Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Creativity Facilitator

Rethinking Failure

by Lisa A Kramer
I just read a post where a friend announced that she was officially divorced as of a couple of days ago. Underneath this people commented sending love, or condolences, or thoughts. One person though, made a comment that included the words "you did not fail" and for some reason it bothered me. The comment was perfectly fine, because it went on to say people change and that sometimes a divorce is for the best, but the word "fail" hit me in the gut. Why, if something ends in a way that we did not expect, do we see that as a failure? Why can't we, instead, see it as an opportunity? "Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time...

Writing, Not Writing, and Writing Again

by Lisa A Kramer
When I first started blogging, I belonged to a tiny little writing group made up of two friends from the college where I was teaching. I was facing one of those unexpected challenges in life--my husband had tenure stolen from him (long story) and we couldn't afford to live on my salary in the tourist town where we lived. I hadn't been allowed to teach in my official field (theatre) but was doing pretty well teaching for writing, honors, and other departments--but at the lesser salad of a contracted visiting professor rather than a tenured or tenure track professor.

I didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't know what would happen next in our lives....

P.O.W.ERful Surprises: Books Don't Disappear

by Lisa A Kramer
Once upon a time I wrote a novel. It was published, people read it, and it received good reviews and was shortlisted for a couple of awards. I was (and still am) very proud of the book.

But that isn't enough to keep a book in the eyes of readers. Not if you don't have a huge budget, a publicity team, and a recognizable name.

For a while, as authors should do, I spent all my time promoting that book. I announced when it was nominated for awards. I attended book events and signings. I did workshops based off of the themes of the book . I took pictures of it sitting on bookstore shelves. I autographed copies and sent personal messages...

Bringing Stories to Life

by Lisa A Kramer
My subtitle for this website says it all "Writer, theatre artist, educator, and woman who wields words."

What does it mean to wield words?

I have always loved words and languages. An avid reader since I could first put those mysterious symbols together to form word (at a very young age) I easily lost myself in stories. I found comfort in the worlds built inside my by words meticulously placed on the page by mysterious magicians (yes I thought of them as magical people) called authors.

Then I realized that words can also be brought to life in other ways, taken from the page and breathed into reality on the stage or the screen.  Or sometimes combined with images to create pictures in...

The Joy of Creative Chaos

by Lisa A Kramer
Have you ever noticed that creative people rarely do just one thing?

The balls I am currently keeping in the air

Think about it. Writers often write across disciplines, or give presentations and readings while working on multiple projects.

Actors are often in the process of rehearsing one project, while directing/producing another, while writing a book, and doing gigs with their bands.

Scientists (yes I think scientists are creative) might play musical instruments on the side, or be members of a chorus.

And anyone attempting to make a living as a freelance artist is usually juggling multiple projects at any given time.

This to me, is part of the joy that is creativity, because I truly believe that creativity breeds creativity. Some...

Thinking, Dreaming, Creating, Doing, Living

by Lisa A Kramer
Anyone who has ever read anything I've written will recognize that I believe in the power of creativity to change the world.

I also believe in the power of words.

Frankly, the power of words (and creative "truth") has been proven again and again recently, as people fall into the spin of words created by dishonest politicians that get reinforced by media who seem to care more about clicks and headlines than anything else.

But this is not meant to be a political post. Rather, I am sitting here reflecting on how I can use this belief in creativity and the power of words to truly create change in a world gone mad. What can I do, both as an individual and...

The Serendipity of Reinvention

by Lisa A Kramer
I am in the process of redesigning my life, and I am so excited.

For a long time now, I have been struggling with the status quo, and feeling trapped by a career that I sort of fell into--because of expectations from my degrees, life choices, etc.  I was losing a sense of passion and purpose, feeling underpaid, underappreciated, and like everything had become a battle that had no meaning. While I was working hard, it no longer feels fulfilling.

So I knew it was time for a change.

Still, it has taken a long time for me to really leap. I have not completely quit my day job (because the reality is that I cannot afford to do that) but I have...

An Open Letter to American Cowards (aka supporters of the NRA)

by Lisa A Kramer
I cannot change your mind with words, but words are all I have pouring from my bleeding heart like drops of life from a gunshot wound.

I choose these words with care. In your mind I am that bleeding heart "Libtard" "Feminazi" bitch who should remain silent.

But let me tell you who you are . . .

You are cowards.

You value guns over life, because a BIG gun makes you feel powerful, or perhaps, more manly. You value control of women's bodies because you are afraid of women's power. Yet you argue that you are protecting life, See above. You value money over life because money gives you a sense of power and control. But you can't eat money. You can't breath money. You can't drink money. You can't love money, and you...

Rediscovering the Power of Our Voices

by Lisa A Kramer
“Dance, when you're broken open. Dance, if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you're perfectly free.” Rumi

Nathan, Sarah, and I were about to enter New Rep's blackbox theater to see the one-woman show Unveiled, written and performed by Rohina Malik when Nathan's attention was drawn to something on his phone. There was a ballistic missile attack warning sent to everyone in Hawaii this morning. It took 40 minutes (I believe) before they announced it was a false alarm.

Of course, Nathan was seeing this information after the fact. But he grew up in Hawaii. We met while in our mfa program at the University of Hawaii. I lived there for three...

Thoughts on ALLEGIANCE and the Man Who Will Never be My President

by Lisa A Kramer
What does it mean to give someone or something allegiance? In this country, we are asked to do this whenever we recite the pledge. By definition, it means we are giving our loyalty to some cause, nation, or ruler.

But what happens when that cause, nation, or ruler turns against us? What happens when it demands our allegiance without respecting the rights we have as living, breathing people?

Last night I watched the filmed presentation of ALLEGIANCE, the Broadway musical inspired by George Takei's real life experience being placed in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. I wish I had seen it live while it was still on Broadway, because there were a few too many closeups for my viewing...

Bullies Win . . . Because we Let Them.

by Lisa A Kramer
My daughter is in 8th grade. She plays the saxophone, and this year as a pre-freshman she was asked to join the high school marching band. She loved it.

She worked hard, practiced a lot, and improved as a musician.

Recently, she was assigned the 1st part in the music she is learning for the next Middle School concert. Yay!

Except that one girl, who used to play 1st, is now playing 2nd, and she is not happy about it. In typical middle school fashion, she is showing her displeasure in subtle but unpleasant ways--dirty looks, taking my daughter's seat at the lunch table (and forcing her to sit elsewhere), etc.

Luckily, I have a great kid who sees it for what it is. She...

When Words Sing: A Review of ECHO by Pam Muñoz Ryan

by Lisa A Kramer
I close the book with tears in my eyes. Tears of joy and hope, because of a story that comes full circle. Tears of sadness and fear, because the words of historical fiction too closely reflect similar word being spouted as political rhetoric today. Aching tears because of the beauty of words blended together in a song of perfection--the type I yearn to be able to write myself, but fear I never will. Tears of disappointment because it is over.

There are only two things that frustrate me about this book. One, is that I want to hear the music playing . . . I am tempted to get an audio version for just that reason. At the same time, I...

Richness and Brutality: A Review of MOTHER NILE by Warren Adler

Richness and Brutality: A Review of MOTHER NILE by Warren Adler
by Lisa A Kramer
More and more often lately, I have been offered a free copy of a book in exchange for an honest review. I don't accept every offer,  sometimes because a book doesn't interest me, sometimes because I don't have time, and sometimes because I don't feel that an honest review will be welcomed.

Still, I love these opportunities, especially when it introduces me to an author that I haven't discovered yet or a world where I have yet to journey, even in my mind.

MOTHER NILE by Warren Adler, offered me a journey into a rich, dark, somewhat disturbing world of sex, power, politics, drugs, and insight into an Egypt I never imagined. It's difficult for me to say I loved this book,...

When Do You Stop Reading?

by Lisa A Kramer
I ran into a little snafu with my plan to read and review all the books on the short list for the Sarton Literary Award . . . what do I do if I don't like a book? I tend to only write reviews for books that I feel I can give 4 or 5 stars to--books that draw me in and make me want to read more. While a 3 star book, for me, is something that I liked (or at least enjoyed elements of it); it isn't one that will stay with me forever or one that inspires me in some way. Anything below that, is either painful for me to get through or I found simply awful.

Now, I'm not...

Sharing the Honor: A Review of Stella Rose

by Lisa A Kramer
I work in a competitive field--or actually, many competitive fields (theatre, writing, academia). Yet, I've never been good at the competition thing. I believe in giving helping hands to people, and encouraging them to achieve their dreams.

In particular, I believe that women need to help women. In a world which is still ruled by patriarchy--it makes sense that we help each other, support each other, respect each other. Sadly, that doesn't happen often. I've run into many women who push other women down when they feel threatened. I've been hurt by several of them, and I never understood why. I just want to do good work. I'm not out to steal anyone's glory.

I don't want to be one of those...

Some P.O.W.ERful News

by Lisa A Kramer
Hi Friends!

I know, it has been a while. I have no excuses. A combination of realities merged together to make me quiet in the world of social media and blogging. I know, for a person that claims to want to make it in the world of writing, that is considered a faux pas, but sometimes you have to follow you own path toward you dreams, whatever those dreams may be.

I haven't stopped dreaming. I haven't stopped creating. I was directing, running workshops, working on getting another work of fiction published, collaborating on some amazing arts programming between transition students and college students--which is the basis of a book I am also writing. I've attended a few book signings, workshops, and...

Tales of a Theatre Director/Educator

by Lisa A Kramer
I am sitting in my Introduction to Theatre classroom, showing the movie "Show Business: Road to Broadway." The picture is a little warped, as I can't use the regular video screen/projector, but instead I have it projecting on a swash of silky fabric that is intended to be a shadow screen for the play I am directing which opens next week.

Part of my set lies hidden in the darkness behind the screen  . . . much of which still waits (im)patiently to come to life with many coats of paint. I am trying to ignore the lurking bareness which haunts me even though I cannot see it. I try not to worry about how or if everything will get done.

As I...

Where Memories Meet: A Book Review

by Lisa A Kramer
It took me a long time to read this book . . . but that's not a bad thing.

Christine M. Grote, author of Where Memories Meet: Reclaiming My Father after Alzheimer's, asked me to read and respond to her book because she knew that, in some ways, we had been on similar journeys. Her father passed away after a four-year decline with Alzheimer's in late January 2013. My father, Bennett Lee Kramer, passed away after a many-year decline with Alzheimer's on December 19, 2012.

Christine's book with pictures of my father.

In a way, her story is the one I wish I had written. At the same time, it was difficult for me to read because of the emotional journey...

An Open Letter to Elizabeth Gilbert

by Lisa A Kramer
Dear Elizabeth,

I hope you don't mind me calling you by your first name. It seems too formal to call you Ms. Gilbert, when I'm writing a letter explaining why you and I should be friends.

No, don't worry . . . this isn't a stalkery kind of letter. I picture our friendship as the kind where we meet once in a blue moon at a cozy coffee shop somewhere, or perhaps (if we are feeling a little adventurous) at a small lunch restaurant serving exotic and flavorful foods. We will each order something different and a little bit decadent, then compare and contrast our selections. Maybe we will share, but I'm telling you now that if it is melt-in-your-mouth delicious I...

Life as a Renaissance Woman

by Lisa A Kramer
I sat at a table filled with my first year studies seminar students in the POD (our campus' main dining hall) and we just talked. The original plan was that we would hold part of our class in there, but I realized that many of these students needed time to talk about other life issues--how to make friends, find jobs, juggle schedules, etc. Since this class meets for 2 1/2 hours on Fridays, and is intended to be a combination of academic learning and learning how to succeed in college--I had no qualms about adjusting my schedule for more casual discussion.

I spent the time bouncing around the table, trying to check in specifically with the students who don't speak up much in...