About Bonnie Neubauer
Here's a short sweet bio:
Bonnie Neubauer is a late-bloomer who didn’t discover her creativity until she was in her mid-thirties. Now in her fifties (yikes!), her inventive energy enables her to continue to be a kid at heart, leaving creative sparks wherever she goes. In 1997, Bonnie met her husband-to-be, Gil,in a writing group. In 2000 they got married at the same Borders Books & Music store where they met. They currently live in a crowded apartment in suburban Philadelphia with their two famous cats (because they were on the cover of a Hallmark Greeting Card), Booger and Coolio. Bonnie is the inventor of Story Spinner which generates millions of creative writing exercises either online or with a carry anywhere, handheld version. She is the author of two books published by Writer's Digest: The Write-Brain Workbook, 366 Exercises to Liberate Your Writing and Take Ten for Writers, 1000 Inspiring Exercises to Generate Ideas and Stimulate Your Writing in Only Ten Minutes a Day. She presents fun, funny, and motivational writing workshops to witers of all ages and levels. Bonnie has turned one of her hobbies, inventing Halloween costumes based on word plays, into a downloadable eBook called Punny Cotumes, 252 No Sew, Easy-to-Make Costumes Guaranteed to Elicit Groans. Visit her website, www.BonnieNeubauer.com, to download the eBook, try your hand at millions of free writing exercises, and discover tips and tools to keep writer's block at bay and build your writing momentum. Check out Bonnie's latest project - www.JoYRox.net!
Here's a looong bio that provides way more info than you might ever need - written in first person because it feels creepy to write about myself in the third person for more than 2 paragraphs!
I was born June 29, 1958 in Philadelphia, PA to Arnie and Sandy Neubauer. Back in those days, Dads paced waiting rooms and, in delivery, Moms were knocked out cold. After I was all cleaned up, the nurse brought me in to meet my brown-haired parents. When they saw a baby with a full head of thick, curly, bright red-orange hair, my Mom exclaimed, "That's our baby?" And so my life began.
Three years later when my sister Hope was born, my reign as only child and spoiled first grandchild ended. She had straight, fine blonde hair. But by now, my parents were used to miracles. Hope and I pretty much fought from the minute my mom started to show. Three years after that, our sister Kim was born. Finally, a brown-haired baby! And Hope and I had something real to fight over - Kim's attention.
I was an early talker, starting with phrases and shifting quickly to full sentences. I have not shut up since; just ask my husband, Gil. Words and language have played a major role in my existence. So have games.
As a kid I was very into playing: cards, board games (especially Mystery Date, Clue, Yahtzee, and Scrabble) string figures, puzzles, word games, tag, Chinese jump rope, and school with my best friend, Melinda. (What a sucker I was; when we played school, Melinda was the teacher and I was the student.) I never understood dolls. Barbie only became interesting when my friends and I locked her nude in the case with GI Joe. I did, however, think the idea of using straight pins for earrings was pretty clever. I still love having game nights with friends and family where we play a wide variety of games (like Balderdash, Scattergories, Pictionary, Loaded Questions, Word on the Street) and prototypes of games I invent.
In school I was a very good student - teacher's Pet on occasion, always the goody-two-shoes. I went to a wonderful Kindergarten through 8th grade school called Finletter Elementary. I recently had the honor of being on the board of a non-profit organization, 2andC Cares, that raised almost $20,000 to give back to that school.
I have always been very impressed with humor. Alan Sherman (Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah) was a staple in our household. I STILL pull out the old vinyl LPs and sing along, even though I was one of 2 girls in my elementary school class not chosen for chorus. I also adored Carol Burnett and the Smothers Brothers. If I could have been any character in a TV show, I would have chosen Rhoda - both in her self-deprecating, frumpy side-kick to Mary Tyler Moore days, as well as in her svelte, sharp-tongued, own-series days.
Fast forward now: High School was okay. My first year was at Philadelphia High School for Girls of which I remember little, except that there were pink marble bathrooms. There was also an eight-week strike which meant I got two summer vacations that year. In tenth grade we moved from the city to Upper Dublin. What a shock that was to my system! One day I was riding inner city subways to school, the next I was on a yellow bus that went by a sheep farm to get to my new high school. One highlight of these years was my adulation for Harry Chapin. I saw him in concert as often as I possibly could.
The first 2 years of college at Temple University, commuting from home, were all right. Then, in my Junior Year, I lived in France with a fantastic program from Rutgers University. Every minute was an exciting learning experience or, at worst, a 20-pound weight gain. A diet of Camembert cheese, baguettes, and wine may have covered all my favorite food groups, but it also covered my hips and waist. Rutgers let me attend their campus in New Brunswick, NJ and graduate with only one year in-residence, an exception to a school rule, provided I would agree to live on the French floor of a dormitory my senior year. What a weird scenario that was - being in a triple with two freshman roommates! But many of my friends from my junior in France decided to room there, too. It turned out to be quite a fun year.
I paid a lot of my way through school by working retail jobs where I sold everything from shoes to vitamins to toilet seats. I loved those retail jobs, especially at Christmas when the malls were crowded and stayed open late. Since we didn't celebrate Christmas, this was the only way for me to get my dose of holiday decorations and excitement that I always craved.
I attended one year of graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania where I studied Sociolinguistics. If you're wondering "What's that? What do you do with it?" I asked myself the same thing one morning and dropped out shortly thereafter.
I then had careers in apartment management, advertising sales, telemarketing, and consulting. Nothing jazzed me. Nothing ignited my passion.
Then, in the midst of a very dark, phobic, depressed part of my life, during a telemarketing sales call, I met a man named Randy who had just started a business-to-business greeting card company. Something clicked (and no, it was NOT call waiting) and out-of-the-blue I knew from the bottom of my being that I wanted to write greeting cards for him. After a bit of out-of-character persistence from me, he agreed. Three days later I sold him 11 card concepts.
THAT WAS WHEN I CAUGHT THE WRITING BUG! The only 'D' I had ever gotten in all my years of school was in Freshman English Composition. What a surprising shock to my system to find out my niche in the world had to do with writing.
I immediately started reading more fiction, reading about writing (my favorite books on the subject are by Natalie Goldberg) and actually writing. I wrote resumes for friends and family, hundreds more greeting cards, telemarketing sales scripts, ghost-written articles, handouts for public speakers, scripts for seminars, advertisements, catalog copy (my favorite was for a company that sold erotic chocolates) and brochures.
I also loved timed-writing exercises and the magical pieces they prompted me to create. So much energy in such a short period of time; never knowing what's going to come out of my pen. I attended some workshops using this technique. I even started a novel, Carly's Diary, using this method.
Before I knew it, I was leading the workshops. I developed my own style using lots of sensory stimulation, visual prompts, combining unlikely subjects, and not knowing your topic until right before you pick up the pen to write for 10 minutes. Watching a new writer catch the spark is a magnificent moment. Helping a writer get unblocked is a gift. Some folks turned their exercises into published stories and articles. Everyone kept mentioning how they wished they had these types of exercises to do at home.
I thought about writing a book of exercises, but that seemed daunting. Then I remembered a toy I had as a child where you turn wheels with sections of characters' faces and end up making funny and weird-looking people. I used that premise to come up with my first invention, Story Spinner, which is 3 handheld wheels (starter, setting, words) that generate millions of creative writing exercises. On this site you can try an online version of Story Spinner or purchase a hand-held one.
The biggest challenge I met with Story Spinner was that it wasn’t a book. All the retailers and catalogers liked it, but wanted it to be in a traditional form so they could sell it easier. Even though I had originally thought that writing a book of exercises was too overwhelming, I did it anyway. Two agents and a nice healthy dose of rejection letters later, in 2005, that book, The Write-Brain Workbook, became a reality. (A big thank-you to my fantastic agent, Jennifer DeChiara, and also to Jane Friedman and Amy Schell and all the other wonderful folks at F+W Media/Writer’s Digest Books.) In 2009 I wrote a follow-up book of writing prompts, Take Ten for Writers which has thousands of exercises geared toward building momentum in the craft of writing. It's quite a thrill and an honor to read blogs, reviews, and postings about these books and how much they have helped people discover their writing voice, get unblocked, or move a stalled project forward.
In the middle of all this creativity, I also have a life that revolves around books. I actually met my husband at a bookstore and, (at the age of 41 for me, 36 for him) on April 2, 2000 we were married at the Borders Books and Music Store in Springfield, PA where we met. Gil wore a kilt and I wore a bright red gown for our "storybook" non-traditional wedding. It was on 2 TV stations and written up in all the local papers and even appeared in a national women's magazine. We just celebrated our tenth anniversary with a big hug and kiss at the exact spot in the bookstore where we said our vows.
In order to support my creative habit, I have one of the most wonderful day jobs a girl could ever dream of - working at the Women's Yellow Pages of Greater Philadelphia. It is owned by my dear friend, Ellen Fisher, who is always dreaming up new ways to keep me busy and on my toes. I particularly like writing Connect, the publication's eZine. You can read it (or subscribe if you like) on the website, www.philawyp.com. Ellen is also a great cook who makes outstanding lunches!
Evenings and weekends I work part-time at a most fascinating place, Main Line LearningRx, where I am a cognitive skills trainer. We work mostly with kids and teens who have learning challenges. The brain training exercises are fun and game-like and the results are phenomenal! It's one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had.
Other interests and hobbies that currently strike my fancy are volunteering at an archaeological dig at the Marcus Hook Plank House, entering Hallmark Greeting Card contests, and growing catnip which I use to make toys for all my four-legged, furry friends. You can read about all these (and quite a few more of my interests) in more detail by going to the More! page of this website.
I have also turned one of my hobbies, coming up with Halloween costumes based on word plays, into an eBook, Punny Costumes. If you like simple, no sew, easy-to-make costumes that elicit groans, then I am sure you will have great PUN reading through the 252 costumes described in its pages. Sales from Punny Costumes and Story Spinner also support my creativity, so I thank you in advance for buying one or both.
I must now get back to work, so I will leave you with this quote by Henny Youngman: “Triumph is just oomph added to try.” I urge you to go ahead and take that first (or next) step and do what you’ve been dreaming. This is how I live my life and it feels great to wake up every morning knowing I am living my dreams and sharing them with you.