Sunday, October 31, 2010

Salty Scares with Chocolate Sauce

(or: How to write something and get it critiqued by a bunch of "strangers")

You will need:

1 cup Fantastic Spatula Blog Host to issue a horrifying halloween challenge.
4 oz. (about 2 weeks) to actually do said horrifying halloween challenge.
1 pound (about 1 life time) each of fear of failing/fear of being awesome/admitting yourself a writer/ admitting yourself an artist.
1 teaspoon (about 3 months) work on a story where elements are the main characters.
5 swallows each of pride/embarrassment/self doubt/self shit talking
40 cups and 6 oz. short fiction work shop.
about 8 copies of previously mentioned story.
about 8 different opinions written on previously mentioned copies (opinions are best when freshly picked from strangers).
1 small portion of a bag of chocolate chips you found in the freezer left over from when you made chocolate chip cookie.
5 gallons of hot tea.
Salt to taste


Combine halloween challenge with fears and admissions. Finally finish short story where the main characters are elements. Main characters are named Nade (Na), Cla (Cl), and Hye (Hydrogen). "Finish" is a broad term. You may think that the story is not finished but you joined a writers work shop and it is your turn to turn something in to be critiqued/workshopped by the other participants. Drink all tea and eat rest of the chocolate while finishing story. Swallow pride, embarrassment, self doubt, self shit talking at the same time and send the fraking story to your peers and get their input. The sooner you do that the sooner you can get some help where you feel you need it and you can ask questions about style, does-this-work, and any other questions you may have. Get constructive criticism and comments back from peers. Breathe.


1 ridiculously over-sensitive self-doubter. Helps give direction on a story/idea self-doubter has been working/playing with for about six months now. Makes self-doubter realize that she is indeed a writer AND artist and that other people outside her comfort unit can and do appreciate/understand/get her writing/art.

Halloween Challenge: Let There Be Fright

Hi Everyone!

While we were all out on our two week hiatus from the blog I issued out a challenge you've probably already read about. Each of us had to find something that scared us, and then go out and actually do it.

While two weeks is hardly the time to scramble the money it would take to go shark diving or jumping out of a perfectly good airplane it was just enough time to delve into our own darkness and come back up.

For some of us it meant sucking it up and admitting our passion. By announcing to the world "I want to be a writer.", or "I want to be an artist." we have charged ourselves with the duty of fulfilling these titles.

Something that I think we can each attest to is our own procrastination. Several years ago I ran into a friend from high school and we began swapping "what-are-you-up-to"'s and "where-are-you-now"'s. I told him that I was looking at moving into an apartment above a local restaurant. "Yeah. You said that last time I saw you. Two years ago." It was a slap in the face. I had forgotten that I mentioned it to him years ago- my finally getting a place of my own! I had thought about it, and thought about it, and when my brain was hurting I thought about it some more. I had thought the idea into the ground, but had taken no action towards it.

This tends to be the way of it. A brilliant idea will burn brightly and attract others to its warmth and brilliance. If it is contained too long, the fire will go out. If it is not contained at all, it will burn down everything around it.

Thursday I, with trembling hands, surrendered my fate to The Gods of Credit and purchased a new camera. A Nikon D3000 to be specific. I have loved Nikons since college and have always wanted a nice DSLR to 'play' with. I wanted one, and thought about taking the plunge and purchasing one many times. I'd thought about it, and thought about it, and thought about it some more. But never had the kick in the pants I needed to actually go to the store. When my very nice point and shoot camera had finally met it's end I knew it was time to upgrade. While being in debt is something that absolutely scares me to death, and really keeps me awake at night, I knew that I had to buy a new camera.

I keep telling myself that it's an investment and not a splurge. I can now go out on professional shoots and be taken (somewhat) seriously. I have always loved photography and the feeling of being behind a camera. (Now being in front of one--totally different story!)

For my end of the challenge, I had to stare down the monsters Debt & Credit, suck it up and admit that I was a photographer who deserved & earned to have a nicer camera, and surrender to the frightening aspect of being deemed a "Professional". Scary, neh?

Now if I could just figure out how to download them to the computer...

Halloween Challenge

There are many things that scare me; spiders, clowns, zombies, over-crowded elevators, confined spaces, and the unseen things that lurk in the shadows, just to name a few. But all those things and the myriad others are phobias, actual fears and there isn’t much I can do about them.

So, what about things that I am simply uncomfortable with? Well, let me tell you that if I had the means, I would go shark diving in a heart beat. I’m terrified of sharks, but find them utterly fascinating. The thought of being in the water with something that is, essentially, unchanged since the dawn of time is both petrifying and exhilarating.

Unfortunately, shark diving takes time and money, neither of which I have in vast quantities. Now what? Here I am at zero hour and with nothing more than the vague notion that given the right circumstances I’d jump in the water with the greatest predator in the world. As exciting as the idea is to me, no one wants to read about what someone might do.

To cut a long story short (too late!), I finally got an idea. I am going to make an admission. Thinking hard on it, I’ve come to the realization that admitting to something and then doing something about it is scarier than coming face to face with a great white. Here it goes:

Hello. My name is Clara Maxwell, and I want to be a writer. I never thought to admit this and then act on it, although I knew the day would come. *deep breath* I want to be a writer, and I have too many ideas. They are all swirling around in my head, combating each other for space in my priorities. As a result, I ignore them all and go play video games to tune them out. I can’t be a writer if I slack off every time one idea trips another in their attempts to get my attention.

So, here is the part that I really wasn’t looking forward to. I sat down last night, wrote down every idea that I have, and then I said goodbye to all but five. It broke my heart, especially since one of the stories I cut was my original story, the one that made me want to write in the first place. I’ve been dreading doing this, but I knew it was inevitable.

I hope that, someday in the future, I can come back and save them from oblivion. Until I am capable and mature enough in my career as a writer, I can’t afford to lug them along in the hopes that I can do something with all of them. I need to focus on the stories that have a real possibility to become something.

Starting with November, I am only going to write and research these five stories in the hopes that I can be a better writer for it.

Happy Halloween every one, see y’all on the flip side!

Halloween Challenge

Courtesy of Fotolia

Two weeks ago, Lucy issued a challenge: think of something that scares you and go out and DO IT. 

I brainstormed fearsome actions for a week; there were even tornado warnings.  I crossed off reality-tv-like stunts and anything that would take more than two weeks.  I wanted to do something to further a goal I cared about, another step down my five-year plan. 

Recently, I’ve taken a lot of steps that scare the hell out of me (and there’s a lot of hell in there to scare out): I started River City Fiction, shy me talks to Richmond’s literary who’s who; I left my day job; I started another job more in line with my literary ambitions; I’m planning a 30th anniversary celebration for an indie bookstore as part of the job; I joined and formed critique groups; I’m applying to grad school.  Basically, the last few months have been one pee-my-panties experience after another, but there was one major career-related biggie left.  I needed to share my fiction in a public space.

But it scared the crap out of me.  Since 2008, only 100 words of my fiction have been read by anyone outside my inner circle, and they were here on Fantastic Spatula.  I admit it seems neurotic since I hope to be published one day.  I, like most species on earth, protect what I care about.  I guard it from bullying like an over-protective parent, I hoard it like Smaug, but to improve, fiction has to get black eyes, and it has to circulate. 

To fulfill the Halloween challenge, I will post fiction to Fantastic Spatula for the month of November.  I can already feel the hairs on the back of my neck raise.  Happy Halloween, Spatulans.   

Friday, October 29, 2010


Because it wouldn't be Halloween without "Thriller". Am I right? ;)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Listen to the Musn't's

Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.
-- Shel Silverstein

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Circled the World

Normally Thursday nights you can find me in a dance studio downtown taking Belly Dance or Zumba.I just thought I'd share a little bit of dancing with each of you. <3

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In the end
these things matter most:
How well 
did you love?
How fully 
did you live?
How deeply 
did you let go?
Siddhārtha Gautama

Monday, October 18, 2010

Greetings All!

Just to inform you that for the next two weeks The Fantastic Spatulans will be taking a hiatus. We have each tackled Life Crazies of varying forms recently, so a small break seemed the thing to do.

That doesn't mean I'm letting anyone off the hook! Being the Evil Blog Mod that I am (high pitched cackling included), I decided to issue a challenge to be met by Halloween. 

What kind of challenge? Ooo, you'll have to stay tuned to see! I'll give you a hint: it even has me spooked.

While we're taking our hiatus, I'll be posting pictures, quotes, and maybe even a few videos to keep you lovely lot inspired and making magic!

So don't think of this as a parting of ways- more of a disappearing act by talented magicians. ;)

Luff & Magic,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Baking Magic

When the idea for creating a blog first concocted itself in my mind I had no idea what to do. I had the name, and I had a subtitle, but that was it. Originally I had thought about making a food blog, (the title being "Fantastic Spatula" seemed all too appropriate).

In the end, as you know, I settled on making it a community blog where we all pitch in our own stories and do what we do best. Which is, well, to write.

Baking is still something that I get an itch to do. I blame this completely (and happily!) on my mom who is a terrific cook! Her fudge and peanut brittle are legendary. And I know a certain someone who has been hankering for a spice cake for his birthday. (Hi, Dad!) 

So tonight instead of sitting down to write more about our much beloved Baba Yaga I decided to do something she too enjoys.

I baked.

Being the beautiful season that it is, I decided that something pumpkin flavored would have to happen. I poked around the internet and found a delightful, and stupidly simple, recipe for pumpkin muffins.

For those among you who love to cook & bake, I'm sure you'll agree with me when I say that baking is a sort of mediation. You follow the recipe and you'll end up with something nom-alicious. While you're busy measuring and mixing ingredients, taste testing, lining tins with paper you're mind goes elsewhere. You tend to forget what hasn't gone right and you let yourself melt like the butter in the saucepan. What part about that isn't magic?

And now! For your drooling pleasure- A little pictorial evidence!

What are some seasonal treats you like to bake?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An apology, of sorts

Rather than just not post, or put up my usual faff by way of grandiose explanation, I've written you all a haiku to let you know that I'm a teensy bit busy. Much love and enjoy the cool weather!

the jeweled autumn
allergies are in full swing
I move in three days

Monday, October 11, 2010

100 Word Challenge: Autumn

I give you piece of flash fiction about the tensions that can accompany autumn.  

  “You aren’t dressed.”

  “I’m not going to Robert’s party.”


  Karen threw the dishrag into the sink.  “Robert hit on me last Thanksgiving.  Don’t you care he’s a pervert?”

  “He’s my boss and my evaluation is next week.”

  “Your shirt is pressed.”  She opened the dishwasher.   “Go.”

  Karen listened to Mitch dress in the next room.  At least she still recognized the sounds he made. 

  Mitch walked out and tightened his tie.  “Should I tell Wendy you said hello?”

  Her jaw clenched.  “Warm the car.  I’ll be dressed in fifteen minutes.”

  Mitch whistled on the way to the car.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

100 Word Challenge: Autumn

 October saw fit to usher me into this dizzying sphere. A week until All Hallow's Eve: My first view of the world were smiling faces. An Eastern glow hovering above the Charleston river. A warm and breezy morning for the second born's arrival. It is my opinion that instead of wailing and flailing like other children I came about laughing and smiling. A pixie, if you will.

Octobers since have been filled with: apple cider; county fairs; mountain visits; bonfires; red velvet cakes; leaf raking & pile jumping; crunchy leaves underfoot; dress-up birthday parties, and oh plenty (plenty) of orange!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

100 Word Challenge: Autumn

Shwash! Shwash! Dry, brown leaves are raked together. The few from the side yard make a small mound, then Shwash! Shwash! Shwash!, the leaves from the front yard and the back yard pile it high. Limbs left over from autumn’s first windstorm and pinecones the squirrels picked over add variety. The mass sits still then a flick of match and the edges come alive. Crack! Splack! Crackle! The old dead color bursts with orange, red, and heat. The flame eats quickly through the easy snack. Grey smoke moves high over the pile blooming yellow and breathes a slow woodsy aftertaste.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

100 Word Challenge: Autumn Dedication

I love a challenge, being an Aries, and I love autumn, being my father’s daughter. My love for the season stems from childhood; as soon as the air began to chill my father would build the first fire of the season in our wood burning stove. He’d use the cedar wood that had been drying over the summer and the whole house would become replete with the smell of it. Then we’d all sit around the fireplace and get warm. We don’t have the stove any more, but now, when autumn comes, we have the memory of those simpler times.

100 Words Challenge


Hi Everyone!

Just popping in to share some exciting news! This week I've issued a challenge to each of the writers, including myself, to write a post about Autumn in 100 words. (No more! No less!) 

I think you'll be delighted by what we've all come up with. Feel free to share a 100 word response in the comments if you'd like to join in!

Or! Better yet, if you would like to email me ( an entry of your own I'll post all that I've received by Friday afternoon. 

Alrighty, get writing! I can't wait to see what you've come up with!

Peace & Pumpkins,

Sunday, October 3, 2010

("sundae sunday" is going to highlight what really made me happy the past week.)

* first day of house keeping. free breakfast. waffles with peanut butter and syrup. * talking with neighbors about marvelous missoula. * dressing up like a fairy in a white Einstein wig with a tri-cornerd hat and having my picture taken not only by my fabulous neighbor, kare, but also by a budding photojournalism student who had the assignment "take a photograph of 25 strangers." * a sundae with pumpkin ice cream (see above photograph). * taking a trip to idaho with the lovely erin and her new beau to weir hot springs and soaking in the rocky pool of naturally heated water. eating snacks of yogurt covered raisins and drinking boxed wine like a pro. * meeting the russian mobsters. * the colors turning colors in the trees. * yellow leaves everywhere. on the ground. in my apartment. all over my shirt. * a spice girls dance party in the park. * old mailboxes falling off their hinges in old apartment buildings. * making a tiny elephant necklace (he's for sale for $10 if anyone would like to give him a loving home). *

* the saturday morning fresh market. fresh beets, potatoes, zucchini, and tart, purple plums. * a bunch of wild flowers the color of setting sun, blushing cheeks, and those tart purple plums. * having a halloween dress-up party at work with anna, sam, carmine. pretending we are dracula, go-go dancers, geishas, and the many faces of madonna. * disco dancing as darth vader. oh yes. * a delicious walk in the park. dappled light. and her silhouette drowning in golden. * camping girl. * the strings that play at all souls. * a clothing exchange with anna and carmine and other new friends i have yet to remember names for. * man land. * kelly's birthday party at, where else, an irish pub. and sharing malt vinegar fries with rebekah (and, jinx, i owe her a root beer). * making a card with flowers and dress scraps. * first friday art walk up and down the street. art. art. art. free wine and cheese and crackers and dip and music. music. music. * crushing on saturday morning. hot coffee. cinnamon twist. a notebook. a new story. little bugs floating around in the morning air like dust particles (as light and as spastic). *

what made you smile this week? share your own sundae sunday list in the comment box. and, now, i'm going to leave you with this...