Sunday, January 31, 2016

Three Basic Creative Writing Tips

Tips on how to induce creativity aren't for everyone. Here are basic tips that I consider pretty universal. The rest takes some experimentation. If the prompts are any good, you'll find out right away.

You've heard of the famous Hemingway technique. If not here's a brief synopsis. Hemingway would always stop at a point where he knew what was supposed to happen next as insurance he'd stay excited to get back to it. 

 The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day when you are writing a novel you will never be stuck. That is the most valuable thing I can tell you so try to remember it. -Hemingway

For obvious reasons, this method isn't for everyone.

I've read and have been offered some insane to rage inducing suggestions.

My three basic creative writing tips are as follows:

1. Creating and editing are two separate actions. There are no exceptions.

2. Don't describe an emotion -- make it. (Yes, that's Hemingway again.)

3. Read.

 I love comments! Please share what your favorite habits are. What works for you when you pick up the pen and/or type away?

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Coo coo for Coco Puffs? Welcome to the world of traditional publishing!

Our bookstore is being stalked by a local author. For now, I'll call him Zip.We have been refusing to sell Zip's books. His books mostly contain controversial love triangles and reenactments of sex and/or offers of he's had with and from Hollywood movie stars. These celebrities can't stick up for themselves as they are all 'conveniently deceased'. 

He's even claiming to have "turned down" sex with Rock Hudson. Suspension of disbelief denied! 

Zip claims to have been given the only one on one interview Cary Grant ever allowed during his lifetime, in secret. Needless to say why we don't sell this author's non-fiction. I imagine he's never left his desks in his West Hollywood home and San Francisco Mission apartment to write these books.

Zip has special ordered almost everyone of his twenty-one published books using aliases at my bookstore, then refuses to pick them up suggesting that we simply re-shelve them. We don't. We send them back to the publisher(s). On closer inspection, I saw that his five fans ordering his books (Mr. O' Shaunasy, Raul Sanchez, and three other) all have the same phone number.

He came in the other day, wearing a wig. A bad one. The funniest part was that he has the most distinctive eyes. They're crossed. No joke. My co-workers stared at Zip's author photos on Zip's wiki page as he announced himself as Mr. Sampson, a giant fan.

Crazy or not, you have to admire the man's initiative and perseverance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Lit Salon, Soul Cycle, and Naked Pictures of Your Ex-girlfriend

My sweet angel.
 I'm constantly defending my dog, Peaches. Jaze, a rapper, writer, and slam poet has dachshunds living next door. Jaze insists they're little assholes. One drew blood when Jaze approached it, and it's owner shrugged it off further proving that dogs share their owner's personality.

My dog, Peaches, is an angel.

My graduate cohort had our first Literary Salon a few days ago. The four of us spent over an hour huddled around our computers looking at screen shots of each writer. As the note taker, I needed to write a report on our discussion.

 I was getting vertigo as my screen rotated shots of each speaker. We discussed memory and the concept of memoir being a reconstruction that is not so much about the writer's memory, which is fallible, but their delivery of the reconstructed event.

Towards the end of my discussion my mom's dogs ran down towards the basement I was filming in. Peaches, then on my lap, went full lizard brain about it. There were a few gasps from my computer as I picked up my growling, snarling mini-Cujo.

My Mom's psycho dog that Peaches 'reacts' to.

Some of my cohort started laughing at the rabid mini-wiener dog.

Jaze said, "See."

"She's really sweet. Don't you believe me?"

Jaze said, "Uh uh."

Okay, Peaches is a little crazy. What did I say about dogs and their owners? My dog is nuts.

This is what the entryway looks like "empty". No, I don't know why my jaw is doing that. My selfie faces are unexplainable.

Soul Cycle defines itself as a Chakra centering mellow flow. That might be true, unless you have instructor Tiff. Tiff is one hundred pounds of Earth shattering energy. She. Kicked. My. Ass. I will definitely be taking Tiff's class again.

Space shoes.

Having speakers blasting heavy beats in your face as you curl free weights while keeping up with your space shoes, which are clipped in to your bike pedals like the sadistic contraption it is - is called motivation!

On an anti-Men's Rights Activist note,  new phenomena has reared its head on the Internet. Okay, not new but new to me. I over heard about this naked Pics of My Ex-Girlfriend revenge site first in the bookstore, then at Soul Cycle. Women are getting 'doxed' (click here if you don't know what doxed means) through a website called Naked Pics Of My Ex-girlfriend. Some not-so-honorable men are taking advantage of this freebie to ruin their ex-girlfriend's lives. Even in liberal SF, the fear is real.

Remember chicas, video is forever! Has anyone else heard of this?

Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Inception. Because why not?

A book about a bookseller reading a book in a bookstore about a bookseller reading a book in a bookstore about a bookseller reading a book in a bookstore...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Bios of the dead, and "I have a really strange request... "

I first knew him as the evil King Jareth, and was determined to marry him! Even as a child I was setting myself up for destructive relationships. -Sigh-

David Bowie books have taken center stage at the bookstore. Overnight three 'new' biographies hit the stands. Three. Overnight. No shit.

Chuck Palahnuik's book, Tell-All focuses on this phenomenon. Famous biographies are written well before the celebrity is dead so they'll be the first to hit the stands. This profitable macabre trend is the focus in Palahnuik's least favorite book he's written, which just happens to be my favorite. Tell-All is told from the perspective of a movie star's personal assistant. It's an amazing read.

This brings me to the most frequent saying I hear at the bookstore.

"I have a really strange request..."

Our customers say this at the register. They say it over the phone. They whisper that opening line in the back of the store between book shelves so other people wont hear what they're about to ask me.

I keep expecting, "Do you have snuff porn?"

"Do you sell nipple clamps?"

"Is there a Fifty Shades of Grey board game?"

What do I get?

"Can you order a biography on Antoine LaVey?"

We. Are. A. Bookstore. 

Asking me to order a book is not a strange request. We can order any book as long as it's in print.

Still, the stiffness in demeanor as if bracing themselves for the onslaught of my judgment is pretty adorable.

"Can I see the book on the back wall?" asks a customer pointing at an architecture book titled, Cabin Porn.

My co-worker lifts it off the display to hand over.

"Wait. Is it really porn?" asks the woman refusing to touch it.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

IWSG - How to keep idiots from napalming your gratitude jungle.

Happy New Year! It's the first post of the year for Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group. Check it out by clicking HERE!

If you've read my previous blog posts then you know that I have high anxiety. I'm insecure about damn near everything before I go for a run and beat the crap out of myself for at least forty minutes. 

My New Years resolution is to practice more gratitude. I know. Yawn town. Right?

I was put off by gratitude being the new 'it' topic at the bookstore. It took a while, but once looking into gratitude as a practice, it started to make sense. If you're grateful for what you have in the present moment you are bound to achieve more and stress out less. (No, Mom. I didn't do it because you said to. Ahem.)

This is important for writers. My head 'fix it' trick is this. When something really bothers me, instead of dwelling on not having the power to do something right then and there and plotting my revenge, I remind myself I can write about it. It's really lucky I can exercise my demons by sharing my observations with the world. I give an example of this below.

 For this I have hella gratitude.

This isn't like Marie Kondo's, The Magical Art of Tiding Up where you say shit like, thank you for keeping me warm, to your sweaters. That's silly. 

It's more like when your car gets towed and instead of fuming back at the world you say out loud to yourself (because it scares others into not making fun of you), "The San Francisco tow yard is better than going to a concentration camp in Sri Lanka. Sure gonna suck to be the tech mogul I skid into since I can't make it to my getting new tires appointment today."

This shit works.

Yet, as I skip down gratitude lane there's always something that makes me stop and say, "Fucking really? I'm supposed to find gratitude after seeing that?"

And stupid. Don't forget stupid.

I come from a long line of military, and I'm pretty sure this darling little angel wouldn't have awards, commendations, and medals without the 'bitches kick and scream' movement. Neo-feminism or modern feminism could be an argument, but feminism? I'm positive some women don't know what that word means. Still, I have gratitude. Women have the opportunity to flex muscle and be woefully ignorant. And they do it just as well as any man.

Demons exorcised. This house has been cleansed. 


Initially I got upset because the above proves that shooting people while ignorant and owning a vagina aren't mutually exclusive. However, I now have gratitude because I can obtain a 'license to conceal' permit while owning a vagina... um...

Where was a going with this?

Oh, yeah.


Despite all the heinous fuckery we deal with daily, what do you feel gratitude for?