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Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Meeting Dates

We meet in the Excel building (white building with red roof behind the main house) at Rippavilla Plantation - click here for directions, and all of our meetings are scheduled at 7:00 p.m. Our Critique Sessions are the first Thursday of every month. Our Creative Writing Sessions are the third Thursday of every month. And our Night of Learning is scheduled in months with a fifth Thursday.

Here is a list of our of 2012 meeting dates (check back often as new dates are added for special events):

Jan. 5 - Critique Session
Jan. 19 - Creative Writing Session
Feb. 2 - Critique Session
Feb. 16 - Creative Writing Session
Mar. 1 - Critique Session
Mar. 15 - Creative Writing Session
Mar. 29 - 5th Thursday Night of Learning
Apr. 5 - Critique Session
Apr. 19 - Creative Writing Session
May 3 - Critique Session
May 17 - Creative Writing Session
May 31 - 5th Thursday Night of Learning
June 7 - Critique Session
June 21 - Creative Writing Session
July 5 - Critique Session
July 19 - Creative Writing Session
Aug. 2 - Critique Session
Aug. 16 - Creative Writing Session
Aug. 30 - 5th Thursday Night of Learning
Sept. 6 - Critique Session
Sept. 20 - Creative Writing Session
Oct. 4 - Critique Session
Oct. 18 - Creative Writing Session
Nov. 1 - Critique Session
Nov. 3 - Fall Feast - 6:00 p.m. (date subject to change)
Nov. 15 - Creative Writing Session
Nov. 29 - 5th Thursday Night of Learning (may cancel)
Dec. 6 - Critique Session
Dec. 20 - Creative Writing Session

If you are not on our e-mail list, e-mail us at to receive meeting reminders, meeting changes, and newsletters.

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Year, New Writing You

I hope you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season, whether you have celebrated your holiday already or your holiday celebration is still to come. I hope in the midst of all the holiday craziness and excitement, you are taking the time to observe the people and the world around you and mining gems from this season that will enhance your writing.

Welcome a visit from the ghost of your writing past, the ghost of your writing present, and the ghost of your writing future. What would each of these ghosts show you? Where are you in your writing journey? Where do you want to be? If you are serious about writing, why not make 2012 your year?

I hope as you are preparing your writing goals for the new year, you include some achievable and challenging projects. Maybe you need to master grammar and style. Maybe you need to look for markets to submit that series of short stories to. Maybe you need to sign up for that writing program you’ve been putting off. Maybe you need to finish that novel you’ve been working on. Maybe you need to write that screenplay that’s been burning a hole in your brain. Maybe you need to find a writing partner to share the workload and keep you accountable. Maybe you need to sell something—an article, a short story, a devotional, a novel, a screenplay, a poem . . .

As for LWC, we’ve had a great 2011. We’ve focused a lot on inspiration, education, and motivation this year:

  • Bestselling author Lisa Patton spoke to us last spring (during the very successful community event LWC hosted at the library) about having hope in the world of writing. Her sweet spirit and encouragement ignited something inside me, and I’ve been in a writing frenzy ever since—completing not only a screenplay with my writing partner, but also completing my first novel (and with three prior novels only half-written, I didn’t have a very good track record).
  • The LWC committee proactively addressed the need for an education focus and named Cece Dockins our education coordinator.
  • Education surveys were distributed to all members, and most of our education planning in 2011 was structured around your responses.
  • Our 5th Thursday Night of Learning sessions have included: How to give and receive critique. An introduction to screenplay writing and how to write with a partner. Generating ideas. How to self edit. Writing a book proposal. Formatting and submitting. And point of view—beginning to advanced.
  • The 2nd annual Fall Feast was a huge success! See the header of our blog to view a collage of 2011 Fall Feast pics.
  • Author Leonardo Ramirez spoke to us about creating strong and amazing characters, traditional and self publishing, and juggling the writing life with family time and a full-time job.
  • LWC began a project to give back to our community and to thank our host for the free use of our meeting space with our garden project at Rippavilla. Team Weed and Team Mulch have completed their parts in this project. Team Plant will follow through into the spring of 2012.
  • LWC members gave generously (we raised $147) to a much-needed table fund to support our growing group.
  • Critique buddies were created to provide a richer and more focused critique option (outside of our general critique sessions) for LWC writers. Critique buddies has been very successful with at least three groups currently active.
  • Pre-critique was added to our general monthly critique session to provide writers with a more thorough critique option.
  • Creative writing nights have focused on: Resisting the urge to edit as you write your first draft. Themes in horror. Humor in poetry. Descriptive writing. Point of view. Themes gone bad. Vocabulary building. Writing your autobiography. And choosing powerful nouns and active verbs.
  • We’ve added dozens of new contacts and at least ten new attending members (much of this due to the Lisa Patton event last spring).
  • We started an LWC Facebook page where LWC members can communicate. It has been very active and currently has 30 members. If you aren’t on it and want to be, let me know.
  • LWC members contributed to a fun top-five series on our LWC blog.
Can you believe how much fun we’ve had and how much we’ve learned this year?

If you missed out in 2011, no worries. We have lots of great things in store for 2012, so as you are making your 2012 writing goals, be sure to include attending LWC meetings (and joining the LWC facebook group) as one of your goals. Education will continue to be a driving force for LWC. We will also spend some time focusing on marketing and submitting and will work to bring in more authors who can speak to us from their own experiences. Through our growth, we will continue to make sure LWC has that welcoming small-group feel so new visitors will feel at home.

And we will continue to focus on our mission above all else: we exist to support and encourage each other as we journey on the road to publication.

At our January 5 critique session, we will celebrate five years of LWC (and I’ll be bringing a super cool treat), so it’s a great time to start. I’ll see you all in 2012.

Wishing you lots of writing success in the new year,

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

LWC Presents: Leonardo Ramirez

Living Writers Collective's

Creative Writing Night

Guest Speaker: Leonardo Ramirez

Author of graphic novel Haven

TOPIC: Characterization (Interview Your Characters)
At Rippavilla Plantation in the Excel building
Thursday, November 17, 2011
7:00 p.m.

Leonardo Ramirez is a writer whose joy first comes from being a husband and a dad and enjoying life with his family. Ramirez has been writing for twenty years with his first published work released as a graphic novel titled, Haven, published by Markosia Enterprises. Ramirez is in the process of publishing his prose version of his novel titled, Haven of Dante; The Staff of Moshe, and is currently writing a children's book.

Ramirez has had appearances at GMX, where he hosted numerous panels including one with James O'Barr (creator of The Crow), Nashville Comic-Con, Outer Limits Comics, Rick's Comic City, Fairy Tales Bookstore, Southern Festival of Books, Author's Circle at the Williamson County Library. He also enjoys meeting with local high schoolers about their passion for creativity.

His work made one of the top ten best new releases for 2010 by Gelati's Scoop and has been featured on Comics About a Girl Podcast as well as The Columbia Herald, Playstation Comics, Megacomics Weekly and many others.

Visit Ramirez's Web site at and his blog at

If you are not an LWC regularly attending member, please contact Karen Aldridge at 615-302-2920 by Tuesday, Nov. 15, to reserve a seat.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fall Feast 2011

Living Writers Collective


Saturday, November 5
6:00 P.M.

Eric's House
(Directions will be sent in an e-mail closer to the date)

Bring your object muse or a mask that represents the writer in you for group pictures.

Sign up at any LWC session or e-mail Karen Aldridge

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Critiquing the Night Away



LWC Presents: Critiquing the Night Away

Presentation and Workshop
September 29 at 7:00 p.m.
Rippavilla Plantation (Excel building)

Critique topics that will be covered include how to critique for plot, character, dialogue, scene structure, description and voice; the purposes and benefits of “open,” read-aloud critique sessions; how to best utilize LWC critique buddies and pre-critique options to create a more thorough critique experience; how to choose critique buddies that are right for you; how to identify the various parts of a story; tips for nonfiction critique; and lots more.

Materials you will need for the workshop: 1. One short story or excerpt of a novel, no more than five pages (your own). 2. Different colored highlighters or colored pencils.

A complete agenda will be e-mailed to you on Tuesday. Whether you are just beginning your writing journey, or you’ve already had many writing successes, there will be something for you. We hope to see you ALL there.

Presented by:
Cece Dockins and Karen Aldridge

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

What Books or Authors Influence Your Writing: LWC Writers Share Their Top Five

This winter LWC will celebrate five years of LWC. We are starting the celebration a little early by doing a weekly top-five series. Each Wednesday LWC members will post their top-five answers to a specific question. This is week seven, and LWC writers were asked this question:

What are your favorite books or authors, and what did they teach you about writing?

Ross Martin:

1. Mark Twain
2. Stephen King
3. The First Five Pages
4. Writers Digest
5. Grapes of Wrath

Sheryl Griffin:

1. Bad Girls of the Bible….by Liz Curtis Higgs….Liz taught me it is ok to be honest about your past. She also opened my eyes to many women in the Bible and I found myself relating to them all in different ways. Through Liz’s writing style, I learned the importance of transparency.

2. Getting Past Your Past…by Susan Wilkinson…Susan opened my eyes to the beginning process of moving forward in my life. She was relatable and she was able to apply biblical scriptures and promises in a way that I had not experienced before. This book taught me the importance of applying biblical scriptures and promise to my writing.

3. The Mom Factor…by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend…This book showed me how I as a mother shape and mold my children and the affect that my mother had on me as a child and even as an adult. You can’t undo the past; however, you can make changes for now. This book helped me become reflective in my writing.

4. Parenting is Heart Work…by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN…This is a book that I find myself returning to time and time again. This book opened my eyes to the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect parent; however, there is hope and encouragement in parenting with your heart. I learned once again the importance of being open and transparent and that it’s OK if you’re not pefect!

5. June Bug….by Chris Fabry….As you can tell I am more of a non-fiction reader, however, I do indulge in fiction from time to time and June Bug is a book that pulled me in with my eyes and heart. Chris is an amazing story teller. He created depth to the characters and knew when to pull the ‘emotion” card and when to let the reader breathe a sigh of relief. That is a writing quality I would like to expand in.

Chris Gates:

1. Tom Robbins' Still Life With Woodpecker - First, the back cover copy drew me in and made me fall in love with copy writing. Second, the way Robbins' narrative voice breaks down the fourth wall, taught me about the author's role in storytelling.

2. H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness: And Other Tales of Terror was a revelation to me. Introduced me to Lovecraft and drew me into a world that didn't reside in one story alone. I was amazed that such a distant and obtuse twist on reality could still be laid upon our own.

3. Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces. What do you mean Star Wars has its roots in the oral tradition of ancient cultures? Jungian psychology aside, since first reading this book I've never looked at a story without taking note of its structure.

4. Number Four is a hybrid of two books for me, but they're directly related in what they taught me. William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade and Roger Corman's How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime were both influential to me. From them I learned that the creative life isn't isolated to the artistry of expressing brilliant and novel ideas, it's a lot of work and a lot of hustle.

5. Ernest Hemingway, he just says it.

Bryce Martin:

1. Eudora Welty
2. Flannery O'Connor
3. John Steinbeck
4. F. Scott Fitzgerald
5. Ken Kesey

Karen Aldridge:

1. Anything and everything C. S. Lewis nonfiction (The Problem of Pain, Mere Christianity, . . .). His nonfiction is written in a way that you feel like you're sitting down and having a conversation with him. And everything he says is like a common sense epiphany - the ultimate ah-ha moment. He's taught me that if I relax as I write, my reader will relax, and if I write with common sense, my reader will appreciate me for it.

2. Anything and everything C. S. Lewis fiction (The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Chronicles of Narnia, . . .). Imagination! Symbolism! Truth! There is no end to what the imagination is capable of, and weaving truth into symbolism in a way that appeals to the masses is powerful. Lewis is the rare author whose work I reread many times - because every time I read it, I mine many new writing gems. I'll never be a fraction of the master he was at it, but his influence is in almost everything I write.

3. Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God, The Road, and No Country for Old Men taught me to master the rules of writing style so I could effectively break the rules of writing style.

4. In Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, I was fascinated by the colorful, rich characters. They were so quirky, and the cool part was they were real - it was a true story. I realized if real characters can be this fun, just think of what I can do with make-believe characters. It was my ticket to free-reign characterization. Exaggerate their flaws, make their strengths obstacles, and voila - dramatic characters are born.

5. It's a tie (okay, I guess I'm cheating a little). Erma Bombeck, the great humor columnist, taught me that humor is the key to almost every reader's heart. Use it subtly. Use it boldly. Use it in awkward moments. Use it in obvious moments. Just use it! And finally J. K. Rowling. While I wouldn't technically consider her one of my favorite authors (though I do love her books and I'm always inspired by authors who are effective at breaking the rules), she's taught me one of the most important lessons of all: love what you write, and just maybe someone else (or a few hundred million someone elses) will too.

Alan Hooper:

1. Isaac Azimov The greatest writer of all time. Could write on many subjects from Sci - Fi to children's books.
2. Robert Heinlein
3. Arthur C. Clarke
4. L. Sprague De Camp
5. Harlon Ellison
I have read many, many books in the last few years, but one I would recommend is Water for Elephants. The research for it was amazing.

Karen Phillips:

1. T.S. Stribling (The Store ; The Forge; The Unfinished Cathedral). Stribling wrote about my home town, Florence AL, in the late 1800’s. I read this book when I was a teenager because someone told me it was about Rogers’ Department Store. It did not impress me as greatly as when I read it again about 30 years later, and then it set my imagination on fire.

2. The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean Auel. There is a series of these books, but this was the best one. (It should have been the only one.) I’m not sure that this book encouraged me to write more than it encouraged me to be strong-willed.

3. Alanon’s One Day At A Time Daily Meditations. These one-page meditations helped me so much to understand how I wanted to write “After My Father’s Suicide, Grief Meditations.” Not only did they offer a lot of wisdom, the idea that I could draw on just one thought at a time was a major influence on cutting my words down to the bone.

4. Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. I need to read this again…and again.

5. White Fang, by Jack London. Ok…so this isn’t a forever favorite. I have just started reading it because I need to research how to write about a dog character, but since I started it, I think I should have put it up at the top of this list. I love the crisp words, the ideal of nature and environments shaping the mind and body. This book is magnificent.

Jennifer Ballard:

My top 5 favorite authors (at the moment) and what I (wish I could) learn from them:

1. Dick Francis - characterization and pacing
2. Charlaine Harris - meshing fantasy and realism
3. Janet Evanovich - Humor and creating memorable characters
4. Rick Riordan - combining history, myth, fantasy, and fact
5. Jim Butcher - plotting and conflict

Cece Dockins:

1. American Fantastic Tales edited by Peter Straub.
This is an essential anthology for the supernatural geek, which I am! The two volume set is amazing and comprehensive. The first volume is titled "Poe to the Pulps." It's seven hundred pages of some of the most talented and influential writers of all time: Poe, Gillman, Chambers, Cather, Fitzgerald, Derleth, Lovecraft, Bloch.
The second volume is titled "1940's to Now." Authors included are: Nabokov, Bradbury, Cheever, Ellison, King, Brite. Another seven hundred pages of the weird, the fantastic, and the macabre. As a writer, I get a sense of history and evolution of the genre through this truly fantastic anthology. A must for any aspiring fantasy and horror writer.

2. We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
Wow! This novella touches me at my icy core (hard to do). When an uninformed person (being nice) makes a statement that the horror genre produces only imitation or generic stories, I remind myself of Jackson's take on the witch. Stories are about characters and truth, not tricks and gimmicks.

3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury.
It's Bradbury, enough said.

4. The Long Walk by Stephen King.
It's King, enough said. Okay, I'll say some more. This is classic King and it is haunting and brilliant...and well, inspiring.

5. Horns by Joe Hill.
Love his take on the devil as an antihero. Fun!

Virginia Andrews:

1. The King James Bible has been the foremost influential book in every area of my life, including my writing. I like the English from the 1600's when English was at its height and perfection. Sadly, the book is overlooked for its mastery of artistic perfection, truly a diamond. It's rich form and poetic flow is beyond beauty. I have read it through so many times that I sometimes see a natural meld of the old English drifting naturally on my paper. Perhaps it's because of its poetic beauty that my writing tends to want to flow in that direction. The writing in the KJV is forthright with shocking clarity and although the words are archaic, as I grasp hold of them and fit them into the here and now, I feel somewhat like an ambassador of preservation, in a small insignificant kind of way.

2. The dictionary as it increases my vocabulary. A side note: it was documented in one of those obscure studies that those with a larger vocabulary are more prone to Alzheimer's.

3. Dr. Seuss books, which taught me that anything can go together if you pair it wrong, say it's right and let your imagination run wild. One of my favorite quotes:
"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
Any direction you choose.

4. The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron, is a serious spiritual guide to unleash your creativity in a natural flow beyond any self-limiting block. It is a must.

5. Diana Gabaldon's historical romance novels. She is a scientist who has this sav vy methodical imagination that brings science and fiction together in unexpected interesting plots that roll together effortlessly. I would like to write like her, not x-rated though (smile).

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Do You Need to Improve: LWC Writers Share Their Top Five

This winter LWC will celebrate five years of LWC. We are starting the celebration a little early by doing a weekly top-five series. Each Wednesday LWC members will post their top-five answers to a specific question. This is week six, and LWC writers were asked this question:

In what areas would you most like to improve in your writing?

Karen Aldridge:

1. Giving myself the freedom to break the rules when it aids my story to do so.
2. Letting my imagination soar - I tend to reel it in too often.
3. Finding the right balance in description. I think I under-describe often because I'm afraid of getting too wordy.
4. Vocabulary - If I had it to do all over again, I would have paid better attention to vocabulary exercises when I was in school. I often struggle to find just the right word when I'm writing.
5. General writing knowledge - I feel like I never know enough about writing even though I constantly look for more learning opportunities. I'd love to know enough to formally teach writing some day.

Frankie Ren:

1. I need to get the stories that I write in my head down on paper.
2. Getting my POV across.
3. My spelling is the worst.
4. Writing a story in order.
5. I need to do my rewrites.

Jennifer Ballard:

1. Self-discipline. I'm not sure if this is something you can learn or improve with practice, but I struggle with it constantly.
2. Organization - of my writing: files, notes, outlines - and within my writing: plots, timelines, etc.
3. Sensory description. I am terrible with this because I don't pay much attention to such things in the world around me, so often leave it out of my writing.
4. Characterization. I'd like to be able make my characters as interesting on the page as they are in my head.
5. Plotting. I admire writers who can weave a complicated plot or subplots and have it all make sense. I struggle keeping a simple plot working out in my novels.

Ed Chinn:

1. Building good, solid endings that leave the readers weak with "wow!"
2. Integrating story lines
3. Developing plot
4. Crafting believable dialogue
5. Creating vivid and distinguishable characters.

Amanda Green:

1. Punctuation (having my work read exactly as I am intending)
2. Grammar
3. Being more concise. Getting to the point quicker.
4. Point of View / Audience
5. Dialogue

Heather Clift:

1. Scenes that are more dynamic
2. Richer vocabulary
3. Better dialogue
4. More discipline to make my fiction writing a priority
5. Self-confidence in my abilities

Sheryl Griffin:

1. Strengthening Grammar and punctuation use
2. Ability to use “word power” better (I use my thesaurus, however, I would like it to come naturally)
3. Point of view usage
4. Time management (i.e distractions)
5. My passion and bend is towards non-fiction, although, I would love to write fiction or humor pieces at some point in my life

Karen Phillips:

1. Getting started. I have spent this whole summer working on character profiles for the book that I want to write. I have written a couple of pages, but then I’ll change my thoughts about the POV or whatever and won’t use what I’ve written.
2. POV. I think maybe, just maybe I have a handle on this now, but it’s been driving me nuts who in my list of characters might tell this story that’s buried so deeply in my brain right now.
3. Did I say getting started?
4. Getting
5. Started!

Ron Billmyer:

1. My weakest area is setting and adhering to timeline goals. I want to improve and adhere to goal setting timelines.
2. I would like to develop a much better outline for my novel
3. I want to improve my character development process with detailed biographies on each character.
4. I want to be more creative in my settings and storyline.
5. Finally and lastly, I want to stop being redundant and repetitious, repeating things over and over, again and again, repetitiously.

Trisha Petty:

1. Grammar.
2. Lots of time.
3. Grammar.
4. Syntax.
5. Grammar.

Ross Martin:

1. Learning the meanings of all the writing guidelines printed in help books.
2. Finding a a mood and comfortable place to write.
3. I do not like punishing my main characters, but I must learn how to do it.
4. Learning the proper grammar to use as I like to use words that are like they sound instead of proper words.
5. I think I need to go back and take English classes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How Will You Spend Your Millions? LWC Writers Share Their Top Five

This winter LWC will celebrate five years of LWC. We are starting the celebration a little early by doing a weekly top-five series. Each Wednesday LWC members will post their top-five answers to a specific question. This is week five, and LWC writers were asked to be creative and fantasize a little with the question:

When you make that big book deal, how will you spend your millions?

Note: I told LWC writers that giving money to charities and putting money aside to prepare for their futures would be assumed, so this was all about having some self-serving fun.

Cece Dockins

1. Buy my dream home: an old farmhouse, lots of land, with a pond and creeks. Privacy! Privacy! Privacy!
2. Collect-to my heart's content-every rare/1st edition book, pulp, and comic. Quadruple my library and never feel guilty about it.
3. Hike the Pacific Crest Trail.
4. Hire a personal chef and personal trainer.
5. Have a bobble head made in my image, and own an ice cream, deep-fried Twinkie franchise.

Heather Clift

My husband and I have fantasized the Big Payout many times. Once all the do-good stuff is completed and cousins I never knew existed quit calling, here is what I'd do with the remaining money in no particular order, assuming there is enough money to spend:

1. New living room furniture
2. Hardwood floors installed downstairs
3. A two- week beach vacation
4. A new truck for my husband
5. Build the sunroom which will become my office

Trisha Petty

1. Buy an old antebellum home and refurbish it to bring it up to date, and yet have all the fun to learn the history of it so that we could do tours. The house could be used for meetings and to be able to rent for parties.
2. I would make a garden that would make a Southern Belle swoon. Lots of places to sit and read, think and pray. It would be large enough in one place to have weddings and garden parties. (the rentals and parties would sustain the house for the spring, summer and fall)
3. A portion of the expansive yard would be made with a huge covered area and bar-b-que, outdoor kitchen and plenty of yard to either have parties, rent for parties or just enjoy for wonderful spring and fall evenings.
4. The house would hold a place where I could write- with the office being off to the side, yet with large windows to allow light and a faboulous view to come and encourge my words.
5. And five: hire a staff to take care of the garden, cleaning, and catering so that I could be able to just do the fun stuff and write.

Karen Phillips

1. Buy a new house. One with a huge study with wall-to-wall bookcases on the other side of the house from the TV so I can write without constantly being tempted to go watch a movie with my husband. I want a bathroom that has a shower that looks like a rock cave and that has a door opening to a private covered patio with a hot tub. I want a workout room and an Olympic-sized pool, too.
2. Buy a new truck and a motorcycle trailer. So we can go on a trip and I don’t have to ride on the back of the motorcycle when my butt dies.
3. Travel. I still want to go back to Yellowstone National Park and to South Dakota. I want to go see Stonehenge. I want to go hang out for a month in Houston with some friends. I want to live on the beach for a whole summer and hunt shells.
4. Get a physical trainer who will make me workout.
5. This is a good sort of terrible….I can’t think of anything else.

Mary Ann Weakley

After all my favorite charities are fully funded:
1. I'm going to design and decorate a two-story condominium (like Taylor Swift) along Lake Shore Drive in Chicago overlooking Lake Michigan where I can watch the sail boats and the tall ships come in.
2. I'll design and build a comfy cottage on the beach in the Gulf or maybe the South of France or maybe both. This will be my favorite writing place.
3. I'll fund, design and decorate the perfect retirement home in Williamson County for retired LWC writers; it will have a 3,000 sq. ft. cozy unit for me. It will be near my riding stables in the most picturesque natural setting in the area. All my homes will have state-of-the-art facilities for senior afflictions, hot tubs rather than swimming pools.
4. I'll have a private Lear Jet to transport me to all my book signings and speaking engagements here and abroad. A fully equipped limousine will take me to the landing strips and anywhere else I need to go.
5. I'll have the latest electronic equipment for communication and I'll know how to use it. I'll dictate my writings which will be transformed into documents automatically spell checked, grammar checked, POV consistent, edited, critiqued and copy edited.

Sheryl Griffin

1. I am hiring a note taker and editor full time. That way someone is always near by write down any and every idea I have. I will need the editor to make the whole publishing process faster (after all this I will need more money)
2. I love my house so don't need a new one but I desperately need my kitchen updated as well as the master bath and some projects finally done
3. Since our summer cruise I have fallen in love with cruise vacations so I will purchase a cruise line that has an amazing owners suite so we can go whenever we want
4. I would also invest in several local organations that serve and help women and children
5. I have recently become very passionate about a local artist Kelly O'neill and I would buy several of her paintings and comission her to do many more!

Jennifer Ballard

1. Travel.
2. Pay off mortgages, medical bills, etc. for my family and friends.
3. Support animal rescue organizations - Dog breeds, Pegasus Foundation (horses), Elephant Sanctuary
4. Get a vacation home - in several parts of the world.
5. Get my husband a boat and all the other toys he's done without to support my writing.

Alan Hooper

What I would do with all that money when Wilbur and Charlie come through for me?
1. Buy a Bugatti Veyron automobile (Its about two million dollars)just to carry my golf clubs to the golf club. (I think the Veyron miles per gallon is actually gallons per mile, so I could not afford to go far at today's gas prices.)
2. Buy the latest and greatest set of Taylor Made golf clubs, built to my specifications.
3. When the guys who know my game laugh when they see my new clubs, I would buy the golf club and throw them out.
4. Have my own personal caddie to carry my bag at the golf club.
5. Commission a real artist to build me bronze statues of Wilbur and Charlie in rocking chairs, to sit on my front porch.

Mike Hudgins

1. Meet with my CPA to calculate federal income tax liability.
2. Pay the tax.
3. Pay off mortgage balance of two daughters homes.
4. Put balance into American Funds With instructions to pay qtly. Dividends. and purchase more shares with cap. Gains.
5. Sleep in the next day, then go back to work!

Ross Martin

1-2. Well after paying off bills and establishing a nest egg, I would invest a lot of it.
3. If it was a large amount I would even build a building for the LWC to meet in with a smooth paved road.
4. I would probably take a vacation to somewhere I had not been, might be difficult finding one.
5. I am sure I would give some to my favorite charity, the Shriner's hospital.

Karen Aldridge

1. Buy a convertible Mustang Shelby GT500 in metallic blue with silver racing stripes.
2. Buy a medieval castle in Ireland overlooking the ocean with lots of land. Nothing obnoxiously huge just clean and cozy and with an ocean-front writing office. I'd divide my time between the US and Ireland.
3. When my boys are old enough, we'd white water raft all of the best rafting rivers in the world and scuba dive all of the world's best dive spots.
4. Hire a housekeeper, chef, and life and career manager and assistant to make sure everything gets done.
5. Build a home on the lake - of course with a lake-front writing office. And buy a collection of matching boats (maybe metallic blue with silver racing stripes to match my Mustang) - a houseboat, a ski boat, Jet Skis for the boys.

Doug Johnson

1. I would make a substantial monthly support payment to Steve Hawthorne, a medical missionary in Bolivia.
2. I would set aside funds to educate my five grandchildren covering tuition, room and board and associated expenses at a State University for four years.
3. I would insure my son and daughter-in-law were funded for a moderate monthly income with health insurance for retirement age.
4. I would set aside a certain amount of money to give individuals in the form of cash envelops. I would set aside a day each week to frequent thrift stores and places like Dollar General and Food Lion to scout out these folks. Once I observed them, I would approach them and have the promise to not open the envelope until after they leave the establishment. Then I would disappear and not come back to the place again for at least 6 months.
5. I would purchase property on a lakefront. The lake would be on the western shore, so as to have the sunset over the water. I would want the property to slope gently downhill to the water. The property would not have to be huge, say maybe 5 to 10 acres with substantial forestry on the North and South sides.

I would build a modest size lodge up the slope from the water, so as to have a nice view of the water. The rear of the structure arranged with dining room and bedrooms facing west. I would like a rustic exterior, likely using cedar siding with lots of large windows. The lodge would not have to be all that big, say 6,000 square feet. The three floors of even size would have fireplaces on the North ends and covered screen porches on the South for floors two and three.

Sleeping and living accommodations would be situated on the top and bottom floors. The middle floor would be for formal and informal meetings with lots of leather couches.

I would expect to use the lodge one week each month for special needs ministries. I would allow other qualified ministries to utilize the other ¾ of the time.

I would host selected individuals and small groups of in peer-professional support sessions for those who have lost a love one to suicide. There would be no charge to anyone for food or lodging. Each individual could stay a day or the entire week – depending on what strides they were achieving.

It is hard to find help in this area and I would like to change that.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Why Do You Write? LWC Writers Share Their Top Five

This winter LWC will celebrate five years of LWC. We are starting the celebration a little early by doing a weekly top-five series. Each Wednesday LWC members will post their top-five answers to a specific question. This is week four and LWC writers were asked:

Why do you write?

Dennis Stafford:

1. I write to reveal a little piece of myself that otherwise would never be known. What is most enjoyable is that others don’t know which parts of me are represented in my writing. Am I the fearful man or the aggressive bully? Am I kind or mean? Which parts of me are in which characters? Only those closest to me know and some things nobody but me can see. I am laying my soul bare for the world but it is woven into the story in such a manner that most people never know how much I have shown them.
2. I write to make sense out of life. In my story world I can cause things to turn out as I would like them to. I can punish, promote, reward or tax anyone in any way I choose. It’s my world I am creating. My word is final, at least until revision time.
3. I write to entertain others. When someone reads what I have written and likes it I am pleased. I enjoy their enjoyment.
4. I write because I enjoy it.. Writing takes me away for a while. I can be on a boat in seconds. I can be in another country just as quickly. I can go to the moon if I see fit. I can be in the present, future or the past. It’s my choice.
5. I write because of “the dream”.

Sheryl Griffin:

1. Writing has been therapeutic for me in my journey towards healing and wholeness
2. Writing inspires me
3. Writing encourages me
4. Writing helps me put and keep things in perspective
5. Writing allows me to let others know they are not alone and there is ALWAYS hope!

Karen Phillips:

1. I write to know my feelings. Each morning that I write in my journal, I write out my feelings, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. (I say “each morning.” I wish I could say every morning, but it doesn’t always happen.) It is amazing how things will make so much sense to me a few weeks or months later when I go back and read my “feeling checks.”
2. I write for variety and learning new things. I have finally realized the vast assortment of jobs I’ve had in my life—from a teenager putting together firework packages to sell on the 4th of July, to a typesetter for a weekly newspaper, to retail shoe sales manager, to a warranty administrator for a car dealership, to a reporter for a legislative calendar, to a data collector for retail market research—I don’t like doing the same thing over and over again. Writing fiction involves learning; there’s a lot of variety in that process.
3. I write to organize and analyze my thoughts. My mind actually doesn’t compartmentalize things very well. I have to have time to sort and figure and think. My thinking is usually done with a pen and a notebook.
4. I write for enjoyment. I am having a blast at the moment trying to develop characters for my book. There’s a lot of my own experience that is going into some of these characters.
5. I write to pray and meditate and make gratitude lists. It goes like this:
Dear God,
Thank you for today and all that You have planned for me.
Thank You for the people that you have put in my life, the family I was born into and the friends (and family) who You allowed me to choose.
Thank You for having faith in me when my faith is almost non-existent.
Thank You for giving me a talent to write that I shamelessly disparage by thinking I can’t write.
Thank You loving me, for giving me strength and courage and freedom.
Amen & Awomen

Bryce Martin:

1. I never cared for putting puzzles together as a child. In writing, however, I always look at any long (in words) project as an interesting puzzle. The pieces are all there, somewhere, I just need to put them together.
2. I like it in the end when I am finished and I surprise myself. "Did I do that?"
3. I have thought of myself as a writer for so long, I continue doing it, to prove - perhaps - that I really am.
4. I like the self-satisfaction. Even in praise, I know that no one truly cares or not except myself.
5. I like seeing the cleanness, the neatness of the printed words on white cuts of paper, words and meaning that came from me.

Jesse Cunningham:

1. Because I like it
2. Because I have so many stories in my head screaming to be let out!
3. Because it is fulfilling
4. Because it satisfies my creative need
5. Last but not least, because I must

Heather Clift:

1. I am able to unclog the traffic in my brain.
2. It's form of escapism.
3. I can express my thoughts more easily with written words rather than spoken.
4. It's one creative element I feel like I can do well. I can't literally draw or paint or sew, but with words, I can figuratively do all of those things.
5. There are a group of people that are interested in what I have to write and inspire me to continue to do so.

Alan Hooper:

1. To fill in the time when I'm not playing golf.
2. To keep me busy when it's time to rearrange my sock drawer.
3. To fill in the time between sleeping and napping.
4. To give my brain a workout when I'm not watching Jeopardy.
5. To give my brain a rest when I'm sleeping, if I don't I'm awake all night plotting plots.

Cece Dockins:

No one chooses this profession, I was called. I have to write.

Ed Chinn:

1. That is how I translate my personal mission from Heaven to earth.
2. Writing is a portal to various communities (including the wonderful LWC).
3. That is who I am.
4. Writing is my own personal safe place.
5. That is how I pay our bills and spread food and wine upon our table.

Karen Aldridge:

1. Living in a fantasy world is a lot more fun than living in the real world most of the time. I can do things on paper I can't - or at least shouldn't - do in real life.
2. Hanging out with moody writers is a lot more fun than working in hospital administration with moody, opinionated coworkers who want to unveil the newest employee improvement program and physician satisfaction survey and patient risk-deterrent tool - all in the middle of a hospital accreditation (JCAHO) survey and next year's budget planning deadline. *cough* *gag* - sorry, I think I just hacked up some stomach acid.
3. I want to buy a vacation cabin in the mountains AND a vacation cottage on the beach - great big ones.
4. I don't mind pitching a tent if number three never pans out.
5. I have a really loud brain, and writing releases some of the noise pressure.

Jennifer Ballard:

1. Because I can't NOT write. I have lots of stories and characters in my head and it's a small place. If I don't get them out I can't think of anything else.
2. I love to read and want to share my own stories with others who might enjoy them.
3. For the money and fame.
5. Because I prefer working with words. I'm not good with numbers.

Ron Billmyer:

1. When I was a little boy, I lived in Germany as a dependent of an Army dad. I attended the dependent school with all of the other Army brats. I was in second through fourth grade during the three years we were in Germany. I remember vividly one teacher who spoke with a slight German accent. I was born left-handed and naturally favored that hand when writing school assignments. I don’t know whether it was her mission as a former follower of Hitler, or whether she just wanted to change the world, but she decided that I would not be allowed to write left-handed. I can still remember her standing beside my desk, smacking my hand with a ruler every time I tried to write with my left hand. It did not take long, before I hated writing and everything associated with it. Thank God, when I was 11 years old we moved to California, where as a sixth grader I had a teacher who made us memorize a verse that said: “A little learning is a dangerous thing, drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring?” by Alexander Pope. That verse has stayed with me for all these years, and has convinced me over time to love writing.
2. So now, entering my antiquity of life, I have a computer with Dragon, which allows me to write at about 350 words per minute without getting my left hand smacked with a ruler. Dragon takes the dread out of scribbling or typing on a keyboard.
3. I write because my mind is not the steel trap it used to be. I want to be able to organize and preserve the adventures I had while flying and spending over 30 years with the Air Force.
4. After I retired from the Air Force, I went to work as a government lawyer writing Social Security disability decisions for administrative law judges. The actual writing of these cases was interesting because they involved people of every stripe and situation. The actual technical writing was focused on mass production,” …..crank those cases out.” The silver lining to the job was that I was introduced to Dragon, which increased my capacity to complete the cases by at least 50% and also took the drudgery out of manuscript writing.
5. I also write because I enjoy documenting the awesome beauty of the powerful storms I was blessed to fly (5000 hours and 153 hurricane penetrations) during 10 years in weather reconnaissance.

Trisha Petty:

1. Through the life of writing I can tell my side of a story, my insight of political views, legal issues, controversy - that in a party setting I would never be able to discuss openly. But through the characters in my stories-there are no holds barred. It’s as if people accept my views from a character, they would never agree to, if they spoke to me. In Scryer a book about a woman who can see future events in a pane of glass, a pool of ink – or blood, Renee can see the things to come but she can’t alter them. The killers who are stalking her belong to a cult who transfers psychic powers of their victims to themselves. If you read the book and see the Church of Scientology in the background you get the idea on how I take issue which bothered me, twisting them into a story. At a time in our hometown that if you spoke badly about the Scientologists it would be very risky, I got to say in a book what everyone was thinking and well--- got away with it!
2. To write for me is not only getting my issues on paper, but to tell stories that will be gone when I am gone. My class “Writing for the Generations” is encouraging people - whether they are writers or not - to tell the story of their past. The reason why THAT Christmas ornament must be on the tree and where did I get that ugly thing anyway? The reason we STILL have that chipped coffee cup. How we met our spouse and why did we divorce them?
3. To tell these stories to my daughter and grandchildren - I can’t tell them how I felt when I first held them the day they were born. I can share with them of their parents dating and how it made me feel, and now that they are dating, why their parents are putting down the rules they do. I can broach topics that are uncomfortable to speak of. Through pen to paper (or inkjet ink on paper) I can tell my daughter why her father and I split up. Why we made the choices we did. I can tell my daughter and her children of my rape as a toddler and why I am the way I am.
4. Writing is my therapy. Writing is a safe haven to go visit uncomfortable memories. Writing brings back the joys in my life.
5. Writing lets me tell people off, people I love them, people that I care.
5b. Writing is my life… this is why I write.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How Do You Procrastinate? LWC Writers Share Their Top Five

This winter LWC will celebrate five years of LWC. We are starting the celebration a little early by doing a weekly top-five series. Each Wednesday LWC members will post their top-five answers to a specific question. This is week three and LWC writers were asked:

How do you procrastinate when you should be writing?

Sheryl Griffin:

1. Log on to Facebook
2. Log on to Twitter
3. Call a friend
4. Check email
5. Read blogs

My “fantasy” procrastination list

1. Clean the bathroom
2. Wash the windows
3. Mow the yard
4. Mow the neighbors yard
5. Bake anything: cookies, cupcakes, bread, muffins, pies or cakes!

Karen Phillips:

1. Taking care of chores when they can wait. I guess it’s a toss-up on this one of what to procrastinate on the most, especially freakin’ yard work and bills. Writing, for me, creates a lot of clutter. Sometimes I feel like my environment reflects the clutter in my mind, so I’ll take my focus off my work and put it on chores.
2. Watching TV or playing computer games or facebooking. This doesn’t even need explaining. I honestly hate Angry Birds.
3. Volunteering my time away. I tend to do this because I’m lonely, too.
4. Low self-confidence. I think I can’t….so I don’t.
5. Running down crazy rabbit trails. Like yesterday, I looked up what having low levels of Vitamin D will cause for nearly 30 minutes. Mindless research.

Karen Aldridge:

1. Clean my office. I rationalize it though. I can't possibly think clearly if my office is a mess.
2. Read (for research, of course). Hmm ... I wonder how J. K. Rowling handled viewpoint in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Of course, one hundred pages later, I'm engrossed, and I've completely forgotten I was doing research. Then again, was I ever really doing research?
3. Hang out at Longview Rec. Center. I mean, how can I possibly be creative if I'm not drenched in sweat and on the verge of passing out?
4. Nap, nap, and, oh yeah, nap. I'm pretty sure I was a cat in a past life. And I wonder why I don't sleep at night.
5. Blog, blog hop, and Facebook. More research ... and social networking to advance my writing career. *wink* *wink*

Heather Clift:

5. Do the laundry. Given Mt.Dirty that is currently waiting its destiny, it would appear I do more writing than I thought.
4. Read a book on writing. I have read several, have two I've started, and several more in queue. Best so far? Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
3. Read a fiction (sometimes non-fiction) book. I can't not read. I call it research.
2. Facebook. 'Nuff said.
1. Clean the house. Who can write in all this filth?

Ron Billmyer:

1. I rationalized that I had a lifetime to finish the novel that I started writing in 1978 shortly after I started flying storm missions for the Air Force.
2. I continued to fail to recognize that the time to get the job done on this earth is finite.
3. I continued to write a series of short adventure stories, as opposed to following conventional writing guidelines for writing a novel.
4. I continue to write sporadically what became a monster of words without a beginning, a middle, and an ending.
5. That monster, being done without an outline, character development, conflict consideration, or plot development was so disjointed and confusing that finishing it became easier to put off than to complete.
NOTE: the solution to the above is set forth clearly in the iteration of the above; and knowledge of that is the power and the solution.

Cece Dockins:

1. Searching on the Internet for the "dream home" when I make it big.
4. Perusing other people's blogs, website feeds, and Facebook.
3. Reading
2. Reading
1. Reading

Mary Ann Weakley:

How do I procrastinate? Let me count the ways:
1. I spend too much time reading the morning newspaper. I'm a news junkie, though getting over it lately with disgust of media and political jockeying.
2. Too much time watching Today or Good Morning America (afraid I'll miss some news.)
3. Too much time reading and answering emails, checking Facebook.
4. Too many breaks for lunch, pet the cat, snacks, mail (if a new Writer's Digest arrives, read it from cover to cover), feed the cat, snacks, check emails.
5. Too much time reading good stuff from Rachelle Gardner and other blogs on writing. Need to just write.

Jennifer Ballard:

1. Blogging (or following)
2. Spider Solitaire
3. Web-surfing (research)
4. Housework
5. E-mail

Ross Martin:

1. One I have been doing for more than a year cause a rewrite of a story I started due to the fact I am not sure of how to punish my good main characters, seems terrible to put them in a perilous situation but I suppose I will have to.
2. By going online and social sites etc.
3. By making excuses like I will be more creative tomorrow............tomorrow......
4. By watching this really great t.v. show.
5. By using the thing of being in a bad mood which I may be in again after pushing too hard on the pencil and breaking the lead or chewing the eraser.

Jesse Cunningham:

I procrastinate by reading. I lie to myself and say I'm "researching."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Inspires You? LWC Writers Share Their Top Five

This winter, LWC will celebrate five years of LWC. We are starting the celebration a little early by doing a weekly top-five series. Each Wednesday LWC members will post their top-five answers to a specific question. This is week two and LWC writers were asked:

What inspires you to write?

Cece Dockins:

1. My Grandmother is a huge inspiration to me. She had a bunch of kids - I think ten, too many to count. For many years she traveled picking fruit, cotton, or helping on farms. The family struggled, but they always made the best out of life. She was the person that fed me a huge amount of romance novels as a child, and she wrote the most amazing Christian poetry. She was the only person in my family interested in reading and writing, and I wanted to be just like her. When I think about Granny, I think about golden wheat, a sing-song voice, imagination, rain-melted parasols, and a childhood happiness that I will never be able to recapture.
2. Great Fiction. Books and poetry that make my arteries hum and my heart quiver. As a beginning writer great fiction should make me depressed, instead it reinvents my soul. And I go on to write another day.
3. The LWC. To be surrounded by such talented people is a blessing. In many ways, we are a mix-matched-hodge-podge family; LWC members are different ages from different locales with different life experiences. We rejoice when a member succeeds, and we feel the pain when one of us fails. The LWC is the penultimate support group. I always leave the meetings feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a revision or new story I've procrastinated on. And with inspiration there is learning.
4. Tennessee. Tennesseans are not known to be a literary bunch - thank television and stereotypes for that. I've found that no writer has tapped into the great wealth Tennessee has to offer. The woods, the valleys, the struggles of its peoples are mine because it is my home and my history. I'll never move. This place is the foundation for all of my words. Besides I can't get rid of the darn accent.
5. Music and Art. Surrealism is a trepanning of the brain. It's the type of art that burrows itself deep into the creative recesses of my mind. As for music, I crave substance not booty shaking.

Ron Billmyer:

1. Storm flying-Got to fly weather reconnaissance for the AF for 10 years-although getting thrown around like a ping pong ball in a 60 to 70 ton aircraft in a thunderstorm or hurricane is not necessarily fun while you are going through it, it is exhilarating when you land safely after the mission.
2. I liked going to the exotic places where our forward operating locations were. Antigua, Hawaii, Bermuda, etc. (rough tours of duty, but somebody had to do it).
3. Another place that inspired me was the C-130 Hercules. A wonderful life-saving aircraft that was a rugged, hard-working bird that brought you home in spite of mistakes made by the aircrew or the vindictiveness of the storm.
4. Running with the aircrew after the mission was over. It was often rough and tumble, but more fun than you were allowed to have.
5. I was inspired by the dedication and bravery of all the guys I served with in the AF.

Jennifer Ballard:

I would love to say it's something specific and profound, or that I'm inspired by deadlines, paychecks and my adoring fans. My inspirations are 1) my family, 2) my writer friends/mentors/critique buddies, 3) my characters, 4) reading books that I love and 5) reading books that I DON'T love.

Chris Gates:

1. Comic books and pulp fiction that I read as a kid, it got me interested in writing.
2. I love a good story.
3. Tom Robbins
4. As a kid I'd write as a way to elicit shock from whoever was going to read my writings. It became addictive, I still dig that response.
5. I try to entertain myself.

Ross Martin:

1. I like to try to see my mind's contents on paper.
2. A chance to win a Pulitzer oops! Oscar? A prize of some kind.
3. To publish a book no matter if I have to self publish just to say hey I have done it, even if it is only self pleasing.
4. To be able to pour out my soul on paper maybe saying some things I might not own up to in person, but using my characters to say them.
5. Just seeing things on a walk through the woods, or in a sunset, or in a picture, or the memories of a dream or nightmare and writing this down.

Jenn Wiseman:

1. The soundtrack to Robin Hood inspired a book about a girl who was an excellent marksman.
2. A picture of a selkie inspired my short story "The Selkie's Choice."
3. A novel about shape-shifters was the inspiration for my finished novel.
4. A werewolf in a sitcom helped me to write a flash fiction called "Affliction of the Moon."
5. A witch's Halloween costume inspired my short story, "A Change of Heart" based on a witch who "accidently" changes her cheating husband into a cat.

Frankie Ren:

1. I had a student teacher in grade school who was one of my earliest inspirations to write. When she returned a writing assignment, she said please read my comment. She gave me a A+ in spite of me not fully following the assignment. I was to write a story about a picture of a dove. I wrote a poem. She wrote on my paper "You should pursue this." I have written many poems since then.
2. The inspiration for the novel I am working on came from coming home on 840 from Murfreesboro and seeing an abandoned car along the side of the road.
3. My kittens are another inspiration. They have such expression in their mews and actions.
4. My family has inspired one story.
5a. Of course the voices in my head are the driving force of my writing.
5b. The LWC has made the pursuit of my writing fun and hopefully better.

Karen Phillips

1. Emotional love, confusion, or pain—Yep, any of these states of mind lead me straight to my notebook just to figure out what is going on in my head.
2. Spiritual Connection—Writing my prayers helps me twice, once when I write them and then again when I read them. I haven’t been creatively writing for several years; that was the main reason that I started attending LWC meetings. But when I was writing, the things that inspired me were:
3. Reading self-help, fiction, or even my own journals—Gee whiz, there’s a ton of things that come from those to base a story on, fiction or non.
4. Going to the Court House to look at Court Case Files—I had this crazy little part-time job when I first moved here of reporting malpractice claims for a legal publication in Florida. I traveled to the different counties in Middle TN and researched their case files. Oh my gosh!
5. Conversation and caffeine—there’s nothing like being able to talk with a good friend when we are both caffeined-up. It’s better than B-12 shots.

Judy Lee Hooper:

What inspires me to write you ask
I set my mind upon this task

Is it a thought, or a word
An act, a sight, or a song
Either one upon occasion
May inspires me, right or wrong

I'm no Longfellow, no Tennyson
No Shakespeare nor Christy
I'm just me, my thought all a tither
Makes my eyes get all misty

Really, though, what are the most
Inspiring things that make me write
I'll try to answer with all my might
Naming all the things that make me write.

A beautiful view, be it ocean or sky
Be it majestic mountain ranges or humble pie
Be it inspiring acts or accomplishments of others
Or be it something that makes me try

I really can't say which it is that sets my pen soaring
That makes the words ebb and flow
I really wish I knew so I could recreate that feeling
That sets me to writing and and fulfills my soul.

Mary Ann Weakley:

1. An English class assignment in high school resulted in a good grade and response from the teacher on my story; it was taken from a real life happening, though I added a mysterious ending. The good grade and complement surprised me, but made me think---maybe I can write.
2. The B & N writing night gave me the opportunity to test my writing. A group of strangers critiqued the first story I ever wrote. It was terrible, but they complemented me on my description and I was off and running.
3. Encouragement from friends has kept me at my writing.
4. Basically, positive feedback does wonders to inspire me.

Karen Aldridge:

1. Words inspire me. The sounds they make when you lay them out in a story and maneuver them perfectly in to place is exciting and makes me want to keep creating more word combinations.
2. Being told I can't do something. For example, if someone tells me,"You could never make a living writing," I'll bust my butt making sure I do some day.
3. My fifth-grade teacher (whose name I can't remember, but if I could, I'd call her out right here - she was at Dresden Elementary in Atlanta, GA in the early 80s - yeah, I'm talking about you if you're reading, you witch) for being completely unsupportive of my writing abilities by accusing me of cheating on writing assignments. She still managed to make an impact on me - I realized if she thought I was cheating, I must be pretty good.
4. Spending time away from the craziness of life might be my biggest inspiration. A week on the river in West Virginia, a week on a secluded beach, a week in a quiet mountain cabin recharges me in amazing ways, and I always discover things or people that inspire new story ideas.
5. LWC friends because they understand why I put myself through the insanity that is the writer's life - whether we dedicate a little of our time or all of our time to our writing endeavors, writing is a tricky little journey that only other writers can fully understand. Three years ago when I joined, I was just writing for fun - now I'm writing to succeed. Thanks LWC!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Creative Writing Night: Ode Spoofs

LWC loves to have fun on creative writing nights, and this month twenty-one members had fun writing ode spoofs. An ode is a lyrical poem that praises or exalts its subject. An ode usually addresses its subject (a person, place, or thing) directly in a second person POV form.

We used a loose interpretation of the ode to create our exercise. Participants were told they could use as many lines per stanza as they liked, determine their own line length, and choose to use a rhyming pattern or not.

The main goal was to use their own creative flare and to have fun.

Odes tend to be emotionally intense and serious. In our odes, we tamed that drama with a bit of humor. Writers were asked to write an ode to a trivial object they cherished and to start the poem with "O how I love thee [insert object]" or simply "O [insert object]." But being nonconformists, as most great writers are, some chose to go with their own first line - and that's okay, I'm not sore about it or anything.

LWC writers put their heart and soul into these love poems to their cherished objects. The brave and courageous among us chose to share them here for all the world to see. So, please, slip on your silk robe, grab a snifter of fine brandy, and sit back and enjoy.

Disclaimer: On creative writing nights, our writers have twenty minutes to complete their writing prompt. These are not intended to be serious writing efforts but simple brain dumps to expand our writers' minds. These are not proofread, polished, or edited in any way beyond that initial brain dump, so if you are an agent or publisher considering a million-dollar contract with an LWC writer, please do not let this deter you. . . . Oh, and I have a story or two you might want to read - course they're probably already sitting in your slush pile . . .

Ode to A Black Horse
By Jennifer Ballard

Oh how I love thee
my wonderful worthless mare

affectionate when you're not trying to bite me
happy to see me when I have treats
willing to do what I ask, unless you don't want to
careful to keep me balanced on your back
except when you are trying to throw me off

graceful when you are not lame
energetic when you are not obese and unfit
obedient when you're not moody
agreeable when you're not in heat

you are beautiful when you are brushed and groomed
and not languishing mud-covered in a field
expensive to keep even when you are useless
and I dont' have time to spend with you

how you must wish for an owner
who took better care
or could afford to call the vet
to address your most recent lameness
you are always a source of joy and pride to me
and always, always loved.

Ode to a Golf Ball
By Alan Hooper

O how I hate thee,
let me count the ways.
That I have tried to crush thee -
to smash thee -
to cut your hide to ribbons
To search for thee when you were lost, only to find thee,
then have thee veer off in a direction that was not intended
and nestle behind a tree or in a hazard
to make me fume and curse as another shot is lost.

But then the magic that occurred on the par three hole
that made me change my hatred of thee.
That day, that glorious day when I smote thee
and you flew direct and true
straight to the hole on the green in one bounce, and
bingo - my first hole in one,
you wonderful, white round and dimpled
Pro V1 golf ball - par excellance,
no, not even par, not even birdie,
but a soaring eagle.

Ode to My Tomato Cages
By Karen Phillips

O how do I love my
Dear wire towers
that stand majestic
amid red orbs of summer delight.

You provide stability,
oh my dear companions,
to other wonders in my garden.
Cucumbers reach out to cling.
Beans spout up the middle of you.

I press gently each of your arms
Into the earth and wonder.
Who thought you up?
Was it Sam or Mr. Lowe?
Or are you that dear son of Mr. Home?

No matter, my dears.
You last each and every year
from beginning to the very end.
You are the strong backbone
Of my green world.

Ode to My Favorite Books
By Jenn Wiseman

O, my beloved books
You sit so patiently awaiting my undivided attention.
Your musky scent beckons me closer.
Your binding nestles so perfectly into my palm.
Never am I far from your side.

My eyes drink in your every word
filling me with hope as I enter forward into the next adventure.
Pictures and scenes dominate my thoughts
chasing them into the recesses of my mind
where they wait until they are free once again.

Harry Potter, Richard Rahl, Gillian and Christopher
return to greet me as old friends once more.
My time with them is precious.

Anger and frustration
will greet the one who disrupts me from my perfect books.
So beware!
For inside this quiet, shy bookworm lies a dragon!

A Trio of Odes
By Frankie Ren

Ode one:
O how you caress the brown liquid of my life
Keeping it warm to my delight
You understand my need of it's comforting
And you are always there in spite of the staining
Be it warm brown and sweet or black and strong
To you it is never wrong
Each sip I take from you soothes
From you to my mouth it moves
O how others look beyond you
But I could not live without you
My Tea Mug
My Tea Mug

Ode 2:
O from the Golden Arches you came
I often call out your name
McDonald's Diet Coke
Without it I would surely croak

Ode 3:
O how I love thee chocolate
You long to melt into my mouth I bet
But we can not be together
For my pants can not weather
The pounds I would gather
If I eat you even in batter

Ode to Books
By Ross Martin

"O!" My books,
by chance or by crook;
you rest and clutter my shelf and space
but can never be in my life's race.
Never rarely read,
not even when going to bed.
Why you stay where you are I do not know,
for some day to the yard sale you will go.
I promise this as words you own
cannot be read with out a groan.

Ode to Bacon
by Chris Gates

O bacon

You alone are the most alluring of meats
a substantial delight of cul’nary feats
A pork belly cured, enlivened with salt
a flawless dish who possesses no fault

You gather my mornings, piercing the air
I treasure my skillet, finding you there
Some often look past you, relinquished a side
but you center my plate, the anchor of pride

For lunch you lay waiting to be sandwiched in bread
You quiet my day, giving peace to my head
The hours pass by as I relish your taste
A meal had without you I consider a waste

At dinner you’re featured, with your family pork
Embracing sausage or loin, impaled on my fork
I lay down at night, my thoughts captive to you
I drift until morning, bacon carries me through

O how I love thee, bacon my sweet
You are a sole food group, a magical treat

Ode to Lip Balm
By Karen Aldridge

Oh, how I love thee
Burt’s Bees minty lip balm.
The mere application of you
awakens my lips in a fiery burst of ecstasy.
Then, like the touch from a white-hot crush,
fades into a stimulating, cool embrace
that lingers.

If I press my moistened lips to my lover’s skin
will a wave of amplified passion wash over him?
If only for a few minutes,
will he think he’s found his perfect lover—
me and my magical lips.
Maybe I should buy a lifetime supply.

Oh, Burt’s Bees minty lip balm,
those that have come before you—
ChapStick, Blistex, Walgreens generic—
were lousy lip-balm wannabes.
Unable to pleasure me the way you do
when you caress my thirsty lips.

Ode to the Humble Pencil

Oh how I love thee
Little sharp one
Words you can help me
Savor or shun

You can place my thoughts
Upon the pad
You can remove them
Too easily, so sad

No little delete button
Nor backspace one here
Just your little cap
Red rubber so dear

Remove my wrong thoughts
With just a slight stroke
Replace them with other
Thoughts you invoke

Little yellow pencil
Little number two
Stay with me sharpened
Until I am through

Record my thoughts
Intents of my heart
Remove wrong ones
Help me be smart

Whether freshly sharpened
Or chewed to a nub
I will always love you
My friend in this endeavor

Ode to Fast Forwarding TV Commercials
By Ron Billmyer

O how I love thee when I don't have to see thee,
Or even hear thee
Thou art such a waste of valuable time.
Thou art so repetitiously a waste of words and music and pictures.
Although, once in a great while,
You might be entertaining,
You quickly become boring and trite.
O how I love to fast forward through TV commercials!
Oh! Oh! Oh! Let me count the ways.

Ode to Ceramic Cup
By Doug Johnson

Oh how I love the Old Ceramic Cup
How many times has Java filled you?
You're not a crowd pleaser for sure
But none-the-less priceless you be

I dare remember my first glance of you
Your figure is like none other
Your colors match no other . . anything, really
You stand out none the less

You hold a full brew
You cool . . too fast
Your hard . . to wash out
But . . Oh how you last

Pea green and orange are you
No rational for that scheme
Inside being white comforts My soul
You could last . . forever
Or so I've been told

I've saved you from the trash
Many times I recall
I am not sure exactly why
Oh Actually . . I do
You were made as a gift
So . . what else could I do
But . . eternally Love You

Note: Doug took his prompt home to his family who wanted to have a little ode fun with his ceramic cup as well -

His daughter-in-law Julie Johnson wrote "Ode Against the Ugly Mug":

hmmm.....i am no expert at poetry,
barely understand it myself...
i would put this in the same category.
do not understand...
does not compute....
mug does not match color scheme of placemat....
must throw out....
oh, i already tried that....
will come in the middle of the night and try again....
must save the world from ugly mismatched mugs....
this DOES compute....

And his son Michael Johnson wrote:

The mug is green
My wife’s taste, keen
It’s the ugliest porcelain thing I’ve seen
Still history held
In the green orange meld
But what the creator was thinking no one could tell
Perhaps color blind
Or mentally behind
Still all must agree it’s one of a kind
So from it Dad drinks
As he tries to think
Of the mug he sees as a historical link

Doug shared a special treat with us - a picture of the mug which is apparently not loved by all the way it is loved by Doug.

We used this famous ode/sonnet spoof, Litany by Billy Collins, as a bit of inspiration:

Post by: LWC Director, Karen Aldridge. Visit her personal blog at My Writing Loft.