Trade?

Anyone willing to read my play and review on Amazon, House Full of Hope, can have a reblog on my WordPress of your favorite article or publishing of a new piece. The copy is free right now, you can download with no charge. The app to read is always free. You can download on your PC, you don’t need a Kindle.

Or I can create an article graphic for you, free of charge. I will use original graphics or my own photos with permission to use and text for whatever article you have planned and whatever graphic you want to see. I usually create all of my own article graphics from scratch. When you’re a graphic designer, it just makes sense. 🙂

Anyone down for the challenge? Thanks for doing me a favor!

If you’ve already read it, please go online and leave a review! I can still reblog you or design something for ya! ‘Cuz I’m cool like dat.

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Monochrome Tetris Shirts

A Yin-yang pocket watch? Does it tell you if you’re having a good time? LOL Love it. And I love the monochromatic Tetris design. It appeals to the emo in me. Goth Tetris would be a game I would like to play. But what’s the point?? :/ LOL

This is my daughter’s RedBubble account with her designs, if you want to check it out. Any thoughts on RedBubble, Readers? Do you use a customized online shop for designs?

Pencil Princess

Hey! Tiny update about my RedBubble store. In addition to my regular Tetris design, I now have two other color palettes for it: a grayscale one and a camouflage one! Since I already touched briefly on the camo color palette in my previous post, I decided to make the monochrome one the main focus of this one.

These alternate color palettes for the Tetris design are only available on RedBubble – not on my CustomizedGirl! While my CG store has many more designs right now, RedBubble allows you to pick from a much wider variety of products, like stickers and tank tops. The designs available right now on my RedBubble shop are two variants of the Binary Love Heart (black heart and white heart), three variants of the Tetris pattern (default, camo, and grayscale), the Beach Lover Transparent Sun, the

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Prompt and Circumstance

Funny story: My husband and I formed an amateur improv troupe for a short time under the name–Prompt and Circumstance. Actually, that’s not that funny. Neither was our troupe. Ha! JK We only got to go a coupla times. We had other troupes–Elderberries (our format was called the Kevin, a long-form that was 6 degrees of scenes ala Kevin Bacon separation that looped around on itself, kinda cool), Sofa-King (two-person couch prov, scenes on or around a couch, yes, it’s that boring), but could never get anything off the ground. Maybe some day. We’re like garage-band improv wanna-bes.


So, I’ve been doing something lately that really boosts my productivity in writing. I take a picture, or use an old picture, and write a poem.

It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. But it’s an almost-daily exercise that’s really stretching my creativity and discipline out.

It’s not really a goal I stated out loud or even in my mind. It just sort of moved from “small, indulgent poems that are fun to write” to this amorphous, intangible idea/question of “Can I write a poem every single day using a photo prompt?”

Well. You can. You most definitely can. You have to let go of the well-crafted poem and everything-I-write-should-be-published ideal, but it’s fun. It definitely disciplines and increases one’s productivity.

If you don’t have a prompt, or a picture, you can certainly use mine.

bird in flight.jpg

Here’s my poem that I wrote months ago, prompted by this photo:

Wings wide.
Feathers flying.
Riding high.
Going hard.
Beating the air with all my strength.

Simple. Un-Shakespeare-like. But a blurt of a thought and stimulating of those writer-y muscles. To see the world and set it down, even for a moment.

I would love to see your poems, prose or thoughts on this. Leave in the comments or tag me in your post? Thanks! Love your brains!

Also, what’s your process?

Also, would you like to start an improv troupe with me?? LOL What would you call it? 😀

We Are the Lost Souls

My daughter Lillian wrote a song last year. I think it’s one of the most brilliantly written songs I’ve ever heard. I know I’m biased, we’re related. She’s the fruit of my loins. But dang! It’s cool.

She recorded the music using a computer, multi-track digital recorder and singing her own lyrics. She sang harmony for her own voice and laid the tracks down together. I’m really proud of her effort here. She’s only 13 and I can’t wait to hear what she will do in the future. She also did another song for talent show this year too. Imaginary Friends

She also did a funny little parody with Dad and I helping out. Baby, It’s Cold Outside

This next song is about the Terracotta Army. Really meaningful look and unique perspective of those soulless sculptures. Her teacher covered the Terracotta soldiers in history last year and Lilli was fascinated by the topic. So, when she’s obsessed with a subject, she gets inspired and writes songs. Like ya do.

I love the modern sound and well-thought out words. I helped with some minor editing, but she did all the hard work composing, singing and recording. Without further ado, here’s Terracotta Souls by Lillian Maggio. Really cool, hope you enjoy it.

Trapped

This is another story my daughter wrote. She won an award for this one. PTA Reflections 2017 awarded her honorable mention at state level for Missouri, junior high division. Really proud.

“What is Your Story?” was the theme this year. Lilli’s story is a little sad, but truthful and daring. Her piece is a great perspective on writing and art creation, in general. A true reflection of how many artists feel about revealing their work. It’s risky to put your heart on the line. But brave to try!

lil award.jpg
Here she is walking across the stage, accepting her award!

“Trapped Inside My Own Mind” by Lillian Maggio

Isn’t it strange? I love to compose music, and I love imagining the way it will sound. I take joy in writing the lyrics and listening to my accompaniment played with clunky digital sounds, but I absolutely detest my own voice. In addition, I can’t play any instrument, so I have hardly any idea how to write music for another person to play. I hate the concept of someone else singing for me, because I know in my heart that they wouldn’t do my song justice. I’m afraid to ask a musician for help because I don’t know if my songs can even be played. So I compose scores which I am proud of and rejoice in, yet no one really ever hears my music but me.

I love thinking up beautiful and magical characters with complex and wonderful designs and personalities, but I hate the style in which I draw, so their appearance remains a mystery. I’m so petrified that I’ll make a mistake or portray them wrong that I can never portray them at all. I long to use my art to bring light and wonder to the world, to tell a story that hasn’t been told before, but I’m so afraid that my story will be incomplete and riddled with flaws. So my characters are never brought to life, never see the light of day.

I love to write, and I would love even more to be recognized for my talent. I write based on my own experiences, sometimes even making up fantastical worlds all by myself. Still, I can never bring myself to actually try and publish any of my works. I tell myself that I don’t have a chance, that I’ll never become popular and that no one will ever read, let alone care about, what I have to say. Or, even worse, that someone will see my work and copy it, claiming my creation as their own while I can do nothing. So I hide everything I do, far from where anyone could see or hear it.

I’m trapped inside my own mind. My worst adversary is, in reality, myself; my own fear. I can’t show everyone all the amazing stories I’ve been dying to tell. And it’s because I’m holding myself back, preventing myself from sharing my thoughts and ideas with the world.

So I can’t tell my story. I’m far too afraid.

Unfunyuns

Guest post: Lillian Maggio

My daughter wrote this. I helped edit. It was for a Ray Bradbury contest. Exactly 451 words (Fahrenheit 451). Entrants were to choose a word from a noun string. Bradbury often used strings of nouns to compose his stories. Lilli chose “crowd” from one of the lists the contest provided.

Bradbury also used onomatopoeia. She tried to imitate his style by using unconventional sound and description. I really like the way it turned out.

She is only 13, but she’s already a great writer. She’s read my stuff and watched me for years. She has a lexile score (reading level) of a senior in high school and tested as a genius in Kindergarten. To say I’m proud would be an understatement. I’m overwhelmed, humbled, thankful. She is beyond reason. She is my undeserved grace in a world full of punishment. She is intelligent, charming and kind IN SPITE of me. I deserve very little credit in her astonishing achievements. I’m just glad she’s my friend and daughter. I’m glad I get to be on the sidelines, cheering her on. I would like her even if I wasn’t her mom, but I’m so glad I get to be here on the front row.

Proud of you, Lil. You’re already a world-class writer. ❤ Thanks for letting me post.


Class. I am sitting at a desk. I am reading a book. Everyone else is in various stages of trying or not trying to read. The girl to my right is unfocused and sloppy. The boy behind me does not make an effort. An unopened book demands his attention as his head rests on the desk.

These are the only people I observe. At first.

The girl has a bag of Funyuns in her greasy grasp. She slowly takes out one Funyun and brings the ring to her lips. The entire circle won’t fit. She breaks the extruded cornmeal between her teeth and dried bits of fun sprinkle onto her already-stained shirt. She is loudly slapping her lips together. No one else notices. I notice. I can no longer process my walls of text. I look up, glare at her, but she does not sense my exasperation. One Funyun. Two Funyuns. Three. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

The boy behind me yawns. The natural conclusion to a normal yawn would be now. But he continues. I count three extra seconds. He is trying to distract me. It’s working.

Funyun Freak sends another snack to certain destruction. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

I’m not completely sure what my book is transmitting. I’m looking at the words. I’m reading the words. But the words stop somewhere in the small space between my eyes and neurons. I might be reading the same paragraph multiple times. The truth of that matter is insignificant. History repeats itself. No difference is made.

More Funyuns. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

A boy, near the door, turns a page of his magazine. Fwip. A girl, two rows ahead, shifts in her chair. Squeak. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

The boy behind me yawns again. Two extra seconds. Crunchcrunchcrunch.

A backpack zips open.  A crumpled paper jumps. The tile explodes in a thousands pops from the paper bomb. Nobody hears that. There’s a war zone just outside my ear. Inside, a thumping noise. My heartbeat. Thumpthump.

I look over at the teacher. She is composing an e-mail. Clackclackclack. She is oblivious to the chaos of her classroom. I’m the only one awake here. Crunch, thump, clack, thump, fwip, thump, squeak, thump, yawn, thump. Thumpthump.

I give up. Slam my book shut. Sigh and lean back. Staring at the ceiling. But Funyun Freak can’t take a hint. Crunchcrunchcrunch. Thumpthump. Thumpthump.

I fantasize about taking her filthy Funyun feast and knocking it to the floor. Crunchcrunchcrunch. My feet dancing over her fragile, yellow, onion-flavored treat. Crunchcrunchcrunch. And then. Tossing the crumbles into the air over her head to celebrate her unwavering stupidity. Thumpthump. She has taken any lingering sanity that I still possessed.

Riiiiing. And this was only first period.

Not Just Community Theatre

My beautiful, talented friend, Becca Stabno, wrote this heartfelt piece about our time in Women of Lockerbie presented by Summit Theatre Group. It was a wonderful show, full of talented people that I want to know all my life. Thanks for letting me post, Becca. You’re a terrific writer, singer, actor, wife, mother, daughter, person. Glad to have met you here. Glad to have acted with you. Glad to be neighbors.

By Becca Stabno

I have never been able to cry on stage.

In 18 years of community theatre musicals and plays, I have never been able to quite produce an actual tear. I have come close a few times-when I played Tzeitl in FIDDLER, and Papa Tevye wanted me to marry Lazar Wolf, I almost managed it. In SOUND OF MUSIC, as the Baroness saying goodbye to the Captain, I felt a twinge. But mostly, no tears.

That all changed last fall when I was cast as one of the WOMEN OF LOCKERBIE with Summit Theatre Group. Lockerbie tells the story of the aftermath of the crash of Pan Am Flight 103 in Scotland, and how the women in the town wanted to turn the terrorists’ act of hatred into an act of love and compassion by washing the clothing of the victims and returning them to the families of those who were lost.

It’s an emotional topic, and an emotional script, with an added story of a couple whose only son, a college boy on a school trip, perished in the explosion and whose body was never recovered. Their grief, even seven years later, was ongoing and as strong as the day they heard that their son would not be home for Christmas. The women interact with the couple, and try to encourage healing by sharing their own stories, and their own pain.

I was thrilled to be given the chance to do this play. It was exciting and fun to train with a dialect coach to learn the correct Scottish accent, and it drove my children crazy because I practiced on them all the time. It was also only the second straight play I had done since college, so I was eager to explore that genre some more. But something about this story just grabbed me and held on.

Lockerbie changed me. We immersed ourselves in this little Scottish village, in these people and their relationships with one another. We experienced their loss every single night in rehearsal. And it was so very real, that night after night, I cried. Real, actual tears, not just “it’s my character’s feelings and I am supposed to cry now” crying. We were so involved in the story that the tears were a natural part of our experience. So when the mother shared how she found out about the crash, when the father shared about how he can’t get his wife past her grief and had never been able to grieve himself, when one of the women shared how she lost her family when the plane came down on her house, those things felt real. And I cried.

And then, we washed the clothes. The director, Betsy Sexton, asked us each to donate our own clothes to be bloodied up for the props, so we were washing shirts that we had once worn, or that our children had played in, and they were stained and torn, and it was so real. Tears flowed freely, because this was powerful and moving, this was our way to show the world that hatred will not win, that love can overshadow the anger, and the light will come when the sun rises tomorrow.

The cast of that show became very close. Experiencing something that emotional night after night, as a group, really brought us together. The relationships we forged as we created this story are life-long and special and enduring. One of the other cast members was a friend of my parents in college and through their young adulthood, and so she knew me as a young child-now we have bonded as adults through this show. My cast mates have a place in my heart now, and I believe that will be lasting.

Community theatre did that. It gave me a new family in the people who worked together on this play. It gave me challenges in learning a new dialect; it gave me a chance to try something new with an emotional drama. This play was so timely-even though the crash was 20 years ago, the message is so very relevant today, with all the hatred and anger and pain in the world. Sharing the story of Lockerbie was a chance to show a different response to acts of hate. It was important. It mattered.

Being in community theatre gives me opportunities to meet new people, experience new characters, and tell new stories. I am so grateful for the chance to tell such a powerful story, and to have spent a brief time in Lockerbie.


Oh, aye, Becca. Well said, Lass. 🙂

 

This Was Due Yesterday

Written by guest, Guy C. Maggio


Last Thursday, I resolved to read the Bible daily and journal about it in order to improve myself. I have many flawed personality traits that can (and often do) interfere with my ability to have a peaceful, positive relationship with my family. I also have Attention-Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.), which sometimes makes it difficult for me to remain focused and on-task. (Example: this paragraph took me about 8 minutes to write. That seems a bit long, doesn’t it? I had to look up A.D.D. and I’m editing sentences as I go. I’ve always been like this; it’s why my homework was always late.)

Anyway…
My daughter recently announced her desire to become baptized. I’m resolved to learn whatever I can about baptism from both a scriptural and historical perspective. (In fact, that’s how I intend to study and learn about the entire Bible – starting with the Scriptures themselves, then supplementing with articles and scholarly materials which provide context and analysis to help me better understand.) [Sigh.] Sorry, I did it again; I digressed into a little tangent. That’s why these things take me so long.
My daughter is 12, almost 13. I was baptized when I was 14 at the Blue Ridge Baptist Temple (since moved on). But my path towards “salvation” was different than hers. I started attending church because a friend from my school bus invited me to come. The church had an aggressive recruitment program; every Sunday they announced attendance numbers, proudly and enthusiastically emphasizing any increases from the week before, and the ebullient youth pastor would always encourage us to ask more friends and more classmates to come next week for Rodeo Roundup, or whatever themed event they’d celebrate with games and prizes… I’m digressing again. I know I had a point when I began this paragraph.
Oh yes, my point was this: I became baptized simply because it was expected of me. I was scooped up by some charismatic evangelicals whose only concern was getting any and every warm body they could find in the door, led to Jesus, and adding to the collection plate (which they passed both in the early kids’ service and again later in the main service). I was frightened towards salvation by them literally putting the fear-of-God in me. Asking, “If you were to die right now, are you 100% sure you would go to Heaven?” I wasn’t running towards Christ as much as I was running away from Hell, with fear. I sought refuge in the baptismal font to escape hell-fire, like the family huddled in a lake to escape a marauding wildfire.
But that’s not my daughter’s experience. My wife and I haven’t threatened her with hell-fire and eternal damnation. We instead talked about the glory of God’s love shown through mercy, grace, and forgiveness. We acknowledged how we all fall short of God’s glory when we try to live life according to our own flawed, selfish standards. We talked about how Jesus of Nazareth exemplified and embodied a God-centered life that overcame sin and death. And we shared how praying for and submitting to the Holy Spirit helps us navigate the proper path when our own skewed moral compass leads us astray. She’s not running terrified from Hell; she’s running courageously towards God, with love. That leaves me immensely humble and grateful.