The Trail of Words: Running Words from 5K to Ultra

Words lead to not only more words, if you keep writing, they also create paths and spaces. I didn’t believe the land of words could be so much like trail running when I convinced myself to make words the focus of my career. I had to be careful, to share the trail with my authors, to know when to go it alone, to understand how to step back and “rehydrate” my author’s brain while being a publisher who represents other authors, and most enchanting, to discover new beauties and struggles on the writer’s path just as I discover them on the running trails.

I started a blog way back in 2005 with Yahoo360. It was like a couch-to-5K for my writing life which had soured into a ritual of grading English Comp papers and writing way too much feedback to the students. At first, like trail running, blogging hurt and I was getting about one hit an hour. How could this go anywhere? My forehead rested on the desk. I stumbled through writing about pregnancy and staying on target with one blog post a week. I was passed by professionals, out of my league. Winded and exhausted after those first attempts, I got wise and followed the people in social media to the MySpace blog world, and led a happy blogging life at blogspot, too. After a short time, I was content with these familiar trails, and I knew people on them, and it didn’t hurt so much anymore to expose myself as a writer. I blogged about motherhood and students in my classes. This was not nearly enough, even with thousands of hits. I yearned to write something more. It was time to add distance and a faster pace to my writing life. Through social media, I found Her Circle Ezine, and eventually became the Editor-in-Chief, wrote my own novel in the meantime, & tried to shop it.

The run was going strong and even getting hot, and my writing revealed more, new adventures. I helped with The Institute of Arts and Social Engagement with Misty Ericson, wrote articles about Mexican women for Lake Chapala Review magazine, interviewed bands & musicians for a Nashville music magazine, felt inspired to create books by women, and took odd writing jobs. Sometimes, I felt smothered by the trail. I couldn’t see my way out of it to the next place. There were traditional maps, but they weren’t working for me. I was in an endless loop. So, out of frustration, I started Thorncraft Publishing to publish my own novel, and then people joined me. I read Beverly Fisher’s novel, decided to publish another author, loved Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo’s work, jumped at the chance to publish her work too, and life kept going. The vistas open up sometimes, and allow more space. The trick is to keep going through the stumbles, brambles, heat, and more, until you reach new paths. Now, we’ve trained up for “ultras,” and in the running world this means 30+ miles per run. In our world of words, this means multiple books published every year, a literary magazine, a stage play, and more.

What’s happening now:
We have a new author at Thorncraft, Salty Teague. She and I wrote a book together earlier this year and launched it at Parnassus Books in Nashville. Seasons of Balance: On Creativity & Mindfulness is a self-help creativity journal, with poetry and stories thrown in the mix with affirmations and meditations. The book was chosen as a regional Wounded Warrior Project book, and Salty and I spent a beautiful afternoon at an event at The Yoga Mat that honored caregivers of Wounded Warriors.

The literary yoga journal, BreatheYourOMBalance Volume One will be finished later this year. Our open reading period was a success. Salty chose 28 contributors for the first volume of BreatheYourOMBalance: Writings about Yoga by Women (Forthcoming, Fall 2016). The contributors range from homeschooling moms to nurses, from yoga teachers to yoga beginners, from university professors to students. We are featuring the contributors on the Thorncraft website, so that you can read about them individually.

Salty and I continued working with everyone at The Yoga Mat by having writing workshops. Our next one will be Sunday, October 9. We are excited to partner with The Yoga Mat for Volume Two of BreatheYourOMBalance, which will focus on yoga and healing. Volume two will not be published until 2018.

Salty and I were promptly inspired to get going on a children’s book together. We’ve been planning it since last fall. You’re going to love the adventures of Luna the dog and Salty the raccoon. Forthcoming, 2017.

In 2015, Grace Among the Leavings by Beverly Fisher was adapted for the stage by Kari Catton and Dennis Darling, and performed at New Salem’s Theatre in the Park in Illinois. It was further adapted into a one act play by John McDonald, and performed in June 2016 at the Roxy Regional Theatre. We have more plans for “Grace” on stage in the future.

imageMelissa Corliss DeLorenzo is working on a new novel, but no word yet on what it’s about. She’s back on the blog, usually writing every week. She has several events this fall in Massachusetts, including the New Bedford Book Festival.

Check our Events page at thorncraftpublishing.com to stay up to date. The publishing website is updated weekly with the newest announcement and events.

Sacred Art & The Power of Support

Support. We all want it. What we create is sacred to us and requires building up & even, protection, at times. Support comes in a variety of forms–encouragement, freedom, sharing time and energy, giving, etc. We want family, friends, and even strangers to support what we do, what we create, and give us their blessings.

Kitty's art--created from found/donated objects

Kitty’s art–created from found/donated objects


My biggest supporters are my family and closest friends. I receive the support of sacred creativity from my friend and our Editor at Thorncraft, Kitty Madden. In her presence, I feel free to express my truth about art & creativity & business, free to talk about my interests, but I am also free to listen to nature and her poetic speech about her garden and art.
Kitty

Kitty’s singing water bowl


She is a healer, and through her belief in my abilities and actual follow-through, she helped to heal any excuses and self-doubt I had about making books.
Motivational artwork Kitty created as a chant & yoga movement for balance.

Motivational artwork Kitty created as a chant & movement for balance.

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She is open to expansiveness. I’ve changed the focus of my publishing company recently to open up to a book about yoga, and she has been encouraging & supportive in that endeavor. Being in her sacred space of found art & natural patterns, I am accepted & I accept her artwork.

Kitty's photo of me in her sacred art garden.

Kitty’s photo of me in her sacred art garden.


I write often about her, as her creative inspiration propels me forward every time I’m with her. She is more than an editor, she is an artist and a true friend to me for all the encouragement she gives. Being behind the scenes as an editor isn’t always easy, so I’m always happy to shine a light upon Kitty.
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This path is not glamorous or even glorious. Metaphorically, often it’s not marked adequately, and trails have to be blazed or re-cut. Sometimes, it is dark & mysterious, but we are following our truth to put new stories out into the world, stories that need to be heard. Kitty continues down this publishing path with me, pausing only to ask, “so what’s next?” I look forward to our future journeys together. I’m grateful for her inspiration and friendship.
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Ah! She Recorded Me…I Didn’t Recognize My Own Voice

The audiobook for Multiple Exposure is available for purchase: Go to iBooks or iTunes and type in Shana Thornton, you’ll see the book. Also, buy on Amazon, Audible
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I said that I wouldn’t read Ellen’s book again. Technically, I’m the author, but to me, the story in Multiple Exposure belongs to the narrator, Ellen Masters, and I read it so many times while writing it that I told myself I wouldn’t again, not cover to cover, for years… decades. Maybe never again.

I told an audience recently, “I think writing this book gave me post traumatic stress disorder.” No one was laughing. I was serious.

Then, I had an opportunity to record an audiobook version with recording artist, musician, technician, and producer, Gwendy Joysen, who gave me a reason to read the book cover-to-cover again and in the best voice I’ve used, and all while making it a better book. Gwendy has many more skills, but these were the talents that helped me record my audiobook–technical and creative skills combined with openness, psychological vulnerability and wisdom, and positive praise–suddenly, Gwendy was helping me into a new phase of my life that I wasn’t even fully engaging.
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Walking into her recording space, the big mic waiting for my voice, waiting for the story, I was intimated to read the book again. When I flipped open the first page, I shuddered and cleared my throat. Faltered. When I heard that first line played back in my voice, I heard a flat tone. I closed my eyes and imagined an audience. Gwendy said the same thing when I thought it–to imagine telling my story to people. Don’t focus on the headphones and microphone, on the wires and levels and controls that I knew were there, just make the story come to life from the words on the pages.

As soon as that began, the need to shift and adjust became clear which lent the story extra clarity and tighter prose. Little clean ups: tags, words that just sound weird when said aloud together, verb shifts, and more. All those editing chores, considered “boring” by many but like tilling and weeding to me, were happening again. Ugh, I was exhausted after our first session. My legs were swollen and my lungs hurt. I found new admiration for singers and the physical demands and challenges required for singing and vocal performance. I was feeling how fragile I was when I wrote the story. I saw my own past pains and stresses reflected in the words.

When I least expected it, Gwendy asked me to sing–first, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby,” and then, “Precious Memories.” Only the title of the former and a couple of lines from the latter, but I was recording my singing voice–oh, geez, while this lightened our recording time (Multiple Exposure is a heavy book), I’ve only considered myself a road trip crooner and fireside accompaniment, as far as singing goes. Gwendy volunteered to be my vocal coach, too, for those little bits of song. First, we listened to a couple different versions of each song until we found the one that seemed right. Gwendy quickly chose one and then, she sang and sang, instructing me to blend in with her voice. We sang the lines over until she dropped out when I captured it enough times to record my solo voice with the correct tone and melody.

My diaphragm and abdominal muscles were sore after reading for 4+ hours, and this showed me how taxing it can be for singers and musicians when they are in the recording studio. My feet ached from standing. Gwendy insisted on breaks and drinking water. I sipped coffee most of the time to soothe my sore throat.

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During our breaks, we naturally learned about each other, and Gwendy connected to my character’s PTSD struggles, since Gwendy recently emerged from a traumatic and abusive relationship that lasted a few years. I finally felt like Ellen received some validation, and that I did as an author.

We shared stories about overcoming anxiety issues and allowing art to carry us through the highs and lows in life. That ever-changing landscape, the sand painting of living the life of an artist and trying to make a living, looking for validation for your artwork and not wanting to need it but needing it, and the moments of being swept up in the exhilaration and escape of the creative process–we shared all those experiences in life. By being her own open, honest self, Gwendy helped with the inspiration for a new book and creative project that’s currently in the works.

Multiple Exposure was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Gwendy Joysen. I highly recommend her services! Her website: http://www.gwendyjoysen.com
I narrated. Recorded in Tennessee, spring 2014. Please, buy a copy: Go to iBooks or iTunes and type in Shana Thornton, you’ll see the book. Also, buy on Amazon, Audible

Cover Design by Steven Walker, http://www.stevenMwalkerImages.com

Cover Design by Steven Walker, http://www.stevenMwalkerImages.com

Playfulness is Mindfulness is Enchantment

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I play every day. I like unstructured play–no particular rules or strategies, nothing to win or lose, no set goal except to play and see what happens and allow my playfulness to evolve. Play = motion + discovery, for me. Summer always reminds me again & offers a chance to regain any playfulness I’ve lost or forgotten.

The forest is an essential playmate since it’s always changing, yet always there. Not only does it change for the seasonal shifts, but changes happen every day in the forest to offer a different type of play. As if a hot blanket were thrown over me during humid days, I stumble and fall and wrestle with the trails until I’m a puddle of sweat. I’m reminded of wrestling with my brother as a child, of trying to slip away and falling in spite of thinking I had the advantage.
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Slipping on shiny stones and splashing up the mud, I dance out a rhythm and partner perfectly with the bird song and drumming of the branches. I’m reminded of dancing in the yard in the sunshine with wild abandon as my mother’s radio blared the Rolling Stones or Huey Lewis & the News from the windows of the house.
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The rain splashes down through the tree canopy and running is like swimming and flying and freeing all at once, like when an aunt or grandmother or some relative we begged would drive us to the pool or the lake in the summer and we lost track of time and dove and floated in the water until it felt like we swam in our sleep.

As I was running last week, two young brothers (maybe 8 and 6 years old) began following me on the trails after I passed their family. They laughed and ran behind me. They giggled and bounded, and I felt a pang of nostalgia for the trails from my childhood.

When I run in the forest, on trails, I play the most. It doesn’t feel difficult to my body when I approach it as play–jumping over roots, slowing when necessary, gaining momentum downhill and bounding through the creek, across a bridge, sometimes leaping and other times tip toeing. I get lost in this playfulness. I start writing stories in my head, making up scenarios, laughing aloud as the story plays like a movie for me. When a character does something I don’t like, I rewrite it, try another scene, another lover, give her a different bicycle to ride to work.

For me, writing and running create the perfect mixture of playfulness. The summertime intensifies the combination with enchantment.