Posted in books, creative writing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit, writer's blog

a dense but colorful concrete jungle

Today I walked through a Dense but not boring Concrete Jungle.

dense concrete world I bought the book for a young person. But it was left in my house for a long time. So one recent day I decided to buy some coloring pencils and tried out this pass time activity. The first picture was a rather futuristic one and my audience did not comment so I knew it was really not presentable. I did a second one without recognizing the objects until I finished and took a picture and read the small heading which labeled “Bon Voyage”. I realized then I was coloring a whole lot of sails on waves! Someone sent a few claps. So I was encouraged to do a third one. This is the result and I finished it on time for this week’s picture, “dense”.

When I first looked at the densely packed buildings in this concrete jungle I really had no clue what colors I should use to make it a bit more cheerful looking. So I just picked whatever color pencils I pulled out from the pack at odd time when I was taking a break from my usual writing or translating work. Often it was after a meal. It became quite fun as I was amused by the colors that come out at random after a while.

I like to imagine what kind of people would reside in such colors. Would they like the colors? I imagine myself as a friendly giant who tries to be helpful by breaking the monotony of the colorless world through splashing bright colors at random on people’s houses. Perhaps he is trying to cheer up some home alone children who look out of their tiny windows. I hope they like the colors. Being fictional characters they can swap house if they prefer the colors of their neighbor’s house and vice versa of course.

Posted in creative writing, God's blessing, photography, power of words, words of thoughts and spirit

we can hear the colors before we see them

It IS Easy Being Green!
green 4I took this picture by the roadside. When you look at the picture closer you will find that it is not perfect. It has a lot of lush green leaves but it also has leaves with holes. It is by the side of a little park which is regularly maintained by odd job workers who merely cut the grass or trim overgrown branches which intrude onto the road. Otherwise the plants just grow as they like. Rainfall is ample and there is no lack of tropical sunshine. The color of green is common and people do not particularly notice it. The park benches were painted green once and soon faded. Why are there holes in the leaves? Well, the insects and birds and other creatures live here and thrive too. Some mornings we can hear beautiful melodies sung by birds of unknown names. In the evening we hear all sorts of other little creatures each performing its utmost best to outdo each other perhaps. We cannot see them. The bushes are thick and the trees are tall and form a green canopy surrounding the park. The footsteps of the wind often sound like those of the rain. But when we hear the sound of creatures we know it has to be the wind and not otherwise. Green is an easy color. So are others. The Lord has made them all, beautiful and awesome! The wonder of all is that we can hear the colors before we see them.

Posted in creative writing, poetry, words of thoughts and spirit

The Joy of Writing: two poems for the weekend

The Joy of WritingThe Joy of Writing
Why does this written doe bound through these written woods?
For a drink of written water from a spring
whose surface will xerox her soft muzzle?
Why does she lift her head; does she hear something?
Perched on four slim legs borrowed from the truth,
she pricks up her ears beneath my fingertips.
Silence – this word also rustles across the page
and parts the boughs
that have sprouted from the word “woods.”

Lying in wait, set to pounce on the blank page,
are letters up to no good,
clutches of clauses so subordinate
they’ll never let her get away.

Each drop of ink contains a fair supply
of hunters, equipped with squinting eyes behind their sights,
prepared to swarm the sloping pen at any moment,
surround the doe, and slowly aim their guns.

They forget that what’s here isn’t life.
Other laws, black on white, obtain.
The twinkling of an eye will take as long as I say,
and will, if I wish, divide into tiny eternities,
full of bullets stopped in mid-flight.
Not a thing will ever happen unless I say so.
Without my blessing, not a leaf will fall,
not a blade of grass will bend beneath that little hoof’s full stop.

Is there then a world
where I rule absolutely on fate?
A time I bind with chains of signs?
An existence become endless at my bidding?

The joy of writing.
The power of preserving.
Revenge of a mortal hand.

(By Wislawa Szymborska
From “No End of Fun”, 1967
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh)

Here is another of her poems:

Possibilities.
I prefer movies.
I prefer cats.
I prefer the oaks along the Warta.
I prefer Dickens to Dostoyevsky.
I prefer myself liking people
to myself loving mankind.
I prefer keeping a needle and thread on hand, just in case.
I prefer the color green.
I prefer not to maintain
that reason is to blame for everything.
I prefer exceptions.
I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.
I prefer moralists
who promise me nothing.
I prefer cunning kindness to the over-trustful kind.
I prefer the earth in civvies.
I prefer conquered to conquering countries.
I prefer having some reservations.
I prefer the hell of chaos to the hell of order.
I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages.
I prefer leaves without flowers to flowers without leaves.
I prefer dogs with uncropped tails.
I prefer light eyes, since mine are dark.
I prefer desk drawers.
I prefer many things that I haven’t mentioned here
to many things I’ve also left unsaid.
I prefer zeroes on the loose
to those lined up behind a cipher.
I prefer the time of insects to the time of stars.
I prefer to knock on wood.
I prefer not to ask how much longer and when.
I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility
that existence has its own reason for being.

(By Wislawa Szymborska
From “Nothing Twice”, 1997
Translated by S. Baranczak & C. Cavanagh)

The author’s biography excerpted from Wikipedia: She is described as a “Mozart of Poetry”. Maria Wisława Anna Szymborska (2 July 1923 – 1 February 2012) was a Polish poet, essayist, translator and recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded “for poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality”. She frequently employed literary devices such as ironic precision, paradox, contradiction and understatement, to illuminate philosophical themes and obsessions. Many of her poems feature war and terrorism.

Her reputation rests on a relatively small body of work, fewer than 350 poems. When asked why she had published so few poems, she said: “I have a trash can in my home”.

I hope you have enjoyed her poems. They are truly reflections of a joy of writing, a power of preserving. Like her, I too, prefer the absurdity of writing poems to the absurdity of not writing poems.

Posted in animals, creative writing, photography, poetry, words of thoughts and spirit

detail focused dog

Details
dog smells details
smell and wag my tail
not as it may seem entail
I go for detail

Note: This little dog came from nowhere and started smelling everyone’s feet one day as a group of travelers visited a village in a developing country. It was an extremely poor farming community. But the residents seem to love dogs and keep pretty ones like this one.

Posted in blogging, books, creative writing, God's blessing, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, thoughts, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

writing with an aim

winter and branches
Writing without an aim is like taking this winter picture of bare branches at random while strolling by. Is it essential to have an aim? I believe so. HERE ARE SOME DEFINITIONS of AIM:
Objective, object, goal, end, target, design, desire, desired result, intention, intent, plan, purpose, object of the exercise; ambition, aspiration, wish, dream, hope, raison d’être.

I ask myself, “Why do I write this little note daily? What is my aim?” My answer is, “I need the practice.” Blogging is an effective way to practice writing and keeping your brain working a bit. Reading and writing are still the more tested way of keeping a person’s brain cells exercising a bit and not falling into stupor for too long to the point of eventual incapacity. A point of no return. The more reluctance one feels the more one should try to write and read. One way of learning to write is to copy. Take your favorite book and start copying chapters. Make it a daily habit. Another way is to write a letter to a loved one. You may not get to post the letter but it does keep you going and building a habit. I just read of someone who actually hand writes to many people. Over the years many have received and even collected his handwritten letter and notes. Some frame them up. (You know who the person is as he is in the news right now.) I have not posted a physical letter for years. Even my email has been replaced by short social text or multimedia messages. But I find that the short messages do not take brainwork to compose. It is more like clicking at random and giving automatic pre-programmed short replies.

When I interview some persons I find that they have nothing to say. They are not even capable to think. They have nothing to say about themselves or others. Their minds do not store words. I note that they spend the bulk of the interview time messaging or reading messages on their mobile handheld phone including iPads, iPhones and other smart phones. I find it sad to look at them or think about their lives. Can a man or woman happily leave out a big part of what God has perfectly created and designed for them to have and enjoy? I often wonder. Please do not get me wrong. I am not judging the rightness or wrongness of a lifestyle. I am just lamenting the loss of quality of life that God has given so richly to each of us as human.

Writers ad poets like to dream that one day the whole earth will be filled with readers of books. I am one of such dreamers.

Posted in creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, photography, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

writing without stress

highlights
Writing involves seeing and spotting little things that require spotlights. How can we see better or know where to highlight? My experience is that I see by reading others. I just read three biographies, two are translations from German and Russian. One is in its original language-Chinese. How did I have time to read three books in three days? I read them while I walked on my treadmill or ride on my stationary bike. Instead of watching TV I read while doing my physical exercises. Why do I do exercises? Because I enjoy them. I also unwind and relax my strained muscles from long hours of typing.

By pacing myself in my body and my mind I manage to complete five out of seven parts in the book I am translating and re-writing. Quite a good progress considering my reluctance to write this book.

On top of keeping fit body and soul, I keep fit in my spirit. Being a Christian I enjoy my daily communion with my Lord, reading the Bible, praying and sitting and talking to God before dawn. I receive my day’s supply of spiritual nourishment by actively seeking God. When not reading I pray too while walking (not running). Being refreshed in body, soul and spirit help me to write without stress and burnout.

Posted in blogging, books, creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, writer's blog, writing

Do we still need writers?

woman reading Irish copyToo often I write without thinking of what I shall do with the written words. When the words come, perhaps even at midnight I just sit up and write. I am doing a book in another language at the same time but it is based on a book already formed and written in English so the translated work is only a partial writing as I add new information I have since uncovered in my research and interviews. For that book I know the target audience so it is not exactly like writing without a direction.

But when it comes to my thoughts in words at midnight I have no audience except myself. I read yesterday that the traditional publishers of physically printed books have to collaborate with providers of e-technology so that the books can be published online or in other multi-media forms. The increasing spectacular growth in online internet environment and mobile-phone and portable hand-held e-book reading gadgets trend warrants that the traditional publishers change drastically and involve themselves in strategic alliance with paperless technology professionals.

Whilst the technology gadgets are dazzling and convenient for the young users and perhaps readers of books, the contents of books still cannot be replaced by gadgets. Content counts. That is why we still write. There is still hope for a content writer.

Posted in books, creative writing, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, photography, writer's blog, writing

Some people walk away from you. A few march with you.

jeffrey-archer-mary-archer
Jeffrey and Mary Archer

“Some people standby you in your darkest hour while others walk away; only a select few march towards you and become even closer friends.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell
“We all make mistakes but one has to move on.”
“If you make a deal with a fool, don’t be surprised when they act foolishly.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell
“I find I don’t learn a lot while I’m talking”
“While there may not be a book in every one of us, there is so often a damned good short story.”
“Are parents always more ambitious for their children than they are for themselves?”
― Jeffrey Archer, A Prisoner of Birth
“There are defining moments in one’s life when you learn about yourself, and you deposit that knowledge in the experience account, so you can draw on it at some later date.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Best Kept Secret
“Making a million legally has always been difficult. Making a million illegally has always been a little easier. Keeping a million when you have made it is perhaps the most difficult of all.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less
“It’s one of the ironies of mountaineering,’ said Young, ‘that grown men are happy to spend months preparing for a climb, weeks rehearsing and honing their skills, and at least a day attempting to reach the summit. And then, having achieved their goal, they spend just a few moments enjoying the experience, along with one or two equally certifiable companions who have little in common other than wanting to do it all again, but a little higher.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Paths of Glory
“The sign of a great man is how you handle defeat. – Old Jack”
― Jeffrey Archer, Best Kept Secret
“No, Mr Redmayne, not my tears. Although I’ve read that letter every day for the past eight months, those tears were not shed by me, but by the man who wrote them. He knew how much I loved him. We would have made a life together even if we could only spend one day a month with each other. I’d have been happy to wait twenty years, more, in the hope that I would eventually be allowed to spend the rest of my life with the only man I’ll ever love. I adored Danny from the day I met him, and no one will ever take his place.”
― Jeffrey Archer, A Prisoner of Birth
“If you have talent and energy, you’re king. If you have only energy and no talent, you’re still a prince. But if you have talent and no energy, you’re a pauper.”
“You can often judge the character of a person by the way he treats his fellow men.”
― Jeffrey Archer, Only Time Will Tell
“only a fool blames the messenger.”
Mary Archer: ‘Jeffrey asked from jail if I wanted a divorce, but I’m not a quitter’
‘Hang on, hang on.” Dame Mary Archer is determined to interrupt her husband Lord Archer in mid-flow as he tells a story about the deal he did with her father to let her carry on with a career as a chemist after their marriage. “If I might be allowed…” she tells him in school-mistressy tones, fixing him with a look from across the drawing room of the Old Vicarage at Grantchester. But the bestselling novelist, entrepreneur, former politician, charity fundraiser and ex-prisoner is taking no notice. “You’ve said enough already,” he barks back, and the couple simultaneously burst out laughing.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Jeffrey Howard Archer, Baron Archer of Weston-super-Mare (born 15 April 1940) is an English author and former politician.
He was a Member of Parliament and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party, and became a life peer in 1992. His political career, having suffered several controversies, ended after a conviction for perverting the course of justice and his subsequent imprisonment. He is married to Mary Archer, a scientist specialising in solar power. Outside politics, he is a novelist, playwright and short story writer.

Posted in blogging, books, creative writing, words of thoughts and spirit, writer's blog, writing

“If I decided to send this to you, where would I send it? “

alice munro young
Alice Munro 

This is often my own question too. When I decide to write something for someone I really care and even love, I do not know where to send the words of love. I hesitate because it is painful to think of another life where we might have had together and know that it is no longer possible now. Here are some random thoughts from Alice Munro, who looks at ordinary lives and put words to them.

“If I decided to send this to you, where would I send it? When I think of writing the whole address on the envelope I am paralyzed. It’s too painful to think of you in the same place with your life going on in the same way, minus me. And to think of you not there, you somewhere else but I don’t know where that is, is worse.”
― Alice Munro, The Love of a Good Woman

“Always remember that when a man goes out of the room, he leaves everything in it behind… When a woman goes out she carries everything that happened in the room along with her.”
― Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness
Few people, very few, have a treasure, and if you do you must hang onto it. You must not let yourself be waylaid, and have it taken from you.”
― Alice Munro, Runaway
“Love removes the world for you, and just as surely when it’s going well as when it’s going badly.”
― Alice Munro, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Flo and Rose
“They were all in their early thirties. An age at which it is sometimes hard to admit that what you are living is your life.”
― Alice Munro, The Moons of Jupiter
“She sits in her usual ample armchair, with piles of books and unopened magazines around her. She sips cautiously from the mug of weak herb tea which is now her substitute for coffee. At one time she thought that she could not live without coffee, but it turned out that it is really the warm large mug she wants in her hands, that is the aid to thought or whatever it is she practices through the procession of hours, or of days.”
― Alice Munro, Too Much Happiness

Alice Ann Munro, née Laidlaw, is a Canadian short-story writer who is widely considered one of the world’s premier fiction writers. Munro is a three-time winner of Canada’s Governor General’s Award for fiction. Her stories focus on human relationships looked at through the lens of daily life. She has thus been referred to as “the Canadian Chekhov.”
She is the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Posted in books, creative writing, photography, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writing

random quotes on “stories”

CP50289_FDC_CoverV3.indd
Alice Munro -Canada Post

“A story is not like a road to follow … it’s more like a house. You go inside and stay there for a while, wandering back and forth and settling where you like and discovering how the room and corridors relate to each other, how the world outside is altered by being viewed from these windows. And you, the visitor, the reader, are altered as well by being in this enclosed space, whether it is ample and easy or full of crooked turns, or sparsely or opulently furnished. You can go back again and again, and the house, the story, always contains more than you saw the last time. It also has a sturdy sense of itself of being built out of its own necessity, not just to shelter or beguile you.”
― Alice Munro, Selected Stories, 1968-1994
“Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.”
― Terry Pratchett
“If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people.”
― Virginia Woolf
“That’s how stories happen — with a turning point, an unexpected twist. There’s only one kind of happiness, but misfortune comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s like Tolstoy said. Happiness is an allegory, unhappiness a story.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore
“But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story, because hers is where yours begin.”
― Mitch Albom, For One More Day
“…the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again.
That is their mystery and their magic.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom.
We lived in the gaps between the stories.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“It’s impossible to say a thing exactly the way it was, because of what you say can never be exact, you always have to leave something out, there are too many parts, sides, crosscurrents, nuances; too many gestures, which could mean this or that, too many shapes which can never be fully described, too many flavors, in the air or on the tongue, half-colors, too many.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale
“All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel.
All of them?
Sure, he says. Think about it. There’s escaping from the wolves, fighting the wolves, capturing the wolves, taming the wolves. Being thrown to the wolves, or throwing others to the wolves so the wolves will eat them instead of you. Running with the wolf pack. Turning into a wolf. Best of all, turning into the head wolf. No other decent stories exist.”
― Margaret Atwood
“The world isn’t just the way it is. It is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no?
Doesn’t that make life a story?”
― Yann Martel, Life of Pi
“Stories–individual stories, family stories, national stories–are what stitch together the disparate elements of human existence into a coherent whole. We are story animals.”
― Yann Martel, Beatrice and Virgil
“Endings to be useful must be inconclusive.”
― Samuel R. Delany

David Crystal
story
People tell stories about their stories at literature festivals. It’s interesting how the meaning of this word has come full circle. Originally, in the 13th century, stories had to be true: the word was a synonym for ‘history’—indeed, it came from Latin historia. But very soon it was applied to stories alleged to be true, and then (by the 16th century) to stories that were definitely not true. Today, the original meaning seems to be reasserting itself: I’ve lost track of the number of historical television programmes called “The story of something-or-other.” Maybe it’s time to resuscitate the verb use too: in the 16th century, there was a splendid usage: to story forth, meaning ‘to proclaim the story of.’ It’s what happens in dictionaries and thesauruses, after all. Which reminds me of the story that Eric Partridge tells, in The Gentle Art of Lexicography, of the old lady who borrowed a dictionary from the town library. She returned it with the comment: “A very unusual book indeed—but the stories are extremely short, aren’t they?”

Posted in creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, writing

10 Universities Offering Free Writing Courses Online

creative_writing
creative writing

For those who aspire to write or want to improve their writing, many schools offer free online courses and materials through OpenCourseWare (OCW) projects. While formal admission isn’t necessary to access lectures and other materials, these courses don’t usually award college credit. Students looking for the same ease of access and the opportunity to apply their study time towards a degree or certificate program might want to consider courses that can lead to an alternative form of credit.

Free Online Non-Credited Writing Courses
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Writing and Reading the Essay
Writing and Reading Short Stories
Through MIT’s OCW program, students can download a variety of undergraduate and graduate-level course materials that cover topics in, among others, essay, expository and technical writing. Course activities and formats include assignments, exams, lecture notes and video presentations.Writing and Reading the Essay focuses on the essay as a popular literary genre. The syllabus indicates two essay anthologies as course texts, which can be purchased online. Course activities include a reader’s journal and a series of personal writing assignments.The course in Writing and Reading Short Stories offers students the opportunity to study character development, plotting and point of view. Featured authors include, among others, Flannery O’Connor, Alice Walker, William Faulkner and John Updike.

New Jersey Institute of Technology
Technical Writing
The New Jersey Institute of Technology is a scientific and technological university that offers OCW courses and materials. The Technical Writing course is geared toward the advanced writer. In this course, which consists of about 40 video-taped lectures, students apply theory to analyze and solve complex communication problems. Course topics include audience awareness, document design, ethics, gender equity and rhetorical theory.

Open University
Start Writing Fiction
Writing What You Know
The Open University is the largest educational establishment in the United Kingdom, as well as the country’s only distance-learning school. The university’s free online classes may not provide access to the same resources used by formally enrolled students, but course formats might include Web- and print-based content as well as the ability to interact with other students through a comments feature.Start Writing Fiction is a 12-hour, introductory course that can provide students with the inspiration and tools they need to put their words on paper. The course emphasis is on developing character and settings within a variety of fiction genres. Writing What You Know is designed to help students improve their descriptive writing skills. This 8-hour, introductory class encourages students to view their everyday lives from a new perspective, demonstrating how an author’s personal life can serve as a source of inspiration.

Purdue University
Professional and Technical Writing
The Writing Process
Through Purdue University’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), students and teachers around the world can enjoy 24-hour access to a variety of Web-based resources, including handouts, podcasts and PowerPoint presentations. These include topics in grammar and mechanics, professional and technical writing, English as a Second Language (ESL), research and writing style. Professional and Technical Writing provides a list of varied Web-based resources that can show students and professionals how to research and write business letters, memos and other office-related documents. Topics include audience analysis, parallel structures and writing tone. Additional technical writing resources include information on how to write scientific abstracts and white papers. The Writing Process includes a list of mostly text-based resources and exercises that cover everything from overcoming writer’s block to proofreading strategies. Additional topics include pre-writing, thesis statements, outlining and audience analysis, which can be applied to a wide variety of writing tasks.

University of College Falmouth
Introduction to Novel Writing
Writing for Children
The University College Falmouth is a specialized art institution based in the United Kingdom. The non-credit classes offered through the school’s ‘openSpace’ project allow students to work at their own level and pace but don’t provide all the materials from the original course. Although registration isn’t required to access assignments, lectures and other materials, registered students may be able to participate in online chats and peer reviews. Introduction to Novel Writing was designed to provide graduate-level students with the structural skills to organize and develop extended pieces of creative writing. In addition to writing assignments and suggested readings, open course materials include YouTube videos by Joyce Carol Oates, Salmon Rushdie and Amy Tan. Writing for Children introduces students to the genres and styles integral to the market and helps them find the right age group for their story. Open course materials include assignments, background reading, examples of children’s books and an online lecture.

University of Iowa
Flash Fiction
How to Find the Short Story Within Your Novel
The Writing University is a Web-based resource for the school’s literary and writing community, providing direct access to a number of free audio presentations. Recent podcasts have included presentations on the sentence, creative nonfiction and experiential writing. Flash Fiction introduces students to the concept of the super-short story and its emergence as a mainstream literary trend. Listeners can learn how brief experiences or even a life story can be condensed to a paragraph or a couple of written lines.How to Find the Short Story Within Your Novel helps listeners identify the dissimilarities between these two literary forms. Students learn how to extract a quality excerpt from a longer piece of prose and how first-time authors can prepare their work for publication.

University of Massachusetts at Boston
Critical Reading and Writing
Critical Reading and Writing, with some course materials available through the school’s OCW project, is designed to help students achieve college-level reading and writing skills through a critical exploration of U.S. foreign policy. Students have access to the course syllabus, an assignment list and website. Through the course site, students can open and download text documents and PowerPoint presentations on topics like critical analysis strategies, brainstorming and building concepts, as well documents and links to online resources on foreign policy issues.

University of Michigan
Principles of Research and Problem Solving
This university participates as a member of the OpenCourseWare Consortium by providing free access to educational materials and course content through its Open.Michigan website. Principles of Research and Problem Solving is a course directed toward graduate students in pharmacy school. In this class, students develop scientific writing skills as they develop research proposals. OCW materials include ten PowerPoint lecture presentations, handouts and examples of student projects, as well as a syllabus and reading list.

Utah State University (USU)
Intermediate Writing: Research Writing in a Persuasive Mode
Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose
Utah State offers OCW materials in several academic departments. Students may be able to apply the knowledge gained from use of these open materials to pass exams to earn credit. USU may give credit to students who pass subject tests offered by individual departments, the International Baccalaureate Organization or CLEP exams, among other options.Intermediate Writing provides access to 16 weekly lessons, with links to readings and related writing assignments. Students learn how to engage in various components of the writing process while developing critical reading and thinking skills. Topics include writing about controversial topics, argumentation styles, source documentation and how to use multimedia resources. Introduction to Writing: Academic Prose is an online complement to a graduate-level course. The course materials are presented in a similar 16-week format, with links to several online readings and assignment descriptions. The syllabus begins with assignments related to debate and dialogue, cultural myths and visual literacy. Additional writing activities include a family narrative, a school board project and a media analysis.

(above quoted from online sources)

Posted in creative writing, God's blessing, life of riches and honor, literary magazines and publishing, photography, power of words, thoughts, writer's blog

Conversation outside the box: football and writing exam questions

February flowers3 copyI include below excerpts from a recent casual social conversation between a reader-R (in her forties), a child-C (around thirteen) and me-M. The goal is to encourage thoughts outside the box about starting a (money-making?) venture like writing reviews or doing something interesting and useful for their own specialty lifelong hobbies.

C: we never have enough money. Mom’s earning is like below the market rate for her qualification and experience. We are classified as living below the poverty line.

M: ok. tell me what you like to do and what you are best at? (addressing R)

R: i like reading. my only talent is reading.

C: but reading cannot generate any money!

M: yes, you can. tell me, can you write something?

C: mom cannot write one word. her mind is full of numbers and horror fiction stories (she is a graduate in economics, with professional qualification in accountancy).

M: can you write something, anything, just jotting down your thoughts as you read?

R: i cannot. i don’t know how to express myself in words.

C: she has never done it!

R: i can write good english. i scored high in english language. i have never tried writing reviews. i don’t know how to do it.

C: (started yelling in the background that her mom cannot write, will not write,  and is not interested in writing words at all as she does not even want to communicate with her in words except shouting repeatedly a few short commands-all negative, for her to carry out).

M: (addressing the mother) ok. i suggest you start by reading others’ reviews. just do it. read and learn how others write reviews. since you have read so many (perhaps thousands) books, read good reviews on those books you like. start writing something about why you like or dislike in a book. write something from a different angle. your angle. read others’ reviews gives you the perspectives, structure, and essential contents of a review. send your reviews to me. i shall help you along the process. ok?

M: (addressing the child) ok. what can you use your best talent or interest for (in terms of making money)?

C: well, shall i start a blog? i am right now interested in stuff that cannot generate any money. i am not in the main stream. i like stuff others rarely like in my environment.

M: such as?

C: Well, i like football clubs that are way out here and i don’t quite like the local club. i have nothing to say about them.

R: the local sports writer is lousy. he writes poorly.

C: NO, MOM! he is good! he writes good sports writing! he is a good reporter!

M: ok. why don’t you start writing too? anything about what you know?

C: i can’t. what i know is noway compared with so many good football reporters/writers know. there are many many who know so much more than me. i cannot start a blog when there are people out there who know more.

M: there you are wrong. you don’t need to compare or compete or measure yourself with others. you measure yourself with yourself yesterday, one day at a time, always progressing in steps. today you are doing better than yesterday. at thirteen you know more than at twelve.

C: ha? i can do that!

M: from what you have been writing (poetry and short commentaries on football matches), you are pretty good at them. you have natural talent in the use of language and creativity in thoughts and perspectives. your imagery is rich and vibrant. i have always enjoyed your hidden sense of humor behind your sharp and accurate observation. you will make a good teenage sports commentator. send me your reviews and reports and i shall work through them with you. ok?

P/s While I was sending my visitors off at the train station, the avid reader suddenly remarked that she would write mathematics examination assessment books! What an insight! On the other hand, the kid thought of her own social media blogs with a more focused goal-targeting her own niche of one particular language speaking group of teen girls like her. The hurdle is she needs to further improve her communication skills in that language. On return from the station, I found a newly arrived email advising me of a job vacancy Associate/digital media/football in a global group in sports and entertainment. Certainly this is interesting and not a small coincidence. Of course I am not applying. But it does give relevant information and the kind of job opportunities for young people in the world of digital media.

Posted in creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, thoughts, travel, words of thoughts and spirit, writer's blog, writing

the twin sisters: some thoughts on reading and writing

Derby public libraryI was in a developed Western nation with good English library facilities for about six months recently and borrowed many books and literature periodicals. The library system for online access is good and efficient. I could ask for books from the whole county and even beyond in other States. During those months of research I managed to access to many printed resources. Resources of various media such as audio-books, large prints, DVDs, and e-books etc. The only area where I believe needs improvement is the limited resources in foreign languages.

Any serious writer will agree that reading is essential for writing. To write well we need to read well. There is no short-cut. Personally I became an avid reader at the age of perhaps four. When I was eight I was reading thick books in another language. I could not really understand the depth of the literature but I read them anyway. It became a lifelong habit like breathing. Words breathing. I became selective after I learned to differentiate the good ones and the bad ones. Why bother? Someone asked. It matters a lot when we intend to write. Other good writers become our mentors. In a way they are feeding us so that we grow. We cannot have the wrong food and expect a healthy growth. Although by nature and interest I used to like and engage in reading lots of classical detective stories exhausting nearly all the famous names. However I soon realized that I was not going to write them. So I learned to read the genre I specialized in and the ones I knew I had talent in. Reading taste can be acquired with changes of our lifestyle and belief. For example, I became a born again Christian many years ago and my reading taste changed. My writing too. Admittedly my published written work was confined mainly in another language and genre group, I continue to read English books as my main diet and other languages according to their availability ad accessibility.

What can I gain from reading English books? I find the thoughts, concepts and the varieties of creative materials useful and can be used as generic base for writing. I prefer to read the original English versions. Some translated books are able to reflect nearly the exact thoughts and expressions of the original English books but some are quite far off the mark due to the vast differences in culture, tradition, value system and even religious belief between the English author and the non-English translator. Can a non-English author write well in English if English is his or her second language? My personal experience is that unless you think in the English language you cannot write it as well as those writers who think in it. Can thoughts be conditioned to think in a particular language? My answer is yes. So there is still hope if you are really passionate to read and write in a particular language which is not your mother tongue. It might be a big hurdle but if you persist in reading, thinking and writing in that language you may make it. One word of caution: you cannot become English unless you acquire its socio-economic culture, tradition, intrinsic value system and even religious belief. On the other hand, you may still acquire a small group of niche readers even if you are writing English as a second language if they can identify with your contents.

Posted in books, creative writing, literary magazines and publishing, power of words, thoughts, words of thoughts and spirit, writer's blog, writing

top 50 of the class: to publish or not to publish

50litmagazineI decided to post a list of the Top 50 Literary Magazine from online source. Please check them out to see if any suits your needs for publishing and exposure as a writer/potential writer/poet. I have not read all. Some of those I have read are good. Please do not be overly concerned with the ranking by the source which compiled this list. For those who are Christian writers and those who believe in prayers, pray for guidance.

(The following information and suggestion are quoted/excerpted from: http://www.everywritersresource.com/topliterarymagazines.html)

“The most important criteria we used this time was date of founding, number of national anthologies publications (and we looked at a lot of them), and the quality of work of and names of passed greats published in the magazines. The purpose of this list is to help writers find a place to publish their writing that will get them some recognition. It gives the authors more opportunity for exposure. Also these magazines tend to have a very good name in literary circles.
We have a suggestion. Go down this list and pick out a literary magazine that takes online submissions. Go to their site and submit your work. Also while you are there buy a subscription. Support those who support writers.”

Top 50 Literary Magazine

New Yorker
The best of the best. We didn’t have any commercial magazines on our last list, but it was a shame to leave this literary magazine out. It is one the oldest and the most honored magazine of all. Started in the 1920s and has a circulation of over a million readers. Online submissions
Ploughshares
Founded in 1971 Ploughshares is our best and highest ranked university non-commercial literary magazine. It is more honored by national anthologies than any other magazine except the New Yorker. Ploughshares is excellent and outstanding. Online submissions
The Atlantic
Founded in 1857 and often honored by national anthologies. This is another outstanding commercial magazine with a very large circulation of about 400,000 readers. Submissions by email.
Harper’s Magazine
Founded in 1850 and always well honored. It is an outstanding commercial literary magazine with a circulation of 220,000 readers. Submissions by email
Tin House
Started in 1998 but quickly became one of the best and best known literary magazines in the country. It has been honored by national anthologies more times than many literary magazine that have been publishing for over 100 years.
Paris Review
The Paris Review started in 1953 and is one of the best known literary magazines in the world. It is always publishing great authors and great works. No online submissions.
New England Review
Started in 1978 and is one of the best known and best loved literary magazines in the country. It is outstanding. Online submission by payment.
Georgia Review
Started in 1947 and has won many awards. It is a great literary magazine that publishes great authors and great works. No online submissions.
Kenyon Review
One of the best literary magazines in the country. You can always find great writers in its pages. Started in 1939. The magazine is one of the best out there, always. Submissions online.
Five Points
Is published by Georgia State university and is in our top 10 of these 50 for being always in national anthologies and winning awards. Founded in 1996 still less than 20 years old but a great literary magazine. Online submissions
Threepenny Review
Founded in 1980 and one of the best literary magazines out there. It’s always in national anthologies and winning awards. Online submissions
Antioch Review
Publishes great authors and great writing. It has been published by Antioch College since 1941. We love the Antioch review. They are in our database, and an outstanding literary magazine. No online submission
Callaloo
A journal publishing great authors and great works. Founded in 1976. Online submissions
Virginia Quarterly Review
One of the very best journals out there. This journal is often honored. Published by The University of Virginia since 1925. Online submissions
Southern Review
A great literary magazine. No online submissions
Conjunctions
An outstanding literary magazine. No Online submissions.
Epoch
Published by Cornell University since 1947 and always publishes great authors and great writing. No online submissions.
Granta
An outstanding literary magazine that has been publishing since 1889. They are honored with awards often. No online submissions.
Gettysburg Review
Founded in 1988 this literary magazine has been honored and talked about in national press often. Great work from great authors. No Online submissions
Cincinnati Review
Started in 2003 this literary magazine has published many outstanding authors and outstanding work. No online submissions.
Yale Review
For 100 years this literary magazine has published great works by great authors. It’s always worth a read and a submission. No online submissions.
Southwest Review
This literary magazine can trace its roots back to 1915. Published by Southern Methodist University. The magazine is always publishing great work. No online submissions.
Hudson Review
Founded in 1947 this literary magazine publishes outstanding work and authors. No online submissions.
Triquarterly
Founded in 1958 Triquarterly has always published great work. The magazine is honored often by national anthologies. Online submissions.
Crazy Horse
This literary magazine has been publishing great authors since 1960. We really enjoy Crazy Horse Magazine. This is a rare gem among many magazines of its kind. They are old school, so to speak. We recommend you buy a copy. Online submissions.
Iowa Review
Founded in 1970 this literary magazine publishing great work again and again. No online submissions.
Agni
Published by Boston University since 1972. This literary journal is always publishing great work. Online submissions.
Alaska Quarterly Review
Founded in 1980 and published at the University of Alaska of Anchorage. The magazine publishes great work. No online submissions
Mcsweeney’s
This magazine was founded in 1988 and has a large following. They also publish book. The literary magazine publishes great names in writing. Online submissions.
Shenandoah
This literary magazine began publishing in 1949 and is one of the very best. No online submissions.
Boulevard
The literary magazine has been publishing great work since 1985. It’s one of the best. Online submissions.
Harvard Review
Has been publishing outstanding work since 1986. Online submissions.
Fence
This literary magazine has been publishing great work since 1998. Online submissions.
American Scholar
An outstanding literary magazine since 1999. Online submissions
Subtropics
This literary magazine has only been publishing for 6 years, but has been honored so many times it made our list. No online submissions.
Witness
First published in 1987 the literary magazine has come on strong lately with many honors. Online submissions.
Volt
Published since 1991 this magazine is always coming up with great work. On online submissions.
Glimmer Train
Glimmer Train is only way down here at 38 because they do not publish poetry. Most of our numbers that go into this list are based on awards and anthologies, and magazines on our list take a big hit for only publishing Short stories or only poetry. It’s not a perfect method. Glimmer Train is one of the best literary magazines in the country. If they published poetry they would most-likely be in the top 10.
Prairie Schooner
This literary magazine has been publishing since 1927 and is one of the very best. Their new website is very well done, and they now take online submissions!
The Missouri Review
Since 1978 this magazine has won many honors and has published great works by great authors. The Missouri Review is one of those old . Online submissions.
Oxford Review
The journal was founded in the 1970s and is always publishing great works. No online submissions.
Bomb
The literary magazine has been publishing since 1981 and always has great authors. No online submissions.
A Public Space
Was founded in 2006 but has won many honors in the short time it has been publishing. Online submissions.
Chicago Review
Founded in 1946 this literary magazine is always publishing great works. No online submissions.
Connecticut Review
An outstanding literary magazine. No online submissions.
Black Warrior Review
This literary magazine was founded in 1947 and always publishes great works. The Black Warrior Review is always publishing outstanding works by amazing authors. We are big fans of this unique and long standing magazine. Online submissions.
American Poetry Review
This literary magazine only publishes poetry and was founded in 1976. It is one of the top 2 poetry magazines in the country. No online submissions.
Poetry
The best poetry magazine in the country. Founded in 1912 and always publishing great poets. Online submissions.
Barrow Street
The literary magazine only publishing poetry and was founded in 1998. One of the best. No online submissions.
Massachusetts Review
One of the very best. Founded in 1959 and is always publishing great work. Online submissions.

Posted in books, creative writing, photography, thoughts, writing

The nightmare of ‘It might have been’

uphill climbWords fascinate me, and those who write. For no particular reason one comes across a word or a clutter of words and is immediately drawn into its home. Yes, each word has a home of its own. I have been there. Some an impressive majestic estate. Others a humble hamlet. Each in its uniqueness and depth. When I am adventurous I venture into one of them. But often I stay away. Yet, sometimes I ponder on the opportunity I have missed, just as the following saying,

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been’.” (John Greenleaf Whittier)

Why did I stay away and later regret? I ask. The answer is like this picture I took one winter day of climbing up a mountain. Just feel like the steps are getting too heavy to carry. I was in a train. Yet I could feel the weight. Some words are too heavy. But they have the depth and richness within and have lured many to press upward and deeper. Writers of worth do lots of trekking and digging. Some have spent many years just to finish a book. But the book remains even after they are gone.

Where have my ‘might have been’ books gone? Sometimes at night I can hear them knocking at my window and whispering, “Let me in.” Perhaps I shall pluck up enough courage to open my window one wintry night and let one in from the cold.

“She had always wanted words, she loved them; grew up on them. Words gave her clarity, brought reason, shape.”
― Michael Ondaatje, The English Patient

Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.”
― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Posted in creative writing, photography, power of words, travel, words of thoughts and spirit

Choices

in Light 2Looking through the photographs taken in recent months and stored in a temporary file in the external hard disc, attempting to fine comb them, keeping a select few and discarding the rest, so that the backup storage can be freed to accommodate more, newer and perhaps better ones, this sentimental writer just cannot make up the mind.

Decision over keeping and discarding is really hard for one who values every moment captured in the memory, good or better. Life is full of choices. From the moment one is born to the moment one leaves this world for good.

In the matter of photos one needs not just good eyes, one needs a heart that can discern and recognize value that matters. But who is to set the value criteria for the individual photographer? How to know which one you will miss sometime in future? Sentiments and feelings are transient -here today and gone tomorrow. Like travel choices. Not one traveler can ever be sure what he or she will meet the next moment.

Often I see a person smiling for no obvious reason, feet suddenly halted, eyes sparkling, fixed on something, a prim and proper small dog walking on the pavement wearing a pink polka dot sweater, a young athletic mother pushing a pram and jogging at the same time while the big size toddler inside chuckling away both having a field day, a window display of old records or old books at a tiny shop front in a back street, food and drink menu at the entrance of a lonely oriental-style cafe in a _star hotel, a tattered and weather beaten wooden bench for two at a deserted bus-stop in a sleepy village, an old time slapstick comedy on the screen of a TV at a road-side open air coffee and light snacks stall or even after a friendly greeting with someone on the road. Smile is an outcome. The choice behind the smile matters. The individual makes a choice to remember the good part of life no matter how distant it has become.

If faces are like Facebook post with an icon for viewers to click, this writer would have clicked countless ‘like’s on many faces met over many traveling years. I have been so blessed with the good choices from others. Perhaps one day someone would invent the live ‘icons’ we can click ‘like’ on people’s faces. The more ‘likes’ are given to and received from others the more the face ‘glows’. There should be a validity check too, such as, genuine, sincere, honest, and without secret agenda or ulterior motive.

Posted in creative writing, photography, power of words, words of thoughts and spirit

It has been sometime since…

a solo bird on sand
a pondering lone bird on sand

The longer we put words on the shelf, the more difficult it is to take them down, assemble them, pick them out, line them up, polish and display them in an organized, coherent, meaningful and attractive manner. Reading indiscriminately will cause indigestion like a glutton gorging on food. Words are food for thoughts. Good words are good nourishment for the hungry soul. A person who does not read sufficient proper books suffers malnutrition of the soul, because he or she often ends up feeding excessively on physical food and mass media junks. Persistent feeding on junks shows. The window to the soul-the eyes will have a glazed look of arid, bored, uninteresting, and perhaps even lifeless emptiness within. The same for a writer who has become dusty because of other preoccupations.

It has been sometime since I last wrote. Searching for something to spring clean I stumbled on this blog. Sorry, I said. Of course it takes time to do something or think of something to do or write. Putting the new coat on and fingers on the keyboard help. I hope you like the new look. 😉