The Writer's Life

breaking down boundaries to the exuberant life of writing

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Please help yourself to Christmas cookies, cocoa and coffee.

And, enjoy a little Christmas inspiration as you take a break from your writing to enjoy the holidays!

“It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas”

Bing Crosby

“White Christmas”

Bing Crosby

Hello Everyone!!!

I hope you are all having a Happy Halloween and for many of my writer friends, it is NaNoWriMo time tomorrow!!

I am so happy you stopped by to say, “Hello.”

So, the short answer to, Where the Hell have I been?

Nose to the grindstone – WORKING, Blah!!!

I work in three locations, a part-time job and private practice in two locations. And, what pushed my life into overload was deciding to let my kids do homeschool this year.

WHAT WAS I THINKING!?

I was thinking I would quit my part-time job and all would be well, but I haven’t yet. My scheduled end date is December 15. So, there is hope in the future.

I have missed my peaceful writing time and Twitter life that I had before I started working. I have tried to get writing done here and there. But when the homeschool obligations started, I found myself rushing from one moment to the next, always behind and hopelessly unorganized.

BUT, I held out hope that I could pull it together for NaNoWriMo. And, no matter how little I write (and it may be very little), I will participate. I have no illusions that I will be able to win or maybe not even get halfway, but I like the camaraderie and the chance to reconnect with the project that really got me writing three years ago.

I can already feel my soul relaxing at the thought of having more creative writing time. My kids will participate with me again this year, which helps to feel okay spending time writing if they are too.

Loon Lake

I have decided to explore some ideas about Spiritualism movements in the mid to late 19th century through the life of Lena, a young girl with lots of moxie for this time period. I ran across interesting information about the Spiritualism movements when I was working on my NaNo novel last year. These beliefs were well-respected in the middle and upper classes and were followed for many years before the hucksters who fooled people were eventually exposed. But a lot of the beliefs and practices are still a part of our current culture.

I heard about a few camps in Wisconsin and Minnesota that sponsored summer camps for those following Spiritualism. I thought that was fascinating and wanted to follow my characters into this secret world for a look around.

Here are a few of my initial ideas about where I am beginning with my novel:

Lena could feel the excitement as she packed for camp. It was great to be alive near the end of the 19th century. The modern age was fast approaching and she wanted to be a part of it.

She couldn’t wait to begin the long trip up north to Camp Loon, a camp run by the Spiritualists, where famous mediums would speak and demonstrate their power. All the “best” families from Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis would be in attendance this year.

She carefully packed her favorite book, “Communication With the Other Side”, by George, First Baron Lyttelton, published in England in 1760. She loved to read about the notable spirits quoted in this volume. After all, Spiritualism was now a well-accepted practice in their circles. Even Mary Todd Lincoln organized Spiritualist seances in the White House, attended by her husband, President Abraham Lincoln, and other prominent members of society.

Lena had high hopes for this summer at camp. She wanted to contact her mother, who died last year. She was still amazed that her father was willing to go to camp this year, and hopefully he would attend the seance with her and her sisters. Then, maybe he would “believe” too. Then again, he might be coming to spend more time with that dreadful Mrs. Hofsteader, who lost her husband three months ago.

“Never mind that witch, I’ll deal with her,” Lena said out loud as she packed her Ouija board.

Who else is doing NaNo this year? Please comment and tell me about it.

I would love to have more Writing Buddies on the NaNo site. Come on over and join in the fun. You can find me at:  Anne Tyler Lord.

 

 

 

 

Alison Wells of Head Above Water

My friend (and writer extraordinaire) , Alison Wells, at Head Above Water was kind enough to feature me in an interview. She is doing a wonderful series of interviews with writers who are mothers and asking questions about how they balance writing and family. I really enjoyed reading the interviews and hearing about the lives of other writers who are mothers.

Check out this interesting series. And, while you are over there at her blog, check out her amazing poetry and fiction!

Thanks Alison!

 

BTW – In this interview, I announced:

Coming this summer (2011), Anne will feature a series on her blog about sustaining energy and joy in the creative process for writers. And, she will be offering online coaching to those who want to put the fire back into their writing life. (well, coaching is such a buzz word, but I personally don’t like the word. I will think of something else to call it).

Happy Easter to Everyone!

Is anyone else feeling the urge for a Creativity Renewal this spring?

I’m feeling a little more tired and frumpy since last summer. This has been a long, gray, cold winter for many of us. We are promised 60 degree weather and sun for Easter in Minnesota. So, I can feel that it is time to brush off ingrained habits, pale skin and dark heavy clothes!

“People find life entirely too time consuming.”
-  Stanislaw J. Lec

I am taking this chance to follow the seasons and get the house cleaned up, begin new walking routines (actually outside), have friends over for fun and start new writing projects.

I invite you to take a moment with me to open more space in our creative lives. The relaxed, expansive state is the beginning of creativity. We can start by breathing the fresh air, feeling the sunshine and focusing on mindful moments of appreciation for the beauty that is blooming.

Now, get out and have some fun!

Click on the picture to go to the Graphics Fairy and get a full-sized coloring page

 

Reshaping life! People who can say thay have never understood a thing about life—they have never felt its breath, its heartbeat—however much they have seen or done. They look on it as a lump of raw material that needs to be processed by them, to be ennobled by their touch. But life is never a material, a substance to be molded. If you want to know, life is the principle of self-renewal, it is constantly renewing and remaking and changing and transfiguring itself, it is infinitely beyond your or my obtuse theories about it.”  -Boris Pasternak (Doctor Zhivago)

 

 

“To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.”
-  Emily Dickinson

 

 

**My artwork comes from the Graphics Fairy – I love the fun graphics she shares with us to use for websites and art projects – Thanks!

Bird, Bird, Bird,

Bird is the word…

Twitter Pictures, Images and Photos

I have been lamenting my limited time online these past few months, but I am thankful when I am able to connect to the friends I have made on Twitter these past couple years. Today I wanted to share a wonderful experience I had getting together with one of my Twitter friends.

Recently, I have been trying to open my own private practice in child & family therapy.  However, I have run into a few road blocks. One of those problems was finding an image for my logo to produce marketing materials.

I am using a local attraction as the logo for my business – the Trumpeter Swans. The town where I live pays to feed the swans every year, so a few thousand of them take up residence in the winter (I guess they think the weather is much warmer than Canada). I love to watch them fly over my house every day. They are beautiful, awe-inspiring birds. And, it is fun to go down by the river and watch them swim together with their babies. Trumpeter swans mate for life and stay in their family groups.

The first person I thought about to ask for help was a Twitter friend, Monica Marier (@lil_monmon). She is an amazing artist and I have really enjoyed Monica’s art, writing and her friendship.

I wanted to show off my adorable new logo that Monica created

I will definitely ask Monica to do any artwork I need in the future. She is a true professional with amazing talent. I am hoping to create small children’s books featuring her illustrations.

You can find some of Monica’s work, The Skeleton Crew webcomic at Tangent Artists and at The Penny Dreadful. She has published a book called, Must Love Dragons, available on Lulu.  And, Monica just finished her second novel (part of the same series), Runs In Good Condition, which is available for pre-order here.

I encourage you to check out Monica’s blog, Attack of the Muses, where she publishes her FridayFlashes and other writing tidbits. And, if you haven’t already, follow her on Twitter, @lil_monmon.

On a personal note…

I have been continually astounded by those I meet in the Twitterverse. I have met so many talented, intelligent and artistic people. And, I am most grateful to count as friends so many kind, compassionate, and of course, endlessly entertaining Tweeple.

Now I am getting nostalgic for the days when I could spend more time online. I am hoping to make changes in my life soon to allow more online time in my life.

And, if someone can just find office space for me, I will be eternally grateful.

Stay tuned for The Writer’s Life regular blog series to return in a few weeks.

Peace, my friends!!

We all need our Muses to inspire our writing life . Some of my Muses are Meow-ses. Here are my two new little cuties!

I LOVE baby kitties, and we have just adopted two from the same litter. It will be our last two, since we already have two older ones. We have adopted all our cats from rescue shelters.

Last year we lost our old 22 year old cat, the last of my first family of four cats. We already have two cats for our next family, and now the two babies are joining them.

Our animal family is now complete with 4 cats and 1 dog, actually, we are over capacity. But, I love getting litter mates, they play and sleep together. The kittens are 9 weeks old and weigh only 2.1 and 2.3 lbs.

Indy (Indiana Jones) - my son's cat (but mine too)

Callie - my daughter's cat (of course, mine too)

My boy/girl twins holding their boy/girl kitty twins.

My kids LOVE their new baby kitties and do help, but you know who gets to do most of the care – Me, of course – but I love them all.

Cute spotted tummies!

I hope you enjoyed this Kitten Moment!

Bye Bye - We are going to sleep now!

As some of you know, my site has hosted many parties for writers & anyone who loves creativity and fun.  I began with my first party last New Year’s Eve with the Once In A Blue Moon Party. However, my recent new job & health needs have reduced my online time in the last few months, and that has meant – NO PARTIES! It is time to correct that problem! One can only live so long without parties.

I want to thank my readers for this past year of fun and conversation and I look forward to a great 2011 with more merriment!

Let’s celebrate New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with great food, fun and punch!

The Writer’s Life Coffeehouse

The Writer’s Life Coffeehouse is hosting a 1.1.11 fondue and punch party for writers! As you can see, I have decorated with low tables and beanbag chairs arranged in small groupings around the coffeehouse. Pull up a bag and join your friends in some dip and punch.

The conversation topics are – What were your successes and challenges in 2010 and what are your hopes and dreams for 2011. But of course, I’m sure the punch will take the party in different directions.

Food

Be careful, the cheese is hot!

Nothing says fun with friends like fondue. Let’s begin by dipping eight different kinds of bread  into delicious gourmet cheese fondues. Yum!

Swiss Cheese and Tomato Fondue Gruyère cheese, Emmentaler cheese and plum tomatoes seasoned with garlic, oregano and white peper mixed in cream – Delicious!

Brie with Wild Mushroom Fondue porcini and shitake mushrooms mixed with shallots in a base of Brie cheese and white wine – mouth watering!

Goat Cheese and Herb Fondue Chevre (goat cheese), cream cheese and heavy cream infused with chives, fresh minced basil, tarragon and parsley – The triple cream threat!

Aged Cheddar Cheese and Beer Fondue Monterey Jack , Gruyère cheese and aged cheddar cheese with beer – How can you go wrong!

The second course is the entrée. Check these out:

Chicken Fondue with Chili Dip Chicken breast dipped in Chili Sauce – Spicy!

Beef Fondue Sirloin beef dipped in beef broth seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard & garlic – A Classic

And for the vegetarians and everyone preferring veggies, the second course is:

Mushroom Fondue Mushrooms dipped in chicken stock and heavy cream with a dash of cayenne pepper. Try dipping some of the veggies in this delicious dip, zucchini, cooked carrots & broccoli are great too!

Dessert is very special. I have flown in delicious Swiss chocolate and fruit from every corner of the world. Dip your fruit into these delights!

Half Dark Chocolate Half Milk Chocolate Fondue To please both sides of your personality

Toblerone Fondue You heard me right. This fondue takes pieces of Toblerone bars and melts them in Cognac and heavy cream – Oh my!

Tasty Caramel Fondue too good to describe!

Punch

What is a party without a great drink? It’s not a party. Enjoy one of the hottest party drinks this season – punch! It is making a big comeback. And, please, no playing around in the punch until everyone has tried some.

Luscious Slush Punch with the flavors of strawberry, orange, pineapple and lemon (this is a big fav online)

And for those who really want their punch to pack a punch:

Kerri’s Holiday Punch Southern Comfort at it’s finest

Fun

New Year’s Eve

A tribute to Lena, who died this year. Her voice is amazing!

It doesn’t get more classic than this. For those of you who actually played records, here’s a little nostagia. I found it was mesmerizing to watch the record playing.

Happy New Year!

ABBA blast from the more recent past – check out that hair!

May you experience the ultimate in creativity in the New Year! I found this video and was captivated. Although I questioned a few points, I kept with it and then read further about Plato’s Cave. I consider myself to be an armchair philosopher and see how this viewpoint fits in with Plato’s ideas. Although I don’t think it is the ‘whole’ picture, it presents some interesting ideas to consider about creativity. (BTW, I loved the vintage clips that coordinated with the words so well).

I hope you are all having a Happy New Year. I am looking forward to some changes in 2011, including getting online more often and restoring my regular blog posting schedule. I also have a podcast in the works. Hmmm…may just have to quit my job soon, it seems to be getting in the way of my ‘real’ life.

Please let me know how you are doing at the end of 2010 and what your hopes and dreams are for 2011 – let’s catch up!

And, of course have fun at the party – fictional characters are always welcome!!

Note: Photos are from Photobucket and recipe sites, as linked. Videos are from YouTube, of course.

This weekend I am reposting my three part series, Frostbite: A Mafia Family Christmas, about the Kaszinov Family(portions rewritten).

I had fun last year imagining what it would be like to celebrate Christmas in a Russian Mafia family, well, at least a goofy one. These posts were my first #FridayFlash-es.

This is Part 3 of 3 in a series, if you haven’t read the beginning, you can read Part 1 and Part 2.

Kaszinov Family Crest

Tasha watched with anticipation as Aunt Urola’s lavish jewel necklaces were finally removed from her aunts’ necks. Now, they were all wore hot blisters and bumpy rashes seared by the poison laced in each string. The red flush of their faces matched their flaring tempers. The men blistered inside and out after removing the necklaces and placing them in a bag for decontamination. The aroma of the room changed from Christmas tree pine to antiseptic and ointment. The afternoon hors d’oeuvres were antihistamines and whiskey served up with curses to Aunt Urola.

The chaos distracted the entire family as Tasha quietly slipped in and out of the house unnoticed. Until, Mama caught her. “Tasha! Where are you going with all that!”

“Ah…are the women feeling better?” Tasha suddenly stopped in her tracks.

“You heard me, what are you doing?” Mama wasn’t budging.

“I thought the Boys needed a little Christmas cheer, too. It must be gloomy living in those rooms above the garage.” Tasha shifted the weight of the bags in her arms.

“You know we built luxury apartments for those thugs. You stay in here and don’t go near those cutthroat butchers!”

Tasha put everything down on the kitchen table. Mama, half-drunk, strutted back into the living room screaming, “Use those coasters, damn it!”

Tasha continued on her way creeping out of the house carrying small bags.  A couple of the Boys were proving to be helpful. Tasha quickly targeted the disgruntled ones Papa had burned one too many times.

Later that evening, Tasha walked quietly into the living room where everyone was getting loud and obnoxious from all the booze. The men were smoking and carousing by the fireplace. The women were making no sense in their conversations. Insults were flying, but they responded with laughter.

No one noticed when Tasha took over as bartender.   She opened five bottles of their best wine which cost over $1,000 a bottle. She poured each bottle into a carafe, swirling it carefully, adding a little something of her own.  She set the bottles on the bar next to each carafe. It was a display of irresistible decadent splendor no greedy mobster could resist.

“Hey Ermil, come see this, he’s finally brought out the good stuff!”

Tasha’s aunts and uncles, Mama and Papa gathered around the bar to celebrate one last time.

Tasha smiled and walked away from the bar, and she watched as each of her relatives took a drink and sat down in their respective places. Next, she enjoyed the wonderful scene. Conversations slurred, glasses dropped to the floor, heads bobbed suddenly sideways and forward.

Tasha quickly ran upstairs to gather the children from their play time with the many Christmas presents they had received. They came bounding into the living room where the adults were drooped. They ignored the adults and followed Tasha and her plate of cookies.

“Come sit by the fire for a special Christmas poem I wrote just for you!” Tasha said, as she watched their eager faces become quiet as they sat down and munched at their cookies.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in my Mafia Family

‘Twas the night before Christmas
when all through the house,
A foul creature was stirring
and so was a louse.

Tommy guns were hung
by the chimney with care,
In hopes that rogue mobsters
soon would be there.

The children were restless
tossing in bed,
While visions of mob fights
danced in their head.

When out in the snow
there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed
to see what was the matter.

When, what to my wondering eyes
should appear,
A dead body in the snow,
now frozen. “Oh, Dear!”

Aunt Urola lay stiff
in this murderous scene,
But she’s not the only
cold-blooded ice queen.

The guilty told stories
to explain how she died,
But they didn’t make sense
it was clear that they lied.

Homicidal maniacs
will not get away,
For their trigger-happy fun
in prison they will stay.

I’m afraid that our family
will not shed a tear,
For the terror inflicted
or for the deadly fear.

I’ll take their presents and jewels
to fund my mission,
Just wait and see how much more
they’ll be missin’!

My family is in deep,
So I put them to sleep,
Run! Quick! Without a peep,
To the helicopter, “take a leap!”

Safely we will fly
while they take the fall,
Now dash away, dash away,
dash away all!

The children will now have
a brand new fresh start,
And be given the chance
to grow a kind heart.

‘Tis the end of my story,
hope I gave you a fright.
Merry Christmas to all, and to
all a good night!

Anne Tyler Lord

My name is Anne Tyler Lord. I have been many things in my life, but right now, I know I must write.

The Writer’s Life (see on Twitter - @Writers_Life and #Writers_Life) is my regular blog series that looks at the life of writers from a personal angle; our challenges, our quests, and what drives us to create. Read more about me here.

So, join me, you won't be sorry.

"Here kitty, kitty" >^..^< >^..^<

Check out all the latest news everyday in our writer’s world

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My Writing Also Featured Here

Soft Whispers - Deadly Love, Be Mine. Valentine's Day Anthology - February 14, 2010

Flashes in the Dark - Ménage à Trois Avant-garde - February 12, 2010

Soft Whispers - Poetry - ongoing

FridayFlash - Flash fiction stories on Friday - ongoing

Participate in friday flash

The Penny Dreadful - my serial fiction - ongoing

Current Writing Projects

Tyler Corner is an historical novel about the lives of two women who were cousins growing up on Iowa farms in the 1920s - 1930s. It is based on the experiences from my own family and unsolved ax murders in Villisca, Iowa. I am writing this novel  for NaNoWriMo 2010.

I am creating ebooks and courses for writers, and anyone who wants more creativity and transformation in their lives. The courses are based on Narrative and Poetry Therapy & Humor.

Mafia Frostbite: A Mafia Family Christmas is my first fictional series. It is followed by a sequel series titled Twisted Family Bonds. It is a dark humor soap opera about the Kaszinovs, a Russian Mafia  Family.

LoveCommitmentPassion_cover R-Evolutionary Nights is a novel of romance and suspense set in Prague, Budapest and Wisconsin.  Alex and Jack are in love, but must escape the influences of the Russian mafia that has infiltrated Jack's family. I began this novel during the 2009 NaNoWriMo. And, I won.

a7d8cfd4 RedFlame DeepWater is a collection of spiritual poems about the agony and ecstasy of the spiritual journey. RedFlame describes the experience of the Dark Night of the Soul.  I will continue the collection in 2010 with DeepWater, illuminating ecstatic spiritual experiences.

Fun Places to Explore

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Writer/Artist/Publisher Collectives

Web Design Services

Web development and design services provided by DFMI Productions, offering affordable web design for the small and emerging entrepreneur. Visit them at DFMIProductions.com or email [email protected]

I personally recommend Tony's website services. He creates beautiful, functional websites and can solve any problem. He is very experienced creating websites for individuals (including writer friends of mine) and businesses. And, he is my amazing husband!
~~ Anne Tyler Lord

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