Category Archives: Featured writers

4 Reasons Poetry Liberates Mind, Body and Soul – Poetry & Iran

How a New York City Girl Came to Love High School in Iran

Shaghayegh "Sharon" Farsijani

Shaghayegh “Sharon” Farsijani

Iran is a beautiful country with one of the world’s richest heritages, but for an American teenager raised in New York City, moving there can be a potentially painful culture shock.

When Shaghayegh “Sharon” Farsijani’s father took her to Iran to experience the traditions of his birthplace, she found beauty in unexpected ways.

“Imagine this: you’re a Brooklyn girl and, just as you’re entering into the most transformative period of your life – the teenage years – you move to a very religiously observant country, where liberties American girls take for granted can get you into lots of trouble,” says Shaghayegh “Sharon” Farsijani, author of the new book, “Lacking Lips of Time.”

Like the other girls at her school, Farsijani wore a burqa, although hers was not the head-to-toe robe common in Arab countries.

“My burqa covered my head and down to the hip, and under it I wore a ‘manto,’ which is similar to a raincoat to cover the rest of my body,” she says.

But while the modest garments required for women hid much from the eyes, Farsijani discovered they could still see into each other’s hearts. They shared many of the same feelings — likes and dislikes curiosity and yearnings, joy in all of the sensations of light, sound, smell, taste and touch.

“We were different but we were very much alike,” she says.

Muslim women wearing burqas - from blog in

Muslim women wearing burqas – Photo credit: National Secular Society,–but-can-they-choose-not-to

As she tried to adjust to the more restrictive Muslim rules governing women in Iran, Farsijani discovered a powerful source of freedom. Not only did writing poetry allow her to explore and express her own feelings, it helped her understand and appreciate the beauty in the new world around her.

“Whether or not you ever share your poetry, it can be the catalyst for turning a difficult experience into a time of growth and appreciation,” she says.

She offers four reasons why:

• Poetry is one of the freest forms of written art: Poetry is nearly as diverse as the many cultures of the world. There are limericks, haikus and sonnets among structured forms, but there are many free-verse styles that have changed the world, including rap. Poetry is one of the least encumbered forms of written and spoken expression; it is by its very nature liberating.

• It provides a safe place to express what is publicly taboo or prohibited: The very conservative values of today’s Iran means it’s often not socially acceptable for teenage girls to express themselves in terms of personal fashion choices or in behaviors such as dating boys. It was the intuitive nature of poetry that helped Farsijani open the door to the deep inner sensuality of her being.

• It can express a great deal in comparatively few words: Poetry written in English, for example, can seem like a foreign language to many English speakers who do not know how to feel the written and spoken word. While those who’ve never experienced poetry in its fullness may not understand it, poets and poetry lovers appreciate its ability to express the ineffable.

• Easily memorized, it’s also easily recalled when needed: Before the printed word became accessible to the average person with the Gutenberg press, poetry’s rhythm and rhyme verse schemes were used to memorize vast quantities of information. Similarly, a line written and remembered by a young girl enduring social pressure can serve as a mantra — a life raft for sanity and personal integrity.

“It wasn’t easy, but with the help of poetry, I was able to endure challenging teenage years in Iran, which I was finally able to see as beautiful,” Farsijani says.

Farsijani - book signing in New York City - Photo credit:  Sharon Khanoom

Farsijani – book signing in New York City – Photo credit: Sharon Khanoom

About Shaghayegh “Sharon” Farsijani

Shaghayegh “Sharon” Farsijani has a cultural background that is as diverse as her poetry is sensual. Born in New York City, she moved to Tehran with her father, a native Iranian who wanted her to experience the culture of her ancestors. She eventually made her way to California, then to Paris and finally New York City again. After working as a reporter, graduating with her MBA and traveling extensively, she embarked on a journey to write with a deeper focus, culminating in her first book of poetry.

The foregoing article was provided by the PR firm News and Experts, a division of EMS Incorporated, and used with permission.

Lacking Lips of Time

Lacking Lips of Time - Poetry by Shaghayegh “Sharon” Farsijani

Lacking Lips of Time – Poetry by Shaghayegh “Sharon” Farsijani

Shaghayegh Farsijani’s first published poetry collection, Lacking Lips of Time, is an intrinsic look into deep experiences and feelings many of us have left orphaned, dusted, and alone. She gives natural life to anything with the power of sensuality at its peak like an artist splashing colors to everyday nouns and verbs. She will reach out and give life to suppressed and sleeping emotions deep within your soul. Her work is like timeless fractals of the human condition dancing on fearless poppies.  (Taken from descriptions at Sharon Farsijani’s website home page.)   


Author Shares Tips for Finding Work That Feeds the Soul

Ready to Make the Jump?
Now’s the Time for a Heartfelt Encore
Mother of Re-Invention Shares Tips for Finding Work
that Feeds the Soul*

They’re called second acts, encore careers or reinventing yourself – they’re the completely new and different jobs people take in midlife or later.

From (

From (

Today, making that jump is more likely to be a matter of following the heart than it was during the throes of the economic recession, when professionals, caught up in corporate layoffs, discovered they were too old to find jobs in a poor market and too young to retire. They started second careers not to follow a vocation but to pay the bills.

Yarn to Go by Betty Hechtman

Yarn to Go by Betty Hechtman

“I’m glad to see the tide turning again – especially for all the baby boomers who don’t want to  retire but do want to do something gratifying,” says Betty Hechtman (, who was on the eve of her 60th birthday when her first mystery series prompted a bidding war between St. Martin’s Press and Berkley Books.

She has since published eight “cozy mysteries,” including her newest, “Yarn to Go” – the first in her Berkley Prime Crime Yarn Mystery series.

Hechtman has had a lot of practice reinventing herself. She has volunteered as a farmworker on a kibbutz in Israel, waitressed and worked in retail sales, and made connections as a telephone operator, among a host of jobs.

“I’ve held jobs just for the paycheck and I’ve pursued my passions, so I know how profoundly different it is to do one versus the other,” she says. “No matter what age you are, if there’s work you feel called to, you should most definitely give it a try — you may well experience a joy unlike any you’ve ever known.”

Hechtman offers these tips for people considering an encore:

• Do your homework. There’s nothing more disappointing them jumping in to something new only to become disillusioned and frustrated because you didn’t take the time to prepare. If your dream is to open a particular business, research the market. Is there a demand for what you hope to sell? Should you give it a trial run as an online business before investing in shop space and other overhead? Start by checking the resources at, a nonprofit supported by more than 12,000 volunteers dedicated to helping small businesses off the ground. For other encore pursuits, you might take classes or spend a few hours a week working as a volunteer to learn the ropes.

• Join a group of like-minded people. This is particularly helpful for aspiring artists who want to paint, play music, write a book or indulge some other creative talent. You can brush up on your skills and make valuable contacts by becoming a part of a community theater, joining a writers circle, or finding a group of hobbyists. You may find your skills develop much more quickly with the support and guidance of collegial peers who are all helping one another achieve a dream.

• Consider working in one of the five most popular encore fields.  Most people seek second their careers in health, education, government, environment and non-profits — all fields expected to provide abundant job opportunities in the next couple of years, according to, a non-profit that supports second careers “for the greater good.” If you need training to qualify, now is the time to get it, Hechtman says. “Invest now in the education, and you can soon have a job that feeds the heart, the mind – and the body!”

About Betty Hechtman

Author Betty Hechtman

Author Betty Hechtman

Betty Hechtman is the author of “Yarn to Go,” the first book in the Berkley Prime Crime Yarn Retreat mystery series, as well as the author of the best-selling Berkley Prime Crime Crochet  mystery series. The eighth book, “For Better or Worsted,” comes out in November.  She has also written newspaper and magazine pieces, short stories and screenplays as well as a children’s culinary mystery. She has a bachelor of fine arts degree and has been active in handicrafts since she was a small child. Hechtman divides her time between Los Angeles and Chicago.*

From Betty herself:

I grew up on the south side of Chicago and in a very busy weekend, got married, graduated college and moved to Los Angeles.

Although my degree is in Fine Arts, all I ever wanted to be was a writer and I’ve been doing it in one form or another for as long as I can remember. My shining moments in elementary and high school always involved stories or poetry I’d written. I wrote news stories and a weekly column in my college newspaper. My first job out of college was working on the newsletter of a finance company. I worked for a public relations firm and wrote press releases and biographies. Later I wrote proposals for video projects and television shows that went through various stages of development.

I tried writing screenplays and wrote three...more

* Press Release from
on behalf of Betty Hechtman.
Used with permission.

Author Rights and Responsibilities

“Author Rights and Responsibilities” by Rachelle Gardner was originally published on

This article was reblogged from Rachelle Gardner’s blog. I am a big fan of this blog, which is dedicated to providing information for writers and thought that you all would enjoy this particular article. Rachelle is a literary agent with Books and Such Literary Agency based in California. She works at the foot of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and describes herself as a voracious reader, a mom, a firefighter’s wife, and a huge fan of Starbucks. I wrote Rachelle and asked her if I could reblog the article; she kindly obliged.

bill-of-rightsI believe that as an author, you can expect certain rights when it comes to dealing with agents and publishers. I also believe that rights come with responsibilities. Here are a few that come to mind:

1. You have the right to decide whether or not to seek agency representation, and which type of publishing to pursue.
→You have the responsibility to educate yourself about your options.

2. You have the right to fair and ethical representation from your agent.
→You have the responsibility to make sure you understand the terms of your Agency Agreement.

3. You have the right to good communication from your agent.
→ You have the responsibility to be a good communicator also, not expecting your agent to read your mind or know how you feel unless you tell them.

4. You have the right to know which publishers your work is sent to, and what their responses are.
→ You have the responsibility to trust your agent’s choices in this regard, and to ask questions when you don’t understand or disagree.

5. You have the right to make decisions about your work, with or without the input of your agent.
→ You have the responsibility to discuss those choices with your agent, keeping him/her informed so they can properly represent you.

6. You have the right to be paid in a timely manner.
→ You have the responsibility to understand when your payments are due according to your contract.

7. You have the right to have your questions answered respectfully by your agent and publisher.
→ You have the responsibility to be respectful of your agent’s and publisher’s time, scheduling phone calls when necessary and otherwise allowing them time to respond.

8. You have the right to end your relationship with your agent.
→ You have the responsibility to understand your Agency Agreement and the terms for termination.

9. You have the right to a fair publishing contract that doesn’t unreasonably tie up your rights or keep you from profiting from your ideas or speaking engagements.
→ You have the responsibility to understand all terms of anything you sign.

10. You have the right to see a marketing plan from the publisher, and to follow up making sure the publisher is delivering on their plan.
→ You have the responsibility to augment the publisher’s marketing plan with one of your own.

11. You have a right to a reversion of rights when the book has been declared out of print according to the terms of the contract.
→ You have the responsibility to request reversion of rights from your publisher at the appropriate time (in consultation with your agent).

12. You have the right to communication from your publisher regarding schedules, editorial, cover design, and marketing.
→ You have the responsibility to ask questions when you don’t know what’s going on.

Do you agree with these? What other rights and responsibilities can you think of?

E-Book Review: You Are A Writer by Jeff Goins

Jeff Goins, author of “You Are A Writer”

Jeff Goins is a writer who believes in writers.  He believes in them so much that he has shared a great deal of his wisdom gained through experience in the writing field.  No one ever said writing was easy, but Jeff explains some of the important ins and outs, like platforms and brands and networking.

 Jeff is also going to present a 15-day workshop, starting tomorrow (June 5) that he says will improved your writing drastically.

Jeff Goins wrote:  All great things come with practice, and writing is no different. If you want to move from mediocrity to mastery, you’re going to need to do what the masters do. You’re going to have to form new habits.

So, he will work with us in practicing what the masters practice.  I signed up.  See at the bottom of this review how to get more info on this workshop and how to get Jeff’s e-book that I have reviewed below.  You will need the e-book for the workshop.

* * * * * * * * 

E-Book Review:  YOU ARE A WRITER (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins

by Sandra Bell Kirchman
Copyright © 2012 by Sandra Bell Kirchman

Recently I attended a webinar that covered, amongst other things, allowing yourself to dream your dream, believing in yourself, encouraging yourself to dream bigger, and putting yourself in your dream, i.e., choose yourself.

The next thing I knew, Jeff Goins, respected author of such writer-friendly titles as The Writer’s Manifesto and Building an Empire With Words (as co-author), offered me a chance to review his latest e-book, You Are A Writer.

Guess what You Are A Writer is about?  Yup, allowing yourself to dream, believing in yourself, encouraging yourself to dream bigger, putting yourself in your dream…from a writer’s perspective.  Well, you could’a knocked me over with an elf’s wink, it being such a timely piece for me to read.

“You Are A Writer” by Jeff Goins

But wait, there’s more!  (sorry, couldn’t resist that).  Seriously this e-book is full of answers and explanations of things that likely puzzle all starting writers.  I know they had me scratching my head.  It begins with the premise:  You are already a writer.  You just need to write.  And then it goes from there with advice, explanations, examples and step-by-step how-to’s of how to establish yourself as a successful writer.

Every wonder what the heck an author’s platform was?  Or an author’s brand?  How does one get published by publishers?  This book has all that and more.  Jeff’s style is to state the question or problem, give an answer and description of it, lay out a step-by-step guide of how to accomplish it.  He finishes it off with his own personal experience in the topic at hand.  By the time you’ve finished reading the book, you will feel solid with: 

  • knowing and building your own author’s platform
  • understanding what an author’s brand is and how to develop your own brand
  • networking, how to build a community, building social relationships, and the relative importance of social communication

Jeff cares enough about writers and writing to tell you the bare truth about the job:

  • It’s harder than you think.
  • It’s not enough to be good.  You have to be great.
  • Nobody cares about you.  People care about themselves.
  • It’s more about who you know than what you know.
  • You’d better love it.  (Otherwise, quit now.)

Jeff leads you from quivering beginning writer who has a hard time believing she is really a writer, through steps that will help you gain that confidence and belief.  He helps you understand thoroughly the above three points and how to implement them in your writing and your life.

He finished up with an excellent description and how-to section of how to get published, advocating to start small and build relationships until you have the experience and expertise to accomplish the last step: get your book published (if that is your dream).

 You Are A Writer is wrapped up in humor, caring, and nuts-and-bolts facts.  In my opinion, it is a treasure for any writer who has had questions on where they are now, where they are going, and how to get there.

If you are interested in Mastering the Habits of Great Masters, go here.  You need to sign your blog up on that page.  Remember, it starts tomorrow, so don’t miss it.

You Are A Writer (So Start Acting Like One) by Jeff Goins has just been released and is available in Amazon’s Kindle Store for $2.99.  Good news is that you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle stories.  You can download free Kindle software onto your computer, which will handle your e-book reading.

The Freelance Writer’s Bill of Rights

This article is reposted from The Renegade Writer.  It is copyrighted by them and used by permission.  It is something I believe every writer should read.

Blog entry

Image via Wikipedia

The Freelance Writer’s Bill of Rights

1. You have the right to say no.

An editor asks you to write for exposure? “No.” A source asks to see your article before you turn it in? “No.” A friend keeps calling during your working hours because “you’re always free”? “No.” See how easy it is? You have the right to say no — and not feel guilty about it.

2. You have the right to ask for more.

If an editor approaches you with an assignment that doesn’t pay what you would need to make it work, or asks for all rights, or offers a pay-on-publication writing contract, you have the right to negotiate for something better. The first offer from an editor is not the end of the negotiation, it’s the beginning. If the pay isn’t enough, say “That seems a little low…can you offer me X?” If the contract stinks, know what you want instead (pay on acceptance? First North American Serial Rights? More pay for more rights?) and ask for it. The secret: Be ready to walk away if you can’t get what you want. If you’re not prepared to give up the assignment, you have no bargaining power.

3. You have the right to control your own time.

Sometimes, editors come to you six months after you turn in an assignment and say they need a total revise plus three new sidebars — by tomorrow. You have the right to determine whether that fits into your schedule and act accordingly. After all, you’re a businessperson. It’s not like you’re sitting by the phone for six months, schedule cleared in case your editor suddenly needs a revision done like yesterday. You have other work now, and you’ve arranged your schedule the way you need it to be in order to get your current work done. If you do have the time, try to cooperate with your editor. But if you have three deadlines this week and would have to pull an all-nighter to do the revisions, you have the right to say you can’t get the revisions done when the editor wants them. Then negotiate a better timeline for yourself.

4. You have the right to be treated fairly.

If you wrote an article on assignment and it was accepted, and then the magazine changed editorial direction and your article was killed, what’s fair — getting a kill fee or getting full pay? Full pay, of course, since you did the work according to the contract. If you pitch a detailed idea and the editor says she wants to give it to a staffer, you have the right to say no (and sell it somewhere else) or to ask for an idea fee. If a magazine leaves off your byline, you have the right to ask for a correction, and ask for a PDF file of the story with your name on it. In short: You have the right to be treated fairly and professionally. After all, you are a professional.

5. You have the right to be paid for your work.

Some writers feel they aren’t worth fair pay. They write over and over for no-pay magazines in order to amass enough clips to finally move up to the magazines that do pay fairly. But do you know how many clips you need to command pay? Zero. One of my e-course students broke into SELF magazine with a front-of-the-book piece. (That’s a $1.50/word market, people!) How many clips did she have? None. My first assignment paid $500, and I had no clips. What you need is a strong query letter, not a portfolio full of non-pay clips. You have the right to be paid for your work, just like your plumber and petsitter do (even newbie plumbers and petsitters!).

6. You have the right to look good.

When you write and fact check an article, you have the right to see it printed error-free. You don’t have the right to complain that the editor has changed your perfect prose (so don’t be a diva!) but you can expect that your sources’ names will be correct, your byline will be correct, and the facts in the article will be correct. If any of these things are incorrect, you have the right to ask for corrections. And if a magazine is notorious about messing things up, you have the right to ask to see a galley of the article before it goes to print.

7. You have the right to be paid in a timely manner.

Something scary is going on in the women’s magazine world: They’re hanging onto articles for months and months before “accepting” them, which means that you wait months and months to get paid. In other parts of the publishing world, magazines are running into budget problems and putting their freelancers last in line for payment. Remember: You are a professional. If the printer and the electric company get paid on time, you should too. Can you imagine a lawyer politely sending e-mails after six months of no pay? How about an accountant? Well, you’re a professional just like them, and you provided a service according to contract. If you fulfilled your end of the contract, then the magazine should, too. Don’t be afraid to contact the accounts payable department, send certified letters asking for overdue payment, and, finally, threaten legal action (and go through with it if you need to).

What other rights should be in the Freelance Writer’s Bill of Rights?