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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Writing Prompt: 12/24/09

Happy Holidays, everyone! January classes with the amazing teacher, Aaron Henne, are now almost completely full:
Even though Xmas is over, Writing Pad gift certificates are always available in any amount, for specific classes, or as an open ended gift (to be applied to the class of your/your friend's/loved one's choice).

Email for more info. or call 323-333-2954.
Writing Prompt: Make a list of 3 traditions that you have for the holidays. Add a sensory detail to one of them (smell, taste, touch, sound, sight). Write about that tradition for 10 minutes.

My tradition is to go to the movies and eat Chinese food on Christmas Day. I don't get many presents, but it's so relaxing! Plus I love the buttery smell of popcorn of movie theaters.

Comment on this blog! Write about a holiday tradition. It can be a sentence or a mini story. I will respond with what I like and remember and you will be entered in the December contest for a free class!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Writing Prompt: 12/17/09

Check out my fabulous gift guide in the blog post below! Writing Pad gift certificates are available in any amount, for specific classes, or as an open ended gift (to be applied to the class of your friend's/loved one's choice). Email for more info.

BTW, Aaron Henne's second section of This Los Angeles Life: Writing for Solo Performance on Sunday, January 10th is now full! There is a waiting list available.

Writing Prompt: Look around your house or office for something with a warning label. Write the warning down and write whatever comes to mind for 10 minutes. Or use this warning label that I found on my Sunkist Fruit Snacks when I was rushing around my kitchen, shoving the gummy fruit shapes in my mouth:

"To avoid choking, give Fruit Flavored Snacks to children who can easily swallow chewy foods. Children should be seated and supervised while eating."

Maybe I should be seated and supervised. ;)

Comment on this blog! Write about a warning label. It can be a sentence or a mini story. I will respond with what I like and remember and you will be entered in the contest for a free class!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Writing Prompt: 12/10/09

Check out my fabulous gift guide in the blog post below! BTW, Writing Pad gift certificates are available in any amount, for specific classes, or as an open ended gift (to be applied to the class of your friend's/loved one's choice). Email for more info.

Writing Prompt: Take five minutes to make a list of five of the best/worst gifts you’ve ever received (in reality or in your imagation). Pick one and write about it for 10 minutes.

Comment on this blog! What was the best/worst gift you ever received? It can be a sentence or a mini story. I will respond with what I like and remember and you will be entered in the contest for a free class!

Writing Pad Gift Guide For Writers

This week, I was inspired by Daily Candy’s hipster holiday gift guides. So here are my gift suggestions for your friends and loved ones who are writers:

1. “Work-shopping”
Writing Pad’s gourmet writing classes are as fun as shopping but are deliciously productive. Our gift certificates are packaged in pretty envelopes. It’s a very thoughtful gift for someone who wants to write or is already a writer. It says to your loved one—indulge your passion, on me! Email to get one.

Cost: $30-$350 ($10 off sale on 1 day classes--$60)

2. “Book Smarts”
Aaron Henne’s writing exercise book, You Already Know is a fantastic inspiration tool for writers of all kinds. I have found its collection of 80 exercises to be super helpful for my own writing craft and practice (I write poetry and memoir).
Cost: $15 plus shipping and handling

3. “Pocket Sized Idea Catcher”
I love these colorful Moleskin journals—they look good and fit in your coat pocket or purse. You can personalize them by gluing your favorite photo or postcard onto them too or just leave them as is.

Cost: $5.95 to $12.00 plus shipping and handling

4. “Ready To Write” Wear
Be trendy AND comfortable when you sit down to write. Michael Crowe’s “Il Corvo” T-shirts are eye catching and buttery soft. Plus, he’s a Writing Pad student! I own the “woman getting oxygen” T-shirt and find the image to be humorous and calming when I wear it.

Cost: $21.49 (free shipping)

5. “Tea for Two”
Tea has magical powers to unblock one’s creativity. That's why I sip tea when I put pen to page. Carmelized pear is my favorite tea, but The Art of Tea has so many tasty choices. The silver tin and a writing buddy to share your tea with are optional.

Cost: $12 to $47 plus shipping and handling

6. “Wrap Up Your Words”
Short on cash? Wow your loved ones with an ode, a story, or a heartfelt letter. Print it out on nice paper and use a presentation envelope if you like. It’ll be a unique gift they’ll hold dear forever.
Cost: $0-6.75 for envelopes plus shipping and handling

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Weekly Writing Prompt: 12/3/09

Writing Prompt: Make a list of 5 behaviors/things/people that really annoy you at work (or at past jobs).

Here are some suggestions of things that could end up on that list: people eating stinky food at their desks that smells like warmed up dog food, loud phone talkers, irritating coworker behavior, etc.. Or if you have no beefs or work alone, make some items up!

Write whatever comes to mind about that one item for 10 minutes.

If you're concerned about trash talking about your job/coworkers, come up with a “code name.” Mine are “Happy Hugger” and “Toxic Teddy Bear Man.” You can also email your mini-story/rant to and ask for an anonymous post. We will treat everything as fiction (it could be a character from your book, ya know).

And there’s only one spot left in Aaron's class this Saturday! Email or call 323-333-2954 to snatch it up! Aaron will unveil this crazy amazing dialogue exercise that he hasn’t used in his long classes:

Comment on this blog! What comes to mind when you think, “this really annoys me at work (or annoyed me at a past job)?” Post a mini story or a sentence—it’s all good, Cookie! The best comment of December wins a free class!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Winner of Nov. Comment Contest

Before I tell you who won, I want to tell you that I was truly blown away by the fantastic comments/stories people wrote! It was really, really hard to choose just one winner. To recognize the high quality of the comments, I’ve decided that everyone who commented on the blog in November gets 10% off their next Writing Pad class (in addition to the continuing student discount if you are a continuing student).

Thank you, everyone who participated! Your comments have taken this blog to a whole new level. I encourage you to use the prompts to keep up your writing practice between classes and post your short writes here. You can comment as many times as you like—even if it is just a snarky Facebook style sentence fragment. Just like in class, I will tell you what I like and remember and treat everything as fiction.

Also, there is still just one spot left in Aaron's Saturday class. Email or call 323-333-2954 to snatch it up! Aaron will be unveiling this crazy amazing dialogue exercise that he hasn’t used in his long classes:

OK, I know—get to it already, you are dying to know. The winner of the November Comment Contest is Carol Wyatt. Congrats, Carol! In response to the question, “What’s your favorite place to write?” Carol said, “I keep a pad of paper next to my computer so I can write down thoughts that pop into my head while I'm working. Writing in bed on a lazy weekend is my favorite way to get things down on paper, when I have the time.” Sounds good to me! Her comment/story is fab and is under the "Thanksgiving Writing Prompt."

You can check out all of the wonderful November comments/stories here:

I am holding another comment contest in the month of December. I will unveil a new weekly writing prompt by tomorrow. I hope you will keep commenting! :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Writing Prompt: 11/25/09

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! December classes with the amazing teacher, the one and only, Aaron Henne are now almost completely full:

Sign up by calling 323-333-2954 or emailing

Writing Prompt:
Here's a good one for the holiday. What comes to mind when you think of "Thanksgiving?" Make a list of 5 things that you associate with that word. Here are some suggestions of things that could end up on that list: cooking disasters, eating triumphs, family spats, what you are thankful for, favorite Thanksgiving foods or rituals, etc..

Pick one item off of your list and add a sensory description to it (e.g. smell, taste, touch, sound, sight). Write whatever comes to mind about that one item for 10 minutes. Include the sensory description in your writing.

Comment on this blog! What comes to mind when you think of "Thanksgiving?" What are your cooking disasters, eating triumphs, family spats, what you are thankful for, favorite Thanksgiving foods or rituals, etc.. The best comment of November wins a free class!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

T-Day Recipe From Adel: 11/24/09

Take one of these one-day gourmet writing classes with Aaron Henne in December. You get an amazing class plus we serve Adel's (pictured above) out of this world brunch tasting plates. Adel is the Writing Pad Executive Chef. Her caramel baked French toast, chilaquiles, or potato latkes (my Jewish Momma's recipe) will inspire the best writing you've ever done. The classes are a decadent deal:
Sign up by calling 323-333-2954 or emailing They are almost full!

Ahem, may I have a drum roll please? Anyone who has tried Adel's fantastic cooking and baking has become instantly addicted to it. Many of you have asked me time and time again if Adel will divulge her recipes. Now, she has agreed to share a recipe once a month with all of you.

This month, Adel is giving you a delicious dessert that you can use for Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread. Thanks, Adel! I might have to try making that for my in-laws--perhaps the bread will work magic and soothe family dinner table tensions. Chocolate always makes me feel more relaxed. ;)
Adel says,
"This recipe is adapted from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. It's perfect for the holidays because it makes two loaves - one to give away and another to keep for yourself. Or you can do as I do and make mini-loaves for your friends, family, and co-workers. It is not too sweet or dense like some quickbreads and takes only minutes to throw together."

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups (1-15 oz. can) pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2/3 cup (5 1/4 oz.) water
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I use a mixture of milk and semisweet chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, mix together the sugars and oil. Beat in the eggs, then the pumpkin, water, and vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices and stir in. Fold in the nuts and chips.

Pour into two 9x5 inch lightly greased loaf pans. Bake approximately 1 hour (less for smaller loaves) or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool loaves in the pans on a rack. When completely cool, remove bread from the pans.

This bread tastes better when wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature overnight.

In the comments, tell us about your experience of baking the bread or tell us what your favorite Thanksgiving desserts are. Or, what is your favorite Adel dish or dessert from class? The best comment of November on this blog wins a free 2.5 hour class!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Writing Prompt: 11/19/09

Want to sharpen your writing craft and get some stellar writing done? Take one of these one-day classes with Aaron Henne in December:

There are only a couple of spots left in both classes. Sign up by calling 323-333-2954 or emailing before they are full!

Writing Prompt:
Make a list of 5 food products (can be breakfast foods) that you associate with your childhood. Pick one food product off of your list and add a sensory description to it (e.g. smell, taste, touch, sound, sight). Write whatever comes to mind about that one item for 10 minutes. Include the sensory description in your writing.

For example, the mere mention of the Eggo waffle shortage on the news yesterday brought me back to childhood. I flashed back to those "Leg go my Eggo" commercials and the nutty, yeasty smell of Eggo waffles when they snap out of the toaster.

Another product that I associate with childhood is Mrs. Butterworths. My sensory detail would be: sticky ropes of syrup gluing my fingers together. About a year ago, I discovered that Mrs. Butterworths didn't come in a thick, glass bottle anymore (she is now in a cheap, plastic bottle). I felt sad and outraged. It was like a childhood friend had passed. Clearly, I watched too much TV as a kid!

Anyway, my ten minute write will be about Eggo waffles or Mrs. Butterworths. What are the food products that you associate with childhood?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Writing Prompt: 11/12

Make a list of what comes to mind when you think of the word, "Dirty" or "Dirt." Now pick one item off your list and write for ten minutes on it. Make sure to use some sensory description (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight) in your piece.

Now you've started a draft for the next "Chi Chi's Word Parlor."* I recommend this upcoming class at Writing Pad (see below) to help you take what you just wrote to the next level and make it excellent (for submission to Chi Chi's or a literary journal too!).
Call 323-333-2954 or go to to enroll!

This Los Angeles Life: Writing For Solo Performance
Have you dreamed of telling your story at “Chi Chi’s Word Parlor?”* This class will help you develop a kick ass, five minute piece to submit to the next “Chi Chi’s!” Class topics include: discovering a hook that works with the next show's theme (“Dirty”), finding the right tone, and crafting prose that flows nicely off the tongue. We’ll also show you how to tell a full story quickly and infuse it with humor and pathos. Post-class, you will also receive instructor feedback on a draft to help you polish it up for submission. Experienced and beginning writers welcome.

Instructor: Aaron Henne
Saturday, December 12, 2009
10:30 a.m. – 1 :00 p.m.
Cost: $80 ($70 for continuing students), includes instructor feedback on one draft post-class
Includes gourmet brunch tasting plates

*”Chi Chi’s Word Parlor” is a literary variety show at the Atwater Playhouse where writers read five minute long pieces based on a quarterly theme. The next theme is “Dirty,” and submissions are due on February 15 to Check for submission guidlines.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Writing Prompt: 10/27

Here's a great prompt that I used this weekend from Writing Pad's amazing writing teacher, Aaron Henne's, terrific new writing exercise book, "You Already Know."
Make a list of 5 things that you are thankful for in your life right now (one of mine was Adel's lemon blueberry streusel muffins that she made for our character class this weekend--they were delicious!). Fill a couple of pages with your thoughts about this. Also write about what is not working for you in your life right now. Allow yourself to get these things out on the page. It really does work to help you clear out what is getting in the way of your creativity!
After you've written for 10-15 minutes, open up the dictionary and pick a word. Write about whatever comes to mind all of the associations that you have on that word for another 10 minutes.
If you'd like to buy a copy of Aaron's book (it's great for writers of all genres), buy it here:
If you'd like to take class with Aaron, there is one spot left in his class that starts this week:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Writing Prompt: 10/7/09

Write for 10 minutes about a time when you declared your indpendence or when you became independent of something.

Don't forget to check out the new fall classes on the Writing Pad site! We have some great ones, including a fantastic character class:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Writing Prompt: 9/23/09

Make a list of dreams that you have had and write about one of them for ten minutes. Or, write about what people sleeping in a house are dreaming about.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writing Prompt: 9/16/09

For ten minutes, write about an interesting experience you had on public transportation (plane, bus, train, taxi, etc.). Make sure to include one of the five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste, touch). Have fun with it!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Writing Prompt: 9/9/09

Make a list of five things that come to mind in response to the word "Prom." Write for 10 minutes.
You'll have started your piece for Chi Chi's Word Parlor, a fantastic literary variety show at the Atwater Playhouse! The deadline is Tuesday, September 15th. The submission guidelines are:
--3 pages double spaced (not longer) emailed as a word attachment to (on the theme of "Prom")
- Submit a maximum of 2 pieces per theme
- Put the title of your piece, your name, email and contact number on your submission

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weekly Writing Prompt: 8/27/09

Make a list of 10 smells, tastes, and sounds that remind you of summer. Pick one or several and write for 10 minutes!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Writing Prompt: 8/19/09

Make a list of five embarassing things that you have done (or stories of embarassing moments). Pick one and write about it!

Also, check out our new fabulous classes for the fall! We'll help you make your writing dreams come true!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Writing Prompt--8/5/09

Write for 10 minutes about your favorite restaurant when you were younger. Make sure to use the sense of taste, sound, or smell in your story.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Time to Write Tuesday: Writing Prompt 7/28/09

For ten minutes, write about the first album/CD you ever bought OR write about a song you can't get out of your head. Write about how it made/makes you feel and whatever memories it brings to mind! Have fun!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Weekly Writing Prompt: Happy Hump Day!

Here's a fun exercise! Make a list of your five favorite idioms/sayings. Pick one and write about it for 10 minutes. Or, pick one of the idioms below and write about it for 10 minutes:

"I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears"
I'm not pulling your leg (Russian)

"To throw face"
To make a good impression (Spanish, El Salvador)

Hot, sexy, attractive (Spanish, Mexico)

"The space below a nose is long"
To be lewd toward women (Japanese)

"Wiggle your bucket"
Dance (Spanish, Mexico)

"Swallowed like a postman's sock"
Hopelessly in love (Spanish, Colombia)

"To hang oneself"
To get married (Spanish, Mexico)

The wife (Spanish, Latin America)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Time to Write Tuesday--Writing Prompt 6/30/09

Happy almost July! Here's your writing prompt:

Make a list of memorable family vacations. Pick one and add two sensory details to it (smell, taste, sound, touch, sight). Write for 10 minutes.

And if you're feeling in need of more writing inspiration, we have two fabulous one day classes coming up:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Time to Write Tuesday: Writing Prompt 6/23

Here's your writing prompt for the week:

Make a list of your best and worst experiences with alcohol and drugs. Pick one and write about it for 10-15 minutes.
Have fun!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Heart LA: Five Steps to Knowing Your City Better Than Your Friends Do

By Kimberly Faith Waid

Kimberly, a writer for Metromix, gave us her top picks for things to do in Los Angeles before she moved to NYC.

Outdoor Movies
One of the biggest perks to being an Angelino is LA’s temperate climate. It comes as no surprise that a few good folks decided to screen movies outdoors. Cinespia hosts movies from The Exorcist to McCabe and Mrs. Miller at the legendary Hollywood Forever Cemetery. After donating ten bucks (parking is five) lug your picnic gear along the gothic scenic trail. Recommendation: get there early.
If cemeteries wig you out, then go downtown for Devil’s Night Drive In which mostly screens films of the eighties from Big to Goonies. You can party from your car (I suggest backing in and sitting in the back) or you can park on the Astroturf up front. It may not be like our parents knew it, but you still get sound on an FM transmitter, and girls on roller-skates will serve you nachos if you flash your lights.

Free Wine, Art & Eye Candy
The second Thursday of every month is the Downtown Art Walk, where a myriad of art galleries and museums show their finest artwork whilst offering patrons free wine and cheese. Maps and a full participating gallery listing are all online. They even have a shuttle named The Hippodrome so the ladies can wear heels and hide their inability to walk a straight line. You’ll get your cultural fix, and you’ll also get an excuse to end the night with nachos from Pete’s and a cold beer from Bar 107.
A Bus Ride Not Suitable for Grandma (unless she carries a flask)
The last time I rode a bus it was a Greyhound, and it was snowing heavily. The bus driver claimed he was too sleepy so he wouldn’t turn the heat on. There I was: shaking in my shoes while my smelly neighbor’s head crashed on my shoulder. I thought that I’d never want to ride a bus again. But then I found Esotouric. Their drivers are funny, brainy, and eager to show you the old stomping grounds of Charles Bukowski or John Fante. Murder mystery aficionados will get their fix in The Black Dahlia bus tour. These tours are sure to satisfy both your inner nerd and rebel.

Trannies, Burlesque & Wrestling
Lucha Va Voom is one of my favorite LA insider events. Lucha is the only place where in one night, you can spend time with a masked man of superhero strength, a pasties adorned burlesque dancer, a midget dressed as a chicken, and an ambisexual hula hooper. Come in good spirits or the ear splitting, pants ripping, bodice busting action won’t be as exciting as it’s intended to be. Housed in the Mayan, Lucha is so thrilling that it will be painful when it’s your turn to get beers and you have to miss a mere five minutes of the show. Don’t be surprised if on the way out, you see patrons collapsed in a ball of sweat from hollering.

Listening to a Stranger’s Middle School Journal
No matter where you’re from, you probably spent your middle school years passing notes, signing yearbooks, and staying up late with friends dishing on your latest burning love. Mortified, a monthly show, allows the very brave to dig out their old journals and read them to an audience who is laughing with them and AT them. Highlighted in the This American Life series on NPR (listen on the Best of This American Life – 2006), Mortified will make you laugh and cringe as you relate to and gasp at others’ romantic catastrophes.

Here are a few other places Kimberly enjoys with giddy fanfare:

All Star Lanes

Melrose Trading Post

Barnsdall Art Park

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time to Write Tuesday--Free Writing Prompt

Here's a fun prompt: Make a list of things that you find in the forest or in the ocean. Pick your favorite off of your list and add a sensory detail to it. Now spend 10 minutes comparing some part of your life to the forest or ocean item (ex. my life is like a spastic squirrel).
I just returned from the Grand Canyon, Sedona and the Coconino National Forest, so here's a couple pictures from those places.

If you are yearning for a regular summer writing practice or you have a novel, screenplay, or writing project you've always wanted to complete, Aaron Henne's terrific So You Want To Be A Writer and Finishing School classes start next week. Call 323-333-2954 or email to sign up!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Time To Write Tuesday - Free Writing Prompt

Those Ziploc baggies filled with Amish Friendship Bread starter sourdough are making the rounds again.  That takes me back to the 70's, when my Mom was always making super yummy Herman Coffee Cake with that stuff. Which brings me to your FREE writing prompt for this Time To Write Tuesday!

What was the best food that Mom (or Dad) used to make for you?  What was the worst? Make a list of the tastiest and/or most cringe worthy.  Pick one and write it out!  
Write for 10 minutes over lunch or tonight while you are waiting for the pizza delivery guy. 

If that leaves your pen hungry, there is more homemade inspiration at Writing Pad this summer! We only have a few spots left for Aaron Henne's Finishing School (with an all new format!) and Tim Grierson's personal essay workshop series, So You Want to Go to Harvard: Inside the Personal Essay. Adel will be whipping up some amazing gourmet dishes such as polenta with truffled onion relish and baked apples with caramel sauce, just like mom used to make! 

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Weekly Writing Prompt: Happy Hump Day!

Here's a writing prompt to help you get through this rainy Wednesday! Make a list of four to five foods that you love that others find strange or low brow (mine are Slim Jims, Twizzlers, KFC coleslaw, Cheez Whiz--yes it's true). Pick one and write for 10 minutes!

And, if you are craving more concentrated writing inspiration, check out Writing Pad's summer writing classes! There are just a couple of spots left in Tim Grierson's "Spice Up Your Settings Pt II"and Aaron Henne's "So You Want To Be A Writer" class. We will serve you tasty gourmet food like tuffled mac and cheese and blackberry crumble with home-made ginger ice-cream, not Cheez Whiz! :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Movies and Crazy Good Writing

By Marilyn Friedman and Noah PohlThe Writing Pad Movie Club class series gives me an excuse to invite cool peeps over to Writing Pad for some socializing and gourmet indulgence. Movie watching always helps me relax and escape after a hard day at work. But movies have a lot to teach us in terms of storytelling techniques. An artfully crafted movie can also remind me of all the great story material I have in the well-stocked pantry of my mind, especially when my brain is feeling blank.

We are very lucky to have the renowned film critic/freelance writer, Tim Grierson (pictured below), as the teacher for our Movie Club classes.

Check out these links to see some of Tim’s latest film reviews:

Below is a sample of what Noah Pohl wrote in our last Movie Club class: “From Crazy Love to Crazy Good Writing.” We watched Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and then Tim led some fab writing exercises and did a mini-craft lecture to help us to write our own love stories. Take one of the next Movie Club classes, “Spice Up Your Settings Pt. I and Pt II,” and you too will be inspired to write something as amazing. We'll be watching Metropolitan and Little Children. We'll learn to use setting to enhance our stories, characters and conflict, and feasting on decadent brunch tasting plates like the homemade croissants and waffles made by our talented chef, Adel.

“Every time someone mentions the brand, Hello Kitty, I am crushed. I remember how excited she got when she told me that she’d decorated her bathroom with Hello Kitty -- and that she thought I should too. I refused.

Listening to In Rainbows hurt for about eight months. The black mini fridge that smelled like ass and rotted, seeping onions until I scrubbed it clean and gave it to her, is now sitting in her room, forever, or until she sells it on Craigslist. BMW cars make me turn my head. If I see a bright green jacket, a black turtleneck, hoop earrings, or peach vodka, I get pangs in my stomach.

I will forever associate Michael Phelps winning the gold medals with cuddling on her lumpy, creaky bed. The turquoise lingerie she had. The smell of her neck. The magnets from New York on her fridge.

The way she angrily compared her co-workers to pieces of fruit: one was a pear. Now, I can't eat pears. I'm wrecked whenever I think of any of these things.”

Writing Prompt: Make a list of five very intense emotional moments that you associate with significant relationships from your past. Add a sensory detail (smell, taste, touch, sound, sight) to each moment. Pick your favorite and write about it for ten minutes.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Writing Pad Nature Walk

By Amy Robinson

Sunday, April 19th was a perfect day to mix my loves of hiking, writing, and eating at the Writing Pad Nature Walk class. At 10 a.m., a merry band of ten Writing Pad students gathered at Temescal Canyon Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades, an oasis of nature in our bustling city.

Marilyn, ever the gourmet food pusher, handed out delicious, freshly baked carrot/coconut muffins whipped up by Adel Aschenbrener, Writing Pad’s culinary genius. The muffins were a good energy boost for the two mile round trip hike in front of us. As the sun climbed, so did we. I told the group to keep all of their senses open; to pay attention to the sights, sounds, smells and touches of nature around us. I noticed the sweet scent of cedar rising from the trees, and I felt the sun’s heat sear my shoulders. Several fat lizards popped out into our path, offering themselves as fodder for future journal entries.

Pausing for a breath about ¾ of a mile in, our little party of explorers could see the Long Beach Peninsula through a crack between hills. It was a clear and gorgeous day, but it was the hottest April 19th in the past 35 years. We were all red-faced and sweaty.

Just when our quads and glutes started to burn, we reached our destination: the tiny waterfall and creek bed in the mountainside. Ready for a rest, we all perched on some rocks and wrote again. The water burbled, the shade dappled and small creek flies tried to take refuge up my nose. It was a very peaceful scene of 10 writers bent over journals, letting their imaginations meander over hill and dale of the Santa Monica mountain range.

After we completed our hike, we spread out picnic blankets under sweet shade in a quiet corner of the lower park. We feasted on Adel’s amazing, flavorful quinoa and kale salad and a scrumptious assortment of local and organic cheeses from The Cheese Store of Beverly Hills (including creamy goat cheese from a Paso Robles farm packed in its own bamboo cheese skirt (held by Marilyn below) and a nutty, mild Petit Basque from France).

We sipped on some Moroccan Vanilla iced tea and wrapped up the class with Adel’s killer brownies and one last free-write. One of my writing prompts was to invent a natural phenomena, give it a name, and describe how it occurs. Although Writing Pad confidentiality rules do not allow me to reveal the hilarious and fantastic stories that our class participants wrote, I will tell you that I wrote about a special wind that magically removed cellulite (picture a group of naked women standing on the beach, waiting for a storm to smooth thighs and bellies). Marilyn wrote about a penis rainstorm in the finance department of the large media corporation that she works at.

Everyone left the class rested from a healthy jaunt in nature and a brief respite from the noises and stresses of city life. I can’t wait for our next adventure hike (and more of Adel’s brownies)!

For other fun and productive short classes check out Writing Pad's One Night Stands/One Day Classes. The food is always yummy, and you'll get a lot of writing done.

Writing Prompt: If you controlled the weather, what would you do? Start by making a list of 10 natural phenomena (rain, wind, hail, etc.). Then add your own special touch to your favorite 2 phenomena--invent something special that happens when it rains, hails, etc. (ex. a special wind that removes cellulite, a rainstorm of penises). Give it a your natural phenomena a name, and describe how it occurs. Write for 10 minutes!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

So Cal Writer's Conference: Notes from "Triple G"

By Sophia Kercher
It is 8 a.m. on Saturday at the San Diego Crowne Plaza. The only time I’m ever up this early on the weekend is if I have a handsome cuddle-buddy next to me, but today I have a hot date with the Southern California Writer’s Conference (SCWC). I am here partially for an artist’s vacation, partially for self-development and partially to promote Writing Pad.

I throw on my oversized LA sunglasses and my Writing Pad tee. Add a cream colored silk scarf for extra flair and lend a hand to Marilyn. After passing out triple ginger mini-biscotti to fellow scribes at the Writing Pad table, I’m ready to hit the publishing short fiction seminar.

At this conference, I talk with other cool writers, agents and editors. I learn about the challenges of the publishing world in panels and seminars. Conference directors Michael Steven Gregory (with beard, below) Wes Albers (with glasses, below) and keep the weekend friendly and palatable, making the daunting idea of getting published seem very doable. The teddy bear sweet Albers, a cop who writes crime novels, and Gregory, a screenwriter who knows how to both party hardy and throw a conference, encourage mingling and fun. The seminars are intimate and informative.

As the weekend continues I fall in love with writing, over and over again. It is Valentine's Day Weekend after all. My heart becomes full as I complete a poem in Ed Decker’s “Poetry Cram” class. Ed is a bad ass poet/bartender and columnist for San Diego City Beat. He pushes us to consider poetry from different angles and squash the sap in our verse. Things nearly get romantic at 11 p.m. where Judy Reeves, author of A Writer’s Book of Days, leads a “Rogue Writing Workshop.” At the workshop, I get terrific feedback on my fiction from Judy and the ladies in the picture below. We feel alive by sharing our words and make a plan to meet again outside the conference.

And what would a hot date be without nerves? My palms start sweating in the magazine writing workshop where the easy-on-the-eyes Troy Johnson (Senior Editor of Rivera Magazine) leads an encouraging seminar, his dark eyes twinkling. My new Santa Monica bud Linda is also taken. At the end of Troy’s class, she goes up to him and says, “You are just delicious!”

SCWC continues to surprise me. Over nibbles of my 10th triple ginger biscotti of the weekend, I also meet a cute T-shirt maker/novelist named Michael (below) who has just moved to San Gabriel. Marilyn calls him “San Gabriel” every time he stops by the Writing Pad table so he gives both of us rapper names to equal his. Marilyn is christened “Biscotti” for her cookie-pushing ways, and I become the eyebrow-raising “Triple G” (that’s for Triple Ginger! Don’t get any ideas now).
So will we be back in the fall for date number two, a Los Angeles version of this conference? Yes, indeed. As Marilyn says, “The conference is super professional, an amazing deal for the moolah and chock full of Pu Pu platter goodness. Why would any writer or person aspiring to be published not want to go? It's so much fun and so productive!"

Join Writing Pad at the Southern California Writer’s Conference on September 25-27 located at the Crown Plaza Irvine! For more info., go to Word is the Los Angeles conference is much bigger than its San Diego counterpart. All Writing Pad students will get a special discount.

Tip: We recommend staying at the hotel, the conference is located in Irvine. After a day of knock-out workshops and read/critiques that go past midnight, you’ll want to either sink into a pillow, a couple glasses of wine, or both.