Saturday, June 25, 2022

You Can’t Use Chopsticks with Soup

Do you read the fortunes in your fortune cookies?  Do you like to eat with chop sticks?

I like to do both.  Though, I don’t actually eat the fortune cookie, I like to read the fortune.  Other members of my family like the cookies, so I save mine for them.

Fortunes in fortune cookies are pieces of writing.  They are probably auto generated by computer by now. Can a computer really give you your fortune?

And then there are the sleeves for chopsticks which also have some writing of some kind on them.  It’s not a fortune, but maybe the manufacturer’s info, etc.

Last night, we got take out from our favorite Japanese restaurant and I decided to eat with chopsticks.  Well, I’m not a traditional person so what I always order is probably very different from what others might.  I like the soup and salad and a side of mushrooms.  

As I fingered my chopsticks, easily using them with the mushrooms, I laughed as I looked at the soup.  And, my salad.  Turns out eating a salad with chopsticks isn’t all that easy, either.  So there I was with chopsticks, a fork and a spoon to eat!  

It made me think of the tools I need for my writing.  I actually still use pen and paper, but I also use my smart phone, my tablet, my computer, and a Rocketbook (look those up on Amazon or wherever you shop because they are amazing - it’s reusable but document scannable paper).  I also carry a pint sized journal - it’s tiny.  I also use painting and playing guitar and ukulele to enhance my writing as a well as reading books, magazines and papers.  Plus, I like the experience of going a few places here and there to actually see things happening, to observe.  Observation is probably the best tool you’ll ever need to be a writer.  

I also wondered could there be some kind of chopstick that’s made for eating soup?  How about for salads?

What tools do you need to write?  What tools can you imagine that you’d like to have for your writing?

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Reflections and Perspectives

I love the water.  I love to look at reflections in the water.  Everything looks different depending on where you’re looking, your angle.

Angles are important with writing.  What perspective do you use when you write a poem or short story?  Over the years, I’ve read that it’s a no-no to use “I” in a poem, yet it happens all the time and yes I’ve written some “I” poems myself.  Using I in your poem doesn’t necessarily mean you’re writing about yourself.  Sometimes, I think readers of stories, poems see or read stuff into them that may not be what the author intended as writing is and should be creative, not necessarily a confessional.  

I like to take pictures of the water and sunsets.  I will walk around or move around to get different views.  It’s really worth it.  I think with writing it’s good to read other poets and authors to see their points of views.

It’s always good to consider the scenery and what’s reflected in it - same goes for characters in a story or a narrator in a poem.  Like with painting, it’s good to think about the perspective in all angles.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

What’s Right is Wrong and What’s Wrong is Right

 I had that very thing said to me this past week:  “What’s wrong is right and what’s right is wrong.”  This was regarding a personal situation where we have definitely been treated wrongly just because some people want to create a much darker yet untrue narrative.  You can tell I think like a writer!  It’s like the people who love villains in movies, and TV shows.  I’m currently rewatching Star Wars movies and while I feel empathy for Kylo Ren and the other assorted bad guys - I don’t like any of them.  I feel the same way about the hot genre of suspense and thriller novels - I enjoy reading these books but usually I can’t stand any of the characters.  It’s an entertaining genre to read, but I cannot find myself writing that way as I like to like my characters!

I’ve learned, though, that people (and characters) do show their true colors.  That old saying comes to mind that you are who you hang out with.  

How does it happen, though, that someone takes something wrong and makes it seem right?  Is it in the way things are portrayed in the media whether fiction or not?  It’s like the plot twists you find in books and movies - some make sense and some don’t.  I recently read “The Silent Patient” and it was a good and fun read, but yet I hated the ending twist because I simply didn’t buy it and I don’t really want to re-read the book to see if I missed anything.  I also watched the Netflix series with Kristen Bell (The Women in the Window, whatever the title is it’s too long for me to remember) and was surprised when I read a review calling it a comedy - maybe they meant black comedy.  Again, what’s wrong is right, what’s right is wrong came into play.  

The way things are today, it seems this has taken a jump or really big leap from the page, the screen into real life.  I like to draw my plots and characters from real life so it’s no wonder this is showing up of late, like everywhere.  Instead of writing despicable characters or using similar type plots in my stories or poems, though, I’d rather choose to look at as a way of trying something with my works in a different way.  

I think doing what’s right, whether in real life or not, is always the best option.  Maybe that’s an old fashioned way to think or live, but that is what I personally prefer.

What kind of characters do you write about?  Do you like your characters?  How have you twisted up your works lately?  

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Take Time to Look

Do you use a smart phone or electronic devices?  Most likely, you do.  So do I.  And I have to admit many times I might be so intently staring into my phone checking emails or whatever that I don’t pay any attention to what’s going on around me.  Bet you’ve heard that before, too.  Yesterday, I sat through an all day class and found myself looking at my phone on breaks to escape for a few minutes as it was too cold to walk outside on breaks and the breaks were too short anyway.  

Fortunately, I did take the time to ignore my phone except to use it as a camera on the country drives I’ve been on the past few days.  I wasn’t driving so I could safely use my phone!

There’s so much to see whether you’re driving, walking, etc.  But is the view different up close than it is far away?

Of course it is.  Up close when I walk in the woods, I see different things in the trees than I do when I’m just glancing at them from a distance.  You know that saying!  Same thing, when driving along a country road, in my opinions the views are much better from farther away.  It all depends on how you see things vs how they really are.  How easy it is these days to turn something into what it is or isn’t!  I’m currently reading a book about a photographer (fiction) doing exactly that with photo manipulation.

I love to read and often read a variety of books.  And, I write in many genres.  One I don’t write much of is non-fiction or creative non-fiction.  I’d rather fictionalize a story rather than write about a real one unless it has to do with writing poetry because I have written a few books about that subject.  It’s good to take time to look around and see what you can see whether you write about it or not.  Happy gazing!

How do you look at things?  How does it affect your writing?

Some of my pictures in the past week, up close and far away:

Monday, March 21, 2022

My Life in Bookstores

Granted most writers and poets enjoy reading.  At least, I do!  In fact, I like to plan trips around bookstores (and pools)!  I feel at home if I’m out of town and find a new book to read (and sometimes a comic or a magazine, too!)

This led me to thinking about my favorite bookstores:

1) Tybrisa Books, Lenoir NC

2) Mr. K’s, Asheville NC

3) Mr. K’s, Charleston SC

4) Buxton Books, Buxton, NC

5) Afterwords, Dupont Circle Washington DC

6) East City Books, Capitol Hill Washington DC

7) Foggy Pine Books, Boone NC

8) Newsland Bookstore, Albuquerque NM

9) The Book Loft, Fernandina Beach FL

Where is your favorite bookstore?

Picture of Mr. K’s - Charleston SC:

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Not Everyone was meant to Fly

You can take this “Not Everyone was meant to Fly” in so many ways.  It’s from a very old Amtrak train poster so in that context they’re comparing train travel to air travel.  

I have done both traveling by air and train.  I much prefer traveling by train.  I have a fear of flying.  I can do it, but I do not enjoy it.  I did like it when I was little running up and down the aisles, visiting the pilots, and looking out the windows.

The point is, you can do things that are best for you and still get the same results as perhaps someone else. I have never been an In the Box type of person.  I do things my own way.  I do that with my writing, too.  When I was in Grad school, I did PR and publishing and so I learned all about desktop publishing.  I ran my own poetry press at one time, and also published a poetry chapbook magazine.  I published “The Poetry Market Ezine” for 20 years.  I did try the tried and true ways of what writing and publishing are supposed to be according to all the books, articles and resources out there.  But those didn’t really work for me until later.   I still prefer doing what I do with my writing, my way.  My best selling poetry books are not ones published by Publishers (cause I have those too) but the ones I’ve published myself - I’ve sold over 1000 copies of my “Poetry in LA” poetry book that goes along with the same named Facebook page @poetryinla.  Because there aren’t a lot of best selling poets out there, I think that’s a pretty great accomplishment.  I doubt you’re going to read about the methods I used to achieve the sales with this book, though, in any writing articles any time soon.  It’s not the way everyone else does it, just like with traveling or transportation.

Flying can be so many things.  The last time I flew on a plane was in 2003!  Hasn’t stopped me from going places, though, as I’ve been on a few train and car trips since then.  I honestly enjoy traveling those ways and seeing the world how it is in other places.  You cannot do that in the clouds; although the view up there is amazing.

How do you do what you do with your writing that’s unlike what anyone else would do?  How do you like to travel?

Here are some pictures of “Almost Heaven West Virginia” from my trip there last week (by car)!

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Readers are Writers

I am a bookaholic.  I enjoy reading and have since I was very young.  I could read at an advanced reading level at age 4.  Yes, I started that early!  I had special assignments in school above my grade levels because of it and I could check out any books I wanted no matter what grade level they were intended for at the time.  

My childhood consisted of weekly trips to the public library, and I would check out as many books as I could.  I also climbed trees and would sit their for hours reading my books!

I still love books and reading.  It goes without saying that I have a thing for bookstores, too!  Any time I go out of town for a business or personal trip, I look for a local bookstore to visit.  

This past weekend I went to one of my favorite bookstores in Asheville.  I like this bookstore (Mr. K’s) a lot because it has an excellent Poetry section - even better than the ones at the “big box” stores.  I found plenty of other books I wanted to read too - short stories, sci fi, fiction, new thrillers, etc.  

To do anything well it helps to practice - I know I see an improvement in my guitar and ukulele playing from this.  That’s what makes reading so important for writers.  I see many authors I follow on Insta posting about books they are reading as well.  

Do you read?  What books are you reading?

Here’s my weekend book haul:

Monday, February 7, 2022

What’s In a Book Signing?

Last Saturday, I had a general book signing.  My local bookstore partners with local authors and is very supportive of them all.  

Why have a book signing?  As a reader, I really enjoy getting signed copies of books, especially if it’s a book I really end up liking!  I also like finding bargain books, usually poetry, that are signed - those are the best finds!

I am a poet and writer, so I have poetry books, mysteries, literary fiction, non-fiction, short stories and romance to offer.  Many of my books are locally set.  Several of my poetry books are place poetry books - place poems define place.  I have written one cookbook with my dog!  Actually, I did the writing and he posed for the pictures.  

It’s good to have a book signing so you can connect with your readers.  I find that I have loyal readers who like to read a variety of my offerings.  It’s also good to have a book signing to connect with your local literary community.  While I was at my signing and because of my signing, I made a few useful literary connections as well.

Like most writers, I am most comfortable simply writing, publishing or submitting and pretty much keeping to myself.  But it is good to do online open mics, online literary events or in person lit events (as you are able) so you can really talk to your readers.  It’s like those review snippets in magazine pages or ones written on index cards and pasted to bookshelves in your favorite bookstore - you can talk about your stories or poems and let people know what you’d recommend of yours for them to read!

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Paint like you mean it

Paint?  Didn’t I mean to type “write” there?  Well, not this time.  See, I’ve actually taken up painting.  But much like my practice sessions with my guitar, I don’t plan to post my pictures anywhere for the time being.  I simply like to paint and draw.  I have always doodled.  (Yes, I wrote a poem about doodling … a pretty big accomplishment because I didn’t actually put any real doodles in the poem which took some massive self-control).  

A friend took me to a painting class for Christmas.  I got so involved in my painting that I didn’t even check my phone for over 2 hours!  (Everyone was home safe and I have a device on my wrist that would’ve alerted me had there been an emergency).  It was such a freeing feeling.

When I write, I do have dedicated writing spaces.  The nice thing about writing is you write anywhere depending on how you are putting your words down.  I’m not picky - I still use journals, my phone, tablets, even scraps of paper, etc.  But, things often come up (even behind a closed door) and so my concentration is typically scattered when I’m working on my writing.  The painting class taught me that undivided attention on one thing is so much better.

Having enjoyed it so much, I decided to get painting supplies.  We already had some from craft days, so I combined those with the new stuff I got at Michael’s.  I also like to go to Cheap Joe’s for art stuff. 

Last weekend, I had some free time so I sat down and started to paint pictures.  The other night I had some free time, so I sat down and began to draw something.  

It’s like foraging a new path in the woods, to sit down with another type of art before you start with the one you’re usually doing.  I haven’t thought about making a broadside or an art painting with words in them, but I could.  It really gives you thoughts on different ways to approach your work.

I have experimented with this in another way too with my YouTube channel.  Usually, I post some of my writing stuff, but I mostly post train videos cause I love trains!  (I have at least 2 poetry books out with train poems in them.)

Whatever you do, paint, sing, write … do it like you mean it.  Then see where it will take you!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

It’s a New Year aka Welcome to 2022!

 Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2022!

The start of a new year is a time to reflect and to maybe make changes in your writing, how you write, what you write, etc.  I’ve been looking at Art all the way around and how it can influence or contribute to what I want to write.

For me, I really like to go see new places.  I also enjoy taking pictures - and sometimes in a different angle or way.  I especially enjoy reflections for photos.  I’ve liked those type of pictures since I took Photography in College.  

I believe if you enjoy the Arts that each part of it can help you better the one you choose to spend the most time on.  A friend of mine took me to a painting class for my birthday and for Christmas, and it was so much fun.  I didn’t quite follow the rules and did my own thing and even had my painting compared to one of my favorite painters.  His work probably did seep into mine.  

I don’t know if I’ll take up painting anytime soon as I’ve always been a painter of words.  But I do like allowing myself to experience art in a different way, whether I write about it or not.

Here are some pictures I took this week.  They really make me think about things in new ways.

What’s going to be your new plan for your writing for 2022?

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Connections with Authors

Besides being a writer and poet, I’m also a reader.  I have to admit when I get messages or emails from authors of books I’ve read, I get really excited.  I also love signed books!  I could care less about meeting any movie or TV stars or athletic stars or even political ones and I’ve met a few.  Nope, give me an author any day!

I was lucky to have met Maya Angelou because she was a Prof where I went to grad school.  Tom Clancy spoke at my graduation.  I have met several local poets in my area who are well-known.  I would love to meet Ted Kooser, as he’s my favorite poet.  

With social media, it’s so much fun to connect with my favorite writers.  Occasionally, I even get an email or message from a reader that likes some of my work.  

There are so many ways to connect with your readers, too.  I seem to connect the most via my email list (occasionally I send out newsletter like emails of upcoming events or new books coming out), with my website and with Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.  Most of my YT fans, though, like my train videos more than the ones about my writing.  I have written about trains, too!  

How do you or how will you connect with your readers?

You Can’t Use Chopsticks with Soup

Do you read the fortunes in your fortune cookies?  Do you like to eat with chop sticks? I like to do both.  Though, I don’t actually eat the...