New #LitMag+

fictional pairings

Tomorrow on Fictional Pairings  enjoy the music they pair to “Your New BAM-AG Home”

Almost every writer dreams of getting published. Most likely, that dream is the scene that comes after (and does not include) the effort involved in reading and researching hundreds of literary magazines, writing queries and perfecting submissions, only to receive rejection after rejection after rejection.

Finding the right place for your stories can feel elusive, but there is hope. New online magazines are cropping up and you can find them if you search diligently.

I recently happened upon some interesting online magazines that are right up my alley. Why do I call them #LitMag+ ? Because they offer something extra.

Fictional Pairings

As a musician as well as a writer, I am very excited about Fictional Pairings, an online magazine that pairs music from bandcamp.com with fiction and poetry.

My very short sci-fi story “Your New BAM-AG Home” is coming out tomorrow at Fictional Pairings. Please give it a read and enjoy the other stories and poetry with their musical pairings. I can’t wait to hear what they think my story sounds like.

The Evening Theatre

This magazine of the dark and macabre, premiering this month, will be setting up its issues like a theatrical performance with an opening act, a comedic interlude, a headliner, etc. I really like the premise and can’t wait for the firs issue.

Twistedsisterlitmag

For those of us that find our writing leaning to the dark and twisted, it can be hard to find a fit for our stories. Twisted Sister proudly lists their contributors on their Freaks and Wierdos page. I hope to join the ranks soon.

Speculative 66

This online magazine presents a fun challenge: to write a story in exactly 66 words. I feel inspired to give it a try. I enjoyed many of the stories in the current issue.

Have you been exploring new magazines to submit to and have some to add to my list? Please share in the comments. You can also add your finds on twitter #amsubmitting

Hope to see your work in the world of #LitMag+

Creativity For The Fun Of It!

The Diva Pest Repeller

I have begun so many blog posts lately only to feel uninspired and forced, like it was pure drudgery. After starting yet another one this morning, I gave up and asked myself, how can I make this fun for me? Then I heard cheers of laughter from next door.

I went out to witness the joys of snow engineering. My neighbors were creating a sledding ramp with a jump at the bottom. The kids weren’t getting air off of the jump, so the ramp had to be steeper. This was achieved by turning two garbage cans upside down as a launch platform and then building the ramp to the top of them. The project was a ton of fun for everyone, especially Riot the dog.

When the sledding had exhausted the kids and they headed in for cocoa, I decided to continue my happy snow day by attempting the mini-masterpiece assignment for the coursera.org online course Ignite Your Everyday Creativity from SUNY (The State University of New York).

The assignment was to turn a household item, they used a light-switch plate as an example, and decorate it any way you would like. I didn’t have a spare light-switch plate, but I did find an old ultrasonic spider repeller.

Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

Large, black, monstrous wolf spiders think my house is the greatest. I, however, do not enjoy their company. After much debate, I thought we had come to a truce, when I agreed they could live in the shop, but they don’t respect boundaries. So a while back I invested in a few of these supposed wonder-gadgets. When plugged into the wall, they make a noise  humans don’t hear that repels “pests.” Obviously, my wolf spiders did not consider themselves pests because they weren’t bothered at all.

My creative idea was that perhaps the spiders aren’t drawn close enough to the gadget to hear its lovely song. This inspired my “mini-masterpiece.” Using a few odds and ends I had in my art supply bin, I got to work.

Art supplies

As I worked, my mind happily wandered to my writing projects, and as I waited for the glue to dry, I jotted down some notes. Right here is the real purpose of this post. While I was making my spider diva, I was having fun while my mind continued to work. It’s important to enjoy other creative outlets instead of solely focusing on your writing, or its possible to suck all the fun out of it. This fun, silly project made me want to write a blog post, plus I am pretty pleased with my results.

I wanted my spider  to be reminiscent of the wolf spider to draw them in, so I looked up some close-up images and replicated the three-rowed eye configuration, the long, scary arms and the furry looking body. As you can see from this close-up of the finished product:

Close-up of the finished spider diva.

The finished Spider Diva still fits in the socket and the light came on, so it still “works.” I haven’t seen any wolf spiders approach it, but it’s supposed to repel them, so I’ll assume I’ve fixed the product.

Happy Creating!

#pessimisticmoustache Santa Edition

We all know how to describe this guy, right? Let’s see,  jolly, old, rosy cheeks, twinkling eyes. You get the picture. He’s one big descriptive cliché. But this December, I think we can fix that with a game of Pessimistic Moustache, a fun word game I made up to generate unique descriptions.

I did a quick search of public domain images of our friend Santa here and found some interesting variations to inspire us:

smoking-pipe-santa

 

What if this Santa showed up at your window? How could you describe him? Using my list of “isms” I’m gonna go with:

The tap on my window startled me. I was surprised to look into the voyeuristic leer of Santa himself. His malistic brow revealed he was in the process of deciding if I was naughty or nice. I guess he had lost his list.

What about this guy:

stealing-tree-santaHe looks sneaky. I think he’s got a badger in that sack. Checking out my collections of isms, I’ll describe him to you:

The nihilistic jaunt of Santa’s cap and the punching and growling coming from the bag he fought to keep perched on his finalistic shoulders, led the children to believe that this Santa was being mind controlled by his panegoistic mustache, or maybe it was his beard.

As you can see, there are no wrong answers when playing Pessimistic Moustache. I hope you will join me this December creating fun, unique, perhaps ridiculous descriptions of Santa this holiday season.

What would you write for this one?

scary-santa

Leave your descriptions in the comments, or head over to the hashtag #pessimisticmoustache on Twitter and join the game there. Feel free to add your favorite Santa pics and gifs for others to describe.

It’s Fun!

Great News! The new Gator McBumpypants adventure is now available!

cover-gdsg

You can be the first to read the new Gator McBumpypants adventure Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye.

In this (the fourth) Gator McBumpypants picture book, Dee Dee invites Gator McBumpypants and Herman on a grand adventure. They spend a wonderful day exploring, but Dee Dee hasn’t only planned a day of fun. She has something she needs to tell them. Why did Dee Dee plan a special day? And what big secret is she keeping for the end?

This book is a nice companion piece to Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three. In that book Herman makes a new friend while out flying. Her name is Dee Dee and she is a duck. Dee Dee is special because she can fly like Herman and swim like Gator McBumpypants. The book is about finding ways to play together even when you are different and have different abilities. 

cover of third book in Gator McBumpypants and Friends series

 

I really enjoy how the visual contrast of the two books matches the differences in the stories. Dee Dee Makes Three takes place at the beginning of the summer. The majority of the photo-illustrations are in bright, direct light and the characters are presented in close, tight shots. It’s about the joy of making new friends and getting to know them. The new story Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye takes place at the end of the summer and is about adventuring out from home. The photo-illustrations reflect this with long shots in slanted light and warm fall colors.

So treat yourself to a mini-escape  and join Gator McBumpypants and his friends on a fun adventure.

Have a quick think on your Christmas list. Is there a child who loves to read? Someone who loves stuffed animals? Someone who enjoys photography? It’s cyber-monday, you’re already on the internet, so enjoy some internet shopping and let Gator McBumpypants help you de-stress for the holidays by checking some names off that list.

Happy Gator McBumpypants Day!

 

 

 

 

Name this turtle and get your name in the next Gator McBumpypants book!

A one of a kind stuffed box turtle made by Maria L. Berg

What should my name be? Enter the contest

Creation makes its own calendar

I thought I was way ahead of the game. I had big plans and was gonna do it right this year. I mean, I have experience. I have my online presence set up.  I filled in my Google calendar. I had a marketing plan. Everything I had done would make this book easy, right?

WRONG

At times it felt like the earth itself was against me. Record high heat and illness when I had signed up for the SCBWI  critique and record rains when I had planned my photo shoot. At other times it felt like a complete waste of time to create a book about a child  coping with the loss of a friend moving away, when everyone was in a state of constant hyperbole.

And then, the one person who I could count on to take Gator McBumpypants very seriously, who would police my commas and make sure that I wrote the best I could, died. I still haven’t dealt with it. One third of my critique group is gone. She was amazing and beautiful and knowing her gave me hope for humans.

So, that Google calendar reminds me what I haven’t done and I ignore it. My marketing plan was based on things I have been told to do, that honestly, haven’t given me returns so far.

Yesterday and today, as I worked on the turtle that I have imagined for so long, but was not  ready to make until now, I thought about the joy of creation. I remembered how much I enjoy the process of forming an idea and letting it grow, then using my bits of fabric and stuffing to create a three dimensional sculpture that will have thoughts and feelings and adventures for readers to live in.

It is alchemy of the best kind. I am in love with this turtle.  I love it because at times it felt impossible but I had to make it, and because I made it as close to my model as I could (a very angry looking turtle), but still made it adorable which was my goal.

Please join in the creation of Gator McBumpypants Doesn’t Say Goodbye. Name this turtle on the Gator McBumpypants and Friends facebook page and you will not only name a new friend but get a special thank you in the book.

Thank you for being part of my writing life and letting me be part of yours.

Update: The turtle’s name is Shelley. Congratulations to Amy Chesler who won the contest.

 

 

A Quick #Movember Update and a game of #pessimisticmoustache

To raise money for Prostate Cancer Research, people all over the world are growing mustaches this month. If you haven’t seen Adam Garone (the founder of Movember)’s Ted Talk, I recommend watching it. It’s a fun story.

To create Movember awareness, Diana Rose Wilson and I have turned my game Pessimistic Moustache into a twitter hashtag game only about mustaches. We would absolutely love you to jump over to twitter and join us at #pessimisticmoustache. The rules and background of the game are found in my original post:

The Pessimistic Moustache Game: Avoiding cliche description

How to play #pessimisticmoustache for #Movember: The quick and dirty version:

1. Look at a picture or GIF of a mustache

2. Pick an ism that you think would describe said mustache

3. Warp that ism into a descriptive sentence and tweet your sentence using the hashtag #pessimisticmoustache

4. (optional but greatly appreciated) Add your own picture of your, or your friend’s Movember mustache

5. Invite your friends to play #pessimisticmoustache and shout out your favorites

Based on a great description in an Agatha Christie novel, the game challenges you to match an ism to a body part. For the month of November, it’s all about mustaches. Having a list of isms at your fingertips makes the game easy. I enjoy the list of Philisophical Isms at Phrontistery. Phrontistery is a wonderful site for word lovers. I highly recommend spending some time exploring.

So Let’s Play!

Here’s an example:

Andrick is participating in Movember. He let me take a picture of his mustache growth.

Man looking at camera with small amount of mustach growth

One Week’s Growth – I see a lot of potential

When I look at this mustache, I see future possibilities: It could go Tom Selleck; It could go Snidely Whiplash. So, in that sense, this is a futuristic mustache. I could write: A futuristic mustache betrayed his grim smile.

Or it could be a euhemeristic mustache, meaning that his mustache explains mythology as growing out of history (I go for the sophisticated, layered mustache meanings). In this case I might Tweet: The man with the euhemeristic mustache walked as if he had wings on his heals.

I like fortuitism for this mustache. Fortuitism is the belief in evolution by chance variation. See, it ties into the idea that at this point the mustache is in a formative stage. Could a gust of wind, or some jam on the lip steer it from a Tom Selleck to a Snidely Whiplash?

Now, I need to change my chosen ism into a description. Fortuitistic- this may not actually be a word, but it is closer to my meaning that fortuitous, so I’m going with fortuitistic -artistic license and all that. So, my tweet will be: The fortuitistic mustache skipping across his lip expressed his whimsy, or was it loose morals?

Need a break from #NaNoWriMo? Hop over to #pessimisticmoustache for some fun and to show your support for Men’s health, then do some word mining at Phrontistery.info. There you have it, my simple formula for happiness.

 

Throwing Stones: I made my #NaNoWriMo Cover

Imagined book cover for work in progress by Maria L. Berg

#NaNoWriMo2016 Book Cover

THROWING STONES: Tshepo Mwendi blames fire fighters for the loss of his parents and his home. His grief, turned anger, fuels his singular mission: to make fire fighters suffer as he has by showing the world they are inept (thus taking away their funding leading to their non-existence). To achieve his goal he throws stones to stop them from putting out fires. While throwing stones at a fire outside of the city, he is joined by other stone throwers and discovers a new family among refugees and other disenfranchised of The Eternal Family. There he finally finds love, but he cannot find peace. His sharp mind and tongue along with his warped view of justice and obsessive mission make it easy for him to manipulate their leader. Though he loses his father figure and mentor, he convinces members of The Eternal Family to join him and leads his army back to the city to fight. An underhanded developer learns about Tshepo’s activities and plots to use him, along with an arsonist for hire, to be rid of some problem properties, and their tenants.

 

Wanna be my writing buddy? You can find me at nanowrimo.org/participants/marialberg

or on Twitter @authormariaberg

and if you wanted to be the first to see the book cover, you should LIKE my facebook author page

Happy Halloween!

happy-halloween

This is the first year Gator McBumpypants and his friends decided to get dressed up for Halloween. You can tell it was all Dee Dee’s idea, but I think Herman’s going to have the most fun.

happy-halloween1

This year’s jack-o-lantern won “Best in Show” and “Most Creative” at the annual pumpkin carving party. I won this adorable Witch’s Brew glass.

Feel free to share these Halloween greetings with friends and family.

I hope you get more treats than tricks.

 

 

Author Interview with Diana Rose Wilson – November: It’s not just #NaNoWriMo. Don’t forget #Movember.

pumpkins with mustaches

Visit saralukecreative to get your mustache stickers

bio pic of Diana Rose Wilson

Last month, author Diana Rose Wilson shared her great writing tips and tricks in her guest post Be Outrageous!  Now, just in time for her favorite holiday, Halloween, she has agreed to answer my questions about her writing, her websites and her love of mustaches.

We met at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference (#PNWC16), so let’s start off with: When did you first know you were a writer?

I got the writing bug when I was in about 3rd grade. Between reading The Black Stallion and Watership Down, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I tried it up through high school but knew by then I didn’t have the chops to make a living doing it. In my twenties I wrote fan fiction and played text based role-playing games but couldn’t get anything published. I hung up my pen and went to the corporate world until a few years ago when I decided to try again with some life behind me.

Do you write every day? Tell us a little about your writing practice.

I do write every day but not always on a story. When I’m in story mode, I try to put down about 3k words. I love when I can get 5k but sometimes it’s more like 500. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I still play text-based role-playing games. When I’m in editing mode I don’t keep a word count and I will spend two or three hours ‘writing’ on the game.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (someone who outlines and plans or someone who writes by the seat of her pants)?

I was a plotter when I first started and then I went to pants’ing and now I think I’m a plantster. I like to have my characters fleshed out and some ideas of the story’s direction but I string the plots together a little like Christmas lights. Bulb by bulb. Right now I have a wide reaching story so I have a lot of wire to put bulbs in. I know where they need to go, I just never know what color light is getting hooked in next. Maybe I’m a new mutation: The Stringer.

What is your best trick for getting more words on the page?

When I can’t get a scene or plot to move forward, or when I’m completely blocked. I physically make myself type. I have sat down and wrote myself a pep talk until the scene started to form in my mind and I could transcribe it. I have written random character descriptions and histories and drawn up family bloodlines just to put fingers on keys to write something.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from music. Sometimes a song will just strike me just right and I’ll get an idea for a scene or a character or it will help drive me through a less than interesting point in a story.

Who have you found most influential to your writing?

My husband absolutely is the most influential. Not only because he’s a sounding board for all my ideas but he really pushed me to do what I love. He always encouraged me to write, even when I had completely thrown away the idea that I had ‘it’ in me.

Do you listen to music while you write? What do you listen to? Do you create playlists?

I always have music going when I’m writing. Depending on what I’m writing the music will change. I like a lot of sappy love songs when I’m doing the sweet scenes but very hard metal when for action and drama related scenes. I keep a few playlists and I have a songs I relate to various characters and tend to play them to get into the mindset to write them. I’m not a big country music fan but if I want to write something emotional it’s western music all the way.

Who are your favorite authors?

Richard Adams

Sharron Lee & Steve Miller

Jim Butcher

George R. R. Martin

Christina Lauren

What are your favorite books?

Watership Down (Who doesn’t like war-rabbits?)

MAIA

The Stand

Korval’s Game (Liaden Universe®), (Ok, so it’s two novels: Plan B & I Dare but do yourself a favor and try it. They are addicting. You’ve been warned.

Dresden Files (15 books) – I can’t order them in favorite.

What three writer’s blogs do you visit most often?

Jane Friedman – https://janefriedman.com/blog/

Janet Reid’s blog – http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/

L.M. Pierce’s most awesome and helpful blog – http://www.piercebooks.com/blog

What three writer’s websites do you visit most often?

http://www.georgerrmartin.com/ (For any whisper of the next book)

http://korval.com/ – Sharron Lee & Steve Miller. Sharron Lee has a great blog too.

http://christinalaurenbooks.com/ – Keeping up to date with release dates.

Also http://www.writersdigest.com/ – is a great site /for/ writers.

I know you love Halloween. Are you dressing up this year? Tell us about your favorite Halloween costume.

I love Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos and Samhain too. Then there are costumes! There’s something fun about pretending you’re someone else for a day (or weekend). I am pulling off Wonder Woman this year, just so I can wear tights, a cape and a mask! My favorite costume would be the year we cross-dressed as Napoleon and Josephine. I make a sexy Napoleon!

Very cool. I made Napoleon and Josephine costumes for my friends’ band. He wore his Napoleon costume for Mardi Gras this year.

I noticed you changed your name on Twitter from @DianaRoseWilson to DIE-ana Thorn Wilson. Are you doing any fun Halloween themed things on your website spiritbeast.org? The name sounds perfect for Halloween already.

I don’t have anything planned for Halloween but I am trying to get a gathering together this weekend. I released a free Halloween story for fans and hope to reconnect with some people I haven’t seen around for a few months. I welcome people to drop in and make a persona and check it out.

Let’s talk more about your webite. You have to swear you’re 18+ to enter. Is it scary in there?

Scary? Well, not really. I have been writing primarily erotica and worried if I didn’t have my disclaimer someone was going to get offended. I set up the spiritbeast.org site for fans that were dying for updates. I have this page set up for guests to make more of a persona rather than their ‘real’ information. I want it to be a safe chat area to talk about adult themes in text. There are forums and a chat feature. I have a few story-related goodies like the Harris and Wallace family trees (going back to the 1800’s). I’ve really thrown myself into world building so the website is a place to share some of the goodies.

You have another website Direwill.com. What will readers find there?

This is more of a general author website with information about upcoming books and what’s going on with me. I keep it tame and all-ages appropriate without spoilers, goodies or role playing.

You play a mean game of #pessimisticmoustache. Where do you get those great mustache GIFs?

I love me some manly facial fuzz! https://giphy.com/ is a great place for some action GIFs, or I do a search on Twitter for them. I have some secret weapons in my photo ‘stash’ as well. I come from a long line of bikers and outlaws, I think it’s part of the rule book that the men must have face fuzz.

This November you and I will be talking a lot about Movember. Can you tell the readers what that is and how they can participate?

Movember is a fundraising effort for men’s health issues. Like wearing pink for breast cancer awareness, the ‘mo’, slang for mustache, is the ribbon guys wear. For the 30 days of November men grow their ‘stache and form teams to raise money. No shaving for the guys upper lip for the month. Check out information and how to set up a team here: https://us.movember.com/

Since I’m not going to grow out a sister-stache, I’ll celebrate facial hair using your awesome game I have hijacked: https://experiencewriting.com/2016/07/22/the-pessimistic-moustache-game-avoiding-cliche-description/

There will be a mix of blog and twitter posts coming out using the #pessimisticmoustache hashtag.

Now, in your original game you encourage other body parts and throw an ‘ism to name it, but for the sake of Movember and awesome beards/mustaches/goatees/chops everywhere, I’m going to focus only on the hair.

I’m locating some random face-fluff pictures ala Santa Clause and players are encouraged to describe it with one word. An ‘ism, an ‘istic or something completely off the wall. I may have a list of a few for a multiple-choice vote to mix things up.

What are you going to do for Movember?

In past years KISW’s The Men’s Room (Seattle seriously has the best radio station!) usually has a Movember team and I donate to that. A have threatened to try to grow my own stache, but I’m just not brave enough. 😉

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you ever?

I will! NaNoWriMo got me back into writing when I decided to try writing again. The first two years I didn’t win but the third year is when it finally clicked and that is the story that started the whole ball rolling. I’m not sure what my project will be exactly but I have a few weeks to pick what to focus on.

When you’re not writing, what is your favorite thing to do?

I’m very lucky to live in wine country between Napa and Sonoma where I can enjoy as much wine and fancy food as my little heart can handle. Food. Wine. Writing. Sounds prefect to me.

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Cat person, on the crazy cat lady end of the spectrum.

What bit of wisdom would you share with new writers?

I encourage writers to to keep writing. Give yourself permission to write what you enjoy. Write as much as you possibly can and experiment until you find what brings you the most joy. The other thing is to find a support group of writers who you can talk and work with. Look for people who will lift you up and be kind in their feedback. Not a lot of non-writers can grasp what we go through when we’re living in an imaginary world with our invisible friends for weeks, months, years at a time.

Thank you, Diana.

Currently Diana lives in wine country with her husband where she enjoys good wine, better food, loud Harleys, 3-day eventing and the delights of deviant erotica. She is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Redwood Writers, Snoopy Writers and CFTW Writer’s Block.

Readers, make sure to visit Diana at spiritbeast.org and Direwill.com and follow her on twitter @DianaRoseWilson.

Diana and I look forward to more players at #pessimisticmoustache for the month of #Movember.

 

Beware The Creeping Nouns

creeping-nouns

I am reading A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work by Jack Hart. Though it is geared toward journalism,  the information is useful and inspiring for my fiction.

One sign of a skilled writer is avoiding redundancy. Mr. Hart uses the analogy of felling a a-writers-coachtree. The skilled woodsman takes efficient strokes and controls where the tree falls, but the “city slicker” hacks away, exhausting himself and endangering his neighbors.

Sharpen Your Axe

During your first draft, you don’t want to think about word choice, you just want to get your ideas down, right? But what if, some of those overused words, those pesky redundancies and expletives never got on the page? It would save you a ton of time during editing.

This Halloween, you are sharpening your axe for a monster hunt. You are hunting E.B. White’s “leeches that infest the pond of prose” and Jack Hart’s parasites that live alongside them in that pond. Once you are trained to recognize these monsters you can stop them dead before they get to your pages!

The Leeches and Parasites

leech

Leeches –

Expletives are more than the beeps we hear on TV. The word expletive also means any syllable,word, or phrase conveying no independent meaning,esp inserted in a line of verse for the sake of the metre (from dictionary.com).

Make sure to hack away at “it is,” “it was,” “there is,” “there were,” and “there are.”

Creeping Nouns are nouns that attach themselves to other nouns but add nothing but dead weight. Mr. Hart believes that if we avoid unnecessary use of “situation,” “field,” and “condition,” we could eliminate half the creeping nouns published. Here are a couple examples from A Writer’s Coach.

. . . and one source said the Cincinnati Reds manager faces a possible suspension for gambling activities.

Gambling is already the activity causing the possible suspension. Activities is redundant.

Officials are saying the combination of millions of dying trees, the seventh year of drought conditions and . . .

Drought is the condition thus conditions is redundant.

Hart’s other examples of creeping nouns you should include on your monster hunt are: field, industry, profession, concerns, event, experience, facilities, situation, and status.

Remember: these aren’t words you want to eliminate from your writing, they are words that can become creeping nouns that create redundancy when they cling to other nouns.

parasites

Parasites –

To avoid parasites, you want to avoid over using qualifiers. A qualifier is the same as a modifier – a word, phrase, or sentence element that limits or qualifies the sense of another word, phrase, or element in the same construction.(dictionary.com)

Mr. Hart calls these parasites “petty modifiers” and “needless qualifiers.” The monsters that should see the sharp blade of your axe before they mangle your writing are: rather, somewhat, generally, virtually, pretty, slightly, a bit and little.

And don’t forget the pernicious overused words: very, like and just!

Happy monster hunting and happy #Writober.