Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

Lessons of an Independent Author: The Power of Inspiration

by Lisa A Kramer
This post might also be subtitled: Lessons I Learned from Andra Watkins-Author I confess that I haven't been to a lot of author events or book readings, unless you count my attendance at two SCBWI conferences.  I have attended a lot of talks and presentations by theatre people who write, but rarely do I attend things that are specifically about one person's book or books. On those rare occasions of attending book readings and author presentations I've seen a gamut of styles, which can be broken down (in my opinion) in the following way:

1. Ben Stein Presenters: people who read their own work in a monotone voice that motivates their audiences to sleep even if the words are wonderful

2. Wonders of the World; people...

Finding Power through the Pain: A Review of Surviving Mental Illness Through Humor

by Lisa A Kramer
One of the first gifts blogging gave me was my friendship with the wonderful, talented, and amazing Kathy McCullough, who I met through her powerful words and beautiful art at her (somewhat defunct) blog Reinventing the Event Horizon. You can now find her enjoying life and creating idiomArt while living as an ex-pat in Cuenca, Ecuador. Kathy is the first blogger I met in person, and am so blessed to count her among my friends.

Kathy, Tori Nelson, Lisa and Thomas meet at Kathy and Sara's old home in Lexington, KY.

I mention Kathy here, because she was the first person who introduced me to the incredible beauty, energy and power that comes from people who survive and thrive...

I Yearn for Music

by Lisa A Kramer
Now for something different. Inspired partly by Lizzi Roger's journey into Spoken Word over at Hasty Words a while back, partly by the fact that April is National Poetry Month, partly by the fact that I have been struggling with prose lately, and partly by the desire to challenge myself, I've created this for your listening/reading pleasure experience. [audio mp3=""][/audio] I yearn for music I wish I could reach inside my soul and let the sound escape fingers flicking over strings or dancing over piano keys. Black and white steps to the secret inside of me. My heart-song. But I do not have the power. I yearn to raise my voice in melody perfect pitch climbing the skies so that the heavens open up to joy, or perhaps sultry, husky crooning in the deep dark depths of a...

The Power of the Unreliable Narrator: A Review of Memoirs of a Dilettante, Volume One

by Lisa A Kramer
One of the things I struggle with when reading memoir is trusting the narrator. That may seem strange because the very nature of memoir implies that it is being written from the person who lived the experience, through their honest and perceptive eyes.

But let's be honest, we all view our lives in retrospect, and color our stories through the blurred lenses of memory. Whenever I read a memoir of times long past,--20, 30, 40 years--filled with explicit details of what people wore or ate any given day, I immediately wonder, how can you possibly remember that? I don't trust the narrator. Unless someone has kept anal, detailed diaries of every moment of their lives or has a photographic memory of...

In Search of Inspiration: Thoughts from a Coffee Shop

by Lisa A Kramer
Why do we write? Why do we create? Why is my life guided by this nebulous passion to share stories through creative means, when there is (minimal) hope that I will ever get rich or anyone really cares?

Any creative person goes through these periods of doubt at times. The doubt consumes us  and we find ourselves wallowing in our inability to express ourselves in the ways that make us most comfortable. I'm not talking about writer's block, exactly, but a deeper questioning of purpose, of goals, of dreams that makes every word you write, every image you create, every project you start seem unimportant compared to those who are out there changing the world.

Their lies fallacy.  For stories and art help change...

The Power of Hate: Antisemitism, Racism, and Legal Discrimination

by Lisa A Kramer
Did you know I am going to hell?

I am, there's no denying it. (Unless, of course, you question the existence of hell--but that's a whole other issue). I'm probably going to hell for numerous reasons, but I am destined for the land of fiery torture.

I know because the first time I was told this I was probably 11 or 12 years old. I was studying to become a Bat Mitzvah and I went to Hebrew School at least two or three times a week. But, two of my closest neighborhood friends (Born Again Christians) informed me that I was, indeed, going to hell because I didn't embrace Jesus as the Savior or as the son of G-d.  We didn't talk...

Lessons of an Independent Author: Book Store Signings (Part 2)--The Human Element

by Lisa A Kramer
Several people have asked how I did it? How did I, an unknown author with a debut novel, no publicist, and an extremely limited budget get onto the calendar at bookstores?

I wish I could say I knew the magic spell--that I could wave my wand like Hermione and make my books appear on shelves all around the world. Bookstoricus Popularitus! Trying out my new magic spell.

Unfortunately that's not the way it works. I have plenty of non-responses from people, if not outright "No's!" to prove that there is no magic spell. I have a long list of "must and shoulds"--of people I need to contact if I want to continue growing as an author/presenter/independent artist (because remember I...

Lessons of an Independent Author: Bookstore Signings

by Lisa A Kramer
At the beginning of my signing.

I suppose the people with the big names and the big contracts get to have the dream signings at a bookstore. You know, the ones you see in the movies, where people gather around wine and discussion all because of one author. Perhaps it is a reading as well, but the author is treated as royalty and fans swarm around in the hopes that some of the genius will rub off. If you've ever seen the film CROSSING DELANCEY (1988) you know what I mean. (Although, I admit that the events are a little snooty and over the top).

I don't think that happens as much in the current world of books.


Words Matter

by Lisa A Kramer
Freedom of Speech.

That has become the catch phrase lately for anyone to say anything they want, especially hateful, abusive, discriminatory, sexist things. It has become the fall back defense for people who think their right to say and do whatever they want trumps other people's rights to feel safe and secure from harassment and abuse.

The past few weeks have provided abundant examples of this freedom's potential to be hurtful and hateful: Dolce and Gabana's statement about IVF children which has prompted a huge response from celebrities and non-celebrities alike. A fraternity busted for a posting pictures of (mostly unconscious) women in compromising positions trying to argue that, because it was a private Facebook page, it was their right to post anything they...

Celebrating Our Unique Powers: Vanquisher of Chaos by Lisa Listwa

by Lisa A Kramer
I am excited to have another Celebrating Our Unique Powers post today, especially since my power over words seems to have utterly failed me this week. I have many things started (posts, short stories, novels, poems) but can't seem to get anywhere with them. As I mentioned in a post last week, perhaps this is my time to lie fallow. But that doesn't mean I can't celebrate the rich words and amazing revelations of fellow writers. Lisa Listwa is a recent addition to my blogging family, brought to me--of course--by the incredible powers of Lizzi Rogers the People Gatherer. But, Lisa is also one I believe I was destined to meet. The tag line for her blog The Meaning of Me...

The Power of Creating Your Own Path

by Lisa A Kramer
The first day I saw this billboard, my mind yelled,"THAT'S IT!" I can't honestly say my voice didn't follow. It is quite possible that I sang out in the car.

I have seen numerous billboards put up by and liked many of them, but for some reason this particular one really speaks to me.

Perhaps it is because Einstein and I share a birthday (March 14th, just around the corner). Perhaps it is because I've always loved his crazy hair or his attitude toward the arts, education, and life. "The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination." Albert Einstein Or perhaps its simply the fact that there are many pictures of me in the world with my tongue sticking out. ;)

I think...

International Women's Day: A Powerful Message

by Lisa A Kramer
Once in a while I get a review about P.O.W.ER that I find disturbing. I'm not talking about negative reactions to the story or the writing (painful as those may be) but reviews written by young women (it seems) who are responding to what they see as an implausible concept--the idea that there could possibly be a world where women are treated so unjustly. "It's medieval" one said. "It's ridiculous" another said.

These reviews make my heart hurt--not because they didn't love the book. I know I can't please everyone. My heart hurts because they don't see the reality of the world around them. They don't realize these injustices exist all over the world. They see their perception of freedoms in this country...

The Power of Invisible Connections: A Review of ORDER OF SEVEN by Beth Teliho

by Lisa A Kramer
Beth Teliho's debut novel, ORDER OF SEVEN brings together rich description, powerful imagery, sensual language, and fascinating glimpses of true history mixed with fantastical legends that offer explanations about some of the biggest mysteries of human kind. It is a book that I will need to revisit, simply to uncover the hidden gems of wisdom that appear throughout, as we travel on an unexpected journey with Devi Bennett and her fellow adventurers, each who have paranormal abilities defined by the gods (or some energy that connects us all). In addition to telling an intriguing story, Teliho challenges her readers to ask deep questions: What is the purpose of life? Are we controlled by destiny? What is our responsibility to nature...

The Power of Books

by Lisa A Kramer
World Book Day!

I know, I know, it's just another random day chosen to celebrate a random thing. (I mean, do we seriously need to have a national potato chip day--which also happens to be my birthday--and things like that?).

But World Book Day is a day to truly celebrate.

After all . . . I love books.

Why are books so powerful? Why is P.O.W.ER about a world where half the population (the female half) is deprived access to the written word? Why do I want to celebrate the power of books?

Because books have the power to change the world.

Books are friends when you feel alone.

Books provide dreams when life feels hopeless.

Books celebrate universal truths--that we all have a story, desire love and community, hope for...

Celebrating Our Unique Powers: Uncovering My Own Secret Ability

by Lisa A Kramer
A thirty-something man stands on empty stage, a stack of rehearsal boxes next to him. His hair is pulled back in a ponytail and he wears sandals oh his feet despite the frigid temperatures and piles of snow that surround us.

"Yay America!" He says with enthusiasm, as he begins his performance, and then he takes us through his journey from enthusiastic young soldier to sniper who has pulled the trigger one too many times.

"Yay, humanity," he says at the end, his voice coated in tears.

I cannot hide my own tears, nor can several of the other students.

It is beautiful, it is powerful, it is healing.

You might have noticed that, since I started this series, I haven't really written about my...

Celebrating Our Unique Powers: My Super Power by Lizzi Rogers

by Lisa A Kramer
I was so excited when Lizzi agreed to contribute to Celebrating Our Unique Powers. I only met her recently, but our paths crossed on many virtual planes: she became a member of a Facebook group that contains incredible women and writers; she was one of the founders of the #1000Speak movement which spread compassion around the world; she introduced me to the power and possibility of Spoken Word on the internet (and doesn't know that I am working on a piece that I will eventually get the courage to share). She has a magic over words that I envy--the ability to tug at emotions and share with raw honesty even her most painful realities. In a very short time, I...

Ten Things of Thankful #5: Life Unexpected

by Lisa A Kramer
1 I sit in a coffee shop facing my nerves. A man sits beside me holding a book--the story of Faust written in German. We talk about learning, about teaching, about language. I tell him I must go to my first book signing. He joins me there and shares the story of his name as I sign his book. "My name is Candelabro," he says and I learn of secrets hidden in his family's past. His life, his story, invoke the possibility of a world unfolding in a book as yet unwritten.

I am thankful for the gift of unexpected characters I meet along the way.

  2 I face the struggles of motherhood, as my daughter stretches her wings. It often seems as if we have lost the ability to communicate--our words shoot...

Lessons of An Independent Author: The Power of a Group Event

by Lisa A Kramer

I already told you I was scared, nervous  . . . terrified. I already admitted the ridiculousness of that emotion. I mean, seriously, what a "first world problem"--terrified about signing books and the possibility that nobody would be interested. I'm rolling my own eyes, trust me.

But you can't always control your emotions. The gnawing nerve monsters creep into your system before an event and whisper words of failure and distress.

My nerves took over early. The event didn't start until 7 pm, but I convinced myself that I should leave the house by 4:00. Seriously, I thought it was better to be safe than sorry, because the last time I headed in that direction to drop off books and then adjudicate...

Lessons of An Independent Author: The Power of Facing Your Fears

by Lisa A Kramer
I sit at a table in the middle of a bookstore, surrounded by magnificent shelves of books of every shape and size. It might be described as the place of my dreams . . . except . . . 

In between the stacks of books sit other authors, at their own tables, with quickly dwindling piles of their own wares. The lines of avid readers anxiously awaiting their autographs snake around the stacks, up and down staircases,  over tables and chairs, out the doors, around the building. This dream bookstore is huge and beautiful, with secret nooks to curl up and read, and books soaring to the arched ceilings. The energy of excited readers is everywhere . . . except at my...

The Power of Making Memories, Part II

by Lisa A Kramer
Andra Watkins, Author. Bond . . . James Bond. They have a similar ring, don't they?

Seriously, you have heard me mention Andra before. She is the author of two wonderful books To Live Forever and Not Without My Father. (click here purchase). I borrowed her name for the character of Andra BetScrivener. My "Celebrating Our Unique Powers" series is inspired by her "Make a Memory" series--because I love how she celebrates and inspires other writers while she pursues her own dreams. She also inspired one of my funniest posts ever, co-written with the fabulous Tori Nelson: "An Open Letter to Andra's Feet".

When Andra asked if I would contribute to her "Make a Memory" series, of course I said yes. But,...