Calliope Writing


So I Took a Vacation from You Nutcases…
May 22, 2017, 11:51 am
Filed under: Being Awesome, Updates | Tags: , , , ,

…and I missed you terribly. Well, not terribly, because I was on vacation, but I did miss you. I’m glad to be back into the swing of things.

I’m sure you’re all sitting on the edges of your computer chairs wondering: where did Katrina go? What did she do? Did she run into anyone famous?

This vacation’s destination was the fun and sunny:

Retro Florida Postcard

Courtesy of ThePostcard.com

St. Augustine, to be exact.

I’d never been, and getting a beach house with a pool (hello, double water and sun) sounded A-okay with me.

I spent all but one day doing this:

Reading by the Pool

But my husband and I did go into Old Town, which was a blast to walk through. And I dragged him to:

The Fountain of Youth Sign

Yes, I did drink from it. So I’m going to live forever now. Don’t act so excited–I know there’s envy in your heart.

An added bonus? There were peacocks–one of my favorite animals–everywhere. I decided they were the unofficial mascot of The Fountain of Youth, and then went insane chasing them and taking pictures:

And there were even white ones!

White_Peacock

Overall, it was an incredibly relaxing vacation filled with books, tons of kitschy stuff I wanted to buy, loads of peacocks, and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets.

I’ll leave you with one such sunrise (the only one I got a picture of):

Saint_Augustine_Sunrise

Oh, and I didn’t run into any celebrities. Sorry to disappoint!

What about y’all? Where are you going for spring/summer vacation?



I’m an Award-Winning Fool
May 3, 2017, 11:20 am
Filed under: Being Awesome | Tags: , , ,

The lovely Estella Lynch nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is…well…I don’t have much info on it other than it’s a blogging award. So hooray!

liebster award

I’ve been  asked to answer some questions about myself and to nominate others to take part in the award. But as you all know, I tend to skip the nominating thing because I don’t want any of you bastards to feel left out.

On to the questions:

1. Which is your favorite blog post you’ve ever written? [Please post a link so I can read it.]

feature image for depression post

My favorite would be “Mental Illness: My Brain Demons Want Me to Fail” because it was the first time I was straight-up honest about my mental condition in such a public forum. It felt good to write that post and hit “publish.”

2. Do you prefer the city or countryside?

Due to my social anxiety, I prefer the suburbs or country. But if my social anxiety were nonexistent, then I would definitely be a city girl.

3. Cats or dogs?

Lucy the Conqueror

Lucy, the weirdest dog I’ve ever known (and loved).

Dogs. Always dogs.

4. Comedies or thrillers?

I have to choose one? I guess I’ll pick comedies, although my absolute favorite genre is sci-fi or horror.

5. Coffee or tea?

Um…neither. I’m a hot chocolate kind of person. Never really got on the tea or coffee bandwagon.

6. Words or images?

Images. I know, I know. I’m a writer, so I should pick words. But we’re being honest here, right? So I have to fess up: I choose images.

7. Meryl or The Donald?

Oh yeah? Well, I have a question for you: Am I uncool for having no idea what this question means?

8. Parties or private moments?

Private moments. See note about social anxiety above.

9. Are you a world-traveler or homebody?

I’m a homebody although I wish I were a world-traveler. That fun social anxiety I’ve mentioned twice already? It has a buddy called travel anxiety. They both live in a corner of my brain and plot ways to make me freak out.

10. What/who inspires you?

inspire me liebster award

Art, music, people who have overcome difficult situations, and nature.

11. Why blog?

I began blogging because I figured it was what was expected of me, given that I’m a freelance writer. But now I blog because I enjoy it. Quite a bit.

That’s all for now, folks. I hope your day is as far out and wonderful as possible.



I Got the Awesome Blogger Award Because I’m…Awesome

A big thanks goes out to InspiresN for nominating me for the Awesome Blogger Award! You’re awesome too, InspiresN. Obviously. If you have a moment, check out their blog–it’s filled with great quotes and pics (and more).

The Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Include the reason behind the award.
  3. Include the banner in your post.
  4. Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.
  5. Answer the questions your nominator gave you.
  6. Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.
  7. Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.
  8. Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated!

Since I’m a rule-breaker, I’m totally not following the rules. So why don’t we go ahead and discount numbers 4, 6, 7, and 8. Because I hate nominating people (I don’t want anyone to feel left out).

I know. I’m such a rebel.

My Answers to InspireN’s Questions:

1. Your favorite fast food

My favorite fast food joint would have to be Wendy’s. I dig their Baconator. A lot. I like bacon.

2. Are you an indoor or outdoor person?

I spend a lot of time indoors, but in reality, I’m a nature-lover. I love to garden (as I’ve written before, it’s one of the best ways I’m found to cope with my mental illness), and growing flowers or other plants from seed leaves me in awe that such a small thing could grow into such a large, hearty organism.

3. What is the best advice for blogging that you received? 

Don’t focus on your stats. It’s a time-suck, and stats aren’t reallllly that important…are they?

4. Your dream vacation destination?

Greece. Something about those pure, white buildings against the blue sky and ocean makes me think it must be a type of paradise.

5. Why did you start your blog? 

This blog started as my writing portfolio, after I’d been freelancing for a bit and finally had some samples of my published writing to share.

6. Your favorite quote?

And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds are immune to your consultations. They are quite aware of what they’re going through. –David Bowie

7. What are your future aspirations?

To write a book I deem worthy of publication…and then publish that bastard, either traditionally or via self-publishing.

8. What is your favorite part of the blogging world?

Getting to virtually know so many different types of bloggers from across the world. There’s a real sense of connectedness in the blogging community.

9. Did you meet any celebrity and how was the experience?

I’ve never met a celebrity, but I have walked past two: Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. I was a kid–maybe eight years old–so I couldn’t stop giggling as my family and I walked by.

10. One innovative recipe that you invented or would like to try?

I am not a great cook. I mean, I’m getting better, but I’m not great. The best thing I’ve ever made that’s a little off the grid of “normal” is mashed cauliflower. With the amount of sour cream, butter, and cheese I add, you’d never know you’re eating a vegetable.

So much gratitude goes out again to InspiresN for the nomination. You rule!



I Won an Award Because I’m Awesome

I have been nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by the lovely Zoe. I enjoy her blog, and she always has a positive attitude. I highly recommend you check her out.

blogger-recognition-dtj-cover

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  2. Write a post to show your award.
  3. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  4. Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  5. Select 10 – 15 other bloggers for this award.
  6. Comment on each blog to let them know you nominated them and link to the post you created.

How My Blog Started

When I began this blog, I used it as a portfolio and did zero actual blogging. I had been freelance writing for over two years and wanted to have a place to direct potential clients. In fact, I didn’t even write a true “first” post. (It’s here if you want to have a look.)

I didn’t REALLY start blogging until January 30, 2015. And I’ve been at it fairly consistently since.

Advice for New Bloggers

  1. Be consistent. Blogging on a regular basis will bring more readers. And while we’re on the subject of visitors to your blog…
  2. Don’t obsess over your stats. All the time you spend wondering who in Indonesia stumbled across your blog could be spent actually – gasp – blogging.

Nominations

I’m not going to be adhering to the rules because I’m such a rebel. And because nominating people can make others feel left out. So let’s put it this way: you all deserve the Blogger Recognition Award, especially if you maintain your blog regularly and simultaneously find time to enjoy mine.

So off you go, mighty bloggers! Write your own Blogger Recognition Award post!

 



Things That Make You Go “Hmm” – and Happy Green Beer Day!

I recently took an AcentryDNA test and got my results (click the link to take a peek at my ethnicity makeup).

Was I surprised.

Instead of being more Italian than anything else, I discovered….

Ten Percent Irish St Patricks Day 2017

This comes at quite the timely time, doesn’t it? After all, today is St. Patrick’s Day!

Shamrocks - St Patricks Day 2017

Here are some worthy reads on Irish authors, the history of the day, and a few other St. Patrick’s Day goodies:

I hope your holiday is filled with lots of happiness (and reading, if possible). This is what I’ll be having for dinner:

Green Beer St Patricks Day 2017

Drink responsibly, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 



Interview with Write Out Loud Instructor Kathryn Ash

Today, I have something a little different for you all: an interview! Kathryn Ash is a playwright with years of experience who says she “cannot remember a time when [she] wasn’t in awe of stories.”

kathryn ash playwright

Meet Kathryn Ash

Read on to find out more about Kathryn and the Write Out Loud program, which is ideal for beginning and seasoned writers alike.

Share a little bit about yourself.

I was never read to as a child, rather I grew up in a strong tradition of hearing stories delivered as if by performance, a tradition that most likely established by my yarn-spinning grandfather who regularly held court at family gatherings with his hilariously convoluted and mostly suspect tales of “life as a poor Kentuckian runaway working on the Mississippi steamboats, hanging out in wild New Orleans in the 1900s and stowing away on a boat to Australia, all before the age of sixteen.” So the thrill of telling and seeing stories rather than reading them was implanted in my mind very early.

For the longest time I was content to perform other people’s stories, as an actor. But in 1992, when the theatre company I was setting up with two other women (JUTE Theatre Company) needed an original story quick, I hurriedly put forward the story that had been rattling around in my head all my life—Bag O’ Marbles. The play had a lot of success over the years, including winning me the New York Dramatist Exchange Award, and marks the beginning of my long affair with writing stories for theatre.

I discovered I also like helping people who want to get their stories out as well, and found the vicarious but none the less rewarding thrill of dramaturgy. I helped put together a program for JUTE that encouraged writers to pen their stories as performance pieces. That program, Enter Stage Write, grew enormously over its lifecycle, creating so many beautiful stories and launching the careers of so many talented writers. It was an amazing ride.

kathryn ash interview quote 1

How was the Write Out Loud program born?

The Enter Stage Write program I mentioned had been running for sixteen years, with an award-winning format, and had had so many theatrical successes to its credit. But JUTE Theatre Company’s Artistic Director realized the need to extend the reach of the company by entering into the digital realm to bring these skills to a global audience. Theatre places emphasis on performance of a story and all the elements of creating that story are geared toward a live audience engaging with it. Theatre is a magical art form in that way, and requires specific skills and processes. Theatre is, however, just one of the many ways stories are developed and delivered, and each has its own peculiarities and conventions. But one thing remains largely the same—the basic elements of the story-making. Whether you read a story, hear a story, listen to a story or see a story, the underlying mechanics—for want of a better word—are present.

JUTE engaged me to create an online course of materials that would be used to inspire all kinds of story-makers (not just those stories for theatre) and give them the basic tools to deliver the story they wanted, how they wanted and in the time frame that suited them best.

Is the Write Out Loud program designed more for beginning writers, or is there value in the course for more seasoned writers as well?

The program is very simple. It deals with very basic elements of how stories are put together, what makes them work, what makes them broken, and what makes them powerful. I personally believe that all of us, yes, all of us, know the elements of story intuitively—when we hear a story, we immediately recognize heroes, we automatically follow structure, ideas of metaphor and notions about thematics are ingrained.

kathryn ash interview quote 2

Story-making is sewn with invisible thread into our minds before we even get to first grade. How, I’m not sure. Perhaps because our parents read stories to us, or told us yarns, or perhaps we inherit it genetically. But you’ve only got to watch a child being read a story, to know they are absorbing the elements of story—and when the story goes off the rails somehow, how quickly they switch off or demand a change in how the story is shaping up!

Write Out Loud is pointing out to us what we humans all already understand about story, but articulates it in a way that helps you use the information consciously instead of just intuitively as a child might. If you have a story you want to tell but just cannot for the life of you think of where to start, this program will kickstart that process. If you know some things, but are missing the information to exercise your story-making skills, Write Out Loud will help you fill in the gaps. It’s practical work because nothing beats a blank page more than writing on it.

A seasoned writer can sometimes find the path to their finished story is getting muddied—time to go back and look at the elements of story. Write Out Loud  will help an established writer step back, think and re-apply their skills with the writing exercises designed to make them clearly articulate their story.

The Artistic Director of JUTE also believes this is a great tool for actors and directors to refresh their skills in analyzing a text….so it works for all storytellers.

The program is described as “the ultimate A-Z of creative writing”—can you share a few topics addressed in the program?

Write Out Loud is divided into nine modules of learning and each elaborates on a topic concerning story-making; Finding Ideas, Defining the Big Idea, Creating a Hero, 7 Stages of Story Structure, Dialogue, Metaphors, and Villains and other Characters. Each module contains several videos that the writer watches, followed by a writing exercise. There’s also a unique section for each module called an Inspiration Spark, either a five minute visualization or image provocation, to help explore the full meaning of each module’s topics. Each module also contains tips and tricks to help you push through challenges.

As a playwright, how do you deal with the ever-dreaded writer’s block?

The ever-dreaded writer’s block! There is a whole section in the Write Out Loud program that deals exclusively with writer’s block and how to work around it.

kathryn ash interview quote 3

For myself, one the best pieces of advice I can give is when you feel writer’s block on a certain piece of work you are working on you should remember to acknowledge that the block is there for a reason. Your inability to move forward in the story very well may mean something has gone wrong with the structure of what you are writing, that you’ve somehow gone off track. You would do well to stop, step back and unpack the structure. Interrogate the work so far—is what the hero wants clear? Is there too much talk, not enough action? Is the hero getting distracted from what he or she wants? Are you writing too much background? If you cannot spot the structural error, my advice is just leave it. Write something else for a while, or engage in some other creative pursuit until the mood strikes you to try again.

Want to learn more about Kathryn and the Write Out Loud program? Visit her website here and Write Out Loud’s home on the Web here.



I Demand Your Invaluable Opinion…NOW!
February 2, 2017, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Being Awesome, Books, News, Updates | Tags: , , , , ,

I have some news! I’m going to write a series of eBooks, but I’m having a hard time settling on the topic of the first one.

Here’s where you come in.

ebook-post-focus

What would you want to read about? What would you want to learn about in the writing, editing, publishing, etc., world?

Please leave any and all remarks. I aim to please, and I want to make sure that my first book is one you would want to read.




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