Free!

So I’ve been meaning all month to get this up, but it’s been a month. I’m not going to get into it now, but maybe I’ll come back later and blog all about it (although I don’t normally talk about super personal things on here).

Meanwhile, what I want to share is that my book, When the Prince didn’t Come in Time is FREE on smashwords until the end of the month! Follow the link and snag your copy today! Use the code SW100at checkout to get it free.

And when you’re done reading, hop on over to goodreads and leave a review, please!

Thanks!

Writing Anniversaries

I was talking with a friend (We’ll call her B for sake of… well everything) about anniversaries recently. Writing anniversaries to be specific. She had a semi-important one coming up (her one year anniversary in a specific fandom) and was working on hitting a milestone number of stories written and posted in that fandom in time for it.

I commented that I didn’t think I’d ever marked my writing anniversary like she and another friend tend to. In fact, off the top of my head I couldn’t even remember when any of my writing anniversaries are. The more I thought about it though, the more I wondered when my writing anniversary (anniversaries) are.

The date I joined my writing group is easily discoverable and actually I do sort of celebrate that every year, although the group calls it a “birthday”. I simply needed to log into my account and access my information. I’ve been a proud member of my writing group since May 28, 2003.

My other two anniversaries are a little more difficult to discover. Not because I’m trying to hide them, but because the information isn’t online. One part was never online and the other has been removed for the time being.

So my next step was to discover my fanfic anniversary—the day I published my first fandom story. That took a little hunting through jump drives since I’m in the process of changing computers and moving my stories between sites. The first day I published a fanfic story was August 6, 2007.

There was one more anniversary I was interested in finding. The day I started writing my very first novel. While that novel will never see the light of day, that day is very important to me. Luckily the actual day was not just the day I started my novel, but also the first day of Operation Desert Storm: January 17, 1991. Now this isn’t the day I started writing, just the day I started my first novel.

So how about you? Do you celebrate writing anniversaries? Do you do anything special? I don’t normally, but I’m considering doing something this year. I’ll be hitting my 14, 10, and 26 year anniversaries this year. So at least one milestone this year!

Celebrating Years

I sometimes play around on a community over on livejournal called comment_fic. Yesterday one of the moderators was celebrating her birthday and I played around with a couple of new characters. I’m not completely pleased with the way this turned out, but I thought I would share and see if anyone wanted me to try to expand this a bit more. Maybe see where these two took me. What do you think about my twins?

any. any. Being twins doesn’t mean they celebrate their birthday the same way. From leni_ba

Just because they were identical twins, didn’t mean they were at all alike. The boys’ parents had long ago stopped buying their clothes or deciding what they did as long as they attended school and followed the rules. Eddie was more popular than his younger brother, commonly dressed in ripped jeans and slogan t-shirts. Joseph wore pressed slacks or neat jeans and button down shirts, keeping his head down at school.

When it came to celebrating their birthday though, that was where their differences really shone.

Joseph would get up early the morning of their birthday, have breakfast with their mother, and then leave the house. He’d leave the car he shared with his brother at home and walk downtown. Instead of spending the day partying and possibly getting into trouble like normal teenagers, Joseph would spend the day at a homeless shelter. He put his youth and muscles to good use, lifting and assisting as much as he was able. He always finished out the day by staying to serve dinner.

Eddie, on the other hand, would roll out of bed when the day was well begun. Their father was waiting to have lunch with him and discuss sports. Eddie would laze around the house until it got late enough, then take the car downtown. He wasn’t meeting his brother though; he’d meet his friends at the dance club and dance until they were kicked out at closing.

Despite their differences, the boys always took the time to wish each other a happy birthday. After all they had shared a womb for nine months and would share the day for the rest of their lives.

Author’s Note: So this didn’t turn out quite like I was intending…

Fiction in a Flash!

I was sitting down with one of my students (I’m an English tutor for my day job) and discussing parallelism the other day when I noticed that the phrases we were using would make great prompts for some little bits of life stories. So I copied them down and wrote up some Fiction in a Flash!

 

Nothing is really fleshed out, but I thought I’d share them. I’ve underlined the phrases I used so you can see where they each came from. And I alternated them in bold so you can distinguish each “story”.

 

Can you come up with something using the same phrases?

 

Unlocking the screen, I let my four dogs out the door. They made a racket as they barked and chased each other across the yard. Breathing a sigh of relief that the noise was no longer in my house, I shut the door. When I looked out ten minutes later, I discovered that all four of them had escaped under the fence.

 

 

A runner has to keep in shape somehow. So runners can often be seen jogging and lifting weights. I even know one that goes rowing on Sundays.

 

 

“He told you I wanted help with painting the kitchen,” she complained as the kids headed out the door.

“Mom, you need more than several brushes and one roller to do the job,” Jake said.

“Yeah,” Alex added. “You need at least a couple of cans of paint.”

 

 

The guest speaker looked toward the audience. He hadn’t expected such a large crowd at this podunk college, but he was always happy to impart his knowledge. Leaning against the table, he rubbed his hands together in his mind. It wouldn’t do to let them see too much of his plans. Smiling with anticipation and open his mouth to speak, he wove a spell over his gullible audience.

 

 

When I’m buying a birthday present for that special someone, I search everywhere. I comb through music shops looking for the perfect CD or sheet music. I haunt electronic shops, sorting through bins of odds and ends to find that elusive piece to build a new robot. Finally I visit the clothing shops so I can deck out my precious in the latest style. Nothing is too good when I’m shopping for my darling’s birthday.

 

 

Getting dressed for the office takes meticulous patience. He has to pick out the perfect outfit and make sure everything is pressed neatly. His hair must be styled perfectly and not a line can be out of place. Then he packs up his laptop computer into his leather briefcase and tucks his cellular phone into his pocket (even if it ruins the line of his pants) before leaving for the train.

Why Write?

Why Write?

This is going to be a long one. Sorry!

A little while ago, I posted a review for the novel, Fangirl here on my blog. One of the things that got me thinking while I was reading it was the English professor in the book asks the question “Why write?” I think that’s something we as writers get asked or ask ourselves at least once in our lifetimes or our writing lives.

Why do we write? Why do we sit down at the computer or the table and pour out our stories or our poems and then face rejection or criticism? What drives us to bang our heads against that wall that is our characters or plot? Why do we let people (or ourselves) tear us down and then come back for more?

With that in mind, I posted five questions to my writing friends (I love all of you, I love that you are willing to answer these questions for me when I throw them out and not ask me what I am going to do with them) and got some fantastic answers back. I have friends who are published authors, who are fanfic writers, and who just write because they feel the call (honestly all of them feel the call or they wouldn’t be writing) and all of them had some really great answers. I think even if you aren’t a writer, just the idea that someone will commit to something for this long is awesome. (I don’t think any of these people have been writing for less than half their lives.)
The following people answered my questions:
SJ (Fiction, fanfiction, some poetry but not in years)
Dee (Fanfiction, poetry, fiction)
Tinhutlady (Fiction, fanfiction)
Patrece (Blogging, fiction)
Ransom Noble (Fiction, poetry, blogging, non-fiction)
Elle (Blogging, poetry, short stories)
Laddee (Fiction, newsletters, editing)
Ann (Poetry, short stories, novels, letters to the editor, blogging)

The questions I asked them were:
1. Why do you write?

2. Why do you write what you write (fiction, non-fiction, fanfiction, poetry, blog posts, etc)?

3. How do you feel when you don’t write?

4. What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

5. What is your longest streak of writing?

And they gave me some fabulous answers! I’m not going to share all of them because I ended up with NINE pages of replies, but I’ll share the most interesting ones.

I think the most interesting and best answers came from the “Why do you write?” question. Almost everyone had some version of “To keep myself sane.” And I laughed so much over how many people talked about the voices in their heads. Only another writer would understand that.

Why do you write?
Because the little voices in my head won’t shut up. Until they do. (SJ)

It keeps me sane. I started writing as a form of therapy. It still serves as that, but I also discovered I really like and that I’m good at it. (Dee)

I love dreaming up stories but never thought to write them down until about 15 years ago. I find that writing brings out the best in my imagination and hones it, and it is both fun and challenging. (Tinhutlady)

I write for different reasons. Sometimes I have a story running around in my head and it demands to be set free. Other times I write to distract myself from things I don’t want or need to think about. Other times I write just for the fun of writing. (Patrece)

I write… because I don’t know what else to do with all the characters and voices and plots in my head. Usually it’s fiction, though occasionally poetry, blog posts, and non-fiction pop out for different reasons. (Ransom Noble)

I write because I enjoy it. It provides me with a challenge and intellectual stimulation while being enjoyable. (Elle)

I write because I am adventurous, and I love to type. The stronger the imagination, the deeper I travel. Everything, place, and action has a feeling. I like to bring those feelings out. Putting them in typed or written words makes them more acute. At least, that is what I am aiming for. If no one reads my words, I’m okay, but I do like to share. It is communication; it is exploring together. (Ladee)

I write because I desire to; as a reader from childhood, then a teacher of ‘creative writing’ after college, writing long grant proposals that were always successful in raising money for my nonprofits, I knew I could write anything. Stayed too busy with life, family, earning a living as single mom, finally at retirement I had time to write. So I write. Have always jotted down poetry, occasionally a story in pen and ink, then at 69 I took a Writing Course and wrote my first short story……………..it’s in my portfolio “Damn the Whiskey”………found Writing.com a place of encouraging friends, so I keep writing. (Ann)

Why do you write what you write (fiction, non-fiction, fanfiction, poetry, blog posts, etc)?

Almost everyone said they write what they do because that was what they felt they needed to write. There were different reasons, but it all boiled down to; this is what we felt most comfortable writing or this is what the “muse” called us to write. The majority of them (as you can see above) have written different things over the years and have moved from one thing to another or are working on different projects. I think not settling into one thing helps keep your writing fresh.

How do you feel when you don’t write?

This one was interesting. Everyone seemed to express a feeling of anxiety or malaise when they didn’t write, but they also admitted to going without writing from time to time. I think it says a lot about writers as a whole that we actually feel “sick” when we do not write.

I used to feel irritated if I didn’t write. Now, I know that I can’t force it. If the words are there, they’ll come, but trying to make it happen just makes me cranky. Which is probably why it’s taking me so damn long to write the fic I’m currently working on. 🙂 (Dee)

When I wrote fanfiction many years ago, I felt compelled to keep it at a very consistent and constant output. I panicked when I didn’t have anything to say. Now that I write original fiction, there is less pressure and I can take breathers and let my imagination go at its own pace. There’s no pressure to write if something isn’t ready to be written down yet. (Tinhutlady)

What is the longest you’ve gone without writing?

It seems the average time is about a year, although one admitted to have been about 9 years and one said 69. But most also said they worked on other creative outlets.

A little over 9 years ago, I took about a year-long sabbatical to change my focus and get a better perspective on just what I wanted from my writing. That was probably the most significant break I’ve had. (Tinhutlady)

The longest I have gone without writing is unknown to me. I went through a period of several years without writing, other than for necessary purposes. I was just into other creative activities at that time. (Patrece)

I would say no more than a month without blogging. I have previously gone years without doing creative writing. (Elle)

What is your longest streak of writing?
This varied. It seemed that even if they are writers no one has a set of time amount they write.
Eleven years. I usually do most of my writing in January to post in February for my fic writing anniversary. If I’m lucky I’ll write more throughout the year. I started writing in February of 2004 and I’ve written something every year since, but there’ve been some pretty long stretches in there between fics sometimes. (Dee)

Since understanding that I just need to put out words, today will be Day 922 – and counting. (Ransom Noble) **She is far beyond that since she gave me this note a few weeks ago. I stand in awe of Ransom’s ability to consistently write each day and produce good quality work.

My longest streak of daily writing was 100 days. I have been writing regularly for the last five and a half years which is the longest streak of regular writing I have done. (Elle)

What I think it all boils down to is that no two writers are the same. And no two writers face their daily or semi-daily writing the same. But it’s always good to touch base with our fellow writers and know we are not alone. I’d love to hear from some of you about why you write!

The Clockwork Crown

clockwork-crown-678x1024It’s been over a year since I introduced my readers to Beth Cato and her book, The Clockwork Dagger. Since then, she has been hard at work with more publications, more baking, and more steampunk!

I’ve finally finished her sequel to The Clockwork Dagger a few weeks ago and I will admit that it took me longer than the first book. This has nothing to do with The Clockwork Crown being less engaging than the first book, but with me knowing that this is the only planned sequel at the moment.

General Spoilers!!
Ms. Cato picks up her story with Octavia and Alonzo pretty much where she’d left off at the end of Dagger, with the two of them journeying across Caskentia and looking to escape their pursuers. They have bounded since the first book, but Ms. Cato is quick to remind her readers (in a few short paragraphs) what has happened. I never felt like I was being reminded or treated like an idiot as she gently reminded what had already occurred to Octavia and Alonzo and eased me back into their world.

Ms. Cato is adept at weaving the narrative together with both the past and present actions, adding new characters, and keeping the story moving forward. At the same time, she expands the world they live in, adding more information (explaining the gremlins—reintroducing Leaf) and creating villains that we want to root both for and against.

By the end of the book, I was anxiously turning the pages (and being thankful I bought the Kindle version so I couldn’t flip to the end and check to make sure everything turned out all right.) I’ve read quite a few books lately where the heroine is in danger until the last page and I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what Octavia’s fate would be. Ms. Cato didn’t disappoint and left me hanging until the very end. Although she hasn’t planned (that I know of) to write a sequel to this book, she did leave it a bit open to writing something else. Still the conclusion was satisfying and I look forward to reading more work by her.

Meanwhile, if you enjoy steampunk, I greatly suggest getting ahold of this series
The Clockwork Dagger
The Clockwork Crown
The Deepest Poison (ebook only)
Wings of Sorrow and Bone (ebook only)

And follow Ms. Cato at her blog.

Cup o’ Sunshine

A few weeks ago, this image was posted as a prompt for one of the contests within my writing group. Although I am not participating in the contest, the picture intrigued me and I wanted to write a story to go with it. It took me a few weeks, but I finally figured out my story.

So here’s my version of “Cup o’ Sunshine”. What is your story?

sunshine

Every cup of tea, every reading she did was a different story, a different look at a life lived. She never knew what would appear in the cup when she poured the hot water. Even though she used the same leaves every time, she wouldn’t get the same result. Each customer, each person, deserved a different response. So she boiled the water over the open flame, whispering the prayers to her Goddess, before carefully pouring it into the simple white cup.

The petitioner was instructed to stir the water then, just three times, making sure to disturb all the tea leaves. Then the person tipped the cup towards her as they wrapped their hands around it and she peered inside.

This time she was startled to see a light emitting from the cup even before the young girl tipped it towards her. As the cup tilted her way, the practitioner could see clouds wafting from the brim. She had assumed the fluffy, white trails wreathing the edge of the cup were steam or froth added when the tea was stirred, but now she could see it was actual clouds. Clouds and mist that surrounded a small sun settled in the center of the cup.

“What does it mean?” the girl asked in a tentative voice as she also peered into the cup.

The practitioner breathed a sigh of relief now that she’d seen into the cup. She hadn’t wanted to give this child bad news, but this could be nothing but good. “You are a cheerful person,” she said, continuing to peer into the cup as she spoke. “Happy and content. You will have a peaceful and long life.”

The girl smiled in response, her demeanor showing that the woman had been correct. “Thank you, Grandmother,” she answered, bouncing to her feet. She practically skipped out of the shop.

The old woman shuffled over to the sink and poured the cup of sunshine down the drain; setting the cup on the countertop to dry until her next customer.

Music of Our Lives

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog post about music and writing (THE MUSIC OF WRITING which was essentially the idea of using music as a soundtrack to a novel or short story. Or using it to listen to while writing (I pointed out that I get distracted while writing so I tend not to listen to it.)

In that post, I mentioned using a song as a basis for a story and brought up one of my own stories (Drunken Scotsman) which is one of two stories I’ve written that is based on a song. (Yes, I do have a point to this… I’m not just rambling today.)

Writers, novelists, authors, whatever you want to call yourselves, get their story ideas from the world around us. (Wow, okay that was just bad grammar… sorry.) The point being that music is a great place to get ideas and use as a jumping off point.

Which brings me to my actual point, on my wonderful, fabulous writing site, there is now a contest, which is based on MUSIC! Specifically CDs. (I’m adding a link to it here, but unfortunately you must be a registered user of the site to actually access it) Musicology Antholgy takes a CD of the author’s choice and that author then creates short stories (no more than 1500 words) around the songs and lyrics in the CD. Authors have almost two months to work on this and depending on the CD chosen that would average about 20,000 words.

The idea behind this, to use the CD as a jumping off point for the story (or stories in this case), is fantastic. Music is such a basis in many lives, causing memories when we hear a certain song or bringing that urge to break into dance moves or actual singing that having a story that goes along with a song can only bring that music more to life.

So join the site and check out the contest. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Writing Assistance

I have a lot of writer friends, both professional and amateur, both published and not yet published. Because of this, I also get a lot of links and advice from friends on writing. And a lot of places to look at and ideas to use when I’m writing. One of the newest places and best places is Facebook’s The Writer’s Circle.

This page has a little bit of everything which is one of the reasons I love it. It has book jokes, it has suggestions, interviews, prompts, inspiration. Honestly there’s a little something for every writer.

But one of the things I like the most are their “picture” hints. These are images (that can be saved) that are writing suggestions. I’ve included some of my favorites with this post, but just scroll through their album on Facebook for a ton more!

And happy writing!
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The Music of Writing

“Listen to music to find a way into the story you’re telling. Music is incredibly evocative: find the right piece that reflects the world you’re writing about and you’re halfway there.” –Anthony Nelison by way of Deanna Willis. (Hopefully I’ve attributed that correctly)

Music is a driving force with a lot of writers. I know writers that use it as a soundtrack to their novels, I know writers that use it as a prompt to start their stories, I even know writers who prefer to write in quiet.

I can’t say I’ve ever been a writer who bases a novel or a story around a soundtrack. I’ve considered it, but I tend to get sidetracked by the music. I started singing at a very early age (and took voice lessons for a while as a teenager— despite never wanting to be center stage) so I tend to get caught up in the vocal patterns and the actual music when I’m listening.

And I’m the type that listens to all kinds of music. My iPod has everything from show tunes to classical. From Irish ballads to Irish pub. I’ve got classic rock and modern pop (I blame some of that on my mom and sister). I’ve even got jazz. There are music soundtracks and foreign (to me) songs. I’ve even got a little bit of old school rap. Honestly with that eclectic mix, it’s a wonder I get anything done. But at least it keeps me entertained.

That being said, I do have two stories that were based on songs or the idea of songs. While I’ve never used a series of songs as a soundtrack, I have used two songs to build a story around. One has since been removed due to wanting to edit it more, but the other is still able to be read online for the time being. Drunken Scotsman is loosely based on a song by one of my favorite bands.

So what do you use music for? Do you use it at all in your writing? Or is it just something that gets you through the day? Is it a companion to your writing? Or do you use a soundtrack like some of the writers I’ve read lately? What’s your favorite writing song? What song have you used to write a story to? What would you consider the best song or genre for writing?