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I love to support independent businesses, especially those run by women.  Queen Bee Salon and Spa near downtown Culver City (and also in Brentwood and Seattle) is owned and run by the very fabulous Jody Shays and provides non-toxic waxing, facial, tanning, brow, nail and makeup services as well as selling carefully curated products in a charming "English cottage meets California bungalow" setting. The energy is sweet and positive and I especially appreciate the magical "psychic" facials by Dawn Palomino.

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The Jack Rabbit

Your strengths: You get A LOT done ALL THE TIME. You can whip out drafts with no effort. People always ask you, "How do you do it?"

Your challenges: Sometimes all that high energy doesn't leave much room for quiet contemplation. You might miss descriptive details, interior thought to build character and subplots to enhance the main story.

Your exercises: Try to fill in the "white space" between scenes and take your characters through extended periods of time. Focus on descriptions that build character and give us a sense of atmosphere (time and place). Make sure to track your POV characters' interior thoughts. Add a subplot to your book.  Remember to breathe.

 

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I love my students and this group (Jasmin, Tiffany, Laura, Augusta, Alanz) was particularly well-matched. We spent the last ten Sundays reading magical, sexy pages about living in a Venice Beach lifeguard stand, being in a band, seeing ghosts, falling in love in a morgue and being confined to an institution where the main activitity is to sleep and dream of an even stranger world  than the one you come from.

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On the last day I captured them in golden hour light.   Turns out my words are written on two of their bodies and one of their license plates (see below). Their names are written on my heart.

New classes on 1/9 (one day class with Denise Hamilton),  1/11 (online class) aand 1/17 (ten week class like this one) www.francescaliablock.com/contact to reach me for more details.

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One of the biggest blessings that my writing has brought me is that when I send out a tweet asking for creative help I am met with responses from some of the most remarkable women! When I was looking for models for my Goat Guys T-shirt, I heard from Haley Rose, a singer/songwriter originally from Texas, now living in Los Angeles. She arrived at my house looking like a rock star and she sure knew how to pose with a guitar. Later I found out that's because she IS a rock star!

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Sarah had an extra ticket to Patti Smith discussing her new book M-Train at the Orpheum and I got to go!

It was life-changing, as it always is when you see Patti.

Here are a few quotes I managed to get (as well as a few pics):

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Order our Rough Magick anthology here for just 3.99.

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I hope you like these holiday ideas!

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Elizabeth Le Fey (Globelamp) is one of my "It Girls of the Week." Buy her music. It's mystical, mysterious and melliflous.

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I felt like a proud mama hosting a reading of Rough Magick stories at one of my favorite bookstores, Stories in Echo Park.

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Amanda Yates Garcia, the Oracle of Los Angeles, (who was also celebrating her birthday that evening) started things off with a passage from "Spell to Mend A Broken Heart."

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“You will need:

• An obsidian arrowhead
• A red cord
• A pile of rocks
• Clay
• A lock of his hair
• A sharp knife”

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A few common issues I see with student writing are repetition, overuse of certain parts of speech, cliches and exposition and underuse of interior thought.

Here are some quick tips to help your writing flower:

1. Avoid repetition. Check carefully for repeated words in sentences and paragraphs and for stand-out words that repeat too often through a manuscript. Vary your syntax using semi colons (be sure to use correctly), colons, dashes and fragments. Avoid repeating dialogue tags like said (or replacements for it which can be even more problematic) by replacing with a description of what the character is doing as they speak.

2. Avoid overuse of adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and common verbs. I love adjectives but my first writing teacher told me to rely more on nouns because they will actually help the reader see things more vividly by bringing in their own experience. Adverbs tend to "tell" not "show" though a few original ones can be great. Try to avoid more than one in a sentence, or even paragraph. Avoid too many prepositions in one sentence. Try to pick unique verbs rather than relying too heavily on the ones we see most often.

3. When creating metaphors and similies, avoid cliches. One way to come up with fresh figurative language is to reference what has just happened in the scene. Does it give you clues to creating imagery based on what you have just described? For example, if you've been talking about cars on a freeway glinting in the sun, can you then describe someone's eyes by their metallic color?

4. Don't describe characters or setting in big chunks. Try to weave the description into the action and in between the dialogue as the characters interact.

5. Don't forget the interior thought. Even though you may know what a character is thinking or feeling, your reader might not. We can understand almost any behavior if we know the interior motive.  Use descriptions of bodily sensations to show the feelings. Don't be afraid of a little well written exposition to tell the thoughts.

 

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Fairy Tale Panel at Stan Lee's Comikaze

I had the pleasure of appearing on a panel about one of my favorite subjects: fairy tales, especially the dark kind! Neo Edmund was the moderator and we discussed how to write complex characters and the role of female characters in contemporary fairy tales. My main advice? "Look at what demons you are dealing with and personalize a fairy tale to your own experience.” What fairy tale would you pick to retell?

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Here are a few shots from the convention.  It's interesting to see how myth and fairy tale permeate our popular culture in such powerful ways, as demonstrated, even, by the guys below.

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