Archive for the ‘Inspiration!’ Category

Writers Writing Together

Saturday, January 28th, 2017

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Freelance writer and editor, Meghan Ward, will discuss “Writing as a Team Sport” at the next meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, February 11, 2017 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Ms. Ward will discuss writing at home vs. outside the home, different types of co-working spaces for writers, the San Francisco Grotto, how writers can support and market each other’s work, and blogging and social media.

She is a member of the San Francisco Grotto, an organization founded on the belief that writers are more productive and courageous in a community environment. In addition to working as a freelance writer and editor, Ms. Ward is the founder of Writerland.com, a blog about writing, publishing, and social media. She is the author of Runway: Confessions of a not-so Supermodel, and has published in numerous magazines and newspapers.

Sign-in begins at 11:15, luncheon from 12 to 12:45 pm. Speaker 1-2 pm at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill. The cost is $25 for CWC members, $30 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. Contact Robin at cwcrobin.gigoux@yahoo.com, or phone 925-933-9670. To sign up via PayPal, click “Buy now” on the Mt. Diablo branch website, http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/next-program/. Add $2 transaction fee.

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

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Three local authors will share “Resources for Writers” at the next luncheon meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Jil Plummer will discuss resources for research: how to find correct flora, fauna, and climate, feel the mood of the setting, and capture the culture, religion, and history of your subject.

Bill Stong will talk about drawing the reader in with challenges and writing goals, vivid and vibrant writing, and using a support network to make your writing come alive.

Leslie Rupley will present choices for the independent publisher: boutique publishers, all-inclusive packages, and do-it-yourself.

Sign-in begins at 11:15 am, with a seated luncheon from 12:00 pm to 12:45 pm. Meal selection should be included in your reservation: New York steak, salmon, chicken parmesan, or pasta primavera. Speakers from 1:00 to 2:00 pm. $25 for CWC members, $30 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, December 7.

Contact Robin at cwcrobin.gigoux@yahoo.com or leave a message at: 925-933-9670 or sign up via PayPal: click “buy now” on the Mt.Diablo website.: http://cwcmtdiablowriters,wordpress.com/next-program/.  Add $2 transaction fee. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is: http://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com

 

Middle Grade Students – Win $$ for your Writing AND Poetry Tips & Techniques

Monday, February 8th, 2016

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Poetry Tips by Poets David Alpaugh and Aline Soules

Getting Started

Start by brainstorming—just as you would for any other project.  What’s on your mind?  What’s in your heart?  What moves you?  What do you care about?  Do your best to come up with your own idea.  This isn’t supposed to be a class assignment, but a chance to share a piece of yourself and practice your love of writing.

Start writing, even if you haven’t come up with your final idea yet.  This is called “free writing.”  It’s been said that if you write for seven to ten minutes, your brain will come up with an idea.

Once you’ve created your “raw material,” it’s time to begin writing your poem.  Now, we’ve moved from inspiration to perspiration, from free writing to craft.

Crafting Your Poem

 Poems are crafted—every word is chosen and placed in its position in the poem for a purpose.  You should never submit a rough or first draft because judges look for your ability to craft your poem and that can take many drafts.

 General craft ideas

  • Show, don’t tell
  • Be concrete and specific
  • Create original images—no clichés
  • Choose the right title (which may come any time in your process)

 Grammar, Usage, Word Play

  • Choose active verbs, e.g., “sit”, not “is seated” or “is sitting”; see if you can think up “punchier” verbs that make your point stronger.
  • Verbs and nouns are strong, while adjectives and adverbs are weak. Concentrate on verbs and nouns and use adjectives and adverbs sparingly.
  • Play around with your poem to make sure every word and its place in the poem are exactly right.  You can play “switcheroo”—move around words, phrases, clauses, whole stanzas to see what works best.

•    Must poems rhyme? No. Many of today’s best poets don’t use rhyme. If you want to write in rhyme, remember that it’s difficult to write well in rhyme. Make sure that your rhyming words make sense and move the poem forward. Rhyme for its own sake doesn’t work. (In most cases, rhyme is more effective for humorous rather than serious subjects.).

  • Highlight the best phrase or couple of phrases in your poem and see if you can bring the rest of your poem up to the same level.
  • Use repetition with care.  Make sure there’s a reason for using repetition.
  • When you think you’re done, see if you can cut out some words from your poem.  It’s easy to let too many “little” words slip in, like “the” and “a” and prepositions and conjunctions, when you don’t need them.  Poems should be “dense,” saying much in as few words as possible.
  • The best way to learn to write poetry well is to read poems by successful poets and pay attention to the way they use language. Poetry employs the same words as prose but is usually richer in imagery and figures of speech, particularly metaphor and simile.
  • After you’ve read a poem you love go back and re-read the first and last lines and ask yourself how the poet gets in and out of the poem? It’s usually most effective to rocket your reader into the heart of the poem instantly, without any introduction or wind-up. Last lines are most effective when they leave readers with something dramatic or memorable to think about.

 Layout

  • Experiment with line breaks.  Do you want short lines or long lines?  Choose the end of your lines with purpose every time.
  • Experiment with your stanzas, too.  Long, short?  What’s best to convey the meaning and feeling of your poem?
  • Another thing to avoid is centering your poem.  If there’s no reason inside the content of the poem to center it, don’t.  It may look “pretty” to you, but if it’s not appropriate to the poem, it shouldn’t be centered, but lined up along the left-hand side of the page.

 Sound

  • Listen to the sounds in your poem.  Are they hard? soft? What do you need in your poem?  Change words or move them around to get the sounds you want.
  • Listen to the rhythm of your poem.  Is it too sing-songy?  If so, make more changes.
  • Read your poem out loud or ask a friend to read it to you.  Does it sound the way it should?
  • Read your poem with a pause at the end of every line.  That will help you to see if your line breaks are in the right place.

Time

You can’t write a poem in a hurry.  Don’t try to write a new poem when the deadline’s due.  Give yourself a few weeks.  After you’ve written several drafts, set your poem aside and come back to it again in a couple of weeks.  Read it aloud and try some of the tips again.  You’ll be surprised at how much you can improve.

Submitting

Only submit a poem when you’re confident it’s the best you can do and it’s ready to go.  Judges can tell when a poem’s not ready, but they love to read the poems that are your very best effort.

For more information visit https://cwcmtdiablowriters.wordpress.com/young-writers-contest/

 

Five Tips to Inspire Your Creativity!

Wednesday, January 6th, 2016


A few years ago after we purchased new carpet, the seller mentioned, “When you vacuum your carpet every day . . .”

I laughed.

“You don’t vacuum each day?”  She said with a voice that implied I regularly tortured babies and small animals.

“No!”  My intonation indicated she was crazier than I.

“It’s not good for your carpet,” she said, nearly shaking her finger at me.  “It won’t last very long.”

Since our old, worn carpeting was installed into our house for decades, I wasn’t about to tell her it had survived well without any obsessive cleaning.

In our busy lives it’s hard to discipline ourselves to begin a routine.  But if you feel deep in your soul it should be a priority, make it one.  Turn off your gadgets and devote twenty minutes a day for your creativity to develop and flow.

Tips:

1. Train your family or roommates by posting a sign on your door.  Mine says Writer at Work.  Don’t disturb means don’t disturb.  No room to call your own?  A friend set up a small desk inside a closet in which to work.  She wrote several books this way, early in the morning before her kids were up and she went to work as a teacher.

2.  Play instrumental or movie music (without words) to inspire your writing or art.  Amy Tan plays the same music every day for the book she is working on. It trains your brain to get into the relaxed state to create.

3.  While walking, exercising, showering, washing the dishes, wonder about your story, poem, or painting.  Solutions and inspiration comes in the wondering state more than facing an empty computer screen or blank piece of paper.

4.  Motivate yourself with a star on each day you’ve made your writing goal or

5.  Motivate yourself by finding a writing friend to join you.  You can chat online or in person once a week about your goals and projects.

As author Jane Yolen commands, “Butt in chair!”  It’s the way to get your writing done. You’ll feel great once you’ve built this creative routine!

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Everyone Needs a Treehouse

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

 

 As a child, my favorite place was the cluster of trees which grew behind my childhood home. As a neighborhood hangout, several of the nearby children and I spent hours play-making here.  The trees provided a leafy canopy roof to the playhouse. I’d sweep the mud floor with a large branch, a nod to housekeeping.

Stones and the natural slope of the earth provided three clear rooms.  The living room’s entryway was marked by a worn path to low, overhanging branches, concealing our treasured hideaway and creating a cozy canopied roof.  A natural rise in dirt served as a couch while a rock became a chair.

Stepping above the couch was the bedroom, a small platform where an old doll slept.  She was someone else’s cast-off, my discovered treasure from an earlier exploring expedition deeper in the forest.

The kitchen, off to the left of the living room, consisted of piles of sticks and rocks serving as the stove and counter.  A path from the kitchen led to the backyard, which led to another grove of trees.  Here someone had built an actual wooden house in a tree.  A tree house, a house surrounded by trees, and yet a third structure:  tall, dried reeds, tilted together as a tee-pee.   Mother Nature provided Disneyland-like adventures for any child with an imagination.

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Ever since my youth I have sought out trees.  When my husband and I searched for a house and we discovered one amidst large, tall oak trees, we knew we were home.   The deck places me inside the branches.  This is where I relax, write, and meditate.

Writing Prompts:

  1. Even if you only have a small corner, you can create your own space.  Where is your place of comfort, imagination, and peace?
  2. Use your comfort place as an inspiration for a poem, story, or art work.
  3. Write about a time where you sought a setting to feed your creative spirit.
  4. What’s your favorite trip or adventure where you discovered a new setting which you loved?  Write about this place and your experience.

 

Calling All Kids and Teens! Art Contest for YOU!

Friday, July 24th, 2015

IMG_6759The California State Parks Foundation is offering an art contest for youth aged 4 – 18.   Why do you think state parks are great places?  Guidelines state “Posters should be no smaller than 8 inches x 10 inches and no larger than 11 inches x 17 inches.   Almost any kind of paper can be used, and we encourage use of chalk, ink, marker, photography, paint, or more.”

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Winners receive prize packages, including $50 gift cards from Subway!  Posters will be displayed online at calparks.org and featured in their publications and media.

Postmark your entry by September 8, 2015.  Winners will be announced in October 2015.

Visit http://www.calparks.org/whatwedo/advocacy/youthartcontest/ for the entry form which must be accompanied by the art submission.

 

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Alert! Idea Attack!

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Ideas surround us.  We live them in the small moments of our days

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and in our life-changing experiences.

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How do we choose which one?

  1.  Live your life keeping your “idea feeler” alert on.  What sensory details strike you?  Characters abound.   Notice their quirks!  Anticipate the “what ifs” and “how comes” everywhere.
  2. What sticks with you at the end of the day?  First thing in the morning?  Keep an idea journal in your phone or in a notebook. Record your dreams to discover what your deeper creative consciousness.
  3. Brainstorm your memories and passions.  Don’t censor!  All ideas can be writing and art inspirations.
  4. After you feel you’ve collected many, put them away.
  5. Walk away from your list. Ruminate.  Which ideas stay with you?  Begin to percolate?

Playing with your idea with words and images will release serendipity!  One thread leads to another.  Above all, have fun with the process!

Why Celebrity Books Are Actually Important & Why YOU Should Write a Memoir

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

 

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Candace Bergen.  Mariel Hemingway.  Jon Cryer.  And now Barbra Streisand has a new publishing deal for her life story.  So many celebrities have penned their autobiographies and memoirs it’s amazing when someone famous DOESN’T write one.  Many mid-list “real” writers grumble about million dollar advances and attention on big names who probably haven’t written their books. Of course at the end of the day, editors will highlight celebrity books because they sell well.

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Well, writers, I beg you to think of this situation in a new way.  Famous people’s books earn the most money for the publishers, financing them to purchase books from the rest of us.

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So what’s the difference between an autobiography and a memoir?  In an autobiography, the writer shares her entire life story.  A memoir focuses on one specific event or theme in the author’s life.  Memoirs can be written by ordinary people, who have a message they’ve gained from their experience.

Writing Prompts:

1.  Even if you don’t intend to write an autobiography or a memoir, you may discover much about your life, how to capture the deeper truths, and find themes and metaphors in your writing.  In addition, either or both of these books may be treasured to your family for historical, cultural, and personal reasons.  The people closest to you may say, “I never knew this happened to you!”  Sharing specific emotional anecdotes can help others realize they aren’t alone.

So write your autobiography.  Begin with incidents that stand out in your mind.  What was your earliest memory? Why do you think it is engraved in your mind?  Write the stories that require you to dig into your feelings.  Write the stories that made you laugh.

2.  Inspire your memories by looking at old photos.  Write about each one.  Answer journalistic type questions of where you were, why you were there, what you were doing who was with you . . . The simple idea of examining the other people in the photo should bring back images and ideas about them.  By using a photo as a jumping off point, you might discover lots of material to mine.  Those new essays can inspire even more memories.

3.  Play music from the time period of your youth.  Read books that occur during the time.  How did current events affect you?  Movies, music, and foods?  Immerse yourself in your childhood culture.

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Missing that ZING! in your life?

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

For the past few weeks, I’ve been immersed in a photo project.  Removing pictures from albums, scanning and numbering them haven’t been creative for me.  I’ve felt dulled, going through the motions but lacking that special zing.

A few days ago I met with my writing group. Surrounded by imagination, I felt that energy returning.  Zing! What a difference it made to my day.

So now, although I’m still getting past family photos in order, I’m reserving some time every day for writing.  Funny how after years of being a writer, I needed this reminder to myself.  Seek that deeper layer and all will be well.

Last week, I met with a friend who has been going through emotional trauma.  While walking on the beach, she took a photo of a fire.

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“They were burning a cross?” I asked her, puzzled.

“No, Liz.  There WAS no cross,” she said.

Zing.

“You’re surrounded by spiritual love,” I told her

“I know,” she said.

Seek your other layer.  When you find it, honor it every day.

 

Writing Prompts:

1.  As you rush through your day, through work, commuting, household chores, and activities, schedule minutes to discover the deeper you.  Write stories, poems, create art.

2.  Honor your spirituality.  Give gratitude every day.   Provide a random act of kindness and see how it makes you feel.

3.  Search into your past for memories.  Write about how they’ve influenced you.  Use humor and story to give shape to your life.

4.  Appreciate others’ creative works.  Read, visit a museum, and an art show.  Let these ways broaden your own projects.

Six Essential New Year Resolutions for Writers

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

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How to be the Most Productive and Inspired!

  1. Create a haven for which to write.  It might be in the middle of a busy coffee shop.  It could be in a library or on the subway.  Where do you write best?  Try out various settings.  I know one author who wrote in a closet for fifteen minutes before work.  She wrote several books this way!
  2. Set aside fifteen minutes a day to calm your mind and write.  Tune out list-making procedures and tune in to your intuition.  The best moments to get creative are when you daydream, awake from sleep, or are so relaxed you reach your most inspired moments. Wonder about a character, story, or idea.  Play what if . . .
  3. Notice one new sensory detail each day.  You can be at your desk, in a classroom, on a bus, or lounging in your favorite chair.
  4. Play a simile/metaphor game often. What do you see which reminds you of something else?  Find similarities between two random things.
  5. Read good writing.  Read more than you ever have before.  Keep a reading journal.  Jot down a wonderful word, image, phrase, or character you love from what you’ve read.
  6. Finally, don’t forget to PLAY!  Play in the snow, the sand, and the leaves.  Build with blocks.  Create a puzzle.  Act out charades.  Let go and have fun!