Wednesday, October 28, 2015

13 Tips to Conquer NaNoWriMo 2015

Last year was my first time participating in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. I successfully completed the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days. In fact, I came out ahead of schedule; 66,586 words in 24 days.
I have foolishly decided to put myself through this grueling process once again. Here are my own personal tips that helped me meet my goal last year, and will hopefully help me again this year.

  1. Goal: 1667 words per day - If you write more than that in one day, don't slack off and write less the next day. You need to hit at least 1667 each day.
  2. Set time aside - Remove any distractions and stick to a schedule. I would get up every morning, make coffee, and start writing. Stay away from checking email, playing games, and especially goofing off on social media.
  3. Don't edit - You can do that later. Right now, just keep writing!
  4. Make notes – When you are done writing for the day, makes notes for the next chapter. This will allow you to quickly read the notes, pick up your train of thought, and continue writing.
  5. Carry a notebook/ paper – If you are serious about being a writer, you should be doing this already. Always have a piece of paper or a notebook handy to write down any new thoughts or ideas. (I often come up with new ideas at the most inconvenient times; in the shower, mowing the lawn, while taking a walk.) Have your paper and pencil ready!
  6. Research – Do your research on your own time, not during your scheduled writing time. If you're doing research, when you should be writing, you may not have time to write that day.
  7. Don't get discouraged – Take small steps. Meet your daily goal. You can give yourself a pat on the back, from time to time, but don't start celebrating until you hit 50k. (Don't even do it then. Keep writing until the story is done – then you can celebrate.)
  8. Don't let anyone tell you it is okay not to finish – it's not okay. You made the commitment, now stick to it. There are no participation medals; you only win if you finish. This is something you have been dreaming about for a long time; realize your dream. Don't make up any excuses; we all have them and no one wants to hear them (especially another writer). You may not agree with this point, but you will thank me later.
  9. Write what you want to write - If you have decided not to write a novel, but would rather use the time to edit another project, or write a short story, or a collection of poems, or a children's picture book; then do that. There are no set rules. The important thing is to put aside time for your writing. Hopefully it develops into a habit and you continue to write all year long. Maybe this time next year you will be ready to write a novel.
  10. Coffee – Drink lots of coffee, rest well, and be ready to tackle your goal every day. FYI – you will rest easier if you meet your daily goal of 1667 words.
  11. Track your progress – NaNo has some great tools and charts to help you track your progress. Not only do I use their website to track my progress each day, but I also keep a list of dates and word counts in my notebook. If it helps, post a sheet on the wall, near your writing station, to see your daily goal and keep track of how often you've obliterated that goal!
  12. Writer's block – Don't sit and stare at a blank screen. Write something down. Write anything down. Last year, I hit my goal every day, most days I well exceeded it. If I was struggling that day, I just wrote. I didn't care what I was writing, I just wanted to meet my goal. I figured I could edit out the crap later. When I went back to edit, in December, I couldn't remember what part I thought was so awful that I was going to dump it in the first place. That's not to say that everything I wrote was brilliant, believe me it wasn't. But when I started editing, my initial thoughts didn't matter. I cut what needed to be cut and I left in the parts that I thought worked.
  13. Develop a habit of writing every day – I did. Maybe not all of it was great, but at least I was able to get from point A to point B, each day, and keep the story moving. I am a pantser, so this is crucial for me. When I was done, not only had I surpassed the 50k mark, but I had a decent story; one that I was proud of.
So what do you think? Do you have it in you to write the next great novel? You won't know until you try.

You can sign up to participate in NaNoWriMo on their website:

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Highlights Foundation: A Crash Course in Children's Book Publishing

When you grow up, you sometimes forget that there is magic left in the world. Maybe it comes in different forms, but if you stop, once in a while, and take in the beauty that surrounds you, you can see that it is still there.

I was privileged to receive some much needed magic in my life, recently.

The Barn
High up in the Pocono Mountains, I attended a writers workshop for publishing children's books, a course given by the Highlights Foundation.

The material that was presented, and the instructors, themselves, were invaluable.  Each one of them taught us something different, new, and even fascinating.

The classes were a great source of information which I intend to follow, as I attempt to publish my first children's book. But even more than that, the facility and surroundings seemed to ease my mind and allow me to open up.

I had several new ideas and I started writing a few stories.  I even wrote a children's poem about an owl.

It was about 5:30 am on the second day, I was outside looking up at the stars.  I saw Orion, Taurus, and the Seven Sisters. I was also fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of three shooting stars, all of which I wished upon.  I also saw one star that slowly moved across the sky for about ten seconds, until it turned out its light and said goodbye.

As I stood there admiring the early morning sky, I heard a noise in the distance. It wasn't something I was familiar with. At first I thought it was a dog or a wolf.  As I listened closer, I heard a hoot-hoot-hoot, hoot-hoot-who.  I think that was the first time I ever heard an owl.

Not only has my trip been inspiring and beautiful, but it has been a gift; one I hope to share with the world. Who knows how many books I will write, or how many people they will reach, but if I can make just one child smile, that is all the fulfillment I'll ever need.

Listen to your heart, it may be trying to tell you exactly what you need.  Embrace the magic that surrounds you. Be open. Be honest. And love like no other.

Thank you, Bobbie Combs, Harold Underdown, Jo KnowlesLindsay Barrett GeorgeSneed B. Collard III, Allison Kane, and Patrick Greenish, Jr. for all of your inspiration, guidance, and teachings.
I'd also like to thank each of my classmates. It was great meeting all of you, you made the workshop fun and your spirits are motivating.
Finally, thank you, Jo Lloyd and Kent L. Brown, Jr., without whom my trip would not have been possible.

The Highlights Foundation puts on a wonderful workshop program. I would recommend it to anyone.

Last day: Bobbie Combs, Jo Knowles, Harold Underdown

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Mezzotint

Fancy a creepy tale?  Clink the link to enjoy M.R. James' The Mezzotint (1904).

The Mezzotint

YouTube: Audio

Thursday, May 7, 2015

11 Things a Fish Could do, if He had Thumbs

1. Grab things;
2. Use a TV remote;
3. Turn on a light switch;
4. Scratch his head, while he is thinking;
5. Open a can of soda;
6. Hold a piece of mail up to a light;
7. Turn a screwdriver;
8. Tape a poster to his bedroom wall;
9. LIKE something on Facebook;
10. Tip his cap;
11. Turn a page in a book.

Are there any you can think of?

Friday, April 24, 2015

Down By the Salley Gardens

Down By the Salley Gardens

Down by the salley gardens
my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
The Garden of Eden 1900 by Hugh Goldwyn Riviere
with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
with her would not agree.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
and now am full of tears.

The Salley Gardens

by Wayne L Murphy

That is one way to see it
but this a way, might be
As she left the garden, I
gazed standing 'neath a tree
A young woman, hair of gold
a smile that lit the sky
upon approach I wondered
I've never seen thee, why?

She gave me a wink, then she
flashed at me her sweet smile,
Sir, if you've a moment,
please come sit for a while
And right there were I'd lost love,
in the salley garden
I found it once again, my
heart would cease to harden

Poem-a-Day challenge; Day 24: Write a parody or satire based on a famous poem. Take a favorite poem of the past, and re-write it on humorous, mocking, or sharp-witted lines. Use your poem to make fun of the original (in the vein of a parody), or turn the form and manner of the original into a vehicle for making points about something else (more of a satire – though the dividing lines get rather confused and thin at times).

I chose to add to Yeats' poem, and give it a brighter ending.  They are meant to complement each other, and be read together.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

National Poetry Month - April 2015

If you did not read my previous post, concerning National Poetry Month, please scroll down for more information.
For the last two weeks of April, I will post my poems, influenced by the Poem A Day (PAD) prompts on the NaPoWriMo website, here.
If you like to write poetry, check out their website. If you just want to read some poetry, I hope you find something here that you will enjoy.

Sure, write a haiku,
it is easy, you will see.
What rhymes with haiku?

WLM 4/15/15

Haiku Battle

Last night I went to a Haiku Battle, organized by the Albany Poets.  It was a lot of fun, and there were many gifted writers in attendance. Some of the haiku was funny, some took on a more serious tone, but all were well received.
The format was a head to head battle, 3 haiku each, best two out of three won the round. There were eight poets battling, and a bracket system was used.  If you won the first round, you moved onto the next, until there was only one poet left standing.
I got knocked out in the first round, but the woman that beat me went on to win it all.  No harm in losing to the best.
Below are the three haiku I wrote and read at the battle.  I got 1 point for the second one, but lost the round on the other two.

Only one red shoe,
but she needs both to return.
There's no place like home.

He is a drinker
with a slight writing problem,
but are not we all

π = 3.
& ∞

The last one, I call Pi, and I drew it on a piece of paper, so everyone could see it.  It is a haiku written without any words, just numbers and symbols.  I got some good reactions from it.
Check out the Albany Poets website, all this week they are sponsoring events for the 2015 Albany Word Fest.

National Poetry Month – April 2015

National Poetry Month – April 2015

April is National Poetry Month. People celebrate in many ways. One way I like to recognize this time of year, is by participating in a PAD (Poem a Day). There are no prizes, rewards, or accolades, well maybe some accolades, but really it is just the satisfaction and enjoyment received from writing, and perhaps reading, some poetry.
In this post I will add a new poem each day, inspired by the prompts from the NaPoWriMo blog site. I started a bit late, this year, but as of 4/15/15 I am caught up, and plan to stay on course for the rest of the month.
Who are your favorite poets? Do you write poetry yourself?
Thanks for taking the time to check out my writing and my blog.

'Tis not the same as years' past
this year's spring may never be
No flowers on the lawn,
no buds high in the trees

We waited so long,
for all the snow to melt
And yet it is still cold
every morning,
when I walk out the door

'Tis not sorrow,
simply missing the expected
no bright yellow
neither sun
nor dandelion

Aye, it shall come
though it may be late
a bird chirps
and asks me to be patient

WLM 4/14/15 (Day 1)

Monday, March 9, 2015


With all of the different symbols available to us, why did # become designated as hash-tag? # already had a job. Remember the computer voice on the phone? She still does it, “enter your account number, then hit pound.” So now # has two jobs, what about using a symbol that didn't have a job already? Maybe even invent a new symbol. Why should # have to do the work of two symbols?
Speaking of symbols, if you look at your keyboard at number 6, what symbol is that? What do we use ^ for? Is that the insert symbol, like when you are proofreading a handwritten paper and realize that you missed a word or forgot something? I've used that symbol before, but never typing. With the modern computer, we don't need that symbol, you just go back and insert what you forgot to type, it's not written on a piece of paper. Maybe ^ could have been used as hash-tag, instead of sitting around on its lazy ass doing nothing. has a list of all the symbols, on a computer keyboard, and their names/ meanings. It is actually pretty interesting. I think it is anyway. Also, when did we lose the double space after a period? A lot of blogs only allow a single space now, or it doesn't appear correctly.
& Ampersand is a fun word, I've always liked that one. It is fun to look at too, with all its curves. It is like the sexy woman of the symbol family.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

“Live Long and Prosper”

Leonard Nimoy passed away on February 27, 2015, at the age of 83. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, has stated that he died from end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Nimoy is best known as Spock, from Star Trek. Besides acting, Nimoy was also a director, photographer, a poet, and a singer.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

My Love Embrace Thee

That we shall have,
by morrow's end.
Think of now
what will thou send?

'tis what you want?
Does it not ache,
upon you, my taunt?

I fester, and I beg,
you scowl and linger.
Neither one sorry,
barely lift a finger.

Eat of my heart,
my soul remains mine.
In the spring,
without me, you'll find.

Lag, lay wanderer,
smile at the turn.
Oft you encumber,
hence, but in an urn.

WLM 2/13/15

Sunday, February 8, 2015

I Should've Walked Away

Have you ever heard a cat trying to dig its way out from underneath a pile of snow? It is dark outside, the only light you see is the moonlight reflecting off of a white blanket. A soft wind blows, but other than that, the only thing you hear is a faint scratching sound.
You can almost sense each frozen bit of ice being dragged out from the pile, one by one. The trees hang overhead, barren, with long scrawny limbs that reach out towards you, beckoning you to come closer. You know somewhere in there, is where the sound is coming from.
It is so cold, it has been for days. You begin to wonder how long the furry little creature has been trapped out there. You know it has been almost five days since the last big snowfall. A gust of wind crawls up your back and down your collar, you shiver from the chill.
You wonder if you should grab a shovel and walk towards the sound, but it seems to be so deep in the woods that you fear you may never find her. Then you start to wonder if it is just the trees, making noise, blowing against the wind and scratching the icy surface with their claws.
You almost give up and decide to go back inside, but then you see it. The tiny tip of a small black paw, just barely peeking out through the snow. The snow must be two feet deep out there. There is no way something could have survived this long, and still be alive.
A low muffled moan echoes from the pile, you take a slight step back, but nod your head forward to try to see more clearly. A snowflake kisses your nose and you look up at the sky, it is starting to snow again. As you look back into the woods, you can now see an arm emerging from the pile.
That is not possible, you think, but then you see an ear. The scratching becomes louder and faster, and you can almost feel it against your skin, ripping, tearing, desperately trying to release itself from its frozen tomb.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How many of these things do you remember from the past?

Did you grow up in the 70's & 80's? Do you remember the toys you used to play with? The TV shows that you used to watch? How about the things you used to eat? Get a pen a paper, and keep a list. See if you can identify all the items that are referenced, there are 19 of them.  
I am about to embark on a great journey, but before I do, I would like to take a quick stroll down memory lane. If you are not too busy, why not join me? If you grew up in the 70's & 80's, you may share some of the same memories.
My stroll begins in a small town, a long time ago, where the beautiful people all look like pigs, except for the one ugly woman in town.
The colors of the rainbow were all captured on a stick of gum. At one time, this was all we had, even prior to the time when we all desired having pictures accompany our music.
Our rockets were frozen. Red, white, and blue on a stick. And we had little balls of goo that we'd press against the Sunday comics to make a copy. We had no cell phones, or computers, and I could eat all the gluten I wanted.
When I ripped my friend's arm out of its socket, a jelly like substance oozed from the tear. All it took to repair him was a small, sticky piece of material, that was usually stuck on me. After that, I would place my friend in the freezer, which was maintained by an old guy with a blue jumpsuit and a can-do attitude.
My bologna had a first name, and a last name, and I loved to eat it every day. I was a member of a club that was run by a mouse. We would meet every day, after school. Some years later, an author would mention this club in one of his stories, that was later turned into a movie. I can still remember the looks on their faces when they found that dead body.
We didn't have DVRs, On-demand TV, or shows on the internet. Didn't I already mention we didn't have computers? If I missed my favorite Halloween or Christmas shows, a certain reindeer's nose would go out and I'd have to wait until next year to see it light up again.
The phones we would use had a big round dial, and they would sit in one place. There was one man who would change his clothes in a phone booth. I wonder what he would do now? As phone booths, no longer exist, for the most part.
It was a simpler time. No video games, no new math, and the clown's food was salty, greasy, and fast. Just the way I like it.
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Will we be flying around in cars like a certain cartoon family? Or maybe our phones will resemble a secret agent's phone, and be contained in our shoe.

There are 19 memories to uncover, how many did you get?
(Read further to find the answers, and see how good your memory is.)

Friday, December 19, 2014

To Blarney and Back

I recently returned from a wonderful holiday to Ireland.  As an American, the Irish way of life may seem somewhat bewildering, at times, but if you step back and fully examine your surroundings you can really begin to appreciate its beauty.
My friend, Johnny, and I visited many towns, cities, and villages on our journey.  From Galway to Kinsale, with many stops in between, we were treated to surprising landscapes, friendly and fun people, and of course a good bit of Guinness as well.
After learning how to drive on the left hand side of the road, in a manual shift car with the steering wheel on the opposite side, and narrowly avoiding hitting a bus, our first stop of the trip was the Bunratty Castle.  It was about 7 am, and still very dark, so after a quick gander, we were back on the narrow roads, headed up the coast.
We stopped in the small town of Lahinch to take some pictures and appreciate its beauty. The winds howled, the rain fell in buckets, and the waves of the North Atlantic crashed against the rocks.  It was magnificent.
We then continued to proceed up the west coast of Ireland, driving through the stunning Cliffs of Moher, a place of true beauty.  Mere pictures cannot do this place justice.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


 rehappy – to become happy once again with something or someone you were previously happy with, but at some point you lost interest or became dissatisfied with.
ie. relationships, roller coasters, work, whatever
When I first began writing my novel I was very excited and happy with it. Over the weekend I was nearing the climax, but I felt like the story had lost some steam, and I had encountered a small bout of writer's block. Over the last few days, the story has come back into form and I have been very satisfied with my writing. In other words, I am now rehappy with my novel.
Obviously this word did not exist, until now. You heard it here first, I invented a new word. Thinks silently to self, “I wonder if a Nobel prize is in my future?”
As a bonus, I already spoke to Bobby McFerrin, he is willing to write a new version of his song to help promote my new word, “Don't worry, rehappy!”
Anyone who wishes to use the word, I can bestow upon you poetic license to do so.