The Fine Line Between Teaching and Healing

October 30, 2015 – Words have the power to heal. In shamanic traditions, this is sometimes called “word doctoring.” It can refer to spirit-given words or phrases which the shaman transmits to the patient, or it can be a “healing story,” often associated with other shamanic work on a patient’s behalf. Story-telling, when it comes from the spirits, can also carry healing power for an audience. I believe this goes beyond “teaching” through story and into the realm of “healing” for those listeners who are ready to receive. Teaching happens on a mental level; while healing is much deeper, changing or affecting something in the “knowing” that we carry in our body. This is profound, and it can happen through story. This kind of experience has me wondering about the power of the written word. How many times has a short passage, or even a single phrase from a book, struck a chord with you and fundamentally changed your life? Is this an accident, or is there something we as author/healers can do to transform our books from works of teaching to works of healing? I think this is worth playing with. When someone comes to us requesting healing, we….

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The Right to Remain Silent: A Compassionate Writer’s Manifesto

October 22, 2015 – I’ve been thinking lately about spending less time on Facebook. Not that I don’t like my friends, but that I don’t like hearing quite so much about all that is dangerous or wrong in the world. This isn’t new with me. It started 30 years ago when I stopped listening to the radio, then the TV news. Over the last few years, I’ve stopped reading national print news, and last year I even canceled our local, community paper. It’s not that I want to stick my head in the sand. I am an activist in my own right. In the ’80′s, for example, I marched frequently for the ERA in Wyoming and Colorado. (That’s the Equal Rights Amendment, for those of you who have arrived on the planet more recently than I have. Its purpose was to specifically include women as citizens and human beings in the U.S. Constitution. It never passed, but it isn’t dead either, by the way, just sitting a closet awaiting final ratification to fall from a spider’s web or something.) No, it’s just that I know fear and reactivity to be contagious, and I don’t want to “catch” itanymore. Since we all….

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We Are Not Your Mother

October 14, 2015 – I began the process of searching for an editor several years ago while I was writing my book, Finding Eagle.  I was looking for someone who knew her stuff and would also respect the personal nature of my work. Along the way, I came across a postcard advertising two women offering professional editing services. They listed the usual reasons for hiring an editor rather than relying on friends or family to edit your work, and they expressed themselves pretty well. They were experienced, sharp, and pleasant. Then I flipped the card over and beneath their names was the tagline, “We are not your mother!” I laughed out loud. The quickest way to drive any editor to distraction is to have a friend or relative do the final edit of your book. Here are a few of the reasons why: Skill – While well-meaning and well-educated, not all friends have the knowledge, detail-orientation, and drive for perfection you will receive from a professional editor. Objectivity – When it comes to content, friends and relatives tend to look at your work through the lens of their relationship with you (OMG! When was THIS happening?”) rather than an objective assessment of….

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Organizing the Ineffable

October 9, 2015 – From the first few weeks of learning to take a shamanic journey, I knew my journey experiences were destined to become a book. This was not because I had a conscious story or message to bring to the world, but because the journeys were there, in my notebook, calling to me and to the few close friends with whom I shared them. I struggled for almost eight years to put these journeys into a publishable form, and I learned a few things along the way about organizing the ineffable. Channeled or spirit-given information needs a context. Whenever we journey for healing or wisdom, or ask for guidance from compassionate spirits, everything we see, hear, or feel – no matter how clear or puzzling it at first appears – has a context for us. It is directly related to the spoken (or unspoken) intention of our journey. For the reader to begin to appreciate the power of our experience, we have to provide a context for them as well. To the uninitiated reader, a journey often does not stand well alone. It has to include our story. As in all writing, the more of ourselves we put into….

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The Comma: “When in Doubt, Leave it Out” (Don’t We Wish!)

October 3, 2015 – When it comes to punctuation, the most aggravating mark in the English language has got to be the comma. It is so misused, I would say at least 80% of my “punctuation time” with the average manuscript is spent editing commas. Authors and editors alike would be ecstatic if only we really could just leave them all out…. This situation does bring with it a hidden gift for you as an author – just by paying attention to a few simple rules, you can easily and significantly improve the professional quality of your own work. Here’s how: Give commas the inside track.  The most common mistake I see with commas (and their cousin, the period) is placing them outside quotation marks. Whenever a comma is used with a word or phrase in quotes, the comma belongs before the ending quote mark. For example: My favorite words are “peace,” “love,” and “happiness.” Take a breath when changing speakers. When a direct quote is used, or a character in a novel speaks, a comma should precede the quote. This is like taking a breath before a new person speaks. For example: Shakespeare wrote, “To be or not to be….” The boy….

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Congratulations, It’s a Book!

September 27, 2015 – It’s funny, how our books are like children to us. So often, writing a book is likened to the process of giving birth (a highly romanticized notion of birthing, too, if you ask me…) and publishing is like sending our innocent youth out into the world to make or break themselves. Author John Locke sees each of his novels as “employees,” earning as much revenue as they can, but then he’s a salesman by career, perhaps bringing his children into the family business? Mine are more like teenagers, alternately shy and recalcitrant, idealistic, and entirely independent of anything I might want to do with them. The first time I formatted an e-book for a client to be published on the Amazon Kindle, I sent a proof off to him and waited for his response. In short order, I heard back: Oh my GOD! This is freakin’ beautiful! Just beautiful! I like! And I realized I was present at a birth. I love my job! In this era of e-books and print-on-demand, it’s easy to feel as if our children are slipping away from us. As an author publishing my first book, I paid excruciating detail to the visual design….

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Publishing Your Way

September 23, 2015 – When we think about publishing our written work, I believe for most of us, our thoughts still turn first to the old-school vision of mainstream publishing. After all, it’s been around all of our lives. But with the advent of print-on-demand publishers, on-line book selling, and the current proliferation of e-book marketing, mainstream publishing may not be an author’s best option anymore. Just as writing is about expressing your own truth, I believe publishing is now about finding the best way to bring your writing into the world so it is visible to those who may be interested. To me, this means aligning your mode of publication with your intended audience, the purpose of your written work, and your own creative style. For example, if you earn your living as a speaker or trainer, you may want to publish your book through a print-on-demand (POD) publisher, sell print copies at all of your events, and make print and e-book versions available from your website and/or Amazon.com. If you are a web developer, you may want to skip the print book altogether and sell the e-book through your website and possibly Amazon. Or, you might give away the….

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Jump Start your Newsletter

September 18, 2015 – If you like to write, a newsletter can be an effective way of staying in touch with customers,  colleagues, or those who are simply interested in you and your work. Having a group of readers just waiting for your newsletter to come out each month can be a boon to any business or practice, giving you what marketers call “top-of-mind awareness,” meaning that when your readers are ready to buy, they will think of you first. The downside to a newsletter is that you have a group of readers just waiting for your newsletter to come out each month… after… month… When you lose your momentum or just can’t free up the time for another issue (already?!), and you find yourself watching your monthly become a semi-annual, what do you do? If your newsletter is a tool you know you want to keep, but you’ve just lost your oomph, it might be helpful to take a fresh look at your intention. What is your life work? What is your unique knowledge, perspective, or combination of skills you have to give to your readers? Think of your readers as interested students of your special art. Then step into….

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Sometimes It’s the Tool

September 14, 2015 – As writers, we occasionally find ourselves stuck in our writing. I don’t mean for a morning or a weekend. I mean stuck, stuck. We may go for months without getting back to our book, or writing a blog post, or putting out a newsletter. We may ask ourselves what’s wrong with us, where has our creativity gone? Or we may simply shrug it off as being too busy with other parts of life. A few years ago, I emerged from just such a stretch. (It happens to the best of us.) My newsletter had stopped ‘writing itself,’ and my blog posts rarely made it from idea to internet. I had lost my creative spark. After several months of this, I happened to pay a visit to a bit of sacred land near my home. It is a place where Native American people would gather in the past to hold their inter-tribal council meetings. When I walk among the cedars, I can still feel the presence of the elders and their wisdom there. This particular day, I sat on a log just outside their circle. I glanced down, and something on the ground caught my eye. I could see it was….

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