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EPIC board member Kim Votry is writing coach for the Shoreline School District and was recently interviewed on her program to bring together writers from EWHS and a local elementary school. You can read the full story , and check out this list of EWHS student works:

Christina Amsden is writing a play about a sign language interpreter who is interpreting for a deaf man whose mother is dying. She began it while in Mr. Quinn’s creative writing class.

Sylvia Chace's fictional novel,  “The Writing Club,” is about a group of young writers gone awry, told in journal entries from several people and is based on the NaNoWriMo club.

Alexa Stevens participated in her first NaNoWriMo, and is writing a novel about a city of five kinds of vampires, with political rivalry between police, council, and king/prince, in Alaska so that humans don’t interfere. Council members begin dying, so police want to find out what happens and the answer leads to war between the “savages” (old insane vampires) and the civilized vampires.

Emma Tibbits' novel is about an earthquake hitting Seattle, which affects young Victoria. Her father works on Magnitude Project which is supposed to predict earthquakes, but it didn’t predict this earthquake.

Dorian Grimes wrote “Murderous Creatures,” which is available on Amazon and is about a teenage evil boy genius Tevis Jones who works with an evil dolphin to take over the world (dark comedy/satire). Current novel is historical fantasy, which is also a satirical dark comedy about the French Revolution.

Pavi Chance wrote a novel, “The Secret Book,” about a world where you are not aloud to read aloud. Two narrators-in-training, the only people allowed to read, get trapped in a novel and have to get out.

Jackie Kobal wrote a web-based comic with multiple endings about two aliens (an engaged couple) who crash-land into earth, and programmers have to help them get back to their planet. One ending scenario involves the alien king taking over earth; intended as a humorous game.

Anna McLane is working on an ethical choice novel since last August, about a group of people trapped in a bookstore with a shooter who is doing a revenge killing for something in his past, told from the perspective of a girl when a shooter can’t finish it - so the girl has to choose. The book reflects everyone’s perspective to make them all appear innocent. Anna’s problem is deciding what the girl will do (whether to shoot the killer or the criminal who the shooter was going for), needs a solution that isn’t an easy out, but that says something about the girl. Can’t just leave it hanging because it would be too mean if it were left up to the readers.

Liam McDonald is writing a novel as well as a poetry booklet because April is national poetry month, and poetry helps him express his emotions. The booklet is titled “Attention in Time” after a slam poem he wrote for an assignment in English, and it describes struggles and coming to terms with them. The novel is called “Bridge over Troubled Water” for a Simon and Garfunkel song. "Lots of authors write about rags-to-riches, but we ignore the people in the streets - what if someone lost everything and wasn’t given any respect?" Liam’s story tells of Killian Riley, who used to be a CEO of a ‘technology giant’ company in Seattle until it crashed. He is disowned and can’t find another job. He is finally befriended by a department store employee in Seattle. It turns out that not everyone is the cold heartless people we see every day, and that there are people like my friends here who actually care. Writing has been a help, and when he needs it, he sits down at a keyboard and writes poetry, writing through his heart and not his hands.

Belinda Schmitz wrote SciFi-fantasy about dimension jumping half-demons on the run from the government in a graphic novel. She is doing the art herself as well, and Liam says she’s a fabulous artist.

Scarlett Strauss began a novel in 2011, which she finished for NaNoWriMo of November 2013. It's a piratical adventure about a group of high school students who want to escape their ordinary lives, so they turn their imaginings into reality on their own pirate ship.

To see a video of the students, check out


 
 
Goodbye to all that! Sometimes she wasn't worth it anyway. But other times she was terrific....especially in the lovemaking arena. And sometimes it was a real arena!

She didn't like half the things I liked and I didn't like half the things she liked, so we were like half a couple. We each needed our alone time to really try to resolve our differences.

Why did two Leos get together anyway? My passions were so different from hers and her passions were so different from mine....except in our mutually agreed arena adventures. Wow, I could write a book or two about that and it would surpass the "Shades of Grey." Why, I'd even call it purple or dark red!

Oh, well, it's sad to say goodbye to all that and yet the good memories will be with me forever.

So, what do we do now or, I've got to remember, what do I do now? Yes, I'm a bachelor again and maybe that's the way it should be.

Uh-oh, was that beautiful gal glancing at me? Well, the first thing I have to ask her must be, "Are you a Leo?", and see what her response will be.

"Oh, you are a Leo? Well, I thought you were someone else. I apologize for interrupting your sun bathing."

As I walked away, I thought to myself I should have known better than to be inquiring about relationships on a nude beach in the last hour right before sunset. So I'll say, goodbye to all that!

 
 
GOOD BYE TO ALL THAT TRASH, said my editor. “ I want original nonfiction from you” 

I replied, “But, how can I write nonfiction that never happened nor (is) ikely to happen?” 

He said, “Think about you living in a parallel universe so what happens there is new to you and all your readers . Because it happened there it's non fiction.” 

I asked, “How can I write about something  I know absolutely  nothing about?"

“Why be different? Use your imagination,” he replied. "That’s what writers are supposed to do.” 

“But,” Mr.  Editor, “ I thought that line of reasoning applied only to novels.“

He replied, “Think differently. The wilder your imagination, the better your nonfiction. You’ll soon find out if you read enough nonfiction. Take an acorn of truth and make it a mighty oak of a story. Readers don’ t want boring facts; they want vivid stories of suspense and surprise. Come on, Jim, rewrite this and don’t submit until you come up with stories that sizzle.“

“Okay, I’ll do my best. I’m tired of boring people. That’s the bane of history writers. A date here, a date there, people portrayed as cold fish, no spark, no fire. I've been writing about GW the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I'll start telling lies about him."

Mr Ed asked, “How?” 

“You know he slept in 281 beds. I’ll just invent a companion lady of the evening for him each night. That’ll keep the pages turning. And besides maybe he did live in a parallel universe so who can accuse me of fabricating the truth?  It's done every day by our leaders in a town named after GW. They get away with it.  So can I."

_______________________________________

James Hodges, Ph.D.
Author of "Beyond the Cherry Tree: the Leadership Wisdom of George Washington"

Leadership by George!

Jim@leadershipbygeorge.com

Member: National Speakers Association, American Society for Training and Development

 
 
Writer Kay Vreeland provided a link to for Digital Diva and tips on stock photos:

I'm back! Let's dive right in....With the emphasis on images for effective social content marketing, many of us are challenged by the lack of visual assets in our archives. Sure, we have the cool Instagram pics from our family vacation, but if we aren't photographers or photo-oriented businesses, how do we find images we can use on our websites, blogs, and social networks that don't look cheesy and canned?

Here are 5 royalty-free image options ranging from free to pretty affordable that offer some really usable images. Note that most also include video.

1. - I had never thought of this before, but images from U.S. government agencies are technically "owned by the people." I found this out by calling several agencies to find out their image licensing fees including  and the  and was informed that they were free. Find more U.S. government owned and published images on  and also search Flickr. (Note: You may come across some images that have copyrights and usage terms).

2. - One of the largest, totally free stock photo sites out there, it is now owned by Getty Images. The site still offers photos and graphics with pretty flexible usage terms. Sometimes you have to hunt around for something good, but free is definitely an incentive to use it!
 
3. - People who upload their images to the photo-sharing site Flickr have the ability to set their own copyrights and usage terms such as giving attribution and "share alike" meaning using the same terms you use to distribute your own images.

4.  - This site helped kickstart the crowdsourcing of photos from both amateur and professional photographers. I keep $50 worth of credits in my account for those times I need very specific, professional-looking images for PowerPoint presentations. 

5.  - "An artist owned co-op with a curated royalty-free collection." Some of the photographers selling images here migrated from the larger royalty-free sites. This one is pricier, starting at $10 per image, but the selections are gorgeous.


A few other stock photo sites include , and . Another freebie is . What stock image sites do you use?

 
 
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What do you do when your manuscript is half-way complete? If you're a wise writer, you print out your half-opus and celebrate, which is what writer Elaine Hammer did recently. And let us join the party -- congrats, Elaine, on your progress with "Borders & Boundaries"!

 
 
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You've written the great American novel, but it's buried inside your NaNoWriMo manuscript. Luckily, Kim Votry and Pam Stucky provided tips on turning your pages into a masterpiece and then marketing it.

Votry's flow chart, left, laid out the editing process through refining  tense, character names, and scene goals to resolving conflict and proofreading. And her second hand-out, below, had tips on writing reviews of books to generate good karma.

Stucky advised folks to get connected to review blogs and email newsletters to keep readers interested. One of Stucky's favorite connecting tools is Twitter. "You need to build honest relationships," said Stucky, "and write interesting tweets." Plus you can't forget to bring treats to book signings. 

One final tip both writers agreed upon was "perseverance." 
 

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So, put these tips to good practice and follow the authors here:

Kim Votry's book, "," is a NaNo book for young writers. Here's her and .

's book series starts with "," and here's her  and

 
 
The trees are naked. I felt that way too. It was as if the end of the year had taken with it all my defenses and left me bare to the cold wind of  winter.  It was my first winter and first year without John.  There was no longer a warmth at my back at night.  There was no longer anyone who had my back.  I had taken to turning on and leaving on the electric blanket on John’s half of the bed so that I could pretend   someone was still there.  However, I had stripped the closet bare of his things and bundled them up and donated them along with most of the Christmas ornaments.  I wasn’t sure  if I would ever celebrate Christmas again.

I had spread all of my wardrobe out so the closet looked full.  But I could not cover up the emptiness in my heart that easily. Emptiness was the only thing I felt these days.  I was sure there would be pain later, lots of it, but for now there was only blankness, numbness.  I sleepwalked through my days when I wasn’t actually sleeping.  When John was here I had trouble sleeping.  The least little thing kept me awake or awakened me.  Now I couldn’t wake up.  I was like a bear hibernating.  I think I thought if I didn’t wake up, John would still be alive. And besides sleep was when we were together.  I saw him most nights.  Some
nights were wonderful, loving…And I awoke with a warm glow, looking for him, listening for his step on the stairs, his key in the door.  Other nights we argued, quarreled violently—behavior we had never
displayed in life.  On those mornings I awoke horrified, exhausted.  I wanted to find him, to apologize.  I didn’t care who was right, who was wrong--not that I was sure what we had argued about anyway—but I just wanted to get past it, past the disharmony so that we could go back to the good times.

My friends called, they came round, but if I was in bed, or in my pajamas, I didn’t answer the phone or the door.  And I was in my pajamas most of the time.               
                                                                                                                                            

 
 
Published: Winter 2012
Volume XX, Issue 4, pp 6-7
ALASKA WOMEN SPEAK Magazine
Anchorage, Alaska
Theme: Season’s End and Closure
 
WHO’S YOUR DADDY?
                                            
      By
Dianne O’Connell 
             
“It’s not easy getting a cup of coffee in this town,” I told my uncle when I reached him via cell phone.  I had arrived in the small Midwestern town of my father’s birth earlier that morning, driving in from the city in a rent-a-car and spending the night in a hotel off the highway maybe thirty minutes out.  It was cool in the early morning. I drove in with my car window down so I could feel the breeze and smell the early morning smells of black earth farm country.
             
“Always remember your peasant roots,” my father once told me, although I wouldn’t exactly call any of us “peasants”, I recognized that my father used the word as a term of respect for what in other cultures might be termed “real people,” as opposed to “Others” – those who lived elsewhere, didn’t understand or respect us or our values.
             
“There is not a single café’, restaurant, McDonald’s, gas station, any place here to sit down and have a cup of coffee,” I continued.  “I’ve been here since 9 AM, and nothing.  How far out are you?  When will you get
here?”
             
My uncle and I were meeting in his Hometown to finish up some paperwork following the death of my grandmother.  She had been living in a nursing home in a nearby community at the time of her death and
the tiny family house had been sold to Others.  One could neither stay there nor get a cup of coffee there anymore.

      
“There’s no place if you’re a girl,” I heard my uncle chuckle from the phone. “Follow the road out where you came in and you’ll see a little green house on the left.  No sign, but there should be a couple of cars in the drive. They might let you in until I get there, if you tell them who you are? I’ll be there in 30 minutes or  so.”
             
“Thirty minutes?  That’s a long time.  What’s the green house?”
             
“It’s the local coffee shop,” my uncle said patiently, maybe a little too patiently.  “If they let you in, throw a dollar in the big jar on the counter. It’s a sort of ‘pay as you can’  sort of coffee shop.  Men Only, by the way.  I don’t think there has ever been a woman served at the Hometown Coffee Shop, but they might make an exception for you. Tell ‘em who you are.”
             
“Who am I?  What do you mean?”
             
“Why you are Jack’s daughter, of course.  Tell Tiny you are Jack’s daughter.  He’ll be the one in the tee-shirt.  Big guy. You’ll recognize him.  He owns the place. If he still won’t let you in, wait in the car.”
             
Well, I was Jack’s daughter.  My father had died a few years before but I had heard him mention his
Hometown friend.  He never mentioned the All Men’s Coffee Shop, however.
             
It was not terribly difficult to turn around in the little town of 1,000 souls and head back out toward the two-lane highway that would take me back to the Interstate.  Just out of town, on the left, was a small house, with three or four cars parked outside.  It was green, so I turned in and parked the car.  Walking up to the door, I found it ajar – inside were maybe three men, all in white tee-shirts, sitting at a table drinking coffee.
             
I mentally took a look at myself.  I obviously had just arrived from somewhere else, for sure.  I would have given anything to be able to loose the shoes – nylons and heels, for gods’ sake – but I couldn’t walk in barefoot.  Taking a deep breath, I pushed the door open, nodded in the direction of the men, and walked over and took a seat at the empty second table.
             
Nothing happened. Nobody moved.
          
I weighed my options. I figured I shouldn’t just lean back and shout, “Can’t a girl get a cup of coffee around here?” I’d have to think of something else.
             
Waiting another half a minute or so, I could still feel the men staring at me.  I saw the expected jar on
the counter and a small pile of cups by the old coffeemaker. Foraging around in my purse for a dollar bill, I stood up, put the dollar in the jar, and poured myself a cup of coffee.
             
“I’m Jack Cook’s daughter,” I said to the men as I passed their table and sat down at mine.
           
“She’s Jack’s daughter,” I heard one of the men say to someone else behind a curtain to the next room. 
A larger man emerged with a couple plates of toast.  Looking at me, he gestured toward the wall,
             
“Your dad’s picture is up there, and your grandfather’s. Can you pick them out?”
             
I looked and saw that the wall was covered with 40 and 50-year-old framed photographs and news clippings
featuring the town’s baseball teams and basketball teams.  Peering at the old pictures, I found my father
easily.
             
“Right there,” I said.  “That’s him.”
             
“How about Jim?  Can you find Jim?”

Moving down the wall, I said, “Yeah.  That’s him.  That’s my grandfather.  These are great pictures. Just wonderful.”
             
Tiny smiled.
       
“”I’ve got something else to show you then,” he grinned.  He lugged out an old county history, the kind that were published all over Americaat the turn of the century.
             
"These are your Cooks,” he said, running his figure down the index.  This column gives the guy’s  “profession,” or what he did.  Most are farmers, but you see here, that’s my grandfather, he was a Chicken
Plucker!  Isn’t that great.”
             
Everybody in the room laughed.
             
“Grandpa worked for the pillow factory, used to be right down the road over there.  There were a lot of
Chicken Pluckers back then.”
             
I smiled and asked what happened to the factory.
             
“Foam,”was his one word response.
             
The door opened and in walked my uncle.
             
“Hi, Tiny,” he said. “How’s the old son-of-a-chicken-plucker?”
             
“I’m fine, Lee.  Just fine.  Sorry about your mother.”
             
“Thanks.  That’s why we’re here.  To finish up some stuff.”
             
I sat back down at the table and said nothing more.  The men continued their conversation about the past and the current state  of matters here in my father’s Hometown.  In a little while, my uncle said his goodbyes and gestured for me to go first out the door.
             
“The attorney’s office should be open now,” he said quietly once we were  outside.  I nodded, got in my car,
and followed him back into town.

 

Espresso

12/30/2012

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Rita M. noted this poem as inspiration.

Espresso, by Tomas Transtromer
 
Black coffee at sidewalk cafes

with chairs and tables like gaudy insects.
 
It is a precious sip we intercept

filled with the same stength as Yes and No.
 
It is fetched out of gloomy kitchens

and looks into the sun without blinking.
 
In daylight a dot of wholesome black

quickly drained by the wan patron...
 
Like those black drops of profundity

sometimes absorbed by the soul
 
That give us a healthy push: Go!

The courage to open our eyes.

 
 
My electric burner glows orange

A small sun against black.
 
Since I live in other places 

and previous times
 
Africa 1968 me

Frederick Douglas grit

To be free 1818-1895
 
the orange comfort to cook

In my warm house

Not over wood fires

On damp dirt floors

Makes me oh so happy.