As I write this . . .

February 26, 2012

And, the winner is . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — aawriter @ 3:25 pm

Regardless of the weather, there are two parties I attend every year.  For over 10 years, a group of select friends and I have honored the Oscars with our own celebration(s.).  This year nine of us will be in the same state, and the other two will participate through “Skype®.”  No matter what the vehicle for attendance, we’ll all be there, dressed to the nines, and ready to mimic, – as is the case with this year’s Best Picture nominee “The Artist” – sing, dance, and vote for the names we’re absolutely sure will be called to receive their new eight-pound-three-ounce “golden” boy.  The “cast” only calms down for the required 2 minutes to announce the winner and hear the “thank you” he/she then offers.

At our celebration, there are a dozen “Oscars,” all ready to be presented to their deserving winners.  Gingerbread covered in “gold” icing never looked so royal!

Commercials, of course, – just like the Super Bowl game – give us the opportunity to refresh our champagne, grab another hors d’oeuvre, mix, mingle, and of course “powder” our noses. No detail is left to chance, including that most coveted gig at the real Oscar ceremony – the seat filler.  Two of our gang will inherit this honor from the previous year’s designees, and while it may seem like a benign character impersonation, at our party it’s certainly not.  Our seat fillers take their roles to heart and are stocked complete with face paint, extra gloves and jewelry, and at least three wigs that can be used to change their crowning glory to blond, brunette or redhead in less time than it takes to remove a ball cap.

Of course, each attendee selects which actor/actress they want to portray, but in the true Oscar spirit, we have one cast member position that is non-negotiable. Albeit male or female, one attendee is designated in advance to dress as “a writer” – with identifying costume characteristics being left solely to his/her interpretation.   I’m sure you can imagine some of these “costumes.” After all, where would movies, novels, plays, music and lyrics be without writers?

As I write this, my jewelry, gown and shoes are on the bed. Like all celebrities, I’ll need assistance with hair, make-up and dressing. One of my long-time friends will be over in a couple of hours and we’ll both “assist” each other in preparation for our walk on the red carpet. And, of course, we’ll be ready for our close-ups – just in case Mr. DeMille decides to honor us with his presence this year.

Copyright © 2012 A. Adams – All Rights Reserved

February 23, 2012

Happy . . .

Filed under: Uncategorized — aawriter @ 11:28 am
Tags: , , , ,

As I write this, I’m preparing to attend another writer’s conference – in fact, two over the next four months, spanning the width and breadth of the continental United States. Those who know me, know this is what I like to do best. This is where the “real stuff” goes on.

As everyone knows, when gas prices go up so goes the price of airfare. And, by the time, you factor in the cost of hotels and meals, conference registration fees, gratuities, etc. it literally pays to attend the best writer’s conference you can find – and one that has all the right features such as plenty of workshops and lots of opportunities to meet with agents, editors and other representatives of the publishing industry. For most writers, the sole purpose of attending a conference is for their work to be picked up by an agent or publishing house. If you have worthy ideas, quality work and a better-than-average presentation this purpose can be achieved in record time. An additional bonus is the opportunity for networking. When writers attend conferences away from their home territory, the cost usually runs about $2500 – all the more reason for their free contributions to their local community to be valued and appreciated. For those who don’t appreciate such contributions, the explanation could be as simple as them being in a “different world” than a writer. My loyalty and praise will go toward the writer every time.

During this past week, I’ve received several apologies, comments and narratives concerning my decision to shut down a writer’s group for seniors. My decision was more than appropriate, and in truth, should have been implemented several months ago.

What is foolish, is when a writer’s group facilitator realizes that his/her efforts are unappreciated and not respected. It is not admirable for the facilitator to continue to use efforts, energy and resources to “give them what they need” – it’s foolish. My initial emotion upon closing down the group was relief not to have to continue my efforts in vain.

But here’s another side of the equation – it does a writers’-group facilitator “good” to be able to look back at such an experience and laugh. I don’t consider what I contributed to my community as a waste of time; but, instead, another lesson learned. And, here’s another positive note on the experience: while this is the first writer’s group I’ve ever shut down in 17 years of facilitation, the experience brought me to my senses and told me it was time for me to concentrate solely on my writing. Those that didn’t learn where the resources are, what to do with them, or how to appreciate them will simply have to ask someone else or do exactly what I did as a beginning writer: attend a writer’s conference.

In the aftermath of all of this, I received a new and very tantalizing offer. Several months ago, when I was initially approached about this same opportunity, I declined – citing extensive travel and writing commitments in two separate communities. All of this was true at the time. However, now all of the parties have come together again to renew their offer. It’s a winning scenario for everyone – but especially me. Not only does it offer new opportunities, but it also contributes toward my current writing projects. So, while I may have felt pangs of relief and foolishness, albeit later followed by laughter, upon closing the writer’s group, the appreciative increase reflected in the bottom line of my bank account coupled with being surrounded by writers who are not in a “different world,” were major factors in accepting this offer, but the best one of all is that I’m happy.

Copyright © 2012 A. Adams – All Rights Reserved

February 17, 2012

Good family, good times, … good writing!

Filed under: Uncategorized — aawriter @ 12:22 am

It’s been a great week for me. I’ve had the pleasure of writing with two other members of my family – on their turf and mine. We’ve reminisced about old times, new expectations and how the writing world has changed.  The end result has been a short-story piece that is sure to make even the most cynic of readers and writers laugh.   It‘s been a collaborative work, and since I’m the “middle child,” each one of us have seen the same incident from a different perspective – and with potentially different consequences.

This is what happens when writers write – not talk, but write.  The simple facets of everyday life tend to be overlooked, but when three writing minds gather it’s a different story.  Ours’ is one that will make the younger members of our family continue to laugh for generations to come.  When I’m dead and gone, my grandchildren will understand their grandmother’s thought process so much better than I did mine.  They will see the true window of my soul, and understand a little more about genetics than most.  Writing is a wonderful way to reveal small truths that might otherwise be forgotten – simply because they are of such dry humor and many who hear them just didn’t “get” it.  Oh, well.

Good writing comes from environments of people with open minds and willing to explore. While we may think the good times with family and friends come naturally, many times they do not.  Take a look at reality television to prove my point. Good writers understand that completed ideas and stories come from a process – they don’t just pop up and finish themselves.  The process is one that has to “perk” for a little while, and while not every facet of a particular incident lends itself to good writing copy, significant ones tend to be remembered.  This past week has yielded several ideas – compliments of good family, good times, and good writers.

 

January 1, 2012

Writing Resolutions for 2012

Filed under: General Info — aawriter @ 3:53 pm

Today is the first day of the new year. Like everyone else I know, during this past holiday season, I ate a little too much, partied a little too long and still somehow managed to send up prayers and wishes for everyone to have a better year in 2012.  2011 taught me a lot, but I covered that in my last post.

What kind of resolutions do writers make for themselves in the new year?  Are they like many others who resolve to lose weight, treat others better or just simply don’t make them for fear of not being able to keep them?

This writer has just a few, but hopes they’ll be inspiring to those who are holding the pen in their hands in preparation of writing their first creative words in 2012.  Here we go:

Remember that writer’s adage about applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair? Well, I’m going to live by it in 2012.  I did this in 2011, but here’s the difference: The words that come out of my head, across my fingertips and down on paper will be for my inspiration.  While I don’t intend to be selfish, the fact of the matter is that we all have only so much writing time and energy. I can guarantee you that at least 60 per cent of mine for this past year was for the benefit of others.  That will change in 2012.

In a 2011 edition of Time Magazine, best-selling author Nicholas Sparks said that “the experience of writing a failed novel is painful. It’s a terrible period of time I never wish to revisit.” When he was initially asked what his favorite writing mistake was, this is what he said: “I thought I had most of the story in my mind, and I got two thirds of the way through. It was only then that I realized I shouldn’t have started it at all.” As writers, we’ve all been there at one time or another. Personally, my work on two separate manuscripts this past year taught me the true meaning of Nicholas Sparks’ words. I resolve to have every manuscript worked out to the very end before typing the first letter of the first word.

My second resolution is to keep a daily journal.  For those of you who know me personally, you know that I already journal – twice a week. My personal experiences in my new surroundings this past year, have taught me the value of writing down these events, incidents, or whatever you want to call them on a daily basis.  They make for excellent satiric humor – especially if one takes the “high road,” but is surrounded by such ignorance that no-one even understands what “high road” means.   To those that contributed to these experiences during the past year, I want to thank you. My tongue and writing quill have become razor sharp, and the “evil twin” characters in my manuscripts have never been more believable.

Thirdly, walk away.  That’s right, it’s just that simple. We were all taught this by our parents, but as a writer when someone or something begins to tap your writing or creative energies too much or too often, walk away.  Because, here’s the deal: most of these people aren’t going to use what you’ve given them anyway.  If they are other writers, artists, etc., they are going to interpret it on their terms, let it percolate for a little while, and then probably discard it because they’ve over-analyzed it. As a writer, you’re better off not spending your energies on other creative souls who will do the very thing that comes naturally to any observer – subjective interpretation.  Many good ideas have gone down the drain simply out of being beaten to death.  In short, give them a little, but not a lot.  And in the vein of furthering good ideas, I submit my next resolution.

Number four: Keep a notebook of all story ideas. We all do this to some degree. But how many times do we actually access this “file?”  Here’s my solution:  I keep the back panel and three rings of a huge binder hanging on a pegboard wall in my writing area.  I have deliberately removed the front panel for easier access and to visually remind me, every time I glance that way, that I have many story ideas … just waiting.  This works.  Not only does it affirm your creativity, but it can also serve to summon your muse if you find yourself in a writing drought.

Finally, put all of your 2012 writing goals on a vision board that actually has a chance to catch your eye as you write. Notice I used the word “put,” not “list.” A list becomes robotic, but “placing,” “putting,” or “picturing” your writing goals on a vision board has the effect of being anything but robotic.  Mine includes my passport as a special reminder of how I’m going to celebrate “the end of the story.”

I’m sending all of you my very best wishes for a truly successful year of writing in 2012.  And, in the meantime, as you’re subjectively interpreting my Writing Resolutions for 2012, I’ll be applying the seat of my pants to the seat of the chair and . . .

December 17, 2011

An accounting for 2011 . . .

Filed under: 'Tis the Season — aawriter @ 11:12 am

Usually I avoid that familiar end-of-the-year query of “Where did the time go?” But, earlier this week as I watched a TV program featuring a recap of the news events for 2011, I realized I knew exactly where the time had gone.   It made me remember what I was doing on a personal level at each graduated event. And, I made a vow never to waste my time like that again. Mind you, I said a “vow,” not a “resolution,” but a vow.  All of my life I’ve been told I don’t “suffer a fool.” Seems like for the year 2011, I ran into all kinds of fools and really did suffer most of them.  But, as I said in the previous sentence, that won’t be happening again.

During the past year, I’ve watched hypocrisy, arrogance and ignorance square itself at an alarming rate.  For awhile I thought that my interpretation of the behaviors around me might have been skewed by my unfamiliarity with the “climate” of my new surroundings.   But here’s how badly these people have behaved – in the aftermath of a Spring tornado, government officials who came here to offer significant and much-needed financial assistance, left with front-page headlines of the local paper accusing them of being “rude.” As a direct result, funds were decreased, and they haven’t been back.  In spite of a newly-developed “industrial zone,” businesses looking to expand their facilities in a community near enough to a neighboring metro location have deliberately shunned this area.

Over the past several years, those that have set up manufacturing facilities and employed a significant portion of the population have closed their doors and moved away – and, according to the information I’m getting, won’t be back.  Doesn’t speak too well of the community, does it?  And, the Chamber of Commerce people wonder why.

Those who make their living by selling advertising for the local vendors and galleries are dangling precariously from a withering financial vine.  Frankly, the word is out; and, while I understand it and agree that there are many who deserve it, I am loathe to paint all of the residents in this community with that same brush stroke.  I’ll expand on this a little more in a later paragraph.

When I think about some of the attitudes I’ve encountered, at times I’ve felt like a hypocrite myself – for having laughed at them when I should have spoken out against them. More recently, after talking with several other people classified as a “come here” in this community, I’ve found that my assessment was “spot on.”    Laughable as it was, that validation was good for my soul.

But, in my end-of-the-year thoughts, I’ve decided to make lemonade out of the lemons by culling what I thought were memorable instances and using them for manuscript fodder.   And, I can tell you, it has paid off.  The characters and events in my latest writing creation have never been richer or more accepted by the publishing world.   I’ve incorporated man-and-wife-con-artist teams, gossipy hair-dressers pawning themselves off as a part of what they perceive as the upper echelon and a busybody who thinks it’s her business to misinform the rest of the community of happenings and events of which she has absolutely no fact-based knowledge.  Remember Gladys Kravitz, on the old TV show, Mr. Ed? Well this woman puts even her to shame.   Being able to use these characters in a way to enrich my personal writing has been more rewarding than I ever dreamed!  I’ve even watched one particular lady, who prides herself watching behaviors vs. speaking to people – so she can later misinterpret their behaviors through her 12-year-old maturity level- try to elevate her personal self-esteem and community standing by purchasing a second dog- when her husband didn’t even have a job –  (Yorkshire Terrier), fake Pandora bracelet, and join the DAR in a town where they’re moving – those poor 80-year-old women have no idea what kind of fox they’ve let into their hen house!  Wait! Did I say “lady?” Nonetheless, as I said, it makes for great character development in future works!  And, at the end of the day, it’s all very laughable.  Fools fooling fools. Woody Allen said that “gossip is the new pornography” – and he was right.  Very fitting for the four characters I’ve described above.

However, on another note, I’ve had the opportunity to realize just how sincere some people can be.  When I lamented about the idiocy of the people around me, two women came to me very quietly, and said that they felt “like they owed it to me” to put me on the right path.   They explained that those who had demonstrated such egregious behavior, even though some of them grew up here, were not a true example of the salt-of-the-earth people in this community. They were right.

Since that time, I’ve met many other folks who also cringe at the behaviors of those around them – whether they profess to be a “native” or a “come here.”  They are of a higher moral and ethical standard – even though they have to live among them.   They don’t hide behind the veneer of “Christianity.”  The simple fact is that they live here on their terms – and no-one else’s.   These folks truly are genuine.  They are embarrassed about these kinds of attitudes – and, more importantly, they don’t feel the need to collect or spread gossip behind a hair-cutter’s chair, buy fake Pandora bracelets, or distribute what they think is the latest “intelligence” among people who don’t have enough sense to interpret it.  As I said, these are the genuine people.

When I spoke to my agent and intellectual property attorney about all of this, we made hard and fast business decisions to protect our interests.  They’ve worked. Further conversations with other well-known and/or local writers dealing with similar circumstances have validated these same decisions.  And, by making a careful study of other scribes and the depth of their involvement in this community, I’ve noticed a common thread – they, too, focus on their work and have very little to do with their surroundings.  Some of them are connected with the traditional “big six,” and others have chosen to utilize the up-and-coming significance of electronic and “indie” publishing.  But, the bottom line is that they keep to themselves – completely.  The result has been true writing success. Now, as a writer, that’s a behavior that’s worth observing and incorporating!

In keeping with this, I also work very hard to keep most of my personal life very private.  The personal decisions I make stem from what works best for my writing life.  When I venture away from my keyboard, I am usually on a “mission” that will take as little time as possible so I can get back to my business at hand.   If I meet friends for breakfast, coffee, tea or lunch they know that I meet them in all sincerity as most of them are acutely aware of how much I value my time and energy levels.  These are my true friends.   They respect my values and privacy as much as I respect theirs.  Usually, they’re from the “old school,” and while they do conform to such conveniences as cell/iPhones, laptops, netbooks, tablets and social media they aren’t fool enough to put an elevated value upon them.   Nor do they think it makes them appear to be any more important than the other guy.  I’ll say it again, these people are genuine.

So, you can see where my year has gone. I’ve continued writing, and have made a great deal of progress on two separate manuscripts, sorted out characters, and slowly-but-surely massaged my world into what works best for me – all of this in preparation for 2012.  And at the end, when I take an acounting of the year 2011, I’m smiling.

December 6, 2011

The beginning of it all . . .

Filed under: 'Tis the Season — aawriter @ 7:43 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Recently, like many others, I’ve been caught up in the Christmas rush of shopping, shopping, shopping.  Also, like many others, I’ve tried to be prudent at making selections, comparing costs, and deciding how much I think my friends and family members will appreciate my offerings.  After all, not every choice is a “hit.”

So, that being said, my dining room table has turned into a gift-wrapping station – again, like many others.  It would be impossible for a child to come into my home without having his/her belief in Santa Claus demystified.   Consequently,  how many children do you think I’ve invited to my upcoming Christmas parties?  For those who know me, and my writing sanctuary, they would be very surprised if I invited children into my world(s) on any occasion. But, I digress.

This year, as I’ve done in many others, I’ve decided to make a list of my writing accomplishments for which I’m truly grateful.   So, here goes:

1.  Being able to facilitate a local writer’s group

2. Having found an additional  writer’s group that will “feed me” vs.  me feeding them.

3.  One of the Big Six acknowledging the merit of my writing and asking me “to dance.”

4. A literary agent who advises me on the true rhythm of the dance, so I don’t misstep.

5. Other writers who have steadfastly encouraged and promoted my work – as it is now my turn to do for them.

6. Occasional romance – and, mostly on my terms. That’s all I’m saying!

So, having said all of this, I’ve read and watched the news for today, just as I always do when I begin a new day. I’ve read about kidnappings, missing women, civil unrest, devaluation of the dollar and Euro and hopefully have seen the last of campaign ads for a “train.”   And, in the midst of all of this, I’ve decided that while my continued writing is affected by all of these factors, the truth is that none of this could have been reported, preserved or read without writing – which is, in fact, the beginning of it all.

Merry Christmas!

November 20, 2011

Respect …

Filed under: General Info — aawriter @ 11:40 am

As I write this, I’m reminded of the legalities of writing about subjects, issues, and personal matters of other people.  You know, the very things that writers “borrow” in order to create believable characters.

Recently, I’ve been absolutely amazed about what liberties some writers take to develop a manuscript or sell their work.   Notice, I said “some” writers – not all.

Never mind the legal consequences of exercising such cavalier and egregious behavior – what about the moral ethics of this?    When writers do this, they earn their alternative names of “liar,” “plagiarist,” and “sell-out.”  And, these are the kinder ones.

In the midst of world crises, both financial and moral, writers continue to craft their words and events into believable stories.  Readers anxiously look forward to the fruits of their efforts.  They hope for carefully woven words that are “sensitive” to protecting the identity of the person the author models key personalities after.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.

We all know our readers keep us on our creative toes.  No-one appreciates reading about him/herself in a published work when they had no idea that their former words and actions were being watched and saved for future use.  It’s worse than tacky, despicable or deplorable – it’s unconscionable.  Recent high-profile case in point: Amanda Knox.  Remember that she successfully sued for liable after Italian “author,” Fiorenza Sarzanini confiscated and used her diary entries as fodder for the book “Amanda e gli Altri (Amanda and the Others). In spite of this being heard in an Italian court, Ms. Knox was awarded over $50,000 in damages.  And, rightfully so.

So authors, as I write this, I conscientiously remind you and myself that our words and stories, albeit ever so carefully used and crafted, should continue to be applied with the utmost respect to all aspects of the publishing world – but, most especially, to those of our inner circles and all around us.

For some, it’s an additional layer of “creativity.” For others, it’s only natural.

October 30, 2011

Anne’s Offerings for 10/30/2011

Filed under: General Info — aawriter @ 12:33 pm

LOVE the feedback that was waiting for me this morning!  THANK YOU! Offerings for this morning are as follows:

FAVORITE WRITER’S PROMPT: Morning T’ai Chi exercise.

WHAT I WRITE:   Fiction (El-Hi, Breakout Mainstream, Mainstream Contemporary, Chick Lit); Nonfiction (Americana, History, Creative Nonfiction) Current Title: “Mine, First”

MUSE PRODUCTIONS:  Most popular book genre for 2011?  Romance and Mystery

Character Development:   Did you know that you can make your characters’ personalities more believable by giving them a psychometric test?  Psychometrics is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement, which includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, personality traits, and educational measurement. The field is primarily concerned with the construction and validation of measurement instruments such as questionnaires, tests, and personality assessments. Many samples of these tests may be found through a cursory internet search.

Writer’s Money: For those of you who are interested in getting more for your money, you’ll enjoy this newest “movement”:   http://on.fb.me/p8X3c7

Writers for Peace:   (Disappointments) New York Times stringers Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers’ contribution to the Sunday edition report  the military’s efforts to build up the troops’ appearance in Gulf after withdrawal from Iraq. More info can be found here:  http://nyti.ms/syZjUc

Writers’ Favorite  Recipe – Frozen Hand Black Halloween Punch:

Ingredients –

  • 1 (.13 ounce) envelope unsweetened grape soft drink mix
  • 1 (.13 ounce) envelope unsweetened orange soft drink mix
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 3 quarts cold water
  • 1 liter ginger ale

Directions:

  1. For the frozen hand, wash a disposable glove, fill with water, seal with a rubber band and freeze until hard.
  2. Stir together grape soft drink mix, orange soft drink mix, sugar and water until solids are dissolved. Combine with chilled ginger ale just before serving. Dip the frozen hand briefly in warm water, then peel off the glove. Float the prepared hand in the punch bowl.

Writer’s Health:   It’s known as “writer’s spread” but if additional weight gain were the only side effect, up to a point we could all live with that. And, whether you’re a writer or not, one of the most common side effects of weight gain is high blood pressure, a/k/a hypertension.  Further, we all know that elevated blood pressure can lead to increased risk for heart attack and stroke.  If you’re on medication for hypertension, you’ll be interested in knowing that a new study finds that people who took at least one of their hypertension meds before bed were much less likely to have had a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke. The findings are described in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

Here we go!

Filed under: General Info — aawriter @ 12:41 am

Welcome Readers, Family and Friends!

Those of you who know me personally are critically aware how much I enjoy writing … on many different issues and topics!  Having said that, those of you who know me even better also know that nothing is “off limits” – unless it’s illegal or can be reported as “abuse.”

So just to get us started, let’s look at a few of the topics I’ll be commenting on in this blog:

Holidays, and their idiosyncrasies

Real World News with all of its joy and disappointments

The Entertainment Industry

Writing/Book World

Health

Politics

Religion

Greater  Good

Okay, let’s start with some suggestions from you.  What’s YOUR favorite topic?

You can email me with your suggestions!

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