Write Anywhere #76 Bone Museum

It’s been a long hiatus here on the blog. Life went sideways but Keeper Hubby and I have left Oklahoma and landed mostly intact in our little apartment near Lexington, Kentucky. I hope to be posting more often now.

A funny thing happened on the way to Kentucky… not really. I injured my hip during the move, and developed a severe case of plantar fasciatis. Left hip, right foot. Not much locomotion happening now. I’m continuing to heal thanks to physical therapy, but in the meantime I’m mainly confined to the house. It’s very frustrating when you’re used to being independent and going places whenever you choose, and then you can’t. I’m anxious to begin exploring my new surroundings, but I’ll have to listen to my body for now.

The isolation has given me time to reflect on this new season of life.

The nest is officially empty: Artist Daughter and her hubby Saint Nick have gone off on an adventure of their own in the Big Sky Country of Montana. Poet Son likes it there, too.

Musician Daughter, Musician-In-Law, and Destined-To-Be-A-Musician are still in The Middle happily expecting to make their group a quartet in the fall. I’m happy for them all, but find myself nostalgic, the phrase “Remember when…” popping out of of my mouth almost daily.

I’m working hard on focusing forward, working on my health and my writing. Write Anywhere venues will be limited during my rehabilitation, however. My goal at this point is to get out once a month, at least until I am physically back to 100%, to discover new places to fuel creativity.

In the meantime I was fortunate to have one last Write Anywhere outing in Oklahoma with my youngest before we all went our separate ways. Artist Daughter invited me to spend the day with her. She advised I should bring my camera, because photography would be the main activity. I love taking photos, but little did I know I’d not only be preserving the trip in photos, but preserving my time with her in my heart.

Write Anywhere #76: Bone Museum

Museum of Osteology Oklahoma City Oklahoma photo by kristin nador Continue reading

What Exactly Does Facebook “Friend” Mean? The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Have you ever been offended by a Facebook ‘friend’s status? ‘Unfriended’ (how is this a word now?) someone because of what they post? Thought about chucking it all and deleting your Facebook account?
Read this blog post from the wonderful Kristen Lamb, where she honestly deconstructs Facebook friends, virtual offenses, and how to deal with them all.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

WANAs at DFWWWCon WANAs at DFWWWCon

What is a “friend?” That’s a good question. One of my personal peeves about The Modern Age, is that English is a very rich language and too often words are employed as a synonym when they aren’t. A HUGE bugaboo? A 13 year-old girl cannot be mature unless maybe she survived a concentration camp or other horrific events (and even then she could actually be emotionally stunted). Maturity only comes from life experience. She is too young to be mature.

The kid can be precocious, meaning she seems very adult-like. The danger in using these two words as synonyms is they AREN’T. Often a precocious child will be given more freedom than is age-appropriate or even handed burdens and responsibilities that are NOT age-appropriate.

For instance, I did most of the accounting, banking and bills by the age of twelve. I helped my mother get through nursing…

View original post 2,160 more words

Writing Process Blog Hop: My Writing Process

Today I’m part of ‘The Writing Process’ Blog Hop.

Author Linda Austin graciously invited me to join. Linda is the author of Cherry Blossoms in Twilight and Poems That Come To Mind. She also helps others tell their life stories and focuses on the WWII generation. Please visit her over at Moonbridge Books where you can discover her writing process and more of her writings. Thanks Linda!

The blog hop asks 4 questions to each author about their writing process. Here are the questions and my answers:

1) What are you working on?

I am currently revising my first novel, which I finished at the end of December 2013. It’s a contemporary suspense novel about a female Iraq war veteran’s fight to keep herself and her daughter alive during a weekend in Oklahoma’s Wichita Mountains. She must face an enemy she never expected, as well as the ghosts haunting her since those days in the Iraqi desert.

I’ve also been doing some basic outlining on a generational historical fiction set in St. Louis and Denver in the 1890’s. And to be real, because I’ve been busy moving from Oklahoma to Kentucky, I’ve only been working sporadically on these projects for the last six weeks or so. I’m looking forward to settling into a writing routine again.

2) How does your work differ from others of this genre?

My focus is on writing stories of strong, courageous women. The genres may be different, but what connects them are vital, determined women hoping to make a difference in their worlds.

3) Why do you want to write what you write?

I think all the stories I want to tell are in some way exploring myself, peeling back the layers in a ’safe’ way. But I also discover these characters, these women, who want to tell their story, and they demand a voice. I guess that’s what keeps me from giving up and flushing it all down the toilet. 🙂

4) How does your writing process work?

When I’m ready to get to work, hot tea and listening to christian monks sing gregorian chant (yes, it’s on iTunes) sort of ‘clears the pipes’ and I sit down at my desk. Some days I’m on the keyboard. When I want to hash something out, I write it longhand. Sometimes I use a timer to work in 20 or 30 minutes chunks. Other times I sort of multi-task (which means play on social media) and I get some writing done, but not as much as if I force myself to focus. Imagine all the books that would have been written if we writers weren’t so busy liking and tweeting! Truth.

Now that I’ve answered the questions about my writing process, join my three author friends next Monday, April 14th, when they join the blog hop and give you the scoop on their writing process.

What is your writing process like? What are your answers to the four questions? Please share in the comments. Happy Writing!

Moving Forward When Life Goes Sideways

Smash, courtesy Jef Poskanzer, Creative Commons

Smash, courtesy Jef Poskanzer, Creative Commons

I had a plan. I really did.

It was a great plan.

A calendar filled with my writing plans, blog posts, and craft book study for 2014. It was going to be a great year. I was going to be productive, prolific, and positive.

That lasted about one month.

Then life happened.

Unemployment, urgent money issues, health and pain issues, surgeries.

In the midst of all that, Artist Daughter and Saint Nick, along with Poet Son moved to the mountains of Montana. Although I am happy for their adventure, my home and my mother’s heart is a little emptier.

I feel the specters of anxiety and depression tapping at the window, hoping I’ll throw up the sash and let them stay a while.

And just when things seemed like they couldn’t get any worse, they got better.

(You thought I was going to go on whining, didn’t you?)

As it seems to happen, grace flows in the midst of struggle, and a job opportunity presented itself. Now Keeper Hubby and I will also be traveling a new path, discovering a new adventure.

We’ll be leaving behind the purple sunsets of Oklahoma that we’ve grown to love for seventeen years for the bluegrass of Lexington, Kentucky.

So as surgeries heal and health improves, we are busy with packing, selling our house, and trying to figure out how to move four cats 725 miles (!)

And why tell you all this?

Because maybe you had a plan, too.

And life got all stuck and smeared in the teeth of your plans, like a piece of black licorice that reveals itself every time you smile.

Learn to ebb and flow with the things we can’t control by corralling the things we can control.

Be gentle with yourself.

Find your peace on the inside.

Flow around obstacles like water.

When the chaos slows down, you can easily readjust to being productive, prolific, and positive.

That’s my plan, anyway. 😉

I apologize for the huge silence on this blog for the last month, and I may be posting less often until the dust settles, but I hope you’ll stick it out with me.

I’m still going to work that writing and blog post plan going forward, and now some opportunities for new Write Anywhere venues seem likely.

Have you had any chaotic life situations that have thwarted your writing plans? How did you handle it?

100+ Ways To Maximize Your Creativity

788px-Jigsaw_(When_Art_Imitates_Life)_(8164506694)

jigsaw, (When Art Imitates Life) courtesy of russavia, Creative Commons

What are your plans for the new year?

A new writing project? Getting back to something you let drop last year? Getting healthy, working on relationships?

A new year means a new beginning, a chance to re-invent how you do life. Time to reassess, refocus, recommit. We make resolutions to stop bad habits and start new ones.

It’s also a great time to get new inspiration for your creative self. Doing something different stretches you, keeps ideas fresh, helps you explore new mindsets. I’m a list girl (just ask Keeper Hubby about my piles of lists) so I collected this list of creativity hacks with links to help fire up the sparks. Some may be simple, others harder or more expensive, but if you’re committed to having your best creative year, some of the ideas in this list could help your imagination go where it’s never gone before.

Build your brain, start new pathways of thought, break down fear barriers that have blocked your art, and have fun. My plan is to try something on this list each week, in addition to drilling down on my daily writing time. 2014 is the year to let your creativity loose!

  1. Sleep for eight hours every night.
  2. Take a walk.
  3. Keep a dream journal.
  4. Create at the same time every day.
  5. Create at a different time of day.
  6. Listen to Mozart. Or Samba. Or Nirvana.
  7. Shape something (play-doh, clay, pottery, bread) with your hands.
  8. Sketch your ideas.
  9. Listen to TED talks about creativity.
  10. Spend time in nature.
  11. Attend a poetry reading.
  12. Keep yourself hydrated.
  13. Go people watching.
  14. Observe others’ power of observation: see how many days you can wear the same outfit/clothing item before someone notices. (Note: permission to wash items while testing this theory.)
  15. Learn a new language.
  16. Try Karaoke.
  17. Paint a picture.
  18. Schedule your daydreaming.
  19. Learn to code.
  20. Practice Tai Chi.
  21. Play old school board games.
  22. Write with a fountain pen.
  23. Repurpose an item in your house into something new.
  24. Fold paper.
  25. Dance like nobody’s watching.
  26. Put together a comedy routine for an open-mike night (or family night).
  27. Explore craft ideas on Pinterest.
  28. Write a short story in a genre you’ve never tried before.
  29. Play a brain game: Sudoku, Scrabble, Mahjongg, etc.
  30. Create a prompt box or file with first lines/ideas and pick one a week.
  31. Laugh.
  32. Freewrite.
  33. Walk away from a project for a while.
  34. Color in a coloring book.
  35. Wear a wig for a day.
  36. Write in a different direction on lined paper.
  37. Increase the awareness of each of your senses for ten minutes per day.
  38. Make a Pinterest inspiration board.
  39. Teach your hands something new.
  40. Visit an art museum or gallery.
  41. Spend time with some children you know. Ask them questions to get a different perspective on life.
  42. Exercise.
  43. Do a mind map.
  44. Move your eyes back and forth.
  45. Read fiction.
  46. Purposely make something imperfect. Enjoy the freedom.
  47. Start a creatives group. (Think of Hemingway and his pals in Paris.)
  48. Wake up and write.
  49. Keep a daily journal.
  50. Create a persona and take it for a walk in public.
  51. Turn off your email/computer/smartphone.
  52. Meditate.
  53. Fail.
  54. Have a well-established way to capture ideas. You’re more likely to let ideas float around your head because you aren’t afraid to lose them.
  55. Experience live music.
  56. Be a fashion maverick. Wear something you love even if it’s not in style.
  57. Enter an arts contest. (writing, photography, state fairs)
  58. Spend a day completely by yourself.
  59. Visit a public garden.
  60. Play a video game.
  61. Make a vision board.
  62. Go barefoot in public.
  63. Write a letter to someone you haven’t been in contact with for a while.
  64. Build a birdfeeder.
  65. Create a comic book character.
  66. Write a story about something you’ve never told anyone with pen and paper. When you finish, burn it.
  67. Learn to play an instrument.
  68. Memorize a passage or quote that inspires or is important to you.
  69. Declutter your desk.
  70. Declutter a room.
  71. Change the lighting in a room.
  72. Light some candles.
  73. Make a list.
  74. Expand your social circles. Meet different people, and people who are different from you.
  75. Doodle.
  76. Pray.
  77. Plant a garden.
  78. Take a class.
  79. Eat ‘brain foods’.
  80. Do yoga.
  81. Choose colors that promote creativity.
  82. Learn something new every day.
  83. Drink coffee.
  84. Time your creativity.
  85. Take a social media sabbatical.
  86. Drink green tea.
  87. Take a nap.
  88. Think about a happy memory.
  89. Eavesdrop on conversations in public.
  90. Decide there is no right or wrong way to think about a problem or project.
  91. Read biographies of successful creatives.
  92. Dim the lights.
  93. Learn about Method acting techniques.
  94. Make a YouTube video.
  95. Make an art project using only your feet.
  96. Volunteer.
  97. Watch a sunrise.
  98. Watch a sunset.
  99. Imagine the opposite.
  100. Spend time in another climate or culture. (This one takes planning and $$)
  101. Read classic literature.
  102. Take a photo a day. Try Fat Mum Slim’s photo challenge for inspiration.
  103. Make a conscious decision every day to reject perfectionistic thinking.
  104. Snuggle with a pet.
  105. Soak in a bath.
  106. Play ‘What if?’ Let your mind follow the ideas no matter how silly.
  107. Learn to knit, crochet, embroider.
  108. Watch a travel show or attend a travelogue.
  109. Solve a problem by imagining a fictional invention.
  110. Build with Legos.
  111. Watch the midnight sky.
  112. Relax.

And write. Write to let the percolating ideas flow. What will you do to be more creative in 2014?

8 Tips to Make Sure Everyone on Twitter Hates Us

Do you struggle with Twitter ‘etiquette’? Wonder why you haven’t been having the social media impact you hoped for? Author Kristen Lamb lays it down for you as only she can…

Kristen Lamb's Blog

As a social media expert, I run into all kinds of strange behavior and tips that make me scratch my head. Social media is social, meaning it’s supposed to be an extension of how we might interact with other human beings in person. Today’s post (obviously) is tongue-and-cheek, but humor can be the best teacher even if we’ve oopsed.

Tip #1—Only Use Automation

Writing a 140 characters is SUPER time-consuming. We aren’t Jack London. Besides, people LOVE talking to robots. I know when I feel lonely, I call AT&T because I know a human being will NEVER answer…EVER. Humans can be so boring and don’t offer us the option of hitting 6 if we want to hear everything they just said all over again. 

Real Life Application: Program cell phones to call friends and family at regular intervals to ask for money. They’d dig that.

Tip #2—Make Sure All Preprogrammed…

View original post 1,117 more words

Writing Through The Pain

Tracks_Chalbi_Desert

Tracks Chalbi Desert, Marsabit County, photo courtesy Filberto Strazzari, Creative Commons

Writer’s block.

Have you ever dealt with it?

Some writers talk about writer’s block like it’s a virus you catch, and with all the right ‘home remedies’ (everyone has one) you’ll get well and writer’s block will disappear.

Other writers give writer’s block the name of Resistance, as if naming this shadowy criminal makes it easier to conquer. Some say Resistance is actually a natural obstacle to creating art. If you’re getting Resistance in your writing, you’re doing something right, so blow up the block like you’re freaking John McClane.

Still others say writer’s block doesn’t exist, it’s just another excuse to avoid writing.

I’ve had a series of set backs lately. It’s not your average ‘I had a bad day’ but almost its own novel, when things go bad, and you don’t think anything can get worse, it does. Repeatedly. There’s physical pain and emotional pain. It’s a well-planned attack of Resistance.

And it’s more.

It’s a spiritual attack.

I believe we have all been given gifts to fulfill our destiny, and our gifts give others the strength and wisdom to fulfill their destiny. These gifts flow through the spirit. Our spirits can be attacked to the point that our souls are sapped of creative strength if we are caught unaware.

What do you do when life is painful? Do you find solace in your writing or run from it?

My tendency is retreat. I retreat into myself, rehearse all that is going wrong, wallow in the negative, and then there’s no time or energy for writing. Sometimes I can’t transition from that depressive state and focus on a creative project. So the pen lays stagnant.

I intellectually acknowledge that a step towards writing will help me throw off this state of mind, but the inertia that goes with the feelings keeps me from acting. Waves of guilt, especially as I read blogs and social media statuses of writers completing Herculean acts of productivity, try to wash me away and drag me out to sea.

When this curtain of spiritual Resistance descends on me, I try to fight my way out with prayer. I take a walk. I write in a journal, although I have the beginnings of dozens of journals. I make a list of positive things. I talk to someone. I channel the emotions into a character in my writing if I’m feeling particularly brave.

I wish I could say these are my ‘home remedies’ and they always work, but they don’t.

The truth is that sometimes I’m stuck.

Sometimes I’m not ‘Super-Writer’ leaping tall plots and intricate character arcs in a single bound. I know when this happens, it’s just a season, the feelings will pass, but in the midst of the messiness it’s hard to see.

Do you run to your writing or run away from it when life’s troubles come your way? How do you deal with blocks to writing?

Christmas Gifts I Wish For You

Christmas ornaments, 2013 photo by kristin nador

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The holidays are upon us, and I wanted to take the time to tell each and every one of you how much I appreciate you, my readers and my friends. I hope the best for each one of you, and since I’m a writer, I wrote a little something that tries to convey that. Have the Merriest Christmas and the Happiest New Year!

Christmas Gifts I Wish For You:

 Peace in your heart of hearts

Refuge from the storms of life

The bliss of warm socks and a full belly

 

The joy of loving and being loved

The camaraderie of laughter

A cloak of thankful praise to stop any gusts of loneliness and depression

 

Reconciliation with dear ones who are far away in body or spirit

Anticipation of reward for the hard work ahead

Expectation of better circumstances shifting in your direction

 

Awe in the wonder of the heavens, the earth, and all of creation

Divine guidance for your destiny’s next steps

Moments of solitude to consider the mysteries of spirit, soul, and butterfly wings

 

Courage to walk out the path before you

Health of body and mind to realize your best potential

Tenacity to keep you going during the heat of the day and the long midnight silence

 

Faith to believe when doubt creates mirages

Truth for combat when fear attempts a counterinsurgency in your life

Wisdom to understand the wealth of time and spend it wisely

 

Question: What will you be doing for the holidays?

The Death of A Bookstore

To us it all seemed to happen so fast.

“Did you hear?”

Fellow writers and those in the Tulsa literary community whispered to one another over the summer. “Steve’s is closing.”

Most responded with a gasp, along with a ‘No!’ or ‘That’s terrible.’ Everyone in Tulsa knew about Steve’s. Most people loved it, expected it to always be around, like a dear old friend.

Steve’s Sundry, Books & Magazines is an independent book store that first opened in Tulsa in 1947. It was closing at the end of 2013, after 66 years in business.

Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013, photo by kristin nador

Steve’s Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, Oklahoma

It didn’t start off as a book store. ‘Steve’ Stephenson wanted to have a variety store, but not any of the chain stores that were popular at the time like Woolworth’s or S.G. Kresge’s or the Ben Franklin Five and Dime. He wanted it to be distinct, local, and independent. And that’s why everyone loved it.

candy, Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

Steve’s Sundry sold anything a drug store had, except for drug prescriptions. It sold some things a hardware store had, like boat motors, lawn mowers, and fishing reels. It had it’s own soda fountain, where they served breakfast, lunch, sodas, and malts. And it had Steve, the personality behind the great customer service.

After a while Steve’s added books and magazines to their inventory. Eventually the business focused on magazines and books. Magazines, Steve’s specialty, boggled the mind with an inventory of over 3,000 distinct titles, many that you couldn’t find anywhere else.

Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

“From shakes to Shakespeare, Steve’s is the place”

When I heard about Steve’s shutting their doors, I knew I had to go by and visit. I arrived, little knowing I had come upon a wake filled with nostalgia and memories.

I walked the book aisles, thinking about a couple of titles to purchase.

I didn’t need any books. I just wanted to pay my respects.

Seems lots of other folks had the same idea. Customers crowded the few aisles, smiling and talking to one another. This was a few weeks after the closing announcement and at least two months before the actual closing, by the way.

Before I picked out my purchases, I had to have something at the soda fountain. People were waiting to sit at the counter, lingering a while after finishing their food and drinks. I finally got my turn and grabbed a seat, ordered the egg salad sandwich with chips and a pickle, got a chocolate malt for a chaser, and eavesdropped on history.

Soda fountain, Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

A wiry man with greying hair sitting on a stool to my right said he’d driven in from Kansas when he heard the news. He had to make sure he could sit at the fountain one last time and have a pimiento cheese sandwich.

“You still put it on white bread, don’t you? I don’t think it would be the same on that multigrain stuff.” He ordered a chocolate shake as well. “Make sure you put the chocolate syrup in the bottom and smash it,” he instructed the much younger employee. “I was a soda jerk over at Scroggs Drugs, before Brookside was Brookside, and you always have to smash the syrup first.” He stared off wistfully. “Sodas were 36 cents then.”  After finishing his order, he sheepishly asked the server if she could pack a container of spread to go. ” I’m going to take it home and eat sandwiches the rest of the week.”

Egg Salad Sandwich, Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

egg salad, everyone’s favorite

I turned my attention to a couple sitting to my left. The husband chattered away to the server while the wife quietly sipped her drink.

“We’ve been coming here for egg salad sandwiches for as long as we’ve been married, thirty-nine years.” When the server said the number was impressive, he responded, “It helps if you marry your best friend.” The wife smiled while she sipped.

Menu board, soda fountain at Steve's Sundry, Books & Magazines, Tulsa, OK 2013 photo by kristin nador

Another man asked if he could get a chocolate coke. The server hadn’t heard of that one.

“You used to have it. It’s just what it sounds like: a squirt of chocolate syrup in a coke.” When she obliged, he turned around on his stool, took a sip from his straw like he was taking a long toke from a rich cigar. He faced the books and announced, “Brings back memories. Yes, it does.”

I watched the owner Joanie, and Jerry, Steve’s longtime employee, hold court at the far end of the soda fountain, while people came up and said things like how sorry they were, asking if they were okay, did they need anything, and what were they going to do now. They thanked everyone for their concern, but said things were going to work out fine. Several asked why they had decided to close, but the most they would touch on that subject was that the economy and changes in the publishing industry helped them make the decision.

I had barely gotten to know Steve’s compared to all the folks around me. The first time I visited Steve’s was about six years ago. I loved all the magazines. Steve’s was where I discovered Writer’s Digest, Poets and Writers magazine, and The Writer. Steve’s even carried literary journals, and I bought a couple, which made me realize how much I needed the formerly mentioned magazines.

I got my now well-marked up copy of Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones at Steve’s. After buying probably a hundred magazines at Steve’s and studying them, I submitted my first article to a magazine and it got accepted. My first paying writing gig. Thanks, Steve.

I attended several book signings of my fellow Tulsa NightWriters at Steve’s, and with my writer’s oversized ego dreamed I might somehow have one someday, too. Steve’s always gave the author a big table right up front near the cash registers, even though space was at a premium in the small store. I discovered the works of Oklahoma’s adopted son Michael Wallis at Steve’s, my favorite being Oklahoma: A Sense of Place.

I always bought a pack of Blackjack gum whenever I went in, and sometimes a Moleskine notebook. Because who doesn’t need another Moleskine notebook, and you couldn’t find Blackjack gum anywhere else in town. Today was no exception. Gum, notebook, books, a magazine, and my handwritten order slip from the soda fountain (you pay for your meal up front). I walked out, looking through the windows at the little sliver of literary history crammed into an otherwise average strip mall.

Goodbye, friend. You will be missed.

If you’d like to read an interview with Steve Stephenson at age 91 talking about the success of Steve’s Sundry, click here.