Tag Archives: Charlotte Phillips

Fun with Haiku – Day 3

Welcome back! (If this is your first trip The Final Twist Blog, you may want to scroll down to the earlier post on haiku. Then again, you may want to just jump right on it.)

Now that we have the hang of the three line,  5-7-5 syllable form, let’s see if we can’t get closer to Haiku by using imagery of nature and seasons to evoke emotion. For today’s topic, you have a choice:

  • Romance
  • Beauty

If you don’t already have the perfect setting for your poem, try these (selected in honor of Black History Month) African landscapes , or these pics of the second largest continent, or, for  fans for The Number One Ladies Detective Agency.

Remember our examples from yesterday:

In the garden pool,

   dark and still, a stepping-stone

      releases the moon

     By O. Mabson Southard

 

Across the still lake,

   through upcurls of morning mist –

      the cry of a loon

By O. Mabson Southard

 

Heaps of black cherries,

   Glittering with drops of rain

      In the evening sun

By Richard Wright

 

Please leave your haiku or senryu in the comments. Have fun!

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February Fun – Haiku!

Our January experiment with short fiction was so popular that we decided to do something similar in February.

Before I get into the details for February, though, I must explain why we haven’t yet posted the best contributions from January. The reason is simple. There were so many excellent entries we can’t seem to agree on the best. So, we decided on another first here at The Final Twist – we’re going to figure out how to set up a poll and let you, our readers, decide. Stay tuned!

On to February. The shortest month of the year is the month we celebrate love. We have selected poetry for our February contest. Don’t stop reading! Most of us are prose writers, so we are not expecting Poet Laureate level entries. (If any Poet Laureates want to participate, please do. All are welcome.) The intent is to have some fun. Think karaoke in written form. Specifically, haiku.

Haiku has a rich 700+ year history and its own superstars. Those who are interested should check out:

  • An Introduction to Haiku by Harold G. Henderson
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North, but Matsuo Basho (that last “o” needs a bar above it)
  • The Haiku Anthology edited by Cor van den Heuvel
  • Haiku: This Other World by Richard Wright
  • Wikipedia

According to Harold G. Henderson, most Haiku are composed, “…for the pleasure of the author and his friends….”  It’s also very short, and should evoke emotion in the reader by painting a picture, which makes it perfect for our purposes.

We’ll use the most commonly known form – 3 lines with specific syllable counts of 5-7-5. Here are some examples:

Capturing a thief,

   I was surprised to find him

      None but my own son

By Basho

 

In the garden pool,

   dark and still, a stepping-stone

 releases the moon

By O. Mabson Southard

 

Across the still lake,

   through upcurls of morning mist –

  the cry of a loon

By O. Mabson Southard

 

Heaps of black cherries,

   Glittering with drops of rain

In the evening sun

By Richard Wright

 

The examples above demonstrate two different types of haiku-like poetry.  The first example, by the Japanese master Basho, is an example of  senryu, a style of haiku that usually involves dark humor or human learning experiences.

Haiku, in its purer form, more often focuses on the natural world and seasons as in the other three examples.

Now it’s your turn. We’ll have a different topic each day for five days. We’ll begin with

  • Romantic Love (day 1)
  • Platonic or Parental Love (day 2)

Please post your romantic haiku in the comments. We’ll have a different topic Monday, so be sure to check back.

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Flash Fiction Fun (Charlotte Phillips)

Happy New Year!

Just as most of us look forward with anticipation to the annual holiday fest, many find the activity that gets bumped in order to make time for all those parties, family gatherings, and school plays is our writing. So this week is dedicated to blowing off the cobwebs, getting the wool out, girding our loins, sharpening our pencils…and reviving a few brain cells. (Feel free to add your own cliches in the comments.)

At the last 2015 Final Twist meeting, we learned about Flash Fiction – what is it, why is it gaining in popularity, what makes it so powerful?  We used two sources of information: Flash Fiction: What’s It All About? and FLASH FICTION; NARRATIVE STRUCTURE; HEMINGWAY; SHORT STORIES; HARD. If you’re interested in Flash Fiction, these are two good places to begin.

How are these two paragraphs related? We’re dedicating this week to using Flash Fiction Prompts to help us get back to writing mode. Flash Fiction refers to stories under 2000 words, but for our purposes, we are putting the limit at 200 words – and five sentences.

Playing along is easy. Each day, we’ll post a different prompt. You have until midnight to post your flash fiction in the comments. Next week, we’ll create a post that highlights the best post from each day.

Note: By posting a story in the comments, you are granting permission for a one-time re-post of your entry in the body of an article on this site. IF you want to play along and don’t want your work replicated, please say so in your entry.

Are you ready?

Monday prompt: Full Moon

Tuesday prompt: The Gift

Wednesday: Bad Resolution

Thursday: Closure

Friday: Idea

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Why Are Some Book Reviews More Useful Than Others? (Mark and Charlotte Phillips)

The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing
by Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards
Twilight Times Books
Copyright: 2008
ISBN: 1933353228
Format: ebook, paperback
Non-Fiction/How to
Have you ever puzzled over a book review and wondered if the reviewer was a personal friend of the author? Perhaps you’ve read a review and wondered what took place between reviewer and author to prompt such a vicious collection of words. Anyone who reads book reviews is sure to have come across one of he increasing number of lazy reviews – the ones that make you wonder if the reviewer read the book, or just read the back cover.
When I first started writing reviews, I studied work from different professional sources and found examples of all three of these fairly useless review types mixed in with many examples of excellent reviews that delivered the straight forward information I sought. I wanted the reviews I wrote to fall into this latter category. Unfortunately, my honest opinion of my own work was that it was a clumsy imitation of the useful reviews. I needed help.
That’s when Mayra Calvani and Anne K. Edwards came to my rescue with their fantastic guide, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing. I count my lucky stars this book was published in the same year I started writing reviews. This straight forward, easy to follow guide contains four parts:
  • The Art of Reviewing explains how to be a good reviewer, defines a book review, teaches the reviewer what it means to read critically, different types of reviews, and much more, including how to start your own review site
  • The Influence of Book Reviews discusses the different institutions that use or depend on book reviews – readers, libraries, authors, publishers, etc.
  • Resources is chock full of great resource information for book review writers
  • The appendix contains a sample press release
The stated aim of the book is “to offer some guidelines in a clear manner supported with targeted examples of how to write and publish thoughtful, well-written reviews…” The certainly meet that goal.
The pages of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing are full of great advice that is backed up by examples. The reviewer is gently, but firmly, reminded book reviews should be written for the reader. The reviewer has an obligation to read the book, to provide an honest opinion of the book, and to support that opinion with examples from the book under review.
Hints and examples of ways to keep your reviews on the professional level are provided throughout. Following is one example on the subject of tact:
“Stating your thoughts tactfully and eloquently while offering examples to support your evaluation will keep the negative review from sounding harsh, mean, or insulting. Your aim is not to offend or humiliate the author, but clearly explain to the reader why this particular book is not worth reading.”
“Avoid statements like, ‘This is a terrible book’ … the harsh phrases mentioned above can be replaced by, ‘This book didn’t live up to its full potential because…”
Using the advice and guidance in this book improved my reviews to the point that strangers began following my reviews in places like GoodReads.
In case there is any doubt, let me say I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn how to write professional reviews. Others may also find value, such as reviewers seeking new outlets for their work and readers who would like to develop a deeper understanding of the professional reviews.

Mark and Charlotte Phillips
Novels:
         Eva Baum Mysteries – Hacksaw, The Case of the Golden Key
         The Resqueth Revolution (sci-fi)
Short stories included in:
Deadly Diversions (2012)
Underground Texas (2011)
Twisted Tales of Texas Landmarks (2010)
A Box of Texas Chocolates (2009)
A Death in Texas (2008)
Demented (2011)
Sleeping with the Undead
Erotic Dreamspell

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Women’s History Month Is Here! (Charlotte Phillips)

In the United States, March is Women’s History Month, a time to “re-examine and celebrate the wide range of women’s contributions and achievements, which are too often overlooked in the telling of our history.”

March is a great time to learn about women throughout history who have shared your interests.

Here in Texas, everyone knows we are proud of our cowboys, but do you know we are also proud of our cowgirls? We even have a museum that “honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence, that helped shape the American West.” Learn more about The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame here.

From the wild days of early flight to space travel, women have loved to fly. Learn more at The International Women’s Air and Space Museum in Ohio. Do you know the name of the first woman to orbit the earth? Hint: if you said Sally Ride, you’re wrong. Check out the IWASM.

Women have authored great stories from the beginning of time. What is your favorite story penned by a woman? What makes that story your favorite?

Charlotte Phillips is a novelist and short story writer. With her husband Mark, she writes the Eva Baum mystery series. Charlotte’s short stories have appeared in A Death in Texas, A Box of Texas Chocolates, Demented Dreamspell, I, Twisted Tales of Texas Landmarks, and Underground Texas.

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