11 March 2018

Listen Up - Poet's Edition

There's lot's of great poetry readings on YouTube. Not only do you get to hear poets read their own work, but you can see how it's done when it's your turn to get up in front of the crowd.

25 February 2018


Wallbanger headed for the designated load bearing wall.

I'm in my winter reading phase, where all my free time is spent reading either fantasy novels or other types of fiction. I used to read every novel from beginning to end, no matter how pathetic the plot. As I got older, I got less patient. Some books turned into what I termed 'Wallbangers".

Ever read a book where the main character was too stupid to live? But somehow bumbled his/her way through the novel saved by the sidekick or Deus Ex Machina? The heroine who digs herself in deeper and deeper when just shutting up would help her out tremendously? The villain that doesn't quite know how to villain properly? All about on par with the movies where teens split up to roam through the evil woods or haunted house separately. Are You Stupid??

Apparently the answer is yes. When my eyes were better, I read paperbacks. I'd get a sinking feeling when the protagonist started off Chapter One an idiot and didn't improve by Chapter Six.
In the back of my mind was the thought, One more stupid action and I'm so done with you…
The moment of truth arrives. I can't take it anymore. I fling the book across the room toward a wall designated for just that purpose. The book is now a wallbanger. As it collapses to the floor, so does my interest in it. I am done. I will not read any further.

A few hardbacks went that way also, but since I spent more money on them I was more careful about what I bought. Trusted authors. Then came my Kindle. E-books presented a special dilemma. I wasn't about to throw my expensive toy against the wall. With the rise of self-published novels, the opportunity for wallbangers grows exponentially. It's not quite the same when you punch the 'delete from device', then 'delete from carousel' buttons.

The books haunt you. The wallbanger books and their authored kin follow you across Amazon like a persistent puppy. "You bought this book by this author, now buy 7 more continued stories in the same universe, with the same substandard hero."  No thanks. To solve my need to let the book know how I felt, I have a stand in paperback. It's shabby and old, but ready for me when I delete my e-book and need to vent. It makes a satisfying whap against the far wall. If I could get that same thunk-flutter-thud sound when I push delete on my Kindle, I'd be a happy woman.

11 February 2018

When I Want Your Advice I'll Research It

Writing involves a lot of other books than the one you're trying to start. Or finish.

A drawback to being a writer is having way too many how-to writing books. As if the books could impart a template that would enable you to sail forth and write prodigiously. The smarter books call themselves simply, 'Guides". The ones I give side eye to are the ones that proclaim they are, "The Ultimate Guide". I'm not sure anything is the ultimate guide to writing.

Part of the problem is people are different. How many times have you seen the argument about writing by the seat of your pants as opposed to being an outliner? Both have their strong points, and I get irritated with books that tell me I have to be one or the other or I'm doing it wrong. Their method is best because…. Maybe it's because I hate being told what to do, but these books never sit well with me.I started out a pantser, but have seen the value in some outlining. Compromise. It's not just for toddlers anymore.

Here's a little secret. I'm not a fan of writing prompts. I know some people swear by them, but I have enough ideas rattling around in my brain that doing something else seems counterproductive. So naturally, I force myself to do one now and then. I don't want the ideas in my head to get complacent. This is the same reason I make myself write poetry forms occasionally. Or a short story – and I hate writing short stories. All my ideas want to be books. Except when they want to be poems. It gets confusing, but that's part of the cat herding process of writing.

It's good for a writer to embrace opposites. I'm not the most organized person in the world, so I read organizational tips in books with interest. I'm looking for the magic bullet that will organize me out of chaos. Hasn't happened yet, but still I keep looking. Every new writing book might hold the key to keeping myself on track – and knowing what version of a poem is where. On the other hand, working in disarray often leads to some exciting discoveries. "I wrote that? Huh. It's not bad."

I'm not discounting all advice, I just like to be selective. So I sit with my highlighter and cherry pick what I need or what applies to me. Or what I want to try. I have a vague notion I should rip those pages out of the books and put them in a binder. Once I get over my horror of deliberately defacing a book, I might just do that.

29 January 2018

Old Dog, New Tricks

Merlin with his faithful outdoor companion. The Ball.

It’s been six weeks since we lost Max, Corgi Extraordinaire. We are slowly adjusting to his lack of presence. Our other Corgi, Merlin, is slowly adjusting to being the only dog. It took him a while to learn he could come up on the bed, sleep on the bed, use the dog stairs to clamber up on once forbidden territory. The bedroom used to be Max’s domain, a place for an old dog to relax and escape from his snarky younger brother. Max would nap, watch a little TV, (he liked the cooking channel and Bloomberg news) and contemplate dog things. Merlin contemplates dog things from his comfy bed in his crate, and now listens to music during the day. He likes light jazz, the 80's station, fetch, and long walks in the park on a sunny day.

Merlin still wanders sometimes, searching for Max, we think. There is less wandering than the first two weeks, but still, it’s hard to remove someone who was there your whole life and not miss them. To combat boredom, we bought Merlin a dog puzzle. One of those that has hidden compartments you place treats in and hide under fake plastic bones fitted into the slots. He figured it out quickly, but that doesn’t seem to take the enjoyment out of doing it. More puzzles are in the offing.

We also bought him a puzzle cube, where you put treats in and the dog rolls it around the floor while treats fall out at random. He didn’t seem to like it that much, even with enticing liver treats in it. We gave it to him one day, by the next day, it disappeared. Where did he roll it to? We’ve checked every nook and cranny upstairs, including behind the couch. Nothing. It’s bright yellow, how can we miss it? Unless he figured out a way to get it through his dog door and hide it in the snow, we’re stumped.

Then there are the chewy busy bone-like things we got him. Everyone said their dog loved them, chewed them right up. Merlin has carried his around for weeks, burying it in a dog bed one minute, the couch cushions the next. But not chewing it. He never was much of a chewer but surely something beef tasting could be a little bit tempting?

So we are on to teaching an old(er) dog new tricks. Merlin is not impressed with learning to shake. I guess he figures Corgis are short enough without giving up a paw. We’re reinforcing sit, down, stay, and don’t rip the treat out of my hand. He is a bit of a Land Shark. Twice a day there is a rousing game of fetch. Rousing for us, since we have to go get the ball when he decides he’s done and it’s our turn. We are also trying car rides that don’t end at the vet, or groomer. A wandering ride that sometimes ends up at McDonalds for a doggie cheeseburger.

It’s been a tough adjustment for all of us. Merlin is settling in as only dog and all the spoiling that entails. Every time we go out somewhere and come back in the house later, Merlin is at the top of the stairs to greet us, perhaps waiting a few beats longer in anticipation of his big brother returning.

15 January 2018

Now Available - Gyroscope Review Winter Issue

The first issue of 2018 of Gyroscope Review is now available, featuring a hand drawn cover done by me, Constance Brewer. Pen and ink drawings that were popped into the computer for some touch up and a few groundhog hole details. The Gyroscope groundhog wants you to go forth and protest for what you believe in, or at least come up for air and see what's going on around you. Take part, a little or a lot. Groundhogs don't judge.

Get your Gyroscope Review 2018 Winter issue today.

Print copies are available for purchase HERE.
Kindle copies are available for purchase HERE.
As always, our PDF version is available HERE.