Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Sponsored by the Paley Center for Media , thePaleyfest is a two week event which allows fans to connect with the producers and cast members of their favorite television shows via a live panel.

paleyfest 2014 Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

This year, I got to see the panel for two of my favorite shows: ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and ABC’s Marvel: Agents of Shield.

Today, I thought I’d share highlights from the Marvel Agents of Shield Panel, which happened last March 23rd, 2014.

Created for ABC by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a television series based on the Marvel Comics’ organization of S.H.I.E.L.D. or Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division. The show ‘s timeline begins  right after THE AVENGERS movie and  follows S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Phil Coulson (played by Clark Gregg), after his death in the Avengers movie.  Yes, you read that right, Agent Coulson is mysteriously  brought back to life, and the show is partly about the mystery of his resurrection.

marvels agents of shield news modified Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

The Dolby Theater was packed with fans of the show, some wearing full Marvel regalia. There were even little kids dressed up as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agents.

kid Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

 

Executive Producer Jeph Loeb began the presentation by asking the audience not to leak any spoilers via social media or otherwise. When he was satisfied with everyone’s response, he announced, “You are now cleared to level seven.” After that, the audience was treated to the next episode, which was to air on April 1st

intro Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Executive Producer Jeph Loeb to audience: “You are now cleared to Level 7.”

It was such an amazing experience to watch the episode 8 days before it would air in public—and with other people who love the show as much as I do.I enjoyed hearing the collective gasps, cheers and laughter of fellow fans.

After watching the episode, actress Felicia Day (Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) came on stage to introduce the panel she would be moderating.

felicia day Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Actress/ Panel Moderator Felicia Day introduces the panel

Producers and and producers and co-creators Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey BellJed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen were joined by Agents of Shield stars  Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson), Ming-Na Wen (Agent Melinda May),  Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward), Chloe Bennet (Skye), Iain De Caestecker (Leo Fitz) and Elizabeth Henstridge (Jemma Simmons).

panel Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Panel Moderator Felicia Day with Producers Jeph Loeb, Jeffrey Bell, Cast members Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Brett Dalton, Chloe Bennet, Ian De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, along with producers/co-creators Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.

 

Producer Jeph Loeb teased the show’s April 8th episode –a crossover with Captain America, which was at the time, still set for release on April 4th.  Loeb mentioned that the idea for Marvel Agents of SHIELD actually came from Greg Clark himself. He and Gregg were at a fan event for the Ultimate Spider Man and Gregg kept on whispering “Coulson lives” in Loeb’s ear as an idea of a TV series.  Gregg didn’t quite remember the incident but Loeb insisted it was the truth.

producers Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

“I was really dead. It was very clear, since there was a lot of blood,” Gregg said, when asked if he really did die in the Avengers movie. He credits “Coulson” lives campaigns with bringing his character back to life. “I have 11,000 Twitter aliases, all of whom were very integral to starting the ‘Coulson Lives’ movement,”he added.

clark gregg Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Producer Jeffrey Bell pointed out that Marvel Comics fans always knew that Coulson lived, at least in the world of comics, so bringing him to life via the TV series, actually followed the Marvel storyline.

Clark Gregg was in top form during the panel, even hopping off the stage twice to hug two fans. The first was a fan who was apparently very sad that Gregg’s character died in Avengers, and was ecstatic when he was resurrected for the show. The second, was to hug a fan who’d created framed artwork for all the cast members.

joss and marissa Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

 

Producer Maurissa Tancharoen said that Agent May was originally named Agent Rice. But when Ming Na Wen was cast for the role, the name was no longer appropriate. It has since become a running joke for the cast.

ming na Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

The producers also shared that the characters for Fitz and Simmons were inspired by the chemistry between Casey Affleck’s and Scott Caan’s character s in “Ocean’s Eleven.”  Fitz and Simmons were not originally written as being from the UK, but after Henstridge and De Caestecker auditioned and got the part, the change was made.

simmons Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The two actors have intentionally been playing their characters more as brother and sister, but if the fans get their way, that might change in season 2. The actors joked that if that happened, it might make things kind of awkward.

fitz simmons2 Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Skye’s parentage is a big part of the Agents of Shield storyline and many fans guess that she might actually be the daughter of either Agent May or Agent Coulson. Actress Ming-Na Wen says she wants Skye to be the lovechild of Agent May and Thor. She even volunteered to endure several long flashbacks of the affair, if necessary. Clark Gregg  joked that he thought Skye should be the lovechild of Agent Coulson and Lady Sif.

skye Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

When asked who among the Avengers she’d want to work alongside, Chloe Bennet who plays Skye, responded that she was interested in working with either of the Chris’s. “Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) would be nice,” she said. The producers also brought up Chloe’s past as a teen pop singer in China. And Chloe, ever game, even showed the audience a little bit of her dance moves.

Elizabeth Henstridge (Simmons) said she’d love to do a scene with Loki. “Maybe Simmons can have tea with Loki,” she said. Gregg quickly remarked, “You know I’ve been in a scene with Loki…”

simmons2 Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Moderator Felicia Day asked Brett Dalton about Agent Ward’s reputation as a ladies’ man and his many love scenes in the show. Brett replied, “It definitely doesn’t suck.” Chloe Bennet joked that she would bring along Dalton’s abs. “Just his abs”, if she were stranded on an island. “I’d wash my clothes on them.” Producer Tancharoen quipped, “And this is why we give them dialogue.”

skye and so Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

 

Brett’s character Agent Ward had a physical relationship with May but seems to have a thing for Skye. Brett quipped that his character was no longer a lone wolf, and that he’s learned to “play with the team.”

Series co-creator Maurissa Tancharoen revealed that one thing which convinced them Brett could do stunts was his resume, where he listed that he had attended Clown School.

so Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

During the Q & A, a fan wearing a “Coulson is my Home Boy” shirt remarked that for a secret organization, the S.H.I.E.L.D. has a lot of stuff bearing its logo, including an espresso machine on the plane. Gregg joked,” Fitz can give you a latte where the foam is the S.H.I.E.L.D. logo.” but later on explained that the organization itself isn’t a secret, but what they do is.

cast Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Another fan asked if the show was set to be renewed for Season 2. The producers replied that they weren’t sure yet. The audience laughed when the fan quipped, “So who do I have to shank?”

Producer Jeffrey Bell said they hoped they would be renewed as they had long term plans for the series. They already know where Season 2 would go, and they know where they want Season 3 to end, and which character will still be alive by then.

The cast admitted that even they don’t know what’s going to happen with the storyline. The producers and writers are very secretive about their work and often times the cast would try to get hints from the writers. Ming-Na said that “The whole season has been jaw-dropping surprises. They don’t tell us anything… Marvel is SHIELD!”

love triangle Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

Chloe Bennett added that she has been trying to guess what it means for her character to be an O-84. She said she’s always doing research on the comics and calling up Marvel asking “Am I this? Or this? Or this?” , to which they always answer “Nope.” Chloe says she has many theories, but still has no idea what the real answer is.

so skye fitz Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

After the Q & A, the audience swarmed toward the stage to get autographs from their favorite stars.

signing1 Paleyfest 2014: Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

 

We didn’t even bother to join the crazy crowd. We were just happy to watch our favorite cast members sign autographs.

I don’t know what shows next year’s Paleyfest will feature, but after a great experience this year, I’m already looking forward to it.

 

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Teresa Powell Coltrin

 

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Teresa Powell Coltrin, blogger at journalingwoman.blogspot.com and the ruralhood.blogspot.com, and author of Grim Tales from the Ruralhood.

GrimCover for blogs Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Teresa Powell Coltrin

 

Welcome, Teresa!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

meworkingphoto1for Nutshell Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Teresa Powell ColtrinAuthor Teresa Powell Coltrin

By day I’m a school based social worker, by night (mostly early morning) I write. I am the mom of a son and daughter and grandmother of four perfect human beings.

Thus far, I’m a short story writer. I’ve started a couple of novels and have a YA halfway there, but my attention span is well…. What was I talking about? Oh yeah writing.  I have loved writing since the sixth grade when I rewrote a few fairytales as skits for our fifth and sixth grades to perform for our country school.  And then I wrote IT—a love story, a play with me in the starring role. It wasn’t for production, and only my best friends were allowed to read it. I started writing again as a young adult while waiting on my first child to be born. I didn’t write fiction much after that, but did journal. After my second child was born I began writing children’s stories. During those years, I sold five stories to Today’s Farmer Magazine for their read-aloud section. Two were published before they stopped providing that section. I still love writing children’s stories and do from time to time.

I can’t think of any hidden talents—maybe they’re too hidden for me to realize. I can’t whistle or do a cartwheel. I have to say, though, that I know how to do a little of a lot of things—maybe a jack-of-all trades kind of girl, master of nothing. I play the guitar a little, sing a little, can fix a running toilet, use an electric drill and saw, sew just about anything and decorate on little money.

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I do most of my writing in the family room, in a comfy chair, with a laptop on my lap, but my official workspace is at a desk located in what used to be my living room. Sometimes I need NOT to be comfortable. It is then I sit upright in my chair at my desk.

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk is actually the first piece of new furniture that my former husband and I bought from Sears many moons ago—early in our marriage. It is part of a dinette set—table with two chairs.

my desk Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Teresa Powell Coltrin

Teresa’s workspace

 

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work? What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

On my desk, I of course I appreciate my iPad Air, a Christmas present from my daughter. I like my lamp because it makes me happy to look at it. I bought the lamp to use on my desk when I was a secretary. A funny story. One day, a teacher friend of mine asked me if it was a Tiffany lamp. I frowned at him and said “Would I bring a Tiffany lamp to put on a desk where students and teachers are in and out?”  He said, “Yes.” This made me realize I didn’t want it broken, so I took it home and bought a brass lamp for work. BTW, I bought my “Tiffany” lamp at Wal-Mart. It’s circa 1990’s. icon smile Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Teresa Powell Coltrin

Lamp Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Teresa Powell Coltrin

Teresa’s Tiffany Lamp

 

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

I drink lots of water, so mostly water except in the morning when I drink coffee—LOTS of coffee.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I read a little of everything, but in recent years, I read less than I’ve ever read because I write more. My dad inspired me to write. He’s written stories for years and read some of them to his children when we were growing up. He’s a self-published author, a woodcarver and artist of many paintings.  I used to read Stephen King a lot, but not so much now. Lately, I’ve enjoyed some wacky writing by Aimee Bender and also writing by Jo Ann Beard.  But my favorite discovery of late is T.C. Boyle. I’m also inspired by the funny writings of the late Erma Bombeck. I love funny.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

My typical day is to get out of bed (goal is 5 -5:30 a.m.) with eyes closed, make coffee, open at least one eye to reread a paragraph or two of what I was writing previously and then write. At 7 a.m. I get ready for my money making job.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

I do try to write every day, even if it’s not for a long span of time, because I truly enjoy writing. The biggest curse and sometimes blessing is the distraction of the Internet. It’s a time waster, but also a quick way of retrieving information when I need it.

 

4. Why do you write?

If I didn’t write, I would have a traffic jam of gargantuan proportion with ideas and characters pushing and shoving to get out of my brain. However, I often think about a story I’ve written and/or the characters long after I’ve finished writing it.

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

Nope. I’m still learning. Well, maybe I do. First of all, hook up with wonderful writers by following them on their blogs. You’ll learn so much this way and never regret the comradery. Also, if you like writing don’t stop just because you haven’t been published; writing is good for your soul.

 

 

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meworkingphoto1for Nutshell Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Teresa Powell Coltrin

 

Teresa Powell Coltrin, also writing as T. Powell Coltrin, is an aspiring writer of short stories. She enjoys writing in various genres:  mystery, thriller, comedy, fantasy and at times a bit of bizarre, with an occasional children’s story thrown in there. A few of her children’s read aloud stories appeared in Today’s Farmer Magazine in past years.  Her self-published EBook anthology (the result of an A-Z April Blogging Challenge) will be available in April. Grim Tales from the Ruralhood is a compilation of twenty-six short stories inspired by a Brothers Grimm title and set in a rural setting. Currently, Teresa is writing on a YA novel, with the working title of Twice in a Blue Moon and another short story compilation with a working title of Body Bags.

T. Powell Coltrin can be also be found writing on her blogs Journaling Woman, where she writes whatever is on her mind plus a Sunday inspirational post, and at The Ruralhood, where she journals and posts photos of growing up as a rural child and beyond.

To purchase a copy of Grim Tales from the Ruralhood go here

Journaling Woman

The Ruralhood

 

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Teresa!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

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Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

Sponsored by the Paley Center for Media , thePaleyfest is a two week event which allows fans to connect with the producers and cast members of their favorite television shows via a live panel.

paleyfest 2014 Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

This year, I got to see the panel for two of my favorite shows: ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars and ABC’s Marvel: Agents of Shield.

Today, I thought I’d share highlights from the Pretty Little Liars Paleyfest Panel.

castand producers complete 2 Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

Based on the series by Sara Shepard, Pretty Little Liars is a mystery-thriller set in the fictional town of Rosewood, Pennsylvania. It follows the lives of Spencer, Aria, Hanna and Emily, four teens whose lives are thrown completely off balance when their queen bee, Alison disappears. One year after Alison’s disappearance, her four friends begin receiving messages from a mysterious stranger called “A”, who threatens to reveal all their secrets.

pretty litte liars poster Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

My writer friend Jenn got me hooked on Pretty Little Liars a couple of years ago. She said it was the perfect thing to watch if I wanted to learn more about the YA (young adult) culture/lingo for my YA books. So this past March 16th, Jenn and I attended the Paleyfest for Pretty Little Liars.

The Dolby Theater was packed with people, most of them were teenage girls who are the shows’ biggest fanbase.

with screen Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

At the Paleyfest, they usually treat the audience to an advanced screening of the next episode. But since the Pretty Little Liars season finale was the following week, we didn’t get to watch the episode. Instead, they treated us to an old clip featuring a teenage Chad Lowe (one of the actors on PLL), and an hour and a half long panel with the cast and producers of the show.

cast and producers complete Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

Executive producers Marlene King, Joe Dougherty and Oliver Goldstick, were present for the panel, along with stars Troian Bellisario (Spencer); Ashley Benson (Hanna); Lucy Hale (Aria); Shay Mitchell (Emily); Sasha Pieterse (Ali); Ian Harding (Ezra); Janel Parrish (Mona) and Keegan Allen (Toby).

PLL and ezra Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

Troian Bellisario (Spencer); Ashley Benson (Hanna); Lucy Hale (Aria); Shay Mitchell (Emily); Sasha Pieterse (Ali); Ian Harding (Ezra)

It was amazing to see the cast live and to watch them interact and talk about their characters. They revealed key plot points in the season finale (which aired March 18th), and dropped hints about the upcoming 5th season. It was fun to see the cast as real people, bantering with each other and revealing what they thought about their work. At one point, Troian Bellisario challenged Ian Harding to show off his sound effects skills. Actor Ian Harding provided the sound effects as Troian Bellisario pretended to shoot him with an arrow.

arrow Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

Ian Harding (Ezra) provides the sound effects as Troian Bellisario (Spencer) pretends to shoot him with an arrow.

We learned that many of the cast were musically talented and would often have impromptu jamming sessions. Three of the show’s  stars can actually dance and sing. Lucy Hale, who starred in Disney’s Another Cinderella Story, actually released a country album. Janelle Parrish, who plays Mona, has Broadway background, and Keegan Allen who plays Toby sings and plays guitar.

 The producers actually thought about doing a musical episode to highlight the stars’ talents, and the cast even joked about having a Broadway version as well.

laughing Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

Fans also asked about a movie version and Executive Producer Marlene King said that they would love to make a movie when the show ends.

castand producers complete 3 Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

After the two hour presentation, fans rushed to the stage to get their favorite stars to sign posters and what not.

signing Paleyfest: Pretty Little Liars

Jenn and i didn’t even bother to try and get through the crowd, for fear of being trampled. But we did enjoy the show and left with some  fond memories of our favorite show.

 

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Last March 12, 2014, I was one of the lucky panelists included in SCBWI-L.A.’s Westside Schmooze on Blogging.

Westside Schmooze Coordinators Karol Silverstein and Charlie Cohen challenged us with the following questions:

Some of us blog, some of us don’t.  And some of us do it way too much!  Is blogging a good way for writers to practice meeting deadlines and build an audience?  Or just an excuse to avoid facing the emptiness in their lives? Are Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites great for getting your brand out there and keeping up on what your fellow writers are up to?  Or merely tools for self-flagellation and envy?  (I guess the answer depends on whether you’re Karol or Charlie.)

WestsideSchmooze SCBWI L.A. Westside Schmooze Blogging Panel:  Livin’ In a Blogsta’s Paradise

Westside Schmooze Coordinators Karol Silverstein and Charlie Cohen flanking Author Allen Zadoff

I joined  SCBWI members and bloggers Lee Wind of I’m Here, I’m Queer.  What the Hell Do I Read? , and Susan Berger, Kris Kahrs, and Lupe Fernandez (via phone) of the Pen and Ink Blog at the Santa Monica Library.

LeeWindAuthorSuperheroPic SCBWI L.A. Westside Schmooze Blogging Panel:  Livin’ In a Blogsta’s Paradise

Lee Wind, I’m Here, I’m Queer.  What the Hell Do I Read?

Sue SCBWI L.A. Westside Schmooze Blogging Panel:  Livin’ In a Blogsta’s Paradise

Susan Berger,the Pen and Ink Blog

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Kris Kahrs,the Pen and Ink Blog

lupe SCBWI L.A. Westside Schmooze Blogging Panel:  Livin’ In a Blogsta’s Paradise

Lupe Fernandez, the Pen and Ink Blog

Since Social Media gurus Greg Pincus http://www.thehappyaccident.net/about/ and Laura Wallis http://www.webnavigatorgal.com/ couldn’t join us, they sent a rather fun puppet proxy, along with the answers to some of Karol and Charlie’s questions.

greg pincus SCBWI L.A. Westside Schmooze Blogging Panel:  Livin’ In a Blogsta’s Paradise  SCBWI L.A. Westside Schmooze Blogging Panel:  Livin’ In a Blogsta’s Paradise

Greg Pincus                                                                                                     Laura Wallis

 

Schmooze Coordinators Charlie and Karol facilitated the panel in which we  tackled three main points:

A)  What makes a good blog/what can blogging do for me?

B)  How do I make a blog and get people to go to it?

C)  What are the relative merits of Blogging, Twitter and all the other social media venues?

 

A)  What makes a good blog/what can blogging do for me?

Most of us agreed that good blogs are either entertaining or informative. And while blogging can be a good way to build our author platforms, it isn’t for everyone.

Lee warned that blogging takes up an enormous amount of time and that any writer who is thinking about blogging, must really consider how it can help his/her career.

Susan, Kris and Lupe share a blog with Hilde Garcia, which they call The Pen and Ink Blog. Having four of them on the blog team lessens the amount of time they each spend on the blog, which helps in terms of their writing.

I mentioned that part of blogging isn’t only writing the posts, but also visiting other blogs and making connections with other writers.

We all agreed that the benefits of blogging include making connections with other writers, building a possible following for your future books, and giving us time to hone and practice our writing skills. Lee also added that having a blog and following a stable schedule will help us appear more professional in terms of our writing careers.

 

B)  How do I make a blog and get people to go to it?

While the other panelists used blogspot or blogger for their blogs. I opted for WordPress since I love its flexibility. I can add widgets to the side bar ,  manipulate the design and post blogs easily enough.

I also mentioned that one way to meet bloggy buddies and get traffic to your blog is by joining blogging challenges such as the A-Z Blogging Challenge, which is currently ongoing.

 

C)  What are the relative merits of Blogging, Twitter and all the other social media venues?

Lee Wind said that having a blog actually opened doors for him. On his blog he reviews LGBT books and tackles LGBT issues. The blog has allowed him to be viewed as a professional in the area and has led him to be invited as a speaker for several schools.

Susan, Kris and Lupe mentioned that one of the perks of having a blog is that they are able to connect with and interview their favorite authors.

Greg, via his proxy puppet aka. Charlie, also mentioned that social media allows users to reach a wider audience for promoting their work. His blog actually helped his poetry collection get noticed by the New York Times.

 

We discussed all of these things and more in our hour and a half blogging panel. It was such a fun experience being among fellow SCBWI members and bloggers! I can’t wait to relive the experience and Schmooze Coordinators Charlie and Karol publish the blogging panel transcript on their Schmooze Blog!

 

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Patricia Fry

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Patricia Fry, author of the Klepto-Cat Mysteries.

cat eye Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Patricia Fry catnapped Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Patricia Fry

Welcome, Patricia !

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

Patricia Fry and Lily Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Patricia Fry

Author Patricia Fry and Lily

I’ve been writing for publication for over forty years, having started out writing articles for magazines. My articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest, Publishing Basics, The Artist’s Magazine, The World and I, Woman’s World, Entrepreneur, Los Angeles Times, Your Health and many, many others. My first “office” was a corner in my bedroom, where I worked on a manual typewriter atop a TV tray.

My first book (Hints for the Backyard Rider) was picked up by a publisher in 1978 and five years later, I established my own publishing company (Matilija Press) through which I produced numbers of books on a variety of topics from grandparenting, youth mentoring and how to present a Hawaiian luau on the mainland to a fun book of true cat stories. Currently, I have 43 books to my credit, most of them for authors on subjects such as publishing, book promotion and writing a book proposal. My most recent 3 books for authors are Publish Your Book, Promote Your Book and Talk Up Your Book (Allworth Press, 2011 and 2012). http://www.matilijapress.com Also available at Amazon.com in print, audio and Kindle.

About fifteen years ago, I began working with other authors on their book projects and continue to enjoy editing both fiction and nonfiction works for clients.

I’ve been involved with SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) since its inception in 1996. I’m currently executive director of this online networking organization.  Representing SPAWN as well as my own literary business and books, I travel throughout the US and speak at writers conferences and writers group meetings about publishing and book promotion.

Aside from writing—which I do in some form all day most days—I enjoy photography, family (we are 5 generations rich), our cats, Max, Sophie and Lily and taking long walks (I’m blessed to live in California where I can walk every day).

As for a hidden talent; throughout all of these years, I wrote nonfiction. That’s all I wrote—all I wanted to write. In recent years, however, I’ve been called upon to edit many fiction manuscripts and found that I enjoy it immensely. In 2012, as a birthday gift to myself, I decided to try writing a novel. That’s when the Klepto Cat Mystery series was created. Now I am absolutely in love with writing fiction. I currently have four cozy mysteries: Catnapped, Cat-Eye Witness, Sleight of Paw and Undercover Cat. They are all available for Kindle. The first two are in print with more to follow. Watch for The Colony Cat Caper to debut this summer as a Kindle book. http://amzn.to/1kAI8I2

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

I write physically at my computer in my office most of the time. But what writer doesn’t also write in his/her mind throughout the day—while walking, taking a drive, playing with the grandkids, gardening, etc.?

workspace Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Patricia Fry

 

Workspace

2. What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

My cats. Lily (5) is in my lap as we speak and Max (15) is impersonating a paperweight on my desktop. The cats are also sometimes my worst writing distractions.

cat1 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Patricia Fry

Lily helping herself to a glass of my water

I’m a great proponent of authors and freelance writers surrounding themselves with items that represent their accomplishments and worth—things that make them feel good about themselves. We have enough rejection in this career. I believe it’s important to offset that by wrapping ourselves in love and a sense of worth.

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One of my kitties, keeping my chair warm for me

On my walls, I have pictures of myself swimming with stingrays, speaking before an audience and modeling with my grown granddaughter when I was in my 60s. I’m also surrounded by copies of some of my book covers, my photography (including an award winning shot of a cat) and lots of family pictures, including one grandson flying his own plane and a great-grandson bringing me flowers on May Day.

cabinet Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Patricia Fry

My favorite office equipment:my filing cabinet

 

On Writing

1: Do I have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

I head for my office as soon as I get up—between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m. The one thing I must do before starting my writing day is to feed the cats or I won’t get any work done. I write until around 8 when I stop to straighten up the house and have breakfast (usually oatmeal with blueberries and nuts). I work for another hour or so before taking my walk. My next break is around noon, when I run errands (ship books, pick up my business mail, etc.) and then I work until around four when Judge Judy comes on. I also take a day or so off every week to spend time with my 92-year-old mom.

I blog almost daily at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog and occasionally at http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades I have a facebook page: KleptoCatMysteries. And a Twitter account.

 

2.  Why do I write?

I tell people it’s because I can’t not write. It’s evidently in my DNA. I’m an addict.

 

3. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us? 

My advice for writers is, if you are making excuses for why you can’t write, you don’t want it badly enough. Of course, there are periods in our lives when it may be impossible to spend time doing what we truly want to do—we’re caring for an infant, an elderly family member or working long hours at a regular job. But in most cases, if the desire is strong enough, the individual can and will find a way to do what he wants. Sure sacrifice is necessary. Anytime something is getting in the way of what we truly want, we must sacrifice something—TV-watching, clubbing, volunteering, etc. Here’s my story of sacrifice:

There came a time in my life when I had to go to work—get a real job. I was despondent. I so missed my writing life and being at home. When it occurred to me that a full-time job may be in my future for the long-haul, I realized that I had to find a way to write no matter what else was going on in my life. And this is a very important point. If you want something badly enough, you must find a way to pursue it no matter what else is going on in your life.

So I started getting up at four in the morning. I’d write for two hours, then take my walk and get ready for work. I also wrote on weekends. After eight months on this schedule, I had built my freelance writing business up to the point where I could quit my job. I’ve supported myself through my writing and editing work ever since.

smokey Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Patricia Fry

Smokey is my mother’s cat–the model for the main cat character in my Klepto Cat Mystery series.

Here he is with book two–Cat-Eye Witness

I also have some advice for authors: Study the publishing industry before ever getting involved. Publishing is a fiercely competitive business that requires a business sense. Bring your emotions into the business and you’ll most likely fail. In other words, make solid decisions based on knowledge of the industry rather than your heart-strings. Educate yourself about the industry, your options and your responsibility as a published author before ever writing that book. I’ve written over a dozen books, hundreds of articles and thousands of blog posts for authors. I’ve conducted workshops and presentations at conferences and for groups in dozens of cities throughout the US and I’ve worked with around a hundred authors and I can tell you there are no shortcuts to publishing success. Success as a published author is certainly attainable, but it takes more than a desire to write or even a good book. I suggest to authors that they consider themselves the CEO of their books from the very beginning so that they are more apt to make executive decisions rather than emotional ones.

Sure you can bring passion into the equation. We want/need to feel passionate about what we do or we may not be motivated to carry on. The emotions you want to keep at bay are those that tend to sabotage your success—those that may cause you to go blindly into a bad publishing contract or produce a book before it is actually ready for publication.

Good luck to all.

 

Patricia Fry’s contact info

PLFry620@yahoo.com

http://www.matilijapress.com

http://www.patriciafry.com

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Patricia!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

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Disaster Preparedness

Last week there were a slew of earthquakes, one of which registered at 5.3 on the scale, and which lasted about 30 seconds. That was probably the longest earthquake I’ve ever experienced. I’m used to earthquakes, having lived along the Ring of Fire my whole life. When I was in the 2nd grade, I remember living through a 7.2 quake in the Philippines that made the cars slide back and forth along the street.

Each state has some kind of disaster to prepare for. In the Midwest it might be tornadoes, in the north, snowstorms. In California it’s definitely earthquakes. We’re all bracing ourselves for what seismologists are calling “The Big One.” One earthquake to ruin us all. And while everyone knows about the San Andreas Fault line, there is a smaller one called the Puente Hills Fault Line which according to the experts might have far more damaging effects.

According to USGS seismologist Lucy Jones: “When an earthquake happens on this fault, it’s just about the worst one we can imagine. It’s long enough to generate an earthquake greater than magnitude 7 – and even as big as 7.5 – and is located under the oldest parts of our city. We have hundreds of thousands of very bad buildings that will be exposed to very strong shaking, so we put this all together and it’s just about the worst earthquake we can think of as happening.”

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The good thing is that the Puente Hills fault has a major quake once every 2,500 years only, compared to the San Andreas Fault Line which is more frequent.

As I took cover beneath the dining room table and rode out the 5.3 rolling earthquake last week, I began to think about “the big one” which everyone has been talking about for years now. I began to wonder if I was prepared for such a thing.

A few years ago, I started building my emergency kit but I haven’t updated it since (I should probably make sure the food I put in there isn’t expired). There are a few sites out there that list down things to do before, during and after an earthquake and it might be a good idea to review them again.

Here are some sites you can check out if you live in earthquake country:

http://emergency.cdc.gov/disasters/earthquakes/

http://lafd.org/eqbook.pdf

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/preparedness.php

http://www.fema.gov/earthquake

It’s interesting how a 30 second quake could make your life flash before your eyes. I started thinking about the most important things I needed to save. If I had to save only one object in case of a disaster, I’d probably just grab my portable hard drive, which contains all my photos, music, documents and manuscripts. In other words, it contains my entire life. I bring this hard drive with me to work every day, and on long trips as well.

The recent quake made me realize I needed to start taking this whole disaster preparedness thing seriously. Experts recommend having 7-day food, water and shelter supplies for each member of the family, and to have emergency supplies at home, at work and in the car. The LA Times has a good list of supplies which can help folks build their home/work & car earthquake kits.

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This month, I’ll have to add disaster preparedness to my To Do List. Which is perfect, because I didn’t know this but–April is Earthquake Preparedness Month.

 Disaster Preparedness

Besides, I always think it’s always better to be paranoid and safe, than to be over-confident and unprepared.

 

What kind of disasters do you expect where you live?

Are you prepared to face these disasters?

What’s the one thing you would save if you were faced with such a disaster?

 

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Writing Updates

Last month, my goal was to finish editing my Young Adult novel. March was filled with tons of writing events and activities, and halfway through I began to wonder if I was delusional in thinking that I would achieve this goal.

On top of the usual household chores, and day job responsibilities, I spent most of the month preparing for my workshop with CBW-LA. I had to work on the powerpoint presentation, worksheets and handouts for the Novel Writing Bootcamp which I was scheduled to teach on the 29th.  I also volunteered to help out at SCBWI-L.A.’s annual Writer’s Day, and as Contest Coordinator I got to announce the winners of the Writer’s Day Contest.

All work and no play would just be plain boring, so I made sure I got to attend the Paleyfest. I got to see the cast and producers of two of my favorite shows:

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I promised myself that I would give my writing the time that it deserved, so despite all my many responsibilities and activities, I made sure that I worked on my novel every single day.

And it paid off.

On March 31st, I finished the (hopefully final) draft of my Young Adult novel, Trade Realms. 

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But a writer’s work is never over. With the new month come new goals. This April, I have three major objectives:

  1. Prepare for CBW-LA’s Writing Day Anthology Workshop, which I will facilitate in May.
  2. Work on the preliminary draft of STORY SPROUTS 2014.
  3. Revise my Middle Grade novel Urth.

These very big goals explain why I am currently missing out on A-Z Blogging challenge, my favorite blogfest ever.

So while most of my bloggy friends are running the ultimate blogging marathon, I shall be running my own marathon to complete these tasks.

Whatever your goals are this month, I wish you all the best of luck. I hope we all survive this fun-filled, crazy busy April!

 

 

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TWN WWW 300 Wednesday Writer’s Workspace Welcomes Donna Hole

Every Wednesday, I feature a writer and his/her workspace.  My aim is to get to know fellow writers better through their workspace and writing habits, and have them  share some of their writing wisdom here.

Today, I am most eager to welcome Donna Hole, author of that fun blog A Writer’s Life in Progress.

Welcome, Donna!

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Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do for a living? What genre do you love to write? What are some of your hobbies or interests? Do you have a hidden talent?

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Blogger Donna Hole

About three months ago I got hired in another county as a social worker for Children’s Services. Working for CPS has been a dream job for me since I was about 12 years old. Prior to that hiring, I was an eligibility worker (cash aid, food stamps and MediCal) for nearly 8 years. I discovered writing late in my life; unlike most authors it was not always my dream job. I’ve not yet settled on a preferred genre to write in. Fantasy was my first reading love, but I enjoy a good horror story – complete with gore – thrillers, sci-fi, and women’s fiction. Despite my fantasy/sci fi reading roots, my writing preference is women’s fiction and paranormal thriller. Vampires, shifters, murder and mayhem, dystopian worlds.

I’m about as eclectic in my hobbies as I am in reading/writing. I like word puzzles – word search, cryptograms, the occasional easy crossword; reading books with a great story and evocative characters and settings; crewel stichery, jig saw puzzles. I’m sure writing is more of a hobby than a career aspiration, as procrastination is my steady hidden talent.

 

 

On Workspace

1.  Where do you do most of your writing?

At this time I do my writing from my lap-desk, sitting in my easy chair in front of the TV. The TV is not always on when I write; I’ve a tendency to ignore whatever program is on while I’m concentrating on writing, blogging, or research. Someday soon (maybe before this interview posts) I hope to be back at my desk, surrounded by my writing resources, comfortably seated in my office chair with my favorite snacks and drinks around me.

 

2.  Where did you get your desk?  How did you go about arranging your work area?

My desk was a Mother’s Day gift from my middle son. Yes, he is exactly the middle as there are two children older and two children younger than him. He not only bought the desk as a surprise, but he assembled and placed it in the space designated as my office without my knowledge, and hauled off the old monstrosity that never met my writing needs. I walked into the room one day and there it was, the dream desk I never knew I wanted until that moment. The desk sat empty for a long time, except for the basic computer and some office supplies such as stapler, tape, pens, a notepad.

One day I was looking for a writing reference book and had to search all the bookshelves in the same room, and then the several places throughout the house I stored books. I made the decision at that time to use all the shelves on the desk for writing references, and spent several hours gathering every resource book I could find. I won’t admit to going to the book store to pick up a few books I thought should be on the desk shelves.

Once I determined this would be my “writing workspace” I started collecting other things I thought I needed; inspirational quotes attached to the monitor and shelf edges; pictures I wanted to look at as I stared off into space; my elliptical exerciser – next to the desk not on it – for when I needed walking time to think; music for a play-list to fit my writing mood, or just to relax to. It took less time than I thought it would for my family to respect my privacy in my writer’s space. And sometimes, I escaped to this writing world even when I did not intend to write; but somehow just being there inspired me to write – something.

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Donna’s Workspace

3.  What are some important things on your desk?  Are there specific things you need to have around you as you work?

Some of the most important things on my desk are toys. I have a plastic frog that I have no idea how it got to my office space but he makes me happy to look at so I keep him; I have a mini Rubiks cube and a star of the same concept – these are puzzles I’ll never put to right if they are disassembled and I guess it reminds me of my story concepts; I have family pictures that were left in cubbies simply because that is where I opened them; I have notepads with jottings of story titles, movies or music to associate with new writings (and phone numbers I don’t know why I keep); there is a box of Kleenix for all the reasons you’d expect to need them; and a drink coaster that sticks to the bottom of whatever glass I’m drinking from. I put things on my desk that I want to have handy when I need to remind myself of who I am. Sometimes I get a bug to be organized and clean off several things that just collect; but somehow the frog, the puzzle toys, and pictures are not things I care to remove.  They are necessary distractions I suppose.

 

4.  What do you love most about your workspace? Do you have any favorite objects on your desk, or things you use often?

I guess what I love most about my work space (the desk I had to give up, not the laptop and easy chair) is that it is all mine. Even when others use the desk, they take their “stuff” and leave mine alone. Everything on my desk has a specific purpose to me, even if it seems random. Sometimes, my children will leave things that are important to them on my desk – a good report card, a fortune cookie saying, a link to a music video, a puzzle toy I’d smile at – but they never complain if it disappears into a drawer. I guess its become a challenge to have something become a treasured object in my personal space.

 

5. What’s your writing beverage?  What do you love to drink while you’re writing?

I have two favorite beverages; Diet Pepsi and blush wine. I drink wine in the evenings, but my true addictive passion is Diet Pepsi. Nothing but Diet Pepsi will do for my writing adventures – or anything else I do at my desk. *cough* You want to bribe or reward me with something? Send me Diet Pepsi – in a can.

On Writing

1. Who is your favorite author?  Who inspired you to write?

I have a hard time saying who my favorite author is. Anne McCaffrey was the first author I read that I wanted to read an entire series. I read The White Dragon, and had to read every book she wrote before and after that novel. My alter ego is Lessa, but my teenaged heart belongs to Jaxom, and Ruth. If you’ve read the series you’ll understand the references; if not, never mind, I’d write a novel just to explain. But I think Stephen King is the author that inspired me to write, despite the fact my first novel is a women’s fiction. It is the characters and settings that consistently draw me as a reader and writer this author.  Mr King writes of ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Even his paranormal/fantasy settings – Dead Zone, Lizzy’s Story, Rose Madder, Langoliers, Talisman – his characters are not specialists escaping some moment of epiphany and later drawn back into the life they abandoned; these characters could be our neighbors, or ourselves. I don’t care that he can be the-master-of-the-run-on-sentence, or that at times his publishers do not edit his material before publishing it; the man has a gift for story telling, and I want to tell stories like that. I want people to be afraid to pick up a cell phone, or start the car, or go on a writer’s retreat. I want to write stories that make the ordinary, extraordinary.

 

2. What’s your typical day as a writer like?  Do you have any writing related rituals or quirks?

I wish I could say I have a typical writing day. When I was unemployed, I wrote 10 – 12 hours a day and completed a trilogy of over 100k words each in less than 18 months. I’ve been editing and revising, and occasionally submitting the first novel, for about five years. In between, I’ve written and submitted several short stories, and have five publications. I write when I can spare the time, and sometimes I’ll take sick or vacation days to complete a WIP when the mood hits me. Once I dedicate a time period to a short story, I write until it is complete, including self editing, until it is done enough to submit to critique partners. Then I stress, eat (Ruffles) potato chips and drink too much Diet Pepsi (or wine) until the crit responses come in. I’m not a pretty sight when I’m actually writing, and so anti-social even my family wants to abandon me. DO NOT DISTURB THE BEAR is probably a good sign to hang around my neck when I take that two or three times a year to immerse into a story.

 

3.  Do you write every day?  How many hours a day do you spend writing?  What are some of your worst writing distractions?

No, I don’t write every day. As mentioned above, when I write it is obsessive. I’m the worlds worst (or best) procrastinator. I let games- Zuma’s revenge, solitaire, bingo – day job, TV, everything keep my butt out of the chair. I liked writing when I had nothing else to do, but honestly my day job is my biggest distraction. If I’m not actually at work, I’m probably thinking about work. And then I blog; reading posts, responding to comments; signing up for blogfests. I spend more time writing for blogfests than for publication.

 

4. Why do you write?

Don’t freak out, but I started writing to avoid suicide. Life went to shit on me, and I was sitting there contemplating the best way to kill myself, watching my son ride his bike, and a story idea around this started forming. I embarrassed my family when I was very young by aspiring to be a writer, and stopped writing when I was in high school because my family teased me about the passion. Now I write because it feels good to write again. I create worlds and characters that make sense to me, even the dark and bloody themes. I probably delete more than I save, but it is an outlet to cope with the ever-changing world.

 

5. Any writing tips or techniques or words of wisdom you want to share with us?  How about a favorite writing quote?

I don’t have a favorite writing quote, or any tips/techniques. I suppose that is what keeps me in the hobby-writer realm as opposed to an author who intends to make their mark in the world by publishing the next great novel. I take inspiration from many sources, including casual comments from fellow bloggers and quotes from novels or movie lines. I suppose one of the quotes that has inspired me in life, work and writing came from Master Yoda and went something like: There is no try, there is only do.  I don’t take this quote to mean a person has to succeed at everything they attempt; but you have to make the attempt with every intention to succeed. Whatever you do in live, be it writing or anything else, put your whole being into the endeavor and let fate determine if it is a success.

 

 

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Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your writing life, Donna!

Wednesday Writer’s Workspace is an ongoing series, and if you’re interested in being featured here, simply leave me a message in the comment box, and I’ll be sure to email you.

 

 

 

 

 

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Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

It’s the last day of March and I’d like to thank all of you for allowing me to share my love for Filipino Martial Arts with you these past few days.

In line with my Martial Arts Month, I featured Jay Noel and his Steampunk Samurai Novel DRAGONFLY WARRIOR on my Spotlight Week.

If you missed it, you can check out my review of DRAGONFLY WARRIOR here, and my interview with the series’ awesome author JAY NOEL here.

To cap it all off, I held a giveaway for a Kindle copy of DRAGONFLY WARRIOR.

DragonflyWarrior ebook modified1 Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

Now it’s time to announce the winner of the said giveaway.

Congratulations, Maurice!

I’ll be emailing you in a bit to tell about how to claim your very cool prize.

As for the rest of you wonderful people, I hope you have a happy and productive week!

Tomorrow, April 1st, the annual  A – Z Blogfest begins. Good luck to all those who have answered the A-Z Blogging challenge! I’m sure all of you will do great!

A2Z BADGE 000 2014 Spotlight Week Giveaway Winner

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Filipino Martial Arts: Sinawali

As you might have gathered from last Monday’s post on the Basic Eskrima lessons, stick-fighting is the most important (and most recognizable) component of Filipino Martial Arts.

One of the coolest things you’ll learn if you do decide to take up FMA, is the Sinawali, or double-stick fighting techniques. You’ll see it used in TV shows like Arrow and movies such as Mission Impossible 3, Hanna, and I, Frankenstein.

Watch the short clip of Arrow’s Oliver Queen performing Sinawali below:

Sinawali is a set of double stick drills practice by two eskrimadors. Sinawali means “weaving, and the term refers to the intricate weaving patterns created by the sticks during the double-stick drills.

Simple mechanical repetition is at the core of Sinawali drills. These exercises provide eskrimadors with the basic skills to respond to a two-weapon attack, and help them develop form, improve motor skills, and program response time and muscle memory.

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Many fundamental Eskrima skills are learned through Sinawali drills, including the following*:

*body positioning and distance relative to an opponent,

rotation of the body and the proper turning radius,

proper elbow positioning while swinging a weapon.

recognition of one’s center of gravity, eye–hand coordination,

target perception and recognition,

 increased ambidexterity,

recognition and performance of rhythmic structures for upper body movement,

muscular developments important to the art, especially, the wrist and forearm regions.

* Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eskrima

 

Grandmaster Dong Cuesta and Guro Gary Gabisan demonstrate the basic Sinawali drills below:

 

Michael Janich has a more extensive post on Sinawali here.

It’s  a thrill to be able to wield two sticks with speed and force. So eventhough the movements are repetitive, I never tire of practicing Sinawali drills.

Filipino Martial Arts is a multi-style system so there are many more components to it than Sinawali. If you do decide to take it up, you’ll learn empty hand techniques, knife techniques,  as well as Filipino-style boxing and many more.

Martial Arts Month is almost over and I thank you for allowing me to combine two of my passions: writing and martial arts.

Though I only covered Filipino Martial Arts, I hope you learned a few things that might help you in some way–whether its by giving you ideas for fight scenes in your novels, or by giving you a few new tricks to defend yourself with.

 

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