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I Went to a Writing Group - October 9th, 2019

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Sometimes it seems like life is one giant obstacle.


The prompt was about facing obstacles.

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When telling any story, the main character's desire is crucial. This desire forms the backbone of the plot, as the obstacles that prevent your character from achieving what they want and how your character responds to these obstacles drives the story.

Write a story or scene in which your protagonist faces an obstacle. What is this obstacle? How does it stand in the way of your character and what they desire? How does your character respond to this obstacle?

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Notice the name that I use in this story. I was thinking of Robert the Bruce, who was a Scottish king at one time, and Lenny Bruce, who was a legendary American comedian. Also, just before we started writing someone mentioned a town called Eden. And I'm reading "A Child's Garden of Verses" by Robert Louis Stevenson right now. I think all of that combined a bit in this story.

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Leon…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 10

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I only had two students for the writing group, but it went well.


The idea that we covered was personification. That's when you take something that isn't a person and make it seem like a person. In kids' cartoons this might be a singing and dancing carrot. In poetry this might be a cloud that is described as happy or sad. It is used a lot, and it's great.

The prompt for the day was "big tree." We talked about the biggest trees that we've seen. Neither of the girls have seen the redwoods or the sequoias, which are amazing, but they have encountered other rather large oaks and pines.

The youngest wrote about a dragon that was in the top of a tree. A person climbed up to help the dragon, named it Tiny, and fed it a cow.

The oldest wrote about a palm tree that was all alone, but who eventually was able to find his own kind. The tree was personified.

Here's what I did.

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Seventy-five dollars. Bucky von Buckminster would make seventy-five dollars…

88.9 Hey Radio, Cloudland, and Me

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I love the name Cloudland. Let me paint you a quick picture about a time I went mountain climbing.


I was 19 and I was halfway through a crazy adventure. I had ridden a bus from Michigan to Washington State for four days. I rode my mountain bike across the desert and over the Cascade Mountains, from Yakima to Mount Rainier, in three days. Now, I was on the second day of my two-day climb of Mt. Rainier. It's a fast climb, and today we are supposed to reach the summit.

There's a glacier that we need to get up before the sun gets too high. Apparently, the idea is that we are going to climb through this section while it's still really cold in the morning. Then, as the sun rises the ice and snow is going to heat up and there will probably be a small avalanche. Then, we're going to come back down this section again later. For the plan to work, you need to not be there when the avalanche happens.

But, one of the guys that I'm roped to is having problems, major problems. He…

Haunted Tunnels Under an Insane Asylum

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In Traverse City, Michigan there is an old insane asylum called the Grand Traverse Commons. Under the Commons there are old tunnels that some people say are haunted. A friend of mine saw the pictures of me in these tunnels and asked if I could write something about them, because he runs a publishing firm in Russia called Horroscope Press, and he's launching a magazine in the near future. I've been trying to think of what exactly to write, and now I've decided.


I've been thinking about writing a poem about this for a few weeks. I think it's a cool idea. But, it's going to be translated into Russian, and sometimes poetry doesn't work great for that. Although, my favorite poet is Ovid, and he wrote in Latin.

Today I sat down with some earplugs in to shut out the world and wrote six stanzas. I like them. I'm going to use that, embedded in a little prose opener, followed by a little explanation. I think it will make a good piece for a magazine. Let's see…

The Most Immersive Dream I've Ever Had

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I don't usually write down my dreams. And, I don't often remember them. As I'm waking up they fade away. It's amazing how they can be so vivid one moment, and then a few moments later I'm left wondering what I was thinking about, and I don't know. But sometimes, sometimes I remember them a little longer, and sometimes I feel compelled to write down a few notes on them. A week or two ago I had the most vivid dream I've ever had. Even now the memory of it seems like an actual trip that I went on. I took a few notes.


Here is what I wrote down.

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earl, two kingdoms separated by river and culture, new flying machine, under water almost died, almost enslaved, almost forgotten or not recognized, son took place, made it back, everything made of wood, read part of a book

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Basically, I was an earl in one kingdom. It was a city (it kind of seems like I should use is) on one side of a river. There was another city almost just like it on the oth…

My Interview for "Darker" Magazine

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"Darker" is a leading horror magazine in Russia. The "Horror Without Borders" anthology that I've been working on with Oleg is out. In English it's available as an ebook. Since the anthology is out "Darker" asked for an interview.


It's an odd interview that works well. Since I don't know Russian it makes sense to do it this way. They sent Oleg a series of questions that he passed on to me. I read them, let them percolate in the back of my mind for a few weeks, and then wrote these answers and sent the document back to Oleg. He might even be the one translating it.

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Interview for DARKER Magazine – with Jeffrey Alexander Martin of JeffThinks.com

1 - During the work on stories from around the globe, have you had a chance to push the borders of horror, for yourself? Have you come across such exotic views on the genre that struck you? If so, could you give an example?

Stories are how we make sense of the world. Horror stories deal …

I Went to a Writing Group Today - September 25th, 2019

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The librarian that normally runs the group was away today. She had a meeting of librarians to attend. A secret meeting. I know the meeting was secret because the room they used was directly next to the room that we write in, and they kept the door shut. Naturally, the conversation turned to what devious things they could be doing behind closed doors. Cooking the books was suggested. That wasn't the official prompt though. The official prompt was - getting away with it.


Cooking the books is an idiom that means forging and faking financial documents and records. But the image that the phrase brings to mind is a literal one for me. Here's how my story went.

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Little Timmy was trying to pay attention to the teacher, but he couldn't. All he could think about was the workbook. Three-hundred and seven pages. Three-hundred and seven pages of questions, of fill-in-the-blanks, of short answer, short essay, long essay, multiple-choice, true or false, matching, and other f…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 9

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I had two new students, so the total was five for this session. The first thing we covered was the metaphorical concept of morality and colors. White characters are the good heroes. Black characters are the bad villains. And grey characters, well, those get interesting. What if someone does a bad thing for a good reason? Or a good thing for a bad reason? It was an interesting introductory discussion. The famous fantasy writer George R. R. Martin is known for flipping these symbolic colors in a literal interpretation, i.e. he has the good guys wear black and the bad guys wear white, and everyone's really a grey character. After discussing that concept, I gave the prompt for the day - genie.


One of the new students was a bit reluctant and inquired into whether the subject was quite limited. He wanted to know the specific parameters. He was relieved to learn that there aren't any. Just try to make an interesting narrative. That's it. If you can use the prompt, then that's…

Hitler is a Tool

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Most people think Hitler was evil. And, I agree. But, I find that a lot of the people that say Hitler was evil support the same ideas that Hitler supported. So, I'm proposing this heuristic: If Hitler was for it, maybe it's evil and we should be against it. Let's explore some of what Hitler was for and against.


Hitler was for judging people based on race rather than as individuals. This is directly opposed to the notion that Martin Luther King Jr. made famous that people "will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Racism changes terms based on the time and place, but this underlying essence is always the same: the race matters, the group matters, not the individual. In the US the more recent racist terms are "affirmative action" and "diversity and inclusion."

Hitler was for centralized government and authoritarian rule as opposed to a distribution of power with checks and balances. That's the def…

Why Dave Chappelle is a Hero

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Dave Chappelle came out with a new Netflix comedy special called "Sticks and Stones". Ironically, it hurt some people's feelings. I think the humor is decent, but that's not the most important thing about this. More than the humor, it's the heroic nature of Chappelle's endeavor.


Comedians aren't normally associated with heroism. But, let's look at what heroism is. If I search it online I find this definition: a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

I think that's pretty good, but I think I can get to a deeper and better definition. A hero is a person that makes sacrifices to fight evil. In other words, a hero has to be both strong and good. That is the essence.

What is the evil that Dave Chappelle is fighting? It's the politically correct culture that enjoys the tyranny of the mob and seeks to destroy individuals. He mentions that it has become "celebrity hunting season" and tha…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - September 10th, 2019

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A picture and an assignment concerning gnomes. That was our prompt for the day.


The picture had two similar looking gnomes. One had a green hat. The other had a blue hat and sunglasses, and was giving the peace sign. The prompt read:

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Good writers bring their story characters to life. Choose one of these gnomes and give a detailed character description. Include physical characteristics as well as character traits, and likes and dislikes. Use your senses and vivid adjectives to bring the character to life.

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One of the most important things in writing, as in any art, is to know you can break the rules. They're more like guidelines. In the picture of the gnomes there is another gnome slightly visible in the background of the picture. I took this to be the mother of the two gnomes. You'll see how that works out in my short glimpse of a story.

I recently read "Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave", and it's a great b…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 8

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I had four cards, each with a single word: King, Queen, Prince, Princess. Each of the kids drew their card, and then I was left with... Princess. I didn't particularly want to write a princess story at that moment, so I made her a bit unique. But, before we did the writing we covered an important writing subject.


When writing there are two basic sets of tools that you can choose from. You can use narrative devices like flashbacks, foreshadowing, and framing. These are tools that help you to structure your story. You can also use rhetorical devices like rhyming, alliteration, and assonance. These are tools that help you to structure your sentences and paragraphs. The best writers are good at using both narrative devices and rhetorical devices.

Bella drew the Queen card. She wrote a story about a princess that was shortly going to become queen because the queen was passing her position and power on to her daughter. But, the princess's aunt wanted power and was seeking to make bo…

I Went to a Writing Group Today - August 28th, 2019

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The prompt today was to create a poem based on the idea "Where I'm From".


I did two poems. The first one is light, the second one is a bit darker.

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Stranger in a known land
far from home
estranged from my clan
apart from my tribal band.

Surrounded by the unknown
cement, glass, steel, and stone
longing for home.

Sun through the tree leaves
the smell of bark.

Home in a forest.

Easy to find if you're looking
but difficult to see.

Follow your nose
that's where we'll be
cooking nothing nutritious.

Come visit the fudge game
Kenny the Elf's my name
the art of delicious
that's where I'm from.

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I didn't use punctuation at the end of the lines because I was reading these out loud at the meeting so it didn't matter at the time, and I just left them.

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Return
to the land of the lost

Forgotten
in darkness

Abandoned
by their host

Hope
evaporated into mist

Dreams
disintegrated into dust

Wishes
reduced to nothing

Red …

Leading a Writing Group - Session 7

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A crazy conversation. That was our prompt for the day. I went over the idea of dialogue attribution, or dialogue tags. That's where you make sure the reader knows who is saying what.


Lexi took us on a tour of a garden full of personified flowers. The different types of flowers had different personality characteristics. It reminded me a little of Lewis Carroll.

Xavier became trapped in the confines of his own mind and stalled out. We had a talk about it afterward.

Bella wrote about a student trying to convince his master, Master Fufu, to go to war. But the master didn't want to.

And, here's what I did.

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"Just jump, dude! Come on!"

"No."

The cliff wasn't that high, but the space at the bottom was narrow. Maybe too narrow. Jack was understandably hesitant. "I think you should go first, and then I'll go," he said to Jill.

Jill gave him a look. A look that said she didn't believe him, that she wouldn't take no for an an…

Poetry Bubbles Up From Within

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Some people claim that they can generate poetry when they want. It doesn't work that way for me. Poems just spring into my mind from I know not where. And, if I don't write them down then they float away just as fast, like waking from a dream that has been carried to you on the wind, and just as quickly goes forth into new lands.


A little poem struck me while I happened to be near one of my notebooks last week.

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Time is a mold,
into which we pour,
our heart and soul.

To fill up space,
with our lethal loves,
or suffer disgrace.

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I had recently seen "Antony and Cleopatra" by Shakespeare in the Rose Theatre at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Maybe that's why another one hit me.

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'Tis possible to lead,
even in a life of strife.

To plant the seed,
even when we bleed,
nay because.

To take a zero,
and not by multiply,
or regenerate,
but to create,
life;
which grows,
therein are born,
heroes.

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I had a meeting to get to ab…

A Moment on the Lips with Lord Byron

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It was recently pointed out to me by a friend that there is a chocolate bar that has a poem inside of the wrapper. The poem that I took notice of was "To M" by Lord Byron. I decided to extend it just a bit.


First, this is from Lord Byron.

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Oh! did those eyes, instead of fire,
With bright, but mild affection shine:
Though they might kindle less desire,
Love, more than mortal, would be thine.

For thou art form'd so heavenly fair,
Howe'er those orbs may wildly beam,
We must admire, but still despair;
That fatal glance forbids esteem.

When Nature stamp'd thy beauteous birth,
So much perfection in thee shone,
She fear'd that, too divine for earth,
The skies might claim thee for their own.

Therefore, to guard her dearest work,
Lest angels might dispute the prize,
She bade a secret lightning lurk,
Within those once celestial eyes.

These might the boldest Sylph appall,
When gleaming with meridian blaze;
Thy beauty must enrapture all;
But who can dare thi…

What does your perfect day look like 5 years from now?

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Matt Baxter of The WedgeCast podcast asked me a few weeks ago at a meeting what my perfect day would look like 5 years from now. I didn't have an answer, and he told me to get him one.


Here's the response that I came up with, although my certainty about it varies from day to day.

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And, I've been thinking about that day. Here's my attempt: one group meeting in person centered around some type of individual/social improvement, a couple of 1 on 1 meetings centered around individual development, some writing in philosophy and/or fiction, some reading in fiction and non-fiction, time outside such as a walk, motorcycle ride, or horseback ride, an episode of television, and time with my romantic partner. A warm shower and some decent food would be nice too.

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When I sent him that response he asked me why I couldn't do that now. I had been thinking the same thing. On certain days I do basically hit all of those points. And yet, I'm still not fu…

Fighting Local Government Corruption - Part 14 of ?

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What do you do if the government protects corrupt officials? I don't rightly know. I'll demonstrate some of the corruption, point out some of the broken laws, and some more lying. But, near the end I will include a fun poem.


First of all, let's look at what you can do when you have the corrupt government on your side. This is a post that Hidden Creek Farm put up yesterday. Brought to you by Tony Barnes and friends.

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Okay everyone,

Lee and I would like you to meet our neighbor Kenneth Wentworth 1148 W River Rd. 49445.

We have been quietly and kindly dealing with his stalking and harassment for months now. He disrespects our privacy on a regular basis. He didn't even have the dignity to let up with the picture taking while our best friend and companion Sophie was leaving this world, even though he was nicely asked.

While we are just going about our daily chores we will look up to find him parked and taking pictures of us and our farm. This commonly happens w…

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