Monday’s Musing on the “Pat-Down”…

Hi All,

So this was basically me this weekend. Some of you may already know, but Saturday I took a little trip to the teaching credential test center to find out if my wits were a match for the credential ‘gods that be,’ and their lofty yet legal, expectations. And not only did I pay bank ($) for the privilege, but I was also treated to their full on, pre-prison ‘Pat-Down’ experience in the process!

Upon checking in to test, I was told to place my palm on the electronic monitor to scan it not once, not twice, but 8 times! Up, down, and over again. Apparently, my palm was  un-cooperative! Then came the photos; 3 sides, front, right and left, smiles definitely discouraged. Next, an escorted walk down a long narrow hallway, where another cop-like eagle-eyed guard stood watching multiple video camera angles from all sides of the unlucky slugs already inside testing. Then the grand finale, a metal detector wand passed all around. Finally, before being allowed in to take my place in the tiny computer cubicles where I’d spend the next three hours cranking out timed, impromptu essays, I was ordered to empty and turn out all my pockets and show them the inside of the back of my hoodie…(not sure what exactly they thought I’d be hiding in there.) Then, last and not least, the hands-on, physical “Pat-Down,” top to bottom, on all sides. Kind of like getting pulled over for a DUI (just sayin) or getting booked for a night in the local slammer. Jail never loomed so large!

Perhaps, this was a pre-cursor of things to come. To be frank, the thought of spending a night in jail almost seems like a more appealing option than teaching full-time. This I know from being a Sub, probably the worlds worst job ever! I’ve had kids do unspeakable, horrific, awful things! Things like jump out a second story window while my back was turned writing lessons on the board. And posting social media pics pretending to smoke rolled up joints inside my classroom, which they made out of paper, usually reserved for airplanes. I’ve been called to the carpet in the Principals office and had to “go to the mattresses” Godfather style, to defend myself against their onslaughts. And truth be told, most days that blessed 3:00 bell just couldn’t ring fast enough! So why you might ask, did I bother testing at all?

Honestly, I can’t really say.  But after finishing up my MFA last year it’s been all job hunting, writing, (write, submit, rinse, respeat,) both of which have been a steady, slow grind getting off the ground. But in the meantime, a girl’s gotta keep the lights on!

The test itself was difficult too. Not I imagine, like a doctor’s medical boards or a law-student’s LSAT. But questions specifically tailored and just crafty enough to easily crap-out on if you don’t give them exactly what they want to hear, exactly how they want to hear it. So, we’ll see. Not too sure I even want to pass! If I do, it’s back to the bottom of the ant-hill school-wise, looking up at yet another whole semester of student-teaching this fall to freak out on! But if not, I guess it just means, more time to write! More crime fiction shorts, finish that novel, and get my stuff out there! As if that’s a bad thing!

Don’t know about you, but the latter sure sounds like more fun!

Keep u posted…Oh, and I’ve got a crime fiction flash piece that was just accepted by a major online mag., so I’m psyched on that score. Let u all know when it’s up. Progress rides in on small waves!

Ciao for Now!

Lisa

 

 

 

Hi all… Been out on blogging hiatus but I’m back…

Well it’s 2018, and hi there all…

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Snoopy’s musing..

Been out on blogging hiatus but I’m back! And in desperate need of a blogging fix!

So, it’s March 2018, and my focus is on why blog, why do we break, and why, oh why do we ever return? I think it’s basically destiny. If you’re born to write, you write. No matter what. Even if it means shaking off those long dreary months of writing/critiquing/rejection/re-writing/rinse….repeat….etc…

Or, it could be your finances, or lack thereof, that took you down that street of dreams into job fantasy-land for a while, into whatever 9 – 5 situation was offered up thinking hey, at least you’re keeping the light on, eh??

But if any of you have seen that new show “Corporate” on network TV, the office stretch ain’t exactly what you might think, as I so recently found out. The show mimics the original hilarious, all time laugh out loud funny sitcom, “The Office” with Steve Carrell, and John Krasinsky, and puts you in a similar place of mind where the expected is ludicrously ridiculous and yet, oh so imaginable! And of course, when you’re doing the office-corporate gig or even a teaching stint like I was, (which, you’ll be hearing more about soon, ) your wrting will probably take a serious back seat. In my case, more like the trunk of my falling apart 2000 Camry in desperate need of retirement. Hence, the job! Which is all to say, why you haven’t seen me here in a while.

But excuses be dammed! And never one for quitting, I’m back. And so, I move forward. With promises of more writing to come, and getting back to our main squeeze, deliciously dark, desperately delectable, sinful, fiction noir, and all things writing.

In the meantime, I leave you with a link to fellow blogger Michelle, at The Green Study via https://thegreenstudy.com.

Michelle has some great thoughts here on micro-resolutions, especially helpful for the new year. Check out her “writing” section, where she says she gave herself a “writing” map, and will travel with it as long as she can. Words to live by, fellow readers! And in that vein, so will I. My map into the new year includes posting here whenever the inspiration strikes. No more strict deadlines to meet, but Monday’s Muse will continue. And Friday’s flash fiction too. But on inspiration, not on demand. So keep an eye out!

And as always, Ciao for now.

Lisa

 

Yo, all “Pulp Metal” zine fans… I’m up…

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As of this morning, my short story The Abyss  is up at Pulp Metal Magazine! 

Couldn’t be more thrilled!

Much gratitude to Jason Michel for taking it!

It’s here,  at https://pulpmetalmagazine.com/2016/12/09/the-abyss-by-lisa-ciarfella/

As always, your thoughts are more than welcome!

 

Fun Flash Friday, beyond the Zone…

 

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Hey there kiddies, and happy belated Hallow’s Eve to all!

 

Don’t know if you dressed up and went around the neighborhood hijacking candy, but the combination of the holiday, plus the sky getting darker way too early has me in a Friday Flash funk kind of mood, so here you go:

Inspired by Charli Mills weekly 99 words, no more no less flash-fiction challenge over at Carrotranch.com, monkeys are flying!

Enjoy! 

Beyond the Zone!

 

 Hector cursed them; damn financial aid forms!

Jumping through hoops, that’s what this is. How the hell did they expect him to get all this filled out by Friday, with three papers, two exams and a final to suffer this week? Like monkeys flying bat-shit all over campus, it just wasn’t gonna happen!

What he needed was cash. Lots of it. And now!

The line grew longer by the second, and sensing his out, he took it! The grey gun-metal felt cold to his touch in his pack as he raised it, passing the point of no return…

Monday’s Musing on synopses and Skeletons…

This one comes courtesy by way of Kristen Lamb’s blog and her interesting article at warrior writers.org. As Ms. Lamb tells us,

 

“The synopsis strips away our pretty prose and all our verbal glitter and it lays our story bare…The synopsis is the skeleton of our story…

 

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Another blogger recently alluded to the fact that if we can’t contain our story down to a concise, intriguing, and “want to read” synopsis, chances of getting an agent to read it, is slim to none.

This seems unfair, you might cry. Feels so unjust. 

And you would have a point, to be sure. After all, our stories are our stories, expanse and hard-earned words all, and why should we have to boil it down to a nub?

But think of it from the Agent’s pov. As an Agent intern for the last 9 months I can tell you first hand; they are bombarded with stories from all over, their inboxes overflowing with literary goodness. And why should they pick yours to read over the others? I’ll tell you why. Because you’ve enticed them with the tale that can’t be tossed in your oh so short and sweet synopsis!

We all probably hate writing them, and cringe when having to cut out everything but the briefest brief. But it clarifies, optimizes, and increases your chances of getting read.

What’s your take on this? Luv to hear all about it. 

 

 

 

Friday’s Flash… Hey it’s getting dark down here…

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Lurking in the dark dusty 7th floor corridor, the grad student stared down rows of empty, after hours office doors. Sensing the incoming bomb drop, he’d tried to prepare but hadn’t been able.

Nearly 10 pm now and he knew; his pompous thesis advisor, over an hour late, wasn’t coming. Shuffling his final thesis signature pages, he sighed; no signature, no candidacy! No candidacy, no diploma! Digging into the bottom of his backpack, his fingers found the scissors, sharp and slick, nearly nicking off his pinky in the process. His advisor liked the campus bar, frequented after classes.

His cell phone glowed out  10:45 now;  just enough time, before they called last call…

 

What’s chomping at your grey matter this funky Friday??Tell me all about it. The darker, the better!

 

Monday’s Musing on the Mighty Blog…

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let’s make some noise!

Ahoy there mates, and happy Monday  again!

This muse comes courtesy of an inspirational post by Michelle over at the greenstudy.com (thanks much, Michelle). So, let’s make some noise…a blog kind of noise that is!

Much like these cool hands here, the blogger is just like the ultra hip D.J., spinning smooth tunes in some smoke-filled night club, just hoping to raise up those dead rebel-rousers out onto the dance floor. It’s all about making some noise, and knowing at the end of it you’re alive and other people are actually listening to whatever it is you’re putting out there!

Michelle’s post suggests that “At least once a year, if not more, I have to justify my reasons for blogging… Part of the reason is that I’m seeing longtime favorite bloggers close up shop or disappear in the vapors of the ethernet. It begs the question: what do they know that I should be paying attention to? ”

Good question, Michelle. And one that definitely needs the begging. Blogging is such a personal, up close and all, in your face kind of writing. Yes, there’s all kinds of bloggers. Some have more official, business marketing  agendas, and for others the experience is more akin to opening   up a vein and bleeding all over the pages, and hoping like hell noone crashes their after party. Yes, as Bloggers, we all want engagement. But when it becomes unstable, scary, or downright militant, who’d willingly sign up for that?

Michelle says she made a “half-hearted effort to set up Facebook and Twitter accounts, cussing through the entire process and attempting to change settings so that any public contact will be highly unlikely….and that maybe our word reservoirs have a limit, especially if one is an introvert.” Here here Michelle! I couldn’t agree more. I like you, like interaction with the peeps I want to interact with! Just not with the ones I don’t!

And as far a limit to our “silver tongue” well yeah. Kind of think maybe you’re right! Like you, I’m busy cranking out my first novel, and I’ve been given the sage advice by others too…Focus on the task at hand, and all the rest will follow!

So my Monday quest for you all is this…

Why do you blog? And what are you hoping to get out of it all???

Can’t wait to hear all your answers. I really, really, want to know!

 

Location, location, location…

Stans drive-in

Stans coffee shop, 1958;  Hollywood!

So kids and kidettes, Monday’s nearly here again and we’re musing on this…

 

A thoughtful  post on where we actually do the deed from fellow scrivener Sarah Brentyn at sarahbrentyn.wordpress.com.

Being guilty of clicking away in a coffee shop as we speak, I’m notorious for frequenting the joints. Much like this old black and white from Holly-weird yesteryear, hanging out in a space filled with the aroma of freshly ground grounds and all kinds of humanity prowling around near me is enticing.

Yet, does any work really ever get done?? Honestly, no! Too many sticky fingers grabbing too many sticky buns and too much caffeine never really helped my writing. Sure, the brain gets fired up and emails get answered. But actually novel chapters in a setting so noisy I can’t hear myself think?

NO! Never happens!

For that, I gotta go bury in a cubicle ten feet deep in the bottom racks of the school library, where the only people around are busy typing as fast as I am and in just as much mental misery as I am in some shape or form!

So. My question of the week is out there! I really want to know! Where are you when your characters do the dastardly deeds and you spicy pages germinate best???

Tell me all about it!

 

 

 

 

Talk it out… Monday’s musing again…

Funny how the week goes by so darn quick. But here it is Monday again, and we’re musing on dialogue. That pesky, all-consuming character talk-talk…

 

Snoopy, writing up dialogueOne of my biggest pet peeves as an agent reading slush is unrealistic dialogue. This is a huge indicator of skill for better or for worse. For me, this is a bigger red flag than any grammatical error…” 

(Literary Agent, Carly Watters, on writing good dialogue; Source: 4 Ways To Write Better Dialogue)

Ms. Watters post on the matter got me musing alright! Dialogue, in its best state, is natural. When it flows like water and you can’t turn off the stream if you try, then you know, you’ve got something! When the characters interact and your fingers can’t seem to stop typing, as if they’re on autopilot, that’s when you’ve struck gold! Like that time I sat eavesdropping in an old leather booth at a local diner, jotting down everything the two old birds next to me were saying. One was practically mute while the other carried on the practically the whole conversation by himself, ping-ponging back and forth, asking and answering his own questions, and having a grand old-time doing it. It translated into a short flash, then a longer short-short for me. Nothing like the real thing!

But what about those days when the words feel more forced than anything else and reading it back, you practically choke on the sound it’s so stilted and vague! Don’t know about you but I have those moments. Never easy to write, one of the things I’ve found helpful is to have others read your dialog out loud. And not just in a workshop setting. 

I’m talking about drama. Live, on stage actors, reading the parts. That’s where you’ll know for sure if it’s working or not. And the actors will probably be the first to let you know, in case you haven’t figured it out for yourself yet. If they feel funny saying it, chances are, it’s a pretty funny set of words to be spoken out loud!

What’s your take on the matter???

Luv to hear your thoughts on this one! 

 

 

 

 

Monday’s Musing: libraries and labor day…

Happy and peaceful Labor Day folks, 

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While you’re all out there waving the red, white and blue, and firing up those BBQ’s, don’t forget to take off your hat and give a wave to your local libraries and librarians who toil away for the sake of you, your kids, and your family’s insatiable reading prowess at large! By day and by night, these institutions and folks are the cornerstone of the American word, free speech, and our steadfast right to enjoy both!

As an MFA grad student, writer and prolific reader, I’ve probably spent over half my life in these places. Filled with gifted, educated, and wonderfully decent people attempting to spread the word, they are still the best free deal in town! Or, as David Nilsen tells us in this recent post from fourthandsycamore.com in On Neil Gaiman and Libraries,

“I’m going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I’m going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.”

What’s your take??? Salute me back with your thoughts…

 

Source: On Neil Gaiman and Libraries

Monday’s Musing on Social Media… the good, the bad, and the ugly!

                             

So, Monday’s nearly here again, and I’m musing on this:

It’s Clint Eastwood in “The good, the bad, and Ugly” and Roz Morris’s recent post on Nail your Novel.com about authors and Social Media. And I can’t help but wonder, just how Eastwood and his fans might have seen it?

 

Seems we can’t escape it, whether or not we want to. It’s here, in all its forms, from friending to tweeting to linking and tumbling. And for introverted authors like myself, it can all feel like a terrible plot conspiring against our very sanity to drive us out of our ever-loving minds!

Yet, where would we be without it?? It keeps us connected, keeps us informed, keeps us current and most of all, keeps us writing!

So, tell me, what’s your partial brand of this particular poison?? Chime in and have at it!

(Roz Morris Source: Yes, social media DO work for writers – here’s how)

Friday’s flash and more…

 

“CHOP, CHOP, CHOP” went the knife.

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Thanks to David Duron for this pic!

Down and through the apple, over and over and over. Staring blankly out through the kitchen window, Kevin wondered what would happen if the apple weren’t an apple but instead, a head. Somebody’s head, but not just anybody’s head. It would have to be more wide than circular with orange hued lips and a V-shaped mouth and eyes that slanted slightly to the left when they looked at you. And nostrils the size of extra-big peanuts, sniffing in any hint of aggression coming its way. It would have to be…

Dam it all to hell!!”

Kevin looked down at his hand, now crimson stained and the liquid was leaking to the left and the right and all over the cutting board. The apple that was green a moment ago was now anything but. Stinging like the worst splinter he’d ever recalled, his skin was now splitting like a zipper, only the split was expanding and getting wider.

Grabbing up the lose bit of skin now strewn like oatmeal, Kevin triaged his finger with wet paper towels clamped together so thick that no blood could get through, and cinched the knife with his left hand. 

Needing a  beer more than ever, he turned and pulled hard on the fridge with the free left hand.

“That mother-fucker” he mumbled under his breath, hoping Joe, his roommate couldn’t hear on the other side of the wall. “Why the hell he’d have to go and drink all my beer again. Third time this month.”

He slammed the door shut on seeing nothing in the fridge but an empty Vodka bottle and a half eaten loaf of stale bread. He grabbed up the utensil, and turned toward his roomie’s door. They’d neve really gotten along well anyway. Bigger steps now, blade still glistening, he knocked hard twice, then kicked open the door….

 

Happy near Labor day kiddies!!  

 

Oh, as a bonus for your labor day weekend, here’s a great link to an excellent article on how to build your author brand through UTube and more! Thanks to Wendy Van Kamp and Adam Mulholland at nowastedink.com or this link! 

YouTube offers content creators a way of cross-utilizing mediums to enhance and bridge engagement beyond a book. Authors wanting more presence should leverage this platform to reach a larger audien…Source: How Authors Can Promote On YouTube & Use Patreon by Adam Mulholland

Masterful madness and mayhem…

 

Happy Friday Kiddees and Kiddettes!

Here’s a little something for you to gnaw on, if you’re like me, and am pondering the bridge to the depths of despair when it comes time for axing off your characters! 

If it seems like a tough choice, just ask yourself the eternal question of the master, “To be, or not to be!” Hahahaha….if you write anything at all like yours truly, you’ll know the answer in a flash! A friday, fun flash, that is!

And now, some words from our sponsor, master of the deathly muse himself, Shakespeare…

(Thanks for sharing this on twitter, Mr. Moon! (@Mr.Moonunity) https://twitter.com/MrMoonUnity?cn=Zm9sbG93ZXI%3D&refsrc=email

 

Shakespearess methods of madness

Monday’s Muse…

Breathe in, breathe out, blink, repeat…if this doesn’t quiet your mind’s constant chatter, what would???

Thanks much for this. Jack!