Monday, April 24, 2017

Writing Endeavors 13: A Writer’s Cycle

The recent fantasy novel about a reluctant prince is coming along well. So far, my writing group has positive things to say about it.

Still editing/revising a thriller about a woman stuck on an island. Hoping to send in queries by Summer.

The previous novel I queried didn’t get accepted yet, but I think I’ll set it aside and revisit it (and the letter) later. Maybe it still needs some fixing.

As for poetry, I submitted to various sites. I’ll let you know if any are accepted.

Focusing on the Writer’s Digest Poetic Asides’ prompts. (Happy Poetry Month, by the way!)

Heading to the Annual Mt. SAC Writer’s Weekend for some more workshops.


And that’s what it’s all about. Write. Read. Write. Re-write. Revise. Edit. Write. Repeat… 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Books I’m Reading 32

New and Collected Poems: 1975-2015 by Jay Parini. This collection moves one’s soul. He writes about the mining country to farms to the human experience. Very well written poems.

Clarity by Kim Harrington is a young adult novel about a teenager named Clare who finds herself aiding the police in solving a murder case by using her psyche abilities. Good read. Published by Point, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. (2011)

The Dirt on Pigpen by Charles M. Schulz is a compilation of comic strips with the character Pigpen from the Charlie Brown collections. If you’ve never heard of this character or you weren’t paying much attention to him, his the one that goes around being a magnet to dust.

The Fibro Manual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide for You and Your Doctor by Ginevra Liptan, M.D. Doctor Liptan provides examples of this

Monday, April 10, 2017

Writer’s Workshop 22: Practice Monologue

During a 2014 Mt. SAC fiction workshop, Michelle Dowd provided two prompts that build on the previous one. The key was to have a monologue with yourself. That means to talk to yourself. You could be reminding yourself about something, or figuring out how to do something. Either way, don’t hesitate to play with the prompt and if you just can’t think of something, then, write what comes to mind.

Here’s the first prompt:
Write from the perspective of a character using first person. Let the voice come through and have them talk to self in monologue about their problem.

Here’s my attempt:
My fist. My fist went through the wall.
Why do I do this? Why do I hurt myself when I get angry?
I just want to have them understand. Want them to hear me say the things I need.
My hand throbs. Rub my knuckles. Rub my knuckles.
There’s a hole in the wall. No one must know.
Where’s the bumper sticker I put away?
Cover it up, idiot!
Stop slapping yourself. Stop it! Stop it!
Cover it up so no one knows about the hole in the wall.
There.  
Breathe.
Forget it.
It’s covered.
Gone.
No one will be the wiser.
Breathe.


Here’s the second prompt:
Now, make your character have a scapegoat they blame for their problem, but still talking back to self.

My sister’s to blame.
She just talks and talks and lets things slip out.
She had no right to tell everyone about my need to keep things in order.
She doesn’t understand the need to keep it a secret.
The TV remote goes above the TV.
Make sure it’s placed there every time.
Or else?
Or else the consequences will be severe.


Take some time to try the prompts. you never know, it might springboard another idea.



Note:
three of my poems in "Nasty women's Almanac: Poetry Edition- Feminine Voices for a Brighter Day." You can purchase a copy at

Monday, April 3, 2017

Time for April Awareness Month

April is a lot of things for people and it’s also home to various Awareness events, such as Health. I have listed a few and some websites so you can find out more about each:

Autism Awareness Month

certain Cancer Awareness Month 

Child Abuse Prevention Month

Alcohol Awareness Month

Monday, March 27, 2017

Pet News 24: Leash Training and Decreasing Jumping

I’m always on the lookout for sage advice when it comes to training and caring for pets. Sometimes, one idea will work well with one pet, and another might not. I can easily train my male dog tricks, but my female dog is stubborn. It’s not because she’s a senior, it’s part of her personality. Since a puppy, she has been that way. Perseverance and patience has made her the number one guard dog. So, don’t give up. It all pays off in the end.

The book I came in contact with was Miriam Fields-Babineau’s Training your Puppy in 5 minutes: A quick, easy and humane approach (2005). The author made many suggestions and gave examples, but I’m only going to focus on two.

The first is taking your dog on a leash:
use a treat to lure pup/dog beside you
            give treat only after say “sit” then, move on
            do this a few times

The second is what the author calls “the jumping bean syndrome”:
            redirect pup/dog in positive means by stepping away
immediately lure pup/dog to sit
            reward pup/dog by giving attention (but don’t ignore pup/dog when sit or will start jumping again for attention)
            Note: when jumping on someone else-
redirect with a noise ex. put 15 pennies in a box, shake, and growl “No”
            when pup/dog stops, lure to sit, and praise

Redirection is the key to lure pup/dog to a positive behavior and to focus on you.
Find what entices pup/dog and use that as a treat such as a toy, food, stick, etc.
You want to teach pup/dog that good things come from you.
Good luck!
I know I’m going to need it when I try it with my dog to stop him from jumping. Yikes!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Art 13: Lines and Sketching



This was a five-minute warm-up sketch for a life drawing workshop.
I began a focus on the torso and moved to the thigh, which explains the lack of a real head =}
This piece showed movement and varied use of line. The proportion of the body wasn’t bad.
The legs, arms, and head were lacking in perspective, but I didn’t expect much in five minutes.
Actually, if I can’t be happy for the achievement on what came out well on the drawing, who would?

So, always look at the positive side of things and practice. Life just gets a little better =)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Books I’m Reading 30

Pogue’s Basics: Essential Tips and Shortcuts (that no one bothers to tell you) for Simplifying the Technology in your Life by David Pogue. This is a book that does exactly what the title suggests.

Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes and Monsters by Donna Jo Napoli. The art and the myths provide a glimpse into the lives of these deities.

Sentenced to Life by Clive James. This poetry collection takes you on a journey through memories. Very nice.

The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell. Gaiman teams up with Riddell again for another graphic story. This time, he interweaves the Sleeping Beauty and Snow White themes and makes it his own with a shocking ending.


Monday, March 6, 2017

Teaching Moments 8: Earth Day every day

Recently, I watched a documentary titled A Plastic Ocean: We Need a Wave of Change from Brainstorm Media 2016.
This DVD was available through the library and it deals with how our trash is ending up at the bottom of the ocean.
Researchers traveled around the globe to see how plastic is affecting our environment and to find evidence of the litter.  
Think about how a dirty street looks like filled with plastic bottles, Styrofoam cups, nets, bags, clothes, food, etc. all littered on the sidewalk. Not a pretty sight. True, cities are trying hard to maintain a clean environment, but there still are individuals who litter. The other day I caught a woman crossing the street and tossing her banana peel on the sidewalk. Most mornings, take out paper bags near my home are dumped across the street.
It all drains to the ocean and becomes harmful for life. Not only does it affect animal’s lives, it affects our health. The documentary provides solutions some countries are implementing to curb the plastic pollution and covers the importance of recycling.
This topic is important for children to understand. However, I do caution that this documentary goes deep into the issue and some images may be too graphic for children below fifth grade. A teacher should watch the documentary first and select the parts to share. The most important parts are that our oceans ARE being polluted and that there ARE some solutions already being implemented, such as using tote bags when grocery shopping and the use of diesel fuel.

more info @ http://plasticoceans.org

Monday, February 27, 2017

Short Stories & Such 32: Shut In

Back on March 4, 2014, The writer’s Digest had this prompt:
The department store elevator shuts down on the way to the fourth floor, with you and ten other people in it. You remain calm, but other people begin to panic. Write this scene and the dialogue between characters.
I have since revised the original story I wrote for 500 words. Sadly, I never got a chance to post it online until now. So, if you like the prompt, write your own short. Enjoy!

Shut In
The hallway had been remodeled. When I say remodeled, I mean it went from the hateful orange-peach to a gray-white hospital wing color. Someone must have forgotten to call in a designer because you don’t get customers at a department store by making their experience dreadful on the eyes.
My reflection on the elevator doors made me look like an antiquated milk carton ad. Pushing the elevator button, two men flanked behind me. With my eyes to the floor, I could see one man’s shoes- black, smooth and stylish. I estimated a $170 overprice. The other guy had tennis shoes with high class symbols on its anterior, but worn on the sides. Probably why he’s here. To buy shoes on the seventh floor.
Letting out an exasperated breath in time for the doors to open, we stepped onto the car. Before the doors closed, a young woman with a bag bigger than her torso, jammed her foot on the door and rushed inside. Catching her breath, she placed her hand over her chest. Her cheeks were rosy from the running. Her boyfriend joined up on the next floor. I know because they kissed hello.
By the third floor, we were ten passengers and heading to different departments in the store. I wanted to get to the eighth floor where they sold pet supplies. My job was to compare the prices with the competition. This place always lost to the others.
One tall, slender woman with gym clothes was probably heading to the gym. Why they put the gym on the tenth floor was beyond me. Sure you needed exercise and climbing stairs would have added to the day’s goal, but really? Ten floors, folks. What if the ceiling cracked and the pool’s water leaked on the merchandise from the ninth floor?
“Did someone forget to press the button?” A surly bald man in the corner asked.
“The lights are on for the fourth, seventh, eighth, and tenth floor,” the tall woman said.
“Then, why aren’t the doors opening?”
I looked up at the numbers. We had stopped on the fourth floor, but the doors remained shut.
The man in a gray suit pushed the door button repeatedly.
Nothing.
The young couple in the back took hold of their hands.
The elderly woman with corkscrew glasses (can’t believe they still make those) and strange flower on her hair said, “Here I am God.”
The teenage boy next to her replied, “The doors are probably jammed.” He turned to the tall woman. “Press the emergency button.”
The tall woman nodded and pressed.
The elevator doors made a sound like cats scratching on a bed post, which didn’t help the screeching shrills of the two girls when the car jumbled to the side… slightly.
“Hey! You’re going to make us deaf.” A heavy set man with stocky arms glared at the girls.
“Maybe we can force the doors open,” the bald man suggested.
“What about making an opening above us?” the heavy set man added.
The girls and the couple whispered to each other, “We’re gonna die.”
“What if this is part of a terrorist’s sick joke?” the teenage boy warned.
That got everyone riled up and the suggestions were a little overrated. This is just another technological mishap, which happens when we rely on it for everything.
“Oh. no!”
“The lights!”
Then, I felt the tall woman’s elbow and the elderly woman’s knee. My cheek hit the elevator doors like a pancake on its pan. With cheek pulsing, and shoulder squashed against the doors, I finally realized they had gone hysterical. Clawing, beating, and grazing each other.
Getting pulverized wasn’t sitting well with me and I managed to crouch low. The second I did, the doors opened and a fireman flashed a light at us. His astonished face fell on all of us. That is, until they stopped on mine.
“He’s here.”
I bit my fingers and stood.
Two orderlies came forward and took an arm each. “Say goodbye to your friends.”
The muddled crowd fell back against the elevator walls, hair tussled, clothes in disarray, and hearts beating like jackrabbits. They watched the orderlies pull me out.

“But they’re the ones insane. They’re the ones who make everything wrong with the world. Not me. Not me. I’m just going to get pet supplies.”

Monday, February 20, 2017

Writing Updates

This month, two of my poems were published.
An ekphrastic poem (a poem inspired by art) titled, “look at you…” was published on Spectrum 9. If you’re interested in purchasing this wonderful edition, click on the following link:

The other poem titled, “Word Quake” is on www.clockwisecat.com Skullwise Cat Issue 36, on page 61.

You can go to the following link to read the summary for the issue here:

OR go straight to the e-zine issue by clicking the Yumpu link below:

READ SKULLWISE CAT AT YUMPU:

AND if you liked the issue and would like to buy it, go here:

PURCHASE SKULLWISE CAT AT PEECHO:

Other than that, I’m still waiting on agent replies to my father-son novel and continue to revise a women’s fiction story.

Keep Writing!


Monday, February 13, 2017

Quote 24

“If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”
-James Herriot

Each time I read this quote, I glance at my dog’s picture. He passed away some time ago. I’m still healing from his departure, but I know he’s in a better place.
I say I glance at his picture because you see the happiness in his face. Anyone who has seen a picture of him says he was photogenic and smiled. I didn’t know dogs could smile, but he did. All I had to do was say his name and he would stop, look deep into the camera, open his mouth, show some teeth (sometimes the tongue would slide out), and presto!

There was an understanding between him and I that you could see in his eyes- the soul. So, I believe animals tell a lot in their faces, especially the eyes. Take a look at any pet calendar and you will see how special you feel. If you’ve ever seen adopt-s-pet commercials, you know what I’m talking about. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Writer’s Workshop 21: Unexpressed Action

During the April 2016 Writer’s Weekend at Mt. SAC Fiction Workshop with Christina Lynch, participants were given a prompt to write a scene that is rooted with unexpressed action.

The scene should include the pin-the-tail on the donkey and have the parents going through a divorce.
If you would like to try this prompt, the main exercise is the unexpressed action.

The following is my attempt at the prompt. I took the unexpressed action as things the parents weren’t saying in regards to their feelings with the least amount of detail. Turned out very script-like. You can go this way or completely turn it around.


“Mom! Marty pinned the tail already!”
“So, he did,” she said biting her pinky nail.
“Look at that,” Dad said with a scoff.
“At least he knows where to put it,” she muttered.
The boy pulled on the mother’s sleeve, a frown on his face, and a pronounced dimple on the right cheek.
“Must feel good.” Dad gulped the rest of his drink and crushed the red plastic cup.
The boy pulled on the mother’s sleeve again.
Mom sighed. “You’re only saying that because a donkey needs a tail.”
“Mom!” The boy let go of her sleeve and threw down the donkey’s tail still in his hand.
Dad continued to squeeze the cup. “What do you want from me?”
“Mom?” The boy crossed his arms, pouting.
“Yes, dear.” She knelt in front of him.
“I don’t want to pin the tail anymore.”
“Hey, hey.” She placed her hand on his chest, rubbing it like slathering VapoRub.
“You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to.”
“Is that what this is?” Dad rolled his eyes and picked up the tossed tail. He gave it to another little boy who kept eyeing it from the game line.
The children’s voices rose above the music as the game continued.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Writing Endeavors 12: Believe in Yourself

I believe we all have found 2016 to be a progressive year toward our goals or else we wouldn’t be where we are today.
Aspiring to be a writer and poet is not an easy feat, but there are accomplishments along the way that help get us closer to it, making our outlook change so we could call ourselves ‘writers.’
Looking back at 2016, I’ve published some poetry and got two short stories accepted. I’ve sent queries and received some back with promising rejections. I also began a new fantasy novel about a reluctant prince and wrote some more short stories. I’ve got on twitter to begin my journey onto social media and have found lots of information from authors in all walks of life.
Yep, there have been accomplishments last year and I can’t wait to see what 2017 will bring.
Though, it might not seem like a lot, to a person with a daytime job, it has been a lot. And I sincerely hope everyone can look back at their progress with positive binoculars. Every little bit counts =)

Here’s cheering for the new year!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Books I’m Reading 29

Publish your Book: Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author by Patricia Fry. This book deals with the importance of promoting your book to how to get your manuscript ready for publication. A lot of great tips.

The Beauty by Jane Hirshfield is a collection of poetry. As you read, you feel as the poetry is whispered by the wind. Very interesting formats, too.

Creatures of Fantasy: Mermaids by Kathryn Hinds. This book provides illustrations that go along with the myths and folklore surrounding mermaids.

Creatures of Fantasy: Unicorns by Kathryn Hinds. This book provides illustrations that go along with the myths and legends about the unicorn. Early tales written by prestigious men are included to show the thinking of the times.


Creatures of Fantasy: Dragons by Kathryn Hinds. This book provides illustrations that go along with the myths and legends about the dragon. It mentions how people viewed fossils at an age where science was in its infancy.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Teaching Moments 6: Getting Informed

    Recently, I watched a NOVA special about schools. I list a few of the things mentioned in the special titled: NOVA’s School of the Future: How can the Science of Learning help us rethink the future of education for all children?

It aired on PBS a while back, but it can be found on DVD.

·         One of the premises: they were using scientific studies ranging from behaviorists to neurologists to engineers, scientists try to find what motivates and helps students learn
·         they observed schools in Palo Alto from both sides of the freeway (East Silicon Valley area and West area)
·         they’ve come up with various innovative schools geared to technology and hands-on approaches as well as adding character building lessons to aid students’ learning (I found this section very interesting)
·         to best meet student needs, they found that individualizing lessons and teaching the whole child is better as well as working on emotional relationships with them, such as making them feel that they matter
·         parental support and involvement is important starting from preschool on (the key word here is ‘preschool’)
·         there are things that get in the way of learning such as the divide between rich/well-to-do vs. poor (a really huge gap)
      
          If you found those points resonating with you, it’s a good DVD/episode to watch for information on what schools are experimenting with. So far, no one size fits all. We have to find what motivates and interests the child as well as what they are capable of.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Art 12: La Desnudez (The Nude)

Charcoal is my favorite medium for drawing.
This piece was done during my art class days (when I had more time to actually draw). But it's a good reminder that it's possible to achieve a piece with fairly good shading. 
I say fair because I’m an amateur artist. Not a professional who sells their work and practices every day. Kudos to all the artists out there!
For La Desnudez, I like the focus on the hip area leading to the thighs. It’s a hard movement to place on paper. Adding the background also helps enhance this portion of the body

Monday, January 2, 2017

Quote 23

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”
-The Dalai Lama

A quote like this always reminds me of the less fortunate, children, the elderly, and our animals. I hope we all find the strength to help a little (or a lot). The following is a short list of some organizations that help animals. Let’s start the New Year positively!

Alley Cat Rescue: Alliance for Cat Protection
find their Wish List on Amazon.com

Network for Animals USA, Inc.
Twitter: @network4animals

Alley Cat Allies: the cat’s leading advocate

North Shore Animal League America: Rescue, Nurture, Adopt, Educate

IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)

LCA (Last Chance for Animals)

Doris Day Animal League


Visit them and see how you can help. Maybe by signing petitions or writing letters or donating food, clothing, money or volunteering. If you’re not sure, check them out at Charity Navigator. Most of these websites provide information on how to keep pets healthy, too. Recommended to visit www.leapingbunny.org for cruelty-free products.