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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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What's At Your Desk? 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 week's question is:

What are the top five items you like to have at your desk as you write?

Alan Hooper:

1. The New Websters Grammar Guide.
2. My Filing Cabinet - to the right of my desk.
3. My home-made paper rest - to my left on my desk.
4. My small bookcase holding all of my latest writing masterpieces - to the left of my desk.
5. A coaster - taken from the Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix AZ. Many types of beverages have sat here.

Cece Dockins:

5. Yellow Legal Pads - I write almost entirely on a laptop. When I'm stuck, I pull out the old yellow legal pad and write longhand. It seems to jog my brain and get my creative juices flowing again.
4. Inspirational quotes- When I feel like I can't write another word or I'm wasting my time, I look at inspirational quotes that are plastered all over my desk. Perserverance!
3. Death by Pen memo block - I use it to write down a sudden idea or concept for a story. It's humorous as well as functional.
2. Secret stash of Red Hots candies- The brain needs food, right?
1. My muse - She's in the form of a Storytelling troll that I bought in Gatlinburg. Crazy yes, but I can't write without her. I even rub her head for luck and offer her Red Hots when the writing isn't going so well.

Jennifer Ballard:

1. A cup painted like a giraffe with the neck and head sculpted into a handle and a gray cup painted like an elephant with the trunk made into a handle - one for coffee and one for tea.
2. My phone.
3. My husband's cat who likes to try to lay on my keyboard (my cat ignores me).
4. A dream catcher that hangs in my office window.
5. A picture of me and my horse at a show.

Ed Chinn:

1. Coffee (before 6:00 a.m.), water, and (some days) a glass of wine. It's 5 o'clock somewhere.
2. One of my 2 cats. Something about the purr connects me to ancient and primal rhythms.
3. One (or more) of my grandchildren. They remind me of what matters in life.
4. My iPhone 4…mainly so that lady I love upstairs can text or call me.
5. $1,000,000 in cash. No, it's not there. But, I'd LIKE to have it at my desk as I write.

Mary Ann:

1. Picture of my husband on our only cruise.
2. My trusty Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus (free from Eric)
3. An aura spray to bring inspiration as I write
4. Picture of Sammie, my seventeen year-old cat
5. My eye-level writer's reference shelf

Karen Aldridge:

1. A "Cool Cats" blanket that hangs over my desk chair. I've had it for almost twenty years, and it reminds me to just relax and not take things too seriously.
2. Some groovy tunes and my headphones - I can't listen to music when I write, it breaks my concentration, but when I need a break, I pop in some tunes or hit YouTube or Napster.
3. Water, water, water, and more water - I take a lot of bathroom breaks.
4. My chill-out chair. While it's technically behind my desk, it is part of my writing process. I write, print, then sit in my chill-out chair (my favorite chair in the world though it's so old and ripped I have to drape blankets over it) and edit with my green pen.
5. Anything that helps me with my current WIP. For example I'm writing a fantasy novel currently, and I have a roughly drawn map of my fantasy world that stays on my desk so I can refer to it often.

Bryce Martin:

1. I like to have a sharp pencil. I like pencils. Plus, I feel it's important to slow down sometimes when you're taking some side notes regarding your ms. A sharp pencil helps since I slow down to keep from breaking the lead (graphite?). I keep pens too, of course.
2. A clipboard. As with pencils, I like clipboards. I like the sturdy backing. if I need to make a note or two and my desk is cluttered...
3. A drink, and it is almost always black coffee. I keep it sitting in a back corner behind my computer screen to avoid spills.
4. A magnifying glass. My eyes are good, but experience has taught me that one comes in handy in ways I usually do not anticipate.
5. I use junk mail envelopes (ones where the backs are blank) to make notes as I go along.

Mike Hudgins:

Five cups of Community Coffee.

Karen Phillips:

1. Pens - I like the G2 gels
2. Index cards
3. Scratch paper
4. Dictionary, regular or flip
5. Coffee or te a

Trisha Petty:

1. Edwina my muse and friend.
2. My girl clock I got when I found my perfume.
3. My crystal castle to remind me everything on this earth is temporal.
4. My hat that warns my husband I am creating and leave me alone
5. This is my board to remind me of goals accomplished good friends and good memories. To pray for...remember and smile.

Sheryl Griffin:

1. pad of sticky notes
2. pens
3. cup of coffee or tea
4. calendar
5. my to do list

Monday, July 18, 2011

Growing Pleasures

In the earlier days of LWC - certainly not the earliest because our group had been in existence for a year before I joined in February of 2008 - our attendance was small. I think, at the most, we might have had to pull together three of those little Joe Muggs tables at Books-A-Million where we met. A good night was maybe eight people, but I'd say we averaged five or six at critique and creative writing nights.

In early 2009 our attendance was increasing, and we were worried we might outgrow our space at Joe Muggs. We started looking for more space and found a writing home at Utopia Coffee House.

Before our April 2009 move, we got the word that our president and the group's creator, Duncan James, was moving out of town, and none of the rest of our board members (at the time we were a not-for-profit group)
really wanted to be the president and inherit all the hassles that go along with the NFP requirements.

We had three options: abolish the group (broke our hearts to consider this one), someone step in as our new president (no one wanted it), or what was ultimately our solution - get rid of the NFP, get rid of the fees, get rid of the need for a board of directors.

So we set our group on cruise. Alan kind of sailed the ship for us for a couple of months but had no desire to do it long term, and somehow - and for the life of me, I honestly can't remember how - I got talked, . . . bullied, . . . beat . . . into being the group leader. It was never something I volunteered for, it just happened. And somehow it fit, and I found myself loving every second of it.

The growth that started in early 2009 hasn't let up. In early 2010, it became clear that we were outgrowing our space again. Utopia Coffee House had been good to us, but we just couldn't comfortably squeeze one more body in there, so we started another hunt for a new location. LWC member Ed found us a new home at Rippavilla Plantation in the Excel building.

We made the big move to Rippavilla in June of 2010 and have an abundance of space to grow into there.

Soon after, it became clear to Mary Ann and me that we could no longer handle all aspects of the group on our own. So we formed an advisory committee to make decisions for LWC. A few months ago, again as our group continued to grow, our advisory committee recommended the creation of another leadership position for educational purposes and invited Cece Dockins into that role, which she is thriving in.

Your LWC committee members are Cece Dockins (education coordinator), Eric Gannon, Alan Hooper, Denise Churchill, Jen Ballard (Public Relations Coordinator), Mary Ann Weakley (Newsletter Editor), and Karen Aldridge (Director).

Our move to Rippavilla put our attendance growth in overdrive. In June of 2010, we were averaging twelve to fourteen in attendance. At our last meeting, in July 2011, we had the largest attendance ever at twenty-four people.

In the last few months, we've had a few meetings (counting critique, creative writing, and our nights of learning) that have met or exceeded twenty in attendance, so our current average is sitting at about twenty per session. Between our two to three meetings per month, there are about forty to fifty of you regularly attending. And we now have over one hundred people on our member-contact list.

Thank you for making LWC your writers' group home. Our LWC Advisory Committee will be meeting in August to review processes and group structure to assure that through all of these growing pleasures we continue to meet the needs of our group.

Please feel free to talk with any of the committee members listed above with any ideas you might have.

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

Friday, July 15, 2011

Karen's First LWC Memory

One of the first LWC meetings I can recall attending was a critique session in February of 2008. There were four of us at Joe Mugs in Books-A-Million that night kicked back at a single table. And strangely, I can even remember who was there: Duncan, Jen, Ginny Andrews, and me.

There are a number of reasons I remember this first critique session. First, I was the last one to show up, and Duncan said, "Last one to arrive is the first one to read." I think I could feel my heart beating in my toes when he said that. I'd NEVER read my writing to anyone, much less a group of strangers. I think I said something ridiculous like, "Are you sure? I'm new."

Of course, those of you who know Duncan know he never cut us any slack, which I am grateful for now, but back then . . . well, I was scared to death. Whatever I said didn't work, and I, the newbie, did indeed read first that night.

The second reason I remember that night is because I found out that my writing wasn't as amazing as I thought it was. Why weren't these people as blown away by what I had written as I was? And I discovered it was because they knew a lot about writing that I didn't. Like how to cut the excessive detail, when prologues are acceptable, and how not to bore your reader.

That was what I learned the first night. Now, three and a half years later, I think I could write a book on what LWC has taught me.

And the third reason I remember that night is because one of the pieces read generated some friendly discussion about evolutionism and creationism, and it felt good to be around people who might not necessarily share the same views but who could express themselves honestly and thoughtfully. And I knew these were the kind of people I wanted to be around, because by surrounding myself with people just like me in the past, I had limited the scope of my writing.

Yes, there were only four of us that night, but I felt certain I could broaden something in myself here. And, boy, have I broadened myself, but that's a whole 'nother blog post.

LWC Members: If you'd like for me to post one of your first LWC memories, e-mail it to me.

Drop by on Monday to read "Growing Pleasures," a post about the growth history of LWC.

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

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Writers' Workshop: Trisha Petty Th.D

LWC Member Trisha Petty Presents

Writing 101: Do I REALLY Have To Do An Outline?!?

Petty is the author of thirteen books and several screenplays and and is a speaker who uses her expertise to share the craft of writing with others.

Thursday, July 14
at 6:30 p.m.

Maury County Library
211 8th St.
Columbia, TN

Workshop attendance is free.

Petty's books and workbook will be available for purchase.

Tune in to WAKM-AM on Monday, July 11, at 8:00 a.m. for an on-air interview with Trisha Petty. Read her story on the front page of this week's The Advertiser News and The Daily Herald. Visit her Web sites at: Cellophane Ministries and Antebellum Productions.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Inspiration By Accident

I posted this in My Writing Loft today and decided it's equally as fitting here, so I'm double dipping. Enjoy -

Inspiration is a tricky thing for a writer, isn't it? You can't really force feed yourself inspiration. You can't hammer through that big knotty hole in your story by simply sliding your chair back, closing your eyes, and declaring, "Okay, bring on the inspiration!" I'm sure there are some freaks of nature out there in writing wonderland who can conjure it on demand. But most of you, no doubt, are just like me - you can't will inspiration into being.

So what do you do? You live life and rely on those glorious accidental moments when inspiration whacks you so hard you think your brain might have twisted in your skull a few degrees.

Because suddenly all you can think about is that sycamore tree down on the river - the one with the open trunk so huge three people can stand inside it. Or how stinkin' high Fall Creek Falls is, and is there any scenario in which a person could survive plummeting over it? Or why you can't get Cece's favorite monster cup, the one she broke at writers' group the other night, out of your head, and discovering the answer when you reach a scene in chapter seven of your current work in progress.

Funny to think that stories live and grow through a series of accidental moments that inspired something magical in the mind of a writer.

Writer friends: What accidental moments have inspired you to create something magical?

Psst - click on "Cece's" above to read her blog - one of my favorites.

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

Friday, July 1, 2011

Workshop A Huge Success

The first major workshop presented by Living Writers Collective was a smashing success. Author Lisa Patton, the featured speaker, drew a crowd. LWC planners were hoping for at least 30 to attend the Saturday morning workshop. The official count was 61.

Lisa Patton, author of best selling Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter, gave hope to all writers encouraging perseverance in writing. She delivered her inspiring message with a sense of humor that captivated her audience.


Post by: LWC Newsletter Editor and the coordinator of this event, Mary Ann Weakley. Visit her Web site at