Sunday, May 23, 2010

15 Tweets by @annvevera!

I joined Twitter three months ago. As of today, I have 45 followers, mostly writers, and I follow 58, same people who follow me, plus a few extra.

Twitter is really fun. It's a great place for making web-friends and networking.

Writers tweet about writing, of course, post links to blog posts and articles, post messages about random thoughts, reply to other people's tweets, and share other people's tweets (retweet!).

So what do I tweet about? As of today, I have posted 226 tweets, and I am going to share 15 of them in chronological order. (If you want to read all 226, you just click on the blue bird at the top right corner of this blog.) Remember, each post is only allowed 140 characters.

Here I go.

Mar 15th. 4:44 am. @Chumplet Thank you! Still trying to learn all this. How it works.

Mar 23rd. 1:40 pm. Ah..., I just figured out what the things do in the sidebar. I was wondering how I could see if anyone had replied on my tweets.

Mar 28th. 2:38 pm. @ACRead Thanks. I decided to follow a few people on your list.

Mar 31st. 1:51 am. Wednesday is trash-day. Do you leave neat, organized piles (control freak?), or drag it out there leaving a long trail of crap (slob)?

Apr 3rd. 8:51 am. If my mom was on Twitter: "I cleaned the hallway closet today."

Apr 5th. 5:08 pm. School is great. I am learning lots of cool stuff. But I have no time to write!

Apr 7th. 1:06 am. @BigWords88 Actually, teachers! And you never want a teacher to be your student --that's the absolute worst combination.

Apr 9th. 5:38 am. @TKToppin Great article! Very interesting. The masses are exposed to very few choices in the traditional bookstores. Not good.

Apr 10th. 4:53 pm. Skyped my mom. Have to. Every Saturday morning at 9 am. She talks for 30 minutes. I listen. Then I tell her I have to make breakfast.

Apr 11th. 6:07 am. My dad will call me at 9:30 sharp! I talk for 5 minutes. He asks about the weather, then cuts me off with: "Next week same time okay?"

Apr 18th. 4:34 am. Some people just deliver interesting and fun blog posts like it's as easy as making a ....., well something that is easy to make!

Apr 26th. 1:02 am. How about giving a 20 million dollar sign-on bonus to a writer with a promising manuscript? Why only in football?

Apr 28th. 5:10 pm. What's going on out there? I'm trapped in an evil bubble: work, eat, read, read, eat, sleep, shower, coffee, work...

May 6th. 1:04 am. The snowbirds are leaving Florida.

May 19th. 3:40 pm. First day of my summer semester. It doesn't look like I am going to get much writing or fiction reading done over the next 12 weeks.

Previous post: Twitter. Not Just Oprah does it!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

May Reading Update: John Steinbeck.

My goal for this year is to read fifteen fiction novels. It's mid-May, a third into the year, and I can't say that I've read five books, but I'm pretty darn close. The number is four! They are:
  1. Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand,
  2. The Hobbit by J.J.R Tolkien (Got bored, and finished half!),
  3. White Fang by Jack London (So far, this year's favorite!),
  4. What I Talk about When I Talk about Running by Haruki Murakami (This year's big disappointment!)
And now, I'm working on Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck. It's a thin paper-back novel, only 207 pages. I chose it because I wanted a quick read, but I discovered a real pearl! This is my first experience reading John Steinbeck. He and Jack London have a lot in common. They were both experts at human behavior and skillful masters at creating vivid metaphors.

Here is a little taste from Tortilla Flat:

"Pilon and Pablo entered the little house joyfully. Pilon lighted a candle and produced two fruit jars for glasses.
-Health! said Pablo.
-Salud! said Pilon.
And in a few moments,
-Salud! said Pablo.
-Mud in your eye! said Pilon.
They rested a while.
-Su servidor, said Pilon.
-Down the rat-hole, said Pablo.
Two gallons is a great deal of wine, even for two paisanos. Spiritually the jugs may be graduated thus: Just below the shoulder of the first bottle, serious and concentrated conversation. Two inches farther down, sweetly sad memory. Three inches more, thoughts of old and satisfactory loves. An inch, thoughts of bitter loves. Bottom of the firts jug, general and undirected sadness. Shoulder of the second jug, black, unholy despondency. Two fingers down, a song of death or longing. A thumb, every other song each one knows. The graduation stops here, for the trail splits and there is no certainty. From this point on anything can happen. (p.23-24)"

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Finals!

I will not be able to write a regular post this weekend. I have four final exams next week and so I have to study. That's life sometimes. This will be the first time since November that I haven't posted something, not counting this announcement. Wish me luck. Next weekend I plan to post as usual.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

How Zap Your Poetic Creativity!

Writing poetry is fun. But it's not easy. It's a matter of going to that creative zone with our senses wide open. It takes concentration. We want to avoid all those trite and tired metaphors often found in popular music, magazines, and films. We want to produce an original. But this doesn't mean we need to go crazy with difficult words which mainstream readers have never heard of, unless of course, your plan is to annoy them! A poet needs to find ways to use ordinary words in new ways.

So where does a poet find ordinary words that can be used to create new and original poems? There are a lots of ways. Have you ever seen refrigerator magnets used to create poetry? It was a popular gift for a while. The words were typed on magnetic strips. And they were sold in boxes with different themes like gardening, parenting, romance etc. But it's not necessary to buy magnetic words. You can do it yourself. Not magnets, I mean that you can decide on a theme and find words! I decided to write down words that I encountered at the office where I clean. One rule, I could only write down words that I saw written on different objects. It was kind of fun. So I created the office theme!

Now, what do we do with all our words? Sandford Lyne has written a great book called Writing poetry from the inside out. Finding your voice through the craft of poetry. Sandford uses a method that he calls Poem-Sketching. He makes word groups. Each group has four words: a couple of nouns, an adjective, and a verb.

Here are an example of a few groups from my office list.


  1. Wall, Hewlett Packard, extra wide, laugh.
  2. Knight, department, husky, love.
  3. Handicap door, mommy, perfect, lead.
  4. Xerox, budget, durable, smoke.
  5. Project, peanut, simple, injure.
  6. Tony, in-box, damp, change.


Okay, you get the idea. If you want to mix groups and change things around, go right ahead. You make the rules. The idea is to zap your creativity started and get the poetic river flowing from your brain. All the little words like: he, she, and, then, how, if, in , on, you add as needed. Let me know if this works! Which themes did you come up with?

Previous post: Great News! My Poem Was Published

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Naming Fictional Characters. Here Are A Few Tips!

Names are important. Naming our fictional characters can be as difficult as naming our children. Maybe harder, because we often need more than one name! The name has to fit the character's age, gender, background, and ethnicity. Best of all, when we've found a really great name, it reflects and color our character's personality.

A character's name is a huge deal! Memorable names touch us deep inside and stay with us a long time after we've finished reading. Some of our favorite fictional characters stays with us forever.
  • Frodo Baggins from The Lord of The Rings,
  • Wilber from Charlotte's Web
  • Scarlett O'Hara from Gone with the wind,
  • George Milton and Lennie Small from Of Mice and Men,
  • Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird,
  • Larietta "Carrie" N. White from Carrie,
  • Betty Rizzo and Danny Zuko from Grease,
  • Darth Vader from Starwars,
  • Edward Cullen from Twilight.

Okay, so maybe you don't share my picks above, but you can surely come up with your own list.

So where do we find names? Besides the phone book, friends and relatives, the Internet is the most obvious modern resource. Having the Internet at our fingertips, it's hard to imagine how authors like Steinbeck found so many suitable names for his characters.

Here are a few helpful sites:

1. Popular baby names.
The Social Security Administration's homepage is a great resource. There you can search most popular names for a particular year, or decade. It's very user friendly. Just type the year you want into a little search window. But I can save you time by telling you that Michael was the most popular boy's name between the decades 1960-1990. Guess a popular girl's name!

2. Babynames.com
This website has all kinds of good stuff. Boy names, girl names, meaning of names, celebrity names, a cool name list, soap opera names, names from fashion, dog names, cat names, and more!

3. TheNameSite.com
Maybe you're looking for something more flavorful. This site has names with information about their pronunciation, meaning, origin country, region, and gender. How about the name Abdalla. Guess if it's a boy or a girl? It means servant of God.

4. The Internet Surname Database.
Here is every American surname is alphabetical order. Just click on the letter you want and get information about its origin, history and variation in spelling.

5. Exotic Pet Names
This is from About.com. It has names for exotic pets, alphabetical list of pet names, and names for pairs of pets. How about a name like Magnum PIg for your potbellied friend?

So how about it, which are your favorite fictional character names?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Death. Is It Funny Or Sad?

Is it appropriate to write a blog post about death? I hope so. So far, I've been spared from painful losses, so my personal experience on this topic is limited. I can't decide if this is an advantage or a disadvantage, as far as writing is concerned. Since I am inexperienced, I allow myself to joke about death. Though, it is very likely I'm an insensitive idiot.

The first time I was confronted with death was when my grandpa died. I was eight at the time. His passing didn't affect me that much since we weren't really close, but it was hard to see my mom grieving. I went to his funeral even though my mom had given me the option to stay at home. I was curious, and I wanted to impress her. She was moved by my participation, and mistakenly thought I was a sensitive and mature child.

I remember sitting there during the funeral observing my mom's and relatives' sad faces and wondering if grandpa could see us from heaven, and if he could see that I wasn't crying. The casket was shiny and big, and very quiet. I remember wanting to ask my mom if she was sure grandpa was really inside it, and if she was really sure that he was dead. What if he was actually sleeping?! When they lowered the casket down in the ground, I remember feeling conflicted with thoughts of my grandpa waking up from his sleep and calling for help. Nobody would hear him from down there!

My second memorable experience with death came eleven years later. It happened during my CNA training. We went on a field trip to a funeral home. "You're lucky," the funeral director told us and winked. "We have an open casket funeral this afternoon." Upon this statement, he lead us to a dimly lit room with chandeliers glittering in the ceiling and rows of chairs facing the same direction. In front of the chairs, surrounded by flower arrangements, was a casket with an elderly woman. Her face was made up with pink cheeks and red lips. And she was wearing eyeglasses. My common sense told me she was dead, but in a different place, I would have believed she was napping.

After this viewing, the funeral director showed us the embalming room. He proceeded to tell us about one time when he was so busy that he had nine "stiffs" at the same time. They had to be stored on top of cabinets until their funeral dates. Since he didn't have time to go home and eat that night, his wife had brought him a pic-nick dinner. The faces on the others in my group were serious, probably in shock, but I was panicking, trying not to burst in to laughter. It didn't help matters much that the funeral director had a left eye that was stuck looking sideways.

Now on to a recent date. How did I think about writing a blog post and sharing my experiences with death? Last Friday, I had my first cadaver lab. It wasn't at all as weird and creepy as it might sound. As I am in college studying to become a physical therapist assistant, this was a extraordinary opportunity to learn about the human body. Not humorous really, okay maybe a little. It was hard to go home and make our usual Friday roast beef subs and not think about what our muscles look like after we die, but this is probably a normal reaction.

Obviously, the atmosphere and the interior of a cadaver lab is vastly different form that of a funeral home. It has high ceilings, white walls, concrete floors, and fully illuminated by industrial lights. In preparation for the smell, I had rubbed Vicks inside my nose which I quickly regretted when I felt it burn every time I took a breath. But the pain was forgotten once I entered the lab and I saw the metal tables with bodies. Two hours of studying the human body flew by. I left floating on clouds. It had been such a fascinating experience.

To tie up this rather incoherent blog post, I have one final reflection to share. One of the bodies in the cadaver lab was a woman that had died from leukemia. My teacher inquired if anyone knew a sigh of this disease. I was the only one who knew. A giant spleen! I know this because my mom has leukemia. Eventually, death will affect us all. Even me!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April AW Blog Chain. Meet Rags!

I decided to take part in the April blog chain on Absolute Write, a writer's forum I visit often. The topic is fictional characters. And a question was posed: What would it be like to meet your novel characters?

Since I'm in the middle of the chain, a few writers have already written their posts. You can read about their characters here: Proach, RavenCorinnCarluck, AuburnAssassin, DavidZahir, xcomplex.

Now on to my own contribution. I'm a beginner novelist. My first finished novel, "Sam and Stella" , was created during last year's National Novel Writing Month . It was my second attempt at a longer fiction story. Before that, in August of last year, I started a story that I titled "Trucker", but it was never finished.

It is from "Trucker" that I like you to meet Rags. I don't know much about him yet. He dropped in on my lead character Jake who is in the hospital. Jake totaled his truck, and Rags is a fellow trucker who he has known for several years. Here is an excerpt from my first meeting with Rags during that hospital visit.

Jake heard a familiar shuffle coming from the hallway. His heart started beating faster in anticipation, hoping to confirm who he longed to see. Then there he was. Rags appeared in the door way, wearing his sideways grin. Only five-four, his cowboy boots helped elevating his confidence two more inches. On most days his wiry, steel colored hair resembled a dish brush. But not today. Today it was tied back in a ponytail, the braid in his beard was gone, and he was dressed in a charcoal suit. Jake barely recognized him. He didn't recall having ever seen him in anything other than tattered jeans and flannels.

"Who died or got hitched?" Jake teased.

Rags pulled his lips together and pushed his chin out.

"I see you got the flowers," he said and nodded towards the water pitcher with sunflowers on Jake's bedside table.

"Yeah man, tell the guys thanks! They brighten up this sterile hell hole."

Rags sat down.

Jake continued. "Rags, you don't know how freakin glad I am to see you. I miss work like crazy."

"So they think you'll be back to driving soon then?" Rags face perked up.

Jake wished he could he could say yes. The question was so hopeful and brutal at the same time. He wished he could get up, take his bag, and return to his life, the way it had been before the accident. His thoughts stirred up a surge of emotions and he fought to hold back a sob. The painful swelling grew in his throat and he bit down to hold it together. Embarrassed, he turned his head towards the wall.

A few quiet minutes went by. Then Rags broke the silence with a question.

"Did you ever meet my old man?"

Jake nodded and met Rags eyes.

Rags' dad, Oscar Junior, went by two names: O.J. by day and Wild by night. His fondness for Jack Daniels coupled with an explosive temper had earned him his nickname. O.J. had retired when Jake started trucking, but sometimes he showed up for a barbecue, or tagged along on one of Rags' trips.

"Yeah well, my mom died when she had me. And since my dad and grandpa drove trucks and were gone most of the time, I was raised by my uncle Frankie. He owned one of Minnesota's largest turkey farms. Guess what my dirty job was? Every day after school!" Rags chuckled.

Jake smiled. Rags was a storyteller.

"You guessed it." Rags continued. "Shoveling turkey shit! But I didn't complain. Frankie paid me to do it. He had some grand scheme that I was gonna save the money for college, get a suit degree, and help him with the farm. Can you see me with and briefcase?" he laughed and tugged on the braid that wasn't there. "Frankie and auntie Emma couldn't have kids, so they tried their darndest to turn me into a civilized citizen."

----

This is probably a good place to stop. I need to work on Rags voice. It's a little stiff. Also, my husband thinks that Jake behaves and thinks like a girl. We'll see how it goes. It's a learning process. My plan is to post more excerpts from "Trucker" in the future. The story Rags has started is a sad one, and I'd like him to finish it. So it's to be continued! If you like, you can also read an earlier post about my novel "Trucker" . It has the synopsis.

Next on the Absolute Writer's April blog chain are: FreshHell, leahzero, Aimeelaine, Anarchicq, Breddings, *RomanceWriter* , ForbiddenSnowfake, razibahmed, CScottMorris, Aheila, LadyMage.