Podcast Frustrations and a Flashback Friday Episode

Alright so I have to be honest. I’m reconsidering this podcast idea. Because this episode, which is just under three minutes, took entirely too long to create. Six freaking hours to be exact. For a podcast episode that’s two minutes and 28 seconds.

Between apartment noises at inopportune moments (leaf blowers, trucks revving their engines, dogs barking nonstop, and neighbors dropping things and slamming doors), fumbling over words and struggling to read my own dang writing, and realizing the story desperately needed editing (because it was written at a time in my career when I thought lots of pretty words equaled great writing), what was originally supposed to be a “Throwback Thursday” post is now going up on Friday, and I’m still not 100% happy with it.

Plus, that is six hours of writing and editing that I won’t get back. Six hours I could’ve spent on writing a drabble for the day or editing my novella (which I’m determined to finish by the end of December).

But as frustrated as I am, after all this time I spent trying to perfect this episode, somebody is going to listen to it dang it!

So, a couple things to remember before I attempt to record the next podcast episode…

  1. Nortina, you are a writer first. Don’t take on any more endeavors that’s going to further distract you from your writing, especially after you’ve been away for over two years.
  2. The podcast should be a special treat for your blog followers, not another job. You wanted it to be fun, right? So keep it fun, but understand your limits. Weekly episodes? Not feasible. One episode a month of a top post from the previous month? That could work. Getting frustrated to the point of mental breakdown over a story written seven years ago. ABSOLUTELY NOT!

So, although I’m not going to give it up completely, for the sake of my own sanity, it might be a few weeks before another episode goes live. While you wait, here’s “A Cold, Gray August,” an eerie story that was originally published on this blog January 9, 2014. It saw a few revisions as I was working on the podcast, so if you’ve been here since the beginning, why not have a revisit?

If you don’t have Spotify, you can also listen to the full episode here.

What are your thoughts on this new podcast feature WordPress has? Me, I’ll remain optimistic, but to be honest, I prefer typing to speaking.

Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Writing Stress

Good evening, Dear Friends, and welcome to another Insecure Writers Support Group Wednesday!

I’ve been away for a while, for reasons I kind of half explained in a previous post. But I’m back now, and hopefully to stay, and this month’s IWSG question seems perfect for my return.

December 1 question: In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you?

So what stresses me the most? Easy. Sharing my writing with other people. Now, I know what you’re going to say. “But Nortina, you’re a blogger. It kind of comes with the territory.” I know. When it comes to sharing with total strangers, I have no problem, because if they don’t like it, they can just leave, and if they drop a nasty comment, I can just block them. It’s the people I know who give me pause.

Maybe I just have a very judgy circle of family and friends. They love to define my character by the things I write. As if everything I publish is somehow an autobiography because I prefer to write in first person. Although I do draw inspiration from real-life experiences, everything should be presumed fiction unless stated otherwise.

There have been times (and when I say “times,” I’m referring to a very specific incident) when I’ve written about, or in the voice of, some very morally questionable characters and have gotten panned for it. As if these were my actual thoughts and opinions and not a commentary on the state of society right now. In the age of quick conclusions, out-of-context screen shots and quotes, and cancel culture, fear of misinterpretation (whether intentional or unintentional) forced me to take the posts in question down.

Slapping a disclaimer at the top of such controversial posts for those people who can’t seem to tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction is always an option. But here’s the thing. I HATE having to explain myself. If common sense doesn’t tell you that this is just a story, and I have no immediate plans to go off and commit accessory to murder after the fact for a boyfriend, then I can’t help you, friend.

So I just don’t share.

I do have a Facebook page, where I post all my latest writings (though in a recent insecure writer meltdown I cleared it out and started over because I didn’t like how it looked *sigh*). But my personal Facebook feed? Full of memes.

The last time I shared with people outside the blogging word, my mom’s coworker politely asked her, “What’s wrong with your daughter?” after reading a poem inspired by Fransico Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Son. She called it deeply disturbing. Um, have you seen the painting? It’s meant to be deeply disturbing.

Available in US public domain

I also have uber-religious family members who aren’t too keen on me writing about sex all the time. To which I respond, have you actually read the Bible? I mean, one story that always tickles me is that of Judah’s son, who died on the spot for pulling out. Then Judah’s daughter-in-law dressed as a prostitute, slept with him, and got pregnant. And you wanna know who came out of that seemly dysfunctional family line? Jesus. So if God can use that and so many countless other “bad” things for good, why can’t my sex scenes serve a specific purpose in my writing.

Okay, maybe I’m grasping at straws here, but it’s not like I’m out here writing porn. And I have toned down some details as my writing has evolved, preferring to leave some things up to the reader’s imagination. Plus, there’s only so many words you can use to describe the actual act before it starts to sound nonsensical.

But I digress. I’ll end this post by saying I do understand that my writing only gets noticed when I share it with others, good or bad. And I’m often delighted when people tell me how much they love my writing and wish I’d share more. So I will try to get out of my own head and give you guys the benefit of the doubt.

Insecure writer signing off.

Lovely Curses Podcast? Yeh or Nay

I’ve been brainstorming ideas for podcasts, now that I know I can turn my blog into one. Not that I really have to. I enjoy writing. That’s what I’m good at. When I talk for too long, my voice beings to crack, my heart starts to race, I feel out of breath. Truly it is an exercise.

However, that’s usually when I’m on a high-pressure Zoom call. But podcasting? Podcasting could be fun. But what should I podcast? Well, I have some thoughts…

Photo by George Milton on Pexels.com

Poems

Obviously the first thing that came to mind was to share my poems in audio form. I love spoken word, and though my poems are more so meant for the page that to be performed, standing on stage on open mic night before an audience of fellow poetry lovers in a dimly lit jazz club as I recite my latest journalings in verse to the smooth soundtrack of the bass playing in the background has always been a secret fantasy of mine. Without the visuals, a podcast is essentially the same thing, right?

Serial Stories

Turning serial stories into a podcast makes the most sense. They’re already broken into episodes! Plus, the length could work for a podcast. While a drabble (100-word story) a day also sounds like a great series for a podcast, each episode would probably only last about a minute. Would something so short even have an audience? I should really look into that. What’s a good podcast length? Does it even matter as long as you have dedicated listeners who keep coming back? But in this fast-paced world where the average attention span is that of a toddler, and reading a print book seems archaic to the uncultured, I figured a podcast could bring new life to some of my older stories that are on the lengthier side. What do you think, would you like to hear 26 Husbands, 26 Unusual Deaths? When you really think about it, this would be its original format, given that Grandma recounted it in one sitting to her visitors at the nursing home.

Morning Inspiration

Recently I started giving myself (and you guys) daily inspiration posts to write. Because after 2 years of being away, a constant dose of self-motivation is the medicine I hope will cure my chronic writer’s block. And sure, there are plenty of daily writing prompts out there, and mine isn’t that much different, but maybe the word prompt, the photo (if viewing on the blog), and perhaps even my voice could inspire you and get those creative juices flowing early in the morning, or afternoon, depending on your time zone or whenever you’re reading/listening.

Everything

Of course, there’s always the option to publish everything this blog posts as a podcast episode. Keep it as a widget in the side bar to always play when you come to visit. That way you can follow the blog without ever having to read it, which could be your preference with how precious time is and how quickly our schedules fill up. And let’s face it, we’ve all become quite skilled in the art of multitasking.

Something Completely Different

There are times when I want to write about topics that aren’t always within the scope of this blog, and I struggle to find the right niche for these. Sometimes they sit infinitely in drafts, never to be published. Other times I create another blogging space for them, like my blog Tina Reviews It All. But I’m not a consistent reviewer. I only post about works that really speak to me, things that I enjoyed (or hated) so much that I felt passionate enough to write a lengthy blog post about it. Unfortunately, those are few and far between. The podcast will likely be the same. With my publication frequency, you’ll have just enough time to forget about it before I post again!

Any Suggestions?

As you can see, I have a lot of ideas. But little direction on where to take them or discipline to recognize when I may be overexerting myself, which is why I have so many projects I’ve started but never finished. I do feel like a podcast is an excellent way to expand the blog to a wider audience. But I also want to do something I can be consistent with, without feeling pressure to always come up with content, especially when I’m not really feeling it. More importantly, I don’t want to get so caught up in trying new things that I split my focus or lose sight of why I originally created this blog. To share my creative pursuits with you, specifically writing fiction and poetry, and eventually bringing that together in a published book. As long as podcasting doesn’t get in the way of that, sure I can try it. What do you think?

Would You Like to Hear My Voice?

Why, hello there, stranger. Yes, I know, it’s been too long. Years, really, as the poem at the end of this post explains, since my last post (September, 19, 2019), which was actually a throwback to an even older post from 2017.

A lot has happened in my life since that post…I wish I could say. Who would’ve known that a few short months after that throwback Thursday went live, the entire world would come to a complete halt, rife with pandemic panic, or pandemic denial—pick your poison.

So it was pretty easy for this blog to fade into the background. And fade it did. Quickly, as I became overwhelmed with anxiety, isolation, abandonment, depression, pandemic fatigue, health scares, work stress (“working from home” transitioning seamlessly overnight into “living at work”). Factor in a very old personal laptop that was barely functional when charged—and definitely couldn’t hold a charge past 15 minutes—I was never in the mood to write. The ironic part is that writing is my therapy, and the more I avoided it, the worse my symptoms became. And inspiration for new and current lovely curses suffered.

But as we approach the close of the year—and the reluctant acceptance that COVID will always be here—it’s time to make some changes, hopefully for the better.

Isn’t this always a resolution?

First on my list is prioritizing my health, because I won’t tell you how much weight I’ve gained in these last 20 months. But if I can at least get back to “onederland” by the New Year, I’ll be on track (and I am so close).

Thirty glow-up

I’ll be hitting the dreaded milestone next year, and I am not ready. Mentally, physically, style-wise. I hate to admit it, but my wardrobe has been stuck in the 2010s for far too long. There’s nothing more embarrassing than your own family members telling you how crusty your clothes look—or your little brother having more shoes in his closet than you do shirts that fit. So a makeover going into 2022 is a must. Add to that some new digs, because I can’t be the only one who is fed up with their current living space after being trapped there for over a year.

Prayer and mediation

The mental strains I’ve had to deal with these last several months have a lot to do with the fact that I don’t take out time in my day to close myself off from the rest of the world and sit and talk to God. I always complain about never having time to do anything (like writing on this blog); the truth is I allow too many things to waste my time (I’m talking to you, Married at First Sight and 90 Day Fiancé). If I eliminate these things, and take back those 2 hours of my Wednesday and Sunday nights specifically, I could do so much more (and that does not include finding another show to watch, although I have plenty on my watchlist to catch up on). I could spend those 2 hours pursuing and strengthening the one relationship that promises to always be there and sustain me, rather than heckle fake couples with fake storylines on Twitter, while secretly lamenting the realization that I’ll be separated from my forever person for an indefinite amount of time.

Long distance relationships during a pandemic… I do not recommend.

Write…just write

As I said before, writing is my therapy. And being away from it for so long was unquestionably detrimental to my health. So I’m easing my way back into it, hopefully without burning myself out in the process or draining my mind of creativity too soon. The first step was upgrading my laptop. Seriously, it was long overdue. My first post since being back from my extended hiatus was simply motivation to write…just right. Interesting thing is, I noticed something new when I hit publish. Which brings me to the reason behind the title of this post—no, it wasn’t just click bait.

Apparently we can convert blog posts to podcasts now! Boy, I missed a lot while I was away! When I clicked published and saw the option to also make the post a podcast, I thought, what a pleasant surprise! The option to bring my poems and stories to life with my voice? That’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do. Audio being my preference, because I hate showing my face, and I can have debilitating social anxiety when I have to talk to people, even if I’m not directly looking at them. But a podcast? Hmm, I could give that a try, be that voice in your ear as you function through life.

But then the self-doubt creeps in. That self-doubt that always seems to convince me to give up on pursuing the things I really want to do. It whispers, would my followers even want to hear my voice? Even I hate the sound of my voice, mainly because I’ve been told too many times that I sound like a 12-year-old; and let me tell you, not being taken seriously as a grown ass adult is very triggering. I’m also from the South, so, you know, accents. But the monotonous voices (specifically the female one—the male one at least has a little animation) available to use in place of my own don’t do my work justice, don’t convey the emotion I had when I wrote it.

So if you’re willing to give my little Southern baby drawl a chance, I would love for you to have a listen to yesterday’s poem. My self-encouragement to write. No limits, no obsessing over whether it’s good enough, or publication worthy. Just urging myself to write…the way I used to.

A Cold, Gray August Lovely Curses

This episode takes us on a flashback to the first story ever published on the Lovely Curses blog. Originally published January 9, 2014, "A Cold, Gray August" is an eerie tale about unseasonably cold weather in the height of summer and its effect on a mother and son.  Read the original blog post: https://lovelycurses.com/2014/01/09/a-cold-gray-august/
  1. A Cold, Gray August
  2. New Laptop…Now Write

If We Were Having Coffee…

Good morning! It’s finally September, right? Then I’ll have a pumpkin spiced latte. Hold the whipped cream. Almond milk, please. I’m taking a break from dairy.

Don’t look at me like that. I’m not becoming another one of those nondairy, plant-based, “eating animals is bad,” basic, valley, vegan chicks (just a basic pumpkin spice chick) flooding the interwebs…

But, I may be going… lactose intolerant.

I don’t know, can someone suddenly become lactose intolerant when they’ve never had an issue before? All I know is I’ve been having some major digestive problems whenever I eat or drink anything with dairy in it. Noticed it mostly with the butter I put in my food because I actually don’t drink cow’s milk anymore… unless it’s in coffee…or mac and cheese.

Haven’t noticed a problem with cheese yet, but if that happens, I think I will literally die.

There is no vegan substitute for cheese. Period.

With a “T.”

PERIODT!!!

It’s like tofu. I don’t care how you dress it up, I know it ain’t chicken. And no matter how much cashew milk and nutritional yeast you put in your little witch’s brew…IT DON’T TASTE LIKE CHEESE!

Fight me.

But we’re getting a bit off topic. Let’s talk about the real reason you’re here…

Where the frack have I been?

I know, I know. It’s been about three months since my last post—five months since the last time you saw a post from me daily (April A to Z Challenge). Do I have an explanation for my absence?

Nope.

Well, I do… but I’m not going to tell you because I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. (Still dealing with the inner trauma of an ex calling me a nagging complainer… *cue uncomfortable laugh*)

If you really must know, let’s just say computers have not been a friend to my eyes lately. The whole office environment, really. Have you ever notice how bright those florescent lights are? Geez, would it kill ya to put in a dimmer??

But seriously, I think I’m finally learning how hard it is to balance a day job with my creative passions. Because let’s be honest, at my last job, I hardly did anything. Just sat at a desk and answered a phone that rarely rang. The highlight of my day was organizing some files, okay?

Now that I’m in a world of deadlines and production spikes and ever-changing style guides and meeting an editing proficiency of four pages per hour (which can sometimes be difficult when the material is really dense, poorly written, or God forbid, ESL!) all under too bright florescent lights and computer backlights, ya girl is T-I-R-E-D.

There, I said it. There’s your explanation.

When I come home from work, sometimes I just want to lie in bed, in the dark, with a cool, wet compress over my eyes. Getting back on a computer is furthest from my mind, unfortunately for you guys. Though, I appreciate those who still come back to visit my old posts.

And especially on those occasions when I do muster up the energy to write something and post, I thank you for giving me a second chance at entertaining you…

Like today…

Even though it’s with less than 600 words…

And it’s not fiction or poetry.

Hopefully, that will come back soon. When I’ve emptied my mind of all my work-related obsessions and stresses and have left them…at work.

And hopefully, it won’t be another three months before you hear from me again.

But for now, I have to say goodbye. I must rest my eyes.

A Kiss in Your Pocket: Pocket-Sized Love Poetry (#AtoZChallenge Theme Reveal)

So . . .

I’m sure you’re wondering . . .

Where the hell I’ve been . . .

The short answer . . . Getting my life together.

You’ve got to check in on us millennials every once in a while, you know. We’re quickly approaching 30, and we are not okay. 

The real answer . . . I really haven’t been writing much of anything lately. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s been so hard for me to write. Call it fear of failure, fear of success, lack of fresh ideas, writer’s block, an aversion to reading words on the computer because it already consumes my days at the 9-to-5—honestly, I don’t know why. I tried to figure it out in this post, but still, there’s really no straight answer. So, I’ve just been away.

But the good news is I’m back. And it’s no coincidence that it’s just in time for the A to Z Challenge, either. I’ve always enjoyed participating in this challenge, and if anything is going to force me to climb out from underneath my rock, it’s being challenged to write a new post every day (except on Sundays) for 26 days for each letter of the alphabet.

So, without further ado, let’s get into this very late theme reveal, shall we?

A Kiss in Your Pocket: Pocket-Sized Love Poetry

Maybe you’ve noticed my love haiku and love tankas that I post periodically on this blog?

I’ve always loved the Japanese poetry form, and the short love poem is something I’ve always enjoyed writing. Like a little note you’d write to a lover and leave for them to discover on their desk, or chair, or pillow just to surprise them and show how much you care for and cherish them.

So I had an idea, a few years back, of publishing some of my favorite love haiku and tankas in a chapbook . . . a chapbook of short love poems—pocket-sized ones, as the title suggests. I think the idea of A Kiss in Your Pocket was first inspired by my studies of early African American poet George Moses Horton, who sold personalized love poems to students for 25 to 75 cents apiece. I imagined him walking the streets around campus, a pocket full of scribblings of short love poems on paper. Passing them along to lovesick students for a couple of cents, who would then share them with loved ones and friends.

So here is my pocket full of love poems to you. However, to make things a little interesting, I just don’t want to write a poem to a lover, I want that lover to respond. So, I’ll be experimenting with two different kinds of Japanese poetry forms, ones specifically meant to be written between lovers: the sedoka (a pair of 5-7-7 or 5-7-5 syllable katauta, or half-poems that act as a question and answer conversation between lovers) and the somonka (two tankas written as two love letters between lovers).

Starting tomorrow, I’ll post the first half of the sedoka or somonka (the call), and the next day, I’ll post the lover’s response, continuing from A to Z. At the end of the month, I’ll have 13 pairs of pocket-sized love poems!

I hope you’ll enjoy them. And if you think I should definitely move forward with that chapbook idea, please leave me a comment below. Encouragement is the best motivation. 🙂

Nortina

#WeekendRewind: How To Master Show, Don’t Tell

I’ve noticed my current work in progress, Love Poetry, has been bogged down with a lot of “telling.” Looks like I could use a refresher course…

We all could.

K.M. Allan

Ah, show, don’t tell. One of the most spouted pieces of writing advice, and one of the most confusing.

When I first heard of it, I had no idea what it meant. Surely writing that my character “rose from her chair and walked across the room” was showing? Yes? No? Maybe? No. It’s a no. A hard no. It’s “telling” the reader what the character is doing (and in a very uninspired way).

Showing is using your words to create a picture in the reader’s mind. It’s using words to put them in the moment, to allow them to feel as if they are the characters. That it’s them “pulling their tired bones from the stiff seat and shuffling across the dusty floorboards”. It’s all about forging a connection between the reader and the characters. And it isn’t as confusing as you think.

How To Master Show, Don’t Tell

View original post 1,669 more words

What to Write for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo is coming soon, and I’m considering taking the dive once again.

I don’t know why I continue to torture myself like this…

But I haven’t done any kind of planning or brainstorming, and although I have I plenty of works in progress (including a novella I’m considering giving a total revamp) half-baked ideas, and a current novel I haven’t yet started on, I want this potential NaNoWriMo novel to be 100% new.

Nothing I’ve started and stopped and started again…and stopped again.

Nothing that was once a passion but, after a year, has now become an afterthought.

Something my editor brain won’t overthink to the point that it’s debilitating.

Something I can approach as an adventure rather than potentially the next great American novel (that will only disappoint me when I read it again).

Something absolutely brand spanking new.

But what?

Maybe it’s because it’s almost Halloween, but I’m thinking of doing a ghost story. Nothing too scary, but something definitely spooky.

What do you think?

Tell me, what story should I write? I want to step out of my comfort zone a little. I’m sick of writing sad romance. Maybe a different genre will give me the boost I need to get to 50,000 words in one month for the first time ever!

It’s Worth the Mess: 3 Reasons to Keep Creating

Originally, today was supposed to be a Work in Progress Wednesday. I was going to post for you an excerpt from my current (and never-ending) WIP, Love Poetry, you were going to love it, I was going to be motivated to keep on writing and finish, and overall, it was going to be a happy day. Then I read the excerpt again…

Let’s just say I have a “mess” on my hands. A hot damn mess. Good thing I have Miss Candice here to encourage me to keep working on it.

Keep working, I shall. Check out her post if you, like me, are struggling with a messy project. 🙂

Waiting on the Day, Christmas Day — A Novella

October is just a week away, which means the holidays are quickly approaching, and I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of the holidays, my mind immediately goes to 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans, specifically, Countdown

I’d like to revisit the story of Natasha, Mitchell, Renee, Bryan, Rita, and Antonio this year, but in a special way…

Bound together in a short, self-published novella kind of special way.

Ambitious given it’s already the end of September, and I haven’t even begun to tackle this monstrous beast! Will I have time when I’ve barely had time enough to write anything other than my name this year? And what about the cover? As graphically challenged as I am, who will do it (for little to no money), or will I save that money and keep it simple—a picture and some text would do, right?

I’m not sure of all the logistics yet, but one thing I do know is that the story IS written. And just this morning while lying in bed, I thought of a synopsis to go on the back cover…

Six friends. Six personal battles they must all face and conquer before one Christmas wedding.

Natasha and Mitchell have been in love since college, and finally they are ready to profess their love in front of all of their friends and family and God most of all on the most special day of the year, but will one hastened mistake derail the life they planned together before it even starts?

Bryan and Rita both have troublesome vices Renee is desperate to have them overcome before the year ends. For Bryan, it’s cursing like his drunkard, retired navy sailor grandfather. For Rita, it’s a lifetime of bad choice, usually involving the opposite sex. Will they finish the year in victory, or will the pressure to turn their lives around for the better be too great to handle?

Antonio is recently saved and struggles to come to terms with his new Christian life and the remnants of his past, sinful life in the form of his ex-girlfriend and mother of his child, who repeatedly finds ways to get under his skin. Will he find a peaceful balance, or will he backslide into despair before he discovers the exuberance of being a follower of Christ during the most wonderful time of the year?

All of these stories come to a head on THE day, the day when most people celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world. Christmas Day.

Will it be worth the wait?

If you’ve never read the original Countdown series, does this synopsis interest you? Would you want to read more? Would you want to read it in book form (more like Kindle form)? Let me know! I’m eager to get started. Christmas will be here before you know it!