Archive for September, 2012

Wishes & Chocolate

Friday, September 28th, 2012

Who among us has not had our proverbial noses pressed against the glass?

In Roald Dahl’s, ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, Charlie Bucket is accustomed to the outside window pane of the local candy shop. One day, he finds a golden ticket, providing him entrance to the great and mysterious chocolate factory, fulfilling a wish he almost dared not have, bringing him experiences beyond his wildest dreams.

Today I present you with a ‘golden’ ticket: one free chocolate at Todos Santos, the chocolate at the bottom of the stairs. We shall all go together and each person may choose a chocolate (or two if you just can’t decide, or three because it’s a nice number).

Then we will come back and write. Hopefully, your new treasure will inspire you to write a piece about:



wishes fulfilled.

Ponderings: Do we always have to be careful what we wish for? What if you or your character doesn’t get his or her wish, or doesn’t know what it is he or she really wants, or gets his wish but it doesn’t turn out as planned, or gets her wish and lives happily ever after? Or never wishes for anything. Or gets a wish fulfilled that someone else thinks he or she wants?

There is a quirky movie called, ‘The Fairy’. The movie opens with the protagonist riding his bicycle in the pouring rain. He’s going as fast as he can but the chain keeps falling off. He finally gives up and carries his bike to his destination—a motel where he works as a front desk clerk. A customer walks in. She says she is a fairy and will grant him three wishes. He doesn’t  hesitate with the first two: a scooter and free gas for life. This character’s choice of wishes reveals a lot about his ambitions in life, no? What does your character’s wish reveal about him/her?

P.S. The clerk’s third wish? Alas, the answer would spoil the story.

Note to our readers: Todos Santos doesn’t bother with the virtual universe—no website wanted or needed. It’s a parallel universe all its own ,where creativity, uniqueness, fun and deliciousness delight each of our senses. Todos is located in  Santa Fe’s ‘secret garden’, the downtown courtyard of Casa Sena, a centuries-old hacienda. Prepare to dream!

Todos Santos
125 E Palace Ave # 31
Santa Fe, NM 87501-2042
(505) 982-3855




Lizzie K. Foley: The Writer’s Questionnaire

Friday, September 14th, 2012

With this post, we inaugurate our new series, the Writer’s Questionnaire!  We culled questions from a wide variety of sources, including our own heads.  First up (full disclosure):  one of our very own, Ms. Lizzie K. Foley, who (sadly) no longer lives close enough to commune with us on Fridays, but who shall always be a member of the group in our hearts.

Lizzie  has just had her successful debut in publishing with her children’s book, Remarkable.   Remarkable tells the story of Jane (Doe, of course), who believes herself to be the sparrow among swans in the town of Remarkable where everyone is a prodigy of something.  Pirates and natural-born but gifted (of course) evil twins create havoc, which only plain, ordinary Jane can resolve.  One of the things I love about the book is how Lizzie juggles crazy plot lines and yet it all makes sense — or maybe it’s just such great, funny writing that I would go along with anything she wrote.  Read it, if you haven’t yet!


On to the questions:

Oliver Stone once said the secret to completing a script was “ass-meets-chair.” How do you get your um, b-t-m, in a chair?

I think Oliver Stone is grossly oversimplifying here.  I’m not saying it’s not important to sit down and write – because it is, obviously, and books can’t get finished without a lot of butt-meets-chair.  But that’s not all there is to it.

First of all, no matter how determined I am to write, sometimes sitting down to work isn’t in the cards.  Like a lot of writers, I have a family.  I have responsibilities and obligations that are sometimes more pressing than writing.  And on those days—when I have to run around doing errands and chores that keeps life functioning—I’ve had to learn to keep the story in my head.  Even if you aren’t sitting, you can be mulling.

And we all know that the most brilliant ideas for a story almost invariably happen when we don’t have anything to write with, like when we are in the shower, or when we are half-asleep, or when we are driving.  I think sometimes our minds need time away from the pressure of actually putting words down on a page. So, not sitting can be as important as sitting.

Then there is the fact that some days sitting at the desk trying to write is about as productive and enjoyable as hitting myself with a hammer.  And when I am having one of these days, it’s important to know when to put the hammer down, get up out of the chair and go do something else.  Otherwise, writing turns into something that I hate.  And it is hard to write well when I am hating writing.

 Is there a food you write by?

Not so much food as drink.  I love black tea – very strong black tea – with milk.  And coca-cola.  I love having coke when I write.  I probably love this too much (I drink a lot of coke).

 Do you have a favorite writing spot?

Yes.  Home.  I am a total homebody when it comes to writing.  I love to be able to write, then get up and do the laundry or the dishes while I think about a scene.  I love having my dogs for company because it keeps writing from being lonely.  And although the idea of working at a coffee shop seems really appealing to me, I’m always much too distracted by the other people to get much done.

 People say there are two kinds of writers, those who outline and those who wing it.  What’s your process?

I try to outline.  I really do.  But as soon as I start writing, the story usually veers off into a different direction and renders my outline useless.  So basically I’m always winging it.

 The best thing you can do for any writing project is…

Remember what excited you about the idea, so you can recapture the enthusiasm when you start feeling burned out about your work.

And give your characters the chance to surprise you.  Don’t get so hung up on your early vision of what they are like and what they have to accomplish in the story that you can’t allow them to be more interesting if you’re hit with inspiration

 What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I would love to be a librarian.  Seriously.   Librarians are awesome.  They know everything.  And if they don’t know something, they know how to find out about it.  And the fact that librarians are being cut from schools and municipalities is just insanely wrong.

 What is your favorite word? (Yes, this is stolen from James Lipton, who adapted it from Bernard Pivot, who started with Proust’s Questionnaire) 

Aluminum—but when it is pronounced in the British way al-U-minium. Oh, and “diegesis,’ which is a great, under-utilized word that refers to the world that a story creates for the characters.

What is your least favorite word? (Ditto, see above)

Compliment/Complement.  I am incapable of remembering which word means “goes with” and which one means “to praise”.

 My favorite thrill is….

I love watching someone get really good news.  It chokes me up every time.

 What’s your favorite shower song?

My shower songs are usually a compilation of whatever song is on the radio too much and is stuck in my head.  But I can never remember the actual lyrics, and so I mostly make up my own the lyrics.  And my lyrics are always deeply stupid and enjoyable only to me (or at least that’s what people who hear me sing tell me).

I wish I understood why…

It is not possible to summon, at will, that beautiful voice in my head that does the best writing.  You know the one – the one that write those beautiful paragraphs that never need changing.  The one, which sadly for me, only shows up about once every other year…

I need to learn how to…

Text.  Seriously.  How great would it be to be able to jot down notes for a story on my phone.  Or, I don’t know, successfully send a text message.  But I am the s.l.o.w.e.s.t texter in the world.  I could mail a message via the post office to someone faster than I can send a text.  It’s pitiful.

I’m often puzzled by…

So many things.  Seriously, you don’t even have time or space on this blog…

But the one thing I’ve been feeling deeply puzzled about lately is the relationship between reading and writing.  I love to read—absolutely love it, but I’ve noticed that I have a very difficult time reading fiction when I’m deep into writing one of my own stories.  I have a complete inability to stay focused no matter how interested I am in the book.  I would love to hear an explanation of why this happens…or better yet, I’d love a cure.


Thanks, Lizzie, for the perfect inauguration of our writer’s questionnaire!  Can’t wait for your next book…

Next up:  Jill Koenigsberg.  If you want to suggest a writer for us to torture with the questionnaire, please do so via the comments or you can email us.