Tag Archives: Fiction

Which Comes First–Fiction or Life

Fiction writers all deal with the same obstacles, but also with the same basic reality.


Each of us carries fantasy within us. Whether in daydreams, goals, or planning strategies, fantasy is at the heart of our lives. Without it, things would wither and die. So would we.

As children, we talked to ourselves and invisible friends. Come on–‘fess up, you did too. We found ways to entertain ourselves. Okay, so that applies mostly to those born before 1085. But the fact remains–we fantasize all the time.

We’ve had an argument with someone and afterwards, we go over the confrontation and rebuild it with what we would/should have said if we’d thought of it at the time. We’ve done something we think we’ll be criticized for and we’ll mentally audition explanations before the dreaded reveal of our “crime”.

See what I mean?

That’s why I say, which comes first–fiction or life? We talk about the chicken and the egg, life imitating art and vice versa. But can we really determine an answer without contingencies?

As writers, we pluck story lines from headlines. We use our experiences to form cores of plots. And along the way,  we learn about ourselves and human frailties.

One reason readers connect with characters and books are the built-in human qualities, good and bad, we put  into the people who inhabit our stories.

Classics are born because of those qualities and those imaginary friends and foes we’ve fantasized about and put on paper and electronic devices. And in some ways, those illusory human and non-so-humans are as real to us as any flesh-and-blood individual roaming this earthly plane.

We predict the future, recount and explain the past, and live in a present somewhere in-between.   

For us, reality is merely a word plastered on whatever time zone we’re working inside at the moment. We like it that way, and it doesn’t matter to us which comes first.



Season of Inspiration


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.


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.

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.



Wisher’s World Goes Live

Wishers World Cover


My fantasy series on Kindle has emerged in the first volume. Today Wisher’s World, Vol. 1 Composing an Apprentice launched successfully and is available to readers everywhere.

Satisfaction fills me right now. It’s taken many months to get this novel ready for public display. The final hurdle came along when my computer system corrupted my final revision copy and I had to start all over again from a beta reader’s copy. The debacle added more than a month to its writing time.

But that’s all behind me. Here’s a brief excerpt from the book.

Wisher’s World, Vol. 1 Composing an Apprentice

“Strap in, Reibe.” He complied without comment. “Get your gloves on. You’re going to need them. And wrap your scarf around your mouth and nose.” Again he did as he was told. More cheers went up.

Waiting for their turn nearly undid him. And then, before he was ready, Cleone pulled the line to bring the sail taut, as she jerked another line to swing it slightly to the left. The wind caught it.

The boat leaped forward like a wild thing with a wolf on its trail. It picked up speed with every yard gained. The faces of cheering villagers passed in a blur. Reibe kept his eyes closed for a while as they left the compound. The swift turn onto the main road caused his eyes to pop open and, as swiftly, close again, against the swirling landscape of the maneuver. The three leagues to Reston had always seemed to him a lengthy distance. Now, he wasn’t sure.

Cleone held a line in each gloved hand, constantly pulling or slackening on one or the other. He’d finally resolved his trepidation to traveling like this when he heard Cleone’s muffled voice. “Macai’s family farm is coming up on your right.”

By the time he opened his eyes and focused, they’d already passed it. He raised a hand to wave just as Cleone swung the sail to make the gentle curve in the road a few yards beyond the farmstead. He grabbed for the right-hand rail. The tracks made by previous land-boats drew them too far to the left, but their speed didn’t slow.

“Hang on.”

Cleone yanked on a line, forcing them to make a quick turn back to the right. In the process, the boat’s left runner lifted from the snow. They hung suspended and listing to the right at a steep angle and raced forward.

Reibe tried to swallow the gulp he felt as his stomach lurched. His eyes lost focus on the rushing ground. He couldn’t swallow. His tongue got in the way.

Clamping his eyes shut again, Reibe missed seeing the finale. The boat suddenly righted itself with a jar; all three runners on the ground, snow flying in every direction. He peeked to see if they were still on the road. They were.

The eye protectors did their job. They caked with flying snow on occasion, but they kept his eyes safe and intact. His fingers were warm and his feet remained on the ends of his legs. If he could get his heart under control, he might be able to count this as an adventure. …

I hope all of you will get a Kindle copy. The paperback won’t be out for a few months yet. When you finish reading the book, please leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other review site of your choice and send a copy to me, if you’d like. I’m always interested in what you think and how well my writing suited the reader.

Also, be sure to stop in my author’s page on Facebook and say hello. Click the like button while you’re there, too. Would love to see you more often.

Thanks again for stopping in. I hope to see you again in a couple of days with a regular post.

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


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 with Connie L. Peters Blog Tour Spot

Connie Pieters

Today I’m featuring a poet/writer friend of mine, Connie L. Peters. This lovely lady has graced many a pint page and numerous online venues with her words, and we’re all the better for it.

Here’s a bit about the lady who writes such soothing and inspirational poetry.

Connie is originally from western Pennsylvania and lives now in Southwest Colorado with her husband. They host two adults with developmental disabilities. Connie and Loren’s two grown children live in Arizona.

She writes fiction, creative nonfiction, devotions and poetry for adults and children. Her devotions and short stories have appeared in many publications. Her poetry has been published in the Christian Communicator, Alive Now, Mature Years plus many others. She writes regularly for The Pagosa Sun and the Presidential Prayer Team.

Connie enjoys playing Canasta and Scrabble, and traveling and adventure. She has visited all of the states except for Hawaii. She has been writing a poem a day since 2004.

I’ve been fortunate enough to write alongside Connie for a few years now. I’ve learned much from her approach to verse and from her attitude toward life in general. I got to know much more about here on the original Poetic Bloomings website, which morphed into Creative Bloomings this year.

Along the way, we’ve written poetic memoirs and poems for international collections. This gal has what it takes to get her point across,  but she doesn’t bludgeon the reader. Instead, she finesses her verse in such a way as to lead the eyes from start to finish and manages to sneak a subtle lesson in there at the same time. To all who know her, she’s a gem.


You can read more of her poetry at enthusiasticsoul.blogspot.com/

You can find her poetry regularly on sites such as Creative Bloomings and Poetic Asides.

Please take this opportunity to stop in at her online home and get acquainted. You’ll not be disappointed if you enjoy poetry with a smooth gentle side of grace on your plate.

Her blog tour post should be up and ready for a good visit tomorrow. Enjoy your visit and let her know I sent you.



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 Generating Story Ideas

Wordle 11-11-12

Humans are idea generating organisms. Face it. You couldn’t live one moment without thought generation taking place.

But how do we take those random ephemeral spears of mental images and create a story line from them?

Psychologists and other specialists have their theories. As a writer, though, my only concern is developing my own method for such creation. And since I’ve been doing this for most of my life without analyzing it, picking apart how I do it has presented a challenge of its own.

My story ideas always begin with a flash of image, as do most peoples’. They can stem from a memory or fragment of one. An idea trigger can also come from a commercial, a single image within a movie, or during a reading of something as innocuous as a print ad.

The flash of story occurs, sometimes as only a fragment and sometimes as a full-blown story with a complete arc, characters, and setting. It takes over the brain in a tide of sensation. However it happens, writing is the difficult part and the most time-consuming.

I, like every other writer/poet/artist must bring forth an interpretation of that idea for the pleasure or edification of others.

The process of that fleshing out of ideas, however, can cover a varied landscape of stair steps.

  • Deciding on the main character (s), if we don’t have that piece of the puzzle  already. And how many other characters will feature
  • Choosing the proper setting and detail for the story
  • Choosing the time duration for the story (one day, several days, months, years, or  a lifetime
  • To use subplots or not
  • Decide how entangled those subplots are with the main story line
  • Will the story need more than one book and how many. If more than one, will  they each stand alone and be linked through a master plot, be independent of each other with only the setting as the link, will they be told sequentially or at random, and does each story line have consequences that are reflected in following books.

And these points are only the first of many decisions made. Looks daunting, doesn’t it? It is when you get right down to basics. If a writer was mindful of all these considerations at the beginning, she’d probably quake, shake, and refuse to go past the first couple of points.

The thing is—writers aren’t necessarily the most rational beings. Even when the “writer” is a village storyteller, those points aren’t part of the conscious process. The story gets told in as logical a manner as the storyteller can produce, either by voice or pen.

Dramatic effects and description enter the picture. The story becomes a performance in itself. We can listen to it or hold it in our hands. We can desire it to be true with such intensity  that we fantasize about taking part in it (fan fiction.)

The peculiar part is that we’re programmed for it, for telling stories, for using our imaginations on a daily basis. Creating stories is a pastime we all share. How do I know?

Everyone daydreams, whether they’re conscious of it or not. And daydreams are merely stories we tell ourselves as opportunity and boredom arise.

So, tell me. What stories ideas have you generated today? Want to share them? Good. Leave a comment here. Share a smidgen of one story idea. Next month we’ll see what we can brainstorm around its core—maybe do a bit of flash fiction together.

I’ll see you all again in a couple of days. Happy writing, all. And have a terrific weekend.

At Home—Using Photos for Fiction Prompts

Courtesy of BJJ Photography

Courtesy of BJJ Photography

I’ve talked about making poems for posters, which are inspired by the landscape, etc. of the photo image. Today, I’m going to show how to take something from a photo to create short fiction.

The photo above shows an actual sign from the town of Phillipsburg, Montana. Every striking feature could inspire the writer to create a compelling story line, serious, satirical, or humorous. Let’s look at its elements.

The features for use

  • Question: are they serious? Well, can anyone be sure? At this point, the sponsored club could be used for science fiction or fantasy, conspiracy or thriller, parody or farce.
  • Actual address—the aliens have made it to Broadway. What kind of play could be wound around that idea alone? Playwright Gore Vidal had no trouble pulling together the alien element with a modern suburb to create “Visitor to a Small Planet.” If you haven’t seen this movie or read the play, give yourself a laugh and do so.
  • Purpose of the club—to promote patriotism, a good ride, and recreation. Where? In Granite County, nowhere else. Okay, are they really promoting patriotism for the county, the state, the nation, or a home planet of those aliens present? Or perhaps, the club promotes a new motorcycle species for that good ride.
  • Talk to author Mercedes Lackey about what species that cycle could fall into. She’s used such equipment to disguise “aliens” before. Okay, so she needed to disguise elven steeds. Same difference.
  • You can make up your own scenario about the recreation angle on this one. My imagination is on fertile mode right now and I have too many possibilities within grasp, and not all of them nice ones.

Putting together a scenario

What if we get obvious with the details?

  1. Aliens infiltrated the town back in the early ’40’s or ’50’s and lived there, disguised as humans from that point on. Why were they there? Maybe they were refugees from a galactic war and needed a quiet planet with comparable atmosphere and climate on which to live. Our little backwater rock, with its unsophisticated and backward intelligent life proved the perfect spot.
  2. The aliens discovered that their small ships could be turned into a vehicle not unlike what they saw zipping up and down the road that had two wheels, an engine, seat, and handlebars.
  3. Each ship could provide parts and pieces for several motorcycles, but these vehicles are different. They’re quiet, very fuel efficient, and sold only to very select humans.
  4. More refugees come to the town, having followed a beacon to get there.
  5. They don’t try to blend in as locals. The aliens flaunt their “alien” status, since the word means foreign-born resident. One problem they must overcome is correct “papers” to allow them to stay in country.
  6. They must develop livelihoods—what jobs would they do and why?
  7. What happens if the townspeople discover that these are real “space aliens”? Will they believe it? How would the humans discover it? Would they accept it and the aliens as the friends they’ve always had or denounce them? Will they find a way to protect their out-of-town friends from notoriety?

The scenario can grow to as large as the writer wants or can imagine. Silly situations are possible, along with dangerous misunderstandings. And all because of a sign placed near the entrance to a western mountain town.

Can you devise a piece of flash fiction to accommodate this scenario in the next few days? Think about. If you can, post it on your blog or website and leave a link to it here in a comment. Take the picture and make it into a small story. For this flash fiction, try to only 500 words. That’s plenty for a small story. I’d love to read whatever stories come out of this.

Until next time, have fun with words and see what you can do with a simple image. Share your ideas here with all of us.