Posts Tagged ‘Barbara Mayfield’

Carl Sagan and book magic

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
Oh this is so heartening to me.   Carl Sagan on the magic of books

Carl Sagan on the magic of books

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Writing Classes and Workshops in New Mexico

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

We’ve had a few inquiries from our beloved blog readers asking about finding writing groups. I must tell you that our group started out as a class, and morphed into a “group”. I recommend attending classes, workshops and conferences, and joining writing organizations in order to connect with one’s peers or ilk, depending on your POV. Before you know it, you will be in a writer’s group.

WRITING CLASSES AND WORKSHOPS

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SOUTHWEST WRITERS MEETING WITH SHIRLEY RAYE REDMOND

SATURDAY, APRIL 7, 10:00 a.m. to noon – The Top 10 Worst Mistakes a Writer Can Make with Shirley Raye Redmond

Using practical examples from the 1955 film classic To Catch a Thief, starring Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, Shirley Raye will reveal what successful writers should have in common with successful cat burglars–but too often don’t. An award-winning nonfiction writer and
former columnist for The Santa Fe New Mexican, Shirley Raye Redmond has sold 27 books and over 450 articles to a variety of publications.

SWW programs are held at the New Life Presbyterian Church, 5540 Eubank NE in Albuquerque. You can park on the dirt hill directly east of New Life Church for additional parking spots. Meetings are free for SWW members, $5 for nonmembers.

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TAOS WORKSHOP WITH ANA BACA

Mining Memories: Turning The Seed of Your HisStory Into Children’s Books (Weekend – Level: All)

Have you always wanted to write for children but don’t know how to get started? This weekend seminar will explore the process of children’s book writing: from mining your own memories, development of age appropriate topics, characters and themes, to finding a publisher and marketing your work to parents, teachers and children. Ana Baca’s most recent children’s picture book Tia’s Tamales (UNM Press, 2011) was honored with the New Mexico Book Award for “Best Children’s Picture Book” in 2011.

July 21-22, Taos Summer Writing Conference

www.unm.edu/~taosconf

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Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2012 – the big event for kids’ lit

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

For all our kids’ lit writer pals, here is Publisher’s Weekly take on the week in Italy:

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-industry-news/article/51170–looking-for-the-next-thing–at-bologna-2012.html

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Word-Lovin’ Gal

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Does everybody know about  Wordsmith.org? The word today is

“pug

PRONUNCIATION:

(puhg) 
MEANING:
verb tr.: 1. To knead clay with water.
2. To fill with clay or mortar.
3. To make soundproof by packing with clay, sawdust, or mortar.
4. To track by following footprints.
noun: 5. A footprint, especially of a wild animal; a pugmark.
6. A boxer.
7. A dog of a breed having a snub nose, short hair, wrinkled face, and curled tail.

ETYMOLOGY:

For 1-3: Origin unknown. Earliest documented use: early 1800s.
For 4-5: From Hindi pag (foot, step), from Sanskrit pad (foot). Earliest documented use: 1851.
For 6: Short for pugilist (boxer), from pugnus (fist). Earliest documented use: 1858.
For 7: Of unknown origin. Earliest documented use: 1702.
USAGE:
“For wheel-throwing, once the clay is pugged and wedged, it can be centred on the wheel.”
Edwin Wong; Going Potty Over Handmade Dinnerware; New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia); Sep 25, 2010.”There is the oddly delicate track of a leopard and the just-plain-scary pugs of a male lion.”
Mike Leggett; Tales of Life in the Wild; Austin American-Statesman (Texas); Aug 12, 2010.

“Sporting comebacks used to be associated with desperate pugs risking their final brain cells for a cheque desperately needed to pay off a bookie or a bar tab.”
Richard Hinds; Thorpe Brave to Meddle With Golden Legacy; The Age (Melbourne, Australia); Feb 5, 2011.”

Who knew?
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First Video Writing Prompt

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Video Writing Prompt: “OK Go” Rube Goldberg Machine – Amazing

A FaceBook pal turned me on to the OK Go band videos, which seethe with creativity, whimsy and wisdom. Last Friday, we watched this video as our writing prompt.

I find Rube Goldberg machines, especially one as spectacular as this one, inspiring and enchanting. I asked our writing group to write a piece with these thoughts as a jumping off point:

1. Have a seemingly small, innocent action set off a string of oddball, wacky, outrageous results.

2. Whimsy

3. What materials would your character use to create a RG machine?

Happy Ash Wednesday from Barbara Mayfield

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Barbara’s Path to Authorhood, Part 2 – Improv Storytelling

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012
Writing prompts are everywhere.

Writing prompts are everywhere.

The house where the improvisational storytellers meet is built into the side of a mountain, eight slow minutes from the Santa Fe plaza, down a washboard dirt road.

At 3 p.m. on my first Wednesday, eight normal-looking, mature women showed up. Snacky food was set out. We each took a seat around the coffee table in the cozy, rustic living room. I was introduced. Welcomed with reserve. The process was explained to me and we began.

Here are the Rules and Guidelines for Improvisational Storytelling:

  1. The Designated Prompter reveals what she has brought as prompts for the day. (Photos, oddball toys, stones, rocks, sticks, seashells, the contents of a junk drawer, empty candy wrappers…)
  2. Everyone has 30 seconds to choose an object with which to jump into the abyss.
  3. The group splits into partners. Two by two, move through the house to find a quiet place and sit opposite each other.
  4. Set the oven timer for three minutes. It’s loud enough to be heard in every room.
  5. The first teller begins a tale inspired by some aspect of the prompt she chose. There is no “figuring it out”. Allow the first few words to fall out of your mouth and watch as a story is born on the spot. OMG!!!
  6. When the timer sounds, the listener has one minute to praise what she liked about the newborn story: any detail, name, fragment that held her attention.
  7. Reset the timer and switch. The listener allows her story to happen out loud for three minutes, and her partner then offers her appreciations.
  8. Everyone returns to the circle and it’s time to tell the stories again. One by one each story is retold to the group. Something happens between the first and second telling. I can’t explain it. Just go with it.
  9. Sit there and listen. Be amazed, enthralled and enchanted.
  10. Come back in a week and do it all again.

On the day when I told my first story out of thin air, I was hooked and have stayed hooked. I don’t remember my first prompt or the story I told, but I do remember sitting in a straight-backed chair feeling like I was sky-diving.

That day I heard one lovely, gutsy, outrageous, untidy tale after another. Stories I didn’t want to end. And after each story, the praising comments were made. I liked that newborn creations were not hit with bats in this group; newborns were encouraged to grow.

At the end of the meeting, the leader shared a bit about how the group was started, and about how stories are upstream from everything, and about their motto: Tell Me a Story I Won’t Forget.

After several years of listening and telling in the sacred space of the group, stories in the voice of a little girl started happening for me. I liked these stories so much I did the unthinkable in an improv group: before driving back out of the canyon, I sat in my car and wrote the stories down.

Later, I had the dream where Mrs. Iptweet came to me in a bus and spelled her name.  And so those first-person stories in the voice of a nine-year-old became The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me and I added Author to my list of life adventures.

Ursula and I still meet regularly and do improv storytelling together.

Thank you, Ursula.

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Barbara’s Path to Authorhood – Part 1

Monday, January 16th, 2012
A few juicy writing prompts

A few juicy writing prompts

I moved to New Mexico from Philadelphia in September of 1991. At that time I was a working visual artist  (painter/muralist/set designer) and an amateur actress, with no plan to become a professional writer, author or literary anything. The only “writing” I was doing were loosey-goosey “scripts” on 3×5 index cards for my own sketch comedy shows. I am pretty darn funny when I concentrate and I was frustrated at the lack of good parts for over-25-females in plays, blah, blah, blah. I was occasionally performing these skits on the street – Miss Revlon, The Doll Before Barbie debuted at Montezuma and Guadalupe streets –  in my attempt to fit in to the Santa Fe lifestyle and make some friends in my new town.

Another, more successful, attempt at building a community of friends for myself was to join the Santa Fe Book Arts Group (B.A.G.).

The B.A.G. group was full of Wild Boomer Women. It was great for me because the meetings involved making tremendous messes. We ripped, snipped, wrote, glued, pasted, cut, shredded, glittered, strung, hung, tore apart, mail-arted, hammered, re-assembled, and rubberstamped upon, in archival and non-archival ways, papers, books, journals, you name it, to make luminous wonders of book and paper art.

This is where I met Ursula (Mueller), who is from Austria and who looked very well-behaved but was not and, still, is not. Ursula had a secret and I found it out. After knocking back a half-a-glass of wine at the 1994 holiday B.A.G. party, Ms. U revealed all.

Ursula was living the secret life of an Improvisational Storyteller. There was a clandestine, invitation-only,  improv storytelling group happening in Santa Fe. On Wednesday afternoons. From 3 till 5. As they say nowadays: OMG!

I had taken several improv comedy and acting classes by then and LOVED IT. There is something thrilling about jumping into the abyss and living to tell. Improv storytelling would be a blast, too, I just knew it.

It took a year’s worth of B.A.G. meetings for Ursula and I to get to know each other and for Ursula to decide I was okay enough (as in: a lively creative mind, yet well-behaved) to be invited to join the storyteller group.

The very next Wednesday, I went to the house where the secret storytellers met.

To be continued…..

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First Day at Writing Group

Monday, January 2nd, 2012
Writing desk

My desk, given to me by Kate Van Roeken, the first "Mrs. Iptweet" I'd ever met.

I wandered into the Writing Group about 13 years ago, when it  was a children’s book writing class held in the home of author Jennifer Owings Dewey. I’d brought five very short stories with me. My first five ever. Long-story-short: Jennifer and Deb and Catherine and Nadine and Janie welcomed me. They liked the stories a lot. I thought that meant the stories were perfect and complete and I was a genius. Wow, writing is easy.

I know now that the kindness was a ploy! After that first day, I was gently but thoroughly whipped into shape. I had sloppy habits from writing for the stage. As a comedienne, I needed only the barest written outline of my routines. Who needed specifics? My hands, voice, body, and especially my eyebrows, would fill in the gaps on stage. And I left myself lots of room for improvisation.

In class, I was made aware of my “habit” words and phrases. I was taught the golden rule of writing: SHOW-DON’T-TELL. It was explained that DETAILS ARE EVERYTHING. And five million other very important writing tools. What a workout.

 Those first five stories became The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me, my first book.

Mrs. Iptweet is a middle-grade novel, the first in a series. Azro Press published it in 2009. It has won three awards. It would not exist but for the love, encouragement, badgering and unrelenting honesty of my writing group.

I’m working on formatting the manuscript for an e-book now, as well as writing the next books in the Iptweet series. More about that another time.

MY CREATIVE PROCESS

I like to stall, procrastinate and delay my writing as long as possible. I am not sure why. Once I am in the flow, nothing feels better. Sometimes I think stalling is just part of the process and I can relax already and mark down some writing times onto my calendar and it’s okay if something comes up and I move it to the next day or week. It’s okay if I am busy over the holidays, or don’t feel like writing.

Other times I think I am tragically flawed and will never amount to anything. I work myself up into a lather. This is good because lathers drive me to look at what I’m doing and see the avoidance and fear. Oh, an entire blog could be written about the fears. For me, now, it boils down to….

  1. Maybe all my best stories are already written, and
  2. How can I top Book One?

My way of getting past this crap is to take Drastic Action. I call a writer friend and say let’s do a two-week experiment. Let’s meet everyday for two hours at a cafe and write. And we do and I get so much writing done. Stories show up on the page even on days when I feel restless, bored or uninspired. I have had to face it: I need the company. I need another person to sit with for a while – about two weeks. Then I can write at the old home desk again, on my own. I’m back in the Inspired Flow…. until I’m not again, and more Drastic Action is required. Hey, whatever it takes.

The other thing I notice is that when I show up for the Flow of Stories, every other part of my life gets better, too. The Flow of Stories somehow flips on the Flow of Life switch. It’s pretty wild.

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