A book coach by your side

Writing Coach

A writing coach is a literary fairy godmother. She can charm your plot or transform your writing practice! I’ve earned my wand—as a novel writing coach, memoir coach, short story, nonfiction, and essay writing coach—helping castlesful of writers abracadabra great ideas into golden sheaves of pages. And I can help you, too.

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Book 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? I’ll blaze a trail and return with a detailed map of the road your manuscript needs to travel. My feedback can pave the way toward your publishing goals.

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I’m Jamie

From the moment I led my first writers’ group, I’ve been on a mission—to help other writers make their mark. Since then, I’ve worked with authors in many genres. And what have I learned? Well, I’ve cross-stitched myself a little sampler that says it all. Whether you’re a first-time writer or a pro: Your success is my success!

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News, Notes & Quotes

  • MY FRIEND TIA LEVINGS WAS JUST INTERVIEWED FOR A NOT NOSY PODCASTAmong wide-ranging topics, Tia talked about DEEP WORK: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, by Cal Newport (find your way to 47:21 to hear that part of the conversation) and how applying Newport’s principles to her writing process has helped her, well, get a lot of freakin’ writing done!

    Listening to Tia, I took away a key message—and not a new one: To get the writing done, we have to prioritize the writing.

    It may seem that prioritizing simply means allocating sufficient time. But I’ve found there’s another aspect of the getting-writing-done equation that is as important to me as the number of hours I devote: It’s the creative energy I bring to my writing, my magical inner fire. If I’ve burned all of my creative fuel for the day—used it up on intense conversations with friends or the focused critique of another writer’s work—by 7:00 p.m., although there are seemingly two or three usable hours left in the day, I’ll have no heat left to create within those hours.

    And I’m in good company! Author Ann Beattie, having just published her short-story collection PARK CITY, told a writerly audience that she has to be very careful about talking deeply with someone else about their writing when she is working on a manuscript, herself. “The part of me that writes doesn’t care whose writing gets attended to,” she said. “Once someone’s writing has been addressed, my inner writer packs it in. It’s finished for the day.”

    Tarot on writing

    For me, the Two of Wands from the CRYSTAL VISIONS TAROT nicely illustrates the choice we writers have to make about where to place our creative energy, our fire, every day. In it, we find a young knight astride his dragon, holding a crystal-topped wand in either hand. These wands represent two options, the two places to which he could direct his fiery steed.

    Like the knight, each day we get the chance (maybe several chances) to choose where we will commit the dragon of our energy. The more conscious we are of these moments of choice, the better able we are to choose to do the deep work.

    Tonight, I was reminded—by Tia, by Ann Beattie, and by this young CRYSTAL VISION’s knight—that I had a choice. So, instead of tuning into THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW and devoting what was left of my energy to fueling my righteous indignation, I chose to invest my evening’s dragon in writing this post.

    Thanks to U.S. Games Systems for permission to use this image from the CRYSTAL VISIONS TAROT by Jennifer Galasso.

  • BE IN NO RUSH TO REVEAL ALL AT ONCE! Be free and let life find its own pace. I am patience, and I am fruition’s reward. In me you will find the fertile ground in which to plant your seed and the patience to watch it grow to abundance. 

    So says The Empress, in Emily Carding’s TAROT OF THE SIDHE—expressing sentiments with which no first-time novelist has ever agreed. Not once.

    I sympathize. The fact that things take time can be infuriating. But, as the King of Prussia says (over and over) in AMADEUS, “There it is.”

    This makes me think of my friend Mel, who is healing from hip surgery. She’s young, so she’s healing relatively quickly. But evidently not quickly enough. “I didn’t know it was going to take so much time,” she cried plaintively last week, after the drugs—and the novelty—wore off.

    Like Mel to her repaired hip, new writers often come to a novel-writing coach astride a straight-ahead steamroller called Let’s get ‘er done. But (like Mel!) when they begin to understand that, as with most big endeavors, chances are good it won’t be quick—that they won’t be writing their book just once, from beginning to end—they ask, understandably, “Well, how long? Like, a few months? Six months? A year?!?”

    And that’s when I have to share the awful truth, the thing none of us—not me, not Mel, not a new novelist—wants to hear: Things take the time they take.

    We can stamp our feet (not you, Mel) and declare whatever ultimatum we want to our creative (or healing) process: “Well, I’m going to have it done by June.” Or Christmas. Or the family reunion (so I have something to show after all these years!). And if it’s not finished by then? “I’m going to _________ (fill in the blank: quit? throw the laptop out the window? get a job at Walmart?).”

    But none of that sways the process. It will take the time it takes.

    What does help, as I’ve learned by painful trial and error, is staying the course. Riding that darned steamroller to the end of the tarmac—no matter how seemingly endless the runway. Because, while art (or healing) may require more patience from us than we feel we can muster, the rewards of both are great.

    And if that is not consolation enough, maybe this is: Our above-quoted Empress also says, You are safe in my hands as you grow and journey towards completeness. I will support you and bring you all sustenance, that you may bring the same to others.

    Thanks to Emily Carding for her permission to share The Empress from her Tarot of the Sidhe (Schiffer Publishing) and to quote from the text. 

  • IF THE WHEEL OF FORTUNE WERE YOUR WRITING COACH, it would remind you (perhaps a little smugly) that for every up—in your mood, your writing fortunes, in your book’s acceptance or rejection by the public or by agents—there will be a down. The Wheel would mention that all fame is temporary, all luck a roll of the dice. The only constant is change, the Wheel of Fortune would assure you. It’s the way of the world. And depending where you found yourself at that particular moment, that assurance might encourage you—or it might make you feel a little anxious about what the next turn of the wheel could bring.

    Fortunately, we have w-a-y more control over our characters’ lives than we seem to have  (at least some days) over our own. This prompt will give you a chance to spin the wheel wildly in one character’s favor … but not so much in another’s. Enjoy wielding your power!

    Tarot Writing Prompt

    Imagine the view one character has from the “top” of a situation. Is she an elected official? Is he the boss? Or just a bossy older brother? Write a quick scene that gives us a feeling of his or her top-dog perspective.

    Now, imagine a second character who is experiencing the same situation from the “bottom.” The personal assistant? The beleaguered younger brother? The stay-at-home spouse who has to smile too widely for too long at public rallies? Write the same scene, but from that character’s perspective.

    Finally, write a scene in which the two characters’ relative fortunes spin, leaving their status exchanged, so the original top dog is face down on the bottom of the heap, while the underdog is enjoying his or her (temporary) cat-bird seat.

    Need a couple of examples for inspiration? Check out THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, by Mark Twain, and the absolutely golden chapter on status and character relationships in IMPRO: Improvisation and the Theatre, by Keith Johnstone. 

    The image above is from THE WISDOM SEEKER’S TAROT, by David Fontana, published by Watkins Publishing.

  • I’M A SHORT-FORM WRITER, MYSELF: blog posts, personal essays, flash fiction … and, for publication, writing about tarot. Even when I’m embarked on a book-length project, I tend to think about it as being composed of a series of short pieces. It keeps me from being overwhelmed. You know: forest, trees. Or, as Anne Lamott puts it in her book of the same name, “bird by bird.”

    This approach can work for folks who are writing novels or memoirs, too. In that case, creating a list of scenes—short forms in themselves—based on a well-considered outline can break down a book-length narrative into bite-sized pieces.

    And then there are the super-short forms of fiction, from flash fiction (typically under 1000 words) to those variously named forms (well-described in an article in The Writer Mag: Expert Tips for Writing the Best Flash Fiction) that require a writer to get their story-telling job done within 100 or even 25 words!

    While writing shorter forms is less daunting than, say, embarking on a 100,000-word novel, to do so successfully, it helps to know rules that make these forms work.

    I found Susan Doran’s discussion of flash fiction and other micro fiction in her article “Lean Mean Writing Machine: Flash Fiction and Other Short Fiction Formshelpful. But, as I reviewed her tips, and those on Creative Writing Now’s short-short stories page, I was struck by how applicable the guidelines for writing short-shorts are to longer forms of narrative writing.

    Which sort of brings me full circle. Even for longer projects, breaking things down into micro units can make what seems an elephantine task digestible. And if you have some rules for those micro units? All the better to eat you with, my dear!

  • SO, HOW IS WRITING COACHING LIKE THE KNIGHT OF CUPS? In tarot, the Knight of Cups is driven by dreams, ideals, imagination. Like your book-writing coach, he just falls in love with your story. Like the knight, your coach has big dreams for you. She keeps her imaginative inner eye focused on your completed book and holds that vision in her writing-coaching heart. It’s the light by which she guides you.

    Also, like the Knight of Cups, writing coaching coaxes you into magical-but-hidden spots in your own heart, reassuring you that, yes, you can travel there, and, yes, you will discover something worth its weight in gold along the way! And like that idealistic knight, writing coaching cares about your story almost as much as you do. But most of all? Writing coaching offers you her overflowing cup of inspiration to drink from, whenever you have a mighty writing thirst upon you.

    Tarot Writing Prompt

    But coach or no, you can be a knight in shining service to your own writing project! Try one of these exercises the next time your cup of inspiration is empty.

    1. Remember why you fell in love with your main character in the first place (even if you’re writing a memoir and your main character is you!). Make a list of the ten most charming and/or endearing attributes your character possesses.
    2. Write about your story as if it were a dream. Interpret your main plot points, looking for hidden meanings in the mundane details as you’ve imagined them.
    3. See yourself as your story’s champion—the only one who can save your story from falling off the Cliff of Despair and dashing to pieces on the deadly Shoals of Uncertainty. Write a tongue-in-cheek fairy-tale scene in which you do just that.

    The Knight of Cups and I hope one of these exercises will feed your writerly imagination. Because that, after all, is this knight’s highest quest.

    Thanks to U.S. Games Systems for permission to use the Knight of Cups from the out-of-print Arcus Arcanum Tarot Deck

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 think hiring you is the single most important gift I’ve given my writing life in years. —Tia Levings, Think It, Write It, Film It, Make It, Do It

The writer’s struggle is a painful one. Enter guardian angel and author spirit guide, Jamie Morris. Whether you are struggling to finish a manuscript, ready for a developmental editor, or simply need someone who understands you, Jamie Morris is incredible. She maps out action plans, gives firm yet reasonable goals, and takes the terror and mystery out of the writing process so you can get to the work at hand. Do yourself and your writing life a favor. Hire her immediately. She’s the best investment you’ll ever make! Sasha Graham, TAROT DIVA (Llewellyn), 365 TAROT SPREADS (Llewellyn), 365 TAROT SPELLS, (Llewellyn), TAROT OF THE HAUNTED HOUSE (Lo Scarabeo), TAROT FUNDAMENTALS (Lo Scarabeo)

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 has been a freelance editor for Blue Angel Publishing since 2015. She has proven to be very reliable and professional—an absolute pleasure to deal with. She is very thorough, with a keen eye for detail, and is 100% committed to fulfilling the specific requirements for each job to our satisfaction and that of our authors, whose work she edits. She’s open and responsive to feedback, and consistently completes jobs within the agreed time frame. We recommend her editing services. Tanya Graham, author, editor, Blue Angel Publishing

Jamie, thanks for all your notes and for the session Friday morning. It was all very helpful on so many levels. You are someone to treasure, for sure. I’m so glad you are part of my team. All my interactions with you make me, and thus my corner of the world, a saner, happier, more optimistic place. Beth Lambdin, blogger, essayist, film reviewer

Jamie, thank you so much for all your love, encouragement, and expertise this morning! I’m very excited to just write the way I did when I was a kid, to just have fun and roll with my instincts. Truly, I’m always in awe of how insightful you are as a coach, not just to writing but to the human heart. Alina Smith, songwriter, music producer, at LYRE

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! You have a great eye. It was awesome how you and I were able to work intuitively together. You are right—all of those details do truly matter! Rebecca Schoenecker, creator of CREATURES OF THE MOON ORACLE DECK

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! Our ideas totally merged, and magic happened! —Melissa Abrehamsen, FORETOLD (represented by Siobhan McBride of Serendipity Literary Agency)

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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