The Practice of Creativity

Posts Tagged ‘the creative tickle
















When I opened my email this week, I saw a wonderful message that said I was nominated for two blogging awards. What a fantastic feeling! I started this blog a few years ago to create a place where I could share insights about how people can practice creativity ‘smackdab’ in the middle of their life. The blog has been a place that I’ve grown as a writer and found a lovely community of other creative folk.

The rules of accepting these awards are as follows:

-Give a shout out to the blogger that nominated you and link back to their blog. Thanks Edith O Nuallain! Her fabulous blog is In A Room of My Own. You rock! I hope good karma follows you around like a happy puppy.

I also want to thank the readers and supportive friends, over the years, that encouraged me to keep writing on my blog.

-Tell everyone seven things about yourself (see below)

-Nominate seven bloggers for these awards and let them know they’ve been nominated (see after the seven things about me)

Seven Things about Me

1) My writing life keeps me sane and grounded. I also write, of course, because I am deeply in love with literature. I’m driven to discover if I can create that magical out of body and time sensation for a reader that I feel when reading.

2) I write speculative fiction with a literary sensibility. I’m finishing a second draft of a novel and collection of short stories. I’m also working on a book about my approach to creativity.

3) I am obsessed with pugs and collect many pug themed items including pug cards, pug calendars, and a pug ‘piggy’ bank. I also share a home with Ginger, a silver pug.

4) I started my creativity coaching practice in 2004. It’s called The Creative Tickle® and most people smile when they hear or read the name (I bet you’re smiling now). The idea came to me after I woke up from a dream and it felt perfect. The name exemplifies my approach to creativity– easeful, accessible and joyful.

5) I’ve fantasized about writing under different names. In my 20s I wanted to write under the name Aja Pennybone and in my 30s it was Michele Instar. The word ‘instar’ is used to describe a developmental phase of anthropods. Now, I spend more of my time actually writing (as opposed to daydreaming of fame and fortune), and am proud to use my full name Michele Tracy Berger.

6) As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed quite an aversion to elevators. When traveling, I ask the hotel to accommodate me by putting me on a low floor (sixth floor or below). I spend so much of my time avoiding elevators and roaming stairwells, I think I could write a memoir. You wouldn’t believe what goes on in hotel stairwells!

7) I traveled to India, with my partner Tim, in 2010.

Seven Bloggers You Should Know

I’m attracted to the depth and insight of a writer’s blog. I’m always looking for a complicated imagination as expressed through analysis, insight and good writing. Simply said, I don’t like a lot of fluff. Here are my nominations for seven terrific bloggers. I’m always eager to read what they share.

1) Heidi Moore at Heidiwriting

2) Kelly Hashway at Kelly Hashway

3) Ananda Leeke at Author Ananda Leeke’s Blog

4) Julie Farrar at Julie Farrar, Traveling Through

5) Becky Green Aaronson at The Art of an Improbable Life 

6) Kiersi Burkhart  at The Prolific Novelista

7) Valerie Nieman at Valerie Nieman v 3.o


I’m so excited to introduce readers to newly minted novelist Jessica Yinka Thomas. Her novel How Not To Save the World is a social justice thriller. Jessica Yinka Thomas is a novelist with a background in mechanical engineering and social entrepreneurship. As managing director of the Center for Sustainable Enterprise at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, she has authored several award-winning academic articles. Jessica has also worked as a designer of interactive educational toys, as the director of a social enterprise business plan competition and as a program manager for a community development nonprofit. How Not to Save the World is her first novel.

Jessica’s writing highlights her twin passions for technological innovation and for creating significant social change through entrepreneurial ventures. Growing up in West Africa and traveling around the world has provided her with a rich background from which to draw in her writing.

Her main character, Remi Austin is a fundraiser for the African Peace Collaborative (APC), a conflict resolution nonprofit founded by her late mother. Frustrated by her inability to raise funds and faced with the imminent closure of the APC, Remi turns to a life of crime to keep her nonprofit afloat. From Sydney, to Tokyo, Geneva and Cape Town, Remi transforms from a fundraiser too shy to speak during staff meetings into a daring international art thief who must stop a war from breaking out and figure out how to save herself from a life behind bars.

I think Jessica has single-handedly invented a new genre—the social justice thriller.

I came to know Jessica through The Creative Tickle, my coaching practice. She was finishing her novel when we worked together. She focused on time management issues and juggling her many commitments including job responsibilities, creative writing and new motherhood. I’m thrilled to see her work in print and that she is making her writing dreams come true.

1) Where did the idea for your novel come from?

 I started out writing nonfiction travel stories as I traveled around the world in my twenties. I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron while traveling across Australia and wrote in big letters at the close of the book, I WILL WRITE A NOVEL. That was 13 years ago. Since then I’ve taken my inspiration from the world around me and from the parts of life that I love. I weave my travel experiences into my writing, my passion for technological innovation and my personal vision for creating large scale social and environmental change.  The story in How Not to Save the World evolved from a desire to create a compelling story that would include all of those elements. That kept me going for 8 years!

2) What does your writing practice look like?

 Juggling a day job, a family, a social life in addition to writing is a delightful challenge. I have to be very strategic about fitting in my writing. Recently I’ve had the flexibility to scale back my day job to half time. So these days I can usually commit at least 2 hours to marketing and promoting my first novel and two hours to working on the second novel. Part of my marketing strategy includes getting book clubs to read the novel. This has actually provided fantastic feedback for me as a writer and as I work towards completing the sequel. The time I commit to writing, I don’t have a special place. I’ll often write on my lap using my laptop on my living room couch or the local library if I’m going to put in several hours. Much of the writing process for the sequel involves idea generation. The woman who runs my fitness class is probably frustrated that I will often pick up my iPhone in between sets and make notes about dialogue, character development, settings, etc. She probably thinks I’m texting my friends, but it does help my productivity and keeps my mind distracted during the bicep curls.

3) What (or who) inspires you to write and why?

I’m inspired to write because I see storytelling as a compelling mode to engage people in big ideas. My hope is that everyone who reads my work will think about how they can find their personal path to leaving this world better than the way they found it. I also just love writing. I’ve never had a moment of writer’s block. The page is the one place I can funnel all of the ideas swirling around in my head. With a generous amount of editing, those ideas can be transformed into a story and even a novel, or two or three.

4) What’s your best writing tip that you’d like to share?

Write every day! Even if it’s only 5 minutes on the computer or 30 seconds on your iPhone. This Year Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley was an inspiration to me and that was one of the core concepts.

5) Will we see more of your main character? What’s your next writing project?

Absolutely, we will see more of Remi Austin. I have laid out a plan for a 3 book series with How Not to Save the World as the first Remi Austin Adventure. I’m hard at work on the second, tentatively titled How Not to Make Friends. I’m shooting to release it in September 2012.

6) Who is one writer that you’d love to know was reading your work?

My father. He is an economist and would never define himself as a writer although I have a shelf full of his academic publications. He has committed his life to demonstrating how technology can be a powerful tool for social change. His work has changed many thousands of lives for the better. He is my writing role model in many ways. I would love to know that he was reading my work. He has read the first novel and I hope he feels compelled to keep reading.

Find out more about Jessica and where to buy her thriller!

Jessica Yinka Thomas

Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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