Archive for the ‘Misc’ Category

Write Out of the Box!

Monday, January 13th, 2014

“If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.” Juan Ramon Jimenez

In kindergarten, my son’s teacher gave each student a construction paper Christmas stocking along with decorations. Their assignment? Cut them out and glue them too look like her example.

A couple other mother-volunteers and I entered the room while teacher and class were on the playground for recess.

“Look at all their stockings,” said one mom.

Each stocking was hung, identically in a row along the wall. They could have been mimeographed in their sameness.

“Wow,” said the other mom, observing one stocking decorated with magic marker Christmas figures on the tiny white edge of the stockings’ perimeter.
“Who did that one?” said the first mom.
They peered closely at the small signature.
It was Tofer.

I write this anecdote not to brag, but to show how one five-year-old figured a way to be creative even with a cut and paste assignment.

How will you show your individuality with your writing or art?

Writing Prompts:
1. Select one of your scenes you’ve already written. How can you make it yours and only yours?
2. Make one of your characters quirky. What distinguishes this character from every other one in your book? A particular secret, trait, or passion may allow her to be amusing or annoying or lovable!
3. Create a setting that shows its character. Being specific creates identifiable reactions and emotions within your readers. Can you show nostalgia? A comfort setting? A suspenseful place? Remember sounds, smells and even tastes will allow your readers to feel like they are there.

Saturday, December 21st, 2013

Apologies!  I’ve written the last couple of posts to this blog and non-techie me has pushed the incorrect button.  I THOUGHT I saved my edits of the posts, but I didn’t.  Ugh.  And I’ve been doing this blog for HOW long?

Just goes to prove that I’ve been rushing too much, as usual. 

Hope you take time to enjoy this month and don’t do as I do, but do as I say!

How Poetry Inspires Writers and Artists

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Quote for today: “Lose your mind and come to your senses.” Fritz Perls


From the book, Poems of Sleep and Dreams Everyman’s Library, 2004, Richard Wilbur’s “Walking to Sleep” holds a truth that speaks to falling asleep and creative pursuits:

“Step off assuredly into the black of your mind. Something will come to you.” 

Writers and artists! Present an open mind without fear. 

Trust your imagination. 

Writing Prompt:  Open a book of poetry at random.  Which poem stares back at you?  Read it slowly, soaking up the words.  Which line speaks to you?  Let that line become your muse for the day.  Create your work inspired by the meaning of the poem’s powerful words. 

How to Finally Write That Book, Change a Habit, and Earn a Million Dollars . . .

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

I have many excuses as to why I haven’t written on this blog sooner. Relatives were visiting, I traveled to a lovely writing retreat, and I’m on a book deadline and negotiating a contract. But at the end of this paragraph, who cares?

What habit would you like to change in your life? Want to get that book written? Create art every day? Drop a few pounds? I just read This Year I Will . . . How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True by M.J. Ryan.

Ryan says there are ten resolution pitfalls:

1. Being vague about what you want. A friend of mine is creating a website. When I asked her for specifics, she can’t pin it down as to what her site is all about. No wonder she’s a year late on her own deadline for this project.

Write down your goal. Next, break it up into baby steps. I like list-making. If it’s too big of a project it will scare me away. But if I only have to do one tiny thing per day, the work will eventually get done.

2. Not making a serious commitment. How bad do you want this goal? Why?

3. Procrastinating and excuse making – – no time, wrong time, dog ate my homework. (See my first paragraph above.) An acquaintance of mine does this, too. Years ago she said she couldn’t write because she was raising her children. Now, children are long gone and she still hasn’t written the book.

4. Being unwilling to go through the awkward phase.
In writing a book, this often is either when a person begins the book or when the writer reaches the murky middle. Even though writing isn’t digging ditches, it’s tiring. And no one is patting you on the back with huge checks with each chapter you write.

5. Not setting up a tracking and reminder system. Have you created a schedule? Check off what you’ve done so you can visualize your own progress.

6. Expecting perfection, falling into guilt, shame, regret. Remember, rough drafts are supposed to be lousy. Don’t keep rewriting. Just get the work written. When you write THE END, take a break and only then are you allowed going back to the beginning for your rewrite.

7. Trying to go it alone. It takes a community to write a book. Discover a writing partner, group, or online list serve to cheer you on or suggest ideas for your creative process.

8. Telling yourself self-limiting rut stories. Negativity not allowed!

9. Not having backup plans.

10. Turning slip-ups to give-ups.
I’m not explaining the last two. Read the book. It’s worth it.

I’m trying to stop drinking diet soda. I manage this fairly well until travel time or when a migraine attacks. My body seems to crave caffeine and diet soda. Somehow, through the wall of pain, I feel the world owes me this addiction. I’ll never get rid of this horrible pain again. (#8?) A writing friend also is struggling with the same addiction so we encourage each other along and cry on each other’s shoulders. (Thanks, Deborah!)

One more hint from the book: If you have trouble with negative thoughts, here is something from the work of Byron Katie who stopped being a morbidly obese agoraphobic. She’s now a famous and lovely spiritual guru.
Ask yourself four questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3. How do you react when you think that thought?
4. Who would you be without that thought?

Writing Prompts:

1. Choose a habit you would like to adapt or change. Write it down.
2. Read M.J. Ryan’s book and use your habit to do the exercises within the book.
3. Will this help you with your art and/or writing?
4. Write about the emotions you experience through your process.
5. Write an essay or poem about your habit.

The Legal Aspects of Writing and Publishing – Contra Costa County Workshop

Monday, October 21st, 2013

Rick Acker will present a workshop on “The Legal Aspects of Writing and Publishing” at the next luncheon meeting of the Mt. Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club (CWC) on Saturday, November 9, 2013 at Zio Fraedo’s Restaurant, 611 Gregory Lane, Pleasant Hill.

Based on his seminar, “Author Law 101”, Mr. Acker will explain the legalities for a book’s cover art, how to use real people, information, and photos in memoirs or fiction, indie publishing, traditional contracts, and copyright laws.

Mr. Acker is a Deputy Attorney General in the California Department of Justice, and a writer. His Kindle #1 best-selling novel is When the Devil Whistles, and he is also a contributing author on several treatises published by the American Bar Association.

Check-in is from 8:30 to 9:00 am. The workshop is from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, with luncheon following the workshop. The cost is $45 for CWC members, $55 for guests.

Reservations are required, and must be received no later than noon on Wednesday, November 6. Contact Robin Gigoux at [email protected], or phone 925-933-9670. Expect confirmation only if you e-mail your reservation.

The California Writers Club Mt. Diablo Branch web address is:

Contra Costa County Student Short Story Writing Workshops

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

2013 Fall Fiction Series: Short Story

Saturdays in November at The Storyteller Bookstore

November 9: Voice

November 16: Structure

November 23: Style

4:30-6:00 pm
Ages 9-up
Notebook + materials included
$25/each or $60/series

To Sign up for Wordplay Workshops or for more information contact:
[email protected]

Or find us on Facebook

The Storyteller | 925 284 3480 | 30 Lafayette Circle | Lafayette | CA | 94549

13-year-old lands two book deal

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

Twist a Movie Title: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce

Monday, July 29th, 2013

A friend told me while listening to NPR, there was something on Twitter where people were taking movie titles and making them sound boring.

Examples: Harry Potter and The Chamber of Commerce

Mr. Smith Goes to Washington State

A Streetcar Named Mild Interest

Singing in the Shower

So I tried it. How about:

The King and Liz

The Princess Toiletries.

Pulp Orange Juice.

One Fluttered Over the Bird’s Twig

To Swat A Mockingbird

Dial M for Milktoast

The So-So Years of Our Lives

Shawshank Perspiration

Some Like it Luke Warm

12 Discontented Men

The Wizard of Fresno

Writing Prompts:

1. You try it. It’s fun!
2. Choose one of the titles you’ve created or one of the titles above and write a story, script or poem to match. It could be a spoof or whatever you want it to be.
3. Create another art form for the title. What medium will you choose?

Elephant Seal Antics

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

 This past week my cousin came from Wisconsin and we played tourist, taking her places in Northern California, including Ano Nuevo, where male elephant seals are currently moulting.  Even though there are no females around, a few of the younger seals practiced showing dominance, as showed in the photo, and with their tremendous, guttural wails.

IMG_6664 IMG_6672

Seals flipped sand onto their backs and bellies as a cooling mechanism, as it was a warm day.  One seal became a sand mound; so he wiggled out only to start sand-flipping all over again. 

Writing Prompts:

  1. Study a creature in nature.  Describe its habits, vocalizations, or body movements.  How does it relate/communicate to others?
  2. Write a poem, short story or personal experience based on this being. 
  3. Is your summer filled with day trips or longer travel?  Keep a travel journal.  Collect photos and paper souvenirs which can help recreate your experiences. 
  4. Create art or writing based on an anecdote in your journal. 

Inspiring Creativity

Saturday, May 25th, 2013

The Landfillharmonic Orchestra

Writing Prompts:
1.  Listen to classical music.  What does it inspire you to write or draw?  Let the sound lead your imagination away!
2.  Choose recycling material.  What art can you create?
3.  Write a poem, song or short story based on something re-created from another object. 
4.  See if music playing while you make your art helps your originality.  Some authors choose one piece of music or one composer to listen to for each project.  Then when they hear that particular song, their brain immediately begins work in that world.  Choose music for the art you are working on now.