The Writerly Habit

This blog is about my struggles to get into the habit of writing regularly.

One Week 'Til Nano

The Hydromatic Plot-O-Matic

Ok, so I've decided to do it. I'm going to take the Nanowrimo challenge. I went to the kickoff party today and even got a new notebook. Sadly, I find myself much in the same place as last year...I haven't the foggiest idea of what to write. Do I write fantasy? Mainstream fiction? A sappy romance novel? I don't know and I only have a week to figure it out.

I did manage to rope my sister into competing with me so huzzah to that. I was even able to pick up my t-shirt from last year. I know, I never picked it up. Luckily our ML rocks socks and saved it for me. I felt like such a tool. Ah well, it won't happen again.

In my wanderings for an idea I stumbled upon Hatch's Plot Bank. Some of the ideas are interesting and will really help my brainstorming session. Others were boring or trite. Don't expect a full novel plot here, just some small nuggets of ideas for you to build upon. Here are some of my favorites:

16 grandma's old Bible is ruined in flash flood (Makes me think of an old homestead).

54 he gave the same type of ring to TWO girls

55 tests show the baby could have a genetic disease

84 bride demands a New Age wedding

85 she wants to add something odd to the vows

I'm sensing a theme here, about a family in turmoil. Struggles abound in this tragedy. Hmm...yes I think I will take all the ones that grab me, print them out and then use them in a brainstorming session. My deliverance may be at hand. Wish me luck.

NANOWRIMO Rolls Around Again

Well my friends, we are days away from the kick off of the National Novel Writing Month (for details click here or check my previous posts). I find myself wondering if I want to compete this year, something I should have thought about earlier in the month. Time to plan and plot would have been nice. Then again, I have over a week so maybe I'm just making excuses. I like Nanowrimo a lot. It' exhilarating to try and beat the clock and makes me feel like I am accomplishing something. That is, until I read what I've written.

Writing seems to run hot and cold for me. I'm passionate about it for a time and then ignore it the rest of the time. Sometimes I feel it is my great calling to be an author and other times, I could really care less. Why do I feel so uncertain about things? I'm not sure but it really does impact the work I put out. I guess seeing the fruits of my labor would help, but I don't labor long enough to accomplish anything. Maybe I enjoy being an enigma. Who knows.

I did lose my job of six years back in July and haven't found another one. Now that I have the time to write, I don't. Kind of like how you tell yourself if you had more time you'd read more, workout, and write the next great American novel. Don't bet on it. Days fill up pretty easily with chores, volunteer work, appointments, and navigating the general malaise that loneliness brings on. Part of the problem is that I have rededicated myself as a Christian and I feel many of the things I liked to write are inappropriate. Or at least I feel guilty about writing about them. I need to come to terms with that before I can move forward. I thought about getting a book on Christian novel writing. For right now, I'm going to really try to finish Turning Life Into Fiction. The exercises are great and really help me move along. Most of my work these days is journaling and I'd like to be able to pull something out of that.

For now, I'll read that book and start plotting for Nano. Happy writing!

Creative Non-Fiction

So I sat down last night, trying to think of things I could write about for articles. At first, I couldn't think of anything. I figured I didn't have much life experience that would translate into freelance article writing. Then, after a few minutes, I couldn't stop. I came up with four pages worth of topics and only stopped because the sun was coming up. I couldn't sleep so now I'm up again.

There is such a huge market for articles the possibilities are endless. Think about past life experiences: where did you work, got kids?, how about religion, or the military? My husbands favorite subject is politics. What are the things that you are an "expert" in? And if you need a little additional help, just released it's yearbook edition with a great article on finding sources for interview.

I guess I just didn't realize how much I know about different things. For instance, I want to publish an article on easy vegan recipes but I also want to do a series of articles on paganism. If you, after reading this, still can't think of something, whip out your handy-dandy writer's market guide. If you don't have one, get one. They really are a great investment. There is even one for short story/novel writers. While you're at it, pick up a copy of The Fourth Genre. My creative writing teacher used excerpts in class and it is the standard textbook for creative non-fiction.

Word to the wise, if you buy the writer's market buy them on Amazon. If you buy both you get free shipping and it cost you around $30-$40. At Borders, they were $29.95 each! Check out the carousel at the lower right of the page for other recommendations.

Old Colorado City Writers

I've just joined the Old Colorado City Writers' meetup group. I'm pretty excited about it. Already, from the first post I read, I was linked to a website where I can post my work (a local website). I encourage any other Colorado Springs locals to check it out.

I also found this wonderful coffee shop I can't wait to visit. It's Agia Sophia, looks right up my alley. It's 2902 W. Colorado Avenue. They have great hours, a gorgeous interior, and free wi-fi. I'll be there later this week so I hope to have a review and some pictures to post.

In the meantime, my writing is going ok. I've been in pretty low spirits lately, as my life moves back to the cubicle world. I've also realized how poorly written some of the genre books are that I have loved for many years. It depressed me to have that taken away. It's no fun to dissect a book. You'd think, it would make me happy to realize that even poor writers can get published. If they can tell a good story, that's what matters. So why not be happy about that? I doubt my ability to tell a good story. That's right. Good ol' self doubt. Imagine how much more work we'd all get done without that nagging voice in the back of our minds.

I thought I was really behind, turns out I'm not really. I've been writing a little bit extra every day so I still need to do about 8.5 pages to finish my notebook by the end of the month. In the future, I wasnt to fill one notebook a month. Problem was, I started mine mid-month, because I didn't want to wait. Guess I learned my lesson there.

Checking In

So I started my ten page a day habit on Sunday. The pages were easy that day. I used the "Writer's Book of Days" for a prompt. On Monday, I didn't have much oomph. I wrote about four pages and just couldn't muster any more. I was bored with the prompt and irritated. I felt pretty bad, like I had already failed. I wondered if I had set myself up for failure, so I could place the blame elsewhere. Yesterday, I went to my sister's house and I'm happy to say, I did my ten pages plus finished up Monday's pages. I feel a lot better now.

I spend a lot of time writing about writing. My notebook isn't just for fiction, it's for exploring the process. For figuring out what is blocking me. I discovered a lot about myself yesterday and why I stopped writing for so many years. Now I'm getting back to basics. I'm reading a Mercedes Lackey book and outlining the plot chapter by chapter. This is not so I can copy, but so I can have a clear idea of successful plot progression. I recommend you do the same thing. There's a big difference between reading a book for fun and studying it.

I am also setting up my objectives. For instance, I'm going to give myself one month to complete Patricia C. Wrede's fantasy worldbuilding questions. After that, I have two weeks to outline and plot my novel. Then finally, I will give myself a year and a half to write my novel. I'm shooting for two pages a day, five days a week. I'm not mathematician so I'm not sure how that works out in novel length. All of this, the wordbuilding and plotting will go in my notebook and count towards my current writing goals. I know two pages doesn't sound like much, but when it has to be a cohesive story, it is more than you think. In addition to the writing, editing, organizing and other elements go into it.

Maybe sit down this week and come up with a writing schedule. Then come up with a list of objectives. I'm getting ready to go to an 11-8 shift, which for me means that I need to be up by 9am to get my work on my novel done. Right now I get up sometime between noon and 1pm. Over the next two weeks, my goal is to get up a little bit earlier each day, probably ten minutes. It will suck being in bed before my husband gets home but sacrifices must be made if I intend to get anywhere. I want to stop wishing I was writing regularly and start actually doing it.

Setting a Daily Habit

Ok, we're getting back to our roots here. It's time to set a daily writing habit. There are many different kinds of goals that can motivate you, the trick is to find the one that works best. I like to have a set number of pages to complete. I bought a really cute spiral notebook and decided that I would fill it by the end of the month. In fact, every month I will be filling one. Now, we are already part way through the month which means I need to write 8.5 pages a day in order to reach my goal. Last night, I wrote ten without breaking a sweat. I'm going to try 10 pages a day for one month and see how it goes, after that I might change that number up or down.

For me, pages work. For you it could be a word count, or even just writing for a certain amount of time. For years, I convinced myself that I needed large chunks of time in order to get my writing done. That couldn't be further from the truth though. If you really look at how you spend your time, I'm sure you could squeeze some time in. I've written while in the chair at the dentist's office, waiting for my mouth to numb up so they could begin work. I've written on lunch breaks, ten minute breaks, and even between calls. I suggest you set a goal, an attainable one, and this will motivate you to find time to write.

As far as equipment, I prefer writing in a notebook. If you prefer using a laptop, that's find but keep in mind that it may limit you. I know in my old office, you could not use laptops so if I didn't write longhand, I couldn't get any writing done. Don't trap yourself by thinking that you have to have one set method. Try different things. The important part is to write and write consistently. Make appointments with yourself and keep them. I've been using my iPhone and setting an alarm when it's time to write. This helps remind me that I have something I should be doing and keeps me from getting sucked into a t.v. program. You can do this too. You don't have to do it more than a day in advance if you have a hectic schedule like mine. Right now, I'm looking for a job (actually I got hired today), running errands, taking care of the house, and visiting my family. That's too much for me to know more that 24 hours in advance when I will have time. The night before, I look at my schedule and fit it in.

Be sure to hold yourself accountable. If you blow off your appointments, forget about getting that novel finished and published. You've got to make some kind of commitment. I had convinced myself that my work left me with little or no energy to produce creative work. This was partially true, at the end of the day I had no energy. But what about first thing in the morning? Before my day was soured by asinine office politics? I could've easily gotten up an hour earlier and got my writing done. Finito. Really, don't convince yourself that you have to have a low stress job to be creative. Make the time, set goals, and reward yourself for achieving them. You can do this!

On a side note, I got hired by another call center today. At first, I was hesitant to take the job, thinking that my creativity would be zapped again. Then I realized that it was a choice. I could decide to get up and write. I could decide to write on my lunch break. Sometimes, writing is a welcome escape from a demanding job. I had just convinced myself that I could write and work where I was. This time around, I am going to do things differently. I will label myself as writer, and consider that a job that I have to show up for. The call center is simply how I pay my bills and afford the occasional weekend in a cabin at Buena Vista. That will be the wonderful thing about this new job, I will make enough to afford these kind of excursions.

So, if anyone is still reading this blog, please post a comment about your writing habit.

What the hell?

What the hell indeed. Well kiddies, it's been a long time since I've blogged. The reason? My soul sucking job at Carnival Cruise Lines. The good news? Their reign of terror is at an end. I am no longer employed with the company. Six years of hell. I'm so happy it's over. So what am I doing now? I'm journaling, reading, and trying to find myself again. I had stuffed myself into a very small box and allowed it to consume me. Now I'm back on track...finding out what is really important to me. What I want to do with my life.

I plan on following the This Time I Dance method. I'm going to get a job that I don't have to invest myself into. I have an interview tomorrow waiting tables. I also had an interview at another call center, I did really well but don't think I'll take it. I just don't want to wear a headset for another six years.

I've been selling a lot of stuff on Amazon and taking care of the house. At first, I was really worried about losing my job. Then I found out I get to cash out my 401k and pay off my car and a credit card. This means I can make it on less than minimum wage! Wooh!! No more call center work. I realized that the whole reason I got into debt was that I hated my life so I would buy things I didn't need to try and make myself happy. Then I ended up owing so much that I was trapped there. It's been a pretty good week. I haven't gotten any writing done (except for large amounts of journaling) and that's ok. I've been respecting the fact that I am tired and my creative well is dried up. I've been resting and watching old movies.

So, expect to see a lot more postings from me in the near future. I've reorganized my writing group, Pens of Fury, and even have a letter to the editor up for review with the Writer's Digest. Things are definitely looking up. Next week, I'd like to spend an afternoon people watching in a park downtown. Sounds like fun.

Six Days in Lawton

A post from guest blogger Elise:

My name is Elise, and I’m not much of an author. I get ideas that I love, but rarely get beyond the rough draft. I’ve sent a few submissions to the First Line, and gotten rejection e-mails. I really need to print them out and frame them. It was the first time that I’ve ever submitted anything, so hopefully it will set a trend for me. I write intermittently. I start and stop, I find and lose motivation. I think very poorly of my work, but feel constantly drawn to it. Sound familiar?
The date today is April 29th. Today, my mother and I drove almost six hundred miles to Lawton, Oklahoma. The drive was uneventful, apart from a record Road Kill Count (or RKC). The RKC for this trip was thirty-seven, to include a record two cows, one that was definitely huge and bloated and disgusting. Okay, so maybe the cows were probably not road kill, but of them were both dead, on the side of the road, so my stance is they count. Deal with it. The only other sight of note was some creepy horror movie worthy mannequin. It was sitting in a wicker rocker out front of a store in one of the small towns we went through. The face was all busted up and filthy, and it had on a hat, a dress and a blanket across its lap. Creepy.
I’m getting off the subject. So we drove down to Lawton, which is definitely not my favorite place to be, no offense to those who love it. Even though the city has grown over the years (it has 2 Wal-Marts now), it seems small to me. Maybe part of the problem is, it’s just not home. I don’t know where my favorite restaurants are, or my favorite book store. It’s just strange and small, and I can’t help but dislike it at times.
We come down a couple times a year to visit my grandparents. They live in a trailer in the southern part of town and have no internet connection. As an avid gamer, that really gives me a lot of time to find something to do. I love to read but decided I had an opportunity on this trip. So I’ve only brought a few books and my laptop. I finished Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko on the way and it was much better than the movie.
My plan is to write! I plan to try to squeeze out whatever words I can manage over the next six days. I won’t have my video games or regular, everyday life to distract me. I’ll be keeping a daily tally of how I’m doing, as well as some tidbits about my day. There will probably be several projects in the works, so we’ll have to see what happens. I’m going with a no editing policy for my first draft, and I won’t be counting my entries toward my daily count. Wish me luck!

Day 1: Read a bunch today, but there was so much noise, I waited until late to start writing. Grandma had a rough day today, and we talked a lot earlier. I went for two walks, one short, one a bit more respectable. Other than that, there’s not much to tell. Anyways, here’s my numbers for the day. It isn’t much, but it’s a start.

W.C. 610

Day 2: I slept in until way late today. Grandma was having trouble breathing, so she was taken to the emergency room around 2 a.m. She’s about as okay as she can be today. So I read a little, watched some TV and got to work. No walking today, as it was too hot until evening, and by then my cousin was here. Everyone is at the casino tonight, so I’m trying to take advantage of the quiet. Today I finished Conquistador by S.M. Stirling, which was another excellent read.

W.C. 1276

Day 3: Another lazy day today. I got up early today, but that doesn’t mean anything much got done. Took a walk this morning and then this evening. There’s a big family outing to the “mountains” tomorrow. I put mountains in quotes because until I get further proof, they’re glorified hills. Remember, I’m from Colorado Springs, so I know what real mountains are. We’ll see what all the fuss is about.

W.C. 1455

Day 4: Well, I was impressed with the view, but still disagree with the classification of mountain. Either way it was real pretty, and we spent a few hours up there. I finished Claimed by Shadow by Karen Chance. It was pretty good, but now I have only one book left and two more days of Oklahoma, plus the drive home. I may just have to pick something up tomorrow.

W.C. 1638 (I blame Roller Coaster Tycoon)

Day 5: Not much going on so far today. Played some RCT and that’s about it. (Other than my writing of course) I’m pretty excited about my last few totals. I’m hoping to get up to keep up the amount to make up for my awful count on day one. The vast majority of my count so far (including todays) has been on my newest project, and it’s one I’m hoping will survive its infancy.

W.C. 1681

Day 6: Same as yesterday for the most part. I got to hear stories about my Mom as a child around the breakfast table, so plenty of fun. Mom and I went down and bought Grandma some flowers for Mother’s Day and put them out in a planter for her. We’re leaving tomorrow, so Grandma’s really sad today. I kept trying to bribe her to come with me, but she doesn’t leave town much. So, long drive tomorrow and I’m real happy with my word count. If I didn’t have my husband and family in Colorado, I’d probably stay.

W.C. 1349

My total for the entire trip is 8009, about average of 1334 words per day. It’s a pretty good start and I’m excited about getting some feed back. I’d like to thank my sister for hosting my attempt at blogging. It’s my first try, so please be gentle with your comments.

The Hobbit Director Finalized...Finally

It's been five long years since The Return of the King was released by New Line Cinema, thus completing the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I'm sure all of us hard core Tolkien fans couldn't help but wonder, the first time we saw Bilbo in The Fellowship of the Ring, whether or not The Hobbit was going to follow. There were rumors for a long time, but due to some financial issues, the project was put on the back burner. Then there were rumors as to who would direct it. Now those rumors can be squashed, Guillermo del Toro has in fact signed on to direct what will be a two film version of The Hobbit, with Peter Jackson as executive director. He will be moving to New Zealand for the next four years to work on the films. Hopefully, we'll have the first installment by 2010.

I remember reading The Hobbit in the seventh grade. I loved it so much I read it twice. That was the first time I could remember reading a book and then watching the film. Of course in this case it was the 1977 animated version. I might read the book again, just to get ready. I hate to say it, I love J.R.R. Tolkien, but I found it so hard to get through The Lord of the Rings. Once I got to the council of Elrond, I would just fall asleep. To me, The Hobbit was so much livelier.

Anyhow, I've been working on a new novel. Right now I'm mostly making notes, researching, and outlining. I just moved, well I'm still in the process of moving, so that has taken up a lot of my time. I'm hoping to finish moving and unpacking this weekend so I can really devote some time to it. The whole college thing is up in the air. I wasn't expecting to move out so quickly, so I had to drain all of my savings to do it. Now I'm looking into loans. I'll keep you posted.

Rowling to Settle?

U.S. District Judge Robert Patterson Jr. has urged Vander Ark and Rowling to settle their case. He called it a "legal close call," so I'm guessing the laws are fuzzy in this area. I don't know if Rowling will back down unless RDR states it will not publish the Harry Potter Lexicon. I don't think I would, all those years of hard work to just have some hack capitalizing on it, trying to make money off of your original ideas. This case really means a lot to the publishing industry. What will authors need to do to protect their property? Was this brought about because Rowling allowed and endorsed the site to post info about her books? I've heard of a couple of fantasy writers that demand all fanfic and fan art be taken off of websites because of violation of intellectual property. Are all authors now going to have to do this? What impact would this have on the fans? I hope, for everyone's sake, that RDR agrees not to publish.

Rowling Testifies Monday

J.K. Rowling will testify Monday in a lawsuit to block the publication of The Harry Potter Lexicon by Steven Vander Ark. If she wins, Rowling will do much to establish and writer's rights to their intellectual property/creations. I used to write Xena fan fiction, and more recently, World of Warcraft. Now if I were to publish that on a website for other fans to read, I don't see the harm. In fact, it may spark interest in the shows/games themselves. I couldn't imagine trying to package it up into a book and make money off of it. I didn't come up with those characters, worlds, etc. What right would I have to profit off of them. If I want to publish a World of Warcraft novel, then I'd have to submit it through the company as it is their intellectual property. Really, if Vander Ark considers himself a fan of the Harry Potter series, he should respect the author and not try to rip her off.

That's all for now kiddies.

Eminem's Mother Sued

Eminem's mother, Debbie Nelson, is being sued by her then manager/agent Neal Alpert. Alpert claims she was under contract with him when she agreed to do the book but he has seen none of the profits. The details aren't exactly clear. I think it's amazing that a manager can collect 25% of the profits from a book. I don't think literary agents even collect that much. Hmm...I don't know. If it were me, I'd be kind of pissed if someone was trying to get 25% off my earnings for something that had nothing to do with them. If he promoted the book and acted as a literary agent, then maybe...but 25%? From what I've seen it's 15% for domestic sales and 20% for international. The book was released in 2007 (UK) but has yet to hit U.S. shelves.

Check out the Science Fiction and Fantasy writers warning on dishonest literary agents. Knowledge is power people. Never ever pay a reading fee.

Back in Black

Ah, my devoted readers (both of you)...I'm back. So, why have I been gone for two months? A string of medical problems, both physical and mental have prevented my return. That's all in the past now. Things are rather dark for me right, music, the poetry I write, etc. So what's new in the literary world? Well, the Pulitzer Prizes are out for 2008. Here are the winners:

In History: DANIEL WALKER HOWE for "What Hath God Wrought: the Transformation of America, 1815-1848"

In Biography: JOHN MATTESON for "Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father"

In Fiction: JUNOT DIAZ "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao"

In General Non-Fiction: SAUL FRIEDLANDER "The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945"

In Drama: TRACY LETTS for "August: Osage County"

In Poetry: ROBERT HASS AND PHILIP SCHULTZ for "Time and Materials," by Robert Hass and "Failure," by Philip Schultz

Feels like the Oscars. For those of you unfamiliar with the Pulitzer Prize, check out their site. Sad to say, I haven't read any of these books. In fact, I haven't read many books this year. Depression has a way of gripping you, so the only thing you can do is while away the hours watching boring television or mindlessly surfing the internet.

Also in the news, a new unit of HarperCollins is trying to do away with author advances and give them a larger share of book profits (up to 50%). The new unit would also discontinue the practice of allowing booksellers to return unsold books for refund. This would eliminate a lot of cost for the publisher and increase author profits. I think this is a fantastic move! Way to go HarperCollins.

I did, if you will remember, check out the Arrowgrove School of Erotic Writing. Well, I have to say I was very disappointed by their product. Most of what they sent was generic writing reference. There were four lesson books that comprised all of the erotic material of the course. Each one was maybe twenty pages long. I have a book on writing erotic fiction that is easily three times as long. There just wasn't much content. Their market guide, was actually a book of Canadian national organizations...not a single publisher among them. Truly not worth the $698 I paid. I had expected lengthy material on writing erotica, that was after all the entire reason I wanted to take the course. Ah well, maybe one day my college will offer one. Not likely, as I live in a very conservative town but a girl can dream.

So what am I doing now? Well, I just finished registering for the summer semester. I figured it's time I finish my degree. I keep putting it off because of money but I don't really have that excuse now. I think I just didn't want to take the math classes lol. I'm terrible at math. I even signed up for creative writing II in the fall. I'm really excited about that one. I really want to do it this time. We'll see. I usually convince myself that I can't actually do it and withdraw. Wish me luck...err fortitude. Wish me fortitude.

On a side note, while perusing books at Borders today, I found a trade paperback of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It's a must see movie full of rich macabre and downright spooky details. Feed your inner goth cookie. Mind you, I didn't like the ending. I rather like Helena Bonham Carter and don't feel that she got what she deserved. Check out the movie though. I think I might go back and snag that book...I have a coupon anyhow. :P Funny though, Depp's character has a certain perpetual glower and responds in the most minimal way possible. I'm eerily reminded of my own dear fiance.

Back on my feet

Hi guys. Well, I'm back on my feet lol. I'm really excited, I just bought the perfect typewriter on eBay. I've been looking for one with just the right key style and shell shape for about three years. I bought a Royal portable from the 1940's but that didn't work out so well. It was hard to type on (slow) and the text was very faint despite the new ink ribbons I bought. Then I went back to using my family typewriter, a circa 1980's electric. That one was really loud. I really didn't want an electric anyhow. So here it is, the Royal Safari:

I don't know what it is, I just really like old typewriters. This one is from the 1960's. I ended up spending about $70 with shipping but it's so worth it. I can't wait. Oh, I also decided to do the Arrowgrove course. I even have my pseudonym picked out...of course I won't be sharing that. I just can't imagine using my real name when writing erotica. Imagine being at the checkout at your favorite bookstore. It's Christmas time so it's really crowded. The checker recognizes your name on your credit card and says "I love that rape scene you wrote for the Big Book of Erotica!" How embarrassing.

I'll let you know how the typewriter works out. I'm hoping it works as well as I think it will. Writing on a typewriter is like stepping into a different world. I am able to release more...I don't know why. It's also a very romantic image...or at least I think so. I grew up in the age just before personal computers. I had a plastic pink Barbie typewriter. We bought it at a thrift store and I was so excited to have it. It actually worked. Mind you, it only had one ink ribbon and my parents never replaced it. We didn't get a family computer until I was twelve or so. We used computers at school, but I had to type up my homework on the typewriter. Maybe it just reminds me of a time when I was younger and less weighed down by the world. If I was older, I'd say it was a desperate attempt to cling to my youth lol. Alas, I am still in my twenties. I'm going to try and get my darling Nick to take me to Office Max today to get some pink ink pens (love pink ink) and to fax my enrollment form for Arrowgrove.

Back in Black

So, long time no post. I’ve been recovering from my tooth extraction along with surgery on my feet. I’ve been so depressed lately; it’s been hard for me to pick up my pen. I manage to scratch a few lines here and there but no major work. Once I started missing my 1,000 words a day, it became harder to go back to. I haven’t written a note in a while and that’s depressing me too. I believe that part of my writing comes from the deep mental anguish I often feel. That’s part of the reason I didn’t seek treatment sooner. I thought if I got treated, my creativity would go away along with my depression. Come to find out, I don’t get much done when I’m struggling against my moods and thoughts. I went to my doc today and he doubled the dosage on my meds. Hopefully that helps.

I was going to go to a fiction writing group here in the Springs, but backed out at the last minute. I was supposed to read four stories so I had some feedback ready. Two of them were really bad, one was just plain awful. I wasn't looking forward to going and pretending to be nice. I hate saying that but it's true. Most people don't want to hear the truth about their work, plus I find it hard to tell someone that they suck. It was fine, my father and my friend and I went to Starbucks instead and got some writing done. Plus I returned a book to Borders, the printer left out one hundred pages. Really weird. It’s the Joy Luck Club and I can’t wait to start it. Now I’m sure you are wondering why I went to both Borders and Starbucks. Well, Borders was so busy that there weren’t any tables. Yet, right across the street, the Starbucks was only a third full. I tried a Ginger Tea. It was good except it was made with boiling water and I burned my mouth on it. The thing I like about Borders is that you can get a tea service. They bring you a beautiful clear glass pot of tea along with small tempered glass cups. There’s something truly aesthetically pleasing about the color of tea (green that is); pouring it out in a steady stream and looking through the tea, at how it colors everything.

Anyhow, I hope to get back to my 1,000 words soon. I feel like such a bum for not doing it. Hopefully the meds work and I can get some semblance of order back in my life. I’ve considered quitting my job and working somewhere part time, and then I’d have more time for writing. The way things are going right now though, I wouldn’t get much done. I spend my days half awake, exhausted emotionally and physically. So who’s for running away to Portland (OR that is)? I went to Portland a couple of years ago and I loved it. The sky was so gray, and it would often drizzle lightly throughout the day. That’s my kind of weather, it was similar when I lived in Germany. I tell myself, if I make it big as an author, I will move to Portland. It’d be hard to leave my family though. I don’t worry too much about it though; I have a lot of work to do before that can happen. I hope this finds you all sane and happily writing.

Out for the count

Hey kiddies. It's been a couple of days since I last posted. Things are going really well, both with my fiction writing and my poetry. I ordered some new notecards from Vista Print, ones that reflect my personality a little better. Through my writing, I've been finding myself. Or at least the self I had forgotten. In the last three years, I've gained seventy pounds. I was unhappy with life and used food as a way to fill the void. I've gotten better about that and lost twenty pounds. I started seeing a therapist and writing again. Life has really improved and I'm starting to find the person I buried under all that weight. I forgot all about my love of fashion and all things feminine and beautiful. Very Sarah Jessica Parker. I'm wondering how this will change my writing. There have been definite changes in the subject matter.

I watched Stranger Than Fiction starring Will Ferell. I LOVED it! It's a must see for any writer (and non-writer for that matter). Will Ferrell plays Harold Crick, a character who starts hearing his life narrated. The narrator makes an ominous statement about his untimely death. Harold must find the writer and try to stop her from killing him. It also stars the beautiful Maggie Gyllenhaal, one of my favorite actresses (check her out in Secretary and Donnie Darko). Check out the amazon link for clips, images, and a review of the movie.

Maggie Gyllenhaal

I also watched The Devil Wears Prada (go go gadget Netflix account). A movie about a wannabe journalist that gets sucked into the world of fashion. This movie was also fantastic. Meryl Streep has been one of my favorites since She Devil. In The Devil Wears Prada she played a romance novelist who steals Rosanne Barr's husband and pays the price. Oddly enough, it was Meryl Streep's role in that movie that first got me interested in becoming a writer. Check out the trailer here.

In the news, Roger Avary was arrested and charged with vehicular manslaughter on January 13th. There weren't many specifics as to how the accident happened other than Avary was under the influence. Avary's passenger died and his wife has serious injuries. Avary is most famous for his screenplay Pulp Fiction.

So I'm going to be out for the count for a few days. I had my crown seated today, two fillings, and my lower wisdom teeth extracted. I had to have a stitch in each socket and I'm in a lot of pain. I've taken a few days of work off, so hopefully I'll get lots of writing done. Today is a bit of a wash, I'm just finding it impossible to get anything done. I did get to keep my teeth which was cool! Last time I forgot to ask before I got super numbed up. Not sure what I'm going to do with them. I just wanted them. Here's a pic:

Anyone heard of Arrowgrove School of Erotic Writing?

Has anyone heard of Arrowgrove School of Erotic Writing? They do offer other programs, but this is the one I'm interested in. There are 20 course units, plus you get instructional cds, The Guide to Erotica Markets (is this The Erotic Writer's Market Guide??), and a personal tutor in the field that you send your assignments to. They list specifics on three of their tutors at the present time. Total tuition is $809 (Canadian) if you do the installment plan, $759 if you pay up front. They have a full money back guarantee if you return the materials within 21 days and also if you don't make your tuition back through writing by the end of the course you get a full refund. Sounds too good to be true, but they haven't had any BBB complaints. You'd think if this was a total scam something would be in there right?

They are a dba of Quality of Course in Ontario. I checked them out with the Better Business Bureau and they haven't had any complaints in the last 36 months and are a registered member in good standing. I can't find any reviews of this program online (I've considered taking this program for about two years now). Is it just that unpopular or are people more secretive about the fact that they took an erotic writing course? Speaking of which, I haven't decided if I should use a psuedonym when writing erotica. One article I read stated that you should only use one if you are ashamed of what you are writing. I'm not but then again, wouldn't it put a layer of protection between me and any stalker fans? Right now, I don't haven any fans let alone stalker fans. Good to keep my eye on the future though lol. I'd love to get some opinions on this. I'd just hate to think that no one would know of my accomplishments because I used a fake name. I guess there are pros and cons either way. I could just change my first name so it's not totally obvious. Hmm...

Erotic Photography

So Nick (my fiance) and I went to Borders yesterday. They have really good pretzels that are served warm. Plus I'm totally in love with their white chocolate latte. When they are in stock (lolz) they put white chocolate chunks on top. Delicious.

Anywho, I was in the bargain section when I noticed they had a lot of erotica and sexual instruction books on sale. It was odd to find these in the bargain section. I'm a huge fan of erotica so I bought several books, at a steep discount. The big find was Erotic Photography edited by Maxim Jakubowski and Marilyn Jaye Lewis. It features hundreds of gorgeous black and white nudes. It's very eclectic, ranging from a tasteful nude to fetish type photographs. The collection is well put together and a true feast for the eyes. I might hang some in a cluster in my bedroom/bathroom once I move. I love erotic photography, especially black and white. It isn't for sexual reasons, although at least for me some of the pictures cross the line into pornography. I'm drawn to the aesthetics of it and the shapes. I got it for $5.99, which is sad. It's a wonderful book. Then again, if it wasn't on the bargain shelf I would never have seen. Go go gadget Borders clearance racks.

I finished my thousand words yesterday and wrote a poem. My note went to Natalie Goldberg, author of Wild Mind: Living the Writer's Life and Writing Down the Bones. Writing Down the Bones is my favorite of the two. It's a collection of essays about writing and is truly inspiring. It really helps me to reread it when I am feeling down on myself as a writer. It's a definite confidence booster, you realize you don't have to be a brilliant writer to be a great writer. If that makes sense. Definitely a must have for any writer. Besides, it's one cent on Amazon. $3.99 shipping so a total of $4.00, you can't beat that.

Natalie Goldberg

Today I will be writing two notes, one to each of the editors of Erotic Photography. I haven't started my writing for the day yet. I have an ingrown toenail and had to go to the doctor. That was real fun.

Missy Chase Lapine Sues and Other Literary News

Missy Chase Lapine, author of The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids Favorite Meals, has sued Jessica Seinfield for copyright and trademark infringement. I talked about this before in an 10/21 posting. It's a David vs. Goliath battle, going up against the Seinfield's. None of us can know what truly happened, but the facts available do seem to support Ms. Lapine's claim. Read the full article here.

In other news, Andrew Morton's book Tom Cruise: An Unauthorized Biography (due out January 15th) has reportedly infuriated Tom Cruise with it's wild claims. A lot of it revolves around Cruise's involvement in scientology. The most bizarre claim is that his child was conceived using sperm from L. Ron Hubbard, the late founder of scientology. Crazy if it's true, maybe even crazier if this book got published and there's no proof to back it up. This reminds me of the issues surround the unauthorized biography of Anna Nicole Smith a few months ago. The book, Blonde Ambition: The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death, contained scathing allegations that Larry Birkhead and Howard K. Stern were lovers and implicated them in Anna's death. The books author, Rita Cosby, was sued by Stern for libel. Read more about this here. Speaking of lawsuits, Clive Cussler's attempt to get a judgement of $8.5 million by Crusader Entertainment was denied. Cussler claims that they failed to keep their contract with him regarding a screenplay adapted from the book, while they claim he tricked them into purchasing the screenplay based on false sales numbers. Read more here.

I'm a little late covering this other news so forgive me. Priscilla Ceballos publicly apologized for helping her daughter fabricate an essay for a Hannah Montana contest. The six year old daughter's essay falsely claimed that her father had died in Iraq. The fraud was discovered after officials checked the military information they were given. The prize was promptly taken away from the girl and the mother has taken full responsibility. What a horrible thing to do to a child. She had her dreams realized only to have them crushed by her mother's decision to lie. More info here.

Other recent headlines:

Tom Wolfe leaves publisher over money.

Late poet, Robert Frost's, home vandalized by teenage partygoers.

S.L. Rottman

Today I managed to finish my 1000 words, a poem, and my note. I've learned that I really need to get it done in the morning, before I start anything else. Otherwise, getting to the final word count is a slow process. I have to drag it out of me at times. I haven't done any writing besides these free writings. I have started a poem a day exercise. So far I've written two pretty good ones. For me poetry just seems a lot easier to write. It's always been that way. I used to write tons of horrible angst written poetry in my teenage years. I love poetry but I am also afraid of it. You hear that there is no money in writing, but poetry is especially notorious for this. Also, it's very subjective. Some will love it and some will hate it. There doesn't seem to be as much of a middle ground as there is with fiction. Maybe it's just me. I'll post my poems in a few days. I'm so tired now, I can barely think straight.

My note today was to S.L. Rottman, author of the novel Hero (and many other YA novels). She was my English teacher when I was in junior high. She had a group of her students proof read the novel and give feedback before it was published. I was chosen to be a part of this group. I can't remember if it was simply because I volunteered or that I was chosen because of my work in class. I remember feeling very proud to be a part of this group. Her novel was wonderful, the ending made me cry. She had a book signing out here in Colorado Springs a few years back (probably six by now) but I missed her. I wonder if she'll even remember me. This note was a little hard to write, my ego is truly on the line here. My internal editor is telling me that she won't know who I am, or will wonder exactly how much she could've inspired me as I haven't published a thing yet. It took me a while yes, but I'm out here doing it now. It's one thing to put yourself out there for a total stranger, quite another to do such for someone who knows you. We'll see how it goes.

S.L. Rottman

Tori Amos

Tori Amos in concert, American Doll Posse tour

Well, I finished my 1,000 words for the day so I'm getting ready to write my next note. Today I'm writing Tori Amos. I know, she's a musician so not exactly what you were expecting. But have you ever heard one of her songs? The lyrics are pure poetry. She's one of the main artists I listen to when I'm writing. Here are a few of my favorites:

Blood Roses

Blood roses ,Blood roses
Back on the street now
Blood roses,Blood roses
Back on the street now
Can't forget the things you never said
On days like these starts me thinking
When chickens get a taste of your meat girl
Chickens get a taste of your meat yes

You gave him you blood
And your warm little diamond
He likes killing you after you're dead
You think I'm a queer
I think you're a queer
Said I think you're a queer
I think you're a queer
I shaved every place where you been boy
I said I shaved every place where you been yes

God knows I know
I've thrown away those graces
God knows I've thrown away
Those graces
God knows I know
I've thrown away those graces

The Belle of New Orleans tried to show me
Once how to tango
Wrapped around you feet
Wrapped around like good little roses

Blood Roses, Blood Roses
Back on the street now
Blood Roses, Blood Roses
Back on the street now
Now, Now
Now you've cut out the flute
From the throat of the loon
At least when you cry now
He can't even hear you
When chickens get a taste of your meat girl
Come on, Come on, Come on
Come on, Come on, Come on
Come on, Come on, Come on
When he sucks you deep
Sometimes you're nothing but meat


Don't say morning's come
Don't say it's up to me
If I could take twenty five minutes
Out of the record books
Sugar, he brings me Sugar

Bobby's collecting bees
And hammers, he used one on me
Cold war with little boys
Get in with a bubble gum trade and

Sugar, bring me Sugar
And all the robins bring, bring me many things but
Sugar, he brings me Sugar
As far as I can tell
I've been gone for miles now

You know, and I know I don't know me very well
And I know, and you know if they found me out
Sugar, he brings me Sugar
I know the robins bring, they bring me many things
But Sugar, he brings me Sugar

Caught a Lite Sneeze

Caught a lite sneeze,
Caught a lite breathe,
Caught a light weight lightning seed.
Boys on my left side,
Boys on my right side,
Boys in the middle,
And you're not here.
I need a big loan,
From the girl zone.

Building, tumbling down.
Didn't know our love was so small;
Couldn't stand at all.
Mr. St. John just bring your son

The spire is hot,
And my cells can't feed,
And you still got that Belle dragging your foots.
I'm hiding it well Sister Ernestine
But I still got that Belle
Dragging my foots.

Right on time you get closer and closer
Called my name but there's no way in
Use that fame
Rent you wife and kids today
Maybe she will
Maybe she will
Caught a lite sneeze
Dreamed a little dream
Made my own pretty hate machine
Boys on my left side
Boys on my right side
Boys in the middle and you're not here
Boys in their dresses
And you're not here
I need a big loan from the girl zone

I know, they're a bit messy. I wasn't about to type them all in so I pasted them from various lyric websites. Her music is wonderful, you can check it out here. I recommend Boys For Pele, Under the Pink, and Little Earthquakes. Check out the song Flying Dutchman while you're at it. It's fantastic. I'll let you know if I hear back from her.

Carolyn See and Charming Notes

Carolyn See

I recently moved and came across a postcard I received from Carolyn See. She wrote, Making a Literary Life. In the book, she recommends that a writer write 1,000 words a day (or two hours of revision) plus write a "charming note" to someone in the field they admire. My first note was to Carolyn, it was just before valentines day so I included a box of See's candy. The postcard I received from her is above. It really made me feel like I belong. Here a noted author took the time to handwrite me a note back. How wonderful! I truly get what she means. Sadly, I didn't send out any other notes. As part of my new years resolution, I plan on changing that.

I made a folder for my daily writing, printed a calendar, and even bought stickers to mark off the days where I complete my writing tasks. I haven't completed one yet, I kind of forgot how to do free-writing and forcing it was pushing me towards writer's block. Anywho, I even made some new postcards on Vista Print. What I'm going to do with this blog is let you know who I am writing and post their responses (if they write me back). I'd also like to post responses other writers who do this get.

A word to the wise on writing authors. Usually, the only address you will be able to find is through their publisher. Use to find the publisher of their latest book and do a search on google for the publisher. I used my address book on my Mac and was able to add a picture and additional information. If you are writing a magazine editor or writer, simply send it care of the the periodical. I wrote Carolyn in January, or thereabouts, and as you can see her response came in June. It takes a lot of time for publishers to forward mail, so don't get discouraged. They get tons of fan mail every day. I would recommend reading Carolyn's book first as she tells you the ins and outs of these notes. Remember to tell them why you admire them and a little bit about yourself. This isn't you pitching an idea, it's you making a contact.

I'd love to hear your results, if you wish to try these charming notes. If you want to email them to me, send a scan of the front and back to mydarkdoor(at)yahoo(dot)com. Images must be pasted into the email, I will not open attachments. I will blank out your address along with the authors so no worries there. If you admire my work and want to send me one, you can send it to Brandi Ballard, 110 Dartmouth Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80911. Please don't use this address to send junk mail. (I'm sort of between locations at the moment and this would just piss off the current occupants). Your postcard might just end up on this site.

Today I'm writing Judy Reeves, author of A Writer's Book of Days, A Creative Writer's Kit, and The Writer's Retreat Kit. I'll keep you posted. :P