Category Archives: writing

Writing Groups: How to Choose Your Groups

There are a lot of different types of writing groups out there, and not all of them are for everyone, or maybe you don’t want to join one at all.
If you are looking to join one,  know that the types of groups are different and even different sessions will vary depending on the attendees.

Finding writing groups:

Many of your local museums, art centers, and group centers will have writing groups. You can go on their website, find their calendar, and check to see if they have any workshops are group meetings coming up.

Facebook also has a lot of local group pages and you can search for creative groups that have, among other things, writing events. You can also search for general writing groups or get specific and search for novel writing or poetry groups.

Meetup has been where I found my favorite writing groups. also has an app and you can join many different kinds of groups from brunches to hiking and, of course, writing. As with Facebook, searching for a broader or more narrowly focused group is up to you.

Types of groups:

Of course there’s different genres and categories of writing from historical sci-fi fiction to non-fiction biographical poetry, but that’s not what I mean.

There are different mindsets of groups that get together, and there are guided groups that have different leadership styles or intentions.

Non-guided groups tend to be more of a designated writing time where you’re held accountable- you RSVP and say that you’re going, and after some time you’ll be a recognizable face in the group that it just instills the importance of going and urges you to make that time for writing. If you have a project to work on that you just haven’t sat down or made the time for, these are a great group for you.
Within these non-guided groups there are some that offer to share works and some that critique what’s shared. Some will start with introductions of who you are and what you’re working on, others are just a reserved space in a quiet coffee shop or library where you know you’ll have a conducive writing environment.
Some groups will post ahead of time what they’re like, others you’ll have to try a time or two to see how they work and if their flow is right for you.

Guided groups come in all forms, too. Some have an intention for the day and are set for months or weeks out ot complete a project; maybe getting started on a novel with day one being character development, day two being plot and plot twists. Others have a new target or lesson each day, unrelated to past meetings, sometimes with a guest speaker/leader who has been published.
Some of these targets will happen in during the group, and sometimes a box of tools will be given, some works completed in group, with some homework to build on what was learned.
Some of these works will be read aloud and offered critiques, and generally it’s acceptable to decline reading aloud or to share and not want input, both of which are more than okay.
The big thing with guided groups or groups that allow sharing and/or critiquing is that they involve more interaction with other writers. Sometimes these other writers have good advice or become friends and advocates, other times there are snooty writers who have had success and think their way is the only right way, or just general Debbie-downers regardless of whether or not they’ve found success. The important thing to remember is that just because someone shows up a time or two, doesn’t mean they’ll stick with the group. Also, there are always more groups to try if you aren’t getting what you need.

NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a time when these groups spring up like really pretty weeds. It’s in November and while they all focus on novel writing, for some it’s just a really great opportunity to find other creative minds in the area and put a pen to paper (or fingers on a keyboard).

I go to both types of groups.
I’m working on a novel and there’s one group that meets the first Saturday of every month that I enjoy going to. We introduce ourselves, what we’re working on – from screenplays to poetry – and then we write for about an hour in a cute little coffee shop. When writing time is up, we regroup, talk about how we did, and some people leave and others stay and continue their rhythm if they found it.

Another group I’m actually returning to for the first time in a while is more of a guided group with a different intention or lesson each time and usually with some homework.
I had invited friends to go a few times, then my rugby schedule changed and was on the same nights as the group.
I didn’t take it as such a loss because my friends ended up liking the group and I was still writing, plus there was a man in the group who had been published once or twice and was just a negative know-it-all who would often try to steal the spotlight by speaking over the person leading the group or the person sharing.
Now that I dont have three jobs and have quit rugby, my Wednesdays are free. I also caught up with one of the friends who had continued to go to the group and she mentioned that the heckler had stopped coming and said I should come back, so tonight I will be reuniting with that group and I’m really excited to have some guided growth in my writing abilities.

If you want to post any local writing groups to anyone else who might read this, I encourage doing so in the comments. Also, if you have any links or advice for beginning writers or seasoned writers who have hit a wall, please share.

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NoNoMo Recap 2017

So National Novel Writing Month hasn’t been as successful as I would’ve liked, and that’s entirely on me.

Here’s a little from the middle of the month. As for the end, I haven’t made enough headway in my book, and I haven’t written on my own, and I haven’t gone to any more writing sessions.

Work has been tiring, my living situation is not ideal yet, and the list goes on. They’re just excuses, though. The same ones I give for not working out. “I’m tired”, or in the words of Titus (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), “I already did something today”. I think I finally see everything tying together.

I am the most lazy when I am not working out or getting good night’s’ sleep. Those are like a chicken and an egg- I sleep better with exercise and I exercise more with good sleep. But in a few weeks, I also get a bed that feels like a dream for me. I know, you’re wondering how the bed will change my sleep and exercise and how any of this ties into my writing.

There are arguments that say sleep deprivation may or may not improve creativity, but I think I’m getting just enough sleep to not quite reach sleep deprivation status.

However, it’s scientifically proven and fairly undisputed that exercise improves brain function; if it’s good for your heart it’s good for your brain. Furthermore, once I can set and keep a sleep schedule, I’ll be introducing writing time into my schedule on a more regular basis. Also, if my brain is functioning outside of work, which currently it is not, it’ll get the ball rolling. I think that once I start, it’ll be a more readily available activity; and object in motion tends to stay in motion. This applies to exercise and brain activity.

Right now, I drive to and from work, watch tv when I get home and/or cook, watch more tv while eating with my boyfriend, and then we go to sleep. It easily takes 20 minutes for me to fall asleep and we don’t always go to sleep by 11pm. In the morning, I’m up at 7:30am/8am and I rinse off/brush teeth, throw on clothes, grab breakfast, and head out the door. My whole day is mindless droning or work, which is a different section of my brain from my creativity.

In the past, I have found that when I don’t work out for a while, this is what I am like. I also have found that in general I’m more sluggish and lazy in most aspects when I don’t sleep well/eat properly/exercise my brain and body.

My ankle is almost healed (see here), my boyfriend and I move into our new place and get an amazing bed in three-ish weeks, and our new place has 24 hour access to a small gym. I figure with the gym, that I currently don’t have and which will be conveniently located a short walk away, and a good bed I can get the sleep and exercise in order and open the  floodgates for my creativity to flow again.

All in all, Na No Mo was on me. I didn’t make the time to go to the events, I didn’t make the time on my own, and I didn’t put effort into the other aspects of my life that affect my writing. I keep telling myself it’ll be different in my new home and I sure hope I’m right.


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NaNoWriMo 2017

National Novel Writing Month, aka November.

About at the halfway mark and so far it’s been a struggle. Apparently a novel is ~50,000 words, broken down into twelve or so 4,000-ish word chapters. I’m not having an easy time of it, apparently these 50,000 words are supposed to be written at a pace of roughly 1,600 words a day.

No one told me. I didn’t really know about the milestones. I thought the idea was just to start, and hopefully finish, a novel. Minor freak out at the writing session where these milestones came up and then the guide for the writing session said that as long as I was writing everyday, I was doing what NaNoWriMo was about. I looked right at her and said, “Well, I don’t write every day.”

She then asked if I think about my novel every day, and I do. Then I realized that November was the first month where I set an intention to make at least one writing event a week and that before this month I had an idea for a novel, a story board with silhouettes of nameless characters, and a Google Document titled “Book”.

Now I have characters with names, almost four thousand words written, and my story is starting to really develop on the pages. It’s exciting.

I’ve figured out what  think will be a good structure for my chapters, I have characters that I’m starting to really see and feel in my head, even my secondary characters are starting to have background. There’s scenery and a map is forming, and the most amazing thing is that this all happened so fast. Sometimes I sit and I write, and I feel like I’m just cataloging what the characters are doing- like the story is unfolding on its own and I’m just narrating as it happens. People say this is a thing, and I didn’t believe it. Maybe it doesn’t happen for everyone this way, but for me, it really does feel like my characters are developing their own personas and decisions.

I’m halfway through November, and I probably won’t finish my novel this season, but NaNoWriMo has definitely made an impact. I just hope that as the month continues, I make as much headway as I have been.

*If you enjoyed any part of this post, please consider liking it. If you loved it, please consider following me on WordPress. I also love comments including questions, advice, or a review of the post itself. Thank you for reading and best of luck in your adventures.*

Snarks and Tongue Holding

Response to One Word Prompt via Daily Prompt: Witty

Most of my “witty” friends are snarky- not in a bad way, but they blurt things out or lash back with quick responses that have reasoning. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a well-mannered or book-smart only type person described as witty; and I wonder if that’s a societal-norm mistake.

I find that I can see the wit behind someone’s eyes when the thought emerges, the intelligent slap-back is there, and a tongue is held. I think there is a lot to say about a witty person who controls their wit, who does not mind or tongue get the better of them. I think witty used to maybe mean having intelligence that was unexpected- which I find offensive because that would mean they were thought uninformed or unintelligent in the first place.

So cheers to my witty friends! To the ones who don’t hold back, who show their true colors, wear their snarks on their sleeve, and take nothin’ from no one because they have their own back and the smarts to prove it. And also to my hold-backers, to the ones who save their wit for the right moment, who don’t waste their time or intelligence on schmucks or unexceptional moments. You know who you are ❤

Kraken: An Essay for My Mom

Prelude: My mom called me roughly this time last year and said “Alexa, what is a kraken and why are all my kids obsessed with it. I can’t even spell it?!” I responded that cephalopods are cool and the ocean is the new frontier. She asked me to send her some info and I said “How about a short essay and a PowerPoint” – she’s a teacher, was in a middle school at the time, and I was sort of poking fun, but she took me up on the offer. I opted for an essay that would never pass in school , but would do the trick for her to have some insight. I sent her the following:

Since the late 18th century, kraken have been depicted in a number of ways, primarily as large octopus-like creatures, and it has often been alleged that Pontoppidan’s kraken might have been based on sailors’ observations of the giant squid.

The legend of the kraken continues to the present day, with numerous references existing in popular culture, including film, literature, television, video games and other miscellaneous examples (e.g. postage stamps, a rollercoaster ride, and a rum product).

Kraken appear in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) and in the new version (2010) of Clash of the Titans (“RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!” – famous line from movie). These likely started the interest in Kraken. (Though, for me, it started with James Bond’s Octopussy- even though that’s an octopus and not a Kraken). And in the game Age of Empires: Age of Mythology (which, by the way, you bought for me). They’re also super-common in many video games because they’re mythological which makes them perfect for Sci-fi and fantasy games as threats.

Octopi in general are the coolest creature/threat of the deep. When it comes to “dangerous” creatures in the water, you really only get sharks and cephalopods; and sharks are old news and overplayed. Also, Cthulhu are human-like creatures with cephalopod-like faces that have recently become popular in various sci-fi and fantasy shows

Image result for simple Cthulhu

“You see, octopuses are extremely intelligent. They’re the only invertebrates known to use tools, and they have exceptional short- and long-term memories. In the waters off Indonesia, the mimic octopus protects itself by imitating the shapes and colors of other sea creatures like the venomous sole and the lion fish. Sometimes octopuses can be trained, but they don’t always like it. One lab had to stop their behavioral experiments when one of their octopuses kept squirting water at them every time they approached the tank. And don’t forget Paul the psychic octopus, unquestionably the biggest international celebrity of 2010.

Octopuses are badasses. They’re the only cephalopod known to crawl out of the water to hunt. Fishermen have caught them crawling into boats to steal their catch; and once, some biologists filmed their octopus sneaking across the laboratory floor to steal a crab from a neighboring tank and carry it home for dinner. If you’re walking on the rocks near Australia or New Zealand, watch out you don’t step on a tiny blue-ringed octopus: its venomous bite can kill you.”

Further, octopi/kraken are easily drawn to be either cute or menacing- so everyone can relate ☺

"May you be as happy as a baby Kraken finding the perfect size ship.''Image result for baby krakenImage result for krakenImage result for kraken

There are youtube videos of octopi being put in a jar, and they open it from the inside. There are lots of videos bringing up the intelligence of octopi, which makes them interesting and exciting but that more dangerous. An intelligent, deadly, creature, potentially the size of a tall building, is a pretty terrifying (in a cool way) threat- like Godzilla, but cooler and to some, more realistic.

Also, steampunk (a genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology) is making a comeback and so is mythology.

Many of the visualizations of steampunk have their origins with, among others, Walt Disney‘s film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954),[19] including the design of the story’s submarine the Nautilus, its interiors, and the crew’s underwater gear; and George Pal’s film The Time Machine (1960), with the design of the time machine itself. This theme is also carried over to Disney’s theme parks in the designs of The Mysterious Island section of Tokyo Disney Sea theme park and Disneyland Paris‘ Discoveryland area. Many Steampunk items include octopi and Kraken (ie, 20,000 leagues under the sea) so with the rise of Steampunk comes the rise of the Kraken/Cephalopods)

I would describe steampunk as the cross between the Victorian era and early machinery.

There’s also a $14 book called “Kraken: The Curious, Exciting, and Slightly Disturbing Science of Squid” that does a history of squid/kraken.

That’s everything I’ve got.

Hope this helps.

Love you ❤

She said thank you, and then told me she read it to her students and that they loved it. I found it in my GoogleDocs and figured I’d share. Hope you enjoyed!

Not Using “It” and Losing It.


There are two things that help me keep myself sane: running and writing. Lately it feels like I don’t have time for either.

Not taking the time to run is something that’s been easy to work on. I force myself to put on some running shoes, some workout clothes, and throw in some headphones; the second I walk outside I feel ready to run. And I haven’t lost so much stamina, just speed most of the time.

Writing is different. I prefer to write short stories, I’m working on a novel, and poetry used to flow from my soul effortlessly but lately I sit down to write and I feel numb. Like I’ve hit a wall that’s too high to climb, too wide to go around. I feel stuck and I just stare at the wall, thinking if I stare at it long enough it’ll move and I’ll find the river where my creativity used to flow so freely. Except it doesn’t.

I’ve started tying other avenues. I’ve found that reading again has helped me to want to write more and I’ve allowed myself to daydream; instead of staring at the wall so intently hoping my gaze will break it, I’ve sat down, leaned against it, and closed my eyes facing the sun and clouds. letting my dreams and thoughts go where they may and sometimes opening a door to a new idea or reopening an old one.

It does feel like the less that I use my creativity and the less I read, write, or daydream, the harder it becomes to do those things. My nine-to-five job of being a data-entry and customer service drone definitely bullies my creativity into a corner to a point that even when I’m out, it’s too scared or hurt to come back out. But coaxing it back out by reading, doodling, and just allowing myself to daydream even if none comes seems to make my creativity exponentially more comfortable each time I try to coax it back out.

It’s sad and scary feeling like something that used to come so easily is now requiring so much effort, but requiring less effort each time gives me hope. I’ve felt lost and anxious and slowly creeping closer to being not okay with who and how I am.

So yes, by not using it, I had begun to experience the loss of something that was such a big part of me, and feeling like I was losing not just my creativity but also my marbles. I’m working diligently to bring it back and to bring me back to being myself.

Breakindown: “You Ain’t Cuz You Not”

dalibor-bosnjakovic-187135.jpgShenanigans. No other word for it when *famtini gets together. Well, “shens”, in the words of my brothers from their high school days.

As we sit around being weird and lame in our own way, “This Is Why I’m Hot” becomes a subject, nay, focal point of conversation.

We begin to  correct the grammar of the song. One of the party claims “I’m hot because I am fly. You aren’t, because you aren’t,” and so goes the claim that one is not fly because they are not fly. I chime in with a “haven’t you people ever heard of” – no, sorry, not that song. I explain further that if you expand the thought process, it’s “I’m hot because I’m fly. You’re not hot because you’re not fly”.

This headcannons the famtini and we think on it for a few minutes before determining that MIMS deserves more credit than we may have originally thought.



*Famtini- any combination of my brothers, sister-in-law, and family friends who refer to my mom as mom and are without a doubt a part of this family.