Sunday, November 18, 2007

Pay the Writer! And all creatives...

Hi Everyone,

I just accepted Robert's invitation to join The Crooked Table. Thanks for the invite Robert.

My name is Ryan and I'm a freelance visual journalist (photographer) here in Tampa. I'm also in grad school at USF with several folks on this blog. If interested, some of my work can be seen at The website needs a lot of updating, but for now, it is what it is.

So I wanted to share a video with you. Please watch it! The link will be at the end of this post.

Trying to make it as a "professional" freelancer in any field is a challenge! What we want to do is be creative and maintain the passion for whatever it is that drives us--be it writing or photography, or any other creative endeavor. But, the creating part is only a small fraction of the process. It might be the most difficult, but it certainly isn't the most important. If you want to eat, pay rent, and be able to afford to have the time to spend writing, you have realize that you're running a business!

As an individual, you are still a business. And as a writer making yourself available and your work to others, you impact your colleagues and their ability to earn a living doing what they love too.

I have lots to say on this topic of feeling like and acting like a professional. And the fear it takes to start negotiating with people that want to use you. But,it is a must to learn to value your time and your work in order to continue to doing what you love. Computers, cars, cell phones, condos and everything else we need and use to enable us to write or shoot costs money and it has to come from somewhere. So why not have it come from the people or companies that rely on us and want to use our work or services?

I hope this post starts a discussion and I don't intend for it to be a tirade, but this video really speaks to me and I wanted to share it. Plus it makes me laugh like crazy! Look at the comments too.

So here goes:

Thanks again for the invitation!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Press Pass? Who says you need a Press Pass?!

.....or business cards even???

Hello fellow members of The Table!

Before I get into my post let me just share with you all how excited I am right now!

Last night could have looked like a total coincidence.

A total case of dumb luck.

Or maybe it really WAS the writing gods at work.

As most of you know (or maybe you don't but you will), I write for an online women's publication called The Go-To Girls. (Under the name Piper Jeffries).

Well, recently, instead of writing strictly current events blogs for them they've now got me writing new CD releases (under Monroe Bennett).

Since this publication gives me about 98% creative control I decided last month to review a local unsigned band from New York.

My editor printed it and I asked her if I could continue doing that and she gave me the nonchalant, "Sure. Do whatever you want."

So, this time I decided to review a band that a friend of mine has been playing with called New Season. (Check them out, they're great!)

What perfect way to review a band than to see them live, right?

Well, last night I went to one of their shows.

I was chatting with some of the members and letting them know what I was doing and whatnot.

Apparently, some fans of another band overheard and saw me taking notes and were saying things to me like, "Hey, this guy's in a band too."

The wheels in my head started turning.

Recently, I've been asked to do an advice column for a new alternative magazine called pOke Magazine.

My friend, Misty, who works for them also asked me if I'd be interested in covering Tampa shows and events since I live here and everyone else lives in Polk county. (The magazine's being distributed mainly over there but they want to branch it out too and hope it gets bigger.) I told her I'd probably be too busy and to be honest with you, I couldn't see myself doing something like that.

Lo and behold, I was wrong.

"What if?" I thought.

"What if I covered this thing, wrote up a good story, interviewed a bunch of people, and they ran it? More awesome than that, what if I did this all the time? It would only be like once a month. I could handle it, right?"

So I took a chance and the next thing you know I'm like VIP or something.

I'm talking to bands, fans, managers, and the owner of the place. (Demmi's at Market and 7th in Ybor.)

I got free drinks and I truly felt for the first time in my life, like a Literary Celebrity.

People kept asking me for my email address, myspace, websites, etc.

I didn't have any business cards so writing it all down in my really, really bad handwriting (and being half-drunk) was getting difficult.

(It's ok though. I just ordered business cards for my bad self...)

I had the time of my life and almost everyone I talked to was really cool and receptive.

It was amazing to me how people start treating you once they find out you're with the press.

Especially these bands that want to make it big someday.

(Oooooh! The POWER! Muauhahahahahaha! Lol. Kidding, of course.)

But it WAS really cool.

And news that is WAY more awesome than that.

Misty ok-ed it and the story will run next month.

Also, I'm now going to be doing this a lot more often.

But in the meantime, check out my current stuff at the links on my Myspace and also keep an eye out for the FIRST issue of pOke, coming out on Nov. 29th.

And I'd like to thank all the cool new fans and friends I made last night and a VERY special thanks to Kyle Collinson and the rest of the guys from New Season for getting the whole thing rolling in the first place.

"Daring to dream, living to create" (my blog's slogan)is quickly becoming a reality and I consider it a huge sign that there is no doubt that I'm a writer and that I love every second of it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Silencing the Inner Monologue

I'm in week two and a half of NaNoWriMo and already something wonderful has come of it: I have finally murdered the little voice inside my head that makes me second guess my draft work. You know, the little voice I complained about a week or so ago? The one telling me that everything I'm writing is crap? Yeah, she's dead. Or at least out of commission for now.

And my writing has really come to life.

Words are just pouring out and I am already more than half way to my goal of fifty thousand words. Of course, a lot of those words will go or be changed when editing time comes, but for now, I am letting my imagination have the reins. Surprisingly, since I have been able to let go of that perfectionism, I am having a really great time writing. It's been an adventure again; discovering the characters and the places and just going along with the story as it comes out. Its been really fun.

I will admit that my self-critic rears her ugly head every now and again, but that 50,000 word goal (and my thriving drive to compete with my friends) has really helped to shut her up. So for those of you who were thinking about doing NaNoWriMo and didn't have the time to do it this year, I would highly recomend it for next year. Or maybe we could have our own Crooked Table contest in January (I know better than to say December, since that is probably the craziest month of the year for a lot of people). We could set our own word goal and see how we do. What do you guys think?

Anyway, hope everyone is doing well! Happy writing!

Monday, November 12, 2007

VIDEO: That Novel You've Been Working On?

Even before I started working on my novel (which, much like Brian's, seems to have stalled), I found this hysterical. As some of you know, I'm a ridiculously HUGE Family Guy fan, and as a writer, this has always been one of my favorite bits. Plus, I thought the Table could use a bit of comedy...

Check it, and as always, thanks for your support!


Free Image Hosting at

VIDEO: Writing Tips from Author Lia Scott Price, Part 1

In an effort to make The Crooked Table a bit more helpful/interactive, I've now added our first-ever video. I found this one on YouTube (what a surprise), and it features the first part of an interview with horror/sci-fi author Lia Scott Price. She discusses her thoughts on the writing process, and I actually agree with much of what she has said. I have yet to check out her website (, but feel free to do so yourself once you check out the video.

Let me know what you think of the video; if it gets a good reception, I'll be happy to post the next part.

Also, if any of you find any cool, writing-related multimedia, please bring it to the Table!

Happy writing,


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Poetry Reading @ The Plaza

Hey fellow members of The Crooked Table!

How are you all doing?

Robert said it'd be a cool idea to blog about my poetry reading experience at The Plaza last night and I couldn't agree more.

It's very interesting because I totally forgot I was supposed to be performing at this thing until about a week ago.

I was scheduled a month in advance and it just totally slipped my mind.

Maybe it was better that way because then I had no time to even think about being nervous.

So, I drove a few of my friends down to Hudson, Fl (my old hood) and we easily found the place.

It's a tiny little place but they have coffee, beer, and wine so that's pretty groovy.

It was an open mic night and I was the only poet there but the opening musicians were pretty groovy.

Two young kids from a local high school.

I stepped outside to grab a cigarette because I wasn't sure when I was going to be taking the stage when I hear my friend Ciara whisper my name.

"You're on!" she said.


I stomped my cigarette out and literally ran inside.

I grabbed the selection of poems I had typed up just as Stephanie (the owner of The Plaza) was announcing me.

I think the size of the place made me feel closer to the audience but I wasn't nervous about it at all.

I sat on the stool, introduced myself, and just started reading.

Everything went pretty flawless and I didn't feel too nervous. (Just a little bit though. lol)

I heard patrons saying things like "That was beautiful" in the middle of all the applause after I read each one.

It was kind of cool because I explained what my inspiration for some of them were.

Well, after that some singers took the stage and then there were really no more official acts.

My friends started getting into it and the next thing I know my friend Kyle is performing "Folsom Prison Blues" with one of the musicians.

Everyone was having a great time and it was so cool because people just started randomly taking the stage and either jamming out with the musicians, dancing, telling jokes, whatever.

Two of the kids started a freestyle battle and I couldn't think of anything cool to join into it until later.

(But next time it will be ON!)

I even got up there and did my famous scene from Rent, "Over the Moon" and it was just a really awesome time.

I totally want to do it again and a lot of my friends who came along were upset that they didn't bring their instruments and didn't have anything prepared.

What I liked most about the whole experience was how yes, a lot of it was goofy, unrehearsed, and on the spot, but isn't that how art is sometimes?

I can tell you it's a lot more fun when you learn not to take yourself so seriously.

And it made everyone who stepped up to that microphone a hell of a lot less nervous.

So, I'd like to officially thank Stephanie Marinelli and The Plaza for inviting me and for also inviting me back.

I totally want to find time next month and go out there and do it again.

So any of the Table members who have some poetry or some musical talent, or even just the urge to do something crazy in front of an audience should totally come out next time!

It was worth it and it was a lot of fun.

And since this was my second poetry reading and it was a lot less nerve-racking than the first one, I'm sure next time it will be a breeze.

I'll have pictures posted from it on my Myspace soon (and a video!) so hit me up on there at

And hey, if you're not my friend on there yet, you should be!

I'd gladly read anything you post and do my best to spread the word about anything you may be working on or anywhere you may be performing yourself.

I think writers, artists, and musicians should help each other out and it's the least I could do, really.

Well, take care out there in Writing Land!

May the "winter blues" bring you some much needed inspiration to do something great!


Friday, November 2, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

So, it's probably REALLY crazy of me to decide to write a novel in one month with crazy amounts of research papers due... but I Signed up online for National Novel Writing Month. You submit what you write of your novel everyday... with the goal obviously being writing a novel in one month. The idea is to just get the story down and to save the editing for next month. We'll see how far I get ... the goal is to get 175 pages or 50,000 words.
Check it out at :

& ps: Help me get more hits to my blog for my job:
It's definitely not intellectual by any means, but it's for my job and the more hits makes my boss happy. :) Feel free to sign up, but I doubt it would interest any of you!

Crappy First Drafts


That's the word that comes to mind when I think of the draft I am attempting to write now. The dialogue sounds unrealistic and boring. The descriptions seem forced. I'm taking too long to get to the action (and part of the problem is that I'm not sure what the action is in this section) and this little voice in the back of my head keeps whispering that I am wasting my time. The thought of someone else reading what I have written at this point makes me want to change my name and move to a foreign country. Ok, that last part was a little melodramatic.

I also feel the need to confess that I am a chronic "re-doer". I have started this project over three times, changing the setting and the point of view around, messing with where to start the story and how. I've written about twenty chapters all togehter, only two of which are still in use.

My instinct is telling me to push through. If I can get this first draft done--even if it's total crap--then maybe I stand a chance of turning it into something readable down the road. Far, far down the road. :) But tonight I'm really struggling for every sentence and I'm doubting myself big time.

Do you guys have this problem too? Any advice?


Wow, I hope that picture isn't as big as it is in this composition. Anyways, anyone read "A Thousand Splendid Suns"?

I liked "The Kite Runner " a lot and wanted to check out the follow up.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

I am the slime

Fear not, fellow writers, I will not bore thee with ramblings, but I do indeed hope to offer some insight. Maybe drop some knowledge on yo ass.

This is RJ. I am new here. Everyone say hello (Hello RJ!). Thanks for the warm reception.

I'd like to recommend an author for you for my first post. His name is Alan Moore, writer of "The Watchmen" "From Hell" and "V for Vendetta." He is my favorite author. Yes, he writes comic books (I prefer the term Graphic Novel). And his stuff amazes me. Please BUY "The Watchmen". Time magazine rated it a top 100 NOVEL of all time, and the thing is just frickin amazing. I'm giving you the heads up now because in a year you will be seeing "The Watchmen" at the movies.

And it won't be better than the book.

Peace out.


My toddler ate my brain.

Hey all, (or should I say y'all since I live in Bartow?) thanks for inviting me to the Crooked Table! I will do my best to contribute to the group, but I have to warn you, usually by the time I have chance to sit down at the computer and write, my mind is already shutting down in expectation of bed time. I stay at home with my 2 year old and write every chance that I can get. Currently, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo which is a writing contest during the month of November where a bunch of insane people get together and try to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month. (If you want to join the madness, check out Its free.). But I am definitely interested in meeting other writers who are serious about their craft.

What genres are you guys interested in? I'm kind of a scifi/fantasy/magical realism type of gal. I honestly don't know what category the project I'm working on would fall into.

Anyway, I look forward to getting to know all of you better and to learning more secrets of the trade! :) Thanks again for inviting me Rob. Happy writing!!

Thank you, I now have my feet under your table!

Hello Rob and company!
Thanks for the invitation to your Crooked Table. Sounds like a fun idea, so I am looking forward to this new seating arrangement. Nothing compares to mingling with like-minded people, right?!
Some of you might think I am actually out of my mind. My blog style can be somewhat confusing. You might not be able to tell fact from fiction. Viewers' discretion advised! lol
On a lighter note, I have a thing for satire and humor. Just like to look on the brighter things of life--or not. Anyone got a flashlight?

Like Arni Schwarzi famously said in The Terminator: "I'll be back!"