Feeling Lost? Don’t Know Where to Begin in 2019?




Well, here we are… December 29, 2018. Almost to the end of a very long year that whizzed by like a cold arctic wind. My daughter’s birthday was Dec. 27 and my anniversary is Dec. 30, so after the 30th, my plan for 2019 will kick in. How about you? Do you have a plan? He/she who aims at nothing hits same.

How do you gear up for a new year of uncertainties, unexpected upheavals, and possible tragedies? Innocently. That’s how. Hoping for something better. That’s how. Keeping your fingers crossed. At least that is how most people approach a new year, but you can do much better. When you realize you DO have the ability to shape most of your future, you are strolling down the right road.


Right now you should be examining yourself and your accomplishments in 2018. You should be reviewing your mistakes and making plans to overcome those pitfalls if they should come again. You should be planning ahead, using wisdom, facing reality, recognizing pipe dreams when you see them, and facing the future with inspiration, enthusiasm, persistence, and above all… domination over self!


I have decided to semi-retire from Creative Writing Institute. The writing courses that were $295 are now available at $79. Those who want a private tutor may have it for an additional $120; however, this lady is going to turn to full-time writing and personal tutoring before her decaying body collapses in a pile of dust.

Believe it or not, I miss the writing rejections. I miss the efforts to do my best. I miss listening to the late night muse and its rolling cadence just as I’m going to sleep. I even miss sleepily tape recording notes so I’ll remember them tomorrow. I miss going over and over my work until I’m sick of it, looking for verbiage, counting the prepositional phrases in a sentence, changing passive voice to active, and telling instead of showing. It’s time to get back to the battle.


Twelve years ago, I was of the mistaken notion most new writers were begging for help but couldn’t find or afford it. Surprise! That isn’t true. Surprisingly — most writers won’t invest a nickel in their dream. (Note: I asked for money for my birthday and Christmas to buy my first writing course. Where there is a will, there is a way.)

And now, after twelve years of full-time dedication to new writers, I learned why most writers don’t make it. It isn’t because of their lack of study. It isn’t because of erratic new beginnings. The successful students invested both time and money in their dream. They are the ones who did their homework, turned their assignments in, did the rewriting tutors requested, did not argue with their instructors, put writing at the top of their priority list, and most of all – did not give up. Yes. Those are the ones. The ones who studied daily.  The ones that reviewed. The ones that bathed in every instruction like a sponge that couldn’t get full. Those are the REAL writers.

Here are a few interesting statistics:


Out of 100% of the population, 80% will have a desire to write at some point in their lives. Out of that 80%, about 40% will actually write one story or article and submit it. Of those, 20% will submit a second time. Half of that 20% will submit until they sell one item, and of the remaining ten, only eight will keep submitting, keep writing, keep drinking at the well of success. You will notice the ones who DO find success are those who did NOT give up.

But still, you have to know where to go to get started, how to set up a profile, choose the right picture, gather recommendations, write a bio, and a dozen other things. This is where I can help you.


The truth of the matter is – talent has very little to do with it. Any average writer can be a successful seller. They can even write full time if they wish, but I grant you – there ARE a lot of secrets to learn. I don’t know all the secrets, but I have learned my share in the past 12 years.

Do you want to write for a living? Work from home in your pajamas? Go to work at 10 a.m. and quit at 3 p.m.? Work four days a week? Then pay attention:

If you have the persistence, I have the knowledge. If you are ready to devote one to two years to become a full-time writer, I can help you do it. There are, however, a few prerequisites: you must do exactly as I say, and you cannot give up.

  • You must have at least mediocre writing abilities
  • You need at least some formal training
  • You must be compliant and dedicated to your own success

Can I guarantee your success? If I lead you to the rippling, exuberant waters of the Fountain of Youth, can I make you drink?

The introductory price of personal tutoring is a flat fee of $200 and I will work with you personally.

If you are tired of failing in writing…

If you are tired of beginning over and over again…

If you mean business in 2019…

write to me at DeborahOwen@CWInst.com.

I’m looking forward to writing full-time and helping  Y O U make your dream a reality.

  • I reserve the right to select the students in which I have the most confidence.



Once Upon a Christmas – True Story – Read to your Child/Grandchild

by Caroline Grace

Just for fun… if you have a little person in your care, they might like to hear this true story of how I found my little teddy bear at age six.

The Very Worst, Very Best Christmas Ever

Once upon a long, long time ago, an almost-new little brown teddy bear started out on a great adventure with his little boy. It was a cold, rainy December day when the very worst thing and the very best thing happened to that almost-new little brown bear.

The day of the great adventure dawned dark and gloomy, but that didn’t matter to Little Boy. At first light his eyes bounced open wide. He squeezed the little brown bear and said, “Wake up, Bear! Today is the day I am going to visit Santa Claus.”

Before he could go on his great adventure Mama said Little Boy had to make his bed. And so he did. He crawled up on the bed to smooth the wrinkles away, but when he slid down to the floor, there were more wrinkles than before. But Little Boy didn’t mind.. He was going to see Santa.

After his bed was made, Mama said he had to eat his breakfast. And so he did. He chewed his bacon and toast as fast as he could until Mama made him slow down. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

After he ate his breakfast, Mama told him to brush his teeth. And so he did. He left little drops of green toothpaste on the sink so he wiped them away with his washcloth before Mama saw them. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

After he brushed his teeth, Mama told him to put on his coat and hat and scarf. And so he did. His scarf got tangled in the zipper of his jacket and he asked Mama to help. But Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

Then Little Boy asked a question. “Mama, can I bring Bear?”

And Mama said yes. Little Boy and Bear didn’t know this was the beginning of the very worst thing.

In the car Little Boy hugged Bear tight. He had practiced being good all year and now he practiced what he would tell Santa when he sat on his lap. Little Boy whispered into Bear’s fuzzy, floppy brown ear all the things he wanted to say. Cold hard raindrops made a snapping sound as they hit the window, but Little Boy didn’t mind. He was going to see Santa.

Mama steered her blue car into the shopping center where Santa’s house sat in the corner where the sidewalks met. Little Boy looked around. Santa was having a very busy day, and Mama had to park far away. Mama and Little Boy and Bear stood together at the back of a very long line and they waited. And they waited. And they waited.

The rain kept raining and the wind kept blowing until all of them were rain-soaked and cold and tired. Little Boy started to cry, so Mama found a dry place for them to rest under a tent-like canopy outside a toy store. Mama set her bags and her purse down on the dry sidewalk under the canopy and Little Boy set Bear down in the store window sill. They all rested and waited until the rain stopped, then Mama picked up her bags and purse with one hand and took Little Boy’s hand with the other. And then the very worst thing happened; Little Boy was so excited to see Santa that he forgot to pick Bear up from the windowsill. Bear could only watch as Little Boy faded into the busy crowd.

Bear tried with all his might to throw himself off the window sill, but he couldn’t move even one inch. Bear tried to call out, but he couldn’t make even one sound. Mama and Little Boy were fading farther and farther away and Bear could only cry. Little tears fell from his plastic eyes, but he was already so wet no one could tell.

Bear waited and waited but Mama and Little Boy didn’t come. Bear was wet and cold when he had a sad thought: no one would ever call the almost-new little brown bear almost-new again. Because he wasn’t. Even if he dried out and warmed up, he feared he would never be the same. He was wet clean through to his stuffing.

The windowsill where Bear sat was close to the ground, and people on the sidewalk passed right by him without even a glance. He had never felt so alone. He hoped Little Boy and Mama would come back for him, but in his little bear heart he knew better. The rain had started up again and the wind blew cold against the windowsill where Bear sat.

Quite suddenly Bear found himself eye to eye with a little blonde, brown-eyed girl. She was tugging on the arm of the lady next to her. “Mamaw, look! A little teddy bear, and he’s all wet. Please, can I take him home and dry him off? He must be lost. If we don’t take him, what will happen to him?”

Mamaw hesitated and the little girl spoke quickly, “Please Mamaw…look how sad he is.”

“Well, honey, we don’t know where he’s been or what kind of germs he’s carrying.”

“But Mamaw, you can clean him up, can’t you?” The little girl clearly had absolute faith in her Mamaw. Bear missed his little boy but he was starting to like this little girl.

“I suppose I can.” Mamaw hesitated and the little girl grabbed Bear.

“So we can take him home with us?” the little girl asked.

If Mommy had been here she would have said, “We’ll leave him here in case his owner comes back for him.”

If Daddy had been here, he would have said, “We’re not taking that wet thing home!”

If Baby Brother had been here, he would have screamed and cried and no one would have listened to the little girl at all..

But Mommy and Daddy and Baby Brother weren’t here. Mamaw was here. And Mamaw said, “Yes, honey, we can take him home,” then turning to the bear she said, “Okay, let’s get you home and cleaned up, little fella.” Mamaw put her purchases together in one shopping bag, then swept Bear up and deposited him in the empty bag.

Bear heard the car door slam and felt the car moving, but it was dark in the bag where Mamaw had put him. Little Girl was asking if she could get him out and hold him, but Mamaw said, “Not yet.”

Then Little Girl said, “His name is Fuzzy, Mamaw. That’s because he was almost new and I can tell he was Fuzzy before he got wet,”

“That’s a good name, Honey.”

His little bear heart surged warm and he would have smiled if he could have. Fuzzy! His name was Fuzzy. He had never had a proper name before. Little Boy had just called him Bear.

When they reached Mamaw’s house, she wasted no time cleaning him up. Oh, the things she did to that little brown bear! Mamaw used sprays and powders and washcloths and towels and hair dryers until she finally pronounced him clean.

And it was then that the very best thing happened to Fuzzy. Little Girl picked him up and she never let him go. She slept with him and she dragged him from Mamaw’s house to her own house. She set him up on the bed every day so he could see when she came home from school. He met her other dollies and stuffed animals, and soon became fast friends with them. He had never been so loved in all his life.

He was so loved, in fact, that over time he lost his little red mouth. Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she made him a new one. And then he lost an eye. Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she made him a new one out of an old button. When his stuffing started coming out under one arm and then under the other, Little Girl took him to Mamaw’s and she re-stuffed him and patched his torn places with cloth the color of his fur.

Years passed as years always do, but Fuzzy and Little Girl remained the best of friends. Fuzzy began to lose his fur. And Little Girl grew up. But she still tucked the little bear into bed with her every night. Sometimes when she was sad she would hug the little bear tight and he would get wet with her tears, but he always knew just how to make her feel better.

In time, Little Grown-up Girl got married and had children of her own, but she never forgot the little brown bear. As a matter of fact, every Christmas, Little Grown-up Girl reads the story of the Very Worst, Very Best Christmas Ever to her own children.

And, to this very day, every morning when Little Grown-up Girl opens her bedroom closet, she looks up on the closet shelf and blows a kiss to Fuzzy, the old, raggedy, almost-new little brown bear and Fuzzy winks right back at her with his best button eye.


CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: $79 for any writing course. Lessons only. https://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.org Must write to me to get this unadvertised special: DeborahOwen@CWinst.com

Christmas Tree Shopping in Yesteryear

by Deborah Owen

A - Cartoon of Big Christmas Tree

Art work by Luana Spinetti

Christmas Tree Shopping in Yesteryear

While writing to a student today, I suddenly remembered how things were when I was a child. I’m talking about the stone age, people! Wow. How times have changed.

In those days, families owned one car. People stayed home at night and actually spoke to one another. No cell phones. We were lucky to have an eight-party line. That meant everyone could listen in on each other’s intimate conversations. That also meant we had to count the rings before answering. Ours was two long rings and and a short one.  Our phone number was State 9694. We didn’t have an address. We were just “Route #4,” and we lived a really long way from school down a gravel road. In later years I measured it. It was three miles. Perspective was a bit different in those days.

We used the same angel at the top of our tree every year. The poor thing got so bedraggled that Mom had a seamstress make a new dress for her. I hated that new dress. It was like putting a frilly party dress on a dirty princess.

Daddy and I (yes, I said Daddy – a precious endearing term) always picked out the Christmas tree while Mom cleaned the living room and made a place for it.

I’ll never forget what those tree shopping trips were like. I was tiny for my age. Even adult’s kneecaps towered over me (or so it seemed), and when Daddy and I walked down rows and rows of cut Christmas trees and I looked at the tops, the lights of the parking lot shone in my eyes, giving the Christmas trees the magical touch of a brilliant fairy. Daddy inevitably chose a sensible, short, fat tree. Of course, I chose the tallest, fattest tree I could find, well nourished, begging for a home with happy children. I could feel my smile envelop my whole body when I found the perfect tree.

“Daddy, look at this one!”

“Debbie, I would have to cut the trunk off. It’s way too tall. I don’t even think we could get it through the door.”

“Oh, please, Daddy. It’s just beautiful.”

“But it has a bare place over here.”

“We could put that side in the corner,” I said. “No one would see it.”

“What about this one over here?” he would say, but I was wise to his game of trying to change my mind and I was a persistent little devil. Excited beyond control, I jumped up and down in my little green coat and leggings.

(In those days, they made leggings (pants) from the same material as the coat to keep girls’ legs warm because little girls seldom wore anything but skirts and dresses. Oh, how I hated those leggings. I always took them off on the school bus and put them on just before I got off at my stop. Confession: I admit to being deceitful –  and I may have stretched the truth a little… like… every time I got the chance. Like the time I lit a cigarette and Mom came back in the house too soon… and the time I poured my milk down the sink… but those stories are for another time. Let’s just agree that I wasn’t a model little angel.)

I was so thrilled on the way home with that big tree strapped on the top of our 1949 baby blue Chevy (which my brother later wrapped around a telephone pole). It was longer than the car. When we pulled in our driveway, I ran in the house and told Mom all about it with emphatic gestures and non-stop description. Daddy dutifully followed, unstrapping the tree and patiently pulling, tugging, and pushing until that humongous green thing occupied most of our tiny living room. There it stood, its poor little head all scrunched down, praying for a ceiling eight inches taller.

“See. I told you it was too tall,” Daddy said.

I expected a temper tantrum, which was not rare in our house, but it didn’t come. He patiently tried to tug the tree outside again, take it to the garage, cut the bottom off, and then try to get it through the door one more time.

We strung popcorn, made paper chains out of construction paper, added balls, electric lights, and of course, tinsel. I was always assigned the lowest limbs and I did my duty very well. They were loaded heavy with tinsel, bubble lights, balls, strung popcorn, and all the rest. A work of art to behold that surely glittered in my little eyes until the tree came down. What fun memories.

I dreamed of Daddy a few nights ago and it was so good to see him again. And I came across the old Christmas angel Mom had covered with a new dress. I ripped that new dress off her and to my delight, found the angel still wore her original dress beneath.

Those memories are about 70 years old and they still bring joy to my heart. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for the lovely Christmases we always had. Thank you for telling us what Christmas was really all about. I still put the old manger scene under our tree, although the sheep has a broken leg now, the straw has come off the top of the barn, and one cow is missing. Everything else is there… everything but my brother, Mom and Dad. Everything but Gene Autry singing. Everything but hot, buttered popcorn and homemade peanut butter fudge. Everything but laughing and having so much fun.

Why was I in such a hurry to grow up?

I guess I never told Mom and Dad how special those Christmases were. I hope they know now.


CHRISTMAS SPECIAL: $79 for any writing course. Lessons only. https://www.CreativeWritingInstitute.org  Must write to me to get this unadvertised special: DeborahOwen@CWinst.com