Book Reviews, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, Memoir and Reflections, Writing

About a Microwave

Hahahaha, wow. This microwave thing is really catching on.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

31qKXbCJokLBy Dinty W. Moore

I am reviewing a blank book.  The pages are entirely empty – not a single word.  That makes it nonfiction, yes?

Because there is no fiction printed within.

And the title is Alternative Facts.

Facts are nonfiction, yes?

This is important, because the Brevity blog only reviews books of nonfiction.

So here is my review:

It is an interesting book. A quick read. The paper is nice. The cover feels solid. The entire package fits neatly in your hand.

By the way, royalties from sales of the book are being donated to ProPublica by the publisher, Abrams. ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.

So there we go.  More facts. More nonfiction.

61Pta82itsLI am beginning to feel pretty good about my book review. I might write some of my good feelings down – in the book, on the…

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Memoir and Reflections, Piece of Cake, Writing

Three Reasons I Could Stop Writing Memoir But Won’t

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz ronitBy Ronit Feinglass Plank

I had been writing fiction and wanted to try nonfiction, so I began with personal essays. I didn’t think memoir was for me; in fact I was deliberately avoiding it. I didn’t see a reason to revisit the facts of my confusing childhood and thought memoir wouldn’t be as challenging as creating a world from scratch and putting characters in it. To tell my own story, the story I knew by heart, seemed almost too easy.

I could not have been more wrong. I was about to discover that looking at something you think you know pretty well with fresh eyes and trying to understand it in a new way is definitely not easy. I did try writing several personal essays but the history of how I grew up kept barging in, taking up more and more space. It seemed part of me really wanted to…

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Poetry, Special Occasions, Spotlight Saturday, The Redefining Disability Awareness Challenge, This Day In Literature, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

TToT: Let Us Try This Again, Shall We? #WorldBookDay #FreedomToReadWeek #WorldWildlifeDay #10Thankful

Last week I meant to share one picture, of the flowers we brought my sister after giving birth to my new niece, but I somehow ended up posting only the flowers.

Nothing wrong with flowers, so that one becomes “the flower flower flower flower post”.

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I am still thankful for the big things, for eight pound baby girls, but will sprinkle in a few smaller items, if I can as well.

Ten Things of Thankful

I am thankful for new music.

Lorde – Green Light

I am thankful for Mya Lynne and for my violin.

😉

Haha. Get it?

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I’m thankful that I went for it and submitted the travel memoir piece I wrote in Mexico, about my evening with the mariachis, to
CBC Literary Prizes.

I spent all of February, editing madly, and I would say I am proud of what I sent in. Now for the long wait.

I’m thankful to have made contact this week and am now in communication, by email, with the man I met in Mexico. He is doing amazing things with his life.

Everyone Has A Disability

We both know a little something about living with a disability and I appreciate his perspective.

I’m thankful for the bond already forming between my nephew and niece.

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Now, anytime I go to visit them, he always starts by saying, “Auntie Kerry, do you see my baby sister?”

Now that’s the question of one proud big brother.

I am thankful I got to read the words of a talented family member. He wrote a kickass spoken word piece about his wife and surprised her with it for her birthday last weekend.

It’s amazing to me that someone can love another person like that.

I wish I could have heard it in person, but I read the words and his writing was so sweet and so creatively epic.

Proud and thankful to be related to those two.

I would share it, but I’m not sure they’d want me to. Let’s just say, the word “citadel” is used at one point. It’s a song about a strong and one-of-a-kind woman. That’s spot on.

Ed Sheeran – Eraser (Live)

This new live Ed Sheeran song is another example of music, but with spoken word, poetry thrown in the mix.

I’m thankful for winter weather, while it’s still winter.

We went from above seasonal and warm temperatures at the beginning of the week and we’re ending it back firmly in winter, but spring is only officially a few weeks away now. The end and a new beginning, as many think of the arrival of spring, is on its way.

I enjoy a chilled night, without a harsh wind preferably, and feeling the gentle sprinkling of snowflakes coming down around me in the air. I’m going to miss that crunching noise when I walk outside in the packed snow underfoot.

I wish everyone could see that winter is supposed to be cold, to have snow, and to not show such love for the climate change that has an effect on nature and wildlife, and not in a good way. We should think about them a little more and less about our temporary discomforts. I know it’s hard. I don’t like freezing either, in the moment. But I do care about species such as butterflies and bees who pollinate. Those guys need spring to come in its own time. We shouldn’t try to rush it just because we are sick and tired of winter.

In the comments for TToT this week I say where I am from and what I love about living here. I love the four seasons we in Canada are lucky to experience. I grumble and groan my share, when I am shivering or sweating, but I want the planet to maintain itself, for my nieces and nephews, for a long long time to come.

The cousin and his wife I listed above, as a thankful, they work with nature and the environment. They’ve seen signs that aren’t good signs. They worry because they see it up close. They’ve taught me a lot.

I am thankful for people like them, doing all they can, to teach about the natural world we often neglect.

I’m thankful for the feeling of holding a baby.

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She is such a contented baby too. As long as she’s not hungry, she’s happy to sleep a lot.

For me, I can feel disgusted with things happening in the world or whatever, but then I hold her and I feel the slight pressure of her in my arms and her breathing as she sleeps so still. It’s peaceful.

I then watch my nephew, all his energy, and how big he is. I am thankful for these children, at the separate ages that they are, and I know they grow so fast.

I am thankful for books and the freedom to read any book I want to.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (read by Neil Gaiman)

I have shared stories read by Neil Gaiman here in the past. I enjoy his readings.

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss.

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Feminism, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Happy Hump Day, Interviews, Memoir and Reflections, This Day In Literature, Writing

Mapping as Metaphor: Part Two

“There are a hundred ways to tell the story of a single life.” – Also, check out the first part of this interview. Plenty of insights to be gained.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

Part two of Brevity assistant editor Alexis Paige’s consideration of place, grief, and the river as metaphor, talking with Angela Palm, author of Riverine: A Memoir From Anywhere But Here, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize. [Part One can be found here]:

zz-riverinePAIGE: There’s a powerful depiction of sexual assault in the book. The scene struck me most for its brevity and omissions, for what did and didn’t make the page. Can you talk about how you approached writing the scene and why? Can you describe your decisions about what to include and what not to include, and how you came to approach the moment tonally?

PALM: I didn’t want the narrative to become about that particular violence, but instead wanted the incident to appear in the book as one link in a chain of violence, wherein accumulation would be more powerful than individual acts. Because that was my…

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Blogging, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, Writing

Maybe You Don’t Need to Write Every Day

There’s an urge and then there’s the hunger. Then there’s the fear that both won’t return. To be a writer, one must write something, somewhat, somehow. It’s like the violin, which I am learning. One must keep at it, in some capacity.

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zAnnie_Scholl_Mug.jpgBy Annie L. Scholl

I’m not sure how I got the message that I had to write every day to be a “real” writer, but I’ll blame it on Julia Cameron and her book, The Artist’s Way. I read it when it came out in 1992. Cameron suggests a daily practice of “Morning Pages:” Three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing you do first thing in the morning.

To be fair, Cameron makes it clear that your Morning Pages don’t have to be “high art.” You can rant, write your shopping list over and over, whatever you want. She does insist, though, that you fill three pages—every day.

I did Morning Pages religiously—for about a week-and-a-half. Over the years, I’ve tried again and again. Although the daily practice of Morning Pages didn’t stick, the idea that I had to write every day to be successful did. After all, Ernest Hemingway…

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Blogging, Bucket List, Memoir and Reflections, Special Occasions, Throw-back Thursday, Writing

Three Years and Counting: Blogging and Birthdays, #TBT

So, here’s the thing: Blogging –
Everybody’s Doing It,
at least according to Brevity Magazine.

But, you know what, so what! I like it. It’s helped me grow as a writer, take first steps and chances for exposure, possible ridicule from which to learn and grow from, and has produced wondrous connections with readers and other bloggers/writers,
starting with this one.

I started out with this blog, afraid to be a writer, like the post I’ve just included speaks about.

And here I am, three years into it, and I love having this space that is mine to say what I want to say.

I’ve been writing down several quotes of a particular kind lately. I’ve been using them for motivation to keep trying new things and striving for more for myself.

This is a big year for me, but I am trying really hard to hold onto the proper amount of perspective in my life.

I started the year 2017 on a high note, in several ways, but now I am marking three years here and I like to think on where I was, one year ago and then one year before that, when this blog felt like the huge step to be taking, as
I left my twenties and entered my thirties.

Last year I rounded up all the posts from the previous twelve months of
1000 Voices Speak For Compassionlove/
that I’d written. I thought it would be a nice way to commemorate two years of having this blog.

For my one year anniversary before that,
I gave thanks.

So, now what? Where am I with Her Headache? Where am I headed?

I blog less here during the week these days. Monday through Friday I often use Facebook as a blog of sorts instead, one where I write shorter things, reflections and observations. I am writing a lot of other things now and it’s still sometimes tough to decide when to write a particular piece here or if I should save it for possible submission or publication elsewhere. It’s nice having this space to come and write and share my thoughts, but I’m learning that sometimes it’s best to hold onto an idea and to find a different home for it, one that may help me grow as a writer, somewhere else.

My weekends are still for blogging:

I finish sentences on Fridays,

write stream of consciousness stuff on Saturday,
and
participate in the sharing of song lyrics on Sundays.

Of course, I still feel strongly about writing down the things I am thankful for. I use that as my weekly checkin point.

I can see how much I’ve achieved here, when I look back to a year ago, and I like having that perspective. I don’t know what 2017 will bring, though my plans are in the works. I do hope I will be able to look back at those, whatever they may turn out to be, from this position, in 2018 and beyond.

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1000 Voices Speak For Compassion, Bucket List, FTSF, Guest Blogs and Featured Spotlights, IN THE NEWS AND ON MY MIND, The Insightful Wanderer, Travel, TravelWriting, TToT, Writing

Ten Things of Thankful and Then Some: Sunny San Miguel, Siempre! #TakingChances #Mexico #FTSF #10Thankful

I have missed my thankful posts for a few weeks now, but I had a good reason for that: Sunny San Miguel!

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(Photo taken by my new friend from the writing workshop in Mexico. Thank you Lisa. I love your viewpoint from right where you are.)

San Miguel, I miss you.

Speaking of missing things…I also missed last week’s
Song Lyric Sunday
because I was traveling back to Canada and the frigid winter temperatures, but the theme of the sun played a big part in my week.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqxaAfaCln8

This song is the feeling I felt when the bright Mexican sunshine was full on my face while I sat writing up on my balcony, overlooking my small bit of the city of San Miguel de Allende. It was hard work, the writing part, but I couldn’t have asked to be doing it anywhere better.

I felt alive. This is my first thankful. I could write many more.

I am thankful that I got to discover a spot I never would have known of before. San Miguel de Allende is an interesting place and it is just one of many in such a spectacular country of Mexico, so unknown and unfamiliar to me, such a short time ago, So much more to learn about and explore, I can tell. I just barely scratched the surface.

It isn’t a resort. It isn’t on the ocean, but I admit, logically or not, my heart skipped a beat at the thought that I was closer to blue/grey whales at that moment in time, than I’d been in a long time.

My ears popped going through mountainous terrain to get to the city, but boy was I pleased when I stepped out of that shuttle and onto that uneven sidewalk and a whole new door was opened to me, both literally and figuratively. I will never, as long as I live, forget that moment.

I am thankful for the villa we had our writing workshop in and where I got to call my lodgings for the week.

I soon learned my way around, from my room to the kitchen and meeting area and to the lovely outdoor spot. I didn’t realize the way some houses are constructed in Mexico, was totally not expecting it, but was pleasantly surprised by the indoor/outdoor set-up.

I loved my room and its cool interior and the open balcony just a step out my doors.

I am thankful for my sunny writing spot, a day bed set up outside, by the railing. I would go there to write and to listen to the sounds of San Miguel, just outside of the wall of the villa.

I am thankful for the levels of emotion I went to with my writing during the week.

I didn’t expect it to get quite so emotional. It seemed like that for everyone in the class. We all dug deep and we shared a lot in one, much too short week.

I am thankful for the garden area of the villa and the peace and tranquility I found there.

There were so many plants and nature was there, right at my fingertips, in the middle of the city of SMA.

I am thankful for soundscapes.

We had to record somewhere in San Miguel and try and write from it. This was, perhaps, not so difficult for me as for some in the group, but I found a way to make it my own. A lot came from it.

I am thankful for special and unexpected experiences while traveling.

I was serenaded by some mariachis. It was uncomfortable for me, all that attention focused in my direction, but I recognize the special experience for what it was.

I am thankful for the chance to meet my writing mentor in person.

She made it possible that I even knew of San Miguel and she gave me some added strength and determination to try traveling by myself for the first time. She offered just the right incentive and I was determined to make it happen.

She took so much time out of her life and planned for me to be as safe as possible and to have the most enriching time imaginable.

She took me out in San Miguel one night and we had a lovely dinner, talking about Mexico, travel, writing, and so much more. She gave me her time and her knowledge, having been where I have not yet found myself.

She directed me safely, letting me figure things out for myself, with my own heart, mind and white cane. She was thoughtful in her descriptions, all from her creative writer’s mind. She spent time with me, more than she needed to, and showed me so many things I may have otherwise missed out on, with all the visual elements of travel and exploring new places.

I am thankful for so many things and I could keep listing them, but I am determined to write separate, individualized pieces about all the magical moments of my trip, including the amazing people I met and what they did for me, how they affected my life, in so many ways.

I am thankful for glimpses of the culture, architecture and religious beliefs of Mexico.

I am thankful, too, for the unforeseen spiritual awakening I had, in an unexpected place of vitality and passion. It was like nothing I’ve ever felt before.

I am thankful for our day out, visiting makers. My writing mentor set out to show her class of writers that we too make something of value, even if it can’t be seen in as big a way or touched, like a statue or a piece of art.

I am thankful for the guide I had on our day out.

She spoke no English and I no Spanish, or very little if any. This presented a problem. But she was there, with a gentle, guiding hand and just in case, and we both got so much out of it through the silence, I can’t even express. I will never forget her and I will write about the way she affected my life too.

I am thankful for the wisdom and the inspiration and reassurances for the kind of life I can have in the years to come and for the truly fascinating stories I heard. I am thankful for a pizza night full of lively conversation and the best sharer of the villa I could have asked for. I am thankful for the radiant love freely given and the stories and the camaraderie of all. I am thankful for fruitful partnerships which fostered positive discussions I will never forget. I am thankful for those willing to listen. I am thankful for the laughs and the insightful talks and the likeminded writing companionship. I am thankful for steady arms on unfamiliar surfaces and much patient assistance with pesos and with my sparse Spanish. I am thankful for roof-top views, shared margaritas, and the invites to travel again, with new friends, in future.

I had to write about my thankfuls, but I am still processing so much of this. I am told I will have many more meaningful experiences like my week in Mexico and that more is to come, that this is the beginning of something and not the beginning and end of just one week. I hope this is true, but I will never forget this one as, in so many ways, my first, so many firsts.

I am thankful for all the help I had to travel alone and for the angel that watched over me while I went, as I was told by a kind and talented man.

I am thankful for all the food our mentor and leader of the class put out (including fruit, chocolate, tea/coffee/water) because she said she believed it helped inspire loads of creativity and the ladies who cooked for us and the flowers everywhere. The perfect environment for writing and creativity and all that needed inspiration.

I am thankful for what I came away with, the writing I did. I am working on it some more yet, but hope to publish my story at some point.

I am thankful for the last night, with the thematic musical entertainment, the fact that I vowed to try new things and ended my week of that by eating crickets, and for all the brilliant writing shared by everyone in the class. I am thankful for the support I received for my piece upon reading it aloud.

I am thankful for my family’s support, even though I know how hard it was, at times, for some of them more than others. I would be nowhere near where I am now if it weren’t for them.

I am thankful for the confidence I felt and, even more so, for the fear that persisted and fuelled me. It’s still feeling me.

I am thankful for the reaction from my cat and my dog upon arriving home. My cat made a long mewing sound like I’ve never heard. He sounded excited, to me anyway.

I’m not sure what good it will do in the concrete ways that matter, but I am thankful for all the protests I’ve seen happening against the cruelty, ignorance, and arrogance in the US government, especially these last few weeks since I was away.

Those judges and lawyers working to fight against such unfair actions taken without any care to those hurting. Those fighting are likely putting their butts on the line, some maybe even risking more than we realize at this given moment.

Canada is nowhere near perfect, not hardly, but I am thankful for the total difference in feeling I notice here. I love a lot of Americans, some I’ve met oh so recently, but the country as a whole makes me very uncomfortable now, feeling vulnerable, but it’s clearly the government I have a problem with. I hope this changes one day. May seen as though I’m generalizing here, but believe me, I wish I hadn’t felt that when traveling back through the US.

Sobbing over today’s newspaper – Carrie Snyder from Canada

Just put yourself in the place of someone coming to a new country because you feel in danger in your own.

How can you not help but try to understand what that must feel like? How can any of us avoid that, just because it’s an uncomfortable thought?

I can’t imagine having to leave my home, the only place I’ve known, so I am thankful to be back in my home of Canada. May it always be a place of peace, even when threatened by hate like the rest of the world finds itself, more and more.

There is so much happening, in my world and in the world at large. I am just trying to survive the helplessness of it all, and the best thing I can think of is to write through it all, through all the pain and the confusion and the uncertainties. This must include self care, right along with care for and of other people and our planet.

This taking new chances to hopefully produce new and eye-opening perspectives is about all I can think to do to appreciate life. Things can be hard, are rough, for a lot of people. I say, take a leap and step off that ledge, metaphorically of course, or use your best judgment. Just do something.

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I want to share more photos, but those can be a bit tricky for me. I asked for them, for the record of preservation, to show my family. I can’t quite keep them straight, never knowing if what I include and think is really what it is. I will do another post, once I get that straight. Most of them were posted on Facebook, but I never want to share without credit or explanation.

To be continued…

I also wanted to link up with
Finish The Sentence Friday, #FTSF
because it’s been a few weeks for that also and I love Kristi and how she finishes her sentences.

When it comes to self care, I am certain what I just did for myself, as illustrated here, definitely counts.

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