What’s happening in November?

To begin with I joined the November poem-a-day (PAD) chapbook challenge, always led by Robert Lee Brewer, Writer’s Digest poetry editor. He does this challenge twice a year. The next one will be in July. I think it’s a wonderful exercise. He provides the prompts which are sometimes silly and not like anything I would choose to write about on my own, yet they give me the little bit of push I need to keep at my poetry writing. Today is Day 4 and the prompt is: For today’s prompt, take the phrase “Night (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles might include: “Night Hawk,” “Night Rider,” “Night and Day,” “Night Watchman,” or even “Nightmare.” I haven’t written to this prompt yet, but I will share what I wrote to the Day 1 prompt: Write a once upon a time poem. The title of the poem could be “Once Upon a Time,” or the first words could be. Or you could do what I did in my attem … [Read more...]

Why I Write and What I Write

I wrote the article below for the Southern Writer’s Magazine’s Blog a few months ago. It is still very relevant now. Why I Write and What I Write At this point in my life by all rights I should be retired. I’ve just turned seventy-nine, and no where does it say I need to keep sitting at my computer every day and write. But I do sit there – usually from ten in the morning until about two in the afternoon. Sometimes I’ll even go back for more later in the day. I got into this habit in the early 2000s when I started writing my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On (Dream  of Things). That expanded to writing poetry, essays for my blog and other people’s websites, and journaling. By the time my memoir was published in 2011, I was already working on my historical novel, Papa’s Shoes, which has just been released by Aberdeen Bay publishers. And that’s not the end of it. I still write poetry – I write at least one poem a week except in November and April when I write a poem a day to me … [Read more...]

My Author Learning Center interview clips

Last March I sat down with the Author Learning Center  President Keith Ogorek for an interview about writing, getting published, and marketing. As its website says: The Author Learning Center (ALC) is a one-of-a-kind online author education community designed to help educate, motivate, and support you at every stage of your writing and publishing journey, including marketing your book.  The ALC offers content on writing, editing, publishing and marketing from a variety of industry experts, agents, best-selling authors, publicists, and editors. In addition, the ALC gives you access to unique tools, the Book Launch Tool and Author Circles, to help you reach your goals. Here are the topics and the interview clips. In the future I'll post other ALC interview clips. Getting a Publishing Deal for My New Historical Novel, Papa’s Shoes: A Polish shoemaker and his family settle in small-Town America (Aberdeen Bay). Getting Reviews and Testimonials Through a Virtual Book Blog Tour … [Read more...]

Some more favorite writing quotes

I think it's time to post a few more quotes about writing. I think they encourage us to keep sitting in that chair and keeping our hands moving on the keyboard or on paper. I collect quotes. I hope you'll join me. “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”—Louis L’Amour “Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”—Stephen King “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”—Elmore Leonard *** Thank you for indulging me on this quote trip. I hope you'll share your favorites in the comments below.  … [Read more...]

My reinvention story

How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my age I fell in love with poetry and creative writing in grade school. I studied journalism in high school and college and wrote for the high school newspaper. I graduated from UCLA with a degree in English and had no idea what I would do professionally with it. I had wanted to work as a journalist and actually completed all the course work for a degree in journalism at the University of Wisconsin. But family illness caused me to transfer to UCLA for my senior year, and UCLA didn’t offer a BA degree in journalism. So I was stuck in a city I didn’t know and where I hardly knew anyone, trying valiantly and unsuccessfully early on to get a writing job. Then I gave up. It was 1962. There were not a lot of jobs for women writers in those days, especially in Los Angeles. Then someone suggested I try the growing aerospace business in southern California. With that, I called Douglas Aircr … [Read more...]

What do you think about these quotes about writing?

One of my friends collects interesting quotes about writing. He sent me these the other day. He must have known I collect writing quotes as well. Though I don't agree with all of them, I'd love to hear your reactions. Please comment below. “It’s a lousy, stupid thing to do. You start out thinking people are going to admire you and love you and respect you, but really, nobody gives a shit. It’s a terrible life.” ~Nelson Algren “Writing is like prostitution. First, you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally, you do it for money.” ~Moliere “If you can’t annoy somebody there is little point in writing.” ~Kingsley Amis "In him [and I'm sure today he would have added "and her"]  no simple feeling exists anymore. All that he sees, his joys, his pleasures, his sufferings, his despairs, become instantaneously subjects of observation. He analyzes in spite of everything, in spite of himself, without end, hearts, faces, gestures, intonations . . . … [Read more...]

What’s happening?

Isn’t it funny how some of us start conversations with people these days with this question: “What’s Happening?” And then the poor person being asked the question is in the hot seat having to come up with a quick and meaningful answer. Well, my answer today is: writing is happening in my life. I feel like I’ve been at my computer these last few days since the new year and even before the holidays, almost non-stop. And that’s a good thing. I gotten myself back into writing small stones, which are a couple of lines about anything. This month I started writing one every day, concentrating on a theme that has to do with something I observe in nature. By the way, I’ve written small stones for years, but recently took a break from them. I’m glad to be back. There’s a Facebook group in case you’re interested in joining in. This month they’re called January resolutions – the name changes every month. My main project, however, is my new memoir about aging. I wrote a list of thirty topics … [Read more...]

Writing up a storm

I got a note back from a writing friend after I congratulated her on her new book of poetry. She said she hopes I’m writing up a storm. We met years ago at a poetry writing workshop at Esalen in Big Sur California. Plus, I took two of her classes through UCLA’s writers program: How to Write Your First Novel and her Novel Three class. Well, I think I am writing a lot. Today for instance I’ve already written to two poem-a-day (PAD) prompts – one to make up for yesterday and one for today. Plus I have this list of writing yet to accomplish: this blog post, another thousand words or so of my new memoir, and my everyday journal entry that usually goes about five hundred words. That’s a big assignment, but isn’t that what we writers are supposed to do? Another thing that’s on my writing plate is querying small presses, hopefully to get them interested in publishing my novel. So far I’ve queried three. It’s very slow going and, as I’ve said before, a scary one. My son is an actor and … [Read more...]

WriteGirl – a huge success story

I am contemplating volunteering to be a writing mentor at a Los Angeles-based nonprofit called WriteGirl. Launched in 2001 by Karen Taylor, #WriteGirl provides weekly one-on-one mentoring, schedules monthly workshops on a variety of writing genres, shares mentee work in public meetings, and publishes books with writings by its mentees. Where do WriteGirl mentees come from? WriteGirl mentees come from high-density public middle and high schools in central Los Angeles. These girls are recommended by their English teachers and are both low and high achievers. Where do I fit in? WriteGirl searches for professional women writers and women with strong communications skills who use writing in their careers in all genres – some like me, who work in multiple genres – who will volunteer to mentor these teen girls. I first heard of WriteGirl at a friend’s birthday party. My friend asked for donations to WriteGirl instead of gifts and hosted WriteGirl staff, volunteers, and mente … [Read more...]

Wine while you write

Ha ha! Needless to say I'm thinking about a glass of wine as my alcohol fast ends in a few days!   … [Read more...]

My thoughts about the film The Wife (spoiler alert!)

The new film, The Wife, with Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, brought up a lot of memories of my writing career. Early on in her studies, Joan Castleman, the character Glenn Close plays in the film, was told she could get nowhere as a female author. It was the year 1958 – the same year I started college as a journalism major. Castleman, already recognized for her writing skills, says she couldn’t live without writing. I too was hell-bent on having a career in writing though I was discouraged as well. My father made it clear I should study to be a teacher – after all that’s what girls in my generation did – or skip college altogether and become a secretary. Of course, the Castleman character in the movie and I were on totally different paths in our writing. My forte was journalism; hers was fiction. I persisted and got a job right after graduating from college at a fashion trade magazine, which I quit after three weeks because my male boss verbally abused and harassed me. A f … [Read more...]

What’s next to write?

Now that my novel is going through a final professional edit and hopefully getting ready to shop around. I’ve been thinking about what’s next for my writing life. For a long time, I’ve thought that there isn’t another book in me, but now I’m not so sure. Could I write another memoir? I’m at that stage in my life when I have almost all of it to look back on, so I could write a memoir from an old wise woman’s approach to turning eighty. I could write about the secrets of staying married to the same man for over forty-eight years and living in the same house for thirty-nine years. Really where have all those years gone? And really that brings up another big question – how much time do my husband and I have left anyway, and what are we doing to prepare for our last years? Or better yet, how we’re handling our lives right now as we age – at different paces. Yes, another memoir or even two are a real possibility. The options are endless: how we're still working at surviving the loss of … [Read more...]

Some more quotes about writing – and life

I can never resist a good quote - or sharing them with you. Hope you like this batch. Please let me know how these quotes relate to your writing. … [Read more...]

How does an author change voices?

I'm delighted to have Wendy Lozano here at Choices. She and I have known each other since we worked on our high school newspaper together – and that's a long time. After an absence of many years, we reconnected while she carried out a successful career in academia and I worked for the aerospace industry. Coincidentally we are both novel writers now.  Her novel, The Fifth Sun, will be out next week. Here Wendy shares how she had found her author's voice after writing in her academic voice during her academic career – similar to my transition from technical writing to creative writing. I find the transition fascinating. I hope you will too.   Changing Voices by Wendy Lozano When I wrote my first historical novels in the ‘70s, my name was Wendy Lozano. Writing  seemed really easy to me then. I just fantasized about being in a particular time and place, did some research, and then wrote down my fantasy. I didn’t worry about voice or point of view. They were mine. The only … [Read more...]

What’s next in my writing life

Since I’ve finished – at least in my estimation– revision ten of my novel, it’s on hold. I want to hire a professional editor it go through it, but I haven’t made that happen yet. I’ve asked a young woman who worked with me on my memoir, but her life is so busy with children, she hasn’t given me a yes or no yet. I’ll wait another week or two and then go on to Plan B. In the meantime, I’ve gone back to writing small stones – I’ll post a couple that I’ve written this month below And I’m working on my poetry. I completed the April poem a day challenge put out by Robert Lee Brewer over at Writer’s Digest. I also write to his weekly Wednesday prompts. And this not usual for me – I’m editing some of my existing poems, getting them ready for submittal. (I’ve heard somewhere that if we haven’t received at least 100 rejections in a year, we haven’t submitted enough. That I’m editing poems is the unusual part for me. I usually write them, and then only with quick word or two changes … [Read more...]

Where was this when I needed it?

As I finish my tenth and last draft of my novel, I've come across this Checklist for Authors. I don't know how it came to me, but I do know it's a product of WritersWrite, a site that is all about writing and writing advice. Check it out. I know I will the next time I write a book. And, you know, in going through this list again, I think I've covered most everything on the checklist already - especially Number 21: Have I rewritten my novel at least five times? I guess I'm in good shape to stop at ten. … [Read more...]

Writing quotes to stave off writers block

I love quotes. I collect them and then use them appropriately in my writing. So I really resonated with the  Writer's Digest article in 2012, when journalist Zachary Petit shared his list of favorite quotes. He called it a good resource to use at times when the writing work doesn't automatically come. I'll share a portion of Petit's list here, and perhaps update it again from time to time. I always keep this URL handy for times of need. Please send me your favorite writing quotes too - especially from new writers who have come into our  lives since this list was compiled. I'll put them up here too. “The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.” —Philip Roth “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” —Stephen King “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.” —Allen Ginsberg, WD “Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.” —Willi … [Read more...]

My favorite writing retreat

For the last twenty years I've booked myself into a writing or poetry workshop at a rustic Big Sur, CA retreat, Esalen Institute, and I let nothing get in the way of my going. It is my time away from family and friends including my husband alarm clocks, traffic, grocery shopping, cooking daily meals, telemarketer calls, daily newspapers, television, politics, cell phones, and if I choose, all internet connections. It's a breath of fresh air. It's my yearly chance to get away and unwind. As soon as I've packed up my car and gotten on the road, my special time begins. And once I'm out of the Los Angeles area and well on my way toward Santa Barbara, I begin to relax, sink deep into my driver's seat, take some long deep breaths and watch the beauty of the world go by. The hills look like they are painted with sweeping brush strokes of mustard yellow, the rows of newly planted grape vines stand tall and proud, and the clear sky except for a few Georgia O'Keefe clouds beckon me up … [Read more...]

Writing poetry again

I've been writing poems to Writers Digest Poetic Asides blog editor, Robert Lee Brewer's prompts for years at least since 2009 when I first entered his poem a day challenges in November and April. As a result, I have reams of poem-a-day poems, and poems to his Wednesday prompts. Right now, my Wednesday prompt document is eight-three pages and has 27,084 words. So when I decided to declare victory on my novel at least for now, I thought: why not go back to my Brewer poem document and write poems for all the prompts I've skipped over? I missed quite a few in the last few weeks because I was working, and I'm sure there must be many throughout the document as a whole. Another thing I want to look at is: are there any good enough to submit for publishing? As far as I know there is only one the first one on the list that's been published (actually twice). Here's the prompt and poem. For this week's prompt, write a box poem. This poem is either about a box or includes a box … [Read more...]

I loved the movie, Rebel in the Rye

I don't care what the reviews say or what the rotten tomatoes score is, I loved the movie, "Rebel in the Rye." It kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Maybe it's because I was and still am a huge fan of J.D. Salinger and his novel and short stories. And maybe it's because I am a writer. My first thought as I left the theater yesterday is that I must tell my writer friends to see it. I think every budding writer should see it. The teaching of Salinger's professor Whit Burnett, a lecturer at Columbia University, editor of Story magazine, and a mentor of young Salinger, played by Kevin Spacey, and the encouragement he got from Dorothy Olding, the loyal agent who supported the young Salinger throughout his career, played by Sarah Paulson, is something all writers should strive for. This movie also gave me a greater understanding of Salinger's decision to become a recluse and never publish again. He suffered from post traumatic stress syndrome as a result of his World War II … [Read more...]