J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

"I Sling Words As I Go Along."



So, I began teaching writing workshops…..

……for young writers, which is not only a new thing for me to do, but also something I’d never thought I’d do – teach. My parents and brother are retired teachers and, having grown up in that environment, it was something that didn’t really interest me. This is despite the Myers-Briggs test indicating that it should be my number one career choice. I don’t think that Myers-Briggs knows me very well.

In the traditional classroom setting, I don’t think I would make a good teacher. My memories of being a student and watching my parents deal with the day to day details made a huge impression on me and it wasn’t positive. However, I did find myself teaching basic horse care and riding to students whose first language wasn’t English. Even with the language barrier, we found a way to communicate and I was able to get the salient points across. It helped that the horses used were also extremely patient baby-sitters, taking everything in stride and enjoying the new students’ attention.

While I know my own experiences with being a writer (the ups, the downs, the sideways), I was very unsure of how it would work out with teaching young people. I was also rather uncertain about how we’d get along. In short, I had no idea what to expect.

I needn’t have worried – these kids were theater kids. They were also fans of a lot of the same movies and TV shows as I was, so we were able to connect and find common ground very quickly. We talked about writing, which turned into conversations about our favorite shows and then to dreams and analyzing what they might mean (I subscribe to Jung’s approach, where everything we dream is an aspect or reflection of the dreamer).

The workshop lasted only three days, at ninety minutes each. The kids were intelligent and funny and engaging and very excited about the idea of writing. I feel blessed and lucky to have been able to do this, which in itself was rather serendipitous. How did I find myself teaching writing to young people? I asked a local youth theater group and the answer was “Let’s do this thing!”

Where it goes from here, I’m not sure. I just know that I’ve got some very interested youths and adults wanting to write and have fun with discovering their process.


So, what happened on Saturday night….

was this – a wild and crazy time at the movies.

Based on the campy musical stage play, The Rocky Horror Show, the film adaptation, The Rocky Horror Picture Show featured some of the original cast in the lead roles, notable Richard O’Brien as Riff-Raff and Tim Curry as Dr. Frank N. Furter, as well as debut performances by Susan Sarandan (Janet) and Barry Bostwick (Brad).

Debuting in the summer of 1975, alongside JAWS, which signaled the era of the blockbuster, The Rocky Horror Picture Show was a flop. Although the United Artists theater in Los Angeles saw financial success with the film, this was due primarily to repeat business of the same people who had seen it before. It was then re-launched as a midnight feature and this is where the magic of live interaction, talk back and cult film history began. With an international following, Rocky Horror defies and transcends camp, bringing a festive atmosphere to each showing.

In the heart of Libby Park, lies the amphitheater.

This was apparent at Libby Bowl, in Ojai, California, where an early screening of the film took place under an overcast sky (which seems highly fitting for the film).

Many audience members dressed in character and brought props to use, either as a pun or in direct reference to what the action is in the film. An example of the pun – when Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry) proposes a toast (a drink), actual toast is thrown. Similarly, toilet paper is thrown at the line “Great Scott!” Other props mimic what’s used in the film – newspaper to protect oneself from rain (ably provided by water guns).

Locals in costume, joining in on the shadow performance.

Master of Ceremonies Jesse Phelps provided a welcoming environment in his hosting duties and encouraged the interactive fun. A costume contest had three sets of couples take home prizes that included a gift certificate to Bonnie Lu’s diner and passes to the rest of the Ojai Film Society’s season.

Although there was no shadow cast to mimic the film, local fans jumped into the act and brought their sense of fun and joy to the evening, with full audience partici…..(wait for it)…..pation. And when it came time to sing the Time Warp, the aisle ways were crowded with ‘party guests’, taking a jump to the left and a step to the right. This reporter will admit to singing along with most of the songs with gusto, as she remembered them.

More local fans. Their antici…….pation is admirable.

Master of Ceremonies Jesse Phelps made it clear that he intended to make The Rocky Horror Picture Show a yearly event for Halloween. It is his hope to also include a shadow cast to add to the fun and interactive nature of the film. With the television remake featuring Laverne Cox as Frank N. Furter and Tim Curry as the Criminologist/Narrator airing on Fox last week and Azu’s Rocky Horror themed Halloween party on October 31, it seems that the cult favorite will enjoy a long and productive life.

So, I drew this in art class….

….this past Sunday, a past-time that I’ve always enjoyed.


I always have fun drawing or sketching, partly because of the images that spool out of my pen or pencil.  But mostly it’s because I get to have fun playing with art. And that’s the point of being creative.

Having fun and playing with art.

And now, a word from Bilbo Baggins…..

“I’m going on an adventure!”

Bilbo Baggins
The Hobbit (novel-1937)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure (film-2012)

So, I updated my book covers…..

…..and they look pretty nice, if I do say so myself. Creating my own book covers is one of my favorites things to do and I have a lot of fun scouting locations for new images.

If I find myself gravitating to a particular spot, I’ll take several shots from different angles and positions. This gives me plenty of choices when making the final decision. I opt for black and white, rather than color, photographs because I want the images to pull the potential reader in.

As a voracious reader and book-lover, I sometimes find color to be too distracting to the eye – I don’t know where to look and then I lose interest. 🙂


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