Monday, January 19, 2015

Get Outta That Parking Lot


Have you ever found yourself driving along, head in the clouds, and suddenly realized you have no idea where you are?

I sure have. I blink, look around, and wonder where I am. Have I missed my exit? Where am I even going? Why am I parked in front of Trader Joe's? Wasn't I going to the hardware store five miles away?
(Photo by Carol Newman)

It can happen when we're driving. It can happen when we're writing.

Recently a friend told me she had thought she finished writing her life story only to realize some important chunks about relationships and experience had been overlooked in the writing.

It isn't a catastrophe. If you are driving, you consult your map or GPS or the sun or moon or stars, or in my case, maybe even call Gentleman Friend. You discover you have parked yourself in the wrong place.

You back out of the parking space, turn the car the correct direction, your GPS says "Recalculating. Recalculating."

That's what you do with the writing, too. Recalculate. It helps if you do it along the way. From time to time, look at that list of stories you planned to include. (You did make a list didn't you? A physical list on paper or your phone? Or a mental list?)

If you don't have a list, make one now. You won't be setting it in stone. It is just a reminder to help guide you along the way. I want to write about moving to Albuquerque, the principal at the school where I taught, Aunt Myrtle's chickens. 

As you are driving, maybe you decide not to go to the hardware store today. As I am writing, maybe I decide to eliminate Aunt Myrtle's chicken story.

It's up to you. But be sure it is up to you. Have some kind of writing plan and consult it from time to time.

(Photo by Carol Newman)
Otherwise, you might find yourself in a parking lot before you reach your destination saying, "Huh, where am I? Where am I going? Seems like I forgot something."


Make a list of the stories you have written. Where are gaps in time, person or place? Fill in those gaps with stories you want to add.

If you haven't started writing yet, make a list of stories you want to include in your total narrative.

Always keep in mind, you don't have to include your entire life story. You can select stories by theme or special events. For example, one gentleman in a class wrote about his years growing up in India. A woman wrote about her year on a mission trip. Life story doesn't mean entire life.


Crunch, chocolate. These homemade Twix bars have it all. Recipe is from Stephanie Manley from
Copy Kat.

how to make a twix bar
(Photo from
·         Shortbread cookies
·         1/2 pound butter (unsalted)
·         1/2 cup powdered sugar
·         1/4 teaspoon salt
·         2 cups flour
·         1 teaspoon vanilla
·         1 1/2 cups caramel baking chips
·         2 cups chocolate chips
·         1/4 cup coconut oil
Cookie Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a mixer cream together room temperature butter and powdered sugar for about 2 minutes or until the butter and sugar are light and creamy. Add in 2 cups of flour and beat gently until flour is incorporated to the creamed sugar. Add in vanilla and mix until just blended. When the dough has turned into a soft uniform ball turn dough onto a lightly floured board.
Roll dough into a rectangle shape. Cut the dough into 4 even verticals and then cut them horizontally in about 1/2 inch stripes. Use a fork to prick the cookies about three or four times a cookie so they will bake evenly. Place cookies onto an un-greased cookie sheet leaving a small distance between each cookie. Refrigerate cookies on the cookie sheet for about 15 minutes before baking the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes. By refrigerating the dough you will keep them from spreading out too much.
Melt caramel bits in the microwave for about 45 seconds, or until melted. Spread a thin layer of caramel over the baked cookies.
Over a double boiler melt together 2 cups of chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of coconut oil Stir continually until the chocolate has melted. When the chocolate has melted dip a cookie into the chocolate, turn cookie over with two folks until the cookie is fully coated. Place chocolate dipped cookie onto wax paper. Allow the chocolate to set up fully before storing cookie in an air tight container.


Since "hack," meaning "tip," is getting overworked these days, I think I will jump on the cliche bandwagon.

Find more life story writing hacks at.Angel in Your Inkwell.

All rights reserved 2015 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hey look. A rainbow.

Who doesn't smile and say, "Hey look! A rainbow."

That's how Gentleman Friend and I felt one January  a few years ago when we saw this rainbow in the La Jolla area of San Diego. .

You know how you have some years that seem to be all rough waters and dark clouds?

We had a year like that.

But now we could see a bit of blue behind the dark skies and the waters smoothed out.

I still like this picture so I thought I would send it along to you.

Seems a good way to start a new year.

Hey look! A rainbow.

All photos are by Carol Newman and are the sole property of Carol Newman. 

All rights reserved 2015 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®

Sunday, January 4, 2015

It's Okay to Lie to Yourself

I see I have not posted here since the end of October. Maybe I had a carb crash from Halloween candy. Then November is my birthday month so I took that month off. Then Thanksgiving came so I took a bit more time off. And Christmas. Maybe this is a quarterly blog.

So here we are in a New Year. The sun is shining today so all things seem possible. Among those possibilities, I may allow the topic of the Angel In Your Inkwell blog to morph into something a bit wider and looser than writing memoir. Or I may not. We will both have to stand by and see what develops.

Meanwhile, here are my resolutions for 2015. Really? Read all the way to the end.

 Exercise more.

Eat more vegetables. (I think this guy means business about that.)

 Climb more mountains. Metaphorically. I am no Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild. 

Hang out and relax more.

Or maybe I have no real intention of doing any of these -- except maybe the last one. I just like these pictures.

What's the picture of what you would like to do this year? Send a comment. Or just get out there and do it and then send a comment.

All photos by Carol Newman. 

All rights reserved 2015 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®

Monday, October 27, 2014

Ugly Wallpaper or Good Writing

Mr. D, The Wallpaper Guy, makes quick work of stripping my ugly, ivy wallpaper.
(Photo by Carol Newman)

If you have ever thought the details of your life were about as interesting as watching Mr. D, The Wallpaper Guy, strip ugly wallpaper, take a look at this link  everyday life in old scrolls to an article about scrolls from the 1300s recently discovered in Russia.

The reader cannot help but want to know more about how things worked out for the father requesting items and the man planning to propose marriage.

Here is the important thing to note: in both scrolls there was something at stake for the writer. The father's need for the items seemed urgent. The man proposing was risking his future. Both men were longing for something.


Look back at your life. Make a list of times in your life when something was at stake. Maybe it was your happiness, maybe your view of your future, maybe it was your health or safety or home.

For example, when I was in college we still had curfews. Without my parents' permission, I had spent the weekend in another city with friends and waited until the last minute to begin the trip back to school. If I didn't make it back before curfew, my parents would find out I had been away.

But then the stakes suddenly got higher. I was driving the maximum legal speed of 70 MPH on the highway by an area of truck stops and diners. Because of all the lights, another driver did not see my car, left the diner driveway, drove across the median and directly in front of my car.

It isn't necessary to use the words "at stake" as I did in my example. Just tell the story and it will be apparent.


Oh for goodness sakes. Even I do not need a chocolate recipe this week -- Halloween week. Rip into some of that trick-or-treat candy and call it done.

Today's Writing Tip and others can be found on page 26 of Write Your Life Story Workbook available at

All rights reserved 2014 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®

Monday, October 13, 2014

Does Standing On Your Head Help Your Writing?


Feel as if you have tried everything except standing on your head to make your story interesting, but the words are just sitting on the page like a big blob?

Trying to Write a Good Story
(Photo by Carol Newman)

Here is the reason why.

A list of events, no matter how artfully created, does not make a story. The list of events has to mean something. It has to mean something in your life; it has to mean something in the life of the reader.

That's it. That's all there is to it.

Great. How do I do that? Try the Launching Pad.


List  at least three important or life-changing events during the time of your life. You might think of these as turning points. Turning points may be large or small.

For each turning point tell how you were changed, what led up to this change, what life situation were you struggling with, what solutions had you tried that didn't work? What was at stake?

For example, a turning point in my life was when in college I changed my major from business to English. It changed how I thought of myself, how I saw my future, my friends, and my sense of happiness. Before, I hated my classes, hated college, hated the future I saw for myself, and couldn't relate to the other people in my classes. I tried studying harder, not studying at all, cutting class, and piling on my class load. Then one day I slipped into a large lecture hall where a famous play was being discussed. Oh now, this is what I want to study, what I want to read about and think about. But, I was still at an age where I did what my parents told me to do and my mother would be furious if I changed my major from the one she had picked for me. Still, I saw my future in a room with twenty typewriters teaching sixteen-year-olds how to type and I knew I could face my mother easier than I could face that.

Maybe your turning point was starting a business, loss of a loved one, an illness you suffered, or a crisis of faith or renewal of faith.

How did such events change you and the course of your life? How did your life change for the better. Even though the event may have been something like loss of a loved one or loss of a job, think about the people or groups who helped you through it. Think about how you grew in character as a result of your suffering. Write about those things.

HERE IS THE KEY TO MAKING THIS WORK: In your final draft, reverse the order of all the above. First, show the reader the problem, then let us see you struggle, trying one thing after another, then let us see your aha moment and finally, show how you were changed. And, maybe let us know what you learned -- but DO NOT say "This is what I learned."

Write with turning points in mind and you will have readers immersed in your story as they read to find out what happened next. 

You may even discover a few things about yourself and feel affirmed and strong.

Don't mess with me. I am strong enough to claw your eyes out. But I am also strong enough not to want to.
(Photo by Carol Newman)

Look how strong and confident you feel now. You felt all upside down and beaten by life events; but you honestly wrote through it and came out the other side.


Brownie Bowls

I am unsure if Dryer's brand of ice cream is available in the Kansas City area, (We have Bryer's - is that the same?) but since it is their recipe and their photos and it looks so good, I am including the brand names. If it is available where you live, give it a try.

Dreyer's Super Sundae Brownie Bowl

"Here's an easy way to push your already extraordinary Dreyer's ice cream sundae over the top – a fresh-baked brownie bowl. And the best part? You don't have to wash the bowl since you get to eat it!"

You will need:

DREYER'S GRAND NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Cookie Dough ice cream or SLOW CHURNED® Cookie Dough light ice cream

Brownie batter (made from your favorite recipe)
2 muffin tins
Cooking spray
Chocolate sauce

Follow the directions for your favorite brownie recipe to make the batter.
Spray cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray, and add brownie batter to each cup until they're about two-thirds full.
Spray the second muffin tin with cooking spray and place on top of the first tin of brownies.
Place in the oven and bake, following your brownie recipe's directions.
After the bowls are completely cool, add a scoop of ice cream, top with chocolate sauce and sprinkles, and enjoy!

Note: I am thinking about pumpkin ice cream for Thanksgiving or peppermint for Christmas. Or coffee ice cream for any old time.  How good would that be! 

Today's blog post is adapted from page 25 of Write Your Life Story in Eight Weeks Workbook - Second Edition.Write Your Life Story Workbook

All rights reserved 2014 There's An Angel In Your Inkwell®Write Your Life Story Workbook