Posted in short stories

My Love Affair with Sad Stories

I have always loved tragedies. In school, when my fellow students bellyached about A Separate Peace and Of Mice and Men, I was in my happy place sucking in the human drama and pathos. I come from a culture where joie de vivre is both a catch phrase and a lifestyle, but Anna Karenina, Ethan Frome, and Madame Bovary are my people, too.

Cemetery St. FrancisIn my writing, I am drawn to sadness. Not horror or misery or lack of hope—quite the opposite. No matter the theme or plot, there’s always a thread of hope in what I write, but there’s also a thread of darkness.

Some people write about sunshine. Some people write about Icarus. I’m the latter. What happens when you get too close to the sun? You burn up. I find that fascinating and endlessly explorable.

My most recently published story came from a real visit to a cemetery. In my family, Cemetery angelwhen you say you are going to visit a relative, that person might be in a house or they might be in a grave. The only real difference is whether or not you’ll get served coffee.

Last December, my husband and I visited my grandparents. The church cemetery is old, and while we were there to put fresh flowers in the urn and a Christmas angel on the tomb, we wandered around the old part that is not aging so well. My husband took these photos, and I let my imagination skip and jump around the tombs—and the acorns.

PS_Summer_2019_Cover-200x268Philadelphia Stories is a non-profit organization that highlights the works of artists from the Delaware Valley and works to foster a lively literary community in the Greater Philadelphia Area. I am pleased that my short story “Acorns” appears in the Summer 2019 issue, both in print and online. I hope you will read it. If you suspect it might be sad…you’ve been warned.

 
Posted in writers' worksheets

Worksheets DIY Workbook

As promised!

The 40+ Days of Worksheets DIY Workbook is now available. If you did not follow the 40 Days of Worksheets blog project, here is an index of the worksheets posted then, plus a dozen new worksheets for crime and mystery authors.

As you can see, this is a true DIY project, from my document files to yours, nothing sparkly, fancy, or difficult about it. The only skills required are how to open a document and print it. If you are ambitious, you can punch holes in the pages and put them into a binder. If you are an orderly person like me, you can add blank paper after each worksheet so you can keep your worksheets and work in one place.

The printed workbook is 62 pages long, with 52 worksheets that cover writing inspiration, self-editing, goal setting, plotting, building characters, creating conflict, and other writerly topics. The cost is $10. When you purchase via the Buy Now with PayPal button below, I will email you the Workbook document as a Word doc and in Rich Text. You can then print the Workbook from your home computer.

Buy now

Any questions? Email me at ramonadef@yahoo.com

Posted in Uncategorized

Into the Woods – Happy Anniversary!

A year ago today, the charity anthology Into the Woods was published. It was my great pleasure to edit and contribute a story to this collection of short stories, essays, a walking meditation, and original music from writers who attend the Mindful Writers Retreat each fall and spring. My header photo is from the retreat center in Ligonier, Pennsylvania.

There are many reasons to write stories and create art. The purpose of this collection was to raise money for the Children’s Heart Foundation. In addition to contributing to a good cause, the Mindful Writers tightened the bond we’d formed while spending a week surrounded by woods and positive energy. A sunrise walk, a bagpipe concert, a group meditation, evenings by the fire–these are the fun parts of a working retreat, but work is the goal. For days in a row, twenty+ writers sat in silence in the great room of the lodge, typing away, lost in our own fictional worlds. Outside were natural wonders, in the kitchen were coffee and treats, but we all managed to stay in our heads when seated in a writing chair.

The anthology is the result of that experience: work plus contemplation plus peace. I am proud of this collection and to be part of such a special group. Love you, Mindful Writers!

Posted in writers' worksheets

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 40

ramonagravitarWorksheet#40 – Wrap up

Evaluate the work you’ve done over the past 40 days of worksheets. Continue reading “40 Days of Worksheets – Day 40”

Posted in writers' worksheets

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 39

ramonagravitarWorksheet #39 – Your Artist Story

In 2015, to celebrate its 50th anniversary, the National Endowment for the Arts began gathering artist stories. The NEA selected testimonials from writers, visual artists, musicians, performing artists, etc. from each state and put together a United States of Arts map. I was happy to represent Delaware with my artist story. Continue reading “40 Days of Worksheets – Day 39”

Posted in writers' worksheets

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 38

ramonagravitarWorksheet #38 – Skill Set Checklist

Professional writers never stop trying to learn and improve. Natural talent is a boon, but developing a strong skill set requires work.

Below is a list of skills useful for a fiction writer. How would you rate yourself for each–mastered, good, developing, or weak? Continue reading “40 Days of Worksheets – Day 38”

Posted in writers' worksheets

40 Days of Worksheets – Day 37

ramonagravitarWorksheet #37 – Your Someday Story

Most authors have a wish list of work they would complete if life was limitless and we were all as prolific as Stephen King. Many of us also have one story we’d like to write “someday.” Continue reading “40 Days of Worksheets – Day 37”