Looking for that special someone?

Only those who possess a wicked sense of humor and a sense of the absurd need apply.

Do you have the following qualifications?

Willing to take field trips (may include stalking) to observe and interview police, hookers, military personnel, farmers, morticians, mobsters, mechanics, Walmart greeters, nuns and prison guards—if you own a pair of night vision goggles even better.

Please note: Some of the above personnel may take exception to inquiring minds and we would therefore venture into Googleland instead. After all, our partnership would be hindered by broken bones or head injuries.

Do you enjoy leisurely lunches, brainstorming ways to dispose of dead bodies, discussing angst, heartbreak, emotional baggage and new and improved ways where a couple could make love? At the same time not feel intimidated or embarrassed if by chance the luncheon conversation is overheard by bystanders?

Deal Breakers:

This is not the partnership for you if:

  1. You won’t share your stash of chocolate.
  2. You suffer indigestion while sharing a bottle of whine with a side order of well done rant.
  3. You take yourself (or a potential partner) too seriously.

If there was such a thing as Match-Critique-Partner.com the above could be an ad for a writer in search of their vocational partner.

For a writer, finding a critique partner could be as daunting as finding a spouse, throw in the requirements that your critique partner must be creative, critical yet compassionate, be as passionate about your work as they are of theirs, be on call twenty-four-seven for a shoulder when bad reviews or rejections come in, be non-judgmental, understand your quirks and accept your swinging lifestyle (I’m talking about mood swings of course).

I’ve been fortunate to partner with two writers; Nancy Lauzon and Denise Agnew. We brainstorm, laugh and cry together on our writing journey.

Although we differ in our outward personalities—Nancy and Denise being the extroverts and me being the shy, demure and very serious one (admittedly, tongue is planted firmly inside cheek)—our differences have strengthened our friendship and working relationship.

Our writing strengths and weaknesses complement each other, helping us to learn from one another with the goal of producing a stronger work of fiction. Our similarities—love of family, books, laughter and chocolate are the added elements that have turned our working relationship into a strong friendship.

The main ingredient when working with a critique partner is to have one-hundred-percent trust in each other and give and take suggestions and opinions with respect for your partner’s work.

There are times when we don’t take each other’s advice, and that’s okay, as with any partnership you’re not always going to agree with everything.

Every writer has their own unique voice and perceives the world differently, and that’s a good thing—vive la difference.

A strong critique partnership embraces those differences and makes them work for the team.

The literary world can be harsh and ruthless and can wreak havoc on your writing confidence at times. A writer not only has to be her harshest critic when looking at her work objectively before submitting, but needs to believe and know that her critique partner has her back and is assured that her partner wouldn’t let her send a manuscript out that isn’t polished enough for submission.

A critique partner is someone who is willing to slay the “I suck at this” dragon when it rears its ugly head.

As with writing, the main thing is to enjoy your partnership and having someone who understands the journey, celebrate each step of the way, even something like finishing a chapter or writing a blog post.

“The desire to write grows with writing.” ~~Desiderius Erasmus

Creativity unleashes the child in the adult.

I recently returned from a week’s writing retreat with my critique partner, Nancy. This is something we’ve done for the past few years, and not only is it a week guaranteed to be filled with laughter, mischief, naps, swimming, walking, and great wining and dining, it is also a time to get deep into creativity mode without distractions.

The obligatory mani/pedi day was enjoyed before heading to the retreat.1A


We also took an afternoon to visit the local attractions such as The Collingwood Olive Oil Company. 


This was nirvana for the foodie in me.

The Olive Oil Connoisseur who hosted our tasting was entertaining and had some great recommendations. We exchanged recipe ideas, and I walked out with three bottles of heavenly scented olive oil, balsamic vinegar, body lotion and lip balm.


View from the resort’s balcony after a rainfall.


Whether your creative passion is writing, painting, music, cooking, daydreaming, sewing, knitting, olive oil tastings, wine tastings or coming up with new ways to play Boggle, it doesn’t matter, as long as when in the zone, you are enjoying it, and it fulfills a goal you’ve always wanted to accomplish.


Three simple words that pack a powerful, exhilarating punch. Do it professionally, as a hobby, for family and friends only or just for yourself. The key here is to: Follow it. Do it. Enjoy it.

Enjoy a creativity retreat at home if it’s not possible to travel. Disconnect from the online world, from housework (dust bunnies are patient, they can wait to be tended to), make some meals ahead of time (that’s what slow cookers were invented for) stock up on supplies—chocolate, wine, tea, coffee, whatever your pleasure. Fish out the comfy clothes and enjoy a day, a few days or a week of creative endeavors.




On our retreat we wrote most of the day, and at times, when we were on a roll, we would work late into the evening. We brainstormed plots, character traits, and talked about writing.

We also enjoyed other creative outlets when taking a break while listening to music, watching a movie, or catching up on a television program (Big Bang Theory back to back episodes were on), and still utilized this time to create.

Nancy enjoyed knitting (and she’s real good at it). When I knit, everything turns into a scarf, and I don’t have a clue how to follow a pattern.

I do love to color, and for my birthday my son gifted me an adult coloring book, and colored pencils.

One of my completed coloring projects. I'd love to get this on a T-shirt somehow. Something to think about.
One of my completed coloring projects. I’d love to get this on a T-shirt somehow.


Along with a wonderful imagination, and the passion to create, creative people tend to have self-doubt which interferes with motivation. Writers spend a lot of time in their own heads, and at times a nagging voice telling them it can be impossible to achieve what they are striving to accomplish. Hashing it out on paper, or with a friend or family member stifles the negativity. It will disappear as quickly as it appeared.


Be the bad ass creator you were not motivated to be yesterday.

Go Kick a lot of creative butt.

I got this.

YOU got this!




Work-In-Progress Blog Hop – What’s Your Next Big Thing?



I would like to thank author Laurie Baxter for tagging me in the What’s Your Next Big Thing? blog hop.

Here are Laurie’s questions for me:

What is the working title of your book?

I’m putting the finishing touches on ONCE UPON A KISS, a contemporary romantic comedy with a mistaken identity theme, and a little bit of white magic.

Where did the idea come from for this book?

I love snow globes. I have an embarrassing collection of them, from holiday themed ones to Christopher Robin and Winnie the Poo to the Phantom of the Opera, and ones that I collect during my travels, portraying a landmark of that particular city.

There is something soothing about looking at a snow globe, after turning it upside down. There is also something magical about one particular snow globe that my brother-in-law gifted me many years ago.

I have one particular snow globe that some would say has a paranormal element—I’m still not 100% convinced, but one never knows. This snow globe sparked part of the story for ONCE UPON A KISS.

(If you’d like to read about the snow globe that may have sent messages to me and my family from Heaven, click here to read the blog post where I talk about it).

What genre do your books fall under?

Contemporary romance.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This is a hard question to answer because when I create the characters I have a clear vision of what they look like, sound like, their expressions and even body language, and they usually don’t resemble actors. At this point, I can’t assign a particular actor to the characters as I want the reader to have their own vision of who they are. However, if Hollywood ever came knocking, I would sit down with the big guns and give them my vision and go through the tough process of meeting great looking Hollywood actors—tough job, I’m guessing. 😉

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Will the interaction with an eccentric young woman spouting ambiguous sentiments, cement Jason and Sabrina’s shared belief that there is no such thing as true love, trust and happy-ever-after?

(I have to say, putting 100K words into one sentence is harder than writing the whole book.)

Will your book(s) be self-published or represented by an agency?

After careful consideration and exploring other avenues, I have decided to independently publish.



* * *

Now it’s my turn to nominate fellow authors to share their next big thing.

I nominate: Jasmine Aziz, Denise Agnew and Alexandra Isobel




Live, love, dream.

Is the tag-line for the Creative Pen Coaching website where multi-published author and certified creativity coach Denise Agnew coaches creative people to not only create outside the box, she also assists writers who face writer’s block and other creativity challenges.




Please welcome Denise Agnew as she answers a few questions that can be applied to any form of creativity, be it; writing, music, art, dancing or DIY crafts.

Selena: Is creativity something that can be taught?

Denise: I think everyone is creative, but many people believe they’re not for one reason or the other, or they’ve closed off their ability to create based on certain belief systems and experiences they may have had as a child. In any case, there are many different theories. My personal belief is there are certain people who have a drive to create that is stronger than others and that gives them the extra boost to pursue whatever creative endeavor most appeals to them. Regenerating creativity lost can be taught if the individual is willing.

Selena: What is something a creative person can say to themselves if they are feeling a resistance or anxiety about unleashing their creativity?

Denise: People are very individual. What will work varies from person to person. One trick people can try is to counter the lies their mind tells them about themselves and create a dialog.

Example: “People will hate what I create” and counter with “Some people will love what I create” or “People will love what I create.” They’re countering something they don’t know is true (could be an outright lie) and replacing it with a reasonable question/truth. Again, this isn’t the only method people might need to try. Usually people’s resistance to unleashing their creativity is complex and a coach will need to get in the weeds with the client to determine what’s really behind the resistance.




Selena: Do you think creativity involves putting your heart and soul into a piece of creative work? Or is it a matter of letting one’s mind flow freely?

Denise: Certainly both! I do think there are projects that just fly out of the person creating them and they’re less exhausting than other projects. Every project/endeavor has its own personality and there will be different challenges with each. Some creators need an outline or plan in order for their creativity to flow while others find that too constraining and just need to let their minds flow freely.

Selena: As a creativity coach, what do you recommend writers and anyone who wants a creative outlet do to keep themselves motivated and interested in their projects?

Denise: Create for your satisfaction first. Too much time obsessing with what other people may or may not think of what you’re doing or looking for outside validation can strangle creativity and make it impossible to move forward with a project. Creating has to come from personal enjoyment and a willingness to appease your own creative drive first. Ask yourself what it is that you love about acting, painting, dancing, writing, etc.? That’s what matters. Create meaning from the inside out rather than relying on outside validation. Outside validation isn’t a guarantee.




Selena: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given with regard to creativity?

Denise: Get out of your own way. Create with self-satisfaction in mind and finding personal meaning within that creation.

Selena: What is the worse piece of advice you’ve been given with regard to creativity?

Denise: Create what the market wants.

Selena: Why did you decide to coach?

Denise: I felt that I have a somewhat unique approach to creativity and I wanted to assist people who are feeling trapped in their own creativity challenges.


“Creation is an act of faith. There’s no guarantee that anyone will appreciate, admire, read, watch, enjoy or otherwise note your work. There’s only the guarantee that you are creating and that it has meaning to you. Create with your satisfaction first and all other considerations second.”~Denise Agnew~


Denise A. Agnew, owner of Creative Pen Coaching based in Sierra Vista, Arizona, brings over twenty years in the publishing industry into her creativity coaching. Denise is the award-winning author of over sixty novels in a variety of sub-genres of romance including; historical, suspense, contemporary, fantasy, paranormal and erotic romance.

Denise has encountered many of the same challenges every creative individual has at one time or another, and this makes her uniquely qualified to understand creative barriers and how to escape them.

Utilizing her training, Denise helps individual excavate their way to the truth behind their creative challenges. She believes thinking outside the box assists creative people in finding new excitement, meaning, and fulfillment.

She offers a variety of coaching packages, group coaching and workshops for every level of creative experience and need.

For more information, please visit Denise’s website: Creative Pen Coaching.

“An artistic endeavor requires that we trust ourselves long enough to create. If we create with the attitude that it’s recess, not only is it fun but it may be a wonderful result. Trust in the fun.” ~Denise Agnew~




Welcome Indie Writer Allen Schatz & A coupon offer for his debut novel


Game 7: Dead Ball – in PRINT!

Indie Writer Allen Schatz is pleased to announce the launch of the print version of his debut novel!

The eBook version has been rated 4- & 5-stars at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and more…

“Allen Schatz, in his first novel, has proven a welcome newcomer to an overcrowded thriller market sadly diluted with average ho-hum fare… I would highly recommend this book to any thriller fan who is tired of the same old mediocre drivel that is plaguing our bookshelves… Schatz has proven he belongs in the writing game…”

“You might expect a mystery involving a baseball umpire in the World Series to center on fixing games. Schatz happily has chosen to go in a less obvious direction… Game 7 has a huge cast of characters – it is to Schatz’s credit as a writer that they’re reasonably easy to keep straight… If you like baseball and thrillers, Game 7: Dead Ball is a must read…”

“Simply put, it’s a fun, entertaining book that I would recommend for anyone’s summer reading list.”

Order your copy of the book beginning July 1 at: https://www.createspace.com/3619727

Additional sales outlets, including Amazon.com, will follow in the coming weeks.

For all the latest news visit www.allenschatz.com – you can also follow Allen on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AllenSchatzWriting or on Twitter (@raschatz).

Click here to read Allen’s Interview, he shares a recipe and gives blog commentators a coupon for his book….

Continue reading Welcome Indie Writer Allen Schatz & A coupon offer for his debut novel