Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Theater Artist, Creativity Facilitator

A Writer's Life

Waiting as Action

Waiting as Action
by Lisa A Kramer

The young woman huddles into her coat, trying to stay warm against the slight autumn chill in the air. It's impossible, though, as her hair remains damp after an exhausting swim team practice.

"I wish I knew who was picking me up," she thinks out loud. "Why can't they ever be on time? They know when practice ends."

A few of her teammates tumble out of the locker room laughing as they jump into the waiting vehicle of one of the mom's.

"I'm going to close my eyes and count to 50, that will make them get here."

Eyes squeezed shut. "47 . . . 48 . . . 49 . . . 50."  She opens her eyes and  there's no sign of either her mother's little brown chevy or her father's gray oldsmobile.

"Urgh! Okay, this time I'll count until 100."

This ritual of magical thinking repeats and repeats until finally, success! A car appears.

"I knew that would work," she thinks as she gathers her belongings to get into the car.


No F*cks Left to Give: A Midlife Manifesto Part II

by Lisa A Kramer
For many years now, one character keeps asking me to tell her story. I've begun many times, but something has always gotten in the way. Yet this character lives within me. She is the Storyteller. In my mind, she is a wise woman, a crone, a goddess, a witch. A woman who shares stories by the fireside to help her community understand the broken parts, the parts they have damaged, the parts they can change. As she weaves her tales, the sparks of the fire dance to form the images of people, places, things . . . her stories come to life.

She has appeared in my blog before as well. Starting with an image where I attempted to show...

Sparking Creative Rebellion: An Invitation

Sparking Creative Rebellion: An Invitation
by Lisa A Kramer
When I was really young, I loved recording radio shows using a cassette recorder and a friend/sibling or two.. (Yes, I'm mature, deal with it). The topics varied. Sometimes I would do fake news interviews, or tell spooky stories complete with sound effects. Sometime songs made appearances, sung with the enthusiasm of any young girl who already loved the idea of Broadway musicals. (The first album I ever begged to own was the original cast recording of Annie).

I bet, if I search my mother's house, I will find some of those tapes lying around. They are probably mixed in with old stories I wrote, pictures I made with paints or crayons. Maybe event a few broken down crafts.

Dusty remnants of...

Claiming My Voice: A Manifesto for Midlife

by Lisa A Kramer
When I decided to leave academia in 2020 (only partially because of the pandemic) I didn't realize that I was entering an unknown world with (unwritten) rules designed to make life difficult. Some of these rules include:

If you are a woman over 50 (as I am) you are turning invisible.If you have higher degrees (I have both MFA and PhD) then employers will decide for you that you will be bored, and therefore not hire you.Capitalism will always undervalue thinkers, creative workers, and people who recognize that there is more to life than the daily grind and the bottom line.

In the midst of all this, of course, my country--actually the entire world--has completely lost the plot. Honestly, I don't...

In Search of Community

by Lisa A Kramer
Lately I have been hiding in the world of books.

Not just any books. I seek escape in the world of paranormal women's midlife fiction. Books where women my age often stumble into as yet unknown powers as they build new lives in magical towns where they are welcomed by an eclectic mix of diverse and quirky characters.

The woman always faces some challenge or danger, which allows her to discover her own inner strength.

Sometimes she falls in love (often with a shifter) but that's not the aspect that draws me to these books.

No, what draws me is the idea of this person discovering and building a family--a chosen family--made up of people who accept her for who she is. The...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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 Looking Through a Different Lens

by Lisa A Kramer
My daughter had a friend sleep over on Sunday night.

Yesterday, rather than let them sit around playing computer games all day (which they love to do) I insisted we take advantage of the slightly warmer weather (a balmy 40 degrees unless you factor in the wind) and go to the botanical gardens for a little hike. My husband gave them the challenge of taking pictures.

I grabbed my camera--yes my camera instead of my phone--and decided I wanted to explore the world in black and white.

When you look at the world through a different lens, you discover things you might never have noticed before.

[gallery type="rectangular" size="large" ids="8566,8567"]

On a regular basis I see the world through many different lenses. (Or, if you...

Lessons of an Independent Author: The Power of Publicity

by Lisa A Kramer
I won't deny it. I had this fantasy that I would wake up sometime during the month of December to discover that I had become an overnight best-selling author sensation.

Of course that is pure fantasy in a world where hundreds of thousands of new books are published daily; the chances of one tiny novel standing out are phenomenal.  This article from the Huffington Post explains it all: "The Ten Awful Truths--and the Ten Wonderful Truths--About Book Publishing". After the first surge of sales (which in non-famous, newbie author terms was about 25 paperbacks during one week), it has inevitably slowed down to a trickle (6 paperbacks last week, but up from the week before). These numbers don't include the books...

The Power of Community

by Lisa A Kramer
We live in a world where more can be accomplished if we work together than if we stand alone.  That is a lesson that I am slowly coming to learn, and that more of us need to learn. It doesn't work, however, if we are working together for selfish reasons--if the goal is only about personal gain instead of benefiting self and others. I know what I sound like politically, but I really do believe this. I believe that we can have both, individual success and mutual respect for one another. We do not have to step on one another's backs as we crawl to the top. At the same time, this world has become so much more complicated when it comes...

Friends, Books, Words and Announcements: A Week of Unexpected Surprises

by Lisa A Kramer
"It's Lisa's fault that I'm here."

Andra Watkins said this several times at presentations during her whirlwind tour of Massachusetts this week.

Let's back up a few months. Last May, I ventured to my friend Jannatha's house for the first meeting of a newly formed Book Club! (that's what it's called at the moment) made up of women I was meeting for the first time. We had a delightful meeting discussing The Museum of Extraordinary Things. As the evening progressed, we planned how we might choose the next books and people began throwing out titles. Somehow, because this is a group of bright, organized, enthusiastic women, we managed to pick titles for the following three book group meetings. The title I suggested was...

Multiple Reading Personalities: What I Have Learned

by Lisa A Kramer
I read a lot.

I read for many reasons, and many different types of materials.

Sometimes I read things I have to read, but more often I read things I want to read. Yet, if you ask me the question "what is your favorite book or genre?" I can't answer. I read what I feel like at any given moment. I read what calls to me. I read for different reasons. I read to feed my multiple reading personalities.

Even though I can't name a favorite book or genre, I can--to some extent--categorize the books I read, although my categories do not in any way resemble the categories used by booksellers and publishers around the world. Maybe that's part of my problem when...

The Journey as Sestina

The Journey as Sestina
by Lisa A Kramer
 I felt like writing poetry today, and decided to challenge myself by writing in a form called Sestina. I've only used this form once before, in a poem I wrote years ago for my sister called "A Sestina from the Heart".  MOVING INTO THE UNKNOWN Box by box, item by item, I pack for our move to a place both familiar and yet unknown pursuing a life or perhaps a dream of days filled with fulfilling work and challenges met with a smile, a laugh, and joy and evenings filled with stars, friends, and peace. What will it take to find that peace? Does the solution lie with this next move? Or does the truth lie with inner joy and acceptance that life is a journey into the unknown with every day...