Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

So, the Oscars start in 20 minutes.  I saw all but one of the movies nominated.  I have not seen Beast of the Southern Dawn, which I am disappointed about.  I really wanted to see that.  So, real quick, here are my predictions for the top 6.

Best Movie: Silver Linings Playbook

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day Lewis

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role:  Anne Hathaway

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Robert Di Nero

Best Director: Ben Affleck David O Russell

I saw Les Mis today.  Spectacular movie, but way to freaking long.  It’s not their fault entirely.  Victor Hugo’s original work was over 1600 pages.  But Silver Linings Playbook has just stuck with me.

Anyway, enjoy the show!  Hopefully, I can get some tweets in!  🙂


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What a horrible blogger I am!  I feel like it has been months since I have written on this blog.  I have spent all of my time writing on my self-absorbed weight loss blog talking about myself and my gastric by-pass surgery.  I have completely neglected this blog and my other writing obligations.  Just a quick note, the surgery went well.  I have lost 71 pounds.  I have been writing quite a bit.

I owe my friend Jeff Miller a review of his book, The Bubble Gum Thief.  I need to post my 2013 writing goals.  I also want to talk about some of the other non-diet-blog writing I have been doing.

In this post, I am going to talk about my 2013 writing goals and about some of my other writing.  You see, my writer’s group asks each of us to create goals for the new year and to be specific.  We cannot just say, “write more,”  we have to set specific goals to show what “writing more” looks like.  The only thing I did not finish last year was to finish my children’s novel.  I am giving myself to Chinese New Year’s though, so I could still make it.  (see what I did there?)

Writing Goals for 2013:

  • Submit writing, short stories, essays, etc to four contests or other publications.
  • Finish children’s novel, which is almost done and hanging in limbo.
  • Write, finish, edit 12 personal essays.
  • Blog on both writing blog and weight loss blog 4 or more times a week.
  • Begin editing children’s novel and submit to my writer’s group for review and revision.
  • Join SCBWI and attend one of their conferences.

Lofty, I know, but I have to set lofty goals to guilt myself into doing something about it.

Current Writing Projects

A couple of the girls in my writer’s group formed a separate group that is dedicated to personal essays and/or creative nonfiction.  I have been attending that group as well.  Because the group is small, about seven of us I think, we are much more demanding about making each other submit their work.  As a result, I have written several personal essays and semi-true short stories.  I also have many more ideas on future personal essays.  I would like to put together a collection of essays.  I am not sure if I will turn it into a book or not, but I first want to get them together and see what I have.

I plan to dedicate my next post to the book review of The Bubble Gum Thief.  I will also post my review on Amazon.

That is pretty much what I have been up to.  I hope to spend more time on this blog and sharing all of my writing ups and downs throughout the year!  Happy writing in 2013!


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A member of my writer’s group has a book release today.  The Bubble Gum Thief was released today through Thomas and Mercer.




The Arlington Writer’s Group has been waiting a long time for this book to be published.  Several years ago, Jeff shared a couple of chapters with us.  We have waited patiently for this release as Jeff slogged through the arduous task of finding an agent, editing, re-writing, re-writing again and then finding a publisher.  The release of this book is the result of years of hard work.  We are all so excited for his book release and the obvious success that will follow.

I did receive an ARC from Jeff, which I regret to say, I’m not finished reading.  I should have it finished tonight and a full review up in a day or two.

I will say this, however.  I am loving this book.  Jeff is a fantastic writer and storyteller.  The story is complex and exciting.  There are many twists.

It is a police/FBI thriller.  The story begins with a minor crime and the perpetrator leaves a card that says, “This is my first crime.  My next one will be bigger.”  The crimes escalate in violence in severity until it comes to the attention of the FBI where Agent Dagny Gray becomes involved.

I do not want to say much more than that yet.  I want to save that for my full review.  I do recommend The Bubble Gum Thief.  If you like thrillers, books with interesting characters, good stories, you will love this book.  Buy it.  Read it.  Pass the word on to all your friends!

Happy Reading.



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Jan Berenstein, co-creator of the Berenstein Bears died.  This makes me very sad.  Some of my favorite reading memories growing up were reading her books.  My favorite and one I remember best is “Inside, Outside, Upside Down.”

Yes, I know, oh the irony of a would-be writer’s fond memories of a childhood book about grammar.  But to a kid, it is not a book about grammar.  It is a book about a kid, being precocious and unknowingly getting into a bit of trouble while introducing children to the concept of prepositions and prepositional phrases.

The world of children’s literature suffered a huge loss today, but we are lucky that that we will always have the Berenstein Bear legacy in the books that she and her husband created.

Thank you Jan Berenstein.

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OK, so I know, I am shamelessly stealing from Dr. Seuss, but I do so for a reason.  Allow to me to explain.

I had dinner this weekend with a couple of friends from my writer’s group.  One of the girls, whom I haven’t seen in a while,  brought a friend with her.  Her friend, an artist and a writer, asked me what inspired me to be a writer.  Her seriousness and intensity made me realize that my usual casual answer would not suffice and I found myself telling her a truth I do not often admit.

I have thought about writing most of my life.  I just never had the confidence in myself to be able to take that desire seriously.  OK, maybe I didn’t actually admit the second part quite so readily, but the more I thought about it, the more I recognized there was some truth in it.

Another thing happened this weekend that also started me thinking.

My niece’s birthday is next week.  I have been shopping for presents for her.  I always look at books in addition to toys and clothes.  I look at the traditional “The Velvetine Rabbit,” or books with a lesson like, “The Giving Tree.”  But my favorite books that I return to time and time again are the books by Dr. Seuss. 

“The Cat in the Hat” is a favorite classic.  “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” is another.  And my all-time favorite is “Green Eggs and Ham” which I am slightly embarrased to admit, I can still quote from memory long stanza’s of the book without pause.

But the book that inspired my love of reading and writing is a book about a boy who allowed his imagination to run wild inventing a tale of what he saw on his way home from school.  It was the first book Dr. Seuss published, “And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street.”

I love Dr. Seuss’ use of language and poetry in this book.  He allows the child to combine the ridiculous with the mundane.  The boy uses his own imagination to fix the problems in his story.  His descriptions are as imaginative as they are silly.  And the young boy’s excitement of telling a story to his father that can’t be beat is palatable. 

At the end of the story, the boy arrives home, ready to tell his father the tale he cooked up on the way home and his father asks him about what he saw ont he way home.  He asks, “Did nothing exicite you or make your heart beat?”

And here, in the young child’s response, I find my answer.  An answer that belies its own simplicity only hinting at the excitement and depth of imaginative creativity revealed just a page ago…

“Nothing, but a plain horse and wagon on Mulberry Street.”

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Last night was my weekly meeting with the Arlington Writer’s Group.  I met them several years ago through Meetup.com.   My first meeting, the group was small.  It apparently had only been around about 4 or 5 months.  There were only 4-5 people other than me at he meeting. 
The Meetup.com site seemed pretty organized and I have to admit, I was a bit intimidated the first time I went.  I hadn’t shared any or my writings outside of my family or a couple of friends and I was a bit nervous.  I met the de-facto and now actual leader of the group and a couple of other members.  We met in the upstairs of a loud and smoky coffee house, called Murky’s, which sadly no longer exists.  Or at least, closed down and was eventually transmogrified into Northside Social.  Not the trendy, earthy, granola-y, local coffee shop of yester-month, but still pretty cool in its own right. 
The group was doing a workshop on how to write an action sequence.  The leader provided a passage from an action book requested everyone write the next scene.
I did not do the assignment, but I did bring a sample of my writing and read it out loud to the group.  I was so nervous.  They listened patiently and were very supportive.  Nonetheless, they hit me with very kind but very honest feedback and critiques of my work.  Up to this point, sharing with friends and family, all I had heard was soaring praise and encouragement.  While it is nice to hear wonderful things about your writing, it is more useful to hear how to make it better!  Let’s face it, Hemingway, I’m not.  I might be able to weave a compelling story or amuse my friends with my witty reportage, but my fairy godmother did not wave her magic wand and make me the world’s greatest author. 
Writing a novel was going to be work.  I knew that.  And I sought out a writing group to help me develop the tools to actually finish my novel and see it through to publication.  And with this group, I think I found that. 
They listened to my writing sample and I was amazed by the feedback.  They poked holes and asked questions that I hoped to have answered later in the novel.  They questioned every assumption I had about the novel and encouraged me to research and learn.  And most of all write!  After the meeting, the organizer encouraged me to return the next week.  I was hooked.
The group was small, but the people were energetic.  There is something about the act of creating art that is very satisfying and exciting.  Sharing that energy with like minded people is infectious.  It is probably that infectiousness that keeps me going and has grown the group from a few intrepid would-be writers to a membership roll of over 200 people.  We often have meetings with 20-30 people in attendance. 
Anyway, last night we had a social event.  Our group meets every week.  We read and critique each other’s work, have free writing sessions, organized prompted writing sessions and workshops on different topics.  We do this all year long.  Every so often, we just use the time to go out and have fun.  We did that last night.  We went to a pizza joint in Clarendon.  We pretty much took over a large part of their dining area.  More people tend to show up for the social events than the writing events.  Twenty people RSVP’d to the event.  We probably had closer to 30 at one point. 
We love Pete’s Pizza Haven.  The food is so good.  They have gluten-free pizza and vegan cheese, which is a plus.  And they will pretty much make whatever you want.  They sell pizza by the slice and they sell Italian sodas that are made with all natural ingredients.  So yummy. 
Apart from the food, it is nice to just get together and talk.  Like I said, more people show up for the social events, so I was able talk to several people whom I haven’t seen in a while. 
I definitely recommend that if you plan to write, join a writer’s group.  Find one where you share a love of the craft and true commeraderie and kinship with the members.  It doesn’t have to be a large group.  And it doesn’t have to be a group of professional writers, although it is helpful to have knowledgeable writers in your group.  Most of all, you should find a goup that helps you feel inspired and excited about writing. 
I always leave the meetings energized and excited to continue writing.  I am glad I joined.

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