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Friday’s Flash Fiction – Everybody Has Their Something

An excerpt from The Diaries of Debra Westlake

“Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.” ~ Doe Zantamata

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do move forward.”                                                    
 “Hatred paralyses life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr

“I don’t get stoned anymore, just slightly pebbled from time to time.” ~ Some homeless dude I passed on my way home from work in San Franciso circa 2009

I’m looking out at the great big blue from Newport Pier, the sun couldn’t be more radiant as it compliments my sanguine mood. I glance to the right  and there’s a seagull about to take flight. Is it just me, or are all seagulls analogous? The bird swiftly turns his head in my direction and looks me up and down as if he’s trying to elicit a response of some sort. I stare him down for a bit and he gives a subtle wave as he takes off. I wonder if that bird has had a good life filled with contentment or perhaps perpetual unhappiness. I guess my thoughts gravitate to this because it seems the climate the past year and presently are heated with some people constantly griping about something instead of appreciating any of the positives surrounding them. Not that this bothers me too much, but I imagine if people were better equipped to handle stress, what a different, more peaceful world we’d be living in presently. In my time, the one thing I’ve learned is life’s filled with highs and lows, no matter who you are or what your stature is. I get it… everybody has their something that gets their goat. What I don’t get is why some dismal souls waste time wallowing in their misery (becoming vindictive as a byproduct of things not going their way) instead of fixing what ails them peacefully. These same individuals that think others don’t have any complications because they don’t complain about them often. I am especially in awe of anyone creating better worthier reads in their existence instead of wasting time worrying about old worthless news ridden with grim, resentful feelings refusing to move on.

Here’s the thing, it’s how you handle the waves of dilemmas when and if they happen, not the problem itself. You could be a cruel spiteful judgmental scorpion surrounded in venom dragging things out (who’ll live their days alone and despised) or a brave altruistic non-cantankerous individual that finds effective options to remedy issues efficiently down the yellow brick road. The ones that intelligently pick the latter are the ones that live happier  and fulfilling lives, a proven fact. Newsflash: you cannot change or live in the past! The only thing you can do is propel forward and make your present better. Think about that. How great is it to accomplish feeling happier overall? How sad is it to know that so many people out there are afraid of adventure or have fear of change that an outcome will be hopeless instead of progressive. Is that living? You know the answer. Another irritating thing to hear are complaints about “Oh they’re rich, they don’t have problems like I do.” Or “Why do these horrible things only happen to me? It’s not fair that I can’t get out of the hole I’m burying myself in.” “I blame you for all my problems because I’m perfect!” No you are not and run don’t walk to seek a Psychiatrist, they are well-equipped to handle your problems and a potential need of a padded room. Don’t bother us glass half-full folks with these shallow pleas because we truly have no desire to be brought down unnecessarily. And don’t get me started on the pathetic idiots who cast opinions on people they have never met… in fact, they don’t deserve any of my time or elaboration. Where was I? Right… not that I’m without woes mind you, everything is not always peachy-keen, but the bottom line is I thankfully do not permit it to consume me anymore.

Have I always been this philosophically optimistic? Yes. Has my life had any downs, disappointments? Hell yes! Did I let those struggles get the best of me? No. Have I let those strikes throw me into a pool of drowned dispiritedness? Hell no! In current times, no matter what the problem is, there are solutions to help any situation. Well, with one exception, terminal illness. Those souls aside, anyone that doesn’t utilize the help they need is making one of the gravest mistakes in life. While I’m at it, I think about heroes that have had a terminal curse put on them or saving a life in a building stratified in flames… living their last moments courageously. Along with them, I also marvel exceedingly at people who die doing what they love, some examples: ‘She died peacefully while gardening.’ Or ‘He was in the studio singing with his last breath.” You get the gist.

There was a time when I was on a relentless pursuit to erase mind-blowing (and mind-damaging) memories of days behind for solid reasons. That used to be the hardest thing for me or my ‘something’ to contend with. When you look back on life-changing times that you hoped could last forever but tragically didn’t—gut wrenching to say the least. The difference for me now is, I don’t look behind my shoulder anymore. Now it prompts me to make new and better experiences in the present. One of my greatest challenges to date (that kicks my ass each time) but it’s extremely rewarding and that’s what keeps me swimming with the tide, not against it. Routines, rewards, and cues my friends. You can change and replace unhealthy habits if you want to. I think of the old adage “If you can’t beat them, join them.” And figure there’s only one specific instance it applies to. If we’re talking about life, then I like these ones better “If you are not happy dealing with a tough situation, improve it.” “Where there is a will, there is a way.”  “Even a dead clock shows the right time twice a day.” Enough said for now.

Currently playing on Little Mountain FM

Hamell’s Ramble – Hamell On Trial
Off The Grid – Beastie Boys
Everybody Got Their Something – Nikka Costa
Adventure Of A Lifetime – Coldplay
Double-play from Bob Dylan – Shelter From The Storm / Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
You Got The Magic – Tammy Infusino
Start Me Up – The Rolling Stones
Do My Thing – Estelle (featuring Janelle Monae)
Good Day – Nappy Roots
The Difference – The Wallflowers
What It Takes – Aerosmith
Down In Mexico – The Coasters
Love Lockdown – Kanye West
Peace, Love and Understanding – Elvis Costello

Special dedication songs from one of my favorite artists, David Bowie. No one will ever come close to your unique creative brilliance.
Life On Mars / Lazarus / Stay / and the superb album, Live Nassau Coliseum ’76 David Bowie

 
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Posted by on January 22, 2016 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Author Interview With Christina Butcher

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  1. When did you start putting pen to paper?

I’ve been writing poetry since high school, but I only started writing fiction six months ago (I’ll let you figure out how old I am on your own). While in school, I was lucky enough to have an amazing writing teacher, Jonathan Wall, who opened up my literary world with Poe, Plath, Ginsberg, Snyder, E.E. Cummings, you name it. The literature I read and the writing exercises that I was introduced to changed how I saw the world: my understanding of identity was completely changed. I am forever grateful to you, Mr. Wall.

  1. What’s your literary poison – prose, poetry, etc.?

Poetry! Especially poetry that plays with placement on the page and punctuation. When it comes to fiction, I’m a sucker for a good micro story.

  1. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

Hig, a middle-aged man who survives an epidemic and is struggling to find meaning in his post-apocalyptic life with his dog. Hig is the main character in Peter Heller’s “Dog Stars.” I love his character because he’s often scared as hell, but he doesn’t let that fear control his life. This book was an amazing, accidental find at an airport.

  1. Which famous writer can you most identify with?

David Sedaris, without a doubt. Sedaris allows readers to take part in his most personal, and often humiliating, moments, and I can really commiserate with his bumbling nature. Plus, he keeps me laughing, hoping, and smiling about life, too (something I hope to do for readers one day, myself).

  1. What are your current projects? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)

Write now (like how I did that?) I’m working on two projects. The first is a compilation of short stories that coincide with the seasons and which will hopefully be coming out next fall. The second is a novella that follows a robot who’s been stranded on earth and is desperately trying to get back home.

  1. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book or writing piece?

Luckily, I’m right in the middle of my first project, so I can (and will) make a lot of changes as I go. If I could go back in time, though, I would definitely have joined a writing group much earlier in life. Writing groups help push us to recognize our flaws and fix our bad habits as writers, and I’m truly grateful that the group I’m in now is so honest and supportive.

  1. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Edit your work. Please. And don’t be afraid to rework your pieces. Show them to your toughest critics and put your pride aside. I know it sometimes hurts to have your work critiqued (and probably brutally torn apart, in my case), but after a while you’ll begin to recognize similar threads of criticism from different people; you’ll be able to identify reoccurring problems with your writing that you’d otherwise look over. And although it sucks to have people point out all the flaws in your work, it’s also incredibly beneficial to your improving your craft. Write. Edit. Critique. Rewrite. Edit some more. I promise it’ll all be worth it.

  1. What were your grades like in English class? (A, B, anything less than this is shameful ;)

A’s baby, all the way.

  1. How much research do you do for your writing?

Over time, I’ve begun to notice that I the amount of time that I spend researching has been increasing steadily, but I honestly don’t think I spend enough time researching yet. For now, let’s just say there’s a direct correlation between how much coffee I have in front of me and how much research I’m willing to conduct for a piece.

  1. Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

For the most part, I write on my computer. But if I’m having a hard time starting a piece, or if I’m on vacation, I use good ol’ pen and paper. There’s something to say for the intentionality of writing with pen and paper, a certain sense of purpose, you could say, that I appreciate and enjoy.

  1. What is the best advice you’ve been given?

Don’t put financial pressure on your creative writing. It’ll kill your creativity and your inspiration and you’ll end up feeling resentful. For now, just let yourself fall in love with writing.  – Sage advice from Elizabeth Gilbert in “Big Magic.”

  1. What book do you think everyone should read?

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, and the Giver, by Lois Lowry. These two books had a huge impact on me during points in my life where I wasn’t sure how best to approach obstacles in my way. If you haven’t read them, they’re worth the time and energy. They’re amazing books and they both have a stark beauty to them that will take your breath away.

  1. Two-part question: Do you play an musical instrument? And what instrument would you like to learn to play?

I don’t play any musical instruments, but I’d love to learn to play the piano. I have one in my home that currently serves as a mail collector, key holder, clothing rack, and basically anything else except a musical tool. Hopefully, that’ll change one day soon.

  1. What process did (or are you going) you go through to get your book published?

I’m going to self-publish, and I’m going to try like hell to have a good time doing it. My goal is to sell one hundred copies in one year (most books don’t sell more than 100 copies, ever). It’s scary and exciting at the same time, but I feel compelled to just get my work out there in the world, despite the fear.

  1. Who would you like to change places with… i.e. live someone else’s life for a week?

I don’t want to change places with anyone, really, but I’d love to spend a week with Gary Snyder in California. I want to love and live like a crazed Zen beatnik, talking to the desert and hiking with (a younger) Gary Snyder and writing my little heart out. That’s where I think I’ll find my zen…

  1. If you weren’t a writer, what would be your ideal profession?

Editor! Professional book reviewer! Journalist! (I know, I know, these all include writing, but I can’t help it)

  1. Two-part question: Bill Murray or Chevy Chase? And John Cleese or Michael Palin?

Can I choose Will Ferrell instead of BM or CC? Oh, and I choose Michael Palin, thank you very much.

  1. What’s your most rewarding literary accomplishment to date (one that just blew your mind!)

It may not sound all that amazing, but a drabble (a story with only 100 words) that I recently wrote, titled “The King’s Coat,” was chosen for publication online at 101words.com. I love writing short stories and micro fiction, and this piece was a lot of fun to work out. I felt very content and satisfied when I completed this piece, and when it was chosen for publication on Christmas day, I felt a surprising sense of accomplishment and validation. A small thing, really, but it brought me a lot of joy.

  1. What quote do you live by?

I don’t have a quote as much as I have guiding principles that I try to embody in everything I do. I strive to live a life of quality, a life filled with courage, compassion, and humility.

  1. What would be your ideal writer profession ambition? (famous Pulitzer Prize winning author, successful self-published author as a day job, etc.)

Local Poet Laureate! And columnist for the New York Times.

  1. Would you like to ask me a question?

How did you break into the writing field for online magazines? Was it a long process? Did you stumble into it?

Great question.  I had a research project at the law firm I worked at regarding online publications and stumbled upon some that were looking for newbie writers to write for them and jumped at the chance. I relished a great distraction from the perils of writing my fiction novel (and still do). My most current online gig is for The Review Review magazine, such a huge opportunity to write about fellow authors and publishers.

Special thanks to Christina for interviewing with me! A super talented writer (impressive New York Times columnist!) we all look forward to reading more of Christina’s work!

Follow her here:
Website: http://www.writebrave.org
Twitter: @write_brave
Facebook: facebook.com/writebrave/

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2016 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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David Bowie RIP

“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.” – David Bowie
http://www.theuncool.com/2016/01/11/david-bowie-self-portrait-76/

http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-35278872

In honor of this innovative founder of alternative music, I’m playing his songs at my office today. Music will never be the same. RIP The Thin White Duke.

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2016 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Happy Holidays

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Happy holidays to my lovely fans everywhere, especially my followers here. I’m beyond grateful for your support. I look forward to reading you, showcase my latest work, and more author interviews in the new year. I have lot’s to cheer about :) And hope you do too! I’ll be ringing in 2016 from a warm sandy beach with family & friends.

If you want to do something generous for a child, bake a festive treat and tweet pic to #BakeItForward @FoodNetwork.

See you next year (don’t be late!)
LM

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Author Interview With J. Luis Licea

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1. When did you start putting pen to paper?

When I was little, I always heard folklore legends. They were something that always sent my mind on a frenzy, and the way I imagined them was special to me. I always believed they were real. When I was in high school, in 2011, I was telling one of my new friends a legend I remembered from childhood. Somehow she asked me to write it down for her. That’s when it all started. I wrote the story, and then saw how flawed it was. So I made things up to fit into the legend, so it would all make more sense. Two years later I had written a book with multiple legends smashed together. Four years later, I wrote RUSTIC STARS.

2. What’s your literary poison – prose, poetry, etc.?

I love poems that rhyme. They are my weakness. Riddles. I love books that don’t detail a lot, but get straight to the point. One of my favorite series (The Hunger Games), left me thinking for days, and then weeks. The writing was just amazing.

3. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

I don’t think I have one(?) But if I had to choose a character from a book that I really liked, based on their actions and way they respond to problems, I would choose David from The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. It’s a dark fairy tale for adults. David is forced to go from being a child to an adult during the book, and the way he does it, to me, makes him a hero.

4. Which famous writer can you most identify with?

I used to think J.K. Rowling. Then I realized I was nowhere close to her. I don’t think I can identify with any, based on style of writing. But any book I read gives me ideas, and I always grab onto things I like and shape them into my own.

5. What are your current projects? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)

I am currently editing the first book I ever wrote, titled T. R. ORBS. It’s urban fantasy for teen, with a lot of elemental powers, curses, and strange creatures. It takes place in Mexico, so it is always work when I have to research most things. But I love it.

6. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book or writing piece?

Yes. But that’s what is wrong. I think that if I change everything to make it perfect, it would end up being flawed. So I just made peace with it and let it as is. Allowing yourself to leave tracks that are not perfect where you walk is the point of learning and living.

7. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t push yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. Allow yourself to grow at your own rhythm, and always pay attention to how other writers do it. The best way to learn is to appreciate others, and to always keep asking questions.

8. What were your grades like in English class? (A, B, anything less than this is shameful ;)

Ohh. Well, English is not my first language. I speak Spanish first, though I suck at it. However, I used to love English class, and I always tried to do above and beyond (because i loved my teachers!). Not to brag, but my grades in English were always good, unless it was tests! Hahaha! No one likes those.

9. How much research do you do for your writing?

A LOT. A LOT. A LOT. Which is probably why it takes me so long to finish rough drafts. Sometimes I have to Google words every two paragraphs, or locations, or things, or phrases. It is just part of the process. It is tiring, but researching in writing is like asking questions in class: they are a must.

10. Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?

I do it on a computer. I have two keyboards that glow in the dark. I love them. I also don’t like to see what I type. I type and think. Then I open my eyes and see. If i think about what I write, I don’t write at all.

11. What is the best advice you’ve been given?

“Rough drafts are not supposed to be perfect” Write, but don’t make it perfect, because after you finish, you’ll notice how you’re just starting on a ride that is going to take way longer. But never to give up!

12. What book do you think everyone should read?

I think every book is worth reading. I can’t say, because everyone enjoys different books. If you see a book, it needs reading. Read it.

13. Two-part question: Do you play an musical instrument? And what instrument would you like to learn to play?

Sadly, I do not. Unless clicking and changing song to plays music in my earbuds, then yes. *Smiles* I am a huge fan of the violin! And piano. Also, drums. I can’t pick.

14. What process did (or are you going) you go through to get your book published?

I can’t say. I tried very hard to stay focus. I worked slowly toward finishing it, and one day it happened. I can’t recall the process. I suppose it was mostly asking for support from friends. And they always delivered.

15. Who would you like to change places with… i.e. live someone else’s life for a week?

Anyone with money! I really want to know what it feels to have a lot of money for a day. *Giggles* And i’d buy a bunch of junk food. And cake.

16. If you weren’t a writer, what would be your ideal profession?

I wanted to be a teacher since I was little. But if I can’t be that, I’d see myself as someone who deals with nature. Don’t know who exactly. But nature is the way to go.

17. Two-part question: Bill Murray or Chevy Chase? And John Cleese or Michael Palin?

Haha! God. I cannot answer. But, secretly, Bill Murray. Gee, I don’t know any of them. Can I pick Katniss Everdeen?

18. What’s your most rewarding literary accomplishment to date (one that just blew your mind!)

I don’t think I have one. I am proud of them all. The first one I had, though, was in high school, when I submitted a short story into a competition, and as badly as it was written (English being my barrier), I won 2nd place. Later, I was told my story was in first place, but due to something, it went to 2nd, which made me feel pride in many ways.

19. What quote do you live by?

‘Do you live to write or write to live’

20. What would be your ideal writer profession ambition? (famous Pulitzer Prize winning author, successful self-published author as a day job, etc.)

Anything that allows me to write full-time. I would love just sitting down all day and making my fingers ache as I plot and create, and make characters bloom in different stories. That would be dreamy.

21. Would you like to ask me a question?

What do you recommend so I don’t get lost on a plane? I’ve never flown in a plane, and thinking about getting lost freaks me out.

Very funny… I like how you have read up on me! Not getting lost is easy, just make friends with the lovely flight attendants who will ensure you stay on the right path and not deviate into unchartered territory. Once you’ve mastered this and ready to branch out, I’ll share my secrets on how to get lost on planes… once you do, you’ll never travel any other way.

My heart-felt thanks to Luis for interviewing with me and sharing his thoughts with us. Buy and read his extraordinary book! And be sure to follow him on twitter @jllicea and facebook.

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Poem Of The Day…

~Dedicated to my extraordinary father on his birthday~

Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening
By Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Monday’s Motivation… Onward & Upward

As the year is coming to a close, I recollect days past and how 2015 had some unexpected/unnecessary tragic moments. Between the horrific shootings and terrorism all over the world, along with everyone dealing with highs and lows in their life… it’s imperative to be compassionate and optimistic no matter what. I wish peace and happiness for everyone in the coming year and most importantly, never let anyone take your sparkle away with their troubles.

Some uplifting moments from our fun walk over the Manhattan Bridge with my dear friends yesterday.
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Art on Mulberry Street
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Be happy and keep smiling,
Lisa

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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