Saturday, July 28, 2012

If You Don't Read, You Don't Write

Writing is a funny thing. It's not like basketball or football where it is most essential that you actually play the game to get better. Yes, to be a good writer, you must write often, but you have to read too. You should be reading often and what you read the most is what you're going to sound like. Unfortunately for me, I read news too much, but I also read poetry and novels.

Now, many writers groan at the thought of reading poetry. But how about great contemporary poetry that is in beautiful but plain-as-day language? Have you read that? The reason that I'm asking is that I enjoy poetry more than other writing because it is a read that can be picked up and put back down again every 15 minutes because it takes that long or less to read a poem. Instead of me convincing you, I think you you should consider spending $7-15.00 checking out these well-established veteran writers and poets of Vietnam.

1. Preston H. Hood

An ex-Navy Seal from Team Two who fought in Vietnam writes about war and life and family and more in his book Hallelujah of Listening. His book is a "bucket list" kind of thing. You don't want to miss out and with lines like this one from the Poem, "Opening in the Sky," Before the dead crawl out, I stitch it up/ with the white line of my thinking/ and watch the sunrise. It's hard not to fall in love with his book. And at only 7.00, well, it's one hell of a bargain. I've read it three times already.

You can grab the book here:

2. W.D. Ehrhart.

Ehrhart is on of the most prolific and genuine writers you'll ever meet. He's got some twenty books out there from collections of essays to Memoirs, and I for one am going to get "Busted." I know "Busted" is about the Coast Guard taking him down for marijuana after Vietnam, but like any good book it's about so much more. I've been reading his poetry, and I don't need to take you past page one of the beautifully put together, Sleeping with the Dead. The poem "What Better Way to Begin," on page 9 of the book is a brilliant introduction to the book. It's about the author taking his daughter to the biggest firework show in Philly, and he knows he's gonna pay in flashbacks for it, but he's going anyway because he knows it will mean so much to his daughter. Her's a little of his poetry, so you can get the ease of style that is Ehrhart's.

What Better Way To Begin

You can just keep your rocket's red glare.
And as for the bombs bursting in air,
with all that noise and fire and smoke
there has to be plenty of jagged steel
looking for someone to hit.

It's the light sarcasm that I love in Ehrhart's poetry. His voice is refreshing where so many other's poetry are too heavy and serious. The book is one great and fast read and the book is a letterpress book that really is gorgeous, like a display piece for your coffee table to horrify unwanted guests the significant other brings over.

You can grab the book and many others by Ehrhart, here:

and you can read more about Ehrhart here:

3. Dave Connolly

I did not get to read Connolly's book, Lost in America, in it's entirety, and I hear the book is out of print but can be bought on Amazon. Terrific writing. That's what i can say. Much of it is prose poetry in a way that could save the genre. The language, the way it's being told, is the same as if Connolly was speaking to you. He's from South Boston, born raised and there for most his life, so you can imagine what he sounds like when he talk--there's force. Every piece of his that I read was fast and at the end, a gut wrenching punch that is rarely pulled off so well and so well accompanied by a suddenly changed view of the world.

One of Connolly's poems takes us through his first kill in wartime. Then ending lines pack a punch and ring with truth.

Corporal Thach: First Confirmed NVA Kill

Your last reflex
killed the man next to me
but it's your death
I remember.
There's no pride, no regret,
no way I'll forget
your death until mine.

The book can be found on Amazon, here:

Apparently the book can also be bought here:

Stops and Dialogue

Hello everyone. Glad to be back on the blog with you. Hope the start of your weekend is going well. We’re going to go over a few things today. I’ll start with a short bit about language and how the different letters make different sounds that do different things concerning emotional responses which can really help with how a piece reads. After that, I’ll write to you a little bit about dialogue.
            As we’re going through the phonetics chart we’ll probably tackle it in sections. Feel free to download the picture of the chart that I uploaded last time. I like to have it visible on the screen when I write about it.
         In this post, I want to write about the “Stops.” If you’ll notice, the “Stops” section has two lines for its place of articulation. To explain articulation, let me have you do this. Say, P. Did you notice that when you said “P,” both your lips came together to produce the sound? You’ll find that, b uses the same part of the mouth. So lips being labial (in Latin, I think) plus bi, means two lips. You’ll notice that m on the chart is also bilabial, but is not a “Stop.” We’ll go into it later.
          Now, say t or d and pay attention to how it feels when your mouth makes the sound. Feel your toungue on the roof your mouth? That’s what is called Alveolar,  therefore we have t and d which are Alveolar stops.
          Now, pay attention to the Velar Stops. K as in king, or c as in crack!, and g as in go, not g as in gee, that’s a different sound. We’ll discuss that later. I’m still researching that funny little letter under glottal, but we’ll get back to that later, or maybe if you’re the one insane person who is reading this part of the blog, you’ll want to research this too.
             Now here’s what I want to show you. Read the following sentence aloud:
             Slow yourself, alright. You really must live easy, pacing yourself is nice.
        You’ll notice that I’m not using passive language here so this sentence still has some strength. But say the next one aloud and tell me you don’t notice the difference.

Stop, okay. You must take life slow and find a good groove.

        You’ll notice there are only 3 sounds from the stop group in the first sentence, but there are 11 stop sounds in the second sentence. Say them both. Doesn’t the second have a harder, more urgent sound to it? Also, you’ll notice I did not use any “ing” sounds in the second sentence. Often, “ing” sounds can slow a sentence like an “ly” sound can, but sometimes they add rhythm. Like, “was walking and talking and chewing and falling, ‘cause I was doing too much thinking.”
         Well, that wraps up the section on sounds in language for today.

Okay, now for a bit about dialogue.

Here’s a crappy dialogue.

Sarah, how are you today?” I exclaimed excitedly!

“I am fine. It is a nice day today, is it not?” Sarah said very happily.

“It is very pretty today, and it is going to get nicer, I have heard. It is what the radio said,” I told her nervously.

“My friends and I will be going to a picnic later. We will all have a great time. It is at the house that John lives in. We do not date anymore,” she bashfully told me.

It’s not just bad because it’s boring. It’s bad because it is not dialogue. People don’t speak like that. Now watch, I’ll change this terrible dialogue to speech, then we’ll address those awful dialogue tags.

Sarah, how’re you?” I exclaimed excitedly!

“I’m fine. It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” Sarah said very happily.

“It’s pretty today, and I’ve heard it’s gonna get nicer. That’s what the radio said,” I told her nervously.

“My friends and I’ll be going to a picnic later. We’ll all have a great time. It’s at the house that John lives in. We don’t date anymore,” she bashfully told me.

Do you see the difference a syncope can make? Like ‘cause instead of because. Now, of course, you don’t want to do this for every character all the time, but we all use contractions or a syncope somewhere in our speech. No one speaks that awful form of grammar they teach us in highschool.

Now for the next part. Dialogue tags. 

Sarah, how’re you?” I asked.

Sarah smiled at me and said, “I’m fine. It’s a nice day, isn’t?”

looked at my feet and shuffled them, then back at her and said with a face full of crimson, “It’s pretty today, and I’ve it’s going to get nicer. That’s what the radio said.” Sarah’s smile got bigger and I swear I saw a twinkle in them.

“My friends and I’ll be going to a picnic later. We’ll all have a great time. It’s at the house that John lives in. We don’t date anymore,” She said, and her face turned red as mine. We looked away from each other, and the silence between us grew.

Now, arguably, this belongs in a bad YA novel, but answer honestly, which of these three dialogues would you rather read? I’ll choose the third because the contractions make the speech more normal and the dialogue tags aren’t as ridiculous the second time around. Truthfully, try to stick to she/he said or asked. Leave that exclaimed and shouted and yelled that hold hands with bad adverbs out as much as possible. They kill dialogue, although sometimes, we are stuck with them and when we are, it’s fine.

Anyway, I hope this helps you. By the way, I should be over 40,000 new words into the summer novel and at least five or six poems into the new chapbook by the end of the weekend.

If any of you have topics you would like me to discuss, please email me at,

Or you can contact my Facebook here:, or my twitter @wadejoseph86

Or, you can check out my blog and find anything from personal articles on OWS to random crap musings addressed to myself, to other articles posted.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Writing catalyst...

I know there have been a few writing prompts here, and I would like to add one which I received at a workshop. This prompt helped me to write a short novelette. I'll give the overview then show what I came up with. Please add your own pieces!

Write about a character who has to complete a task (it can be with another person)
My piece below:

Friday, July 20, 2012

The First Sentence and Phonetics

At the moment, I am working on understanding the phonetics chard and how the sounds of syllables can have intercourse with rhythm, meter and rhyme. I’m not fully understanding it all yet because it will take some time to make all the knowledge stick. After that, it’ll take more time to make it working knowledge. Here’s a link to the chart if any of you are interested.

I’m also giving you the consonants chart which I made myself for the purpose of getting the knowledge to stick.

*That j should be in the "aproximate" section.

Now, something to think about while you’re working for the week—the first sentence. We live in an age of sensation. Psychology is utilized for advertising and music often matches the average beats of our hearts and we are always on the internet or watching television or playing with aps on our phones. How’s a boring old line of text going to grab someone’s attention?

No one knows. The industry is sinking and they’ve turned to pornography and BDSM to keep people reading. (50 Shades of Grey, click here for the funniest review ever written about a book in the history of the world. This book’s bound to go the way of the Hanson’s.)

Okay, truth is, writing a great first sentence is not easy, but here’s some tricks.
a. Do not say, “It was 12:00am in the morning, and it was hot outside.” No one cares about the weather report unless they’re in it. There’s plenty of better ways to work time and morning into your stories
            b. Do not say, “I was dreaming.” People that don’t know you don’t care about your dreams.
c. Like Facebook, no one cares what you’re eating, generally, unless it’s truly spectacular, but then I want a recipe or a place to get it.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll write a sentence and we’ll see about making it better in steps.

Jim was walking quickly, he just left his red car and crossed the street without noticing the lack of streetlight or what was stealthily hidden in shadows, waiting silently.

Jim was walking quickly.This has to go, and the ly word all lys slow down stories, so try to avoid them. No, don’t use them. Sometimes, but only when absolutely necessary. And don’t use passive language without intention, and never at the beginning of a story..

He just left his red car and crossed the street. I won’t get into the passivity of the entire fragment, but for the most part, it sucks. Why do I have this detail about a red car? No one cares what color Jim’s car is. Not even his mother really cares about the color. I’m still trying find out if I even like Jim enough to read his story.

Without noticing the lack of streetlight. Really, that’s the best I could do in a scene where I’m trying to build suspense?

Or what was stealthily hidden in the shadows, waiting silently. I cringe at this.  If something is hidden in the shadows, what does stealthily add to the person hidden in the shadows. Yep, nothing. Silently. If something is hidden in the shadows, don’t we know it is silent? Every extra word advances the readers bullshit meter—you only have so many.

Here’s the new sentence.

Jim slammed the car door and rushed across the street without noticing the dead streetlights or the man that watched him from the shadows.

Now, one more pass. Let’s get rid of the before dead. The is unnecessary and slows the sentence down.

Jim slammed the car door and rushed across the street without noticing dead streetlights or the man that watched from the shadows.

I know, I took him out too. I know it’s a bit trivial, but I don’t think him was necessary, so I took it out too. I hate waste. Brick one is ready and placed. Keep building.

Coming up next week:

Outlines and freewriting--which do we use?
more on phonetics and their importance for writing (probably going to be studying that all summer)
Twitter @wadejoseph86

Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Fall of the City of Brotherly Love

Jason Gunn

The Fall of The City of Brotherly Love:

The Zombie Chronicles

Sgt. Ramses stood on the ledge on the City Hall building and gazed out over the swarming masses of rotting bodies surging against the perimeter wall. His mind was still reeling from the unthinkable and unbelievable events that he and his small band of survivors had witnessed first hand in the past days. It had all happen so feverishly fast, like a bad dream he couldn’t wake up from. He knew that waiting any longer for survivors would not only put the remaining men’s lives in jeopardy but also the lives of the lucky few that managed to make it into the safe zone before the city collapsed into a chaotic whirlwind of bloody gnashing teeth and the sweet but pungent odor of reanimated dead corpses. Ramses could hear the echoing moans of the dead as they blindly tried to push their way through the perimeter fence. The same companies who produced these same barricades for prisons built the fences. They were tall, sturdy and topped with razor wire to keep unwanted visitors out and keep others in. But now with the number of dead collecting all around City Halls’ defense perimeter the weight of there bodies began to cause notable damage to the fences support posts that eerily began to sway as the undead pushed against the metal meshing. Sergeant Ramses had to do something quick; the situation was already bad and getting worse with each passing minute. He had lost most of his platoon that night and in the previous days and now he was down to just a hand full of tired and scarred soldiers with barely enough ammo to fight back with let alone provide safety for the other twenty-five civilians-men, women and children.

Sgt. Ramses could still remember the final night when everything went to hell, the virus and spread so fast and overrun so many that they did the only thing they could -fall back and dug in. The general alarms were blaring all day and night throughout the city and surrounding suburbs. His unit, along with a collection of police special response teams and any able body left alive or unchanged who could hold a weapon, were staged along Market Street from 15th to 30th Street in a blocking position. They were suppose to form a safe corridor with adequate protection for any remaining survivors to travel along until they made it to City Hall where they were supposed to be evacuated. Unfortunately everything was ill fated and ill planned, no government agency was set up for this kind of disaster and because the virus moved so quickly there was no real way of successfully containing the outbreak. But it was a gamble on hope that the government knew they had to do something (anything) to help any survivors they could. So they chose to use City Hall as the site for a major evacuation point, not considering taking in all the factors that could go array if something went wrong.

The streets were now swarming with “walkers” attacking the fleeing civilians it was up to Sgt Ramses and his tattered remaining men to give whatever helps they could to protect survivors and defend to evacuation route. It was total pandemonium. Market Street became jammed with fleeing people, many carrying small children and whatever language and personal items they could grab. Other people, mostly those taking advantage of the lack of security and police response, carried flat-screen TV’s and other various stolen items. Transportation helicopters were loaded almost to the point where they could barely take-off. Civilians pleading, begging and bribing any aircrew they could to secure a spot in order to get out. His own wife had made it out safely before the panic set it, he had seen to that. Now he was just trying to figure out how he would survive and meet back up with his wife.

“Jesus Christ” he thought to himself as he watched this chaotic scene unfold. He couldn’t warp his head it. Then came the ear splitting screams of terror. Somewhere inside the long flowing columns of refugees, walkers had begun to appear. With so many side streets and avenues unprotected or unsecured there was bound to be breakthroughs and because of the shortage of manpower there was no way to properly defend them all except for deploying Constantia wire and Harsco baskets and pray. Panic began to take over the masses. Hundreds of people all pushing and shoving trying to get out of the corridor to some sort of relative safety. Those who fell down and could not get back up were trampled to death or set upon by these corpses only to reanimate and began to pull other unlucky victims down with them. The panic didn’t stop there, it began to spread to the soldiers and police officers guarding the route and many of them began to open fire with machine guns and assault rifles. The flashes from the weapons muzzles gave a brief illusion of a hellish New Year’s celebration. The calls went out a cross the net, screaming for them to cease-fire. Frantic calls from other positions began reports of walkers attacking in large numbers and breaking through key positions in the corridors defensive perimeter. The people began to go berserk! Ramses’ unit was loosing control. The people began to climb out over the top of the Harsco basket barricades that lined the entire length of the corridor like rampaging ants trying to claw their way out of the death trap that the evacuation corridor had become. He remembered the look on that women’s twisted and frightened face as she desperately tried to climb out. Her eyes were as big as dinner plates capturing the total horror looking for anyway out. She reached out to him, he could see her screaming for help just as something grabbed her arm and began pulling her off the barricade. The pull was so great that she lost footing and slammed her head against the edge of the wall before disappearing. Sgt Ramses prayed that the women had been knocked out so she would not have to be conscious for whatever was about to happen to her. Sgt Ramses could recall how vivid everything was when the perimeter fell. The frantic calls for help, the sounds of screaming and gunfire reverberating off the surrounding buildings only to be muffled by the overwhelming moans and groans of the dead as they feed upon the living. Their writhing bodies highlighted by the flashing lights of emergency vehicles and floodlights.

Lt. Marcus, Sgt. Ramses platoon leader and close friend who he had served with on three tours in Iraq began making desperate calls up and down the line for anyone still alive to abandon their posts and make it to City Hall-their last line of defense. Lt. Marcus was shouting orders and trying to maintain control as best as possible but from his point of view, it was hopeless. Then the words that still burn in his brain came over the unit’s communications net and seared into his ears like a hot poker and turn his stomach to ice-“ Broken Arrow! Broken Arrow!” This was an emergency code word that meant that army units were being overrun and it was everyman for himself. Lt. Marcus along with Sgt Ramses and a handful of soldiers in the Command and Control room- hastily built inside a PNC bank on 15th Street, began grabbing their weapons and preparing to fight their way to City Hall where hopefully they would be able to catch a ride out of the center of the city. Everyman in the small group was scared shitless, and they had a right to be so. The streets were now full of the undead, some staggering slowly down the streets towards the bright search lights that lined the safe zone of city hall while others bunched into feeding packs as they devoured some poor soul, being bitten and eaten alive. The screams and pleas for help only drowning out in blood chocked gurgles under heaving bodies of ravenous zombies.

He remembered when they made their break for the City Hall entrance. How there was just so many of them. It seemed like the entire city of Philadelphia had turned in just a matter of day’s even hours. The streets were lined with barricades and emergency vehicles with their lights still running-the operators long gone. Even though their location to City Hall was very close, there were just so many obstacles along the way that made it seem a thousand miles away. Walkers were everywhere and now their numbers were beginning to be reinforced by the latest reanimated bodies of victims from the corridor disaster. Sgt. Ramses and his squad stacked up beside the side window of the bank and planned their route. They would follow the length of the building towards the subway entrance and then make their way across “catwalk” scaffolding that had been laid over 15th Street. They could see their fellow soldiers laying down withering support fire but with so many walkers they were barely making a dent and were wasting precious ammunition. Ramses, along with remaining survivors knew that they would have to move fast by covering each other by a bounding support by fire maneuver which meant that the group would split into teams that would leap frog each others positions while providing defensive fire for each moving team.

Sgt. Ramses was the first out of the bank followed by two other soldiers carrying M4 carbines. He and his makeshift fire team began throwing grenades ranging from “flash bangs” to fragmentation knowing that this would only slow the walkers down but not for long. To truly put a walker down they needed to destroy the head or brain with a clean steady shot, a feat that proved very difficult when your fighting for your life. As the grenades from Sgt. Ramses’ fire team burst among the creature, throwing limbs and body parts in every direction with simultaneous burst of blinding light, Lt. Marcus lead his group down the side of the bank stopping behind a police cruiser to set up a firing position with the groups’ only 240 bravo machine gun. The gunner let out a long steady stream of deadly fire that impacted with deadly accuracy in the swarming masses of slowly moving zombies. One zombie, a young man maybe in his early twenties, stepped right into the line of fire and his head burst like an over ripened tomato. Others began to fall as the machine gunner cut a large swath through the street. Sgt Ramses coolly ordered his men to begin to move back towards Lt. Marcus position. He laid his red dot sight right at the forehead of a close zombie a pulled the trigger. The zombies’ head snapped back as the bullet hit the brain and sent out a mist of brackish and congealed blood as it exited out the back of its’ skull and collapsed like a sack of rocks onto the pavement. Ramses gave the order and his fire team lifted the fire and began moving towards the catwalk and the relative safety of City Hall.

At all happened so fast that Sgt. Ramses was still trying to piece together what had happened to them after they got to the catwalk. What he could remember was a sea of outstretched, bloody hands clawing and him and his men as they made their way up and across the catwalk in a mad dash to get to the enclosed perimeter of City Hall and the loss of Lt. Marcus as he sacrificed himself and stayed behind to provide covering fire as the men began to climb the ladder to the catwalk. His death was not glorious and he died alone and very painfully and what hurt the most about the loss of the groups platoon leader was the fact that he would reanimate and was now among the dead trying to break down the security fence. His heart was beating faster and faster. It felt like it would explode in his chest. He began to sit and tremble and his knees began to buckle underneath him. His head was whirling now and he felt sick to the point where he was going to vomit. Everything was starting to cave in around him. He had no idea what he was doing. The world as far as he knew was over. Would he ever get to see and hold his wife ever again? Mankind was lost.

Fires were burning, unchecked, throughout the city, their long black pillars on smoke rising above the city and blackening out the sky. Sgt Ramses slammed his fist against the stone outcropping he was perching on and gathered himself together. He had to make some tough decisions now. Would he stay and fight and hope to be rescued or take their chances in what vehicles they had and move themselves and what civilians they had managed to save and drive out of the city. These were both very dangerous decisions because each one had there own peril. If they stayed they risked being totally cut off with no help. By the looks of what was going on all along the perimeter fence they would not stand a chance. If they left there was no way of telling where they could go. If Philadelphia had fallen, what about all the other major cities? Before the collapse of the Market Street corridor they still had communications with other cities but now, even the emergency broadcast system was offline. Plus to add to the burden they had twenty-five civilians to carry along the way with no supplies or ammunition. It would be a dangerous trip indeed. What Sgt. Ramses did know, is that staying here was not an option and his best move was to cut and run. They had one two ton truck and an armored humvee that they could use but because they had so many people to move, any extra supplies that they could take with them would have to make way for personnel.

Suddenly there was a terrible sound of twisting metal as the zombie horde on the outside finally forced a large section of the fence. Dead, rotting corpse spilled through the gap like fish begin dumped onto a table at a market. Soldiers on the ground level shouted up to him as he got to his feet. He and what little men he had left would fight to get these people out of this hell or die trying. Sgt. Ramses leaned over the side of the roof and yelled down to his men.

“Get the civilians out of here! Head north towards Ft. Drum!” Sgt. Ramses pulled a small picture of his he kept in his breast pocket and kissed it one last time before he pulled the charging handle on his rifle and began making his way towards the courtyard. Small caliber gunshots began to ring out and the screams of the survivors swept over him like a wave. A section of the security fencing gave way and came crashing down. The dead began to pour through it like bloody, bloated worms. He sighted his weapon on a walker who was beginning to pick itself up and fired. The first round hit it in the shoulder, which it didn’t even notice but the second shot it the eye and exploded inside the skull. It slumped over in a pile of congealed blackish ooze, brain matter and skull bits. He followed up with two more bursts and dropped two more undead before a hummer pulled up next to him and the door flung open. The soldiers inside screaming for him to move his ass! Ramses fired until he spent his magazine and quickly drew his pistol and fired off a volley of rounds before cursing loudly and jumping to the truck.

City Hall had fallen and the dead know owned the city. As the ragtag convoy departed under a hail of heavy caliber and small arms fire, Sergeant Ramses could only sit back and watch. He felt so hopeless and disconnected. So many uncertainties and doubt filled his mind that it felt like a storm inside his mind. He had no idea what to do other then keep moving and pray that someone had the answers. Now he had to keep his men and the other survivors safe. He would worry about his wife later but for know he had to survive himself. The though of reunion with his wife sparked something inside of himself that brushed everything out of his mind. Like jumping into a pool of cold water. Refreshing, rejuvenating, alive! This was going to be one hell of a long day

How I Began: Info for Newish Writers

I’ve been thinking about the beginning. I remember Professor Joan Weaver smiling and giving me my first assignment in college. I was enrolled for nursing then; I should have stayed a nurse.
              The assignment she gave asked me to write a story about a life-changing event. Most people wrote about their first car, kiss, love, house or childbirth. With some, a grandparent died or parent disappeared from their lives. I’m sure most of you can relate—when I thought of the most life-changing event of my life, I thought of blood—blood has stained my wall of where obsessions hang.
               At the time, I just didn't speak about it—the suicide I failed to stop. But writing it was different. It was reliving the details: the seaside grass whispering frantic and quiet; the outhouse door tapping a wind-driven rhythm; the barren fish tables free of corpses but not black stains; the black Toyota; the man slanted against his truck, tequila in hand, a silver .38 in the bed where his fingers dangled like over a lover's hand—fingers traced the barrel.
               This is just the suicide I stopped after the one I couldn’t—but writing it felt like release. I wrote for three hours and tasted the salt in the air in the middle of Pennsylvania in a little town surrounded by fresh sprayed corn fields. I knew that piece was a good piece of work. It was. It was a good story. The writing in it is really not that great, but for someone in English 101 who couldn’t write, it really was a brilliant story.
                It took me two years of failure to write anything that well again, although there were times I came close. Wish I still had some of those early drafts. The early years of writing were tough and had some obstacles and lessons. Here's some of what I wish I had been told in the beginning.
                1. There was a constant struggle for validation. I was 27 and just taking writing seriously for the first time. I felt like an idiot. I was for thinking I was an idiot. Thank God Jack Kerouac never needed validation;we would not have “On the Road.”
                2. I always sucked at English in school because those damned word trees (sentence diagrams) looked exactly like trees with confused and twisted little branches that reached desperately toward a sun I will never understand. Commas, I’d stick ‘em everywhere. Their, there and they’re—yep, I’d butcher that. Passive sentences—“what the hell are passive sentences?” I’d ask.
                3. Every time something came out half way decent, I was scared to touch it except to correct for grammar. I thought, That was a once in a lifetime deal. I’ll never write something on that topic so well again. And I was so close when I thought that, but then I never properly revised.
                No one craps greatness. If you say you do, it’s not greatness you’re crapping, but bullshit, and no one wants to see that. So, in the absence of true revision, I had nice Fiction 1 papers, but nothing a reputable publisher would care about.
                Truth is, writing is a craft. As you work with the skills of revision, you’ll gain the ability to carve mundane pine two-by-four stories brilliant. But even sanding and polishing takes practice. What I did in the beginning was set aside my first drafts. What if I never write anything that good again? Then I went to town on the another draft, and it was and still is during the processes of revision where I learned more about writing and myself than in any part of my writing, and if you’re writing about yourself, you should be learning about yourself.
                4. From the beginning, I asked for help, and I gave help. Taking my terrible stories and poems to the learning center at  Harrisburg Area Community College’s Lebanon campus did a lot for me. I learned tons, and people that had the knowledge I needed became more helpful to me than I ever thought possible. People want to help a hard worker. Hard work is respected more than lazy talent.
                I also started my own writing group and I passed all the knowledge I was gaining to the people in the workshop and they gave me their knowledge too. They also gave friendship, and friendship that starts around an activity amplifies the activity. I learned more through giving to people than I have from every other process except for revision.
                5. Don’t be afraid to submit. It’s worth your time and rejection is great. Every rejection is one less rejection you’ll receive. The hardest part about rejection in the beginning is that it hurts like hell. But, us warrior writers, we have built a tolerance to pain, and building a tolerance for rejection is the same process. My first publication was in the college journal. It’s a good start. is a good start.
                6. I remember thinking that all my writing was shit. All of it and every time I wrote, I hated it. Two years in I began to get better and my writing is night and day from four months ago and unrecognizable from 3 years ago. It’s cool and worth it if you stick it out.
                7. Please do yourself a favor and find a writer to fall in love with. Mine was and is Kerouac, although Preston Hood and Bill Ehrhart really won a place in my heart as well Weigl and Styron and Gilbert and Carver, etc. Oh, don’t worry about those guys that can rattle off all these writer’s names and then look at you and say, “Have you ever read—“ and then proceed to tell you that you should know who they are. There’s thousands upon thousands of great writers out there to read.
                8. There is nothing wrong with genre fiction. Sooo many literary freaks will curse me for saying that and stop reading at the period at the end of fiction. Screw those snobs! Lol(and use lol, it’s part of our culture, damnit) There’s some damn good genre fiction out there, and some of it not so good, ie. Twilight series although the author laughs with million dollar smiles at all of us struggling to write—fix the tie—LITERATURE. Write what makes your fingers want to fly on the keyboard.
                9. Whenever possible accept any opportunity to write whether it’s for a crappy local art magazine or a blog. Any exposure feels good and its value is owning the title of “writer.” Plus forced deadline writing breeds discipline.
                10. Don’t question yourself, just get the pen or cursor moving and do it for you, not for them.
                                a. If that little voice in your head starts throwing fits about you’re not writing anything someone else wants to read, hit the keyboard harder with your fingers—it’s a way to drown that tiny man.
I hope that helps you. 

We’ll go deeper into the processes of writing next time, but I have a heart for new writers, so I wanted to start with this.


Sunday, July 15, 2012


Warrior Writers,

My name is Joseph Wade. I write. I write a lot. I read a lot too. You can say that letters are my life's passion. I'm fortunate enough to be going to a college that is ranked among the top 20 colleges for writing. I've been studying the craft of writing for three years. In three years, I've studied news, poetry, fiction and non fiction under enough professors that it is tough to count them. They've taught me a lot of tricks and they've opened my eyes to a vast world of writing, but what I've found is that there are really only two things a writer needs to do: put the pen to paper and put the brain in a book. If a writer does that persistently, then they will grow in ability.

Now, just hacking away at a paper everyday without anyone telling you the tools of the trade is a lot like a guy taking his ratchets to his engine without having been taught the tricks of fine tuning. I've been taught many of the tricks of fine tuning. I'd like to pass them on to you. And maybe in passing them on to you, I'll cement them in my own mind, and I would like that. So, you see, this is a bit selfish an endeavor. But I do hope it helps you too.

Joseph Wade

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Rejected Recourse

Rejected Recourse

By Michael Day

Dear Kind Master of Educationialism,

If I may, spare a moment of your endowment coddling time.

I am a spitfire intellectual breathing the dreams of dignified discourse. I mock
your halls in modest respect and will dance from head to head on your uselessly
irrelevant stone representations of dead history. Flaunting obscure tastes in
reprehensible forms of non-elitist film and theater, I plan to spoil the minds of young
yacht frequenters.
With passionate gusto I will rip the symbols of ensemble imperialism from your
student’s polo’s and burn them with the retinas of the less clothed. Slamming brain
coughs against stories of gifted degrees and family exchanged property, I will glowingly
fascinate the student body with my ghetto fabulous tales, sparing no details for the
bubbled students. I will hang from your storied flag and blast the ear confections that
your benefactors loathe more than other benefactors.
Stoically, I will storm the student council and electrify the legislative bodies with
cries for civility for the enthusiasts collective. Have they no place? No voice? What is
this? This malicious mockery of the legislative process. A call for the creation of a Green
Republican Communist Theocracy will resound throughout the halls of frivolous golf
course banter.
Please, kind sir, consider me for admission to the School of Disenchanted Elitist
School Applicants for a lofty pursuit of a Master’s in Debauchery.

This is what I can bring to you King Squire of Intellect.

Sincerely not,

Civil Whites by Michael Day

Civil Whites

by Michael Day

War torn cats creatively maneuver their worlds without war on stoops steeped in history of a different sort. Infants bounce from one lap to another, tragic trajectories trickling from the corner of their young lips, dripping insecurities not yet known. Seasons pass. The cold hard stare of winter has met its match. Cracked lips and bleeding hearts yearn for summer justice, but live in the shadows of winter warfare.
Transformed corners adopt different shades of color at roughly the same pace that blood coagulates in the wound of the wounded. Those on the cooperative corners cite green as causation, but the color responsible for this situation is blinding.
Property owners perched from rooftops miles away marvel at the misinformation. Like small children they clasp their hands with glee, smiles edging the corners of their mugs. Later, maps will be drawn with red lines, removing culture from the cats and opportunity from their children.
The spring brings nothing. Corners still crumple under the weight of injustice. Memories are boarded up. Streetlights dim to the color defined as despair and abandon blocks harbor screams for their lost patrons.  
The rain ceases and the summer befalls the cats. 68’ Chicago.  Direct your attention to the Chicago 7, but ignore the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of Chicagoans still fighting. Anti-war protests for a visible war, but there will not be any demonstrations for the war these cats faced.
One rock from the yard. One brick from the home. One nail from the wall. Homes vanish behind Caucasian veils. Say goodbye to your history. Say goodbye to your community. Chicago owns it now.

Friday, July 13, 2012

I've posted this link on the Facebook page: Here's a link to the Vonnegut Literary Journal. It's taking submissions (ends August 15th, theme is War and Peace, and even previously published work is accepted, poems prose etc... electronic and snail submissions)....more details at the link below:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writing Prompt 4

Today I would like to explore something that has been bugging me for a minute. We have all been in situations where we have had our heart broken in some way, shape, or form. Whether it was that shiny bike you never got as a kid or the loss of someone dear to you. Whatever your heartache may be, it's time to let it flow into words. Keeping feelings bottled up inside can be very detrimental to your mental health. Let your feelings and emotions come alive through your writing so that you may feel more at peace with said situation!

I Am Here

Where am I?
Swinging to and fro
through the hoops
you have conditioned me to adapt;
to the change you desire most.

Where am I?
On the short train
to hell
fire blazing on my trail
as I consider your final destiny.

Where am I?
Holding onto nothing
in the air
that suffocates me
and stifles my very words;
               words you don't want to hear.

Where am I?
Inside a tiny jar
struggling to climb up
to the rim-
just to be shoved back to the base again.

Where am I?
Somewhere I never hoped to be
deep inside your head
yet colored and painted red for hate.
You hate me and that's okay.

Where am I?
Facing such confusion
anger and pain-
time for seclusion to set up camp
and stalk my brain.

Where am I?
Leaving comforts
and joy in the wind
as I step out
to be new again.

Where am I?
Going down the hill
of hope faster than
a bullet can make
one choke.

I am everywhere
you look with those
vacant eyes-
try, try, try
to move on
with this opportunity to be simply

I am here.