Monday, 30 July 2012

Plan Ahead or Jump Straight In?

Welcome to Ravaging Thoughts. The one places where anything creative and wild can be found. This week we have a special guest with us as part of the VBT Group on Facebook. My guest is Ed Griffin and he is talking about whether he plans what he's going to write about, or whether to just dive in and pull out what he can. Let's see what he has to say. 

Plan your writing or just jump in?


I’m a planner all the way and what helps me be a planner is my writing group. We’ve been in existence for over ten years, and we call ourselves the Rainwriters, because when we were first forming, it rained for every single meeting. There are seven of us, never any more.
I think I’m just an average writer, but with the help of this group, I become a little above average. My work reflects six minds, not just one. I know some people do not do well in groups, but I couldn’t live without the Rainwriters.
First of all, I feel that I have to turn in something at every meeting. That pressure puts my butt in the chair and makes me start typing. I go over and over my submissions to the group, but they inevitably find things I missed. Like motivations that don’t work, like descriptions that are given little attention, like too many characters in the opening and so on.
Of course, I don’t take every suggestion. But when three out of the six commenting on my paper say that something doesn’t work – then it doesn’t work.
Another advantage of our group is the variety of opinions. One man never misses a wrong spelling or the mistaken use of a word. Another man sees the big picture, but doesn’t do any line editing. A woman calls attention to my lack of using the five senses in describing a scene.
Some people do well meeting with a friend in a coffee shop, others get feedback from a few trusted friends. But I think everyone needs feedback. Try as we might, we can’t see it all.
“Some people come to writers’ meetings for cheap entertainment.” You’ve heard that expression, I’m sure and sadly it’s true. So we are very careful about who comes into our group. Even though several people have asked to join, we decide on new members, not by their place on the waiting list, but by who’s good for the group. And then we have a ‘three meeting’ trial period, in which we evaluate the newcomer and they evaluate us.
Some go to writers’ groups and find they are just social groups, with very little attention given to writing. We are on the other end of that spectrum. While we are friendly to all the members of the Rainwriters, our meetings are business meetings. They start on time and end on time – two hours, no more.
Our procedure is this:

We hand out printed copies of our manuscripts at the previous meeting or leave them in dropbox for the others in the group to get. If we leave them in dropbox, we have to send a message that our next manuscript is there.
We don’t read at the meetings, unless someone has something that has to be edited right away. We do our editing in the quiet of our rooms at home. At the meeting one of us assumes the chairperson role and we start through the manuscripts. Figure it out –
120 minutes = our meeting, 2 hours
3 minutes – each writer is allowed to comment on another writer’s work
18 minutes – the total time each writer has to comment on others’ work
126 minutes – If all 7 of us used our full three minutes, that’s how long our meeting would be.

We start with one manuscript and go around the room. One member brings a little timer that sounds a bell after three minutes. When a person’s story is being discussed, that person is not supposed to argue back. The proper etiquette is to thank the other members and take or ignore the advice.
You might call this a free editing process, which it is. I don’t remember the actual quote but Jean Auel talking about writing a half million words before she joined a writers’ group. After that, her writing blossomed.
Do you belong to a writers’ group? Does it help you? How do you get feedback on your writing?

Ed Griffin teaches creative writing in the community and in a federal prison. He is passionate about prison reform, the subject of his other blog, Prison Uncensored.

Find Ed online at

Personal Blog
Writer’s Write Daily Blog

Monday, 23 July 2012

A Mouse? No, I'm a Lion!

This week I'm pleased to welcome back Amadi Kyymm as my guest blogger of week 9 of our Virtual Tour. This week she tells us what it feels like to hit a magical number in life and her thoughts upon that subject.

On Being Fifty

When I hit the big Five-Oh a lot of people (friends, co-workers) asked me “So, what's it like being fifty?” To me that question was on par with “What's it like to have six toes instead of five?” Well, I've got an extra one just in case. . . . . .

Actually at the age of 50, it felt just like it was when I was 49, only I'm older by one digit. That was 6 years ago. Now, that I am rapidly approaching my 57th year of existence, I've noticed some significant changes.

For one, I'm much more focused on goals in life. I don't have time for the stupid distractions. Hang out and shooting the breeze are a waste of time to me. Neither do I have time to party, go clubbing, and all the crazy stuff I used to do when I was younger, like get drunk or high. These things were exciting back when I was half my age, now I just shake my head chalk it all up to teenaged and young adult stupidity.

Also, back in the late 70's and early 80's it was much safer for women to go out and paint the town red. Now. . . . well, according to my NYPD co-workers, you'd have to be nuts to do that.

Plus, back 70's and 80's there was much better music. The stuff the recording industry palms off as music these days is pure trash. In my humble opinion, of course. . . . .

I've also noticed that I have a lot more freedom to be who I am. When I was younger, in order to fit in with the crowd I had to keep up with the Jone-es. It was of up most importance to wear the right clothes, have my hair done just so, and to hang out at the right places. Yeah, I lived in Clique City. Now, I look back at that and laugh because though I did the dance, I never had a partner. Meaning, I was never truly accepted even though I tried like the dickens to fit in. A fie upon them I say, I'm proud of being a GEEK, a book worm, a neebish, whatever you want to call me.

Nowadays, I couldn't care less about having brand name clothing (unless it's on sale), having my hair done (unless it's washed and trimmed), etc. As long as I'm properly groomed and dressed, I'm good to go. That can mean anything from jeans, sweatshirt, a sweat suit, t-shirt, running shoes, mocossins, or Uggs. It is tantamount for my clothing and footwear to be comfortable.

I've also discovered that I've become a straight shooter, a sort of female version of John Wayne. I've grown a lot less tolerant of Bravo Sierra (The United States Military slang for BS). It's like I can see people coming a block away, with the bucket of crap to dump on me. Like my late West Indian Mom used to say in her heavy accent. “You tink I born yesterday?” She warned me I wouldn't understand that question until I got older. Well, I did and I do.

I'm no longer the shy and quiet mouse I used to be. I find myself standing up and speaking out against wrongs and injustices at work and life in general. The expresions on folks faces are priceless. All they've known for the past 20, 30, or 40 years was a convienent doormat for them to wipe their feet upon. Now the doormat has turned into a lion. Listen to that roar, and watch out for those teeth!

I'm no longer part of the women's rat race. With the onset of Change Of Life (*cough* Menopause) my whole outlook of the opposite sex and the dating scene changed. I seriously wonder what was I thinking back then? Why was I in competition with four other women for one man who was a “creep”?

I gladly bid that nonsense adios and continued with my life. I'm perfectly happy with my family, my cats, and my writing. What more do I need? If The Creaor wants me married with or without children, He will send the guy to me. I don't need to chase him down the way cheetah chases the gazelle on the Serengeti. . . . . .

Last but not least, I have room to breathe and the freedom to write. In fact, I didn't seriously take up my pen until the age of 50.

I had been writing most of my adult life, but had stopped for twenty years because I was taking care of my Mom. But during the last two years of her life I was introduced to and started blogging. I used my blog (named “The Pot Calleth The Kettle Black”) as an outlet for my pain and frustration. It short, it became a digital shoulder to cry on.

I had no clue I was documenting my last years with Mom. Now that I look back at it, I'm glad I did it. I'm now seriously considering editing and publishing it.

To me, growing older meant cutting the fat out my life. Like all of those ridiculous things I used to cling to, and thought I couldn't live without. They're gone, never to be seen again. The things which remain, including my unencumbered writing, are definitely here to stay, and I'm enjoying it!

Do you agree with Amadi's opinions on turning 50? Do you consider her outlook to be a positive one? What is your personal opinion on growing older?


I, Amadi Kyymm (aka Nanci E. Maynard) am a humble writer. I've written, fanfiction, and written RPGs for Star Trek fandom for years. My latest adventure into fiction writing started with NaNoWriMo 2011, and I've been officially been bitten by the writing bug. I'm now working on editing and publishing my very first novel,“The Knight Riders”. I am a life long New York City resident where I reside with my two fur-kin (cats). I'm also a mild mannered woman, who works on a not so mild mannered job as an NYPD police clerical.

My mixed bag blog: Radical Scribblings
My Facebook Writer's Page:
My Twitter Handle: @WriterKyymm

Sunday, 15 July 2012

The Birth of Creation

This week on our Tour, I am joined by the amazing Peggy Brown as she tells us how her Title and Character came about for her book/s. This gives us a deeper look inside the mind of an author, so let's see what she has to say.

Guest Peggy Browning:

Our assignment this week is to explain our process of choosing the title and characters in our book.

Hmmm…. this may be difficult! There is some method to this madness, but it was not what I anticipated.

I thought it would be a more orderly process to find the personalities of my characters. I never expected the characters would lead me to them, rather than following my lead.

I had contemplated writing a book for many years, but could never come up with enough substance to fill one. I had titles, beginnings, endings, a character or two, but…nothing to splice all that stuff together.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to write about the frustrations and insecurities of being fifty + and female. I listened to my friends talk about ageing and their changing ideas and attitudes. Then I did some academic research about the ageing boomer population.

One thing that we all had in common was that our lives were changing and we were evolving into another life phase. I thought I could give a voice to our collective concerns…. and apply a little humour and mystery to the acts of ageing and reinventing our lives.

I believe that after a certain time…50 or so... women come of age again. I believe that with the passing of time we develop fully (sort of like a perennial plant that comes back each Spring) having already established our roots. I believe that we bloom again and that the blooming grows more beautiful each year.

I chose The Big 5-0 for my book’s title because turning 50 was a huge catalyst for change in my own life. After I chose the title, I saw those words used to describe changes in the lives of celebrities. It seemed everyone was having their 50th birthday and it was a big deal. When George Clooney celebrated his 50th birthday and it was announced as The Big 5-0 for him, I felt my title was validated.

When I developed my characters, I made a list of the main ones I planned to use in the story. I wrote a description of each of them: their physical, emotional and spiritual features as well as their dreams, desires, frustrations, flaws and talents. Their characteristics are in line with my own, my friend’s and those of people I have known or observed.

The main character of The Big 5-0 is Mattie Mason, a woman who has just had her 50th birthday and is just trying to muddle through her ordinary life in search of the extraordinary. She has a best friend, a husband, a daughter, a mother, co-workers and colleagues. They all play a part in her story because our own lives are comprised of our interactions with the people around us.

The characters have taken on a life of their own as the story has progressed. I’ve added a few characters when the story needed to be expanded. I may do away with a few of the characters when I do my final editing and re-writes, but for right now…everyone is safe!

I am trying to stay in control of my characters, but right now I am trusting them to tell me their role in this tale. They reveal their own part in Mattie’s life as we go along together, moving through our world, trying to get to the end of the story.

Do I sound as if I am a little bit off centre and suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder? That, my friend, may certainly be the case.

 I prefer to think that I have a Multiple Personality Order, rather than a Disorder. I just hope it will be entertaining, cohesive and believable when I have every one of the personalities in their proper place!

 Bio and Contact Info

Peggy Browning is a writer who views her life after age 50 through rose-colored bifocals. She writes about issues facing the boomer crowd with humor and wit. She has reinvented herself many times through life’s exciting adventures, varied jobs and diverse careers. She’s been a special education teacher, social worker, waitress, newspaper carrier,  newspaper correspondent, fruit stand owner, nurse’s aide, janitor and  writer/entrepreneur. And that’s just a few of the jobs she’s been paid to do during her first 5 decades…Catch her musings about life after 50 on her blog at her website,, her opinion column and feature news stories at, and blogs at and Visit her Facebook page at

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Solar Dance - A Journey Of Discovery.

Where does it all begin? The one question that writers world over are asked all the time, and this week, my guest was posed a similar question. Join us as Catrina Taylor explores how it began with her book.

Recently I was posed the question: What started your current work of fiction? Although I could say that it is simply inspiration, dedication and drive to create something fun to read, the reality of this work is far deeper than that. 

In 2003, while I was in the middle of a four month separation with my then husband, Xarrok was born. It was born 500 years ahead of the time I have been writing about. In that world, a utopia was shattered as the people were reminded of their roots, and how their planet came to be. Eventually, my husband and I reconciled and my writing had to stop. Seven years later I picked it back up, after my divorce. I asked myself what the Great Wars, as referenced in the original book, were like.
At the time I was actively engaged in storytelling, through role play character development on twitter.  Set in a Star Trek fan fiction alternate universe, my primary character and her family endure significant hardships, face off against the Borg and challenge everyone who dares to attempt to separate them. That’s when the answer to the Great Wars question hit me. It’s like the RP only darker, much darker, as 100 years of war is not pretty. 

My mind dances between each world in the universe. Each story that needs told reminds me there are thousands more, but every universe must have a beginning. That is what I’m creating now. I’m creating the beginning. 

This is the beginning of many things to come. Birth of an Empire marks the beginning of a new science fiction series, and the beginning of my new life. A life of freedom to create, freedom to love, freedom to enjoy the same universe readers enjoy. In this universe, in this world, new beginnings happen all the time and my new beginning will ever be renewed through every story and every word woven together. 

At the time of this post, my universe has three books published. Birth of an Empire is the primary book and the first in a four part series that showcases the beginning of the world of Xarrok. My editor and I are diligently working to be ready to release Birth of an Empire: Consequences by July 31st, 2012. We are slightly behind schedule, but not without benefits. The wait for book three will be far shorter than the wait for book two was. . It is our goal to achieve a print release of the four part book by April of 2013.

~About my Guest~

Catrina Taylor is a single mom who dances with her children, both real and fiction. Her imagination compels her to push the limits of reality in order to create the universe around Xarrok. Her two children give her the drive and renewed perspective required to develop each new story. 
The first book in the Birth of an Empire series was released November 2011, since then she has completed and released two short stories and is preparing to release the second book in the Birth of an Empire series, alongside two more short stories in the Origins Series. You can find her books on Nook, Kindle, Smashwords and popular online retailers everywhere.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

In Silence Pictures Speak

In the silence a picture speaks where no one listens... that is, until Scott heard the words that were uttered. This week announces week 6 of The Virtual Blog Tour and with it brings my guest Scott Seldon. A warm welcome be bestowed to Scott as he shares with us, a moment of inspiration that was born from the picture below. Let's dive for a moment into the depths of his creative mind and as always your comments and feedback are welcomed at the end.

Naomi’s Mural
by Scott Seldon

            Naomi Lewis couldn’t make up her mind if she was excited or nervous. It probably was some combination of the two, but there was way too much going on for her to nail it down.
            She was the lead agricultural botanist for the colonizing expedition to Washio Delta near the Eagle Nebula. Their colony ship, Ashimo-maru, had completed its trials and was fully outfitted and stocked. It would be docking with the station later in the day. Once it docked she would be working non-stop until they departed. That was why they had scheduled a special tea ceremony before it arrived. It would be the last time any of the colonists would be available at the same time. It was special because following the traditional ceremony, the Chanoyu Master was supposed to make an announcement.
            She wasn’t sure just how many generations ago her father’s family had moved to Japan. She’d been born there but she had the alabaster skin of her English ancestors. Yet she never for a moment considered herself anything than Japanese. Overcrowding on Earth’s surface coupled with an unbeatable opportunity had caused her father to move up to the station when she was still a child. They had made occasional trips to the surface to visit family and she had climbed Mt. Fuji more than once, most recently just two years ago, just before her application to be a colonist had been approved.
            The intercom beeped and she rose to answer it, her kimono swishing as she moved. “Lewis here,” she said.
            “The ceremony is being moved back. Captain Yoshimura will be delayed.”
            She didn’t let the disappointment affect her speech and quickly said, “Understood,” before the emotions could rise to the surface. This delay likely meant the entire ceremony would be canceled The scheduling was way too tight. She stood next to the intercom for many long minutes and was considering changing when someone chimed at the door to her cabin. She walked over and answered it.
            “Miss Lewis,” the young man in traditional black kimono and gray hakama said, “Master Hayashida requests that you come to the tea room immediately.”
            “Of course,” she said with a slight bow. She donned her geta and followed the young man.
            Walking in the traditional kimono and geta was challenging on the station. The gravity was not quite Earth normal, but it did match what they would have on the ship for the next few months. She had finally mastered it only a few months ago when Master Hayashida had arrived to finish her Chanoyu training before she left.
            While she was not the only Chanoyu student making the voyage, she was the only one who was more than a novice. She had striven to become a master herself and had she not signed on to this expedition she was certain she would have made it.
            She was quite surprised to find she was the only one in the tea room. The young man indicated that she should sit on the cushion placed in front of the port that dominated one wall of the tea room. She took her seat and waited. It was very hard to hide her surprise when she discovered that she was the guest of her Master. It was a great honor.
            She sampled the proffered sweets, enjoying the red bean treat the most. She watched in awe as Master Hayashida made the tea and set it in front of her. She tried to take in every experience and treasure it. There would not be another chance unless he made the long journey to Washio Delta to see her. She was certain she would never return to Earth. They had stressed how much work it was to be a colonist. That and this was Japan’s first colony ship to make use of the new hyperspace drive technology. She was bound by honor to do her best and put the rest of her life into making the colony succeed. One small area was to make sure the tea plant would thrive, even if that meant some genetic enhancements That was one reason Master Hayashida had come to the station to personally supervise her training.
            “Please excuse me, but I think I will have some tea,” Master Hayashida announced after he picked up the tea bowl. He made another bowl of tea and turned to face her before sipping it. When he was done, his eyes met hers.
            “You have been a good student, Miss Lewis. My best, if I might say.”
            “You are too generous,” she said with the expected modesty.
            “It is time for you and I to have new roles. After today I will no longer be your instructor. You have learned all I can teach you. In many ways your technique is better than mine.”
            “Master, I do not see how that is possible.”
            “It is what I was hoping to see and why I have been here teaching you. I apologize that I waited until today to say this. It is long overdue. The reason we will have new roles and a new relationship is that from today, you are a Chanoyu Master. I have filed all the appropriate documents. I know that is what you had your sights set on and you thought you would not achieve it now that you are leaving Earth, but you truly are that good. It is fitting that you carry on, not only our traditions, but that you will bring tea to a new world. It is a bold move, but one the Emperor himself has heard of and is pleased with.”
            He raised his hand and the young man entered with a small tray with two documents on it. Master Hayashida took the tray and set it between he and Naomi. He lifted the first document, written in the traditional manner on rice paper. “This is a message from Emperor Fujitsubo. I have taken the liberty of sending you a transcription in modern Japanese.”
            She took it and looked at the ancient script and antiquated language. She would need a transcription.
            He lifted the second document, also on rice paper. “This is the official proclamation that as of now, you are a Chanoyu Master.”
            As she took it, his eyes were diverted to the port behind her and a smile broke his serious features. “And my timing has worked. Look at where we are over Earth.”
            Naomi turned and looked down a the planet she’d been born on and saw the unmistakable shape of Japan. She could just make out the white dot that was the snowcapped Mt. Fuji. In orbit with them was Ashimo-maru with its bulky hyperspace engines.
            “I had hoped to time it like this,” Master Hayashida said. “Remember this moment, Master Lewis.”

            Naomi took a small supply of matcha with her, enough to use sparingly until she could cultivate the first tea bushes and make the first harvest of green tea. Adapting the tea bushes to their new world took longer than she expected, but her training paid off and she was able to breed a variety that would grow on their new home.
            She ran out of matcha long before she had a harvest so she had to rely on her memory when she finally had the first batch of matcha grown on Washio Delta. She found the taste to be very close, but with slightly more of a variation than the different crops on Earth produced. Yet that variation seemed to be a subtile improvement. The red beans had taken off with no need to adapt so she had her favorite sweet when she held the first tea ceremony on the new world.
            Following her Master’s advice, she held on to the memory of that last tea ceremony from Earth and painted a mural in the new tea room on the wall where the port had been in the tea room on the station. As the colony slowly grew, the new generation hungered for pieces of culture from Earth and she had more who wanted to be her student than she had time to teach. She took the opportunity to find those who could teach others. The Tea Ceremony would live on and the story of her mural became the new tradition on Washio Delta.

Scott Seldon lives with his family in Colorado and works as an IT administrator. Visit his website ( for the latest updates and to find where his books are sold.

What are your thoughts upon Scott's Flash Fiction? Would you have followed a similar route with the picture posted? If not then please share with us what you would have written about.