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Friday’s Flash Fiction… So Far Behind The Eight-Ball

An excerpt from The Diaries Of Debra Westlake

The women next to me on line at the supermarket checkout blurted out in a taxing manner “I’m so far behind the eight-ball.” I nonchalantly avoided making small talk with her as I thought about that expression… of being stifled in a tough situation. I always liked the idiom behind the eight-ball. I guess when I was in a losing situation it didn’t appeal to me as much but for the past few months life has been good again—happily with a great guy who appreciates me and my baggage. My son is doing well in school and he seems to have found a healthy balance between his parents new life and the new people in it. My job is excelling with a recent promotion and physically I’ve never felt better, latest effort is training for my first marathon. Laughing more and looking at the glass half-full now, that alone is something to celebrate.

It’s hard to imagine that just a year ago… how different things were. Doubting myself and all of my choices at that time. Worrying about others, especially my son and not my own happiness. Ridding myself of all the struggle that comes along with crucial life changes that had to be made. Now the sky looks bluer to me. Even something as simple as breathing seems refreshingly easier. I guess the adage of what goes down, comes up again is true. There was a time when I thought someone had put a hex on me, cursing me with undeserved maladies. I didn’t realize at the time that statements like why is this happening to me? Why am I doomed? What have I done to deserve this horrible life? Actually immerses you further into an adverse abyss. Affirmations must be positive on a whole, specifically ones you mutter to yourself.

Gone are the days of being under someones ridiculous brow-beating control and fear of eliciting a harsh, crude response. There was a time I equated myself to a lonely weakened child in a sand box that was constantly bullied by an irrational boy. This deplorable behavior went on for years, with me never having the courage to say no mas. Finally one day my feeble body gained muscles and cut through any emotional torment I was victim to. A new backbone so-to-speak and I emerged as the master of my own destiny instead a servant to mine or anyone else’s judgement. Once a bully realizes they can no longer play on someones emotions by stinging them, they go onto the next prey. Look, I’m no expert but I do know what works and what doesn’t for me. I learned valuable lessons that have now enhanced my life despite suffocating me at the time I was in class forced to study them—and now I couldn’t be more grateful.

The women next to me gathers her bags in her basket. I lean over towards her and put my hand on her shoulder saying “It may be tough now… whatever it is that has you behind, but it can get better… if you want it to.” She put her hand on mine and thanked me. Maybe I inspired her. Maybe not. Either way, I’m motivated more than I ever have been and all I can say is wow.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Vonnegut’s Letter to the Draft Board, 1967

Vonnegut’s Letter to the Draft Board, 1967

lilmountain:

Touching story from one of my favorite authors.

Originally posted on Penguin Blog:

It’s fairly rare that the written word moves us to actual tears, but we’ve shed a few reading the very moving letter that Kurt Vonnegut, author of Slaugherhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle, wrote to the Vietnam Draft Board about his son’s registration as a conscientious objector in 1967. Demonstrating the meaning of fatherly love, it details the reasons Vonnegut is proud of his son for making the choice to refuse to fight.

November 28, 1967

TO DRAFT BOARD #1, SELECTIVE SERVICE,

HYANNIS, MASS.

Gentlemen:

My son Mark Vonnegut is registered with you. He is now in the process of requesting classification as a conscientious objector. I thoroughly approve of what he is doing. It is in keeping with the way I have raised him. All his life he has learned hatred for killing from me.

I was a volunteer in the Second World War. I was an infantry scout, saw…

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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Thursday’s Tunes…

Thanks to my readers and blog participants for your support, puts a smile on my face. New flash fiction piece next week and more, plus author interviews will resume week of July 6th. Hope everyone is enjoying the sun-swim-filled summer days… this next set is for all my fellow beach-goers. Broadcasting live from 97.2 Little Mountain FM, cheers!

“Somebody Told Me” – The Killers
You’re A God” – Vertical Horizon
“My Own Worst Enemy” – Lit
“I Want A New Drug” – Huey Lewis and The News
“The Real Slim Shady” – Eminem
“Pinch Me” – Barenaked Ladies
“Gold Digger” – Kanye West
“Soul Meets Body” – Death Cab For Cutie
“Feel Right” – Mark Ronson featuring Mystikal
“Never Let You Go” – Third Eye Blind
“Human Nature” – Madonna
“Bawitdaba” Kid Rock
“Out Of Touch” – Hall & Oats
“Style” – Taylor Swift
“The Big Bang” Rock Mafia
“Tonight (I’m Loving You) – Enrique Iglasias
“Southern Man” – Neil Young

Thursday’s three-plays
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Scala & Kolacny Brothers
“In Bloom & “Lithium” – Nirvana

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Author Interview With Ben Starling

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Ben Starling Banner_15MAY15 (1)

1. When did you start putting pen to paper?

On and off professionally since 2000. I’m a freelance editor, working on business plans, venture capital proposals, articles published in specialist magazines and some fiction. Previously, I have written some short items and received encouragement for that but I felt my writing never really took off till quite a bit later.My upcoming novel was inspired by the loss of my partner at forty-five years of age to ovarian cancer, just thirteen weeks after her diagnosis. In the aftermath, an old friend challenged me to turn that grief into something positive. Remembering a conversation with a charismatic Polynesian fisherman (I visited there once) about his people’s vision of death and the afterlife, I began to write. The book kind of took off from there…
Here’s the blurb for the book:
What if to be with the man of your dreams… you had to give up your life? On the verge of losing her job, a side-lined journalist is forced to travel to the South Pacific to untangle a mystery where she meets a reclusive ex-boxer with a message. When a syndicate of corporate criminals invades paradise, she must either defend the island with her life or accept the plum promotion that will save her career.
Also at http://www.ben-starling.com/books/upcoming-release/

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

Cinnamon Danishes. Which are pure poetry. I spend entirely too much time on them at the deli. Gouges holes in my writing time. In terms of the written word, however, I enjoy everything, everything. I’ve written poetry, a screenplay, a novella, short stories, non-fiction articles. There is something to learn from everything. Every form teaches something new and informs the next project’s challenges.
Poetry teaches imagery and rhythm. Short stories hone tight scene writing. Novels need structure and pace. Structure and pace lift poetry. My upcoming novel even includes a poem!

3. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

Bertie Wooster of P.G. Wodehouse fame. Brilliant characterisation. A hero with a good heart and good intentions – and a wonderful knack for disaster with Honoria Glossop.

4. Which famous writer can you most identify with?

Well, I don’t think I am anything like Hemingway but he was a boxer who loved the ocean as I do, so that’s something in common. And he lived in Florida Keys where I spent a lot of time in my teens and early 20s.

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

Right now I’m working on a series of prequel short stories to be released from September 21, 2015. They are set in the same world as my upcoming novel.

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

At this point no, as I’ve juuuust finished. But I’ll probably be close to changing something tomorrow. In a month or two, I’m sure I will want to change everything!

7. Do you have any advice for other writers?

I spend a lot of time in contemplation before I begin and even cover my wall with postits itemising plot tidbits I’d like to include in a tentative order. Then I ignore it all and begin to write!
The other imperative is to walk near water regularly. If you don’t have a stream, fill up your bath! Water is the best conduit to inspiration.

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

Quite good to my own and everyone else’s surprise. Particularly to my older brother’s who had hoped to beat me. I was once given a special award for literature in high school.

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

A lot. I am a bit obsessive when it comes to researching oceans – and my upcoming novel is set in a marine environment. I wanted to get it right.
But I also enjoy the research so much that days can pass as I follow up on details. Time very enjoyably spent though.

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

Papyrus and quill. With humanely-acquired (the tickle method) octopus ink.

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

Swim 60 lengths every morning before writing.

12. What book do you think everyone should read?

There’s a groundbreaking novel by Ben Starling coming out on January 21, 2016 (title reveal coming soon) that I could recommend highly.

13. Two-part question: Do you play a musical instrument? And what instrument would you like to learn to play?
I was bemused by flute lessons as a child for an astonishingly brief period of time. I was also incarcerated in choir hall daily after school for many years.
However, I would like to play the violin – it’s the most romantic instrument I can think of. Just once I’d like to bring tears someone’s eye through the beauty of music. I brought tears to the eyes of my flute teacher, but that was an entirely different story…

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

My novel will be released by Edington Press on Amazon and Smashwords.

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

The little black cat I found on the wall during my walk today. She mewled at me and I stroked her back after she jumped down and wound through my legs. She was feline fine.

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

I’d like to be an artist. It’s another delicious mode of thinking. But even if I weren’t a writer… I’d still want to be one!

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

Chevy Chase. It’s such an excellent name. His full name is actually “Cornelius Crane Chevy Chase”. Wow.
Palin. He’s known for his travel expertise. I like that.

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

The way three of the plots/subplots in my novel came together at the end seemingly without any direction from me at all. I had been struggling with a plot snarl for days and suddenly it all crystallized before me. It felt like shooting the rapids in a white water raft for the very first time.

19. What quote do you live by?

“Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” – Albus Dumbledore

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

To be recognised with formal awards and prizes is important to many. But for me, I’d like to be sitting in a café at the edge of a park one day and see someone sitting on the grass across the way reading my book, smiling. That would be the best.

21. Would you like to ask me a question?

Certainly. Lisa, what’s your writing style? Are you a plotter or a “pants-ter”?
I would say I’m more pantster than plotter… a ratio of 75% former and 25% latter. My writing style is a visual image in my head, sort of like a movie reel with scene snippets that helps build the character and surroundings as I write, creating the story. It’s not traditional, but it’s a natural gravitation for me.

Special thanks to Ben for participating in what’s turning out to be an enjoyable and informative interview series here. I’m thankful to have met Ben and other fellow authors on Goodreads. I’m eagerly awaiting Ben’s upcoming novel, which is sure to be exceptional. Keep up with this talented writer at his websites:

http://www.ben-starling.com
http://www.goodreads.com/ben-starling
http://www.twitter.com/benstarlingauth
http://www.facebook.com/authorbenstarling
http://www.facebook.com/ben.starling.author
http://www.pinterest.com/benstarlingauth
http://www.instagram.com/benstarlingauthor
http://www.youtube.com/user/benstarlingauthor
http://www.google.com/+benstarlingauthor

 
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Posted by on June 22, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Tuesday’s Two Play and a Sweet Sonnet

Originally posted on Accidental Bohemian:

Sonnet LIII

What is your substance, whereof are you made, That millions of strange shadows on you tend? Since every one hath, every one, one shade, And you, but one, can every shadow lend. Describe Adonis, and the counterfeit Is poorly imitated after you; On Helen's cheek all art of beauty set, And you in Grecian tires are painted new: Speak of the spring and foison of the year; The one doth shadow of your beauty show, The other as your bounty doth appear; And you in every blessed shape we know. In all external grace you have some part, But you like none, none you, for constant heart
— William Shakespeare

Violet Hill - Coldplay
Ruby Tuesday - The Rolling Stones

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Author Interview With Linda Westphal

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1. When did you start putting pen to paper?

Not long ago I was digging through a box of mementos from my childhood and found a short story I had written in fourth grade. I had forgotten about the story until I found it. The original draft must have had some emotional residue, because as I focused on the somewhat artistic cover page and the handwritten words, a flood of emotional memories came back to me of how much care and attention I had put into the story and the pride I felt when I handed it to my teacher.

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

I love fiction, and can read almost any genre, as long as the writer’s writing voice agrees with me (clear, simple).

3. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

Charlotte A. Cavatica, in E. B. White’s famous tale CHARLOTTE’S WEB, is pretty amazing. She’s smart and a good friend.

4. Which famous writer can you most identify with?

Not long ago I discovered author M. J. Rose. As I learned more about her, I was surprised how much we have in common: we both have a background in advertising; she writes about topics that interest me (perfume, Paris, reincarnation); her writing style is easy and lyrical; she likes to write description. Recently, I read that developing characters is difficult for her – I have the same trouble when I write fiction.

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

I’m always working on something, and recently started thinking about my next story. I’m the type of person who jots down ideas as they happen – this is the beginning of the writing process for me. Some of the ideas I write down resonate with me more than others, but I consider all of them when it’s time to sit down and write a very rough flow of the story.

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

No. A lot of work went into writing THE MEDIUM and THE HERMIT BOOKSTORE, and I would not have released them on Jan. 1, 2015 if I thought anything needed to be changed. My writing goal is: Write feel-good stories and encourage readers to use books as a way to relax and indulge in the meditative experience of reading. When I was ready to published both books, I had reached my goal.

7. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Here are a few tips that have worked for me – Read every day. Read and study well-written text (fiction, nonfiction). Develop your writing voice (it’s more important than you think). Don’t let the “writing rules” bog you down when you’re writing the first draft; they don’t matter when you’re writing the story, only when you’re editing the story. And if you’re like me and have too many ideas, narrow your list down to your top five, then your top three, and weave the top three into your story.

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

English class was easy for me, which I loved, because everyone I knew was good at something (math, debate, sports). My thing was English.

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

Yikes! Here’s where I get into trouble, because it’s hard for me to stop researching topics that interest me. I have to force myself to stop researching and jump into the story.

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

I write on my Apple MacBook Pro laptop. I don’t write story paragraphs or scenes longhand, because I can type faster than I can write. My ideas for the story, however, are captured on paper in longhand and as voice memos on my iPhone.

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

You’re a writer. Keep at it. Don’t worry about what other people think.

12. What book do you think everyone should read?

The book’s title is TRAVELS, written by the late Michael Crichton. It’s a collection of memories from his travel adventures early in his life – both outer travel to places such as Bangkok, Kilimanjaro, Malaysia, and Jamaica (when people rarely traveled to these places) and inner travel (his personal spiritual exploration). His experiences are not only fascinating, but you’ll learn a little about yourself when you read this book. He was such a great writer. He starts the book with this sentence: “It is not easy to cut through a human head with a hacksaw.” (referring to his days as a medical student).

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

A few years ago I purchased a hand-carved Native American flute that was made specifically for me. The sound is very soothing and I love to play it. I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano. Like the flute, I think piano music is soothing.

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

Whew! This is a big question. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version . . . I published both books, THE MEDIUM and THE HERMIT BOOKSTORE, at the same time (Jan. 1, 2015). It made sense to do all the work once instead of twice (both drafts were ready at the same time). I worked with a wonderfully talented editor (Patricia Peters) who line edited both stories. From there I did a final polish of the drafts, created the book covers, and published them as ebooks on Amazon. A few weeks later I made them available at Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Books-a-Million, IndieBound, and bookstores around the world (via IngramSpark). Readers are now able to choose their favorite bookstore and format (paperback or ebook).

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

Wouldn’t it be fun to be Theresa Caputo, the Long Island Medium, for one week? I’ve always wanted to hear and see what a psychic experiences.

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

Anything? In my teen years I wanted to be a choreographer, like what Paula Abdul used to do.

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

Chevy Chase, because he was very funny in the movie Christmas Vacation. I had to Google John Cleese and Michael Palin (John who? Michael who?) . . . sorry, neither.

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

Well, I’m a new fiction writer (published Jan. 1, 2015), so I’m still waiting for my moment. However, I’ve been a published nonfiction writer since 1990 and am proud to say that during those writing years I had many rewarding accomplishments. I look forward to the same success as a fiction writer.

19. What quote do you live by?

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” — Thomas A. Edison

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

I used to think I wanted Nicholas Sparks’s writing career. Now I wouldn’t mind being a hugely popular self-published author whose stories are made into films.

21. Would you like to ask me a question?

Yes! What do you enjoy most about living in NYC?

Great question. What’s not to love about it? Each surrounding area has an authentic vibe. The convenience alone is astounding… plus the people here are exceptional with straightforwardness being one of their best traits. My only qualm is the harsh winters.

Thanks again to Linda for interviewing with me! Linda’s hard work and talent are to be relished. You can find more info about Linda Westphal here:

Website – http://lindawestphal.com/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5281039.Linda_Westphal
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Author_Westphal
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/author.westphal
Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LindaWestphalAuthor/posts

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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Featured Article From Guest Blogger Ntina Rotsidi

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It’s my pleasure to feature guest bloggers here on my site. What started out as a handful of followers, in the past two years I have gained thousands worldwide. I credit that to the featuring international creatives and their exceptional work. I’m thankful for the all-around benefit it has provided us. One of my favorite bloggers and followers is Ntina Rotsidi, and I’m super excited to share her wonderful article. If you haven’t already, follow Ntina here: https://theworldofntina.wordpress.com/2015/03/19/hello-world/

The fashion market has attained maturity, along with the gradual expansion of the scope of its market and a rapid growth in the number of customers. The fashion industry is a high value-added industry basing on high brand assets. Throughout the years, as social media grow, they have become a crucial part of everything connected with fashion.

To clarify the definition of social outlets, social media are online applications, platforms and media which aim to facilitate interactions, collaborations and the sharing of content (Richter & Koch, 2007). They take a variety of forms, including weblogs, social blogs, micro blogging, wikis, pod casts, pictures,video, rating and social bookmarking.
Technology development has benefited the world of fashion hugely by attracting customers to interact with the brands. Fashion brands’ involvement in such things as tweeting, blogging, and networking has led their brands to participate in the current trend. Interaction with customers via social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter actually builds up friendly attention, even affection, toward brands and stimulates customers’ desire for luxury and style.
Besides blogs and forums, content communities facilitate storage and sharing of media content between users. They empower users to upload a wide range of different media types, such as photos (e.g., Flickr), videos (e.g., YouTube), PowerPoint presentations (e.g., Slideshare), podcasts (e.g., PodOmatic) and text (e.g., BookCrossing). Social network sites (e.g. LinkedIn) enable users to connect and stay in touch with other people. Brands can exploit the potential of social media by establishing an online brand community, which is a specialized, non-geographically bound community, based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand. A brand community is created by setting up a profile on a social network site or by developing an own brand community website. The most important social media pages that are used by many luxury brands include Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube. These platforms encourage communication between brands and consumers, but also among the consumers themselves as they can view and comment each other’s messages.
Social network systems, like play a significant role in Web 2.0, containing large amounts of multimedia-enriched data that are enhanced both by explicit user-provided annotations and implicit aggregated feedback describing the personal preferences of each user fashion-wise. It is also a common tendency for these systems to encourage the creation of virtual networks among their users by allowing them to establish bonds of friendship and thus provide a novel and direct medium for the exchange of data and information, and eventually the result of building a strong customer base through those social media platforms. – Ntina Rotsidi

Please mind the delayed posts here, I’ve been working on charity/volunteer endeavors, next month will be business as usual.
Happy weekend and look out for a new author interview next Wednesday!
Xo,
Lisa

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2015 in Unedited Quill Spills

 

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