I photographed this on a wall somewhere but failed to write down the source and now I can’t figure out where it might have come from. Pretty though …
This is an excerpt from The Museum of the Lord of Shame, a chapbook by Gary Rosenthal, which he describes in part on his website:
“Not everything in the soul is sweetness and light. This poem evokes that part of the soul that often presents the first major initiation in inner work.”
Back in March 2012 I mentioned reading, and enjoying, Veronica Roth’s book Divergent. The book is the first in a trilogy and is on its way to becoming a movie now. And lately I’ve been doing some articles about Divergent for a fun fan page. I thought I’d share a few of the things I’ve written about …
The Five Factions
I enjoyed writing an article explaining the basics of each of the five factions that make up the community in Divergent. I also created some art for the article:
Each of the five factions in the book wears a specific type of clothing described by author Roth. The main faction of the protagonist is a goth/punk inspired faction with lots of black and tattoos while the peacful faction (amity) is a hippie-loving bohemian faction that wears a lot of red and yellow. Learn more about Divergent Fashion.
I had a really fun time going through the blog of author Veronica Roth and finding out the secrets she shared about herself before she became a famous author. In another post I wrote about the fact that the author is working on a series of digital short stories about the character of Four from Divergent.
The Main Character
Main character Tris is an interesting and complex teenager. I loved doing a post rounding up various readers’ thoughts about her.
(a word tag cloud I created with the words people use most about Tris)
I was interviewed a few months ago by awesome businesswoman Sylvia Browder. She asked me lots of great questions about my book, Crochet Saved My Life, as well as my take on the writing life. Let me share two of my interview questions/ answers here with you today to give you a sense of how I see my writing life:
Syvlia asked, “Is there a special place that you prefer when you write?”
I answered, “I prefer writing in my own home. I initially thought I’d love the freedom of the writer’s life in the sense that I’d be able to write anywhere. That’s certainly true to an extent but the truth is that I tend to work best when I’m alone in my own space. I get too distracted trying to work on vacation, in relatives’ homes or in coffee shops.”
Sylvia also asked, “Do you have any advice for other writers?”
What I said was, “Writing is a really solitary activity but there has to be a balance. It is definitely important to take time to yourself to hear your inner voice and get it down on the page. However, you also need to have many experiences out and about with other people to be able to relate to them and keep on going productively in your work. Plus, when it comes time to market your book, you’re going to need each and every one of those people you know to help you spread the word! So strive for a balance!”
I’m curious how other writers feel about this balance between the solitary introspective part of the writing life and the need to be a social creature in the world for both creative reasons and business reasons. Share your thoughts in the comments below!
“In a world where the narrative is so often one of fear and anger and doubt. More love would be better. In the face of those about whom you care deeply dying or moving on. More love would be better. In the uncertainty of yourself, your appearance, your abilities, your wisdom. More love would be better.”
That’s an excerpt from a terrific post from Hannah Coakley at @rebelletweet. The post is all about the idea that sometimes it is scary to love but even so more love would be better. It’s about taking risks. It’s about exposing our humanity and honoring the humanity in others. It’s a great post; read it here.
Poetry slams have played a funny fringe role in my life off and on over the years. When I was 21 and in college for the first time I started going to an open mic poetry spot where magic was created under desert skies and it was those folks who first introduced me to poetry slams.
After a brief affair with the fun competitive spirit of those events, I took a hiatus. I should interject that I was always just a watcher, not a reader. I’ve read here and there at open mics but really I prefer the inspiration of being a listener at these things to the pressure of performing, particularly within the competitive atmosphere of the slam.
A couple of years after moving here I decided to check out the slam scene in San Francisco. I dabbled here and there, went to a few of the main events, got some inspiration, met some cool people, moved on. It had been a couple of years since I went to a slam, or even an open mic for that matter, when I saw the other night that there was a Lit Slam that looked interesting here and I decided to check it out.
What’s interesting about this monthly Lit Slam is that the winners of the slam get published in an annual literary magazine called Tandem. Normally slam winners get a cash prize or just plain old praise but this puts a whole new twist on things because what they perform on stage needs to not only make for a good performance but also read well later on paper and that’s a tough thing to pull off. The shock value poems that work amazingly with the right facial features on a stage don’t necessarily work when written down pen to paper and printed in stark black and white.
The slam consisted of eight participants who were whittled down by scores to five and then to three and two of those win publication although a single winner is declared. Being there was interesting for me, because it naturally brought back the feelings of other slams, the memories of the people at open mics.
When I try to look urban and cool …
The truth is that most slams have some similar features and most poets fit easily into certain slots that tie them together with other poets in your mind. The feminist poet, the queer identified poet, the urban hip hop poet, the over-intellectual over-sensitive white guy poet … they’re just archetypes, just styles and of course each individual brings their own unique individuality to the table but when you don’t know the people and are seeing them for the first time it’s easy to replace their faces with the faces of voices from the past. I remembered moments with people I hadn’t thought about in ten years.
I tended to like what the audience and editors tended to like, for the most part, something I could tell for sure because a word or phrase would tug at my heart’s attention at the same time that a gasp would be emitted from a person in the space. And oh, the space, the space was lovely. It’s a place called Viracocha which is a retail shop in the Mission here selling wacky old things like typewriters. Downstairs is a large room with a rustic wooden stage decorated with lights set behind washboards for this artsy weird oddly-romantic atmosphere.
The winner of the slam was Cam Awkward-Rich. Here’s a YouTube clip although it’s not from the event I went to:
I also wanted to add that the feature reader, Daphne Gottlieb, was amazingly touching. I loved the way she was able to read without that sing-song poetry voice that is so hard for most of us to escape when reading poems aloud. And loved the sense of connection and poignancy she offered in her work, even in the way she dropped each page lightly but defiantly to the stage as she read it.
And also the host, Tatyana Brown, was the one who actually did my favorite poem of the night so props to her as well. Monthly event worth checking out if you happen to like live spoken word and be in San Francisco.
Please enjoy this guest post by Bella Andre, New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of the contemporary romance series, The Sullivans. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards!
You know that saying – kindness begets kindness? Well, I think love begets love, and the more love you have in your life – of all types – the more you learn about how to love yourself and others. The first kind of love you learn about, soon after you’re born, is love for your family. Then comes love for your classmates and friends, then various dates until you meet the one.
Family love is so important to me. My husband is incredibly supportive and we’re both equal partners in everything we do. Since I’ve always got a new book to write, I try to get my pages in while the kids are at school. But since my daily to-do list often spills over into the evening, I often take my MacBook Air into the living room and write or answer emails while my kids play on the carpet.
In fact, just at this very moment, my son is organizing his baseball cards on the floor while my daughter sits beside him and colors…and my fabulous husband cleans up the kitchen. (Hooray for men with cleaning skills!) I hope we’re creating a loving, nurturing environment so when my kids grow up and find partners of their own, they know what true love feels like.
Mary Sullivan is an example of love for her eight children, the talented siblings of the Sullivan series. Because she cares so much for them, and they care for each other, they’re unwilling to accept less than that level of devotion and affection in their partner. The family is also so intuitive, they learn to recognize when the others are in love.
In my latest release, Smith (COME A LITTLE BIT CLOSER) falls for his co-star’s sister. But Valentina is determined not to be the kind of woman who falls into bed with a sexy movie star. Only, when Smith’s family meets Valentina and Smith, they’re immediately able to see that Valentina is different than any other woman Smith has ever been with – and that Smith is happier because of her, too.
The Blog Tour and Prizes
The Sullivans are on tour with Novel Publicity. Follow along for your chance to win amazing prizes. We’ve got special romantic swag baskets for each book, an iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Nook Color, and Kobo eReader, and Amazon and iTunes gift cards. WOW!
You’ll also get introduced to this amazing contemporary romance series via excerpts as well as interviews with and guest posts from New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, Bella Andre. You’ll definitely want to learn more about the family that has captured the world’s heart.
All the info you need to join the fun and enter to win amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To Win the Prizes:
- Purchase any of the Sullivan ebooks by Bella Andrefor just $4.99 (optional)
- Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity (go here)
- Visit today’s featured social media event (that’s where the HUGE prizes are)
About The Sullivans
In this sexy, emotional and funny contemporary romance series, each member of the Sullivan family will eventually find true love…usually where he or she least expects it. Get the eBooks via Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, the iBookStore, or the Kobo Store.
Audiobooks are also available for the first five in the series (with more coming soon). Plus, keep an eye out for paperback editions coming from Harlequin Romance starting Summer 2013.
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre has always been a writer. Songs came first, and then non-fiction books, but as soon as she started writing her first romance novel, she knew she’d found her perfect career. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly) about sizzling alpha heroes and the strong women they’ll love forever, nearly all of her novels have appeared on Top 10 lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.
Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She has given the keynote speech at Book Expo America on her self-publishing success and has sold more than one million books.
If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.
Today I’m sharing a post that I wrote several years ago. It was originally posted on my Real Words blog, which has since been taken down. Although the post is old, I feel like it sounds a lot like something I’d write or think today, and it remains one of my favorite posts …
My favorite feeling in the entire world is inspiration. I love to be in love, I’m thrilled during days when I feel excitement, I’ve even been known to thoroughly indulge in immersing myself in red-hot moments of anger … but if I could only feel one feeling for the rest of my life, I would choose inspiration every single time. Inspiration is that hard-to-capture feeling of being simultaneously aware of your complete interconnectedness with the world around you and yet sure that your voice matters in the big scheme of things. It’s that feeling that you have been so touched by something in life that you are compelled to find a way to channel it through yourself and back out to others, to act as the prism for the light of creativity that surrounds you. Inspiration is why I get up in the morning and work.
And some days, I don’t “work” much at all. But for writers, days off aren’t really days off. Sure, you may take a break from writing (you may even take an unfortunately extended break from writing) but if you’re living life, you are collecting material. Most writers’ books or art guides that you’ll read (and I can say “most” because I have a penchant for such books and have read many of them) will tell you that you need to consistently replenish your creative well. I’ve heard it described in dozens of ways, but what it boils down to is that it’s perfectly okay to give yourself permission to not work and to just be … because for someone whose life work is creativity, just being is the same as working. Because when you are out observing and absorbing the world around you, you are placing yourself in a position that allows for inspiration.
I wrote poetry on the insides of my eyelids the other day as I wandered around SFMoMA. There was art of all kinds on the walls around me … urban drywall installations covering entire rooms, photographs of dancers captured in the height of their movements, scupltures by painters and paintings by sculptors … but I didn’t look too closely at any of it. Instead, I just wandered, meandering through the crowd that fills the museum on free admission day. People-watching. My eye was caught by an older woman dressed in bright blue, with a scarf to match tied around her hat. The hat was yellow straw but she could’ve been a member of the red hat society if her vibrancy was any clue. I eyed her for only a moment, lost her in the crowd and moved on.
The flecks of paint swirled around me on canvases encased carefully on the walls of the museum and crusted onto the jeans of the art students who critiquely walked the rooms. Momentarily, I met eyes with the strikingly bold irises of a student writer who was gathering material for the character for his next book. Or so I think he told me in the brief glance that connected our gazes before one of us turned away. I don’t remember anything about him other than the brightness of his eyes, made brighter by what seemed to be natural eyeliner rimming the bottoms of his lids. The funniest things will make impressions on you if you’ll let them. So I sat and I walked and I stood and I watched, soaking up what was around me without planning to turn it into any kind of writing. I was simply allowing myself to be filled up with impressions. I was refilling the artistic waters of my creative well. I was opening the door of my writer’s mind to the inspiration that I am always hoping will walk through it.
Not all days are good days, creatively speaking. But all of them have the potential to be.
Every year I think about joining up with NaNoWriMo and then I don’t for a variety of reasons. In recent years, there have been a lot of spinoffs of this November writing project. I decided that this year I’ll join one of those spinoffs – NaBloPoMo, short for National Blog Posting Month.
What is NaBloPoMo?
NaBloPoMo is just a group project where bloggers commit to writing at least one post per day on their blogs during the month of November. It’s a way to stay accountable for writing daily. It’s a way to have community support for your blogging efforts. It’s a way to participate in a group blogging activity even though you’re working at home alone in your own space.
Why I’m Joining NaBloPoMo
I already post almost daily here on Diary of a Smart Chick so I don’t actually need a project like this to hold me accountable to posting. So why join?
- I like occasionally participating in various group blogging challenges as it always teaches me new things about my blogging self and stretches me a little bit.
- Participating in things like NaBloPoMo can help new readers find this blog. Diary of a Smart Chick isn’t nearly as popular as my main blog, Crochet Concupiscence, but I do put a lot of work into this blog and would love for more people to find it.
- It’s an easy way to support a cool project that other bloggers are doing. I love being part of the blogging community.
- NaBloPoMo has optional writing prompts. I likely won’t use them most days but I think it will be fun to try them here and there.
- There are prizes. I’m not really doing it for the prizes but prizes certainly don’t hurt!
- If I ever do decide to do NaNoWriMo it’ll boost my confidence to know I have already participated in something similar with NaBloPoMo.
What To Expect
There is no theme topic or anything like that so most of what you’ll see on the blog in November isn’t going to be any different from usual. You’ll still see daily posts where I share my life, thoughts, experiences and photos. I usually don’t blog here on Sundays so that will be different – an extra post. And I may try some of those writing prompts to tackle different topics than usual a few times this month. At the end of the month I’ll update you about my experience participating in this project.
I’ve resumed writing regularly on my writing blog (formerly called Real Words, now just a part of the Kathryn Vercillo website). Here’s a roundup of all that I wrote about in October:
I shared excerpts from various interviews that have been published with me around the web, using the excerpts as an opportunity to expand on a variety of different thoughts:
- Would you write your book again?
- 5 reasons an image-only interview is awesome
- 4 keys to a successful blog post
- I love developing creative connections
- Advice for parents of teens with depression
- Tackling controversial topics on a blog
I also did something similar with excerpts from reviews that others did about my new book, Crochet Saved My Life:
- Crochet Saved My Life is about so much more than crochet
- Books recommended for people with depression
- A bilingual reader and thoughts on book translation
Guest Post Excerpts
Likewise, I used my own blog to expand on topics that I had covered in guest blog posts elsewhere on the web:
Writing and Reading
- The 5 W’s and Other Good Writing Lessons
- Writers Are Like Serial Killers (and a Book Recommendation)
- Quote on Writing from a Creative Memoir
- Bukowski’s So You Want to Be a Writer?