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What, no shoes? November 20, 2008

clover.jpgAs a special treat for my daughter last week, I took her to the mecca of fur-tastic capitalism for the under 10 set…Build A Bear. Actually, to be specific, Friends 2 Be Made (their doll division).  We were on a hunt for the elusive Jayden, a celery hair fashion doll. Now, I am not completely altruistic in my motives, I am tired of hearing “I have to have it in order to have the Gem Band with my purple, pink, blue and orange jammin’ jewel dolls…plleease.”

 So, to get you “in” the doll only costs twelve dollars. Big deal right? Totally do-able, I mean twelve dollars, you can’t even get a Barbie for that much. Then they up-sell you on the extras that your doll simply must have to live a fabulous life. Being a savvy customer, I am wise to their ploys. Between my own guilt purchases, and grandparent’s sprees we could probably host a decent table at a collectors show. We walk into the bubble gum pink and candy blue store. Hannah Montana is playing softly, and the store looks like daylight on a 1000 watt binge.  I steel myself for the saccharine doll salesmen pitch from the teenage doll-ologist.

Bring on your best….we are only getting the doll.

My daughter be-lines for green yarn hair. She knows what she wants…five trees have been chopped down to make the promo mailers featuring “Jayden” that flood our mailbox alone. “Her Perkiness” bounces up to us and asks my daughter what her doll sounds like. My daughter looks up at me, I stand firm. No way! I know this trick, I am not buying the five dollar voice box that sounds like Cheerleader Chuckie when the batteries start dying in a month. Her perkiness looks a little miffed when I say:

 “She doesn’t need one.”

“All jammin’ jewel girls need a voice!” reproof from a teen queen.

I let this slide. It is after all, supposed to be a happy day for my daughter, not a lecture in the cold reality of the world. Her perkiness starts in on the ritual of endowing the doll with attributes like artistic, talented, responsible and my favorite … superstar. She hands my daughter a satin taffeta heart and commands her to rub in on her tummy so the doll will never hunger, rub it on her brain so the doll can be brilliant like she, kiss it to let the doll know she is always loved…and on…and on. Finally, she stuffs the darn thing, and we can go onto the all important wardrobing.

I have already given into my daughter’s protest that you can’t bring home a naked doll. Why not? was my argument. The minute you get it home the clothes come off anyways, I am saving you time and me money. I concede though, but not the expensive one…. the outfit that cost more than the doll. We pick through the possibilities, it takes an hour. The doll has more clothes in her wardrobe than I have owned in my entire life.

Her perkiness has now turned into a personal shopper for our new acquisition, newly dubbed Clover. She trots out Lycra, satin, bags, glasses, dresses for cocktail and for the prom, karate Gui’s and soccer outfits so that Clover can be a well rounded girl. I glare at her. No I don’t think we need the Lycra rock star suit, and we don’t do karate. I find a cute little green satin shirt and capri’s. Feeling a little cheap under the accusatory eye of her perkiness, I turn my back to check out the price tags. I breathe a sigh of relief, we can still get out of there for under $30. As long as I can talk my daughter into it.

My winner argument…if we pick this outfit out, maybe we can find you one to match.

Bingo! We negotiate. She now likes the outfit, but really wants the shoes and guitar that matches the rock star outfit. She barters like a trial lawyer. 

“No shoes”

“But mom” 

I find myself almost agreeing to the plastic guitar that does nothing, not even make a noise. Even Happy Meal toys make noise… I am sticking to my guns.

“But mom”

“No way! You always lose them 10 minutes after we get home, and all your other dolls have never worn their shoes past the parking lot.”

“Mommy, pllleeeease.” Blink, blink.

“Guitar or shoes….not both,” did I just say that?

“Guitar”

I smile. We hug. Relieved that I have won the battle…I think… at least stood some ground. I go up to the register, and look around for her perkiness. She has given up on us long ago. We obviously are not her kind of customer.

She bops up, ignoring me…the one with the credit card…and hands my daughter a “special invite” for Bella Blue’s Birthday party. She is the blue yarn head doll. “You get to sign a big birthday card to her, and even get a special gift if you come!”  

Recognizing me…finally… she tells me that there is even a special party dress for the doll we can buy, only twelve dollars. My arm starts hurting from the entire 60 pounds of my daughter pulling on it….”Pllleeeease.”

“Just the doll today.” I hand her my card decisively. I won!

Her perkiness looks into the box, and looks up at me with a horrified expression…as if I have abused the poor doll.

“Is there something wrong?”

“What,” she says disgusted. “No shoes?”

We finally escape. I feel like a bad doll mom. I let the poor piece of material stuffed with fluff leave the store without shoes on. What will all the other doll moms think of me?

My daughter looks at me, what about her outfit? She always remembers that stuff. The stuff that I say hoping she will forget it. But I won, so I am filled with largess. I steer her into the kids gap. We found this great shirt and capris to match…on sale…twelve dollars. I am euphoric. My daughter thinks I am a great mom.

We get up to pay.

“You know, we have great shoes that match this.”

…says her perkiness 2.

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Calling all Writers… Up for an Adventure? April 21, 2008

Global Domination...One polish at a time

Anyone up for an adventure in writing “green”? Any aspiring or published writers out their looking for a fun, collaborative blog novel?  Are you an artist, photographer, cinematographer looking for a fun way to work with writers? Ok… so I am sure this is not a terribly new concept… but it is definitely experimental for me. I have a great idea for a novel and thought it would be fun to open up the process from conception to completion with my blogging family. We would have a weekly, guided forum with goals. Gather ideas form our adoring readership on characters, plot points, twists…  Not a huge time commitment, just a fun, collaborative process with other writers…and a good way to learn if you are new to the writing game…and mentor if you aren’t. On Meebo we will have real time chat writer’s meetings once a week to discuss all our options and close out the section. At the end of the planning process, we can split research if needed…and then decide if we will all write the chapters together or split them up…

We will use simple formula structure like Book in a Month… it has easily digestible “assignments”.  The goal is to story plan for 30 days, and then write the chapters in 30 days. You can be an author, a collaborator, or a lurker. If you are chosen as an author you would be taking the suggestions and storyboards we come up with and using it to write the actual chapter. If you want to collaborate you can leave suggestions, vote on characters… suggest plot points…participate in online planning meetings if you would like…and yes, you can be both. If you just want to lurk, and track our process…let us know you are a fan and comment once in a while. An over all “Bible” will be developed for plot and character… something that, the author will follow. Then, the draft chapter would be open to the other authors (maybe on a private blog) for editorial review and acceptance.

…. Once the chapters are complete (and edited 🙂 we can publish on Kindle and/or other forms of electric press…. or just release the chapters as they come to all our blogging friends…

If you are interested, leave a comment… I have already reserved the blog under the title of the book, and will be getting it up and running with the story concept next week. If you are interested in authoring the book…meaning writing chapters and participating on a regular basis, let me know so I can tag you as an author. You can leave on comment on this site, on the books blog site or at the book’s email listed below.

So, you are not a writer… perhaps you are an artist and would like to illustrate with drawings, animation or photographs? You make movies or cartoons and care to follow along… we would love it! Let’s see what what the collective can do with a simple plot idea.

Ok, ready? Want to try?

The book is called Manicure Mafia, and you can start writing now! http://manicuremafia.wordpress.com.

You can also contact us at: manicuremafia@gmail.com

Can’t wait to see you, click over now if you are interested!

 

Write Tool of the Week #2 April 17, 2008

Butt Glue.

The secret to successful writing…the secret to actually finishing the book…the key to getting published.

Butt Glue.

I am a collector of books about…well…writing books. I have quite a little library put together, most end up saying…Thanks for putting my kid through college buying this book, now quit reading a book about how to write, and just…well, write!

Write Away,  (see below for link) one of the more recent (and in my opinion, best) books on writing Elizabeth George extols the virtue of gluing one’s bum to the chair in which one sits. Pull up in front of your writing instrument of choice…and go to it straight away. She goes on to quote another author saying, “He who possesses the best bum glue wins.”

Amie’s tips to help you STICKETH:

1. Write what you want to, not what you think will sell. Write your passion and about what interests you. If you do that, you will always have something to say.

2. Write characters that you would actually like to spend a good portion of your life with. George says that “writing requires forced introspection.” Don’t avoid your life. It will help you create believable characters, who have to feel something themselves in order to become real.

3. Commit yourself to the process…for the value of the process alone. Of course we all want to be published. We are writers, why write if no one will ever read it. Don’t put the pressure of “having to publish” on yourself. Write it, because you love the characters…because the plot intrigues you. John Dalton once said, “Don’t waste your time feeling ashamed for being an unpublished author. Each time you sit alone in a room and give your most honest and complete effort, you’ve earned the title of writer.” The pressure to publish is often the number one cause of writer’s block…with that said… When you run into a block in the process Frances Itani says “Write your way through all your problems, don’t sit around thinking about them.

4. You actually have to write the darn book if you do want to get published… Authors write every day…how they account for their productivity varies…some authors work on an hours system, some on page count, some on word count… pick a way of tracking your goals so you can see how far you have come. Remember to reward yourself…and schedule in a “day off” in order to recharge. American Artist Chuck Close put it this way: “Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work.”

5. 15 mins a day of writing will get you closer to completion than 0 mins. When people find out that I am a writer … the conversation seems to wind to them having a book they have always wanted to write…but don’t have the time. WRONG… repeat after me… I choose to have time…I choose to have time… turn off the tv (or put headphones on), screw the laundry for one day, as much as you love to read someone else’s novel (or latest book on writing) WRITE instead. We choose to be…too busy.

6.  Write for someone. Even if it is your husband, best friend, neighbor, writing group… ME…I’ll take you on. You need someone to hold you accountable to your goals. Pin their photo up next to your desk, so you can see them staring down at you 🙂

7. Last one, for every hour you sit…glued to your chair writing… balance it with adventure, fun, new experiences, people, exercise…. go into nature, or the city…or wherever inspires you. Spend time with people who inspire you. LIVE… then go write about it

I know there are more ideas and tools out there… you may have a list of your own… why don’t you comment and leave some here…let other writer’s and aspiring writer’s out there know what works for you!

To Find My Favorite Books on Writing… Guaranteed to help or at least inspire you…click on the link below. 

http://astore.amazon.com/thewritoo02-20

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of WritingOne Novelist's Approach to Fiction and the Writing LifeLessons from a Writing LifeWriters Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything In Between

 

 

Instant Art-ification April 9, 2008

Bolero by Maurice Ravel 

My friend David sent a great quote that got me percolating. Maurice Ravel said “I did my work slowly, drop by drop. I tore it out of me by pieces.”

Instant Art-ification, is it even a “term”? If not, let it be said that I invented it. My definition, “the satisfaction one receives from creating art instanteously.” Hmmm….or something like that. Think of it as a strawberry pop tart vs. a slow baked pie bubbling out of a homemade crust. Instant Art-ification is what artists… writers… do instead of the long term, laborious, drop by drop pies-de-resistance they should be working on.  I find if I have smaller creative outlets, they allow the juices to trickle a little so I won’t dry up…but not so much that it consumes me. 

I am afraid of consumption, of having to tear words out of myself.

I fear that I don’t have enough to accomplish the size of my work. 

I fear robbing those most near and dear of my best time and imagination. Of being there, but not quite present.

Instant Artification is margarine to the butter my hips can’t handle anymore. A slightly reminiscent substitute, not as grand as the real thing, but will do for now.

So, I should be working on my book. Actually, I should be doing housework… However, since I can’t stand housework and haven’t met my writing goals for the day… I sit writing my blog. A friend suggested a blog would be a great way to develop a daily writing habit. A brilliant thought…

This blog should excuse the piles of sneering, sandy towels from last week’s beach trip and dishes that seem to pile on their own accord around an already overflowing sink…right?

This blog counts as “real writing”…right?  

This blog could excuse the daily delinquent writing goals that have been posted on the white board above my desk for the last year….right?

Blogging is writer’s crack. There is a high to having hundreds; perhaps thousands read your words and respond (sometimes almost instantly) to them. It is a snapshot of feelings, ideas, words and thoughts.  Writing my book or painting (which I love to do), on the other hand, requires vast reserves of energy and time that I feel I do not have.  As my wise husband often points out to me, I have the time. I choose to spend it on other things. I choose the pop tart over pie. I would rather have the pie, but the pop tart is so much quicker and meets the need.

A character flaw perhaps? I do the same with money… nickel and dime myself out of the things or experiences I would really like to do. I wonder what holds me back. You see, I really would rather…in the depth of my heart, live my best life and create my best art, but I seem paralyzed by the “drop by drop” process that it requires.  Ironically, I am speaking at a women’s retreat next month on living an “Overcoming Life” — conquering the fear, stress, obstacles and past waylay us…as most things in life are…easier to preach than practice.

This is just a brief musing, probably not well thought out. There are those who will knock it…there are those that will call this entry trite…there are those that will advocate the blog as high art. There are those whom will agree, and perhaps…like me… will take instant art-ification for what it is, instant satisfaction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Write Tool of the Week March 30, 2008

3 x 5 Card Bleachers - Index Card Organizer, 3 x 5 Card Organizer, Holder

If you are a writer, you MUST see the fantastic tools at Levenger (www.levenger.com). Their claim to fame is providing tools for serious readers, however I have found some great tools for serious writers as well. My favorite is their 3×5 index card wooden bleachers. Most writers I know use 3×5 cards as a staple for productive storyboarding. They are easy to write on, small enough to port around and make us look like we are actually accomplishing something. I had two big challenges with the cards (Other than writing to much on them). I would pin or (gasp) tape them to the wall beside my computer. My wonderful husband did not like the new wall decor, no matter how festive the neon bright paper was…or how productive it made me appear. My second challenge was, once attached to the wall, it was difficult to move plot points around and even worse try to detach them for a trip…(scotch tape…not pretty on painted walls) I stumbled across the answer to all my problems, Levenger’s Bleachers and 3×5 cards. The bleacher is made from high quality wood in two colors (dark and light cherry), is stylish and has storage in the back for extra cards and pens. I can easily tote it around. If I could suggest anything to Levenger it would be a carrying case to protect the wood, because mine shows the battle scars of travel. I am thinking of buying another so I have one that moves and another that looks pretty on my desk.

Storyboarding on it is a breeze. I can organize the cards on different levels or dedicate one of the six levels for each thread. I can keep everything about the character I am working on up, and follow their logline. I like the tactile feeling of moving the cards, more concrete than cyberspace. How you use it is up to you! I purchased their blank window 3×5 cards. They are pricier than the office supply stores, but I like the heavier quality and ultra bright white color of their cards. I found it easy to customize my character, plot and setting card templates onto them. They also printed through my ink jet without a problem. Levenger has also created organizers, file folders and storage boxes that provide no-brainer organization to the vast amounts of cards that I produce. My biggest challenge is trying to talk my kids out of using up my stock, they love the cards too.

Levenger has great customer service and easy on line ordering from their well designed website. They also have a great catalog that I enjoy thumbing through and drooling over. If you are a writer and share an appreciation for fabulous supplies…this is the place for you… www.levenger.com

If you end up trying this out, let me know what you think!

 

Mr. Piano Man March 18, 2008

Filed under: art,children,Culture,family,humor,life,shopping — writetools @ 4:07 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

I live in a mid size, Southern California hamlet whose motto should read “Kid’s Rule.” As a parent, it is a great place to raise children…a bit intense, bordering on Stepford….but for a kid it’s one step away from nirvana. It is with this framework in mind, I ask you, what would you do?

First, a little background. To the horror of the So-Cal SMS (Suburban Mom Syndicate), I have decided to teach my children to play the piano…myself. I grew up playing, and am not without skills. However, to the Mommies support group who hold counsel at our local park, the thought of my bucking tradition (tradition is to hire a team of competent professionals to mold your progeny) is “cute”.  Their french tips tap as they seriously caucus over this break in parenting protocol.

“You know, Amber London Kate only takes lessons from Mr. Pianoman. He really gets that kids M-U-S-T must learn proper fingering.” she bends into tree pose. “If they don’t learn to hold their fingers correctly, then why bother even getting them lessons. I mean, maybe if they only want to play at Nordstroms.”

“Oh,” I ask, “do you play?”

“Well I own a Yamaha baby grand, it looks so cute in my living room. My designer Heath picked out the mahogany one, because everyone has black.”

Which tells me she can’t even play chopsticks.

“You should go to the Yamaha store and talk to Mr. Pianoman.” Can you sound reverent and superior at the same time? “He is the only one I would trust.” 

I have decided it would be cheaper to send my children to Julliard. With compound interest on what I would pay Mr. Pianoman, I can at least make it through their junior year.

My mantra, I will not cave to BMS (Burb’s Mommie Syndrom). I will not drink the kool-aid. Definition of BMS: the belief that a well rounded child must play like Mozart, translate Proust, solve quantum equations, be on the Olympic track in (pick whatever sport costs the most) and have their first gallery showing by eight.

I pile the kids into my gas efficient domestic, and drive to see Mr. Piano Man. We walk into the store and I bee-line to the piano primer books. It was like navigating Barnes and Noble. I look for help.

And there he was… the Piano Man. I was schlepping, I admit it. I had on my ball cap, rainbows, and cargos…. but hey, he has a comb over. Evidently, I didn’t deserve help from Maestro. I gather up some books and head to his desk. I wait, and wait…wishing now I had sprung for a manicure, so I could tap my french tips.  Seeing that I am not going to leave, he peers at me.

“Which book would you recommend as a basic piano primer.”

“Who teaches them?” a slight flicker of interest.

“I am going to.”

Superior sneer. “Oh…I see. Can you play?”

I blink. Really? Why would I try to teach something I can’t do. The door bell chimes from across the room. Through the windows I see a mom dragging her kids out of a black Denali. As her Manolo heels click across the marble floor, Maestro leaps like a gazelle to help her.

Suddenly, he stops mid stride and bellows. “Who is playing the piano?” I hear nothing.

Finally, I hear a quiet tinkle coming from the corner. A tinkle mind you, not a pound, not a slap….a tinkle. As he begins striding toward it, I see a shoe… dangling from a bench. I know that shoe.

“Oh. that’s my son.” I say proudly.

“Does he know how to play?”

I guess chopsticks doesn’t count. I look at the primer books in my hand. He looks at the primer books in my hand, level 1.

“That’s a 30,000 dollar piano. You need to leave and take him out of here.”

I look at the cheap Yamaha Chinese knock off. It is not 30 grand. He sneers. I raise my chin and stare him down…then snort with as much queenly air as my ball cap can muster.  “So I guess you don’t want my business then.”

“Not if it is going to ruin my piano.”

“To bad, because that is the model I was looking at buying.” I lied. I wouldn’t buy that cheap knock off.

He turned away, back to Mrs. Manolo’s.

I grab my children. Never will I darken those doors. I am calling Yamaha, I am calling the Chamber, I am calling my SMS. I hear a click on the marble and a rush of kids running past.

“But Mrs. Manolo’s, I didn’t mean YOUR children.”

“Evidently, you don’t know what kind of town you work in. We are child friendly here. You must not need the business… and it was a tinkle.”

Wow! I look at her. She blinds me her zoom whitened smile. “We moms need to stick together,” she says sliding into kid leather seats.

Evidently she must think I drank the kool-aid.

So, here is where you come in. Revenge….a dish best served cold. I am thinking of borrowing my brother-in-law’s convertible BMW, and sliding out of it in my Manolo’s and Armani. I am sure that Piano boy won’t recognize me. I am thinking of sitting at the real 30 grand piano, and playing him my first concerto. Ohhh, he will be so impressed. I will knock him over with my piano knowledge, and generally waste and hour or two of his time. Maybe I could borrow Heath for the day. I will sit in his pleather chairs, and decide to purchase it. Shocked, effusive, imaging the new car he will buy… I will start to hand over my credit card (To bad it’s not a black one…for true shock value) and then stop. I will look at him, as if trying to remember a distant memory….and as he grabs for my card…I will say. “I remember you now. Last week, you did not want my business. You wouldn’t let my son tinkle on your cheap, Chinese knock off piano and told us to leave. Then turn on heel, walk out,  and slide into my borrowed kid leather seats….

…hmmm….would it be so wrong? Accepting all comments…..

 

 
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