Monday, November 23, 2015

Writer’s Workshop 14: The Pick-Me List

During a workshop on Character Building at the Mt. SAC Writer’s Weekend led by Martin Lastrapes, we were asked to make a list of character traits to begin building our character. Then, we had to choose three of the traits and write the introduction to this character for our story.

The idea was to have details to describe the character to avoid writing flat characters. This helps add dimension to our writing. I found the exercise interesting and I liked what came out of it.

The following was the list I had and the bold type words in the paragraph are the chosen words for this character I built.

smelled nice
open-toe shoes
shoulder length hair
High School education
loyal with friends and family


She always smelled like she just stepped out of the shower, the lingering scent of soap intermingled with expensive perfume, similar to the kind you find once you step into JC PENNY’s or VICTORIA’S SECRET at the mall.

She liked the mall, but preferred outside flea markets where you could haggle the price with the vendors. She always got a fair deal, especially if a man got a glimpse of her cleavage.

It was a priority to leave the house exposing “her babies.” It was also the one trait that got her in trouble. She was never the kind to flirt or sleep with other men, but her marriage had started breaking after 30 years and when he walked into her life, she embraced it, and looked forward to their intimate meetings. Little did she know that they would be short lived…

p.s. Have a nice Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Art 7: Blue Sketch

One of the assignments in my previous art class was to sketch everywhere we went. On the bus, waiting at the park, sitting at a restaurant, etc. One of those sketches I did in blue ink using a fine point pen, then, painting over it with watercolor for shading.

This was a sketch of myself (the back) and of a friend (facing forward). The effect turned out well and I decided to share it with all of you. Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Writing Endeavors 10: Death as Metaphor Poetry

I was just notified that two of my poems were accepted and published on Jupiter Artland Foundation’s Inspired to Write Poetry and Prose Competition. The winners will be chosen on January 16th in England, but I’m entered!

There were a lot of entries to this UK poetry competition. When you visit the site, it asks that you scroll to the bottom and click on LOAD 20 MORE POSTS to get to the next ones. You have to click about three or four times to see my first poem and then, again, to see the second poem.

These were ekphrastic poems in which I choose an artwork that inspired me. I chose STROKE by Anya Gallaccio (a bench at the center of an empty room) for My Thoughts and I chose BROKEN by Jessica Harrison (porcelain statues dressed in 17th century garb who were dismembered in some way) for Porcelain Hearts.

These poems turned out to be examples of how I used death as a metaphor to write them. It was a lot of fun and I’m grateful to Jupiter Artland for accepting them. I hope you enjoy reading the other great poetry, too!

Here’s the website:

Monday, November 2, 2015

Quote 16

“Strength does not come from physical capacity.

It comes from indomitable will.”

-Jawharial Nehru

This quote reminds me of that famous adage: if there’s a will, there’s a way.

Having ‘will’ has nothing to do with how you look or how much muscle you have.

It’s about wanting to do something and doing it.

It’s about perseverance, patience, understanding, competence, love…

The strength comes from the love needed to do what is asked of us.

Sometimes, we ask ourselves to do something.

At other times, we are asked to do something.

Our physical capacity to do something might play a role in completing a task, but it does not hinder our mental capacity to figure out a way to finish it.

It’s like that jelly jar that’s so hard to open with arthritic hands.

You don’t stop because it’s impossible, you ask for help or you buy a special jar opener or you buy the jelly in another container easier to use.

If there’s a way to do something, then we will find the best way possible to do it.
You don't give up. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Why I Write 9: Just Write

I write because I must. Simple as that. I wanted to provide a more definite answer, but what it comes down to is whether I enjoy writing. Do I see myself making tons of money from all the hours I spend writing? I don’t know. Everyone wants to feel secure for the future, but I’m not going to gloat and say I’m a great writer when writing is really a craft that matures as we practice it.

I come from a background in teaching and I know how important it is to practice what you preach… to put your foot down and learn from the years prior to make the following one better. It’s a never-ending cycle to keep honing those skills necessary to do the job well. Writing is the same. You have to keep at it in order to reap the benefits. Sometimes, it takes a long time to feel those benefits, but they’re going to be there as long as we persevere.

So, let’s take some time from our busy schedules and write… write about that woman in the store… write about that man in his orange cruiser… write about the mosquitos attacking us… just write.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Short Stories & Such 21: Skeleton in your Closet - Literally

Hi everyone! Here’s a fun story just in time for Halloween. Hope you enjoy!

Skeleton in your Closet – Literally

The thumping in my head got louder and louder and I strained to open my eyes. I rose from the bed with a heavy head that could have rolled off my neck if it wasn’t that I brought my knuckles to massage my temples. I groaned. Last night’s party was such a blur. Ooh, my poor head. At least I made it back to my apartment in one piece. A good shower should help get rid of the vomit smell and, then, I could head out for some nice breakfast. Especially coffee. Lots of coffee.

I took slow steps toward the closet to see what I could wear today, but when I opened it, I screamed so loud, my ribs cracked.

“What the f**** is that?”

The skeleton just plopped itself against the closet wall. My things had been spread apart already so I could see it. The bony hands dangled on its sides and there was faint yellow coloring around its surface.

Did I put it there? I couldn’t have brought back this…. this thing. I lifted it from where it propped and I’d say it weighed less than a poodle. But, what was it doing here? Was this a prank?

Wait a minute, wait a minute. Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe this. I did know how this got here. Where’s my roommate? Where was Maggie?

Her cell kept sending me to voicemail and her Facebook page didn’t mention anything from last night.

“Hmmm… I wonder.”

I set the skeleton back against the closet’s wall and examined it further. The head of this skeleton had a slight dent on the right side of the skull. I remembered feeling Maggie’s hair when I last cut it. This had the same type of hollowness.


The skull turned toward me. Gasping, I stepped back.

The bony arms lifted up and I was suddenly in its grip.

“Maggie, wake up! Kuhhsh. It’s me, culff… Jemma.”


This short story was written back on June 26, 2012 from the Writer’s Digest prompt with the same title. You can see the original and check out any comments at

Monday, October 12, 2015

Death as Metaphor 20: Personal Poetry Reflection and Analysis II

in dreams, fear the music
moonlight darkens

Another aspect of death I use is in the prevention of it. However, this is impossible since one cannot escape death. My poetry visions of death change depending on what I feel are important in my life.
Death can be an emotional experience that crushes your heart in two. It is not the death of my body but, the death of my conscious mind, the death of losing something in me or from someone that has affected me in such a way that it feels like I am dead; the walking corpse in time that is unable to deal with the loss or pain or feeling.

John Ashbery (1981) wrote in his poem, “Paradoxes and Oxymorons,”  ( that the poem is what maps out its direction as being open-ended and intuitive writing. The poet is thus the vessel and yet, the poem is part of you, your thoughts and feelings.

I find that my poetry stems from some dark thinking as a way of expressing what’s inside me through metaphorical words of death. Sometimes I do not comprehend fully why I choose certain words to go together and how death plays out in the poem.