Tag Archives: inspirational

Wherein I Nag Peeps to Blog

I’ve been on social media a looooong time. Found my niche, so to speak, early on with a pack of feral writers on Usenet, and we’ve been hanging around together on the various media as they wax and wane in popularity. We tried Twitter, but the 140 character limit was too stifling. Most of us have Twitter accounts, but it’s not our preferred way to communicate, since we like to talk… well, argue mostly, and we do go on and on and on. Many of us jumped into the blogging craze, but for whatever reason most dropped out of that, which I don’t understand. You would think that writers and blogs would go together like macaroni and cheeeese! Have I mentioned lately that not only do I love blogging, but I highly recommend it? I really do, from the bottom of my ice-cold heart. Then there were a bunch of rando express trains we hopped on as they arrived at the communication station over the years, but it turned out they all had the same destination: Boringville.

Except Facebook. We’ve all been on FB forever it seems. I closed my account in 2010, but ultimately returned with a new one within a year. I missed my peeps, and you know when friends say they’ll stay in touch via email and such they may have the best intentions, but… it simply does not happen. People are too busy for emailing, too busy for phone calls (plus many of us do not like phone calls ~ I am one), and you just lose touch. It’s not the same to see a few pics on Instagram or a tweet here and there. Facebook is how so many of us learn what’s going on with friends and family, unless you actually see people in meatspace or have a regular texting relationship. I have those, but not with hundreds of FB friends, just a few close ones, and my daughters of course.

But the Book of Face is all screwed up now with the latest data selling horror story. Will it survive? Who knows. It seems “too big to fail,” but that doesn’t mean it won’t. People are making noises about leaving, but we hear this every time something bad is in the news about breaches of privacy and whatnot. Yes, it feels different this time, worse, but even so. Hard to imagine a world without Facebook. But just because it’s hard to imagine doesn’t mean it can’t happen. We could all wake up one day to find a message saying the whole thing is down. OMG! And that could continue, day after day. What would people do? Watch TV, read books, ride bikes? The possibilities are literally endless.

Here’s one thing they could do, and in fact they could do it now, as insurance: BLOG! No, I am not getting paid to promote blogging, though I should be (pay me, WordPress); I just think it’s a Good Thing. Set up a blog, easy peasy, and start writing. If you don’t know what to write about, no worries, you can poast photos and memes and links to news stories in the headlines that everyone else sees same as you, like you do every day on Facebook (eyeroll), until you feel inspired to write an essay. But you might think about adding some original writing to your photo/meme/link. Hey what? Write a sentence or two about what YOU are thinking or feeling when you poast the link to that news story. Give your opinion. After a while, you won’t need a link and you can simply write an op-ed yourself. Like what I’m doing here. You won’t need links to validate your thoughts. Just jabber on and on and on like a Real Writer, wheeeeee!

After you blog, visit other blogs, like poasts, and comment. Follow. Then you’ll receive likes, comments, and follows. Soon there will be familiar avatars, topics, and interesting discussions. If you get a troll or someone otherwise unpleasant, block. Or engage, if that’s your preference.

If you already have a blog, then why aren’t you blogging? Hmmmm? Because you’re spending all day on FB, amirite? Best get to reviving that blog before FB goes poof. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!

If not now, when? Get a free blog before they’re all gone. Hurry!

And FFS, don’t forget the most important thing: follow me so my count goes up. 🙂



Study Notes


I was a smart kid, but I attribute my great grades not to flashes of genius but to boringly steady work habits. I trudged home from school, literally a mile+ in the snow, and did my homework. Every day. I spent a lot of time studying and overstudying for tests. Though I had some fun times, I didn’t really goof off that much, not in high school and certainly not in college.

In college, I had a Psych class and got 100% on a test. The professor congratulated me when he handed back the results, which was a little embarrassing. After class, a few students came up to me to ask how I did it. I said I read the assigned chapters, twice, and studied the lecture notes several times. That’s not what they wanted to hear, I could tell. They thought I had a special trick. I did not. I just spent a lot of time doing the boring, boring studying.

It is true when I was very young I had a bit of eidetic memory, but that faded fast and didn’t help me much by the time high school rolled around. I was better than most at remembering phone numbers, which has become an unnecessary skill these days. Who even needs to know their friends’ numbers any longer?

More recently I took the Notary Public exam and did well. I was a bit worried about it, even though I’ve taken it several times before (in California you have to retake it every four years). It’s easy to forget many of the details between tests if you only notarize once in a while as I do. But I overstudied like a maniac. Turns out I do have some good habits!

In my opinion, doing well in school is mostly about good habits, not brilliance. Could this be true about most things in life?


The Daily Prompt: Study

My Inner Daenerys

As some of you may know, I’ve been both reading the Game of Thrones books (finished Book 4 yesterday) and also catching up on the HBO episodes (halfway through Season 5, as of this bloggery). Enjoying it very much, though I’m getting a bit burnt out on all the blood and gore. My favorite characters have always been the Lannister siblings and their witty, cutting banter, and also the gorgeous, dramatic Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons, which are now grown and uncontrollable. That’s the thing with dragons ~ they’re cute when they’re first born, but then they get huge and hangry. And burny.

I know the show is affecting me a bit, since I’ve been binge-watching, but I didn’t realize to what extent until the otter day. I was very busy at work when a man barged into my suite with a cart of boxes. Hey, he said, I have some steaks for you.

What? Steaks? No one here ordered steaks.

He was jabbering on an earphone thing and writing on a clipboard at the same time, all distracted, or pretending to be. He said to me, hey, my boss said for me to offer you guys these steaks for practically nothing because your friends next door couldn’t take them all. Three bucks and you get this entire box of frozen steaks! It’s like I’m giving them to you for free!

I was so mad. I knew it was just another stupid scam. In the past, I might have called for my coworker to come out of his office to help me, or threatened this guy by telling him I was going to call security. But the night before I had watched Dany demand that Jorah Mormont GTFO of her sight or she’d behead him for spying on her.

I interrupted the steak man in the middle of his sales pitch.

“Please leave,” I said. “Now.

He stared at me for a second and then packed up and left, muttering about how people are usually happy about cheap steaks bla and bla.

I felt good about all that, but too bad I didn’t have a real dragon who could have breathed fire on the steaks and cooked them right there. LUNCH!


Doctor Sleep’s Fatal Flaws


This is going to be a super duper major spoiler of Doctor Sleep by Stephen King. I mean, absolutely 100%. Ready? K.

I did enjoy the novel while I was reading it because the main character Dan Torrance (Danny from The Shining, all grown up) was very compelling and I wanted to find out what happened to him. But after a bit of rumination (moo!), I sadly discovered huge flaws in the story.

The evil undead True Knot creatures feast on essences aka “steam” of people who have “the shining.” They prefer young’uns, since the shining is shinier in children, but they’ll take anyone they can get, because food. They can go awhile without eating steam and in the meantime they nom on meatloaf and mac&cheese like regular polyester-clad retirees in motor homes. They aren’t exactly like vampires ~ real vampires nom only on blood, IIRC. King never fully explains how this Knot originated and endured in ye tyme of olde, what they did before they blopped around the U.S. in motorhomes and stayed connected via modern technology, but whatever. He vaguely hints at gypsy caravans, but that’s not satisfactory. They aren’t Roma peeps. They’re almost all Americans, doing American things. These are minor nits though.

A larger nit is the early reference to dogs. The True Knot doesn’t like dogs and dogs don’t like them. Got it. This is a gun placed on a table. And King forgot he put it there. If it was important enough to mention, which it is because normally motorhome peeps have some pooches traveling around with them, then it has to be used later. I’m surprised at King! There should have been a dog in the story later on. Bummer.

But the hugest plot hole of all is as follows. The Knot kills Bradley the baseball boy in 2011. Bradley, age 11, was feeling poorly that day because he was coming down with the measles. A few years later, the Knot begins getting the measles and dying. An half-baked idea is tossed out that maybe the Knot used to have immunity from “rube” diseases and now they don’t, sort of like genes turning off. OH COME ON!  This is totally insulting to the reader. Obviously the only reason this “measles device” is flung into the story two years after the Knot consumed Bradley’s measles steam, is to provide a reason why the Knot has to go after Abra right now. Otherwise, there’d be no compulsion to get going immediately.

Rose, the Knot leader, is already aware of super-shining steamgirl Abra (Danny’s niece) and definitely wants to eat her essence, but has been holding off. Now, as the Knot gets sicker and their steam reserves grow low, it becomes imperative to get Abra now. Abra’s super duper shiny steam will boost them all to fab youth and vigor, plus she’s most likely been vaccinated, so she’ll have the double-effect of protecting any Knots who haven’t caught the measles yet from any measles germies circulating in their systems from lil Bradley. Logical, yah?

Dan used this logic to destroy a big tangle of the Knot in the penultimate battle of the story as he unleashed his dead mother-in-law’s cancerous essence into the room where they were assembled. The creatures were forced to inhale her poisonous steam, at which point they shriveled up and disappeared. Ooh, so clever and satisfying! And the reader was gratified to know that Dan himself wasn’t dying of a weird mysterious stomach ailment that had been plaguing him during the trip to the Overlook (yes, of The Shining), but had simply been transporting Momo. Yay!

But but but…

HOLD ON A MINUET. Let’s back up here. In 2001, the Knot sensed something big was going down at the WTC and lumbered into NJ to watch the disaster. They fed off the “steam” of the terrified and dying people from the Twin Towers. Some of those essences naturally contained souls who had a little bit of the shining, so it was a “good feed” for the evil creatures. That’s all fine so far. (Sorta. Seemed like later on they had to be physically closer to their victims.) BUT BUT BUT. Doesn’t it also stand to reason that some of those doomed WTC souls also had cancer, heart disease, flu, measles, whatever?

HELLOOOO?!?!?! The poor peeps from the Towers couldn’t have all been perfectly healthy and disease-free with pure, clean steam. Why weren’t the Knot getting sick from all kinds of stuff between 2001 and Bradley-time?

And what about the years and decades and centuries prior to that? The Knot never killed a kid who was sick before? They never inhaled “bad” steam? Bradley was the only one? Not believable! All the reader has to go on is this throwaway non-explanation that maybe the Knot’s scyfy genes turned off their protective immunity mechanisms the same way normal humans are programmed to age and die at some point. Meh.

I submit that King’s premise of the Knot staying healthy until Bradley’s measles is a fatal flaw of Doctor Sleep.

I am totally disappointed in him for this.

PS: I’ve searched for anyone else picking up on the fatal flaw I found, and so far have not found any discussion whatever. Am I off-base? No. People are not willing to see it because they are too busy praising King or else they’re criticizing the book for not being “scary” enough, which is just silly. Horror is like porn. If this doesn’t get you going, you’re too immersed in the genre. Take a looooong break.

Jenga Stack of Pain


I’ve just finished Remember Mia by Alexandra Burt. It’s a fabulous book, so beautifully written, and I highly recommend it. More and more I enjoy stories that aren’t told “straight.” I want to figure things out with the protag, knowing that what s/he tells me might not be correct at all. Facts get mangled, dialog is misremembered, perceptions fade over time. That’s the way we live our lives, isn’t it? We try to interpret the shadows best we can, and sometimes we hold onto ideas that are terribly wrong.

Last night I fell asleep while reading the book and dreamt I’d finished it. I woke up unable to remember the ending and became a bit upset. Had my memory become that bad? But no. I had about 20% left to read. Whew! The story is so engrossing that I got tangled up in the mommy emotions to the point where I thought I couldn’t bear it. There are some thoughts I simply can’t entertain. But I did finish, for real.

When I began this poast, I wanted to use the Jenga quote for my title, but I couldn’t search for it, since this was a real book. I took my best shot… and it turned out to be incorrect. The quote (found the old-fashioned way) is as follows:

I need him to be strong–not for me, for himself–because I was able to cope, have been coping, but I just can’t add any more weight to my Jenga stack of agony. (p. 396)

This is pure awesomeness.

I was going to blather on about my own life and how I discovered strength when I thought I had none, after people told me I was incapable of doing anything on my own, bla bla bla, how I piled everything on very carefully and it’s holding steady, which is why I can’t deal with any new drama whatsoever, etc., but who cares? Read the book. It’s so good.

Quickie Movie Reviews

These are old, so don’t get excited.

1. Hitch. Wow, what a fun movie! My friend brought it over for us to watch after Passover seder. It’s a typical rom-com, but almost all from the hero’s POV, which was different. Lotsa chemistry between the protags and a great supporting cast too.

2. Finding Neverland. Interesting story of how J.M. Barrie was inspired to write Peter Pan. I really enjoy Johnny Depp, in whatever role. Highly recommend.

3. Pillow Talk. One of my all-time faves and it holds up decades after my first viewing. Love the witty dialog and the chemistry between Rock Hudson and Doris Day. Tony Randall is adorb and Dr. Bellows plays a phone company employee, tee hee.

4. Identity. Weird, scary, violent, exciting, suspenseful, interesting plot twists, and John Cusack. Love this movie ~ and I bought it so I can watch again because I’m still not exactly sure wtf happened there.

5. Stuck in Love. OK, this movie both intrigued me and annoyed me. I found the protag Dad oddly interesting in his obsession with his ex-wife. Annoying how he didn’t appear to be working anymore but had a big beautiful house on the beach regardless. Because having one famous book means you’re set for life, right. I loved his daughter and thought her romance was very well-done. Loved her dude. But it was super-annoying that she wrote a book while in college, tossed it, wrote another one and boom got published at a top house. Ridiculous. Younger brother is still in high school and wants to be a writer, too, natch. Sis sends his story to Stephen King who calls him personally to say he liked it, because THAT CAN HAPPEN. I found the girl’s estrangement from her mother and her boyfriend’s loss of his mom super-moving and believable. A mix of yay and rawr throughout.

More to come. 🙂

How to Suffer Beautifully

Perfect review of the new Cinderella here in the NY Post.

Ella is an orphaned woman who fully expects she is losing her chance to marry the man she loves because of her wicked stepmother. Yet instead of cursing or sulking or weeping, she sings the song her mother sang to her as she fell asleep, all those years ago.

Cinderella never bitches or blames, but continues to be kind, especially to animals. This is not “anti-feminist” as Vox asserts, but in fact Cinderella uses the lessons her mother taught her to find her own inner strengths. She would have been fine with or without the Prince.

Closing Time

Leonard Cohen’s lyrics fit my mood…

I swear it happened just like this:
a sigh, a cry, a hungry kiss
the Gates of Love they budged an inch
I can’t say much has happened since

Listen to the whole thing. It’s awesome. Seriously.

Time To Let Go

I stumbled onto this great article by Anne R. Allen. She discusses some of the protagonists that readers hate. We all know about the villain we secretly (or not so secretly) root for, but it’s important as a writer also to understand the kind of protags a reader does not want to see.

1. The Mary Sue. I never heard of this before ~ the term comes from fanfic (which could explain why). Basically it’s an ordinary person who has a massive amount of strength or wisdom to save the planet and/or attract the hottest supermodel. She (or he) is the author’s fantasy self. Boring!

2. The Special Victim. This protag endures all sorts of horror, but can never do anything about it because that would wreck the storyline. The reader sits there frustrated, urging the dumbass to walk out the open door. (This could also be called “revenge fiction” if the protag is really a stand-in for someone you want to torture in writing.)

3. The Perfect Pat. This is another fantasy writer self ~ a protagonist who does everything perfectly and never has an incorrect or repulsive thought. It’s basically a gilded memoir. More boring than a boring boring thing.

4. The Looky-Loo. Like the annoying non-buyer of real estate, this protag wanders through the story, looking and feeling and hearing and thinking. The writing may be profound and beautiful, even deep and poetic, but NOTHING EVER HAPPENS.

5. The Literal Larry. This is the star of a memoir, where no detail is omitted, no matter how mundane or irrelevant, because “it really was just like that.” Gah.

I will give you one guess which protag is the one I’ve been writing for the last twenty-five years in my fabulous epic novel Motion Sickness.

MS began as a short story where I was mocking an old boss (RIP Tony G) for his goofy dietary prefs. It was a pretty fun story called “Broccoli.” Then I decided to enter a novella contest, so I expanded Broccoli to 25K words. I overlaid it with a theme of drowning and called it “Water.” Later on I decided to squish a couple of new ideas into Water and make it novel-sized. At that point I renamed it “Motion Sickness.”

Never satisfied with the story, I kept tweaking it. Start in a different spot, use new themes such as synesthesia and depression, add in imaginary characters, throw in some hookers, create a love triangle, have a happy ending, no! change it to a sad ending…

But the problem was that my protag simply floated through all this, unchanging. She is an observer, not an actor. She is not a compelling heroine. She watches and snarks, she loves mildly and hates dispassionately. She is detached from everything, including her own neuroses and fears. She is way too much like me ~ i.e., boring as hell.

It’s time to let this go.


I read Rosanne Cash’s wonderful memoir, Composed, given to me by a friend. Rosanne’s life is at once lonely and sad and joyful and creative… I relate to so much of it. Well, except for having the mega-star father, fortune, and fame, of course. Rosanne’s writing delighted me ~ she skips around in time, which some may object to, but I found charming.

I have abandoned my reliance on the external facts to support an individual truth, and everyone is entitled to his or her own. [pg. 3]


That was her unapologetic intro, and it was awesome. Don’t we all do this really? Our fundamental truths are subjective.

A lonely road is a bodyguard. [pg. 60]

Rosanne wrote that at age 12 (so amazing!) and kept returning to this theme in her writing and her life. She expresses her thoughts about creativity, music, family, love, parenting (both sides), brain surgery, and ultimately death in such an accessible style. I felt so close to her through her words that I ordered her book of short stories, along with a CD.

Loss is the great unifier, the terrible club to which we all eventually belong. [pg. 206]