Posted by: patriciamar | February 9, 2017

#muse

As I writer, I often think about what makes me write what I write.

Let’s go ahead and call it the muse.

The idea of a muse has always been very romanticized, (I’m going to go ahead and shout, Mistresses! Booze!)  With the modern age, this has begun to change.  I use begin because I think there is still a wealth of people that believe in the power of writing #afewdrinksin. It could be the varied types of writing that have inspired this change, or maybe technology, or the modern day lifestyle, the platform for writing, how and where we commute, live, publish…

Whatever, the reason, it’s clear that there are many more possibilities.  Depending on when and how and where and what you write, your inspiration, your muse, can come from anywhere.

And there it is– In my opinion, there are now endless possibilities, and more writers should take full advantage of this.

Every writer needs a way to get started, and every writer faces writer’s block at times.  The idea of a muse goes back a long time to the artists, painters, and writers of old.  However, the modern day muse is incredibly intriguing.  There are apps to use that generate word choices, character traits, and exciting events.  The NaNoWriMo Plot machine can help you build any story. Even Google can be used.  I’d recommend typing, “I’m curious.”

You can find Plot Generators on Pinterest.  I have a ton of pins relating to paintings, beautiful food pics, etc.  You know what you write, so create a world of ideas where you can come and go whenever you like.

On Writeometer, a goal oriented writing app, the idea machine is included right there within the app.  Serious numbers of people use these online devices, and they can really help.  (Feel free to disagree, & tell me so!)

I hate to state the overly obvious, but there are also books upon books of plot ideas.

Another surely obvious option is to read.  I have always maintained that reading causes writing.  I, myself, have to find a balance and choose carefully.  I can’t read anything tooooo engaging–new series are out of the question, and the news is never a good idea.  Shorter pieces are nice, short stories are perfect, and random journals or writing zines are perfect.  In fact, I believe that “The Believer” is one of my very favorite inspirational muses.  I’ve never made it through a whole issue without stopping to write.  Honestly, never.

Another of my favorite muses is the library.  I take my keyboard and a blank document or a story that’s stuck and start my writing session by walking around.  I do not check out books at this time.  That is prohibited.  I look at book covers, go to the reference section, open the massive dictionary to a random page, check out the librarians’ suggested reads, and dream about my books sitting on those very shelves (one already is!), and then I write.  It always works.

(Eventually).

Now I’d like to mention a few modern muses, namely the possibilities provided to writers by Twitter hashtags, YouTube, Reddit, and the very general, but not unmagnificent Internet.

Twitter is my absolute writing go-to.  When I am writing, I often have Twitter open and my Tweetdeck has #amwriting permanently installed as a column.  I admit that this particular column is not necessarily always helpful as a muse.  Sometimes when I tweet with #amwriting, I am not actually writing.  Yes, this is an admission, and a sort of public shaming of myself.  I sometimes encourage or push myself to #startwriting by tweeting #amwriting and some sort of an idea.  For me, this.  Actually.  Works.

Surprised?   Maybe not.

Moving on to an even better use of Twitter…

The hashtag #muse, which I’ve personaly been working to get going, can lead you to quotes, music and pictures. You should also try #quote and #newtome, or go random with hashtags like #weather or #why.

I Love @historicalpics .

Although random Twitter hashtags  can lead to some weird tweets, Hold on!  Back up, I said weird, but what I meant is quirky, odd, strange, freak, queer!  Just the type of things that might help your main character get out of the stronghold of that wizened green ogre.

#weird– Another great anti-writer’s block hashtag.

If you want to write something new, intriguing and unique, then you should write and be inspired in the same way.

One piece of advice, don’t click on articles.  Prohibit it; make it off limits.  Pictures are fine, short videos even, but quotes and comments are the best option, from my experience.

Before I bring this to a close, I’d like to mention a few more ideas that I like.

When you’re working on a specific project, a long grueling novel especially, set the scene and return to it every time you work on that project.  I drink the same beverage, use the same tea mug, play the same scary music YouTube playlist, and keep the same token object by my side.  It will be retired when the project is done.

All the senses matter.

As a writer, you should keep all five close to your heart.

Posted by: patriciamar | February 6, 2017

Anne vs Lucy Maud Montgomery

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite heroines.  A fictional female writer who is questionably as weird as I am!?   Yes.

I have read every Green Gables book (my favorites being the first and Rainbow Valley).  I plan to work my way through the Emily books during my next break.  I hear they are also excellent–more on that later.

I always let my adoration of Anne extend to the writer of this beloved series, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Having recently finished reading a bio of L.M. Montgomery, Maud, I’m getting a taste of what parts of Anne are Maud, and which are Maud’s aunts, mother, and more.

I’ve always thought that L.M. Montgomery played a role in my eventual life as a writer, but I am now further convinced.  Maud was weird in such a strangmazing way!  Flowers quarreling and romantic lanes that have names and souls– I almost think that through Anne, Maud made me me.

It adds to the charm that most all of Maud’s (& Anne’s) life takes place on Prince Edward Island.  This is the type of island that a writer can typically only dream about. (By the way, did you hear about the essay contest that ends with someone winning a lakeside cabin in the Catskills!?  I am very tempted– just 200 words away from a life of writing by the lake in the morning and reading in the evening by the fire, but I digress.)

I chose to read this bio because my parents recently endeavored on a fairytale trip to Prince Edward Island.  Fairly tale, because it’s a road trip that most certainly includes windswept Canadian sand dunes–the most romantic of sand dunes–and a walk through The Haunted Wood! (Cavendish Road Woods).  How very thrilling!

About Maud

“Writing was Maud’s most reliable friend.  It was her escape from everything that troubled her.”

(Bruce, pg 16 )

Author Harry Bruce puts together a striking picture of Maud.  She wrote throughout life and had her reasons for doing so.  She loved PEI and this and her strange and somewhat sad upbringing made her the woman who created Anne, Emily, Rilla, Marilla and Matthew.  Bruce organizes the book nicely.  You start by reading a caricature of the Anne, ahem, the Maud that you could imagine living the life as a teacher/writer.

“She was an offspring of storytellers–and of headstrong women.”

Then you shift back to childhood, where she claims her first memory occurred at just 22 months of age.

As he works through the book, you must endure sad moments along with the happy.  Imagine what life would have been like if Marilla had never softened and Matthew had never existed?  Life was hard for Maud, but through it all, she wrote.

Anne & Emily

Anne

From the movie, “Anne of Green Gables” (Sullivan Entertainment)

Anne was one of Maud’s most well-known characters, but the life of Emily, it seems, was also very representative of what Maud went through in her life.

“To young Maud Montgomery, whose fantasies were every bit as powerful as those of Emily, Anne, or any of the other girls should create, nineteenth-century Cavendish was full of flashes, hints of heaven, and magic.”

Maud’s life as a female writer wasn’t easy, but she had the work ethic of an ox.  Women and writing during this time period was an unlikely combination, and was not accepted.  Thus, many of her submissions and efforts were carried out entirely in secret.

In some ways, I can commiserate.  Failure or a lack of success is easier to take in private, in my opinion.  However, I chose this path, and I don’t believe that Maud had that choice.  She was born a woman, and she was born a writer.

Life Lessons

“I do not think the majority of grown-ups have any real conception of the tortures sensitive children suffer over any marked difference between themselves and the other small denizens of their small world.”  (Montgomery)

The above statement, in a nutshell, is the feeling that caused Rachel Lynde to be called fat, and which had at least a little to do with a slate being broken over Gilbert Blythe’s head.  Why insult children!?  They have feelings too!  And do you not remember puberty?

The dark days

At one point in her story, just before she wrote Anne of Green Gables, and perhaps hinting at the reason for creating the series, Maud said that she thought the best years of her life were behind her.

This statement made my heart feel real pain.  Imagine it.  Have you thought it yourself?  Perhaps you have, but I hope not.  Either you considered it while you were in the depths of despair, or you really, truly feel that way.

But oh, Maud.  You poor thing.

She was nineteen.

A few other notable pieces of information that you’ll learn about through Bruce’s book?  Anne’s love of spare rooms, the real Katie in the glass, and the homestead after which Green Gables was modeled.

This book is chock full of Maud quotes that are just so Anne.  I highly recommend it.

Posted by: patriciamar | January 22, 2017

5 Nonfiction Feminist Books On My TBR

I’m sure most, if not all of you, know, yesterday women (well, people of all genders) marched across the globe to protest Trump. I sadly did not march but seeing all the social media posts ab…

Source: 5 Nonfiction Feminist Books On My TBR

Posted by: patriciamar | January 15, 2017

The Last Text

This last month, the writing challenge at Storybird was a longform story.

Write a story that includes the last text on New Year’s Eve.

I spent the night before the first day of class working on mine, and here it is!  I had fun trying something new.  It’s basic and quick.  There’s a little mystery, some siblings exchanges that many will understand, and a penguin pitcher*.  Enjoy!

https://storybird.com/chapters/the-last-text-2/1/embed/

*Yes, pitcher– jug.

Posted by: patriciamar | November 30, 2016

#NaNoWriMo for the Win

I did it!  NaNoWriMo Winner 2016!

Patriciamar's NaNoWriMon

I can’t wait until next year, but now–Christmas!

Oh, and I should really grade all those papers……

 

P.S. Want your own NaNoWriMon?  Check out the NaNoWriMon site.

Posted by: patriciamar | October 20, 2016

Goodreads Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wandering Canalside by Patricia Willers

Wandering Canalside

by Patricia Willers

Giveaway ends October 31, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/widget/199369

Posted by: patriciamar | October 17, 2016

My name is Patricia and I am a book junkie.

I got this blog post idea from The Belgian Reviewer (via Jade over @ Drink Coffee and Read Books and Eve @ Eve Messenger’s Otherworldly Endeavors).

Reading/taking this Addiction diagnostic test made me laugh out loud.

Directions: Mark each statement that applies to you.

tick 1. I have dropped a book on my face. More than once.  (Wow!  I didn’t realize this was a thing!)

tick 2. On social media, I follow writers, not singers and movie stars. #jojomoyes 🙂

tick 3. “Unputdownable” IS a word.

tick 4. My idea of a great weekend is starting a new book on Friday at 5 p.m.

tick 5. My fingers type “Google” into the web address bar but somehow I keeping winding up at Goodreads.

tick 6. If I leave the house without a book I feel naked   I have a mini-panic attack. I never leave the house without a book.

tick7. I freely admit I’ve hugged, kissed and/or lovingly patted a book.

red-cross-2 8. My favorite thing in my wallet is my library card. (It’s actually on my keychain…)

red-cross-2 9. I plan road trips just to listen to audio books. (It’s bike rides, in my case.)

tick 10. While reading a book I am oblivious to the outside world. People can shout my name, gesture rudely, but short of bodily injury, I will not notice them.

tick11. I’m happy if there’s a long wait at the mechanic/doctor’s office/airport because it means I get to read.

tick12. When putting together a travel checklist, my first item is always: “books to read.”

tick13. In lines or at doctor’s offices, when everyone else around me is tapping out messages on their cell phones, my face is buried in a book. (Kindle….)

tick14. If a novel I’m reading has a plot twist I wholeheartedly disagree with, I will complain, out loud, to my book.

tick15. When I discover a new book I’d like to read, the first thing I do is to list it as “want to read” on Goodreads. Then I blog about it. (I tweet about it.  My to-read list has more than 1,500 books on it.)

red-cross-2 16. If I reach for a book, my household pets jump onto my favourite reading chair. (My fish doesn’t jump.  Oh, Mr. Ruffles…)

red-cross-217. My favourite historical figure is Booker T. Washington.

tick 18. When I meet new people, the first question I ask is, “What kinds of books do you like to read?”  (I definitely do this.  Is it strange?  No, right?)

tick19. The only thing better than buying new books is when someone reads—and likes—a book I’ve recommended to them.

tick20. I read posts entitled “How to Tell if You’re a Book Junkie.”

library-bar

Posted by: patriciamar | August 30, 2016

The NetGalley (Goodreads) Book Tag

I am following this tag from ChocolatenWaffles to TheBelgianReviewer, a blog I often find myself reading on my  highway of procrastination (away from grading and writing).   Check it out for sure!

By the way, it makes you think of beer, right?  I think that’s partially why I often end up there.

jennifer weiner

I ❤ Books

THE RULES

  • Link back to the tag’s creator (Kourtni Reads)
  • Thank and link back to the person who tagged you
  • Answer the questions the best you can. If you don’t use NetGalley, you can substitute other sites or places where you get books!
  • Tag a few people to do this too

Auto-Approved: Who’s one author whose books you automatically want to read, regardless of what they’re about?
There are a couple of authors on this list, my current fave being Liane Moriarty. I’m also done with everything she has written, and Truly, Madly, Guilty just came out!  Another author who is irresistible to me is Diane Setterfield.  She only has two books, but I visit her website more often than she can imagine just to see what she’s been doing.

Request: What makes you want to request a book that you see on Goodreads/NetGalley?
I stroll around Goodreads like others use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.  I click, click, click, and click through, often adding two dozen books to my “To Read” list in one sitting.

When I finish reading a book that I really like, I go to Goodreads and add every book they have written.

As a writer, I sometimes go to Goodreads with only a keyword.  I find books related to what I’m working on, typically a time period or historical event.

I also enjoy using Groups, Lists, and the favorite quotes collection!

Feedback Ratio: Do you review every book you read? If not, how do you decide what books to review?
Unfortunately, I do not review even close to all the books I read.  I would like to, but between my own (fiction) writing and grading papers, I don’t it impossible to find the time.  That being said, if I read a book that is absolutely wonderful, mostly unknown, or by a new author, I will absolutely make a point to review it.

Badges: If you could create your own badge to display on your blog, what would it be for?
Hmmm… Maybe *Author Completed* — Used after I finish reading every book by a certain author.  I really enjoy doing this.

I’d also love *Pulled an All-Nighter* when I stay up late to finish a new book– one of the best things in life, really!

Wish for It: What’s one book that you are absolutely dying to read?
This is too difficult to answer.

My To-Read list currently has 1,649 books on it.

However, during this September break, I am considering taking down the whole Game of Thrones series.  We’ll see.daenarys-1024

2016 Goodreads Challenge: What was the last book that you received as an ARC that you reviewed? If you’ve never received an ARC, what’s the last book you reviewed?
The last book I reviewed was My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem.  I learned so much from this book.  It shocked me.  You can learn so much from talking with other people when you’re travelling.  It was very enlightening.

Tagging (Feel free to ignore if you’re not interested):

Teresa @ Treesa’s Bookshelf

You! If you want to do it.

Posted by: patriciamar | July 30, 2016

Fiction: The Sad Barmaid’s Tale

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Friday, July 29, I participated in the first ever Sudwerk Symposium.  Kathleen Brandl came up with the idea for the symposium series at the Sudwerk Dock Store and asked me to a part of the very first one.  The Davis Enterprise included an article about the start of the Sudwerk Symposium Series as well.

I happily, albeit a little nervously, agreed and decided to write a new short work of fiction for the event.  I promised to make it available online after the event, so without further ado, here it is.   I hope you enjoy.

 

 

The Sad Barmaid’s Tale

Liona was a very competent barhand. Barmaid, perhaps.  Not a barback, not a bartender, but something in between.  She served beers to many and all sorts, and the way that Liona served beer was nearly perfect.  All the customers knew.  In fact, why wasn’t she a bartender?  The injustice.  Something about the title.  Beer was/is traditionally a man’s world. Whatever… 

That was alright though.  She had a place in this lovely little malt ridden world, and she was well suited for it, maybe even a little above it.  A little humble, but not too much.  Not like, no, never mind.  

She very much liked this life.  She knew and drank stouts and pilsners and pale ales and British ales.  She could taste her way through a lineup of lambics and saisons and even the rare berlinerweisse.  She did not know ciders, but she respected mead.  Wine was not served at this drinking establishment.

Oh, yes.  Now she remembered why she wasn’t a fully titled bartender.  One time, back when she was in training, a customer had reached over the bar and filled his own pint glass.  It was very rude.  She had told him directly that it was both impolite and a terrible pour.  The bartender questioned the thickness of her skin and her demeanor.  

¿She was too nice?

Today had been a very long day.  Too long and loud for her taste.  Too many confused drinkers.  

She preferred to refer to this type as confused.  They had questions, so many questions–That she just could not bring herself to answer.  She could not answer.  

“What flavor is the yellow one?  How many hops are in a typical pint?  

Where did these folks come from?!  Humbug.

Yes, confused was the right word.  Confused.

She understood why they asked her.  It was because she always smiled.  Smiling was her thing.

Sort of.

Not like Joel.  Joel was beautiful and stern.  He could be friendly, but not until long after you met him–months, years.  Then he was funny and caring and chivalrous and… sweet.

She knew.  She had taken her time, and had gotten to know him ve-ry well.

If Joel were a beer, he’d be a… barleywine.  A 2010 Green Flash Barleywine.  Well hopped, sweet on the backside (wink).  That was a good year.

It had been the best month.  At the first sign of the bright orange of citrus in the trees, it began.  Fresh IPA season.  Double ipa, triple ipa, quadruple ipa if you chose to believe.

She did.  Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, and quadruple ipa’s, she believed.

It was her very favorite time of year.  The aroma, the bitterness, and the floral dankness that reached her very core and made her feel alive!  

She tasted every beer that passed through the Perlick taps here at the best beer stoppe in town, The House of the Rising Suds.

Worked day after day, pouring perfect pours, and killing kegs.  She celebrated the Bike Party Pils and banged on a taiko drum.  She downed Dale’s Pale on the American river, tallboys of torpedo at Big Sur, and experienced salty farmer’s market sweat and salty watermelon gose; she drank cans for days.   

The beer based life was salty and sweet.

But today, yesterday? The tides had turned and all the fresh ipas were somehow and suddenly old.  Leona could admit that she had a bit of a phobia of oldness.  oldity, olderous, olderiety–they all sounded so bad.  

Now, months would pass, surely slowly.  The beers rolling past. Half pints, full pints, imperial pints, the God forsaken shaker pint- sterilize the taps, wipe the counter, check the CO2 tank, the smell of simple green on her top and warm lactose on her breath.

The lacing on empty glasses used to look so beautiful.

By August she was reaching.  She had never felt so stale.  The cans, she crushed them everywhere!  On the floor, on the walls, on the bar, on her face!  

She blind tasted all the numbered Lagunitas, 13, 16, 21, 22.  

Summer brought so much of the same… and the heat built.  The square broke one day and was fixed the next.  The tips ebbed and flowed.

Eventually, it was fall.  Autumn colors came late to Davis. She’d semi-successfully made it through the dog days of August and September in the valley, when heat caused you to make bad decisions. Cheap fixes and flavor you’d never admit to in the light of day… Natty Light and Hamm’s.  Uhaghk.

And then one day Joel walked in through the front door–she had opened, the taps were ready and the glasses clean, but the doors were still closed for the day.  The sandwich board still leaning against the front of the bar—and he said those two little words, “Hey Punkin.”

No.

Yes.

No. No. Humbug.

No, Yes!  She was ready for it, had been ready for days, for months.  Since the Wolf Among the Weeds had become old.  She’d happy hour’ed her way through cans of Lawnmower Lager and Swami’s,

“Leona,” he asked, “want some? In my opinion, today’s the day.  No need to resist thi-is.”

She swallowed the lump in her throat, the last {swill] of the Boont from the night before, perhaps, and nodded.

From deep in his bag he pulled a bottle, and uncapped it swiftly with the adeptness of the man he was, a seasoned bartender.  Beard, overgrown boy haircut.  

Pumpkin beer.

As she knew she would, she became sick with overconsumption in a week.  It had been a rough fling.  Her senses bathed constantly in nutmeg, cardamom and cinnamon.

She went home feelin ill, and wondering if this was it.  Was she done with this seasonal life?  Over it, once and for all?  Next was Christmas beers and winter spiced ales.  She couldn’t take it.  She could still feel the burn of fermented maple syrup on her tongue.  

Not one more pumpkin beer party.  Not one.

Hoppiness! She needed it!  You might even say she was in pursuit of it!  

When!?!

She consulted the saison savant, and he handed her a complex and loveable Flemish Red, but it wasn’t enough.

A quad from the local Belgian lover, bourbon barrel aged plums that would have normally made her ovaries do flips.

But Pumpkin beer season after the hot summer of cans had been such a short fling, and it left her so flung.
It hurt.

Finally it was winter, and she could rightfully slip into hibernation before turning in impermanently for the winter wait until barley wine season. Oh, Joel. Sigh.

She waited out the dark days of her year, black Friday, Christmas, New Year’s…

And then it was happening again.  Deja vu. Joel walked through the door and gave her a look.  She turned away with a dramatic swish of her hair.

 She couldn’t take it.

Not another seasonal fling.   

“No, wait!” he called.  “Leona. Darling, I know you’re headed home, and you’ve had a hard day, but I need you….

Could you please help me with this keg?”  

Yes, of course she would.  She’d been known to never say no to Joel.  But why didn’t he just use the dolly?  

Men.  Bartending men.

She took five swift steps towards him and reached down to grasp the top rim (edge) of the keg next to him.  They locked eyes, and his glinted.  ¿Men?  

He let his eyes drop, and so did she.

They dropped down, down, down to the keg cap.  To the keg collar.  Blue, with a yellow-orange keg cap.  A silhouette of pine trees.

Something lifted inside her.

Joel smiled.

She, of course, smiled back.

This was it.  It was her year.  The Younger had finally come to the House of the Rising Suds.

 

 

 

Posted by: patriciamar | July 7, 2016

Short Fiction: All Cats Should Be Long Haired

In honor of tomorrow’s release of “The Secret Life of Pets,” here’s a work of short fiction I just finished.  I don’t own a cat, but I know some.  I’m pretty sure this is how it really is.

All Cats Should Be Long Haired

No cats were harmed in the writing of this story.

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She sat on the smooth, white window ledge looking over the street next to her apartment. Surveying this landscape was all in a day’s work.

She watched leaves swim through the air and drop lightly down on the porch in front of the window.  Through the green painted vertical rails, she could look down on the lawn below and then to the sidewalk.  Two trees flanked her view.  The trees had beautiful rough bark, as if covered in veins of life, of earth.

But, oh.

Squirrels lived there.  Dirty, brown thieving squirrels that tittered and clicked their nails over the bark of the trees—her trees—as they chased each other childishly and incessantly up and down and around.

She hated them.

A man dressed as a bumble bee walked by.

Idiot.

In general, the people in her city gave her plenty to look at, but sometimes…

Another male ran by.  He was wet on his face and arms and chest.  It was disgusting.

She turned away.

Inside her apartment, it was quiet.

Too quiet.

She was becoming more and more certain that her owner was dead.

It had been hours.

Too long and no sign of her, Pamela. 

In the kitchen was her dining area.  Her food bowl was empty and had been.

If her stomach could growl, it would.  If she could growl, she would.

She had a little water left.  She had been conserving it.  Who knew when someone would discover Pamela’s decaying body?  The bedroom door was closed.  The scent of flesh would take ages to permeate the substantial wooden door.

Once the water was gone she would eat the plants in order to survive.  Before, there had been more plants.  Pamela was careless with lives—even her own, it seemed.

She gazed back down across the street to the city hall.  There were people working inside the deep red brick fortress.  The minions worked there, planning huge projects that were loud and violent.  They would soon be ripping up streets and sidewalks and lawns to build their underground human escape route.

She knew where the tunnels were.  There were entrances at the corners of each intersection. If she had to, she could escape when they came to take the body.  Eventually, she would slip out the door and find an entrance, and then escape down the hidden underground path to nine eternal lives.  She had heard them talking about it, the humans.  Only cats had nine.  Humans got but one pitiful excuse for an existence.  Hair dryers and leaf blowers and vacuums—the ideas they came up with…

And there he was, prowling in the grass.

Carl.

The gargantuan tabby.  He terrorized everyone, night and day and afternoon and morning.  Doesn’t sleep.

We’re domesticated, you short haired bastard!

All cats should be long haired.

Oh.…

She’s up…

My “Master.”

My God, she’s loud.  Will I ever get any peace?

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