When Creativity Is Lacking…

I am blessed to find very shareable posts that speak to my heart!

Hope all is well and that Jami Gold’s post for feeding our creative and artistic side is helpful to you too! Her blog is packed with awesome, detailed how-to articles, along with several excellent writer downloads. Finally, if you’re into the paranormal, check out her stories!

Have a great weekend all! Happy Super Bowl Sunday, too!

Joanna

 

 

 

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Why did the Chicken cross the road?

Some posts just beg to be reblogged–enjoy! (Read it twice. It gets funnier. Thanks, Ladybug 🙂

The happy Quitter!

why did the chicken cross the road8 Why did the chicken cross the road? That’s an interesting question~!

BARACK OBAMA: Let me be perfectly clear, if the chickens like their eggs they can keep their eggs. No chicken will be required to cross the road to surrender her eggs. Period.

SARAH PALIN: The chicken crossed the road because, gosh-darn it, he’s a maverick!

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That Thing You Do

Yes, I’m a junkie when it comes to that movie and that song. Come on, how do you not root for Tom Everett Scott’s Guy  and Liv Tyler’s Fay? Guy pounds on those drums and transports me into the zone with him. 🙂

The more I watch the movie though, the more my favorite is Lenny. (Just MHO, but Steve Zahn stole the show.) Love the joy Lenny exudes whenever the band sings; how Lenny and every character (except broody lead singer Jimmy–y’all can keep him) are simply in the moment, fully caught up in the awesomeness of The Wonders’ experience.

Yep, that is I, all caught up in the not-to-be-forgotten Blizzard of 2016. The last humdinger to hit with this much (or more) was back in ’96. Got the best snow boots too: my kids’. They outgrew them but fit Ma perfectly, lol. Go figure.

Snow day 2016

Pauls car 2016
Hubby’s car ain’t comin’ out no time soon. Good thing we have another vehicle. 😉

Gear shift:

We’ve all got them. Some habit(s) strangely unique to each of us. No, it doesn’t have to be weird or something to be kept hush-hush.

I drink hot coffee through a straw.

People look at me like, “Whaaatt?”

How it started:

Mrs. Joanna’s students all know my coffee is “the most important meal of the day.” (And she never takes less than 20 ounces with her every morning.)

Being someone who tends to run late—there always seem to be long coffee lines in the morning—I got me a travel mug and started taking my java with me from home. (Dunkin Donuts stainless steel travel cup is awesome. It keeps liquids HOT.)

FullSizeRender (13)

At some point, I got a little scheeved from my lipstick layered on the container’s opening. I stuck a straw in there, got used to the action and now it’s the only way, lol.

So what’s That Thing You Do? What quirky habit have you picked up along the way? Which movie stops you in your tracks any time you happen to catch it?

Go for it. Watch the video. One time. You know you want to. You’ll be glad you did. (I just did–again. 😉 )

TTFN and have a great day,

Joanna

 

 

Dialogue, Genre and a Book Beef

Happy New Year, everyone. Hope all of you enjoyed a holiday season blessed with all that make them special at your end. And here’s to peace, health and prosperity to all in 2016!

Please forgive my absence these past months. Last time I mentioned a super-busy start to the school year. Once that settled a little, Younger Son took a rough hit to the knee during the first play of his final Junior Varsity football game. He will be undergoing knee reconstruction in the near future—then the fun really begins, I’m sure. I just keep focusing on the gratitude part: that he will have a stable, functional knee; that he did not sustain a far worse injury, and that we are blessed with fairly easy access to the amazing MDs and support staff at a major world hospital.

So, as highly annoyed as I am with a book I just finished, I’m grateful it has me irritated enough to reach out and grump to my fellow readers and writers. (In other words, it fired me up enough to WANT to write.)

Because I don’t like to negatively target anyone’s work directly, I’ll withhold the author’s name and the book’s title.

A little background, however, I believe will be useful:

Genre: Christian suspense

Characters: likable enough. Definitely had me rooting for them as they progressed through the story journey.

Prose: for the most part, very, very good. I was very pleased with how the author pulled me into her characters’ world, and how it didn’t take long to get me on their side.

Story: convoluted and hard to follow. Set-up felt seemed to take a good two-thirds of the book, with some very far-fetched scenarios once the “action” started.

In fairness, the author included a disclaimer relative to liberties taken. I am also willing to suspend belief very generously, as long as I care for the characters and am interested enough in how they solve the story’s conflict. After all, I willingly chose to invest my time in a work of someone else’s imagination.

Points-of-View: more than I would like, but that didn’t bother me as much as it might have under other circumstances. (I’ve read very famous best sellers where I swear the countertop and floors got POVs. These worked fine with the story’s overall flow.) Most done in third-person limited; hacker/one antagonist presented in first person.

My biggest beef with the book came with the POVs of the male characters. These guys were Green Berets. Christian literature or not, would men who are out there being blasted at, feeling their security shaken at its deepest physical and digital levels be thinking, “Son of a biscuit!”? Seriously? And that a woman reminded him of a word that rhymed with witch?

There are times my inner editor can only take so much. Those “clean-n-milder” versions of swear words and expressions did not wax authentic and messed with me staying in the story. I simply could not picture those rough-n-tough, Alpha-male, military hero-types “thinking” in those terms.

And that brings me to my book beef and a question: as an author, do I adjust my character’s internal and external dialogue to stay within the parameters of a traditional, inspirational publisher? Or do I skip the references to strong, “colorful” verbiage, and let subtext and/or the reader fill in the blanks? As a reader, do you care?

I’d love your feedback! Thanks for taking the time to be here!

Be well,

Joanna

Linking Up to Some Great Recipes

Hi all,

Think I really like Halloween on a Saturday. I love the colorful, energetic foot-traffic that finds its way to our door every year. A few blocks away, Older Son and his friends did a haunted house. How fun to have a group of younger teenage girls I directed there ring my doorbell a second time. One plopped herself on my stoop as if she’d known me forever–I’d never met them before–to tell me “all about the haunted house” in that bubbly, giggly way girls do! They made my night.

jack-o-lantern-Nic-2015
Older Son’s work. Have a feeling Jack here is sporting Ray-Bans.

One day I’ll get back into a groove–lately all I do is school-related reports. Amazing the domino-effect created by one person’s good intentions. All the reports she sought to get done ahead of her maternity leave are already due for this school year–they just keep on coming. Very frustrating when one wants time to work on non-school-related endeavors.

So…in the interest of brevity, I’ll link you up with some of my latest go-to recipes. (Among the reasons I love oats and the internet!)

Over at bakerita.com, Rachel’s gluten-free banana bread (with chocolate chips and two minor tweaks by me) is absolutely delicious–moist and hearty every time! My tweaks: I replaced honey with brown sugar. (I rarely stock honey. We don’t use it, so it’s usually dried up whenever I go looking for it.) I also tried pumpkin in lieu of applesauce. That worked pretty well too, but I had to increase the baking time by 10-15 minutes. And this treat topped with a little Trader Joe’s almond butter? Breakfast is served!

Found this pumpkin chocolate chip cookie overnight oats this past Sunday morning. Simple and quick. Made it in a few minutes and gave it an hour in the fridge. This was more like a VERY yummy dessert, though I believe it’s meant for breakfast. Can I tell you how awesome it tasted over the pumpkin-banana bread (above) with a little shot of whipped cream? I’m sure vanilla Greek yogurt pairs nicely here as well. (BTW, I substituted brown sugar for the honey in this one too. Worked just fine.)

One more: cinnamon roll baked oatmeal. Easy. Quick. Elegant enough to serve at a brunch (or take to school for a holiday breakfast). My only change-up here was in the glaze. I LOVE cream-cheese glaze, so I searched for a simple one. (Yes, I found one, for cinnamon roll pancakes with cream-cheese frosting–my next venture. Sorry. I didn’t bookmark the site. That might not be a good thing, lol.)

Two more things I really liked about these recipes:

(1) each calls for staples that tend to be on-hand or easily obtained;

(2) each is gluten-free (but not necessarily CGF).

Do any of you have any go-to recipes to share?

Love fall colors and weather! (Wish we could skip straight to spring, though. :) )
Love fall colors and weather! (Wish we could skip straight to spring, though. 🙂 )

Off to my next evaluation!

Have a wonderful day,

Joanna

Finding My Way Back :)

Hey everyone, welcome to (almost) fall–hope all is well with all of you! Believe it or not, I’ve missed you!

Yes, I’ve been missing, and thankfully, for no particular (bad or unfortunate) event. The fan in my ‘puter (as a long ago student referred to the computer) went on the fritz in early summer. Took a couple of weeks before the correct fan came in (via Ebay and USPS—God bless both) and Older Son got the ol’ Acer up and running for his ma.

That kind of put me in a holding—and, yes, I’ll own it: avoidance—pattern. (I was sort of in one anyway, typical of the rather chaotic feel working our school’s summer academic program promotes.) Then August came and went. Before I knew it, summer was over and school is back in session!

I was blessed, though, with a restful and productive time. What I’ve been up to:

*Allowing myself to rest and enjoy the time off I am blessed and privileged to have every summer. Usually, I start mourning August’s end before it starts. This year, I got myself in check fast. Got to the beach a few times; enjoyed a free concert there one night and two spectacular sunsets on the other occasions. (Next up: getting there—with Hubby, of course—in time for a sunrise.)

Sunrise--Wildwood

Morning at the “bend” in North Wildwood.

Sea wall Wildwood

Sea wall, North Wildwood–now that’s a “serenity space.” 

me--5-2015

The gardens at the Hereford Lighthouse, North Wildwood. 

Sunset--8-2015  sunset-8-2015-2

Sunset–Sandy Hook (both images)

*Reading: I got in about seven books since in the last 5-6 weeks. (That’s an accomplishment. My attention span has been next-to-nothing for a while now. As with everything else, I blame hormones.)

Tennis: Practicing my shots and playing with Hubby, Older Son and anyone else willing to hit the court with me. Kept up with a teenage neighbor for an impromptu practice session. He quit before I did—how cool is that? Made it to the qualifying rounds of the US Open Tennis Championships! Awesome to watch the speed and power behind the ball as it flies live off the players’ racquets!

US Open--2015

*Cleaning/Purging/Organizing: Took me at least ten hours to clean the desk/office area in my semi-finished basement. (Younger Son thinks it’s his space, but his ma is willing to share.) I dumped notes and evaluations dating back up to 20 years, folks. I even found one of my very first, handwritten evaluations. Now I’m happily utilizing this space again—hopefully, more so as time progresses—for creative endeavors!

desk

*Sewing: I love making small quilts as baby gifts. I keep them very simple, and currently have four (?) in the works, started on a day when I dragged the Singer in front of the TV (during a Masters 1000 tennis tournament—what else?)

Quilting

sofa

Disguising cat-damage to the sofa arms is another art form I incorporate here and there.

*Writing: Some. Got inspired at the beach and got back to a work-in-progress started 3-4 years ago. I also signed up for an online novel-writing class and hope to be working through that in the upcoming weeks. (More on that in a future post.)

Best news of all: Booked my first two (PAID) speaker gigs!!! The first is my parenting workshop (10/8) and the second is about sensory strategies (1/12 and 1/19 of 2016). Go figure: an adult school in my area is going to pay me to talk—how awesome is that????

That’s what’s going on with me these days. What are you all up to?

Cheers!

Joanna

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fan-Fiction or Handbook to ‘Die For’? BOTH!!!

Hi everyone. I’m keeping busy and getting very excited about some upcoming stuff I’ve been looking forward to. Since I was raised with Italian superstitions, I’ll talk about them after the fact. Hope all of you are well.

SSXpedition FINAL

Those of you who are kind enough to follow and read all my posts are most likely sick of me discussing ‘reviews’ at authors’ blogs. When online author-pal PJ Reece asked me to give his (then pre-) released book a look-see prior to it going live at Amazon, I had to say yes.

Why? B/c I’d already read–and loved and internalized–this book’s predecessor, STORY STRUCTURE TO DIE FOR. I also enjoy PJ’s blog articles, so I had a very strong inkling I was going to get somethin’ real good out of PJ’s latest work.

STORY STRUCTURE EXPEDITION: JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE STORY by author PJ Reece is (to me) a fan-fiction based on Joseph Conrad’s classic novel, HEART OF DARKNESS. The author sets himself up as protagonist while his writer takes him through his story journey (i.e., character arc) via a Congo River expedition, based on the events of Conrad’s novel.

I found PJ’s hundred-page essay (as he referred to it) VERY entertaining. Had I paid attention in high school and read Heart of Darkness, I might have related even better to PJ’s work. Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoyed his excellent command of language and writing skills; his wit and humor, as well as the story journey. PJ also challenged and put me in a position to expand my vocabulary: I looked up many words via the electronic dictionary built into Kindle’s app.

This is what you’ll be reading: (from PJ’s protagonist’s “writer’s” ‘synopsis’): story fanatic commissions a tin-pot steamer to retrace Marlow’s journey up the Congo into terra incognita. Our protagonist imagines a series of instructive dispatches along the way, scenes that portray the river as a metaphor for every story’s journey to the story heart.

So: Author takes story structure, sets himself as narrator, and becomes the protagonist being thrust into the throws of story structure. He discusses how the writer’s job is to “love her protagonist to death”—death to the protagonist’s belief system and the inexplicable freedom from having “died” to one’s self. (On pp 50-51 you’ll find a lively “discourse” between author and his “writer.” Every now and again, he revisits their ‘relationship,’ typically to question what the heck she’s putting him through.)

Same story structure mechanics told a different way? Perhaps, but PJ puts a spin on it that I related to and seem to be digesting and/or internalizing readily.

IMHO, the brilliance of PJ’s essay is how he nestles simple and straightforward story mechanics into excellent, highly useful tips to writers during his metaphorical expedition. I took copious notes and highlighted like crazy as I read. I hear PJ’s words resonating as I work on my current WIP, nudging and guiding my protagonist toward his own awakening. (Trust me, my  guy has a LOT to learn.  😉

STORY STRUCTURE EXPEDITION: JOURNEY TO THE HEART OF THE STORY is a refreshing companion/follow-up to its predecessor, STORY STRUCTURE TO DIE FOR. I can’t imagine any writer won’t be a better writer after having read either (or both) of these works.