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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Writing Alone in a Toilet

WHERE should we write? In a friend's borrowed toilet like Jack Kerouac? That's Water Closet to you Brits, or W.C. That doesn't stand for Wayside Chapel, despite the jokes.




You could write in a Wayside Chapel or a W.C. So long as you're alone. I vould like to be alone.


  • Did you notice I changed voices three times in the first two paragraphs?
  • I emphasized ALONE, like in a borrowed toilet, preferably William Faulkner's borrowed toilet.
  • Some authors write in crowded French cafes with black ink on a pad of lined yellow paper.
  • Blue ink does it for some, or a dull pencil. Or a very sharp pencil. Or a crayon or lipstick on a mirror in William Faulkner's W.C.
  • Others in a cork lined room from midnight to dawn.
  • Get rid of the distractions. Pitch the TV onto the street. Stomp on the stereo and tear the cord from your MP3 player.
  • Music sometimes helps the muse, I'm told. Choose your own poison.
  • I write alone in front of a colored 21" screen. Virginia Woolf had a room of her own.
  • So do I.
  • Where should we write? Under a rainbow, by a window, in a library kiosk, on a bench in a busy shopping mall, in Portugal, under a magnolia tree which sheds blossoms like pink rain into our novel?
  • Ultimately, like Ernest Hemingway said, we should write in our heads.
WHEN we should write is the subject of my next blog post. Time out, stay tuned, keep warm.
Thursday, March 29, 2012

The King: the Ghost, a Princess, and a Robot, a Dark Night and a Nightingale

Their father was a ghost in 1971, died in a motorcycle crash that year. She was 10 months old and a princess who loved her father, the King. He was three years old and there was a robot in the garage. Years later, when the little boy was 43 years old, his mother bought him a robot pencil sharpener that walked and held the pencil. Years later, when the little girl turned 40, her mother bought her a wine bottle with her name on it.

The King remained a ghost who haunted them because he wasn't there, had never been there, and waited in their minds to ambush all strangers.

Someone wrote a blog yesterday on despair. The Grocers of Despair, as though we were fed despair by an outside agency. Blame is endemic in the world. Where is the spirit of independence and liberty; free thinking?

The princess and the robot boy do not blame. They laugh together and are witty and bright. They despair in silence. 

"Invictus" is one of the best known poems of despair in the English language. Does anyone know the lovely, joyful poem that follows, by the same author?

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley 

The Nightingale Has A Lyre Of Gold

The nightingale has a lyre of gold,
The lark's is a clarion-call,
And the blackbird plays but a boxwood flute,
But I love him best of all.

For his song is all of the joy of life,
And we in the mad, spring weather,
We two have listened till he sang
Our hearts and lips together.


William Ernest Henley

Image by Vlado, FreeImagesPhoto.net
The Queen, the Princess, and the Robot Boy waited until it got better. As it always does.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I'm an angry Cougar (NOT) and NOT a Crone : a DARE by Liz Weinmann





I was one of those women who DARED. I divorced an abusive husband and left with the clothes on my back in 1986/87.

I struggled to support myself and two children after a diagnosis of schizophrenia in 1978.

Motorbikes and Mustang in parking lot behind my building
I went to University and obtained a B.A. with Distinction (1975) after my first husband was killed in a motorcycle crash. He left me with two infant children to raise and a generous insurance settlement that showed how much he cared about taking care of his family even beyond the grave.

★I started my own successful home based medical transcription company in 1999 at the age of 54 after many years of working for others.

★I began to get articles, poetry, and a play published two years ago, at the age of 65, and continue writing today.

★My first book, a young adult/middle reader Sci Fi novel, will be published this summer.

★I've finished a 110,000 word anthology of three horror novellas gleaned in some fashion from unsuccessful novels I've written over the past 30 years.

Yes, we could all use some DARE!

The following excerpt is taken from Liz Weinmann's new book, "Get DARE From Here!". It's available on Amazon.

Here's what Liz has to say about it. You can visit her on her website and find out why North Americans don't PLAY enough, either! A remarkable woman.
 
We Could We Could All Use Some Fresh DARE!
For sure, many women over 40 think about going back to college,
or becoming mothers again (or for the first time), or leaving
a corporate job for something more fulfilling. Many of them
want to venture out from the empty nest. Many need to go
back to work for the first time in many years. Some of them are
anxious; others are outright terrified. Maybe they lack the right
encouragement, empowerment and exchange with like-minded
women.
Could it be they’re discouraged, even disgusted, by epithets
about women over 40 that in any other context would smack of
profiling? How many idiotic refrains of name-calling — whether
cougars, cobras, drones, or crones — do we need to hear before
we start to believe that’s what we are? Why do myths persist
that more women over 40 obsess about being dumped, stumped
or trumped, than positive examples about those who DARE to
figure out how to move on to bigger and better opportunities?
Let’s call an END to the myths! Let’s call an END to the
biases! Let’s call an END to the stereotypes! In fact, we have
no choice, because the recession that began in 2008 issued
new mandates to millions of female baby-boomers and Gen-X
women, as follows:
• We are the first generation of women who will need to
continue working well past traditional retirement age.
• We are the first generation who will divorce our spouses in
greater numbers than any generation before us.
• We are the first generation of women who can and will
choose alternative lifestyles, independent of the financial
support of any life partner.
• In addition, the statistics persist that most women will still
outlive their male partners — many of whom have been
forced into early retirement with fewer financial resources
than they had hoped.
Friday, March 23, 2012

The Mother of All Scams or Advice to People Starting Out, by Lara White and Kenna


This week's blogpost is borrowed from Lara White, who responded beautifully to a Twitter outburst this week. I agree completely with Lara, and would add that as an author I've seen many wannabe writers fall for the trap of no work no revisions no editing no critique in regard to their work, also they expect in return fame and fortune without the patience, perseverance, talent, and yes, good luck required.

I find this in my personal business as well. I've had a successful home based medical transcription business since March 1999, 13 years now, but it took four or five years to get off the ground and all my savings, as well as working from 8 am to midnight every night for the first few years, and working outside the home for two to three days a week as well to make ends meet at first. Now I'm okay, but I'm always amazed at the women (and men) who call me and tell me they'd like to work from home, too, and they'd like to work in their pajamas until noon, and how do I do it?


They ask for advice but they don't really want advice. They want me to tell them they're right and they can do it. Well, they can't. It takes hard work and you make very little money. They're probably comparing themselves to an entrepreneur like Bill Gates, whom I suspect they want to emulate without his hard work and brains. Education, experience, training, and again -- good luck.

Here's Lara's take on it. I subscribe to Lara's e-newsletter and admire this photographer for her guts, good business instincts, creativity, and nose for Truth.



Why I Started PhotoMint

After yesterday’s twittersphere blowup I decided today would be a good day to reflect on and share why I started PhotoMint. I never really intended to share this with you, because I prefer to be a positive person and not get caught up in negativity. But I feel compelled to share.

I’ve been a wedding photographer for 10 years. I don’t know everything about wedding photography and I probably never will-but I do know a lot of things that can be helpful to people just starting out. My passion is business and marketing. I have always loved that side of the business, more than the photography.

I found that this passion and excitement for business and marketing within the world of photography was quite uncommon. Most photographers are artists first and foremost, and they spend years struggling with the business side of things. Slowly, over time, I realized I could help people with that side of their business. In fact, it hurts not to. It hurts me to see young, passionate people blindly pursuing a hobby as a business with no business skills whatsoever.

I was actually resistant to the idea of teaching and educating about photography business for a long time. I have concerns about the viability of our industry and the direction it is going in. I also happen to be in the minority opinion that passion alone does not pay the bills.

But I was also more and more concerned about the type of advice and leadership I saw out there from so called “educators” who were on stage talking about “how awesome it is to make $10,000 per wedding and you could do it too if you just believe in yourself!!!!”

I saw more and more incidents of hyped up workshops taught by photographers in business a year or so, ready to share all their “Insider tips for making it big” with the world for $1,500 a pop. What were they going to teach???? Did they really feel qualified to lead others at this point in their career? I’m not sure what their motivation was, but it seems that the photography industry itself has taken a nasty turn towards Kardashian-like celebrity, and that in some ways our industry supports the idea that being a famous photographer is the goal itself.


When you first start out in wedding photography, you may have a lot of mis-conceptions about the earning power of a wedding photographer. With so many people on stage at WPPI in their Louboutins and Versace jeans sharing with hundreds or thousands about their success in just a few years (or one year!) and having a party/workshop in their penthouse suite it is easy to get false impressions. And when those people on stage are telling you that “You are Amazing!!!” it is easy to believe that all you have to do is slap together a website, start charging $10,000 per wedding and you will soon be on your way to wealth and riches, following your passion and living a glamorous lifestyle.

I have seen it so many times. In fact, I fell for it myself. I remember being in a workshop at WPPI being taught by the rockstar photographer of the moment that everyone said was so inspiring. He shared about his amazing success and how he was able to keep raising his prices to $10,000 per wedding and was now charging even more than that. He highlighted the glamour and made it look easy. I never thought to ask how many weddings he actually, regularly shoots at that rate. I was too impressed. I assumed he meant he got that for every wedding and probably shot 30-40 weddings at that rate. I should have asked.

I remember sitting there actually thinking-”OK, so $10,000 times 30 weddings- this sounds like an awesome career, I’m in!!!”

Of course, as I got older and wiser in this industry, I began to realize there was a lot of B.S. being shared. False information, inflated facts and figures. Nowadays, I recognize them all the time. When you have 10 years perspective as a high end photographer, you know what’s real and what’s fake.

I remember years back reading this magazine article in Rangefinder or Professional Photographer featuring a destination photographer I know. In the interview, he said his destination fees began at $20,000 per wedding. I was infuriated to see that in print when I knew it was an outright lie. Those that knew him knew he was approaching local industry pros getting married in exotic locations and offering to shoot their weddings free. Just to build his portfolio. Which is fine-if he loves to travel the world and live frugally, then more power to him. But to flat out lie and claim that every wedding he was charging $20,000 was gross negligence. It absolutely disgusted me. I wondered how many people reading that article would be inspired to quit their day jobs and “follow their dreams” right into bankruptcy. It’s like lemmings going over a cliff; they don’t know what’s coming, they just blindly follow.

It’s really sad and deeply disturbing to see how prevalent this trend is in our industry. Even vendors such as print labs and album makers happily jump on board to sponsor a newbie photographer’s workshop on their “amazing success.” Newbie photographers thought that someone was vetted because an industry leader backed them. Makes sense, right? I can imagine the heartbreak and disgust of wasting your entire years’ worth of educational budget on a total crock of sh*t from someone who’s only real goal is to “get famous” and get on the speaking circuit as soon as possible.

Advice such as “you can make it happen!!!!” and just “go for your dreams” without a solid understanding of what you are doing is irresponsible. But the truth is, that’s what gets people clapping. That’s what people want to hear. Do you see the accounting classes at PPA filled with thousands of eager young photographers? No, they’d rather get inspired by how “Amazing!!!!” they can be, and how next year, they too could be rolling up to WPPI in a limo, staying in a suite and “rocking it” on stage with their new found success. So in that respect, it’s kind of a catch twenty-two.

What people don’t seem to understand is that what you earn as a photographer is not what your studio earns or grosses. If your studio earns $100,000 you are lucky if 35% of that goes into your pocket. This is the truth. It’s not glamorous, and it doesn’t afford you Versace jeans, limos to the hotel and a penthouse suite. But you can put it on your credit card, along with all the other expenses of running a business.

It’s not very sexy to say you earn $35,000, so instead, people twist the truth and say they earned 6 figures-in their first year, wow! It’s so amazing! And here’s my course/workshop/guide to how you can do it too! They hype it up. Because honestly, would you be as interested in the $900 workshop taught by the guy/gal who wants to share their secrets for earning $35,000 a year and works 60-80 hours a week to do it? Not so much.

After hearing these workshop disasters more and more, I realized that I could do something. I could make a stand for real business education. It was time to put up or shut up. So I started PhotoMint. At first I was skeptical that anyone wanted real business advice. Business advice is not very sexy and it certainly isn’t glamorous. I’m personally not a fan of the “follow your passion and it will happen because YOU are amazing!!” type of cheerleading. I think that’s false and misleading. “Yes, follow your passion, but let’s figure out how you can feed your family while doing so” is more my motto.

Would anyone care to read what I had to say if it wasn’t hyped up and full of false hope, excitement and cheerleading?

I thought long and hard about the type of advice I would be sharing on PhotoMint. By putting myself out there as a leader and an educator, I feel a tremendous responsibility to give honest and real advice about the highs and lows of being a professional photographer. This industry is not for everyone. I believe that if someone is properly educated they can make a decision for themselves if it is right for them.

To me, that means having an understanding of the financial possibilities and realities as well as the deeper purpose and fulfillment that comes from doing something you love.

I don’t believe in the “all you need is love” mentality. I believe that being a professional photographer is typically hard work and long hours for minimal pay. So yeah, you better love it. But learn how to run a solid business, learn marketing skills, learn how to sell and earn a profit. That way you can do what you love AND earn a living, even if it is a modest one.

I have been incredibly surprised by the tremendously positive response from PhotoMint-started just over six months ago. I am delighted and encouraged that people are interested to receive hype-free advice and education about how to build a solid business based on smart business and marketing.

One thing I promise you is that I will never exaggerate or inflate numbers. I believe in honesty, openness and sharing, and I’m proud of what I have accomplished without inflating the truth. I believe that people need to hear the good and the bad about working in a field so they can decide for themselves if it is right.

So what are the future plans for PhotoMint? To continue providing quality education and rock-solid advice for photographers about running a business. Much of that advice will be shared freely on the blog; some of it will be available for a fee such as ebooks and webinars that go deeper into a subject.
I started PhotoMint because I felt a responsibility and a calling to provide solid, hype-free education for photographers who want to pursue their passion AND earn a living at the same time.

The goal of PhotoMint is to educate photographers about how to run their businesses. That is the reason I started PhotoMint, and that is what I will continue to do. Here are the promises I make to you, today:

1. I promise to never lie to you.
2. I promise not to lead you astray with hyped up claims and exaggerations of success.
3. I promise to provide honest feedback and gentle guidance, even if it isn’t what you want to hear.
4. I promise to act responsibility as a leader and to take your trust seriously.

So, if your goal is to become one of these so called rockstar photographers or to get rich quick, then PhotoMint is not for you. But if your goal is to turn your passion for photography into a viable long term business, or to improve your existing business, then you’re in the right place. I can’t promise you success, but chances are, if you consistently work at improving your business, applying my advice when appropriate to your business, you will see consistent improvement, and in a matter of months and years (sorry, not hours or days), you will wake up one day to a business you can be proud of, that feeds your family consistently and maybe even gives you a vacation or two.

Are you with me?

When I'm Published and the Ol' Beehive has landed

Nobody gets rich and famous from one book. An author has a better chance of winning the lottery or striking the moon in the eye than becoming self sufficient from their fiction.

My publisher sent me the ARC PDF of the Jive Hive yesterday and it's lookin' good. We're working on getting blurb reviews from published authors or reviewers, just 1 - 2 sentences like this thriller will make you vomit on your Mercedes Benz, except better than that, just how the ARC strikes the emotions of the reviewer.

Two very fine friends who are published authors have agreed to send me a sentence or two. I've contacted a couple of very well known published authors who probably will ignore me, but you never know. When I'm famous I won't ignore little beginning authors, will I? I hope not but when I'm famous I might be too busy and important to bother with what might be hundreds of requests. I understand, James and Jeremy.

Meanwhile, we're working on the cover. It's a secret but it's going to be so much fun. The Ol' Beehive will land in a few months, maybe sooner, and thank you, Al the Ghostman, and Phil the Wishful Dreamer, and Lee the Karate Kid III.

Let's roll, fellow authors! and especially our readers.

Tomorrow a blog post idea from Alan Place, master of ghost stories and the Pat Canella Connection. What say, Phil and Lee, what's next?
Saturday, March 17, 2012

Twisting the Plot with Ghosts, Mike Hammer, and Bee Tigers

My friend Al Ghostman Place just sold 8 copies of his Pat Canella book and he's chuffed. He said he did it by twisting the Mike Hammer plot with some of his ghostly inventions.

Sometimes a small twist will make a big difference.

  • Use what you're best at
  • Twist it
  • Use a tried and true formula and twist it
  • Write what interests you
  • Write what you know and what you'd like to know
  • Know the rules and bend them
  • Know the rules and break them
  • Write and edit edit edit
  • Listen to the experts but use your own voice
  • Don't be too proud to take advice
  • Build a platform
Al has done all these things. I'm trying to listen to my very wise publisher, Cheryl Tardif (like Dr. Who) from Imajin Books, and also use my own intelligence and intuition eventually...Cheryl, I will do that! Be prepared, you've launched a Bee tiger.

INTERVIEW WITH KENNA BY ALAN PLACE

I would like to welcome my friend Kenna McKinnon from Edmonton in Alberta to the chair today. Hello Kenna.
You and I have been chatting a while, but for those new to your work, would you please be kind enough to give us a short resume' of your new book please?

Sure, Al. My new book is a young adult SF (science fiction) called JIVE HIVE. It's about an invasion of giant alien bees and wasps and a young boy who saves the world, using music and his own ingenuity.

I'll give you a resume taken from my author blog, www.kennamckinnon.blogspot.com as follows:

In both ebook and trade paperback formats, JIVE HIVE will appeal to SF readers of all ages, with a special nod to middle readers/young adults who like Pixar-like action and, more especially, the appeal of adventure and youth.

Massive intelligent Bees, under the direction of a dreadful Wasp General, migrate to Earth in a ship called Skyhive on a mission to kill humanity. An intrepid fourteen-year-old boy by the name of Jason Anderson is kidnapped by one of the aliens. The friendly Bee keeps him as her pet in the Skyhive.

Meanwhile, the nations of the world are losing the battle with the giant Bees. The military takes charge and bombs the Skyhive with nuclear weapons. The area is devastated and the Skyhive moves to India. Two of the worker aliens befriend Jason. Jason discovers that music fascinates the aliens. The Bees revolt and jail the Wasp General and Queen. The Bees frolic on the plains. Jason meets a fellow freedom fighter, Aadab Ali, on the plains of India.

Together they bring the war to its exciting climax.


Your biography said you are from Ontario but live in Alberta, do you still have family in Toronto? If so which part of the country do you prefer, if any?

I was born in Toronto, Ontario but consider myself a westerner, Al. I was six weeks old when my mother brought me west to the Peace River Country. My father was a soldier and my mother a nurse. They met during WWII when my father was stationed in Ontario. I was raised on a small family farm near Dawson Creek, B.C. I suppose I prefer the west because it's all I know. In reality, I think I would prefer to live in British Columbia, although I presently have lived in Alberta for most of my life. When I was 18 years old my young husband and I moved to Oklahoma City, USA to live for about three years. We moved back home to Alberta in 1967 and settled in Edmonton. I've lived here ever since. I'd like to travel more, though.

I see you have a degree in Anthropology, with a minor in Psychology. What was it that drew you to this area?

When we lived in Oklahoma City I took an evening course in introductory Anthropology and was fascinated by the theories and also by the concept of other cultures and a different way of looking at life. I would say that's what drew me to majoring in Anthropology. Psychology? I also took some Psych courses after I graduated, with a view to possibly majoring in Psychology for another degree. I would say I was interested in Psychology because I'm crazy myself and wanted to understand myself and the human condition, ha. Most people who major in Psych seem to have some sort of problem. You don't have to mention that, Al, but I don't mind.

Not many people know, but you have read my ghost stories, Kenna. I can now see the attraction for you. Being a student of Psychology how did they come over?

Oh, I thought your ghost stories are mainly psychological in impact, not a lot of blood and gore, you know what I mean. I thought they were excellent as they are sympathetic also to the ghosts. Very well done, Al.

As this is your breakthrough into published works, how do you feel? Is it as exciting as getting your degree?

Oh, yes, it's more exciting than getting my degree. I wasn't as excited about my degree, although getting my degeree was a feeling of satisfaction, but then I had to decide what to do with my life from there. Now there's a future (perhaps) in writing and being published, and it's very exciting.

If Jive hive goes well, do you have a follow up book planned?

Not in that genre. I've been working on a follow up book, though, an adult horror anthology of three horror novellas. It's finished and I'm editing it, soon to be submitted to a publisher. It's called Circle of Devils.

As a soon to be published author, what part of the trade did you find most frustrating, Kenna?

Trying to find a traditional publisher, I guess, Al, since self publishing never entered my mind. Also the promotion will be frustrating. I'm basically an introvert and find promotion a bit intimidating.

Did you have to ask many publishers, before you got accepted?

Not with this particular book. I was very fortunate to find Cheryl at Imajin Books. She worked with me on it until it was acceptable. I feel very fortunate to have found her, through an on-line correspondent who was already her client.

Are there any genres you would like to try to write but feel you cannot?

Yes, I feel I cannot write historical fiction or romance well, but I'd like to try my hand at it some day.

I tend to write cross-genre, have you any thoughts on moving genre, Kenna, or will you keep to Young Adult novels?

No, the Young Adult novel came about as a suggestion from my publisher, who read The Jive Hive and advised me it wouldn't be suitable for adults. I prefer to write for adults, I think. I'm still learning. A friend and I have also written a children's chapter book called Benjamin and Rumblechum. I do write cross genre, Al.

Who would you say was your biggest influence?

My father.

Would you say you had been influenced by the work of authors, if so who? Or was it the genre that drew you?

I think perhaps Stephen King. It was basically the genre that drew me, though. My father loved SF and my son likes it as well. I've read a lot of SF earlier in my life, like the old masters, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and so on. I also have been reading current authors I meet on LinkedIn and so on recently, and I would say I'm influenced by them as well, for instance, Alex Laybourne and yourself, Al.

Kenna have you suffered writers block? Is so how did you get past it?

Yes, I have, and I got through it by putting the book down for awhile and then I simply started writing nonsense (which turned out to be quite a lot of swearing!). It eventually broke the block and I wrote 4,000 words that night. There's a post on writer's block on my blog.
http://kennamckinnon.blogspot.com/2012/02/carpe-diem-crap-breaks-writers-block.html

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of writing a book?

If you love writing and are a writer, you will have written all your life, and you'll do it not for money but for love. If you want to write a book look at the advice of good writers and make a plan, get a book on style, sit yourself down and write. I don't really have any advice, Al. Everyone is so different. I notice there's a lot of self published books out there, so not everyone has to please anyone but themselves. But I would strongly advise getting a good professional editor and spend a lot of time editing your book once it's done. The great writers did and do that and there's no reason why you have to consider yourself so great that you don't have to edit or listen to criticism. We're all learners. That's all, Al.

Before we leave,Kenna. Is there anything you think I have left out?

No, except something that's important to me, Al, that I was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1978 after being ill since 1975 (when I graduated from University with Distinction in 1975). I have a successful home based medical transcription business since 1999 which pays my bills, also I'm a senior and the seniors pensions OAS and CPP are very helpful. This enables me to write and support myself. I try to be an advocate for mental illness and have a blog www.kenna-differentfolks.blogspot.com advocating for the mentally ill.

I thank you, Kenna, for your time in answering the questions.

Can you please give us an excerpt of your book, Kenna?

From the first chapter of The Jive Hive:


Earth is in danger. From venom-dripping plains on a planet called Jive Hive in another star system, jealous eyes gaze toward our Sun. Black compound eyes which peer without compassion as though we were flies caught on sticky paper ready for the fire.
A 12-year-old youth named Jason Anderson tosses his long red hair on a sodden pillow and moans. His father is a scientist who works for the Canadian government and his mother is pregnant. He and his parents live in Creston, British Columbia. Jason doesn't want a new little brother or sister. Most of all he wants independence and freedom from control. He gets neither. Until that moonlit night when the dancing alien takes him--but the story begins ten years before.


Also please feel free to add any links you choose.

Oops, I put links into my answers, Al.

http://kennamckinnon.blogspot.com/
http://kenna-differentfolks.blogspot.com/

Kenna Mary McKinnon (www.kennamckinnon.blogspot.com) is a freelance writer and self-employed medical transcriptionist who lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. My young adult SF book, The Jive Hive, will be published by Imajin Books in summer/fall 2012. My articles have been published in numerous journals including WestWord, SZ Magazine, BP Magazine, Audience Magazine, Alberta Caregiver and Edmonton Senior, among others. Some of my poetry and a stage play I wrote was published by Audience Magazine. A poem was recently published in Ascent Aspirations. Although my degree is in Anthropology (with a minor in Psychology), I’ve spent my life writing. I enjoy exploring the psychology of the human condition, especially when the accompanying human is dropped into complex and unusual circumstances. I have lived successfully with schizophrenia for many years.


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Neil Simon and Writer's Block

How do you solve writer's block?

There are ways. Leave the work for a few days. Go for a walk. Have a drink. Read a different genre or listen to rock and roll. Or classical music. Sit down and type anything. Then go with it.

There are great ebooks to help. I've downloaded several, such as from amazon.com: 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts: Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More by Cohen, Bryan

All of which help me to cut the tie that binds my mind. Make your fingers fly with new ideas.

Write about something else.

Write poetry.

Look at my previous blog on crap, crap, carpe diem and writer's block.

Neil Simon, on the other hand, says go to your desk and sit there for eight hours a day, think about your world, you don't have writer's block, you're not at your desk. I don't know if it's that simple. But check this out on Writer's Block.
Monday, March 5, 2012

Research on Bees and Wasps and its Relevance

Research is easier than ever of course, everyone knows that, using the wonderful invention of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and thousands of other brilliant programmers and entrepreneurs working behind the scenes. 


I remember writing my first book in 1982, a nondescript semi-autobiographical novel called And Ye Shall Be As Gods, and the research involved in that. I purchased books about Greece, ancient Greece, visited libraries and travel agencies for airline schedules and descriptive brochures about Greece, asked family members about the particular location in B.C. in which the book was set, made copious notes on lined yellow foolscap, and emerged with what I considered a masterpiece. My unethical agent charged me $200 to consider it a masterpiece, too, and it didn't go anywhere.


Enter the 21st Century and research on the web. Caution is advised as many sites, including Wikipedia, are driven by amateurs who may or may not have factual information. 


Enter my soon to be published book The Jive Hive. Research on bees and wasps involved a few keywords, a lot of time, and much interest finally in the Apian Way. Let it be said that I took some liberties with the genuine lives of bees and wasps here on earth, and transposed the knowledge I gained to an alien species, with some modifications. I did learn that Wasps are not Bees and that led to some changes in the context of The Jive Hive and the relevance of its two distinct Apian species on board the Skyhive.


I like research because I learn so much. I like to write fantasy and horror because I have so much freedom to invent and write what I want. But still, some facts are certainly necessary.