Harper’s Island-A Sick Day Perspective

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For my birthday, the Universe saw fit to introduce me to a rather nasty virus I have been battling for the last six days.

I am not a good patient–I will be the first to admit this. I have so much to do I end up totally pissed off at my body’s betrayal. But you can’t argue with it (I tried!) so the best thing to do is just roll with the punches and wait for a better day.

So, to ease my boredom, I binge watched a show called Harper’s Island which is streaming free for Amazon Prime members. It popped up on my feed, and when I read the description I was intrigued.

“Harper’s Island is an American horror mystery limited series created by Ari Schlossberg for CBS. Schlossberg, Jeffrey Jackson Bell and Jon Turteltaub served as executive producers. The series followed a group of family and friends that travel to the titular locale for a destination wedding, only to learn that there is a killer among them. At the center of the mystery is Abby Mills (played by Elaine Cassidy), whose mother was one of several people murdered by John Wakefield seven years prior. At least one character, and as many as five, were killed off in each episode.”

It sounded a lot like one of my favorite Agatha Christie books, And Then There Were None.

It’s only one season, aired in 2009. I figured, what the hell? I’ll give it a shot.

I’m really glad I did. The ending surprised me, and it was fun to rule out suspect after suspect. The series doesn’t seem to take itself so seriously in spite of the gruesome plot, with a wink and a nod to many horror/slasher/mystery movies that have come before it, such as Scream. But of course, as a writer/editor, I watched with great curiosity why, in spite of some pretty glaring potholes and deus ex machina moments, I was so hooked and could look past the plot.

Part of it was the diverse cast of characters. Some I liked, some I loathed, but during the course of the series they really came across as real people in an unreal situation. Another part was the mystery of it all–who the hell was behind what happened, and WHY? I was dying to find out, and it kind of carried me over the plot bits that as an editor, I would chew the writer’s liver out for attempting.

You know, just when you think you have it figured out…BOOM. Nope.

Also, the writers and directors really did a good job in creating tension, but even better, they paid attention to the flow of tension. This is not an easy task. None of the actors were told when they were going to die until the day before they got the script, so maybe this was a contributing factor.

All-in-all, I really liked it. I would love to see another “mystery event” like this, in a different setting with a different cast. I don’t know if you can catch magic in a bottle more than once, but I’d be willing to watch another show like this.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Writing and Wrangling

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Words, words, and more words. Life is good!

The second edition of Not Nice and Other Understatements is on track to release October 15th. Wheeeee! She’s all polished up, and I’m beyond happy about this. People who purchased the Kindle edition in the past will receive the update at no charge, with a new print edition available for those who are interested. I’m hoping to offer signed copies through this website. She’s so PURTY now!

Hopefully Still Not Nice, or The Strange Planet Inside My Head will be close behind.

It’s a juggling act, between editing and writing. I have a lot of balls in the air.

Sometimes it's more like juggling FIRE. No lie.
Sometimes it’s more like juggling FIRE. No lie.

Flash Fiction Challenge

A couple of months back, a Very Good Friend pushed encouraged me to enter the Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. At first I was like, nah, I’m so out of practice and where am I going to find the time? But hey, it’s flash, my first love, and what would I have to lose? It’ll be fun.

Basically, there’s a field of over a thousand writers, broken up into 25 groups. Each group is assigned a genre, a location, and an object. The goal is to write a 1,000 word story to incorporate those three things in 48 hours. In the first two rounds, a score is given to the top fifteen stories in blind judging, meaning the name of the author does not appear anywhere on the work. After two rounds, the top five in each of the twenty-five groups moves on to the third round, which narrows the field to 125 writers.

The groups are then reassigned, given new genres etc., and the top five in each group moves to the fourth round where a winner is chosen.

I completed the first round and won my group with fifteen points. The genre was ghost story, the location was a museum, and the object was tracing paper. The story, Mosaic, came out creepier than hell and I scared myself. Heh.

And now the pressure is on.

The weekend of October 3rd, my group was assigned crime caper, a hunting lodge, and a notebook. After much angst and hair-pulling, it was Sally Mae Riddley and Becky Jo McFee to the rescue in The Antler Caper-A Sally Mae Riddley Adventure. It was so much fun hooking up with the girls again–they crack me up.

Results for that round will be given November 5th. I’ll find out then if I get to move on to the third round.

I’m just trying to have fun with it and I will tell you I have missed writing flash fiction something fierce. I still maintain it is the BEST training ground for writers. You have strict parameters, but the universe is at your fingertips. You have to chose each and every word carefully; you have to know your story structure inside and out. There is just no wriggle room at all. Beginning, middle, end. Problem, climax, resolution. There’s a cadence, a flow. In my opinion, it is the most challenging form of fiction you can write.

Whether I move on or not, I have two stories of which I’m very proud and a reminder of how much I love flash.

I’ll keep you updated how things work out. Wish me luck!

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Stephen King-Inspiration Monday

On Writing

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me knows I am a Stephen King fan. While there are some of his books I don’t care for, the truth is the man can grab you by the nether regions and take you on a journey whether you want to go or not. He is the epitome of STORY.

“In many cases when a reader puts a story aside because it ‘got boring,’ the boredom arose because the writer grew enchanted with his powers of description and lost sight of his priority, which is to keep the ball rolling.” ― Stephen King, On Writing

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Inspiration For Mondays-Josip Novakovich

Josip Novakovich

When I first started writing flash fiction, I was lucky enough to fall into a workshop of writers who were amazing people. They had a profound influence on my writing, and without them I’m not sure where I’d be right now in my writing career. Workshops are tricky things–they can make or break you as a writer. I learned so much from these generous and talented people, and that’s a debt I will never be able to repay.

In between workshops, I ran across a book titled Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. The blurb under the title reads, “The key elements of a writing workshop; clear instruction, illustrated by contemporary and classic works, innovative exercises and methods to gauge your progress.”

Josip Novakovich

It’s one of my favorites of the writing books in my library; I’ve had it and used it for close to fifteen years. The exercises are excellent, with chapters on sources, setting, character, plot, POV, dialog and scene, beginning and endings, description and word choice, voice, and revision. There are 127 exercises in all, and you can take them in a linear way or pick and choose.

Participating in a workshop can be a most amazing experience, but it does take time and effort. And a workshopping environment isn’t for everyone. This book fills the gap nicely, and I highly recommend it for both beginners and old-timers, because while beginners thirst for knowledge, you are never too old to learn something new.

From the introduction:

“As a writer you need a strong sense of independence, of being and thinking on your own–so go ahead, work alone. I will give you a lot of advice, but you need not take it. Especially when you disagree, you will formulate your own principles. No matter what advice I suggest in this book, which is designed to be a fiction workshop you can attend on your own, you ought to write freely. Ought and free don’t seem to fit together, and that’s another paradox of writing: If you can incorporate several writing principles and yet retain and even advance your independence of writing, you’ve got it made.”

Do you have any favorite books on writing fiction? Please share in the comments!

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Inspiration For Monday-Scott Meredith

I have a number of writing and editing books, like most editors and writers. Each one has given me a different perspective and support when I seem to need it most. The trick is to take what speaks to you and chuck the rest. Not everyone writes the same nor should they. Just use what works for you. Because let’s face it, this writing gig is not the easiest job in the world. Oh, it’s not digging ditches, don’t get me wrong, but there are times when it seems like it.

One of the best books on writing I’ve read is Writing to Sell by Scott Meredith. You can find it here on Amazon. It was first published in 1950, and recommended to me by author Peter V. Brett, and considering his success, it has been one of the best book recommendations on writing I’ve received.

Here is a quote from the book I think is great for inspiration on a Monday: (on procrastination)

“If you will force yourself to work out those book ideas without waiting for inspiration to slosh you across the back of the head, and if you will force yourself to write one sentence after another despite the fact that the picture is awry, and the pencils are blunt, and your family is making an awful racket, and you’re writing in one corner of a bedroom instead of in a big soundproof study, and you had a big night with the boys last night, and the stuff looks awful as you write it–you will find, when you examine it a day or two later, that the material you’ve produced is exactly as good or bad as the material you normally produce, or would produce under the ideal conditions.”

In other words, get your head out of your ass and just do it.

Writing To Sell

What are some books you have found to be helpful in the writing process?

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Wherefore Art Thou, Information?

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Image by musha68000 via Flickr

The internet is a wonderful place for writers. All the inspiration and information you could possibly need is only a click away, whether you’re writing fiction or non-fiction. Keeping focused and on track is important, and by knowing what you’re looking for and where to find it can save you hours of internet travel.

Credible sources are important to your work. For non-fiction articles, it is standard procedure to have two creditable sources, and it’s imperative to document these sources. When I’m working on an article, I often have two documents open. One for the article, and one for snippets, ideas and the websites from which I referenced the information. This way, whether the client for whom I’m working requires it or not, I have this documentation in case I need it.

The following websites (in no particular order) have been very useful for me in research, inspiration, tools, and work protection, and I hope they are valuable to you, as well.

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What It's Like

A post on my private blog was the inspiration for this one — I was having a restless night, wrestling with the hamsters. You know, the rodents that run around in your head chasing each other, nibbling on their tails, chewing the furniture and pooping on the floor.

Yes, you know what I’m talking about. Don’t pretend.

Anyway, I logged on to the computer, plugging into my favorite musical playlist. Randomly (although I’m Very Suspicious of Random Events, aren’t you? I mean, I get the feeling some things are Not So Random, but I digress,) one of my favorite tuneages showed up, and I hunted down the video.

What It’s Like

Please go watch. I’ll wait.

****

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Flash Fiction Friday I

Flash Fiction Friday

Yep, it’s Friday, and it’s a Flash Fiction Friday.

The Rules:

1.  500 words or less.

2. Inspiration in the form of a quote, phrase, word, or photo can be found here every week. You can incorporate the prompt in your piece, or not. It’s meant more as a jumping off place than anything else. Suggestions for future prompts/inspiration are always welcome via email or comment.

3. Post your story on your site, and leave a link in the comments here.  If you wish, grab a copy of the badge (designed by the oh-so-fabulous Lala — you should really hire her for your graphic design, the woman is a goddess) and display it on your post. I will visit and read each and every one.

4. Check back in Monday to see my recommended submission sites.

At some point, we may offer contests, prizes, and glory. Until then, we’ll offer fun, information, and support — so let’s play!

Fridays’ Prompt:

Two Southern girls are sitting on the front porch in the sultry summer afternoon, sipping on lemonade. What are they talking about? Are they friends, sisters, lovers? What do they see?

Now go, write! But most of all….HAVE FUN.[ad#fffww-badge]

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So You Think You Can Write

Gaskell BallImage via Wikipedia

I’m a huge fan of dancing shows. Whether it’s celebrities, street kids, fledgling amateurs or professionals, I love dancing shows. I marvel at the artistry, the physical prowess, and try to bullshit my kids into thinking I once could dance kinda similar to that when I was a young lass. In the Age of Disco, my friends, everyone thought they could dance.

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