J's Page

Originally established for times when I needed more than 140 characters to finish a thought on marketing or media.


1 Comment

‘First Light’: Me on Paragraph Planet

My super-short “First Light” is featured today on Paragraph Planet, a creative writing website that features 75-word pieces on one topic. This piece was completed a week or so in class during an exercise on mood and setting. I chose the mood loneliness; the setting a spring day. I picked the two because I believe, erroneously, that no one can feel lonely on a spring day.

Check out “First Light” while you can. The pieces change daily. If you’re a writer and feeling inspired, try your hand at it. There’s something so satisfying about writing just 75 of just-right words. If you’re a reader, click and click daily. There are some real gems there, and they make for a nice breather between phone calls, a shared human moment before another deadline. Writers may also write a sequel to the posted paragraphs using their own 75 words.

Freelance writer Richard Hearn, who pens the “Distracted Dad” column for Latest Homes and “Dad Sense” for Mumsense magazine, edits the site. You can follow him on Twitter @latestdad.
 

UPDATE – PUBLISHED NOV. 6, 2011:
First light. A slow, sweet revelation of the season’s goldest
greens, tender hues, a sign for some. A sparrow calls to a
friend, a welcome home (“I missed you. I really missed you.”) I
listen hard for your silvery rattle of pans, the crack of fresh
eggs, an iron skillet’s sizzle. There’s nothing but the birdsongs,
and I wonder if you can hear them, too. Your pillow is so cold;
perhaps you’ll warm it by summer.

 

EARLIER:

  • The story behind the “Lazy Cupid” shorts that were born on Paragraph Planet
  • Class” – Sometimes you feel creative after creative writing class
  • Opera in Private” – What do you sing when you’re all alone?
  • Grease Was the Word” – Really, who didn’t want some summer lovin’?


1 Comment

When trivial became good again: On iPods, 9/11, and Steve Jobs

iPod Classic by Aaron Logan

In 2011, it’s hard sometimes to remember there was life before Facebook or iPhones. It’s hard to remember that one had to sit down at a computer and log into an email account rather than having the messages delivered to a smartphone in a pocket. It’s hard to remember the once-coveted music compact discs and their portable players, and it’s nearly impossible to remember music was once played by a moving stylus on a plastic disk with grooves. And although new names make headlines every day, a look at the past decade’s nearly frenzied embrace of technology shows the influence, the reach of Steve Jobs.

Although I had used Apples and Macs at school and work for years, Apple gave me my first real taste of truly personal tech in 2001. Shortly after 9/11, the news service where I worked received two supercool-looking gadgets from Apple they wanted us to test drive and write about. It was called an iPod, and its 5GB hard drive held “1,000 songs in your pocket.” (A 1,000 songs?!! Really?!!) I got to take one home and play with it — and I played with it for hours, which turned into days.  After my test drive, I was able to pre-order one. I was one of the first people in America to own an iPod. It’s probably my greatest achievement.
Continue reading


2 Comments

‘Grease’ was the word: Me on Paragraph Planet

I’m featured on Paragraph Planet today, a 75-word piece was inspired by my friend Amy Stapleford Jackson, who was spending summer afternoons indulging in a revival of the 1978 movie Grease, starring Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta.

For those of us who are a certain age, they were the ones that we wanted. We didn’t want Danny to be stranded at the drive-in, branded a fool. We wanted the beauty school dropout to go back to high school.  Although we were too young to appreciate all the innuendo, we knew all the words by heart and sang each note as if we’d written it, singing into Goody’s hairbrushes and dancing around a bedroom, mentally wearing the skin-tight black pants Sandy wore in the last scene.

Paragraph Planet is a creative writing website that features 75-word flash-fiction pieces on one topic. If you’re a writer, please try your hand at it. There’s something so satisfying about writing just 75 of just-right words. If you’re a reader, click and click daily. There are some real gems there, and they make for a nice breather between phone calls, a shared human moment before another deadline. Writers may also write a sequel to the posted paragraphs using their own 75 words.

Freelance writer Richard Hearn edits the site. He shares is philosophy and vision for the site in an interview with Terry Davidson Byrne at MommyTongue. When he’s not sorting through submissions, Hearn writes the “Distracted Dad” column for Latest Homes and “Dad Sense” for Mumsense magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @latestdad and @paragraphplanet.

After you read my paragraph, read more as you browse the archives or the author pages. Here’s mine, and here’s the page of my friend and former professor, Amanda Holmes.

If inspiration strikes after you’ve lost yourself in story after story, you can submit your 75 words — exactly 75 words — here.
 

UPDATE: This appeared on Paragraph Planet on 8-17-2011.

 

Grease was the word. The word that we heard. And sang. When we were 8, then 9. Then again at 38, 39 – loud. Tell me more about that summer lovin’; that fool stranded at the drive-in. What did they say? Monday at school. Oh, Sandy, you weren’t the one that we wanted. We wanted to be Rizzo, with her reasons for reputation. There were worse things we could do, but we weren’t hopelessly devoted to you.


Blame Cupid: The prequel (My stab at love stories)

I’m featured on Paragraph Planet today. My 75-word piece was the inspiration for the longer flash-fiction pieces featured on Doorknobs & Bodypaint in February: “Sub Rosa” and “To: Harpocrates.”

This piece is based on my theory that Cupid is a fat, lazy baby who is really bad at his job — and that’s why there are so many lonely people in the world. (Think Will Ferrell in a diaper.)

It’s a fun read, so be sure to check it out today. The pieces are changed daily.

Want something to read? Browse the archives or the author pages. Here’s mine, and here’s the page of my friend and former professor, Amanda Holmes.

Want to try your hand at it? You can submit your 75 words — exactly 75 words — here.

UPDATE: My piece “It’s a Broken Arrow” that appeared April 1 on ParagraphPlanet.com.

It’s a broken arrow. And my last. I can’t use it; it won’t do. She would never feel it, and he’ll never know. He’s been alone for a while now; a little longer won’t hurt. Besides, he has his dog to keep him company. Why let a woman ruin such a good thing? We’ll get her next year. I promise. I’ll even bring the special bow. The really good one. And an extra arrow or two.


Charlie Sheen’s #winning social media offer

I’ve often said — but not here — that too many businesses rely on the interns to run their social media efforts, essentially putting a brand in the hands of a child. (My agent even told me I’m right about this, so I must be.) Leave it to Charlie Sheen, Hollywood’s reigning douchebag, to prove my point.

This is me #winning.

Trey Barrineau at USA TODAY’s LifeLine blog is reporting that Sheen is taking applications for a social media intern. Have a Twitter account and big dreams of playing lackey to a loser? Want to apply? The ad is here.


Short and sweet fiction

This took first place in its category, and it turned out better than expected. Think of it as a candy bar: a break before your next meeting.

Enjoy.


4 Comments

Blame Cupid: My stab at love stories

As the last post said, we’re not all business here. This post really has nothing to do with marketing, advertising or journalism; it’s about my fiction writing. So I guess I could chalk this up to self-promotion.

I’m happy to report my short “Flip Side of Paradise” won first place in the Doorknobs contest at Doorknobs & BodyPaint, and two companion pieces — “Sub Rosa” and “To: Harpocrates” — won second place in the Dorsal competition. 

The stories had to be about being madly in love — in honor of the month of February. For Issue 61, the Doorknobs contest had the following restraints, er, guidelines:

  1. Maximum length: 250 words.
  2. The sub-theme is: irritated.
  3. The year is: 1921.
  4. Within the story, this text must be used: wildly excited.

You can check out “Flip Side of Paradise” here. I based it on the premise that Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald were coming to dinner, and what a pain in the ass that would be. I crafted my protagonist by drawing on Scott’s circle of former Princeton classmates, colleagues and peers. I was going to have her be a wife, but she wasn’t yet married to Scott’s friend, John Peale Bishop, a poet and editor at Vanity Fair. Yes, he was a real guy, and he and his wife did end up living in France for some years. This was a fun story to write, and I was surprised how much I liked it in the end. I felt like there was some real emotional truth in it, even if it was irritation.

My Dorsal pieces — “Sub Rosa” and “To: Harpocrates” — spun out a submission I sent to the very cool Paragraph Planet, where I’ve had several pieces featured. This initial 75-word piece was based on the idea that Cupid is a really lazy bastard and that’s why there are so many lonely people in the world. (Think Will Ferrell drunk, eating Cheetos and in a diaper. That’s my vision of Cupid.) “To: Harpocrates” was originally written and submitted for the Hayward Fault Line contest, which used these guidelines:

  1. Maximum length: 450 words.
  2. The sub-theme is: wraithful.
  3. The setting is: Portland, Ore.
  4. Within the story, you must use this bit of text: gale swept across

After I finished the piece, I decided to have a go at the Dorsal contest — using the same story but with a different point of view. The Dorsal guidelines included a 450-word limit and using external and internal dialogue to reveal the narrator’s hidden feelings about a friend, lover or spouse.

In the end, the editors decided to put both pieces in the Dorsal contest, which is kinda cool because they do belong together, like the characters. I’ve since been told by Mom and my best e-mail friend (Amy, the BEF) that I need to write a sequel. I don’t know about that. I’m pretty sure I will do more with the idea of a Will Ferrell-type as Lazy Cupid, but I’m not sure I’ll return to the florist and hacky-sack guy. Who knows, maybe I will. I hadn’t planned on writing anything when I sat down that day, but at the end of the night, I had three pieces that were fun to write — and had surprised even me, the writer.

That, friends, was a good writing day.