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Book of the Year for Writers – The 3AM Epiphany

  There is a man out there, a man I have never met, named Brian Kiteley. He happens to direct the creative writing program at the University of Denver, where the aspiring writer can go to receive the rarely offered PhD in creative writing. Amongst his many other accomplishments, he has written two very inspiring books for the writing student at home. If I were to seriously do each of the exercises in the book, The 3AM Epiphany, I would probably deserve a degree. Well, it would be nice to get some feedback on it, though! I have done some of the exercises in this book, and plan on posting them periodically. The goal: to do them all! Once finished, however, I won’t be done… as he has faithfully provided another book full of exercises: The 4AM Breakthrough. These exercises have it all: An explanation behind the theory of the exercise. In other words: Why do it? Clearly defined word limit Clear instructions with just enough boundary to make me want to push the envelope of creativity. Shall we have a turn with the exercises? Let’s pray to the sleeping baby Muse: Exercises coming...

Phantom of the Pen

-by Lori Moritz Writing tools are important. Consider the tools above: a pen, a pen case, ink, and a Carnival of Venice Mask. Why are these important? The Pen There is nothing like writing by hand. It creates a mental time warp that slows thought down to perfect narrative speed. It buffers the mind enough to imbue language with passion, something I can’t get while typing at ludicrous speed illuminated by nothing but the milky backlight of a computer screen. Writing instruments are personal. I prefer fountain pens that are heavy. I can’t hold a pen like that; I must wield it. Fountain pens glide over the paper and magically make their mark independent from pressure or force. I can write for a long time riding the inertia and momentum of such a pen. The only trick is getting up enough force to start. (ahem) I also love how such pens vibrate in response to the texture of the paper. Point is: the correct writing tool will inspire you. Find the pen, the color, and the notebook! (the only thing missing in my photo…) that you LOVE. And write in it. Write stupid things. Write smart things. Write secrets and write puns. Test out a few until you find a favorite, and then incorporate your pen into your writing routine. Computer work is fine, but every writer needs to write a little by hand. The Pen Case: Simple. A wonderful pen must be protected from would be pen fiddlers. The case is the solution. Ink: The right color and consistency is a key partner to your pen. Not Pictured Here Paper: Make sure you get paper that doesn’t bleed. You should enjoy the texture of it. Try a few in various notebooks. Carnival of Venice Mask: If it makes you feel like part of the Eyes Wide Shut Cast,...

Exercise for Better Writing Ideas

By Lori Moritz This is not about a writing exercise… this is a writing about exercise… the physical kind. I have read it countless times by a countless number of successful writers: You should exercise your body if you want to exercise your mind. Now, I used to shrug this stuff off with an, “ of course!” But that was because I always maintained a strict exercise schedule consisting of running, biking, and weight-lifting… that is, until I had a baby. That sort of threw a wrench in the whole “I’m the healthiest writer in the Universe!!!” mantra. It wasn’t that I had no time to get the sweat on. Instead, I had absolutely no motivation to find out that I had gotten VERY out of shape. So, many months pass with absolutely NO exercise, and guess what… the same amount of months pass with NO writing or fresh writing ideas, either. Why was that? Well, I wasn’t exercising. So, how does exercise help the writing mind? For me, exercise forces me to get deep in thought… it is the only way I can avoid the pain of exertion. While deep in thought, the ideas flow. I can concentrate on character, plot line, dialogue… I find solutions to logical inconsistencies in my storyline… it’s amazing! Recently, I have had a dearth of ideas. Running cured that. It happened this weekend, when I decided to start back on the old routine. I took a four-mile loop around the neighborhood and ran into a patch of bees. In short, I got stung in the chest, back, and the upper left arm. I have an aunt that is deathly allergic to bees. I asked myself the question, “What if I were deathly allergic to bees?” I really could be. It runs in the family. I wondered if I should stop running and...

Writing Contest Update

I have been away from online ventures for the past two months because I almost died. You think I’m kidding, but it’s true. I know it has created a detriment to my writing audience, so I am in the works to ramp this back up again. The good news is, I am having fun. I want to wrap up the old contest I have up here by Thanksgiving, and then start a new contest. Anyone have any good prompt ideas? Respond with them...

Writing Challenge

Time for a new challenge… it’s been awhile. Parameters: Write a short response to the prompt. Read and respond to other responses. Vote for your favorites by clicking the thumbs up. (Note, it will only let you vote once per user or per IP address) After enough responses and votes come in, a winner will be chosen. Prizes: At this time, the winning entry will receive a custom illustration for their story, and a featured post on my website. (For you to bedazzle everyone with!) Prompt: . It is said that a ghost roams this shanty farm. Who (Or What) is it? How long has it been there? Why does it lurk here? What does it see? Tell us its...

Eavesdropping and BananaFish….

. J.D. Salinger, God rest his soul, wrote more than just the incredible coming to age novel, The Catcher in the Rye. He wrote many short stories, and many related to a central group of characters. I’m taking a UCLA Extension class called Putting Dialogue to Work. The first assignment requires that we read the Salinger story, “A Perfect Day for Bananafish.” Although the story is in the American Realism genre, I LOVED it. I think it is because my grandfather was a WWII veteran, and from him, I came closer to understanding what a veteran might feel while trying to reinstitute himself into society. Here was my assessment of the story: * Muriel comes across as shallow and indifferent. She hadn’t been able to get her call through for 2.5 hours, but when the phone finally rings, she doesn’t bother to rush for it. Her call seems habitual rather than motivated by any sort of conscious desire or need to communicate. She paints her nails while she talks. I inferred that she probably spent more attention on that than the actual conversation. She takes her rings off, probably including her wedding ring, to hang around the hotel room. Despite her mother’s concern, Muriel behaves like any teenage girl. I can envision her rolling her eyes to look at her brain as her mother voices her concerns. Muriel is so far removed from reality that she feel invincible. She has, “It can’t happen to me syndrome.” I was taken by the following dialogue between Muriel and her mother: “When I think of how you waited for that boy all through the war-I mean when you think of all those crazy little wives who–” “Mother,” said the girl, “we’d better hang up. Seymour may come in any minute.” The fact that Muriel cuts her mother off in mid thought here...

Latest Challenge Winner – Tantra Bensko

Tantra Bensko wins! . Write about the Witching Hour -by Tantra Bensko . . Midnight came and went many times today. I have never experienced this before. I knew no one was looking when I started turning my head around like an owl to see all the midnights lining up around me. One started speaking to me. Come. Come this way. Another started speaking. Come this way! It was like when my husband and I would spin our son around on a swivel chair and then both call him to run to us in different directions, and watch him fall over. Midnight was playing. And so it was time. Time for something. A little test of what different possibilities could be like in different repeating times. I gave myself a kiss. On the arm. I petted my ankle. I caressed my face. All in different midnights. I was trying to learn to remember what it was like to feel adored, touched because of being beautiful. My only option was myself. If I did something nice for my skin in many midnights at once, would there come a point at which all of them would hit me simultaneously? I liked the linearity of the repetition, but am a big fan of the non linear. And being touched sweetly all at once in many places by myself was sounding really fun. I ran my hand through my hair. I pulled my toes. I felt along the line of my hip, with my hand cupped, feeling the tautness of the shape. I traced the edges of my lips. I felt so loved, and had been so lonely for long, longing for touch, I was ecstatic when suddenly, all the midnights I had just participated in collapsed in on themselves from the weight, and I became like a Picasso painting. All directions at...

Weekly Challenge! May 21-28

Alright, ready for another challenge? Write your response to the following with at max 600 words. Read the prompt and write the first thing that comes to mind, or think about it for a few days and submit a more polished piece. Winners announced and featured on my website Friday May 28! Make sure to vote on others’ works so a winner can be chosen! Here’s the Prompt: Write about the Witching Hour -subnote- I am waiting for enough responses to actually post a winner. So perhaps I should call this the ‘monthly’ contest! The famous designer, Hans Moritz (same guy who designed Cyclops’ eyepiece in the movie X-Men), will illustrate the winner’s entry… so PLEASE WRITE AN ENTRY, READ, AND VOTE!...

May 20th Winner!

Congratulations PhilosopherKingES, for such a well-written poem on last week’s prompt, “The day has just begun…” The day has just begun, reminding me of all the other days that began, then ended, meager sandwiches of bread on bread. No meat between the daily routine of tearing oneself from dozy dreams and returning to bed, somnolent again. Naught but sand, in fact. Humanity persists in a directionless line, voyaging, voyaging toward… The generations cycle idly like annual flowers. I travel on a plane in one direction on a line segment of indeterminable length, yet I too live in cycles. In one, eating, another, driving, a third, wanting The fourth consists of turbulent seas. Upon these I sail irrationally, master of my intent and nothing more. Here consciousness monsters cease their torments as I anchor in the shallows off mind’s luminescent shore. Realm where existence is a distant memory, and cares are but paranoid shadows, the polarized sweets and sours of life rain down in confused, fantastic showers. In this blended up hash of horror and delight— but the light cycle’s turning, the end’s come to night. The day’s just beginning, and streaming through my window the bright morning extends its daily invitation to...

Using Tarot Cards for Writing Inspiration – A writing exercise that’s worth it!

Alright. Sure. Maybe it sounds strange… of course it does. But Tarot DOES have its uses outside of predicting the future and personal insight. If you find yourself stuck, with no inspiration, in the dreaded state of Writer’s Block, get yourself a tarot deck. Here’s the exercise: If you want, you can light some candles and dim the lights. (LOL) No really. You can. Then… Shuffle the deck. Pick a card. If you are a tarot expert already you can skip the next step. Read the tarot book or look up the meaning of the card on the internet. (You can find the meaning of the cards for free on many websites, but most decks come with explanations.) Apply the aspect of this card to any aspect of your writing you are having troubles with… Character… plot… story idea… you name it… This is rich. Let me illustrate the process with my own experience: I did this tonight (YES TONIGHT!). No candles, but the light was dim. I shuffled my perfectly ordered deck (which my friend Jennifer informed me was a no-no in regards to Tarot. I was embarrassed about it and blamed it on my German blood. No really. I ordered my cards because I was worried I was missing a few. And because I am a little obsessive compulsive, but I digress…) I pulled the Queen of Cups. It turns out that the Queen of Cups is a mother figure. A nurturer. A great wife, a great mother, someone in balance with feminine home structure…. it goes on, and gets deeper, but this is not a Tarot lesson. I sat back and thought about it. An idea formed. What if there was a mother who loved so much, and was so nurturing and full of love, that she smothered all those she cared for. I mean literally...

Weekly Challenge!

Let’s play! Here’s this week’s writing prompt. “The day has just begun…” Read the prompt, and write the first thing that comes to mind. Or, think about it for awhile and write a more polished piece. I just want to have fun with words! Please post an entry no longer than 2000 words. Winners announced Thursday May 20, and get a featured spot on my...