Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

For Your Enjoyment: The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon

For Your Enjoyment:

The Tomato Thief by Ursula Vernon (in Apex Magazine).

It is 14 thousand words, but worth it. The fantasy aspect of the story doesn't come into play until you've learned to enjoy your narrator's voice, a good lesson to you omniscient types. Read the story. Be inspired by it.

Possible writing exercise: Sustenance is vital to life, so food and water will always be key in places where life and death are both near at hand, which is also the fertile ground for so many wonderful conflicts. Use a character who very much enjoys gardening, especially for a specific type of food or herb as one of the main characters of your story or poem. Do some research and get facts right, drop interesting tidbits.


Friday, August 26, 2016

8/26/16: Ekphrsastic Exercise: Up on Melancholy Hill

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.

Listen to "Up on Melancholy Tree" by the Gorillaz

Grab onto something. Listen avidly, look closely. Find something to love and grow that love in your mind until you can't help but let it burst from you. Express it in words. This is the best part of existence.

Every exercise is an adventure in tiny loves. Discovery and the infatuation for what makes it it is the lifeblood of creativity.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Friday, August 19, 2016

For your enjoyment: Campbell McGrath's "Capitalist Poem #5"

For your enjoyment: Campbell McGrath's "Capitalist Poem #5" in its original line configuration.

I noticed while trying to link to Campbell McGrath's "Capitalist Poem #5" that the most popular, and potentially the only text version of this poem has the stanzas messed up. It is from McGrath's first collection Capitalism, and in an interview with Smartish Pace (if you aren't a frequent reader of SP you should start now) he said:
"In graduate school I began to write a series of "Capitalist Poems," beginning with "Capitalist Poem #5." Those poems for me mark the beginning of my "authentic" voice as a poet. They were still young poems, but in them I began to identify the subject matter from which my poetry would spring-American culture and commerce and discourse and dissonance, the search for place and community in our contemporary world. In some senses my writing has evolved far beyond those early poems, but in another sense I am still writing them. The 7-11 was the iconic heart of those poems, and I'm sorry that my life today does not include a 7-11-they don't have too many down here in Miami." 
Instead of typing the poem up again, I decided to just take a picture of the poem in the book, which isn't exactly the easiest book to get ahold of. I know I bought my copy used for $30 almost a decade ago, now the cheapest copy used on Amazon is $34, so you know, inflation. "Capitalist Poem #5 is fairly commonly anthologized I believe, I know it is in Ryan C Van Cleave's very good anthology "Contemporary American Poetry: Behind the Scenes" but in that incarnation there are no stanza breaks at all, and I much prefer the broken version that appears in Capitalism. Enjoy



Possible writing exercise: Take a month of your life in which you followed a steady routine whether from work or hobby or school or whatever driving force put you on a very repetitive schedule and think of things that you did over and over again. Write those down as a list poem. If you can tie it up with an overarching statement that indicates something you did not know while you were doing those things which you would have wanted to know (or know at least of, so that you might remedy your ignorance).




Saturday, August 13, 2016

Three things exercise: Donald Trump in WWI

For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things (ideally, not in throwaway dialog, but as vital pieces of the story):




Steel Blue, Normandy, FR, Donald Trump




So, let's go with this. This can be awesome. 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Friday, August 5, 2016

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

Three Birthday requests of Submittable (and one from Duotrope)

Dear Submittable, Are You There? It's Me, Zebulon

Submittable is the revolutionary platform that took simple cloud applications and applied them to literary magazines. And I love them for it. They are quite simply put, awesome. Not in the "I'm in awe of your genius" way but more of the "I am super appreciative of the service you provide" sort of way. I love love love submittable and the utility they provide. Have I gushed sufficiently? OK. So like a proper American, I have a couple requests of submittable that I would like now.

1) A Free Birthday submission fee exemption at Submittable. 

If you're spending your birthday taking advantage of a few $3 discounts you're either really dedicated or are a stereotype of one sort or another. Whichever the case, is there really a huge data transfer cost for those individual days? I get it's too late for me. But think of the children (poets). Maybe make an option for journals where if you have linked your facebook to submittable and it's verified that it's your birthday, journals have an option of letting those people submit for free, that one day, if it's within their submission period. My birthday's in the summer so it doesn't affect my all that much, but hey...

Look, I understand this is silly, pathetic, whatever you want to call it. I am trying my damnedest to be serious about my poetry publication. It is tough. I mean, beside the super subjective nature of poetry selection (from a veteran of 3 literary magazines) and the fact that very few journals pay for publication, even some that require $3 submission fees which, on my birthday, I will allow myself to say is fucking ridiculous. I apologize for the curse word, but come on. For those that don't know, charging a $1 submission fee through submittable pays for the service in its entirety, unless you get such a small amount of submissions you should have rethought the platform and stuck with email submissions. Submittable is providing an awesome service and they deserve that dollar. Once you move beyond the dollar you're making profit. You're profiting off of canon fodder like feudal lords because we all know grad students (or more often than you'd think, interested undergrad English majors) often read the slush and 24 year olds might not recognize allusions for anything but a fart in the forest breeze. (Not to denigrate the many qualified, tireless readers, it is just a thankless job that requires often an overload of reading to give proper time and consideration to)

2) A submittable search function.

I would like to be able to search your listings. Even if it's just keywords like "Flash" "poetry" "Hybrid" whatever. You know which journals have no current submission categories available, you know which categories are there. I google that, but it's not super helpful. You can have an internal engine run that. Even if we just get a menu of submission categories to pick from, from current submission calls it would be awesome.

3) Link up with Duotrope

Duotrope has a very developed submission response matrix, if Submittable and Duotrope combined to share journal response time it wouldn't rely on writers to 'report' responses but would have accurate information. I understand that time dilation is tricky when you're waiting for something and responding to that information. You can already link both your Duotrope and your Submittable accounts to your Facebook account. While I'd like to keep Facebook out of the equation, it seems that in order to make their numbers very much more accurate Duotrope and Submittable would both benefit by synching their submission numbers.

and now that we're talking about Duotrope...

Could you guys do me a huge huge favor that should only take a few lines of code? You know how you have the box you can click that indicates that the journal accepts simultaneous submissions? Can we get a subsequent box that says "does not accept simultaneous submissions" or, like you have with lengths genres and all sorts of other nonsense that doesn't really apply to hardly anyone, have a pull-down menu that asks "does accept simultaneous" "does not accept simultaneous" or "either". I mean, I think it is a reasonable request, I would happily give a dozen high-fives to any engineer/programmer/PR-guy-or-gal/whomever can implement this simple request.

And I will even go into slight detail, god, what a nerd I am doing this on my birthday. The reason is this, Madam Duotrope, No Simultaneous Submission journals are a thing still. Not a big thing, but there is still a contingent that adheres to the idea that writers should have zeroed in their market so finitely that they only need submit their piece to a couple journals before they find their home. Or, that the journals have been burned by asshole writers that can't reconnect with journals they've sent poems to once they're accepted elsewhere.

Don't get me wrong, I've had poems accepted via snail mail only days apart. These things happen, but because so many notoriously non-simultaneous submission journals have turned the corner with the advent of Submittable, (Poetry, APR etc) it is worthwhile to note those that still require exclusive rights to submissions. The only problem is those journals tend to be the older, more respected journals, because new ones look at the idea and think it's a thing for pricks—and, I don't know if I agree with that. For instance Boulevard has a No Simultaneous policy, and they warn you that the editors may respond quickly. I say good. It certainly sucks to pay a couple bucks (when applicable) and get a rejection quickly, but that doesn't mean that editors are rejecting works out of hand. I know for a fact that when I was at The Seattle Review the editor in chief was up reading submissions at 2am when he couldn't sleep, and yes, would sometimes get five pages into a 25 page story and realize it wasn't a fit for the magazine and reject it. A quick rejection does not mean the submission wasn't read (necessarily) but perhaps that the editors are also writers and don't need to read a piece five times and ruminate over it for a sauna-filled afternoon to decide if they like it.

You followed all that, right?

So if you skipped the ranting, or if you read it, the idea is, while typically an outdated approach, journals that do not accept simultaneous submissions still represent a significant part of the literary arts publication community and because of their proclivities special actions must be made to submit to them (because only dickwriters submit simultaneous submissions to journals that don't accept simultaneous submissions).

With hundreds of journals whose tastes overlap, simultaneous submissions are mostly what we do. In order to pull an individual poem from the SS ranks it can take 6 months or more, because journals that accept simultaneous submissions tend to be a little more lackadaisical about making decisions and if you'd sent it out once to a journal that takes SSs, it can be awhile before you're safe to send it to a NoSS journal. So, we have to pick our poems carefully, and even plan ahead a bit for submissions, based on submission periods and whatnot. So that means that 5 poems per NoSS journal are pulled from general 'circulation' among appropriate literary journals for roughly a year in order to make one submission. Sometimes it's certainly worth it. There are a dozen journals out there at least that I'd hammer a big toenail off for an acceptance in that don't accept simultaneous submissions... well, at least six. So they're still relevant, it's just another part of the submission life that must be accounted for. Lost toenails.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Ekphrastic Tuesday with John Avon

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.

Today's artwork is by John Avon

Insidious Dreams by John Avon

Boy have I been there. You could take this in a sort of Harry Potter or Earthsea route and go with wizard's school. You could go with college finals and throwing your books away as the sun's rising and you have to either pass out or rush to take your test. You could write about someone dropping their books as a car is about to hit them. There are dozens and thousands of ways you could address this piece. Pick one and run with it for half an hour or so, see where it takes you. Don't worry about having a three dimensional piece with an A and B storyline or a volta right at the 2/3 mark or a rhyme just isn't coming. Just write.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

With the passing of the last 9-11 rescue dog I'm reminded of Stephen Dunn's "The Insistence of Beauty"

RIP Bretagne, last remaining 9-11 rescue dog.


I happened to have a subscription to American Poetry Review when Stephen Dunn's "The Insistence of Beauty" appeared there. I was immersed in what was a vibrant writing scene for a community college and showed it to everyone who stumbled into my apartment for a drink with me or one of my roommates whether they were a writer or a skater or one of Matt's girlfriend's friends that was waiting for them to get dressed. Seeing the news of Bretagne's passing and the video of her going into the vet for the last time my mind jumped back to that poem and the resonant image so I decided to type it up and post it because I love the exercise of typing pieces that you enjoy and admire. I hope you enjoy it as well.



               The Insistence of Beauty
                    by Stephen Dunn
               

               The day before those silver planes
               came out of the perfect blue, I was struck
               by the beauty of pollution rising
               from smokestacks near Newark,
               gray and white ribbons of it
               on their way to evanescence.


               And at impact, no doubt, certain beholders
               and believers from another part of the world
               must have seen what appeared gorgeous—
               the flames of something theirs being born.

               I watched for hours—mesmerized—
               that willful collision replayed,
               the better man in me not yielding,
               then yielding to revenge's sweet surge.

               The next day there was a photograph
               of dust and smoke ghosting a street,
               and another of a man you couldn't be sure
               was fear-frozen or dead or made of stone,

               and for a while I was pleased
               to admire the intensity—or was it the coldness?—
               of each photographer's good eye.
               For years I'd taken pride in resisting

               the obvious—sunsets. snowy peaks,
               a starlet's face—yet had come to realize
               even those, seen just right, can have
               their edgy place. And the sentimental, 

               beauty's sloppy cousin, that enemy,
               can't it have it's place too?
               Doesn't a tear deserve a close-up?
               When word came of a fireman

               who hid in the rubble
               so his dispirited search dog
               could have someone to find, I repeated it
               to everyone I knew. I did this for myself,
               not for community or beauty's sake,
               yet soon it had a rhythm and a frame.


And as a palatte cleanser, here is a video of a spaghetti eating contest between a Golden Retriever and a German Shepard having a spaghetti eating contest. 



The Golden reminds me of my experiences with the lovely and loyal, gluttonous dogs. It also reminds me of Karl Pilkington's van driver eating noodles in the program An Idiot Abroad. And also here's a picture of Bretagne on her 16th birthday.



Anyway, just a a little something about the poem. 

Aside from the resonating last image and the idea of a storyteller's selfish tales told more for the self-satisfaction of the telling than for any communal betterment, I am drawn to the turn in the poem beginning in stanza six. Stanzas six and seven address the concept of poetic stigmas: sunsets, tears... subjects universally recognized as poignant are far too obvious for contemporary poets, cliches, too easy—or at least we're told. This of course plays off of the earlier image of the smokestacks, an image conventionally thought of as ugly or at least 'non-poetic' in the traditional sense. Dunn uses the questioning of stigmas as a lead or a sort of conditional for the image of the fireman hiding in the rubble for his dog to find, ecstatic to finally discover someone alive. The movement of the poem allows him to expand upon the potential embrace of the overly-poetic for selfish as opposed to artistic reasons. Also, I have to note the expert line break in line two really emphasizing the wordplay in the choice of "struck".

Possible Writing Exercise:

I also used this poem for an exercise what feels like ages ago that you might try as well. Pick a poem you really really like. Go through it and pick a few phrases, not full lines but unique turns of phrase or little bits that stick out to you. Now pick one or two of your favorites and use them as poem titles for an original work. I used "On Their Way to Evanescence" for my poem which ended up being a meditation on mortality, surprise surprise. Others that might work from this poem would be "That Willful Collision" "Beauty's Sloppy Cousin" "Gray and White Ribbons" (while not expressly unique, it is tactile) "A Rhythm and a Frame" or possibly even "The Better Man in Me" thought that could get a little too Fight Club on you. 

If you need more than just a title, for form make it roughly an unrhymed, syllabic (as opposed to metric) sonnet, ie a 14 lined poem with each line being about 10 syllables and the volta (or turn from storyline/metaphor A to how it affects storyline/metaphor B which you have hopefully set up in at least a subtle way within the first 8 lines) appearing after line 8.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Two Upcoming Flash Fiction Contest Deadlines: Fineline (June 1) and Crazyshorts (July 31)

Hey writers, it's that time again. The Mid-American Review's Fineline Competition deadline is almost here! The website seems kind of messed up so I've copied the text from it here:

Fineline Competition

The Fineline Competition for Prose Poems, Short Shorts and Anything in Between



Fineline 2016 entries now accepted!

Final Judge: Matt Bell
First Prize: $1,000 and publication in MAR Volume XXXVII, Number 1.
Ten finalists: Notation and possible publication

Contest Deadline is June 1, 2016. Contest is for previously unpublished work only—if the work has appeared in print or online, in any form or part, or under any title, or has been contracted for such, it is ineligible and will be disqualified. There is a 500-word limit for each poem or short. A $10 entry fee (payable online for online submissions, or check or money order made out to Mid-American Review for submissions by post) is required for each set of three prose poems/short short stories. Entry fees are non-refundable. All participants will receive Mid-American Review v. XXXVII, no. 1, where the winners will be published. Submissions will not be returned. Manuscripts need not be left anonymous. Contest is open to all writers, except those associated with the judge or Mid-American Review, past or present. Our judge’s decision is final.

Note: All pieces submitted in verse form—i.e., poetry with line breaks—will be automatically disqualified, as will previously published work or pieces over 500 words.

For online submissions and online payment, please use our Submissions Manager.

--

Also, coming up this summer is Crazyhorse's flash fiction contest which opens on July first:


Saturday, May 28, 2016

Complete a Piece Saturday: An Occasion, a Phrase and a Character

Complete a Piece Saturday!

For today's piece we'll again put together a complete piece in a roundabout way. We'll pick an occasion, a phrase and a character, and for each of these things we'll write a series of lines or sentences that are unrelated to the others. This is a sort of guided brainstorming exercise if you will.

A) Pick an occasion from the following list (or use a random number generator):

  1. Birthday
  2. Going away party
  3. Wedding
  4. A Christmas party
  5. A 20 year high school reunion
  6. A SCUBA excursion on vacation
Exercises
1) Write five sentences or poetic lines or phrases that pertain to either decorations or gear related to the occasion.
2) Write five sentences or poetic lines or phrases that describe clusters of people as different types of animals.
3) Write five sentences or poetic lines or phrases that describe various ways someone might combat or embrace beginning to feel sleepy at your chosen occasion.
4) Write three sentences or poetic lines or phrases that describe the invitation or promotional material for the occasion.


B) Pick two phrases or bits of dialog from the following list (or use a random number generator):
  1. Skipping stones across still water.
  2. "We grew out of once upon a time a decade ago."
  3. "There used to be plenty of fish in the sea."
  4. She was a shaken beer ready to pop.
  5. "I said go left then right and you turned around and shoved your head up your butt."
  6. Feeding frenzy
  7. Go out on a limb
  8. Hit the hay
  9. Stealing your thunder
  10. "Why oranges?"
Exercises:
1) Write a five dialog responses to each of your phrases or quotes (if you are responding to a non-quote, imagine the phrase is a question)
2) Rephrase each of your phrases or bits of dialog in three different ways: a) more poetic, b) as concisely as possible, c) as something shouted in anger
3) For each of the ten possible phrases or bits of dialog write a response that questions the veracity or profundity (or meaning) of the phrase/line.
4) From your two phrases or bits of dialog combine the words (as many as you can and still make sense) and create at least three new phrases/lines.

C) Pick two character traits or an aspect of their looks from the following list (or use a random number generator):
  1. Long bangs (hair)
  2. Very talkative when drunk or nervous
  3. A pair of fifteen year old Chuck Taylor's they always wear
  4. Frequently thirsty
  5. Unable to hide boredom during small talk
  6. An excellent piano player
  7. A terrible but enthusiastic singer
  8. Frequently self-deprecating
  9. Missing a finger
  10. Very interested in history
  11. Very interested in movies
  12. Loves playing the lottery
  13. Vegetarian
  14. A pierced lip
  15. Frequently makes up stories about themselves
Exercises
1) For each of your traits write three different ways someone could observe those particular things: a) that it is intriguing, b) that it is silly/stupid, c) that it is 'old news'/boring
2) For each of your traits write five sentences or poetic lines or phrases that explain why that trait is as it is (why they're interested in history, or they still wear the same shoes)
3) Pick two of the sentences/lines/phrases from #2 and expand them to 3-5 lines/sentences. Include at least two senses
4) Pick a third trait and write two 'origin stories' for it like you did in #2
5) Find a way in which the three traits/aspects of appearance could all come together in a single interaction between two people. Write a sort of summary of this interaction.

Putting it Together

So, now you have a nice pool of sentences/lines. Go through and pick your favorite 5-10 and put them all near each other. Pick as many as you can that seem to fit with each other and use those pre-written bits as guideposts for your piece. Now write a story or poem about an incident at your chosen occasion involving a character with your chosen traits and including the chosen line of dialog or idiom.
 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Three things exercise: Basil (herb), A Douglas Fir Tree, Big League Chew

For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things:




Basil (herb), A Douglas Fir Tree, Big League Chew

For instance, it could be a story about a child playing wiffleball in the snowy front yard on December 23rd while their mom prepares a spaghetti dinner and their dad is rearranging the lights on their christmas tree when something jarring happens.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Three things exercise: A piece of Sidewalk Chalk, A Fireman's Pole, A Tourniquet

For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things:




A piece of Sidewalk Chalk, A Fireman's Pole, A Tourniquet. 

For instance, you could write a short story that has a narrative about a child drawing a firehouse (and its pole) on a sidewalk being bitten by a rattlesnake and having a tourniquet applied on the way to the hospital. Now, that is just a narrative, once you have the events, think of themes or ideas that might fit it, or perhaps a b-storyline. For that narrative, perhaps the mother is inside talking on the phone about not needing to call the exterminator because the gopher problem seemed to have disappeared. Then in editing you have a little more to work with when really finding your footing in the story. 

Or maybe you could write a lyric poem that paratactically links childhood via drawing fantasies on sidewalk to be washed away, to sliding down a fireman's pole into a burning room, and a tourniquet likened to the passage of time. But, you know, with more stuff and stuff.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday, May 9, 2016

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Complete a Piece Saturday: Person Place and Thing

For today's Complete a Piece Saturday exercise we'll do a few exercises and then utilize a set of three nouns as major aspects of a story or poem.

1) Pick four ride types from this list of kinds of popular carnival rides, imagine or recall a ride of that type and write three sentences for each one: 1 in which a character rides the ride, one in which the ride is being described from the point of view of someone scared of it, and one in which the ride is being described by someone neither impressed nor scared by the ride. (12 lines/sentences total)

2) Imagine a scenario where one teenager/kid/adult is attempting to impress another. Write six lines of dialog that correspond with the following reactions:

  • a) Unimpressed 
  • b) Unimpressed and annoyed 
  • c) Slightly amused and annoyed
  • d) Impressed and forward about it
  • e) Impressed but coy
  • f) Not even paying attention at all. 
(6 lines/sentences total)

3) From synonyms for Motion, Sick and Jarring pick four words that stick out to you as interesting/unique and use each of those words in two sentences, do your best to use the words in different contexts/uses. (8 sentences/lines total)

4) Dodging questions. It should only take like 4-5 minutes to read an absorb this Business Insider article about dodging questions. Use tactics from the article to imaging 4 sentences of dodging something or another. (4 lines/sentences total)

So

Now you have a series of sentences/lines to hone and make better. Take five minutes now to read back over what you've written. if you're actually writing these circle/star the best ones. If you're doing this on a computer, copy/paste your favorites under a header "favorites" or something. "Keepers" or "OK" or "F-Yeah Lines" works as well, whatever your level of enthusiasm. Tighten them up a bit. Why not. Save the originals, but try to cut 15% of the words from each one. Rephrase for the best words possible. Make sure all descriptions carry actual description and when it's possible, subtext. Sometimes that means words that convey a lot of information, sometimes it means words that convey very specific information. Keep those in mind, and try to use them in your piece.

5) Write a story or poem that uses the following three things:

  • a) Person: A second-grade teacher near the end of their rope.
  • b) Place: The carnival on its last night in a small town.
  • c) Thing: A Pair of Scissors.

Now, how you utilize those nouns is entirely up to you, but you have a number of lines to work with, you have a character and a place you've already been meditating on. Make it happen. I like to set a phone timer for 25 minutes. When the alarm hits I snooze, and in that five minutes wrap the story or poem up, and if I have time, go over it briefly for quick edits while the idea is fresh yet complete.

If you really wanna be awesome, pick a time for this to occur and throw in some timely (heh) references without being too 'on the nose' about it. As in, don't have characters say "Isn't it weird they approved NAFTA last week?" unless it may come up in conversation organically because of character traits. Heck, maybe you're a contrarian like me, and because I wrote that line of dialog you're determined to use it, and goll-darnit, you'll make it work. I appreciate that a lot.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Monday, May 2, 2016

Ekphrastic Tuesday with Igor Morski

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.

by Igor Morski

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Ekphrastic Tuesday in the mountains

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.

Picture by ShutterHappyTraveler c/o imgur
So... not everyone is a camper. If this doesn't invoke a personal expedition, perhaps you can imagine a person or persons in this place. Heck, you could set a Revenant-style bear attack here. It could certainly happen. I think of happier things looking here, but, you know. To each their own.

Bonus Exercises: Looking at this picture, there is nothing red, like, at all. What if there is a red object that is very important to the story/poem. Whether a cooler, a clown's red nose, a brake light, the setting sun, a campfire... there are a lot of red things.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Weekend Triple Threat: Title Mania, Three Things, How To

Since it's Sunday here are three options for today's exercise. Choose one, choose them all, just be sure to produce something.

Title Mania (use the following title and write a piece to somehow fit it.)

A Step or Two Down from Elegant

Three Things (For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things:)

A Three-Legged Dog, A Mountain Bike, Grape Jelly


How to: (For today's prompt you don't have to title your piece "How to ..." —though you certainly can if you'd like to; or you could even make it a step by step process like a recipe, the process should merely be described at some length during your piece.)

Plan a Family Barbeque

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Complete a Piece Saturday: Rhymebank exercise

For today's Rhymbank exercise you will follow a series of steps and then produce a piece using some of the generated lines or phrases. You will need either a blank document or a few blank notebook pages, and will refer back to things you write in the early exercises, but through the process you'll have a piece to fiddle with after half an hour to an hour.

1) Take just a couple minutes and jot down/type all rhymes and slant rhymes (include phrases for multi-syllabic words/feminine rhymes) you can think of just off the top of your head for the word: Tear.
2) Pick three of those words you wrote down. For each word and the original write three poetic lines or sentences (12 total).
3) Pick two of those sentences/lines that do not use the word at the end and rephrase it so that the "tear" rhyme is the last word in the line or sentence.
4) Look up more rhymes for Tear and pick a few that you hadn't thought of if you can. If there aren't any that are interesting, pick two more from your list.
5) Write three poetic lines or sentences using two of the additional words (6 total).
6) In the spirit of snippets, pick at least six of your sentences or lines and expand them by two-fold (a total of 3 sentences/lines for each of six sentences—so it's only a minimum of 18 total sentences, not bad). Try to make each little three sentence/line snippet a full thought, if not a complete story. There's the traditional 'story' which has a beginning middle and end, there's the idea of hint fiction which is "a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story", there's vignette, and there are probably a bunch more, but those three concepts are plenty for this exercise. Take a minute before writing the expansion and be sure you have a direction or thought to work with.
7) Write a poem or flash fiction that includes at least two of the snippets from #6. Three or more would be ideal. Of course tweaking is both allowed and encouraged to make the lines and facts work, but don't be afraid of unexpected jumps or unintuitive leaps in topic or tone. Sometimes that jarring change produces a really great effect in the reader.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Ekphrsastic Tuesday with Igor Morski

Daily Exercise Genre: Ekphrasis.

Ekphrasis is from Greek meaning the description of a work of art as a rhetorical device. That's actually pretty straight forward, but another way to look at it, is it's highfalutin fan fiction, usually about paintings or pieces of music, but it can be about virtually anything. Look at or listen to the following piece of art and write a piece of prose or poetry that is inspired by some aspect of it.

by Igor Morski


Monday, April 18, 2016

Inspired by Writing Monday: Nanoism #333

Inspired By: For today's writing prompt read the following short piece (it will always be something quite short, we don't have all day to work on writing, wouldn't that be awesome?) and take inspiration from it. Whether you like specific words, character names, you like the setting, the general plot structure, you want to use that piece as a sort of prequel or perhaps something in the piece irks you or you really disagree with it and you want to respond in a lyric or narrative fashion. Whatever strikes you strongest in what you read (read it twice if you have a chance), grab it and run with it.

The point of our notebooking daily prompts isn't necessarily to create a fully formed piece but to not let ourselves get bogged down in details and to just write. This will generate usable tidbits, unique sentences or ideas, and sometimes, indeed, an actual piece.

Trigger warning. (if that phrase doesn't make sense, you're probably safe, but the material covered in this 24 word story is powerful)

Today's inspiration: Nanoism #333 by Orest Talpash (24 words)

GO!

So, there's that. A powerful, sad story in so few words. The "Hint Fiction" is strong in this one as it uses both explicit detail and implication to indicate a little more of the fuller story.

Anyway. It may not be in everyone's constitution to write about the topic, or maybe not in their interest. This is quite dour, sad, outraging etc. There are dozens of adjectives we could throw at the subjects like apples at a brick wall, only to see them explode. Words are insufficient, but maybe there is a 'secret' or some other societal woe you might address. Whether you embrace the hyper-short fiction or poem is completely up to you. Perhaps you might address an addiction like alcoholism, drug abuse, workaholism, or maybe something from society's past. Maybe you'll take a different tact and for with an attempt at 'magic' to cure something or fix something.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Weekend Triple Threat: Title Mania, Three Things, How To

Since it's Sunday here are three options for today's exercise. Choose one, choose them all, just be sure to produce something.

Title Mania (use the following title and write a piece to somehow fit it.)

Triptych in Blue

Three Things (For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things:)

A Bruised Banana, Spilled Gasoline, Vertical Blinds


How to: (For today's prompt you don't have to title your piece "How to ..." —though you certainly can if you'd like to; or you could even make it a step by step process like a recipe, the process should merely be described at some length during your piece.)

Raise a Stalk of Corn

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Title exercise: Agate

For today's exercise use the following as the title of a poem or piece of prose.



Agate


(I could fill this post with images of agates, they're my absolute favorite type of mineral/rock, even more than geodes and the like, because you can find agates in lots of places, and they are awesome. Check out the wiki page for some cool science facts. and, aside from all that they're just extraordinarily pretty rocks that I grew up collecting when possible. And again, they are awesome.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Inspired By Prompt: Nanoism #668

Inspired By: For today's writing prompt read the following short piece (it will always be something quite short, we don't have all day to work on writing, wouldn't that be awesome?) and take inspiration from it. Whether you like specific words, character names, you like the setting, the general plot structure, you want to use that piece as a sort of prequel or perhaps something in the piece irks you or you really disagree with it and you want to respond in a lyric or narrative fashion. Whatever strikes you strongest in what you read (read it twice if you have a chance), grab it and run with it.

The point of our notebooking daily prompts isn't necessarily to create a fully formed piece but to not let ourselves get bogged down in details and to just write. This will generate usable tidbits, unique sentences or ideas, and sometimes, indeed, an actual piece.

Today's inspiration: Nanoism #668 by Matthew Wester (24 words)

This Nanoism (140 characters or fewer) or if you prefer, hint fiction, flash fiction or sudden fiction is a great example of irony in the extremely short story. Like most extraordinarily short stories, it relies on the reader having numerous bits of previous knowledge. This is a place where fiction and poetry collide. I think it really embraces the idea of Hint Fiction as put forward by the term's coiner Robert Swartwood "hint fiction (n) : a story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story" it plants the seed of some interesting undead interactions. Zombies have been long in fashion (Warm Bodies is a thinly veiled Romeo and Juliet, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies are just two examples), maybe write your own short piece that places a famous work of narrative, book/play/movie where one or many character's deaths are important and set it in a world with zombies. Mabye the characters are unaware there are zombies, or maybe you want to get really fun with the famous plots if death isn't a factor.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Inspired By Prompt: Nanoism #683

Inspired By: For today's prompt read the following short piece (it will always be something quite short, we don't have all day to work on writing, wouldn't that be awesome?) and take inspiration from it. Whether you like specific words, character names, you like the setting, the general plot structure, you want to use that piece as a sort of prequel or perhaps something in the piece irks you or you really disagree with it and you want to respond in a lyric or narrative fashion. Whatever strikes you strongest in what you read (read it twice if you have a chance), grab it and run with it.

The point of our notebooking daily prompts isn't necessarily to create a fully formed piece but to not let ourselves get bogged down in details and to just write. This will generate usable tidbits, unique sentences or ideas, and sometimes, indeed, an actual piece.

Today's inspiration: Nanoism #683 by Sean Vivier (19 words)

This piece of micro fiction (or flash fiction, or if you prefer, a Nanoism [140 characters or fewer]) is a great example of minimalism. Vivier wrote a character study in 19 words by boiling the character down to a personal motto and the outside opinion that somewhat undercuts the impression of that motto. Perhaps you want to take a character and boil them down to a favorite phrase and explain in very few words why they are the antithesis of that phrase. Perhaps you want to use this character as inspiration for your own villain/anti-villain/character to set in a situation of your own imagining. Perhaps you want to write a lyric piece meditating upon such a hated character or minimalism or maybe even something unrelated that you'd had in your head, just knock it out, and maybe keep brevity and terseness of phrasing in mind while writing.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Weekend Triple Threat: Title, Three Things, Narrative Thread

Since it's Sunday here are three options for today's exercise. Choose one, choose them all, just be sure to produce something.

Title Mania (use the following title and write a piece to somehow fit it.)

Population and Control


Three Things (For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things:)

A Beehive, A Paring Knife, The song "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper (or a cover)


Narrative Thread: (For today's writing exercise begin a story or poem with the following and see where it takes you.)



The sky seemed too blue that day for a murder.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Weekend Triple Threat: Title Mania, Three Things, How To

Since it's Sunday here are three options for today's exercise. Choose one, choose them all, just be sure to produce something.

Title Mania (use the following title and write a piece to somehow fit it.)

An Empty Pen and a Lonely Heart


Three Things (For today's exercise write a piece of poetry or prose that somehow utilizes the following three things:)

A Broken Clothes Hanger, A Sun Hat, St. Louis


How to: (For today's prompt you don't have to title your piece "How to ..." —though you certainly can if you'd like to; or you could even make it a step by step process like a recipe, the process should merely be described at some length during your piece.)



Destroy a Family Event.

Saturday, March 19, 2016