Michille: The Grammar Police

Parse_tree_1That’s not me. I’m not the Grammar Police. I am a Grammar Police wannabe. It’s on my to-do list to find a refresher course on grammar because I believe mine is somewhat lacking, which is something I usually discover when I go to edit (I don’t worry about it when I’m writing the drafts). I’m not trying to diagram my sentences, but sometimes, I think that would help. Go back to the basics to boil the sentence down. Continue reading

Michaeline: A Writer’s Statement of Policy and Aims

Mucha lady holding a quill pen with a serious look on her face

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I write for myself.

What I write may resonate with people of my gender, race, ability and sexual preference, and it may resonate with people beyond those narrow boundaries, but that’s not my business. My business is to write so that my soul rings with the truth, beauty and sheer bliss or agony of what I write.

I feed my writing soul with stories that cross the boundaries that confine my narrow life experience, and I pay attention when something resonates with me, and I won’t feel guilty if I try to incorporate those truths into my own work. I also feed my writing soul with stories that live within my narrow life experience, but dig deeper or reach higher than I have ever dreamed. If something resonates, I have permission to transform it and use it in my own writing.

I will explore my feelings when I write something that makes me anxious or sad or unhappy. I will not feel burdened to publish anything that makes me feel bad. On the other hand, I will not sugarcoat my writing simply because it might have the power to make someone else feel anxious or sad or unhappy.

I want to write joy, but I also recognize that joy is heightened when contrasted with pain. I will not write pain for the sole purpose of pulling some reader’s heartstrings, but I will not be afraid of writing the pain, either.

I will pay attention to my readers and trusted critics, but ultimately, what I publish has my name on it, and I will write for myself.

I am a writer, and I write for myself.

(A statement in progress, to be updated as needed.)

Nancy: Creativity Is Hard Work

Me, every writing day. Often, I am pushing the same damn boulder I’ve been pushing for weeks or months.

Last week, I had a conversation with a very creative person in a field other than writing. (Yes, it turns out there are creatives in the world who are not writers! I, too, was surprised.) We were discussing “living the dream.” Which is, apparently, what I, as a full-time writer, am doing. My creative friend, still working the day job, is not. And he had thoughts about that.

Actually, he has dreams of his own, which are wonderful things! He also has some misconceptions about what my day-to-day life of dream-living entails.

For those of you who have not met me IRL, I should explain that I have no poker face. Ergo, I could not hide my shock, dismay, and perhaps even amusement at his idea of my life. And while I have my own dreams of spending my writing days frolicking with unicorns and sliding down rainbows while the Best Story Ever Written magically appears on my computer screen, I’ve only had two, maybe three days tops, when unicorns have appeared. And those might or might not have involved whisky. That is to say, this dream gig is hard. Continue reading

Michaeline: The Parable of the Black Tea

A young lady and gentleman having tea at five-clock.

For a bunch of leaves soaked in hot water, tea provokes a lot of passion, and a lot ideas about “doing it right”. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Green tea, of course, is a fine art in Japan and people study for years to do it right. There are special costumes, special bowls for the tea, and even the tea itself is a special blend, especially powdered for the tea ceremony.

You can enjoy the “way of tea” club in some high schools, and pick up a very esoteric hobby (and possibly a part-time job, as you progress, pick up a teaching license, and start to instruct others in the “way of tea”).

Green tea is green tea; my friend’s friend was doing a ceremony with black tea, and I’d been drinking black tea all my life. My father, in fact, had developed several rituals over the years, which finally settled into putting six teabags (Lipton’s) in boiling water, turning off the heat, and letting the whole thing steep for exactly 20 minutes. Then, the super-tea was diluted with a quart and a half of water, and put in the fridge for the next day’s consumption. (Sorry, Jilly, to describe that so graphically, but that’s how it was.)

Well, we didn’t have to cosplay in frock coats and pelisses for this tea party my friend’s friend was holding, but it was marked by ritual. Water was brought to the correct temperature, pots were rinsed and warmed, and all sorts of rules were observed. And the milk! Oh, so many rules about the milk, now eroded in my mind by contradictory internet arguments about how to serve milk with tea (or tea with milk). This party took place before we got internet, so I couldn’t double check the rules later and preserve them in my memory. All that faffing about did make a good cup of tea, but not a out-of-body-experience-inducing tea. There are only two parts I remember – the water must Continue reading

Michille: A Pill for Writer’s Block

pills istock-168763163Seriously. There’s a pill. I heard an interview with Robert Anthony Siegel on NPR Radio in which he discussed a one-man open-label placebo trial he’d undertaken with John Kelley. Siegel is a writer and Kelley is a psychology professor at Endicott College and the deputy director of Harvard’s Program in Placebo Studies and Therapeutic Encounter, a program devoted to the interdisciplinary study of the placebo effect. The goal was to get rid of Siegel’s writer’s block, and the panic attacks and insomnia that went hand-in-hand with the writer’s block. The interview was a discussion about the research and subsequent article in the Smithsonian Magazine – “Why I Take Fake Pills: Surprising new research shows that placebos still work even when you know they’re not real.” Continue reading

Justine: What to Give Your Book-Loving Mom on Mother’s Day

happy mothers dayDon’t worry! You haven’t missed Mother’s Day…it will be celebrated in the US and 84 other countries on Sunday, May 12th (so you still have time to get a gift or send a card!). Almost every country in the world celebrates Mother’s Day; however, not all on the same day.

Mother’s Day was first celebrated in 1908 by West Virginian Anna Jarvis, in memory of her mother, who had died a year earlier. Although Jarvis pushed for a national holiday, it was until 1914 that US President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.

However, Jarvis would come to resent the holiday… Continue reading

Michaeline: Wasted Time? Or Not?


Lady taking notes in 1920s Manicure advertisement originally so lovely hands

I should take better notes as I go along. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I just had a long, lovely holiday at home, thanks to the Emperor’s Birthday, but you know how when you were a kid, and you spent the whole weekend doing nothing, and then suddenly the Sunday Afternoon Boredom hit? After In Search Of (a TV program devoted to exploring mysteries of history and fiction, like Atlantis or Bigfoot), there was NOTHING to do until Lawrence Welk. And that is a measure of how dull and deadly the afternoon was, when Lawrence Welk and his Champagne Music was something to look forward to. (I’m not dissing LW; I’m just saying that the show was no American Bandstand.)

OK, back to this century. What with the internet and DVDs and everything, the blahs didn’t really hit until Friday afternoon, when I realized that I’d WASTED an entire week. This was going to be my chance (one chance in a lifetime, I believe I said in last week’s blog) to try out a new lifestyle. Continue reading