Sunday, June 06, 2010

Change is Good...

I'm working on a creative project that is taking a lot of's not on the topic of creativity, just creative in itself. So I'm taking a leave of absence from this blog until further notice...

Take care, everyone.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Teaching the Process of Creating and Writing

I'm getting close to that point in the quarter when I begin teaching my students paragraph writing. I find that sometimes it's not a matter of how to fix a paragraph that they have just written; sometimes it's getting them to write anything down at all!

Obviously, since I wrestle with my own demons, I can sympathize when they sit there and stare at the blank sheet of paper. Before I begin, I try to clarify
1. whom they are writing for
2. why they are writing the assignment (the big general purposes--to inform, to persuade, to entertain)
3. the length they should aim for (short is okay, as long as it is complete)

But you know what, I sometimes forget to remind myself of the same things when I am writing myself! I have realized lately that I have 10,000 words and not much has happened ye--in a young adult novel. Now, of course, sumpins gotta happen soon, or I done lost my audience! So I took a long walk the other day trying to figure out some action to add. And I think I figured it out, but I haven't yet written it down... the blank page is staring at me, and it's not even a real blank page! It's in my head. Yuck.

This quarter, I am going to really be working on helping my students develop their ideas--and in addition to all the basic ways to develop their ideas--free writing, clustering, etc., I'm going to be adding doodling...then doodling with words.... See, I have one student with severe learning disabilities. She creative, though. She just has trouble capturing words and pinning them down on paper. But since she's an artist, I'm hoping by drawing first, she's going to be able to then translate from image to words...

Wish us both luck.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

One Man's Creative Process

View this amazing video:

which I learned about through Barbara Winter's really cool email newsletter, Joyfully Jobless News, which led me to, where it was posted. They got it from Since it had a "share button" I don't feel like I'm plagiarizing.

This video is a terrific look at a slice of one person's (Ken Carbone's) creative process.

There is some good advice, and I am going to work on beefing up my own journals with visuals. I'm not a visual artist. I work with words. But I feel like working more visually will enhance my writing, too. (Note how this visual artist works quite a lot with words....)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Are blogs creative?

What do you think? Are blogs creative?

I don't really think so. I use this blog to speculate on my own and other's creativity--their creative ideas and/or creative process.

In the past, I've often remarked on one particular topic: the blocks to my own creativity. But I'm trying to move beyond this limited topic to explore the creative processes of others...

If you would be willing to be interviewed, please contact me by leaving a comment, telling me how to reach you.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Uh oh...

I'm thinking about applying for PhD programs... I like going to school. I like teaching. I'm good at teaching grammar and beginning writing, but I'd also like to teach creative writing courses. I would need to work at a different school to do that, and I would need to have a PhD to teach at a different school.... Hmmmm.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I have a love/hate relationship with St. Patrick's Day, since my great-grandmother was, as she said (according to my Dad--I never knew her), "Scotch-Irish." This means, I believe, that she was Protestant and probably didn't like Catholics.

I'm only surmising that she didn't like Catholics, but it's not a far-fetched assumption, since (my dad said) she always insisted on being identified as Scotch-Irish, not Irish. And, my dad also told me, that she insisted the correct term was Scotch-Irish, not Scots-Irish. My dad and I had this big discussion about it once when I, in my most politically correct manner, informed him that we should use the term "Scots-Irish." Boy, did he get his dander up, insisting that his grandmother used the term "Scotch-Irish" and not "Scots-Irish."

The other reason that I assume that she may have had an anti-Catholic bias is because, let's face it, most Southerners did in the early to mid-20th century. I work to accept my ancestors the way they were, not the way that I wish they had been. There is every possibility that I don't know what the hell I'm talking about and that my great-grandmother had nary a prejudiced bone in her body, but that would be unusual, given the time and place.

I don't know where my great-grandmother was originally from, if she was born in Ireland or in the U.S., but her daughter, my grandmother, was raised in Dublin, Georgia, then married my grandfather, who was raised in Barnesville, Georgia. (Dublin and Barnesville are not right next door to each other. I wonder how they met? I'll have to ask my Uncle Floyd. He knows most of the family history.)

And boy, do I have a family history. I know much of it. I love my family reunions. But it all needs to be written down, and written down soon, before everyone who really remembers dies....

Despite my great-grandmother's insistence on "Scotch-Irish," I think my tenuous connection to Ireland is cool, and I always wear a touch o' the green. Today, that takes the form of a (fake) jade bracelet and (fake) abalone ring. But, to balance it, I'm wearing an orange shirt...yep, I playing both sides of the line in the Irish culture wars.

I am wondering about whether or not to make the leading man in my new novel Catholic or Protestant...he's definitely Irish!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Great Writing Seminar!

On Saturday, I went to a Georgia Writers' Association monthly meeting. Ellen Taber,author and professor at Kennesaw State University, was giving a reading from her new book and a seminar on writing cultural histories. It was definitely worth going to hear her! She's a great reader, and her new book sounds very good. It's called Tybee Days: 100 Years on Georgia's Island Playground.

I write both teen novels and non-fiction, so the seminar was right up my alley. If you ever get a chance to hear Ellen Taber speak, I highly recommend going.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Creativity in all everything I do

I love creativity...but what does that really mean?

I love unusual juxtapositions of colors, I love handmade crafts, I love people who write, create music, paint, and sculpt.

When I teach, I do not work on helping my students with their creativity. I concentrate on grammar, since the point of the class is to have them pass their COMPASS test (a standardized editing test that is designed to prove that students are ready for freshman comp).

I'm planning new creative activities for next quarter...but they also have to serve to teach writing. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Well, I didn't get the job. Someone with more teaching experience than I have got the job. In fact, two people with more experience. It's true, I've only been teaching two years. I didn't know that I would like to do this, back when I was originally in college and deciding on a career. Oh well.

I keep my adjunct position, continue writing on the side, and keep working on finding a position that does good in the world, one that has benefits and a retirement plan!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Creativity in all fields

One of the things I need to work on right now is finding another job (I still haven't heard about the position I wanted, so I am assuming that I didn't get it.)

I would like a fulfilling job, and I know that finding one will test my powers of creativity...creation of the right circumstances...creation of the right mindset...

Creative thinking to get the right creative/fulfilling job.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Well, it's the middle of February and for once I don't feel depressed. You know what I think it is? It's because I have a job that I actually like. Of course, I'm waiting on pins and needles to see if I will be hired full-time to do what I now do part-time, but at least I feel like I am contributing something to the world with what I do now. I worked for so long without that feeling. I know other people like working just to make money, but I've never had that goal. (Although more money than I make right now is necessary....)

I've decided that even if I don't get the job which I so dearly want, then I definitely have to stay in a field where I feel like I am doing good in the world, that I am working for a worthwhile purpose. My friend Rashida is working for Goodwill; my friend Kia is teaching high school. My friends Lou, Leigh, and Jessica are all professors. They all do good in the world. My friend Val is studying to be a minister. And my friend Charles already is a minister. My calling isn't in ministry. I really feel like my calling is to combine my creativity and my skills to do good...hopefully by continuting to teach where I do right now.

But, if it doesn't work out, then I will just continue working with the combo in mind....using my writing skills to benefit the world.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Cross your fingers!

I have done the interviews...I'm just waiting for the word.

As you know, most writers have day jobs. For the last 2.5 years, I have worked as an adjunct at a local two-year technical college. Love the job, hate the pay.

If I get the job, I get to continue with a day job I love, at much better pay...AND with benefits.

Some day jobs contribute to the writing, some detract. This one's good for me.

What's your "day" job? Does it help or hurt your creative efforts?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Research Surprise

I'm still trying to get my new paranormal off the ground...I'm stymied on whether or not the male lead (notice I use the film term rather than the lit term "hero"...hero is such a loaded word) works with wood or is a master glass craftsman. Part of the story is set in Ireland, the historic home of Waterford Crystal. (And if you know me, you know that I have a slight passion for cut crystal. If I were rich, I would certainly own more.)

Did you know that Waterford's factory in Waterford, Ireland had been closed down last year? I did not. Oh, I knew that they were in financial difficulty, but I had not realized how bad it was.

Nor had I realized that they retired my crystal pattern...My crystal pattern: silly to state it that way, when I do not have a whole collection, but buying a whole set had been the idea at one point in my life. Merrion is what it was called. And I really bought it because I couldn't afford Colleen, a beautiful pattern with lots of cuts and, more importantly, with a knob in the middle of the stem--that adds to the price in a big way. That knob makes the stem that much harder to cut. (That's a piece of Colleen in the pic.)

I can still use the glass cutter idea...after all, my male lead lived "way back when" (I've not exaclty settled on when).

But I still have to do research on wood workers...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More on research

Where is the fine line between doing research and procrastination?

I think I'm there.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Project

So, I went into a bookstore to day and spent 80 dollars that I probably shouldn't, but I got an idea for a paranormal romance the other day and I want to start the research for it. One of the books is the National Georgraphic Travel Guidebook to Ireland. $30!! But that's okay. Won't it be nice to write off a trip to Ireland as "research" on my taxes?

I don't usually like paranormal, and I am still anti-vampire (and in this day and age, I feel like a bigot admitting that). I will admit that Stephanie Meyers's vampires are okay. I appreciate the mythology she set up: 1. The Cullens don't want to suck human blood. 2. They don't want to create other vampires, but only do it in extreme circumstances. (And if you don't know what I'm talking about, then go read the TWILIGHT series, you dufus.)

(Although I finally became okay with Bella becoming a vampire, I'm TEAM JACOB all the way. Shapeshifters, I'm fine with those.)

So wish me luck on this particular new endeavor, which I am starting despite the fact that I am still working on the last two....

And teaching five classes.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Word Choice...

I am writing this post today in response to Patti's 1880s Settlement's comment on my last post regarding my visit there. I want to apologize to Patti's for my use of the term "tourist trap." I happen to LOVE tourist traps, although now that it has been pointed out to me, I do admit that the term is loaded and usually seen as derogatory.

My family traveled a lot when I was younger. We hooked up the Holiday Rambler to the back of the Suburban and off we went. Mostly, I loved traveling that way. One big disappointment, however, was my father's refusal to stop at anything that remotely resembled a "tourist trap." I yearned to stop at the alligator farms, the oddly-shaped restaurants, anything with a gaudy sign. Alas, he would refuse. Now, when I am driving myself, I make a point to jump off the freeway to see the flea markets, the boiled peanut and peaches stands, tons of Stuckey's souvenir stands/restaurants, and tourist traps with gaudy signs. As I pointed out, Patti's had a nice brown sign put up by the Department of Transportation on interstate 24, so officially, it isn't a tourist trap...but in my personal parlance, the term is actually a compliment indicating someplace unusual and fun to visit.

I think it is fun to visit, although, as I mentioned, I went on one of the five days of the year the place is closed. My brother-in-law says that the restaurant is really good. I do plan to go back...when it's warmer.

As a writer, I think about word choice. I'm just not that careful when I blog.

Are there any words that you use in an idiosyncratic way?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone...especially the dingbats of the world! A.K.A. "Stranger Danger"

I'm in Paducah, KY, visiting my sister and her family for Christmas. I love her house, a 80 year-old four-square with a fan-light window over the front door, a 20-step staircase leading up to the second floor, a big, teen-friendly basement, and a finished attic. I also love the family gathering...her kids come in from their respective colleges, my Uncle Albert drives in from Lubbock, TX. She and her husband are always so hospitable.

But, I don't always like to sit around and do nothing... Sister likes to do nothing, since she's been working so hard getting prepared for everyone. Yesterday, I talked her into driving back down I-24 to "Patti's 1880's Settlement." I always see the sign on the freeway for Patti's 1880's Settlement--a brown highway sign. Brown signs always mark some sort of scenic or historical attraction. I love to stop at these types of places, but it's so close to Paducah that I never have stopped--I usually reach Paducah after dark.

Yesterday, we drove over to see what we could see.

Patti's is actually a sort of tourist trap in Grand Rivers, KY. I understand that Patti's has a good restaurant, but it was closed--December 22-25. There were some antique and specialty shops open in Grand Rivers, however, so we had a good time looking around. Then we drove around looking at the sights--Green Turtle Bay Resort, Lighthouse Landing.

As we were leaving, about to turn off the road we were on in order to drive across Kentucky Dam, we saw this woman walking down the road, wearing a thin knit poncho and carrying her purse. I realized that I had seen her earlier in one of the shops we had visited and assumed her car had broken down--why else would she be walking so far outside of town in regular shoes, carrying her purse? I convinced my sister to turn around, go back, and check on her.

This woman, who must of been in her forties or fifties, said that she'd just gone out for a walk while her friends went to Walmart. We offered to give her a ride back to her friends' house. Only she didn't know where it was...

We spent the next forty minutes looking for this house, following her cries of "oh, it must be down this road!" (Nope, dead-end.) "Oh, it's next to a campground." (Oh, not this campground, one that doesn't have trailers, more like a reserve.) "It's just up the road from the boats that are decorated." (Hello? Are we not in the "Land Between the Lakes? WHICH marina do you mean?)

It's nice to be a good Samaritan, but this mission of mercy became much more complicated than I ever imagined. And my poor neice, Emily, who got stuck sitting next to her on the back seat of the SUV, said she smelled "weird." (I think she'd been dabbling in the "Kama Sutra" oils in the shop where I had first noticed her).

I hope that, if I am ever in a similar situtation, lost in a town that I am visiting, some nice person will take mercy on me and help me find my way home. But jeez-louise! I'm not dumb enough to wander TWO MILES outside of town without a map, carrying my purse, NOT in walking shoes.

So, I hope the dingbat is okay. And I really appreciate my sister and family indulging my good Samaritan instincts.

And people wonder where writers get their ideas...All we really have to do is pay attention.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Still Trying to Get Back to Work!

So, since my last post, I spent five more days in bed sick and am STILL wrestling with gunk in my sinuses and ears.

As I splept last night, I must not have turned over. I woke in the same position as I deliberately situated myself to fall asleep--tilted to my left side. I've been trying to sleep this way because sleeping on my right side (or turning over to that side at night, or even sitting up straight) will cause the sinus congestion to flow to my right, damaged, ear and put pressure on it.

The good news is that when I woke this morning, still tilted to the left, I could hear out of my right ear!! But now that I'm sitting up, I can feel the mucus flowing and clogging up the right's like the pressure you get as a plane gains altitude, only it won't clear when I swallow or yawn. If you think I'm going to try anything more forceful than that, you are sadly mistaken...I now know what a ruptured eardrum feels like (it was actually more painful before it ruptured--but I couldn't hear afterward!!!).

I'm now in catch-up mode as an instructor at the community college, so I'm not managing to write much. I feel guilty even squeezing in this blog post. But I need to get my fingers on a keyboard with paragraphs, instead of test questions. It feels good to be doing so.

I have a newly discovered blog on my "to be followed" list: Genreality. Check out the December 7, 2009 post by Carrie Vaughn regarding "filtering words." It's an excellent suggestion for cutting too-long manuscripts.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

I'm back...I think

I've finished my capstone!!! I am still wrestling with the page numbering, but my fellow author, Elaine, tells me that putting in section breaks IS difficult, and that I'm not a nutter for not being able to figure out how to do this. I'm going to my friend Cindy's tonight to get her to help me...and tomorrow I have to teach fellow capstone writer Jessica how to page number with both Roman and Arabic numerals.

Now it is time to get back to work on my "Sherry" novel. Hey, if I've ever met you, there's a chance I will borrow your name for a character...but I won't borrow you. The character in the young adult novel-in-progress that I call "My Sherry Novel" and my college friend Sherry could not be more different. But I find it fun to pay homage to old friends this way. (I think Sherry works for Google now. I worked with her at the UCLA bowling alley. She kept trying to teach me how to bowl, but I was hopeless. Shout out to ya!)

But it is so hard to write if I'm sick. And I've been really sick lately. Eight days ago, I thought I had a cold. It got bad fast. Cough & chest congestion. Then head and sinus congestion. Pardon the gross details--I couldn't sleep on my stomach because my sinuses would pour snot out. I could feel the congestion build up in my ears. I touched my ear and nearly cried in pain. I knew that this wasn't gonna be good--but I was taking the maximum dosage of the over the counter cough syrup and decongestant that I had on hand (and pain reliever too). I should have risked my liver! The congestion in my sinuses and ears built up so much that my eardrum ruptured when I coughed--sometime between midnight and two in the morning. The pain in the ear, believe it or not, actually lessened. But my hearing is gone in my right ear. And it's ringing continually. I had not wanted to go to the doctor--I don't believe in going for every last cold, and flu is viral, which means that antibiotics don't work on flu...but sinus infections....I should have gone sooner. I finally went to the doctor and now am on a kick-butt antibiotic pill and also have antibiotic drops for my ears. I'm praying that as the hole in my head heals, I'll get my hearing back.

And now I can sit up again and write. And I'm getting really good about getting up early in the morning to have time to do it!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Nearly finished

Well, folks, I'm in the homestretch. My capstone for my MAPW degree from KSU is nearly finished. I need to thank my project advisors, Dr. Laura Dabundo and Dr. Anne Richards for giving me confidence in my own voice--for encouraging me in my writing.

I wish I could have developed this confidence earlier in my life...but it's never too late, unless the coffin is closed, I suppose.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Big Dreams, Tiny Budget

How do other people make money? I was brought up in a home where the dad did the dad thing, working for a giant corporation and the mom stayed home and did the mom thing, hauling the kids to school in the morning and afterschool activities in the afternoon. Even after the parents divorced, the mom went to work teaching--a safe and secure job.

I teach too, and I really like doing it. (I don't like to grade however...I like to give feedback, but not set a points value on errors. I think grades can be tremendously discouraging.) I, however, am teaching in a non-remunerative environment. I'm an adjunct.

Over the course of my life, I didn't really have role models of entrepreneurship, so I am left floundering, trying to figure out how to make money out of my creative endeavors. Maybe I just don't spend the hours in the day that it takes to market myself and my products...