Month: June 2013

Sunday’ Blessings…in a Word Cloud

“Ideas don’t respond to the force of our wills – damn them. We can’t make them appear. That’s why when we’re feeling blocked it does little good to pound our way through. It won’t work. We’ll grow even more frustrated and further away from where we need to be to find ideas…Getting ideas requires allowing our minds to yield. The ideas are there, but we have to wait for them quietly. Poet William Stafford compared the creative process to fishing…Maintaining this mindset is not easy. We live in a results-oriented society. We learn to be productive, to have something to show for our efforts. We want proof we are making progress, getting better.  As writers, we ant finished pieces and each piece should be better than the one before it. If we’re going to the trouble of rising at the crack of dawn, we’d better get something out of it. “To be more creative, you need to resist these impulses. Some days will be effortless. Some days will be impossible, just as some days the …

Fear as a Writing Prompt

As a feature writer and blogger, I’ve written articles and posts about many things under the sun, but I have never publicly written about my fears.  Of course, my journal pages are peppered with entries about the fears I’ve had to face through the decades, but those pages are meant for my eyes only.  I haven’t been able to use those experiences in my writing life. In an article that was published in the New York Times, journalist and author Sarah Jio writes about how she uses fear as a writing prompt: “Here’s the thing: Everyone tells you to write what you know. It’s the tried-and-true advice every writer hears at some point in her career. But to take my writing to a deeper level, I’ve found that a better practice is to simply write what frightens you, haunts you, even.” “I now keep a sign on the bulletin board in my office that reads: “Write What Scares You.” I’ve learned that tapping into the hard stuff — whether it’s the fear of loss or …

Give Yourself Permission to Write Garbage!

During those days when the words won’t flow, and ideas simply won’t come – don’t pack up your writing tools.  Instead, allow yourself to write garbage!  It could just be what you need! Make it fun!  I have a “garbage writing” notebook where I write as I please.  It’s more than just freewriting, it’s funwriting.  It’s my writer’s playground where there are absolutely no rules. I allow myself to write in any fashion and form – big letters are allowed. The notebook is also where I do brainstorming for my articles, posts and would-be books. Possible titles and story ideas are written in big, bold letters – sometimes with lots of curls on the tips of the letters. It’s a fine, fun way to give the writer in you a break from all the serious writing.  In “Writing on Both Sides of the Brain,” Henriette Anne Klauser wrote: “Giving yourself permission to write garbage is like having a compost pile in the backyard. It might smell a little and even look yucky, but it provides …

Five Great E-Courses with Bendy Pricing

I first learned about Satya and Kaspalita last year when I read about their mindful writing practice of “Writing Small Stones.”  That was about two years ago, and the couple’s blog, “Writing Our Way Home,” was a very busy site, and Satya’s name was still Fiona Robyn.  Much has changed in the Buddhist couple’s blog – they now concentrate on giving online courses, and after being ordained as a Buddhist priest, Fiona changed her name to Satya. Now, Satya and Kaspalita are generously offering their E-courses with a “pay as you like” option.  Last year, I enrolled in Kaspa’s  Eastern Therapeutic Writing course, which cost US$70.  It was well worth the money: I was introduced to a few Japanese theories such as Naikan, Waka  and Morita journaling  (I was already familiar with the koan); there were plenty of reading resources and each day an email arrived with the day’s work.  The discussion forum was not very active though, but I think it was because the structure of their E-courses require individual work and much introspection.  This …

Where to Get Pictures for Your Blog Posts

I have a blog theme that requires a picture for every blog post – otherwise I’ll have empty squares on my homepage. I honestly feel that a page full of text is a thing of beauty, but I happen to like the theme for this blog, and so I willingly undertake the search for the perfect picture every time I post. I use royalty-free pictures which oftentimes do not require attribution, but I always try to give credit to the source of the photos.  It only takes a few minutes to type the name of the website and add a link, so why not give credit where credit is due?  Afterall, the photos do lend color and texture to my blog posts. Here is a list of photo sources on the web.  These sites will provide you with a wide selection of images.  There’s no need to log in, no complicated matters such as credits and points, and best of all – the photos can be used for free! But please attribute! Morguefile  “The morguefile was …

MSU Offers Free Online Writing Course

Two faculty members of Michigan State University will teach a free online non-credit course which will focus on improving writing skills.  “Thinking Like a Writer,” will be offered this summer by Dr. Jeff Grabill, professor and chair of the Michigan State University Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Culture, and Dr. Julie Lindquist, Director of First-Year Writing at Michigan State. The pair of Michigan State University faculty members are on a mission: They want to know whether it is possible to keep the high level of engagement that is characteristic of face-to-face interaction in an online setting. The course is open to students who want to prepare for college-level writing, international students intent on improving their English writing skills, professionals who want to sharpen their writing abilities and anyone who wants to learn about the craft of writing. The course, which will run from July 1 through August 31 will focus on the process of review and revision.  It is designed to help students develop skills in persuasive writing and narrative writing; participants will  also learn how to …

Haiku

A haiku is a short poem, that is unrhymed and syllabic in form – the poem consists of only three lines with 5 syllables on the first line, 7 on the second and 5 again on the last line. This form of poetry first appeared in Japan some 700 years ago, and reached the Western hemisphere in the 19th century, with the reopening of Japan’s harbors to American and European trade and travel. Haiku contains two juxtaposed ideas but the two are grammatically independent and usually are also imagistically distinct. Although Japanese haiku are often written in one straight line,  English haiku is written in three lines. Either way, the objective is to create a “leap” between the two juxtaposed ideas.  The meaning of the poem is heightened by providing an “internal comparison.”  When writing haiku, the challenge is to avoid an obvious connection between the two ideas, and at the same time  avoid a great disassociation. Most haikus are about nature, and traditionally, the focus is on the details in the environment as they …

Sunday’s Blessings

“I think that creativity is about reaching to the soul, connecting to the inner Self so totally that no difference exists between inner and outer, good and bad, reality and fiction, past and future. Everything rests in the utter and magnificent I AM. “I remember once working at my typewriter, deep in thought, when I glanced up at the tree outside my window, and for a startling moment I was the tree – no separation – and also the air between the tree and me, the glass of the windowpane, the story I was writing, paper, typewriter, and myself. “Satori, I thought, and with the naming, which constitutes a movement back into conscious Mind, I wrenched our of that sweet stated, and I was looking at the page again, marveling at what had happened, and how to reach that suspension of time and Self again…” –Sophy Burnham, For Writers Only Photo: Morguefile

My Writer’s Altar

  My writer’s altar is up – creating it was actually a simple affair.  There were no singing angels, no chiming bells – just something short of spring cleaning. What happened was, I decided to surf the internet for a quick look on what other writer’s altars look like. I found only one site with a picture on it – the writer built an altar on the window sill in front of the computer.  Not for me – I don’t have a window sill anywhere near my computer.  So I decided to pull out my books on writing (a good number of which, I have not yet read) to look for ideas on how to build  a writer’s altar. It was then that I realized that the books on writing were mixed up with the books on energy healing, art, spirituality, crafts, gardening…and all others. Of course it had been that way for a long time, but it didn’t seem to matter nor bother me before. The decision came quickly – I knew that if I …

Of Synchronicity, Altars, Rituals and Writers

Carl Gustav Jung  coined the term synchronicity  to refer to two or more events that do not seem to be causally related but occur within the same time frame; events that do not seem to have occurred by chance, but when experienced together, create a deep impact on the one experiencing the events. Jung said that synchronistic events are more likely to occur when a person is in a highly charged state of emotional and mental awareness. He used the phrases “acausal connecting principle”, “meaningful coincidence” and “acausal parallelism” to describe synchronicity. As an energy therapist, I am always on the look out for synchronicities.  It was thus no surprise when, after posting my last entry,” A Writer’s Altar,” I opened my email and found the 56th issue of WOW (Women on Writing), waiting to be read. In my previous blog entry, I wrote about being at a crossroads in my life as a writer, of the persistent “call” to create a writer’s altar, and the desire to find the writing path that would fulfill my new-found purpose …

A Writer’s Altar

I’ve decided to build a writer’s altar – perhaps because I am at a crossroads in my writing life.  Whatever the reason, the call to build an altar has been floating around in my head lately, and I’ve decided it’s time to build one – a first step towards re-creating my writing space. As a Catholic, I know about altars. I’ve created altars in my room in various places, with numerous symbolic objects.  My altars changed as my spiritual life changed.  Finally, when my spirit calmed down (after many years), the altar settled in a space up above a big cabinet in my bedroom.  It is sparse compared to all the altars that I’ve built-in my lifetime – a crucifix made of capiz shell with a simple filigree design in the middle, a small capiz angel, a silver candle snuffer and a two-sided picture frame with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on one side, and my own personal spiritual symbol on the other side. Why build a writer’s altar? Andy Couturier in, Writing …

Listen to Your Favorite Authors

A recent and precious find in You Tube is a series of video-taped interviews with several authors. For someone living in Asia – in the Philippines – it is such a welcome and lovely opportunity to be able to hear well-known writers talk about the craft of writing (for free!). Writer’s Symposium by the Sea is an annual event sponsored by Point Loma Nazarene University. This yearly symposium “brings interviews with cutting edge creators, life stories, examples of great writing, and evocative conversation that will inspire the reader and writer alike.” Among the writers interviewed for the series are Ann Lamott, Ray Bradbury, Mary Karr, Chris Willman, Christopher Hedges, Philipp Yancey, Gay Talese, Barbara Bradley, Gary Hart, Geroge Plimpton, …and many others. It’s a long list!  I was so happy to see Peter Matthiessen’s name on the list – he has been a favorite since I read his book, “The Snow Leopard.” It’s a great find, and now I’m planning to watch at least one video a week – and maybe blog about it here! Thanks …

Lessons from Ray Bradbury

I own only one book written by Ray Bradbury – Zen in the Art of Writing.  The small book’s cover is torn, and the pages have yellow speckles – signs of aging, as well as wear and tear.  For indeed, the book had been read over and over.  For almost a decade, it was the one book that could be found at different places in my bedroom. From Ray Bradbury’s book, I learned how important poetry is to a writer. “Read poetry every day of your life.  Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition. It keeps you aware of your nose, your eye, your car, your tongue, your hand.  And, above all, poetry is compacted metaphor or simile.  Such metaphors, like Japanese paper flowers, may expand outward into gigantic shapes.  Ideas  lie everywhere through the poetry books, yet how rarely have I heard short story teachers recommending them for browsing.” Although Bradbury’s personality was so un-Zen, many of the things …

A Conversation with Ray Bradbury

“If you are writing without zest, without gusto, without love, without fun, you are only half a writer,” Ray Bradbury wrote in his small but seminal book, Zen in the Art of Writing. During his lifetime, Bradbury was a most prolific writer and  received several citations: He was awarded the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 national Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. One of the stories Bradbury frequently recounted throughout his life was his encounter with a carnival magician named Mr. Electrico.  They met in 1932 when Bradbury was only twelve years old.  The magician, Bradbury said, touched him with his sword and commanded him to “Live forever!” For the young Bradbury, it was the greatest idea he had ever heard and from then on he started to write everyday because,  “Not to write, for many of us, is to die.” This man LIVED.  And he continues to live through his close to fifty books, as well as the numerous essays, poems, operas, plays, teleplays …

Poets & Writers Magazine

One of the largest non-profit literary organization in the United States,  Poets & Writers, serves poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. The organization, which is headquartered in New York City, publishes a bi-monthly magazine, called Poets & Writers Magazine.   The magazine provides poets and writers with loads of information on literary grants and awards, jobs, and literary events.  The publication also features interviews with prominent authors, literary-based news articles and critical reviews. Poets & Writers Magazine is considered a “must- have journal for scribes. If you wish to subscribe, you get 60% off the newsstand price. Subscription for Canadian and international readers are a bit higher because of the cost of shipment, but still very much affordable. You can also subscribe to the digital edition of the magazine and read it in your Nook, Amazon Kindle, iPad, Mac or PC.  For US$1.50 a month, it’s a steal! I’ve subscribed to Poets & Writers Magazine and I highly recommend it!  

Some Books on Writing

Here is a list of some wonderful general writing books and nonfiction writing books which have helped me greatly.  I come back to the pages of these books every now and then. General:                                         On Writing Well by William Zinsser The Right to Write , An Invitation and Initiation into the Writing Life by Julia Cameron    Writing as a Sacred Path,  A Practical Guide to Writing with Purpose and Passion by Jill Jepson       Writing Open the Mind, Tapping the Subconscious to Free the Writing and Writer by Andy Couturier                                      On Being A Writer edited by Bill Strickland Zen in the Art of Writing, Releasing the Creative Genius Within You Ray Bradbury     Poetry Finding What You Didn’t Lose, Expressing Your Truth and Creativity Through Poem-Making by John Fox                      …

Free Writing and Poetry Online Classes at Coursera

Coursera is an education company that focuses on connecting people around the world to top global  universities and institutions through free online courses. On its website, Coursera describes its objective: “We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education that has so far been available to a select few. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.” Among the writing courses offered by Coursera are: Modern and Contemporary Poetry (University of Pennsylvania) Writing in the Sciences (Stanford) Writing II: Rhetorical Composing (Ohio State University) Crafting an Effective Writer: Tools of the Trade (Mt. San Jacinto College) For more information about these writing courses, log on to Coursera.  Aside from these, the company offers so many other online courses.  Check them out! Photo: Morguefile

2013 Blogathon no. 11: Learning to Draw #blog2013 #illustrations

Originally posted on ghostnapped:
When I began this writing adventure I never thought I’d need to learn how to draw. Then of course my first manuscript – Ghostnapped came back and the question was asked: Are there any illustrations? Okay so Ghostnapped is a novel and while it didn’t really need illustrations I thought that would be cool. I asked for a quote. Well needless to say I’m learning to draw. Now to all you wonderful illustrators out there I mean no disrespect. Of course you should be paid to illustrate books. It’s just this writing thing is a hobby and I can not afford to actually pay someone to illustrate. My second book was easier. Obi the Super Puppy and the Mystery of the Red Mist is about my boy Obi. I naturally have a million photos of the old boy. The only trouble here was choosing the right ones. Then of course came The Homework Goblin which needed illustrations. I enlisted the support of my two girls (then 5 and 4) and we…

Why Write?

I don’t know why, but since I was young, I always asked, “Why?”  In early grade school, I asked myself why I was born. Why was I different from the rest? Why couldn’t they see what I saw?  Why did I say that? Why, why, why? As an adult I continue to ask why.  For some time, I used to ask, “Why me?”  Then, “Why not me?” Now I often ask, “Why not?” It was perhaps my propensity to ask “Why?”  that kept me from learning or wanting to learn how to set goals. I never set goals. Deadlines, yes, but not goals.  Instead, I look for purpose – the reason why I do something.  And through the years, I have found that the  purpose changes as time goes by, and as I change. When I was a newbie journalist, I asked myself why I wrote.  The answer was because writing provided an avenue to satisfy my endless curiosity. After I managed to find my niche as a feature writer, I asked myself why I …

Sunday’s Blessings

Sunday is the first day of the week.  We begin by taking pause. We take time to breathe and allow our souls to come forth.  Sunday is soul day. We give our souls time and permission to manifest its nature, to make us feel its presence and allow its essence to permeate our being. We take pause on Sunday and listen to the inner pinings of our soul.  We invite the sacred to speak to us and guide us through the week ahead. On Sundays, we merge with the Sacred.  We allow Sacredness back into our lives – oftentimes forgotten in the busy-ness of the days gone by. Sundays remind us that the material world is but an aspect of our lives – it is not the be and all of our human existence. A blessed Sunday to one and all. “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin Photo: Morguefile  

Limericks – Precision, Rhymes and Fun!

A few years ago I used to regularly host the “Carnival of Healing,” which was begun by Philameana Lila Desy. During one of the carnivals, Madeleine Begun Kane submitted her blog for consideration. Madeleine’s “MAD KANE’S HUMOR BLOG Humor Columns, Limericks, Light Verse & Satirical Poems“ wasn’t a blog about healing  but I included it in the carnival anyway because it spelled FUN, and anything that brings fun brings about healing. On Mondays, MAD KANE ‘s theme is Limerick-Off Monday, and everyone is invited to create and post a limerick based on several choices for the first lines provided by Madeleine.  The best submission is declared “Limerick of the week.” I often submit my limericks to MAD KANE.  I enjoy creating limericks as well as reading the limericks other bloggers post on her blog. Wikipedia defines a limerick as “a short, humorous, often ribald or nonsense poem,[1] especially one in five-line anapestic or amphibrachic meter with a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA), which is sometimes obscene with humorous intent. The form can be found in England as of the early years of the 18th century.[2] It was popularized by Edward Lear in the …

Why I Join Blogathons

Last year I discovered blogathons after I quit several blogging schools.  Blogging school was simply not for me – all the emphasis on SEO was so different from what I learned in writing school.  In one blogging school, we were guaranteed we would earn money from our blogs if we followed and worked on the lessons diligently.  But by day 3, I was lost in the tasks of computing, tabulating, and formulating keywords for the sake of SEO.  I quit by day 4. I enrolled in several online blogging courses but failed to finish even one because I realized I wanted to blog because I love to write. I also wanted blogging to be fun – not another job.  I am fortunate that I have a job that allows me to work on my own terms and provides a comfortable income, so blogging can be another creative outlet for me. The first blogging challenge I participated in was the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.  As a newbie, it was stressful because I wanted to …

The Writing Life

Here are some powerful quotes from several writers: “The hardest trade in the world is the writing of straight, honest prose about human beings.” –Ernest Hemingway “There are significant moments in everyone’s day that can make literature. That’s what you ought to write about.” –Raymond Carver “I have known writers who paid no damn attention whatever to rules of grammar and rhetoric and somehow made the language behave for them.” —Red Smith My advice to an aspiring sportswriter would be: don’t be a sportswriter. Learn what the newspaper business is about before you become a specialist. —Red Smith Watch children at play.  They are terribly serious. The same is true with writing: you get caught up in the rhythm. That’s when it really gets to be complete play. –-Madeleine L’Engle

My Favorite Apps

Today is the WordCount 2013 Blogathon Theme Day and all participants will be blogging about their favorite apps.  I am  a non-techie, but I must admit that there are applications that have really been helpful – and wonderful. Picasa remains my all-time favorite, for all the wonderful things it allows users to do with their photographs – and best of all, you can download it for free! I use Pocket to store all my “to-do” files, and to store all the data I want to file, I use Evernote.   One Note comes in handy for all the files that I need for the writing projects I am working on. On my phone, I love having Project Noah – an application that keeps us informed about weather conditions and typhoons – a big help, especially now that we are entering the rainy season. Through this application, we are kept abreast with the latest information about rainfall, storms and typhoons. That’s just about it – the five favorite applications of a non-techie.  Photo by By mantasmagorical

Advice on Writing a Book

Once again, I join the writers in this world who are being hounded by the dream, the thought and the calling to write a book.  I say “once again” because I felt the need to write a book twice in the past, and since it was such a persistent call, I wrote two books. Way back then I was involved in publishing a magazine for children, and the book the I felt “called” to write were children’s books.  I won’t say it was easy, but it certainly wasn’t daunting.  And that was probably because I was already in the business of publishing materials for children. I left that industry a long, long time ago and delved into the healing arts, which was by far a calling that I grudgingly went into.  Almost more than a decade later, I not only love being an energy transformational therapist – I am so grateful for having been given this gift to help others heal. Has someone ever said that once a writer always a writer?  In my case, …

Journaling: A habit worth forming

For the month of June, I will be participating for the first time in the Wordcount Blogathon 2013.  I have participated in blogathons through my other blog, Writing Prompts from Life.  Blogathons are fun and help instill the daily writing habit. For this blogathon, I will be posting about writing practices, tools and exercises. “I really feel lazy to write here but it’s good that I started.”  This was how I began my journal entry last night, before I went to bed.  Could I have gone to bed without writing on my journal?  Yes, but I know it wouldn’t have felt good. Habits are hard to break. I have been journaling for many decades now, but unlike many journal writers, I have no clear memory of the time when I first wrote on a journal.  And I didn’t realize until a few years ago that the habit I had formed through the years offers many benefits other than being a friend when it was hard to find one; listening to my woes at any time of …