fun moments.
And never lose your "voice"!

Thanks for reading. Have a great week ahead. 
Thoughts? Karaoke comments here?


Image credits: Pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

10 Things to do Daily to Advance Your Writing Career

A full-time living from writing doesnt happen overnight. In the interim, we need to earn a living, help support our families and honor our ongoing obligations.
Even when life gets in the way, here are some simple things you can do daily to help keep up your creative momentum, promote your work and drive revenue writing opportunities

COUNT TO 10...!

See what's topical.
Watching the news, setting up Google alerts, reading the latest Twitter Moments… there are hundreds of ways of keeping up to date with whats happening in the world, and in the areas that interest you and are relevant for your career. The news is a perennial source of angles for article ideas for example, if youre a wellbeing journalist and a well-known celebrity discusses a fear of flying, that article on phobias you wanted to write is suddenly topical. Or if an event happens that mirrors an event in your latest novel, you now have a great excuse to pitch an article on that topic that will also help to promote your work. Remember, an angle explains to a magazine editor: Why should we write about this NOW.
Keep an eye on your social channels.
Be a good social citizen
make a point of following people back, responding to comments and sharing useful content. Dont forget to add a comment when you share things, to underline your own talent/expertise and add value to the conversation. Make a point of boosting people in your network that youd like to develop working relationships with too.

Always be subbing.
When it comes to submitting book proposals or stories and poems or ideas for articles and guest posts, let little and often be your mantra. Send out a few at a time; making a point of personalizing each message and carefully following all submission guidelines. (Some agents reject attachments, for example, while some prefer you to use their own online submission system.) That extra care will pay off in a higher rate of acceptances.

Keep an eye on your favorites.
That is, all the publishers, magazines and contacts who have published your work in the past. See what theyre up to, amplify their social and blog content, and look for opportunities to contact them again and cultivate your relationship further. Remember: its always easier to sell to people whove bought from you before, because of your existing track record.

Keep an eye on deadlines.
There are loads of competitions and submissions windows out there, any of which could lead to a profile-boosting acceptance or listing. Make sure you are on top of all the dates that matter to you, so you can prepare entries and submissions in good time.

Comment on posts and articles.
Make a point of contributing to conversations inspired by new posts on blogs and in forums on topics that relate to you and your work. Find the outlets where your target audiences are likely to live online, and start to develop a helpful online presence in discussions so you gradually get your name associated with the sort of subjects you too write about.

Jot things down.
Keep an eye open for ideas wherever you go. Scribble scraps of dialogues, funny thoughts, ideas for plot points, ideas for future projects anything that bubbles to the surface of your mind while youre out and about. Often the best ideas come when we least expect. so we have to be on hand to capture them any way we can with a notebook by your bed, or just recording thoughts into your phone.

Chase proposals and submissions.
Whenever you send off a proposal, whether youre pitching a book, a poem, or a guest post, set up an alert in your calendar to chase after a polite interval. Then, if youve heard nothing when the day comes round, you can send a friendly nudge to see if a decisions been made.
Chase payments.
Cashflow failure is the #1 reason that start-up businesses fail, and if you're going to be a writing business you need to step up to the credit controller part of the job. Again, make a note in your calendar when payments are due, and send polite reminders if they fall overdue.

Conclusion: Every day, in every way…
As you can see, even when youre very busy and cant write as often as youd like, you can at least make sure youre doing a few things every day to further your goal. Writing is as much a mindset as an activity, and once you get into the habit of inching every day towards that goal, in whatever way you can, youll find an abundance of ways to get there and more good things start happening for you and your career.

Dan Brotzel (Twitter handle: @brotzel_fiction) is co-author of a new comic novel,
Kitten on a Fatberg (Unbound). As a reader of this blog, you can

pre-order Kitten on a Fatberg for a 10% discount simply quote promo code KITTEN10

Image credits: Pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Motivational Quotes to Inspire, Enrich & Inform!

Are you seeking a clever intro to a personal essay?  A creative prompt that helps to break through writer's block?
The right words to capture a teachable moment?

Quotes are key. Quotes can educate, entertain and empower.

With this in mind, today I'll share a few here to move you forward, make you think and hopefully motivate you.
Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section.


"Your capacity to say no determines your capacity to say yes to greater things."
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
"He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber."
--PSALM 121:3
"One person can make a difference and everyone should try." 

"If you can not do great things, do smart things in a great way."
"Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value."
"If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission."
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna' get."

"Be like the birds--sing after every storm."

"Don't be frustrated by your inexperience--all green things inevitably grow."

"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atomic bombs."

"Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: "I am with you kid. Let's go."

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."

A penny for your thoughts.
Do you have a fave?

Thanks for reading.

Image credits: Jane Nannono

Thursday, September 5, 2019

6 Ways to Stand out in the Publishing Industry (without selling your soul)!

Shakespeare once said: “The world is a stage.” And for me, there’s no greater “display” of who we are than what we do. In fact, the Internet, social media, blogs and global relationships have served to amplify our voices and highlight our “performance.”

It seems that so many people today are trying to stand out and get noticed.
The competition is fierce. The stakes are high. The potential rewards are great.
So many are seeking their “15 minutes of fame”…a viral video, a book contract, a major endorsement, their “big break”-- that these “starry-eyed dreamers” will do just about anything to get discovered.

Unfortunately, not realizing that there is a good way and a bad way to stand out.
Don’t let it be you.
In my efforts to enhance and edify fellow writers, please allow me to share what I have learned in my many years in the publishing industry, that could perhaps enable others to go the distance with fewer detours.

Accordingly, here are 6 timely tips to stand out (and stay relevant) in the publishing industry without selling your soul:



Where do I begin? I’m not sure why it happens so often or if there is simply a decline in personal values, but so few people honor their words these days, that if YOU do, you’ll immediately stand out and impress. In my creative and corporate careers, I have worn many hats: senior editor; arts organization founder; office manager; instructor; (to name a few). I have dealt with folks of different creeds, colors, educational backgrounds, genders, levels, etc.
The ones that I choose to maintain ties and conduct business with repeatedly are those that can be counted on and trusted. Folks that have personal integrity. I would recommend the same for you.

Whether you are dealing with a famous celebrity that you are serving as a “ghost writer” for, or know some juicy gossip about a Facebook group friend, keep it to yourself. The world is smaller than you think. “Loose lips sink ships.”


The reason? First off, well… it lacks class. Secondly, you never know who might be in the position to help or befriend you in the future. Or a person's sphere of influence.  Are you with me here?
Some time ago, for example, I reached out to a very famous celebrity who had just launched a cookbook. Since I love cooking and was a fan of hers, I excitedly issued a brief email message requesting an interview for my blog. I must admit that her response gave me cause for pause. Her interaction was so cold, impersonal and ungrateful, (this chick wouldn’t  even agree to the interview without knowing my specific site stats). Adding insult to injury, she never thanked me for my initial interest and support. I later decided not to move forward with it. I also didn’t purchase any of her future books.
The moral of the story? Kindness doesn’t cost a thing. And fans are the reason celebrities (and successful writers) exist. Too many folks suffer from the "Big I little U syndrome."
As a point of reference here, I treat my yard maintenance guy with the same respect I show my attorney.
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

Also worth noting: if domestic diva Martha Stewart could find benefit in befriending bad-boy rapper Snoop Dogg, maybe we should all be more open to different creative alliances. "Fo' shizzle!"


Submit quality work consistently. Blog bodaciously. Honor deadlines. Strive to make a positive difference. Help others when you can. Believe me, your reputation in the publishing industry is just as important and relevant as the size of your social media following. Wouldn't you agree?


Don’t engage in word wars in public forums. Don’t burn bridges unnecessarily.
Resist the urge to “bad-mouth” a bad client through a detailed rant on your blog.
Take the "high road". There's less traffic.


Never lose yourself in your efforts to be liked and accepted by everyone else. Stand for something. Then stand firm. Recognize that no matter what you do and how hard you try, not every one will dig you or your work. And that’s okay.
As the Good book tells us: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

That’s my take here. Would love to hear yours.

Remember, you don’t have to be in the spotlight to shine!

Image credits: Pixabay.com