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Showing posts from April, 2020

Family, Hugs, and The Artist's Way

We are made of strong stuff. We will endure. Those are strong, hopeful statements that I hang on to as I'm navigating the current situation with COVID19 and the stay-at-home practices that I need to be very mindful of. I'm in two of those high-risk categories; age and underlying health conditions, so I'm aware of how important it is to stay away from people. This has included avoiding my family, which is the hardest part of all. I love my animals, but living alone can be, well, very lonely. To keep me away from grocery stores, my kids do most of my shopping, and they come occasionally to do a chore that I can't do. Well, actually, I could, but the kids don't want me climbing up a ladder to change furnace filters.  But while they are here, we stay six-feet apart. We don't hug. We're such a demonstrative, hugging family that it feels extremely weird for any of my kids to walk back out the door, and we haven't even touched. Human touch is so imp

Things Change. Things Stay the Same.

I have to admit, the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t changed my life very much. In early March, my husband and I were visiting family in Savannah. I came home for a meeting and a mystery panel at a local library. Both my events were canceled. I’d left my husband in Savannah with the grandkids, so I was alone for three weeks. During that time, I finished a book I’d been writing on and off for a couple of years. I went through it again, edited, then sent it to my editor. We're still trying to make it the best it can be. Except for not going to the grocery store or meeting friends for lunch, life went on as usual. I had plenty of food, and because I’d recently bought paper products in bulk, I wasn’t in dire need of anything. During this time I was alone, I watched less cable news—depressing, watched the Amazon series, Hunters, with Al Pacino—somewhat depressing, read more, worked on my writing, and traded critiques with my long-time critique partner. The house was eerily quiet. My neighbor

Writing Take-aways from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

We've had a number of great articles this month on ways COVID-19 and multi-state stay-at-home orders have affected our lives. We also have an impressive list of books from the past that address the devastating consequences of worldwide pandemics. My post will explore how our current health crisis can affect our writing. I find today's world situation to be alarming, even terrifying. The massive loss of life, critical illnesses, overwhelmed medical services, and resulting instability of the world's economy are indeed unnerving, as well as heartbreaking. While we see numerous acts of courage, of love, of reaching out to help others who are often strangers, there's a dark side to that coin. We also see horrific acts of intentionally exposing people working in essential jobs to whatever germs or viruses those perpetrators may be carrying, such as by coughing and spitting on workers who risk their health and lives so we can continue to buy groceries, medicines, etc. W

Virtual Writing Conferences, Workshops, and Groups to Join Online

With writing conferences and workshops cancelled or postponed for the time being, why not join a virtual conference or an online writing community in the meantime. Here are some we've found. If we've left out any of your favorites, add them in the comments. Hurry if you want to sign up for these free Coursera courses, starting today : Coursera Advanced Writing Apr 16 2020 Coursera Script Writing: Write a Pilot Episode for a TV or Web Series (offered by Michigan State University) Apr 16  2020 Also free are Gotham Writers' Friday Night Zoom Write-Ins , with the next one tomorrow . April 17 2020 Writers' Digest Agent One-on-One: First 10 Pages Boot Camp Apr 23rd 2020 – Apr 27th 2020 Jane Friedman's WD Webinar on How to Blog Meaningfully and Grow Your Audience May 1st 2020 WDU Annual Science Fiction & Fantasy Virtual Conference May 15th 2020 – May 18th 2020 Writers' Studio Online Courses Workshops in Fiction Level 1 classes start on either

Ten Dystopian Novels Inspired by Pandemics

"It was the best of times; it was the worst of times." Charles Dicken's words have never been more relevant as we endure a worldwide pandemic with widespread quarantines and stay at home orders. I have read a many dystopian novels and it certainly feels like we are living in one. In most dystopian novels, humans survive. Whether we continue to thrive or wither is on us. It can bring out the best in people, and the worst. Here is a list of ten books inspired by outbreaks. 1 .  Andromeda Strain   (1970) by Michael Crichton is by far the scariest tale I remember from my childhood. Images of people dissolving into dust stuck with me. A military space probe brings microbes back to earth, setting off an outbreak. Scientists race to understand and contain the threat. They keep it secret with total news blackouts. Of course back then we didn't have 24/7 news feeds or social media. I never looked at our space missions the same way again. 2 .  A Journal of the Plagu

Zooming Around During the Pandemic

"Plague time" fell down on me like a domino run: first, cancelled exercise classes, then on-site work was restricted, then shelter-in-place throughout first the county and then the state so everyone would STAY PUT. From there, it was a frantic race as organizations, businesses, friends, and family set up virtual meetings for nearly every aspect of life.  I now attend Zumba on Zoom, participate in work meetings with WebEx and Microsoft Teams, take part in a weekly Feldenkrais body awareness class that uses Jitsi, and attend virtual critique meetings on Google Hangouts Meet. For family and friends, we use whatever folks are most comfortable with, usually FaceTime, Zoom, or Meet. My mind is a whirl as I try to keep it all straight. It's like going zero to sixty in—wait, I have to look up how quick the the fastest cars can accelerate —two-plus seconds. It's ludicrous. (And who knew Tesla made a model called the Model S P100D Ludicrous+ model ??) Anyhow, it has b

Best Ever Websites for Writers - Some of my Favorite Places on the Web

Often publications that do best-of series use a format of short bullet points: The best movies, the best books, the best food, etc, All with short lists of what the editors considered listing at the top for the last year or for the last decade. Here at the Blood-Red Pencil, we've been going a little more in-depth with what we consider the best for the past decade in terms of benefiting the writer, and perhaps the best to use going forward with our writing. For instance, we're looking at the best writers websites, the best writers resources, the best instructional books, and... Well, you get my drift. Here are some of what I consider the best instructional and inspirational websites for writers. I'd be remiss in not mentioning that the Blood-Red Pencil has a wealth of information and advice , but there are a few other blogs and websites I visit frequently. The first, and perhaps my favorite, is Writer Unboxed . I've been a fan of that website for a number of

#Inspiration #FridayReads

What marvelous fiction are you reading to help you get through the world pandemic?

Anyone Freaking Out Yet?

For me, the only thing that gives me pause is going to the grocery store. I feel like the guy in this photo as I’m approaching the doors to go in. Pixabay This month on the Blood-Red Pencil, we’re going to journal a few of our thoughts and activities, (pondering the sudden way life changed on us as well as what make us feel awful and what lifts our spirits), sharing anecdotes, posting photos of how we occupy our minds and keep our bodies fit, and asking you to share your feelings and activities if you wish. My last trip to the supermarket left me with two resolves: 1) Don’t go back unless I’m wearing a mask, and 2) Just get stuff delivered whenever possible. I shopped at 7 AM to take advantage of the senior shopping hours, but I found not everyone is happy with that. As I was loading my groceries in the trunk, a younger and apparently seriously uninformed lady was getting back in her car, screaming, “I’ll find another store to shop at. I’m sure there are plenty of stores who