The Rubber Maids Reunite Tonight! A show 20 years in the making.

The Rubber Maids reunite

I can’t believe I flew into New Orleans on Monday and I’ve already been on WWOZ and now the day of the show is here. It has been a whirlwind week of daily practice, costume sewing and promotion and yet somehow it feels so normal, like this is what we always do.

If you want to know more about how our group formed and such, we talked about it in our WWOZ interview . We start talking at 126.

Tonight’s show is going to be stuffed full of great music. I’m excited to be reuniting with friends from when we started: The Stacks and Egg Yolk Jubilee. David Rhoden from the stacks made this adorable animation to promote the show:

http://davidrhoden.com/news/2018/the-stacks-with-rubber-maids-and-eyj-this-saturday

Robin, lead singer/guitarist for The Rubber Maids got our recordings re-mastered and pressed to vinyl. The record sounds great and will be available to buy at the show.

The Rubber Maids at Siberia

And next week we’re doing it all again. We have a show at Poor Boys next Saturday. We’re going to play more shows while I’m here and we’ll be posting videos, so keep checking back.

Though my main focus today is music. Don’t forget OctPoWriMo starts on October first, so get your poetry chops prepped for a month of great prompts and poems.

 

 

Advertisements

Top 10 Reasons To Go To A Writers Conference

I recently attended the Pacific Northwest Writers Association Conference (PNWA18). I had a great experience. Here are my top ten reasons to attend a writers conference:

Cover Writing the Breakout Novel10. Autographs – At PNWA authors can buy a table in the “bookstore” to sell their books. There is an autograph party where you can meet the authors and ask them to sign their books. The week before the conference, a member of my critique group gave me a copy of Writing the Breakout Novel: Insider Advice for Taking Your Fiction to the Next Level by Donald Maass. He didn’t know Mr. Maass would be at the conference, he just gave me the book out of the blue. I took itMaass Signature with me and was happy to see Donald Maass signing at the autograph party.

9. The speaker – This year’s speaker was R. L. Stine. His speech was funny and informative. He started off by reading letters he had received from children and followed up with some great advice. He said to always say yes to everything. He probably meant within reason, but I’ll leave that up to you. After his speech, he did a book signing. My friend Stevie was so excited to get her childhood Goosebumps book signed. It was a choose your own adventure about a mummy. I didn’t know he had done choose your own adventures. Mr. Stine was very kind and let people come behind the table for pictures.

8. Author panel – During one of the desserts, Robert Dugoni lead a hotseat style question and answer session with Donald Maass, Julia Quinn, Cat Rambo, and Christopher Vogler. They talked about how they got started and their careers. Mr. Dugoni did a great job of keeping it fun and lively.

7. Pitch fest pitch practice – This is a great opportunity at the beginning of the conference to meet other writers and hear about the stories they’ve written. Each round table has a coach to give feedback on your pitch, so it will be ready when you get your chance with the agents and editors.

Cover Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell6. Question and Answer sessions in your genre – This is a great opportunity to hear agents and authors talk about working in your genre. I volunteered to moderate the literary fiction section. The three agents who were looking for literary fiction talked about how they find and work with their authors, their favorite recent titles and gave great insider information about the literary journals they read when looking for new talent. Hint: Start reading Tin House.

5. Classes – One of the reasons writers really like the PNWA conference is that it focuses on the craft of writing. There are many great sessions to choose from. I got a lot out of “A Novel in Four Drafts” presented by Lindsay Schopfer and “Words Matter. Writing the Literary Novel” with Robert Dugoni.Dugoni signature

4. The agent and editor panels – This is a very important part of the conference. Finding the agents and editors most interested in stories like yours will help you make a successful pitch. It’s important to research the agents and editors before going to the conference, but even when you’ve done your homework, hearing the agents talk about what they’re looking for specifically gives you a much clearer picture if they will be a good fit for your work.

3. Pitching to agents and editors – Here’s the actual professional work of going to the conference, pitching your novel. If your manuscript is complete and polished, or you will have it polished by next year’s conference, I recommend buying the early-bird tickets as soon as they become available. The ticket is less expensive and comes with two pitch blocks. I think it’s important to have two pitch blocks because there is less pressure and if things do not go well in the first block, you can adjust your pitch and try again. Make sure your pitch is about 90 seconds long so there is time for questions. Include a quick description of your main character, the inciting incident and the crisis of your story, but don’t give away the ending.

2. Inspiration / Filling the well – Writing can be a very isolating and introspective vocation. Spending time with writers at every stage of their careers, listening to their personal stories and the stories they’ve written, and going to the sessions all help to get your creative juices flowing. In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron calls this “filling the well.”

And the most important reason to go to a writers conference is . . .

1. Relationships with fellow authors – I have met some amazing people at PNWA. Meeting other writers online is nice, but it is not the same as meeting in person. There’s just no substitute. Make sure to make business cards that not only express something about your novel, but also show your personality. Make sure to include all of your online platform information and hand those cards out to everyone who will take one. Be open and have fun meeting everyone. The joy of going to a writers conference is the concentrated evidence that everyone has a unique story to tell. It’s amazing.

Getting excited? A good place to start is heading over to pnwa.org and becoming a member. Not in the pacific northwest? That’s okay. You can attend the meetings online and the conference is open to everyone. If you would like to find a conference closer to your hometown, I created a map of US conferences to get you started in your search.

Remember to support your local authors.

Washington’s Emerging Writers Anthology now available!

Information about Almost Paradise, a short story by Maria L. Berg that is in the Washington's Emerging Writers Anthology

Click on the image to get your copy today!

dVerse Poets Pub Quadrille: earth

Today’s prompt for the dVerse Poets Quadrille is the word earth.

Tiny shoots in a new garden

Cruel Dance

Your roots, deep veins
in dark earth smell
of heat and safety
Clinging sweet on savory
Luscious minerals necessary for

Life on earth our
feet stabilize during the
eternal push and pull
of gravity’s cruel dance
The earth leaves its
mark upon our soles.

Reading as a writer: Deconstructing a scene

image of the book Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen and a filled in scene deconstruction worksheet

This summer my wonderful local book store, A Good Book in Sumner, Wa, not only had a Summer Reading Bingo card, but came up with a Bingo card for writers as well. It looked daunting at first with squares like: Write your manifesto (turn your excuses upside down); Write seven days in a row; and Finish Something; but the more I worked on it, the more inspired I was to continue.

One of the final squares on my card before I got my blackout was, “Deconstruct a Scene.” The instructions were to read a scene from your favorite book/author and find what makes it work. I picked out scenes from different authors I enjoy and put the books on my desk with the scenes I’d chosen dutifully marked, but kept moving on to other squares of the Bingo card. Finally, I searched the internet to see if there were any forms or worksheets out there to guide me through the process of deconstructing a scene. I didn’t find what I was looking for, so I went to work creating my own.

I had recently attended my first meeting at the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) cottage. I’ve been a member for years, but only watched some meetings online. I’m glad I went. Pam Binder gave a presentation on critique groups and created a hand- out with her ideas of how to evaluate a scene that were helpful. I also incorporated ideas from Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft (8th Edition) by Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French and Ned Stuckey-French and The Twelve Questions in Frencesca Block’s The Thorn Necklace: Healing Through Writing and the Creative Process.

Deconstructing a scene

Evaluating a scene is similar to evaluating an entire story. A scene encompasses the same elements:

  • The point of view(POV) character, in a specific setting, wants something
  • Something or someone stops them from reaching that goal
  • This leads to crisis
  • Which leads to reflection and/or insight
  • Causing the POV character to change and/or come up with a new goal

The point of deconstructing scenes by authors you admire is to look for the techniques they use to make a scene stick with you. You want to identify the choices they make that appear so effortless and keep you reading like:

  • How do the characters express emotion?
  • What invoked emotion in you the reader?
  • Did something surprise you? Why? How?
  • What kept you turning pages?
  • Was there a hook at the end of the scene?

The Worksheet

I tested my worksheet on a scene from Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen. I chose this for my exercise because my current work in progress (I finished the first draft two days ago. YAY!) is in that vein: A murder mystery that brings a lot of eccentric characters into wild situations. The scene I chose did not specifically fit the scene and sequel structure, and I realized this by using my worksheet. I also discovered a technique to show emotion that I liked and may use in the future.

Filling out the worksheet didn’t take as long as I thought it would and the insight gleaned from filling it out was well worth the effort. The great thing about this Scene Deconstruction Worksheet is not only can I use it to read as a writer, but I can use it to evaluate my own scenes.

You can get a copy of my worksheet to use in your own reading and writing by signing up for my newsletter.

I want it button

When you do, you will receive a link to the file and a special message from me about once a month.

I hope that you will use this worksheet and find it as informative as I have.

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

dVerse Poets Quadrille: Stacked Boxes

Today is Quadrille Monday over at the dVerse Poets Pub and De Jackson served up the word: box.

A photograph of large boxes stacked on smaller boxes

 

Stacked Boxes

Stacking larger boxes on small boxes
A heavy head bobbles upon a lilting middle, teetering on a poor foundation
Functioning intelligence, serpentine systems based on a corrupted piece of code
The hypocrisy covers lies told to disguise the fib
A whisper topples the tower.

dVerse Poets Quadrille: Puzzle

For anyone who has been following my writing adventure, you will not be surprised that “Puzzle” inspired me to write many poems. I wrote three dVerse Poet Quadrilles in the first 25 minute sprint of #MagicMon over on twitter. I am excited about this one.

pieces

Bronchial Birch Trees

I asked for the box because I need to see the corrupted result
Pieces will fit together, but not to my vision
My passion for this puzzle used to excite me into the night
I can’t open this mangled mutation of my aborted dream.

 

Plotting with Tarot: Interpretation for a friend-The Perfect Romance Plot

This is fun! My friend Diana Rose Wilson was having a bout of writer’s block, so I mentioned trying plotting with Tarot to get some ideas. She tried it, said it took her down a rabbit’s hole and gave up, but said I could go ahead and interpret her spread. I decided to give it a try, thinking it might be fun to see if someone else’s spread might inspire a scene for me as well since the cards are interpretive symbols with immeasurable possible interpretations.

awesome notebooks

I decided to make this the first entry in my I Regret Nothing Journal from The Mincing Mockingbird & The Fantic Meerkat (I love these journals) and wrote down each of Diana’s cards and positions. Many of the cards she pulled were reversed which I found interesting. While doing this, I noticed she was missing a card for a Celtic Cross which looked like her intended form, so I pulled out my hand-made Tarot cards and found the cards she had pulled, put them in order she would have pulled her spread and then started shuffling and cutting for her final card.

I shuffled and cut my deck three times while thinking, What would be the last card in Diana’s spread and What would the outcome be for Diana’s story? Believe it or not, the top card after the final shuffle and cut was The Lovers. Perfect.

 

romance plot spread.jpg

I grabbed my copy of Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, turned to page 75 (Note: after I published this post, I found out that Mark Teppo’s book is in second edition with significant additions, so that page number may not be the same in your book) and started my plot interpretation. During my first exploration of the Tarot last fall, I found that I liked using Teach Me Tarot for online interpretations, so I went to the site and started with Diana’s first card, The Ten of Pentacles in the search bar. The great thing about Teach Me Tarot is it thoroughly explores the upright and reversed positions for every card. Because I am using this for fiction plotting, I can pick and choose which aspects of the card, in the given position, are exciting to me for a plot-line.

Now that you know the tools I used for my interpretation, I’m going to give you my interpretation of the entire spread as a story plot. If you would like further instruction of how I came up with this interpretation, I highly recommend getting a copy of Jumpstart Your Novel by Mark Teppo, Mapping the Hero’s Journey With Tarot: 33 Days To Finish Your Book by Arwen Lynch, and reading my blog posts from November 2017.

Now. With no further build up . . . Drum roll please . . .

♥ Diana’s Most Amazing And Useful Romance Novel Plot! ♥

Your protagonist is wealthy on many levels: from a wealthy family and a well-known family name, may have old money or be “self-made” through hard work. S/he is from a close-knit, tight family unit and follows family traditions and customs. This protagonist starts out having it all, but something from the past threatens his/her happiness. Something from the past: a person, a document, a memory threatens to destroy this perfect life.

The story begins with the protagonist facing doubts and fears that something isn’t right. S/he wishes to let go and enjoy/reap the good life, but worries it is too good to be true. Whatever threat from the past has come to light (family, business, family secrets, blackmail, old business partner, old school friend, old lover, inheritance, current relationship falling apart, etc.), the protagonist has dug in his/her heels and stubbornly refuses to negotiate or compromise. There is a good chance that s/he is wrong, but pride/ego/family name is in the way. The protagonist becomes awkward and difficult, determined to keep the battle/conflict going. S/he will lose any honesty s/he had, willing to call black white to disagree on almost every item.

The protagonist wishes s/he could walk away, but because of original home/wealth/happiness, can’t. S/he wishes for space and time to think, to come up with a new approach, but is constantly pressured. S/he wants to find a way to be free from blame for every horror s/he is discovering created the wealth s/he enjoyed. And/or wants to know who is causing the unrest (blackmail/threats). And/or wants to come clean about past (family, business, secrets).

The protagonist makes an attempt create distance from the situation; makes a move from turbulent seas to calmer waters where s/he finds belief in self and sense of purpose. This is where the protagonist recognizes/discovers love for another.

No matter what this protagonist does, s/he is still a representative of the family s/he was born into, thus people see a person who: earned a place on the winners podium; earned success because s/he learned vital lessons of life; has balance in life and success that will be long term. This perception feels hypocritical and difficult through his/her changing reality.

The protagonist must overcome the past and transform into a lover. The love interest, met earlier, helps in discovery and realization with a sharp wit and intelligence. S/he sees through the wealth and prestige to her/his heart. This lover helps the protagonist to rise above the conflict and trouble. As lovers, they find the truth.

The protagonist finally finds real love–has changed from being selfish and entitled to someone who listens to needs, desires feelings, likes and dislikes and knows how to communicate his/her own. Through this change the protagonist finds balance and harmony in relationship and life.

The End

And there you have it–a delicious romance plot outline that you can use over and over again–from only one Celtic Cross Tarot Spread. Why do I think this is so fun? Because using this plot I already came up with these elevator pitches:

A young heiress, happily living in the lap of luxury, finds out she has been promised to her father’s business partner. Unless she can find proof that an accidental death that occurred before she was born wasn’t her father’s fault, she will have to marry a man she loathes, or her family will lose everything. With the help of a childhood friend, she delves into her family history finding more than her heart can hold.

A Pop-Star in the middle of a world-wide tour finds out that her manager has stolen all of her money and disappeared. Not able, or willing to return to her hyper-religious family who has “dis-owned” her,  she ends up in a dive-bar in a small southern town where she sings on a bar-stool for tips. When a disgruntled lawyer gets lost and finds her way to her arms, she promises to help her get her life back.

A young developer thinks he has it all: wealth, property, a thriving business and the best name to use as a brand all over the world. When his father dies, he expects everything to smoothly continue into his wonderful future, but the will is cryptic and suddenly he has to face the questions of how his immigrant grandfather made his money. The business runs itself, or at least stays still while he tries to follow his father’s odd clues that lead him to a mysterious woman and a new understanding of himself.

Like I said, this is fun. I came up with those in the last 15 minutes. They’re not great or anything, but they have what you need to start an intriguing romance novel (imho).

Diana mentioned she might read this interpretation and write a companion piece, so keep your eyes on her website.

Happy Reading and Writing!

dVerse Haibun Monday: Compassion

I want to say THANK YOU for this prompt for dVerse Monday Haibun. It is so easy to feel like I shouldn’t forgive because no one else shows compassion, or responds in kind, but that’s the wrong way to look.

A friend of mine helped me see that even when I want to give up on a human, there are so many reasons why people are what I see as mean to me and don’t understand me. It has nothing to do with me. My compassion is needed elsewhere.

Mountain of two minds

Not By Choice

I did not come here by choice. I lost everything by staying and everything else by complying. But somehow I am now for use, the modern day Cinderella. That is how you are obtuse: You don’t remember. You didn’t see it; It is timing; I could not make it my fault: again.

Swimming in the lake
We came here every Summer
You are equal; too.

 

dVerse Meeting the Bar: Bridging Southern Florida

Today’s dVerse poets prompt is a fun one. The challenge is to pick a line from two books then start your poem with one and end with the other. I just so happen to be reading  Rum Punch: A Novel by Elmore Leonard and Razor Girl: A novel by Carl Hiaasen. The first is set in Miami and the other in Key West. That should make for an interesting bridge.

Southern Florida Bridge

Always On The Grift

Sheepishly she displayed the razor
as she lowered her skirt

Flashing her wide whites and woollies
innocent as a lamb while

Hiding her black sheep, freshly shorn,
back into the fold

But he keeps visualizing
a fresh, pink clam

The wolf in sheep’s clothing
so well disguised

Even the shepherd was blinded
if only long enough for the crime

He follows her bleating
until he is fleeced

No apology or acting sheepish
about it, wanting to explain

She re-opens the straight blade
Just like that, back in the game

 

The first line, “Sheepishly she displayed the razor as she lowered her skirt,” was taken directly from Razor Girl: A novel by Carl Hiaasen (pg. 43) and the lines, “No apology or acting sheepish about it, wanting to explain” and “Just like that, back in the game,” were taken from Rum Punch: A Novel by Elmore Leonard (pgs. 143 and 144). I chose these lines to create my bridge because I found it interesting that two different authors in books separated by twenty-four years would choose “sheepish” to describe women who were committing crimes and in acts of deception.