BOOK REVIEW: Nicole Pyles Reviews Evidence of Flossing

“I was so impressed with this book. It conveyed a beauty and yet sadness at the same time. I could sense the spiritual struggle within the poetry and a reflection of the world around (and the masks society often puts forward). This book is definitely a conversation piece and I can’t wait to share it with others.” — Nicole Pyles, World of My Imagination

>> Click Here to read the full review!


This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

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GUEST BLOG POST: Blogging as a Creative Tool

Today, I’m a guest blogger on Words, Crazy Words, sharing my thoughts on…

BLOGGING AS A CREATIVE TOOL

One of the most inspiring art exhibits I’ve seen in recent years was called “Suddenly This Overview.” On display at the Guggenheim in New York, it featured 250 small sculptures by artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. The sculptures were made of a pale gray, unfired clay, and were presented individually on white pedestals around the curving spiral ramp of the museum. Clean, Times New Roman captions explained Pythagoras Marveling at His Theorem, Jesus Walks on Water, the Fish Are Amazed, and (my favorite) Mr. Spock Looks at His Home Planet Vulcanus and Is a Bit Sad That He Can’t Have Any Feelings.

At the time, I was in the middle of a blogging challenge to write a poem a day for the month of April – National Poetry Month. A friend asked what it felt like to write a blog post every day, and I couldn’t help but think of the Fischli/Weiss exhibit.

In an interview with Artspace, Weiss explained “The intention was to accumulate various important and unimportant events in the history of mankind and of the planet — moments in the fields of technology, fairy tales, civilization, film, sports, commerce, education, sex, biblical history, nature, and entertainment.”

That’s a sweeping, broad source of inspiration for them—and for us! (Aren’t those the very things WE write about, think about, create about?)

One of the Fischli/Weiss sculptures was a plain block of clay entitled Without Words. Their starting point, perhaps—a blank page of clay onto which they were challenged to put their thoughts and ideas. It’s that place we all start when we first listen to our own inspirations—what will we create today?

Blogging is like that block of clay. It gives us a place to start and a medium to shape into whatever our Muse suggests — a poem a day, for example. A book review. A photo essay. Random musings about mankind and the planet.

A blog can no more sit idle than that block of clay. It’s very nature is to be used, shaped, molded. To be a vessel for our creative efforts is its raison d’être.

All we need to do is show up…and shape it.

>>CLICK HERE to read the whole post.

This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

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Read a Preview of Evidence of Flossing Today!

Here’s your chance to preview our new book. Click through the sample pages in our new ISSU feature! Select Full Screen to read the text and see the photos up close! If you like what you see, visit our BOOK SHOP to purchase your copy today!

GUEST BLOG POST: The Importance of Retreat

Today, I’m a guest blogger on Lauren Scharhag’s blog, sharing my thoughts on…

THE IMPORTANCE OF RETREAT

BUG OUT! That’s what they called it on the TV show M*A*S*H. The enemy is getting closer, someone yells “Bug Out!” and everyone, everywhere packs up everything and bolts!

I use the same word, often, when it’s time to get away for a while. BUG OUT! You know that feeling, right? You’ve been working really hard, your To Do list hasn’t gotten any shorter, you can’t seem to get enough sleep, and coffee just isn’t working its usual magic.

It’s time to Retreat! Regroup! Withdraw! Escape!

I don’t think the battlefront vocabulary is all that off-base. We live in a world of battles — time, technology, schedules, workloads, deadlines. If you’re a creative type, somewhere in all of that you must also make room for the Muse who feeds your soul. And if your Muse is anything like mine, she lets you know when she’s hungry for more attention!

In the Scientific American article “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime,” (https://tinyurl.com/j7v6kyj) writer Ferris Jabr details study after study that confirm the importance of taking time off. He concludes that “Downtime replenishes the brain’s stores of attention and motivation, encourages productivity and creativity, and is essential to both achieve our highest levels of performance and simply form stable memories in everyday life.”

But we can’t all be like author Elizabeth Gilbert —a little overwhelmed, take a year off and travel the world to Eat Pray Love our way back to our creative selves. Not everyone has that luxury.

But here’s what I’ve learned about downtime…

IF…I give myself just a half hour to meditate or take a nap or walk in the woods? My Muse breathes.

IF…I give myself a day off, like a Sunday-Sabbath-resting day off? Then my Muse dances.

And IF…I am so lucky as to be able to take a true retreat — a suitcase, off-the-grid, away-from-things retreat — my Muse will pack up her stuff and come along with me. We’ll see things with fresh eyes, we’ll come up with new ideas, and we’ll start speaking to each other again.

CLICK HERE to read the whole post.

This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

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Words, Crazy Words Reviews Evidence of Flossing

“Payne’s other work as an essayist is evident in many of the narrative poems. Strong sense of place and point of view carry the individual poems as a cohesive whole. This collection is one I will turn to again and again. I anticipate greater appreciation for this thoughtful collection each time.” — Tara Huck, Words, Crazy Words

CLICK HERE to read the full review!

This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

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WOW! Women on Writing Interviews Jen Payne

from THE MUFFIN
WOW! Women on Writing
by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto
(Click here for the WOW! Book Tour Launch and Give-away)


WOW: First of all, congratulations on your book Evidence of Flossing! What was the first book you fell in love with? And why?

Jen: There are two books I remember loving as a kid. One was The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. It’s about four orphaned children who end up living in an abandoned boxcar in the woods. It seemed so idyllic…living in the forest, eating wild blueberries for supper, making cool things from found objects. The other book was The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis—oddly enough also about four young children who have magical adventures in the woods!

I had a big imagination as a kid, and parents who insisted I play outside. Plus I grew up along the shoreline in Connecticut, and there were always places to explore: beaches, marshes, trails through woods. So, I pretended I was like the Alden children living in the woods, or Lucy finding her way to Narnia.

Sprinkle in a little Winnie the Pooh and Emily Dickinson, then later in life Thoreau’s Walden, and I guess you could say I always looked to the woods and nature for inspiration.


WOW: Sounds like we would have made excellent friends as a kid! We had similar tastes in books! So, when did you know you wanted to be an author? What was the first thing you wrote that made you feel inspired to pursue writing?

Jen: I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember. My dad traveled a lot for business, and we used to write letters to each other when he was away—I think that’s where it started.

I had a ton of pen pals, too, back when you still did things like that. There was a television show called the Big Blue Marble. I belonged to their Pen Pal Club and wrote to kids in England, Belgium, France, Trinidad, and Korea.

And I’ve always written that way… not made-up stories, but real life experiences. I wrote for my high school newspaper. Studied journalism at UMass. My first job was writing press releases and advertising copy. So, my writing is very much based on that nonfiction foundation, though more creative nonfiction, or nonfiction prose.

WHEN did I know I wanted to be an author? I used to talk about writing “the great American novel” but I could never figure out how my writing fit that genre. Then, about six years ago, a friend of mine suggested my blog writings would make a great book. That’s how LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness came about—that’s the book I published in 2014. It’s a collection of my blog posts.


WOW: I really love that you turned your blog writing into a book! Your blog turned out to be quite the muse for you! What are your books about?

Jen: Both books, really, are about reconnecting with nature, about appreciating the gifts of our planet. LOOK UP! tells the story of my own journey. It’s organized like a journal, and includes a collection of my essays and photographs, plus a bunch of quotes by famous naturalists, philosophers, and writers who have considered the same topics of mindfulness and our connection with the natural world.

Evidence of Flossing is what happened next. After the journey. It’s an examination of the contradictions and tragedies of our everyday world compared to the organic rhythms and beauty of the natural world. But this book is all poetry—73 original poems—plus a quirky series of photographs of discarded dental flossers and other original photos.


WOW: I love how you merge both creative outlets in your book – photography and poetry. Let’s talk time management – you own a graphic design company, write books, find time for poetry reading events, book launches, etc…how do you do it all and how do you do it with a smile on your face? What advice can you give to others who struggle with time management and juggling it all?

Jen: Good question! I have a smile on my face – most of the time – because I truly love what I do. I love my day job and I love my writing life. They feed me. I think it’s easier to make time for things that feed you.

Usually.

My secrets? I get up super early – like I don’t want to tell you how early. And for me, those quiet, early morning hours are the best time to get good work done.

Coffee. Also a good thing. (And always from a Wonder Woman mug.)

Yoga or a long walk in the woods—please, yes.

And then, I eat frogs.

Have you heard of this? It’s a technique from motivational speaker Brian Tracy, who says that if you tackle the most difficult things on your To Do list first, it creates momentum for other things to get done more easily. A friend shared the video with me a few years ago (https://youtu.be/0W7GB5Fh2XM) and it’s really changed how I approach my day. Especially when I am up-to-my-eyeballs busy!

My advice to others? Oh dear, well…find your super powers (like getting up early), go for a walk, invest in 3×5 cards, drink coffee, and eat frogs when necessary.


WOW: I will most definitely have to look up the eating frogs idea later. You’re all about conversations (me too) – so imagine the current you is having coffee and conversations with the teenage you…what advice would you give yourself?

Jen: That would be a LONG conversation, probably involving a little finger wagging—don’t start smoking; more books/more writing/less boys; travel not chachkies. The usual hindsight things.

And then…there is a great parable in Ram Dass’ Journey of Awakening that tells the story of a king who asks his people to come up with something that would make him happy when he was sad, and sad when he was happy. The winner presents the king with a ring, the inscription reading “This Too Shall Pass.”

So, that: Don’t worry. Be happy. This too shall pass.


WOW: I’d definitely be telling myself something similar if I could sit my teenage-self down over coffee! So, what’s next for you? You certainly aren’t the “sit around and wait for life to happen” person – so where can we expect to see you next?

Jen: You’re right there! Actually, I’ve been thinking about publishing a short story I wrote called Water Under the Bridge. It’s an epistolary novel told through a series of emails.

But more immediately, I want to do an art exhibit of the (dental) flosser photos from Evidence of Flossing — maybe in the spring. I just think they deserve their own time and place outside of the book. They have a story to tell.

Don’t we all?


WOW: We do! I truly believe that. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today and we can’t wait to see the feedback come in from the book tour about your book Evidence of Flossing!

Jen: Thanks Crystal – it’s been great to talk to you. Thank you for helping to launch the book’s blog tour today!

CLICK HERE for the WOW! Book Tour Launch and Give-away

This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

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On Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ― Melody Beattie

IMAGE: Open Door, Brittany, Henri Matisse