Host Your Own “Vision for the Future” Seminar

Host a “vision” seminar with your writing partners, writing group, and best friends, some great eats, and a few materials from your home and an office supply store. Read my guest blog for the great folks at to find out more.  Just click on the blue title below:

Envisioning the Writer’s Ideal Life With Vision Boards and Mandalas by Louella Nelson

Or paste this link into your browser:

Here’s a teaser to whet your appetite for the details–

…Just as I assert to writers that all stories and characters reside in your subconscious and need only be drawn out through auto-writing, meditation, or long showers—Deb’s introductory remarks reassured us we already knew The Plan for our lives-to-come.  

She guided us in a brief meditation in which we accessed our subconscious and gave confidence to our dreams.  If that sounds a little woo-woo, it is—but it’s an effective way to unlock ideas.  I often suggest that writers tell themselves three to five nights in a row before sleep that they know exactly what to write about, how to fix a character, where to go next in plot, and so on.  Deb did something very similar. 

Here’s a paraphrase of the process:  Essentially, eyes closed, imagine yourself in a beautiful, peaceful place; breathe there for a bit; wander down a path and see your spirit-guide (an ancient savvy version of you) waiting for you; ask for what you want, what you wish to know, and then gently ease yourself back to the conscious world.

Read more by clicking the title below–and enjoy!

Envisioning the Writer’s Ideal Life With Vision Boards and Mandalas

Chicken Soup for Writers

Savage Chickens by Doug Savage

It’s been cold and raining in California (I’m wearing a blue wool sweater, for goodness sakes!), with more rain on the way this weekend.  Timing rather sucks.  I’m off to Las Vegas for a business/birthday trip with my daughter Stacee–hoping the weather doesn’t cancel all the fun.

Earlier today a writing friend, Kristen, asked for the recipe for my chicken soup, which I shared with the Tuesday night home group this week; Kristen’s a member, and I’m flattered she wants the recipe.  But I have 60-odd essays to grade, a class to teach tonight at UCI, packing to do, kitties to feed–you know the drill because you do it too.  AND I have a commitment to that is so challenging I wouldn’t even take it on this year except I’m desperate to write the long-postponed writing text.  The Nano commitment doesn’t take into accout full-time jobs (plural) or trips with daughters or writing recipes for friends, to say nothing of grading essays and feeding the furry poppets. It doesn’t CARE that you’re busy.  It just wants WORDS.

In case you’re thinking what’s the big deal, don’t write today, well, that’s not really an option, because Nano’s a commitment to myself.  Nano is just the venue–the guilt-tripping catalyst–the bloody conscience.

Now, I’ve just had a cold and my friend Jenny has one now, so to save my sanity, inspire Jenny’s hubby to cook for her, get Kristen the recipe, and get some pages written, I’m posting the recipe.  I think that’ll satisfy everybody (Isn’t that what a woman’s always trying to do, wearing all those hats?).   Besides, writers need all the loving support they can get.

To be perfectly above-board, I’m going to have to find a way to get the chicken soup recipe into the writing text.  But that’s a dragon to slay another day.

Meanwhile, here’s my Nanowrimo submission for today:

Lou’s Chicken Soup

You’ll need:

  • a roasted chicken
  • 1 ½ – 2 Qt water if using ½ chicken; 3+ Qt if using a whole chicken
  • fresh cilantro sprigs with leaves—about 5**
  • a thin (1/2” +/-) slice of jalapeño if you want a peppered or spicy soup
  • 1 cup rice, cooked in chicken stock (short-brown or even Bhutanese red rice have great body and food value)*
  • veggies including sweet or yellow onion, celery, two medium carrots with 1” tops, and other veggies to your taste
  • salt and pepper to taste (no pepper if using jalapeño)
  • 5 additional** sprigs fresh cilantro, minced, for garnish
  • an avocado, diced into ½” pieces, also for garnish

Prepare the vegetables, reserving the trims for cooking with the bones:
Onion, carrot, and celery form the base of vegetables and you can get creative from there.
Trim carrots, reserving ½” plus some stems from carrot tops.
Trim stem area of squash, ends and peels of onion, turnip, sweet potato, a small tomato, etc—whatever veggies you have in the fridge.
Trim the ends and some leaves from 1-2 stalks of celery.
You can even put in the corn cobs after trimming off the corn, or trims from green beans and mushrooms.)
Dice the veggies into ½” pieces.

De-bone and reserve chicken from the roasted bird, “pulling” or chopping the meat into 1” pieces.

Make the stock:
Fill a pot with water and the bones, some skin, and a little of the fat and bring to a simmer.
Add to the pot sprigs of fresh cilantro, jalapeno if you want a peppered or spicy soup, and vegetable trims.
Simmer bones, cilantro, and trims for 45-60 minutes, covered to preserve the liquid.
Cool slightly.
Sieve out trims and bones, returning the liquid to the pot.

Make the soup:
Add in the chopped onion, celery, and carrots and simmer for 10-12 minutes.
Add other veggies and simmer till cooked to your preference.
Add in rice.
Mushrooms, if using, should be added with the chicken and a dot of butter.
Add the chicken, bring back to bubble stage, and simmer for 2-3 minutes till heated entirely.

Serve in heavy bowls and garnish with minced cilantro and chopped avocado.  Warm, buttered corn tortillas are wonderful with this soup.  Refrigerate and reheat or freeze left-overs for future writing marathons.


I’ve also used barley or potatoes or pasta rather than rice and served the soup with crostini (thin-sliced French bread brushed with garlic-infused olive oil and baked till crisp).  Barley must cook a long time, so prepare ahead at a time when your brain is so fried from writing that you gotta work with your hands.  Raw diced potatoes would be added about 10-12 minutes after the celery, onion, and carrots.  For pasta, follow package directions.  I’ve also added 2 TBS. crushed fresh marjoram leaves from my garden when making the stock.

Welcome and enjoy

Welcome to Louella Nelson’s Blog.  I’m an author, writing instructor, and writers’ mentor. While I get myself educated on blogs, websites, Indie- and ePublishing, and social networking, you can follow me on Twitter @LouellaNelson or Facebook or read a little info about me:

Louella Nelson

Louella Nelson

Lou Nelson Communications: Purveyor of Communications, Editing, Writing Retreats, Career Consulting for Writers.
Louella Nelson Writing Workshops: Teaching and Mentoring Fiction and Creative Nonfiction Writers

University of California, Irvine Extension, and Orange Coast College.  The UCI Extension writing courses are currently on hiatus due to State budget cuts.  Lou is offerering the writing classes locally until the UCI courses are once again offered.

Current Courses

  • Writing Your First Novel or Short Story (mid-September start date–if you are interested, contact Lou in August at
  • Intermediate Novel & Short Story (mid-January start date; signups in December)
  • Advanced Novel & Short Story (Spring; signups in March)
  • The Business of Selling Your Fiction/Creative Nonfiction(Spring; signups in March)

Orange Coast College

  • English 99, English 100 (Freshman Composition)

Other Courses Developed and Taught:

  • The Writing Business: Editors, Agents, Publishers
  • Niche Novels:  How to Write What You Love to Read
  • Writing the Romance Novel
  • Novel Writing I
  • Novel Writing II
  • Novel Writing III, Works in Progress
  • Improving Everyday Nonfiction Writing

Upcoming classes, seminars, and series:

  • Day-long Plotting Workshop–Saturday Jan 19, 2013–contact OCC/RWA:
  • “Sizzling Scenes:  Setting, Scene Goal, and Sensory” seminar at the Romance Writers of America National Conference, Anaheim Marriott in Anaheim, CA, July 28 4:30-5:30pm

Previous workshops & master classes:

  • Short Story Workshop (RWA 9-8-11)
  • Plotting in Pajamas (RWA 30th Anniversary Conference 10-10-11)
  • Ride the Rails Writing Retreat, Santa Barbara,CA
  • Order from Chaos:  A Master Class in Plotting the Novel
  • Writing & Selling the Romance Novel
  • Sensing the Scene
  • Realism in Scenes
  • Killer Characterization
  • The Wounding and Arc of Character
  • The 1,2,3’s of Novel Structure (Greek influences and the 3-act structure)
  • How to Write the Novel Synopsis
  • Seminar on Query & Synopsis

Speaker & Affiliations:

  • Friends of the Library
  • Orange County Romance Writers of America (RWA) (past-president, speaker)
  • National RWA (conference coordinator, category coordinator for Golden Heart)
  • Southern California Writers Assn.
  • Various radio and tv venues

Founder’s Background:
Louella Nelson has just re-issued Mail-Order Mate, to be following in August 2012 with Emerald Fortune.  Her writing credits include five novels, including Days of Fire, to be released in the fall of 2012, plus a fantasy novella, short stories, and poetry as well as scholarly works for the literary journals Onyx and Calliope.   As a former magazine editor, she is also published extensively in nonfiction articles, features, technical reports, advertising materials, and photography.  An editor, book-doctor and writer’s mentor, she has been writing and teaching fiction since 1983.  Many of her students are now agented and multi-published.  Lou was awarded the 2010 Distinguished Instructor Award by theUniversity ofCalifornia, Irvine Extension.  She also teaches writing at Orange Coast College.  She received her M.A. in English with departmental honors from California State University Long Beach in 2004, and a B.A. with honors fromChapmanUniversity in English with an emphasis in creative writing in 1998.


  • Distinguished Instructor Award, University of California, Irvine Extension
  • Who’s Who of American Writers (previous edition)
  • Who’s Who of American College & University Students (previous edition)
  • Numerous awards for nonfiction and technical writing

Favorite Books:
Jane Eyre and many other greats in the 19th Century cannon of British literature
Lief Enger’s Peace Like a River
Anything by James Lee Burke (except Tin Roof Blowdown; it made me too sad)
James Dickey’s Deliverance
The novels of James Blaylock
The early gum-shoe detective novels by Raymond Obstfeld
Winter’s Bone
The great historical romances–I cut my teeth on MM Kaye and Colleen McCullough
Silent Joe by T.J. Parker

Currently reading on Kindle:
MacroWikinomics by Tapscott and Williams
Half-Broke Horses by J. Wall
Bewitching by Jill Barnett

Enjoyed recently on Kindle:
How to Write a Novel in One (Not So Easy) Lesson by Jackie Hyman/Jackie Diamond
See my reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Wild Montana Sky by Debra Holland—see my review
Starry Montana Sky by Debra Holland
Beat the Reaper: A Novel by J. Bazell
The Green Glass Sea by E. Klages
Echoes by Jacqueline Diamond–—see my review
Mai Tai One On by Jill Marie Landis
The Hunger Games by S. Collins
Crossed Out by Kim Baccellia
Shanghai Girls
by Lisa See
The Ridge by Michael Koryta
Shanghaied by David Collins

Soon to be enjoyed:
The Submission by Amy Waldman
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
The Marriage Plot by J. Eugenides
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by J. Ford
Model Home by E. Puchner
Cyber War: The Next Threat to National Security and What to Do About It by R. Clarke and R. Knake
A Clown in the Trunk
by Maralys Wills

More on Lou’s Writing Workshops:
Founded in the mid-90s, Louella Nelson Writing Workshops hosts groups of intermediate and advanced writers year-round for critiques; meetings expand to include discussion and planning for marketing and conference attendance.  Many of Lou’s students are published, agented, and award-winners.  Applying writers must have completed at least two of Lou’s courses at UCI or equivalent, and a writing sample must pass muster by exhibiting a good grasp of fiction and English fundamentals.

Founded in 1986, Lou Nelson Communications specializes in career coaching, manuscript editing and submission, teaching, workshops and retreats, self-promotion, and conference preparation for writers.

Professional Emphases and Personal Interests:
Lou Nelson’s wide-ranging interests include creative writing, composition, critical thinking, teaching/training pedagogy; literature instruction; online instruction; literary criticism; American and British literature; sentimental literature; history; nature; science; the heavens and all the wonders there; outdoor living; fishing; beach life and sailing; social dance; environmental protection; gardening; photography; animals; pets; animal rights advocacy, and SPCA foster care.

She is mom to an awesome daughter, Stacee, and a friend to many amazingly talented, hard-working writers.


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