Archive | November, 2011

Writing Wednesday: Story Clouds

30 Nov

Remember childhood days of laying out in the grass in cut-offs, staring up at the blue blue sky, and making up stories about cloud shapes?

When did having an imagination and making up stories become such hard work?  Maybe it’s time we lay out in the park and let the puffy white clouds inspire silly stories.  Maybe we need to think like a kid again.

Maybe we need a little wonder in our lives.

I took these photos from the rooftop of the Met.  What shapes do you see?

Writing Wednesday: Your Taste Is Killer

23 Nov

For the first couple of years you make stuff, it’s just not that good.  It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.  But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer.  And your taste is why your work disappoints you. …It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. 

~ Ira Glass

via A Lovely Being

Tasty Tuesday: Tzatziki in the Morning

22 Nov

One of my favorite bloggers, Joy of … wait for it … Oh Joy!, likes tzatziki sauce.  In a recent post, “My New Favorite Breakfast Sandwich…” she calls tzatziki sauce the “extra special ingredient” to the breakfast sandwich she’s been making and enjoying that includes egg and avocado slices on a toasted English muffin.

Follow Friday

18 Nov

Happy Friday!  Do you have any special plans this weekend?  Here are a few links to keep you occupied.


5 Alternatives to a Creative Writing MFA via MediaBistro

Success Stories via Literary Kicks


Greece debt crisis: Who is Lucas Papademos? via the Christian Science Monitor

Vignettes of Modern Greece via GreeceInPrint

Amid Greece’s Challenges, Kalamata Basks in the Sun via CNN

Beat Generation

Jay Farrar channels Kerouac, reaches the heart of America via Good Times

St. Petersburg bar pays tribute to Beat author Jack Kerouac via St. Petersburg Times

The Woman behind Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” via Marin Independent Journal

Kate Linhardt on “Crazy Wisdom: The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodies Poetics” via IndieWire

Writing Wednesday: Becoming a New Media Innovator

16 Nov

Success isn’t just about doing—it’s about innovating.  It’s about creating something new or doing something in a new way.  It’s not always mind-blowing.  Sometimes it’s so obvious that it’s surprising no one had done it before.  And yet, it’s the game changer.  It’s the concept that makes you rise above all the hi-ho, hi-ho dwarves.

The New York Times recently published an article called “21 New Media Innovators.”

The article shows how writers—mainly journalists—use Twitter, “the art of multipurposed multi-platforming,” aggregated data, video, ereaders, text messages, crowd-sourcing, message boards, citizen journalism, sponsored posts (aka advertorials), widgets, slideshows, and other technological mumbojumbo to bring stories to you in new and relevant ways.

So, what does this mean for writers?  How does a memoirist become a new media innovator?

For one, multi-platforming allows a memoirist to represent different facets of herself and her conversation.  Here on my blog, you get my personal stories as well as updates and tools for writers, but if you “friend” me on Facebook you are privy to the more day-to-day goings on in my life and you have more opportunity to interact with me through comments and even live chats.  I’ve also brought you audio via Broadcastr, as an experiment in whether voice allows for more connectivity.

What sort of new media do you think is particularly relevant for memoirists?  Most of the memoirists I know stick to blogging and Tweeting, and I’d love to hear about any memoirists that are utilizing new media in creative ways.

How would you like to see me use new media?

The Simple Pleasure of Jasmine

15 Nov

The Simple Pleasure



After watching beauty guru Elle Fowler’s YouTube video on tea, I was inspired to drink more tea.  I ran out to Trader Joe’s and got a few variety of teas.  I’m now obsessed with Trader Joe’s delicious jasmine green tea.  It’s such a great alternative to the stale coffee at the publishing house, and it also dehydrates less than coffee does, which is important as we head into the colder, drier months.

I must be keyed into all things jasmine suddenly because I just opened an email from Korres, a Greek makeup brand that sells here in the States too, and they were promoting their jasmine product line.  Korres is Greece’s fastest-growing natural skincare company, and I really value the fact that they have an eco-conscious policy.

Fun fact from the Korres email: Greek monks used jasmine for giving thanks.

What are you thankful for today?  I’m thankful for life’s simple pleasures like a hot cup of tea on a cold day and the way a fragrant lotion can lift my mood.

Happy birthday to Astrid Lindgren!

14 Nov

Happy birthday to Astrid Lindgren!



Every once in a while I like to throw in a little blog on Swedish culture on this blog, and Astrid Lindgren is one of my most favorite Swedish authors.  She’s the author of the Pippi Longstocking books, which I actually came to through the movies made in ’69/’70, starring Inger Nilsson.

What I love about Astrid Lindgren is not only her silly, witty, award-winning children’s books that encouraged children to embrace their uniqueness and creativity, but she also was outspoken about being against corporal punishment and for animal rights.

After I graduated from undergrad, I had the opportunity to travel to Stockholm, where some of my mom’s side of the family was from.  On my must-see list was the Junibacken Museum, which celebrates Lindgren and her works.  I’d like to share with you my Literary Traveler article on my experience there on Astrid Lindgren’s birthday.


“I Shared My Flags with Him!”

12 Nov

“I Shared My Flags with Him!”


Okay, so did anyone else catch the prevalence of the Greek flag in this week’s Model UN episode (actual title: “The Treaty”) of Parks & Rec?  Even after the camera panned away from the mini flags, where Greece’s blue-and-white-striped flag was decidedly present, Galanolefki was one of the few larger flags in the background of another scene.  I couldn’t help but think it was a cheeky way of commenting on the recent UN bailout of Greece.

The episode itself was had so many great, quotable lines:::

Ben: You know, I didn’t really do Model United Nations in high school, so– oh wait, I SUPER did!

Ben: Leslie and I aren’t dating anymore, but we’re friends so it’s fun… It’s just fun.  It’s fun.. It’s… fun. It is fun.

Ron: And teach kids that not only is government good but there should be a worldwide supergovernment?  I’d rather sand down my toenails.

Andy: I just traded Finland’s military to Kenya for 50 lions. That’s pretty good, right?

Leslie: Madame Ambassador, pourquoi?

At first I was a bit annoyed that Parks & Rec was doing a Model UN episode since Community just did one.  I mean, is Model UN something people are really into?  I’ve never heard of any high schooler doing Model UN outside of on sitcoms.  It turned out to be one of the best episodes in a while, though.  It’s fun.

Jeffrey Eugenides’ Vest Is Tweeting

11 Nov

In the City that Never Sleeps, I attend more events than I have time to tell you about.  One of these events was hearing Greek American author Jeffrey Eugenides speak at the New Yorker Festival.  His The Marriage Plot is on my read-when-the-semester-ends list.  Til then, I’ll be amusing mself with Tweets from Eugenides’ Vest.

Yeah, so have you seen that big billboard of Eugenides in Times Square?  Well, in the photograph the Pulitzer Prize-winning author is wearing a vest.  And now that vest has a Twitter account and is spouting off about what it’s like to be Eugenides’ vest.


Eugenides' VestEugenides’ Vest

Walter Isaacson is writing misleading books about me, claiming that Joan Baez and Jennifer Egan have worn me at the same time.
27 Oct
You can follow here.  And feel free to leave a comment about what item of mine you’d like to see Tweet, haha.  In the meantime, just follow me on Twitter at @StephanieNiko.

Writing Wednesday: Today’s the Day

2 Nov

What are you doing today?

It’s so easy to have a mentality of just trying to get through the day.  Or just trying to make it through the week to get to the weekend.  Isn’t that part of why we celebrate “Hump Day”?

Writing Wednesday is fun alliteration, but having a post on writing mid-week is also motivational.  It’s a reminder to get writing!  We’re midweek, so don’t let the rest of the week go by without writing, if that’s your goal.  Today’s as good a day as any to write.

Can you squeeze a few moments of writing into your Wednesday?  It doesn’t have to be a lot of time.  Maybe you can write on your lunch break.  Maybe you can write on your commute, if you take the bus or the train.  Maybe you can write while you’re waiting for the water to boil on the stove.  You might not accomplish a ton of writing in that time, but it may spark something in you that makes you more adamant about carving out more time soon to finish what you started writing.

And for those of you who aren’t writers, you can also use that same amount of time to sketch something you want to later paint, look at a map to determine where you want to next travel, make a phone call to make plans with that new friend you’ve been meaning to get to know, or send out that application.

Today could be the day that brings you a little closer to achieving your dreams.  Or, it could be just another ordinary day.