Friday, September 28th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Diamante Poems

Maryland Blue CrabA diamante poem is formulaic in nature, often discusses two opposite ideas, and when finished, takes the shape of a diamond.

For teachers, it’s a wonderful method to help students learn about nouns, verbs and adjectives.

For writers, it’s a great exercise to warm up the brain and get you stretching your vocabulary: you’ll want to choose nouns, verbs and adjectives beyond the usual.

Here’s the formula for each line:

  1. A simple noun
  2. two adjectives which agree with, or describe, the noun in line 1
  3. three verbs as modifiers which also agree with the noun in line 1
  4. four nouns: two should be related in some way to the noun in line line 1, and two should be related to the noun in Line 7.
  5. three verbs as modifiers of the the noun on line 7
  6. two adjectives which agree with, or describe, the noun in line 7
  7. one simple noun which is the opposite of the noun in line 1.

Here’s my first stab at it:

calcified, clawed
scuttling, scavenging
cooperative, omnivorous — carnivorous, singular
blooming, pulsating, stinging
gelatinous, tentacled

Here’s Your Prompt:

Your turn!

Images available from Wikipedia, Creative Commons License:

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Contest! And an Interview with Richard Long – Author of the Book of Paul

Just in time for Halloween, Richard Long has published his ‘supernatural thriller,’ The Book of Paul. To kick it off, he’s launched a contest where you could win a free tarot reading from Richard himself. Other prizes include $300 in Amazon gift cards and a Kindle Fire!

Read on beyond the interview to find out how.

Cover of the Book The Book of Paul by Richard Long.1. Tell us about the spark of inspiration that eventually grew into The Book of Paul.

The initial inspiration for The Book of Paul came when I wrote the first line of the first chapter called Exercises: “He practiced smiling.” I wanted to explore a character who had been so damaged by childhood trauma that he could no longer feel compassion, joy, affection, and had, accordingly, committed all kinds of horrible acts. I wondered if such a person could ever regain his emotional capacity and be redeemed by love.

2. What was the research process like for this book? Any horror stories to share?

There are many aspects to the story, so the research was really extensive. I love doing the research almost as much as the writing, so it’s a joy for me to read and learn so many new things. The creation mythology literally goes back to square one and builds from there, tracing the history of Hermetic and Gnostic philosophy, alchemy, druidism and pagan mythology–particularly Egyptian, Greek and Celtic traditions. There’s also a strong science fiction element involving quantum physics, artificial intelligence, life extension and what’s known as The Singularity. Other lines of exploration involved Irish genealogy and what I call the pain culture: tattoos, elaborate piercings and body modifications.

I made some gruesome discoveries along the way. The most disturbing was the Extreme Body Modification website I stumbled upon, which is one of the most horrifying things I’ve ever seen. I first saw it in the early days of the Internet, which is pretty amazing in itself. I checked recently and it’s still there, though I didn’t have the stomach to peek inside again. I’m actually as squeamish as some of my readers about certain things, which is probably why the horror comes across so vividly. If something scares the hell out of me, it’s easy for me to convey that fear and revulsion.

3. Tell us about Paul. Who is he and what is his book about?

The Book is a 4th century codex, the only one of it’s kind. How and why it was made and what it contains is one of the central mysteries of the series, so I’m not going to spill those beans. Paul is every bit as mysterious. When he is first introduced you might think he’s a serial killer involved with the occult in some way. As the story progresses you discover some really unexpected things about him. One thing is clear from the outset – he is one very nasty piece of work. I’ve always felt that any horror novel or thriller is only as good as the villain. I definitely aimed for the fences with Paul.

Cover of the Book The Book of Paul by Richard Long.4. There is a strong tarot undercurrent to this novel. The protagonist even makes his living by reading the cards. Why did you decide to work it into The Book of Paul, and how does it surface throughout the course of the story?

I actually did tarot and numerology readings when I lived in the East Village many years ago. The tarot led me to a lot of dark occult explorations, which are mirrored in William’s journey. I was lucky enough to pull out of that nosedive and hop over to the Buddhist side of the fence. William is not so fortunate. The reader gets drawn into William’s world through his first person narration as he talks about becoming a collector of ancient occult manuscripts, which leads him to the tarot. Then he gradually reveals more through his journal entries, which contain the meat of the mythology and all the Hermetic and Gnostic lore. Finally, he discovers that the tarot is actually related to an apocalyptic prophecy, which Paul is determined to fulfill by any means necessary, which is very bad news for Billy.

5. At almost 500 pages, this is not a short novel. From start to finish, how long did it take you to write, revise, and ready for publication?

I’ve written over 2,000 pages for The Book of Paul and the series. The first draft of this volume was close to a thousand pages long. I cut out eight characters and their storylines in the second draft, which netted my first agent. She wanted a lower page count, so many of the narrator’s interior musings were cut. Those were actually some of my favorite sections. Then I moved to another agent and he wanted more of the mythology put back in, so it grew close to this size. After six months he hadn’t sold it, so I got sick of the whole process, wrote it the way I wanted, and published it.

6. Irish mythology is woven into The Book of Paul, and at one point, Paul even makes a sarcastic quip about the luck of the Irish. Why Irish, and how all does its culture influence the story?

When I’m writing, I go into a daydream state where I imagine the character and what he or she looks like and where they are and what they’re doing. No outline usually. I sit back and watch and listen. If it’s great the way I imagine it, then writing the dialog is like taking dictation. When I wrote the first chapters with Paul, I was surprised because I kept hearing him speak with an Irish brogue, but his accent went in and out – sometimes really thick, sometimes a little lilt, sometimes no accent at all. So I’m thinking, what’s that about?

I come from Irish American stock, but my parents told me absolutely nothing about their parents other than to say they were cruel. So that’s the starting point with Paul. He’s the ultimate bad dad. The more I explored Paul, the deeper it led me into Celtic mythology, Irish genealogy and history. I suppose I’m trying to find the missing links of my own heritage. My grandmother was born in Ireland, so I have dual citizenship, even though I haven’t been there yet. I’m thinking I’ll go next year when I’m writing the third sequel.

7. Who is your target audience for this novel?

The Book of Paul doesn’t fit into any neat, tidy genre. It’s very complex.

There’s a Pulp Fiction element to it, with quirky characters in a seedy environment. There’s a major religious/mythological mystery for the Dan Brown crowd. It’s very funny, but incredibly poignant. It’s very disturbing, but there are lots of fast-paced action scenes. There’s romance and kinky sex. Something for everybody.

8. Why did you decide to self-publish The Book of Paul, and how has the journey been so far?

The traditional publishing industry in general is like a boxer on the ropes in the tenth round. For fiction it’s even worse. Add first-time novelist to the list and sprinkle on an unclassifiable genre for a little seasoning. I had two agents who were well known and successful, and very enthusiastic about the book. But the editors they reached wouldn’t take a chance on it. I could have kept trying, but frankly, I ran out of patience.

How has it been so far? The book is out in the world and it’s just the way I wanted it. I have complete control over everything I do, including the cover art, which is also exactly how I want it. The marketing is a lot of hard work, particularly the social marketing, which I had never done before. But that’s turned out to be a lot of fun too. I’m meeting so many great people–other authors and readers–and getting such a strong response on the book that it feels like a vindication. See? I told you so. Nyah! Nyah! Nyah!

How to Enter the Contest

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Book of Paul eBook edition is just 99 cents this week. By purchasing this book, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $300 in Amazon gift cards, 5 autographed copies of the book, and a look into your future through a free tarot reading performed by the author.

You can also win by commenting.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Writing Prompt – The Impending Equinox and Halfsies

Photo of a Maple Tree in the Fall with leaves changing colors.Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox: the first day of Fall.

Equinox is a sort of contraction, stemming from two Latin words: aequus, meaning “equal” and nox, meaning “night.” During the Autumnal Equinox (and again for the Vernal or Spring Equinox) day and night are approximately the same length of time: 12 hours.

Since the Autumnal Equinox signals the end of Summer and the beginning of Fall, you might be thinking that this prompt is going to devolve into discussing all things Autumn. Not at all.

The Equinox got me thinking about dividing things into halves, or even opposites: an equal portion of day and night, light and dark, yin and yang.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about “your better half.” I’m not talking about your spouse or your partner. Write about the half of you who is the better person. If that doesn’t appeal, write about the half of you who is not the better person. Write about your alter ego or your super-villain. Write about the evil person you would be, if you didn’t have this better half.
  • Choose a pair from the list of opposites below and write a scene or poem about them:
    • admit – deny
    • clockwise – counterclockwise
    • student – teacher
    • blunt – sharp
    • freedom – captivity
    • clever – stupid
    • doctor patient
    • East – West or North – South
    • horizontal – vertical

  • Lips half-willing in a doorway.
    Lips half-singing at a window.
    Eyes half-dreaming in the walls.
    Feet half-dancing in a kitchen.
    Even the clocks half-yawn the hours
    And the farmers make half-answers.
    ~ From Cornhuskers, (Chapter 10), 1918 – Carl Sandburg
  • Choose an opposite Point of View (POV): If you tend to write characters who are predominantly male, try writing as a female.
  • As half in shade and half in sun
    This world along its path advances…
    ~ Thomas Moore
  • Write an essay from the standpoint opposite of your own beliefs. For example, if you hate cats, write an essay about how much you love cats. Support this essay with facts.
  • Write a story, poem, essay or journal entry about something that happened — or someone or something who acted – opposite of what it should. For instance, you could write about a flower that bloomed at night. Your idea could be fictional. Ask yourself, “What if ‘this’ happened?”

Good Luck!

Photo of the Maple Tree in Fall from

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Writing Prompt – A National Anthem

A cluster of small American Flags.
American patriot Francis Scott Key penned the Star Spangled Banner on September 14, 1841. Key wrote with emotion, never knowing his poem would one day become the National Anthem of the United States of America.

(It wasn’t officially adopted, in fact, until 1931.)

National Anthems are generally songs of a patriotic nature. They’re primarily set to music in the style of a march, a hymn, or a fanfare. These songs describe the history and traditions of a nation, and are (usually) formally adopted by the government to represent the country.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a “national anthem” of you. Decide if your spirit – your history of you — is a march, a fanfare, or a hymn. Write the words which embody your spirit.
  • Write an essay or a journal entry about the national anthem of your country. What images does it invoke? How do you feel when you hear it played at a ball game? How does it make you feel when you hear it at an Olympic medal ceremony?
  • What does it mean to be patriotic? Make a list of ideas, feelings and phrases which denote patriotism. Use the best of these in a poem.
  • Drop your finger down on a random line in a national anthem (use yours, or choose one from a different country) and free write for 10 minutes about what that image evokes.

Good luck!

Image of American Flags by Lipton Sale. Used by permission under the Creative Commons License.

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Hello World!

Cartoon graphic of earth with an Easter Island Statue in front.Have you backed up your computer lately?

Mine crashed a few weeks ago (hence the few and far between posts here lately). But the new laptop has arrived and I’m almost back in business. I’ve still got some additional programs to install, but you should start seeing me a little more often from now on.

How have y’all been?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012


2nd Airplane about to strike the World Trade Center, September 11, 2001
Friday, September 7th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Money Saving Coupons

Coupon for a Fictitious Store:  The Time Store, which sells days off.September is National Coupon Month.

If you could make your own coupon, what would it be for?


I want more days in the week. I feel like I never have enough time to do all the things I want to do.

I’d like, perhaps, two extra days per weekend. I’d hit the Time Store during their “50% off Every Day” sale and buy a few extra days for each week for the rest of the year.

(Maybe I’d get all those things on my ‘Too Much To Do List’ done.)


Basic “Mix and Match” Components of a Coupon

  • The name of the product that is on sale.
  • The location of the sale.
  • The amount of the sale, either in a percentage or “cents off.”
  • An expiration date.
  • A bar code.
  • A graphic or clip art.
  • The “Fine Print:” The conditions of the sale, where it’s void, how many products can be purchased with the coupon, etc.

What about you?

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Make a coupon for something you’d like more than anything. Be creative: whip out the crayons or a graphics program on your computer and get to work. Make it look genuine. (See if you can fool your friends!)
  • If you don’t feel like your art skills are up to par, write the sale out in narrative.
  • Once you’ve set up the conditions of your coupon: write an essay or journal/diary entry about why you desire such a coupon and how you would use the item if you were able to use the coupon.
  • Write a story about someone who finds a fantastic coupon (in the newspaper, at the library coupon exchange, in his mailbox, etc.) and what happens when he redeems it.

Good Luck!


The hourglass graphic in the image I made for this blog post came from