CREATIVE CHALLENGES

energyDo you have them? Do you ignore them? Do you not believe in them? What do you do with them?

A lot of questions with no set answers. Why? Because every writer has their own version of creative challenges, and it start at the beginning…or does it?

What if you were to start writing the ending and then travel back to the beginning? Would your story have a different ending or a different beginning?

How many of you remember or saw the movie, The Spanish Prisoner? What did you decide after seeing this film. It could be anyone of us out to play with the possibilities of capture or secrets.

Then the movie, Memento, pops into my mind. Was the guy crazy? Did he really kill his wife? Or did he watch his best friend commit the crime?

This is a challenge to all writers:

Start your story at the end and create as you travel backwards to the beginning. This makes for a different type of writing. You have the ending, but how did this story begin?

The ending hits your heart and soul, but why? Dig deeper and see where you came from and then stop. Let all of these scenes into your head and fingertips. Your writing will take you back to the beginning at a slow pace. You will see and feel everything in a deeper way and a more vibrant color, than starting at the beginning and going to the end.

Confused? Yeah, a little. Okay, start a different way. You write down the first scene that comes to your mind. This is the story you want to write. You know the characters, who will be in your story, their lifestyles, their loves, and their secrets. It is a beginning, but as a writer you feel empty. You plot your scenes and know there is something more, but what? The ending must come first. So you begin at the end, and this is a summary of my thoughts, at this time:

“Stop. You cannot close the casket. She is not dead. I just talked with her and she needs to tell me more about the argument.”

“Ma’am, she is dead. There is no chance for error.”

“Then, why do I hear her pounding on the casket lid?”

People quiet. There is no talking, no noise, no cranks of the equipment to lower the casket further, but there is no sound.

“Shh, I hear her talking.” The casket lid opens with a slight push, and her gloved hand slips into the open space.

‘He is here. Find him.” Her voice comes out sure and strong. The lid closes again, and her voice is quiet.

Okay writers, start your story backwards from this point and work your way to the beginning. A love story backwards. A mystery with the death before the why.

Have a great time with this scenario and let your thoughts push your writing into another depth.

HAVE FUN. WRITE BACKWARDS. EXPLORE NEW DEPTHS. HAPPY WRITING.

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What Is An ISBN Number?

images_005Just so you will know, I wrote this piece back in 2012, and I’m using this again. Look at all of the books in the picture and then wonder about their ISBN numbers. What are they, Where did they come from? What do these number represent? Let’s find out.

Have you noticed a group of numbers on all books? They are there for a purpose: for you, the writer and the publisher. This number establishes and identifies one book title from another. Booksellers, libraries, universities, and a whole lot more of people in the publishing arena use these specific numbers.

ISBN stands for International Standard Book Number, which used to be a ten digit number until 2007, when the numbers increased to thirteen. Let’s take a look at the old “10” number and the new “13” number. Grab yourself a book from your shelf or go to the library or a bookstore.  The ISBN number is found on the inside of the book where the information on the publisher, copyright, all rights reserved exist and again on the outside of the back cover.

The first digit gives the origin of publishing – 0 – equals English, while another number equals a different country. The next six numbers identifies the publisher and the next two numbers identified the title or edition. The last digit validates the ISBN number. There you have the 10 digit ISBN.

In the 13 digit ISBN number, you will find this in the same area inside the book and on the back cover. The only addition is a three digit number instead of a zero. This three digit number will have 978 numbers represent a group or country.

However, if you go through the traditional publishing avenue, your publisher will do this for you with their publisher numbers. If you self-publish, go e-book, you will need to do your own work, but some independent publishers will handle this for you. However, you need to know if your book is published hardback, paperback, e-book, etc., each will have their own ISBN number even though it is the same title, but a different type of publication. Once you use an ISBN number, you cannot use it again.

You might also want to have a bar code, which is a requirement for many sales publications.

What do you do if you have some 10-digit ISBN numbers and need them in the new 13-digit? Go to Google on how to convert from a 10 to a 13. Another avenue is RR Bowker. Once you have your ISBN numbers, you need to let RR Bowker know and submit your title information, and register with RR Bowker.

Okay, lots of information, but have some fun. Go through your books and study the ISBN numbers. Your book “A” published by XXX publishing, and study the numbers. Then your book “B” published by XXX publishing and this has different publisher identifier numbers. What? Check again. XXX publishing may have different entities.

Have fun. Study. Learn. Enjoy. Do not forget to write. This is what will get your book finished.

Happy Writing.

BREAK YOUR OWN RULES

ASAPDare to do something different. If this a heart-stopper, then start off small.  Deposit all of your burdens that do not let you travel light into the trash. If you carry them around with you, your travels will be forgotten and you’ll still be at the same point tomorrow as you are today.

Let go of lists. Oh . . . they carry me through the day and keep me on track, and I ask, “track of what?” No, they do not carry you through each day, they slow you down. Play moment by moment today. Enjoy the present. This is the only time available as yesterday has disappeared and tomorrow is not part of today. Do not get hung up on what might be. Life can change in an instant.

As writers, we make things happen to our characters. We give them mountains they may never climb to the top, and then we can either let them fall down or have the handsome hero come to the rescue. We play with our characters and watch them laugh, smile, cry, run to or run away from something. Much like our own lives.

Look all around and enjoy what you can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste. Use all of your senses, some we have a tendency to stick back in a corner, but not today. Pretend you are your own character and write from her or his point of view. How does your character react to the sun on her face? What about the wind and rain beating down on his clothes, as he forgot the umbrella? Take your characters on a trip. This is the one you’ve wanted to travel and never found the time. Well, you have all the time you need, since you are breaking your own rules. Use your characters to fulfill your dreams of going to the highest mountain peak, the bluest ocean, brightest place you imagine, and there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

I found the notebook with ASAP and used this as a starting point. If you or your characters are always rushing around, where does the comfy part of life fit? Sure, there are things that need to be completed in to certain time frames, but remember to adjust these times and use some of the hours for play.  You and your characters will be happier, more contented, and you will have them jumping off the page into the lives of the reader.

You want to have dinner for breakfast, break your rules and enjoy a new kind of breakfast. Turn your day inside out and bring your characters along with you and watch a new story develop right before your eyes. Have you ever thought about sleeping all day long and using the night for your day?

This is your time. Do something different. Explore with out explanation. Run with the wind. Smile at everything and everyone for no reason. And LAUGH.

Happy Day. Happy Characters. Happy Writing.

EXERCISE IS FUN

Yes, this should be about fun, parties, and everything that goes along with the Holiday Season, but it is. The exercise I’m talking about comes with the fabulous group of Silver Sneakers I have the honor of being their instructor.

Yes, we work hard every time we come into class. We stretch and stretch with the Yoga Stretch classes. We learn how to balance so our bodies can experience new poses and the stress of the day, time, month slide off the top. Then we learn how to combine the workout to strengthen our muscles, and put the balance to work as we squat, and squat, and squat. Never, do we go overboard. We work hard to make our muscles work for us. Like lifting weights and the ugh bicep curls. We use these muscles every day: picking up groceries, putting the clothes in the washer, shaking them into the dryer, and the important one – picking up the grand-kids.

We also work on the Cardio end of the scale to give our hearts the ability to help us each day. The rule is to do what you can and not push yourselves over your limit. Cardio can be doing a little more than we thought we could, but never over the limit.

We have a great room to workout in and welcome everyone; newbies, seasoned, and always have some oldies come back and surprise us with visits. We also combine fun with our exercises and our program. You never know what will pop up and give all of us a great laugh.

We do know how to party and express our new-found energy with different avenues. This is a set-up for the following pictures – our Holiday Luncheon. If you are new to Atlanta, been afraid to venture out to a ‘gym,’ fear not. We will welcome you, add you to our group, and begin exercising and having fun. You can find us at AGX, in the Blee Shopping Center in Chamblee, Georgia. No special clothes, just come and be with us as we go forward in to the new year.

Here are the pics to show our fun at the Hudson Grille in Brookhaven. I am fortunate, no Blessed, to have all the group at our SS program. Come be part of our group and learn how to exercise and have fun.

No, this is not my usual writing theme, but what stories can be written by the successes of our group.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2015 for your Good Health.

Patricia

zoo, Tutoring, S.S. Dec. Lunch 016(1)SS HOLIDAY 2014SS 2014

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STUCK IN THE BLACK HOLE?

Two friends“Here we go again, Ethel. What does she know about black holes? Aren’t they the things that will gobble up the earth?”

“I’m sure she won’t let us fall into nothingness. And no matter what, we will still be together. But, before we get excited, let’s check this out.” Ethel smiled. “She has something to share, I think.”

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” If you believe this then you will never get out of the black hole. But, Aristotle did not go far enough and let you know how to break this chain. I call it a chain, as it has a way of hand-cuffing us to our present lives. Why? Because it is comfortable. What would happen if we decided to change our habits, our lives, our minds? Yes, a lot of chaos would happen, and it could be the change we need to pull us up from the BLACK HOLE.
Stop and think for just a moment and ask yourselves, “What do I do over and over each day that I could change?” Here are some things I thought about:
1. Checking email over and over.
2. Re-organizing files, which don’t need it, but might look neater.
3. Checking online banking balances.
These are daily moves we make without thinking. Just something we’ve done forever and have not made a move to change. No, we can check email twice a day and still not miss anything. Why reorganize the files in the middle of the year. The New Year may make changes for us and then we can decide what to do. If you have an idea of your bank balances and there has been no HUGE expenditure, why look every day.
If you always start out your day with the same chore, do something different. Does your floors need vacuuming every day? Not unless you are a day care center for foster animals. Besides, dust bunnies are company and can inspire your writing. Okay, take the time and watch them hide on a cloudy day and spring to life as the sun shines.
Do you always have to cook a big dinner at night? What about breakfast at dinner? Kids would love this and sometimes I think scrambled eggs or an omelet taste better in the evening than the first thing I see in the morning. Or, what about cleaning out the fridge with the left-over food, mix and match, and surprise even Aristotle.
Okay you do have writing and research to do, but always at the same time? If you need to do research, hit the internet and get most of this done. Don’t flip-flop from research to writing. Do one or the other with concentration and persistence. You’ll accomplish more and feel less overwhelmed.
Switch day for chores. If you always do laundry on Monday, switch to another day. If you get groceries on Wednesday, when the prices change and new ads are printed, why fight the crowds. Go on Thursday when there is fewer people, shorter lines, and more parking. Saturday and Sunday are so different for everyone. Still, experience these two days as usual, and see what you do over and over that you could change.
Have you ever walked through your home, looked at your small book library, and shook your head. “No, I can’t stop and read. My writing comes first.” What if you changed this to, “I think that new book would be a jump-start on my writing,” and sit down and read a few chapters right smack in the middle of the day. You get involved with the characters and feel energized.What happened? You relaxed, enjoyed reading, and now your fingers are ready to hit the keyboard with gusto.

What about the BLACK HOLE? If you make small changes and do something different each and every day, it will fill up with your excitement, your new choices, and disappear.
Happy Changes. Happy Surprises. Happy Writing.

What Does Your Coffee Mug Say About You?

coffee_and_coffee_beans_highdefinition_pictures_a_167340Okay, an off-beat question, but one I bet you never think about. I realized this one day, when at a meeting, there were a zillion coffee mugs. You get the idea. I laughed as people made their way to the huge coffee urn amidst all the mugs. No one grabbed the first mug they saw. No, they stood around and checked out as many mugs as they could without being yelled at, to get moving. Some people were anxious to put the hot black liquid in a cup and sit down.

During the meeting I looked around the different tables and tried to put a person with the mug. Now, there are females and males at this meeting, so I’m not picking on anyone in particular. One guy sipped his java from a Disney World Cartoon mug. Maybe, this is as close to getting there as possible. Another lady had a mug with a specific city name written in bold, red letters. She could be from there, want to go there, but I do know she loves red. Still, a different female had a mug with cartoon faces of little kids all over the outside. My mind wondered if she had kids at home and this felt comfortable for her. As one guy went back for a coffee refill, I noticed he did a small tap dance, and then looked at the small flowers all over the cup. This is one guy not intimidated by life. Reminded me of Tiny Tim’s song, Tiptoe Through The Tulips. This guy got a lot of hands clapping and big smiles on a lot of faces.

In many places, we grab our paper container and never think about coffee mug. In fact, the places we dine at have their own insignia on the mugs. Better yet, no mugs, but coffee cups. Still, people do carry their own coffee mug with them. How about looking at their coffee mugs and see if you can align the person with their choice.
Tea drinkers are notorious for their choice of mugs, whoops, cups. They like their drink in a more delicate type of holder. One person told me, “Tea tastes best when sipped from China.” Hey, I have no idea. Now, I’m beginning to wonder about beer drinkers and their mugs. Then what about other mugs and cups. Guess I’ll have to watch closer for a good comparison of drinker and container.

Have fun this week and see if you can pick out the correct mug for the drinkers of coffee, tea, and yes beer. Of course, the bottle for them will give away their choice.
Mine, you ask? I have an old, chipped, red, thick mug, which I’ve used for over a decade. I saw it in a Pier One store around the holidays, checked it out, and decided this was mine. Still holds the bold, black coffee and has many years of ‘seasoning’ inside. No, I do wash the mug, but the chips and memories keep the mug in perfect condition.

Happy Writing. Happy Mugs.

86,400 WHAT?

YouFirst question, is this money? Maybe mileage on an airline pass? Or a collection of items in a hobby? You have scratched the surface of your life. This is TIME, the amount of seconds you have every day of your life.

Now that you know you have 86,400 seconds each day of your life, how will you use them? As writers, the answer would be writing, but we cannot write every second of every day. Our well would run dry. Our fingers on the keyboard would not be efficient. Ideas would soon become a jumble and certain thoughts drained out of our heads. So what can we do with this precious gift given to us EACH day?

There are quite a few seconds we need to sleep and rejuvenate our mind and body with good healthy practices. Then we would need seconds to feed our family, like cooking, and getting groceries. We would need seconds to run errands and, of course, check the media part of our lives. We would need seconds to visit friends, go to meetings, and share our thoughts with other people/writers. There would be seconds needed to read for pleasure and research.

Now, this gives you something fun to do and see how many things you can consider. Yeah, you hear the word list and this is a great place to start. Analyze your life for one day, or 86,400 seconds and see where you spend your time. Do you spend time or waste time? Do you give your time to someone else and watch transformations on the other person’s face. Do you volunteer and help others?

These 86,400 seconds are worth more than if there were a ‘$” sign in front. Money comes. Money goes. But the seconds are there each and every day. This is a bank that never runs dry. Yet, living a full life, happiness runs all over the place, and time does have a way of racing by quicker than we think.

When you get up each morning, decide how you will spend your 86,400 seconds. Live Life.  Love well. Stay Happy. Your writing will flourish, your friends become many, and the opportunities you may have overlooked, become plentiful. Have fun with your 86,400.

Until next visit,

Happy Writing.