Thursday, December 6, 2012

Flash Fiction Challenges are back! Snow Frosted

Welcome back to our challenges!  I hope to have these weekly again, as I am able, and am excited to see what you have for us!

As a prize, I can offer a copy of one of my published works (can be found, linked, on the left), or if you already have them, editing services for a piece of work, 5 pages or shorter.

OR (while offers last)!!!  You can steal one of my winner prizes from me!  I will GIVE you my coupon code if you prefer, to one of the winner things over on NaNo.

With this in mind, we can pick a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, and allow the first place person to choose first, second second, and so on.  :)  (I only withhold the Dragon Naturally Speaking code.  This one's for my dad, who wants to get back into writing, but cannot always manage the keyboard for long periods of time.)

This week's challenge, Snow Frosted, needs to be to me by the end of the day Thursday, 12-13-2012.  We'll aim for 1500 words this time, anything less than that is okay.  We have been NaNo-ing it up, and 1500 is a good amount to get in a good word count, get in a good story, and not go overboard.

Remember the rules:
  • Edit your work for grammar and spelling as best as you can.  
  • Post it on your own blog and LINK it here in the comments.
  • Stay UNDER the word count for the week
  • Have it to be by Midnight, Mountain Standard Time, on the day listed above.
  • You must use the photo as inspiration for your story, in some way.
  • The work in question needs to be written FOR this challenge.  Otherwise, it is cheating!  And the point of this is to improve our skills, not win.
  • Have FUN!  :)  
See you at the finish line!!!!!!  Good luck!!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Peering back 15 years...

Found this old picture of me tonight.  It was from back when I lived in Chicago, had my hair spiky, wore huge jeans that didn't fit me, a chain wallet, and this flannel jacket which I surely stole from someone...  

I moved out there to go to college at Colombia College.  Was all of 17 when they accepted me into the fiction writing program there.  I didn't really know what that meant, at the time.  I didn't end up going, because of transcript issues, but did live there, and spent most of my time writing.

I hated having a roommate, and trying to learn how to navigate a new place.  Being on my own, being truly responsible for the first time ever.  Being distant from all my really good friends, and being alone.  Really alone, for the first time in my young life.  

Yeah, I had a roommate, but we were mostly just living companions, and while I am grateful to have had her, at the time I would have said something different, I'm sure.  We drove each other crazy, fought a lot, and tried to rule each other's lives, all things told.  And when I ended up moving home for various reasons, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

Looking back, I wouldn't trade the time for anything.  I miss the city.  I miss walking by the lake at night, even the part where I almost was arrested for being near people I wasn't actually WITH.  I miss the time to just sit and work without interruption.  Riding the EL, even working at Target.  Heck, I saw David Bowie on the street one night, and that was pretty awesome, even though all I could remember of him at the time was his role in Labyrinth.

They were my first months away from home, away from everything close and safe, and I was tossed in the deep end, left to flounder.  Left to find my own way.  And I did.  I made friends and had a blast, ate lots of great vegetarian food, and learned some valuable life lessons.  Like, if you get the power shut off when you don't live there anymore and there was milk in the fridge?  It will stink.  Yep.  Good to know.

But most of all, in my time there in the windy city where my doors were snowed shut once or twice, I learned I can stand on my own two feet.  I can go places by myself.  I don't need someone else's permission to do what feels 'right'.  And I learned I really can sit down and write something.  Every single day.

I still have my old Brother World Processor.  I actually do have plans to copy over the work I did while I lived there.  There was a good story started.  I didn't know where it was going yet, but it has the feel of something real, and these older wiser hands would love to have a crack at it.

Anyway, don't discount your younger years.  Your first years starting out.  Even if, in the moment, you hate it?  You will look back fondly.  I would give anything to go back there and have a second chance.  To go to school at Colombia.  To learn how wonderful it is to write in a group setting.  To stand on my own feet, and drink too much coffee, and get lost on the trains again.

In the end, all the moments we have, the good, the bad, the ugly and terrible...  they are what grow us into the people we are to become.  I'm not saying be happy about it...  but allow yourself to feed from it.  Grow, learn, discover.  And see just what it is you really are capable of.

You might just surprise yourself.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Now that it's all over...

Now that NaNo is all over...  what are you finding to do with your time?  Are you back to your normal old life?  Does that seem strange?  Not writing every day?

Or are you keeping at it?  Using your month of daily writing to help establish good habits, and working on, without the word count ticker?

There are several places you can go, year round, if you miss the ticker, or the challenge. has a fun self-challenge thing.  Worst case, your words will be EATEN BEFORE YOUR EYES if you stop working.  That's just mean!!  But there are nicer levels on there, and it is worth looking into. is very silly, giving you kitten rewards for meeting your word counts.  Awww, another kitteh!!!  SO CUTE!!!!!!

There are various versions of this, now, too.


Are we sensing a theme?  Put whatever word you want in the search area and VOILA!
You can put ANY word in there and it will try to find you motivational images.  Whatever those might be, to float your boat.  *ahem*  Some may only be adult-friendly.  Play with your new toy responsibly, please!

Really, it just takes any search for images and makes the answers random.  It's kinda clever, but is all based on some search engine somewhere.  But, if it motivates you?  Great!

There's always too.  It's a private thing, and can be used to journal, but it tries to make you write at least 750 words per day.  Tracks your moods through the words you choose, kind of cool.

In any case, DO NOT let people suggest you only are allowed to write during November.

If you want to write?  WRITE.  End of story.

So, what are you still sitting here for?  Go!  Get to it!  There are stories that want to be told!

PS:  The weekly-ish flash fiction challenges will begin again this Thursday night.  Check back for details, or look at the Flash Fiction stuff from previous challenges for ideas of how it will look!

<<<<< Over there, word bubble or search feature!  :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Whelp, it's all over, or has it really only just begun!?

So, NaNoWriMo 2012 is over and done with.  Whether you made it or not, you gave is a go, right?  That is huge!  Don't discount that.  Take pride in what you accomplished!  Whatever that happens to be.

The start of something new?  The first full draft on a working novel?  The first draft of a book that belongs in a series?

This, my friends, is more than  you would have done in November, without NaNoWriMo, right?  Right.  So, if you are able, you really should consider donating to the wonderful non-profit organization who helped us all get there.  Even if it's only $10, it goes a long way.  If everyone who participated donated just $10, the organization's yearly budget would be covered.

If you'd rather get something awesome WHILE helping them (buying something counts too!), there's lots of awesome stuff to pick out.  I'm loving my thermos and blue polo!

Anyway!  Let me take the time to tell you, no matter how far you got, WELL DONE!!!!!!!!  I applaud you. It isn't easy to take the time to really work on a project.

But the question is, what now?  Where do you go from here?

Is your first draft complete?  If not, get it there.

If it is complete?  Give it at least one or two reads over, preferably aloud to see how it reads...  then maybe let someone else who loves to read take a look at it.  Having people who enjoy reading and can give you useful feedback is wonderful!  Does this scene evoke emotion?  Should I leave the details in this scene or remove them?  Are there plot holes, things you might know but forgot to add in?  Are the characters relatable?  Likable?  Deliciously terrible?

If this is as far as you want to take it, or you just want to keep this for yourself, consider printing a copy at least just for yourself.  Your local office store should be able to help with printing services.  This is just for you, if for nobody else, and you should have at least one hard copy, even if it's just 11x9" bound with a plastic edger.  :)  You earned that much.

And if not, if you want to take it farther, how does one proceed?  You can consider the self publishing, small indie publisher, and large publishing houses debate widely.  Honestly, what is best for one book will not be best for another.  Some stories just don't fit into one genre well enough to get anywhere in a large house.  You might be better off with a smaller one or self publishing with certain stories.  There is no right answer for this, it really depends on the book itself.  But if you are considering publishing traditionally, I would suggest to start by sending work out to agents who help writers IN YOUR GENRE, and see if you can get someone to help you.  Finding someone who represents your writing and what you want it to be is the hard part, especially if you cross lines and do multiple genres in a single book.

I can't tell you where to go, that is something you need to figure out for yourself.  Google it.  Look for agents who help publish Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult (whatever genre), etc.  Look at what they want you to send to them.  And then send that.  Do NOT send the same thing to everyone.  They will not all want the same thing, and by ignoring their instructions up front, you will probably be brushed off as someone who would be difficult to work with.  Follow instructions, send out what they want, and then sit back and wait.  But please, please, for the love of all that is holy, be sure YOU edit your work yourself at least one or two times, FULLY read through it before you send it to anyone.

This is your baby, and you are proud of it.  Yes, that is GREAT!!!  But most works require a lot of work beyond the first draft.  You need to brush up the dialogue so it is not awkwardly hanging out there.  Make sure you're not missing big parts of the plot.  Be sure you have your grammar and spelling the best you can make it.  Sending work that has never been looked at?  Shame on you!  You should know better.  If you don't, I'm telling you now.

Take PRIDE in your work.  Take it seriously.  And when it's ready, others will too.

Best of luck!!!