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A Tribute to the Katniss of the Writer’s Revolution

The mission:  Helping great writers get discovered.

If you have a story to tell, a blog, a short story, a novel, a fierce desire to write, then you need to find Writer’s Bloq and  the Kickstarter campaign. Because it’s only the beginning of the journey, this is an incredible opportunity for writers everywhere to join and find a place for their talent to be seen and heard.

The founder and CEO of Writer’s Bloq, Nayia Moysidis, embodies a spirit of blemished ferocity in the form of love. She refuses to buckle under the pressure of defeat—a very real, crushing reality for all writers at some point in their lives.

She started Writer’s Bloq after being rejected or, in more accurate terms, ignored 89 times.

Her hair pulled back into a long braid, her intensity alive, she speaks with the skill of a confident leader. Her power lies in her compassion. She understands and identifies with those who follow her. They follow her because they trust her. They follow her because she’s one of them:  A writer.

Writer’s Bloq launched a Kickstarter campaign on August 22, 2012. Writer’s Bloq has seven days left to meet its goal in order to raise $15,000 so its team of writers can begin their Bloqparty Tour and promote their quarterly and their novels. They have raised $13,353. You can learn more about it by clicking on their Kickstarter campaign.

A writer reads her work at a BloqParty.
Photo courtesy Nayia Moysidis.

Writer’s Bloq isn’t just a writer’s showcase. It’s a home for writers to connect and draw attention their work in a way only a true hero can deliver. At the Bloqparty gatherings, writers meet up with industry professionals who have the opportunity to greet them in person, to give a voice to their words that might otherwise go unheard.

Nayia leads as Katniss does. Nayia braves the sorrows of talented writers being threatened with extinction.  She’s the leader of a writing revolution because she embraces the fear inching through the publishing industry. A fear, if ignored, could become a reality.

She found a solution to a problem that’s grown into an epidemic, the kind that kills a writer’s basic instinct, to write and be published. Her solution means that writers don’t have to do what I did many years ago.

A place for your work.

Inspiration Remembered

One of the main reasons I began this blog stems from this young, fiery soul. I had met Nayia Moysidis through friends and had gotten an email about her blog http://www.nayiaisms.com/.

When I read her blog, I chuckled. I read another post and cried. I read another and thought, “I used to share her passion for writing.”

So, right before bed when I was supposed to be too tired to think, the thoughts rushed around blocking my desire to sleep, so much so that I started writing again. And, I haven’t stopped since.

Yet, what I discovered was startling and sickening. I found that I’d become a good writer, not much different than I was 20 years ago, but I had nothing much to show for it. Okay, I had a resume with Publications Specialist on it and I could announce Award-Winning teacher with confidence. That was nice. But, I couldn’t proudly say, “I’m a seasoned writer because I’ve written this, this, and this.” I had worked in the publishing industry but I had created work for other people, most of whom either openly or insidiously claimed the work as their own.

I had been rejected as much or more than Nayia, so I packed away my dreams and slipped them under the bed. I became a very practical, very acceptable person, my true power sedated.

The worst part was that I had sold myself short. I had accepted my rejection as a truth instead of a reality.

To write this, as a writer, is even more painful than saying it out loud because when I say it, I usually contort my face and alter it or I say it as a source of twisted inspiration to those preparing for the beginning of their journey. It’s never truthful because it hurts too much.

I started out writing passionately and with a desire to change the world like so many artists. I did write. I have written. I have created, but I didn’t do it with the bravery I know I should have, the bravery I could have.

The Good Fight

So now, I support, love, and cheer for those who do what I didn’t. And, I do what I didn’t with trepidation. I say trepidation because after so many years of telling myself that I can’t do something, it’s hard to break that pattern.

If you don’t talk, if you don’t write, if you don’t take those chances that feel as if you’re stepping out onto a tightrope, you’ll just coast or even worse, you’ll just wander and wonder (yes, the spelling was intentional).

If the Katniss of this writing revolution existed then, I would’ve wanted to follow her. I wouldn’t be the same person I am today. She refuses to accept the stinging reality that only a handful of writers becomes published authors and that the majority of those who self-publish find little success.

Nayia fights the good fight, uniting writer with agent, writer with publisher, writer with an industry that itself wanders around lost and confused about where to look and how to construct a new path.

Her success ensures victory for all writers and for all those who honor the written word because she embraces the bitter, the wounded, and the lost then gathers the ripe and the ready to fight.

So, find her, read her, then support her and the writers of Writer’s Bloq and the Kickstarter campaign. Join them. Become one of them. It’s only the beginning of the journey.

Written by Lisa Chesser

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To all the writers, artists, and colorful characters:

You are all crazy-wonderful artists, but you know this already.
Because I teach fulltime and I’m obviously a mom, I’ve tried to reply to every comment, but it takes time. I’ve also tried to explore your blogs and follow some of them. But, that also takes time just like writing, at least for me.
For me, writing is a challenge because of time. It’s the one thing that consistently runs ahead then behind me, sometimes around me, like a wicked two year old. I wrote this challenge on torn spiral notebook paper and sticky notes as thoughts occurred to me throughout the days.
However, by meeting the Daily Post Challenge, I learned to catch up with this wicked two year old and keep it around long enough to play a game or two.

Freshly Pressed, WooHoo!

So, to all the wonderful writers, artists, small business owners, and colorful characters who liked and commented on this blog, I’ll be clicking my way through your blogs into next week and beyond. I want to know everything about you and support you the way you supported me. If I don’t find you, please find me again so we can reconnect. When I tried to click back to some of you, I couldn’t find your address or I got a prompt that your WordPress address didn’t exist any longer.
As far as following me, I promise to write and do it well. I write to breathe to sleep to wake to sing to love. I had forgotten how much I missed it until I started writing again. I had given it up to be a wife and raise my children. I changed careers to schedule my life around my family. Then, I wrote a story and published it two years ago. And, I haven’t been able to escape the need to write since.
I plan to post personally hand-crafted stories and profiles about great, often disguised as ordinary, people and moments we often don’t notice or acknowledge. I will write about the bizarre and the ordinary that make life so fabulous and sometimes terrible. I will bare my soul without making you feel like you wasted your time here. I might ask some of you to allow me to interview you.
I hope to discover, share, and teach you what I know and where I found it.
I may share some great stories I read about heroes, inspirational moments, or anything brave, smart and bold. I might reblog some of your amazing stories, art, poetry, etc. But, I promise to keep it interesting and make it worthwhile.
To the powers that be at WordPress and Cheri Lucas, thank you for taking notice. I’ve loved every second of it and plan to get Freshly Pressed 
again.
So everyone, please keep reading, commenting, and enjoying.
Love,
Lisa Chesser

 

Refrigerator Art Changed My Life

by Lisa Chesser

One-eyed aliens, giant butterflies, flying dragons, mermaids, superheroes, self-portraits and other masterpieces mask our aged refrigerator. Without that in my life, even my morning coffee wouldn’t make me happy.

All parents believe their child is the next Picasso or Frida Kahlo, but we also recognize the need to connect with our child. Their art connects to a part of the soul where words can’t. At least, that’s what I find when I reach for the refrigerator door.

Family

The first time my daughter handed me a drawing a surge of pride and euphoria swept through me. I rushed to the refrigerator as if it were a wall in an art gallery, quickly selected a worthy magnet, and surveyed its magnificence on the refrigerator door. She has come to see the refrigerator as a showcase for her talent and superior abilities, a confirmation that she is the best.

Now, she snatches a piece of typing paper from the printer, grabs a pen or crayon and waits to see where I will display her next masterpiece.

There are moments when I silently grumble that we never have paper in the printer when we need to print, but all I have to do is reach for the refrigerator door and those words never materialize.

Mom’s Day

Over the years, this refrigerator art gallery has boasted various works of art that expressed her momentary whims and our family’s unique attributes, always with a positive spin. At one point it displayed a portrait of myself accentuating my ultra-curly hair in an afro-like halo with rays of light spraying from my head. When I asked why she added the light, my daughter explained that I looked like the sun in the morning.

My whole perspective changed. I went from being a giant, frizzy-headed mess to the sun. The day I couldn’t find that drawing was the day I realized how much I couldn’t live without my children’s art. I began to value it and make sure that, when it came time to replace old art with new art, the old art had a place to stay. I created a scrapbook where I could slip the ones that meant the most to me.

The depth of meaning has grown over the years. Early one morning, still holding a grudge over an unresolved problem, I made my coffee then reached for milk from the refrigerator. I looked up and stopped. Strange creatures jumped from the door with their disproportionate necks and misshapen lips, kissing each other, flying and floating. Despite all the masterpieces I’ve seen in museums and galleries, I finally fully grasped the value of art. Art exists to remind us of the beauty we forget about while attempting to maneuver through the difficulties in life. Even if the art stands as a testament of our bad behaviors, it still magnifies the beauty we’ve disregarded.

Colorful

Once my son arrived, the art collection filled our house. The refrigerator art migrated to our walls and doors. One evening after a shower, I found his refrigerator art carefully taped to the hallway walls and bedroom doors. He proclaimed that the house was too boring and it needed some color. He placed each one at his eye-level—so I learned to look down for inspiration.

Butterfly Go

Eventually, I myself moved some of the artwork to my little nook in the corner of the dining room where I work. A brightly dressed ninja reminds me of the power to fight but to be careful about wardrobe choices. Two flowing girls, outlined in blue and red, tell me to overcome differences. A butterfly splashed with color spreads its wings across my magnetic bulletin board. I hear its voice say, “Open your wings Mama. You’re still a child inside.” And a turtle calls out, “Slow down!” So, I do. Each piece expresses a new discovery, a silent insight, and an imperceptible moment that I would’ve rushed past had it not been my own child who handed it to me.

Living without that, wouldn’t be living at all.

A Daily Post Challenge: Carpe Diem and a Broken Dryer

It was suddenly too quiet. The loud clank of my dryer, reminding me that there would be clothes to fold, had stopped. I only knew because I wasn’t even aware of that whir and clank anymore. It was like a friend who hummed and clicked a song throughout the day. So, when it stopped, it sounded like an alarm clock of silence.

I walked to the dryer and pushed the button. Nothing.

I turned the dial. Nothing.

I began to panic as I looked at all the laundry left to do, knowing the guy who fixes my dryer would say he couldn’t be here until later, maybe even next week.

The panic arose from the sick feeling that I might have to enter and remain in a Laundromat. The TVs, the screaming kids, the inevitable heat, the creepy guy who doesn’t seem to have any laundry, and the memories of it all laughed at me. But, WordPress got in the way.

An Even Bigger Challenge

Caught between the daily post and this BraveSmartBold blog, I was faced with an even bigger challenge.

Do I panic for real? Or, can I be brave, smart, and bold by fixing my problem with a grace and wisdom that eludes us when faced with difficult dilemmas.

I chose the latter, which didn’t seem that difficult as I was throwing all the dirty clothes into garbage bags. I grabbed my computer and triumphantly found a simple solution to what could’ve been a freak-out session, complete with yelling at my husband for buying a cheap dryer and handling it like the Hulk’s victims.

Triumph Fizzled

Inside the Coin Laundry, however, my triumph fizzled. The familiar sound of my whirring, clackety dryer sounded instead like an old train with a loud, Spanish conductor. The Spanish show blaring overhead screamed a game show complete with dancers. And, there was the guy except he had a load of laundry, I think.

I felt like a mouse in a maze with the enormous silver and blue washers stacked in blocked patterns with no room to walk except in scattered rows, signposts explaining which was what. A bright-blue counter with chipped red paint grinned at me. A heavy-set woman handed me a tattered business card that said Herbal Club on it and she pointed to a back room with a sheet for a curtain.

I had already begun to sweat.

The Choice

“You knew this would happen,” my BraveSmartBold voice told me.

“Just load the laundry and write a post,” the WordPress voice told me.

I did.

And, I enjoyed every minute of it.

A Few Sounds Later

Her notes struck the incessant thoughts from my brain. Each punch on the keys left me thinking only of the beauty the world had to offer, the drops of rain hitting the pool, the light touch of a butterfly.

I know when I’ve lost our fights because my daughter looks away from me, sits, and plays her piano.

I look at her in a state of reverence when she ignores me, her mother, her teacher, her prodder, her leader, her tormentor.

The sounds bleed from a part of her that no piano teacher could ever touch. She knows the notes from ages ago and I know I have no right to interfere in their delivery to this small space she’s found in a limitless dimension, so I stand distant, yet affected.

Her sounds leave me inferior and that’s when I know I can mother her from a place of love, bowing to the majesty of understanding music with only her ears.

A book, a lesson, exists somewhere but never meets this moment when she sits and creates from her soul. She plays by ear.

My daughter blocks my noise, my pressure to do, to checklist, to become and achieve. She seals my lips shut with a sound, the universal sound of song without words: music.

Times when I need her to listen, I have been cut short by the piano.

With her long, tangled hair draping her shoulders, she defies me. And, I’ve learn my lesson.

I stop my rant and listen.

That music plunges into every empty pocket of the house. No one speaks when she plays. She knows this and so do I.

The humility of knowing that my child may know more than me smacks me in the face.

A few sounds later, she leaves the song behind and we’re smiling again.

Hurricane Isaac Meet Hurricane Grandma

My Great Grandma stood, hands on hips, staring out the sliding-glass door as the rain pelted the concrete. “What we need is a hurricane,” she said, her gray, cropped, curly hair making her look wise and crazy, which is exactly what I thought when I first heard her words.

But that wasn’t even the crazy part. The insane part materialized a week or two later when a hurricane, or the beginnings of one, showed up on our doorstep.

So, not to sound crazy myself, when I stood at the sliding-glass door a few weeks ago, the heat melting my brain, the humidity making it hotter, and said, “We need a hurricane,” I wasn’t that surprised when Isaac came rattling over our doorstep.

Hurricane Grandma

Shuttered in my house in Miami, feeling restless in my cave, I watched the wind and rain scatter tree limbs and fill the pool with water and debris. I thanked the Great Spirit for letting us keep our electricity this time, remembering Wilma’s punishment and hoping everyone in Isaac’s path would stay safe. Then I returned to my childhood when tropical storms and hurricanes meant huddling in our house with our cousins and watching Martial Arts on TV until the electricity went out.

We had never experienced anything too horrible or at least I didn’t remember much about it.

Hurricane Andrew

I did, however, remember the one that had devastated Miami. After my Great Grandma died, Hurricane Andrew left me in an apartment with no way out, fallen trees trapped me for days, a visiting New Yorker cried over a crushed car. I stood in long lines for water and volunteered to help people in shelters.

:The NOAA emblem is the property of the U.S. G...

Then my mind returned home to Isaac and I thought, “Why the hell did she say that we needed a hurricane? That is crazy.”

I pulled down some containers with old photographs and cried when I saw her. She had been my best friend when I was little. I’d sit on the floor and play with her canister of buttons while she watched General Hospital. She told the best stories on our walks to Winn Dixie down the street from her house. She even took the time to tell me to try one of her cigarettes, which I’d been eyeing for quite a while. When I choked on the smoke, she said, “Won’t do that again will you?” Then she made me a sandwich, and we read a book together.

Now, listening to Isaac’s rain as I sat in my house, in the dark, with man-made light keeping me up, I sifted through pictures, hoping something would trigger my memory, asking why she had said we needed a hurricane. I really didn’t want her to be crazy.

Please, don’t be crazy.

But, I finally got tired and gave up, sliding all the pictures together and putting them away. I kept some out and found some frames but decided to save them for another rainy day project.

Listening to the rain hit the shutters, I dosed off then my body jolted awake.

I remembered.

I took a different perspective. My mind’s eye panned away from Great Grandma looking even more silly and loveable in her terry-cloth jumper. As she kept staring out the sliding-glass door, she glanced back at us:  me, my mom, her mother, and my sister. We were busy fighting. We were also sweating. I couldn’t remember what the fight was even about, but my Great Grandmother’s glances were angry. She was sick of the heat, and she was even more sick of our fighting.

Then I heard her explanation. “We need that hurricane to cool everyone off. You hear me? You all need a good storm to show you what really matters,” she grumbled, stomping off to her bedroom and lighting a cigarette.

When the storm hit, we not only stopped fighting, we hugged each other. Huddled together in a bathroom, we worried about each other. We wondered who we could help, how could we help.

My Great Grandmother was wise and crazy, just crazy enough to know how a hurricane could stop fights.

Akin’s ‘problem’ part of a GOP pattern – Leonard Pitts Jr. – MiamiHerald.com

Akin’s ‘problem’ part of a GOP pattern – Leonard Pitts Jr. – MiamiHerald.com.

Political parties always have strange agendas that don’t make sense to us, the voters. This particular comment, remark, announcement, opinion, call it what you want, severs the idea of debate and open dialogue.

This isn’t just ignorance at its worst. This is injustice for all.

Leonard Pitts JR. always cuts through the crap and hands you an honest insight into the babbling idiots surrounding us.

Read it for yourself.

Back to School, Back to Bullies

Back to school bullies conjure up all sorts of images. I still remember my first beating, girl-style. I still cringe when near a school cafeteria–that loud clatter of trays, sharp voices stinging my ears, and the mean girls.

The Art of Punching with Words

You remember don’t you? She walks up to you in the lunchroom, her pretty teeth flashing from beneath a sweet smile, a bow in her hair. You think, “Wow, I’m so lucky. She’s trying to make friends with me.” You smile back.

But, there’s nothing nice about her smile. She’s only practicing her punch. She plans to use you to make herself more powerful.

Girls punch each other with words.

Masked Teaser Supervillain
Artwork by Daisy Maldonado

“Hi,” she pauses, ”Look, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything, but your food smells. Please stay away. Why don’t you move to the other table. Thanks.”

Her question is a command.

She says it all in an even tone with a slight whine on the “Thanks.”

She’s clearly mastered the art of punching with words. Her victim usually bows her head and moves away, sitting alone at another table for the remainder of the school year.

Girl power packs a deeper punch.

Bully Buster Superhero
Artwork by Daisy Maldonado

With all the girl power in the forefront of the news and media, no one seems to get to the core of a very real divide among women and girls. Mean girls still rule the roost.

My daughter learned this first-hand last year.

My daughter had grown taller than the rest of the fourth graders. She preferred boy shorts instead of skirts and tiaras. Oh yeah, and she liked to eat.

All this of course made her an easy target for mean girls.

They started surreptitiously.

In the mornings, they pointed out a flaw, which wasn’t really a flaw. “I like your ponytail.” Then POW, “Oh my god, look. You have a bump in your hair. Let me fix it for you.”

Then they fumbled with her hair until she marched off to the bathroom and ripped her ponytail out of her hair. She then let her hair hang walking with her head down becoming the monster they wanted her to be.

Bullies love lunchrooms.

Gossip Girl Supervillain
Artwork by Daisy Maldonado

Her worst nightmare lived in the lunchroom. When she unpacked her lunch, a chicken sandwich, they held their noses and slid away from her. “Your lunch smells. I can’t stand it. Go to the other table,” they whined.

Those few sharp words effectively damaged her self-esteem and isolated her at the same time. She didn’t want to be around them, and she definitely didn’t want to eat.

I felt so frustrated when we’d get home and she’d be starving, gorging down any morsel in sight.

But, later, in that quiet space right before bed, she told me why she did that. She said she was afraid they’d make fun of her again.

I then became her shoulder to cry on with bits of advice along the way.

Punch back.

Bully Buster Advice
Artwork by Daisy Maldonado

So, this year, she plans to fight back with her anti-bullying campaign. She created a poster depicting a bully-busting superhero resembling wonder woman.

Most likely, she’ll become an even bigger target because she’s fighting back in a loud and clear way.

They will talk. And, they will do it with those same spiteful yet artful words.

You know what I’m talking about. Look around you, the gossip of mean girls still streams over the Internet, the television, the news. Everybody listens and often enough everybody follows. Why do you think so many girls and women attempt the daunting task of wearing skinny jeans?

But, this time, my daughter will be better prepared to deal with the backlash of a bully backed into a corner. She’ll know what it feels like to take a punch and she’ll be practicing how to bounce back.

And, me, I’ll be there to catch her when she falls or at least pick her up, brush her off, and give her a shoulder to cry on.