Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed . ~ 2 Timothy 2:15

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Got 5 minutes?

Sitting at a computer all day is not good for your health. Not only do positive ions from the electronics that are a necessary part of your job negatively affect your health ("What Are Negative and Positive Ions?"), but, if you're like me, you don't take time to get the physical exercise your body, mind, and spirit need to work at their best.

Exercise is like oil to a machine. Without the essential lubricant, the machine won't run properly and will eventually burn out.

Now, I love to walk. But living where I do - in the western Pennsylvania countryside - winter, with all its storms and ice - presents a problem. At this writing, the driveway is a sheet of ice. If snow comes along and covers it, you'd think I'd get more traction. But snow atop ice is a false security. I know from experience. The blue sky and sunshine lured me out last week. I bundled up, pulled on my merino socks, laced on my hiking boots, and off on a 1-mile walk I went.

I got in my mile, but not without falling on the ice and having to turn back halfway out the lane when I encountered an impassible-without-ice-crampons ice field.

So I use my elliptical  machine and work out to my Leslie Sansone Walk-at-Home DVDs. I shoot for three workouts per week.

But my favorite form of exercise (besides hiking) is swimming. Although I'm scared to death of deep water.

Last week I decided to take advantage of the Punxsutawney Area Middle School swimming pool and bought a month's pass. Saturday morning I went for my first swim, and the swimming instructor worked with me during the adult lap swim time. I learned a lot and determined by the end of 2015, I will be swimming laps - in the deep water.

Tuesday I went to my first water aerobics class. I loved it! This is exercise? I thought. I'd hoped to go today, but there's snow on the way - in the form of squalls - and bitterly cold weather. Same for Saturday. (My plan is to swim Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and do the walk videos and use my elliptical machine the other days of the week.)

So what's a winter-weary writer supposed to do?

Then yesterday a writer friend posted a 5-minute walk video clip by Leslie Sansone on Facebook. I included it here, because this is the perfect break from writing--and it will keep the muse fired up.

When she was taking courses for her master's degree in education, my daughter researched and wrote a paper about the importance of physical activity to the mental process.

"Periods of inactivity longer than 20  minutes cause a drop in glucose and oxygen in the brain, resulting in a reduced ability to focus on, understand, and remember new information," she wrote.

"Movement has been shown to strengthen learning, improve memory and retrieval, and enhance motivation and morale. Movement increases the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body, including the brain, which is needed to 'feed and create connections between neurons,'" she wrote.

"Exercise and movement also increase the number of neurotransmitters in the brain, which helps to maintain balance and the ability to focus attention and control impulses." (MTH note: impulses like wanting to eat carbs all day)

In light of this, it seems to me we writers need to work brief exercise stints into our days - to keep the blood flowing, maintain our focus - and keep the muse dancing.

To get the positive effects of negative ions, if you live in the country, take a walk.

Can't get outside? Don't have time for a one-mile walk? Then put on your sneakers and follow the five-minute walking video clip I put at the top right of this page several times a day. I'm going to do it four times a day: before breakfast, mid-morning, mid-afternoon, and before supper. That will give me a total of 20 minutes. So I get my exercise in for the day and keep my creative juices flowing at the same time!

Happy walking!

Keep writing,

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Looking for a writing mentor?

Image courtesy of
When Jerry B. Jenkins announced he was shutting down the Christian Writers Guild last fall, my heart broke. I'd been a mentor for various CWG courses for nearly a decade and was on the team that rewrote two of the courses. I made many friends through the Guild and was privileged to mentor quite a number of fine budding writers.

It was a dream come true - combining my two passions, writing and teaching.

Jerry, however, has a heart for writers and wants to continue to help them hone their craft and learn about the ever-changing publishing industry. To this end, he is offering writer resources on his website. Rather than tell you what Jerry said, read "An Important Update" for yourself. Visit him at to see what he's offering to writers. Check out his writers blog, Writing on Writing.

Right now things are in the planning stages, but I look for exciting things in the coming months. I know how Jerry feels about helping writers. I feel the same way.

That's why I decided to branch out and offer my services as a writing mentor. 

(The following information can be accessed on the mentoring page of this blog. Click here to access.)

One of my greatest joys as an author is mentoring other writers—coming alongside them and helping them take their ability to the next level and beyond, and helping them to clarify the call, bringing into sharper focus what direction to take with their writing.

Due to my schedule and because I invest significant time and energy in each of my writing students/clients, I work with a limited number of writers and am selective about whom I choose to work with.

I’d love to know more about your project. If you're looking for someone with experience in writing and publishing to come alongside you and help you with your work-in-progress, please email me the following information:

* A short synopsis of your book, including its theme, subject matter if nonfiction or storyline if fiction
* Word count of manuscript (How much of this is written?)
* What kind of help you feel you need (see list below)
* When you’d need the work completed

I’ll let you know if I’m interested and available. If I am, I can give you a quote for the entire project or charge you by the hour at my present rate of $35 an hour.

Please understand I’m more of a mentor than an editor.  What’s the difference?

An editor focuses on the manuscript to make it the best it can be. A mentor focuses on you, the writer, helping you to become the best writer you can be. 

As your mentor, I’ll do more than proofread and edit your manuscript. I’ll show you what’s wrong, why, and how to correct it. I’ll show you not only what areas need improvement, but also what your areas of strength are. You’ll do the major revisions then send them to me.

Over the decade I was a mentor for the Christian Writers Guild, I watched students blossom not only in skill but also in self-confidence.

“You’ve taught me so much,” said one of my Apprentice students. “I came to CWG with some vague ideas about wanting to write, but now—after taking these two courses and having you as my mentor—I have a very clear direction of where I want to go with my writing. The words ‘thank you’ can’t convey the gratitude that I feel for the time and energy you’ve given as my mentor.”

“Michele was an amazing mentor! I loved her encouragement and communication style.”

“Thank you for your thorough feedback. I’ve read about many of the things that you referred to—strong transitions, showing versus telling, specific verbs, and avoiding clich├ęs—but having you apply them to my writing is exactly what I need so that I can internalize these important aspects of writing.”

If you aren’t looking for a mentor and want only an editor, I can do that for you, also. But know that, although I will work to help you make your manuscript the best it can be, my heart will always be in how I can help you become the best writer you can be.

I look forward to hearing from you.



During a THOROUGH EDIT, I focus on the following:

* Mechanics, including typos, grammar, spelling, punctuation
* Tone
* Flow
* Dialogue
* Word choice
* Tense
* Point-of-view
* Consistency
* Sentence structure
* Clarity
* Tightening, trimming

As a MENTOR, I also look closely at your CONTENT and TECHNIQUE, pinpointing areas of weakness and suggesting ways to correct and improve them, as well as highlighting your strengths as a writer. We’ll work chapter by chapter, with you submitting your revisions to me (the fee includes one revision per chapter). Each writer had a unique style, tone, and voice. Far be it from me to mess with that (except to help you strengthen them).