Wednesday, July 30, 2008

An interview with Julie Ann Shapiro

by Annmarie Edwards

Who is Julie Ann Shapiro?

I am a freelance writer
, novelist and short story author known for my magic realism style prose. I live by the beach and find many a story idea from found objects on the ground.

I have completed two novels
; the first is Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries, published by My second novel, Three Drop Pennies was recently a semifinalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest.

I am a Pushcart Nominee
and a recurring flash fiction workshop leader at the Southern California Writers Conference. These days I divide my writing time between flash fiction and longer stories.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing in one form or another all my life. One of my earliest stories…the lady bug, which I shared above, I recently re-discovered in my parents garage. As a teenager and after college I dabbled in poetry. Over the past ten years, I’ve focused on fiction. It began first with short stories, novels and lately it’s an exploration of both mediums.

What was the inspiration for Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries?

In Southern California I noticed flip-flops
and running shoes left on the beach, the freeways, construction sites and parking lots and felt this uncanny urge propelling me to write about them. Why singular shoes I kept asking myself? Is it a Cinderella complex? Is this a poem I should write or a short story? I wrote them all featuring singular shoes and then one pivotal day I remembered a time as a teenager when my friends and I had been goofing around with a Ouija board and a shoe moved by itself. It was this big aha moment! Of course, the shoes are haunted. Why didn’t I see it before? And that’s when I found Brad, my main character, the photographer who chronicled the shoes in the wake of his girlfriend’s uncertain death. In the singular shoes he saw, Jen-Zen, the eternal soul mate and relived their love affair in search of answers as to why she died.

He snapped pictures of the shoes
and tried to say goodbye and get on with his life, but he couldn’t for the very shoes started to tell him something. When outsiders called his photographic odyssey nuts and others wanted to capitalize on it Brad believed most of all in his gut instinct and his intuition telling him…there’s a message in the shoes…just believe…believe in yourself.

The story is told through magic realism
. Tell our readers what that is, and why you chose that tone.

I think of it as reality that is slightly bent as opposed to science fiction, which is completely bent. It’s a certain subtleness where the out of the ordinary intersects with every day life. In my writing, it's often a surreal landscape where the question of what is a dream and what is reality blur. Along those lines, it can be a place where the intangible becomes tangible, whether it's a ghost or a flower, vegetable or a beverage bottle talking.
How did your extensive experience writing flash fiction play a role in writing Jen-Zen?

I wrote Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries
nearly five years ago. Towards the end of the revision cycle I had all sorts of other story ideas. I was getting antsy wanted to play with other themes. I was concerned that if I explored them too much that the novel wouldn’t get finished. So I sort of it made it a game that if I could write a story in a couple of hours then I’d go for it, and afterwards then I’d get back to the novel draft.

I became absolutely hooked with flash fiction
with my second novel, Three Drop Pennies. In fact with that one and even now I divide my time between new flash stories and longer stories. I know that I need the balance of both to keep me creatively charged.

You have several publishing credits
for short stories and creative nonfiction. When did you decide to write a full-length novel?

My novel, Jen-Zen and the One Shoe Diaries
began first as a poem that later grew into what I thought would be an interconnected short story series. After about 20,000 words it was clear to me that I had a novel in the making. Fifteen drafts later the novel emerged.

How different was it to write a novel compared to the short stories?

Short stories have definite beginnings
, middles and endings. You can run wild with a story idea or a tangent and it can still be contained within the world of the short story. You do that in a novel and all those wild leaps of the imagination have to find a way to connect with the plot line. It’s easier to see the end of a story in short form than it is with a longer story. Novels are often multiple stories within stories, so it’s much more complex to navigate the various plots and twists.

Writing new stories can be more fun at times than revising a novel. I’ve found that creating flash stories on the side breathes life into a longer body of work by freeing up the creative energy.

Which do you prefer: short or long fiction?

It really depends on the stage
of a project. When I’m in the early drafts of a novel I’m super excited. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen to the characters and to go on their journey. It’s like reading a good book. I get that hooked. It’s all consuming.

I like both the long and short form
and find each is as exciting as the other just in different ways. What I love the most about short fiction is that I can experiment more with language and take bigger leaps of the imagination. With a novel all the wild flights of the imagination have to be resolved within the plot…this can be pretty challenging at times.

Many people who are aspiring writers
are overwhelmed by simply trying to find the right places to send their work. What formula works for you? How do you find those publications?

I regularly look at magazines
featured on, and a yahoo group listing with the acronym something like, CRWWWPs. Once I find a magazine that sounds interesting I’ll read the stories. If I’m pressed for time I’ll read the hooks and get a sense of the magazine’s style. Other times I’ll hear about the magazine from writer colleagues in various online forums.

Who is your greatest champion?

I’m thankful that I have supportive family
and friends. I’m also working with a marketing guy who is super supportive as well.

What do you do when you are not typing away on your latest prose?

I exercise…beach walks, yoga, tai chi. I alternate between reading short stories and novels and socializing.

What is the strangest event in your life that ended up in a work of fiction?

I love writing about oddball
things I see. The strangest thing I saw that inspired a weird section of a story is a manikin’s head. It sat on a dumpster. I wrote about it in a short story and later worked it into my third novel.

What was your FAV childhood tome?

A Wrinkle in Time.

Who are you reading?

I am reading a nonfiction book, Words that Work by Dr. Frank Luntz. It’s a fascinating look at the use of language in politics and work.

I’m also reading Michael Chabon’s Mystery of Pittsburgh. It’s one of his early works and is a coming of age story.

What is next for Julie Ann Shapiro?

I’m working on various flash fiction stories and a story collection involving ghosts and mermaids.

Julie's Publishing credits

Published Short Stories/Essays

San Diego Union Tribune, North County Times, Los Angeles Journal, Pindeldyboz, Sacred Waters/Fire: (Adams Media 2005), Story South, Word Riot, Opium Magazine, Insolent Rudder, Cezzane’s Carrots, Mad Hatters Review, Ghoti Magazine, Spoiled Ink, Void, Elimae, Footsteps to Oxford, Salome, Skive, The 2nd Hand, Millennium Shift, Mega Era Magazine, Science Fiction and Fantasy World, Green Tricycle, Long Story Short, Storyglossia, Static Movement, Bewildering Times, Somewhat, Uber, Moon Dance, The Quarterly Staple, Journal of Modern Post, Rumble, Long Story Short, Cellar Door Magazine (Spring and Summer Issues 2005), Edifice Wrecked, Espresso Fiction, Flash Fiction – Coffee Cup Series Issue I & II, Red, Neon, Steel Moon Publishing, ISM Quarterly and other magazines.

Where can readers find you on the Web?
Visit for a more complete list of publishing credits.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Job seekers: How to gain the Competitive Edge Online In Your Job search

by Annmarie Edwards

Job seekers stand a chance
of gaining the competitive edge online by using smart strategy such as online forums and news groups in their job search.

When doing job search don't forget to use online job forums, job boards and news groups. These portals can provide you with job leads as well as information on the companies that have vacancies.

To use online job forums
and news groups you first need to register with the groups and read their guidelines. To maximize your job search it is a good idea to register with many groups.

Active participation in the forums
and newsgroup will help you in your job search. For example, you can use strategy such as answering questions from other participants. By doing this, you're sharing your expertise based on your skills and knowledge. On the other hand, you can ask questions to gain information on current trends in the job market. This will undoubtedly put you ahead of the game as well as give you an expert status.

Additionally, by taking part in newsgroups
you're positioning yourself to go one step further in your job search through networking. While you're in the newsgroup or forum don't forget to read other postings. Older postings might have the information you seek. It is always a good idea to get a feel of the forums and groups by reading previous posts of other participants. This will help to shed some light on what kind of forum and if it is appropriate for you. So always, read first before you begin to participate.

Use Your Competitors As Your Resource

As a job seeker, you've the opportunity
to pick your competitors brains and trade tips while networking. While gathering your facts, remember to be polite and stay optimistic.

In short, use the online job boards
, forum, and newsgroups to your advantage in gaining the competitive edge in your job search. Stay open and be willing to take risk by researching, networking, and sharing ideas using your online medium in your job search.

Annmarie Edwards is a business growth expert who helps individuals and businesses maximize their full growth potential. She offers advice and tips on her blogs.

Copyrighted © by Annmarie Edwards 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Networking the Key to Finding Your Dream Job

By Annmarie Edwards

Are you in the market to finding your dream job? Are you forgetting to use an important tool that can land you your dream job? Networking is the key to help you find your dream job.

How to network

To find your dream
job first, you need to make a list of all the people you know. Make your list by writing your contact names, phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and home addresses down on a sheet of paper.

How to make contac
Telephone each person on your list, and make him or her know you're in the job market looking for ( ) job. You can say you're looking for an accounting job as an example. A personal contact goes a long way than a dry letter. Make sure you let your contact know your availability and how soon you're ready to work.

Follow up the key to Your success

While you're looking for your dream job follow up with your contacts weekly. You can follow up through phone calls, emails and letters. Choose the medium you're comfortable with in reaching your network.

How to contact Your Network

When contacting the people on your list don't forget politeness. Have an open mind and don't prejudge. Most of the times people are busy. A friendly reminder will prompt them to act on your behalf. Stay positive in everything you do while you're looking for your dream job.

Get Ready for your Job

While you're networking make sure you have an updated resume. This is central in your job search. Make a list of all your qualities. Think of all the skills you can offer your potential employer and write them down. By writing your skills down you're implanting them on your memory.

Conduct a mock interview

Ask a friend or a family member to conduct a mock interview with you. This mock interview will shed some light on how prepared you're for your next interview. Do some research and compile a list of questions that employers ask on interviews and answer them as clearly as possible. Use your mock interview as part of your job preparation in getting your dream job.

In sum, keep in contact
with your network on a weekly basis. Let them know if there are any changes in your availability or if you've acquired a new skill you would like to add to your job search list. Be positive and optimistic when you're networking for your dream job. Remember your dream job might be a phone call away so network.

Copyrighted © 2008 by Annmarie Edwards

Thursday, May 15, 2008

4 Ways to pursue your Goals

Pursuing your goal is achievable as long as you formulate a plan of action, set realistic goals, prioritize goals into long and short-term goals, work on your short term goals first then tackle the long term goals next, track all your goals and finally stay inspired.

1. Formulate a plan. Brainstorm ways to advance your career
. For example, if you want to move up to the next level, identify which positions you strive for.

2. Set realistic goals.
Define short-and long-term tasks that will lead you to your overall goal. For example, if the promotion that you want requires additional qualifications, develop a plan to get the necessary training and /or education.

3. Tackle short-term goals first.
For example, if you need to take a continuing education course to achieve your overall goal, make finding and registering for the class a short-term goal.

4. Keep track of your long-term goals.
Keeping your eye on the prize will help you to keep on track to accomplish your long-term goal. Stay inspired by posting motivational sayings and quotes around you.

© Copyrighted by Annmarie Edwards 2008

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

5 Ways to Discover Your Inspiration

Discovering your inspiration is part of the creative force that calms the mind and brings all the integrative factors together. Inspirations benefits the mind and body connection through the engagement of creative activities such as, journaling, meditation, listening to soft music that calms the mind and enjoying nature by taking a stroll and breathe fresh air.

Here are 5 tips:

1. Foster your creativity. Engage in a creative activity that may help you to discover new talents.

2. Journal. Write down thoughts or ideas as they come to you. Recording your thoughts on paper may help to spark a new idea.

3. Relax. Practice meditation, deep breathing, and relaxation. This will bring balance to your mind and body. If you have trouble doing this on your own, enroll in a class or rent or purchase an audio-or videotape.

4. Listen to your favorite music. Music can calm your mind and free up your imagination.

5. Breathe fresh air. Take a stroll and enjoy nature. This can offer time for reflection and inspiration.

Copyrighted © 2008 excerpted from 50 Ways to Maximize Your Potential by Annmarie Edwards.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Carnegie Secret To Success

By Rick Gettle

In his all time best selling book, Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill mentions in his first chapter that throughout the book he will be referring many times to The Carnegie Secret. He said he would not tell you what that secret is, but when you are ready, it will jump off the page and into your brain. He said, When the Student is ready – the master will appear. The doors will open. The lights will turn green. The ideas will come. The money will come. The people will be there to help you.

Since 1970 we have been teaching the principles of success that Andrew Carnegie commissioned Napoleon Hill to study and share with the world. Napoleon Hill spent his entire lifetime researching the most successful people of all times from around the world.
Many, many times in our classes, workshops, talks, rallies and in our Master Mind Alliance Success Club meetings we have asked this question to those in our audience who had read the book Think and Grow Rich,
What is The Carnegie Secret that Napoleon Hill referred to in his book?We got all kinds of guesses and some answers that were somewhat close.


1. Have A Definite Major Purpose.

What is the most important thing you would like to accomplish in your lifetime? Try to define it in one paragraph, even if you have to keep rewriting it a hundred times until it gets as clear as possible. It has to be the most important thing in your life. Mahatma Gandhi’s definite major purpose was to win independence for India from their British rulers. He succeeded. Dr. Martin Luther King’s was equality and the end of oppression for black people. Doctor Jonas Salk’s was to find the cure and end for polio. Thomas Edison’s was the incandescent light bulb. What is yours?

If you don’t currently have what you feel is a definite major purpose, then have a definite major purpose to find your definite major purpose.

It has to be something you want so bad that you think about it all of the time.

2. Be Willing To Stake Your Entire Existence On Achieving It.

Don’t Quit. There Are Many Starters In Life, But Very Few Finishers – When The Going Gets Tough They Quit. A person with a definite major purpose never gives up – no matter how long and tough the road is; instead, they become more determined. Jack London was rejected over 600 times before he finally sold his first piece of writing. Thomas Edison actually failed over 9,999 times before he perfected the incandescent light bulb, and over 5,000 times before he perfected the world’s first phonograph record player. There will be times when everything in you will tell you to quit – to stop trying, but if you hang in there, eventually, you will – you must succeed. Quitters never win and winners never quit.

Persistence is the power to hold on in spite of everything - to endure. It’s the ability to face defeat repeatedly without giving up—to push on even in the face of great difficulty or danger. Persistence means taking pains to overcome every obstacle, to do all that is necessary to reach your goals. You win, because you refuse to become discouraged by your defeats. Those who conquer are those who endure.

3. Keep Intensifying Your Desire.

There are many “firemen” in life that will come along and try to put your fire of desire out. They will give you all kinds of reasons why your idea or goal won’t work and tell you to give it up, forget it, or tell you “You can’t do it.” You have to become an Arsonist. An arsonist sets fires. Every morning when you wake up you have to re-light and re-build the intensity of your fire of desire. You have to eat it, sleep it, walk it, talk it, and concentrate on it until it becomes a red-hot flaming, burning, obsessional desire that will eventually mow down all of the opposition you will face throughout each day. If you don’t, your Sizzle of desire will fizzle down to nothing. I’m not suggesting that you stop talking to or seeing your family and friends – what I’m saying is to keep focused day and night, seven days a week. This will bring into play: THE LAW OF HARMONIOUS ATTRACTION. Your burning desire becomes a magnet. You will attract that which you need; the ideas and plans, the money you need, and the people you need to help you. They will eventually gravitate toward your desire.

4. Have Bulldog Determination And Perseverance That Will Eventually Mow Down All Opposition.

Expect lots of problems, adversities, and discouragement along the way. Go around it – go over it – go under it – or dig a hole through it – but don’t ever turn back. Make your Definite Major Purpose the dominating thought in your mind. It is a known fact that people who have had great achievement – formed the habit of making an “obsession” of their Definite Major Purpose. Andrew Carnegie said to put all of your eggs in one basket and then watch the basket. Andrew Carnegie’s definite major purpose, which he wrote down at an early age and kept in his desk, was to earn as much money as he can in life and then, in the end, to set up the Carnegie Foundation to give it all away to worthy causes. Even after his death long ago, the Carnegie Foundation is still giving away millions every year to help mankind.

I have been teaching The Science of Success Achievement Course since 1970. There were many times when I taught the course to as many as ten different groups per week. Some in major hotels, some in large corporate training rooms, in the YMCA, in hundreds of real estate and insurance offices, in prisons, rehab centers, and for many sales and marketing groups of people.
In all of my classes, (There were ten separate 4-hour classes to the course,) I always told my students at the end of the first class – “For your homework this week, I want you to read the first four chapters of Think And Grow Rich (I always had stacks of the book there to sell them.) As you read each page, write a list of all of the things the author is telling you to do and the things he is telling you not to do. Then, I want you to carry that list with you every day and keep reviewing your list and keep doing the things the author told you to do. And then come back to class #2 next week and tell the class about the list you made, what actions you took as a result of reading the book, and what results you got.”

At the beginning of the class on the following week I would always start out by asking - By a show of hands, how many of you read the first four chapters of Think And Grow Rich? About 2% would raise their hands. The rest didn’t take the time to read it. Then I would ask the 2% How many of you read the first four chapters and made the list I told you to make of all of the things the author told you to do? Usually about three hands went up. I asked each of them - How many items do you have on your list of the things the author told you to do? The first person said three. The second person said nine. The third person said – 90 items

I asked the person who had ninety on her list to come to the front of the classroom.
I said to the others - You people paid good money to take this course because you wanted to achieve greater success. How can you expect the results you hoped for if you aren’t willing to take notes and to put in practice what you are learning?

Then I had the lady read from her list of 90 items. And the class was surprised at how powerful and important the things on her list were.

I asked the class - How many of you are speed reader? All kinds of hands went up. Then I told them about an incident when I was at a party and someone asked me what I do for a living. I told him that I teach a course based around the book Think And Grow Rich. He said, “That’s a book that we teach from at our speed reading school.” Then I asked him, “What were the greatest lessons you learned from the book?” He tried to think and then said, “I don’t remember that book so well.” I later found out that he was a speed-reading instructor. I thought to myself – There’s a guy that can read 10,000 words a minute and remember nothing.

Think And Grow Rich is so powerful that it’s the kind of book you have to read very slowly and carefully, many times until it becomes a part of your life and habits. I have been reading the book every year since 1970. Each year I pull it back off the shelf and let it fire me up for the achievement of my new goals for the year.

THE CARNEGIE SECRET FOR SUCCESSExcerpt From The book“The Science Of Success Achievement Course”By Rick Gettle © 2006

Rick GettlePublisher/Author/Consultant/Speaker

Success Achievement Publisher/Author/Consultant/Speaker - Since 1970
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Maximize Your Potential Day is coming head on...

What does it means to maximize your potential? As a matter of fact what potential means? The question is are you using all your skills? Skills are things you can do. It does not lend itself to one thing. It can be many things as a matter of fact. (2006) revealed in a report that staff efficiency is central to productivity and sustainability. Why is it important for new hires to perform? Businesses depend on new recruits for new ideas and innovation. As such, businesses need to stay ahead of the game. New hires are the new oils to the old engine. Maximize your potential looks at new ways to do things by bringing all the different components together in an efficient way.

Stay tuned for new thoughts.