Friday, November 20, 2009

"The Voice of the Muse" Wins 2009 New Mexico Book Award

Mark David Gerson’s Medal-Winning Writing Book Honored in Statewide Competition

Mark David Gerson’s The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write was named a winner in the 2009 edition of New Mexico’s premier literary contest, the New Mexico Book Awards.

The top prize in the competition's self-help category was announced at an awards banquet in Albuquerque earlier this evening. Some two dozen books were honored at the event.

This is Gerson’s second honor for The Voice of the Muse. Earlier this year, it earned a Silver Medal as one of the best writing books of 2009 in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, also known as the IPPYs.

The 2009 New Mexico Book Awards, open to New Mexico authors and publishers, attracted more than 300 entries and included books released by Viking, HarperCollins and Random House, as well as by major university presses.

Gerson is no stranger to the New Mexico Book Awards. In 2008, he won in the science fiction/fantasy category for his novel, The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy. That same year, The MoonQuest also won a Gold Medal IPPY for best visionary novel.

Gerson’s screenplay adaptation of The MoonQuest is currently in active development toward feature film production.

The Voice of the Muse, distilled from Gerson's 30-plus years as a professional writer/editor and nearly two decades as a writing teacher and coach, is a dynamic blend of inspiration and instruction for anyone in any genre seeking to write more effortlessly, flowingly and engagingly. It has been likened to such classics in the genre as Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones and Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird

Lauded by critics as "the wise guide any writer would dream of" and a "phenomenal guide to overcoming writer's block and unleashing your creative potential," The Voice of the Muse has been equally praised by novice and seasoned writers alike.

Gerson has also recorded The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers, a two-CD album that includes powerful exercises to free up and deepen creative flow. It's sold separately from the book.

Both Gerson's books are available from and from and other online retailers, as well as from selected U.S. retailers. The CD is available from and Amazon

A writing/creativity coach, editor, project consultant and script analyst, Mark David is also a popular speaker on topics related to creativity and spirituality. He is host of The Muse & You, a radio show about writers and writing, and is a regular featured guest on's Spiritual Coaching radio program.

Mark David Gerson lives in Albuquerque, NM, where he’s currently working on a memoir and on a sequel to The MoonQuest.

Written and audio excerpts from The Voice of the Muse book, The Voice of the Muse CD and The MoonQuest

Calendar of Mark David's upcoming writing classes, workshops, events and appearances.

Register for Mark David's classes and workshops.

Mark David's approach to coaching writers

All About Balance

In honor of Pat Bertram's blog tour, I'm featuring her post about balance here. Today on her blog, you'll a find a post by me -- "Creating Perfection"

A Guest Post by Pat Bertram

Someone asked me where they should insert dialogue into the novel they were writing. I went blank for a moment, unable to comprehend the question. Insert dialogue? To a great extent, dialogue is the story. The most personal way people interact is by dialogue, and a story is or should be about people interacting, about relationships. Even action-oriented stories come down to a basic relationship: the hero vs. the villain.

A better question might be where to insert exposition, but even that is a specious question. Nothing in a novel should be inserted. Each element should flow one into the other, making a cohesive whole. I’ve heard people say that they’ve finished writing their novel, now all they have left is to go back and insert the symbolism. If you have to insert something for the sake of inserting it, it’s better to leave it out. Symbols, like other elements should flow out of the story. 

Novels need to be balanced. Dialogue interspersed with exposition or action makes for a more interesting story than dialogue or exposition or action alone. A novel that is mostly dialogue seems lightweight; a novel with too much exposition feels heavy-handed; a novel that is all action gets boring after a while. 

One way to make sure the elements flow together is to know what you are trying to accomplish.

What kind of story are you writing? What is your story goal? What is your premise? What is the core conflict? Once you know the core of your story, you can make sure every element connects to it. Sometimes you won’t know the core until you’ve finished the first draft. In which case, just write, let the words flow out of you and into the story. Then, when the draft is finished, read it to see what you have. Do any themes jump out at you? What is the gist of the story (the core conflict)? How can you use the various story elements help you bring out that conflict? Does every action have a reaction? Does every reaction have a cause? Which element will bring the conflict into sharper focus? If a particular conflict is a physical one, then action interspersed with terse comments is best. If a particular conflict is personal, then dialogue interspersed with bits of action is best. 

Where to insert dialogue, then, is not the real question. The real question is what do you want to say, and how do you want to say it?

Pat Bertram is a native of Colorado and a lifelong resident. When the traditional publishers stopped publishing her favorite type of book -- character and story driven novels that can’t easily be slotted into a genre -- she decided to write her own. Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Muse & You #5: Radio for Writers and Readers...with Mark David Gerson

Episode Five:
Thursday, Nov 19, 1pm ET
(click here to listen live or to the archived version any time after the show airs)

• Ask the Writing Coach (your questions for me about writing and creativity) and a feature interview with Dan Stone author of The Rest of Our Lives

Some months back, I got a call from a friend here in Albuquerque. "You've got to meet this guy, Dan," he said. "He writes fantasy, like you. I know you'll have a lot to talk about."

He does (write fantasy) and we did (find a lot to talk about). And when I read his book, I was bewitched. The Rest of Our Lives is a compelling, original story that is sure to touch you with its humanity and universal wisdom. Blending magic, romance and the paranormal, this timeless tale is enchanting, entrancing and always entertaining.

The author, of course, is Dan Stone, and he brings to this first novel, his experiences as a poet, journalist and editor, as a college instructor and human resources trainer, as a personal and professional development coach, and as a mystic and an intuitive "Daneller." No, that's not a typo. And if you want to know what a Daneller is and does, you'll just have to tune in on the 19th (or listen to the archive, which will be available immediately after the live broadcast goes off the air).

During this month's feature interview, Dan will share more about his book and other writings, about his creative process and about "the stream of well being that is ever flowing." It promises to be an eclectic, free-ranging conversation, and I hope you'll tune in (and join in, with your questions and comments).

During the first segment of the show
, I'll offer some writing tips and inspiration and take your questions about writing and the creative process and about me and my books, The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write and The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy.

tune in, and bring your questions and quirks -- for me and my guests!

There are three ways to ask questions of my and my guests or to post comments:
• Post your questions in the show's chat room (free Blog Talk Radio account required)
• Post your questions directly to me on
Twitter (@markdavidgerson)
• Post your questions directly to me on on my
Facebook wall

The Muse & You, a production of Red River Writers, is all about writing and creativity, and it's for writers and readers alike -- an opportunity to listen to writers and creators of all sorts talk about how and why they create and, of course, about what they create. It's also an opportunity for you to ask your questions -- of me during the first segment of the show, when I offer writing tips and inspiration, and of my guests during the interview portion.

Listen to
The Muse & You on the third Thursday of every month at 1pm ET (10am PT). December's guest will be Karen Walker, author of Following the Whispers.

The Muse & You Show Archive
If you miss any live broadcast, you can listen to the archived episode, which is available shortly after each show on the show's web page. You can also download any show directly into your computer for later listening.

#4 ~ Oct 15Kristin Bair O'Keeffe author of Thirsty

#3 ~ Sept 17Joanne Chilton and Jeanne Ripley co-authors of Wings to Fly

#2 ~ Aug 20Jared Lopatin, author of Rising Sign

#1 ~ July 29Julie Isaac, founder of Twitter's #writechat, and Malcom Campbell, author of
The Sun Singer and Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire

Friday, November 13, 2009


Wander in my words
Dream about the pictures
That I play of changes
~ Phil Ochs

If you're particularly observant, you'll notice that the header of this blog has changed. No longer titled The Voice of Your Muse, it's now titled simply with my name. Why? To reflect the blog's new, slightly broader scope and to reflect, as well, my philosophy that life, creativity and spirituality are all intrinsically linked.

In effect, I've suspended posts to my New Earth Chronicles blog (still filled with all kinds of good stuff, so check it out!). Instead, I'm consolidating all my blogging efforts here. The result will be a more dynamic blog, still focused on creativity but with a more eclectic flavor that should appeal to writers and nonwriters alike.

If you're already a subscriber to this blog, nothing will change for you. If you subscribe only to New Earth Chronicles, you will eventually be subscribed to this one, too, once Feedblitz merges the lists. If you'd rather not wait, simply use the subscription blank up top.

One more change to note: I've revamped and redesigned my web site. Please have a look.

I hope you'll continue to enjoy my musings on life and creativity here, and I encourage you to continue to share yours here, too -- with me and with each other.

Larger Than Life

A version of this article first appeared in the June 3, 2007 issue of my inspirational newsletter.

Watching the DVD recording of that 2006 concert this evening prompted me to revisit the original piece and share it again with you here.

Back in October 2006 when I was visiting Toronto, a friend treated me to a ticket to Barbra Streisand's first-ever concert performance in that city. Although we were sitting high in the rafters in a hockey arena that was anything but intimate, I was startled by how fully and personally her energy filled every corner of that venue.

"She's larger than life," I remember gushing to my friend at intermission.

I recalled that experience the first time I listened to the CD recording of the concert tour, some months after my return from Toronto. "That's what I want," I heard myself say at the time and was so startled by what seemed such a profoundly ego-driven thought that I was almost embarrassed.

But it wasn't until some months later that I fully understood both the Streisand experience and my inner voice. What I realized was that "larger than life" isn't about being famous. It simply means living larger than the restrictions and limitations we all carry so willingly through life. I also realized that access to that energy is not limited to the Barbra Streisands of the world, unless we choose for that to be so.

Even as our souls yearn for us to "play big," to discover our passion and live it to the fullest, our fearful self continues to seek out ways to hide and play small.

"Our deepest fear," writes Marianne Williamson in A Return to Love, "is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

Perhaps even deeper than the fear she describes is the fear of experiencing and expressing our power out in the world, of being larger than life, of living beyond the self-imposed walls and barriers we create in the mistaken belief they will keep us safe.

They can't and they won't.

Our only safety resides in living our largest life to its fullest potential, in living our living our passion. In walking through life as though we are though nothing can stop, limit or restrict us.

As I write this, an old Cole Porter lyric keeps running through my head:

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above,
Don't fence me in

At a literal level, the song is sung by a cowboy who longs for the endless space of the open range.

Yet it's also the song of every soul deprived of its fullest expression by the fences of a fearful mind, a soul that seeks only the limitlessness of its natural state.

Whatever you think of Barbra Streisand's talent or personality, when you are in her energy field, you touch that limitlessness and your soul cries out, "Me too! That's who I am, too!!"

Here in the Western world, where we have been taught to play small, we transfer all of our natural desire for the fenceless world of a life lived large to our movie stars and sports heroes.

If we can't play out our own passion and power, we play it out through a celebrity cult that's no healthier than any other cult, one we also find in countries with charismatic leaders/dictators, in religions with unapproachable gods and in all situations where we abdicate the expression of our infinite nature to someone or something outside of ourselves.

In my novel, The MoonQuest, very much a metaphor for all our journeys, the main character is destined for a greatness he continues to resist. Yet destiny, as he is constantly reminded, is not cast in stone. There is always a choice.

"Every choice you have ever made, has led to this moment. Your moment. Still, the power to make a different choice remains yours."

The power to choose is always ours. In every moment and through every situation, we're offered the opportunity to choose our greatness, our passion, our light.

It's what we do with each moment and situation that governs our destiny, that decides whether we live in our greatness or in the shadow of someone else's, that determines whether we build fences or tear them down.

In this moment, what do you choose?

A Musing About My Muse

A Guest Post by Elizabeth A. Galligan

Every now and again, I post work here that was produced in one of my classes or workshops.

Today, I'm featuring Elizabeth A. Galligan, an Albuquerque resident who penned this meeting with her muse during my "Spirit Writes" workshop earlier this fall. No one was more surprised than she was to discover the form her muse insisted on taking....

I imagined a larger muse, something like a manatee or a mammoth, something with mass -- strong, hairy, ponderous even. I wanted a muse with gravitas, at whose entrance all would incline slightly, acknowledging her immensity and power. I had wanted a notable muse, one that would attract positive attention. Others would think how grand I must be to have a muse like her. Muses like these are honored in muse-ums, aren’t they?

But I am learning to see that my muse is not massive. She’s tiny. She has a funny voice. She makes music with her legs. She comes, and goes, when she wants. Mostly, she leaves. Her leaving increases my desire for her, my companion, my co-creator.

She is small and unassuming, almost insignificant, easily stepped on. She is often mistaken for a cockroach.

My muse visits me only when I am in crisis. Then, she sings to me. Her singing begins in the evening and lasts while I slumber. In the morning, she is gone. For many mornings after, I miss her. I don’t know what calls her to my patio.

I once thought it demeaning to have a tiny, fragile insect as my muse. She suits me now. Her songs and mine will blend.

I find it a-musing to dissect this tiny creature which has allied itself to me in times of intense emotion. My cricket sings all night without pause. What meaning is there in this? Does her habit simply indicate mechanistic movements without consciousness? If I attribute emotion or caring to these cricket acts, am I simply projecting my human feelings onto her insectness? Am I able to let go of these misgivings long enough to hear, really listen to my diminutive muse?

Will her songs and mine blend? The songs of a cricket, are they really songs or messages from another reality? We hear through human ears. What we call "song" conveys emotion. Do crickets have emotions? If not, what do they have, cricket-consciousness? In many native traditions, all creatures have spirit. There was a time when animals, insects, and people spoke with each other in a mutual language. Insects were helpers, guides, and saviors. To communicate with them, one had to learn to listen carefully.

Opening up to my muse demands my release of desires rooted in the ego and the twin-enemy gods, domination and power. This demands humility.

To listen properly to the cricket, what should I do? Since she rarely visits, perhaps I should avail myself of human technology and make a recording of cricket sounds. It would be a kind of elevator muse-ic to trigger my writing in her absence.

In these late summer days, I have not needed her. My songs keep flowing. But what about the winter? Will she come again and nestle near my hearth the way she rested near my bare toes on the day I realized that she had come as an ally?

My cricket muse has not arrived, and I long for her. Now the only sounds on my patio are the faint chirps of sparrows and the louder thrum of traffic on the interstate. A soothing breeze blows a cool hint of fall. When will my muse come again? Until she arrives, I shall have to write alone and explore the gifts she brought. How long it takes to recognize both the fragility and the power of the cricket within. She and I share gifts. I know her songs and mine can blend.

I write and listen. I hear the sound of the thick silver tip of my pen as it moves across the page. Can I close my eyes and write? No, the last line obliterated the previous one and I lost the meaning. Can I let the pen say what it wants and push back my critic, my inhibitor, so that the words can flow? If I stop saying “I” and begin with “We,” will that make a difference? If I think outside the box of my own self, will I arrive “somewhere I have never travelled, gladly beyond” as e. e. cummings wrote? Will I be glad to “travel beyond” or will I quickly jump back, fearing to step into the muse stream? Will I greet the beyond?

The poem continues, “your eyes hold their meaning.” What meanings will I discover in this muse-questing? Who knows? At least the journey moves me forwards to listen more intently.

The silver tip of the poem slows. Some intruder in my usually tranquil neighborhood has activated all the guardians into noise. A tiny yapper yelps, another huge dog gruffly barks, somewhere another howls. At last, the dogs settle down. Finches contest sparrows for seeds in the rain gutter, the traffic noises subside.

I listen for my cricket.

I listen for my cricket.

I listen for my cricket.

With thanks to Mark David Gerson for his guidance and the concept

Elizabeth Ann Galligan is an award-winning poet who is also exploring other genres. Currently she is at work on a mystery novel set in northern New Mexico. Her writing often reflects her love of the Southwest.

Cricket photo from; cartoon drawing of Disney's Jiminy Cricket

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Snap a Pic for Me and Promote Yourself - Part II

This is a repeat of a piece I posted here in July, but featuring a whole new gallery of readers! (A version of this also appeared in August in my New Earth Chronicles blog.)

I hope you'll join the fun. Read on to find out how....

Do you have a copy of either of my books? If so, I'd love to include a pic of you reading either The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write, The MoonQuest, or both in my Rogues Gallery of Readers Photo Album on Facebook.

And to help you promote your book and/or web site, I'll include in the photo caption not only your name but your promotional info/link. I'll also post a selection of reader pics here in a future blog post.

If you have my email address, simply email me your pic and caption information. If you don't have my email address, contact me via Facebook, Twitter or my web site once you have the photo, and I'll tell you where to send it.

Thanks to Lynn Higgin (top pic, above), Dave Rhodes, Cristina M.R. Norcross, Laurent Delpit, Irene Brodsky and Joanne Allgoewer for their reader pics. I'm looking forward to getting yours!

New Mexico Writing Workshops: Last 2 for 2009

What you have lived is unique...
What you have learned is beyond price...
What you can share through your words
carries the potential to transform you and others
in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

For a complete list of all Mark David's upcoming events around the country and on the web -- including classes, workshops, talks, media appearances and his radio show -- visit or subscribe to his page on

Sundays, Nov 15 + 22 (1 - 4:30 pm)
From Memory to Memoir: Writing the Stories of Your Life
Learn powerful techniques to help you create compelling narratives that will bring words to your life and life to your words.
• $99 by Nov 8; $122 after Nov 8 (plus NM Tax)

Sunday, Dec 6 (1 - 5 pm)
The Heartful Art of Revision: An Intuitive Approach to Editing
Your draft’s complete. Now what? Learn how to revise your work effectively and gently -- in a way that respects not only your work but you as its creator.
• $55 by Dec 1; $99 after Dec 1 (plus NM Tax)

It doesn't matter what your genre or experience level is, these workshops will transform your creative process and revolutionize your creative life.

Register Now!
Space Limited
(Advance registration required for all classes and workshops)

Additional information

Online, web-based classes.
Sign up here
to be kept informed!

You’ll never feel the same about writing again!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Writer's Creed

"Speak from that place in your heart where you are most yourself. Speak directly, simply, lovingly, gently and without any apologies. Tell us what you see and want us to see; tell us what you hear and want us to hear....Trust your own heart. The words will come. There is nothing to fear...."
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen, Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in a Secular World

• Where in your writing and your life can you speak more heartfully, directly and unapologetically?

• How, in your writing and your life, can you share what you see and hear in ways that are more trusting -- of yourself and others?

• Why are you waiting to express your potential and potential to a world so hungry for your wisdom and creativity?

• Isn't it time let your words express the truth of your heart?

What are you waiting for? Do it now. Write it now. Be it now.