The Nifty Notebook

Trying to figure out the story behind it all

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The Evolution of An Idea

It’s just after midnight on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.  As I sit in front of my computer, blank Microsoft Office document covering one half of my screen as I looked up music, I realize something.


Do you remember my article on the L. Ron Hubbard contest and my excitement for it?  If you’re drawing a blank it’s right here:

Well, for several weeks now, I’ve been incubating an idea I’ve had in my mind for years now.  It could possibly be something that I expound on for this short story contest.  But it’s still just that….an idea.  For some reason it will not fashion itself into something workable for me.

This is incredibly frustrating because I feel like it’s bleeding over into some other things that I’m currently working on writing wise.  I seem to always get writer’s block at the wrong time.

But is this really writer’s block?  I considered that question for several seconds as I mulled over how to write an engaging beginning to my short story.  Then it came to me.  No, this is not writer’s block; and I made the distinction quite easily.

I relate writer’s block to the feeling of an eclipse overtaking the sun.  At first I’m brimming with ideas but suddenly everything is shut off; and the worse part is that I can do nothing until the period is over (and the eclipse is gone).

The alternative reminds me of a simple concept that I’ve picked up from many different writers from many different sources over the years: “Some ideas take longer than others to evolve into fleshed out stories.”

Doesn’t seem so revolutionary now that I’ve written it out on the screen.  But it definitely makes sense.  There are definitely some things that I’ve read that didn’t seem all the way complete; and that is definitely something that happens when you try and forcefully mine from an idea that is not “all the way there.”  That is what I feel like I have on my hands.

Do I still want to enter this short story competition?  You have no idea how much.  But….I definitely want to let the idea floating around in my head sit still and have enough time to flesh out.  Maybe I should sit down and really map it out.  But over everything, I can’t rush it.  If necessary I will let it sit on the back burner and develop something else.  That is essentially how my NaNoWriMo novel happened.

So as I get ready for bed, the empty Word document no longer glares back at me like failure, or a metaphorical period to my creative process.  I’m looking at a comma instead.  Which means that things aren’t over and there is still something left to see.

I feel like that analogy teetered off at the end but cut me some slack it’s after midnight and I’m tired…..

Filed under ideas writing

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Had the pleasure of seeing this last weekend.  It was a rousing good time at the theater.  It was very interesting to see just how over the top the story could be, while still anchoring us to the main character and the real world; and of course the dangers of actually donning a costume and trying to fight crime.
The comic books the movie is based on dip a toe in the proverbial waters of “shock value” and doing the things that would easily dissuade new people from picking the book up.
Not saying this movie is for everyone, but it most certainly has you rooting for Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl as they try and retake their city as the stakes continue to rise.

Had the pleasure of seeing this last weekend.  It was a rousing good time at the theater.  It was very interesting to see just how over the top the story could be, while still anchoring us to the main character and the real world; and of course the dangers of actually donning a costume and trying to fight crime.

The comic books the movie is based on dip a toe in the proverbial waters of “shock value” and doing the things that would easily dissuade new people from picking the book up.

Not saying this movie is for everyone, but it most certainly has you rooting for Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl as they try and retake their city as the stakes continue to rise.

Filed under movie kick ass 2 hit-girl

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I Published My NaNo Novel! Teri Brown on the Tenacious, No-Holds-Barred Writer’s Mentality



Teri Brown, Wrimo, resident history nut, and the author of Born of Illusion, a YA novel set in 1920’s New York, was kind enough to share how her NaNo-novel about Harry Houdini’s illegitimate daughter came to bookstores, and how writing taught her never to give up:

Your novel, Born of Illusion, came out this past June—it’s set in a dark and magical 1920s New York. What inspired you to write about this time?

The period of time between 1900 and 1930 has always fascinated me. It was a time of change across the board—women’s rights, technology, music, arts and literature were all going through a metamorphosis. Cultured hurtled into the modern age during that time and the affect all these changes had on people was incredible. It makes for a lot of conflict, which is what good stories thrive on.

What draws you to writing historical fiction?

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If this doesn’t get me motivated to dust off my old NaNoWriMo manuscript and get back to it……I don’t know what will…..

Filed under reblog nanowrimo novel

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Fanboy Moment of the Week


Mo’ Meta Blues

By: Ahmir ‘Questlove’ Thompson & Ben Greenman

It’s been quite a while since I’ve sat down and really pontificated on a good book I’ve read; these articles don’t just serve as a springboard from which I launch my thoughts with whoever reads them.  In a way, it helps me as well, essentially boiling down to the essence what it is I really like about a particular book, TV series, or animation show; which brings us to today.

To understand my excitement for this book, I first must establish a bit of context first. 

I have a bit of an obsession when it comes to Hip Hop. 

The biggest thing to understand is that when I say “Hip Hop” I mean more than just the notion of people “rapping” on a selection of music (whether through live instrumentation or a produced beat).  I’m speaking on the entire culture itself that was first birthed out of the South Bronx in the seventies.  The notion of artistic expression through rap, dj-ing, break dancing, and crafting street art all combine to form Hip Hop.  The constant innovation and its humble beginnings into a dominant force in popular culture today speak volume of its influence, regardless of your preference of it.

I spend a great amount of my day, not only listening to music from a growing variety of artists but then finding myself taking what was said and breaking it down, trying to derive a greater meaning.  A metaphorical “peeling the different layers of the onion” per se; and it’s not like I don’t enjoy rock, jazz, blues, or even barbershop quartets (really love barbershop quartet music).  There’s just something about Hip Hop in itself that could spawn countless articles

So why bring that up? 

Mo Meta Blues is insight into the mind of one of my favorite luminaries within not just the realm of Hip Hop but in all of music itself.  Ahmir Thompson, known as Questlove, is one half the founder of The Roots, a rap band famous for live instrumentation instead of computer production and a  expansive subject matter covered in well thought out songs by an extremely talented MC (the term given to a lyricist in rap).


It’s pretty easy to see I’m a fan of their work right?  So purchasing this was a no brainer for me.  Even though I usually abhor the memoir genre; but that is mostly because I’m bored with that genre of novels.  Within that large swathe of titles from people trying to cash in on a quick fifteen minutes of fame, there is rarely any metaphorical cream in the bin of crop that makes me want to pick up a book and read.  To put it quite simply, the stories presented are uninspired or are just not vivid enough to warrant an entire novelization.

The title itself is based on Spike Lee’s movie Mo’ Betta Blues.  More specifically it derives from a scene between Denzel Washington’s character Bleek Gilliam and Shadow Henderson (played by Wesley Snipes) as they go back and forth on the notion of black people not supporting “their” music versus the fact of not making music that people want to hear and support in the first place; a topic very much related to The Roots and their perceived lack of mainstream appeal versus other acts.

So there had to be something different about Mo Meta Blues right?  At the end of the day, it was still a memoir and there had to be a predictable formula right? 

This tale encompasses a rather interesting narrative.  Although told pretty much chronologically, from Quest’s origins, to the early days of The Roots and their establishment as a musical brand, there are several sidetracks that take place, although never out of order.  Questlove’s life shares a symbiotic relationship with music at its most primal level.  Even at his youngest, there was some semblance of rhythm, with him and his sister traveling with his father (a famous Doo Wop singer) and his mother (a singer and dancer) while they toured.  As early as three, he was placed in front of a drum set and something just “clicked” for him.

But even Quest’s presentation of his varied forty-two years is off the beaten path.  He describes himself as a “peculiar 6-foot-two walking Afro; and that is also a word that I can use to describe this book: Peculiar.


In Philadelphia, while other kids were busy playing outside and on the block, Quest was inside, listening to vinyl records and recreating sequences on his drums.   As early as ten, he was pouring over publications like The Rolling Stone, seeing the process behind their album reviews and hanging them on his wall.  His fascination ran deep.

The origin of The Roots started in high school with Questlove meeting Black Thought by chance in the principal’s office right before he was suspended.  Each one was fascinated in the other.  With Questlove, he saw this brass young boy, possibly hoodlum, who was so opposite of him and Black Thought saw a very conscious and eclectic guy, carrying around a small Casio keyboard (utilized early on for its ability to sample).  This coincidental encounter molded into them seeing each other for their abilities and performing on street corners in Philadelphia and at local talent shows.  These humble beginnings evolved into gaining a full band and eventually traveling overseas and touring.  Building a sizable buzz and following of fans they were able to turn this into a full blown record deal and the rest was history.


Of course there is much more to the “story” of Questlove than this, but it provides a suitable start to a long and storied career that still continues today; and there are many stories, some more outrageous than others.  How do you even explain going roller-skating with Prince at two in the morning at an empty rink?  You’ll just have to the read the book to find out.

Outside of all these fascinating anecdotes lies another factor to the book that makes it stand apart from the memoir genre: the fact that he’s not the only one telling the story.

While only Questlove can provide the details to the most intimate parts of his life, such as his heated fistfight with Black Thought or even more recently, his reaction to continued racial profiling by the cops (even with his enhanced notoriety on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon), it can sometimes help having an outspoken voice to balance out the measured tempo and terseness.

That voice is Richard Nichols, the band’s co manager since the very beginning.  What’s fascinating to see is how their stories of the same event can sometimes correlate or differ, with wildly varying opinions.  It’s an interesting dynamic, with Questlove’s story taking up the majority of the pages and Rich’s notes on certain events being included on the bottom of the page like footnotes.

It’s unapologetic, heartening, and even uncomfortable at times but one thing Mo Meta Blues isn’t is dull.  Free of the stereotypical glitz and glamor of simply providing a swansong of groupies and drugs, Questlove provides a one of a kind view into the mind of a man who didn’t just grow up around music or get involved with it.  He truly lives it every day of his life.


Filed under fanboy fanboy moment questlove the roots hip hop rap music

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Sci-Fi Back on Your Movie Screen


Starring Matt Damon and Jodie Foster

It’s been awhile since a big budget science fiction (Sci Fi) film made splashes on the big screen.  Being such a lover of that genre, I had to give this movie a chance; and for the most part it didn’t disappoint. 

Right down to the core, this is a science fiction movie.  Made by the same people who did District 9, one of my favorite Sci Fi movies of the last few years, they don’t deviate too harshly from that same aesthetic and feeling; although the backdrop is now mainly Los Angeles and not South Africa.

They don’t waste too much time in setup, with a large portion being sold through the atmosphere itself and less through dialogue.  You are simply told that at a certain point, the wealthiest left the planet due to overpopulation and settled upon a satellite world of their own construction named Elysium.  The poor and medically inferior were left on Earth, forced to scrounge for whatever was left.  This theme of class struggle is a popular trope used within science fiction.  I was glad when this didn’t present itself as the main conflict initially in the story.  Instead it quickly honed in on the main character.

Max Da Costa was shown through a serious of flashbacks to have been an orphan, living in a Spanish orphanage.  His fascination with Elysium and one day taking his childhood crush, Frey Santiago, there fuels his ambition to do whatever is necessary to make that dream happen.  Even if it means doing something negative.

It can even be surmised that this turned into him stealing and possibly doing worse later on, trying to acquire funds for the very costly trip (it was never explained if a person could legally move to Elysium).  He more than likely, degenerated into a life of crime after Frey left, leaving us with the stark transformation of the character by the beginning of the film.  But this is still me reaching because of the lack of details.

After an industrial accident exposes him to lethal levels of radiation, he is told that he will die in five days.  After being fired from the job without a care, he hopes to gain the help of a smuggler named Spider, who will only help him get to Elysium and to a Med-Pod that will cure him if Max helps him steal corporate information that he can profit from.  Spider arranges for him to receive biomedical implants, including a rudimentary exoskeleton that increases his strength and a transmitter to steal the information directly from the mark’s mind.

This sets up the conflict.  How will he get to Elysium and utilize their vastly superior medical technology?  What follows next is a planned hi-jacking of his former boss to gain this information, directly from his mind.  But things quickly turn sour as Jessica Delacourt, the high-ranking Elysian government minister, gets her mercenary involved to stop him and help further her ambitions to take over Elysium and incite a coup.

The story moves quickly.  So quickly that there isn’t really enough time to provide depth to most of the characters involved; and because of this, a lot of questions are left unanswered.  Besides power, why does Delacourt want to take over Elysium?  What brought her to this point?  She’s seen as a caring individual, doting over a young girl while at her house.  But then clearly disregards protocol in order to stop illegal citizens from landing on Elysium.  She clearly has some type of nuance, unless it was all a farce.  But we’ll never know.

None of this should take away from the outstanding effects presented onscreen.  Just like District 9, this movie is a technical marvel of industrial and dilapidated technology that gives the setting a firm place in time.  It’s a grimy and bleak future but you definitely get the feeling that it is a distant future that is possible.  If there’s one thing that was not scrimped on, it was getting the viewers to believe that they really were walking the dirty streets of crumbling Los Angeles and then the pristine gardens of Elysium.

As you can pretty much guess, this movie is not perfect.  A convenient plot with a paper thin motivation from the cast of characters leaves the story feeling a bit lacking in the depth that I was hoping to get in this two hour film.  With another hour, I feel as if they could’ve really dug into this world and provided a richer experience, making the ending that much more purposeful and cathartic; instead of predictable.  With a little bit more time, I could have developed some type of attachment to the characters and felt more like I was inundated in the frantic chase [main character] was a part of and not just watching it happen.  But I have to work with what I’m given; and what I was given was a pretty average experience overall, sans the special effects.

I can only hope that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this creator.  I really think that he can build off of District 9 and create a compelling story surrounding a single character, while still presenting a vast over world.

Here’s hoping .

Filed under Sci Fi Elysium Movie ideas

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5 Steps for “Getting Your Writing Out There”



^A screenshot of my writing portfolio website,

letsmakelifefun asked:

I love to write. I have been seriously writing for about 2 years now. I really want to make this Tumblr successful. How do I draw attention to my stories?

shreddedstarlight asked: 

Hey! How do you feel about using blogs to display your own personal and/or creative writing? Wordpress vs Tumblr as a venue? and advice for getting over the fear of sharing my writing? Thanks - I LOVE this blog. :-)

I wouldn’t say that I have this big “internet following” of readers of my work, specifically (I know this because when I do try to self promote on Yeah Write, I get proportionately very few bites haha), but I do think it’s useful to have a dedicated website where you post your writing—an e-portfolio, if you will. Not only will more people see your writing—and hey, this is the interwebs, where there are millions of potential readers—but it adds an air of legitimacy to your writing if you’re applying for jobs or trying to get published.

I do have some opinions on how best to do this! Here zay are:

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Filed under reblog writing success

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Deviating From Your Story’s Plan



istartedtheapocalypse asked:

I had it set in my head that I would have two MCs, in their perspectives. But lately, I’ve noticed that when I write I don’t write from their perspectives. Instead it’s from this third wheel girl who watches their relationship & kind of tags along, & she’s developing her own personality. It isn’t what I had in mind at all. It’s just happening. I’m afraid it’ll ruin things, but I have this feeling that it could make them better, too. Do you think it’s bad to go outside a plan, or is that growth?

The thing about planning is that for some people, it works, and for others it doesn’t. What I’ve figured out is that

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Never really had my characters “write” themselves.  But I have definitely deviated from what I thought the story would be.  I can definitely understand this.

Filed under reblog main character writing

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What’s it like being a young person living in one of the largest American cities to declare bankruptcy? Watch the new trailer from our upcoming documentary from the Off/Page  Project, our new collaboration with Youth Speaks, to discover what happens when teens from Stockton, California, examine their lives through an artistic and journalistic lens for the first time.

Follow Off/Page on Tumblr!

Will definitely keep my eye on this.

Filed under reblog youth bankruptcy

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A Tiny Printer For Every Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Lover

This is VERY cool.  Incorporating the design aesthetics of the eighties into a do it yourself RPG system.  I will definitely keep an eye on this.

Filed under tiny printer choose your own adventure invention cyoa