Calliope Writing

Thank You, Stephen King!
November 20, 2015, 4:54 pm
Filed under: Books, Reading, Reblogged Content | Tags: , , ,


Just one more reason Stephen King is awesome.

Read on for a great article by the funny genius behind Dysfunctional Literacy. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Dysfunctional Literacy:

(image via Wikimedia) (image via Wikimedia)

A few weeks ago, a friend of my wife came over unannounced and uninvited with her family.  Any visitors we get are because of my wife.  I don’t have friends, so nobody comes over to see me.  My wife has lots of friends, and sometimes we end up entertaining families of people whom I barely know.  Most of the time I don’t mind, but I don’t like it when the visitors are unannounced and uninvited.

In this case, the family had a teenage son who, according to his parents, is addicted to video games and hates to read.  He’s capable of reading, my wife’s friend said, but he won’t do it unless it’s a school assignment.

“At least he completes his school assignments,” I said to my wife’s friend.

“Yeah,” the son said to his mom, but she gave him a dirty look.

I could sympathize with…

View original 778 more words

Dig Those Tunes and Inspire Those Words

music quote 1

I don’t think any writer could deny the impact music can have on his or her work.

The Romance with Music Begins…

In high school, I wrote a novel (don’t get excited–it wasn’t a New York Times bestseller), and I always had a certain type of music playing while I wrote it.

A sampling:

What can I say? It was the ’90s, and The Crow was the best movie of all time (and, arguably, still is). And the book I wrote involved devils, angels, romance, and hell. I may have been sixteen, but I was convinced I had the soul of a much older and wiser woman.

Oh, teenagers.

…And the Love for Music Continues…

In college, I wrote a semi-autobiographical story and incorporated music throughout the text. You’ll see what I mean best by reading the opening paragraph:

Elton John’s “Rocket Man” is screaming in my ears, and while Elton ponders raising children on Mars, I consider a more dire issue. I’m having an affair with my drug dealer. Or, more accurately, the drugs he provides.

Did I say it was autobiographical? Kidding. Totally kidding.

Anyway, here’s a sampling of the music featured in my never-seeing-the-light-of-day story:

…And My Affair with Music Obviously Continues…

Now, I have a ridiculous amount of music I turn to when I write, and it goes beyond The Crow soundtrack and Elton John.

Music Post Question

I’m so glad you asked.

Here are a few playlists I turn to when getting ready to face the dreaded blank Word document. I hope you find a few songs you love–and that get you writing.

music quote 2

Tired of Talking Music?

Fine! Here’s some cool stuff I’ve come across over the past couple of weeks:

  • Someone has breathed fun into the dictionary and thesaurus with visuwords. Only visit if you’re ready to spend precious time playing around.
  • Writing the first draft is often the most difficult part of creating a finished work. Thankfully, Lara from write, edit, repeat has some tips on how to get it done like a boss.
  • “I love to read books, but I could never be a writer,” you say? WRONG! Daniel A. Roberts talks about the process of turning from reader into writer on A Writer’s Path.
  • The Kardashians threw a Great Gatsby-themed party. And they don’t seem to know why that’s silly. (I hope this is the only time I mention the word Kardashian on this blog.)
  • Having a hard time getting published? Buzzfeed has an informative guide on how to get your story or poem in a literary magazine. I’ll let you know if their advice works.
  • These major publishers are accepting unsolicited manuscripts (What what???).
  • Finally, check out “23 Ways to Uncover Your Inner Creative Badass” by Glory Begin. Good, good stuff.

Have any go-to artists or albums that you put on when it’s time to put pen to paper? Share them below–I’m always looking for killer music.

Wednesday Writing Motivation
October 28, 2015, 4:46 pm
Filed under: Books, Grammar, Quotes | Tags: , , , , ,

Happy Hump Day, folks!


Fine. Be that way.

Quotes to Inspire You

einstein quote

broken glass

drunk on writing

And Some Stuff to Check Out

  • The Atlantic asks if literary journals should charge writers a reading fee. I have the answer: No. Absolutely not. Read the article for the plethora of reasons.
  • Vegas as a literary destination? No, this article wasn’t published by The Onion.
  • A wonderful blogger I follow, Cindy Fazzi, wrote an ode to adverbs. I tend to hate those sneaky bastards, but you listed some killer quotes, Cindy.
  • The Reader’s Room, another awesome blog I follow, launched a monthly feature that I’m extremely upset I didn’t invent: Terrible Reviews of Great Books. You’re a genius, Jen.
  • It’s almost Halloween, and I love a good horror story. If we could be wondertwins and you can’t get enough grim gore, take Buzzfeed’s quiz and try to name the horror novel by reading one iconic line.
  • Speaking of All Hallows’ Eve, two bloggers I love – Poet Rummager and -FlyTrapMan- – are hosting Monster Masquerade, a way for monster-lovers to share their ghoulish creations. Monster Masquerade ceases to be on Halloween, so hurry and participate.
  • In case you didn’t know this about me, I love tattoos. Need proof?

tattoo proof

And you all know I love books. So of course I drooled while checking out Buzzfeed’s recent post listing thirty literary tattoos.

How’s your week going? Reading anything fascinating or – even better – writing something incredible?

Writer’s Block, You’re a Bitch

As someone who has been writing stories since the innocent age of five, I’ve experienced writer’s block. That would be an understatement. Truthfully, it’s more like I’m in a constant state of writer’s block, with spurts of “Holy crap, I can write!”

Funny Writers Block

So, you can imagine my excitement when one of my favorite people, author David Seaburn, said he wanted to write an article about the subject.

Dave, take it away!

Sometimes when I look at a blank page on my computer screen, I can tell it’s making fun of me or daring me to put even one tiny mark on its unsullied surface. No, I’m not kidding. This is for real. Sometimes it even looks, well, hostile, like it’s giving me the finger; and personal, like it’s saying “What in the world made you think you could write?” Lucky for me, I have other things to do when that happens. I stay away, not because I really want to, but because I have other stuff in my life. Who’s going to change the litter? Or binge-watch The Americans? I can’t just drop everything and sit down in front of a mind-numbingly blank page and, like, write. Who does that?


I just can’t write anymore!!

Okay, so, it’s hard being a writer because sometimes writing is the last thing you want to do or feel you can do. It’s anxiety-provoking when you don’t have anything in the tank. I mean, what does that say about you? That you’re a loser or something? I hate being in that position, so I’ve found some tricks that help me avoid the dreaded Block of the Writer.

Make Writing Habitual

First, I find that it helps if I write routinely, no matter what I write. You can define “routinely” for yourself, but generally speaking, that’s several times weekly. Sometimes I don’t work on fiction. Instead, I may write in my journal or edit what I’ve already written or work on a short blog post. But whatever I do, it helps if I put my butt in the chair routinely (there’s that word again) and practice, as if I were learning to play the piano.

writers block frustration

Shut Up Your Inner Critic

I also try to keep the self-loathing at bay. Getting way up in your own grill when you’re trying to be creative, well, it doesn’t help. I work at being gentle with myself or reminding myself that I have done some good writing in the past, that my writing skills haven’t dribbled out of my ear while I was asleep, that this will pass. Be patient.

…But Don’t Be Too Patient

Before I forget, don’t wait for inspiration. You may never sit down at the computer again if you wait to be inspired. Sometimes inspiration never shows up, but your writing may still be very good. And if it does show up, it probably sneaks in while you’re plodding along, just trying to put words and sentences together.

Source: The Oatmeal

Source: The Oatmeal

Stop Yourself While You’re on a Roll

Here’s a good trick. Ernest Hemingway said, “The best way [to avoid getting blocked] is always stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day…you’ll never be stuck.” I like this one a lot. I’ve stopped mid-sentence when I was on a roll, because when I sat down the next day, it was so easy to get started again. (Please overlook the fact that Hemingway eventually committed suicide. I don’t think that detracts at all from his sage advice. Mostly, anyway.)

Take a Break

I find that sometimes the best thing I can do is get up and walk away for a little while. Go to the bathroom. That’s where the best ideas are hiding. Or get the mail. Or make a cup of coffee or tea. Somehow this rearranges my brain cells, making it just a little easier to go forward.

writers block path

Don’t Give Up Just Because You’re Lost

The best protection against getting blocked is to keep going even if you don’t know where you’re headed. I learned this the hard way. I carried notes around for my first novel for ten (count ‘em – ten) years before I wrote the first sentence. I did this because I didn’t know how the book would end. Actually, I didn’t know how the first chapter would end.

Now I struggle less with this, because I understand that the “not knowing” part of writing is pretty common and that writing into a story is the best way to keep going, the best way to discover what’s ahead. Reminds me of E.L. Doctorow’s famous response to people who asked him about the uncertainty of the writing process: “I tell them it’s like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” I wish I had written that. I probably had writer’s block at the time.

Happy writing!

David B. Seaburn lives near Rochester NY. He has written five novels, two of which were expertly edited by Katrina Robinson. His latest novel is More More Time (2015, Savant Books). Also, visit his Psychology Today blog here.

Dave, you da man.

And just because it’s that kind of day, I’ll let Ryan Gosling wrap things up.

Funny Writers Block Hey Girl

Hell yes, you will, Ryan Gosling. Yes you will.

How do you deal with writer’s block? Do you huddle in the corner and cry, or do you take it on like a man?!

Get Your Tissues Ready: It’s Time for Book Porn!
October 13, 2015, 5:33 pm
Filed under: Books, Literature, Reading | Tags: , , , , ,

You’re obsessed with books? You don’t even know what obsession means.

Of course, maybe you do. How could I know? You could have some awful stalker-like tendencies and be obsessed with the blonde who lives in 4-A.*

My obsession is a little…safer. Because I’m obsessed with some emmereffing books.

It Started When I Was a Child…

This may seem impossible, but I was a really, really shy kid. Like many shy kids, I escaped from the anxiety-inducing real world into those found within books.

While my classmates didn’t notice me (or so I thought), my teachers sure as hell did, as is evident by this sweet postcard given to me by my eighth-grade English teacher:



Ms. Vacca, wherever you are, I rocked Honors English, I’m still writing, and I wonder if you’re clairvoyant because I now have a peacock tattoo….

My Books Are Taking Over My House

I began hoarding books early in my life. Not sure exactly when it happened, but while still prepubescent, I realized that I loved how books smelled, how the paper felt in my hands, and the mysteries and adventures contained within. So I read. A lot. And fell in love with so many books that my little heart couldn’t bear to donate them or give them away.

And that quality has followed me into adulthood.

Exhibit A: My Office/Library

My pride and glory.

My pride and glory.

But it doesn’t stop there. Because my desk has shelves…thus, my desk houses books.


Yes, Grumpy Cat is judging you.



An editor's tools should always be close at hand.

An editor’s tools should always be close at hand.

Exhibit B: Other Rooms in the House


BookPorndenThe above pair of bookends was given to me by awesome people. My love of books and my adoration of all things horror, combined: Perfect.

So. You can see why I’m convinced that books will eventually take over my house. They will break free of their shelves and start piling on the floors, in drawers, under beds.

I’m okay with that.

Book Sales

If I hear of a book sale, you can bet your tushie I’ll do my damnedest to be there and get my fill.

This past weekend, I enjoyed one such book sale and found what may soon become my new favorite book.


I want to read it, but I’m afraid to…what if it’s not as amazing as the cover leads me to believe?


Well, if William Safire says it’s awesome…

The Husband Got Me a Present

BookPorngrammarofgodI’m kind of excited. (Remember? I asked for this book last time.)

And I got another surprise–this sweet little inscription in my copy of my very talented buddy’s newest book, which was accompanied by a sweet-as-hell letter.


Dave, you da bomb.

Do you have an addiction to books? Yes? GOOD.

*If you are obsessed with the blonde in 4-A, my advice is to not be a creepazoid and spy on her. Instead, make small talk. Let me know how it goes.

Obsessed with and Fascinated by Outer Space
October 6, 2015, 6:14 pm
Filed under: Books, Literature, News, Science Fiction | Tags: , , , , , ,

Warning: Slightly sentimental talk ahead.

When I was in high school, I would sit on the back patio to stare at the moon. (Okay, staring at the moon was a secondary reason…the main reason was to sneak cigarettes.)

moon in dark blue sky

And at some point, I realized something very serious about myself…

if i were all alone

(…except that’s just not the way NASA does things…)

In college, I fell in love with Elton John (his music and his sparkles). And guess what one of my favorite songs was and is?

And, of course, there are the movies–all the wonderful movies about space! Ah. I won’t get into it. Let’s skip to…

Outer Space in Literature

I haven’t read a ton of books involving space, other planets, and the like, outside of Ray Bradbury and astronomy textbooks. And then I read Andy Weir’s The MartianWhat a freaking completely amazing novel. I might be slightly obsessed.

If you liked physics in high school or college, you love sci-fi, and you haven’t read this book, what the hell are you waiting for? It’s seriously awesome. In the actual meaning of the word – it inspires awe.

And now there’s a movie:

I don’t have high hopes (okay, maybe I do), but I am looking forward to seeing it.

Space is neat.

Space is neat.

And now, with all the talk about water on Mars, outer space is at the forefront of my mind once again. I’m always looking to watch a sci-fi movie, and this quiz about Mars in literature made me realize I have a lot of reading to do.

How do you feel about science fiction? Building colonies on Mars? Total Recall (the original – always the original)? Share in the comments section below.

Extra Stuff for Shits and Giggles

Whatever you take away from this post, remember this:

And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time
‘Til touchdown brings me ’round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh, no, no, no
I’m a rocket man

Because Pretty Pictures and Words Make Me Happy

Happy Saturday, folks!

After waking up with a pounding headache, I decided to distract myself with some things that make me happy: pretty pictures, inspiring quotes, and PJs.

The first two I’m sharing with you – but you need to get your own damned pajamas. (I’m a little territorial about mine.)


Violence Quote

Dog Quote

Blood Quote

Time Quote

Special shout-out to the amazing royalty-free supplier of most of the photos I feature on my blog: Gratisography, by Bells Designs.


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