Archive | October, 2005


All these years, I never stopped to ponder my collecting of stuff … almost all of it seems to be art related, though I consider myself more of a writer.

The Practically Creative Quarterly discusses all aspects of creativity and is currently featuring a theme: Collections.

Look around you … your carefully-placed favorite ink pens, your collection of poetry (yours and other poets’), beautifully-crafted hand-made papers, beads, photos, fabric, postcards (blank or used), newspaper clippings, CDs, Doonesbury cartoons, etc.

The site discusses various aspects (with images) of how we like to gather and put things in order so that we make our art/writing/music, etc., in a much more productive way … including those of us who just toss things in a pile.




What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing.

Participants begin writing November 1. [Agh!]
The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel.

Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and — when the thing is done — the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2004, we had over 42,000 participants. Nearly 6000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists… continue: National Novel Writing Month.


The Brahenys Return from Travels

Yes, I know, I’ve been gone from writing this blog for a while. However, I’m back now!

Some of you have asked, "Where, JoAnn, oh, where have you been?" Wellll…

John Braheny and I took a road trip for 30 days, across the USA this summer, 2005 , and we may have even met YOU along the way …

Here’s a little recap:

Starting out in July, we headed east (from Los Angeles) and stopped to visit our good buddy, Brian Austin Whitney in INDIANAPOLIS . He’s the one who created and runs a terrific FREE online songwriters site and community called
Just Plain Folks.

If you’re a songwriter and/or performer, you should check it out. There are several chapters in various cities, where songwriters gather and listen to each other’s songs, also hear guest speakers, plus he has a whopper annual FREE songwriting contest.

Then we went to PITTSBURGH to hear my brother, Monte Jaffe, perform (singing) in part of the Wagner opera-series, "Die Valkyries." He lives in Germany, you see, and if we don’t visit him when he comes to the States, we rarely get to see him at all. It was wonderful…gave us a renewed respect for the amount of physical energy and stamina that opera singers must possess to do their jobs well. And for the record, I am not what you would call an "opera fan" but it IS lovely when it’s well done.

While there, John did several one-on-one songwriter consultations at our hotel, thanks to Van Stragand, president of the Pittsburgh Songwriters Association who set them up for us. What a gentle soul and terrific resource Van is for songwriters. If you’re in that area, you may write to him at: Or check out:

Then we visited Writer’s Digest Books … in CINCINNATI, Ohio … to visit with John’s book publishers there. They are part of F&W Publications — a company you might already know, especially if you’re a writer of any kind. You can see John’s book: The Craft and Business of Songwriting.

Afterwards, we drove down South to NASHVILLE , to teach at the first-ever 4-day SONGPOSIUM, sponsored by the Nashville Songwriters Association International. The event featured 140 classes, with teachers from Berklee College in Boston, and Los Angeles, Austin, Nashville, and well, everywhere. It was well attended … especially enjoyed that the classes were held around Music Row, in the conference rooms of ASCAP, BMI, the Musicians Union and so on. If you’re in Nashville, you must visit the lovely new NSAI offices on Roy Acuff Drive. They’re already planning the next SONGPOSIUM for the Autumn of 2006.

Then we headed down to NEW ORLEANS … just 3 weeks before Hurricane Katrina hit. We are lucky to have friends there (evacuated safely, thank goodness), who took us on a memorable tour of the whole city. We realize it will never be quite the same again … Our hearts go out to all those on the Gulf Coast and Florida where they’ve had so much trouble this year…

We headed back to Los Angeles through AUSTIN , Texas, where we visited good friends and also did some more songwriter consultations. We drifted through some smaller towns, like Fredericksburg, and Marfa (didn’t have time to see the mysterious lights, however, but did visit the hotel where James Dean and others stayed when they filmed "Giant.")

Spent an afternoon in the Saguaro National Park just outside of Tucson … in between the heavy rainstorms — which they call the Monsoons — and stopped over in PHOENIX to visit with the Jon Iger, illustrious president of the Arizona Songwriters Association. Jon is not only a songwriter but has provided superb programs for songwriters in the Arizona area…for many years.

It’s always so good to reconnect with friends along the way. And we especially enjoy meeting songwriters as we travel … listening to your new material and sharing resources and networking with you. We hear how you are utilizing the Web, creating your own web sites, and email lists of your fans, creating your own CDs of your own songs, and selling them on your sites, or through CD Baby … and how things are working out for you. Some of you are getting your songs played on online radio stations, like Whole Wheat Radio, and that’s fabulous!

Thanks to you all for making our trips so comfortable and enjoyable. You make it all worthwhile!

We must admit that you are doing better and better …

More trips … continued in the near future.


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