Please welcome our new blogger Margaret S. Hamilton to WWK. Look for Margaret's posts on the third Saturday of each month (and sometimes scattered throughout the month).

If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book next year, please contact E. B. Davis at

Our September interviews feature: Judy Penz Sheluk on 9/7, Lesley Diehl on 9/14, Julianne Holmes on 9/21, and Vicki Fee on 9/28.

Saturday Guest Bloggers: Lea Wait 9/3, Jacqueline Vick 9/10, and our Saturday Bloggers--9/17 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/24 Kait Carson.

Warren Bull has two short stories, "A Christmas Journey" and "Killer Eulogy" in the Darkhouse anthology titled Black Coffee. Available--Now! Warren's short story collection No Happy Endings is also available at Amazon in paper or Amazon for Kindle.

Jim Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available.

KM Rockwood's Abductions and Lies, the 6th in the Jesse Damon Crime Novel series, will be released in April. "Last Laugh," a short story in the anthology Black Coffee is available on Amazon. "Tarnished Hope," a short story in Murder Most Conventional, sponsored by Malice Domestic, April 29, at the conference. "Frozen Assets," a short story in Chesapeake Crimes: Storm Warning, release date May 14th (an anthology compiled by Chessie Chapter of SINC)

Gloria Alden released the seventh book in her Catherine Jewell mystery series, Blood Red Poinsettias, which is available at Amazon. Congratulations, Gloria.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Have a Bad Idea? Celebrate!

Have you ever been struck with a “golden” idea at two a.m. that lost its luster the next morning when viewed under the harsh glare of a computer screen? Or, have you had a good idea but its execution went horribly awry? I’ve certainly had a couple of ideas crash and burn—okay, more than a few. You may have, too. But instead of being discouraged, CELEBRATE! In fact, celebrating a creative person’s right to fail gloriously seems to be a burgeoning trend.

One popular writing contest, the Bulwer-Lytton, “…challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.” It takes its name from the Victorian author, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, who began his 1830 novel, Paul Clifford, with the immortal line that set the standard of excellence for writers everywhere:

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

To be fair to Mr. Bulwer-Lytton, he did coin phrases still in use today such as, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” “the great unwashed,” and “the almighty dollar.” Perhaps the dark and stormy night sentence was a one-off event.

Museums are also getting into the swing of celebrating less than stellar artistic expression. A current exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC, showcases “terrifying near misses” from the designing of the nation’s capital to the present day. For instance, in the 1990s it was proposed that a large National Sofa be placed facing the White House with a giant video screen nearby giving visitors a first-hand look at the happenings inside the Executive Mansion. (Perhaps this idea would have been accepted if the creator placed a National Fridge next to the National Sofa and stocked it with beer.) While Americans may be perceived as a bunch of couch potatoes, I’m glad it’s not one of our national symbols.

However, the winner of commemorating art-gone-wrong goes to The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Dedham, Massachusetts. With typical wry New England humor, the art exhibit--collected from dumpsters and personal bequests--is located in a basement next to the men’s room of a community theatre and illuminated by a single fluorescent light fixture. It’s become so successful they even had an art theft! (I’m not making this up; I’ve visited and have the t-shirt to prove it.) While this collection perhaps doesn’t live up to elite art standards, it has been featured in the New York Times, discussed on NPR radio, the CBS morning news and now Writers Who Kill. Do you think the artist who painted the masterpiece, “Sunday on the Pot with George,” ever envisioned that exalted outcome?

In the spirit of sharing a failed art project, I proudly present my hamburger Christmas card. Every year I make my own greeting cards and one year I aimed for a southwestern theme. Nothing says Christmas in the Southwest like a barbecued hamburger in the shape of a Christmas tree decorated with mustard and ketchup, right? Luckily, I realized my folly early on. That blunder did inspire another, better image of cowboy boots with the greeting, “Kick off your boots and have a comfy, cozy Christmas (or holiday season).”

I think in order to achieve great epiphanies in creative expression we must be willing to take risks, embrace and even celebrate our failures. After all, there is usually another, better idea lurking around the corner. A radical thought, perhaps, but then this blog idea seemed brilliant in the middle of the night.

Have you ever brutally mangled your writing or perpetrated a visual atrocity?


E. B. Davis said...

My father used to point out that although Babe Ruth was the home run king, he was also the strike out king. So, if you really want to go for it--win big and fail big.

The problem, of course, is getting a reputation for losing. Luckily, in this business--few hear of your failures--even when you win, getting the word out is hard. Promotion isn't easy. We should be glad we can hide our failures so well.

At least we learn from our failures. Glad you have a sense of humor because the Christmas card was bad--really!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Kara, I love this post!The Museum of Bad Art!Imagine not being afraid to create, not worrying about whether others would think your work bad, but just doing it always for the love and joy of it.

EB, you're so right about the big win-big fail ratio. Someone famous once said, "If you want to be highly successful, fail more. Take more chances. If you never fail, you're not taking enough chances."

Kara Cerise said...

E.B., I had forgotten that Babe Ruth was also a champ at striking out. I guess we do remember the successes more than the failures.

And, yes, the card... It’s good to have a laugh when things don’t quite work out as planned then go back to the drawing board.

Kara Cerise said...

Linda, it must be a wonderful feeling to create for fun without worrying about the outcome—like being a young child with a box of crayons. I think as adults we forget that and it inhibits our creativity.

Alyx Morgan said...

What a fun blog, Kara! And I like the quote that Linda shared about failing more being the path to bigger success.

I say keep making those quirky Christmas cards. You never know where the genius ideas will pop out.

Kara Cerise said...

Thanks, Alyx! I also thought the quote Linda shared was inspirational. Sometimes it's easier (at least for me) to play it safe rather than take chances and risk failure although it can produce mediocre results. I guess I'll keep making my quirky cards :)

Gloria Alden said...

Great blog, Kara. Now I want to see that art museum the next time I go to Massachussetts.

I'm glad you took a picture of that card. It's good for laughs. How many really nice cards, cakes, etc. that you've made you've now forgotten. That will always be a memory that brings a smile.

Kara Cerise said...

Gloria, the museum is fun to visit because the art is so...unique. I had a few laughs. It's true that nice things aren't always the most memorable!