Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

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...

Life On My Own Terms: A Personal Manifesto

by Lisa A Kramer
Do you ever feel like you can't win for losing? Do you ever feel like you are lacking, in some significant way, the Je ne sais quois that will allow you into the winner's circle . . . that you are destined to stand on the outside forever, toes just dipping over the line?

Sometimes those feelings overwhelm me.

This has been a difficult summer for me. One where I faced  some painful realizations about myself, my goals in life, my dreams, my morals, my relationships with others, and the way the world functions when you aren't willing to compromise everything and hurt others just to get ahead.

Basically, if you aren't willing to play a vicious game then you have to accept the reality...

Celebrating Our Unique Powers: The Gift of Inspiring Others by Kate Johnston

by Lisa A Kramer
I think I first met Kate at 4am. Literally. I was wandering through a period of insomnia while I struggled to figure out how writing, creativity, and dreams could fit into my life when I finally gave up and sought solace in the world of blogs. That's when I found my way to 4amWriter. I found in Kate a soul sister of words--someone on her own journey to fitting the dreams of her childhood into a life that doesn't always honor or respect those dreams. She offers simple words of wisdom and guidance for anyone who ever doubts they can be (and are) a writer, but she also shares the powerful gift of language and storytelling that joins us all...

A Review of SINGULARITY: Psychology, Terror, and the Power of the Mind

by Lisa A Kramer
"Pulvis et umbra sumus {We are but dust and shadows}" --Horace When Helena Hann-Basquiat asked if anyone would be interested in reading an advanced copy of Singularity I jumped at the opportunity, despite the fact that I have limited time to read/write/think/create this summer. Why? Because I love the way these collaborators work, and the beauty of their words even when they write terrifying or horrific things. Reading one of the Jessica B. Bell stories is like taking a journey into the deepest, darkest secrets of your own mind--the place where sex, violence, desire, and power all whisper their most precious secrets. This book does not disappoint. Each story, each character is rich and intriguing, as you are brought into a place where you...

What I did on my Summer Vacation by Helena-Hann Basquiat

by Lisa A Kramer
It has been a while since we have celebrated anyone's unique powers, but I am thrilled to be able to celebrate Helena Hann-Basquiat, the voice behind Memoirs of a Dilettante, Volumes I & II, plus the fabulous Shakespeare-esque play Penelope, and the chilling Jessica (all links can be found below). I can't wait to read her next book, Singularity.  More important than her amazing talent, though, is that this person has slowly become my friend. She is raw, honest and supportive. She shares insight, reads drafts, and, more lends a sympathetic ear in times of trouble. I loved receiving  this piece, where she dips into her 12-year-old self for all to enjoy.


What I did on my Summer Vacation (by Helena Hann-Basquiat,...

Singularity Cover Reveal: The Power of Community, Support, and Social Media

by Lisa A Kramer
While the act of writing might be a solitary one, in the modern world of books the reality is that in order to succeed even the most talented author needs help. Sure, those with more traditional contracts have teams of support (if they are lucky) from editing to publicity , but there is no guarantee. When published through smaller, independent publishing houses (like Word Hermit Press) or self-publishing, it becomes even more important to develop a team of supporters to help spread the word and make sure your work is the best possible product. You need reliable  beta-readers, fantastic editors, and a supportive network that believes in your work and wants to see it succeed. This can be a challenge for...

How to Write Terrible Characters

by Lisa A Kramer
I'm not talking about the characters we love to hate--they are usually layered and intriguing.

I'm not talking about the characters who seduce you into believing they are charming and good but then reveal their inner demons. I believe that darkness and evil hide itself in beauty sometimes, that's what makes it so fascinating. I also believe that interesting characters have layers of complexity, and that good stories uncover some of those layers as we go.

I'm not even talking about a distrustful narrator, one whom you are never sure whether you are supposed to like or dislike them, and question the story they tell. Those characters are intentionally complex and layered, you aren't supposed to like them necessarily, but you are supposed to empathize and understand...

A P.O.W.ERful Update

by Lisa A Kramer
I just spent the weekend celebrating my 25th college reunion with my daughter, surrounded by the incredibly talent, passionate, and amazing women who attended Smith College.

The theme for our class was "We are All Wonder Women" which I loved, although I do find the idea of striving to be Wonder Woman a complicated one. As much as we would like to believe we can have everything, we can't really, and I think it is healthy for us to recognize that.

Still, it was an empowering theme for this moment in my life. I loved spending this occasion with my daughter, especially walking in our Ivy Day Parade (a Smith Tradition) wearing our Wonder Women capes.

On the first day I was there,...

Books: The Story of When You Are

by Lisa A Kramer
I've been doing a lot of reading lately.

To be honest, I've been doing much more reading than writing. I know I should be writing, I know that becoming a "successful" writer means you must go beyond your first book. I still have many stories to tell, but at  the moment those stories are a jumbled mess of ideas that refuse to find their way to the page.

So I read.

In addition to reading, though, I am making a greater effort to review anything and everything I read (or at the very least give the book a star rating). Why? Because Reviews Matter!!!! {There's your (not so subtle) reminder to help your favorite authors by reviewing their books. That goes for P.O.W.ER as well. Here's...

On the Loss of Wordless Love

by Lisa A Kramer
Queen Lizzy KramerLeeMay 1, 2001-May 14, 2015 A dog-shaped hole fills my heart as silence fills the house. She is not here to follow my every move in the hopes I will succumb to the begging mind-control eyes that say "Love me, give me a treat!" She will no longer push away anything that separates her from her goal of becoming my 60 lb. lap dog. In her first weeks with us long before Sarah was born she pinned me down in a papasan, unwilling to take a chance that she might lose her new family. The beginning of love. She chose us. We were blessed.

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A Letter from My Brain on Creativity, Writing, and Achieving Dreams

by Lisa A Kramer
Dear Lisa,

Stop! Stop thinking so much. Stop trying to control your creative process, and give yourself a break.

You know, deep inside, that the creative process can't be forced. When have you ever been able to lasso those imaginative forces and wrangle them into control? Never, that's when. Your creativity comes from being inspired, when the energy of imagination swarms around you with unseen sparks.

The energy of creative chaos.

I know you best. You've relied on me for a long time. I love our relationship, but I also know when it is time to let go.

That time is now. I need a vacation and so do you.

I need you to take me to a place where the sun shines,...

The Power of Spirit

by Lisa A Kramer
Mackenzie's Senior Thesis at Emerson 2013

Once upon a time in the land between a young spirit was born. She sparkled with energy and light, and exuded warmth and comfort. She zipped around the world between asking questions, challenging answers, sharing stories, and wanting to know everything there was possible to know.

One day, as she was in search of something new to discover she noticed a break in the swirling energy that defined the borders of Between. She'd heard of those breaks before, they were the little leaks that allowed the creative energy of Between to travel to other places. Sometimes she saw other spirit beings peeking through the little rifts, and sending energy in strange directions.

"What are...