Category Archives: Shout-Outs!

I’m Spoiled

This morning, as I was about to spring out of bed in order to start yet another very long day of writing, and writerly tasks, I turned to look at the clock.  And the clock blacked out.  I thought it was me, at first.  Sleep has been elusive of late, and I’ve resorted to sleepy pills (shhh, don’t talk too loud around the rest of them–you’ll wake them up!)  And of course, this means a groggy, slow to speed kind of morning.  So, maybe the clock didn’t go out.  Maybe we all just blinked at the same time.

Ah, but no.  In fact not only had the bedroom clock gone out, but every clock in the house except for the one powered by batteries hanging on the kitchen wall.  And I couldn’t see that one, because it was dark. 

Yeah, power outage.  One of the first things that occurs to me if I can’t get to my computer, and get some work done is this: Well, since I can’t write anyway, how about if I pop some corn and watch a movie.  (Yeah, I even think that way that early in the morning.).  Of course then my mean-kid-from-down-the-block-voice says nyah, nyah, can’t pop corn!  Can’t watch TV.  No POWER, idiot!

I’m spoiled.  I no longer have a typewriter.  Since I type more than I write, my handwriting is so bad I was actually—this is true!—asked if I was a doctor by a nurse when I had to sign for a prescription one day.  There’s no way I can write longhand and expect to make out more than a few words a day or so later.

I’m spoiled.  I need light to work.  I need my computer, and my connection to the Internet to get the job done.  One big EMP explosion and I’m killed, cooked and served.

To quote Edward G. Robinson from the rather scary movie, Soylent Green, “How did we come to this?”

Food in the freezer would start to go bad.  If you had a gas stove and had matches you might be able to cook some of the perishable things, but then what?  Feast time?

I’m spoiled.  If it weren’t for the battery-powered radio I keep in the bathroom so I can listen to the news when I shower, I wouldn’t have been able to check to see how wide the outage was.

If I’d remembered to charge up my cell phone, I could have called the power company to see what to expect.  But of course since it was my whole neighborhood that went dark—I went outside and checked—and who knows how great an idea was afflicted, the wait on the phone would have probably eaten the remaining charge.  My phone charge doesn’t last as long as an old-style one-function cell-phone.  See, I have one of those new phones that does 127 things besides being a phone, including downloading TV shows.  It doesn’t make popcorn, though.

I’m spoiled.   I want all of my services—services?  No, my divine right to power, heat, cold to store food, electrons to inform and educate me, and my Internet connection so I can tell you how spoiled I am.  Oh, by the way, I got a new cable modem installed yesterday.  It has a battery, so, while I couldn’t get this computer going, I still had Internet connection.  I just couldn’t SEE it.

Gahhh!  It did it again.  Another power outage.  Dark screen!  Dark screen!  I hate it.

I have no idea how much of this post I lost.  Ever notice, though, how the writing you lose, the ideas you forget, are somehow so much better than the ones you don’t lose?

Well enough of this.  This is only a little about writing.  Mostly it’s about being annoyed, frustrated, and impotent in the face of a power failure.

I guess it’s true.  I’m spoiled.


10 Guaranteed Ways to Alienate Your Reader

Here is a list of errors—or perpetrations, if you’d rather—guaranteed to cut away a significant portion of your reading audience.

1. Center every line in your prose story.

2. Capitalize Every Damn Word In Each Sentence.  What’s That About, Anyway? 


4. B kre8ive n ur spyling.  Ppl luv ‘t wen u d0o.

5. Use, commas, whenever, you, feel, like, it.

6. Likewise; semi-colons; the bomb.

7. Punctuation is and I mean this you just see for yourself if it isnt true is for losers

8. Always put a question mark at the end of a statement?

9. Remember, there are three kinds of people in the world.  Those who can count, and those who can’t.

The Daily “Huh?” – Unspelled

Image: Guilty as Charged


Nobody does it better,
and nothing stays the same,
no one knows how to stop it;
and nothing stays the change.

Janis Bell – Guest Speaker at Fremont Area Writers

On the monthly meeting of the Fremont Area Writers Club (a member organization of the California Writers Club) we sponsor a guest speaker in the second hour.

This month our speaker was Janis Bell.  Here is the announcement write-up from our websiteJanis will be talking about the grammar and punctuation errors that even good writers make, the kinds of sentences governed by rules that many of us aren’t aware of.  Why shouldn’t we all know what professional editors know?  For example, the difference between who and whom, which and that, if and whether, me and myself; when to use semicolons vs. colons, how to create dashes vs. hyphens; whether to place periods inside or outside closing quotes.  Janis loves her subject and loves talking with CWC audiences, so come prepared to enjoy yourself — and to ask any question you’ve ever had about the nuts and bolts of sentences.             


Janis did a delightful and engaging presentation.  She spoke from the heart on Grammar and Punctuation, and answered as many questions from the audience as time would permit.   I cannot remember another speaker being pressed to speak on past our scheduled time, and the groans of regret when she finally had to finished her lively talk were heart-felt.  We hope we will be able to bring her back in the future, and we wish her all the best with her book, “Clean, well-lighted sentences“, which many of us purchased on the spot.

A Clean, Well-Lighted Place to… Write


It occurred to me that while I’ve puttered around this question a lot over the months that Uphill Writing has been around, I’ve never really gotten a good answer.  So, here’s another try.

What really makes a good place to read?  What makes the best environment?

The answer to this must surely be subjective.  I’m guessing that if I interviewed 10 writers on the topic, I’d get 13 or 14 different answers.

What do you need to make a writing environment that really works?    

  • Do you need a clutter-free desk top?
  • Do you need notebooks and “yellow stickies” for real time note-taking?
  • Do you need a particular type of keyboard for your computer?
  • Do you need a particular kind of monitor?
  • Should your room be brightly lit?  Or should the only light come from the computer screen?
  • Is your room best by day?  Is it best by night?
  • Does it need to be quiet?  Is music OK?  If music is acceptable, is there a certain type?

    Yes, I work here every day

Is it possible that the best place to write is just wherever you are?  My office/studio is cluttered with notes, books, posters, pictures, and eye-catching thing of all sorts.  Could you stand to write in a crowded, cluttered room?  Could you write without the clutter?

I’m anxious, really, to hear what works for you.  What kind of space does your muse insist upon?  What environment does it take to get you going?

The Daily “Huh?” – This Isn’t Porn!

Image: Guilty as Charged

Ode to a Pornographic Poet

The Poet of Smut
must first rehearse
How many words
He can get per verse

–Richard Scott

A Musical Note: Ray Thomas – For My Lady

For My Lady was written and recorded by Ray Thomas of the Moody Blues in 1972.

Due to the magic of studio recording, he both sings and plays the background flute in this piece.

The Moody Blues are known for strong lyrics and complex melodies.  When Ray Thomas left the Moody Blues some years back for health reasons, the group’s dynamic changed, unfortunately for the worse.

Thanks to the power of time travel, I can present to you Ray Thomas, and “For My Lady”.