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by Joy
Rated: 13+ · Book · Writing · #932976
Impromptu writing, whatever comes...on writing or whatever the question of the day is.
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Marci's gift sig
Thank you Marci Missing Everyone *Heart* for this lovely sig.

I've been blogging all through my days without knowing that it was blogging; although, this isn't necessarily the only thing I do without knowing what I'm doing.

Since I write on anything that's available around me, my life has been full of pieces of scribbled paper flying about like confetti. I'm so happy to finally have a permanent place to chew the fat. *Smile*

So far my chewing the fat is on and off. *Laugh* Maybe, I lack teeth.

Feel free to comment, if you wish. *Smile*

Given by Blainecindy, the mayor of Blog City
Thank you very much, Cindy, for this honor and the beautiful graphic.

*Pencil* This Blog Continues in "Everyday Canvas *Pencil*

Previous ... 3 4 5 6 -7- 8 9 10 11 12 ... Next
June 10, 2013 at 12:30pm
June 10, 2013 at 12:30pm
I have several copies of character sheets from wherever I can get them. They help because they make me visualize the character I'm writing about. What also helps is finding a photo for that character (full body is better) and put it in a special file. I usually copy and past those in a Word file.

Yesterday, while looking at a Josip Novakovich book on writing fiction, I saw another character sheet, a short one but with interesting elements on it, such as bathing habits, sleep patterns, secret passion, secret frustrations etc.

We usually discuss conjuring up character quirks and what the character wants the most, but these aren't usually a secret. A secret passion other than what the character wants the most should come in handy to give the character another dimension. Secret frustrations also would help, especially because they are secret, known only to the character.

Then, the bathing habits, sleep patterns etc. could easily open up new chapters in a novel or may at least act as related fillers. So I made a mental note to add those to my characterization ideas. These are all telling details and should help especially when rushing through a storyline as in NaNo.

In addition, all these seemingly miniscule details can be altered to the time and place and genre. Especially in conflict-driven plots, where a novice writer would ignore characterization, these details could also act as cover-ups.

I'm always looking for new aspects of characterization and collecting details, because I think whatever genre one writes in, characters make the story. But then solely focusing the attention on the character details can take away from the flow and the impact of the plot. So maybe, it is good to know what makes a character tick and use it if it fits the story.

Just my two cents on the subject... *Smile*

June 9, 2013 at 8:14pm
June 9, 2013 at 8:14pm
I am not a mall person. I am not even a shopper. When I do shop, I flunk shopping, unlike any other female I know.

Luckily, when I was in school, in dinosaur time, there were no classes on going to the mall, shopping at the mall, or any such thing as mall walking. We did not have a mall around where we lived, which should be normal since the first mall was built in 1956. By the time the idea took hold in our neck'o the woods, I was pretty much grown up.

On the other hand, shopping aside, sitting inside the mall somewhere can be great for people watching. Today, I experienced again as I waited for hubby while he had his hair cut at the Treasure Coast Mall in Jensen.

I don't know why he likes going to the mall for this or anything else, especially on a Sunday. With the demise of Borders, there aren't any book stores there to lure me, yet I sneaked my Kindle inside my bag and I was good to go.

It was a crowded day, since there were some 20-40% sales all over the stores. After depositing my beloved at Mastercuts, I took a look at the comfy leather armchairs in front of Dillards. No luck. All seats were taken. I went into Dillards, toured the store, and came out. Still the seats were occupied. I spotted two empty wooden benches in the middle of the mall, aimed at those, and made it.

I took out the Kindle and began reading smugly. Nothing doing. First came an old man leaning on a cane and asked me to show him how Kindle worked. He was amazed that the fonts could be enlarged and made smaller. He even read some of the text for a while. Then, "I'll think about it," he said, and left. I think Amazon owes me now.

In the next few seconds, came the ding-a-ling sound of the mall choo-choo. Inside was only one little girl, her dark eyes sparkling with enchantment. She waved at me as the train went by. I waved back, delighted at the exchange.

Next time I raised my head from my reading, a young couple was sitting across from me, making out. All those cooing sounds...I wasn't even reading a romance novel. If I had, they would be providing the appropriate background sounds. That is when I noticed another woman sitting with legs crossed next to me on the bench.

First I caught sight of her sandaled foot swinging back and forth. With the corner of my eye, I saw her sitting sideways, looking toward the food court, trying to evade the sight of the couple, and making puffing sounds.

I guess the couple's attractions lured more shoppers our way. Suddenly, people were passing back and forth around us in crowds, blocking my view of Mastercuts. How would I know when hubby would be out!

The couple must have felt some discomfort from the excessive attention they were getting because they left abruptly. The lanes quieted down after a while, and suddenly the seat near me and the bench across were empty.

He should be here any minute now, I thought and looked toward Mastercuts. Nope, hubby was nowhere in sight. Just then a very beautiful young mother in a red floor-length dress --Was it chiffon? It looked like it—approached the bench.

"May I sit here?" she asked while she was already in the process of sitting. "Sure, please do," I said and moved over to the corner of the bench. I was worried she would change the baby or something. No, it wasn't diaper time. It was feeding time. Breast-feeding time.

I applaud women who breast-feed wherever they are. Really. A baby's nutrition should take precedence over all other concerns.

But that wasn't all. Again the lanes began crowding around us, people's heads turning to our bench as they passed by. I wonder why!

In another few minutes, a little blonde girl who must have just left the toddler stage ran toward us, screaming, "Mommy!" She was followed by a young man in a tee and shorts chasing after her. The little girl climbed next to me and leaned against her mommy, her little hands pinching the baby's foot.

In no way would I read now. More exciting things were going around me than the detective story I was into. I turned off the Kindle and put it in my bag. Still no beautiful vision of my hubby, but who is complaining!

When the family next to me left, a middle aged woman accompanied by an older one plopped wearily on the bench across from me. The middle-aged woman was dressed simply, but her shirt was a sparkling leopard print. I guess that print made up for everything else. The older woman started berating middle-aged one for dragging her all over the mall and making her knees creak. A lively exchange was just beginning, but right then, hubby emerged out of Mastercuts.

Couldn't he have waited another five minutes for me to take in all the scolding across from me?

Maybe I'll go live in the mall now. *Laugh*

May 14, 2013 at 9:12pm
May 14, 2013 at 9:12pm
Don’t you love quotations? I am a quote freak, because as a writer I can do so many things with them. For one thing, they serve as great prompts. Then they are useful in backing me up. I show them as evidence to what I am saying.

“See, it isn’t just lil’ old me. Somebody real important says it, too.” *Wink*

Quotes also embellish a piece of writing, especially when I run out of stuff to say. Then I stick in a quote or two and elaborate on the quote. Sad that I, a writer, have to depend on others’ quotes as fillers, in snippets or long blocks of text, but what can I do when in a bind? Something’s better than nothing.

Now that every other site on the net has quotes here and there, the cut and paste function has encouraged the repetition of published typos. Some hilarious results happen because of this. For example, let’s take Audrey Hepburn’s quote: “I believe in mink. I believe laughing is the best calorie burner.”

Anything wrong here? Yup. The real quote starts as, “I believe in pink.”

This makes me check several sites for every quote I quote. I might as well spend my time to come up with a sentence or two. But noooo. I need those quotes. They are authority. In other words, if I can’t come up with real jewels, I’ll borrow them.

Now a few quotes on quotations.

“Have you ever observed that we pay much more attention to a wise passage when it is quoted, than when we read it in the original author?”
Philip Gilbert Hamerton, The Intellectual Life, 1873

“I've compiled a book from the Internet. It's a book of quotations attributed to the wrong people.”
Jerry Seinfeld

“He wrapped himself in quotations—as a beggar would enfold himself in the purple of Emperors.”
Rudyard Kipling

"I am not merely a habitual quoter but an incorrigible one. I am, I may as well face it, more quotatious than an old stock-market ticker-tape machine, except that you can't unplug me.”
Joseph Epstein, "Quotatious," A Line Out for a Walk: Familiar Essays, 1991

“Life is like quotations. Sometimes it makes you laugh. Sometimes it makes you cry. Most of the time, you just don't get it.”
Author Unknown
May 6, 2013 at 9:46am
May 6, 2013 at 9:46am
“You write something and there’s no reality to it. You can’t inject it with any kind of reality. You have to be patient and keep going, and then, one day, you can feel something signaling to you from the innermost recesses. Like a little person trapped under the rubble of an earthquake. And very, very, very slowly you find your way toward the little bit of living impulse.”
Deborah Eisenberg

I can relate to this quote. I tried to write the prescribed way to create fiction, not that there is anything wrong with that approach, but I could never get going in a happy mood.

Prescribed way is to find an idea, create characters to fit that idea, come up with a plot through several steps of outlining and some serious thinking and then, start writing. Of course, some things may change with this method during the course of writing, but the method is tried and true and it works for some/most people.

I can’t, however, use this method in the prescribed way. Yet, doing the pantser thing alone doesn’t work either, because the story goes every which way and it ends up needing some serious editing job, which doesn’t agree with my -let’s say- liver.

During the last couple of years with the NaNo prep, I did something else. About couple of weeks before the prep, I free-wrote everyday on a general idea. By the time, the prep started I had the basic story in my mind. With that at hand, the prep worked perfectly, and I had little trouble writing during November. What I ended up with has been far from perfect, but both novels with the prep and previous pre-free-writing are better than the earlier ‘pantser’ ones.

Is this the perfect way to create fiction? I still don’t think so, because it took some of the fun out of flailing along. Yet, it has its merits. That means I’m still searching through trial and error what would work for me. I haven’t found my personal method yet, and my time is ticking.

On the other hand, this may be a good thing in itself. Not my time ticking *Laugh*, but finding a suitable method for me. Then, what if this would make me a writer who writes in monotone according to a certain template? That in itself could be extremely boring, and I fear of coming up with factory-produced work.

Catch 22, isn’t it! As another quote goes, maybe applying by behind to the chair in front of the computer and trying over and over again is the way to go. I guess, searching for something is more fun than finding it.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep on trying.
March 2, 2013 at 1:20pm
March 2, 2013 at 1:20pm
This is a rant entry. Read at your own risk. *Laugh* I'm also writing it as a historical data for me, so I won't forget a couple of years later and go to Microsoft again.

During the last few days of February, Windows 7 system on my Dell laptop showed some irregularities and Microsoft was notified with a click.

A Microsoft partner company, whose name I now forgot --they are in Toronto, Canada, and they employ people whose accents are next to impossible for me to decipher -- called and said they were sent by Microsoft, and they fixed some stuff on it, but then, they wanted me to buy more Windows software insurance, because the Windows guarantee on the system had elapsed. They asked $399 for the lifetime insurance of windows 7 in the computer.
An online search showed me I could buy the same computer for a little over $400. So I declined.

In the meantime, the computer seemed to be working. I used it for another week or so, but it was a busy week and I omitted to backup the work during that week. When the computer started doing weird stuff like jumping about from place to place in the same program or even shutting down the program I was working on, I wanted to reboot it, since I have been leaving it in sleep mode earlier.

Windows 7 wouldn't come back, not really. And when it did, it wanted to repair the start. Yet, it wouldn't accept the recovery backup disk. (In all fairness, I might have goofed making it originally.)

The other option was to open the windows without the repair. I opted on that if only for saving those files I had omitted backing up, but the system kept asking for a password. I had never put in a password to it since I was the only one using it.

Then, using the F buttons, I ran an hours-long hardware check. It showed that the computer itself was in tiptop condition. It was the Windows that gave up.
I considered taking the laptop to a local place which is reputable and has done work for us in the past, but my husband said to stop flogging a dead horse and get a new computer. Since my b'day was a few days later, I agreed. I mean, who doesn't want a new toy!

The new laptop came on Feb. 27, with Windows 8. Oh, Boy!
I think the systems engineers in Microsoft have totally forgotten about the concept of user-friendliness. I am moving around it and learning it, but so many things are so unnecessary and useless. One-click functions have turned into ten clicks and moving screens. I believe the engineers with graphics backgrounds wanted to toy around without regard to normal people trying to work using the machines.

Ever since we had our TI 99 and IBM-XT, I have worked, written, e-mailed etc., in Windows systems like 95, 98, XP, Vista, and 7, but I have never come across an operating system like Windows 8 that gave me such a runaround.

Oh, and another thing! Older systems, up to XP, used to give recovery CDs to people. Nowadays, you have to make your own. I tried to make one for the new laptop, but the Windows is asking for extra few bucks to update the DVD drive so it is able to perform the task of making a recovery disk. I did copy the recovery files onto a DVD, but that may not work. I guess I'll pay the extra soon; although, hubby says not to bother with it. If this one goes down, I am definitely getting a Mac or some other computer with a different operating system that is writer-friendly.

I so miss my Brother Word Processor from days gone by! But then, if we had only that, I would miss on the internet and WdC, and that is not something I'm going to give up. Catch 22, isn't it!

February 11, 2013 at 1:17pm
February 11, 2013 at 1:17pm

In pre-E-Book days, we respected the award-winners because we knew the awards by their titles: Pulitzer, Faulkner, Booker, Newberry, Edgar, award titles attached to major Publishers and magazines, etc.

Nowadays, I look at the offering of a book and the award-winner logo confuses me, especially if I have read the book and found it to be so-so or even below that. Funny, but there must be as many awards as e-books. I exaggerate, of course.

Curious, I ran a simple search and found out a few facts on why and how the awards are given.


*Bullet* Most E-Book Awards have entry fees. around $70-150. This casts a different light on the process, and although I understand the cost problem, call me a liberal socialist all you want but I’m not comfortable with this.

*Bullet* What most of these awards can offer is exposure. Period. If-- with a one in a million chance--you’re lucky, some agent or publisher may come after you, as award sites alert the entrants; however, sometimes, this works, and hope is what writers must work with.

*Bullet* Unfortunately, a newly formed e-book publisher may have established an award for the publicity for itself rather than for the authors.

If you have a book you want to enter in an award-winning contest, it is a good idea to check the previous award winners, and better yet, read a few of the winning books.

If interested, here are the major award titles, most with websites.

*Bullet* Writers Digest Self-Published Book Awards

*Bullet* Eric Hoffer Award for Independent Books

*Bullet* eLit Awards

*Bullet* Independent Publisher Book Awards

*Bullet* EPIC’s eBook Awards

*Bullet* Next Generation Indie Book Awards

*Bullet* Next Generation Indie Book Awards

*Bullet* Indies Choice Book Awards

*Bullet* The National Indie Excellence Book Awards

*Bullet* Readers’ Favorite Annual Book Award Contest

*Bullet* Kidwell-e Festival Ebook Awards (UK)

*Bullet* IndieReader Discovery Awards

*Bullet* ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards

*Bullet* Dan Poynter’s Global E-Book Awards

*Bullet* USA News Best Book Awards

In addition to all of the above, e-media magazines and some of the bigger print-book awards organizations (e.g. James Beard) are opening up an e-book category in their awards programs.

I wish best of luck to those of you who are brave enough to self-publish or publish in some way. Although you are already winners for tackling the craft of writing, may you all win! *Smile*

February 4, 2013 at 3:55pm
February 4, 2013 at 3:55pm
I started reading e-books with a Kindle because I had issues with my vision. With an e-book reader, one can adjust the fonts, lines, and even the light, but the e-book-reader tools are not what I mean to talk about. I’m only explaining why I started picking e-books, over print, even if, in my experience, books in print are better edited.

With the Kindle, I discovered an avalanche of e-book writers, and Thank God for them. Most of the e-books I read range from excellent to so so. A few mediocre ones also exist, but one cannot blame a novice writer for trying. I am not complaining about the faulty grammar or bad punctuation, or even a shoddily composed story with structural defects. Those things can be looked over, but then, there is the problem with the misuse of stories in a series.

Now, it is perfectly all right to have a series, if each book in the series talks about one specific story, probably using the same characters. This has been done by the best of the authors and very successfully. Some of those authors are WdC writers, and I feel privileged to read them. *Smile*

What irks me, however, is what some writers who write in a series do; they don’t make each volume in the series a full story. I just finished a book with an interesting premise, though sloppily organized, and I was ready to accept that, except the story didn’t end. The author, at the end of the book, told the readers to buy the next book in the series to find out what would happen to the main character. I think this is unethical and shows disrespect to the reader.

Come to think of it, I’m not going to waste my time again on any book by this author. If the book were to be advertised as an unfinished story, I would have no problem with that, although I would probably not buy it, but there was no mention of its incompleteness anywhere. But, Mea Culpa, I should have remembered that publishers, e-book publishers included, are in the business of selling books, and they do not bother to think of the readers.

In non-fiction, it may be necessary to write several volumes in a series while teaching a subject. In fiction, however, each volume's main story should be able to stand alone.

Then, after the unfinished story incident, another odd thing happened. Last night, I ventured to start a new e-book, which was introduced by its publisher as one of the ground-breaking books. In this book, before the first chapter, there is a page addressing the reader. I’m writing here exactly what it says.

“This story takes place in 1998. If you think that’s a dumb time to set a story because nothing significant was going on in 1998, then you’re forgetting about House of Pain’s debut album. And if you’re thinking that was in 1992, I’d say you’re splitting hairs. And also, fuck off.”

As an author, one should not address the reader with such disrespect. That book is now deleted from my Kindle, and I’ll never read anything by that author.

The publishers, together with the authors, have a lot to learn.

February 2, 2013 at 5:45pm
February 2, 2013 at 5:45pm
I’m all for keeping a writing discipline, but the only discipline I can enforce in my daily life is to write everyday and whenever. In other words, catch as catch can, but this is what is possible at this time in my life; so, I’m sticking with it.

The topic of when or where to write popped up while I was looking through Sophie Burnham’s book, For Writers Only. In it, the author points to the different habits of famous writers.

According to the book, Tolstoy, Henry Miller, and Thomas Mann wrote from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and Aldous Huxley three to four hours before noon.

Flannery O’Connor wrote two hours a day, at the same time and at the same place.

Tennessee Williams and Dostoyevsky wrote at night.

William Faulkner wrote only when it rained. (Note to self: write under the rain! *Laugh*)

Anthony Burgess wrote in the afternoon.

Ann Tyler wrote while her kids were in school. I wonder what she did after they graduated, as they must have, by now.

Ernest Hemingway wrote from 5:00 AM to 10:00 AM. First he wrote longhand, standing up, but when his writing gained its flow, he moved to the typewriter and chair, probably with his cats accompanying him. I saw his typewriter in his study or shall I say his aerie in his Key West home. Just going up the steep metal stairway to his study is enough drama and should suffice to get the blood moving.

True to Hemingway’s form, not only the time but the place where one writes seems to matter. Natalie Goldberg encourages unfamiliar settings for writers, be it a restaurant, a park, or a coffee shop. I tried this, but it didn’t work well for me because I ended up watching people and writing about them instead of the work I assigned to me, while I worried someone could catch on to my spywork and I’d be embarrassed.

For some writers, e.g. Cervantes and John Bunyan, prison worked wonders, not that I’d recommend it. For Oscar Wilde, however, it didn't work at all since, to him, pen and paper wasn't given by the order of the court, as prejudice never fails.

Colette had an interesting situation. Her husband locked her up in the room until she wrote a good amount; then, he stole her work to publish it in his own name. Men!

There is an article in Poets & Writers with additional writers’ work spaces.

The ultimate in writing space is, in general, is “a room of one’s own,” as wrote Virginia Woolf. This is usually a converted shed or garage or cellar or attic or a spare room, although the luckier few have their offices or studios. If I recall correctly, Erma Bombeck wrote in her garage.

As for me, I write in the same little corner between the kitchen and the dining room, which has the view of the kitchen and the dining room, and its situation facilitates and mixes the housework together with write-work. The dining room is anything but, now that hubby has moved into it with his laptop and paraphernalia and a big tv smack in my view, with the thought that we shouldn’t sit separately in our old age, *Laugh* and I agree, even if this situation is not much conducive to serious writing. But then, who says I can be serious, anyway! *Smile*
January 7, 2013 at 7:36pm
January 7, 2013 at 7:36pm
I am reading Viktor Frankl’s memoirs titled, Man’s Search for Meaning, which begins with Harold Kushner’s excellent foreword. Both Frankl and Kushner quote Nietzche: ”He who has a Why to live for can bear almost any How.”

So true!

Viktor Emil Frankl, MD, PhD, (1905-1997) was an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist who survived the Holocaust in Auschwitz. He became one of the key figures in existential therapy and humanistic psychology.

Frankl’s memoirs are incredibly poignant, aside from describing the horrors of Auschwitz. They impress on the fact of keeping hope alive under unbelievably terrible circumstances. Rather than stressing on the fact why so many people died as many other Holocaust accounts do, Frankl concerns himself to find answers to why anyone survived at all under those horrendous circumstances, because survival had to be a true miracle.

As Kushner says, “Terrible as it was, his (Frankl’s) experience in Auschwitz reinforced what was already one of his key ideas: Life is not primarily a quest for pleasure, as Freud believed, or a quest for power, as Alfred Adler taught, but a quest for meaning. The greatest task for any person is to find meaning in his or her life.”

In this, I believe, Kushner and Frankl are correct. To find meaning is why most of us do what we do, be it, concentrating on our families, our work, our art, or our writing. That is why a piece of fiction or poetry is successful when it shows meaning, an ahha! moment, an epiphany, or a personal truth.

Situations beyond our control can do away with everything we may value, except for our freedom, which is choosing how to respond to a situation. That means we can choose how to feel and how to react under any dire circumstance.

In that vein, Frankl says, “As the inner life of the prisoner tended to become more intense, he also experienced the beauty of art and nature as never before.”

That meant whatever could be considered art or beauty under those horrific circumstances. The author relates that walking from the camp to worksites, prisoners admired the sunsets and nature, and inside their heads, came up with scenarios concerning their past lives. Frankl, for example, “took bus rides, unlocked the front door of his apartment, answered his phone, switched on the electric lights,” occupying his mind with his past’s minute details. What saved his sanity the most, however, was his imaginary discussions with his wife--whose whereabouts or whether she was dead or alive he didn’t know.

I found this to be a major lesson. It gave me another weapon of survival. If pushed into the corner, I decided to ask questions to my favorite uncle, who is deceased, and answer them as he would answer. I’m sure, this will help me, should I find myself in a tight situation.

Frankl also gives great importance to humor for overcoming difficulties. “Humor was another of the soul’s weapons in the fight for self-preservation…

“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living. Yet it is possible to practice the art of living even in a concentration camp, although suffering is omnipresent.”

He goes on to relate that prisoners invented comical situations and dreams about a better future. They even joked among themselves.

Imagine that!

Auschwitz was a miniscule replica of any animal (or inhuman) group. In the camp, they used prisoners against prisoners by promoting a minority of them to rule, most of the time, viciously over the majority, for which Frankl uses the terms degraded majority versus promoted minority.

“It is very difficult for an outsider to grasp how very little value was placed on human life in camp.”

A prisoner “was caught in a mental turmoil which threatened all the values he held and threw them into doubt. Under the influence of a world which no longer recognized the value of human life and human dignity, which had robbed man of his will and had made him an object to be exterminated (having planned, however, to make full use of him first—to the last ounce of his physical resources)--under this influence the personal ego finally suffered a loss of values.”

Frankl continues to say, “at the end the man’s existence descended to the level of animal life” and that was how the prisoners became herds of men.

Very few books have affected me as this survivor’s memoirs did, and I haven’t finished the book yet. Even though I have read only 41% of it, as my Kindle indicates, I felt like writing about it.

This is due to more than my feelings of empathy for those who suffered in World War II and the Holocaust. It is that something so incredibly human in Frankl’s words, that something which hits me smack on the heart.

December 27, 2012 at 11:32pm
December 27, 2012 at 11:32pm
Now that we are entering 2013, making resolutions are in order. Several years ago, I made a resolution to write every day and kept it. I think this made me a happier writer-person.

When I look at it squarely, anyone can write, provided he or she has finished grade school. *Wink*

“But the trick is to write well,” some people might argue.

If we sit down to write well, however, this attitude could prove to be discouraging to us because it will awaken the big-mouth critic inside our minds. On the other hand, if we are writing what we want to write while we are being true to ourselves, we already have what is needed to write well. Okay, let’s say, well enough. Being true to ourselves is facing the self that is inside us frankly and challenging it.

Up front, the most important challenge is procrastination. If we make a habit of fighting procrastination by finding at least a few minutes each day for the art of writing--or better yet--for free-flow, eventually we’ll manage to come up with several readable pieces. Just the practice of writing, no matter what or how we are writing, opens up the floodgates.

Maybe, at times, while we write, we’ll feel lost, abandoned by our craft, and stretched beyond our limits. To make writing a habit may even seem unreachable. Through this dark night of the soul of writing, however, we’ll gain self-knowledge and growth and transformation, and we may even experience the euphoria of success every now and then, when unexpected brilliant words or phrases spill out from our pens or from our fingers on the keyboard.

In Paulo Coelho’s blog, one entry starts with a section from his book By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept:

“We can only truly understand the miracle of life when we let the unexpected manifest itself…

“Every day we try to pretend that we don’t realize that moment, that it doesn’t exist, that today is just the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if you pay attention, you can discover the magic instant.”

Surely, in Coelho fashion, the author is talking about the blessings found in suffering, in magic instants that resemble epiphanies when we discover our own power even though we are suffering through difficult moments and disappointments, for these moments become marks of strength when we look back.

I think the same wisdom can be applied to writers and the habit of writing, too.

Toward the end of this entry, Coelho continues to say:

“Poor are those who are afraid of taking risks. Because maybe they are never disappointed, never disillusioned, never suffer like those who have a dream to pursue.”

Why not make writing every day one of our resolutions for 2013?

Paulo Coelho’s Blog:
December 14, 2012 at 7:21pm
December 14, 2012 at 7:21pm
I used to think, the people I was put off by--those petty, reckless, and a bit off-the-wall kind of people--just wasted their time and mine, and eventually wasted their own lives. My thinking was incomplete, because these kinds of people can go further than that. They may mess up other people’s lives, too, because they like to stir trouble and attract attention in a theatrical, drama queen or king sort of way.

But then who doesn’t act in a petty and reckless fashion every now and then? Are any of us as we seem?

Although the thoughts derived from answers to both questions apply to all human beings, most of us fare pretty well in life without causing too much commotion around us, and even accept those who do as the quirky ones.

Yet, such behavior, when it starts in early ages, is also the tip off of serious mental illness, and most of us parents, being parents, do not attach any negative forecasts to our children. Parents when faced with their children’s mental health problems need people to point out the gravity of their children’s situations to them, not those people in schools and neighborhoods, be it friends, officials, and even pediatricians, who tell them, “It’s just a stage. Growing pains. He’ll get over it.”

Today’s tragedy of Newtown school shooting brings this problem to the forefront. A town quiet and secure with nice people, yet one sick person ruined not only his life and his family’s but the entire nation’s. What can one say in such a situation, with loss so heavy, so surreal?

I cannot imagine any human being who wouldn’t at least get a heavy heart and misty eyes, no matter how far away he or she may be from the actual scene. I cannot imagine how those first responders, the swat team, the police, the medical people, and the religious personnel who went in there to give aid and comfort and especially those who carried out the dead bodies of so many children will get over this tragedy. I cannot imagine how much and for how long the intense images will haunt them.

But who failed this beautiful small town? Who failed everyone involved? Who failed all of us, the entire nation? I can’t help but point the finger to the mental health system, an entity that failed to impress its own importance on the entire population and the political machine. When cuts are made in the health area, cuts to mental health are the first to be considered. And the officers of mental health and its associations do not utter a peep.

It’s time for those in the know to get a backbone, so another Newtown tragedy does not darken our lives.
December 9, 2012 at 1:12pm
December 9, 2012 at 1:12pm
My husband and I do communicate, but our communication has taken on a peculiar personality after being together for 46 years. This weirdness came about because we're two very different people, and when you are so far-out different, there's nothing left to argue about. We almost never fight because of the differences, although we still tell each other what makes us tick.

Case in point: (Since my senior moments have been kicking in more often, lately, I am writing about the latest ones.) Last night, I told my knight in shining armor who has a different head than mine, "The StoryMaster came up with item covers and the place shines like a clip-art museum. I love it."

"Is this something you can use in the house like a duvet cover? The blanket keeps falling off me." *Laugh*

Believe me, he meant it. To clear his point, although we sleep in the same bed, our top covers are separate though identical. But I digress...

Coming back to item covers, I had to show him my port. He said, "Oh!" Then, looking puzzled, he added, "Just how could you squeeze those pictures in boxes?" *Laugh*

Funny, he showed interest, because he's the man who hasn't fully mastered copy and paste, and he keeps S.O.S'ing me when an ad pops up while he's surfing the net, as to him, everything is a shark.

Then, this morning, he called out to me while I was in the kitchen making coffee and he was reading the news in the living room, agitated, as if the earth stopped turning. "Manny Pacquiao is in the hospital. He's out for good, now."

"Is he the guy in the administration who worked with you?"

"Nooo! Manny Pacquiao! The Filippino boxer."

"Oh, I'm sorry. I hope he'll be out soon," I said, while thinking how in the world he made friends with a Filippino boxer.

"He lost, but he hurt the other guy, Marquez, badly."

So a pyrrhic victory for Marquez, providing a consolation for Pacquiao fans. Although my recall is shot, I vaguely remember my dear hubby watching boxing as if he would jump into the TV with his head bobbing with each punch of the boxers on the screen.

This usually happens while I am buried into reading something on the Kindle or my laptop, totally avoiding the TV, since I can't stand boxing. And of course, we have to be in the same room together, no doubt about it.

Like I said...parallel lives, as in a rhombus, or rather, a huge diamond. *Smile*
November 27, 2012 at 5:02pm
November 27, 2012 at 5:02pm

Phew, 2012 NaNo done!


I counted 63905.
WdC counted: 63977
NaNo counted 64015

I’ll take the highest. *Wink*

I think, despite all the challenges this one presented and all the complaining I did, I liked writing this novel’s characters the best.

But I am glad it is over. I just hope I won’t do what I did after the earlier Nano years. That is, get burned out. A good indication is, I don’t feel burned out this time, but I don’t want to touch this novel again till kingdom come. *Laugh*

Now I can go back among the living. *Smile*

November 18, 2012 at 12:12am
November 18, 2012 at 12:12am
In October 2002, with thanks to "October NaNoWriMo Prep Challenge, I put together my settings, my characters, and my outline, which somewhere around midpoint, sends my characters to Disneyworld’s Arts of Animation resort that opened in May 2012, as most of the story happens in NY.

I thought my preparations would work out just fine, as they did last year. What a hoot, because came hurricane Sandy at the end of October, and I can’t escape from mentioning the hurricane in this story due to the setting and the time. And I thought I had the story in the palm of my hand. What a joke!

Another thing with Sandy. Just before the hurricane showed up, hubby and I went to NYC. After staying a couple of days, we made a hasty retreat, courtesy of Sandy. Not only that, but I also ended up worrying for my son who lives in Long Island’s south shore by the sea, and refuses to leave NY. Anyway, he stayed in a hotel in the city during the storm. Afterwards, because the electricity was cut off in his condo and a second snowstorm was coming their way, he went to Montreal (he likes that city).

Back to my NaNo prep...The name Sandy was the first hurdle because my main character’s mother’s name was Sandie. I changed it to Irene, which was last year’s storm that I forgot about, until someone in the prep forum alerted me. I changed the name again to Connie. This is a biggie, because I'm used to thinking of her as Sandie.

In the meantime, NaNo had already begun, and I noticed that I had named a minor character Consuela. Although the two Con-- women never meet, this is another name clash. But what the heck, so much for names; I’m staying with Connie...for now.

Enter Sandy, the hurricane itself in my story. I haven’t started on it yet but only mentioned the beginning of it, today. This hurricane was a big and nasty event in the Northeast, but I need to minimize it to not take away the attention from the already drawn storyline. As of now, I have decided to let the characters stay longer in Disney World than I originally intended. Still, the storm will have to sneak in, and I’m not too happy about it.

Then today, I peeked into The StoryMaster ’s blog. The coincidence made me laugh. His family’s travel itinerary followed, somewhat, my story’s characters' trip. But this is the sweet part because the Writing.com children are cute as can be. *Smile* *Heart*

Anyhow, there’s a lesson in this Sandy affair for me. Next NaNo, no more present-day, specific-place story. Made-up settings like maybe another planet, imaginary or vague time frame, and the names like no one’s names. I’ll start with the sequence of the letters of the alphabet and come up with totally freaky names. Ouch! I don’t really like to write sci-fi or fantasy. *Confused*

Oh well, I’d better not think so far ahead. It seems I’ll have enough problems with the present NaNo work during the next few days.

But then, we masochist writers love problems, don’t we? *Wink*
November 7, 2012 at 12:37pm
November 7, 2012 at 12:37pm
I don't like to refer to politics. Still, after the harrowing experience of this year's election campaigns, I hope we think higher, give more from ourselves, and do much better. If nothing else, being human should bind us all together.

Here is the poem by Billy Collins, I took from the Poetry Foundation's site.

The Parade


How exhilarating it was to march
along the great boulevards
in the sunflash of trumpets
and under all the waving flags—
the flag of ambition, the flag of love.

So many of us streaming along—
all of humanity, really—
moving in perfect step,
yet each lost in the room of a private dream.

How stimulating the scenery of the world,
the rows of roadside trees,
the huge curtain of the sky.

How endless it seemed until we veered
off the broad turnpike
into a pasture of high grass,
headed toward the dizzying cliffs of mortality.

Generation after generation,
we keep shouldering forward
until we step off the lip into space.

And I should not have to remind you
that little time is given here
to rest on a wayside bench,
to stop and bend to the wildflowers,
or to study a bird on a branch—

not when the young
are always shoving from behind,
not when the old keep tugging us forward,
pulling on our arms with all their feeble strength.

Source: Poetry (August 2001).

Now, back to NaNo...*Laugh*

October 31, 2012 at 6:18pm
October 31, 2012 at 6:18pm
It is Baaaack!

And we start tomorrow, but according to NaNo countdown in the NaNoWriMo site, we still have five hours, forty minutes to wring our hands and pull our hairs.

I am eager, hesitant, excited, and apprehensive, all at the same time.

If my history with NaNo will repeat itself, I'll probably finish the 50 K words by the end of November, but in December and maybe through January, I won't be able to write much else, as I go through an aftershock every year.

Shall I keep to 1,666 word schedule? Nope. I worry about any 666. So I'll probably write a little under or a little over that word count.

Shall I write like a nut and not look back? Nope. I always check my writing after I'm done, even in my blog, here, thanks to SM for putting in the "Preview Entry" button. But does my checking on me prevent me from making mistakes? Nope, again.

I guess I'm a big Nope person.

Talking about nopes, I came across an advice on the web, which says nope to what I do. Who says I do the right thing anyway!

Here it is:

“Just write the next word”

Posted on October 31, 2012 by Scott
“If I could say anything… it is to keep going. Don’t go back and fix that first scene. Don’t go back and fix that dialogue. Write yourself a little note saying, ‘Put in first scene such-and-such,’ if you happen to think of something, then get a little stickum and stick that somewhere on the wall. But don’t go back, because going back is a trap. It keeps you from going forward. It keeps you from going ahead. Your first enemy, of course, is yourself. Yourself is also that little critic that sits on your shoulder that says, ‘This is terrible’… You have to wipe him off your shoulders and keep going. He’s the one who says, ‘Go back. Go back’… You must get it down on paper…. you must sit down and write with no attachment to outcome. Try to distance yourself from what’s going to happen to this… No attachment to outcome. I don’t know where I ever heard it, but I put it on a little piece of paper, and I had it framed. I have it right in front of me. When I get bogged down I say, ‘No attachment to outcome. Don’t worry about what’s going to happen to this. Just write the next word.’”

This is a quote from screenwriter Anna Hamilton Phelan whose film credits include Gorillas in the Mist and Girl, Interrupted. And yes, it is yet another bromide in this series of posts about the first draft, which is to get the damn thing done."



Happy NaNoing to all WdC writers who are eager and masochistic lovers of novel writing through the dramatic NaNoWriMo way!

Added later:

Just think how electrifying this year's NaNo is. It's placed in between two big storms.
1. Hurricane Sandy 2. Presidential elections.
I hope those of you in either storm's way have made it out all right. Sending good vibes to your way...

October 10, 2012 at 5:04pm
October 10, 2012 at 5:04pm
When it comes to that ephemeral, flighty Muse, I like to extend an invitation to him/her/it through slogans and metaphors. Same as movie titles, slogans enter our minds and ears and annoy us to no end. A few are those of the breakfast cereals, the metaphorical names like Twitter, which when I first heard it, repeated it as tweeter, a likely booboo, and the names of places like the Sunset Strip, which reminds me of someone stripping at the end of his life and making a fool of himself. But then the muse has a way of turning us into fools, even if, at times, some lucky and talented few manage to become literary giants.

So I'd like to yell a few micro-messages, mostly at the Muse, through several clichéd slogans, adapted to the occasion.

No author left behind. I'll be back!
You're in good hands with your muse.
Reach out and touch your keyboard.
Just let me swap horses in midstream.
Don't leave home without it, your note-pad, that is.
Writing is my journey. Let me enjoy the ride.
I never fall, I only slip. I never give up, I only delete.
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but my muse's departure will never hurt me.
Writers try harder.
The ultimate writing machine is not a BMW, but an author.
When you got it, flaunt it, but don't forget to submit it.
"The quicker picker-upper" is a new premise.
Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a story this is. *Burp* *Laugh*

Anyone else? *Wink*

Cartoon Photo from Jimmachines.com

September 19, 2012 at 11:23pm
September 19, 2012 at 11:23pm
It is a good idea to act out the motions we are describing. Some actions, as described, cannot be performed with a normal human body.

"He wrapped his arm around himself, crisscrossed it around his neck to scratch the mosquito bite."

No kidding! I really read this.

Tonight, another one, in the last book I began to read in Kindle. The names are changed to X and Y.

"X's lower lip pooched out as she shook squinted eyes at Y."

Try as I may, I can't shake squinted eyes. I can't shake eyes in the first place.

But this wasn't the only flaw in this book. There were a couple of other un-doable actions within the first three pages. I deleted the book.

One or two things resembling the above or tiny flaws that are due to inattention, I can digest if the story is good, but if the writing is so "florid" that I can in no way picture what the writer is saying, I can't continue reading an entire book written like that.

Beware of dialogue tags. Most of the booboos come attached to dialogue tags. A few others stand alone.

There is no doubt we all make mistakes. I've made my share of it. I still make mistakes, no question about that. But the examples above belong to the finished products. Here in WdC, the work we offer for peer review, even though unfinished, is written with a lot more care, in general.

Clear and straight language is better than a fancy one, especially when the writer is not too familiar with the action or the language describing the action.

So, a note to myself: Act out the motions. Ask yourself if they are doable. Then, make sure the language describes exactly the motions of your character.
September 4, 2012 at 11:37am
September 4, 2012 at 11:37am
Most of us can recognize the facials expressions of emotions such as anger, fear, surprise and so on when we are talking to people, but how many of us can portray those expressions easily when we are writing about our characters? I use a tiny mirror inside my desk and mimic the character's feeling while looking at the mirror, but that isn't quite enough either. The expressions we are trying to show have to be recognizable by the readers.

Luckily, I came across a website in which there is some reference to basic facial expressions. I guess I could put that page in my favorites on the browser, but the problem was the whole thing was eight pages, with very little info in each page, which meant excessive page-opening burden on one's time. So I copied the info into a note-pad file, thinking it might come in handy when I'm stumped. Then I thought other writers can use it, too. So here it is, if you wish to refer to it.


Crow's feet
Crinkled eyelids
Raised lip corners

Raised lip corners and crinkled eyelids indicate that the person’s happy. Look for crow’s feet to indicate whether a smile is genuine or not. True smiling, like all expressions, involve muscles beyond our control, so a trained eye can tell the real from the fake simply by noting whether the muscles surrounding the eye socket are in use.



Raised eyebrows
Wide-open eyes
Parted lips

Fear is often characterized by parted lips, wide-open eyes, and raised eyebrows that bunch together. However, thinly-stretched lips on a closed mouth can also mean someone is nervous or scared about something.


Furrowed eyebrows
Frowning mouth
Chin Jutting out
Narrowed eyes

Anger’s not too hard to recognize—furrowed eyebrows, a frowning mouth, chin jutting out, and narrowed eyes all suggest that the person’s mad.



Creased forehead
Downturned mouth
Wavering chin

Sad people have downturned mouths, but also a wrinkled, wavering chin (think of what happens to it when you’re trying not to cry), and a wrinkled, creased forehead.



Slight sneer
Raised side of mouth

Did you detect a slight sneer or did the side of his or her mouth raise a little? That could mean he or she’s feeling contempt.



Eyebrows raised
Eyes wide
Mouth open

Surprise looks similar to fear, but the mouth and eyes are open a little wider and the eyebrows are raised without being bunched up.



Narrowed eyes
Wrinkled nose
Parted mouth

Someone who’s disgusted wrinkles his or her nose and has narrowed eyes. Usually the mouth parts somewhat because of the nose wrinkling.


More to Watch Out For
Beyond microexpressions, there are a few telltale signs that someone’s not being genuine. For example, most real expressions last a few seconds—four or five, tops. If someone’s huge smile or scared look lasts longer than that, it’s suspect. Some also believe that eye movements during story-telling say something about truthfulness. Eyes moving upward and to the right when explaining something might mean the person’s searching through his or her brain bank for details, whereas looking up and to the left suggests a deceptive tale. (This would be reversed if he or she’s left-handed.)

According to Ekman, it’s better to look at the upper part of the face because it’s harder to control our impulsive facial expressions in that area, such as narrowed eyes or raised eyebrows. So if you’re watching someone’s face for signs revealing their inner thoughts, focus on that area first.

One Piece of the Puzzle
Even the most educated experts at lie detection can’t get it right every time and that’s because humans are complex creatures with a multitude of mannerisms that vary in meaning. We can learn to recognize facial expressions—and even to see the flashes of expressions that give away our inner thoughts—but that alone won’t tell us what’s behind the hidden emotions.

In other words, seeing a significant other’s half-second fearful look while they’re explaining why they were out so late is significant, but it doesn’t indicate that they’re lying. If anything, they might just be afraid you won’t believe the truth. Either way, you’ll know there’s an issue worth exploring. Reading faces may not be foolproof, but at least it gives us something to work with. "


The words and writing are copied exactly from the website Care2, and the link to the page is:

August 31, 2012 at 5:19pm
August 31, 2012 at 5:19pm
I was reading a few articles on editing in publishing houses. I came across this one from Chicago that highlights what copy editors and line editors want from each other. Granted, this is for the journalistic writing and it highlights the occasional clashes between the line editors and copy editors, but I thought we reviewers here in WdC could adapt a couple of their ideas to our style of reviewing.

As you know, the copy editor (just like an English teacher) is the last stop, the last resort before any writing goes to press, provided the final work is approved by the author.

Line editor is the one who sees the work first and checks if the story makes sense, the contents are well organized, and the separate parts (scenes, characters, plot, or the way ideas are offered) fit together well.

This is the same in every publishing house, although in some companies, you may find the same editor doing both jobs.

What I thought could be helpful for us are these requests made to copy editors by the line editors.

*Bullet* ”Let us have that sense of style. A writer should be able to use the expression “…doesn’t float her boat” without having it automatically changed to “…fails to enthrall her.” Some years ago, a line editor – I can’t recall who it was – underlined this point by recalling a story in which a writer used ”air guitar” as a verb, as in ”he couldn’t resist the urge to air guitar…” I’d seen air guitar in print before but not as a verb, and I was delighted that it made it into print. I don’t want things to get out of control, but I like it when a writer tries coining a new phrase or even a new word. We should be willing to accept such attempts at word play or at least not toss them aside immediately

*Bullet*Try to edit holistically. A phrase that, taken by itself, might seem odd or incomplete may well make sense to the reader in the context or tone of the paragraphs that came before.”

Surely, without the line editors’ work, most writing would go down the drain.

And copy editors, too, have their points. They say:

Stylish writing is invalidated by bad grammar, bad spelling and other rudimentary flaws.

So true. Mechanical side of writing, if neglected, can make a reader dump a book. I’ve done that quite few times, sometimes with the self-published books where the writer didn’t bother to check his/her sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, or spelling. Of course, a seasoned author can do these things himself, as all things are possible in life, but it is a good idea to get several views on one’s writing anyhow.

This is where we reviewers come in, before either kind of these editors touches a piece of writing. It is a good idea, to incorporate inside us the needs of both these editors, so we can help each other better.

If you wish to read the entire article, here’s the link:

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