Category Archives: creativity

Writing Prompt Wednesday


BOOKWORM – this is your starting point for a story…should be easy!

bookman

I have to confess I had an ulterior motive for volunteering to look after the book stall at the village fete. Not only would I have first pick of the books but it was nicely situated in a large tent so no matter what the weather conditions I would be protected.

As it happened we were lucky to have glorious sunshine on the day of the fete, it isn’t always so. Having the tent meant I had plenty of luscious shade. I’m not a sun worshiper at the best of times. After spending several hours organizing the books so that they were in categories, I sat back with a satisfying cup of tea.  I surveyed the mismatched tables filling the tent and felt proud of my efforts. With a couple of large cushions to pad out my deck chair I would endure the day. I knew it will be long and I like my comfort.

Settling into my chair to take a second look at my selections I quickly become engrossed in a tale of ancient Rome.  A shadow falls onto the page – my first customer of the day. Not wanting to seem too pushy, I continue to read, letting them browse unhindered. When I eventually look up I see a stick thin man dressed in a mac and hat with his nose literally inside a book. His spectacles have thick glass but obviously not thick enough. Upon closer inspection I notice he has mis-matched shoes, one black and one brown. Was he colour blind as well? 

“May I help you Sir?”

 “No thank you. I’m perfectly fine.”

 Remaining in my seat I observe this gentleman as he fills a wicker basket with books and precariously crams even more under his arm along with his umbrella. He is definitely not a local, I know most people in the village through my various committees. My curiosity must show as he nervously glances my way.

 “Have I done something wrong? Is there a limit to how many books I can purchase?”

 “Not at all – take as many as you like. I was just wondering where you lived as you are not familiar to me. Sorry if I was staring.”

 “Oh I see.”

 That was it, no explanation, no further conversation. He just continued rummaging through the hundreds of books without further comment. What a strange fellow.

The tent is filling up with other visitors anyway so I become distracted with purchases and questions for some time. A polite cough makes me turn and I am faced with the gentleman’s thin face peering over the top of his spectacles at me.

“May I pay for these books?”

“Yes of course. My, you have a real hoard there don’t you. Do you know how many?”

“Well I didn’t count them. Was I supposed to?”

“Not to worry. Shall we count together?”

“If you feel it’s necessary.”

Our count completed and the purchase made the man turns to leave laden down with thirty books.

“I hope you enjoy all your books.”

“Well of course I shall. I wouldn’t have bought them otherwise, now would I?”

I grit my teeth and smile, thinking some people are very odd but there’s no reason to be rude.  I turn to my next customer in line and exchange pleasantries with Miss Tooms. She is such a dear soul.

“Don’t take offense Muriel. Mr. Boekenworm has never been the social type even at school.”

“You know him Miss Tooms?”

 “Oh yes dear. We went to school together, here in the village actually, many moons ago of course. He was always teased about his name you see and it made him very insular.”

 “It’s a very novel name I must say.”

 “It means bookworm and he always has been. Lived up to his name you could say.”

 “That must have been very difficult as a child, I’m sure. Where does he live now?”

 “Not far, just over the hill in Clutton. He has his own second hand book store. I imagine it was fate.”

 “That would account for the amount of books he brought then. He really has lived up to his name. Good for him, I say.”

 “Yes I suppose you are right there. Well thank you Muriel. I shall enjoy these novels, helps pass the night hours, I don’t sleep like I used to, you know.”

I watch Miss. Tooms thread her way towards the tea tent. Another polite cough makes me turn. There he stands again with his umbrella and hat clutched to his chest.

“I want to apologize for being a bit brisk with you earlier. I tend to get very tense when buying books. Always worry someone else will find that exceptional book before me. Anyway sorry again for my rudeness.”

“Well thank you. Apology accepted. Miss Tooms was just telling me you have your own book store. May I visit one day?”

“Certainly it would be a pleasure.”

Such was my introduction to Samuel Boekenworm, my future employer.

Booksellers Library

Genres of Literature – Biography


Biography_Word

A biography, commonly known as a bio, is defined as a detailed description of a person’s life. Rather than dealing with the basic facts of the subject’s life like education, work, relationships, and death; it portrays a person’s experience with life events, presenting a subject’s life story, with highlights of various aspects of his or her life, including intimate details of experience, and may even include an analysis of the subject’s personality.

Biography’s are usually non-fiction in nature but fiction can sometimes be used to portray the subject’s life. One form of biographical coverage is called legacy writing that deals with in-depth research. 

At first, biographical writings were merely a subsection of history focusing on a particular individual of historical importance. The independent genre of biography began emerging in the 18th century reaching its contemporary form at the turn of the 20th century. Biographical research as defined by Miller is a research method of collecting and analyzing a person’s whole life, or on occasion a portion of their life. This is accomplished through the in-depth and unstructured interviews, or even by semi-structured interview or personal documents. In short the research can come from “oral history, personal narrative, biography and autobiography” or “diaries, letters, memoranda and other materials.

There are two types of biography:

  1. Authorized biography which is written with the permission, cooperation, and at times, participation of a subject or a subject’s heirs.
  2. An autobiography which is written by the person himself or herself, sometimes with the assistance of a collaborator or ghostwriter.

The idea of writing our own biography is a daunting one for most of us and knowing where and how to start can be the main stumbling block for many. What to put in and what to leave out!

With other members of my writing group, I helped produce a memoir writing guide, which gives pointers on how to collect and compile artifacts, photos, letters etc. into a themed collection enabling you to format and theme your memoir/biography.

YourLifetimeOfStories

http://www.wfscsherwoodpark.com/fp/your-lifetime-stories

The practical suggestions included in the pages of this book will suggest to you ways you can identify, record, and organize your collection of memories so you can begin to write your stories. It is not a how to write but a how to begin workbook. 

Have you thought of writing your biography?

What would the title be?

 

Author Interview – Bruce Solheim


Author-Interview-Button

 

bruce-solheim

1.      Does writing energize or exhaust you?
When I’m in the zone I can go all day long and stay focused and energized. I’m even manic sometimes if you ask my wife Ginger. Then I crash. When I’m agonizing over some plot point, character, twist, nagging and elusive detail or whatever, that is exhausting, and I can slowly slip into madness (to quote the Grinch).

2.      What is your writing Kryptonite?
Thankless, petty BS piling up that I don’t want to do and that sucks up my precious time. Any kind of paperwork or forms or the like. These things put me in a bad mood and I can’t write when I’m in a bad mood.

3.      Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
How do you know that I’m not already writing under a pseudonym? Yes, honestly, but those thoughts passed quickly, just like my plan to be a caped superhero.

 

 

 


4.      What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
David Willson, my mentor, Vietnam veteran and author of the REMF series (REMF Diary, REMF Returns, In the Army Now). I met David when I started teaching after graduate school in 1993. His encouragement, honesty, attention to the details of quotidian life, sardonic wit, and dark Nordic sense of humor have influenced my writing heavily.

Dr. Gary Hess, my doctoral committee chair and author of many fine history books (The United States at War, 1941-1945, Vietnam: Explaining America’s Los War, Presidential Decisions for War: Korea, Vietnam, the Persian Gulf, and Iraq). Gary has impressed me with the volume of his work, the detail and scope of his historical analyses, work ethic, kindness, and service to his community.

Neil H. Weiss, another mentor. Neil helped me learn how to write plays. He is an accomplished screenwriter, television writer, and director. Neil has pushed me to be the best I can be and will not accept anything else other than your best. He is a hard-driver and does not mince words or waste any time.

Jose Cruz Gonzalez, another mentor. Jose writes plays for young audiences (The Astronaut Farmworker, Tomas and the Library Lady). He inspired me and taught me to write through mystical expression and the exercise of capturing butterflies. He is a kind and gentle human being with a heart of gold.
Ali's Bees
5.      Do you want each book to stand alone, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I write books, plays, poetry, and songs. They largely stand alone, but there is a common theme in all my written works: find the hero within and make strong choices in your life. We are the heroes of our own life stories. I’ve written about a diverse selection of characters from a gay combat soldier in Vietnam (The Bronze Star) to a 13-year-old refugee boy dealing with Islamophobia in East Los Angeles (Ali’s Bees), from a timid school teacher who finds her inner strength and becomes an anti-Nazi resistance fighter in occupied Norway (The Epiphany), to a wounded Civil War veteran who goes west to find his runaway wife and search for gold, only to find himself and recover his lost soul (Tough Trip Through Hell, a play based on David Willson’s unpublished novel). Most of my written work deals with the impact of war on people and on society. The settings range from the Old West to occupied Norway in World War II to a post-apocalyptic Earth ruled by wandering bands of mutants. My non-fiction books range from foreign policy in the Nordic Region to women leaders to the Vietnam War to a new take on modern American history since the Civil War. They all focus on the individual and how people who make brave and strong choices make our world better and lead the way in search of truth and meaning. My latest work includes illustrations. Gary Dumm, of American Splendor fame, illustrated 12 comic book pages for my anti-textbook (Making History: A Personal Approach to Modern American History) and will illustrate my two paranormal books (Timeless: A Paranormal Personal History and Timeless II). Gabby Untermayerova illustrated my fiction book for middle grade readers. “You can do anything with words and pictures,” as Harvey Pekar once said.

6.      What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Copy editing, line-editing, and more editing. Also, illustrations by inspiring and amazing artists.

7.      What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I grew up with two languages, Norwegian and English. Because my father could not write in English, I would write letters for him. Actually, I would type letters for him. This started when I was nine years old. I was fascinated by typewriters and books. I loved listening to my dad’s stories of his sailing days in the 1930’s and of the Nazi occupation. I began writing stories at age 10 and have never stopped writing. I wrote short stories, screenplays, poems, and illustrated and wrote comic books (nothing published). I had a short-lived comic strip (Snark: A Space Tragedy) in my school paper at Montana Tech. I published my first book in 1994 and had my first play produced in 2012. Now I’ve written seven books and eight plays. When I visit Norway, I speak Norwegian and it’s almost as if I’m a different person, or maybe a more complete person. My friend Neil said that I’m like a gate that swings between the United States and Norway. That is powerful.

8.      What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
David Willson REMF Diary. David has captured what it is like to be a file clerk in the middle of a war. The great majority of veterans do not see any combat, but that literature is rather thin. David Willson’s REMF Diary set the bar for all others.

9.      As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Lion. When I was a kid I watched a Daktari on TV. Clarence the cross-eyed lion was a regular.

10.  How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Two books. Three unfinished plays.

11.  What does literary success look like to you?

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

12.  What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Oral interviews, correspondence, networking, and online archival research. I start as soon as I get an idea and write as I research. “Time’s a wasting.”

13.  How many hours a day/week do you write?
On average, 3 hours.

14.  How do you select the names of your characters?
The sound of the name, the interesting people whom I have met who have similar names, and historical figures.

15.  What was your hardest scene to write?

The first one and the last one. If you mess up either one, the book is ruined. In fact, the first sentence and the last one, are the hardest to write and can also mess up your work. Start strong and finish strong.

 

 

 

 

16.  Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I have a Ph.D. in History so naturally I have written historical non-fiction. My theatrical plays are usually historically-based and then fictionalized, but I’ve broken away from that with certain issues that interest me or problems that I see not being given enough attention. I wrote my first fiction novel just recently. It was geared for middle grade readers and above and it began as a play. My latest play is a sci-fi rock opera set in a post-apocalyptic Earth (Timothy). I feel compelled to write something based on what possesses me. Sometimes the idea is a sudden burst and sometimes it is a slow burning compulsion. I don’t attempt to balance anything, it just happens.

17.  How long have you been writing?

Since age 10, so 49 years.

18.  What inspires you?  

Good food, Ginger (my wife and muse), music of all kinds, my children and grandchild, a thought-provoking book or film, animals, Northern Norway, and a righteous cause.

19.  How do you find or make time to write?

I get up earlier than anyone else. The early bird gets the worm. I don’t like downtime, so I fill my day here and there with research or writing.

20.   What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m working with my friend Carsten Dau on a rock opera based loosely on Timothy Leary but set in the post-apocalyptic future. I’m finishing up Timeless and have already started Timeless II. The premise of my paranormal books is that science has already found evidence for the paranormal and we all experience these phenomena, but many people are afraid to acknowledge their experiences. I’m not afraid, and I encourage others to come forward. As I always say, “it is not that I believe in ghosts, it’s that they believe in me, so I don’t have a choice.” As I write these words I have just started a thriller set in the near future in the Nordic region (written in Norwegian).

21.   What do your plans for future projects include?

More plays, getting my other plays fully produced, more paranormal personal history books, and responding to the next question in life. I also don’t rule out some type of interplanetary travel, as long as I can fly first class. Coach is rough enough as it is here on Earth.

22.   Share a link to your author website.

www.bruceolavsolheim.com
www.thebronzestar.com
www.Alisbees.com
www.theepiphany.net

 Bio:

Bruce Olav Solheim was born on September 3, 1958, in Seattle, Washington, to hard-working Norwegian immigrant parents, Asbjørn and Olaug Solheim. Bruce was the first person in his family to go to college. He served for six years in the US Army as a jail guard and later as a helicopter pilot. He earned his PhD in history from Bowling Green State University in 1993.

Bruce is currently a distinguished professor of history at Citrus College in Glendora, California. He also served as a Fulbright professor in 2003 at the University of Tromsø in northern Norway.

Bruce founded the Veterans Program at Citrus College and cofounded, with Manuel Martinez and Ginger De Villa-Rose, the Boots to Books transition course—the first college course in the United States designed specifically for recently returned veterans. He has published five books and has written seven plays, two of which have been produced.

Bruce is married to Ginger, the girl of his dreams, who is a professional helicopter pilot and certified flight instructor. He has been blessed with four wonderful children: Bjørn, Byron, Caitlin, and Leif. He also has a precious grandson, Liam. Bruce, his brother, and his two nephews still own the family home in Åse, Norway, two hundred miles above the Arctic Circle.

Writing Prompt Wednesday


deech_roots

Your challenge is to write a poem or short story using this image above. It can be the start or ending of a story, a sense of place or wherever the image inspires your Mse to write.

My Muse decided on a poem.

Roots

 

Revealed by the eroded earth

Spindly, twisting fingers, laid bare

Within their numerous fissures

Tiny creatures take refuge there

 

Moss growing in damp crevices

Bringing colour to the grey

Patterns of light and shadow                                    

Make numerous images play

 

Strands of ivy twisting upward,

Slowly consuming its host

Feeding off wrinkled bark

Crumbling it into compost

 

Growing steadily each year

Nourished by the sun and rain

Weathered by the seasons

Its character all too plain

 

Genres of Literature – Meta-Fiction


metafiction

Metafiction is a form of literature  where the author deliberately emphasizes its  constructiveness that continually reminds the reader to be aware that he or she is reading or viewing a fictional work as the author self-consciously alludes to the artificiality or literariness of a work by parodying or departing from novelistic conventions and traditional narrative techniques.

Metafiction is  commonly associated with postmodern literature, however it can be traced back to much earlier works,  such as Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1387) Miguel de Cevantes’ Don Quixote (1605) and J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. (1954-1955. It became prominent in the 1960’s with such tales as John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman and Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49.

There are four variations:

Explicit/Implicit metafiction is identified by its use of clear metaficiton elements within the text quoting its own artificiality. For example, the narrator explains the story they are telling.
With Implicit metafiction rather than commenting on the text, it foregrounds the medium or its status as an artifact through various, such as disruptive techniques like metalepsis. Relying on the reader’s ability to recognize these devices to evoke a metafictional reading. Implicit metafiction is described as a mode of showing.

Direct/Indirect metafiction in contrast consists of metareferences external to it’s text, such as reflections/parodies and general discussions of aesthetic issues on specific other literary works or genres. 

Critical/Non-critical metafiction is more frequently found in postmodernist fiction aiming to find the artificiality or fictionality of a text in some critical way. However, non-critical metafiction does not criticize or undermine the artificiality or fictionality of a text and can be used to “suggest that the story one is reading is authentic”.

Generally media-centered/truth- or fiction-centered metafiction deals with the medial quality of fiction or narrative but in some cases there is an additional focus on the truthfulness or inventiveness of a text, which merits mention as a specific form. The suggestion of a story being authentic would be an example of truth-centered metafiction.

Were you aware that the great tomes above were metafiction?

Have you written this genre? Care to share?