Posted by: patriciamar | April 15, 2017

Tea Time Poetry #1

tea time poetry 1

Posted by: patriciamar | April 8, 2017

Regina’s songs & a good soaking

Tonight my list of top concerts may have been reshuffled. Until this moment, the best concerts of my lifetime included Fleetwood Mac (with Stevie, Lindsay and Mick, but no Christine), Tony Bennett at the Mondavi Center, and Sheryl Crow at a county fair in South Dakota. This evening I spent two hours with Regina Spektor at the Greek Theater, on the UC Berkeley campus, and I can tell you that she is just as lovely and wonderful and heartwarming as I thought she would be.

I cried for almost half the concert.


She came on stage–it wasn’t really raining at that point, and she waved, and then I started to cry. She was exactly how I had pictured her, and I had been looking forward to this concert for sooooo loooooong. She is nice and so darling and sweet, and her hair is a little wild, and she said thank you every time someone yelled something from the audience, which was a frequent.

She played “On the Radio,” “Après Moi” and “Older and Taller” and “Blue Lips.” She played old songs and new songs and she even played Leonard Cohen’s “Chelsea Hotel,” which was a wonderful comparison to her own, “Grand Hotel.” I do love swanky old hotel stories.

The seats at the Greek were pretty full, despite the dire prospects of rain, which proved true even after Regina thanked nature for holding off. Ha.

I cried again when she talked about immigrating to the U.S. as a child. I forgot that she came as a refugee. Of course, she hopes the next generation will welcome a few more children like her. I hope so too.

It started to rain at some point, and I added almost all of my layers, fairly happy that I had gone with the biking rain jacket rather than a light rain jacket.

The rain got worse, but no worries! It fueled the crowd. Regina kept apologizing and we kept cheering. At one point she dumped a bottle of water on her head, out of solidarity.

On the Greek Theater site, they suggest waterproof shoes. I didn’t understand at the time how it could get that bad, but now I understand.

When she played “Bleeding Heart” the rain was dumping down so furiously that I wondered if they were actually collaborating. (She and the rain, that is.) The woman next to me on the lawn stood up and I saw that her entire backside was soaked, ribcage to kneepits. The plastic blanket she was sitting on had been creating a fantastic effect that ensured that all the rainwater streaming down the hill pooled right around her buttocks. Poor thing.

At “Small Bill$,” it was pouring so heavily that I could feel the rain running through the side zippers on my ski pants. Yes, I was wearing ski pants* and the water was streaming off of my rain jacket and back onto my legs as I hugged my knees in a tiny please don’t destroy me Berkeley weather ball on the ground on the lawn in general admission seating. I’m telling you, this concert was amazing.

*as well as jeans, tall socks, a tank top, t-shirt, sweater, sweatshirt, biking rain jacket, three scarves, glittens and a stocking cap.

And the rain kept coming down, and Regina kept mopping off her Steinway and warming her hands on one of those ridiculously weak fans with the heater glowing in the middle.

I think it was also at this point that I realized that my hands were cold too. I took off my glittens and wrung them out.

About a quarter cup of water came out. Really. I decided not to put them back on.

Regina kept apologizing and asking us if we were ok, and we kept cheering, a little maniacally, if you ask me–part cheerful enthusiasm, part laughter, part tears.

Suddenly, at the end of a song, she was basically rushed off the stage. She returned for a second to tell us that for safety reasons, they needed to stop playing for ten minutes.

We were doomed.

People starting flooding out, but I didn’t disagree. It was the obvious choice. She’d played for aaaalmost two hours. I stood still and waited, hoping for one more.

Sure enough! Even though they had covered everything with the plastic sheets, after just a few minutes, she came back out to the mic for one more.

“Samson,” of course. Then she said we were best rain friends.

It will make my top 3 for sure, and I think #2. I might keep Stevie at #1 until I get the chance to see Joni Mitchell or Billy Joel. What an insane concert experience. If I could do it all again tomorrow, I would.
Without question.





(Other songs played included “Sailor Song,” “Silly Eye Color Generalizations,” “Eet,” “The Trapper and the Furrier,” among others) Ones that I was hoping for but didn’t hear (it’s ok) included “Fidelity,” “Us” and “Laughing with.”


Thanks, Regina. I had a lovely evening.

Posted by: patriciamar | March 1, 2017

A new Storybird Challenge!

This month the Storybird Challenge was to write a tale of star-crossed lovers.  I finished up just in time for March to begin, and here it is, a piece entitled, “So Very Cross.”

Unfortunately, the challenge ended February 23.  Oh, well.  Apparently I can only work on a month by month writing schedule.

The challenge was extra special this month because my Writing Laboratory class did it along with me!  I read some amazing stories from some amazing international students.

I can’t wait to see where these students will go in the future!



Posted by: patriciamar | February 9, 2017


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.


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


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!

*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

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.”


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