Sunday, April 28, 2013


By Alex Raley

                                                                     We look for inspiration when we write. Often it comes out of the blue or from the pleasant and interesting things going on around us. A couple months ago, I found myself with my head against the wall waiting for the 911 folks to arrive and wondered why I had put myself in that situation. In the hospital and on my way to recovery, I began to think of all the experiences a hospital brings: some debilitating, some embarrassing, and some just downright nasty. With the right attitude they can be funny. I began to think poetry as soon as I settled down in hospital routine (meals to the minute, vital signs as soon as you fall asleep, the day’s date with nurse and nurse tech names, shift changes with new names, morning doctor visits. I imaged everything poetically, including the 911 activity. When not interrupted by hospital routine, I was constructing poems, poems much too bawdy for a blog but poems that will eventually see the light of day. Does that seem odd?

                                                                       Do not let experiences pass by you. Even the most unusual or gruesome can be an inspiration to write. I had never thought of gruesome as an inspiration, but I cannot tell you how my mind raced once I wandered into the groove. Now that I am at home I need to hit the computer and put those bawdy poems to paper.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Let Them Say I Failed—

By Shaun McCoy

What happens to those writers, whom we all know and struggle not to be, that tell people at parties that they love to write. You know the kind I’m speaking of, the kind that don’t write. The kind that had a brilliant thought or two as they passed through college. Maybe once a decade they put pen to paper, or fingers to keys, or whatever it is.

One moment, at age thirty, as I stared at the stream of water that poured from my bathroom sink while it washed away the last of the hairs from my morning shave, I realized that I was dangerously close to finding out what happens to them. I was about to be one. Wasn’t writing my dream? Had I really never submitted a story? Had I really never written and finished anything?

They say that truth is many things, but she is seldom accused of being pretty. At that moment, she was downright ugly. It was time to put some lipstick on that pig. I was going to do this, I was going to write. More than that, I was going to be a writer.

The first part was the hardest, I had to admit that I didn’t know how to write… see, I told you she was ugly.

I spent the next few months learning how, reading self-help writing books and watching inspirational Youtube videos. Then, while on an airplane, I imagined a pretty, young professional girl on an elevator, headed down. I didn’t know what was at the bottom of that impossibly long and futuristic elevator shaft, but I knew it was evil.

This became the first scene of the first story I wrote after I decided to actually become a writer. It was called Simon’s Folly, and it was the first story I sold.

But writing is hard, as time consuming as it is soul destroying. It is a draw on one’s mental and emotional resources like no other. My day job was the biggest obstacle in my way, so it had to go. I began living off half of my paycheck each month. I did this, living a minimalistic lifestyle, for two years. Those two years ended on March 24th, when I left my workplace for the last time. Now I have two years to write. Two years to make it.

It is, I must say, a stupid gamble. This same money could easily be spent on buying a house. I could have married the nice girl I was dating and started a real life. But I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t care about failing. There is nothing in this world that would devastate me as much, that would hurt me as deeply, as failing in this … well, almost nothing.

I imagine myself at near the end of my days, looking back on my life, wondering why I never wrote a damn thing. Wondering why millions of people had never read one of my novels. I know what I’d say to myself. “I could have,” I’d say, “if I had only tried.” Maybe I’d believe it. Maybe I’d figure I was lying to myself. Maybe, but whatever. Let them say I failed. Let them say I crashed and burned, that I waded through a sea of mediocrity on the way to an island of ignominy, before they say I never tried. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

No Namby-Pamby…Just Write It.

By Kimberly Johnson
To borrow a phrase or two from singer/songwriter John Mayer: “It’s better to say too much than to never…Say what you need to say, Say what you need to say…”
Those words underlie the crux of Jason Whitlock’s sports column Real Talk—say what you mean or better yet, write what you mean.
That’s why I relish reading Whitlock’s articles for Whitlock has the chops. He majored in Journalism from Ball State University. He’s the first sports writer to win the National Journalism Award for Commentary from the Scripps Howard Foundation. He even played high school football with Jeff George, a former NFL quarterback. He’s got some notoriety for being fired from ESPN.
I want to strengthen my writing style and use Whitlock’s techniques. I don’t if I could take the stones and daggers from his detractors. No worries though, I still like his flair because:
#1: He frames out his main argument in simplistic terms. Most writers know that is not as easy as it sounds.
#2: He provides provocative examples to illustrate his argument.
#3: He has an astute sense of humor.
Here’s one example from a September 7, 2012 column:
Some football fans believe I dislike Peyton Manning and refuse to recognize his greatness out of some twisted loyalty to my high school teammate and former Colts QB Jeff George. …“Breaking Bad” is Peyton Manning. We want both of them to be what they once were. We want them to fulfill their promise. It’s not going to happen. That does not mean I hate either of them. It simply means I’m not going to sit quiet as a significant portion of the media mislead (and in some cases lie) you into believing something that isn’t true. Elway and/or Montana are still the greatest. Tom Brady has the best chance of catching them. Manning is one of the 10 or 15 best QBs to ever play the game.”
Ouch. For non NFL fans, that’s the equivalent of soap opera diva Susan Lucci slapping a young, blond ingĂ©nue in the face for disrespecting her. Again, Whitlock got to the point (Peyton Manning ain’t that great.). He provided an example. (Read the full story online). He gave us a laugh. (Compared him to a
By the time this blog comes out, there’ll be a winner in the NCAA basketball tourney.I’m sure that Jason will have a lot to write…and mean it.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Latest Addition

Meet Our Newest Blogger


Sarah spent 10 years on the west coast and hopes to return someday. She is currently writing children’s literature and short stories. She takes care of her mother and was inspired to write a comedy routine, all about her mother. Sarah nervously delivered this routine at a benefit for Turning Pages, and hopes to keep getting inspired to write more comedy. 

Sarah's first blog with us follows.

What’s a Job Bank?

 By Sarah Herlong

One thing I find helpful in my writing is to keep a Job Bank. Everyone has been in an interesting workplace at some point in her life. Okay, maybe not. Perhaps you’ve only worked in boring office jobs, but somewhere in there are details that a writer would love.  You never know when in your writing this information will come in handy. 

Keeping a Job Bank is like the opposite of a resume. This is the list that would get you fired. These are the down and dirty details that made the job hell or so enjoyable you miss it. Describe those annoying coworkers. Hopefully you’ve had a tyrannical boss that still gives you nightmares. Did your office have a bad odor? Did one of your coworkers catch a potato on fire in the office microwave? Describe it in detail as you would for a story.

Start a Job Bank by listing all the jobs you’ve ever had, even the ones when you were a teenager.  For me this is quite a list. Then when you’ve hit a roadblock with your writing, just work on your Job Bank. Fill in smells, characters and events as you remember them. You’ll be surprised how many stories crop up that you had forgotten long ago. Remember no detail is too small, something what was completely normal or humiliating to you, might be hysterical to your readers. These details can make your characters feel more like real people.

This isn’t something you complete in one sitting. This is something you can work on whenever you have time, or suddenly remember something. Create your own Interviews From Hell section, everyone has some of those, surely.

Creating your Job Bank
List all of your jobs, and write down everything you can remember about each one.
Fill in the descriptive blanks over time as they come to you. 
No detail is too small. Remember this is the down and dirty stuff.
If it reads like a resume you’re doing it wrong. This is the anti-resume.
If you are laughing, fuming, or cringing, you’re doing it right.