Tag Archives: Holidays

Season of Inspiration

curated-stock-photos-v2-011-026

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.

stock-photo-20

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.

At Home with New Goals

stock-photo-5

Happy Holidays, All

We’ve managed to make it through to Christmas week without losing ourselves.  Or did we?

NaNo took the last of my writing reserves and wiped the floor with me, leaving me to put myself together again during December. And what have I been doing this month, writing wise?

Well, I’ve revised and combined two chapters on Dreamie’s Box and little else. The next few days will see me doing study duties on a writing course. I did beta testing on new software for writer Holly Lisle’s new course. That was a blast that was.

As part of the testing, I got to read pages of stories, some of which I hadn’t seen before. I’ll read Holly’s stuff anytime I can get my hands on it and now I’m going to have to get the full versions to read the rest of each story. Love it!

004-stock-photo-nAfter the holidays, I’ll work on my 2015 Editorial Calendar. My write-in group will go over goals for the next year at our first official meeting in January. It helps with accountability. It also forces me to implement a pacing program for myself. I don’t want to put myself into the same situation that I had this year. That’s my primary goal for the next year.

004-stock-photo-mIf you’re serious about writing, I strongly suggest putting together a writing group, whether as a critiquing unit or as a write-in cluster. Why? Accountability, feedback, writing energy generator; all of these come into play. If you’ve got dedicated people around you, your writing will improve and be extended.

In the meantime, I’ve been trying to work on domestic chores. Like many of you, I have a few gifts still to put together. I make all of my own gifts if I possibly can. I still have a few to go. They may be small, but they’re intricate and tedious by nature.

004-stock-photo-oNow that I’ve got my mind cleared away from all that didn’t get done this autumn, I can concentrate on what I really want to do in the next six/twelve months. I can settle comfortably into a writing routine that includes both of my groups. And above all, I can redefine who I am as a writer. That’s become important to me in this past couple of months.

My philosophy has shifted a bit and I must take a good look at where I want to go and which path serves me best. I have the time now to do that before I lock myself into a calendar of projects for 2015.

I’m hoping to get much more done on both of my websites. I’ve neglected each of them abysmally and I need to correct my course. That’s also high on my list of goals.

008-stock-photo-xComing to these conclusions has caused me difficulty. Why? Because I seriously considered walking away from writing during my time away. I can’t, but I considered it.

Now, I must forge a new relationship with all of you and what I do with this site and my writing in general. Major changes probably won’t appear, but there will be changes on a smaller scale. That’s the nature of moving through time.

Having said that, dedication to including all of you in my weekly struggles will become more pronounced. I hope you won’t mind too much. The transparency will do me good, and hopefully, help others understand that sunny and bright isn’t always the weather of the day. Storms with rain/snow/hail/and high winds come along unexpectedly and must be dealt with.

Along the way will be a lesson or two learned the hard way, which is the only way I know how to learn anything. I’ve got the bruises to prove the hard knocks.

Until I see you all next week, enjoy each day as it comes and forget about what might happen  (or might not happen) sometime in the future. The present is what charts the course to tomorrow, even if tomorrow doesn’t exist. There is only today. That’s where the future begins. It’s 007-stock-photo-b

Have a comforting and blessed holiday. I’ll see you all on the other side. Take care and God bless.

 

 

At Home in the Cold with a Full Timeline

Snow Trees

Blasts of frigid air out of the Yukon have sunk many of us into arctic conditions. Here in Northeast Montana we’ve taken to wearing three to four layers of clothes when we venture outside. Inside, we have our thermostat set on 65° and we still use afghans and lap robes to keep warm.

We’re not alone, though. Much of the country is facing the same conditions and many aren’t prepared for it. We do have that advantage up here in the Rockies. We’re also used to anticipating such needs months in advance.

Weather and writing?

Some may be wondering what this weather report has to do with writing. It’s this. If you experienced an avalanche of work in the past, you’ve learned how to prepare for another such event. If you understand how other chores, life situations, or projects must shift to accommodate the onslaught of new work, you can make room more easily and survive.

Last month I had several projects on my ‘To Finish List’ for NaNo. I got a few completed and out. I succeeded in that. That left a few projects awaiting further work this month, plus obligatory articles already scheduled for the month. In the middle of that list, add a story for a publication invitation and the Christmas holidays. Enter the avalanche, full-blown.

Handling the To-Be-Done

Can I get everything done before the end of the month? That remains to be seen. The blessing is that I’ve been here before and I can anticipate steps to secure the best outcome for me.

  • If an item has no deadline, give it one based on priority
  • Put all projects on a timeline for scheduling, ranked by deadline dates
  • Be sure to add time for domestic appointment(s) and tasks for holidays and double up where possible
  • Allow for minimal social media participation throughout the month
  • Complete each project quickly and efficiently and send it out before moving on
  • If a project can’t/won’t come together in a timely manner, skip it for later and go to the next in line.
  • Don’t skip more than one project this month

Looks daunting, doesn’t it? It is, but if I don’t prepare this way, I’ll lose too much ground in completing what’s on my desk. My January 2014 Editorial Calendar is set, except for last minute entries like guest posts.

My planning acts as a series of snow fences to break the waves of work into doable chunks. In the next two weeks I’ll be able to get several things done and out. One of the remaining larger pieces—my short story-turned-novella will be ready for final edit by the end of the month. That first week of January is slated for clean-up duties on my calendar.

A quick look at reality vs. planning

I take risks and persevere. I have three articles and two short stories which will definitely go out long before Christmas. A third short story will go out Christmas week and my second How-To Slay a Writer’s Dragon book will be ready for Kindle by the last week of the month. It’s almost ready for final edit and formatting now. I’ll have to see if I can pull off the cookbook that same week. I’m not sure about that one, I admit.

You see, I know what needs done, when it needs to be done, and have a good handle on how much I can complete.  That’s three-quarters of the game right there. And make no mistake—this is all a great board game with rules, playing pieces, and motivated players.

The unshakable rule not be forgotten on this kind of schedule is simple. Butt remains in chair at all times unless scheduled otherwise. Fingers keep flying across keyboard until a project is complete. And attitude must be one of confidence and perseverance.

NOTE: Okay, so butt will move for the unexpected calls of nature, but otherwise, it will go to sleep before rising from the chair seat.

Have a good week, everyone, with your own holiday avalanches. Build those snow fences high and strong. You can do it. I know you can.