Something Wonderful


The morns are meeker than they were,
The nuts are getting brown;
The berry’s cheek is plumper,
The rose is out of town.

The maple wears a gayer scarf,
The field a scarlet gown.
Lest I should be old-fashioned,
I’ll put a trinket on.

Emily Dickinson

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Ali’s Advice

In my rambles today, I came across a sheaf of quotes by Muhammad Ali, many of which seem fresh and energizing. He’s surely one guy who wrote his own story in his own way! Some of his words to ponder:

“I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given. I believed
in myself, and I believe in the goodness of others.”

“It’s lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believed in myself.”

“I shook up the world, I shook up the world.”

“He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.”

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, ‘Don’t quit. Suffer now and
live the rest of your life as a champion.”

“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and
come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”

“I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew who I was.”

“It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief
becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.”

“I should be a postage stamp because that’s the only way I’ll ever get licked. I’m beautiful.
I’m fast. I’m so mean I make medicine sick. I can’t possibly be beat.” 

“My only fault is that I don’t realize how great I really am.”

“Ali’s got a left, Ali’s got a right — when he knocks you out, you’ll sleep for the night; and
when you lie on the floor and the ref counts to ten, hope and pray that you never meet me again.”

“Life is so, so short. Bible says it’s like a vapor.”

“I wanted to use my fame and this face that everyone knows to help uplift and
inspire people around the world.” 

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” 

“What keeps me going is goals.”

“Superman don’t need no seat belt.”

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”

A bit of Ali’s bravado might be bracing for us all as we write on!

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Steve Survives

Here’s a story Steve Job told at a college commencement:

“I was lucky. I found what I loved to do early in life. Wow and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4,000 employees. We had just released our finest creation—the Macintosh—a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired.

“How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30, I was out. And very publicly out. What has been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

“I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down—that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me….I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me. I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life….

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love.”

Wonderful words of wisdom from a legendary creative: Sometimes the worst thing that ever happened turns out to be the best thing. Don’t lose faith—keep going. Do what you love. Write on!

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Wizardly Wells

“If you fell down yesterday, stand up today.” H.G. Wells

Today, September 21, is the birthday of the legendary English author, H.G. Well, who challenged us to enter uncharted worlds and wrote more than 50 novels. He didn’t mince words! A gathering of his wisdom to guide us on our way today:

“”Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the human race.”

“What really matters is what you do with what you have.”

“No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft.”

“Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.”

“Man is the unnatural animal, the rebel child of nature, and more and more does he turn himself against the harsh and fitful hand that reared him.”

“We must not allow the clock and the calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment of life is a miracle and mystery.”

“Sometimes you have to step outside the person you’ve been and remember the person you were meant to be. The person you want to be. The person you are.”

“There is no upper limit to what individuals are capable of doing with their minds. There is no age limit that bars them from beginning. There is no obstacle that cannot be overcome if they persist and believe.

“The path of least resistance is the path of the loser.”

“If we don’t end war, war will end us.”

“Beauty is in the heart of the beholder.”

“Our true nationality is mankind.”

And now, energized and emboldened, let’s all write on!

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Simple Goals

An inspiring story:

When the award-winning actor Kirk Douglas presented at the Academy Awards in 1997, it was a huge triumph for him. Not long before, he’d suffered a serious stroke that left him speaking with a stutter. To his friend and family, this moment was the biggest comeback of his career, because his medical team had doubted he’d ever speak again.

How did Douglas beat the odds? What was his secret? He set a single, clear cut goal and kept moving steadily toward it.

“The most crippling thing about a stroke is the depression,” he told “The Spectator,” a daily London newspaper. “When I first had my stroke and couldn’t speak, I wanted to crawl up to bed and cry. And then you get to the point where you say, ‘Enough of the self-pity.’ Then you get to work.”

The first step to his recovery was honestly analyzing his situation. The second step was setting a single, simple goal. Four Douglas, his four-year-old granddaughter became his motivator. After three months, he couldn’t speak as well as she could. So his first goal was clearcut: He wanted to speak as well as a four-year-old.

One day, after many hours of hard work, he said “Transcontinental.” His granddaughter couldn’t say it. “I knew I was at least moving ahead of a four-year-old,” he observed.

After reaching his first goal, Douglas persisted, working on bigger, tougher words until he had resurrected his speech and his life.

It takes grit to do what Douglas did: To suddenly be faced with a losing a strength—his speaking ability as an actor—and get past it. This story also shows the power of a single goal. Douglas started small and gradually regained his speech.

Setting simple goals in our writing makes sense, too. We can focus on finishing one story that’s been languishing and sending it out. We can focus on fixing one chapter that’s giving us problems. Or we can aim to pull together a list of the top 10 agents we’d like to query.

Simple goals push us gently out of our comfort zones. They spark our energy because they’re reachable. And when we achieve them, they spur us on—they help us keep going.

So let’s think big and start small as we all write on!

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Unstoppable Momentum

Sometimes we forget that life is’t a sprint, it’s a marathon. And to get where we want to go, we need to take one step at a time. We can get anything we want if we just keep going!

Here are 10 inspiring thoughts that will make you UNSTOPPABLE! They come to us via my wonderful friend and mentor, Dr. Rob Gilbert*

1. “Continuous effort—not strength or intelligence— is they key to unlocking our potential.” Winston Churchill

2. “Everyone starts from scratch, but not everyone keeps scratching.”

3. “In never tried quitting and I never quit trying.” Dolly Parton

4. “Never place a period where God has placed a comma.”

5. “What this power is, I cannot say. All I know is that it exists…and it becomes available only when you are in a state of mind in which you know exactly what you want…and are fully determined not to quit until you get it.” Alexander Graham Bell

6. I am not judged by the number of times I fail, but by the number of times I succeed. And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying.” Tom Hopkins, sales trainer

7. “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarding genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” Calvin Coolidge, 30th U.S. President

8. Rule #1: Take one more step. Rule #2: When you don’t think you can take one more step, refer to Rule #1.” H. Jackson Brown

9. “When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, until it seems as though you cannot hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” Harriet Beecher Stowe

10. “Any place is within walking distance if you have enough time.” Steven Wright

And now, inspired and emboldened, let’s all “press on”—and write on!

* Be sure to check out Dr. Rob Gilbert’s “The Success Hotline Podcast” for a daily dose of motivation!

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Something Wonderful

Something Told the Wild Geese

Rachel Field

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go.
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, — “Snow.”

Leaves were green and stirring,
  Berries, luster-glossed,
But beneath warm feathers
  Something cautioned, — “Frost.”

All the sagging orchards
  Steamed with amber spice,
But each wild breast stiffened
  At remembered ice.

Something told the wild geese
It was time to fly,–
Summer sun was on their wings,
Winter in their cry.

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Inventing Life

“Evil is not something superhuman, it’s something less than human.”

“These little grey cells. It is up to them.”
Agatha Christie

Author alert: Agatha Christie is the bestselling novelist of all time. Most widely known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short-story collections, her books have sold a billion copies in 445 languages. She’s been outsold only by the Bible and Shakespeare.

A TV adaptation of And Then There Were None, a novel published in 1939, was recently released. The book sold 100 million copies and has inspired four films over the years. This isn’t unusual for Christie. In fact, a remake of Murder on the Orient Express is also popular. All this led me to troll around a bit to learn more about her.

Christie’s described on her official web site as “a writer, traveler, playwright, wife, mother, surfer” — she led quite a life, it seems, which is captured in a newly released autobiography that sounds fascinating. In it, she says: “Plots come to me at such odd moments, when I am walking along the street, or examining a hat shop…suddenly a
splendid idea comes into my mind.”

Her second book, The Secret Adversary  was sparked by a chance encounter: “Two people were talking at a table nearby, discussing somebody called Jane Fish… That, I thought, would make a good beginning to a story — a name overheard at a tea shop — an unusual name, so that whoever heard it remembered it. A name like Jane Fish,
or perhaps Jane Finn would be even better.”

Agatha turned her ideas into novels by jotting down tons of notes in dozens of notebooks, just throwing down on their pages “erratic ideas and potential plots and characters” as they came to her: “I usually have about half a dozen (notebooks) on hand and I used to make notes in them of ideas that struck me, or about some poison or drug, or a clever little bit of swindling that I had read about in the paper.”

She spent most of her time working out the plot details and clues in her head or in her notebooks, before she started writing a book down. Her son-in-law Anthony Hicks once said: “You never saw her writing,” she never “shut herself away, like other writers do.”
 It took her a few months to write a story  and a month or so to revise. She’d write it down in long hand, have it typed up, and then make her corrections.

No fancy writing process or digital apps here: Just plain old notebooks, pens and pencils, a typewriter, and little grey cells firing. Something to ponder as we write on!

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Out There

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” T.S. Eliot

Love this! For me, it calls to mind my major push to get my George Washington story about September ll, 1776 published. I felt it offered an inspiring message and really wanted it out in the world. So I spent three days sending queries out to different publications. Most people would probably have stopped at 10, and in the past, so would I. But I decided to be extreme, so this time, I kept going until I’d contacted about 25.

Ultimately, my story found a home at “American Heritage,” now an online magazine, which did a stunning photo layout. The story appeared in its 9/11 commemorative issue. I was thrilled!

This proved to me that being extreme works! You may also have learned what I did from your own moments of extreme determination and focus: You can always go farther than you think.

Once you take a risk, once you put yourself on the line, I believe magical things happen. The Universe supports you: the energy, willpower, and ideas you need show up because you are.

Risk taking often gets a bum rap. Many people think its rash, ill-advised, and asking for trouble to go out on a limb.

But as the saying goes, that’s where the sweetest fruit is.

And consider this: What’s the alternative? Sitting around waiting and wishing for something to happen? How well does that work? In my experience, inaction creates frustration, not fulfillment.

So what’s on your agenda today? What would you love to see in print? As much as anything, getting published is a numbers game—you have to get your work out to a lot of places in order to strike gold. You have to risk more rejection than you may feel comfortable with. So be it!

As my friend and mentor Dr. Rob Gilbert says,* “Winners lose more than losers lose.” Why? Simply because they’re willing to lose more often in order to ultimately achieve their goal, whatever it is.

So let’s “risk going too far” today and see just how far we can go! Write on!

*For a daily dose of motivation and inspiration, check out Dr. Rob Gilbert’s “The Success Hotline Podcast”—you’ll be glad you did!

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Catching Words

And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.”      Pablo Neruda

“COLLECT WORDS! Buy your own dictionary. Read your dictionary every day. CIRCLE exciting words. The more words you know, the better you will be able to express yourself, your thoughts.”       Gwendolyn Brooks

Bumptious. Scrumptious. Resplendent. Gobsmacked. Aura. There are legions of words ripe for the plucking and the page — and the more of them we gather to ourselves, the richer the language we have to share with our readers.

In her wonderful guide, Writing Toward Home, Georgia Heard suggests keeping a notebook and filling it with words you love . “Listen to words spoken around you,” she advises, “write down words from menus, signs, books, newspapers — the more you become aware of the words possible to you, the more abundant your writing will become.”

And to inspire us all, here are some beautiful words about words from the joyful poet Pablo Neruda:

“It’s the words that sing, they soar and descend…I bow to them…I love them, I cling to them, I run them down, I bite into them, I melt them down…I love words so much…The unexpected ones…The ones I wait for greedily or stalk until, suddenly, they drop…Vowels I love…They glitter like colored stones, they leap like silver fish, they are foam, thread, metal, dew…I run after certain words…They are so beautiful that I want to fit them all in my poem…I catch them in mid-flight, as they buzz past, I trap them, clean them, peel them, I set myself in front of the dish, they have a crystalline texture to me, vibrant, ivory, vegetable, oily like fruit, like algae, like agates, like olives…And then, I stir them, I shake them, I drink them, I gulp them down, I mash them, I garnish them, I let them go…I leave them in my poem like stalactites, like slivers of polished wood, like coals, pickings from a shipwreck, gifts from the waves…Everything exists in the word.”

Let’s all catch words “in mid-flight, as they buzz past,” and write on!

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