Saturday, October 11, 2008

Found and Useful

I found this on nanowrimo, a list of cautions for wannabe published writers. I share this with you because I want not to forget where I saw it and be able to easily remember. Please, please, please check with one of these sources before signing a contract with an agent or a publisher.

Non-Fiction RAWS (Read Along With Satia)

I am thinking of dividing my RAWS into two parts--fiction and non-fiction. This could make things easier for some people to play along with me. Or maybe not. I don't know. Anyway, here are five books I have before me which are begging to be read. Due to the nature of these books, I do not know if we should share our writing so much as we should share or experiences. I suspect much of this will stir up some very personal things. When Your Heart Speaks, Take Good Notes: The Healing Power of Writing by Susan Borkin offers over 70 exercises to hearl the mind, body, heart, and soul. There are four five star reviews for this book on so I am guessing it is pretty good. She was one of the presenters at the Wellness and Writing Connections Conference but I did not go to her session because it conflicted with another I wanted to attend. It was often difficult to choose. But here I have her book and that has to count for something. Maybe she'll present again next year and I won't be torn when choosing her session over another.
Writing from the Inside Out: Using a Journal for Personal Growth & Transformation is also by Susan Borkin and appears to be a workbook companion book for the previous book but I may be completely mistaken. Who knows? There’s really only one way to find out. Read both books. But for those who prefer lots of blank pages seeking to be filled with responses and writing, this is possibly the better choice. I get both excited and intimidated by them so working through this book with someone else would be wonderful because then I'd be more likely to finish it cover to cover. But knowing me I'd have to do it in my own book because I am a freak like that. Writing for Wellness: A Prescription for Healing by Julie Davey shares the stories of various cancer survivors and their writing. There are, of course, writing exercises included. She is a lovely woman and the profits for this book go to City of Hope Cancer Center. She is an incredibly warm woman and doesn't have any of those letters after her name. In other words, she's a layman in some ways. She fell into this by accident, if you believe in such things. She is a cancer survivor and wanted to give of herself. When she went to the City of Hope to offer her golf cart driving experience, they saw something more necessary for their patients. There is an audacity to these glorious coincidences that let you know you are where you belong in spite of where you thought you ought to be.
The Well-Being Journal: Drawing on Your Inner Power to Heal Yourself by Lucia Capacchione offers a lot of writing exercises, including some that are drawing exercises. I have her book The Creative Journal: The Art of Finding Yourself but have never read it. I would love to work through both but this one intimidates me slightly less than the other which is why I am listing it first. If someone has her other book and would prefer to start there, I am open to doing that as well. One of the people who wrote a blurb for the back cover is James Pennebaker. I reviewed two of his books for my well-being blog so there seems to be a theme here. The Way of the Journal by Kathleen Adams is a journaling workbook. I cannot praise her Journal to the Self strongly enough so I am confident that working through this book will be a glorious experience. Because this is a workbook, there are a lot of blank pages ready to be filled. According to the back cover, there are two weeks worth of exercises that can be completed in 30 minutes a day. Let's be real for a moment. As much as I write, suggesting that I could do anything in 30 minutes is like saying I am dizzy. Ironic and laughable, if you know me and understand that I have vertigo. And write. A lot. So I think I'd allow myself more than 30 minutes to do the exercises because I know myself well enough to know that my doing them in 30 minutes is not likely.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Blood Roses by Francesca Lia Block

In Blood Roses Francesca Lia Block does what she does well—writes evocatively, using poetic language to create a lush mood. Blending fantasy with reality, most of the characters in these short, short stories are young girls who live on the west coast of the United States. The tone and occasional reappearance of characters, from earlier stories in the text, result in a tight focus of mood and moment. This works wonderfully in her novels but not quite so well in her short story collections. Because almost every story is told in the same voice, the stories barely stand out one from the other. Beautifully written, any one would stand out from another writer’s short stories but it is hard to find one from this collection that stands out from the others. Nevertheless, the images are so rich that it is hard to not recall them all as the protagonists from each story seek to find meaning. And Block, who is not afraid to address some of the more frightening aspects of adolescent reality, does so with a fairy tale elegance that cloaks the darkness in beautiful prose. In this, she is harkening back to the tradition of bedtime stories where children were taught to fear through stories. However, her stories are not meant to inspire fear but to offer healing of psychic and spiritual wounds. So, although this is not my favorite of Block’s many books, it is still superior to most young adult literature.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett

Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett is one of the many Discworld books. I should confess here and now that I am biased towards this books in a big way. I consider them my “go to” books. Whenever I start taking life or myself too seriously, I go to Discworld for a quick read and I feel better about everything. For those of you who have never read a Discworld book, you take a bit of wry humor, add a lot of quirky characters, toss in a bit more wry humor, mix together with satire, sprinkle lightly with wry footnotes, and you have a Discworld book. I imagine that there are a lot of fanfics out there but nobody does it for me the way Pratchett does. Every book is guaranteed to make me laugh. Out loud. This time my son was in the kitchen, making himself something to eat, and he heard me laugh. He came to the bedroom door to see what was so funny and when I showed him the cover of the book he nodded. In Carpe Jugulum, Pratchett makes fun of . . . well, just about everything. Tradition. Vampires. Witches. Religion. Mythology. Politics. Modernism. My favorite Discworld character is DEATH and he makes his occasional entrance. The witches are also present and accounted for, which is always a wonderful thing. One of the witches has semi-retired, marrying a king and having a baby. This throws the three witches into a bit of a dither because now one of them has become a mother meaning that Granny Weatherwax should step down as Crone, but let’s not use that word. And this is all bad enough but then the king went and invited the vampires in a neighboring country to come in for the naming of his daughter. And everyone knows that if you invite a vampire into your home, they can come and go as they please so when the king invites them into the country, chaos is bound to follow. And of course there’s the split personality and religious doubts to be dealt with on top of everything else because everyone knows that priests burn witches. Sounds confusing and maybe just a little silly? I must not have explained it well because it should be very confusing and utterly silly. But always and forever delightful. Yay Discworld!

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Writing Workshops

An online friend suggested that I should create an online writing workshop for a variety of reasons--number one being that it would be a good way of bringing in a little money. I shared the idea with another friend and she loved it, saying that my encouragement and support have been invaluable to her the past few months. So a few weeks later I had my rough draft notes for a four week writing workshop on generating ideas. I kept the focus broad in hopes that people would be more interested and the lessons are designed to lay a foundation from which future writing can develop. Whether fiction, nonfiction, poetry or whatever. Then I sent an open invite to a few friends whom I know are writers and I hoped would be most interested in participating. I offered it to them for free, naturally, because I planned to use their experience to fine tune the overall course. What worked? What didn't? Thinsg like that. Only one person responded with any interest. The choice now is to either forget the idea altogether or to create a different course and see if anyone is interested in participating in that. Which is why I created a poll! Aha! Feel free to vote for your favorite topic(s). You may choose more than one. I'll invite the two people who have already told me what they want to input their preference. Perhaps by this time next week I'll have a clear winner in topics. If not, I'll consider that a sign that there are better ways for me to spend my time and focus my energies elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Family Fun

Yesterday, my son came blasting into the living room. "Oh my God. Rei is such a good artist!" He was referring specifically to the following page which is part of a not yet finished comic called The Foxhole.
Needless to say, most of you probably realize that I have called upon my darling daughter to do the illustrations for my chapbook. It won't be anything like what she does for her webcomic. Visually it will be quite different from what she does for her webcomics.
Hopefully soon I will have a cover image to share with you. I did get a second opinion and the words "beautiful" and "delicious" were tucked in the emails somewhere. I'm still all afterglowy with praise.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan is a cute novel about a quirky teenager, Kristi Carmichael. She has many of the typical problems that adolescents have--body image, parents, friendships. She also loves opera and happens to read minds. There is an awful lot of life shoved into this one novel and I think that Ryan could have easily fleshed this out into two novels which would have been delightful because Kristi's voice is so clear and charming that readers are bound to want to stick with her a little longer. I know I did. I found myself smiling at some of the things Kristi says, even chuckling aloud. And although I found the story reaching an all too predictable conclusion, I did not feel disappointed by the inevitability of it all. For a fun fast read, Vibes is satisfying, interesting, and even amusing. All together, not a bad way to spend an afternoon. As a footnote, I had fun playing the music the protagonist mentions. For those without an extensive operatic cd collection, youtube has some wonderful videos. It added a fun layer to my experience and I would recommend other readers give it a try. Hopefully they'll enjoy that layer as well.

Women for Hire

I am going to the Women for Hire career fair next week. I also intend on participating in the early morning seminar. Every time I receive their magazine, I read it cover to cover, appreciating almost every article or book recommendation on some level. I have never before not appreciated the content. Until now. On page four of the Fall 2008 issue, I was appalled by a "humorous" door hanger that says: It's a Very Slow Day Please Bring Good Gossip. Unfortunately, I cannot find a simple way to contact the editor. So I am posting my thoughts here. I should return to this topic of gossip, share some of my experiences with how I have seen it affect the lives of coworkers, and especially how I feel about celebrity gossip which I think is heinous. For now, this letter will have to suffice.
To Whom It May Concern; I was not amused by the “dose of humor” doorknob hanger advertised in the Fall 2008 issue of Women for Hire magazine on page 4. While some may think gossip is a way to pass time while in an office, many careers have been destroyed by false statements and accusations. Aside from the implication that this feeds into the stereotype of women being prone to gossip, there is nothing amusing about the impact idle gossip has on the person about whom the gossip is being spread. Idle gossip is anything but idle. It is dangerous and should not be considered amusing nor encouraged and, from where I’m sitting, there is no such thing as "good gossip." I am surprised and for the first time disappointed by your publication and I hope that more discretion will be used in the future. Encouraging unprofessionalism is something I never thought I would see in your publication. Sincerely, Satia

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Rob's Been Working Hard

He was sworn to secrecy but I knew enough to make certain connections when I read the news. He didn't give me any details, not that I would have cared. But they've been working him so hard, he hasn't even been able to call me on his breaks. And Saturday he wasn't even allowed to carry his cell phone. Tyler Perry unveils TV/film studio in Atlanta By JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr., Associated Press Writer Tyler Perry unveiled a new multimillion-dollar TV and film studio Saturday on 30 acres in southwest Atlanta. His renewed commitment to the city came after he once flirted with departing. Perry said he had considered leaving Atlanta for good after neighbors complained about noise and traffic at his old studio in a neighborhood close to downtown. "Even though it was a studio there for 15 years, there was a lot of resistance in everything I was doing," Perry said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press earlier in the week. "I was thinking about leaving at one point, but this is home for me." His new Tyler Perry Studios contains more than 200,000 square feet of studio and office space in an area that once housed Delta Air Lines' finance, reservation and computer center. It was vacant when Perry found it. The guest list included Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Forest Whitaker, Hank Aaron and Whitney Houston. R&B singer Mary J. Blige was to perform. Perry, 39, said the studio features five sound stages that will be named after Quincy Jones, Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee and Cicely Tyson — with one still unnamed. He will shoot his TBS sitcoms "House of Payne" and "Meet the Browns" along with other film projects at the studio. Perry said he knew the new location would be an improvement. His old building was on property zoned commercial, but the street next to it is residential. "I knew spiritually I was in the wrong place," said Perry, whose projects include "Tyler Perry's the Family That Preys." "You can never be upset with the people who forced you into your dream or up higher," he said. "They forced me out into a higher situation. It's worked out much better for me." Perry drew criticism from the Writers Guild of America, West, after Perry fired four writers from "House of Payne" earlier in the week. A guild spokeswoman said in an e-mail Saturday that the four, along with supporters, planned to picket Sunday morning at Perry's Atlanta home.