Saturday, June 30, 2012

Writing Prompts - Ed Griffin



I would like to welcome my guest Ed Griffin to my blog today. Ed and I are participating in the Tasha Turner Coaching -  Virtual Blog Tour.  We've been instructed to use a photo prompt to write a story. Here is Ed's creative take on it...



Holy crap. A mandala on the coffee table by the TV. My wife is at it again, the self-help nonsense and all the flowery gobbledygook those whackos come up with. Self-compassion, Grace, Gratitude. Give me a break.
I’ll make up a mandala for me. Sex, Power, Money, War Movies, Beer, Baseball, Die Hard, 1, 2, & 3.
So that’s where she’s been the last three nights, spinning the old protractor around and coloring it all in. Very careful work. I hoped she’d come to bed so we could, you know, but I fell asleep.
She knows where I’d find it. By the TV. She’s off to some meeting tonight, Doctor So and So tells how to beat cancer, get to the planet Mars, and make money by drawing mandalas or some such nonsense.
I work hard, construction. Doesn’t she know me? I guess the other part of that question is, do I know her?
Ah, there’s the doorbell. Wally. Right on time for the game. Neither of us have any kids and our wives are both into the self-help stuff big time.
“Come on in, Wally. Almost game time. A brewski?”
“How’s it goin, Bernie? Sure, a beer.”
I went to the kitchen and Wally went to the living room. When I came in with two cold ones, he was studying the mandala. “Your wife?” he asked holding up the picture. Normally he’d be making a joke about it, but he didn’t this time.
“Yeah,” I said and put the brews down and flicked on the TV.
“My wife had an interesting thing to say about this self-help stuff,” he said. “She doesn’t draw mandalas but she uses words like this.” He held up the mandala and read, “Intuition, Peace, Normalcy.” He put it on the coffee table and stared at the TV. The pre-game stuff was still on. I knew he had more to say on the subject. “She writes stuff like this, too. She trying to communicate with me, she says. “It’s a language.”
            “A language? Come on. Why not use good old English?”
“I don’t know. It was her shrink who came up with that idea. ‘You’re trying to communicate with your husband,’ the shrink said.
The game started, but Wally’s words were in my head. A language. What was my wife trying to tell me?

~Ed Griffin


Find Ed online at
Personal Blog http://edgriffin.net/
Writer’s Write Daily Blog http://writerswritedaily.wordpress.com/
***

What do you think of Ed's story? How do you feel about writing prompts? Please leave a comment, Ed and I love to chat with our readers!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Some Books Are Meant To Be Tasted


My guest blogger today is Catrina Taylor, she's a single mom and author of the science fiction universe around Xarrok. (See info at the bottom of this post to find out more about her and her books). Catrina, thank you for taking the time to blog.


Today Catrina shares one of her recent reads with us...  




“Some books are meant to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”

Francis Bacon, 1561-1626

That is one of my favorite quotes. He was absolutely accurate in the assessment too. I’ve read many books and will always continue to do so. I enjoy books, one page, one bite, one tidbit at a time. Currently I’m between books, so I’m going to share a recent read with you. One I enjoy, savor and adore. The book I’m going to reference for this discussion is the Spinward Fringe series by Randolph Lalonde.

Why a series and not a book? Because the series is something to experience. As a reader, I love getting to know a world, characters and environments. Once I know then, I want to follow every part of their story, their life and their history. The more I read, the more I want to read. Obviously, that directs me further to books that have multiple stories, or parts of stories, thus series. Series often fall into the above quote perfectly for me. Now, onto Spinward Fringe.

Spinward Fringe has a world of characters that are dynamic, impressive, and exciting to follow. Their universe compels you to turn each page with anticipation and their voices ring loudly in your head, long after the last page is turned. The first book in the series is FREE. I’ve bought two more since then and his aren’t the cheapest books available. They are books that make me seek more.

Here is a fun excerpt:
I crossed the hallway to check the next corner and felt something brush right past me but didn’t’ see it. Oz icked up on my reaction and fired his shot gun right beside me. The noise was so sudden and brutal it was painful. He caught what brushed by me full in the back.

Without hesitation, Oz turned in the other direction, fired once then fired down the third hallway. His third shot seemed to cause the air itself to erupt with bits of blood and debris and I opened fire on the area. My left ear rung and my left arm stung like crazy, but I cut a line of fire across the middle of the hall and one of the targets became fully visible. He was wearing an all black vacuum suit. My shots had hit the control on his wrist. The way he was lying showed that another body had fallen under him.

“Stealth suits? I’ve never heard of it being done so well.” I said while trying to guess the outline of the invisible body trapped under his comrade. “Grab the controller on the invisible one’s arm.” I pointed with my side arm to where the body should lie.

Oz felt around and after a moment he yanked hard without success. He took aim with the shotgun and I ducked around the corner. It was as he blasted the man’s arm off with two shots that I realized that Oz’s first shot actually caught me with high velocity buckshot. Glancing down I could see at least a dozen small holes. “You shot me!” I shouted, through I could barely hear myself.

Oz came around the corner with the fallen man’s arm, controller still attached, and gave me a sheepish grin, “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice.” He shrugged. “Let’s get to the ship.”

Oz fired once down the last hallway, but didn’t catch anything. We sprinted down to the lift. I held my arm as we descended and looked down to see that it was covered in blood from many little entry wounds. “You shot me!” I repeated at Oz in angry disbelief. “With an antique weapon!”

Oh when I read that section it was all I could do not to laugh enough to make my family look at me strange…then again, they may have anyway. Since this book I’ve enjoyed the next two quickly, unable to put them down until I turned the last page. I will warn you, if you decide to pick up one of the Spinward Fringe books you’ll learn quickly that Randolph Lalonde is an expert at creating cliff hangers.

What I’d like to know:
What do you enjoy reading? Do you enjoy series or prefer stand alone books? Do you lean toward a specific genre, or nibble from all genre?

About my Guest:
Currently Catrina is working on two separate series in the universe with more to come. The first is her Birth of an Empire series, the second is her short story Origins series. At this time book one has been released in Birth of an Empire and book two is anticipated July 2012. You can find her books through all major book retailers.

To learn more about Catrina you can visit her on facebook, twitter or G+ or stop by the website to learn more about her world. Http://Xarrok.com

Saturday, June 16, 2012

What's Tara Chevrestt's Favorite Book?



My favorite book? I've read so many books in my lifetime, I cannot possibly choose one, but I did manage to narrow it down to three titles. But each title has something in common: the heroine is afflicted with something that makes her different from mainstream society, and she struggles above it, doesn't let herself be beaten down. These stories touch the deepest part of me because I have been there. I'm a hearing "impaired" woman who grew up in a hearing society. So these stories touched my soul. I understood, laughed with the characters, cried with them. And when they met their HEA, I felt deep inside, "There's a HEA for me too. I just have to find it."
And I did find it: I'm home thanks to my wonderful, generous husband, pursuing my dreams of writing, with three gorgeous little dogs by my chair.
But back to the books:
The Tailor's Daughter by Janice Graham. Victorian England, a girl deafened by illness. She dresses as a man, takes over a tailor shop, fights society with silent refusal to back down. And she doesn't give up on finding love either.
The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin. She was a mere two foot, eight inches, but the heroine has a big heart. She hurts when people make fun of her, look at her funny, ostracize her, and most of all, as a "disabled" person, I understood her feelings of discomfort around "her own" kind. It's possible to be judged by "your own" as well and to be put off by stereotypes. But it's up to you if you fit in the stereotype or not.
Molokai by Alan Brennert. The heroine has leprosy and is exiled to an island full of others with affliction. It's a life of heartache and pain, but you know what? She finds happiness, true love, and in the end; would she change it all for anything the mainland has to offer?
All were beautiful stories that touched me deeply. Are you different? Do you have a "disability?" Are you impaired? Who cares. There's a HEA for you too.
And I tried to show this in a book of my own, as well. In A Facebook Affair, I have a young woman, hearing "impaired," looking for love despite the fact she's slightly scarred by her past. People haven't always been kind to her. I hope that Kelly's story opens up some eyes and minds to the plight of those suffering disabilities.
What book has touched you?
***
Tara Chevrestt is a deaf woman, former aviation mechanic, writer, and an editor. She is most passionate about planes, motorcycles, dogs, and above all, reading. That led to her love of writing. Between her writing and her editing, which allows her to be home with her little canine kids, she believes she has the greatest job in the world. She is very happily married.
Tara also writes as Sonia Hightower. Sonia writes the racy stuff and argues that she was here first. She just wasn't allowed to be unleashed until the last year.
While Tara and Sonia continue to fight over the laptop and debate who writes the next book, you can find buy links, blurbs, and other fun bits on their website: http://tarachevrestt.weebly.com/index.html or their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tara-Chevrestt-Sonia-Hightower/218383211513877.




Saturday, June 9, 2012

Peggy Browning A Calm and Happy Freak



Peggy Browning is a writer looking at her life after age 50 through rose-colored bifocals. She writes about issues facing the boomer crowd with humor and wit. She has reinvented herself many times through life’s exciting adventures, varied jobs and diverse careers. She’s been a special education teacher, social worker, waitress, newspaper carrier,  newspaper correspondent, fruit stand owner, nurse’s aide, janitor and  writer/entrepreneur. And that’s just a few of the jobs she’s been paid to do during her first 5 decades…


The Wisdom to Know the Difference….Attitudes after 50

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

Recently someone told me it appears that I care about nothing. He judged my calmness about the world’s state of affairs and particularly about his own state of affairs as a lack of concern for both the world and for him.

His exact words were: “You don’t give a sh*t about anything, do you?”

Au contraire, my friend. I do care.

It’s just that now that I’m over age 50, I find very few things worthy of expending the energy to fret over.

I learned long ago that it’s useless to fret.

If my friend wanted to see “caring” he should have been around me 25 years ago. I “cared” so much then that I stuck my nose in everybody’s business. I tried changing the unchangeable, fixing the unfixable. I found everything unacceptable.

It was exhausting. It was also unmanageable.  I was too busy minding the world’s business to mind my own.

The difference between then and now is that I believe I have developed the wisdom to know the difference in what to change and what to accept.

I watch the news. I understand what’s going on around me. I know I’m a calm minority.

I know everyone around me seems concerned about something…whether it’s the economy or a celebrity’s unflattering dress. After listening to news shows, election debates, and the general fussiness and complaints of co-workers and neighbors, I feel like a freak because I don’t rush to action or judgment.

However, I am a very calm and relatively happy freak

It’s this very calmness that seems to bother people like my aforementioned friend who continues to fret and obsess, fuss and argue.

To quote Homer (Simpson…not the Greek poet): “Just because I don’t care, doesn’t mean I don’t understand.” That pretty much sums it up for me.

I like to think that’s wisdom rather than complacence. But it’s hard to know for sure.

Now that I’m over age 50, I hardly care about any of the things I worried about before. In fact, many of those issues have either gone away or resolved themselves over time without my help or interference. Maybe they really weren’t all that important to begin with.

Do I care about World Peace, Injustice, Hunger, War, Unbearable Strife and General Unhappiness?  Do I care that the neighbor’s driveway was blocked by careless parking or that her dog barks every night from midnight to 3:00 a.m.?

Technically, yes.

Obsessively, no.

Although I care in general, I have accepted that I can’t do much about other people’s problems on a large scale. I can only do my best with my own limited access and capability.

 I can follow Mother Teresa’s advice and do small deeds with great love. Let my actions speak louder than words.

What else can I do? How much more can I care?

Yes, I could obsess…argue…debate. But is that truly caring? Will it make a difference?  I think not.

Why fret when it’s unnecessary? Or when it changes nothing?

It just seems wiser and more caring to change the things I can and accept the things I can’t, to truly care about what I truly care about and do the best I can.

Now that I’m over 50, I tend to look more calmly at situations, change things if I need to and try to leave them alone if I don’t.

Perhaps, finally, I have simply gained the wisdom to know the difference.

***If you are over fifty do you feel the same way? If you're under fifty can you see this happening to you (if it hasn't already)?  Comment below, and thanks for stopping by the blog today!   ~Natalie

Catch Peggy's musings about life after 50 on her blog at her website, http://fiftyodd.com, her opinion column and feature news stories at http://pioneer-sentinel.com, and blogs at http://galtime.com and http://zestnow.com. Visit her Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Fifty-Odd/327132190645107.




Saturday, June 2, 2012

Penelope Price and Music


My guest blogger today is Penelope Price! I would like to welcome her, and encourage you participate in the conversation below!

More Than Words
by Penelope Price
Music is just about as necessary to my process as you know, words, ideas, and uh... breathing. It is very rare that I choose silence when I'm writing. However, the best mojo comes when I am able to turn on a playlist, hit shuffle, and tune out all the lyrics and drums and screaming dinosaur rockers and just hit THE ZONE. 
When I was a tween, writing my first novel, I had a cassette tape of Bryan Adams' "So Far, So Good" a greatest hits compilation. I could hit play on that album and start typing. Then I'd blink and the whole side would be over and I'd have vomited a few thousand more words onto the page. Hours might have passed and I was none the wiser, so wrapped up in THE ZONE was I. 
I literally wore that tape out. One night, right in the middle of a climactic fight sequence, the ribbon snapped and I cried. I cried like my grandmother had died all over again. I was afraid I would never be able to write again. Well, I have written many thousands of words since I was twelve, but I am sad to say I have never quite reached that level of instant ZONE-ness. Even after I finally got a disc man and a copy of "So Far, So Good" on CD.
Alas.
When I think of a song that seems to fit my WIP, Incandescence, the first thing that came to mind was "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones for the antagonist, Alexander. Then "Mommy, Can I Go Out & Kill Tonight" by the Misfits for his cousin-slash-cohort, Isaac. But those don't really apply to the story as a whole...
So I turned to Jack and asked, "Jack, what song would you say describes my book?" 
He quirked a brow, opened a browser to Youtube.com and played this:
 And I laughed. I guess I talk too much about how the setting is - the near future, as the world we know crumbles.
C'est la vie. That isn't part of my standard writing soundtrack, but it sure works for me.
So - have you read anything lately that brings to mind a specific song or genre? What and why? C'mon - tell me all about it!
Love & Rainbows,
P.P.

Penelope Price: author, gamer, nerd. Though she has been writing since she learned to read, P.P. did not emerge from her coccoon to join the writing circuit until the year of Tangerine Tango. She is the crazy chick behind this summer's Incandescence and its sequel, Inferno and can usually be found plotting projects with her partner-in-crime, Jack Morgan of PunchJackMorgan.com. Get updates, gossip and geekery by following P.P. on Facebook (http://facebook.com/PP_TheWriter), Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/PP_TheWriter), and at her blog (http://www.penelopeprice.net).