Wednesday, March 27, 2013

No time to say goodbye, hello!

The final post at Widdershins has come.

Monday begins the A-Z Challenge and I'll be posting exclusively at my new joint, boots and bluestockings. Really, you should come over and follow along! This has been a long time coming and I'm looking forward to using this fresh, new bloggy home as a diving board back into the deep end of blogdom.

I've had fun here. I've met so many awesome people through this blog. I don't want to lose a single one of you. SO if you haven't visited my new space, please do. I want to continue this blogging adventure with you.

As for the A-Z Challenge, there's still time to sign up if you haven't already. Click the link and take the plunge. And speaking of the challenge, I'll be announcing my theme over at bluestockings.

So what are you waiting for?

Join the Challenge!
Click the links!
Slip on a pair of boots and come along!

Oh, yeah, and thanks for all the fun here at Widdershins. I'm ready for a change, a fresh start. And I really do want YOU with me!

Love,
Jen

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I'm still here...

In my last post, I announced that this little bloggy is moving. Well, not THIS blog, but I and my writing are moving to another blog address.

It's not really a big deal but it's been a long time since I changed blog addresses. It's weird going into the new one and working on the design. It's quite over there...but it feels more like the calm before the storm than anything else.

Dramatic? Yes. But I used to blog daily. Seriously (don't laugh). I used to work at a computer repair company and I sat at a desk for 8+hours a day. During that time, all I had to do was answer the phone when it rang and do any monotonous data entry work they gave me. Other than that, my time could be spent wandering the Internet and blogging.

After I started back to school -and quit that monotonous job- my time in front of the computer became more focused on school work and less on things I enjoyed (like blogging). It was sad, but I had to let something go and blogging was that something. Well, that and visiting I Can Has Cheezburger regularly :). I've lost touch with a lot of great bloggers and that's the thing I regret most.

BUT

That's why I'm so excited about the new blog, the end of school, and the A-Z Challenge! I love a clean slate and I love the fact that after April 28th, I will no longer be a slave to 7 day a week discussion boards, PowerPoint presentations, term papers, exams, or projects that discuss the developmental stages of human beings as discovered by Erik Erikson.

And I'm hoping the A-Z Challenge will get me back in the deep end of the blogging pool. I'm ready to take the plunge. More than ready. And if you haven't signed up for the challenge yet, do it. Trust me! You'll be glad you did.

Oh, and I fixed the "follow" button at boots and bluestockings. I hope to see you there!

~Jen

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

What a random day for a post!

Well, it's been a while!

I sincerely thank everyone who has continued reading my sporadic posts and for commenting. If I don't respond as hastily as I should, I apologize.

School is coming to a close. I have six weeks and four days left until my final two classes officially end. Thankfully, both of these classes are enjoyable and neither of them are taking up too much brain power or time. They are, however, there and haunting my every waking moment.

BUT

I have been thinking about blogging, about writing, and about what life will be like when I can finally -FINALLY- cross "become a college graduate" off my bucket list. There are ideas in the works, there are ideas waiting in the wings. Mostly they are waiting for the time to unfold into reality (and time will present itself in six weeks, four days).

And I've been considering starting a new blog.

I know; groan and sigh and fume. Seriously, go ahead. I did. And I know all of you who have followed me for any amount of time will know that I've "up and started" new blog after new blog. And you know what? I'm glad. Each blog has been an opportunity to try on a new outfit, a new "persona" if you will. Not that I've ever been untruthful in my writing but it's nice to be able to write about something and get the feeling that THAT is who you are. Even if it's just for a little while.

This blog has run its course. I've been thinking about a new direction for a long time: since last year in fact. I didn't, however, have the time to make the thinking a plan nor the plan a reality until now.

SO

I have started a new blog. It's there. It's shiny. It's rough and begs your indulgence for the necessary cosmetic changes that will occur in the next few weeks. The official launch date of Shiny New Blog will be April 01: day one of the A-Z Challenge. Yes, folks, I'll be posting all my A-Z posts over there.

Where is there, you ask? That's a great question! Boots and Bluestockings is the name of the new blog. A bluestocking is a literary lady; and boots, well, who doesn't like a good pair of boots! Seriously, though, I wear work boots, combat boots, and wellie (i.e. garden/rain) boots on a regular basis. They all symbolize different aspects of myself. I like that about me: one day I feel like conquering the world and the next, like dancing in the rain.

As I said, the official start date is April 01 but there will be a few posts prior to that. It will prove to be a grand experiment, starting something brand, spanking new in conjunction with the awesome experience of the A-Z Challenge.

And I have I request:

Go on and have a visit. Poke around. There's not much to see yet. As I said, there's still some cosmetic changes to attend to. But PLEASE do click the follow button! I don't want to miss ANY of you! And it's not that hard to do. You click the link - boots and bluestockings - you click FOLLOW. Ta-Da!

See? That wasn't so hard, was it?

Thank you THANK YOU to all of my many followers, new and old, past and present. I really REALLY want to see your smiling faces over at my new place! I'll be able to visit more frequently in the up coming weeks. I just have to tie down the final two classes and let them know who's in charge ;)

All the best and see you soon,
Jen

Monday, March 4, 2013

Concerning Fiction

When it comes to fiction, I usually steer clear of literary works. Not that there's anything wrong with fiction that reads like most nightly news hours; I just prefer a dash of magic and a healthy heaping of fantasy when I sit down to absorb someone else's world.

Reading fantasy, however, doesn't meant that I am adverse to realism. The best fantasy books are those that seem so real, that are suffused with such detail and recognizable elements that I forget that I am, in fact, reading fiction. We all know that Middle Earth existed only in Tolkien's imagination; but when we're reading it, we would swear it really existed.

Where is that fine balance between completely over the top and firmly grounded in reality? Honestly, I don't think it has anything to do with balance but with writing about what you know. Yeah, I know; you're tired of hearing that. But my life's BORING, you whine. No one wants to read about what I know. Really? Think about it. We all bring to the plate experiences, both REAL and IMAGINED. My idea of a unicorn may not necessarily be the same as your idea of a unicorn. And I know for a fact my idea of the characters in A Wrinkle in Time are NOT the same ideas held by film makers, graphic novel illustrators, or book cover designers.

But I digress...

We read fiction because we want an escape from our own reality. We read fiction to imagine what life would be like if we walked a different path, in a different body, a different town, a different planet. Whether we read literary fiction or science fiction isn't the point. What matters is the story. STORY is built upon the backbone of truth. Truth in fiction, of course, is speculative. When we write a story, it's true to us. When we read a well crafted story, we know it was true for the author. 

As writers, we need to dig deep to find our own truth. We have truths in every aspect of our lives. From our elementary school to our hometown to the dog that belonged to the crotchety old neighbor across the street we all have something from our pasts we can pull into words and make our own. Our imaginations provide us with the rest -

- especially if we write about unicorns ;)

Write real, write hard ...
Jen

Monday, February 25, 2013

Seeing with Eyes Unclouded

I think that's a line from The Lord of the Rings...or maybe that was 'with my waking eyes'. Pretty sure it came from the Bible. Anyway -

- I'm in the middle of reading this fantastic article in the March/April 2013 issue of Poets and Writers magazine. The author, Tony Eprile, talks about how important it is for writers to really SEE what's around them. It isn't just enough that we surround ourselves with inspiration; if we grow numb or, as Eprile says, blind to that which is around us, it does us no good. And we do have the tendency to grow blind to that which is familiar.

The idea of grounding fiction in reality -regardless of genre- by using subtle details and real-world workings has been inspiring me lately. Since I started writing I've considered myself a fantasy or speculative fiction writer. I'd much rather read about magical realms and things that go bump in the night than fictionalized headlines from the evening news. I also believe in the old adage "Write what you know".

Remember the part in Little Women when Jo March is told that very same thing? She wanted to write sensational fiction: murder, mystery and mayhem. There is, of course, nothing wrote with writing this. One can even write about it without having experienced it first hand. I have countless outlines and pages devoted to mythological lands and fantastic beasts. Sadly, I have yet to journey to Atlantis or procure a dragon of my very own. How, in both instances, can the author be said to write what they know?

By incorporating the REAL in with the UNREAL. I'll dispense with my long-winded, metaphysical discussion of "What is real?"[ If you wish to talk more about that, first read L'Engle's "A Swiftly Tilting Planet" and Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" and then we'll talk :D] What I will discuss is how we, as living, breathing, flesh and blood humans can write about things that aren't necessarily every day occurrences.

The secret lies in both SEEING the ordinary things around us as extraordinary; we need to un-cloud our vision from dismissing the robin at the feeder, the patch of weeds in the garden, or the leaf blowing across our patio. Especially when writing the fantastic, I tend to lament the fact that I lack a herd of zombie unicorns from which  to draw inspiration. But we must draw from two different wells: the one of our imagination, yes, but also of our everyday waking lives.

Regardless of what you write, you have countless experiences and hobbies, jobs, relationships, bizarre collections and old, rusty frying pans you can work with. Give your characters fantastic powers, sure, but also give them scars, quirks, that boring job you had in high school selling shoes to burned out basketball players. Have them bake, garden, collect stamps, go swing dancing twice a week with their 85 year old grandpa.

The point is, even if you main character fights vampires or sails the seas of Mars, there has to be SOMETHING that the reader can relate to. Start digging into your own experiences for that something. Also, the next time you trip over a root, don't dismiss it. Take a good long look at it. You may be able to use that experience (roots and all) in your next story!

Happy Monday,
Jen

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy 88th Birthday Edward Gorey



Interesting: if you Google "Edward Gorey" the search engine also suggests that you may like Tim Burton, Maurice Sendak, and Edgar Allan Poe. I couldn't agree more. Most people have at least a nodding acquaintance with Gorey's work. If you doubt me, watch Masterpiece Theater's Mystery night on PBS. The opening sequence is animated Gorey images :)

Now, I know some of you don't lean toward the dark and macabre, but I enjoy a little bizarre twist to the every day. Gorey gave the world that in his works. I have even found Edward Gorey Christmas cards in which a group of Dickensian characters are holding a burial service for a fruit cake. I don't care who you are, that's funny.

Edward Gorey did a production of "Dracula"-


He retold the Star Trek episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" (and I really need to find this!) -


And I even found a site that retells Dr. Who episodes in a Gorey-esque style but the links were all broken. Boo Hiss...(if anyone can find this and it actually works I'd be ever so grateful :D)

If you want to know more this master of macabre and darkly humorous art, check out The Edward Gorey House. It's the perfect site for a grey, blustery, cold winter's day.

Cheers and happy weekend!
Jen

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Playing Catch-up

Good afternoon!

I just looked at my last post and realized it has been weeks since my last post. No shock there, eh? The good news is, I've been doing some off-line blog work and have a plan in mind for the A-Z Challenge in April. Yes, I've actually got a theme this year! I'll talk more about that as the weeks wind down to the start of the challenge. By the way, if you're up for a lot of writing, blog hopping and a lot of fun, sign up for the challenge. This will be my second year doing it and I can tell you it's the hardest work and the most fun you'll do for your blog. I guarantee it! Sign up at Blogging from A-Z Challenge 2013.

Not only do I have a theme for this year's A-Z Challenge I've finally (FINALLY) decided upon a theme for this blog. I won't do any design changes until after the A-Z Challenge as the theme for my posts tie directly into the new focus of this blog but I'll give you a hint: it has to do with writing ;)

So, here's a question for you: does YOUR blog have a specific theme or themes that it focuses on? I only ask because I want your opinion. There are so many of you out there who do such a wonderful, succinct way of making your voice heard on your blogs. There are very focused blogs and there are blogs that cover a menagerie of topics and do so very, very well. As for me, I haven't really been able to hang on to one or several topics in quite some time. I blame school for that but to be honest, there's no excuse but this: I've fallen behind in writing, editing, and the current circle of writers and writing news.These past few weeks, however, I've been digging and researching and outlining. Long story short, I've been writing again and I'm excited.

Thanks to everyone who has continued to read my sporadic and rather dull blog posts over the past two years. I appreciate the continued support and friendship. Things are going to get better around here. I've got a lot of house keeping to do but I'm looking forward to it!

Thanks for the input and don't forget to sign up for the A-Z Challenge!

~Jen

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Insecure Writer's Support Group, Long time no see!

Long time, no see blog world! How have you all been? I hope you've kicked off this new year with a bang and are well on your way to writing greatness :). It's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group Post!

I don't know about you, but writing for me has become this vague dream sitting behind the long awaited day I can finally proclaim (loudly and with much fanfare) "I'm a college graduate!!!!" College started for me back in 1995 (yes, I am THAT old ;)) and 18 years later, THIS MAY, I can finally say, "I'm done!" Seriously done. As in "all those ideas about going to graduate school are now flushed down the toilet because I'm so beyond sick of doing papers every week" done. But hey, if there's anything this looooooooong stint as an on again off again college student has taught me, I can always go back. Who knows? Maybe I'll got to grad school when I'm 50.

Insecurities? Yeah, I've got 'em. Who doesn't? My major just happens to be Creative Writing. Too bad I have to take all those other required courses that they claim make me a well rounded individual. The most writing I've done this year so far has been for my world literature class (and oh boy is THAT a tale in itself...but I digress). Now, my other class this term is Screenwriting. Yes, boys and girls, I signed up for a class that requires me to write a short film by the end of eight weeks. Yikes! So far, the idea is a good one, I'm just having a hard time fleshing it out.

And here comes the insecurity: There are a handful of people in this screenwriting class who are really on top of their game. I mean, these guys are always on the discussion boards talking script-smack with the professor. I jump in here and there, whenever I have an opinion, but here's the kicker: I'm not a big movie buff! I've toyed with the idea of writing a screenplay, even of doing a short film, before but I feel insecure about the whole mess because most of the people you meet who write and produce films are REALLY into films. I'm not. In fact, I think I've seen one movie on the Oscar list this year-and that one I didn't really like.

I wonder sometimes if I don't immerse myself enough, not just in screenwriting but in writing in general. I peruse blogs by people who are up to their eyeballs in information, links, query helps, and interviews and here I sit, blinking cursor all fired up, and I ... have...nothing. Nada. Zilch! I get a fresh idea (like I did yesterday) and I spend a few hours jotting it down, toying with it, and then, it fizzles. Maybe it's school. No really: when I was out for Christmas break the whole WORLD seemed brighter and I spent time each day working on projects. When I'm in school, not so much. As soon as I finish my school work for the day (which is usually a 6 hour day), I close the computer, turn on Murder, She Wrote on NetFlix and imagine all the books I should be writing.

Burn out. That's the term I'm looking for. Anyone else there? Well, here's what I've learned (thanks to school and those oh so fleeting two week breaks): It WILL pass!! Yes kids, even if all you can eek out is a few words a day, then get those few words out and rest. Take care of yourself, be gentle with yourself. The time will come when you've got your strength back and you can plow through some edits, some queries, or a brand new idea. The countdown for me has begun! April 29 is a dawning of a new world for me. Until then, I'll just be insecure in my abilities, plow through those weekly papers, and keep the embers burning on those new ideas!

Happy Wednesday everyone! Sorry I've been AWOL. That will change in 11 weeks...

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Bit O' Fog

There is a pasture that butts up against our back yard. The barbed wire fence separates us from a lovely herd of cows and the occasional flock of black birds. The fence, however, does little to actually separate us from the birds; they decide on their own to feast predominately in the cow field.

Usually, just beyond the pasture, one can see the road. You can even hear it when the appliances are silent. Today, however, there is nothing beyond the field. Just a white wall of fog.  The trees stand out in stark, black contrast to the mist, creating the illusion of a void beyond.

Last week I had to submit two screenplay ideas for my writing class. I am not a screenwriter. I've tried it before and, apart from being an interesting experiment in dialogue, I felt completely out of my element. Floundering. Needless to say I'm feeling that way in this course. Unlike my own project, I can't just decide screenwriting isn't for me this time. I have to persevere for seven more weeks. This week is the big challenge: we begin critiquing each other's ideas.

Now I've critiqued and had critiqued creative writing before. It's part of the degree and I don't mind it. I appreciate the constructive criticisms and have learned to brush aside the, "I just don't get what you're trying to say" comments that pop up with some regularity. This time, however, I'm a bit apprehensive to check my comments. I feel a lot like the cow pasture today: appearing substantial and yet, just beyond me, is a white void of nothing.

Am I feeling insecure? You bet. Too bad this didn't come for my Insecure Writers Support Group post. Alas, insecurity doesn't wait until it's needed for a witty post or inspirational diatribe. It's here, lurking, creeping around like the mist beyond my doors and windows. Tapping against the panes. Curling around the trees. Is it a big deal? No. I'll get a good grade as long as I follow the procedures and create according to the rubric. Thankfully, we're not being graded on Oscar-worthy ideas. Still...I'm a writer...and the prospect of "you suck" in any capacity (even one that is not my normal genre) is a bit unnerving.

What shall I do? Considering the critique is part of our grade, I'll march myself over and begin critiquing other people's work. Then I'll ever so hesitantly,creep over to my own post and see what others have to say. Keep your fingers crossed! Hopefully the fog clears in time for others to see that there really is something on the other side of the trees.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Frosting


Leaves and vines and flowers in porcelain. The red stain: clay. Tried making a mold; didn't work.

White is glaring, examining, purifying. Find it imposing, comforting, all rolled into one.

Such a pain to clean, white. Holds stains with sticky fingers. Reminding, remembering, always there.

Without the remembering, we'd vanish; without the reminding, we'd forget.

There was frost on the bird feeder yesterday, all jagged edges, a haze of frosting on a verdigris cake.

Learning to live with glaring white is illuminating.

Resting, knowing, it holds reminders, memories like a string of porcelain vines...

*******

It's raining...another grey day. Callou! Callay! Off to write a paper on Voltaire and outline two short films. I'm taking a screen writing class this term. Yikes! Talk about stretching myself as a writer. Good experience, I tell myself. If nothing else, it will teach me to communicate in far fewer words. Heaven knows I love those big word counts!

Happy Wednesday,
Jen

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hello World

Good morning! This post is to announce that I have NOT fallen off the face of the earth (though with my current classwork load, I must say the thought is very desirable . How have you all been? Did you enjoy the  holiday season: Hanukkah, Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year?

The New Year has been grey here, grey and lovely. I've always loved January. It's as if the entire world has wiped the slate clean and has agreed to start over. The leaves are rotting under the trees; the tree branches are bare bones and trembling. We have a wind chime out in our yard that has taken to ringing madly in the slightest breeze. Not quite sure what to make of that!

Writing has delightfully taken over my waking dreams. Though I sit in the corner of the living room (once occupied by our magnificent Christmas tree, Denzel), reading, reading, reading literature for my classes, my mind continues to wander back to the notebooks sitting on my kitchen table. Why the kitchen table? Why not my writing desk in my writing room? Ah, if only I could answer that one. There's just something about writing at the kitchen table that makes me feel as if I somewhat belong to the world at large. When I sit in my writing room I feel secluded, hibernated, squished away into a sort of cloud-like oblivion. Don't get me wrong: sometimes this is WONDERFUL and I nuzzle into my battered sofa and relish the rain that lashes at the window of days like that. But usually, I'm here, at the table, the reflection of the back yard in my screen.

What's been niggling at your mind lately? A new story? A new character? A whole troop of harpies?

Oh, and about that Christmas tree, yes, we DO name our trees every year :) Makes it more personal, you know.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

IWSG - A New Year is Here

Today is the first Insecure Writer's Support Group meeting of 2013. This brain-child of Alex J. Cavanaugh has been a wonderful way for writer's to share insecurities, seek encouragement, and offer inspiration. If you're not already involved, get thee to the Insecure Writer's Support Group page and join! You have nothing to lose but your insecurities :).


Insecurities will grow like grass if you let them. They sneak in, sprout up, attempt to choke out the flowers. If left un-managed, leaves will gather at their roots and slowly the fertile soil will begin to suffocate. What's left is a vast expanse of perfectly good land gone to seed and left to lie dormant under a carpet of creeping weeds.

However, there are ways to get rid of the weeds. The grass will cower to a lawn mower, a scythe, a sharp pair of scissors. Some methods take more work than others but all will give the desired end result. And, once those pesky weeks of insecurity are trimmed down to size, something else will emerge...


...the path you once walked down so confident and full of ideas. It's still there, waiting under the shag, half forgotten. Tentative steps will reawaken your once brilliant dreams. Never fear the weeds that gather around your plots and characters. Trim them away and, bit by bit, they will come alive, take your hands, and pull you along. Your confidence will rise and you'll soon find yourself planted deep in the fertile soil of your writer's imagination.

The grass and weeds are the doubts and insecurities that this world flings at us daily: what if I'm not good enough? What if my ideas suck? What if mom/dad/sister/aunt/uncle/grandparent/friend/colleague is right and I'll never get anywhere with my stories?

So what?

The mower, the blades are the voices of other writers who have gone before, who remember that the path is always there, waiting for rediscovery. You never lose it; sometimes, you just forget the way.

This year, my goal is to keep the weeds pulled and the grasses cut back. To keep the path clear of the debris of well meaning (and some not so well meaning) voices that whisper "It would be better if you just go pursue a 'real' career and leave this writing junk alone." This year, I aim to follow that path to its end. 

What will I find?

A cross-roads of course: new directions and new stories down which to ramble.
_____________________________

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope your holiday season was filled with friends, family, and the awareness of every blessing you possess. Best of luck in this shiny New Year! Here's to many stories written and many new paths discovered!

~ Jen