Saturday, January 10, 2009

I've fallen in love with my coffee cup. That is, I've fallen in love with what is in my coffee cup, and no, this time I'm not talking of breakfast blend mixed with Kahlua. I'm talking something Terriffic, with a capital Tea.

Since I've started trying to get Greener, and since I've discovered that naturally grown, fresh ingredients taste better, and have soooo much more nutritional value than those over-processed grocery store goods, I took my Tea-time to a whole new level. And of course I had to share!

You may be asking, "what's this got to do with Writing?"
Well, you've got to sip something while pounding away at the keyboard, and milkshakes will only expand your backside. Tea can be uplifting, complex, or nostalgic-- a perfect accompaniment to writing.

So, these are a few of my favorite teas: (Oh, no. Now I've got the Sound of Music in my head!)

And of course, with any loose tea, you have to have something to steep it in, either a package of loose tea bags thrown into a pot or cup of water, or you can get a handy little gadget that will strain the loose tea and let the liquid flow through.

My personal setup is an infuser/ cup combo. Loose tea in the infuser, infuser in cup . Add water. Wait. Enjoy.

Finding loose tea is becoming more and more popular as people realize that the taste is so much better, and the range of varieties is a great deal greater than your standard grocery store selection. You can browse around, or you can just visit Adagio Teas and save yourself some time.

I'd love to hear from tea lovers and the brands/ teaware that they use. Just leave a comment :-)

The Writers Journal

All great writers absorb the particles of life and re-present them to readers in a unique way. One way to improve the quality of your fiction is to create a Writing Journal.

This is not our average “I had soup and read a book today” journal. No. This is so much more. For starters, this journal is actually organized into sections. You can take a notebook or a binder with built in dividers, but I prefer a smallish writing journal to which I just add adhesive tabs. Small is good, because the journal needs to go wherever you go.

Why the dividers? Because you are going to have different sections that you will constantly be adding to. You should be able to quickly locate a given heading and add to it, or use it for inspiration, like when doing timed writing prompt exercises. These sections will read like lists and include:

- A list of sensory observations. Great novelists remember to encompass sensory information in their writings, because it grounds the fiction in reality, and can also be used to trigger memories within the reader. For this list, you should break it down into sub-sections, allotting a page or two for each of the individual senses: smells, sights, tastes, sounds, tactile sensations (touch). You don’t have to write down everything you see or hear, just jot down the ones that make an impression, particularly if you think of an interesting way to say it. Under sounds you could put “tires crunching gravel” or under smells you could put “dog coming in out of the rain.”

- A list of overheard items. You can further subdivide this list into sub-categories like snippets of overheard conversations, odd expressions of speech, weird proclivities, and odd stories. I once heard someone say, “She’s a nice as pie” with a long “I” in pie, and I wrote it down immediately. I saw a young couple goofing around on the beach, he apparently trying to get her forcefully in the water, finally proclaimed, “I’ve got more body parts than you can fight off!”

- A list of What-If’s. This should include random musings of the what-if variety. What if you woke up one morning deaf? What if you witness a man beating a woman? What if the sun failed to rise one morning? What if you stated writing a book and everything you wrote began to come true? This list alone will come to inspire many a story.

- A list of titles. Have you every heard a phrase, or thought of a song, and with a little rearranging it would make a killer title for a story? Write these ideas here. They may one day become the basis for a story or the perfect title for a story already written. Examples from my titles list include, When the Wind Blows, Tickle-Me Ellie, Dawn’s Early Light, and so on. Come up with your own.

- A list of first lines. Like the titles, these may come to you at any time, attached or not to a story. “The shack is cupped in a hollow by the surrounding land, where frogs rise up from the earth, born of its bog” and “Love me or hate me, console me or ostracize me, but please believe me when I say that I never meant to hurt anyone” are both opening lines that went into my Writing Journal.

Why is all this important? Well, like I’ve said before, great writers take the fragments of their lives and mould them into something original. The purpose of creating a Writing Journal is to train your brain to think creatively, and to become more cognizant of the tiny sensory details that enliven life and fiction.

So what are you waiting for? Go get started!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Luvin my Kindle

I just put up a post over at my other blog One Quirky Gurl regarding my newest way to read, which is great for the environment, saves me tons of cash and gives me time to read instead of wasting my time driving to the bookstore or digging through the library for something, anything that I haven't read yet. It's the Kindle, and electronic reading device from Amazon.

Here's a teaser from my blog:

I'm a self-proclaimed bibliophile. Of course, I don't have to proclaim it, one just need to see my house-- baskets, bookshelves and cardboard boxes full of box nestled in various corners of my humble abode speak volumes on my Literal addiction all on their own. And like any addiction, loving to read does have it's down falls...Needless to say, I wasn't surprised in the least when Oprah recently was quoted as saying how much she loved the Kindle device. But I had to smile, because I loved it first :-)

Read more on my other blog

Giving. Its the New Getting.

(eCo)nscious Market is a self-proclaimed "For-Benefit" online commerce site based in Boulder, Colorado. They tout that their products are the finest ecologically and socially responsible products available, and the company donates a minimum of 10% of every purchase to a non-profit organizations. The even go so far as to let the buyer "hand-pick" the program that receives the donation funded by their purchase.

A sampling of organizations that are listed on the eConscious Market include:

-Urban Sprouts: uses school gardens to help youth engage in school, eat better, and connect with the environment and each other.

-The Jane Goodall Institutes works to protect chimpanzees and their habitats, supports community-centered development projects in ecologically-significant areas, and engages youth in making a positive difference.

-The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people.

-Global Culture of Women Project, Celebrating the global voice of women ~ a beautiful revolution.

-Bead for Life, eradicates extreme poverty by creating bridges - Ugandan women make jewelry out of recycled paper and Americans open their homes and hearts to buy and sell the beads.

And that's just a tidbit of the charities benefiting every time someone shops. And the best part of it all? You won't feel bad for shopping, and the merchandise on this site is amazing.

I fell in love with sooo many things here, that if it weren't for the money of mine making its way to charity right now, I just might be feeling the lightness in my wallet :-)


This Large Stingray cuff, made of 100% recycled materials.

Or this Vy & Elle Portfolio crafted from Recycled billboards.

Or their cool line of 100% recycled notebooks. I AM a sucker for office supplies, I know.

So if you have a few minutes and are feeling charitable-- buy yourself a gift that gives to others too!