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Out of Thin Air by Dianna Sinovic

April 13, 2019 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , ,

This month we are please to have Dianna Sinovic as our BWG featured author.

Picture of Dianna Sinovic

Dianna is a contributing author in the recent Bethlehem Writers Group anthology, Untethered. A man buys a painting of a jungle scene that is so realistic it seems to change in “Point of View.” She has also contributed stories for the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable magazine, including “In the Delivery.”

Born and raised in the Midwest, Dianna has also lived in three other quadrants of the U.S. She writes short stories and poetry, and is working on a full-length novel about a young woman in search of her long-lost brother.

Out of Thin Air

I listened to an oldie album by CCR last week that included a favorite: Lookin’ Out My Back Door. If you don’t know the tune, songwriter John Fogerty describes a fantastical scene he imagines in his backyard—elephants, dinosaurs, a flying spoon. You might laugh about what John was imbibing at that moment, but the lyrics made me think about the concept of imagination.

It’s what we as fiction writers do every day we sit down at our keyboard or put a pen to a notepad. We imagine. We pose what ifs, and then we run with them. It’s the core of our craft. We write about things that never really happened while trying to persuade the reader that they really did.

Hats off to those who write fantasy, because they create worlds whole cloth, weaving in just enough detail that we accept those worlds and embrace them. Harry Potter, anyone? But even the most true-to-life fiction demands imagination in order to engage the reader. The precise description of a character that make him/her jump off the page and into our lives. The carefully scripted, rising tension that has us looking over our shoulder at that odd noise from downstairs…

I recently finished reading The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. In 1996, Russell imagined a future that’s pretty damn believable. (OK, the future is already here, with the second chapter set in February 2019, but I was slow to pick up this classic.) She dreamt up a crew that travels across the cosmos using an asteroid as their vehicle. Why didn’t I think of that?

And that’s the marvel of imagination: We each have our own mental stewpot where new ideas are always bubbling. I’ve participated in a number of writing-prompt sessions led by author Kathryn Craft, in her living room, and each time we share what we’ve written from exactly the same prompt, I am amazed, astonished by the breadth of variations on a theme.

Beyond fiction, it’s imagination that fuels new inventions and creative ways to rethink old problems in order to solve them. “Imagination is everything,” said Albert Einstein. “It is the preview for life’s coming attractions.”


Read Dianna’s short story “Point of View” in BWG’s latest anthology.

UNTETHERED: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES OF THE PARANORMAL
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The Deadline for Bethlehem Writers Roundtable 2019 Short Story Award IS April 15, 2019

Just two days to get your story polished and submitted.

The winner will receive $200 and may be offered publication in BWG’s upcoming anthology, Fur, Feather, & Scales: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Animal Tales. Here’s the LINK for more information or to enter.


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THE CORNER THAT’S SEEN IT ALL – A LIVELY PLAYGROUND FOR A WRITER’S IMAGINATION!

August 20, 2018 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , ,


My sister-in-law and I recently took a trip down to La Brea and First Street in Los Angeles, California. Saddened by the news that our favorite fabric store, The Fabric Store, was going out of business, we hoped to grab a final few moments playing with colors, textiles and patterns, and of course snag a few bargains!

Unfortunately, increased rental costs have hastened the closure of this fabulous store. A fact that seems to be plaguing others in this neighborhood of upcoming fashion boutiques, upscale condos and vogue restaurants.

Arriving before the store opened, we decided to venture down the block to Nick Metropolis’ Collectibles; one of the most interesting and unique playgrounds for the mind in town. A place sure way to spark any writer’s imagination.

Not your traditional shopping experience by any means, this open air shop is filled with movie memorabilia, quirky collectibles, odd pieces of artistic expression and a million other items you might never have seen before. Sprinkled throughout the site you’ll also find some beautiful paintings, trendy pop culture artwork, lamps, dishes, unusual furniture, mannequins, sculpture and a whole lot more.

As a writer who loves to dabble in the world of paranormal phenomena and magic, I felt like I’d stumbled upon an inspirational treasure trove. My imagination kicked into overdrive as I wandered through the tight, not so easily maneuverable pathways. What stories could I ring from the many items I’d discovered? Were there confused spirits trapped within this realm, afraid to release items they’d once cherished? Who had previously owned the beautifully sculpted marble angels and where had one rather spooky picture of two washed-out toddlers previously hung? What child had played with the now tattered bride doll or raced through their back yard on the now ancient lady bug cart? I was stunned to learn that one of the sculptures was actually an artist’s rendering of the children of a very popular actor. How had it ended up there? Hmmm, possibly one of these would serve as interesting fodder for a paranormal tale or two.

For over twenty-six years Nick Metropolis has bought, sold, rented and collected pieces from studios, actors, private collectors and everyday folks hoping to make a buck. Studio reps regularly stop by to rent out mid-century couches, an avant-garde painting or to grab items like an old telephone from the 1950’s – perfect for a scene in an upcoming TV show or movie. And numerous stars have popped in to see Nick in the hopes of finding that perfect retro piece or quirky artwork just right for their Southern California home. Nick seems to know them all and he is more than ready to help any customer find just what they are searching for be they a star, a studio rep or just someone hunting for their own inspiration.

Right behind Nick’s shop, homeless Vietnam War Veterans wander the alleyways; he greets them all with kindness and respect, happy to hear their stories. Known for his generosity, the Vets in turn watch out for their friend on this active corner. Unfortunately for the Vets – and those of us who love Nick’s place – the ever increasing rental costs are threatening the future of the site.

The King of Collectibles, as he calls himself, Nick has recently captured the attention of a local production company who is considering creating a reality show based on the happenings of this eclectic, happening place. Ever the entrepreneur, Nick is hopeful that the show will generate funds needed to keep this imaginative playground alive.

If you ever get down to 100 South La Brea, I encourage you to stop by. Don’t be put off by the apparent chaos of the place. Walk in, meet Nick and his wife. You’ll quickly have a couple of new friends. And if you take the time to really look about, you’re sure to find that candy for the imagination abounds at every turn in this ever changing, enchanting spot on La Brea Avenue.

http://www.californiacuriosities.com/nick-metropolis-trash-and-treasure-at-las-most-unique-vintage-shop/

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-lopez-nick-metropolis-05242017-story.html

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I Want a Red Front Door

July 20, 2018 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , , ,

I want to paint my front door red, or peacock-blue or maybe even black. I want to hang a swing in the middle of my office. Not one of those old, boring, wicker egg-shaped deals. I want a swing with a wide wooden seat that’s painted Tangerine Tango Orange. Oh, and the swing has to be suspended on long, thick oatmeal colored macramé ropes that are soft to the touch. Of course, my swing must be hung in a fashion that allows me ample room to pump my long legs so I can stretch my toes up towards my ceiling. And speaking of ceilings, I also want to add a skylight or two to my office, so I can see the stars while I’m enjoying my evening swing.

While I’m heading through my list of wants, I want to create the perfect fashion line that will of course be featured in the next Vogue Magazine and worn by Oprah, Emma and Reese. I wish to build a massive teak table for my office that’s big enough for me to lay out yards of fabric and tons of books I’ve yet to read by authors I’ve never heard of. I want to speak three more languages, be known as an expert on healing crystals and travel to Australia.

For a woman in her sixties I still have a lot of wants, desires and dreams. But my front door will probably remain white, my office is too small for a large table, let alone a swing. And since there is a second story comfortably resting on top of my home office – the sky lights are out. I’m creative and I do sew, but not well enough to ever be featured as a designer in any magazine. I speak English and a bit of Spanish, know a smidgen about healing crystals and have never been to Australia.

So how do I not despair and continue to power through my life with such a big list of unfulfilled dreams? I imagine, envision, research, fantasize, visualize and then… I write. In short, I give life to my dreams when I tell my stories.

When I write, I control my whole world. I have the power to bring life to any desire, curiosity or interest I might have. My characters can be fashion designers, carpenters or creative entrepreneurs. They can be rich, curious, beautiful, provocative, engaging, powerful, sarcastic, brilliant, silly or any other quality I might wish to paint them with. I’m not confined by financial restrictions, time, geography, ability, language, knowledge or skills. All of these can be addressed with a some hard-core research and quick run of my fingers across my computer keyboard. My only limitations are those created within my mind.

That’s one of the reasons why writing sometimes makes me feel giddy with power. I can do or be anything through the manipulation of words. I can paint my front door any color, have my own swing, become a famous fashion icon or anyone else that my imagination so desires. Rather than growing frustrated with my earthly limitations, I simply find the words to experience my desires through the stories I write. Even if I can’t actually physically have it all, I can imagine what it would be like.

I love to pick out something that seems totally unattainable and bring it to fruition through the plot, setting and characters who live in my stories. And since I write about the paranormal world, I have even greater freedom to pretend.

It’s all rather magical and I love it.

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Taking a chance on a unique adventure…

June 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , , , , ,

The other day my husband suggested that we go on an adventure together and a million intriguing possibilities raced through my head, until he added… to  search for old wood. Not the kind of adventure I had longed for, I offered several good reasons why one of our sons might make a better travel partner before finally agreeing to go. My husband has been renovating his office and looking for some wood for shelves or flooring or something else to “funkify” the space.

Little did I know that this trip would not only net him the wood he was looking for, but also fill my head with dozens of potential future story lines and provide our son with a treasured gift.

Off we went to Vernon, California to discover what turned out to be one of the most fascinating places I’ve been in quite a while – Silverado Salvage & Design. This 16,000 square foot warehouse is just incredible and as I meandered throughout the cavernous structure, I was immediately sucked back in time. Surely this is a rich playground for the inventive mind  of any storyteller.

Engulfed in tons of well-organized used wood, sewing machines from the early 1900’s and  every kind of old farm tool you can imagine,  I soon found a few rusted out machines that I never even knew existed. The farmers of those days must have been incredibly strong or had one sturdy horse at their disposal to be able to actually use this weighty equipment.

Old pieces of furniture, wine presses, doorknobs, windows and more were tucked into every corner of the building.  A well-preserved, cloth-covered baby buggy rolled into the entrance and made me wonder what had ever happened to the infant it once lovingly carried. I envisioned a housewife of years gone by painstakingly stitching her children’s clothing on that old treadle driven sewing machine. Where did those aged and intricate iron gates once lead to? Was it a garden, a mansion, a government building? Whose fireplace had the intricately cut wooden corbels once graced and what juicy secrets had they been privy to? Were the children who had long ago played with rusty fire trucks and cars still alive or had their toys outlived them? There was so much to see, so much to feel, and a ton of things to capture the imagination.

Sometime during our walk about I came upon a collection of old wooden shipping crates and was overjoyed. Our youngest sons’ birthday was coming up and he had wanted one of these to use as a coffee table. Reinvigorating this chest would be a great project for father and son. I selected the wooden crate I wanted and asked the knowledgeable shop keeper where it was from originally.

“The metal tab on the front is written in Hungarian, I believe,” was his response.

What? I’m Hungarian. My grandfather immigrated here from Budapest, Hungary as a child. And inside I found an ancient packing slip written totally in Hungarian. This was meant to be – a connection to my family’s past. I would later take the packing slip home, translate it into English and laminate it to remain within the trunk forever. I discovered that the trunk had once carried gas masks which left me a little unsettled and wondering how I really felt about taking it home. Either way, the trunk would soon grace my son’s living room after its lengthy travel here; minus, of course, any gas masks.

This store hosts some of the most creative and imaginative employees ever. I overheard designers talking about how one might revitalize an old sink, a chunk of brass, a stained glass window. Creativity flows within this shop with knowledgeable staff I’d  like to take home and just listen to. And a few had rather quirky names that I quickly added to my Little Book O’ Names I carry with me for future insertion into a story or two. I found it inspiring that the owner is such an affable, intelligent man who demonstrates a real passion for revitalizing what others might just throw away.

My husband found some very old wood which, I must confess, looked just like old wood to me. However, after talking with the trained craftsman it was clear that this wood had a lot more living to do. The two men put their heads together and a plan was quickly launched. This wood would soon be reincarnated into shelves and a desktop and my husband could not have been happier.

I now have three problems to confront. Where will I use the unusual names I collected, what story shall I write first and how are we ever going to get the heavy shelving and desktop upstairs and into my husband’s office. Three good problems to have!

If you get a chance, I encourage you to stop by Silverado Salvage & Design and be sure to bring your imagination with you!   (4625 East 50th Street in Vernon, California)

Meriam


Meriam Wilhelm

Meriam Wilhelm

www.meriamwilhelm.com

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it.  When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.


Have you read about the witches of New Moon Beach?

SEA DREAMS

SEA DREAMS

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Can help from a lavender-eyed sea witch, a few enchanted cupcakes and a touch of New Moon magic really rescue a once famous now washed up artist from himself?

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I Won’t Apologize For Being A Logophile!

April 20, 2017 by in category A Bit of Magic by Meriam Wilhelm tagged as , ,

I am a full blooded, totally committed Logophile. It’s something I practice everyday and everywhere. In fact, I am so addicted to Logophilia that I carry a small floral notebook in my purse at all times to support my addiction.

Not familiar with the term? Neither was I. However, I was searching for the right word that would clearly define something that I do daily. The term Logophile comes from two Greek words – Logos which means words or speech and Philos which means dear or friendly. In short, a Logophile is someone who likes words very much. And I do.

However, my addiction to words centers more around the gathering of names. I am a dedicated name collector; not just normal names, but rather the unusual, ear catching ones. Whether I am in the airport, the hospital, the grocery store or my doctor’s office I am always listening for and recording unique names. I’ve even been known to collect a name or two off the billboards that overhang the Las Vegas Strip. As a writer, I use these names when I am searching for the perfect moniker for one of my characters.

For instance, Dr. Barleycorn is the nickname of my character, Matt Maxwell, who is a horticulturist in my book, Morning Magic. He’s an expert in growing things and since barley and corn are grown in the fields I decided to retrieve this name from my BookO’Names. I actually heard the real Dr. Barleycorn being paged at my local hospital years ago and I wrote his name down. Of course, I had numerous other options like Dr. Peachbottom, Dr. Driven and Dr. Roebust. But none of them seemed to fit Matt just right. I can’t wait to use the name Penelope Pendergast in my next book. I instantly fell in love with that name when I heard it in the airport in Europe. Penelope, if you’re out there – I love your name!

In my latest book, Sea Dreams, one of my central characters is named Thor Hudson. I adore the name Thor and was hoping that someday one of my kids would name one of their kids – Thor. We had a rousing discussion one night during which all but one of my children voted down the name. Since I guess I won’t have a grandson named Thor any time soon, I can at least have a favorite character with that name.

I also love to play with names by not spelling them in a traditional or expected way. I don’t do this to confuse, but rather to draw attention to the character themselves. Brady is a rather boring way of spelling a last name but Braidie certainly draws your eye and attention and that’s what I wanted my character to do.

My quest to gather names continues. As I was walking by the beach last week I heard a guy call out to his friend whose name was Templeton. Hmm, I like it. Not sure when I will use it, but it now holds a place on page 12 of my notebook. Can’t wait to dream up a character who will step up and own that handle!

Meriam WilhelmMeriam
www.meriamwilhelm.com

The one thing I know, after all my years as an elementary school principal, is that there is magic everywhere and in everyone. While I miss those enchanting moments with kids, I have always wanted to let my imagination run wild as I seek out my own magic and write about it.  When I retired, I started to write my first books, a series called The Witches of New Moon Beach and inspiration wasn’t hard to find.

I have lived in Redondo Beach all my life, and New Moon might have more than a passing resemblance to my hometown. Every day I walk on the path that runs along the beach, sometimes with my sisters, but most often with my thoughts as I plot my next book.

I am long married and mom to three great grown kids. When I’m not writing or walking on the beach, you’ll find me sewing, reading or traveling and taking pictures.

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