A to Z Challenge: H is for Hamilton


On December 9, 2015, after a week of listening to the Original Cast Recording of Hamilton non-stop, I went to the in-person lottery on a Wednesday at noon and won. I wrote this post in January, so I’m making H for Hamilton and finally hitting publish.


While the recording gives an accurate portrayal of what the show sounds like, there are a few aspects that are ten times more powerful on stage. Here are a few examples, in no particular order: Continue reading

A to Z Challenge: G is for (Writing) Groups

Group selfie with the NaNoWriMo staff

Writing groups can have a lot of benefits. At the moment, I’m part of a writing critique group, a member of the NYC chapter of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and I have any number of writing buddies. I also participate in multiple weekly Twitter chats for writers. One of these chats spawned a weekly Google Hangout with three other writers. In addition, I’m a Municipal Liaison (ML) for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), which means I’m part of a small team of volunteers who run writing events in-person and online.  Continue reading

A to Z Challenge: F is for Fragrance and Flavor

IMG_4883My first drafts are pretty spare. I focus on characters and plot, dialogue and blocking. Setting details get added later. Internal monologue and reactions happen in the 2nd pass. Sensory details – like fragrances or flavors – are usually an afterthought. I’m trained as an artist, so while it’s easy for me to describe the look of something, I usually forget to include other sensory details until later. But they’re equally important. Scent can evoke memory. Taste can change a mood. Did your character just walk into a used bookstore? Maybe the scent reminds her of her grandmother’s house. Did your character just eat garlic bread? Probably not going to be kissing anyone anytime soon. What if your character is hard of hearing or has limited eyesight? The other senses will be that much stronger, and those details will stand out even more. Those little sensory details can build out a story and create a more 3-dimensional world for your reader to fall into. Continue reading

A to Z Challenge: E is for (Work) Environment

Last year I was given a great piece of writing advice: “Don’t be so precious with your process.” How much time do we spend talking about the right or wrong chair, desk, noise level, playlist, snack, etc? There’s something to be said for having a chair and keyboard that don’t cause you pain, but while we might have some kind of “ideal work environment” in mind, how likely is it to have that all the time?

Last summer I managed to get away from NYC a few times to what I thought would be close to an ideal writing environment: Smalltown Connecticut, sunroom with a view, no responsibility, limited cell service. And you know what? I was so distracted! I couldn’t stop watching all the crazy birds and animals in the yard. I got too hot in the middle of the day, then too cold when the sun went down. The pull of fun outdoorsy things was strong (bike rides and tubing down the river), as was watching romantic comedies on TV with a grandma. I managed to get work done, but it was usually at night, hunched over my netbook on the camp bed.

The ideal writing environment is a myth, at least for me. As much as I like to tell myself I’d get a ton of writing done in a remote cabin somewhere, probably I’d just nap the whole time and be worried about crazy people in the woods.  Continue reading

A to Z Challenge: D is for Dear Diary

IMG_1759Today I want to talk about the impact of journaling on the creative process.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, advises writing “morning pages” — 3 handwritten journal pages — every day upon waking. I’ve done them faithfully in the past. They’re great. They get your thoughts out of your head and onto the paper, where you can either examine them or forget all about them. The pages allow ideas to flow, and epiphanies to appear. Sometimes you just write about how you don’t know what to write about. Other times, I found myself thinking, Oh, so THAT’S how I feel about that thing. Journaling is an incredibly helpful life practice.

I’d argue that anyone can benefit from journaling, but for writers it’s useful on multiple levels. The journal allows you the freedom to write without the mysterious future phantom reader looking over your shoulder. Writing by hand with a pen elicits different thoughts and sentences than typing does.  Continue reading

A to Z Challenge: C is for Check-In: March 2016 Writing Recap

 Every month I do a recap of how the writing went the previous month. I did some traveling in March (Los Angeles vacation and a writing conference in NJ) that, combined with stupid Daylight Savings Time, left me feeling kind of tired the entire month. (I’m also incapable of sleeping in, so if I go to bed late, that’s it.)

Still, I managed to make progress on all fronts! Continue reading

A to Z Challenge: A is for April

min-drawingThe A to Z Challenge involves 26 posts during the month of April. I usually max out at 4 posts a month, but I’m taking this on in an effort to blog more often and  learn the art of writing short, quick posts. The theme of Creative Staycation is writing/creativity, so you can expect the A to Z posts to follow along those lines.

My name begins with A, so I thought this would be an easy post. A is for Alexis, right? Nope. The post I ended up writing is more about my intentions for this month, so A is for April instead.  Continue reading