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Showing posts from November, 2019

I Went to a Writing Group Today - November 27th, 2019

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A writing group the day before Thanksgiving? Yes, of course. And the prompt isn't what you would expect.


I thought I might try something a little different today. I usually write interesting little stories. They often turn into something in between fairy tales and fantasy, which I like. But it's good to expand and try things, to push the edges and see where they actually are. This type of writing group is a perfect place to do that.

Each person has a different voice in their writing. Each person has certain tendencies, in tense, point-of-view, subject, sentence structure, everything. It's hard to break out of that. And to get better sometimes we need to.

There's one woman in the group that writes in this voice that's first person with some autobiography, but it sounds different. It's like a narrator doing a monologue. I've thought about giving that a try, so today I did.

The prompt was "cemetery."

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We spend our lives ignoring our own …

A Late Night Attempt at a Chiropractic Poem

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The daughter of my chiropractors at Beacom Family Chiropractic is holding a poetry contest. I've been intending to do it, I just haven't gotten around to it. Now, I'm doing it.


Over the last 30 minutes here's what I've come up with.

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Ancient communication highways,
ever-changing lanes of transportation,
rivers and their byways.

Delivering messages for friends and family,
messages of things gone wrong,
and others received happily.

Levels higher, now lower,
the banks and edges changing shape,
messages sent faster, now slower.

The fates of businesses and battles depend on,
the words floating along a flowing path,
destiny determined by communication.

Many things can go wrong,
the bank falls in, the water lowers, the river changes its path,
fixed neither by hope nor song.

The way must be cleared,
alignment is the key,
open the way that can be steered.

Now make a change, think fast not slow,
the river is within you,
the path of communication head to toe.

Ner…

Finding Your Voice as a Writer

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In writing, your voice is the unique way that you sound. It changes, and it can often be hard to grasp. I've heard the famous fantasy writer Brandon Mull talk about voice in one of his classes. He said that you need certain technical skills, but in the end you get paid for your voice. Here's one way to find that voice hidden within.


I picked a small selection to work with. It's a weird piece in the second person. And, it's not great. I'm going to make it better. Here's the original.

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Version 0

You have traveled far, entering a territory of mountains and hills, forests, and ancient paths. As you near your destination, an oppressive veil descends as the sky becomes dim. The stagecoach you hired approaches an old stone building with a belfry and enormous arched wooden front doors, whose scrollwork tells tales of horror and redemption. The coach rolls to a stop and you exit to stand before the Church of the Crossroads. The church is an age-old monument…

Masha and a Hornless Unicorn Named Aralock

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I have an eleven-year-old Russian student named Masha.


In school, writing assignments are often kind of boring. I do them a little differently. This is an exercise that we do in class. I write a paragraph, they read it and we go over pronunciation and vocabulary. Then, they write a paragraph, I go through it making corrections while we discuss the changes. It's fun and helps with learning every part of reading, writing, vocabulary, pronunciation, syntax, grammar, spelling, conversation, punctuation, and more. It works better if the students are already fairly advanced, which Masha is.

We've already done some reading and that went well. We read my horror story that's in the anthology "Horror Without Borders", and is also in "A Flash of Horror - Part 4 of 4": http://www.jeffreyalexandermartin.com/2018/11/a-flash-of-horror-part-4-of-4.html

She liked that enough that she wanted me to write another part to it, which is quite the compliment. And, I had a feel…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 13

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We had a student-led day.


I wanted to see what ideas had stuck out in the kids' minds. They threw out a few good ones that we discussed: foreshadowing, frame stories, black/white/grey characters, and dialogue. I helped them to remember in media res, personification, tense, and point-of-view. Then they asked about the details of some of the points of view and we went over first person, second person, third person objective, third person omniscient, and third person close.

That felt like enough review for one day. I asked what they might want to be the prompt and we ended up with three suggestions: Christmas, adventure, and apocalypse. So, the prompt ended up being a Christmas adventure apocalypse.

Our youngest member wrote a story about the daughter of an evil mastermind who wanted to work with him in the lab. Initially he rejected her, but then they reconciled. So the happy ending of the father/daughter reconciliation was just the start of destroying a world, which is a neat idea.

I Went to a Writing Group - November 13th, 2019

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There were four things to think about in this prompt.


Analiese led the group in selecting a noun, a verb, and an adverb or adjective. I threw out "Turtle!" as the first thing, and it was accepted. Next, "shook" was chosen. Then, "quietly." Finally, we were challenged by Analiese to do a gender swap if we could. Since I am a man, that means writing a story from the perspective of a woman, or about a woman as the main character.

My first attempt was pretty straight forward. I thought I might be able to get everything into the first sentence and went with: The mother turtle shook quietly

And then I stopped that nonsense.

I crossed it out and began again.

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Susan the tortoise gazed at the trees in the distance. Sooo far, they were so far away. A gentle gust of wind blew across the field and the grass shimmered, rising and falling in great organic waves. The leaves on the distant trees shook, and a few quietly fell from their heights to join the fo…

The Most Disturbing Thing I've Ever Experienced

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Scarier than jumping out of a plane, being poisoned, vomiting blood, being told you're going to die, being shot at, wrestling alligators, or a car crash, is memory loss.


Yesterday a friend of mine, Scott, sent me a Facebook message.

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U watch "myths and monsters" on netflix yet? ... it's about mythology and books and why/how they write their books .. I thinks its interesting figured youd def like it

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I was playing a great role-playing game called "Call to Adventure" with a couple of friends, so I simply responded.

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I haven't yet, but I'll check it out.

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Today I did check it out. I watched the first episode. I cannot tell if I've watched it before, and that's disturbing.

Even though I had my African ordeal in late 2015, I didn't realize I was having memory issues until a few months later. I slowly noticed that my short term memory was not good, and not getting better. That made sense, whe…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 12

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I had a fun idea for the kid's writing group - nail bending.


Pole barn nails are fun to bend. Just wrap some leather around both ends so you don't draw any blood, grip hard, and bend.

I knew that the kids wouldn't be able to bend the nails. But, I thought with my help that we could probably make a dent or more. I've done it before with women that couldn't quite get the nail to bend, I just grab ahold of their hands or wrists and help.

Unfortunately, the difference was just too much in this case. So, it was a little bit of a letdown, a little bit of a frustration. In a couple of weeks I'll probably get them some easier metal to bend so they can get the feel for it. They still had fun trying, and it's a great way to use up their energy.

We went over the concept of foreshadowing. That's where you mention something lightly early in the story because it's going to be important later.

The prompt was, of course, strength. Some version of great strength, or…

Explorations in Business - Part 8 of ?

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My own psychological resistance to trying to make money is quite astounding.


I remade my website so it doesn't completely suck. But right now the only thing that you can do is sign up for a consultation.

Here's a post I recently made in the FounderCo Facebook group.

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I've been a little surprised at the immense amount of internal resistance I've had to reaching out to people. I think part of it is that this centers around a personal issue that is close to me. I've been doing a deep dive on my own psychology and seem to be making some progress in the recesses of my soul.

A friend of mine suggested that I reach out to a gym owner she knows about doing classes. So I just sent this email.

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And here's the email. (I cut out the last name.)

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My friend Joanie said I should reach out to you. She said she and her husband Rich like your gym.

I am working on launching a meditation coaching business focusing on helping people manage the…

Why City People Are Less Friendly

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I think most people probably realize that cities are less friendly places. For instance, there have been experiments done where a person falls down in the street and they count how many people pass them before someone helps them, or how long it takes for someone to help them. The numbers are always higher in cities. That's just a small example, but you get the idea. The real question is, why?


I think there are a few reasons that all converge. And, it's a bigger issue than some people realize, because it's a massive cultural divide.

In a city there are masses of people. It only makes sense to think of people in groups rather than as individuals, there are too many individuals to think about. So humans lose their individuality and become perceived of as part of a mass or group, unless you happen to know them closely like family, friends, or co-workers. In the country there are fewer people, you can think of them as individuals because you have the mental capacity to handle t…

Giving Feedback on Someone's Writing

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A friend of mine reached out to me recently because he's working on writing a book. I'm guessing we'll get together and discuss it more in the future, but I highly encouraged him to do the work of writing, because you can spend your entire life studying something and never get around to the doing. I know that from personal experience. (And, I did send him a big list of videos and books to check out, probably too many.)


This is a writing exercise he did with my comments included.

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I will offset my comments like this.

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So since I think I should just start writing, I used a writing prompt to create a very short passage . This is the first time I’ve just written off the top of my head . Lemme know if it’s decent, like if there’s room to grow, anything . Thanks.

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The important part about writing is that your style is going to naturally change over time, so you want to get past the early and fast changes as quickly as possible. There is alw…

Dasha Does Poetry

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Dasha is a student of mine. She's originally from Russia, but lives in Texas now, and is somewhere around my own age. She's an advanced student. We're working on finding very specific pronunciation issues and developing more advanced writing skills.


We've played with writing a few different things. We did some writing where we pretended we were exchanging business emails. That was useful, but probably a little too easy for her. Fiction is a little more difficult to write, so we mostly write prose. But, we did do poetry one time. It was kind of amazing. It's probably not quite as useful for learning English because the rules in poetry are quite different than normal language, and just too flexible.

I did the first stanza, she did the second, and we kept alternating from there. After she writes her paragraph or stanza then I go through doing some editing while we discuss different options on spelling, punctuation, grammar, syntax, word selection, tense, point-of-view…

I Went to a Writing Group - October 23rd, 2019

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The writing prompt looked simple and easy enough, but it was deceptively complex.


We were just given three nouns: rage, lobster, sandwich. From there it was up to you. I was a little surprised at how similar most of the stories were. It was a good reminder for me that I have a neotenous, or childlike, perspective in life. I tend to be more imaginative, playful, and engaged with the magical and mysterious.

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Lonny the lobster was a friendly chap. He had had a long and eventful life. Now, he no longer felt the urge to get in fights, to participate in the series of constant battles necessary to work one's way up the social hierarchy. No, all of that was behind him now.

Lonny had chosen his own little lobster-sized cave out of everyone else's way. Every day he would walk to the reef where a friend of his had opened a sandwich shop. Lonny was on his way there now. Leaving a trail of uneven footsteps behind him, the result of injuries that had never healed, and would nev…

Leading a Writing Group - Session 11

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In this session we went over the idea of flashbacks, where we go to an earlier time in the story. Then I introduced the prompt, a very difficult prompt to do off the cuff with a short story, time travel (and the crowd goes "Ooooohh").


The eight-year-old wrote about a time machine that went wrong. There were bunnies involved. She intended it to be a horror story, but it didn't come out that way. In the story she broke the fourth wall, meaning she talked to the reader as a reader, which was pretty awesome.

The eleven-year-old had someone walk to the other side of a river, and crossing that threshold threw them back in time. He included some nice details like the main character getting out of bed with messy hair.

The thirteen-year-old had an interaction between three young siblings: Jack, Katie, and Josh. The youngest one, the seven-year-old, pushed the wrong button in the time machine. There was some confusion between grey and red. Maybe some color blindness was involved.

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