Monday Earworm: B.o.B. (feat. Bruno Mars)

I love this song, and every once in a while it earworms itself in my head. Now it can do that for you as well.

In other news, sorry not to have posted one last week. We had…um…some weather, and I didn’t have power. Fortunately, all those power-grid shenanigans led to your getting one more chance to sign up for my class on building stories through character, which has been rescheduled for this coming Saturday afternoon! There is still room in the class, but do sign up soon, since registration will close early Friday. You can learn more about the class and sign up for it here.

A Rescheduled Event…

OMG the weather in Texas this week. Ordinarily I would be happy as ever about it because snow is my happy place. Unfortunately, the ironically named Electricity Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) messed up bigly here, and this week has been…challenging. We (at my house) are okay, especially now. But OMG. Maybe I’ll share the harrowing tale with you later.

So I have good news and bad news.

Bad news: today’s “How Characters Drive Stories” class I’m teaching through Writespace has been postponed because of this week’s extraordinary weather events and ensuing infrastructure issues.

Good news: It has been rescheduled for next weekend! Saturday, February 27th, in the afternoon this time (1:00-4:00), so all you not-so-early risers will have another chance to take the class now.  😉

Registration should be opening back up soon (CLICK HERE FOR IT), but if you want to sign up and find this link is closed, let me know and I’ll hook you up.  🙂

Artistic Theft (More or Less)

One of the books I read in 2020, Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon, is on the list of books some of my blog readers have requested a review of, so here goes!

This little coffee table book — or perhaps “end table book” is a better term, because it is short enough to read and digest in one sitting — makes a lovely gift for someone who is beginning on their creative life journey, or for someone who has been trending on the artistic side for some time but maybe has fallen into a slump, or otherwise just needs a little push to take things to their next level. In fact, this is how Kleon’s book came to me: as a gift from a very thoughtful friend.

One of the things I enjoyed about Steal Like An Artist was its unintimidating format. Rather than being a textbook or even a workbook with exercises, it presents its simple but effective wisdom in a highly digestible and visually stimulating list of truths to consider.

Here is part of the book’s description:

“Nothing is original, so embrace influence, school yourself through the work of others, remix and reimagine to discover your own path. Follow interests wherever they take you—what feels like a hobby may turn into your life’s work. Forget the old cliché about writing what you know: Instead, write the book you want to read, make the movie you want to watch.
 
And finally, stay smart, stay out of debt, and risk being boring in the everyday world so that you have the space to be wild and daring in your imagination and your work.”

This blurb captures some of the essence of the book fairly well. For me, even though I can’t say I was particularly surprised by any of Kleon’s advice, there were definitely some things in there that I needed reminding of. One thing that I particularly have trouble with sometimes is preventing the world from being too much with me, to the point that it stifles my ability to do mentally challenging creative work — such as, for example, writing a novel — no matter how much I enjoy doing that artistic activity. This book reminded me that sometimes the world being too much with me can be turned to my artistic advantage.

Would I recommend this book? Sure, I would. Not perhaps for the successful working artist on a productive streak, but most definitely for the person who is thinking about jumping into the bracing waters of making art, or for the artist who needs to get their mojo back and could use a little reminder that yes, they really can do this thing.

February Book Chat with Kara

January was a wee bit hectic, so Kara and I pushed off our book chat until this week, and since it’s valentines season, we’re tackling books with romantic plotlines (category romance or no).

You’ll hear in this video that I make reference to my Reading Year in Review lists. (If you want to see those, here they are for 2019 and 2020.) I always invite my readers to request reviews of any titles on those lists — it’s never to late to ask, if you want to know about them — and this year a few people wanted to know more about Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston, so I’ve done that review in this month’s book chat video. (More reviews are coming, so if you requested one, please don’t think I’ve forgotten about you, even if it’s been a minute.)

This picture doesn’t include Kara’s chosen titles, because it’s a pandemic and we can’t actually get together. You’ll just have to watch the video to see what books she talks about!

 

Enjoy!

Monday Earworm (on a Tuesday): Michael Jackson

Sorry I didn’t get this posted yesterday. Life in quarantine is both hectic in how many parts of your routine you have to be constantly adjusting, and plasmic in how oddly viscous and slow the pace of that routine can be. I suppose I could use the word elastic to describe how flexible we need to remain. I suppose I am also a little worn out by the routine.

Either way, I didn’t want to skip a week entirely right now, and this song has been on my mind lately, as I remember the time before the pandemic and look optimistically toward a time when it is managed. And maybe it’s also a time to consider pop stars who have been maligned (fairly or unfairly).

Monday Earworm: Maren Morris

I will admit that Maren Morris isn’t usually the first thing my New Wave loving heart reaches for, but she does have a couple of songs that just crack me up in the best way. This is one of them.

I understand there are some certain misguided souls who think sedition isn’t really a conviction-worthy offense. That is so incorrect. When you take out the trash, don’t just leave it in the yard. Go ahead and put it in the bin by the curb.

Warning: there are a couple of grown-up words in this song. Have a good week.

In Which I Tell You, Giddily, About A Class I’m Teaching, Which You Might Be Interested In…

I’m pleased to announce that I’ll be teaching a three-hour fiction writing workshop on Saturday, February 20th through Writespace in Houston. The class will be happening on Zoom, though, so anyone can do it from anywhere with an internet connection! You can expect a generative workshop aimed at developing character as a pathway to building great stories. I hope you’ll consider taking it if you like writing, or tell someone you know who might be interested. This class is open to all levels of experience.

Here’s the course description:

“Have you ever written a story that just didn’t quite connect with its readers? Or have you ever finally found its resonance only once you were already three or four drafts in? One good way to captivate your readers from the outset is to begin with compelling characters. In this generative workshop, we’ll use tools from popular culture, narrative craft, and literary analysis to kickstart (or revamp!) your story with characters that seem so real. Come see why character drives plot, no matter the genre, far more than the other way around. Be sure to bring your preferred writing utensils (journal and pen, laptop, legal pad and box of sharpened pencils, etc.), a description of your favorite character from a book or movie, and an eagerness to look at character from a variety of angles. You can expect instruction, discussion, writing time, and the opportunity to share (if you wish) what you create in this class.”

The cost for this three-hour workshop is $45 for Writespace members and $60 for non-members before February 15th; after that date the price goes up just a bit. Class is capped at 15 students, so register for it sooner rather than later! You can do that by clicking here.

And if you want to see my faculty page at Writespace, which includes an excerpt of my fiction and some real student testimonials, click here.

Please help me spread the word about this course?

Thanks so much, and have a good weekend!