free the pen, a blog for writers

March 4, 2017

Poet, Scott Hastie

Filed under: interviews, writing, health, inspiration, dreams — freethepen @ 2:42 pm

scotthastie3  Meet my friend and poet, Scott Hastie. Here is his latest poem. Enjoy it and check out Scott’s site:

We are all prophets

Of our own existence

Are we not?

And come what may,

Tis always

Such noble ambition

To leave telling traces

Of ourselves

Wherever we can.

Thus do all our lives


An enduring tapestry

Of pointed moments,

Albeit seeded with loss,

The ache of which will pass

Whilst such sweet emotion


See how potently

That narrative runs on!

And to guide us on our way,

Amidst the endless sway

Of needs and desire,

Delicate patterns made,

Filigrees of real meaning.

The absolute truth

Of raw emotions

Etched on our heart,

Left behind,


As pathways to tomorrow.

Thanks Scott. I’m sure my readers will love this poem as much as I do. So, everyone, keep reading and, as always, keep the pen moving.


July 28, 2014

Finding Fresh Ideas for Writing

Filed under: interviews, writing, health, inspiration, dreams — freethepen @ 1:27 pm

sabneraznik2012-1Four Simple Ways to Find Fresh Writing Ideas

by Sabne Raznik

We all need fresh ideas for writing projects. With all the responsibilities we have, there is little time for reflection, and that is required for good, thoughtful, insightful writing. What can we do to facilitate reflection?

  1. Get up a half hour earlier or stay up a half hour later. A half hour isn’t long, but it may be all you need to quiet your mind, process your emotions, and your observations, as well as mentally organize them so that you can use the insights you gain in that extra half hour of purposeful thought to generate beneficial ideas.
  2. Be aware and observant through your day. We tend to rush through our days more attuned to our to-do list than to our environment. Make yourself notice something new in the mundane every day, even if it’s just the texture of a wall. This is how you gather “data” that you can sort later during your extra half hour for insight.
  3. People watch. This was one of my favorite games as a child. I would sit somewhere and make up stories to go with the people who passed by. Life is all about “hurry up and wait”. When you’re waiting in a line or in traffic, take note of other people around you. Those people will hand you ideas on silver platters without even realizing it.
  4. Take notes. Keep a small notebook and pencil on you at all times. Write down any useful ideas and phrases that randomly pop in your head through the day. Get these notes out and go over them during your extra half-hour. Refer to them when you sit down at the computer.

Finding fresh ideas is a mind-set and requires reflection. These simple life tweaks will make all the difference.

About Sabne Raznik:

She is an internationally published poet, writer, book reviewer, photographer, guest blogger, singer/songwriter, and sketch artist with two poetry collections – full length Following Hope and art book Marrow. You can reach Sabne at the links below:
Thank you Sabne, I know these tips will inspire my readers. Keep the pen moving! Jan


July 24, 2014

Titan Arum

Filed under: interviews, writing, health, inspiration, dreams — freethepen @ 2:28 pm

                                                         Titan Arum

MarilynblogBy Marilyn Ashbaugh

Envy is a titan arum. The corpse flower rarely blooms but when it does, people become flies, smelling rotting flesh and desiring to be a part of it. It’s beauty is juxtaposed amid its putrefaction, and therein lies its enigma, its mystery. And so envy in the writer’s garden can, with proper cultivation, become beauteous. To a dung beetle its fetid odor smells of opportunity.

Every writer begins as a reader, oftentimes one with a ravenous appetite. Who doesn’t wish to live in the parallel universe created by a good read? The fascination with words is the breadcrumb trail that leads the reader to dip her toe into the writer’s pond. There she becomes Narcissus, never wishing to leave its reflective potential. Envy is the nostalgia of a dream, viewed in another’s writing. The longing feels like a piece is missing, left behind on some jagged river rock of a rough draft. An unsuspecting writer finds and polishes smooth a similar idea. The polished writing attracts a green-eyed predator. Oh, to desire and not possess.

There is an antidote. Aristotle refers to envy as the close cousin of emulation. Emulation takes envy’s malignancy and makes it benign. The diamond has many facets because of the cutter’s skill. I take as my inspiration the diamond of another’s writing, translate it into my own voice, polish it with my experiences and picture it through my soul’s lens.

Things are worthwhile when we seek them; only then do we know their value.

Hazrat Inayat Khan.

About Marilyn: Marilyn Ashbaugh is a philanthropist, writer, mobile photographer and master organic gardener. She is founder and director of Yoga Michiana providing grants to all spiritual traditions for over 20 years.

Thank you Marilyn. It has been a pleasure having you speak to my writing audience.

Keep the pen moving!


October 31, 2011

The Way We Heal

Filed under: interviews, writing, health, inspiration, dreams,Uncategorized — freethepen @ 7:19 pm

 Ever wonder how you are going to heal a deep seated devastating grief? Monhegan Windows is a poetically written account of two men, unknown to each other, who find their way to this isolated Maine Island, and seek reparation of their bodies, minds and souls after devastating family losses uproot their lives. Here is my review of this remarkably written novel.

REVIEW OF MONHEGAN WINDOWS written by Matthew Kiell
Nothing new truly starts without finishing the old. And the characters in Monhegan Windows are a testament to that. Matthew Kiell writes a
remarkably beautiful painting of unresolved grief and its calling to heal from devastating personal loss. Set in the rocky and wooded terrain of isolated Monhegan Island, Maine, Kiell’s characters have to, just like anything else in nature, compost the old before birthing the new.

Despite the seemingly simple, easy and relaxed days Kiell’s character’s spend on Monhegan Island, it is his account of their ever-present raw
internal struggles, memories of lost loved ones, broken hopes, and destroyed dreams that make the pages awaken. In the slap of the wave against a rock, the deep voice of the gull, the “fog intimately hugging the ground,” the sounds of “Mozart mixed with the wind,” Kiell’s characters are enabled to confront how their lives have, without warning, changed. Caught between the two worlds of what was and what has not yet arrived, Kiell poetically leads his characters to find their way as in one character’s note from a Rabbi: “The only way to experience
true freedom is through going beyond yourself, receiving the task we do not choose, but which chooses us.”

Monhegan Island is that safe place of which we each dream when our vulnerable and aching souls become too much to bear and when life’s
hardships choose us without permission. Beautifully written with poignant and tenderly dramatic prose, Kiell offers every aching heart the opportunity for a calm stretch of time, the kindness of strangers, the comfort of nature and, the peace of a moment as entrance to the other side of life’s unexpected injuries.

Matthew Kiell is a professional writer, independent publisher and photographer who lives outside of Chicago. He first visited and fell in love with monhegan in 1995.

Until next time, pick of a copy of Monhegan Windows. Unfortunately this inspiring book is not on Amazon so contact the author to buy this amazing book at:

book webpage:
Facebook page:

Keep the pen moving,


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