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Showing posts from 2018

Reading and Writing for Success

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Not all readers desire to write, but all writers must read. Books in their genre, as well as fiction in other genres, creative nonfiction and poetry. Reading in the genre you write in is of course primary as that is how we learn what works and what doesn't work, where the trends are and which trends are being abandoned for something newer, more exciting, perhaps darker and more mysterious.


Reading in our chosen genre, which for me is romantic women's fiction and romantic suspense, helps to integrate the narrative and plot structures expected in these novels. It exposes us to new writers that we can connect with on social media and hopefully run into at writers' conferences and book signing events.

Reading outside of our genres helps enhance our skills in using language in creative and engaging ways. Poetry opens us to imaginative language as well as specificity and concision.

Presently I am reading and re-reading the Ten Poems series by Roger Housden. The poems inform my writ…

Good Writing/Bad Writing

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It was a brisk winter afternoon in Manhattan and my husband and I were spending it exploring the Museum of Modern Art, better known to Big Apple residents as MoMA. The exhibits were as diverse as the pale snowflakes falling outside and as mysterious and intriguing as the latest Nora Roberts/J. D. Robb suspense novel. Some unique exhibits even rivaled the likes of a Stephen King horror story. 

In one exhibit hall a young couple intensely stared at a huge canvas and were in deep discussion about it. I watched in fascination, wondering what the interest was in a square canvas painted all red. I just couldn't see the need to discuss, except perhaps which shade of crimson, scarlet, or burgundy the artist had used.

Now what, you might ask, does this have to do with writing. Honestly at the time I couldn't have told you. But today, several years later, it occured to me while reading the book "Fearless Writing" by William Kenower. In this book, which by the way is a juicy tidb…

The Artsy Poetessa

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I believe I was born a poet. I've been writing poems since I was able to hold a pencil and form letters. I fell in love with poetry hearing and reading nursery rhymes. My mother had a set of children's books, a thirteen volume compendium of leather covered books in shades of blue and green. I continued to read the Nursery Rhyme volume long beyond the age when I was reading chapter books and more. That was the birth of this poet. As a child I loved art also but lost that creative niche many years later. Now, in my older age I have rediscovered the pleasures of filling a page with color and shape. Of using crayons, pencils, pens, paint and many other mediums to make art. I have combined my loves of art and poetry more and more and here is a sample, honoring my declaration of becoming the Artsy Poetessa.



THE  POETESS
She sits on a soft chair of pink and green chintz in the corner of the room. Her legs curl beneath her long blue flowered dress. Her long blonde hair flows over her ri…

Writing "Looking through Windows"

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Birthing a short story collection is a challenging yet exciting endeavor. I had written many short stories, a few of them published in literary journals, and I wanted to compile them into a book. A place readers could go to read all the short stories I was so proud of. And so I began the gestation of "Looking through Windows."

The first step was to gather the stories I wanted to include in the collection. Then, despite some of them having been published. I had to read and revise them all. I had to be sure each word and each scene was perfect. Well, perfect at least in my writer's mind. Then there was the task of putting the stories in the right order. Finally I had a manuscript I could submit. I got some help designing the cover and formatting the book. Then I sought fellow writers as well as former writing teachers to write blurbs for the back cover. Each step a stone in this marvelous process of birthing a book.



https://www.amazon.com/Looking-Through-Windows-Howard-Cass…

Driving Backwards

DRIVING BACKWARDS LESSONS LEARNED IN A ‘63 CHEVY
I was sixteen years old and held a long coveted driver’s permit in my wallet. My fingers trembled as they adjusted the rear view and side view mirrors on my father’s 1963 Chevy Impala, it’s turquoise blue paint job sparkling in the sunshine of an autumn Saturday afternoon. “Start the engine,” Daddy said. I twisted the key in the ignition and the car shuddered into life. I pulled away from the curb using the proper hand signals and set off for a practice drive. At the corner I slowed for a stop sign and heard the familiar admonition from Daddy, “It says STOP, not SLOW DOWN.” But he said it good naturedly and with the hint of a chuckle. It amazed me how patient and happy he was, despite the fact that he probably hated teaching his children to drive more than anything else. He was a truck driver, and he much preferred being behind the wheel and having control of the car. Any time we went anywhere with members of the family, he insisted on doin…

Life Book Project 2018

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One month of the year is gone already, but I feel a bit accomplished for a change. Usually by now I have successfully abandoned my goals and dreams before the first of February. One of my goals for 2018 was to sign up for the Life Book Project. This is a year long series of weekly art and self development lessons presented by Tamara LaPorte. You can find information at her website www.willowing.org

Tam is a wonderful teacher and a compassionate supporter of artists and guide in self-compassionate growth. Her lessons are detailed with explanations that make it easy for an immature artist like me to follow. She has also gathered a cadre of art teachers who also present lessons in Life Book 2018. Here is my first wobbly attempt at the first lesson.

It was a challenge but I have given myself the task of pushing my artistic boundaries this year. My drawings are childish and my painting is unpolished, but for me it's about learning about the fun of the process. I know there will be classe…

A Perfect Day for Imperfect Poetry

I’m still trying, and failing, to adapt to this new climate. Still trying to acclimate to eighty degree temperatures in January. Southern California is so unlike Long Island where I made my home for sixty-seven years. But since I tend to be an optimist I see the value of being able to take a pleasant morning walk in the middle of “winter.”
This early in the morning the air is cool on my skin and the sunshine is bright and joyful. I’ve become more committed to my daily walks since I got a Fit Bit that tracks my every step and buzzes my wrist when I don’t hit my goals. But what has made my morning walks more enticing and enjoyable is my new interest in audio books. In the past I would walk silently and though I enjoyed the rustle of dry leaves and the songs of finches somehow those walks seemed boring. I would set out to resolve some life issue, or plot issue, and end up thinking mundane thoughts. Now, instead, I listen to inspirational books and poetry read by David Whyte or Mark Nepo. …

Mama's Rings

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Sometimes a writing prompt can be found right on your own hand and spiced with memories.


MAMA’S RINGS
            Mama and I sat in the VA hospital waiting room waiting for the doctor. The previous night Mama had a bout of high blood pressure with its typical headache and shortness of breath. She had gotten it down with her medication but it was time to get checked out.             Normally the wait to be seen by a medical professional at the VA was long so we had each brought a book to read but the books lay at our sides and we talked instead.             “Is there anything you want before I get rid of it?” Mama asked. She had always been a minimalist but in her late 80s she was even more determined to unload her possessions as she didn’t want to burden my brother and I with having to deal with them when she was gone. It was a sad conversation but she’d been preparing us for our parents’ deaths since I was in high school so I had become a bit inured to the topic.             “Not really,”…

Training Wheels for Writers

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We each remember the day we learned to ride a bicycle without training wheels. It was a feeling of triumph not to be believed. Finally we could venture out into the unknown on our trusted steads and see the world. 

The magic thrilled us though in the beginning it was scary to try and balance on only two wheels while steering around corners and speeding down hills. Writing is like that and so is life. 

When you write you may need training wheels in the form of craft books and magazines, a community of writers to hold you while you learn to balance, a list of prompts to get you started and perhaps some rituals and routines to ensure a daily writing habit.

Life requires training wheels as well. Some guidance to help navigate the chaotic world while keeping a balance in your daily life. Training wheels offered me a prompt for writing as I remembered back to the day I first rode my bike without training wheels.


TRAINING WHEELS
            Summer evenings stretch out like magical hours when yo…

Enter Writing

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I wake before dawn, the air cool and charcoal dark. Dreams are a quickly evaporating haze and I am surrounded by stillness. Just the way I like my days to begin. I rise and head to my writing desk with a glass of warm water, lemon juice and honey. A few sips. I light two candles; one coconut vanilla, the other a pink salt candle holder. I set the timer on my iphone for ten minutes, cradle a pink quartz crystal in the palm of my hand and meditate in the stillness of a new day holding new promises like delicate blooms in a reed basket. Soft chimes on the timer signal it is time to get to work.



I enter my writing zone trying not to predetermine what I'm going to write about. Words flow from the pen, seemingly along a direct trail from heart to hand. It might be a poem, or a childhood reminiscence. It could be a list of things I need to do, or a list of writing and art projects I want to start on. Sometimes it's a musing on the present state of affairs in my heart, my life or in th…