Tag Archives: Arts

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.

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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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). If you found this information valuable then please feel free to share it with others. I provided the share buttons so you bring the shares.

As always your comments are appreciated.

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.

Build a Better Brand Platform: 30 Day Challenge (Day 29)

29 Sep
"WE'RE READY FOR THE CHALLENGE TOMORROW. ...

“WE’RE READY FOR THE CHALLENGE TOMORROW. LETS DO THE JOB TOGETHER” – NARA – 516115 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MNINB Day 29 Challenge

Tomorrow is the last day of the challenge. It is sort of bittersweet. I am simultaneously eager for the challenge to be over and certain that I am going to kind of miss it. For this feeling, there is only one antidote.  We must continue to challenge ourselves. Sit down and make a list for next month (October) and give yourself a challenge or task for each day. There’s no more guide to tell you what to do. Now you must make these decisions on your own. If adding new social media sites doesn’t feel right then don’t do it. If joining some pages or groups just for writers does feel right then do that. Somewhere near the end of next month write make a list for the next month. Then that month, you must make a list for the next month. You got it. The challenge never ends in that way. We continue challenging ourselves and growing for our entire careers and lives.

For those who like things in bold print:

Make a list of challenges for next month.

It is important that we continue challenging ourselves. It is only by challenging ourselves as writers and as people that we grow. Thanks for playing along. Thanks Robert “Not Bob” Brewer for designing the challenge. I’ll see you tomorrow in cap and gown for the last day of our challenge. We are almost graduates.

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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). If you found this information valuable then please feel free to share it with others. I provided the share buttons so you bring the shares, buddy!

As always your comments are appreciated.

Excelsior. Peace Out.

 

Build a Better Brand Platform: 30 Day Challenge (Day 17)

17 Sep

I think I will diverge from the MNINB Day 17 challenge, in which Robert “Not Bob” Brewer suggests a #hashtag conversation on Twitter, as a way to engage in an online conversation. I want to recommend instead that you search the groups available on LinkedIn. Then join one (or three)! Participate


Join 3 groups today. Answer a topic question or start a topic of your own.

Writers as a whole tend to be a little bit introverted but be deliberate in coming out of your shell and spending time talking to other professionals involved in writing. It will help you make contacts and may also help you answer that list  of nagging questions that you have always wondered (ex. What is a good freelance rate for an article? What is the best company to work with to self-publish a book?). Depending on your temperament, this might be a harder challenge than previous weeks. Give it a go!

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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). If you found this information valuable then please feel free to share it with others. I provided the share buttons so you bring the shares.

As always your comments are appreciated.

Build a Better Brand Platform:30 Day Challenge (Day 2)

2 Sep

This is the second day of a 30 Day Challenge to build a better platform. If you have done my first challenge then you are well prepared for today’s challenge. If you haven’t done it yet then it isn’t too late. Go back now and finish the first step.  Okay, get on it then.

The rest of us are going on to Day 2.

We are not going to divert too far from Robert Brewer’s second day challenge. Today’s platform building task is to set goals. I want you to think about your goals both short-term and long-term plans. We are going to make three lists; the first list is things we need to accomplish this month, the second is goals you have expectations of finishing within 12 months, and the last is your “bucket list” or goals you would like to accomplish before you die. These are your goals so really think about them. It is important to set a purpose before you can set about accomplishing the purpose.

 

EXAMPLES FROM MY GOAL LISTS:

Very Short-Term (One Month)

Finish Very Novel’s 30 Day Brand Platform Building Challenge

Prepare and Write my Music Spotlight for Moore Monthly

Prepare and Write my Movie Review for Moore Monthly

Have my Novel Planned and Plot Outlined for Start Writing in November

Attend at least one Writer’s Group Meeting

Short-Term (One Year)

Move Hosting for Blog to Registered Personal Domain

Monetize Blog

Novel Writing Finished and Begin Publishing / Marketing

Be Active Member of Writing Group

Outline Second Novel to Start Process Over

Long-Term (Before I Die)

Be Successful Writer with Many Books Written

Successful Well-Followed Blog (that Makes Money as well)

Be Considered an Authority on Writing

Debt-free and Financially Independent

Be Able to Travel and Adventure with My Kids

See My Top 10 Favorite Musicians in Concert

Work on a Movie Script

Work with David Lynch and/ Or David Fincher

Make a Science Fiction Movie with Duncan Jones

Write a  Dr. Who Episode

Work on a Comic / Graphic Novel

See a Movie with Roger Ebert and Discuss It After

Have Tea with Neil Gaiman and a Beer with Stephen King

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, so I got carried away with the last list (you should see the full list)!

What does all of this have to do with building a better platform?

Everything. Before you can broadcast who you are and what you are here to do, you must know it yourself. You must see your destination before you can plan the route there.

It’s another easy challenge,right?

Leave Comments. Ask Questions. Make Commitments.

 

 

Writer with a “Day Job”

29 Aug

Let’s face it, unless you have a book on the New York Times Best Seller‘s list, a healthy trust fund or a hardworking spouse that doesn’t mind supporting you until you are a household name then you probably need to work a “day job“.

My life so far has seen me try many occupations. I have worked in a mail room, cooked pizzas for a fast food delivery place, done door-to-door political canvassing, been a tutor at a junior college, bar bouncer and worked my way from the kid who dipped fish out of the aquarium tanks with a net to assistant manager of a big-box retail store.

Most recently, I did a short stint as an outdoor construction laborer. I tore down and installed seamless rain-guttering. I must not have been too good at it as I stopped getting called for jobs. Just yesterday, I was hired by a Christian-owned hobby supply store as a backroom stock man (stock “boy” is too pejorative I guess). It is hard physical work but the gig is temporary and seasonal as they only hired me to get through their busy holiday season. I am looking at picking up work as a substitute teacher and of course I am trying to pick up even more freelance writing work.

Freelance writing is sort of a hustle and you have to constantly be looking for and following up leads on new work. When the new work just isn’t there then you need the dreaded “day job”.  I’m a writer but to pay the bills I will do just about anything.

Nothing is sexier than saying, “Hey, I’m a writer”…right?

My needs are few. Food in the fridge and comfortable place to sit are really the only priorities. Give me an internet connection and a lap top to write on and I am happy. Still with these few needs, the bills need paid.

What did famous writers do to pay the bills? An article in Flavorwire revealed the Strange Day Jobs of Authors Before They Were Famous.  Writers struggling to get their first works published are often told “Don’t Quit Your Day Job” but just what kinds of crazy jobs do you imagine those writers had. I will make a column of famous writers and a column of possible employment and try to match them up. When you are done guessing then click on the article in Flavorwire to check your answers.

J.D. Salinger                                                        Singer

George Saunders                                               Floor Model at Bloomingdale’s

Franz Kafka                                                         School Janitor

Tom McCarthy                                                    Exterminator

John Steinbeck                                                   Managed a Saab Dealership

John D’Agata                                                       Garbageman (for one day!)

William Faulkner                                              Guinea Pig for CIA Psych Experiments

T.S. Eliot                                                                Busboy

Robert Frost                                                         Doctor with a Full-time Practice                                                      

Jack London                                                         Selling Dental Products By Phone

 Ken Kesey                                                              “Oyster Pirate” and Hobo

Langston Hughes                                                 Changing Light Bulb Filaments

William Carlos Williams                                  Lloyd’s Bank of London

Nicholas Sparks                                                    University Postmaster

Wells Tower                                                            Condom Shop (NOT sex shop)

Kurt Vonnegut                                                        Guided Tours of a Fish Hatchery

Siri Hustvedt                                                           Nude Model

Steven King                                                              Workmen’s Accident Insurance

William S. Burroughs .                                        Worked in a Slaughterhouse

James Joyce                                                             Worked on a Swedish Luxury Liner

Remember that the “day jobs” and authors are mixed up but see how many you can guess before you check the answers.

What “day jobs” do you work? What is the craziest “day job” that you have had to work? What is the “day job” for a writer? Is working a “day job” a help or a hindrance to a career as a professional writer? What do you think? Leave your answers in the comments.

Writer In Waiting

28 Aug
The Importance of Being Earnest (1952 film)

The Importance of Being Earnest (1952 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When an old friend from high school, Dawn Alexander asked to profile me in her blog, Writer In Waiting, my only reservation was that she not post any pictures of me in costume in a one-act play competition we performed in where I played Dr. Chasuble (with an embarrassing lisp) in The Importance of Being Earnest. The bad lisp was an affectation. The cheesy high school mustache was all mine. She agreed to this single caveat.

The Q&A was fairly short. My answers were a little lengthy. When am I likely to be interviewed again soon?

Enjoy the profile and poke around her blog. She is like many of us a “writer in waiting”.

Join her for “Tell Me Your Story Tuesdays”,”Thinking About Thursdays”, and “Friday Plot Swap”.

Oh, and if she brings out that picture, I might have a picture or two of my own. Does big-hair-and-blue-eyeshadow  ring a bell, Dawn? It keeps you humble to have a few friends that know where the bodies are buried (because they helped you bury them).

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