Guiding you along the writer’s path

Editing

A developmental editor helps writers hone their work-in-progress. For voice, heart, vision, yes!—and for style, organization, and clarity, too. Have a draft of a memoir or novel? Establishing your on-line presence? My feedback can pave the way toward your publishing and solopreneurial goals.

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Coaching

A writing coach is a literary fairy godmother. She can charm your plot or transform your writing practice! I’ve earned my wand helping castles-full of writers abracadabra great ideas into golden sheaves of pages. Whether you’re creating book pages or web pages, I can help you, too.

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I’m Jamie

From the moment I facilitated my first writer’s group, I’ve been on a mission: to help other writers make their mark. Now, in addition to my work with fiction writers and memoirists, I also provide editing services and support to entrepreneurs. Because your success is my success.

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News, Notes & Quotes

  • SOMETIMES, A CHARACTER NEEDS A SWIFT KICK in the “but” to get going. Maybe he wants to quit his soul-sucking corporate job and study journalism, but the golden handcuffs of his benefits hold him back. Or maybe she wants to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, but her family’s conservative values give her pause.

    A main character who hears—but ignores—the call of their story is known as a “reluctant hero.” Their motto? “I know I should, but …” Whatever their road to adventure, they’ll find a “but” to avoid it. When you have a character like that to manage, Dear Writer, you just have to take matters into your own hands.

    WRITING PROMPT
    Find a reluctant hero. Perhaps you have one waiting in the wings! Give them a concrete goal (to adopt a child? run a marathon? start a cat rescue?)—but not enough motivation to act on it.

    Now, write a scene in which they demonstrate (and justify) their reluctance.

    It’s late. Jenna passes the feral cat colony on her way to the mailbox. Wary eyes shine out at her from the bushes. Recently, she has noticed the cats seem thinner. She would love to help, she really would, but … There are so many animals in need, so many cats, and she’s just one person. Exhausted by the mere thought of yet another responsibility—on top of the kids, the overtime, the house that needs painted—Jenna grabs her mail and heads back, making sure not to glance at the bushes.

    Next, create circumstances that kick your hero right in their “but.”

    Jenna’s foot clunks against something. A plastic bowl. She picks it up and sees it’s filled with kibble. Someone must be feeding the cats, she thinks, relieved. And then she smells it. A chemically, garlicky odor. Stepping under the streetlight, she looks again. The kibble has been sprinkled with white powder. Rat poison, unless she misses her guess. And with that, Jenna feels the soft, heavy weight of the lives of dozens of cats descend upon her shoulders. Like it or not, it seems it’s up to her to save them.

    THE PRECIOUS CHILD: Like Jenna, even the most reluctant of heroes is likely to jump into action if something they value—something that can’t fight back—is threatened. The literary term for that “something” is “precious child.” This might be an actual child, or it might be an adult whose spiritual or political beliefs make them vulnerable. It could also be a family home under risk of foreclosure, an imperiled natural environment, or a member of an endangered species, to name just a few possibilities.

    As writers, we manipulate our characters however we must to get them fully committed to their story—even if that means putting out a bowl of fictional poison or dropping a lit cigarette in the dry brush at the edge of a fictional old-growth forest. But once they’re committed? We can only hope our heroes outgrow their reluctance and learn to meet the challenges of their story head on!

    This post was inspired by The Chariot card of the tarot, which advises us to focus on our goals and harness our will to achieve them. In this version of The Chariot (cleverly combined with the Seven of Spades/Swords), from THE ILLUMINATED TAROT, by Caitlin Keegan, published by Penguin Random House, two horses, representing the “horsepower” of focused will, have left the confines and comforts of the barn and are joining dynamic forces to achieve new aims. (Image used by kind permission of Caitlin Keegan.)

  • Very heARTy congrats to two artist pals …

    PAULA JEFFERY on her recently published collection of dog portraits, DOG DAYS: The Art of the Dog, available on Amazon, and JADE HERRIMAN on being tapped to illustrate the upcoming personal style book DEAR CONFIDENCE, now funding on Kickstarter. (P.S. The bonus waiting for you at the bottom of Jade’s home page, her free journaling ebook, contains 25 fresh ways to get your thoughts and feelings on the page!)

    * * *

    Kudos, too, to SHARON SPANO, PHD, on the completion of her new book, THE PURSUIT OF TIME AND MONEY, which can now be pre-ordered on Amazon.

  • THE ILLUMINATED TAROT is a tarot deck that’s been created using just the 52 cards of a standard playing card deck (plus a 53rd card for The Fool), rather than the 78 cards that usually comprise a tarot. I’m not a playing-card reader, but I am an avid tarot reader, so I wasn’t sure how the deck would work for me. But the imagery in this tarot/playing card deck is so gorgeous—and the price so reasonable—that I was happy to take a chance on it just to see the images up close and personal. And they fulfill their on-line promise beautifully, in hand.

    Bright, graphic, and personality-filled, the cards are a joy to look at. I assumed they would be standard playing card size, but in fact they are oversized cards. At 5″ high by 3.5″ wide, their proportions are closer to playing cards than to a relatively longer, narrower standard tarot. Their generous size allows the viewer to see all the details of the artwork (which is a particular pleasure for someone with aging eyes).

    So, how does deck creator/artist Caitlin Keegan get a 78-card tarot into 53 cards? Very cleverly! First, she eliminated the four Knights, leaving her court cards as Jack (Page), Queen, and King. But all the other cards are there! Really! By finding some very sharp connections between the Majors and the Minors, she makes 21 of the cards to do double duty. For instance, the Ace of Wands is also Strength: That card illustration (did I mention clever?) shows a lion holding a wand in its mouth.

    Some of the connections work better—that is to say, more immediately—for me than others, but all of them make me think, most bring a smile of recognition and understanding, and one, Seven of Swords/Chariot, brought tears to my eyes. (Not sure why. I do have thing for horses, though.) I won’t list any of the other pairings, as it would spoil the fun of discovering them for yourself.

    Not that you’re left to decipher the “translations” on your own! Keegan provides a beautifully designed, full-color “little white book,” which reveals where the doubles appear. Her card meanings (key words, only) do not adhere strictly to standard Rider-Waite-Smith meanings, but stray a bit here and there, perhaps toward Crowley, maybe toward playing-card divination. However, although I’m neither a Crowley-style reader nor a playing-card reader, I found the images expressed themselves clearly to me. (Still, the combining of images and meanings make this a deck best suited for experienced readers.)

    I did a quick four-card reading for a friend, to test drive the deck, and WOW! It really delivered! So smart, so spot on, and so easy to interpret. I was surprised and impressed! And, like every deck worth its salt, it gave me new insights about the cards drawn.

    Like the playing cards their graphic vibe borrows from, many of the cards are mirror-image reversible. And the suits are Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, and Spades, rather than tarot’s Wands, Coins, Cups, and Swords.

    Produced by Potter Style, an imprint of the Crown Publishing group, the beautifully designed deck and book are housed together in a useful, equally well designed hard-shell box that hinges on the left side. A ribbon lies across the well for the cards, which facilitates removing the cards easily.

    My only disappointment is the card stock. It’s too “paper-y” for my taste, feeling a lot like cardboard, rather than playing-card or tarot stock. However, I’ve riffle-shuffled the cards pretty thoroughly, and they held up just fine … so far. But for sure I’m going to purchase another copy. Just in case. And because it rocks.

  • THE HEART WANTS WHAT THE HEART WANTS. It’s true. And the heart is so strong willed (remember, it’s a muscle!) that, even when the mind votes otherwise, the heart often gets its unruly way.

    In Patti Smith’s new book, M TRAIN, a collection of dreamy, journal-like essays (which I bought to inspire my own writing practice—and look! it did!), she talks about renting a space in New York City in which to open a cafe, a long-held dream of hers. She was preparing for the necessary renovations, but, Smith writes,

    In the end I was obliged to abandon my cafe. Two years before, I had met the musician Fred Sonic Smith in Detroit. It was an unexpected encounter that slowly altered the course of my life. My yearning for him permeated everything…. We endured a parallel existence, shuttling back and forth between New York and Detroit, brief rendezvous that always ended in wrenching separation. Just as I was mapping out where to install a sink and coffee machine, Fred implored me to come and live with him in Detroit. Nothing seemed more vital than to join my love…. Saying good-bye to New York City and the aspirations it contained, I packed what was most precious and left all else behind….

    We’ve all done it. Abandoned something that held great value for us “just” to satisfy the demands of our heart. Sometimes painful, sometimes wildly fulfilling, these experiences can provide potent creative fuel.

    WRITING PROMPT
    Remember such a situation from your past (or imagine one for a character) and write about someone reneging on a well-laid plan to follow the call of their heart. Make it a fair fight. Let us know how important the plan was—and how compelling the call. And don’t forget to include the consequences. Because there are always consequences.

    This post was inspired by The Lovers card of the tarot deck, which can refer to the need to make a choice between two desirable options. Typically, a Lovers-like decision will be life-changing. Therefore, in such a circumstance, we do well to listen closely to what our heart has to say about the matter—and also to consider the cost of following its lead.

    In this version of The Lovers, from The Cat’s Eye Tarot, the big tabby is glancing out the window at a lone, black cat, who is making his nonchalant way across a stone wall. This suggests that the tabby has made a choice between the safety of his domestic life, which he lovingly shares with the other tabby, and the more risky life of freedom the black cat is enjoying. (Image used by kind permission of U.S. Games Systems.)

» News Archive

Jamie Morris is an outstanding resource for writers who want to reach the pinnacle of success. She’s a warm, encouraging angel on your shoulder, but she’s also got the skills, experience, and good judgment to help you vanquish your weaknesses and capitalize on your strengths. If you’re a writer with serious ambitions, work with Jamie. Elizabeth SimsYOU’VE GOT A BOOK IN YOU: A Stress-Free Guide to Writing the Book of Your Dreams (Writers Digest)


Hey, J. Just wanted to say “THANKS!” for the coaching session today. It was amazingly productive. I now have actionable clarity for revising one novel that’s been giving me grief, and finishing another that had stalled in the middle. Pretty good work for one hour, no? Ryan G. Van Cleave, Creative Writing BFA Coordinator, Ringling College of Art and Design; author of THE WEEKEND BOOK PROPOSAL (Writers Digest); MEMOIR WRITING FOR DUMMIES (John Wiley & Sons); BEHIND THE SHORT STORY, with Todd James Pierce (Longman)

Jamie: I am so freaking in love with you, this process, and my book! People dread asking me how I am because I tell them in nauseating detail how much I love my book and my writing coach and what we are up to! I feel like I won the lottery! Cara Gubbins, PhD, THE DOLPHINS OF HILTON HEAD (University of South Carolina Press); EVERYDAY WOMEN CREATING EXTRAORDINARY LIVES (JADA Press)


Jamie! You’re so wonderful! Our time together is so magical. Thank you for reigniting my passion and gifting me focus and insights. I’m thrilled about the new direction for my book. You’re all things goodness. So profoundly grateful for you and the forces that guided us together for this. Kristen Schneider, founder, Wellblends; author, YOUR LIFE IS MEDICINE: Ayurveda for Yogis

Jamie, you are so special to me and the most amazing person to come across my path at this particular time. It feels like a spiritual connection, and I do believe you are this story’s fairy godmother, as you are not only making sense of what’s already been done, but giving a new perspective on what is yet to be. Big Shared World is already better thanks to your involvement. I am better because of you. Wow! Colleen Waterston, BigSharedWorld.com


Jamie, I owe you ten bucks, but I really owe you so much more! You’ve pushed me to uncover truth in my writing. I’ve learned so much about writing, so much about myself. Thanks for the opportunity. I look forward to more. —Liz Rash, memoirist


Get your happy dance on, Jamie! I got an agent!!! I’m so excited. Get ready to grace my acknowledgement page!!! You were so integral in helping me with my character arcs in FORETOLD—and with the underlying theme! Remember when we met in downtown Mount Dora? That session was so good. Our ideas totally merged, and magic happened! —Melissa Abrehamsen, FORETOLD (represented by Siobhan McBride of Serendipity Literary Agency)


Working with Jamie Morris is a writer’s wet dream. She is incredibly professional, with a strict adherence to deadlines—and she’s got a keen eye and is full of tremendous big-picture insight and ideas. She sees the opportunities in brainstorming and works in a direction that truly meets project goals. At the end of it all, you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy after getting your authentic voice and vision in the world. Did I mention she is tons of fun, too? She brings her personality and spirit to the work, and infuses the process with joy. If you want to take your work to the next level, then call Jamie immediately. And it will be our little secret if you feel all flush with the warm glow of big dreams realized, afterward. Because, you know, you will. —Theresa Pridemore, creator, THE PORTLAND TAROT


Running a soul-centered business doesn’t come easy. Unless you have Jamie Morris at your side. Her coaching is soul-to-soul. She offers resources and stories to help navigate one’s journey. Jamie’s enthusiasm and spot-on intuition enhance her talents as a writer and editor. She’s a natural cheerleader of bloggers and businesses, and a magician who performs stellar work on any written endeavor. Tabitha Dial, MFA, author, poet; Tarot and Tea Leaf Readings by Tabitha


I must report on the truly remarkable day that Jamie Morris created for LifeArt Studio, called “Your Creativity is in the Cards.” I’m tellin’ you, it was A-MAZING. Guided by Tarot expert and workshop leader, the inimitable Jamie, we each created something new, a result of the encouraging and provocative prompts she gave us. If you missed the experience with Jamie Morris, I’m really sorry. I so wish I could give that experience to all LifeArt followers. —Lezlie Laws, LifeArt Studio

 
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