Breakthrough

I had a writing breakthrough this morning. I’m working on a new project, and I had one poem written for the project, which is telling a story through a series of linked poems. The problem is that the poem I have already written fits into the middle of the series. So I need to find a sense of direction for the project, a beginning, a middle, and an end, that manages to fit the poem I have already written and the vision I had when I wrote it.

I have been struggling for months to fit it into a certain worldview, call it Direction A. This was not working and work has been going very slowly. The past few days, I wasn’t even working on poems for it, I have been writing essay excerpts about the values inherent in Direction A. This is a problem.

Yesterday, I decided that Direction A is its own project, and I would start from scratch for a vision for this project, Direction B. This morning I sat down, feeling daunted, to create Direction B and figure out where I wanted to go with it. I started thinking again about what I had in mind for the original poem I wrote, and what that might mean about the world it was set in. Ten minutes later, I have a worldview, a setting, ideas for poems for the beginning of the series, and where it will go after the poem I already have. All of it feels right, like I am tapping into something that exists already, and I’m not trying to force it to be something it is not.

Apologies for the vagueness of this post, I’m not quite ready to share the contents of either Direction A or Direction B. But I hope and expect that you will be hearing more about them in the future.

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Back from Summer Break

I am back from summer break, and almost caught up with everything that needs to be done after 2 weeks away from one’s ordinary life. I apologize for starting to post on this blog again, and then disappearing for several weeks. That was the only big break/trip we have scheduled until next summer, so expect regular updates from me now. I also apologize for the paltry post, but I have returned from vacation with so many writing plans swirling through my head, I need to pick just one at a time to write about.

I hope to post at least once a week, hopefully more often, for the foreseeable future. I’m actually hoping to post once a day (except for weekends) but that’s probably too much to plan on for sure as I get into the swing of things.

It rained last night, leaving the world very sparkly. Which is a terribly overused cliche, so instead I will leave you with a little haiku.

Vapor rises off
The wet deck, bright green leaves shine
Summer rain’s end.

Teaching Thursday: How to Create an Interesting Twitter Feed for a Business

A friend of mine asked on Facebook how to create an interesting Twitter feed for a business. I started to answer, and realized the post was getting reeeaaalllly long. So I moved the post over here, and kept on writing … (Some of the info is specific to my friend, so adapt as necessary)

How to post things that are interesting: Post things you find interesting. You want your feed to reflect you and your business. The best way to do that is post things you find interesting. Now, since this is your business, you want to post things that will create positive feelings for your business. Probably stay away from political things (unless they reflect something important to your business).

You also want to make your Twitter feed a source of good info about your business: radio show info is good, class info is good, coupons or sale info are good (if you do those), but you don’t want to be spammy. So a good rule of thumb is 8-10 tweets about things other than your business for every tweet about your business. And you don’t want to just thank other people/retweet/reply to others, either. You should keep the thanks and replies to about every 3rd tweet, and retweets to about 3 tweets out of those 8-10, too. This sounds hard, but once you get going, it kind of comes naturally. I just keep a rough count in my head as I go, but you could record it somehow (using HootSuite would make it easier to keep track).

Here’s a rough count of what your tweets should look like:

Business info (radio show, classes, coupons): 1 tweet

Thank new follower: 1 tweet

Retweet: 2 tweets

Interesting tweet: 2 tweets

Reply to someone: 1 tweet

Interesting tweet: 2 tweets

That’s 9 tweets (8 non-business), so now you can start all over with a business info tweet.

Now, if you don’t tweet every day (I don’t), you can just keep the cycle going over days instead of hours. You don’t have to tweet every day, but you’ll get more followers and a more active feed if you do. HootSuite can help you schedule tweets.

If you schedule tweets, be sure and stop them if a major national or international disaster happens — you don’t want to appear insensitive.

 

Book Review: The Third Hill North of Town

The Third Hill North of Town, by Noah Bly, sucks you in very quickly with its dark humor and laugh-out-loud moments, even in the midst of tragedy. Julianna Dapper is a middle-aged woman in Bangor, Maine, with a lovely home, a good job, and a good life. One day, her mind snaps, she thinks she is fifteen again, and she sets fire to her neighbor’s garage for no apparent reason. Placed in the state mental hospital, she palms her medication and feeds it to an African violet at the nurses’ station. Left unsupervised for a moment one Saturday morning in June, she waltzes right out of the hospital, into the director’s car (keys conveniently left in the ignition), and she’s off, heading home to Pawnee, Missouri.

She manages to kidnap (almost accidentally) an African-American teenager, Elijah, in the next town over, and picks up another, hitchhiking teenager a while after that. The boys quickly realize that all is not right with her, and tragedy piles upon tragedy as they careen their way across the country.

But these tragedies are minor compared to the huge tragedy that lies at the center of Julianna’s life, a night of blood and fire that has all the answers. And in a tense scene back at the scene of the tragedy that started it all in Pawnee, as all the people hunting these accidental fugitives converge on them (among them Elijah’s parents, the director of the Maine state mental hospital, Julianna’s son, and police from two states), we find out about the terrible night that began it all.

This is Noah Bly’s debut novel, and it is amazing. If this is how he writes a first novel, I can’t wait until he’s been writing for a few more years.

Five out of five stars. Intense.

neep, neep, neep!

I woke up to angry neeps this morning, as a very fluffed-up robin scolded a prowling cat. The prompt over at Daily Writing Practice is ‘window shopping.’ I put the two together for a little poem:

Cat: prowling among the bushes,
Searching the leaves,
Looking for tasty morsels to eat.

Bird: Go away, go away, go away!
We live here, this is our home!
We are not tasty morsels,
We do not wish to participate in your breakfast window shopping!

======================

I do enjoy the process of writing out and typing out the thoughts in my head, and watching each letter add to the completeness of the emotions and thoughts on the page.

Review: Mother Daughter Letter Book

Disclosure: I received a free review copy of the Mother Daughter Letter Book reviewed in this blog post.

As I have gotten older, I have realized that I would like a more meaningful connection with my mother. I had a fairly typical growing-up experience, and while my mother told me plenty of stories, I didn’t always hear the stories to tell me what she is really like and what she likes, underneath all the ‘mom’ stuff.

A few weeks ago, I was approached by Uncommon Goods (visit their website here: www.uncommongoods.com), a Brooklyn-based catalog retailer, to write a review for them. I have been receiving their catalogs for some time, and admiring the quirky and unusual items they carry, half of which are handcrafted and a third include recycled/upcycled materials.

Imagine my surprise and pleasure at finding in their catalog this Mother Daughter Letter Book (see it here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/product/mother-daughter-letter-book) amongst all the gifts for women and mothers (http://www.uncommongoods.com/occasions/mothers-day-gifts/mothers-day-gifts). I knew right away that I wanted it to share with my mom, and it has definitely met all my expectations.

The back half is one big pull-out box (with a red satin ribbon for pulling it out) full of question cards and envelopes to send the cards in (if mother and daughter don’t live close). Once the cards & envelopes are gone, keepsakes can be stored in the box. The journal itself has plenty of places to write, and lots of places to stick question cards. I love the thick ivory pages decorated with faux-scrapbook illustrations, giving the whole thing a vintage yet modern feel. There is a lovely wide red satin book mark to match the keepsake box pull-out.

My only complaint is that the instructions say that the mother should keep the book and send cards to her daughter — it works better the other way for my mom & me, and I would rather we weren’t being instructed on every page to do it differently, but that is a minor complaint. Overall, I love this book, and I am so glad to have the chance to get to know my mom better.

If you are looking for Mother’s Day gifts for your mom, you can find more gifts on Uncommon Goods for women (http://www.uncommongoods.com/gifts/by-recipient/gifts-for-women) and moms (http://www.uncommongoods.com/for-her/gifts-for-her/gifts-for-mom).

Sunday Service: Letting Go

Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life – and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.
– Eckhart Tolle

I’ve discovered there are only two modes of the heart. We can struggle, or we can surrender. Surrender is a frightening word for some people, because it might be interpreted as passivity, or timidity. Surrender means wisely accommodating ourselves to what is beyond our control.
– Sylvia Boorstein

Tuesday Treasure: Spring Primrose

Spring is almost officially here (the Spring Equinox is this Friday, March 21) but we have already had several gorgeous spring-like days here.

In honor of spring, today I am sharing my engraved copper primrose.

Primrose Engraved Copper Charm Medallion

Primrose Engraved Copper Charm Medallion

Perfect for a bracelet, necklace, or keychain. I sell it on its own, but if you would like it attached to a chain, or a tassel, just let me know and I’ll make you a custom order. I also take requests for custom engraving.

Brief Speech on Global Income Distribution at Local Liberal Writers Gathering

I live in a very conservative area in Idaho, and once a year, everyone who writes (or has written) with a liberal perspective for the local newspaper is invited to an evening reception. Hors d’oeuvre are served, and then each writer is invited to make a brief speech about what he/she has been thinking about and working on lately. Here’s mine:

I’ve got a little stage fright, because I’m going to tell you that we are not poor. Yes, many people tonight have been sharing about how poor Idahoans are, and how many are on welfare, and while that is shocking, we here in Idaho are not poor in the global scheme of things. When you look at the global income distribution, we are quite rich.

If you own a car and a nice television in the United States, then you have enough assets to put you in the top 23 percent of wealthiest people in the world. If you own your own home and a car, then you are in the top seven and a half percent in the world for assets.

You are wealthy. How will you use your wealth for good?

Tuesday Treasure: St. Patrick’s Day

It’s not too late to order tassels for St. Patrick’s Day! Check out the green shamrocks and more from Lizbeth’s Garden.

Green Shamrock Beaded Tassel St Patrick's Day

Dark Green Beaded Shamrock Tassel

Neon Green St Patricks Shamrock Beaded Tassel

Neon Green St Patricks Shamrock Beaded Tassel

Luck o' the Irish Green Heart Beaded Tassel Keyring

Luck o’ the Irish Green Heart Beaded Tassel Keyring

Kiss Me I'm Irish Green Pearl Beaded Tassel Fan Pull

Kiss Me I’m Irish Green Pearl Beaded Tassel Fan Pull

 

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