Tag Archives: Challenges

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

 

 

 

Resolutions, Intentions, Challenges, and Reality

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Are you on the New Year’s Resolution band wagon? Did you make resolutions and already break them? Yeah, I hear ya.

I set all of my goals for 2016 in December and was actually proud of them.  All of 2016 was mapped out. It’s funny how that calendar’s worth of work flies out the window of reality,

Life happens to all of us. Thank the heavens we still have one. Realizing that our desires and plans are just that, not life and death decisions, is part of coping with reality.

Circumstances change and we must adapt or perish.

Western MontanaMost people know that my vision was very limited to begin with. I had adapted to continually diminishing visual abilities. December changed all.

But my attitude and adaptive skills were rusty from complacency and habit. The past several weeks forced me to step back and regroup.

Progressive macular degeneration drives in the express lane. My central vision is rapidly disappearing. I must now unpack all of those voc rehab skills I tucked away in the closet labeled “Learned” and dust them off for renewed use.

My nemesis is the need to slow down and map out movements before the muscles leap into action. That hesitation is more necessary than ever.

But most of all, the mental processes needs to take center stage. So many factors influence every decision, every plan. Also the possibility of dependence on others takes on monster proportions for a normally strong, independent person.

Time is money concept with clock and coins

The mystery novel that should’ve been ready for final edit and a February release isn’t through  revision yet. The work takes tons more time and effort than ever before.

If work slows down that much, what about the three other manuscripts waiting in the wings for their revisions and editing? How long will it take to do those?

Fear of never getting my other stories ready for launch haunts me. And I have so much new work done last November to think about, too.

Enter common sense and calm reflection

abstract_2008012903-1113int.epsAfter much deep breathing and meditation, only one conclusion surfaced.

As is true of everyone, I can do only what I can do. If it takes three times as long to finish a book, that’s what it takes. Trying to push harder, work longer hours, etc. only creates strain, frustration, and burnout.

Tools are available to aid in this journey’s next stage. Practicing with those tools while working on each project can bring completion.

Perfectionism and self-expectations may rear its nasty head, but patience and constant reality checks can tame that beast. Patience doesn’t always dispel the frustration, but it can help make it bearable.

English Knight Fighting Dragon England Flag RetroThe new intentions are simple. I will attack  revision work on the mystery—two hours per day. Another novel will also get an obligatory two hours work. One hour will go toward getting a short story ready for submission to contests or magazines each week.

The rest of the day will be devoted to learning new tools and realigning my daily life. A blog post per week for each website will find its way into the mix. Everything else is gravy.

All of my former intentions—better known as “goals”—are out the window for now. Once I’ve made more progress with adjusting work and life to fit in the new visual challenge, I’ll know how to plan for the rest of the year.

So, tell me. Have new challenges cropped up to wreak havoc with your 2016 goals, resolutions, or intentions? If so, drop a comment below and share. It always helps to lessen a burden or concern.

 

 

Weekly Challenges in August

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Hey there, all,

August is full of challenges. August 1st saw writer,coach, and entrepreneur Suzanne Lieurance issue a challenge to all of those within her Working Writers Club.

Each week had a specific blog/site challenge to be completed, shared, and promoted throughout the club and to all of our readers.

004-stock-photo-oThe first week required a list article. These  articles are simple ones, which list a series of steps, resources, etc. that can be used by readers for research, problem-solving, and the like. Hence, my article titled “3 Tricks for Tapping Muse’s Goldmine.”

Last week ushered in the tips/tricks article. I posted “6 Tricks for Taming Writer’s Block.” I hope you try those. They work like a dream.

Close up of glasses on research concept

Close up of glasses on research concept

This week features a “How-To” article. This will  be a much longer article with clear, easy-to-follow steps to do a specific task or create a specific product.  We’re being encouraged to use video, if possible. I have to admit defeat in the video department.  With my vision as it is, that requirement is out of the question.

All of the participants are in the dark about next week’s entree. You’ll just have to wait and see what comes along.

In the meantime, I hope I’ve provided interesting, as well as helpful, articles for you all. I’ll see you in a few days with my challenge article. In the meantime, scroll back in case you’ve missed one or more offerings. Enjoy.

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At Home with Goals Pressure and Accomplishment

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction Worker

You make goals for yourself. It doesn’t matter whether they’re for a week, a month, or the year. You’ve made them and you’re determined to see them through.

Terrific! Now what?

Well, if your life is anything like mine, those goals hang like giant water balloons, just waiting for the pin-prick of inattention to drown you. Aspiration doesn’t get a job done. Goals don’t get the job done either.

Only hard work completes the project and sets it up for success.

I should be talking, right? My past year has been one of broken goals and drowned intentions. Life has a way of doing that to a person.

One reason why I don’t let this truth doesn’t get me down is that stubbornness painted a large stripe down my spine at birth. Being a realist has advantages. It may lead to more pessimism at times, but it also allows for idealism to blossom among the weeds.

5b6-052714-akpFebruary’s writing/revision challenge was a success. All the revision goals were completed and then some on Dreamie’s Box. A few new twists were added along the way, and the overall story was strengthened by the group experience of the write-in.

Now, I’ve got to deal with those twists. A new character addition always makes for changes. The hint of a new, previously unplanned murder can shift many scenes and relationships, not to mention all those tiny continuity issues that must be tracked down. In all, pleasure has come with the new work. Everything will be completed soon and ready for the copywriter and then the shopping experience.

On the sidelines for a long time has been the coursework that keeps giving me jabs from the bench. I actually have two courses, a year-long workshop, and a short, do-anytime workshop which clutter my calendar. I also have three separate projects for these courses. I’ve decided to get sneaking about those projects, too.

004-stock-photo-oMarch promises to be the beginning of a long push. For those who’ve witnessed my recent burn-out, don’t begin the lecture. I’ve got things set up so that I only work on courses/projects for one to two hours a day, five days a week. The life lesson was learned well. After looking at what I wanted to accomplish and how many days a week I was willing to work, a workable/doable schedule was created.

DSC_0165It can be argued that goals are like nuts or jewelry. You can’t set just one goal. One nutmeat never satisfies the stomach or the taste buds. They’re always taken in multiples.

004-stock-photo-iAnd like jewelry, one goal is never right for every occasion or event. A goal to write an article for The New Yorker can’t be reused on a fantasy short story for Tor Books. They just aren’t the same. You need more than one gem.

Therein lies some of the pressure put on us by our goals. We focus our attention and intention to get something written for a specific purpose—say a competition, magazine, publisher, etc.—and work toward those intents. If something gets in our way, frustration ensues. If we get balked due to over-scheduling, we take it out on ourselves, as if it were a crime.

That’s where real mistakes are made. The more we allow self-punishment, the worse the situation becomes. The solution, though, is very simple—even for an over-achiever like me.

Schedule half as much work or less each day as you’d really like to get done. Do everything on the schedule that day. When you get to the end of your scheduled work day, reward yourself with something you really enjoy.

007-stock-photo-pThe reward can be anything from social media time to reading a book you put aside three months ago and didn’t get back to. Or, perhaps you’d like to take an afternoon for lunch with friends and a bit of window shopping. Then again, maybe you’d like to take a long nap. The specific reward isn’t as important as the gifting to yourself.

That’s been my biggest lesson in the past months. I don’t guilt myself anymore about not getting something done “on time.” The only deadlines I have at the moment are ones for competitions and open calls for submissions. I’m concentrating on those and my studies.

Everything else is gravy.

So, tell me, are your goals dictating your work, your time, and your emotions? Or, have you developed a plan to sidestep the pitfalls and sail through to whatever port you choose with fair skies and calm seas? Let me know in a comment.

 

At Home Revisions, Competitions and Coursework

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted. My time has been spent taking care of work.

I’ve been hip-deep in revisions. Thanks to one of my local writing groups’ February challenge, Dreamie’s Box is on track to be finished soon and on its way out the door in March. Along with that novel are much shorter pieces, undergoing the editing process for competitions.

Contests/competitions come in all shapes and sizes. Some provide a literary agent as part of the prize package. Others stock-photo-24have hefty monetary prizes. All have purpose and rewards–even those little ones that provide only copies of your work and online recognition to your peers.

Ultimately, though, the grand prize for each competition is the writer’s knowledge that the time spent has gone toward a worthwhile purpose. New or refurbish—hitherto unpublished—material has left the computer drive and been read by someone else. For many, that’s a huge step.

Another purpose is one of confidence building. The act of sending out a story, poem, article, or what have you builds another layer of confidence in one’s ability to stick with a writing goal and complete it.

One of the major truths that smacked me in the head a few weeks ago is this.

The reason I write isn’t for fame or fortune. I would write if no U.S.A.one ever read a word I’d put on paper. But, aside from that inherent need to put thoughts and feelings into words, I simply want to know that at least one other person has read my work. If they like it, that’s a bonus. If they don’t and they let me know why, I’ve learned something important. I win either way.

To that effect, I’m preparing manuscripts to go out. Chapbooks, poetry, short stories, and flash fiction all come under the editing pen.

Three pieces are due to go out within the next two weeks. Two more are slated for the end of March and another for April. The investment of time and a tiny fee are worth the wait to learn whether one’s writing is prize quality in its specific completion with its specific judges.

If a prize has my name on it at the end is, in many ways, irrelevant. I’ve met a goal, had at least one reader, made at least one impression, and furthered my writing experience.

Work In Progress Sign Held By Construction WorkerAs for the coursework, I have three active writing courses in which to indulge. I wrangle stories for those courses and get to use them for publication or competition. I’ve always been a big believer in dual-purpose work.

One of those courses is strictly for flash fiction. With burgeoning markets for much shorter fiction, this avenue is also one of the most technically demanding. And it’s a competitive form I’ve placed in before.

Another course is for serial short fiction—short story to novella length. The demands here are also a major challenge. The writer begins with a whole world plot line that would normally extend to three or more volumes in length. It’s then segmented into a series of complete episodes. Each episode must further the overall plot line while telling a separate, shorter plot line with one or more of the entire story’s major characters.

The third course works only with character development and utilization. You can see where these three work together to build an overall writing experience and a unique opportunity to work in multiple genres and publishing avenues.

Happy Girl Making A Wish And Making BubblesFor now, that’s enough for me. So, tell me–what are you up to and why? Share your story in a comment.

 

 

At Home—Monday’s Kickstart Poem

IMG_9027Over at Our Lost Jungle, author Khara House is having her annual 30 By 30 Challenge. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?

Well, in a sense it could be just that. Her challenge encourages her subscribers and others to create 30 new creative pieces during June’s 30 days. But Khara defines her use of “new creative pieces.”

The new work could be as simple as a new poem, a new scene, a new photo, or whatever strikes the person’s fancy that day. The emphasis is on “new and creative.”

Each day also has a prompt. Today’s prompt, for instance, is “sentiment.” The challenge: create something new that speaks to sentiment—not sentimentality. They are two different animals.

In that vein, I’m going to kickstart the week  with this Haiga as my something new for the day.

Salt Bird Bath copy - Copy

It’s my hope that those who come here find something new with each new post. Don’t forget to add your contribution to the poetry contest’s offerings in a comment. So many wonderful Haiku poems in varying forms have graced our queue already. Linda Evans-Hofke, my month’s co-host, and I have already seen what a difficult judging this will be. More excellent samples from the readers and subscribers would only make the judging more exciting.

Until next time, happy writing. Try your hand at something new today on the creative side of life.

At Home Tackling a New Skill

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When I look at this image, I get energized; not just because of the colors, but by the message.

Each of us has a purpose for the day. Either that purpose gets placed before us, or we create it for ourselves. It could rollover from the previous day or be brand new. Only we know what the final purpose is for the day and our life within those limits.

My writer friends tell me that I write a lot. They tell others the same thing about me. Oh, she’s always at the keyboard–writing. I usually remain diffident to the remark. But at this late night hour, I can accept that assessment completely today.

For me the day began by me dealing with the end of the photo challenge. I did receive photos in the last couple of days. Yay! Thank you brave souls who pushed past uncertainty and dived in with images to share.

I handed those photos to my judge and noted on my calendar that I’ll announce the winner and the subsequent full prize on Thursday, April 3rd. So, stay tuned everyone for that announcement.

After taking care of that, I moved on. Email and social media, news feeds and a bit of correspondence, left me ready for breakfast.

Half an hour later, I dived into a revision of Part 7 of my current novel project–a sci-fi story. I also needed to finish that section for this week’s crit group meeting on Friday.

I began the revision/rewrite (it’s those tiny details that must be inserted for clarity and movement that take the time.) and finished it about two hours later. Then came the spell check and edit session, which took another half hour. I sent it out to group members in early afternoon.

Script work came next. Remember I said I was tackling script frenzy this year. Well, I dove in with feet, legs, and rear with an entirely new opening scene. I’d already redeveloped the treatment to accommodate the changes I needed.

Screenwriting is a new skill that could create gains for me in many ways. If I get comfortable enough writing scripts, I can spread out into new territory. Children’s plays, teleplays, stage plays for repertory companies. I have a friend who does those each year and has for years. It sounds like fun.

The process isn’t an easy one. The mindset is totally different from novels. I must learn to ignore description, except as it pertains to set props and the actions and facial expressions of the players. That’s tough. Oh, well. I’m on my way down that path and having a blast learning how to tweak for emphasis. :)

I managed three full pages today (my goal was four pages) before dinner. I tend to edit as I go, especially when I forget bits of action that make the scene sensible. I felt really good about my progress up to that point.

Dinner was announced. Sister had fixed a superb meal. I shut things down for a well-deserved break, ate and chatted with Sister, cleaned the kitchen up (that’s my contribution to dinner when she cooks) and readied myself for a 89 minute training session at 7 p.m.

I finished that session, responded to comments on Facebook and a couple of websites, and decided I needed to do this before anything else cropped up. And here I am, talking to you guys.

Did I mention that I still have a page of script to do before winding up for the night? Good. Sometimes I forget those little details. :)

And that’s been my day. I hope yours has fared as well and productively. Tomorrow’s work division:

  1. with script work,
  2. wanders into a post for my other website to pre-schedule for Thursday,
  3. flows into an outline for an article for Wordsmith Studio due next week for the following Monday,
  4. and end with a bit of work on a cookbook I’ve threatened to publish for the past couple of years. I’m determined to finish it and get it out this summer.

I’ll be back on Thursday to give you an update and to announce the winner of my first photo contest. See you then. Have a great week, everyone.

Comments Welcome

This is just a quick note for all of those readers who’ve been trying to make comments and couldn’t.

The problem was solved. You can now feel free to comment on whatever pleases you. My open-hearted geek partner from 2voices1song dropped in to lend a hand and had everything running smoothly in no time.

I’m sorry that the last two weeks of October were compromised by this malfunction.

Still, this month is a new challenge for writers everywhere, and I am no exception. In lieu of a longer post, I will simply say Good Luck to those waving a gauntlet of daring do. Have a great week, all.

I’ll see you here when you wish to drop in and sit a spell, look around the site, and just pause in your daily routine.

Smiles, everyone

Claudette