Musings about the writing life.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I Got Interviewed by A Book Lover's Playlist

This happened in January but work is keeping me pretty distracted....

Kayleigh from A Book Lover's Playlist blog interviewed me and came up with a playlist for my book.

Kayleigh's soundtrack for Nellcott:

Nellcott Is My Darling Playlist:
Tom's Diner by Suzanne Vega
Nothing Compares 2 U by Sinead O'Connor
Enjoy The Silence by Depeche Mode
Never Enough by The Cure
Wicked Game by Chris Isaak

I especially like the "Wicked Game" choice because it was a major song in Wild at Heart and that movie blew me away when I saw it.  In spite of the violence, I though Lula and Sailor's craziness for each other was epic.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Bibliofeast 2013

Women's National Book Association
Monday, October 14, 6-9 pm
Maggiano's Little Italy, Charlotte

Jamie Mason and me

Mary Struble Deery and me

 Susan Gregg Gilmore and me

What a great event! The food was AMAZING. The authors jumped from table to table answering any questions we had about what it was like to be a writer.  Sort of a musical chairs type of thing.  Somebody won a Kobo. Authors signed the books I bought. Good times! 

Jamie Mason said she got the idea for her book from a newspaper article title.  Cassandra King said her book is a loose modern adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca. Tommy Hays told us writing a young adult novel was no different than writing an adult book for him.  He didn't change the level of vocabulary or anything like that. Wilton Barnhardt said he taught creative writing and NC State and there was a short story writing contest we needed to enter by next Monday.

This year's writers and books were the following:
Wilton Barnhardt, Lookaway, Lookaway
Diane Chamberlain, Necessary Lies
Nora Gaskin, Time of Death and Until Proven
Susan Gregg Gilmore, The Funeral Dress
Tommy Hays, What I Came to Tell You
Cassandra King, Moonrise
Rebecca Lee, Bobcat and Other Stories
Jamie Mason, Three Graves Full
John Milliken Thompson, Love and Lament

It was the fourth year the WNBA put on this event but my first time.  I hope I always get to go.

Monday, September 30, 2013

NC Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti Visits GTCC

September 25th, 2013
Jamestown, NC

12-1 pm Poetry Reading
Joseph Bathanti read poetry in the AT Auditorium, introducing each one with a great anecdote.  The subject was often "leaving home." For him, he had left Pittsburgh to come to North Carolina.  One poem was about the night before his sister was getting married.  In that case, his sister was "leaving home" for the first time.  Joseph Bathanti's poems are often free verse with a narrative threading through.  He captured everyone's attention and even raffled off two of his poetry books at the end.

1-2 pm Conversations with Veterans
Bathanti in his position as poet laureate especially loves to work with veterans.  He thinks that writing can be therapeutic for veterans.  He stated, "Either you control the memory, or the memory controls you."  He mentioned that 2 million Americans have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and 1/4 of them have been diagnosed with PTSD.

He mentioned some of the following resources for veterans:
I asked him if there was a piece of writing associated with the war in Iraq and Afghanistan as The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, is often associated with literature about the Vietnam War.

One student vet in the audience shared that after he read "The Things They Carried" with his English class, he couldn't go back to class for a week--it had brought up all these memories and feelings.

He suggested two books:
  • The Yellow Birds: A Novel by Kevin Powers (He's from Bluefield, VA.)
  • Here, Bullet (Poems) by Brian Turner
Looking for where to submit poems and short stories you write?
He suggested going to the website

3-4 pm Writing Creatively
The final session of the day was a round table discussion conversation about poetry with the GTCC Creative Writers Club members and some visiting guests.  Bathanti explained the difference between formalism and free verse. We discussed how poetry does not seem to be beach material and what a prose poem is exactly.

He suggested enhancing your poetry by always putting in a dramatic situation, a situation we can see/witness.  Then narrate that.

He said to try to avoid the "ephemeral" (feelings).  Use imagery.  Use language that appeals to the senses.

A poem has to sound good.  "Don't get 'format anxiety,'" he said.

"Show not Tell."  Isn't saying "he smashed Junior's face in" so much better than saying he was angry?  Isn't it great how you see Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman come on stage in the first scene and you just see him put his heavy suitcases down? (I am paraphrasing, but that is a good image!!)

He told us he personally was highly influenced by Robert Lowell's autobiographical poems in Life Studies, which I need to go and pick up....

Monthly NCWN Charlotte Chapter Meetup

Julia's Cafe and Books
Charlotte, NC
Saturday, September 28, 2013
3-5 pm
Hosted by Annie Maier

First of all, I love Julia's Cafe.  I found a copy of Steve Zissou for three dollars--The Criterion Collection!!

Secondly, Annie always brings homemade cinnamon cookies and handouts!!

"The more conferences I attend and the more studies and articles I read, the more I am convinced that one thing will remain constant regardless of the changes in our industry. No matter the media, genre or subject, the biggest difference between successful authors and aspiring writers is perseverance--the willingness, and ability, to stay seated, stay focused, and write." --Annie Maeir

I met some great local writers and talked about writing "salon style" like in Paris in the 30s perhaps....

I also was reminded of things to come: I don't know if I'll make it all the way down to Wrightsville Beach for this year's NCWN Fall Conference, but I should because they have a workshop on how to write sex scenes!!!

I did sign up for the "Spaghetti Night with Authors" that's happening Monday, October 14th though at Maggiano's hosted by the Women's National Book Association which is really called Bibliofeast 2013.

Hope to see you there!

Friday, July 19, 2013

How to Live Like an Artist

A Workshop led by Elaine Connors
Thursday, July 18th, 2013
6:30-8:30 pm
Carolina Learning Connection

"Being an artist is not about being able to draw a straight line, it's about self-expression." --Elaine Connors.

"How to Live Like an Artist" was an excellent workshop led by Elaine Connors. We discussed how artists make artistic decisions, how rituals are important, and how to listen to our inner compass.  "How to Think Like an Artist" might have been a better title for me because it wasn't about how to apply for grants or how to divide your time or how to use paint, etc.  It was a lesson on how "to be."

"Rituals can be anything from spraying yourself with rose water to lighting a candle.  It's important though to let your body know that this is what your doing now... listening for the answer to 'What do I do next?'"

We started with a breathing exercise.  It's so hard for me to sit still and be still so meditation always makes we want to bolt out the door, but I do want to explore it a little bit more.  It is definitely a way to start listening to your inner compass.

My inner compass has been telling me to avoid writing altogether and lately I'm much happier playing guitar.  But I know myself, and I know that I will need to get back to writing soon to feel happier too.

I talked about my resistance to "showing up for the muse" and Elaine suggested the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield which I will have to check out.

I've read The Artist Way by Julia Cameron who suggests writing "morning pages": journaling three handwritten pages at the beginning of each day and taking yourself on artist dates by yourself at least once a week.  I miss journaling and do want to get back to that.

She said the best video on the subject of creativity is a Ted Talks by Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love:

Another idea we talked about was the idea of Kaizen, a Japanese term that means "breaking it down into small pieces.  Writer Anne Lamott is famous for talking about this concept in her book on writing, Bird by Bird.  She is also known for saying it's part of the process to have "shitty first drafts."

We did a bunch more exercises that were very helpful in visualizing what you want to do to be creative and now I'll just have to follow through...

I'll sit down.  Carry out my rituals.  Ask myself what is the next step.  And wait for the answer.

Monday, June 24, 2013

OneBookMore Booktuber Mention

Today I was mentioned by one of my favorite booktubers, OneBookMore.  She mentioned me and I already have three new subscribers.  So nice of her!