Day 7: Creativity

Been away from the posts for a few days, but I knew this was one I wanted to tackle.

Creativity has always been important to me. When I was younger, I thought I was going to be a fiction writer. I’ve had a bit of success, here and there, at short fiction. Thing is, there’s not much of a market for short fiction, and I’m not sure I’m a novelist at heart. I don’t have BIG IDEAS. I’m kind of lousy at plotting.

My creativity manifests in other ways, though. I’ve been doing calligraphy since I was in high school, and I maintain an Etsy shop where I sell my calligraphy and paper crafts.

Lately, though, it’s been coming out in the form of songwriting. Well, lyric writing. I’m not a musician, but I am married to one. 🙂 And being married to one has brought me into a whole community that has nurtured and supported this creativity.

The past two years, I’ve participated in something called February Album Writing Month. (That link goes to my profile.) The idea is to write 14 songs-an album’s worth-in 28 days. Now, I haven’t made it to 14, or anywhere near, but it’s been a useful exercise anyway. This year, I posted three things…one of them, a lyric that’s been around for a while that has finally been set to music. I ended up adding two lyrics that aren’t quite finished. In my drafts I also have a Peggy Carter song (tentatively “Do as Peggy Says”) that I’ve been trying to write this for a year now. I’ve made a little bit of movement, but It’s giving me a rough time. There’s also a chorus inspired by a FB post conversation that still doesn’t have a song, and two brainstorming lists that I’m hopeful will turn into something at some point. I call that a win.

All of this is moving toward an album that Rand and I are going to record this year. (eep!)

All of this is to say that, while I’m not doing what I once thought I would be doing, I’m really happy with my creative life right now. I love being able to create and collaborate and feel supported and enriched by it.

(The poster imaged above–designed by Karen Paddison–features lyrics from the song “Take it Back” by Kathleen Sloan. It’s based on a speech made by Barry and Sally Childs-Helton when they were inducted into the Filk Hall of Fame. I am proud and humbled to count these people among my friends.)

Inside the burst bubble

In November 2011, after the whole Penn State scandal blew up, I wrote a little essay on my blog titled “We are…heartbroken.” Shortly after that, I was contacted by a professor at PSU who was interested in putting together a book and wanted to know if my essay could be included. I said yes, and waited.

There were some ups and downs in the process, but the final decision was to fund the project using indiegogo, with all proceeds beyond the cost of the book itself to be donated to RAINN. Here’s the link to the project page, where you can read more of the details:

Notes from Inside a Burst Bubble: Penn Staters on the Penn State Scandal

I am proud to be a part of this project. If you are so inclined, please help me spread the word.

Dead of Winter contest open

Dead of Winter
The 2008 contest is now OPEN.

Dead of Winter is a fiction contest (any genre) for stories with supernatural elements or themes. Ideally, stories should be set in autumn or winter. The most original, most haunting stories will be chosen for publication.

Details, including specific theme and length, are announced November 1.

The deadline for submissions is December 21.

Entries are blind-judged by Baker & Billiard. Decisions are final. Winners are announced January 31.

Winning stories are published in the March issue of Toasted Cheese. Winners receive Amazon gift certificates: $20 for first, $15 for second, $10 for third.

Stories submitted to the 8th Annual Dead of Winter contest (December 2008) should follow one* of the following themes:

* Alaska
* Alternative Santa
* Blood River Bridge
* Ventriloquist

The word limit is 4,500 words.

The contest opens on November 1, 2008 and the deadline for submission is December 21, 2008. E-mail entries to Your subject line must read: Dead of Winter Contest Entry.

Post any questions you have about the contest in our DOW thread at the forums. Please do not post any part of your entry in the thread.

You may post your work for feedback at one of the critique forums but please title your post “DOW entry for feedback” or similar so that the judges don’t read it.

Be sure to (1) set your story in winter (2) write using supernatural elements or motifs (make our spines tingle, make us hesitate to turn out the lights, etc.) and (3) use one* of the themes provided.

*You are welcome to use more than one of the themes in your story (for example, you could write a story about a ventriloquist and set it in Alaska) but you must use at least one of them and make it strong enough so that we know which theme you’re focusing on.

Only ONE entry PER AUTHOR, not one entry per theme.

How not to write a short story

Last night, I watched a random episode of Friends that TiVo kindly “suggested” for me. The episode was “The One with the List,” which (if I’m remembering correctly) was early in the second season.

Setup: Rachel and Ross have kissed. Ross has a girlfriend, but is in love with Rachel. Joey and Chandler suggest that Ross make a list of pros and cons to help him decide what to do.

Chandler has typed the list on his new laptop. Rachel sees the list (only that is something about her) and insists that they show it to her. What happened next had me laughing so hard, I was nearly crying. I took it back and watched it again, and then made Rand watch it. I don’t think he thought it was quite as funny as I did. 😉

Rachel: Chandler wrote something about me on that paper and I want to see it!
Ross: Chandler isn’t that the short story you were writing?
Rachel: Short story? And I’m in it? I want to read it!
Ross, Joey, Chandler: NO!
Joey: Why don’t you read it to her?

(this is the part that had me in tears…)

Chandler: It was summer… and it was hot. Rachel was there… A lonely grey couch…”OH LOOK!” cried Ned, and then the kingdom was his forever. The End.

Is this as funny as I think it is? I’m still laughing. I think the next line was Joey saying Chandler was the worst writer EVER. 😀

Happy Mother’s Day

Yes, it’s a day late, but I just read this lovely post from Michelle Sagara West, and I needed to share it.

We saw Rand’s mom yesterday…I sent my mom flowers and talked to her on the phone. I’m going to be seeing my parents this weekend, and Rand and I will be traveling to St. Marys next weekend.

Life continues to be crazy. It’ll get less crazy soon. I think. 😉

Lazy weekends and deadlines

So, I’m in the middle of writing my article for Toasted Cheese which needs to be ready to go up on the site, oh, Tuesday. Procrastination is bad. 😉

The weekend has been lazy and generally relaxing. This is a good thing. Rand and I talked about going out to a movie, but didn’t see anything that we wanted to go out for. We want to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but that isn’t out until next week. Ah well.

We found ourselves in possession of a wee bit of extra disposable cash, so we went out to eat several times this weekend. Yesterday, we went to May Jen, and I had the yumtastic ginger garlic chicken. And we have leftovers, which will probably be eaten tonight. Mmmm…leftovers.

We’re in the process of decluttering, and took a couple of boxes of CDs and DVDs to trade in. We spent way too much time doing that today! While we were in F.Y.E., I asked a salesperson what music was playing. It turned out to be a new release called Unfold by Marie Digby, which I just decided I need to buy on iTunes. (only 6.99, and I still had some credit left from a gift certificate Samantha gave me for Christmas. Yay, me!)

Rand bought the full Northern Exposure box set with his credit. We also traded in a bunch of CDs at Record Theater and bought a few new things with the credit (and we still have a bunch of credit left). Sadly, we have a small selection of stuff nobody wanted. Sniff.

I still have some photos from Rand’s birthday that I have yet to post…I treated him to dinner at Marinaccio’s, a place neither of us had ever been. We both enjoyed our meals very much. More on that soon. Besides the dinner, I (with contributions from both our parents) bought Rand a new iPod…he wanted one with more space. So guess who else gets a new (slightly used) iPod? 😉 Of course, now I have to go through the process of getting what I want onto the iPod. Oh, the trials.

I also have some photos of my pretty, shiny new earrings that people who follow me on twitter heard about yesterday. They will be posted soon.

Oh, and that long-term sub job I mentioned at the beginning of last week? I got it. Since it’s a shorter period of time than my other job (and in a different district), there are no benefits…but it is steady work, great experience, and a wee bit more money than I’d be making as just a day-to-day sub. I went in on Friday to shadow the teacher I’m filling in for and meet the kids and my soon-to-be coworkers. It seems like it’s going to be great, and I’m very happy to have the experience. This week is spring break, so I’ll be starting a week from tomorrow. 😀

More? I’m sure there is, but I should probably get back to work…hope you’re having an excellent weekend!

New pens!

So last weekend, I ordered two pens from This was the first one:


It’s a Duke pen, and it’s really, really pretty. The photo doesn’t do it justice at all. It also came in a snazzy case:


It came with a converter and also takes cartridges. Right now, I have a black cartridge (that came with the AldoDomani pen I bought at OfficeMax. It’s a medium point, and I don’t really care for it) in it. I like the way the pen feels in my hand, and it writes quite nicely:


The other pen, which I neglected to take any photos of, is a Hero 328. I like the way this pen writes, but it has a squeeze (bladder) converter, which is kind of a pain. I didn’t have any bottled ink (I just ordered some), so I filled it by cutting open one of my Sheaffer cartridges and dumping the contents into a bottlecap.

I have discovered that the Sheaffer ink cartridges don’t fit into any other pens. Bummer. I ordered one bottle of purple ink (I love purple!) and some black and blue cartridges, which should be here soon.

I did get those Pilot Varsity pens I ordered…and they’re fine, except that they claim to be fine point and I don’t think they really are.

And that’s my pen report for today. Whoo!

Obligatory post

I promised I’d post every day during this BufBloPoFo thing, even if I didn’t get around to the prompt (and truthfully, I’m too lazy to go see what today’s prompt is…), so here I am.

Today was a typical day in the life of a sub…phone rang at 6 am (gah…hate that…but glad I took it) and I had a very laid-back day with a great schedule. Score. I managed to both finish Living Lost: Why We’re All Stuck on the Island by J. Wood (which I enjoyed, but somehow, not as much as I enjoy his blog!) and Boy Proof by Cecil Castellucci. I love how raw and honest her characters are.

Aside? Lost is totally rocking my world this season. Bring it on!

And what was even worse than the phone ringing at 6? Well, digging my car out. Rand had to give me a push b/c I was completely stuck.

Over the weekend, I ate too much pizza, slept too much, and had a brainstorm for a series of YA novels that I need to let marinade or percolate or whatever for a while. I think it could be really, really cool.

(Speaking of writing, I need to get going on my April article for TC!)

OH…and another big thing happened over the weekend, but I’m not quite ready to go totally public with it yet. Soon, as soon as things are definitely definite. 😉

And that’s what’s new with me today. Hope you’re all having a spectacular Monday!

I could hear the voices of my childhood

In response to today’s BufBloPoFo prompt:

BufBloPoFo Topic for Day 6: What kind of stuff (toys, books, TV shows) were you into when you were a kid? Do you think that had an effect on what kind of a person you are today?

Hmm…I had lots of the typical toys of a child of the 70s/80s. Hungry Hungry Hippos. Lite Brite. Viewmaster, Sit’n Spin, Etch-a-Sketch. I played with Barbies and Strawberry Shortcake dolls, My Little Pony, the Rubiks Cube, Cabbage Patch Kids (I had two). I enjoyed all that stuff, and I think that they serve as cultural markers–in some ways, we’re all identified by these things…the toys we played with, and the music we listened to, and the shows we watched on TV.

But of everything, I think the things that most influenced me were my books. I’ve always been a reader, ever since I can remember. I continue to tell people that my favorite book of all time was and continues to be A Wrinkle in Time. I loved the Chronicles of Narnia, particularly The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Another one of my favorites was the lesser-known The Girl with the Silver Eyes. I absolutely ate up anything magical, anything extraordinary, and I so desperately wanted it to be real. I wanted to open a door and emerge in a different world. I wanted to bend the rules of space and time. I wanted to be able to move things with my mind. I loved these books, and I read them over and over and over again. It was in those stories, I think, that my desire to be a writer first emerged. I wanted to be able to make other people feel the way I felt when I was reading.