Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Quiz: Your Color Decade

Even though I wasn't born yet, there are many things about the 1960s I find fascinating. (Click here for the quiz).

Your Color Decade: 1960s

You are young at heart and brightly optimistic about the world. You think things are getting better.
You love music, friends, and simply having a good time. But more than that, you're sort of hoping for a social revolution.

You believe that there's a lot that should be left in the past, and you're looking forward to a more understanding, connected world.
And you don't think there's anything old fashioned about the spirit of the 1960s. You embrace shaking things up on every level!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

How to Write When You Don’t Want to Write

From Writerslife.org:

Let’s face it, no matter how much we’d like to think we are at our most creative and imaginative all the time, and often the last thing writers want to do is, well, write.
This can be particularly problematic if you are trying to stick to your writing schedule. We are told how important it is to do so. Yet, if you sit down at your computer one day and you just do not feel like you can possibly be productive, then how can you get past this? Should you even bother, or simply accept that you can’t feel like writing all the time, and try again tomorrow?
Trying to write when you don’t feel like it can be incredibly frustrating. So is there anything that writers can do to combat this, and rather than skipping a writing session, or two, or three, can we find ways to switch on our creativity and make sure that every time we write we feel excited, productive and happy to be there?
What’s perhaps most crucial to firstly point out is that it is entirely normal to not feel like writing sometimes. Writers can often get themselves into a panic when it happens to them, for, surely if they were real writers they wouldn’t have this problem? Well, no. It happens to everyone, and you can’t expect to bring your A game every single time.
What you can do, however, is push through it, and at least try before you give up and spend the rest of the day feeling like you have skipped school or pulled a sick day at work just because it was raining and you couldn’t be bothered.
Here’s how:
Read first
Reading is a fantastic way to ignite your creativity and feel ready to tackle your own work again. Allow yourself 15 minutes before you start a writing session to read something fantastic and relevant to your work. This might be all you need to get those creative juices flowing.
Think of writing as a job not a hobby
Be strict with yourself. If you treat your writing like the job that it is, you’ll stop making excuses. You can’t just not turn up to work because you don’t feel like it. The same applies to your writing. Sometimes just getting through the first bit, just showing up is the worst part, and once you start, you’ll soon get in the flow. So don’t give up before you’ve even given it a go.
Free write
Free writing can be a great way to loosen those creative cogs and help clear your mind of clutter before you start for real. So just spend ten minutes writing whatever comes into your head - don’t block anything, this isn’t going to be Shakespeare, it’s just the warm up before you start practicing properly.
Take some exercise
Exercise can be a great boost to help clear your mind, increase your focus and release endorphins to make you feel more positive and upbeat. So if you are really stuck. Get up from your computer, take a walk, and bring your notebook with you in case inspiration strikes.
Hang out with other writers
Fellow writers can not only be great listeners but are also the perfect people to bounce ideas off, to test out new ideas and to generally get creative with. Hanging out with like-minded people will help you feel more focused, and if you have another person holding you accountable it's harder to make excuses or procrastinate.
Stop with the pressure
Remember, sometimes your writing is going to be bad, and that’s OK. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to write perfectly all the time, and the more fun you can have with it the better. Remember you can always return to your writing and cut things out and edit them. So just get the words on the page for now.
Stick with the routine
Above all else, try to stick to your writing routine. If you can you can train your mind to expect to write at certain times, and so it will get easier - we promise!
This can't be more true of me write now. Having been sick for a day last week and still having a cold has made me a bit tired and the rain has been quite off-putting. Our Writers Lab won't meet this week, but I have to bring a writing to critique next week. I'm going to try to do something.

Despite not feeling so well, when I went to bed on Friday night, I got out my Story Cubes. I got these in December 2016, just before my class at work was dropped because of low attendance. But now that the class is back, I want to use the cubes, so I gave them a try. There are nine six-sided cubes with different images, including emojis. One image I couldn't figure out appeared to be a postal letter. I guess even these can be up to interpretation.

As always, I have been reading something. Won't stop doing that one🙂

I can always do my word grab bag, as I have found this idea to be a favorite of mine. My class liked it. I then tried a grab bag of images out from magazines. That one went well. Now I want to try a grab bag of objects, and a "cooking with the dictionary" exercise. Some of these prompts are taken form this book. My class at work won't resume until the first week of March, since tomorrow is Presidents' Day,but I'm already trying to come up with ideas for the weeks ahead (it takes place very other Monday). 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Valentine's Wreath

This was our art project at work last week. It was my idea. Some used Valentine cards on their others, including myself. I used some vintage Valentines I printed off the Internet and mounted onto cardstock. The last four photos are my wreath, with closeups of the vintage Valentine cards.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Best Ways To Research a Novel

From Writerslife.org:

When you write an article or any other sort of non-fiction content, you know that you are going to have to do some research, but when it comes to fiction writing, it all depends on what your story is about.
Most authors find that regardless of how imaginative and creative their story is, they’ll come to a point where research will be helpful and is likely to add depth and believability to the plot.
There is nothing worse than reading a book and being jarred out of the story because something doesn’t sit right, so if authors aren’t sure of something - and it could be anything such as a particular location, point in history, environment, attitude or occupation - they’d do well to research it to make sure their story stands up.
However, doing proper research can feel daunting to some, so here are some helpful tips to guide you:
Let's take a look at some top tips to get you started.
Create a good system
Before you begin, it’s a good idea to get organized and be clear on precisely what it is you are trying to find out. Research involves collecting information, so you need to come up with an excellent system to categorize it. Otherwise, you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and no better than when you started. Some things you might need are a folder or ring binder, labels, a filing system (physical and digital), access to spreadsheets and a good old notebook and pen too!
Read as much as you can
We all know that reading is imperative if you want to learn to write well, and when it comes to research reading is vital too. Books, newspapers, websites, leaflets, and libraries can be valuable sources where you can find lots of useful information to absorb.
Look at images
They say an image speaks a thousand words, and certainly when it comes to research images can help you picture in your mind's eye what something is supposed to look like, i.e. the rolling hills of Tuscan,y or the inside of a morgue! Make sure you look at lots of images and make notes about what you see and the senses that the images evoke to help you get a better idea of what you are writing about. Platforms for image gathering such as Pinterest and Instagram can be fantastic for finding lots of similar images around the same theme too.
Check out other forms of media
Videos, films, and documentaries can also be great research aids. You might need to know how to expertly pluck and carve a chicken for example - a quick YouTube search, and you’ll find plenty of how to videos on the subject matter!
Talk to relevant people
Often the best form of research is having conversations with people who are experts in the subjects you are trying to find out about. If your protagonist is a doctor in a hospital, see if you can find one to learn more about what their day to day job is like. If one of your characters suffers from depression, see if you can find someone who knows what that’s like and is willing to talk about their experiences.
See and experience it for yourself
Of course, nothing is quite as powerful as experiencing things for yourself. So if you are able to visit the places you want to include in your book, or have the experiences your character is having (gruesome murder aside perhaps!), then get out there and try to recreate these scenes as much as possible. Keep your eyes and ears open and alert so you can absorb everything you see, hear, smell and feel and can recreate the experience accurately and engagingly on the page.
Remember, while researching your novel is a great idea and demonstrates your commitment to your craft, don’t get stuck in your research or use it as an excuse to procrastinate. Not every detail of your book requires research and readers will allow a little creative license too, so remember that no matter how much research you do, your end goal remains the same, and that’s to get your book written!

Since I grew in the 1980s, writing abut that decade has been somewhat easy, drawing from what I can remember. This is not to say I should not try doing some research for things I may have forgotten or wish to forget about. I got a suggestion to include references to music and films of the time. I'd already included some TV references and how expensive it was to have cable then as well as the then-relatively new device known as a VCR.
The part about "talking to relevant people" made me think about how people have often said to "write what you know." If you're not a doctor, should you not write about one? Or should you do what the paragraph above says? I guess from what is contained in this article, you can attempt to write about what you yourself don't know if you talk to someone in the know. I now think that always writing about "what you know" could get boring if overused. And if you are writing about another time (one in which you did not live), you definitely need to research that time. I have often wondered if I ever want to write such a thing, something I blogged about in a post last year.
How many of you have written about another time or about someone in a job you do not have? I noticed an example in the paragraph above saying "If one of your characters suffers from depression, see if you can find someone who knows what that’s like and is willing to talk about their experiences." I certainly would be willing to participate if anyone wanted to know about this for a novel. Before I decided to write a memoir on depression, I was considering whether to do that or to write a novel. I just wan't sure how to go about that one, as what I began writing sounded like a memoir, so I went with that.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Thinking About Writing a Memoir? Read This First

From Writerslife.org:

Writing a memoir can be a great way to share your life story with the world. If you have led a particularly exciting, adventurous or unusual life many people may love to hear your stories and could find your experiences genuinely fascinating.
However, writing a memoir isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter how much of a rollercoaster you’ve been on or how many unique journeys you’ve taken - if you can’t retell these stories well, and capture the details in a way that makes your audience engage with them, then you won’t get very far.
Unfortunately, the harsh truth is that many memoirs, if not handled in the right way, are just really dull. 
To write a great memoir, the material needs to capture the reader's interest and be delivered in a way that entertains, educates or inspires them.
So if you are thinking of writing a memoir what can you do to make sure that yours doesn’t fall into the typical traps?
Make sure you have focus
Your memoir needs to have a purpose or a theme. When you pick the moments in your life that you want to talk about, make sure that they all have a point, and that these individual points tie together to make it seem like one seamless journey. If you don’t, your memoir will read like a series of random, ill-thought out scenes that will feel stilted to read. Ask yourself what your memoir is about as well as what lessons you've learned to make sure that you have a clear focus before you begin. 
Make sure your focus has mass appeal.
To make sure that your book appeals to a broad audience, the themes in your novel should be universal. It doesn’t matter how unique or unusual your experiences are; you need to ensure that your readers engage and empathize. You can do this by concentrating on how you felt during your experiences so that your readers can relate, even if the journey you are describing is nothing like their own. 
Don’t write about it all
You may think your life is exceptionally fascinating and that everyone will love to hear every single detail about it, but unfortunately, in reality, you might find that people aren’t as interested as you thought. You know what it’s like when you're forced to sit down and watch a home movie about a recent trip your relative went on, or look through every single of the 500 pictures they took when they last made a trip, that wasn’t even abroad. We'll a memoir can come across a bit like that if you are not careful. You need to make sure and feel confident that not only do you have a great story to tell, but that you are able to step back and realize which bits might only be interesting to just you. Remember your readers don’t know you or care about you, so you need to ensure your story is one that will make them invest their time and emotions in.
That’s not to say that there aren’t people out there that do indeed have amazing stories to tell. But by following the tips above you can ensure that your's is one that will appeal to your audience.
Are you thinking about writing a memoir? What fascinating stories do you have in your past that might make a great read? Share them with us here!

It is so strange how I came across this article long after completing my memoir. As I have been saying in recent posts, no rules in writing are ever hard-and-fast and are meant to be broken. Rather what is mentioned is just guidelines or suggestions. I did try not to write everything I could recall about my childhood if I did not think it had to do with my history of depression, but tired to include details I felt were needed to add some description and background. I always wondered how other memoir writers have approached this angle, as many that I have read seem to divulge many details that could have been omitted according to this article. But then, if these authors had been told of these rules, then they were just breaking them. As the article also says, if a memoir is not handled in the right way, they can be dull. I may have unknowingly following this guideline when I tried to include details that I felt were necessary to give some description. And I ddi have a focus: on depression, a universal theme. And I did try "not to write it all." I completely deleted a while chapter which contained facts about depression, which I decided I did not need to include. I did, however, in other chapters, provide explanations when needed. I feel have have done my best and that that is what matters most.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

How to Wake Up Your Inner Writer

From Writerslife.org:

One thing that many writers struggle with is finding the motivation to write. This may seem ridiculous, how can you be a writer that finds it tough to write? However, if you do you are not alone, and it certainly doesn’t make you any less of a writer.
Being a great writer takes enormous amounts of time and effort, and you have to be genuinely dedicated to the craft, with little promise of any reward. You need to be hungry to keep learning, willing to take criticism and have the ability to take knocks, get back up and keep going regardless. 
Finding yourself staring at a blank page and feeling overwhelmed is pretty typical too. Writer's block can strike at any time though more often than not this state is because of a particular problem that we need to overcome. 
If our expectations are too high, if we are forcing ourselves to write something that we really don’t enjoy, if we are crippled by fear of rejection or even if we are too tired or lazy to write - these can all be issues which writers must tackle to wake up their inner writer and find inspiration once more.
The good news is, however, that there are plenty of ways to help get motivated and remain so. So if you are in a bit of a writing slump of late, what can you do to find yourself refreshed, focused and productive once more?
Write regularly
The best way to stay engaged in your writing is to do it as much as possible. It may feel slow and sluggish and a massive effort at first, but if you stick at it it will soon get more comfortable and feel much more natural. So keep your head down and get through the first, tough bit and you’ll be so glad you did. 
Don’t distract yourself with editing
If you are in a writing slump, the last thing you want to do is be too hard on yourself. Don’t get distracted by picking apart everything you have just written. Get the words on the page first and worry about editing later.
Tackle the root cause
It’s always a good idea to try and figure out why you are feeling demotivated, that way you can take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We all get distracted, we all procrastinate, we all get scared. Find out what’s causing you to avoid writing and tackle it head-on. 
Change the scenery
Sometimes we need to shake things up a little to get energized and excited about our writing once more. Go for coffee somewhere you’ve never been before, go for a bracing walk in the countryside, get an all-day bus pass, and people watch for a few hours. Changing the scenery can be so helpful and give you new ideas and inspiration too. 
Find support
Finding support can be so helpful to give your confidence a boost. Friends and relatives supporting you is fantastic, but why not also join a writing group, either virtually or find a local group to meet up with? Talking about your writing, sharing your worries and meeting likeminded people can be fantastic for kickstarting your motivation once more.
By using these methods, we can wake up our inner writer and continue on our writing journeys and towards our goals. What tips do you have to stay motivated as a writer? We’d love to hear them!
I must say I agree with much of what is said here. And I fell the group I have been attending has helped. It has been great to be giving and receiving feedback from others in the group and seeing what they have written. And when my class  at work resumed this week, it  also fun to see what the others came up with using pictures and connecting them into a piece. Because my class is every other Monday, and Presidents' Day is coming up, my next class will not be until March, but I'm already trying to decide on an exercise for then. and just last Saturday, I wrote another chapter in my sequel.

As far as editing goes, it is easy for me to want to look for errors once I print out something, as this seems to come naturally. I'm now going to try avoid this as much as I can. Some habits aren't easy to break!

I have once tried to going outside to do some writing, but have yet to try that again. Perhaps when the weather gets warmer, particularly in summer. Rain has ben occurring off and on in the last week or so, so getting out to write has been nearly impossible. But for me, getting outside is something I need to push myself to do, as I have never really been an outdoor person. 

All in all, I think these are good ideas.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Chapter Break Bingo – February 2019

Here is the new card.

February Bookish Bingo

Click on the card to download (or right click here and save-as).
Mark up the card however you wish to claim the squares.
Here’s a recap for clarity (with specific dates for example):
February 3 – new bingo card available
March 2 – Julie and I will post our February completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post
March 3 – new bingo card available
April 2 – Julie and I will post our March completed bingo cards. You can link up your bingo cards in this post. We will also be posting the February winner of the most squares in this post.
And so on and so forth.

My books for this one:
  1. Not Without Laughter--Langston Hughes (3 squares): Physical Book, Under 400 Pages, Not in a Series
  2. Prom & Prejudice--Elizabeth Eulberg (4 squares): Shelf Love, Pink or Red on the Cover, LOL, Romance
  3. And We Stay--Jenny Hubbard (6 squares): Library Book, Set in a Boarding School, Poetry, Free Space, Flowers, Winter Storm
  4. Valentine's Day--Rebecca Pettiford (1 square): Candy
  5. Wolfsbane--Andrea Cremer (8 squares): In a Series, One-Word Title, Witches, Shapeshifter, Science Fiction/Fantasy/SFF, Thrilling, Curse/Spell, Secret Identity/Ability
  6. White Houses--Amy Bloom (1 square): Audiobook 
  7. Cavalleria Rusticana and Other Stories--Giovanni Verga (1 square): Free Book
  8. The Last Time I Saw You--Elizabeth Berg (1 square): A Favorite Author
25 squares completed on February 26

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Once Again...

Tomorrow will be the same as all other Super Bowl Sundays for me.  These are the same memes I have posted for the last two years or so saying I will not be watching the game tomorrow.


I'm not sure what I will be doing, though reading is a given and I am now trying to get a writing exercise done each day, even if it is just a little. My class resumes this Monday and I will be doing a grab bag of images, similar to the word grab bag I did for my first class. Participants will grab there of four pictures (cut from magazines) and write a piece that includes each of them. Will let you know how it goes.