“Watch this” Wednesday: Kelly Clarkson slays No Doubt classic

Okay, so I know it’s really lame to ignore the blog for a month and then come back with a post that has nothing to do with writing. But you won’t be able to stay mad at me if you watch this video all the way to the end.

Watch Idol-winner Kelly Clarkson totally slay No Doubt’s classic breakup anthem “Don’t Speak”. She starts off kind of slow and, amazing as she is, I wasn’t sure she could outdo Gwen on this one, but holy cow she nails it in the last minute. Girl can sing her ass off!

Kelly is doing fan requests sent via Twitter on all the stops on her current tour. Watch some of her other covers here. And if that’s not enough for you, watch my other favorite Kelly cover of Patty Griffin’s “Up to the Mountain” (accompanied by Jeff Beck):

PS: I was listening to this while working on a revision of my NaNo novel–so it’ s kinda writing related.


“Watch this” Wednesday: Beauty on wheels

This is one that definitely falls under the category of distractions (see my blog’s tagline if you don’t know WTF I’m talking about).

We were trading funny videos and cool websites over on Murderati one day, and author Zoe Sharp passed along a link, with these comments. “If you want something that’s not necessarily a laugh, but startling, stunning, amazing and beautifully shot – plus a wonderful soundtrack, try the Danny MacAskill “Way Back Home” vid. Danny does things on a bicycle that will make you believe a man can fly.”

Of course, I had to go see what she was talking about, and you should too. Watch this:

There is a writing lesson in here, of course. It’s that pedal-to-the-metal commitment to the craft–and practice, practice, practice–can make something beautiful.

New Yorker to serialize story on Twitter tonight

Just a quickie, folks.

Have you heard the news? The New Yorker is serializing a new short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan on Twitter (@NYerFiction).

The first “chapter” of the futuristic spy thriller “Black Box” will hit the twitterverse tonight at 8-9 PM EST and the rest over the next ten evenings. The story will also appear in the magazine’s Science Fiction Issue, out Monday.

Here’s what Egan herself had to say about the story:

I found myself imagining a series of terse mental dispatches from a female spy of the future, working undercover by the Mediterranean Sea. I wrote these bulletins by hand in a Japanese notebook that had eight rectangles on each page. The story was originally nearly twice its present length; it took me a year, on and off, to control and calibrate the material into what is now “Black Box.”

This is both thrilling and scary to me. Finding new outlets for our work and new ways to connect with readers is great. But does this add even more pressure to produce content quickly and in copious amounts?

It’s an interesting experiment, taking the once-popular serial novel format to Twitter. I’ll be following along. Will you?

Must-read words for writing moms

Photo: Wikipedia

Confession: I have a girl crush on Maggie Stiefvater. And not just for the mad writing skills that put her books on the NYT bestseller list. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

At only 31, she’s also an accomplished musician, and an award-winning, internationally-collected artist. She can do this with a Sharpie in a little more than an hour.

Yeah, I’m feeling kind of inadequate right now, too.

She’s also a mom and a wise woman, which she proved with her latest blog post that made me fall for her all over again, despite my crippling jealousy. Here’s a snippet.

Women. There is a lot of guilt associated with taking time for your career versus spending time nurturing children. Every time you leave the house and the kids have a babysitter or a substandard dinner or no bedtime story, our culture screams at us for being bad mothers. But guess what. Working mothers are not bad mothers. Women who have a sense of self-identity, either through a career or through a home-based activity, are women that kids respect. My father was on an air craft carrier for six months out of the year when I was a kid. I adored him and still do, and what’s more — I’m pretty much just like him. So it’s not the amount of time you spend sitting in the presence of your kids. It’s how you use that time.

You can read the full post on her blog. Scroll down a few paragraphs, past the drumming display (sigh) to get to her advice for working moms.

See Maggie’s art on her Flickr stream.

Definitely girl crush material.

“Watch this” Wednesday: 29 ways to stay creative

Finding it hard to make time for your writing? Or maybe your creative well is empty?

Watch this great animation on 29 ways to stay creative, from TO-FU Motion Graphics Studio.

I stumbled up on this over at the Red Lemon Club, a site with great tips for writers and bloggers. It’s worth a visit.

Friday Freewrite

Sometimes a fun, no-pressure writing exercise is just the ticket to get my creative juices flowing when the words don’t come easy.

Do you want to join me?

Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to free write for 15 minutes with the photo as your jump start.

Don’t worry about where it takes you. Keep your pen moving or the keyboard clicking. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, spelling or form. Just write. When your timer goes off, stop.

If you’re brave, post the results of the exercise on your blog and post a link in the comments. (It’s not cheating to distill what you wrote down to the best idea and give it a polish for posting. A quick polish or you’re just procrastinating again.)

Carver on eschewing tricks

“I hate tricks. At the first sign of a trick or gimmick in a piece of fiction, a cheap trick or even an elaborate trick, I tend to look for cover. Tricks are ultimately boring, and I get bored easily, which may go along with my not having much of an attention span. But extremely clever chi-chi writing, or just plain tomfoolery writing, puts me to sleep. Writers don’t need tricks or gimmicks or even necessarily need to be the smartest fellows on the block. At the risk of appearing foolish, a writer sometimes needs to be able to just stand and gape at this or that thing – a sunset or an old shoe – in absolute and simple amazement.”

― Raymond Carver, Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories