Monday, December 30, 2013

Writer’s Workshop 4: Message Prompt

The following writing prompt was handed down to me during a workshop. I went ahead and extended it to include ‘hesitation’ and a title. Use it to form some specific details about this character. Let’s end the year with a short paragraph/story/beginning of a novel =) Good luck!


A Pointless Game of Fetch

A young woman has been waiting by the phone for a while. She hesitates in picking up the phone. Is she calling someone important? She dials and the answering machine picks up. She leaves a voice message. What is that message?

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Books I’m Reading 6

Hot Iron by Elmer Kelton deals with a troubleshooter who lands a job on a Texas ranch as its new manager, but he runs into an illegal cattle stealing operation. The author had some great description for the characters. A great read.

Dust ‘n’ Bones: Ten Ghost Stories and Fangs ‘n’ Fire: Ten Dragon Tales by Chris Mould. These two books are filled with adaptations and illustrations of haunting short stories, including The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Eyeless Dragon.

A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind: The poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton edited by Ben Estes and Alan Felsenthal. If you’re used to rhyming poetry, then this collection will throw you into a loop. It’s different. It’s interesting. It makes you think of poetry’s flexibility in expressing ourselves.

 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Death as Metaphor 6

As was previously mentioned on the October 21, 2013 post Death as Metaphor 5, Charles Darwin had a theory for evolution. In his studies, we see how writing is finding new meaning just like the learning of different species and as humans evolved, so has the mode of communication.

Music, language, art, writing, and poetry are some of these ways. They are symbolic of ideas we want communicated. Most of the time, the changes are useful and influence other forms. For example, poetry has changed in its form throughout time. We are changing ways to represent meaning as Denise Levertov wrote in “Some Notes on Organic Forms” (1965) (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/essay/237852?page=2)

Everything has an organic form that the poet tries to reveal and discover, whether it be emotional experiences or sensory forms. These differences are seen in poems that reveal how we deal with death. Death may be represented as an actual event or a symbol for a loss of something important. Death’s meaning changes as it is used for many purposes in a poet’s writing.

Charles Darwin’s great-great granddaughter, Ruth Padel, wrote a poetic biography about Darwin’s life and thoughts in “A Childhood Remembered.” She says that “poetry is fierce, precise, and exact. It is not vague or loose or witty.” This explanation plays an important role in what Padel was trying to accomplish with writing Darwin’s life in the form of poetry. Poetry has a way to get the reader to react emotionally. Her explanation also answers the need for poets to write about death. It is the emotional expression that evokes a reaction from the reader that allows for such writing. As time moves on, so does the multiple meanings attached to death.

Padel reads some of her Darwin poems at http//darwin.britishcouncil.org/audio_video

Everything is evolving around us- even Death is an inevitable change. Darwin’s curiosity about life evolving and adapting over time influenced his theory of evolution. His theory also helps us understand the changes we go through in our lives or how we adapt to someone’s death. Similarly, Adrienne Rich wrote in 1971 in her poem, “Planetarium” line 26 and 27 (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175906): “What we see, we see [line break] and seeing is changing.”

As such, Death means many things and it goes through changes as it is used for many purposes in a poet’s writing.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Quote 5


“In time of difficulties, we must not lose sight of our achievements.”

by Mao Tse-tung

 
Okay, this is what I got from this quote:

-be consistent

-be patient

-reward yourself for any little step closer to goal

-exercise your mind and body
 
Hmm... maybe I should post this where I could see it!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Why I Write 3: Enjoy your Craft

I’ve been busy revising and editing my YA novel and I wondered whether one would ever get tired of draft after draft after draft. This is probably my third draft (or is it fourth?) and I have to say I like the story even more. That means I enjoy what I’m doing and I can’t wait to get it done so readers can enjoy it, too.

If you run across many drafts of your own and the ‘joy’ is drained out of you, then, it’s time to think about what exactly is causing you to feel that way.

If the changes you’re making don’t make the story better, stop and put it away for a while (a week? a month?).

If you’re having trouble deleting certain scenes, stop and put it aside.

Maybe a second opinion other than your own will open your eyes. I know I have taken scenes out of my novel to keep the pace and plot consistent after hearing others give me feedback.

If it doesn’t move the story along, discard it.

If you love the story, put it away and get to other writing. Maybe something will click while working on something else to get you back on track.

The main thing is that you keep writing in some way.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Pet News 5: Holidays and your Pet

Now that we’re approaching the Holiday Season, it’s always good to take into account your pet.

They also feel the excitement and stress of the holidays. Any changes can have them regress to earlier episodes of undesirable behavior.

Keep in mind that dogs need reassurance as much as discipline that things are okay. Let them know you haven’t forgotten their daily walks and feeding times.

Sometimes, the changes we make are sudden, so remember that your pet can read your body language. (This one's the biggy!) 

Let the joy of the holidays fill your home with love and peace and your pet will appreciate the skill in which you cater to their needs with much loyalty and enthusiasm. (Note that no pet is perfect=) 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Writing Endeavors 6: Writing as an Island or Journey?

I always thought that after you finished writing a novel it concluded my working on it. That it was time to celebrate and start submitting to different publications, agents, editors, publishers. It’s a good thing I started reading about the profession and realized it took more than just getting words on a page to flow.

Writing is a lot of work: you have to edit, revise, rewrite, cut, paste, get feedback, read it backwards, read it aloud, etc. etc. etc.

But one thing I found unfair in the writing biz was how… with all the mix of self-publishing and traditional publishing, the writer was left to deal with promotion on their own.

First of all, does that make sense? Writing is a lonely occupation (sitting around a computer all day constitutes lonely). One could be on their ‘island’ for more than eight years, and then, be told to go public (or have started on the road to it). Shouldn’t there be more help with promotion? After all, writers want to write. No wonder a lot of writers end up selling e-books and promoting them on their website and other social media.

Of course, it should not deter you from completing a novel. There are things we do to get ahead and be noticed. So, cheers for arriving at the promotion stage. There’s only one way to go now. If only I could get off my island, I would join you!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Quote 4


“In time of difficulties, we must not lose sight of our achievements.”
by Mao Tse-tung
 

The Holidays are quick approaching and one usually starts to think about what has been accomplished in the year.

There are many things we have done to make the year worthwhile, and there are many people that have tagged along with us to make us smile. But when it comes down to it, we tend to focus on the things we didn’t get done or don’t have. I’m guilty of this thought, too.

I look at the two novels I’m working on and ask myself, why haven’t I finished? Why haven’t I landed an agent? Why are there still chapters to edit? And I have to stop myself from pulling my hair and look at what Mao Tse-tung said: how many people can say they completed two novels and are editing them? How many poems have I written this year? Is my family well? Do I have a place to rest my head? Is my car still ticking?

Instead of dwelling on the negative, let’s come up with a plan to continue building on those small achievements that make our trek to become an author, etc. appealing. I’ve started a list for myself:

-be consistent

-be patient

-reward yourself for any little step closer to your goal

-and exercise your mind and body (really trying on this one!)

Go ahead, stop looking at the broken plate, or chipped nail (or whatever it might be), and start celebrating those little steps!

 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Writer’s Workshops 3: Killer Letter

I like writing workshops where the presenter discusses a strategy and gives ideas on writing. I especially like it when they provide plenty of time to write on the spot and then writers get to share their first drafts.

I had written my first draft of Killer Letter on Writer’s Digest and then, revised it for the Nightmares Anthology in October. As you look for my poem, you’ll see a great collection of poems from various authors whose creativity on the subject really made this past Halloween worthwhile.

So, now that the festivities are over, you may find some time to browse at them at


 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Short Stories & Such: Monster Prompt


To be in tune with the festivities, I started writing the following description for a short story.

The idea was to describe the way your character looked like. You had to take a monster and describe them in as much detail as possible. Then, use that information in a short story. Go ahead and try it.

 
The Monster Pumpkin hatched in an open field engrossed with vines. The vines intertwined from the year’s harvest. It cracked an eye open and out oozed globs of seeds, leaving a teary-lined mess that wouldn’t wipe off. The other eye remained closed. Stitched together and crinkling to form a cyst-like mound, black as charcoal. Its lips parted in slanted crests until it could muster his name: E-lio. The sinister echo was heard throughout the pumpkin patch until it reached the groundkeeper’s legs. Shaking, his lungs filled with air, and his heart pounded with the rhythm of the monster.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Death as Metaphor 5


Writing, Poetry, and Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

 
“A man who dares to waste one hour of time
has not discovered the value of life.”
- Charles Darwin

Change is inevitable.  

Death is an inevitable change; a process of dealing with it to get an end result. Similar to a patchwork quilt in which each patch corresponds to the evolving pattern, so is the evolution of a species in which each organism works and grows in relation to others. The change we find in death has to do more with people witnessing death and dying, even how we adapt to death and cope. Though, other organisms vary in the way they mourn death.  

It was Charles Darwin’s curiosity that led him to become a Naturalist and study his theory of evolution. Just like a tinkerer who is curious about how things work, Darwin was curious about life in terms of living organisms evolving and adapting over time. The quote above explains the need to be actively engaged. This engagement goes toward all things such as in writing, research, art, etc. to feed the curiosity about nature. This directs one to think that literature writers, especially poets, must be engaged to discover new meanings.  

The quote also runs parallel to why death can be used as a metaphor. One cannot escape death--whether it comes naturally or not, but one can also create it inside of them. One can become ‘dead’ if they do not actively participate in their life.

Through comparing and contrasting, Charles Darwin analyzed his findings about variation and selection. Similarly, a reader analyzes poetry and other forms of writing by adapting to the style, form, and one’s ideas. Eventually, these ideas are influenced by what is read, and they evolve over time. Looking at an idea from different angles to try and make sense, such as Darwin did in his research, paves the way to writing as research, too.
 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pet News 4: Dogs vs. Cats


“Dogs come when they are called; cats take a message and get back to you.”
by Mary Bly
 

I ran into this quote and couldn’t help but smile. Having multiple pets myself, I could see how this came about.

Cats do tend to take their sweet time when called. It doesn’t mean they’d never get to you. It’s just that they have to get in the moment of things. They might be busy taking a nap or grooming themselves before they acknowledge you, but rest assured they will seek you out for company.

Whereas a dog usually loves the attention, they tend to live in the moment. They can’t wait for you to take them on a walk or play with them. Dogs want to please you. Of course, there are times when they are involved in barking that they forget their name… but let’s not digress.

This quote also got me to thinking about being a writer.

When I write, I am most like a cat, focused on the task in front of me. If I lose this focus, I may not get the muse back. You have to hand it to cats… they’re onto something.

When I am ready to share my work with the world, I am most like a dog, seeking approval and correction to improve my craft.

Next time you call your pet, think about what a great thing it is to be different… or having similar attributes as a cat or dog=).

 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Quote 3


“The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”
by Peter Drucker

This quote got me thinking about writing details. In writing, you have to SHOW a lot of what’s going on in a scene. This way, the reader can picture the images in their head. Of course, you shouldn’t go overboard and describe everything in great detail. You have to be selective. For example,

The dog ate.

The brown dog ate.

The brown dog ate fast.

The brown dog ate carrots fast.

The chestnut brown dog ate extremely fast.

The chestnut brown dog ate carrots extremely fast.

As you can see (besides it being pretty mediocre), I begin to add way too many adjectives and adverbs that aren’t necessary to the sentence or to what’s going on.

Always add details that serve a PURPOSE to the story. If my story is about the neighbor’s dog during dinner, then I have to decide what’s important to the scene and for the reader to know.

Being selective comes in handy when editing your writing. I know I’m finding it a little difficult. You tend to love what you write, but a good friend told me: “You gotta kill your darlings.”

Monday, September 30, 2013

Short Stories & Such: Getting Your Money Back


The following story came out of another Writer’s Digest prompt in which you write about money... that is, getting it back. If you get a chance, write one and describe how you get the money back. Here’s my attempt:
 

Getting Your Money Back

Usually, I wouldn’t be caught dead this early in the morning. Each time I inhale, a puff of cold air mixes with my carbon dioxide and a gray cloud forms in front of me. If it wasn’t that the rent is due for my new apartment, I wouldn’t be sliding this plastic into the ATM machine. Hmm, that’s funny. Let me try this again. Maybe the machine is waking up, too or is frozen. No cash? Just yesterday I took out $40 for the freaking gas. I had $5,000 in the bank! Ugh! The bank is closed and… as a matter of fact. There is only one person I know who would be responsible for this. I’ll have to confront her before she leaves for work.

“Open up, you skunk!”
 
I keep knocking on the door, but no one answers. I know she’s home because the kitchen light is on. You could see it from the living room window. Not to mention her car is parked up front. My mother warned me against opening a joint account with her.

“Come on!”
 
“Alright, already….. Oscar? What are you doing here so early?”
 
“I’m coming from the bank.” I pushed her aside, “Don’t you lie to me, where’s my money?”
 
“Your money? You must be crazy. What would I do with your money?”
“Where is it?”

“Stop! What are you doing to my things? If you don’t go, I’m going to have to call the police!”

“Tell me why you did it?”

“You’re hurting me…”

“Why?”

“Enough, Oscar.”

I turned to the direction of the voice, “Mother?”

“That’s right. Now, let your hands fall off Toni’s arms.”

“But she took my money- “

“I said: ENOUGH!”

I let my hands release the grip on her shoulders. A red mark could be seen on them.

“You have no need for money, son. I received the call last night. I knew you would come here. Now,” she took me by the hand and sat me on the sofa, “I will drive you home.”

Then, she shot me.

 

 
Scroll down to ‘Chilo’ (February 12, 2013) if you’re interested in the comments I got for it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Books I'm Reading 5

Hi everyone!
Just wanted to let you know that I'm going to start posting on Mondays instead of Tuesdays. I hope you continue to enjoy reading them.

The Patron Saint of Lost Dogs by Nick Trout is a great read. Cyrus is a veterinary pathologist who reluctantly takes over his father’s practice in a small town. The character is established and consistent throughout. This book deals with a lot of issues, but the main thing is how the main character changes and discovers what is most important in life.

Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed, and Larkin Reed. This is the first book in a YA series and it was a delightful read. It deals with a teenager grappling with her family and her mother’s ancestral home. What I mean by grappling is that she has visions of the past, but I won’t reveal the details. It’s one of those books you just have to see for yourself. No spoilers from me.

Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis. This is a great story revolved around two teenagers who get their memories wiped, but must overcome obstacles to get them back. The best part is that magic and ghosts are involved.

 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Writer's Workshops 2: The Picture and Your Senses


Michael Torres said in a Writer’s Workshop that a poet should always have a beginner’s mindset when writing so you could be open to new things. He also said that the image we form in our poetry should be clear and specific with enough details so the reader can picture what’s happening. For example, he said to think of a poem as a photograph and not as a snapshot full of feeling.

So the next time you sit down to write that inspiring thought, make sure to use as many senses to form the picture you want others to see. Oh, and it’s okay to leave something to the imagination.

Take a look at my latest published poem "Matches" at the following link to the San Gabriel Poetry Quarterly (it’s the second page--- click “older posts” at the bottom).

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Death as Metaphor 4


Sorry for the late post! Sometimes it seems I have my head screwed on backwards, but here goes...

 
Contemporary poetry is experimental… culturally specific… but what truly constitutes contemporary poetry? What is poetry? and Why do we write it?

I have found that contemporary poetry is more personal and geared toward finding an identity. It focuses on experiences without being caged in any particular form or structure. I have always written poetry. My good friend calls the poetry I write “raw psyche” because it is written in the moment; words pour out and are freshly laid out on paper. Nothing is censored and it usually is abstract.

I find poetry to be a medium to express myself in various ways. Writing poetry enables me to put down inner reflections of life around me. My deepest thoughts, emotions, ideas, concerns, etc. are represented in the poetry. Many authors use poetry to do the same thing. Poetry is like a kaleidoscope. That’s why I’m interested on the different reasons authors incorporate death in their poetry and why I use it as a metaphor.

Besides the obvious eulogy, elegy, literal meaning, mourning, expectation of death, and sufferings of war; death is a symbol for other losses such as the death of a marriage or friendship, even the death of a movement. As I reflect and react to a poem, I get better at understanding and appreciating the need for poetry as a representation of our time here on Earth. It is the words themselves that draw attention to what poetry is about: the reaction and reflection of the here and now.

 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Writing Endeavors 5: And I keep a' chugging along...

I've been busy with editing my YA novel this week that I find myself excited about the progress. That old saying: Never give up... well, just don't. Persevere in your goal and you will see results.

I never thought I'd get to where I am. In between the checking and re-checking, I have written another novel. This time a fantasy novel.

I noticed I'm better at what I'm doing the more I do it. There's something about keeping to the writing. So, I'm going off to my editing and hope you find yourself writing, too.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Books I’m Reading 4

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles. This is a Young Adult story that deals with pregnancy and the lives of those teenagers involved. The author does a nice job of presenting the feelings involved for the different characters.

Clean-Up by Norah McClintock. This is a Rapid Reads series book from Orca Book Publishers. It’s about Connie, an ex-legal secretary, now a maid for a small cleaning service whose friend (an illegal immigrant) gets in trouble with the law and faces deportation after she’s accused of murdering the old rich man they provided services for.

The Land by Mildred D. Taylor is a great book that takes place after the Civil War. It’s about a boy named Paul Logan whose father is a respectable white man. However, Paul must learn many things about life through many experiences, but the one thing no one can take away from him is his determination to acquire some land of his own.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Short Stories & Such: I Know I'm Supposed to Keep this a Secret...

Keeping secrets ‘is not all fun and games’ as they say, but it does bring up interesting ideas for stories. Who knew that nice young man at the shop killed three people? Who knew that teenage girl lied about her teachers to get better grades? Who knew that grandma stole jewelry using her electric wheelchair as a getaway vehicle? Who knew Back in January 2012, Writer’s Digest had a writing prompt asking for short stories about keeping a secret? I did and many other writers. The following short is somewhat revised from its original. Enjoy! And go ahead, write one using the tag line:

 
“I Know I’m Supposed to Keep This a Secret, But…”

 
I’ve waited for this trip to Hawaii for a long time. Too bad my cousin was not available to go along with me. The beaches were supposed to be better than ours. The crystal clear water allowed people to swim along with many sea animals. The wonders of nature were expecting one happy tourist.

I relaxed my head on the travel pillow I blew up while I waited to board. My seatbelt was fastened and the plane lifted off the runway into a crowded white clouded sky. Though, I hated this part because it made my insides tumble, I was glad to be heading to my destination without complications.

As the plane steadied itself, and the flight attendants did their thing, I took a deep breath for a nice long nap when my neighbor tapped my shoulder.

“Excuse me.” The girl with peppermint glasses turned to me. She had been watching the stewardess the whole time we got on this plane.

I hoped for a quiet flight. “Yes?”

She leaned closer and whispered in my ear, “I know I’m supposed to keep this a secret, but I absolutely must tell someone.”

Oh, God. She’d better not say I was her type.

“This plane is not heading for Hawaii.”

“What!?!” I sprang from my seat, but the seatbelt restrained me.

“Shhh, please, I don’t want to cause a scene.”

“I’m sorry. A minute there I thought you said this plane was not going to Hawaii.”

“That’s right.”

It seemed that the sentence she dispersed from her lips hadn’t sunk in my brain. Her tight round face looked satisfied as if her nuance halted her indigestion. However, she neglected to give a reason for the change. Why should I bother? She definitely seemed a little tipsy. Yet, what if she’s right? Did I accidentally board the wrong plane?

“Well?”  I asked.

“Well, what?”

“Where is this plane heading?”

“I’m not supposed to say. I could die.”

Heaven forbid this girl die!

“What are you trying to pull? You obviously are in need of medical attention-”

A voice blasted through the speakers and said, “Passengers of flight 007. Welcome aboard! Please buckle yourselves up and allow us to transport you to dimension Westcort. It was a lovely Earth, but it has outlived its usefulness. No need to become hostile. Just fasten those seatbelts and prepare for our stop in minus 30 seconds.” 30, 29, 28….

I looked back at the frantic passengers. The flight attendants put on gas masks. They held in their hands laser weapons the shape of torpedoes. After an explosion that shook the plane to the point where its vibrations remained in my teeth, the girl tapped me again.

“I told you so,” she scoffed. 
 
 

For the original version of this story, visit the following link and scroll down to “Chilo”: 

 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pet News 3: No Dog is Perfect

One thing I’ve learned about having a dog is never to reprimand after calling the dog by his/her name. They learn to fear you or worse, they just avoid you, which is not the intention. You want your dog to come to you when called. With a little patience and practice, they will.

However, I have found that there are certain situations my dog doesn’t come when called. Such as when the man with his toy poodle decides to let their dog get close to our fence to "see how cute" our dog is (Aagh!). I feel like a total failure after all that practice, but it’s important to understand that no dog is perfect, and we shouldn’t push them to be.

I wish I was perfect!

Here’s the secret, we’re not perfect. Be content to have a well-behaved dog for 90% of the time (okay, 85%). Dogs should be dogs. If we call them by their name every time we tell them “no” they will just learn to associate the negativity with their name. So make sure when you say "no" or "stop" that you don't use their name. Use their name to call them to you for good things. 
 
Let’s aim for a happy dog. A happy dog is less stressed.

 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Quote


“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”

--Bruce Lee

 
This is one of the many quotes I read every time I find myself struggling through my writing or career (or anything else for that matter).

Sometimes, it’s hard to pick yourself up. I’ve been there time and time again. Not knowing where to turn or what to do, but I have to ask myself: is it something I’m doing? If I don’t find time to write, how can I make some time? If teaching is not part of my future, what is? If I have more than fifty poetry or short story rejections, do I stop querying? If my friend is too busy to hang out with me, should I limit my outings to the writing group?

The big idea here is not to give up; to find that “thing” that drives you to continue.

What I’ve mentioned so far might not even be the obstacle. It could be my point of view. Maybe what I need is to start seeing my life in a new angle before I make up my mind about it. A little each day goes a long way. Maybe it could be your's too.

 

You can find a ton of info on Bruce Lee at www.brucelee.com

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Death as Metaphor 3


Poetry is a mode of communication that never grows old because it speaks to individuals at different levels of their personal lives and changing times.
I started writing poetry at a young age. I dove into poetry without knowing specific details about how poetry was made or particular authors or movements. Names have never interested me or specific rhyming schemes or forms. Few names stuck to my head such as the Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío, the darker poet Edgar Allen Poe, and the lonely Emily Dickinson, even Leonard Nimoy writes poetry! I still read for pleasure and wait for a poem to speak to me. I always read different poetry without a care as to style or topic. Recently, I have found myself participating in sharing it with others. Poetry has become an important part of my life. I joined a poetry group and began editing my work.

However, through my love for poetry, I have come to realize that poetry is widely used in every continent of the world for various reasons. Now that I'm trying to build my poetry library, I'm familiar with some other poet names such as Sylvia Plath, Carolyn Forché, Dylan Thomas, Pablo Neruda, Jose Luis Borges, and Robert Duncan. Of course, there are many poets I know personally who deserve mention, such as Don Kingfisher Campbell, Christopher Trevilla, and Lalo Kikiriki as well as others whose poetry readings have been inspirational such as G. Murray Thomas, Ron Baca, Jack Bowman, and CalOkie, but my intention is not to write out a list of poets. It would become too extensive a list.
Poetry revolves around reflections of our self and our society. Be aware that poetry can be found online, in journals or magazines, even newspapers, on Christmas, Valentine or Birthday cards, letters, children stories, movies, and books, and there are many locales that invite poets to do readings or poetry slams. It’s a medium to which there is no limit.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Short Stories & Such: Killing Your Best Friend's Wife, Draft 2

I finally figured out how to put the “Followers” on the blog! I hope to keep learning to make this blog worthwhile for you. I just ask for a little patience. My main goal is to write, write, and write! The more I do, the better I hope to get so I can publish my novels.

And to continue with today’s post, here’s a revised version of a short story I wrote a while back. I changed the victim’s name and added a few details that, I think, make the piece read better. Hope you enjoy it!

 

Killing Your Best Friend’s Wife

Harry wasn’t the kind of close friend one lets down. His idea of a good time was playing chess with the boss’s daughter… with frosting in mind. His wife, Cheryl, on the other hand, was innocent as a fawn on green pasture.

But Harry wanted Victor’s help in killing her.

To Harry’s expectation, Victor agreed without hesitation- not because he disliked Cheryl. She’s the only person who knew Harry’s one deep, dark, secret that could ruin his life forever; truths exposing him to committing credit card fraud, hijacking cars, and business computer hacking. They all add up to that particular secret: participating in Cheryl’s best friend’s suicide attempt.

Don’t misunderstand, Victor was surprised. He thought Cheryl should have left Harry a long time ago, except, she always found something good in the guy. She had no clue as to the numerous times Victor had to… dispose of loose ends.

Harry got all of the materials ready for the big day. He had it all figured out, too. Victor was to pick Cheryl up from the airport, since she travelled to visit her mother out of state, and he was to deliver a demise to which she would not return.

When the big day arrived, Victor deliberately took his time to get there. He tried to picture Cheryl’s face when she figured out they would stop at a deserted gasoline station in the middle of nowhere instead of heading to Palmdale.

“Hi, Victor,” she put her bags down and gave Victor a quick hug; little did she know it was a futile attempt to save herself from her fate.

“Hi, Cheryl,” Victor reached down to grab hold of her bags and place them in the trunk of the car. “Sorry your husband couldn’t make it.”

“Don’t worry about it.” She patted his hand, “I’m sure he’s far too busy at the office.”

Throughout the trip, Cheryl did most of the talking, probably due to nervousness. She also had noticed Victor take a wrong turn. At first, she thought he would circle back to the proper road, but he hadn’t. She thought of Harry as she watched the wind blow on the road. Does he think she would snitch about Patty?

Victor pulled into the deserted gas station.

“There seems to be no one around…”

He locked her side of the door and placed black gloves on.

“What are those for?”

Victor cracked his knuckles.

Tears streamed down Cheryl’s eyes as she clutched her mother’s necklace. Victor opened the dashboard and pulled out a small black bag. He took some drops and wet a handkerchief.

Cheryl’s eyes bulged. She turned to open the door.

Victor smothered her face with the handkerchief.

Cheryl struggled to break free, but Victor was too strong for her petite body. She elbowed Victor on his ribs and shrieked. She pounded the window and scratched the door handle. Then, Victor suppressed her until she was motionless.

Victor caressed her face and brushed her fine brown hair.

He drove further towards a cliff. He stepped out of the car and lit a cigarette. He looked at the cliff to the ocean below. He threw the match on the ground. He returned to the car, put it in neutral, and pushed it over the cliff. The car hit the side of the rock and blew up before splashing into the water.

“Won’t Harry be proud?”

 

For the original Writer’s Digest Prompt and post, see the following link (scroll down to Chilo):


(see November 29, 2011)

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Putting Your Novel Aside Once Complete


The hardest thing a writer can do is set aside their work. It’s like being without coffee for 72 hours! But, hey, the benefits far exceed this ‘cold turkey’ episode.

For one, you gain a whole new perspective on the writing that wasn’t there before. You get to read your writing like… well, a reader and that’s the advantage to setting it aside. You want to see how well your work holds a reader’s attention and interest to keep turning the page.

Two, it’s easier to look at the mistakes. In order to revise and edit your writing, you need to be able to see where you need to cut/paste/reword/etc. etc. etc. (there’s a lot to be done, trust me). It’s like a doctor who needs to do surgery. How can the doctor proceed without cutting the patient open? When the stiches come off (or disappear), the result is far better writing.

Third, you stop making the same changes over and over. If you ever have used an eraser (funny saying this, but it’s true in this present day computer infested world, but I digress….), you will often find yourself writing over the same recently erased spot.  

The question is: how long should a writer set their work aside?

This is the tricky part. Some writers set their work aside for a month before looking at it again. Others set it aside for three months. Still, others wait six months. Maybe it all depends on other projects writers are doing. The important thing is to find what works for you. It’s like diets and everything else in life: it’s got to fit the individual. Have you found what fits your style?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Books I’m Reading 3

Appaloosa
Brimstone
Resolution
and The Blue-Eyed Devil are novels written by Robert B. Parker that follow Everett Hitch and Virgil Cole- two gun hands/lawmen and cowboys. These books are laden with dialogue and minimal description, but it works! You get to learn about the characters and the problems they deal with along the way.

The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. MARVEL bought into King’s stories and converted most into a graphic novel collection. Of course, there’s nothing that beats reading the actual series for the full details of the Gunslinger's adventures, but these comics bring the world of Stephen King alive you might have never thought about.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Death as Metaphor 2


Death is representative of different things for poets, poetry, and life events.

I have discovered through my poetry that death is a common metaphor to describe feelings of sadness, anger, loss and desperation. Death is also used literally to describe actual losses of loved ones or one’s own demise. Individuals may cling to death in order to face the future.

Research has produced an interesting array of information to give the topic of death more understanding. Death changes its meaning as it is dependent on its context (take eulogies for an example). In other words, there is also a lot of allusion toward death in poetry for it is a familiar subject that touches individuals in myriad ways.

Take a look at the poets Edgar Allan Poe, Emily Dickinson, or Shakespeare. They all mention death in a certain way. If you go to the different poetry websites, you will see how the topic of death is portrayed by different poets. Even artists and writers must grapple with death as a metaphor at some point.

So, what does death mean to you?

As you answer this question, you’ll find different metaphors to describe it, which might not be a bad thing. A poem could be brewing, waiting to be written down.

 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hi Everyone!


It’s been a hectic week for me, but I managed to write tons of poetry and write chapters for my novel. Though, I hoped to finish, I didn’t. I have to go back to this skeleton I created and flesh out the scenes some more. Hey, I did finish a book by Eric Maisel (which means time was not completely lost). It’s titled, “Making Your Creative Mark: Nine Keys to Achieving Your Artistic Goals” (2013).

Maisel talked a lot about finding the confidence and motivation to do what you like. He pointed out many strategies and provided case studies as examples. One thing that stood out was when he said, “Have a life (p. 195).” So to start off this week’s blog post, I want to share what I took out of it. Here goes:

Creating leads to success. The more we put in this process, the more we get out of it. That’s not all. You need to make meaning of your life as well. Take time outs, enjoy some relaxation, build relationships, etc. And when you do create, you would be able to do so (more enjoyably, too).

I’ve been thinking a lot about this. It makes sense to take some time and recharge those batteries. Writing is WORK and like all work, we should take the time to treat ourselves with some other activities that might just draw you back to what you like to do. As for me, I think I’ll take that walk. Who knows, I might come up with a host of ideas for the revamping of the chapters I completed…

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Update


I will be busy trying to finish my new fantasy novel. I’m on the last few chapters and am so excited I’ve reached this step. The ending is always the hardest part for me. It’s when the writer needs to conclude the story based on what has been written by tying up any loose ends and such. This is me trying to write the best story for readers. So, I won’t be able to post next Tuesday.
 
Feel free to reread posts and come back on June 25!
Happy Writing!

Pet News 2: Munch Time!


I went shopping for some dog food the other day and found myself reading the labels on the different brands. There are a lot of new products that have organic or natural ingredients. My sister always says to look at the first five ingredients. Those make up the bulk of the nutrients. If it has too much salt or other stuff you don’t want your dog to eat, then keep looking, but take into account your dog’s needs and likes.

Every dog is different. Sometimes, you might have to phase out a brand if you want your dog to eat another. The best way to do that is to add a little of the new every day and increase it until your dog can eat all of it.

Cats aren’t all that different when it comes to their food. Just make sure they’re getting enough protein (meat). And NEVER EVER force your pet to eat.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Writing Endeavors 4: The World as a Gigantic Writing Prompt


 The World is like a Walking Writing Prompt

People have asked what inspires me to write the kinds of stories I do, and the only response I can give is, “I’m not sure.”

But, then, it gets me to thinking of all the pictures, people I meet, billboards, movie trailers, overheard conversations, writing prompts, books I’ve read, book titles, dreams, etc. etc. I come in contact with, and I have to agree with my previous statement: “I’m not sure.”

All the things I’ve mentioned have to account for some inspiration, right?

There are times when I am definite as to where the idea comes from. Most of the time, I don’t have a clue. The words begin to phase through my fingertips onto the paper or computer screen and I am happy for them.

So, I can safely say my inspiration comes from an unknown source, maybe even the subconscious mind. We carry around all these “files.” They may even get mixed and matched in some way that leads to a story idea.

Maybe the world is one gigantic writing prompt filled with ideas and thoughts. I can almost reach out and grab one the minute I step outside. If I’m not careful, I might end up bombarded with too many and get stunted.

Time is of the essence, though. Better sit down and write some of it before another comes my way…

 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Short Stories & Such: My Two Best Friends


The following fictional story is in the form of a letter. Names and other similarities to real individuals are only coincidental.

 
My Two Best Friends

Dear Brea,

I have to tell someone before they catch up to me. You’re the only person honest enough to hear me out.

Okay, so maybe I should start at the beginning. I mean, my friends weren’t always that way, and it never made much sense what they did (outside of flirting with boys) and flunking History. Sure we had our differences, but we also had similarities, like Aaron Parker’s dimple down to our bikini size.

My mother always wondered why I was friends with them. It didn’t cross my mind that they were only interested in themselves and no one else. It didn’t even occur to me until after High School that they somehow were not interested to reach the top the normal way people make money.

They used to paint red the lockers of girls who crossed them. They said it was like Passover, but instead of killing every first born child, they killed the weed out of their garden. And what a wicked garden they weaved.

Once during lunch, a girl stood up to them and they just stared at her. They seemed to laugh inside while I tried to calm the girl down. It appeared that my best friends had cornered that girl’s boyfriend into necking with them.

That much power I did not want. But they cherished it. Yet, it wasn’t enough. That’s why I’m writing to you, so you would know why I had to kill them...
 

Why did I write such a story?

In a previous post I mentioned that once you find the voice of your character, the story flows from there. This was the case for me on this short about the two best friends. There could be so many possibilities for this piece. I could use it to springboard a novel about these teenage girls and what happened that was so terrible this girl had to kill them. Or I could make the girl to have psychological problems. What will Brea do about it? The girl or Brea could be my main characters. Only time can tell…


This was also a great opportunity to write a short piece in the form of a letter. Next time you get an idea, try writing it as a letter. You never know where it would take you.