Monday, January 30, 2023

Walking with the Spiritual but not Religious - by Gil W. Stafford


Click cover for amazon link

Walking with the Spiritual but not Religious takes a fresh look at being a spiritual companion for those who identify as something other than religious—SBNR, Nones, not religious, agnostics, atheists, people who have experienced something unexplainable, and those who have encountered the paranormal (religious or otherwise). 

The book is for anyone who has left a religious tradition but still longs for a spiritual path. It is also for anyone— religious or not—called to be a spiritual companion for the not religious. 

In this book, you’ll discover: 

 -just how “normal” the paranormal actually is -meditation, contemplation, and other “spiritual” practices
 -how to craft meaningful life-cycle rituals
 -creating spiritual community that heals rather than hurts

Catherine Stafford, EdD, professional educator for thirty-eight years as an elementary teacher, college professor, and finally a public-school superintendent. In 2012, she stepped off the public-school trail onto a new path, which lead her into the forests, fields, waterways, and sometimes deserts of interfaith spiritual exploration and companioning. All along these trails and paths wisdom listening has been her practice. 

 Gil Stafford, PhD, DMin, Episcopal priest and former Canon Theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona. Stafford was the President of Grand Canyon University, previously the university’s baseball coach. He is the author of 3 other books; Wisdom Walking: Pilgrimage as a Way of Life and When Leadership and Spiritual Direction Meet: Reflections and Stories for Congregational Life, and Meditations on Blue Jesus: Listening to the Disabled God. Life is a pilgrimage and Stafford has taken many, including walking Ireland coast-to-coast.

Monday, January 23, 2023

Seasonal Writing Patterns - by Kathleen Cook

Do you orient toward the various seasonal shifts in your writing patterns? I do! Now that the leaves have all fallen and thoughts turn to Christmas, I take a notepad and pen and curl up near the fire on the comfy couch. While most of my writing is done on a PC or laptop, pen and paper seem to dominate my winter prose. I can lie on the couch with a throw blanket and a cup of cocoa, and look out the window at the chipmunks to find inspiration. The south facing window with its soothingly warm sun is perfect in winter, and chipmunks, with antics that remind me of children playing in snow, trigger my imagination as well as anything on television.

Where do you write best? Do you have a favorite spot? Does it change with the seasons? Try varying your writing spots. Revisit those spots in different months and at different times, to discover when they can serve as your productive hot spots. You may find that a chair with a north-facing window is far more comfortable in summer than in winter. You may also find that the light of a west window is perfect in the morning but too harsh in the afternoon. Mixing up your writing places can add zest to your writing. Being in the same spot day in and day out is like eating the same meal every day. It gets boring, and that boredom shows in your writing.

Come spring, I'll switch to my computer upstairs, where I can witness the new buds just starting to burst forth on the peach trees in the backyard. From that location, I can see groundhogs scurry in the distance. In summer, I'll shift to the other side of the house with the northern exposure and a shade tree, where a cool iced tea and a chair with breathable fabric bring comfort on a hot day.

In early autumn, just as the leaves start to change, I'll move again to the south side with my laptop, but this time, I'll choose the room with a view of the flaming redbud tree. It takes my breath away, and for some reason, all of my favorite books have started their first chapters in that room. (And yes, my books DO write themselves! All I need is the inspiration of my surroundings!) 

If you really can't switch rooms with the seasons, switch up your décor. I know a friend who writes on her computer in her bedroom, but with every season she changes her bedspread and the flowers on her window. It changes her mood and uplifts her spirits. While it's possible to write while in the depths of the doldrums, you usually do a better job when your spirits rise. Try switching out the items on your computer desk, too. If you usually keep a pen handy, try a different color for every month. If you have a desk lamp, switch out the shade every few months. Or put a new stuffed animal out to make you smile. 

I guess what it all boils down to is that monotony can dampen your creativity. When you change the scene in which you write your novels, either by changing rooms or by changing the room you're writing in, you drive a stake into that monotony and shakeup your routine. You gain a different perspective. You may see things in a new light, and that's the best kind of light to write by no matter where you are! Happy Seasons! 

Kathleen Cook is a retired editor and the author of more than twenty books. A former copy writer/editor for Demand Studios, she also served as the Fictional Religion Editor for the ODP (Open Directory Project) in the internet’s early days. She is currently the Arizona Authors Association Editor as well as the website administrator.  

Monday, January 16, 2023

Join a Write-In to Meet Other Writers and Boost Your Productivity - by Janet Alcorn

 Writing is solitary work. We labor over our stories alone in our offices or, since this is Arizona, on our patios. Maybe we make time to meet up with other authors once a month for a workshop, but mostly we toil away on our own. That’s fine, but what if we could meet up with other writers, virtually or in person, and just… write together? Well, we can! Getting together to write is called a write-in, and since it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), write-ins are happening all over the world. In fact, I host one every week on Saturdays, and you can join! Details are at the end of this article, but first, let’s talk about why you might want to join a write-in.

4 Reasons to Join a Write-In

Boost your productivity.
People who write books about building healthy habits usually offer at least two pieces of advice: schedule time for your new activity and find someone to do it with. You want to exercise? Put gym time on your calendar and find a buddy to go with you. We’ll bail on ourselves, but we’ll think twice before we bail on someone else. That’s how write-ins work. The meeting is on my calendar, and people are expecting me to show up, so I do. And when I’m there, I write. No excuses, and no scrolling social media. Everyone else is writing, so I do too.

Meet other writers.
Other writers “get” us in ways normal people don’t. When you tell another writer your character told you she was gay while you were in the shower (yes, this actually happened to me), they smile along and share their stories of characters who wouldn’t stay in their author-assigned boxes. When you tell a normal person such a thing, they back away slowly and lose your number.

Find support and encouragement.
Other writers can be a huge source of support, especially when you’re struggling. Other writers can talk you down after you get a bad review or your 247th rejection. They can celebrate your successes with you and remind you that you and your work have value. They can understand your frustrations and laugh with you about the absurdities and frustrations of this business.

Make friends.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, American adults are more isolated than ever; in a recent survey, 49% reported they had three or fewer friends, and 12% said they had no close friends (see Friendship Study). Joining a write-in could help you make friends AND get writing done. What’s not to love?

Where Can I Find a Write-In?

Thanks to videoconferencing, anyone can join a write-in from anywhere in the world as long as they have a decent internet connection. In-person write-ins are also resuming in many communities. Here are a few places to find a write-in:

1. Your city’s NaNoWriMo group. Visit, create an account, and under Community, select Find a Region. Arizona NaNo regions include Flagstaff, Tucson, East Valley, Patagonia, Phoenix, Prescott, Yuma, and Elsewhere. Some NaNo groups are resuming in-person write-ins this year, and many do virtual write-ins as well.

2. Other local writing groups. To find them, search Facebook or or check with your local public library. 

3. Professional associations. Sisters in Crime ( offers several write-ins per day throughout NaNoWriMo and occasionally during the rest of the year. Check with your favorite association to see what’s available. 

4. Online writing communities. Some writing instructors have created online communities for their students, and some of those communities include write-ins. For example, I take classes from Margie Lawson ( and some of her students and instructors host write-ins—including (drum roll please)—me!

How to Join My Write-In

I host a write-in through every Saturday morning from 7-8 AM with an optional social time from 6:30-7:00 (No, “AM” is not a misprint, and yes, a copious amount of caffeine is involved). There are three other write-ins available if you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed early on a Saturday. To join any of them:

1. Go to and sign up for an account. It’s free, and all you need is an email and a password.
 3. Click Add to Cart (don’t worry—it’s still free)
 4. Click either View Cart or Go to Checkout
 5. Click Place Order

You’ll get the Zoom links for all LWA write-ins, including mine, on the next screen and in your email. You can also access the classroom forums to chat with other writers. I don’t get any kind of compensation for either referring you to LWA or hosting the write-ins. 

I’m also willing to host a separate write-in for Arizona Authors Association members. If you’re interested, shoot me an email (, and we’ll get something scheduled.

Happy writing! 

Janet is a librarian, published short story author, and aspiring novelist. She writes mostly suspense and horror with the occasional foray into other genres. Learn more about Janet and her writing at:

Monday, January 2, 2023

Energizing Your Marketing &Technical Strategies by Jeanne Burrows-Johnson


In my last article, I discussed operational organization for authors and artists with focus on our physical environment, including office contents and their arrangement, assessment of hardware and electronic gadgets, evaluation and updating of relevant software, and the backing up of files and folders. Today I’ll offer an overview of organizing books and other reference materials, as well as files and folders and the documents within them.


I have found that the key to optimizing organization of the many aspects of our daily operations lies in consistent review. Depending on your methods, simple cleaning can provide opportunities for determining whether all that greets your eyes is worthy of retention. One category of review that requires my regular attention is examination of the shelves of books that reside in four rooms of my home. While that may sound as if I possess a massive number of bookcases, that is not the case; I simply like to position the varied works where they will be most accessible.

Living in Hawaiʻi for twenty-five years, I had the sad experience of having to discard countless books due to the infestation of mold and mildew. In addition, when preparing to move back to the mainland in mid-life, I realized that many of my reading materials were no longer relevant to either my recreational taste or required professional reading. At the end of the life of each collection of books, I have given items to friends and colleagues who would enjoy and benefit from them. At one point, my husband and I realized we had far too many cookbooks. Professionally, for both fiction and nonfiction projects, I’ve found it easier to research food and recipes on-line than to go through my library. In this case, I again checked with friends and found new homes for books I no longer needed. Interestingly, these people have sometimes returned the gift of recipes by providing ones for visitors to my author website!

At the onset of each project I author, I gather new and used reference materials, often relevant foreign language and multicultural resources. With a degree in American history and experience as a teaching assistant in world civilizations, I have accumulated many historical encyclopedias and dictionaries. In addition, I have a number of books on World War II, which are proving useful as I am now writing a mystery on ramifications of prostitution in Honolulu at that time. As I look these items over, I realize I should soon donate many of them to other authors and Friends of the Library, as they do not seem pertinent to work I may undertake during the last years of my life. You might find it useful to consider the topics and themes of your books and reference files when contemplating which will be appropriate for your current and future purposes...personally and professionally.

Please know that I’m not suggesting you unduly burden yourself in accomplishing such tasks. For instance, I’ve found that watching television, streaming shows, and movies provide ideal opportunities for determining the continuing usefulness of reading and reference materials. By placing boxes nearby to hold items to be discarded (plus paper or electronic means for taking notes) you can browse at a leisurely pace while keeping track of your evaluations. Another method I suggest for evaluating the continuing usefulness of reading material is joining with one or more authors or artists. Such a joint venture can simplify both the removal of items no longer deemed suitable to your library and the gathering of new ones that may prove vital to a new project.


In the life of a wordsmith or artist today, one’s work accumulates in both electronic and hardcopy forms. To maintain an organized reference system, I find it useful to review storage methodology as well as the actual contents of files and folders. Sometimes making appropriate upgrades is as easy as selecting new file/folder colors and tabs. For example, I use burgundy colored files and folders for my work, turquoise for clients, and yellow for general reference materials— along with utilizing corresponding tabs that feature appropriate titles and dates.

Unfortunately, determining the value of the contents of one’s files and folders can prove more trying. Sometimes you’ll find that the original method for organizing those contents is no longer useful. In the decades of executing marketing assignments for clients, I generally kept folders of my work for them filed under their individual or organizational names. Once I shifted the focus of my writing to fiction and nonfiction pieces under my own name, I began reorganizing assignments for clients under categorical titles such as insurance, non-profit organizations, and newsletters. It’s been interesting to note that with the passage of time, I sometimes forget a client’s name ...


When a project has been completed (usually meaning that it has been published), maintaining fail-safe backups of the original text or images may still be necessary. This is especially true if I continue my connection with a partner, editor, or publisher. You may also find it useful to create parallel files and folders under additional names/titles for future work. For example, I have electronic files of possible titles and plot descriptions for potential mysteries. I also have files with text I have removed from projects but have kept due to its detail or flow. Again, you might find a joint venture with a salon of authors familiar with your writing an ideal way to determine the fate of some of your unpublished work.

I hope these simple suggestions will prove suitable to refining your operational organization. In our next conversation, I’ll address the issue of editing documents for the completion of current work and planning for future usage.

Wishing you the best in your creative endeavors, Jeanne Burrows-Johnson, author, narrator, consultant, and motivational speaker.

For more ideas to aid your career as an author or artist, visit:
Author Website:
Author Blog:
Marketing Website:
You can email me at 

Jeanne Burrows-Johnson is an author, narrator, consultant, and motivational speaker who writes works of fiction and nonfiction. She is the author of the award-winning Natalie Seachrist Hawaiian Mysteries, featuring pan-Pacific multiculturalism and history in a classic literary form that is educational as well as entertaining. She was art director, indexer, and a co-author of the anthology Under Sonoran Skies: Prose and Poetry from the High Desert. Drawing on her interdisciplinary experience in the performing arts, education, and marketing, her authored and co-authored articles have appeared in literary, professional, and general readership publications such as Newport This Week, Broker World, the Hawai`i Medical Journal, and The Rotarian.