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FLAFIWRIMO Flash Fiction Update

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Yes, there are two February challenges on my calendar; the FLAFIWRIMO flash fiction story-a-day challenge over at Wordsmith Studio and my write-in group’s annual February Writing Dash of 15K words new writing or thirty hours revision/editing work on previous material.

Each day is a sprint, especially when there’s also a six-member critique group in the mix working on something totally separate from the challenges. Today has been a major writing day for me.

Four flash fiction stories were done today because I got behind on that challenge. I still managed 2700 words on those four. This post will add a few more. Revision work will be for later and I’ll get an hour’s worth done before bed.

Tomorrow is critique work, another ff story, and more revision. On top of that is a study session to learn a new voice recognition program and time to put the finishing touches on my newsletter for the month.

Yes, I know it’s running a bit behind. It will get done and sent out shortly and then will come once a month, every month.

Just so that you’ll know that I’m really writing, I’m gone to give you tiny excerpts from the rough draft stories I did today. Here you go.

FLAFIWRIMO Day 5 Story

… I’m ready. Nothing can stop me taking my position in the middle of the pack. My teammates, helmets back in place, give me a small bow as I join them. The defensive players shake their heads and begin to laugh.

They don’t laugh long.

As the defense moves onto the scrimmage line, I wave at each player. That’s always my first engagement with the enemy.

It generally causes confusion. The action makes them wonder why I’m being so friendly. They don’t notice the slight air current rolling their way from my fingertips.

By the time my helmet is secured, the first rank of opponents have elbowed each other. The distraction gains momentum. Slurs and snarls begin to pass back and forth down the line ,,.

FLAFIWRIMO Day 6 Story

Being cursed isn’t the worst thing in the world. Believe me. I know.

About a year ago, I bought a lottery ticket. One of the big jackpots was up for the taking and I was feeling lucky that week. I bought only the one ticket. And it had all the numbers.

I’d signed an anonymity request to keep my name out of the media, as well.

To be honest, however, I think it was that request that did me in. I wasn’t worried about getting taken to the cleaners financially by friends and family. I worked for the IRS as an auditor. I knew about how much that agency would try to skim off the top and every year thereafter …

 FLAFIWRIMO Day 7 Story

The corpse lay, stiff and smelly, on the back porch of the Layton’s house. Mr. Layton had found it a half hour before. The man seemed most distressed about the situation.

“I can’t even salvage the meat,” the fisherman grated between clenched teeth. “Who, or whatever, stripped it, left all the fresh and took only bony parts and the scales.”

Sheriff Westle was known for being a stickler for detail.

“Well, Lester, I don’t think this has a high enough priority to warrant wasting my time on it.”

Three days after the fish carcass fiasco on the Layton- porch, Sheriff Westle was called to the home of Jasper Connors. In the Connors backyard were the remains of a large boar raccoon. The carcass had been expertly skinned, leaving behind undisturbed flash, supported by the entire skeleton …

FLAFIWRIMO Day 8 Story

Red-soled shoes—they’re all the rage, right? Okay, so they’re expensive and subtly ostentatious.  For some of me, though, they’re camouflage.

I can take my entertainment almost anywhere now without comment or suspicion. Especially, if I add a sleek briefcase to my ensemble. I’m in public relations during the day. I’m into self-gratification on my own time.

… Throughout dinner he laughed lightly at my witticisms, flirted undercover of his banter, and generally made me feel very female.

Of course, his flirtation was his downfall, too. I don’t get roused lightly, but he’d managed to rouse me easily and kept it up after his business partner left us for the evening. It didn’t take much persuasion on my part to convince the young man to escort me home.

When he left my place on the upper West Side, his memory had been cleaned of any unpleasantness. He would be a bit weak for a few days, but his contribution to my health would be replenished.

Now before you even think it, that last one has nothing to do with vampires and everything to do with those red-soled shoes. Okay, so there’s a bit more to it than that, but you take my meaning.

And that’s where I’ll leave you for today. Take a break. Write something totally outside your comfort zone. Me, I don’t often move into the macabre, but it’s refreshing when I do and recharges my Muse.

If you’d like to share an excerpt here from one of your own stories, drop it in a comment below.

Enjoy the rest of the week and I’ll see you again soon. TTFN

 

 

 

Confession Time

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Okay, peeps. 2016 is both at the top of the calendar and on the clock. Let’s face it. Last year, for many of us, was both a challenge and a disappointment. It’s time to switch things up and make things better.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OThat’s why I’ve decided to do something totally different this year. Firstly, I’m going to start putting out a monthly newsletter in February. For any who don’t wish to get it you’ll have the option to opt out once it’s up and running.

Next on the docket is a weekly post with an excerpt from one of the stories I’m working on

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

at the moment. Right now, that could be from any of four different novel-length manuscripts. I might even ask for suggestions or criticisms on the excerpt of the day. I haven’t decided yet.

Lastly, I’m going to write one confession piece each month. It won’t be salacious, but it will reveal something about me that few know. It’s not about exhibitionism. It’s about connection between me and my readers. As human beings, we all share common experiences occasionally. I, for one, like to know that I’m not the only one treading deep waters or falling down and skinning my knees.

And since I haven’t got the newsletter ready yet, and I’m hip deep in revision mode and wish a break from it, I’ve chosen the confession for this week’s post. Here goes.

Errant Thoughts and Where They Take Us

Somewhere between sleeping and waking, a twilight period exists for all of us. Whether at night or in the morning, our minds fall down the tunnel of free thought, without direction or intent.

 The experience is different from daydreaming, for the thoughts scatter to the mental winds, never pausing longer than it takes for a butterfly to drink the nectar of a flower blossom.

Once in a while I have one of these stray shooting-star thoughts bring me into full wakefulness, ready for action. The driver of that action is curiosity—not just about where such a thought or image came from, but also to ask myself if I’ve ever encountered it before.

View over the stone desert of Hudson Bay, Canada, during low tide with rocks and stones in the tidal pools

View over the stone desert of Hudson Bay, Canada, during low tide with rocks and stones in the tidal pools

Take the other morning as an example. I woke, slightly dazed, from a sound sleep. Two words and an image greeted the inside of my eyelids, in bold type and a strong sense of imperiousness: OWL RIVER

I knew I’d never heard of an Owl River, which presaged the question as to why it would wake me.  I couldn’t resist the compulsion to find out what it meant. I got up and flicked on the computer. Google is a wonderful tool.

Owl River exists at the top of the world, emptying into the Hudson Bay at the far northern edge of Manitoba, Canada, near Churchill.  Okay, so now I had its location. But the question remains as to why the place would pop up and wake me.

Churchill Polar Bear Survey

Churchill Polar Bear Survey

Question: did I have any connection to the river? Answer: no. Did I have any connection to someone else with a connection? Answer: Yes, actually. About twenty years ago, I worked with and learned from a man who went to Churchill to film an annual polar bear study. My friend was a nature documentary filmmaker.

Question: had I heard anything about Churchill lately to trigger the reference? Answer: I’d heard

Western Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada

Western Hudson Bay, Manitoba, Canada

only that the town had had more trouble than ever with polar bears because of melting sea ice and shortened freeze time in the Artic. The bears weren’t leaving after the autumn snows began.

Question: did I have any connection with Manitoba in general? Answer: only that I’d had a friend in the late ‘80’s who lived in Dauphin, five hours north-northwest of Winnipeg. I’d not heard from her in years.

So, where does that leave me? Well, if I take the paranormal route of thought, there are possible answers. Either there’s something happening with Frank or with my Canadian friend, Danika. Or, there might be something newsworthy up on Hudson Bay around the mouth of the Owl River.

On the other hand, it could be a simpler answer. A fragment of dream, unremembered, triggered memory associations I’m unaware of and the reference simply popped out to startle me at waking.

Take your pick, as to which is more plausible. Personally, I like the paranormal answer, but then, I’m weird that way.

Regardless of the true reason, I believe that many people have experiences similar to my early morning wake up call. I also believe that sometimes, we get messages from an unknown place. Whether we recognize them or not, these messages find us and ring a bell for attention.

If you’ve had something similar happen, drop a comment below and share it with the rest of us. Until next week; take notes, write often, and save a place in your world for wonder.

Season of Inspiration

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Thanksgiving has come and gone. Intervening weeks of holiday preparation is about to culminate in that be all and end all of holiday bashes, Christmas. Afterwards, by a week, will be fireworks and New Year’s parties, toasts with champagne and promises to ourselves in the form of Resolutions.

But quietly, among the gathering festivities, are moments of insight and inspiration. Memories flash before our inner eyes. Old songs take on new meanings, because we’ve grown and changed through another year of life and living.

Throughout it all, whether desired or not, writers can find themselves awash with new ideas for stories, poems and essays. ’Tis the season for inspiration.

And to help launch some of that inspiration, I’ve decided to provide a series of writing prompts for those with quick minds and quicker fingers. Below are photos, together with written blurbs to inspire fits of fiction. If memoir creeps in, so much the better. If poetry rears its lovely head, we’ll rejoice.

Use the ones you wish. Share what comes to you in a comment if the mood strikes. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer material.

Here you go. Enjoy.

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The street never seemed so lovely nor so lonely.

 

 

 

 

stock-photo-17The bloom is still on the rose, but more damaged than fresh; more frozen in time than seeking a future.

 

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-008It was that last cup of hot chocolate that undid me. How am I ever going to explain this to my family?

 

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-019A ride in the country< he said. I’d really love it, he said. How could I have forgotten to tell him about my allergies?

 

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-018This is what Christmas fanatics think of when they get excited about the holidays.

 

Have fun creating your tiny bits of inspired writing. And enjoy the holiday season, regardless of how you celebrate it. The solstice is here and the year is turning toward spring and a brighter tomorrow.

Take care during these last days of 2015, too. Stay safe and may you each find peace and happiness. These are my wishes for you.

See you all again before New Year’s.  Until then, my friends, blessings to you all.

\ Writers’ Holidays and Year’s End

NaNoWriMo SWinner Badge won_earned

The annual writers’ holidays have begun. Thanksgiving and Black Friday, as always, divided November into days of humming along nicely on NaNoWriMo projects and those days of panicked scrambling to finish a planned novel by the end of the month. Turkey Day sneaks up on writers much of the time, due to the writing frenzy.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-004Once that frenzy ends in success or a learning exercise, eyes and minds look ahead to tree trimming, Christmas carols, egg nog, and gift wrapping. Between those activities are the actual shopping trips, decision-making sessions on when guests are coming to town, where everyone will sleep, and who’s cooking what for the groaning board.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-009Let’s face it. From Thanksgiving past New Year’s Day come a series of weeks that many writers might want to ignore or run from. Others revel in the idea of having the perfect excuse to turn off the creative brain and the computer in favor of diving into festivities that have nothing to do with writing. Regardless of which camp you’ve joined this year, preparations are being made on the editorial calendars of editors and writers everywhere.

The end of the year marks a point of reviewing accomplishments. Questions are asked. Did I get the projects done that I really wanted to? Did I expand my market reach? Could I have submitted more fiction or articles? The list can get really long.

Analysis

I decided to go through my list here. Otherwise, I probably won’t get to it.

  1. Did I accomplish the fiction projects I wanted to? No. I didn’t get Dreamie’s Box revised and edited. I now must wrangle with it in December. I also didn’t get another chapbook done and published on Kindle or get the cookbook done.
  2. Was I satisfied with what I did accomplish? Yes. I enjoyed my chapbooks that went onto Kindle and I really like the first volume of Wisher’s World.
  3. Are projects going as quickly as I’d anticipated? No, definitely not. I feel like I’m wading in thick mud most of the time, which encourages me to feel like I’m fighting a constant battle.
  4. Did I accomplish all of the article writing and submissions that I’d planned? Yes. I got out all planned articles and continue to contribute three pieces each month to Working Writers Club.
  5. Have I expanded my horizons with either fiction or non-fiction? Yes. I now have several fiction projects to revise and edit in the coming months—novella/novel length, plus short stories for magazine/competition submission. I’ve also gathered a long list of new magazine and journal markets, plus small presses.
  6. Have I developed my 2016 Editorial Calendar properly? No, not yet. I still have to go through the new markets (with their guidelines) and flag those I have material for already and those that require major pitches.
  7. Have I gathered all of the new tools I will need for the next year and begun the learning curve? Yes, I’ve gathered, but I have barely scratched the surface of that learning process.

5b6-052714-akpNow, I can move on to prepping for any holiday activity that needs it and take care of obligations for the month.

I have one assignment done already—I whipped it out during NaNo. I have two planned articles to write before Monday. I have titles and outlines for them. The same goes for all the articles due through April. My calendar will help me fill in the rest for 2016.

Fiction is something else. Again this year, I’ll concentrate on what I already have on the hard drive. That alone will keep me busy for the year. I will also work on more poetry in coming months. I’m planning two revision jobs per month—a long and a short, plus a poetry chapbook every other month. Some will go to Kindle, while others go to publishers. I plan on doing at least one extra article per week as well.

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-019We’ll see how that goes. I’ve already decided to plan relaxation time and a fluid enough calendar to allow for spontaneous relaxation, like daytrips. And there you have it.

That’s my current plan. What’s yours? Have you decided how you’re going to work for the next year? Have you looked back at where you’ve been and how you traveled the road from there to where you are now?

Drop a comment below and share with the rest of us. Until next time, have a fantastic rest of the week. I’ll be back.

Motivation Leads to Motion 

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of jesadaphorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A story, an article, an essay or poem all begin with motivation. All move forward because of it.

The concept of motivation is defined as follows:

  • verb to motivate: to give (someone) a reason for doing something: to be a reason for (something).
  • The noun motivation: the act or process of giving someone a reason for doing something: the act or process of motivating someone: the condition of being eager to act or work: the condition of being motivated: a force or influence that causes someone to do something.
  • Motive: NOUN: something that causes a person to act in a certain way, do a certain thing, etc.; incentive’ the goal or object of a person’s actions:(in art, literature, and music) a motif. ADJECTIVE; causing, or tending to cause, motion; pertaining to motion.
  • The noun motion: the act or process of moving or of changing place or position; movement.
  • By reference, the noun emotion can be defined as any mental state which provokes a reaction or response in the body or behavior of an individual.

A single act creates adjacent questions. Example: Someone lied. What was the motive for the lie? Or, what motivated the person to lie? What was his/her motivation for lying? Did someone else influence the decision to lie?

You see what I mean. A single concept, always leading back to itself. You may ask what this has to do with writing. A lot, actually.

Writers are often asked “Why do you write? What motivates you to write every day? What’s your motivation for working in only one genre or many genres? In the end, what the writer is being asked the same question.

Writers deal in motive with every sentence they put on paper. For some, personal motives drive the writer to impart information for instructional purposes or to relate recent events. Academics and journalists are both highly motivated people. Each also has outside influences that put pressure on their internal motives.

Yet, for all that, what they write also imparts a milder form of motive; the importance of the material involved. The work may be critical for understanding a process or a theory. At the same time, the immediacy of a journalist’s report can have many influences and influencing properties. Political commentary, for instance, both tells of influences within politics, while attempting to swing the reader toward a particular opinion simultaneously.

Crazy, huh?

When you look at poets, fiction writers and creative non-fiction writers, motivation spreads its wings and flies. Not only do the writers have their own motivations—for writing, for telling a specific story, or using a specific subject—but they also must deal with fluctuating motivations within the body of the work they’re doing. For fiction writers, in particular, this requires personal motivations and those of each of the story’s characters.

And if you believe that memoirists have it easier, think again. They have personal motives for writing a specific memoir piece at that moment and the motivations they experienced at the time of the actual event about which they’re writing. Also, they’re required to acknowledge (either internally or on the page) all of the motivations that lead up to and away from the event.

Movement is never just forward or backward. Lateral movement takes a slice of time and effort, as well. Writers are often on the lateral plain with one project, while taking steps forward on others. During revision and editing, movement is both forward and backward.

When you think about the mechanics of motivations and motives, the world starts spinning. We do this juggling act on a subconscious level most of the time. It comes naturally. Consider daydreaming. That pastime is a deliberate invention of motivations and responses. Fiction is no different. Allowing ourselves to sink into a memory—pleasant or not—is the same, except more emotionally charged.

My motives? Some days, instruction stands at the head of the class. Other days, pure invention sends shivers of delight down my arms to create gooseflesh thrills. Right now, I’m moving in four directions: forward with NaNoWriMo, backward with revision, laterally with research, and up because of the high I’m getting from the creative process I’m in at the moment.

So, tell me. Do you know your motivations for writing, for reading, for spinning tales at the local pub? Are you moving forward or backward, or have you chosen to remain lateral for a while? Drop a note in the comment section and tell me.

If any are interested, you can read two of my recent articles on The Working Writers Club website.

http://www.workingwritersclub.com/11563/freelance-writing-2/flash-fiction-fast-and-furious/

http://www.workingwritersclub.com/11305/magazine-writing-2/how-to-find-nonfiction-markets-if-youre-a-freelance-writer/

Attempting NaNoWriMo

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November is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing) Month. An almost insane frenzy takes over writers’ lives everywhere on the planet during this time of word counts and writing attempts.

If you’ve never been part of the frenzy, now’s your chance to pick up the gauntlet and leap in with both feet. There’s still plenty of time to get ready for the onslaught. You will see posting everywhere online about the event.

Here’s some advice for the newbie to the party.

  1. Check with your library about NaNoWriMo. Most libraries are aware of it and help writers participate in it.
  2. If possible, contact a local writing group in your area that are having small write-ins or monitoring activity get-togethers. Join in. Such groups usually leap at the chance in initiate the newbie. If there are no such groups in your area, find one online. You can go to nanowrimo.org/ and register to participate. Read the information available there about groups, buddies, etc. You’d be surprised who might be registered from your area who might want a writing buddy. Make their acquaintance and gain a new friend in your locale.
  3. Decide what you want to write. You don’t have to write a novel. You can be a rebel like me, who only does a novel every couple of years. If you want to revise something you’ve already written, go for it. The real purpose here is motivation for writing.
  4. Okay, so you don’t already have a novel or anything else to revise, but you have a germ of an idea. Great.
  5. Your problem is finding enough dedicated writing time to pull it off. Don’t sweat it. This isn’t really a competition, regardless of what some people say. If you only have fifteen minutes in the morning, half an hour at lunch, and an hour after dinner, that’s good enough. Remember, you aren’t counting minutes. You’re counting words.
  6. Your word count is not supposed to be anything more than rough draft, the rougher the better. 50,000 words looks huge as a goal. You don’t believe you’ll ever make it that high. That number equates to 200 pages. That’s roughly six and a half pages a day. That’s a much smaller number, isn’t it? That looks much more doable.
  7. Post your day’s tally either at the end of the day or just before beginning your writing the next day. The NaNoWriMo site will keep a running tally for you with words and pages.
  8. And that’s it. Try to write each day. If something happens and you can’t, don’t panic. Write when you can, as much as you can, and be proud that you achieved so much. No one will fault you. No one will kick sand in your face.
  9. Above all, enjoy the process. Feel the mental burn of creativity and watch those writing muscles grow and flex their new strength.

Well, that’s my spiel on the coming November challenge. I’m still going to do a weekly post on here during the month. I’m hoping that all the writers out there will challenge themselves in some way, whether through NaNo or some other device.

Have a fantastic week, folks. Me? I’ve got a critique group meeting on Thursday evening and a NaNo kick-off pot luck dinner on Friday night. We’ve got a terrific library that creates its own activities for the challenge. We’ve got some of the best librarians around, let me tell you.

Anyway, have fun and I’ll be back on Sunday, after I’ve written my flash fiction story for the day. And if you are doing NaNo this year, drop a comment below and tell me what your project is going to be. I’d really like to know.

Ramping Up for NaNoWriMo

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Whew. Got Wisher’s World Launched and now it’s time to think NaNoWriMo.

October leaped out of the gate in a whirlwind of editing and formatting the first volume of Wisher’s World, which came out on Cot. 10th. Afterwards, I wrote two articles and  submitted them for columns on Working Writers Club. Wishers World CoverNext, I set up my editorial calendar for the next three months.

Now, I can take a deep breath and begin prepping for NaNoWirMo 2016.

If you’ve never tried NaNo, you might want to challenge yourself to do it this year. Be a rebel if you can’t think of an idea for a novel. What’s a rebel? Well, you’re reading from one of them at the moment. I seldom do a novel. I did one last year for the first time in several years. It’s in revision now.

You see, I’m a rebel. I work NaNo for other purposes than writing a new novel idea. I use the exercise to revise an already-written novel or something else. Trust me. That really does use your time well during the challenge month. I’ve done a book of poetry for the challenge, too.

Book Cover 02This year, though, I’m writing a collection of Flash Fiction stories for the event—one story per day, every day, including Thanksgiving. If you don’t think that’s challenge enough, consider this.

Each day I’ll be plotting, writing, and doing a light revision on a single story. The stories can run from 500 to 1000 words. Each story will be inspired from a single writing prompt. And some of those prompts are normally used for novel ideas.

I won’t be declared a winner at the end of the month. I know that going in. My nimble fingers won’t have churned out 50K words to snag a winner’s badge like I did last year. Instead, I’ll have written a collection of stories that will need little revision or editing for release before the end of the year on Kindle.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerI can pick up my own trophy if, and only if, I put in the back-end work to get the collection ready for a late December release.  That deadline is also a goal. I already have plenty of novels to work on. I don’t need to write another one for a long while.

And there you have it—my personal NaNo challenge. These are the kinds of things that NaNo Rebels do with their time in November and July. It’s not that we’re anti-establishment protesters. It’s that we have other goals and quirks.

I’m fortunate. I have a NaNo group year-round. Our group has expanded and contracted around a core of people for several years now. We write together a couple of times a month, nearly every month of the year. We support each other and even have a critique group of members, which meets regularly. Most of all, we have fun.

004-stock-photo-nRight now, I’m doing prep work to keep me focused on the goals ahead. I’ve chosen my writing prompts for the stories, including a few extra in case one of them doesn’t appeal after all.

I’ve set up my editorial calendar with article deadline dates, topics and titles for my regular column articles for WWC, as well as all the other deadlines that will come between now and the end of the year. Some of those include context deadlines,too.

And this weekend, I’ll put in the time to get my office lined up for the coming frenzy of activity. With more organization, I’ll be better able to make all of my obligations and still have time left over to do those other tasks required for a personal life.

Yep, it’s that time of year when preparation helps keep you sane.

That’s all for now, peeps. I’ll be back again in a few days with something more interesting. I think I may talk about a newsletter idea I’ve been rolling around in my mind. Think about what you might want to see in a regular monthly newsletter and drop your idea in a comment below.

Until then, adios, amigos.

 

3 Steps Fiction Writers Should Take

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction Worker

Always take time to check these 3 steps before declaring a project ready for edit. They save so much time for the fiction writer.

  1. Whether you’re an outliner or not, create a list of all the major plot points which must be in place before the conclusion.
  2. Each time you finish a revision session, save the manuscript in at least two places.
  3. Always run your final copy through beta readers.

Let’s look at the logic behind each of these steps individually.

Plot Points

Outlines consist only of a story’s signposts; a series of events which must occur between the opening sentence and the last words of the story. It really is that simple. You don’t need details of how, where, why, etc. You need only those signposts in your outline. The list helps keep your story train on its timeline track.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OFor instance, the movie Ghostbusters was very simple from an outline perspective. Premise: scientists/researchers come together because of a flurry of apparition sightings in New York City.

Outline:

  • Researchers create special equipment for use at sightings if needed.
  • Scientists verify a sighting in a public library.
  • More sightings occur.
  • They hang out their shingle and go to work as independent contractors in ghostbusting
  • EPA steps in to control researchers’ activity
  • Situation with EPA devolves until the city’s government is involved
  • Researcher’s love interest is taken over by evil entity, along with another person
  • Researchers must discover identity of evil entity and devise way to dispel evil’s control
  • Researchers fight entity and entity’s minions in the Empire State Building, climaxing with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and win.
  • Possessed humans are released and rescued
  • Boy and girl declare their love
  • Everyone prospers

An outline can get even simpler, but doesn’t have to. You only need an intro, an middle with action development and a climax/conclusion. The twelve outline points above don’t take up much space on paper, but getting from the first point to the last gets filled with tiny details that take up two hours of viewing time.

Revising for Results

Once your rough draft is done, the fun begins. Mistakes photoRevising allows the writer to catch and fill in all of those amorphous details that color the story with rainbows and leave the scent of fresh-baked bread behind. And that’s what many readers look for. Unless, of course, you’re dealing in horror.

Before beginning your revision, make a copy of that rough draft, with a new title, to work from. Then, each time you finish a revision session, be it an hour’s worth or a day’s, save that baby in at least two places. Try on your hard drive and a flash drive, or the cloud and a flash drive. Whichever method you use, do it. Don’t forget.

It only takes one glitch to leave you with nothing but sunshine and a rough draft. It happens all the time to writers everywhere. You don’t want to have to begin a revision from scratch from the rough draft again. The frustration and lost hours aren’t worth the risk.

Use Beta Readers

Book and knowledge conceptUnless your story is flash fiction, send your baby to a solid list of beta readers for review. Try to get a mix of “strictly” readers and a few actual writers. You get something special from each side of the house.

The beta reader can find all those flaws that the writer misses during revision and edit. You can guess the ones; continuity errors, name changes, characters’ unexplained dialect shifts, timeline anomalies, word misuse, the dreaded word-of-the-day, and more. (Word-of-the-day refers to those common words we end to use unconsciously far more often than necessary.)

Once you get those copies back with comments, corrections, and suggestions, you’re ready to tackle the final edit and spell check. You editing task will take less time and be more accurate after having so many sets of eyes on it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The writer who takes these three steps to do each of these steps eliminates greater timewasters and frustration in the long run. A brief but pointed outline is your train’s engineer and keeps you on your time table. The revision conductor makes sure you always have a second secured, current revision copy to safeguard your work. Beta readers act as brakemen to keep you accountable for the quality of your work. Your manuscript is better for the steps taken throughout the process.

Launches, Dockets, and Lingering Projects

Happy little girl

Once upon a time there was a raw writer who dreamed of having a marvelously exciting and successful career. She took advantage of each lesson in the craft that passed her way (assuming she could afford it.) She toiled into the night writing stories, tales that would probably go nowhere.

In the daylight hours, she toiled at whichever job she happened to inhabit at the time. There was the ranch hand, the data entry specialist, receptionist, inventory controller and shipping supervisor, executive secretary and owner of a cleaning service. And all before the age of thirty.

Serious learning erupted later, interrupted by daily reality and financial requirements. Writing dreams found a surface vent only when circumstances forced a severe re-examination of a life destination. The result was a monolithic story book in two volumes. The publishing knowledge, however, didn’t exist for her.

As for all people, circumstances and situations are fluid in life. The writer learned through trial, error and networking with all levels of other writers. She became a researcher of her own future.

Book Cover 03Now, this emerging writer has a few small volumes published. She has articles on different aspects of writing published in several arenas, both online and in print. She also has her first novel nearly ready to launch; and not just any novel but the first in a fantasy series.

This handful of paragraphs describes my journey toward becoming a “real” writer. Along the way, my experiences created characters for later use. Scenery, rich and varied, was laid into a mental photo album to create settings that were vibrant and alive. Not until I looked back, could I see the many lessons and tools I’d squirreled away for my current time at the keyboard.

I believe that each of us carries within us a collage scrapbook of images and characters, scenarios and plots that spring from out past like daisies adorning a fallow field. We each carry the buds of ideas. I believe we each have a tale to tell; one as unique as our fingerprints and just as valuable.

Launches

Wisher's World Vol. 1In the next month, I will have two launches.  Wisher’s World, Vol. 1: Composing an Apprentice will be the first. It’s been a long road. I first outlined the original plotline in 2008. I began serious work on it in 2014. In between, I’d fiddled with story line, characters and little things. I was working on the rough draft of Dreamie’s Box, at the time.

Last year, I began working through Holly Lisle’s How To Write A Series: Master the Art of Sequential Fiction. Suddenly, Wisher’s World had far more potential than I’d ever realized. Only then was the first volume born.

As a result of this course, the original story line and plot has expanded into at least ten volumes. Some are novel length, like Composing an Apprentice, while others are novelette/novella length. All will operate in a sequential world or on lateral timelines. The whole experience is exciting and a great deal of work.

Another chapbook of flash fiction is also slated for release before mid-October. The next Short Tales book is ready for revision now and waiting for a few hours of dedicated work.

The Docket

In the meantime, other work goes on. There are small chapbooks of flash fiction, poetry, and memoirs to go out on Kindle. There are articles and short stories to be published in magazines, journals, and online news feeds. So much to write and, seemingly, so little time.

director-chair-business-cartoons-vectors_GyG7my_OThe daily docket is constantly full of projects coming in, going out and being developed. There are writing courses, marketing courses, webinars to attend to keep up with trends and all manner of new tools to learn and try out.

Lingering Projects

Dreamie Memior Cover (1)As for lingering projects, Dreamie’s Box takes center stage as soon as Wisher’s World is launched. The short memoirs are already out. Now, Dreamie will finally get her complete rewrite and edit so that her tale can go out into the world, full blown and ready to read. Scarred Love is another novel in rough draft now and going through a critique group. Three books—three different genres.

Behind those projects are ten to fifteen more, most of them already written.

I intended to use 2015 to revamp and submit much of my work already on the hard drive. I’ve discovered that it will take at least another year to pull off that miracle. But, I believe in miracles. My docket got expanded indefinitely, until I can clear all the present material from my files.

The only exception is November’s NaNoWriMo Participant-2014-Web-Banner (1)project. It’ll be a master stroke if I can pull it off, but I have to try—more on that later in October.

Until then, I’m winding up as much summer work as possible with Wisher’s World, and two chapbooks and scheduled articles for publication. October is already full. What is my plan of attack, you ask? Why, one bite and bit at a time, I say.

So tell me, what are you ready to launch? What remains on your docket for the rest of the year? And do you have lingering projects for which planning awaits? Tell us all about your work. I know I’m interested. Drop something in the comments and thrill us all with your coming fireworks.

A Quick Update for Freelance Writers

These last few days have been a bit hectic, but then, the month just began.

I thought some of you might be able to use some of the information contained in my latest article–this one for freelance writers from Working Writer’s Club.

It has some helpful tips for those looking to enter the non-fiction arena, as well as resources that some of the pros might not know about or haven’t explored.

Take a few minutes to see if any of it can help you to get a new perspective or a new market.

I’ll be back later in the week with something else from the cooker.

Enjoy.

WWW Article

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