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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Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block and the Tooth Fairy

This blog post is courtesy of a blogfest initiated by the lovely and talented Patti Larsen known as “Second Tuesday”. This month’s topic is “Writer’s Block”, and I encourage you to visit the blogs located at the end of this post to see what other writers think about this subject. Thanks also to Gary Varner for saving us this time around with some nifty coding skillz.

I’ve covered “writer’s block” more than once on this site, but it really seems to be a recurring topic of conversation among my writer friends, and I can sympathize even though I believe in writer’s block about as much as I believe in the Tooth Fairy.

This is my concept of the Tooth Fairy. I'm not scared.

Even though I don’t believe in the Tooth Fairy…uh, I mean WRITER’S BLOCK, I do believe in writer’s constipation. There are a lot of good suggestions in that post and in the comments to help try to shake you out of the rut. But actually, all the advice you will read about “writer’s block” boils down to one important concept:

SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN AND WRITE.

There could be a lot of things stopping you. The stress and wear and tear of “regular” life is enormous for most of us. Many of us work a “real” job in addition to slinging words around, some of us are depending on a significant other or spouse to support us while we get our writing legs underneath us. A lot of us have families in addition to our other job, some of us only have ourselves on which to depend. Add all that up and what you have is a lot of pressure to perform, to produce. Instead of opening the floodgate, this can actually paralyze a writer into looking at a blank page and breaking out in hives and other embarrassing skin eruptions.

Bee hives. Not the same as the skin problem.

Like the bee hives in the photo, you have to get busy. Sure, a blank page is intimidating. All those wonderful ideas you had last night while you were falling asleep have faded in the dawn, and your mind feels as blank as the page. Despair eats at your guts, and you wonder if you have it in you to write so much as a grocery list, not to mention a full-length novel, a scintillating short story or the article due tomorrow.

I used to think I had writer’s block every time I sat down to the computer and I’d start to panic. Before I even wrote a word. I’d break out in a sweat and start thinking, “Oh my GAWD, what am I going to write? I can’t think of a thing. I’m a failure. I suck. I suck so bad they’re gonna call me the Queen of Suckage. I’m tapped out. I got nothin’. I’ve told all the stories I have to tell. The well has done dried up, there’s nothing left. I’m done.” Then I’d start contemplating ways to fall on my sword so no one would catch on that I wasn’t writing anything anymore.

This is the scary part about writing. It’s rather like jumping off a high building.

This is the view when you hit the sidewalk. You don't want to do this.

Will you hit the sidewalk in a splat of guts and blood? Will you float down gently and land like a petal on the wind? Well, that’s the challenge, isn’t it?

You know what broke me out of that kind of mind-set? Writing non-fiction for a living. Clients don’t care about your bullshit angst, they care about whether or not you’re hitting the deadline. Of course quality counts, but you’d better hit that deadline and produce what’s been paid for. Otherwise, you have compromised your reputation and the very bread on the table. Believe me, that’s a powerful motivation. I try to carry that over into fiction, with some success. Hey, don’t get me wrong, I struggle too! Every damned day! But here’s one thing I do every day that a lot of people don’t…

I SIT MY BUTT DOWN AND WRITE.

Just start. One word at a time. Will it be crap? Doesn’t matter. Will it be grand? Doesn’t matter. Will it make sense, flow like a river, soar like an eagle or bomb like a fart in church? Doesn’t matter. What matters is getting the words on the paper. If you can’t face a short story, write a blog post. If you feel you can’t write a blog post, write a letter to someone, living or dead. If you can’t do that, grab a yellow legal pad and just write whatever comes in your head, even if it’s I CAN DO THIS I CAN DO THIS over and over. Not every “cure” for writer’s “block” (picture me doing the little quotey thing with my fingers as you read that as a visual aid – you’re welcome) is going to work for you, but chances are there’s something that will help you over the hump.

The fear can be paralyzing. The only way through it is through it. Don’t let the fears of inadequacy, the pressures of life or the self-doubts all writers wrestle with stop you.

SIT YOUR BUTT DOWN AND WRITE.

Butt, meet Chair. Chair, this is Butt. You shall be good friends.

It’s as simple and as difficult as that. Power through it. Make it happen. Put all the stress, doubts and bullshit excuses in a trunk, lock it and stick the key in a flowerpot.

That ain’t the Tooth Fairy and that ain’t writer’s block.


Writing Challenge:  WRITER’S BLOCK
  1. Second Tuesday 2: Words Shy of Daylight – Alberta Ross
  2. 12 & a ½ Ways to Deal with Writer’s’Block – Ruchira Mandal
  3. Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block – Patti Larsen
  4. Iain the Cat opines on Writer’s Block – Jeannie
  5. Using Writer’s Block as an Excuse to not Write – Rebeca Schilller
  6. Writer’s Block – Gary Varner
  7. Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block and the Tooth Fairy – Annetta Ribken
  8. Writer’s Block or Writer’s Withdrawal – Eden Baylee
  9. Breaking Past Writer’s Block – Elise VanCise
This post is part of a monthly writing challenge known as “Second Tuesday,” written by members of the Fellow Writers’ Facebook group. Click on any link above to read another “Second Tuesday” post. Enjoy!

Find “Not Nice and Other Understatements” at Amazon and now at Smashwords in any format you desire! Autographed copies are still available through the link on this page. Spread the word! And thanks for all of your support!

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Wait – You Mean It's Monday?

Wow. And the first days of June. Holy shiznola, where did May go?

Let’s take a little stroll, shall we, and fondly remember what did happen in May.

I found a couple of copy gigs that have become small eggs in my basket. Not enough to really earn a whole lot of money, but eggs are eggs and I’ll take them.

I finished Part One of a three-part project and it went really well. I’m very pleased about that. I received another nibble about my editing services, and I’m really happy about that. I love editing. Love. It.

I’ve settled in to the new digs a little bit more and it’s become increasingly homey. I still have a lot to do, but it’s getting there. I especially like the squirrels that run back and forth across the roof. The pitter patter of little rodent feet is so…funny. Heh. I put out crackers and popcorn in the morning for breakfast, and I’ve actually caught one of the little buggers on video munching away.

As long as they eat outside, we’re cool.

Mother’s Day was particularly difficult. The first one since Momma passed. I was dreading it, and I was right to dread it like I did. It knocked me off-kilter for a couple of weeks, actually, if I’m to be completely honest. The next bad spot I see ahead of me is her birthday. Trying to put a positive spin on it is not easy. I miss her every day, with every breath. I keep waiting for it to ease, but it’s not happening. And that’s just something I’m going to have to accept, at least for now.

My friend Peat is doing awesome. I’m so happy for him, I can’t even tell you. Classic case of a good guy making good.

I’ve “discovered” another great writer, and I love it when that happens.

Conversations with the Inner Circle of Netta have prompted me to finally start my own project. (I know, it’s about time, isn’t it?) It’s my second novel, untitled, based on my experiences in the hotel industry — with a Netta-twist. I believe the proper term is “urban fantasy”. I am way excited about this, to the point I’m actually dreaming about it at night. I’ve got a start, but it’s a real juggling act in between the non-fiction. Sometimes it’s difficult to switch between the left brain and right brain, especially when you only have two brain cells to start with. Heh. You either have two on one side and none on the other, or they’re split up and lonely without each other.

****

So, goodbye to May, and hello, June. Let’s see what you have in store. As long as it involves words and squirrels, I’m sure it will be interesting.

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Tagged, Memed and Awarded

Book cover via Amazon

If you didn’t know by now, I suck at posting awards and stuff. However, when a goddess like Lala at Coastal Commentaries takes the time out to honor me, I can do nothing less than bow before the goddess. 😉

First, the meme:

The rules are as follows:

1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Post a comment and then tag five more people.

But first Raoul had to finish clearing the mess he had left behind.

It meant another trip to Germany.

He waited for the Imperator to leave.

This passage is from “Map of Bones” by James Rollins. This is not normally a book I’d buy to read, but my sister’s partner is also an avid reader, and passed this book and about five or six others of his to read. The first one I read was “Black Order” and I really enjoyed it. “Map of Bones” has been favorably compared to “The DaVinci Code“, so we’ll see if that is correct or said merely to sell books.

For this meme, I tag the following five people:

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