Archive for October, 2010

Milo Ventimiglia Comic Book Signing

I love book signings. I’d go to every single one of them if I had the time. It’s a great way to meet favorite authors and learn valuable tips and lessons from them.

I usually check out the Borders-Torrance website to see if they have any book signings. Aside from the fact that I live just a few minutes away from the bookstore, Borders-Torrance always has a great line up of authors. I was so excited when I found out that one of the actors from one of my favorite shows was going to be there.
milo ventimiglia berserker comic book Milo Ventimiglia Comic Book Signing
Milo Ventimiglia, who has been shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-air, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, CSI & Gilmore Girls is most known for his role as Peter Petrelli in NBC’s Sci-Fi show Heroes. I’ve been a fan of Heroes since it came out in 2006 and meeting one Milo was just one opportunity I couldn’t pass up. So yesterday, October 27th, I called my usual gang up and asked them to accompany me to the event.

Borders was packed with Milo’s fans (mostly girls, of course) as well as comic book enthusiasts. My friend and I found a seat and eagerly awaited his arrival.

Milo was accompanied by his co-producer and good friend Russ Cundiff, as well as Rick Loverd, co-writer of the comic books. The three of them made up the panel, and they talked about their road to publishing. They said it was tough going at first, but eventually they found Top Cow productions who loved their idea and agreed to come on board.

IMG 8476 1024x768 Milo Ventimiglia Comic Book Signing

They also answered their fans’ questions about the comic books, as well as about themselves. One lady asked if they could share one thing about themselves which most people don’t know about.

Russ revealed that he was a big “Foodie” and that he was starstruck when he saw Chef Morimoto at his restaurant.

IMG 8459 300x224 Milo Ventimiglia Comic Book Signing

Rick told the crowd that he was actually a member of the National Academy of Science and he would pair up people from the entertainment industry with actual scientists to help make their movies or shows plausible and realistic.

IMG 8458 300x224 Milo Ventimiglia Comic Book Signing

Milo shared that he is actually a photography geek and even has a 100 year old camera which still actually works.

IMG 8473 300x224 Milo Ventimiglia Comic Book Signing

I’m not as big of a comic book fan as I am a bookworm, but I do enjoy reading them whenever I can. I actually found both comic books very fascinating and even finished reading “Rest” in one sitting.

Berserker has  contemporary characters, but also has some hint of Norse Mythology.  The story is about an American war veteran and a high school athlete who have discovered an animalistic and uncontrollable rage living inside them.  They are hunted by people who wish to harness their ability to achieve their own goals. Berserker Volume 1 is written by screenwriter Rick Loverd and drawn by artist Jeremy Haun (Chuck, Battle for the Cowl: Arkham).

Here’s a video Russ and Milo did as a promo for their comic book production: Berserker

Here’s  Milo talking about Berserker:

Rest, Milo and Russ’s other comic book production, is about a guy who takes an experimental drug that suppresses his need to sleep.  His life changes immensely. He’s able to do everything he’s never have time to do and improve the quality of his living. But the experimental drug also comes at a price, as he discovers later.

Here’s Milo talking about Rest:

Russ, Rick and Milo were very patient with their fans. They signed the comic books with wide smiles and willing posed for pictures with their fans.  Here they are posing with my “entourage” (My best friends Lena and Maiko in particular have always been so supportive of my book / book signing craze and are always on hand to take pictures of me with with my favorite authors!)

IMG 8490 1024x768 Milo Ventimiglia Comic Book Signing From Left to Right: Russ, Rick, Maiko, Lena, Lexi & Milo

And here’s me with (the biggest) smile on my face. Hey give me a break, how often do you get to meet one of your favorite actors in person? Naturally, I was ( just a  bit) starstruck.

with milo 1024x768 Milo Ventimiglia Comic Book Signing

Of course, after all the book signing and picture taking, I just had to ambush screenwriter Rick Loverd for a short interview. I asked him what his advice would be for aspiring authors on publishing, and when he first knew he was born to be a writer:

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Death of a Walkman

Today, two days after the Ipod celebrated its 9th birthday, Sony announced it would discontinue the production of the Walkman Portable Cassette Player.

I heard about this on the news as I got ready for work, and it made me nostalgic and a bit sad.

The Walkman is just a year older than I am, and now it is already defunct.  It only took thirty years for the Ipod and the Discman to render this device obsolete.  (I hope this thirty-year lifespan doesn’t apply to people.)

For younger readers who have no clue what I’m talking about, let me give  a short history of the Walkman.

Walkman is a brand name Sony uses to market their portable audio and videoplayers as well as their line of Sony Ericsson mobile phones. The name Walkman, however, was originally used to market the device the first ever handheld music listening device: the Walkman Cassette Player.

walkman 300x289 Death of a Walkman

The first ever Walkman was developed in 1978 by audio-division engineer Nobutoshi Kihara for his boss Sony co-chairman Akio Morita, who wanted to be able  to listen to operas during his frequent trans-Pacific plane trips.

This device went on sale on July 1, 1979 under many names: the Walkman in Japan, the Soundabout in many other countries including the US, the Freestyle in Sweden, and the Stowaway in the UK.

Though it survived the popularity of the CD’s in the 1990’s, the Walkman just could not hope to compete with the reigning mode of portable music:  MP3’s.

In the Philippines, we have an old proverb: “Ang hindi lumingon sa pinanggalingan, hindi makakarating sa paroroonan.”

Translated, it means: “One who doesn’t learn from his past, cannot hope to succeed in the future.”

What does this Filipino proverb have to do with the Walkman? A lot.

Children today hardly know what cassette tapes are—much less cassette players, such as the Walkman. They are growing up in the era of disc players and MP3 players.

cassette tape 2 Death of a Walkman

But it would do the Ipod generation good to know about how they come to enjoy the speedy and technologically savvy portable music players.

Before the Walkman was invented, the only way people could only listen to music  outside their homes, was if they carried around a boom box.

oldboombox Death of a Walkman

Carrying around a boombox to enjoy your music on the go, wasn’t exactly the practical thing to do. It required you to have extreme upper body strength (those not-so-portable music players are quite heavy), and innumerable pockets (if you wanted a variety of music, you’d have to carry around a whole bunch of cassette tapes).

boombox Death of a Walkman

Which is why you can see John Cusack wearing a trenchcoat in the 1989 movie Say Anything.

But the Walkman changed all that.

When it first came out, the blue-and-silver “TPS-L2″ cost $200. It came with a matching blue flip-open case and lightweight headphones that finally gave  people freedom to listen to their favorite cassette tapes on the go.

walkman tps l2 Death of a Walkman

Having a Walkman was the epitome of success in my early school years.  It was a must-have if you wanted to be “cool”, and part of the “in” crowd.  It was also an incredibly useful gadget to have when you’re young and easily bored. I remember using my Walkman a lot on long bus rides during field trips.

The Walkman was a constant companion–and a valuable tool throughout our growing up years.

For our High School Music subject, we were taught to recognize and memorize the different Classical music for each historical period. Having a  Walkman was a lifesaver, as we had to listen to the Classical Music constantly, so we could easily identify the music titles and composers  for our listening exam. Our High School Speech subject required us to record ourselves speaking so we could better listen to our diction and enunciation. The Walkman (which had a built in recorder by then) was a must to have around.

The Walkman changed the way people listen to music. Apple wouldn’t have had the idea for the Ipod, had the Walkman not been invented. It is only right that we pay tribute to the Walkman and learn its history.  We can only measure how far we’ve come in the present, by paying homage to our past.

Today we don’t need to carry around boomboxes. We are able to download thousands of songs by various artists. We can access these songs at the touch of a button—through our phones, or mp3 players.  We owe our deepest thanks to Kihara, and Morita, and the men who developed the world’s first truly portable music player.

Share your Walkman stories  on the Comments Section below:

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Note:

The Sony Walkman Cassette Player is being retired, but the Sony Walkman brand will still be made available in the form of MP3 players and Walkman mobile phones as well as CD and mini-disc players.

A batch of the Cassette players made in April is said to be the last of the line. According to some reports, however,  its production has been outsourced to a Chinese manufacturing company for a limited time, while the device is phased out.

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Right Brain vs. Left Brain in Writing

While researching for our recent meetup,  I stumbled upon an article on right brain vs. left brain.

Experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking.

right vs left Right Brain vs. Left Brain in Writing

What does this information have to do with us writers? Well, a lot it seems. Our creative muses reside in our right brain, and we use this hemisphere most often for writing. Our internal editors, (or Infernal Critic, as I like to call it) reside in our left brain, and we use this hemisphere for editing. Simply put, we use our right brain for writing and our left brain for editing.

Since writing a book requires both hemispheres of the brain, I was curious to see which side of the brain I used more often.

I took a random quiz I found online

And I was quite happy with the result of my test:

Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz
The higher of these two numbers below indicates which side of your brain has dominance in your life. Realising your right brain/left brain tendancy will help you interact with and to understand others.
Left Brain Dominance: bar graph Right Brain vs. Left Brain in Writing(16)
Right Brain Dominance: bar graph Right Brain vs. Left Brain in Writing(16)
Right Brain/ Left Brain Quiz

Apparently I use both sides of my brain equally. This is good news–but I always thought that as a writer, I would have more of a right-brain dominance.  I’m wondering how others would fare in this quiz.  Would writers show a right/left brain dominance or equal dominance?

Would you care to test your brain dominance in the service of science? Let’s do a little experiment, my friends.  Take the same quiz I took here, and post your results as comments on this blog.

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Sick Day

I got back from a wonderful trip with friends last Sunday. I was all set to blog about my experience in Orlando, but something got in the way.

I started sneezing uncontrollably, then my nose started running a marathon. When I woke up Monday morning,  my throat felt sore and raw and my whole body ached. I dragged myself to work that day, thinking it would go away, but of course, it didn’t.

I had the flu.

sick girl Sick Day

My vacation didn’t really include rest. Because we wanted to make the most of our days off, we woke up at 6 everyday,  walked the entire length of the theme parks all day, then slept late every night. And while most of my friends slept instantly and soundly, my body had trouble adjusting to the foreign bed so I barely slept the past few days.

Add this fact to  people coughing and sneezing in the plane, and the sudden change in temperature from Orlando’s sunny 85 to LA’s gloomy 65, and you’ve got an instant recipe for flu.

Getting sick is Mother Nature’s way of reminding me not to abuse my body, and of telling me that even busy people need to rest.

My blog about the Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter would have to wait. My apologies to you all. I have to spray my (really stuffy) nose with saline solution, drink a cup of Theraflu and crawl back into bed.

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Martial Arts and Writing

I had set this year as my year of writing.  Writing-related activities were the only things I had allowed myself to attend to. Blogging, bookfairs, writing groups —these were definitely within the rules. More importantly, I was already doing so many writing-related activities that I barely had time to focus on actually writing.

But my masochistic and restless soul wanted to pile on more things that would take time away from writing.

Our city had sent a brochure of all the recreational classes they were offering in the Spring of this year. I flipped through the pages, curious to see what kind of classes they offered. I was surprised to find that they had classes like Polynesian Dancing, Belly Dancing, Singing, Acting, Martial Arts, Japanese Cartoon Drawing, Ceramics, Jewelry Making and even Sign Language classes.

Naturally I wanted to take up Belly-Dancing.

belly dancing Martial Arts and Writing

Okay, NO. Not really.

The people who know me will know that I shy away from any form of dancing as my limbs are not flexible enough to “flow like a graceful stream”. The only kind of movements my limbs are amenable to doing are sudden, jerky movements much-like the actions of a rusty old robot.

No, the class that caught my attention was the martial art class called: Filipino Stick-Fighting (Kali, Arnis, Eskrima).

eskrima1 Martial Arts and Writing

I’ve always wanted to learn the Filipino Martial Art of Eskrima. I just never had the time to pursue it. When I found out that our community offered Eskrima as a recreation course for a discounted price, I was ecstatic.

Then I remembered that I had vowed to attend only writing-related events and pursue only writing-related activities this year.

My heart sank. I realized that I would have to come up with very good reasons for taking the class. I sat down on my desk and wrote out several reasons I might use to convince myself that the class was worth taking.

I rationalized that taking this martial arts class would be:

  1. A good (and fun) way of getting much needed exercise.
  2. Useful, because learning the art of self-defense may come in handy when zombies attack.
  3. A great way of making new friends, and even spending time with my cousin (who also decided to take the class with me)

Then I came up with the one reason that cinched the deal:

4. Taking the class would be great research for the book I’m writing.

Bingo! I had the one reason that would make me feel less guilty about taking time away from my writing. (Yes, because reason 1. –which is a matter of taking care of my own health and well-being—isn’t good enough).  Since my middle grade fantasy novel actually involves the main characters learning a bit of martial arts to defend themselves, taking the class would be a great way to make my writing more authentic.

I eagerly enrolled in the course and by April I was attending the classes three times a week. Tuesdays and Thursdays after work and Saturdays from 1-3PM were all devoted to learning this new martial art.

practicing 1024x768 Martial Arts and Writing

It has been six months since I first started taking the class. I’ve become a little more lax in attending the sessions, and I’ve cut down from attending classes three times a week to attending twice a week. I often have to miss classes because of conflicts with writing group activities or family events, but my interest in Eskrima has never waned—despite the aching muscles and grueling schedule.

Last Saturday, along with my classmates, I took my first ever Belt Test. It was nerve-wracking yet strangely exhilarating experience.

master erwin and white belts 1024x768 Martial Arts and Writing

Master Erwin Mosqueda, 9th degree black belter, and the highest ranking member of the sport in the West Coast, facilitated the exam and graded us according to our knowledge of the various empty-hand, single stick, double stick and knife fighting skills we’ve learned.

master erwin 740x1024 Martial Arts and Writing

Since we were testing for Grade 2 (Yellow Belt), he focused mostly on our forms, footwork, and drills with both the single and double sticks. My limbs were aching by the time we finished twirling sticks and moving around for an hour and half straight.

twirling sticks 1024x895 Martial Arts and Writing

We finished the test with a demonstration of Form 1 – a series of moves we had to learn patterned after the favorite moves and fighting styles of the old masters. After a whole minute of false starts and wrong moves, I finally got into the groove of things and demonstrated form 1 to finish my test.

When I finally had the chance to sit down and watch my other classmates test for their own belts, I reflected on how far I had come since I started learning six months ago. I asked myself if taking the class really had been the right decision.

Had my new knowledge of martial arts really helped my writing?  Definitely. The fighting moves my characters use have become more believable, their training more real. More than that, my experience put me in my characters’ own shoes. Like my characters, I had to learn a new martial art from scratch—hence all the physical, emotional and mental aspects of learning how to defend myself was reflected in my own characters’ learning experience.

I realized then that any activity we do can be used to improve our own writing. Life is a collection of experiences, emotions and learnings, and art should imitate life after all.

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Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

We met at the Mitsuwa Food Court last September 30, 2010 for our first ever Creative Writing Session.

After a quick review of last week’s meeting, we dove into this meetup’s session—which was about getting the creative juices flowing and about mastering the art of description.

The first part of the meetup was about generating/ sparking story ideas, and what to do with these story ideas, once generated.

The second part of the meetup was dedicated to various writing activities. The writing exercises were designed to improve writing skills, by honing the use of language.

I explained that often times, the only kind of writing we do is related to the book/short story or article we’re working on. Sometimes we need a break from our work. We need to have moments when we write just for fun, or for the purpose of focusing on the act of writing itself. This is when creative writing exercises come in handy.

Before we delved into the exercises, we discussed the answers to three questions:

1. Why are story ideas important?

2. Where do story ideas come from?

3. How do we generate story ideas?

Why are story ideas important?

Most of us agreed that it’s important to keep writing, even when we’re waiting for a response on our most recent submission.

Just as it’s important to go to the gym to exercise so we can keep our physical body healthy, it’s also essential that we exercise the muscles of our imagination often.

exercise Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

Where do story ideas come from?

Story ideas are generated by our five senses– something we taste, smell, hear, touch, but mostly generated by something we see. Maybe we get ideas from something we read in the newspaper, a photograph or painting, an event we witness live or watch in the news.

5senses Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

EJ also suggested that story ideas are generated by our experiences. I added that ideas can also be generated by strong emotions or feelings we may have.  Maybe we’re mad at something or someone when we sit down to write in our journal – and that sparks a future story idea.

How do we generate story ideas?

I found a few tips from a website on how to generate story ideas, and  added some of my own.

These tips I shared with my group members:

  • Always carry a small notebook with you or any kind of writing material. Some writers carry index cards and a pen. Others a moleskin notebook that fits in their purse.
  • Keep your mind open.  Be more aware and observant of your surroundings, and of people around you.  Events you hear on the news can spark story ideas, as well as people you see on the streets.
  • When you see an interesting person, put yourself in their shoes. Imagine what their story is, or create a story about them.
  • Read the newspaper/ a current events magazine. Real life stories can spark ideas for a writing piece —whether its fiction or non-fiction
  • Strive to have as many experiences as possible. Go to museums. Look at art pieces, or pieces of history. Looking at a particular piece might spark your next book idea.  Be on the lookout for intriguing photographs or pictures. Watch movies & Read books —especially in your genre.
  • Ask your relatives (especially the older ones) to tell you stories about their childhood. Write them down.  Take note of their dialect, intriguing names and characters they might mention, as well as the major events happening around them at the time (ex. WW2)
  • Keep a freewriting journal. Write for 15 minutes daily about anything that pops up into your head—without editing them.  Doodle on this journal, draw, create.  Then look back at what you wrote every now and then. You might find an interesting passage to spark your story idea.
  • Most of all, constantly exercise your imagination.

The last tip was our cue to start the creative writing exercises I’d come up with.

PART 1 EXERCISES

RIGHT BRAIN REIGNS (FREE WRITING)

brain Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

Experimentation has shown that the two different sides, or hemispheres, of the brain are responsible for different manners of thinking. Simply put, we use our right brain for writing and our left brain for editing.

Left Brain Right Brain
Logical
Sequential

Rational

Analytical

Objective

Looks at parts

Random

Intuitive

Holistic
Synthesizing

Subjective

Looks at wholes

This exercise allowed us to tap into our right brain and to shut our internal editors out.

I told my group members that we were going to write continuously without stopping to edit or think, and without worrying about paragraphs, grammar or punctuation.

To make it easier, I gave us a general topic to write about: WRITING.

I told them to let their writing breathe, then I set the timer for 5 minutes.

When our five minutes was up, I asked everyone to find a good sentence among their ramblings. Everyone was hesitant at first, but soon it became clear that within the seemingly incoherent sentences, gems of poetic writing and wonderful language could be found.

Thrilled by our discoveries, we eagerly started our next exercise:

SHOPPING FOR IDEAS  (USING WRITING PROMPTS)

This exercise was designed to help train our minds to keep on generating story ideas, despite not having the time or opportunity to write.

The night before I had printed out colorful pictures of various shops such as these:

1983EmeiHardwareStore 300x200 Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

bookstore el ateneo 2 300x209 Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

philippine xmas market 300x200 Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

I told them that these are pictures of shops we might see around us as we go about our daily lives. I also told them that these shops don’t only sell things, they are also a treasure trove of story ideas.

I requestedthem to pick a picture from the pile, spend a few seconds looking at it, then make up a story about the picture—a sentence or two would do.

After about a minute, we shared the stories we came up. It was amazing what we had come up with just by looking at a picture. One of us came up with a story about a library from the perspective of a cat, another came up with a story of a girl who inherits a psychic shop from an aunt, and so on.

Since there were more pictures, I told my group members that we should go for another round. We did the same thing and shared our ideas again.

We all eagerly wrote down our story ideas,  knowing we would be able to use it in our own writing.

After going through the two exercises that would help us generate story sparks, we plunged into exercises that would help us practice our use of language itself.

PART 2 EXERCISES

WORDPOOL

I told my group mates that  the journal every writer supposedly carries around isn’t  just for writing down thoughts and feelings, it’s also for storing story ideas—as well as creating Wordpools.

Susan Goldsmith Woodridge, in her book Poem Crazy, suggests that we collect words whenever we can. Words we see around us, or words that just pop into our heads.  Look into dictionaries, field guides, write down street names, product labels, names of people, etc.

The Wordpool exercise is something I told the others we could do whenever we have some free time—maybe while we’re waiting for a ride home, while walking our dogs, even while cooking, as we come across an interesting food ingredient.

Wordpools are an excellent source of inspiration and a great way to stretch our imagination.

We created two Wordpools that night. A Noun Wordpool and a Verb Wordpool.

I encouraged them to write down specific nouns (ex. cottage or manor, instead of house) and strong verbs (ex. staggered or stumbled instead of walked). I set the timer for a minute and we all wrote down whatever nouns and verbs came into our minds.

We set aside our Wordpools for awhile and proceeded to the next exercise.

pool Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

WORD ALCHEMY

I asked my groupmates what they thought Alchemy is about and they were pretty spot on with the definitions they gave.

Alchemy, according to Wikipedia, is defined as a medieval chemical science and speculative philosophy aiming to achieve the transmutation of the base metals into gold, the discovery of a universal cure for disease, and the discovery of a means of indefinitely prolonging life.

But dictionaries also define Alchemy as a power or process of transforming something common into something special.

The second definition, is of course, what we should always aim to do in our writing.  And sometimes, the simplest process of mixing unexpected things together can create a great story idea.

Susan Goldsmith Woodridge, in her book Poem Crazy, suggests giving colors to abstractions or concepts. For example: Blue love, Chartreuse agreements, Silver deliberation, Magenta pride

In our Word Alchemy exercise, we combined two unlikely words to come up with a completely new word. On a post-it, I asked my groupmates to write down a color—maybe something they remember seeing from a box of crayons.

I collected these post-its and placed them in one box.

In a second post-it, I asked my groupmates to think of an abstract concept. Examples would be love, pride, deliberation, agreement, etc

I placed these post-its in a second box, then I asked them to pick a color and a concept, combine them and write them down.

After writing down their new words, I asked them to pass the color post-it to the person on their right, and pass the concept post to the person on their left.

We did this several times until we each came up with six new color-concept words.

We came up with words like aquamarine peace, midnight suggestions, cerulean connotations and such.

teniers alchemist 300x267 Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

We set these words aside and proceeded to the next exercise, which was inspired by one of the exercises from the book by Brian Kitely called 3AM Epiphany.

SYNESTHESIA

Synesthesia is defined as a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another, as when the hearing of a sound produces the visualization of a color. In writing, synesthesia is the description of one kind of sense impression by using words that normally describe another–color to sounds, odor to colors, sound to odors, etc.

I read an example: From Diane Ackerman’s A Natural History of the Senses;

A creamy blur of succulent blue sounds smells like week-old strawberries dropped into a tin sieve as the mother approaches in a halo of color, hatter and perfume like thick golden butterscotch.

Synesthesia is great for describing anything from characters to scenes, writing poetry and for breaking the monotony of paragraphs.

I asked everyone to divide their papers into 5 columns and label each column according to the five senses: Sight, Sound, Smell, Taste, and Touch.

We spent a minute on each column, writing down descriptive words that pertain to each of the senses.

For example:

o       sight = blurry, twinkling,

o       sound = honking,

o       smell =  lemon, pungent

o       taste= vinegary, sweet

o       touch= furry, curdled, silky

After five minutes, we proceeded to the final exercise of the night.

canuhearthecolors Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER

I asked everyone to recall  the Noun and Verb Wordpools we created, and color-concept words.

I gave them the following rules:

o       Use at least 1 color-concept word.

o       Use as many nouns, verbs and descriptive words from your lists as you want.

We combined all these words, along with the sense description words from our recent exercise to write a piece.

SHARING

After writing for ten minutes, I told them it was time to give our words power by sending them out into the ether. In order words, by sharing with others what we’ve created.

We shared our work with one another. We were amazed by the way our writing flowed when we used strong verbs, specific nouns, descriptive words which relate to the senses and added a flourish of color-concept words.

The language in our writing was poetic and much like a melody, flowed easily.

I summarized our creative writing session with the following words:

Much like physical exercises help improve our body’s health, writing exercises also help us stretch our writing muscles. Doing these exercises at least once a month, or even 5 minutes before working on your book will help us improve our imaginative and descriptive writing powers.

blue exercise man 245x300 Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

As a Bonus, I gave out a list of descriptive words pertaining to the senses (just like our Synesthesia exercise), which we might find useful when writing our novels. I encouraged them to keep on adding to the list.

We ended that night with minds full of story ideas and wonderful words.

DSCF1735 1024x768 Fourth Meetup: Creative Writing Exercises Extravaganza

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I went to the West Hollywood Bookfair last September 26, 2010. I met some wonderful authors, who were kind enough to give aspiring authors such as myself some advice:

FRANK BEDDOR

Author of the THE LOOKING GLASS WARS TRILOGYThe Looking Glass Wars, Seeing Redd and Arch Enemy, as well as the Hatter M Graphic Novels.

with frank beddorIMG 7343 Author Advice   West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

PJ HAARSMA

Author of the SOFTWIRE SERIES: Virus on Orbis 1, Betrayal on Orbis 2, Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3, Awakening on Orbis 4

with PJ Haarsma 1 Author Advice   West Hollywood Bookfair 2010


FRANCESCA LIA BLOCK

Author of 29 Books including the WEETZIE BAT SERIES, Girl Goddess # 9, and her latest book The Frenzy

with francesca lia blockIMG 7369 2 Author Advice   West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

AMBER BENSON

Co-author of the GHOSTS OF ALBION SERIES, and Author of the CALLIOPE-REAPER JONES NOVELS: Death’s Daughter and Cat’s Claw, as well Among the Ghosts.

with amber benson IMG 7398 Author Advice   West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

CAROLYN COHAGAN

Author of THE LOST CHILDREN.

with carolyn cohagan IMG 7405 Author Advice   West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

TRACY TRIVAS

Author of THE WISH STEALERS.

with tracy trivas IMG 7416 Author Advice   West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

MICHAEL REISMAN

Author of the SIMON BLOOM SERIES: Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper, Simon Bloom: The Octopus Effect.

with micahel reisman IMG 7421 Author Advice   West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

I wish I had more money with me that day.  I would’ve bought many copies of all the authors’ books and gave them away to family and friends. Ah well, maybe I’ll start saving now for next year’s bookfair.

All the authors I met that day were warm, fuzzy (especially Michael Reisman, who had on a furry bathrobe in the 100 degree heat) and readily gave advice. Their eagerness to talk to their fans, and their willingness to share their writing secrets just confirmed my belief that the writing community is a close-knit and supportive one, and that all authors are helpful to other writers because they know the difficulties one must overcome in order to get published.

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West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Last Sunday, September 26, 2010, I persuaded my two best friends to accompany me to the West Hollywood Bookfair. I had just come from the Working Writers’ Retreat, and though I lived only 15 minutes away from the retreat center, I still felt exhausted and very sleepy.

I didn’t want to miss the bookfair, though, as some of my favorite authors were going to be there. I can never pass up a good book signing. It’s a great way to show support for authors who put their heart and souls on paper to give us books that entertain, teach, and widen our minds.

We were already sweating by the time we arrived at the park. Just walking 10 minutes from the Pacific Design Center’s parking lot was enough to get us tired. We decided to rest for awhile and sample the sandwiches that a food truck was offering.

foodtruck West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Just for fun (and because when Mother Nature calls, one has to answer), I tried using the portable  toilets they had outside. It was an interesting experience. This was probably one of the fanciest porta-potties I’ve seen. It  looked like one of those airplane restrooms on the inside. Toilet seat covers, toilet paper, paper towels, soap and water were all provided for. It was a pretty restroom by all standards, but one had to be careful when opening the door to step outside. There was only about six inches space between the toilet seat and the door. If you happen to forget where you are, you might end up missing a step and tumbling straight to the ground if you’re not careful about opening the door.

restrooms West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

The heat was excruciating, and as we walked around the grounds. I didn’t think we could last an hour, let alone four hours.

We did though. There were just so many things to see. There were eight AUTHOR PANELS:

  • Fiction Pavilion
  • Comics & Graphic Novels Pavilion
  • That’s Entertainment Pavilion
  • Mystery & Suspense Pavilion
  • Good Reads Pavilion
  • SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Pavilion
  • Current Events & Hot Topics Pavilion
  • Open Book Pavilion

We hung around the Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Pavilion for awhile to listen to Del Howison moderate a talk on vampires, werewolves and the monsters we love to read about. The following authors shared their thoughts on their own books, writing and monsters:

sci fi panel West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Elizabeth Barriel (Vampires Don’t Sleep Alone)

elizabeth barriel 300x225 West Hollywood Bookfair 2010
Amber Benson (Among the Ghosts)

amber benson 300x225 West Hollywood Bookfair 2010
VMK Fewings (Orpheus: A Vampire’s Rise)

vmk fewings 300x225 West Hollywood Bookfair 2010
S.S. Wilson (Tucker’s Monsters)

ss wilson 2 300x225 West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

After awhile, we got up and wandered around. THE WRITING ROOM was home to writing workshops all day long, though I didn’t have the time to check it out. Various EXHIBITORS showed their wares and encouraged people to buy their products:

  • General Fiction & Non-fiction book sellers (book stores and presses)    exhbitors 2 300x225 West Hollywood Bookfair 2010
  • Literary Organizations
  • Rare and Collectible book sellers
  • Arts Organizations
  • Children’s Book sellers
  • Theatres
  • Literary Journals
  • Comic Book sellers
  • The “Comics Scene!”
  • The “Mystery Lovers’ Scene”
  • Food Vendors

Being the bookworm that I am, my eyes just light up whenever I see books. I don’t spend money on cigarettes, or beer or drugs, but I cannot help myself whenever I see books. My eyes almost pop out of their sockets and my hands shake uncontrollably if I don’t get the books that I want.

booksellers West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Luckily, the heat (and the lack of money) stifled my need to buy a whole year’s salary’s worth of books. Besides, I made sure I brought just enough money to buy the books I needed to buy—books I wanted signed, naturally.

There were a lot of interesting sights at the bookfair–good distractions from the  Summer heat wave that arrived in Fall.

Characters from books and history walked around, greeting the many people who came out to support the bookfair despite the heat:

book lady West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

The Book Lady and her Pooch.

benjamin franklin checking out books West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Benjamin Franklin checking out books.

There were SIX PERFORMANCE STAGES:

  • Theatre Stage
  • Poetry / Hybrid Stage
  • Storytelling & Readings Stage
  • Teen Stage
  • Kids’ Stage
  • Ghost Story Telling Tent (Note: This stage includes both children’s and teen / adult programming.)

My friends and I only hung out at the TEEN STAGE, where I waited for my favorite authors.

2:30PM came around, and Frank Beddor, one of my favorite authors appeared on stage. He told us the story behind his books The Looking Glass Wars Series, and gave his audience a taste of what the books are about.

frank beddor solo West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

PJ Haarsma, author of the Softwire Series came after Frank and explained what his books were about.

PJ Haarsma West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Francesca Lia Block, author of Dangerous: Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books, read from her new book The Frenzy.

francesca lia block reading West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

At 4:00, Carolyn Cohagan, author of The Lost Children came up on stage, and with the help of a few willing children, dramatized a scene from Chapter 3 of her book.

carolyn cohagan performing West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Tracy Trivas, author of The Wish Stealers followed afterward, and read from her book.

tracy trivas IMG 7416 modified West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Michael Reisman , author of the Simon Bloom series, went last. He donned on a fuzzy (and very warm) bathrobe, and a pair of glasses. With the help of some children (same ones who aided Carolyn Cohagan), he tried to explain what his two books were about. Speaking in an Irish accent, and using various props—which were all unrelated to his stories, he told us what Simon Bloom, his hero, does in his books The Gravity-Keeper and The Octopus Effect. He later on admitted that wearing a fuzzy bathrobe in the hundred degree heat wasn’t a very smart idea.

michael reisman performing West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

After their readings, all of the authors signed books at the Once Upon a Time Bookstore booth right beside the Teen Stage. They all had ways of making their fans feel special.

Frank Beddor brought along a special stamp which he used on the books he signed. He gave me an autographed poster of the art from the 3rd Hatter M graphic novel. He even told me that I was lucky to be the first one to get a copy of the 3rd Hatter M graphic novel, which only came out that day.

frank beddor poster West Hollywood Bookfair 2010 Frank Beddor

PJ Haarsma had special gold stickers which he placed on the cover page of his books he signed.

PJ haarsma signing West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

PJ Haarsma

francesca lia block signign West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Francesca Lia Block

carolyn signing West Hollywood Bookfair 2010
Carolyn Cohagan

michale reisman signign West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

Michael Reisman

I felt so lucky to be one of the few who got the chance to talk to these wonderful authors.  They were all so easy to approach and very supportive of each other.  Amber Benson, who is best known for her work in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and who is now a great sci-fi/fantasy writer, came to visit Carolyn and the other authors.  She (and the other authors) were so easy to talk to.

conversation with amber benson West Hollywood Bookfair 2010

It’s such an amazing feeling to be able to talk to people I look up to–people I admire, and people whose works fuel my passion for reading and writing.

All the authors were wonderfully patient and chipper, despite the obnoxious heat. The writing community is such an amazing group. All the authors I met that day were very supportive and encouraging when they found out I was writing a book. They were all nice enough to give aspiring authors like myself some helpful advice (which I will share with you in my next post).

I left the bookfair that day carrying precious books signed by the authors,  and overflowing with joy at my amazing experience.

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