Tag Archives: Challenge

Ramping Up for NaNoWriMo


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.


Poetry Chain 5-Day Challenge

Today was day 2 of the Poetry Chain Challenge for June, created by a Facebook group to which I happen to belong.

The challenge is for each nominated poet to provide one poem per day for five days. Along with the poem, said poet must nominate another poet to begin the challenge. As you can imagine, the round-up gets a bit chaotic as best and a free-for-all otherwise. We’ve hit free-for-all this week.

The marvelous poet Jane Shlensky nominated me and I have kept up my end of the bargain.

Yesterday I posted here with the poster created about dreams, wishes, and worlds. Today, my offering is all about writing poetry. It seemed apropos. I hope you enjoy it.



I’ll be back tomorrow with another offering for the threshold of the poetry door.

Have a great night, everyone.

At Home on a Writer’s Diving Board


Getting ready to launch isn’t easy for me. I keep asking myself if it’s easy for anyone. I never get an answer to my query.

I’ve a few projects sitting on the back end of that diving board, along with a few creeping toward the business end of that plank. The one that will dive first is Short Tales of Book Cover 02Twisted Wishes, a chapbook of flash fiction. It will launch next weekend on Kindle.

From there will come the second in the Short Tales series, and on through different themed chapbooks. My hard drive holds enough flash fiction to put together at least five or six of the little samplers. Some might ask why anyone would waste time creating these when she has bigger projects to finish.

Here’s an answer to that.

Several larger projects are on the boards. I’ve been working on them for a long time and haven’t gotten them finished yet. They’re under the pen, but novel-length work goes slower than the other writing. Why? Personal perfectionism tendencies.

Yep, if a chapbook of twenty-thirty pages can go to readers, filled with stories I loved writing for others to enjoy, I’ve won a race. True, the race is one of my own making, but given my penchant for extreme perfectionism, anything that goes out is a plus.

5b6-052714-akpCase in point: a week or so ago, a call for submissions came across my desk. The contest was a small one, with no prize money, no trophy. It asked for a 140-character complete story. Those are some of the best challenges, like tiny puzzles of the mind. The deadline was rapidly approaching—can we say a matter of an hour. I couldn’t resist.

Fifteen minutes later, I hit the send key to submit my tiny story. The actual prize for the top 10 winners was to have their stories professionally produced as individual short videos to be released on each writer’s YouTube Channel.

That prize might not seem like a lot. It might even seem lame. For me, though, it was a boon. I liked the idea of seeing a few sentences created into a book trailer with voice over, music, and good quality. It cost me fifteen minutes time and creativity. That’s all.

Now comes the wait time for my video to launch. You see, my little tear-jerker was one of those top ten stories received. It may not seem like much, but it’s a great confidence booster. It’s also a good lesson about perfectionism for me. The six sentences that comprised the story had three rewrites in that fifteen minutes, but in the end it was right.

The work went quickly. No real obsession with perfectionism prevailed. And it rewarded me with acceptance and pride in my work.

This is the second time such a prize has come my way–the first was a children’s short story produced in the U.K. a few years ago with the same scenario. It’s a terrific feeling.

My decision to work small for a while and get things out was reinforced in short order. Pun intended.

stock-photo-2-019That diving board doesn’t have to get higher than one meter right now. Springboards are just fine. My flash fiction and poetry chapbooks can act as goldfish, growing with time and then acting as feeder fish for larger projects that take longer revision times.

The launch of a novelette-length series episode is also coming soon. That’s right. The first installment of the Wisher’s World Series, Composing an Apprentice, will come out next month, too.

See, there’s going to be plenty of work done from that flexible plank at the end of the writer’s pool.

At Home—Issuing Yourself a Challenge for April


Today marks the final nine days of March. I don’t know how your month began—whether lamb or lion—but ours was a mixed bag. And that goes for my writing world as well. Feeling like I’m working with gears fused, something’s got to give.

Oh, yes, the challenges continue. Studies top that list, along with the completion of Dreamie’s Box and readying a chapbook of flash fiction for launch.

Participant-2014-Web-Banner (1)Next month is the new NaNoWriMo Boot Camp Challenge. My write-in group is participating again. April is also the Poem-A-Day Challenge from Poetic Asides and probably another hundred poetry challenges to boot. I won’t be taking it on this year, which will be the first one missed in a long time. April has much to recommend it on the internet and beyond.

Yet, along the gauntlet of rival competitors and challengers are quiet moments for this writer. In preparation for the race, I paused. Reflection on what needs doing doesn’t come in flashes. It takes calm planning. In one of those moments between set competitions, I counted up how much work I had on the brink of “finished” and needed to either submit for publication or launch as self-published.

Jewel box on whiteIf you write, you probably have the same situation. On your hard drive or up in the clouds, you have stories, poems, bits of memoir which only require a revision and final edit to have ready for a reader. Instead, they sit, slumped in obscurity, waiting to be remembered. Each is a potential gem waiting to be lifted into the light and shown off.

Now’s your chance to give them the life they deserve. Create your own April challenge. Resolve to pull at least one short piece from obscurity each week. Revise or rewrite, edit and format to a designated set of guidelines and send it out into the world.

Do you have bits and pieces; fragments of stories that sounded good at the time the idea sprang to mind? If you do, you also stock-photos-2-027have the possibility of taking each of those and creating a great piece of flash fiction. Pull them out. Like buttons, sort them by theme, and take each theme to work on individually.

Give yourself the month of April to get that group of stories finished and ready for viewing. You are, after all, working on several stories—for instance, five longer pieces of flash fiction of up to 1000 words or ten shorter ones of 500 words each. That’s a good month’s work. Once they’re ready to read, format the chapbook for Kindle and launch.

It’s a gamble, I know, but what do you have to lose? A little time? No, you won’t be losing time. You’ll have readable stories waiting for a home. Don’t stock-photos-2-026want to launch a Kindle with them? Fine. Submit each one to a magazine or journal, or the whole lot to a contest. DO something with them.

What did I find when I went looking? I found three chapbooks worth of themed flash fiction. I can launch one with shorter pieces of period fantasy in April, one of longer contemporary flash stories in May, and others of still longer fantasy in June.

I’m tired of them constantly glaring at me from my documents library. They need to find another home. That’s a good enough reason for them to go out into the world and start working for themselves.

Perhaps you, too, could find jobs for your neglected backlog. Try it and see. You might find all sorts of opportunities once you start looking for them. As you go along, drop in and let Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction Workereveryone know about it. Drop you announcement into a comment. Sending something out is something to be proud of, and share your process or readying for launch or submitting for publication.

I’m off to begin final work on my chapbook now. Have a fabulous rest of the week. I’ll see you all soon—maybe with excerpts of what’s going out. Who knows?

At Home with the Home Stretch


How’s everyone doing with their chosen July challenges? What? You didn’t take up a July challenge? How did you manage that?

Huh! You’re a stronger person than I am, Gunga Din. One of the personal quirks that I’ve come to appreciate (notice the thought verb here) about myself is that I must have a challenge going at all times.

Take this month, for instance. I’m doing three—two writing and one home. Camp NaNoWriMo has me writing a novella (yes, I’d already done one just before,) which takes care of the prose portion of my life. Creative Bloomings Camp Granada Daily Poem Challenge for verse centered on camping and the outdoors caters to the poetic side of my nature.

My home challenge is to get my bedroom/office cleared out, sorted, and rearranged for better use of space.

People who know me know that I spend long days at the computer. Ask my sister and she’ll tell you that I have little enough life outside of writing. I tend to agree with that assessment. I’m a bit OCD about writing.

Hence the constant challenges.

If you asked me why I’m this way, I’d say it’s because I denied myself that outlet for so many years and that I’m trying to make up for lost time. All of those story ideas and poems were repressed for too long and finally found an escape clause in their repression contract.

Forest PathPoor old Wisher’s World is a series that’s been aching to emerge from its cocoon for several years now. It finally began its process in July. By the end of the month I’ll have the first episode finished and ready for revision and final edit.

Lake Bowman CampThe poetry challenge allows impressions, experiences, and even dreams to be captured in lyric form and shared with my poets’ community. I keep my hand in and mind open at the same time.

Okay—I admit it. I’ve fallen down on that job for this past week or so. I must take one day this week and catch up with those poems I haven’t done each day, as well as read all of those poems that were written by other members of that same community. Not a hardship by any means, merely a task for those late-night decompression hours.

calendars-6888067You may be wondering why I do multiple challenges simultaneously. Here’s where the real confession comes in. I’m a challenge junkie. I can’t seem to pass them up. And no, I didn’t used to be like this. What I found was that when challenged, I kept moving forward, kept learning.

The challenge doesn’t have to be writing oriented. I also try to learn at least one new (to me) crochet stitch or technique each week. Beaded jewelry comes into the same category as the crochet. 

I’m always involved in a study course or two–some semester or year-long, some lasting only a few weeks.

My face-to-face critique group keeps my thought processes flexible, too, and adds to learning new things from those around me. We usually have separate genres represented for each of us–six in all. And styles vary as much as genre.

Now you know some of the whys and wherefores.

My tally for the month so far? I’ve got over 35K words written on my novella. Revision and edit will bring the final word count back down to novella length. I’ll cut at least three chapters worth of text by the end of the process. I must also write eight poems today/tomorrow to catch up on the poetry challenge.

As for my bedroom/office, it’s the most difficult task. It requires that I disassemble my office for the time it takes to do all of the work. We’re talking a couple of days. I may have to slack off on that challenge until August. I’m not saying I will, just that it’s a thought.

My home stretch will come down to determination, as with all races. Before anyone asks, I don’t ever beat myself up if I don’t complete a challenge in the allotted time. For me, it really is the journey, the personal nudge toward production, and (in this case) the reality that once August arrives, my only tasks for the next five months will be in the revision aspect of work.

You see, that’s my next challenge. Each month, from August 1 until January 1, I will concentrate on the full revision, edit, and submission of one or two existing projects.

If I can manage that, I can manage anything. I’ll be posting the occasional progress report amid regular posts to encourage you and to seek snippets of your completed work.

That’s it for now. I’ll be back in a day or so with another excerpt from my project. Feedback is always welcome. See you soon. Happy writing, all.

At Home with One Last Haiga

As many of my friends and readers know, my sis is a photographer. She does all sorts of camera work but prefers landscape above all others. I’m blessed in that she gives me the use of so many of her shots for my poetry work.

This week is no exception to that generosity. She took some photos specifically for me during a day of shooting. She even processed the one I’m using today to accentuate the poem rather than the subject matter distract from it.

Let me set this up for you. The image is a close up of the blossoms waving in a common field of canola. These lemon yellow flower heads sit atop two-three foot slender stalks, much like wheat shafts. When fields are in bloom, as they are now, their color acts like neon post-it notes on the landscape. Everything around them either fades to insignificance or leaps out in stark, vibrant contrast, as if in competition.

Imagine a mountain valley dotted with scenes like this.

Photo Courtesy T. Wilkes

Photo Courtesy T. Wilkes

You see what I mean about vibrancy? Sometimes it doesn’t take much to trigger a poem or bit of prose. It simply sparks spontaneously. Haiga acts as the conduit for the transmission of thought/idea, plus image, from writer to reader. All of which brings me to today’s and the month’s final Haiga that’s written just a tad tongue-in-cheek.

Canola - Copy

I haven’t decided yet whether I like the placement of the haiku on this image. I may have to redo it so that the poem drops down a bit further and more toward the center. Give me your opinion if you’d like. I always consider other opinions, and encourage them.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed this month of pictures and poems and have found new ways to express your thoughts, dreams, and philosophies. And if you have more haiku poems to share for June’s poetry contest/challenge, please send them in. You have until midnight June 30 to get them posted in a comment here for consideration. I hope you do send in a passel more.

I’ll have something tomorrow about when to expect a winner’s announcement, as well as what I’m doing for July on here and elsewhere. Until tomorrow, enjoy your day and thank you for stopping in to see this little offering.

At Home with Combo Prompts and Haiga


What happens when a poet, having accepted a creative challenge, then promptly forgets and is too busy to do the work on time?

Well, in this case, you punt. Okay, so maybe you work like a maniac trying to tackle more than one writing prompt in one short writing session. Or perhaps, if you’re really desperate, you tackle those forgotten prompts as a combo creative effort.

That was my choice this morning when I realized I’d fallen behind on the 30 By 30 Creative Challenge over at Our Lost Jungle.

Day #17’s prompt = Frenzy

Day #18’s prompt = Breaking Up

Day #19’s prompt = You and I

Realizing that I’ve been working mostly in Haiga this month, I had to figure out a way to bring them all together in seventeen syllables with an image. Not easy. But, the prompts themselves dictated the form and the flow.

Let’s see if I can pull it off. You tell me if I did.


As you can see, taking the actual words of the prompt, a poem can be made. Does this use of the prompt satisfy the intent? Let’s think about that.

Would this be better to pull everything together, with intent of meaning?

DSCN0357 - Copy

The prompts are used, expressed, and given meaning while only using one as it stood originally.

So, you tell me. Which version is the best. I’d really like to know. Could there be more permutations to these simple prompts? Sure. How many? As many as an imagination could create in multiple creative mediums.

Try it yourself. And when you finish with this, drop your haiku poem (s) in a comment for the month’s contest. Who know’s. You could take away a lovely print with your poem on it.

Take care, all. Happy writing, and have a terrific weekend. See you next week.

At Home in June with a Poetry Contest

Yep, we’ve come to that lovely month of brides and moons. June has arrived and with it has come the poetry/photo challenge.

Linda Evans-Hofke, who won March’s photo contest, suggested having a poetry contest to find the perfect poem for her winning photo. I thought it was a fabulous idea and here we are.

I mentioned haiku and haiga the other day. Let me explain what I’m talking about.

Haiku is a Japanese short form that you’ve probably all seen. It consists of three lines, running five syllables-seven syllables-five syllables. There is no rhyming scheme to the form—only those seventeen syllables. The other peculiarity to the form is the content. Traditionally it begins with a statement about something in nature (e.g. stones in cold water,) following by a truth about that statement (e.g. suffer no more than in warm,) and ends with a twist to another concept or meaning (e.g. heat only rids cold.)

I know. It’s a weird example, but it proves the form.

Haiga is comprised of Haiku plus an image. When an image creates a poetic thought in the poet’s mind, Haiga is born. In traditional Japanese form, Haiga begins with a painted image done by the artist. The flow of the paint/ink creates the thoughts that stimulate the poetic result.

Take that example above of Haiku. Then look at this image.


Courtesy of BJJones Photography

Courtesy of BJJones Photography

Okay, I must confess here. I whipped out those Haiku lines without having a picture in front of me and then had to go looking for one. I’m a visual thinker and had something specific in mind when I penned the poem. Fortunately for me, my photographer sister has hundreds of appropriate images to choose from.

The truth of the poem stands, untarnished. Whether the water was warm or cold, ice-fringed or simmering, the stone beneath and surrounding would not suffer because of it. Only the erosion the river’s moving water would cause it distress and change. And that twist in concept comes in the last line.

The finished Haiga would look something like this, depending on the artistic mindset of the poet/artist involved.


Courtesy of BJJones Photography

Photo Courtesy of BJJones Photography

Now, for those who are coming in late, this month’s contest will use Linda’s photo image as the Muse for the haiku poem. She and I will co-judge the entries. The image to be written to is this one. The almost ethereal quality of the photo lends itself to stings of thought along many lines of verse.


Contest winner

Contest winner

The contest/challenge will run all month and final judging will take place the first week of July. Throughout the month will be many examples of haiga to help you get a handle on this form, especially if you’ve never tackled it or any of the Japanese forms. The winner will receive a print of their Haiga, (image with haiku) ready for framing, as the prize.

It’s my hope that many of you will stretch your wings with this one. Good haiku is difficult to master, but learning the mindset of the form helps in so many ways for all writers, for the mindset can used for any writing form or genre.

Good luck everyone. Rise up. Stretch those creative muscles. Send your entries in a comment on any of the posts during the month. Just be sure to mark is as an entry. Or you can send it to me as a photo attachment to my email address here on the sight. Most of all enjoy yourselves in the process. That’s the main purpose of all art—enjoyment.

At Home with May Flowers and Stories


We’ve made it through April’s sea of poems to arrive on a shore of waves in May—waves of flowers and stories.


For many of us, the really beautiful month is May, when the lilacs bloom and azaleas gather their frilled skirts in their arms and dance with the rhodies. Daffodils trumpet spring’s true arrival in a fanfare that wakes tulips and hyacinths and brings them out to play.

And along the way, stories held over from winter’s cold grip come out to chill or cheer the reader.

And that’s what we’re gonna do this month. We’re gonna play with words and build flash fiction from unexpected photo prompts. The call is going out for all readers to step onto this site, to play and share your stories.

There’s nothing to fear, no contests to compete in. We’re just taking a risk with our words, to capture a person’s attention and lure them in for a deeper look.

Beginning tomorrow, I’ll post a photo prompt once a week. I’ll also give you my piece of flash fiction done for the prompt. The story must never run more than 100 words. Okay, so that’s very short flash fiction. It’s okay. I’ll show you the elements in my piece, how much is intro, middle arc, and resolution/conclusion. Genre isn’t important here, except for those not allowed.

Your job is to let me know how you read it. Did you like it and why. Did you not like it and why not. You know how to do it. That’s when you get to post your own bit of story. One hundred words or less, a complete story (beginning, middle, and end,) sharing what came to you when you looked at the photo.

Let your inner storyteller out of her/his prison of shyness and tell us a tale. (No extreme violence or erotica, please.)

I’d like to think that I can lead by example. You get to let me know when I fail in that role.

And there you have it. A game with few rules. A challenge with little consequence. And a means of exploring a story form you might not otherwise have chosen.

Let’s have a great time with this, okay? I’d so like to see what you have to share by way of stories. Each of us has a few riding around in the mind’s pockets. Let’s bring them out into the daylight and let them shine.

See ya tomorrow. Happy writing, all.


At Home—Shifting Gears Mid-Stream & A Personal Challenge


We’re moving into the last turn toward the homestretch on the photo challenge and still no photos have come in. It’s sad really. I thought at least one would have shown up, but there’s still time and hope for someone to send a pic in for consideration.

Oh well, on to other things.

You might wonder from the title what gears are shifting.  For one thing, tomorrow begins my class for the Screenwriting Challenge coming in April—otherwise known as Script Frenzy. Each year, one of our resident screenwriter’s offers a 4-6 week class to help move writers through the challenge process. It works like NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month,) with the same sense of hurried plotting and harried writing.

I took the Screenwriting class last month.

I’ve not done the Frenzy before, which means that this year I must forego the April Poem-A-Day Challenge over at Poetic Asides. I’ve done the PAD Challenge each year since 2009 and will miss it. Fortunately for me, I’ve learned how better to pace myself in the spring. I won’t do the NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month Challenge,) either.

I will probably do the National Picture Book Writing Week in May over at Paula Yoo’s website for that Challenge of creating a picture book project each day for a week. That’s a really fun endeavor.

When I speak about shifting gears, more than subjects and challenges are involved. I’m actively writing on one novella, a few short projects (or at least trying to,) and skewing my mind to take in the fact that most of a script is direction and settings, with less than three thousand words of dialogue in the average 120 page script. Think of that.

I always think in pictures and they’re what I use when I write poetry. Photos of places I’ve visited help jog the memory. How much of that experience must I dredge up to create the script’s set notations? How much of the script’s character can I influence with the setting?

And what about that dialogue?

I’ve done a script before, but a documentary. The dialogue was purely voice-over. This time, the speakers will be in view, as in a novel, but more immediate.

You take my meaning, I’m sure. A different mind-set entirely from that of a novel. The script is far more concerned with setting and action than with characters’ words.

That’s where those photos come into place. I have hundreds to choose from. Yet, here’s the rub. For a script, description is kept to a bare minimum, as concrete as possible and little extra. Colors don’t particularly matter, unless it’s critical to a character’s motivation, etc. No flourishes are necessary.

All that’s necessary is: where are you, who’s there, what bare-bones props are there to flavor the setting, and what time of day is it. From there, the writer deals strictly with action. Motivations are irrelevant in the scene set-up. The reader is given motivations only through dialogue.

Moving from novel writing to a script requires a new method, a new perspective, and a willingness to forego all of those little literary helpers than can prop up a scene.

So you see, I’m taking on a completely different challenge this spring—one the forces me to grow, change, and simplify. I look back on February’s Verb Challenge and see the foundation for my work in April.  I’ll hold onto the images I’ve been pulling together for myself this month, use them for set direction in the next, and pull my practice from February to guide both scene set-up and dialogue.

If all these consideration work as intended, the Frenzy will go smoothly, and I won’t have frantic days and sleepless nights. I find it funny that these last three months came together like they did to help prepare me for April.

Here’s hoping your coming month will keep you growing and moving forward. See you later in the week. And please think about sending in a photo.