Enter If You Dare.

3 Nov

JoylandJoyland by Stephen King

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the one hand it is a bit crime novel with just enough supernatural elements to sign King’s name to it. Primarily, it is what S.K. has always done best in my estimation. It is nostalgia. It is a shot of youth with a chaser of regret. The bitter taste of regret doesn’t ruin the sweet of looking back on that one big summer when we put away childish things. It is bittersweet but mostly sweet. If ‘The Body’ was King’s remembrance of adolescence then ‘Joyland‘ was his sweet coming of age for the next chapter and the transition from adolescence to being a young adult.

My two favorite quotes from the book are these:

“When you’re twenty-one, life is a roadmap. It’s only when you get to be twenty-five or so that you begin to suspect that you’ve been looking at the map upside down, and not until you’re forty are you entirely sure. By the time you’re sixty, take it from me, you’re fucking lost.”

As a man approaching forty, I still feel most days like the boys in ‘The Body’ and sometimes on good days like Dev in ‘Joyland’ having his last summer. Now, I am entering into Autumn…or it feels like it when I am slathering on the Ben Gay and getting my park buttoned down for winter. I may have another twenty years before I realize how lost I really am but I am pretty sure that I was holding the map upside down the whole damn time.

” When it comes to the past, everyone writes fiction.”

Wistful remembrances and nostalgia are the thing that I think King does even better than horror and cheap scares. He knows we are all rubes on the ride of life. We may learn ‘the talk’ one summer when we are young and we forget most of it…but still as we move on, there is a part of us that is always ‘carny’ and we carry that part with us to the grave and beyond maybe if there is such a thing…and I am really NOT so sure. There are no second acts but it is best not to think too much about that while we are in the midst of our first.

One last quote and comment,

“The last good time always comes, and when you see the darkness creeping toward you, you hold on to what was bright and good. You hold on for dear life.”

King isn’t as young as he once was and neither is this reader. ‘Joyland’ has the cover of a pulpy crime novel but the wise man said not to judge a book thus. It isn’t a spook book either. There is never any doubt that the protagonist survived his summer at ‘Joyland’ and lived on with a few scars to show. Maybe it is just me (I know it isn’t…) but as the date creeps on and the calendar pages fly by and we are left wondering how long until our last good times come, we hold to what is bright and good. To me sometimes that is a yellowed paperback tucked in your pocket as you watch the leaves rustle in October and think back on the summer that just passed (and all of those summers) and…remember.

And smile.

View all my reviews

Take a Frog.

2 Nov

In a Glass Grimmly (A Tale Dark & Grimm, #2)In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this quickly before passing along to my daughter. I wanted to make sure it was “appropriate”. Not that it didn’t have violence (it does! entrails and blood to be exact!) or language (it does! Something similar to and completely unlike German in fact!) or chills and scares (giants,evil mermaids, goblins and a flame-breathing lizard are just for beginners!) but I was reading it to be “appropriate” in another way.

In message and in theme, it is fantastic. As a grown boy, I saw the moral a million miles away but as the note I put into the book before mailing to my young daughter says…

“There is a moral here but don’t worry too much about it. It is also a very fun book and by the time you hear the moral in the end you won’t mind it all because you will have figured it all out on your own by then”.

Take a long look in the mirror both before and after this book. Tell me if you see anything new after. If not, then it might be time for an adventure or two. I suggest you take a friend and a frog if you can.

View all my reviews

Freewriting Fridays 6/21

21 Jun
This image was selected as a picture of the we...

This image was selected as a picture of the week on the Malay Wikipedia for the 51st week, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does anyone remember this long ago freewriting exercise?  Or maybe this one? The idea of freewriting is simple; just write.

I like to use 750 words. You can do whatever you like. There is only one rule: WRITE!

Prompt: “Creatures Kissing In the Rain”

Sinewy.

Is that the right word? It sounds like what I think I mean to say but dictionaries and writing teachers would probably argue the word choice.

It is impossible to think of the right word with him standing there in front of me. His lank torso bare in front of me and his lengthy nest of dun brown hair hanging limply to his cheeks. There is a segment of it caught on his lower lip. His lips are thin and wet. The rain has soaked his face. His glasses are covered in spots and drops. His smile is unmistakable as he takes the thick frames off and catches my glance.

It wasn’t the first time that he and I had skipped class together. We had almost made a a habit of it the last year. He was the artist and I was the writer. He was actually talented and I was just barely good enough to get in the school magazine.

There was a few mile stretch of woods behind our school. We weren’t the first delinquints to use it to hide from teachers. There had even been a fire or two from reckless teenagers throwing their butts into litterpiles of red leaves and wrinkled copies of the student literary magazine. My writing makes excellent kindling.

Most kids would stay to the border of the woods and just smoke or drink or even screw beneath the low creeping bushes. Not him. He had found a cave way out across the creek. It was nothing more than a hole in the ground to look at from outside but inside was enough room to sit comfortably the two of us.

He had moved a tape deck inside and had a great collection of old casettes. They were things he had gotten from his older brother. Thin white dukes and odd creatures with high hair and make-up eyes that crooned creepy little tunes of death, sex, and the other things that captured the imagination of humankind especially moody, melancholy teenage boys.

He was shirtless now. Sitting cross legged. We had walked here in a pouring rain under massive thunderheads with flashes of deep purple lightning across the sky. Shut up! I am the narrator so it was purple lightning. It did smell of the sort of moist black dirt that earthworms wriggle free of. Since I am the narrator, there was nothing uncomfortable at all about sitting in a hole in the ground scrawling in a notebook with my clothes clinging to my wet body that was anything but lank or sinewy.

He was thin and beautiful but I was the sort who got nicknames inspired by farm animals. Somehow he seemed not to notice how largely uncomfortable I was.

“Take off your shirt”.

Was that phrase really passing his lips and tumbling into the small space between us or was I hearing my own thoughts. It was projection. It was desire,right?

“I’m not a perve. I’m seventeen and I have seen it all before. We are going to build a small fire. We can let our clothes dry over that.”, he spoke from his years of experience. I mean I was only fifteen and I was sure he had more than just a few years on me. He must have been a boy scout because with almost no real tinder, he had a small fire burning.

He took off his shorts too. Now there he was almost naked. A small fire licking the top of our makeshift makeout den. We hadn’t actually ever made out.

Except in my imagination.

I listened to him and had my top off in seconds.I was a little hesitant but my underclothes disappeared as well. I reluctantly also kicked aside my soaked jeans. Now we were both sitting there in the near buff.

“Boxers?”, he said.

I turned a little pink in my cheeks. My heart was a steady patter in my chest.

“No, that’s cool.”, he shrugged. “To each their own.”

He pulled his sketchbook out of his backpack and began to stare in that way where he made you (okay, me!) feel like he was looking not just at you but sort of into you.

Holy crap! This is such horrible hormone induced writing. I was scribbling away too. It was words just wordswordswords. They were all about him but he wouldn’t know it to read it. It was the same terrible teenage poetry that girls in my creative writing class wrote about the teacher.

I was careful not to use too many revealing terms. I could talk about this feeling forever but I couldn’t express it fully. I mean what if one of those footballers found my notebook and knew how bad I wanted to kiss my best friend.

Boys don’t kiss boys. That’s what father says.

Who dares me to do another “Freewriting Friday”? No edits, just wordswordswords…I need a topic. Please comment with a short story topic. I’ll use the ones I don’t choose on future fridays.

The Writer’s High

18 Jun
Maniac ran so fast that when he passed you, wo...

Maniac ran so fast that when he passed you, wouldn`t even see him run by you. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Runner’s have this legendary condition known as runner’s high. It is a condition described by some athletes as being the ultimate reward for pushing their bodies to the absolute limit. The feeling of euphoria associated with extreme exercise doesn’t hit everyone and some people don’t feel anything after a 5k but an urge to lurch, fold over in pain and vomit. However, for many a marathon ends with feelings of calm, extreme joy and a sense of peace and well-being normally associated with psychoactive drugs.  The difference many coaches, atheletes and medical professionals say is in how hard an athlete is pushing their bodies and the sustained effort and the effect of runner’s high follows pushing yourself to the physical limit.

Medical professionals had hypothesized that the changes in brain chemistry and surge in induced endorphins. Science is finally catching up to these theories and able to prove and map the changes in brain activity associated with running and extreme exercise. It is no longer a mythical valhalla for only the finest atheletes but an actual measurable change in brain chemistry brought on by pushing your body to it’s perceived limits.

What does any of this have to do with writing?

Remember, the runner’s high doesn’t come from crossing the finish line. It comes with each weary step forward, each breath pulled into a straining lung, and each exhilarating push forward.

Are you looking for the joy in writing to come with a finished work or with each word or page forward?

Let’s discuss the idea in the comments. Is there any comparison between a marathon runner and a novelist?

Feed the Body (and) Nourish the Soul

16 Jun

Today is Fresh Veggies Day. Take a vow to eat healthy today (and everyday), with fresh veggies for every meal, and for snack, too. Better still, be a vegetarian for a day. Your body will like it.

Fresh vegetables are tasty, far better tasting than canned or frozen vegetables. They are also healthy and highly nutritious. This makes it easy to add fresh vegetables to the menu at every meal, and for snacking. This time of year, there are plenty of fresh vegetables at your local grocery store, or in your backyard vegetable garden.

So relish Fresh Veggies Day with a bountiful supply of fresh picked veggies.

What does this have to do with writing? Everything. First, you must feed the body to nourish the soul. A well nourished body will jumpstart the mind. Relish your fresh veggies and inspire some fresh ideas.

Image

The Inertia of Not Doing.

20 Mar
Just Do It | Nike x Lau

Just Do It | Nike x Lau (Photo credit: achimh)

For writers, it is not uncommon to look at the blinking  prompt at the beginning of  your line and all the white space underneath and feel overwhelmed. I am sure that is something that all writers and bloggers have had to deal with at one point or another. It might not even be the dreaded “block” as much as just the inertia of not doing. When you spend a lot of time away from the keyboard, it can feel impossible to return. You become very aware of how long it has been since you last tapped the keys. The molehill of inconvience becomes the mountain of insecurity, doubt and real anxiety.  You start to think that it is just too hard to get back at it and doubt your ability to return to the routine.

 

English: QWERTY keyboard, on 2007 Sony Vaio la...

English: QWERTY keyboard, on 2007 Sony Vaio laptop computer. Français : Le clavier QWERTY d’un ordinateur portable Sony Vaio de 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)So what do you do to get writing again?

Nike was on to something when they offered the veritable and incredibly simple advice, Just Do It,

It can be as simple as that. Sit down and write the first 250 Words that come to mind. Do some freewriting. The best way to get back on to the horse is with a leap and wrap both legs around the belly and ride. It can be as simple as that. Once, you are back in the practice of dumping 250 words in the morning then the page won’t seem quite as intimidating when you want to do some real writing.  If you can’t do 250 words then do any amount that you can but once you start you will find that 250 words are hardly any at all. Look at this entry so far and I am just barely over 250. Two short paragraphs will get you there. Take a shot you have nothing to lose and your writing habit to gain. So, get back to it and remember the truest of truisms:

 

WRITERS WRITE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go South By Southwest, Young Man

19 Mar

Where have I been?

 

If you know me primarily from this blog then you may wonder where I have been? I am sorry if you have feared the worst. I’m not gone. I just fell into preoccupation with work and in addition looking for work. The job search has paid off after months of searching. I found through an old friend a new day job. I will be working for a company as an at “@home virtual reservations associate” booking stays at luxury properties for an international company. I will be staying with my friend of over twenty years and his new wife. We are currently confined to a small apartment but will be moving into a house very soon. I am also saving money

The catch was a move to Austin, Texas. The proud Okie had to move south of the Red River. Worse still, the relocation south has moved me away from my children.  However, the work will pay the sort of money that will allow me to save for a place of my own as well as have more time to commit to my writing.  I was able to visit South By Southwest Interactive Festival for the second time. While my visit was primarily a social experience and consisted primarily of people watching and observing the crowds, I am sure it will not be the last time that I will get to experience the festival. The move should be a positive one overall and ultimately allow a return to an active blog.

I will continue this blog with writing tips, progress on my novel and at times a personal story or two about my life as a part time freelancer with a full time day job and aspirations of being a novelist.

Image of Austin, Texas

Image of Austin, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Weirdsday

10 Oct
Portrait recadré de Lovecraft

Portrait recadré de Lovecraft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am thinking of starting some lucid dreaming experimentation. I am inspired to keep a dream log and I am working out the details of a “weird fiction” that I am writing in homage to H.P. Lovecraft and his The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. Good idea or nightmare waiting to happen? I will tell you tomorrow if I am not thrown into the far reaching depths of the mental canyons of madness and the echoing unreality of eternal insanity.

Wish me luck.

 

Tuesday is Tricky: Writer’s Block

9 Oct

Mondays are “Meet My Guest Blogger Monday” like this so Tuesday? Tuesday is tricky. No really, “Tuesday is Tricky: Tips and Tricks” is the second theme day of the week.  It will be some form of tips or tricks about writing. Today, let’s take a look at…

Tips and Tricks to Beat Writer’s Block

1. Make a date with your writing desk. Nothing ever gets done unless we plan it. Plan to take a certain time of the day and make it yours for writing. I know..I know…you don’t have time! No one does. Yet we manage to watch TV, play online, and make it to the gym. If you are a writer then shouldn’t writing time be a priority to TV and the internet and at least as important for your health as time at the gym? Say yes and make a plan to devote a part of the day to writing.

2. Write words. Lots of them. It isn’t enough to just block off time for writing if you are not actually spending those hours writing. Set a small word goal for day one and then aim to increase it by 100 every day until you get to a comfortable spot. Remember that writing badly is better than not writing at all. There is always revision later. 

3. Write first, Rewrite later. Writing and rewriting are distinctly different tasks. Focus on getting your work written before you begin the rewriting. These are tasks for different days. Stop rewriting the same page for a week and force yourself to write badly first and rewrite later. LATER!

4. Juggle. Have multiple projects going at once. Give one as much as you can until you are stuck and then start another. I usually have a blog post or two going at once. I have flash fiction challenges and the WIP (and some smaller short fiction things). If I can’t make one work with me at the moment, I don’t panic. I put it down and pick up another.

5. Write (when it isn’t writing time). Once in a while, forget you regular writing time and trade it with gym time or some other time of the day. Attack your enemy from another direction. Flank those freaky words and come in from a corner of the battlefield that they would never expect. It’s like a mental ambush!

6. Write it out of order. Nothing says that you have to write it in the order that you want it read. Write the middle first or the end then go to the beginning. Mix it up. Write the part that wants out first. Then use that to build the rest.

7. Regular FreewritingMake time to freewrite every day. Freewriting is like priming the mental pump. Read this or this. That’s forced one shot writing. Do it freely and forget the grammar rules or spelling. Forget anything but getting words on the page. There is also this.  Now read all of my opinions on Freewriting and I have a lot of them. Freewriting is a must have tool in a writer’s toolbox. You must be willing to write for the love of writing. Rewriting is for later.

8. Pick up on the hint! Did you get my #1 most important tip to beating writer’s block? I said it over and over in each tip. Rewriting is not the same as writing. You build the house before you paint it. You must have words on the page before you can revise them. Tattoo that on your hand (or just put a post it note on your screen): REWRITE LATER!

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A Day In The Life of A Real Writer

8 Oct

Okay, so we all knew it would happen some day! Sean needed a little credibility so he sought out some established “real writer” to lend a guest post and some much needed “actual content” to this blog. So I called up my distant cousin,  Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy, the Rebel Writer (actually no known relation) to fill in for me on a new segment that the kids are calling, “Meet My Guest Writer”.

Forget glamour.  Erase any notions or preconceived ideas about fun.  Writing is work.  And yes, it can be enjoyable.  I love what I do and can’t imagine returning to working nine to five for a corporation or business.  But it’s also time consuming, frustrating, and at times difficult.  I prefer the rewarding moments over the hard but in this business, you’ll have both.

Rewind my life a few years and I dabbled in writing.  Although I wrote almost every day and turned out a lot of stories, articles, and other literary efforts, many of which found published homes and earned me a little money, I didn’t approach it as a job.  If there’s any secret to my success, a turning point moment, it’s when I decided to treat writing as if it were a paying job.

I made up my mind and decided it was time to get serious.  The housework took a back seat to writing and I began keeping a routine, a strict one.  I stopped for a lunch break at the same time each day and within six months I signed my first book contract.  Two years and two months later, I signed my thirtieth this week.  Most are full-length novels by any standard and a few are what is sometimes called novellas.  These days, more and more people just call them “books”.  All are available as eBooks, four are also available in paperback.  I also have work in more than twenty-five anthologies and several short story credits including a few in national publications.

So if you want to make it in this business, make writing a job.

For the curious, here’s a rundown of how my basic day begins. I get up early, as in before daylight.  I’m also a mom so I rise before the kids and after a cup or two of coffee to get my mind alert, I check emails.  I also start a to-do list for the coming day.  After I feed and get my children out the door to the bus, I spent several hours either writing or doing writing-related tasks.  It can include editing, filling out cover art forms, writing blurbs, keeping up with my four blogs, using social networking to keep up with other writers and the reading community, and other details.  I may pause long enough to start the laundry or let my Jack Russell terrier out into the yard but otherwise I work until lunch.  After a brief stop, I bring in the mail and get back to work for several more hours.  Then it’s time to meet the kids, cook supper, talk to my husband when he gets home.  After dinner, I pay bills, play a little online, keep up with friends, and make phone calls to family.  Sometimes I get a little more work done, sometimes not.

My schedule doesn’t vary much even on weekends.  I’ve been known to work on holidays too, at least a few hours worth.  If I go on vacation, it’s usually a working trip with a visit at a writer’s conference or research for an upcoming project.  And the laptop goes along too.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t hobnob with the rich and famous, attend galas, ride around in my limo and I’m far from rich.  I’ve done a few local television appearances but I’ve yet to mark The Tonight Show off my bucket list.

I work long, often hard hours but I enjoy what I do.  Reader feedback makes a positive impact too.  I often urge people to remember I’m not home watching television or playing Farmville.  I’m working because writing is a job and once I began to give it the same respect as any other employment, my career moved in new directions.

Contact and links:

leeannwriter@gmail.com

Twitter: leeannwriter

Facebook: my personal page is Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy plus I just kicked off an author page – From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

https://www.facebook.com/pages/From-Sweet-To-Heat-The-Romance-of-Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/287540748010934?ref=hl

Website/blog: http://leeannsontheimermurphywriterauthor.blogpspot.com

Blog: Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

http://leeannsontheimermurphy.blogspot.com

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I

Now that you have had a taste of a “real writer”, can you ever go back? 

Sure you can! And you will! See you tomorrow!

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If you haven’t yet, please connect with me on social media:

Please follow this blog by email or on your WordPress reader page (or both). Thank my “cousin” for lending me some much-needed quality content by sharing with all of your friends! This time it is not a polite request, it is a mandate. I brought the share buttons so you bring the shares,buddy!

As always your comments are appreciated.

Excelsior. Peace Out.

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