Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘write’

Connect the Stories


Some writing “experts” once told me that the best way to write a novel is to first write short stories. They said, “If you can write a good short story, with a beginning, middle, and end, then a novel will easily follow. All you have to do is use the same characters in one short story after another and string them together.” Turns out that they were right, in most respects, but not always.

From my experience, it is extremely difficult to write a good short story, and more difficult to string a number of them together for a book. I’ve had some success with shorts, with some of mine appearing in Go World Travel, Listen, Los Angeles Journal, Japan Airlines/Wingspan, Omega, Enigma, and the Roswell Literary Review. As you can see from the following description of my collection of short stories, Saint Catherine’s Baby, which was released 7 years ago, I hadn’t yet figured out how to keep the same characters and storyline for a novel.

Saint-Catherines-BabyAn eclectic collection of short stories that include Ruthie and her obstinate elderly student from Germany (The English Lesson); Stephanie, who waits for the unorthodox return of her deceased father (Dressed In Black); Walter O’Brien, who discovers a young couple and their child in an abandoned monastery on the West Coast of Ireland (St. Catherine’s Baby); Shannon, on the run at a shoe store in Chicago (Sizing Up Shannon); Jacque, meeting Rosalita’s shocked parents in New Mexico (Framed); and Joshua Johnson, a school custodian whose mother may have interfered in his love life for the last time (The Sweetest Man).

It still rings true,  writing a good short story is a great beginning for a novelist, and also some of the most difficult writing to do. Character and scene development, crisis, insight, and/or conclusions, must all be created within a limited number of words. Some writers can also write great books, without ever having written a short, and vice-a-versa. To this rule, if you choose to call it that, does not apply to everyone.

Writing “Real” Sex

I enjoy writing about “real” sexual and sensual experiences, and including them in my fiction. Some of it is imagined, or fantasized, but most of my scenes are from personal experience. This isn’t true for all writers of erotica and romance. Many will include scenes and situations that are unbelievable or, literally, out of this world. This kind of sex writing is not better or worse than using, or exploring, “real” sexual situations, just different.

Setting, relationship, and feeling are vital ingredients in my erotic world. There’s nothing wrong with throwing in “pussy” “fuck” “lick” “suck” or similar words into a scene, but to do so without context tends to have them fall flat on their face, or someone else’s. Sometimes you just want to fuck, or read about a good fuck, without any emotion, romance, or preamble, but minus some setup or story, it ends up looking like a glut of sexualized words and actions randomly thrown onto the bed. The heat is missing.

Here is an example of intimate sensual sex from my erotic romance Loving Annalise.

41jh2yi72qlHis soft fingertips lightly scratched the skin as they moved towards the base of my spine, lighting a torch that licked my groin from the inside out, filling my body with the heat of the sun. As my legs wrapped him tightly into my cocoon, I heard a voice rise from my gut, screaming, “Tomas! Tomas!” My body shook and jerked on the wet sheet with gale-force winds, as my muscles contracted from my toes to the crown of my head. The candles danced, and my back arched towards an invisible force. I was conscious of nothing and everything; bathing in a river of sex, I swam in its smell, sight, sound, taste and touch.

I invite you to read Loving Annalise, if you enjoy realistic erotic fiction.

 

Icons of Wild America

Icons of Wild America

Gray wolves are icons of wild America, but the Obama administration’s Department of the Interior is on the verge of stripping most of them of their protections under the Endangered Species Act. This would be catastrophic.

Tell the Obama administration not to turn its back on wolves.

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Forty years ago, wolves were on the brink of being hunted to extinction. They were saved by the Endangered Species Act, which allowed them to begin to flourish again in the mountains and forests of the United States, in places like Yellowstone National Park and the northern woods of Michigan.

Wolves still have a long way to go, but they’re making a comeback. Now that comeback is in danger.

If the federal government goes ahead with its plans, wolf management will be turned over to the states. This has already happened in the Northern Rockies and it’s been a disaster – over 1,700 wolves have been ruthlessly hunted down and killed in just the last two years. If wolves are stripped of their protections, we could see this happen in parts of the United States where their comeback is still in its early, fragile stages.

The recovery of gray wolves is one of the great conservation victories of the last 50 years, but the job isn’t done. To abandon wolves now would be an enormous tragedy for wolves and for their forest habitats — and for us.

Don’t let the Obama administration abandon wolves — send a message today.

Thank you for everything you do for our wild America,

Michael Brune
Sierra Club Executive Director

ROP’s First Photo Exhibition

Rwandan Orphan’s Project First Photo Exhibition
Rwanda, October 14, 2013 by Jenny Clover
ROP Stories

As you may have read here our boys have been getting weekly lessons in photography from American teacher Amber for the last few months. We’ve all be pleasantly surprised by the quality of the work the kids have been producing and are often amazed at the shots they take, which show the Rwandan Orphans Project through their eyes. Last week Amber organised an exhibition at a communal office space in Kigali – called The Office – to show off some of the photos the kids have produced.

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We picked 9 names out of a hat, they got dressed up in their best clothes, and we all excitedly set off in a bus from the ROP to town.

The kids’ photos were mounted around the large office space, everything from close-ups of their friends’ faces, to the acrobatics the boys are so good at, to documenting daily life at the ROP. One wall was dedicated to photos the boys had taken of their own bodies, which they’d colored in and written over. Some chose to write about themselves or their bodies, others about their hopes and aspirations. For us to see them writing about their dreams for the future when we’ve seen how hopeless some of them can be at their lowest point was really nice.

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The evening was packed from start to finish. Hundreds of people came to see the boys’ photos and ask them questions about their work and their lives. The kids told us that at first they were nervous and didn’t know what to say to all these adults. But gradually, and probably with the help of the multiple sugar-ey drinks people kept buying them, they opened up and were confident enough to go round pointing out their photos and explaining them.

When not busy playing on the table football and ping-pong table and slurping their drinks, the kids were happy mingling, meeting different people and showing off their photos. They told us afterwards that they held a meeting around the football table where they discussed how nervous they were. One of them pointed out that all these people were here for them, and to see their work, and they agreed that they shouldn’t be nervous and should instead enjoy it. It’s great to see our kids developing into mature, proud, open-minded little people before our eyes and it makes us very proud of them.

Read complete story, with additional photos at ROP Stories.
Donate to the Rwandan Orphan’s Project HERE.

Eggy – Son of Chicken

Eggy – Son of Chicken

Our cat friend of 18 years stopped breathing air and died today. We put him in the ground to say goodbye and help him nourish new life. Our daughter named him Eggy (because his mother’s name was Chicken). Eggy came into our lives when our son Shona was 2 years old and he was the last of our children still at home.

Eggy was born to be a lap cat and my daemon. He sat on my lap when I read and meditated and was constantly laying across my legs when I wrote and was at the computer. For those familiar with the The Golden Compass series, you will understand immediately what “daemon” means. For those who haven’t read the wonderful trilogy by Philip Pullman, here is one definition.

The words “daemon” and “daimon” are Latinized versions of Greek, in reference to the daemons of ancient Greek religion and mythology. “Daemons are benevolent or benigh nature spirits, beings of the same nature as both mortals and gods, similar to ghosts, chthonic heroes, spirit guies, forces of nature or the gods themselves.

We are grateful for the years Eggy was physically present and the ways in which he will always be with us.

Here are some photos of Eggy and me reading a book about chocolate and on Shona’s desk when Shona was about 4 years old and Eggy was 2.

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Writing and Knowing

Writing and Knowing

9th Annual Poetry Workshop
with Dorianne Laux, Joe Miller and Ellen Bass

August 4-9, 2013
Esalen, Big Sur
California

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There is a world inside each of us that we know better than anything else, and a world outside of us that calls for our attention. Our subject matter is always right with us. The trick is to find out what we know, challenge what we know, own what we know, and then give it away in language.

We will write poems, share our writing, and hear what our work touches in others. We’ll also read model poems by contemporary poets and discuss aspects of the craft. But mainly this will be a writing retreat—time to explore and create in a supportive community. Though the focus is on poetry, prose writers who want to enrich their language will find it a fertile environment.

“There is a vitality, a life-force, an energy . . . that is translated through you into action. And because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. If you block it, it will never exist… It is not your business to determine how good it is. . . . It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”—Martha Graham

The focus of this workshop is on generating new poems. Dorianne, Joe, and Ellen will each give a talk on craft to help us extend our skills and inspire our writing. Although the emphasis is on poetry, this workshop is open to prose writers too. Rich, textured, evocative language is the province of all writers, so this workshop will be applicable to writers of fiction and memoir as well.

Please join us if:

*You’ve hit a plateau in your writing and want to break through to the next level.

*You’re just beginning and want to get started with supportive teachers.

*You’re an experienced writer and just want a chance to learn more from the best.

*You’re in a dry spell, due to lack of inspiration or time.

*You love to write and want a gorgeous, inspiring retreat.

Lastly, there’s Esalen itself. If you’ve been to Esalen before, you already know it’s one of the most magnificent places on the planet. If you haven’t, don’t postpone it. It’s breathtakingly beautiful and deeply nourishing.

Esalen fees cover tuition, food and lodging and vary according to accommodations–ranging from $650 to $1250 (and more for single or premium rooms). The least expensive rate is for sleeping bag space which can be very comfortable, but it’s limited, so you need to sign up for it early. Some work-scholarship assistance is available, as well as small prepayment discounts and senior discounts.

All arrangements and registration must be made directly with Esalen. Please call Esalen at 831-667-3005 or visit www.esalen.org.

If you have questions about the content or structure of the workshop itself, please email <a href="Ellen Bass “>Ellen.

ELLEN BASS‘s poetry includes Like A Beggar (Copper Canyon Press, 2014), The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007), which was named a Notable Book by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Mules of Love (BOA, 2002), which won the Lambda Literary Award. She co-edited (with Florence Howe) the groundbreaking No More Masks! An Anthology of Poems by Women (Doubleday, 1973). Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Progressive, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Sun and many other journals. Last year she was featured on the cover of American Poetry Review. Among her awards for poetry are a Pushcart Prize, the Elliston Book Award, The Pablo Neruda Prize from Nimrod/Hardman, the Larry Levis Prize from Missouri Review, and the New Letters Prize. She is part of the core faculty of the MFA writing program at Pacific University. ellenbass.com

DORIANNE LAUX’s most recent books of poems are The Book of Men, winner of the Paterson Poetry Prize, and Facts about the Moon, recipient of the Oregon Book Award and short-listed for the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. Laux is also author of Awake, What We Carry, finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award, and Smoke. Her work has received two “Best American Poetry” Prizes, a Pushcart Prize, two fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2001, she was invited by late poet laureate Stanley Kunitz to read at the Library of Congress. She teaches poetry and directs the MFA program at North Carolina State University and she is founding faculty at Pacific University’s Low Residency MFA Program. doriannelaux.com

JOSEPH MILLAR grew up in western Pennsylvania and was educated at Penn State and the Johns Hopkins University, where he earned an MA in poetry writing. He worked as a commercial fisherman and telephone repairman for more than 25 years, and his accessible narrative poems often take working life as a means of engaging themes of class, family, and romantic love. Millar is the author of three full poetry collections: Blue Rust, Fortune, and Overtime, which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. He has received grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poetry has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s National Public Radio program The Writer’s Almanac, and has won a Pushcart Prize. He has taught at Pacific University’s low residency MFA and Oregon State University and currently lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with his wife, poet Dorianne Laux. josephmillar.org

Rape In Delhi India

Concerning a petition about the gang-rape of a 23-year-old student in Delhi.

Dear Gabriel,

This message is from Namita Bhandare who started the petition “President, CJI: Stop Rape Now!,” which you signed on Change.org.

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On Monday morning a small group of us took our petition with 109,000+ signatures to the Justice J.S. Verma Commission at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi. We presented the three-volume petition, along with your signatures and suggestions. In case you’d like to write directly to Justice Verma directly his email is: justice.verma@nic.in. The commission will be receiving suggestions and recommendations until January 5.

Meanwhile, we will continue with this campaign and keep it updated. As next steps we are writing to various MPs asking them to put pressure on the Government to give priority to the pending bills relating to women safety.

I wish you all a very happy and safe new year.
Thank you for your support.

Namita Bhandare

View the petition

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