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Monday, December 31, 2012

Dead Birds and Broken TV Sets.


        The presents unwrapped, the tree looking a bit worse for wear, Santa's Reindeer relaxing hopefully in a hot tub to soothe their aches and pains from their long flight.  It's now time for that time honored yearly pilgramage to my friends house to celebrate the new year.  

Every year (save last one), she gathers a bunch of her friends over at her place, where we eat, drink, and are merry.  We celebrate in Rio de Janeiro style, albeit a bit different.  You see, down there in Rio, they have an ocean.  So the tradition is to show up to the Copacabana Beach, where they make offerings to the goddess Lemangja/Yemanje  

Some bring wooden boats with gifts for her, usually beauty products and nice soaps are included, to give thanks for a blessing or a wish granted in the past year. Flowers are often sent out to sea as well as gifts for the goddess.  Those who did not bring flowers, street vendors are availalbe to help.  After the stroke of midnight on New Years Day, the people rush to the waters edge, where an unusual spectacle unfolds.

They go out into the sea, skipping over seven waves wishing for good fortune and happiness in the coming new year, making a wish with each skip.  They don't turn their backs on the sea, as it might anger the goddess.  

The tradition is to wear all white clothes to symbolize peace and renewal.  Other colors that might be worn are; red for romance, yellow for success, and green for health.   But do not wear black, you would be doomed with very bad luck for the coming year!

The above traditions were brought over to Brazil by African slaves in the 1500's.  They are from a religion called Candomble.  The mixture of these cultures have been named "Reveillon."  (A French word.)  Though this is also called "Ano Novo," which is the second largest celebration after Carnivale.

For those who like quieter fare, a meal at home is another option.  The first few minutes of the New Year, people avoid eating poultry.  Because when poultry feed, they  scratch their feet backwards.  So because of this, the belief is that when you eat poultry, you will not move forward but backwards in life.  Many eat pork to get around this restriction.

There are other rituals that are designed to help achieve something specific.  For example, if you want more money; all you have to do is jump on the right foot, so that you start out the year (right) with money.  For love matters, greeting a member of the opposite sex right after midnight, promises to bring luck in dating.  If the previous year was not particularly good for you... jump three times holding a glass of champagne, then toss the contents over your shoulder, to erase the bad of the past year.  However, you should consult your host first before trying this one. 

So how do we celebrate Rio style in Columbus Ohio.  Nope, definitley NOT in one of the local rivers (Olentangy or Scioto).  They would be iced over or very cold.  We celebrate by putting our wishes for the new year on paper airplanes, then at 9:00 p.m. (which is midnight Rio time).  We then gather on the sidewalk in front of my friends house, do the "Ohio State Wave," seven times, then release the planes to the fickle winds of Glen Echo Ravine.

So that about wraps up my "traditional" New Years Eve celebrations.  Oh, why the title of this blog?  What does it have to do with celebrating new years in Rio?  Well, I did a search on "How do they celebrate New Years in Rio?" and this is one of the options that my Google search yielded. Why?  I'm clue-less!  So how do you celebrate your New Years Eve?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hurdles-Recognizing the Obstacles in Your Writing


       What are your hurdles? To writing I mean. Do you have family obligations? Are you working a full time job? Giving care to a loved one? Or are there more, esoteric ones, like your mind? This last one is the biggest hurdle of all. The others already listed are basically surmountable odds. Creative scheduling, having a spouse or grandparent take care of your kids, or any “Down time,”becomes writing time.
       I wrote at night after putting my adult 'baby' to bed when I was taking care of my mother. I'd write and then get to bed around 2 a.m. Getting up around 9 a.m. to start her day. Those are the surmountable odds.
       The hurdles that are not so easy to go over, are the ones your mind puts into place. This is, as Natalie Goldberg has called, “Monkey Mind.” The internal critic we all struggle against, and yes even me. I am always getting input in from it. I just say, “Yea, I see that, but this is first draft, go away.” This years National Novel Writing Month critics favorite saying was, “This is not any good, it is crap.” To which I would reply, “It may be, but this is first draft, I can fix it later.”
     So I have developed my way of getting around them. Those internal critics, they can be defeated. How? You ask with skepticism in every look you give me. By doing warm ups, writing practices, which use the rules of writing practice that I learned from Natalie.

  1. Keep your hand moving. Do not stop, except at the end of the line, but go immediately back to the left margin and repeat.
  2. Do not edit or cross out. Just keep the pen moving (1).
  3. Go with first thoughts: much like first impressions, just write them down, and move on without doing 2, but doing 1.
  4. Go for the jugular: don't play it safe, if you think “I can't write that?” you are giving into that pesky simian.
  5. You are free to write the worst crap in the World/Universe/Galaxy. And this is my favorite of all the rules. I exemplify this rule EVERY DAY! :)

       Writing is much like any other exercise, it needs to have stretching and warm ups are the way to do it.
So try this. Here is a prompt. Use it. Use a timer, set it for 10 minutes, and have a comfy writing pen, and paper to hand. Then go to it. You may use the comment section below to post it if you wish. I'll do it with you.

“I remember....” If you get stuck, just use this prompt again.

GO!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Forty Thousand Word Slump


So you begin Nano with tremendous excitement, dreams of fancy certificates dance in front of your eyes, as you start your first word, your first 100, 1000 10k...then you keep going, you are on a roll, the sprints are pushing that word count into the ether, 20k, you are still going strong....30 k, not so bad, until you reach the dreaded 40 thousand mark.

<insert skidmarks here>

Yep, you stall out, you begin to think that you will never make it.  That the 50k was a fools dream.  You'll never finish right?  It's at 40k that I hit that wall.  It never fails...every year I hit it.  Everything up to that point seems ridiculously easy (at least for me).  But I smack right into it none-the- less.

Let me begin by pointing out,  I have won NaNoWriMo for the past three years (2009 through 2011, and also August Camp Nano as well 2012), so I know I can do it.  Since I have proven to myself I can do it, why is that last 10k so hard?

I think I have a theory, and it came to me years ago on the way back from a Star Trek Convention...yes, I said, a STAR TREK CONVENTION (and I'm a TREKKER not a TREKKIE so there :P)   Anyhow, I digress.  The convention had been a blast, and my firend Matt and I were driving back to Ohio.  We stopped overnight at a hotel, and I strangely felt badly depressed, I even cried (not letting Matt hear of course).  And for a week I was in that "Post Con letdown."

So I feel that is part of it.  I hit the 50k and win Nano and that let down feeling begins, so I'm already thinking about it.  I feel it is like a hitter in baseball, when they get a period called a slump.  Where they can't hit shit.  

And the closer I get to the 50k the worse it gets.  I try not to think about it, but it is there getting ready to pounce on me.  It's like maximum resistance on a treadmill or stair step, where every move is an agonizing hardship.  And it really hits bad when I've "reached" it only to find the Nano sites word counter doesn't agree with mine, so it is off to add more words (which sometimes I have had to write more words more than once).

That's when I see that it really is that old nemesis of mine, "Monkey Mind," (as Natalie Goldberg puts it in "Writing Down the Bones").  There's that evil simian, working his wiles on me and my writing.  Trying to crush the joy out of it.

So now it is back to basics time.  Change to a different scene in the book, one that will hold your interest so that the words flow like a stream, just focusing on that stream, and not the ocean; so that it will get to that ocean of 50 thousand words.  Or else I just think of it as a 10k word short story.  Whatever gets me out of the dangerous mindset.

Taking more breaks might also help, but sprints are more important than ever.  Change to writing longhand first.  I did so on a napkin at dinner tonight, working on part of a scene.  Which I believe will help me get to that coveted 50k.

So what tips do you have to impart with the "Rest of the class!"

Happy 40K everyone!

And may the odds be ever in your favor....sorry, I could NOT resist.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Blah.

Just a one off blog for now.  Just to keep my fingers moving across the keyboard.  Nothing really to impart, just random ramblings.  lol.  I'm just not in the mood to type up my newest blog on taking critiques.  Just not feeling it today, though I'm getting a better word count on NaNoWriMo.  For those of the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  Every November, people who participate in the insanity, write 50 thousand new words by the end of the month.  My fastest completion record is 18 days last year.  I have "won" it the last 3 years.

I think it was the first year I made it that I could prove to myself that I could do it! Once past that first year, it has been easy to do it.  It was the "Insurmountable barrier," that I couldn't see past that made me miss the 50  thousand or just give up.  I have been seeing the "I'm too far behind, and I know I won't make it..." statements a lot, and it is only day 10.

I tell people, that they can break it down by math.  They should take the amount of words they should be at, subtract what they got, and divide that by the amount of days remaining (in this case 20).  One of the people needs only 380ish words on top of the daily 1667 each day to make it.  Sprinting would have that in no time.

I did this method for August's Camp NaNoWriMo (put out by the same group that does the November ones), and came back twice and finished.  The "Insurmountable barrier" again rears it's ugly head!

This is an example of what I call the "Internal Critic."  Natalie Goldberg calls it, "Monkey Mind."  Sometimes this invisible beast comes to us in the voice of a well intention from a family member or friend.  It could be a teacher that says that you are "Not original, or you can't write."  Whoever it is, the more of these critics trying to stop me, shows that I'm on track.  It's the challenge to keep going I need.  I truly believe, the more obstacles you have in doing something, means that the universe is challenging you to take up the gauntlet and persevere.

So believe me when I say, just because you are behind, doesn't mean you can't catch up!  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

And now for something Completely Different... Happy Halloween!


Caspers (WY) Blood<y> (NY) Adventure

Casper (WY) slid into the 
Chocolate Bayou (MS)
hoping to find Witch Hazel (OR). 
He wanted to take his friend 
Guest (AL) 
to the Slaughter (DE, CA, & TN)
in Satans Kingdom (VT, MA)

When they arrived
they found Dead Women Crossing (OK)
with Pumpking Hook (NY) instead of hands.
Screamers (AL,TN) floating down their backs,
he knew then it was
HELL FOR CERTAIN (KY)

They tried to run around
Hells Corners (OH) passed 
Tombstone (AZ) and 
Fresh Kills (NY) littered 
on the ground

Guest fell behind
but Casper continued Guests screams
Echo (MN) 
in his head.

Suddenly Devils Ladder (ID)
appeared ahead.
He sprinted for it, horror gripped his heart, as
the Hounds were coming.
He gripped the first rung, 
placing his foot up he felt the hound grab at his 
heel.  

Panicked he pulled free, and scrambled up the ladder
to the Devils Tower (WY).

He crossed the top
and found the 
Devil's Slide (UT)
Caspar climbed upon it, and 
WHOOSH! he flew
down...down...down...
into the Devils Den (WY).

He let out a Yell (TN)
to the Nameless (TX) one and 
soon he saw a lantern appear 
held by the Mystic (TX) by the 
Dripping Springs (TX)

The Mystic led Casper
with his Bad Axe (MI) 
floating by his side.

Mystic led Caspar to 
Bat Cave (NC) where the floor
was covered in Bloody Springs (MS)

He could see Deadwood (OR) floating
bobbing up and down.
Smelling the combination of sulpher and Blood (NY),
creating a Bitter Springs (AZ)
he knew he would never forget

They got on a ferry
and drifted down 
out of the cave where 
Casper saw Kill Devil Hills (NC).

The ferry rounded Devils Elbow (CA)
where Savage (MN) Bloody Corners (OH)
led to Dead Man Crossing (OH).
He heard BOOS (IL) call to them
before they reached shore.

They had made it! 
They reached Candy Town (OH)!
Or had they....



Friday, October 19, 2012

The Etiquette of the Critique or Critique Etiquette...You decide!


     This topic came up as the result of a couple of my Facebook writing people. They were scared to put out their work for critique because of people who tore them apart, and were not constructive. They were hating on it, in other words. When you are a new writer, constructive criticism can feel like a personal attack against them. Basically a critiquer shows where the strengths are, and where there is room for improvement. However, there are good ways to critique, and bad ways to critique. When I belonged to a local critique group, this topic was discussed in detail for us to follow...thought I would share.


Critique Etiquette:

  1. Be Courteous. There is nothing good about being an a**. Be respectful, this shows you are a professional. “This is the worst crap ever written,” is a BIG NO NO!
  2. Be Professional: Use good grammar and do not use profanity. Basically use good manners.
  3. Be Specific: Point out what you mean in your critique. Give examples. When I critique, I usually take out the section that needs work (that I think needs work), and mention
    what is the problem. Sometimes I even rewrite the passage to show what I mean. Words like “That didn't work for me...” with no explanation of where it didn't work is really annoying You can say, “This section didn't work for me, and this is why...”
  4. Be Generous with praise: Point out things you really LIKED about the work. It can be as simple as highlighting it, and saying (like in brackets) <good job here> for example.
  5. Babylon...oops wrong blog!
  6. Be Clear and Concise: Make your notations and comments in clear, easy to understand wording. Nothing worse than having to ask about every little thing the critiquer has said in a critique, and this shows you are a professional...if they have to ask that many questions...you haven't done your job as a critiquer.
  7. Do unto others...: Be respectful when doing a critique. I am because that is the way I would like to be treated when someone is critiquing me.
  8. Be respectful of Writers Feelings: For instance, if you think something is too wordy (because too many details are being used), you could first state that the details really make the scene come to life, but then gently point out that sometimes it can interrupt flow, you could also make a brief suggestion on how to do that. Also, with newer writers, it can be helpful to point out only a couple of things to focus on, and praise the strengths you see.
  9. Do Not Judge the Story itself: A critiquers job is to judge the quality of the writing. Especially if it is a genre you do not usually read.
  10. Reread your critique: Before you send back a critique, go through to make sure it sounds good, and looks good. Looking professional is the key, and the writer has to be able to understand your critique.
I have a form with structural information...i.e. Spelling errors, grammatical errors (tallies), and repetitions. Then I have a section on pacing (flow), and structure comments. I add a disclaimer that states that the critique is just suggestions, and that I am making the comments to make the work stronger. But that the suggestions are just that...suggestions on how I *believe* what the work needs. Then I take the manuscript and go through it, making the comments themselves. Highlighting the errors on grammar, speelign, and specifics etc. To help the writer see what I mean.
So what experiences have you had with critiquing? What is the worst critique you have ever had? Conversely the best? In my next blog, I will discuss on how to take a critique of your work. Happy Writing and critiquing!


Sunday, October 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo 101 Basics Part 3


NaNoWriMo 101 Basics part 3
Writing the Rough Draft.

So now we arrive at the meat and bones of NaNoWriMo.  The rough draft!  You have your sprinting sheet ready, it looks real pretty there against the backdrop of your computer, stuck up on your wall with duct tape, or you have it minimized on the tool bar.   What now?

Most times I do a warm up.  Something totally non related to the Nano project.  Writing is like any other exercise, except it is mental...but just because it is done in the psyche, doesn't mean you don't have to warm up first.  Like a runner stretching before a workout, getting your brain warmed up is not a bad idea.   There are some writing prompts on the Writers Digest site, and also some really good ones online.  Here are a few to check out:

http://www.creativewritingprompts.com/
http://www.theteacherscorner.net/daily-writing-prompts/
http://www.writing.com/main/writing_prompts
http://writingprompts.tumblr.com/
http://poster.4teachers.org/worksheet/view.php?ID=1309

I just randomly pick out a prompt, and do a 10 minute timed writing.   I usually do those long hand.  There is something about the pen on paper, that accesses my creative side.  Using a computer, just doesn't give me that "In the moment," feeling.  I keep the notebook, and when I reread them later, I find great lines, or it may spark an idea for something new. Some of these may make it into my work in progress, but mostly they show up in new projects...but that is another blog for another time.

So now I'm ready to work on my Nano project.  I usually have an idea where I am starting.  As long as there is a flow going, that is how I work.  If I start getting bored, I either A) Stop working on it, and take a break.  B) I jump around to somewhere else in the story.   NOTE:  I put a note in the manuscript that is what I'm doing.  If that does not work, then I go with C) to another project, or do a writing prompt...this circumvents the internal critic.

If I do take a break, I go play with the dog (I also have a cat now), or take a walk, or watch some TV.  Housework is oftentimes cathartic, and gets you into a zen moment.  Whatever way you choose to get past the "block" AKA "Internal Critic," you need to choose what works for you.  Because, sometimes if you try to force it, your mind rebels to the point where you just won't do it.

Be good to yourself, and give yourself permission to take that break

Friday, October 12, 2012

NaNoWriMo 101 Basics Part 2


The Sprint

So yesterday, or rather probably earlier this morning, I wrote about the rules of writing practice to get rid of that pesky internal critic.   Keep the hand moving, Be specific, Go for the jugular, Don't edit or cross out, Lose control, and You are free to write the worse crap in the universe.   This is the way I do writing sprints.  I come at Nano with an idea, and some characters fleshed out.  Basics like where I think the story will go...but the actual writing comes out as one long writing practice.

So you want to participate in sprints...GREAT!  They are very helpful.  Don't worry if you get only 200 words or 800 words, any words are all good.   Having said that, here is what I do when I go into sprinting for the day.    In the Manuscript, I start out with notations..."Day 1" then underneath "Sprint 1," or 2,3.4 etc.   At the end of the sprint, I highlight that sprint, and do a word count.  Once I do that, I add that count underneath the sprint.   And then I start out the next sprint with "Sprint 2." and so on until I quit for the day.  I normally don't wait until the end of the day to do the next step.   Just add to the document as I go.   But I do what I call a "Sprint Log."  Here is what it looks like.

Day      Sprint 1         Sprint 2          Total for day       Total for project    Daily Goal
1
2
3
4
5

Something like that.  You could also add a column for your own daily goal, or the target of 1667 words (going down the entire column.

Then I have a dry erase board, where I put the figures (totals only) at the end of the day.  That way I can see it in front of me as I work.

Make sure when you are adding your totals into your manuscript, you save OFTEN!

Tomorrow (or as soon as I can), I will continue with an in depth part of what I do in a first draft.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

NaNoWriMo 101 Basics

Countdown to NaNoWriMo 2012!

      Yes, it is almost that time of year, when Lisa's thoughts turn to ones of writing 50k words in the month of November.  That lovely 30 day time frame that I and countless others know as, "NaNoWriMo" or National Novel Writing Month.   The goal is to write fifty thousand words in thirty days.  Hard you say?  Not really....especially when you break it down into 1667 per day.  And not when you consider that NaNoWriMo is for first drafts.  Which are called "Rough," for a reason.
      Years ago, a friend mentioned Natalie Goldbergs "Writing Down The Bones."  I read it, and others after from her, and found not only inspiration to write, but the that first drafts don't have to be pretty. They don't have to be publishable polished gems at the end of the month either.   The first draft phase is just to get the words on paper.
     Natalie came up with 5 rules for writing practices:

          1)  Keep your hand moving.  Don't let it stop, if you don't know what to write, write, "I don't know what to write," as many times as needed.  If it is a grocery list, write that.  As long as it is writing, it counts.

          2)  Lose Control- Don't worry about anyone seeing it.  Go for the jugular.  This is a first draft after all.

          3)  Be specific-  Honda Accord not Blue car.   Oak Tree, Levi's jeans.   These are the details that bring your character to life.

          4)  Don't think-  Go with your first thoughts.  Which I now sounds counter-intuitive, or wrong.  But it really does work, trust me...would I lie to you?   (don't answer that lol).

         5)  (and my personal favorite).  You are free to write the worst junk in the world/universe/cosmos.  The first draft is the place where you don't have to worry about punctuation, or that you got the characters name wrong.  This is the place where you are free to write whatever the heck you want to write.


    I also suggest getting into a sprint group, or just sprinting on your own.  There is one that I have started called "Sprinters Unite" on Facebook if you are interested in sprinting there.  Sprinting is usually 20 minute timed writing, where you just write as rough as you can.  The word count really adds up with them.

  If you are new to Nano, then there is some advice that this 4 time participant 3 time winner can pass on to you.  Make sure you get some away from the computer time.  Go for a walk.  Eat decent food and get enough rest.  Nothing kills creativity worse than not taking yourself!
  Another tip if you get stuck.  Move to another scene.  You can do this by putting asterisks and a comment like: "*Note:  This is an out of order scene, should go into Chapter X."

I also keep a sprint log sheet for the month.  That way I always know where I am at and where I should be.  There are calendars with the daily accumulative word counts on them, use them...they are really good resources to have.

Tomorrow (if I can), I will put up instructions on how to put together my sprint log.   I will definitely have it up the day after by the latest.  I may be travelling on a work assignment soon.  So I will try to get it on here in the next couple of days.

Happy Writing.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

WINNING! Camp Nano August 2012


     Originally I had a different version of this blog post to share, but due to the word count being so far different between my wp and the Camp Nanowrimo site, I had to add more words. What I had written before, showed I had finished with 652 words to spare. But when I tried to authenticate my word count on their site, it showed only 49, 406. So for you math whizzes, that would be another 594 words!
     Keeping in mind that when I wrote the original draft, I wrote at the beginning of each day, “Day 1,” or 2 or 3 whichever it was that day. Then I would write “Sprint 1” and so on for each sprint that I did that day, and at the end of each sprinting section, the total amount of words per each sprint session. So then I took those figures and created a “Sprinting table” that showed what I was doing word count, including total words/day and cumulative totals. That way, I knew when I was behind, and how much I needed at any given point, to write to make up the deificit.
     I wish I could say “It's ready for publication,” after only one draft! But I need to edit it, rewrite it, polish it up and make it look pretty. As it is now, I've written a lot of scenes out of order. Basically, I wrote this novels first draft, like they shoot movies, with each scene out of order.
     So now I'm going to take a paper copy, highlight where the breaks should be, and then cut it...yep with scissors; into the different scenes. I'll number the pieces on the back to keep track of where they had been originally.
     Then I'll tape them back in order, though this will still mean its a rough draft (so I'll need to write the connective tissues, and sinews, to make the body whole). Then the outlining process will begin, which is when I'll put together the puzzle into it's glorious whole, a completed picture. The outline will have the details; setting, scene, characters, and plot points (action).
     Then I'm ready to rewrite and fix the rough edges, or glass shards, filing the sharpness down into where each piece fits in together. This part is where I catch problems with my picture, so I have to rethunk it (btw, I know 'rethunk' is not a real word. I'm showing my artistic license here).
     Basically, I take draft 1 and distill it down to more manageable chunks. Then I take a program like “Natural Reader” (they have a free version, but the pay one has better voices). It is easier to edit when you hear it as a reader would read it. You could also have a friend, or another writer, read it to you, and you listen doing the same thing. Listening for rough spots, where the reader trips over the word. This helps you see if you have captured the sound of what you want to convey to your reader. The other way, record yourself reading, then play it back. It is really important to do this step, as I can get a different perspective on the project. And to catch any continuity errors as well.
     Then when I've finally got it to a point where I'm happy, I put it out to a Beta reader, or an editor. Like a beta test on an online game, this is where the reader finds any glitches not caught by the writer. As I say, “If a reader has to ask for clarification, or doesn't understand what I've written, then I haven't done my job as a writer.”

Monday, August 27, 2012

How to Write 50,000 Words in a Day...er 30 or 31 Days

     People often ask me how I do it.  "How do you write 50,000 words in a month?"  In response I say, "Writing Sprints."  If it weren't for writing sprints, I wouldn't have made the goal the last three years, (and last year in 18 days).  It's easy when you also break down the 50,000 into daily increments.  For NaNoWriMo in November is 30 days, so it works out 1667 words/day.  The Camp NaNo August is 31 days, so it is 1613/day.
     I've been behind twice so far this month, and I've caught up relatively easy due to sprinting.  I made a sprinting table which is broken down into:  Day 1, 2, 3, 4.... etc.  from top down.  Then on the cross axis, it says Sprint 1, 2, 3...etc.  Then there is a total field at the end of the sprint, and then a a cumulative word total.  What is also helpful, is a calendar which shows the word count you should be at by that point in the month.  
     To sprint, its easier when you are doing sprints with other people, either online or in person.  I do so online through a couple of groups (well more than that) on Facebook.  Someone will suggest a sprint (usually 20 minute intervals), and since a lot of us are not in the same time zone, we put the start time in minutes; i.e. :50 so for me it would be like 5:50, but my friends in the UK it is 11:50, the west coast 2:50, etc.
    If I get behind, I determine the amount I'm behind, divide by the number of days remaining in the month, then add that result to a normal day total, and that is the new minimum I have to reach to get back on track.  Though you can always do more.  I actually divided by less days, making more work,  to catch up quicker.
     So don't despair that you'll never catch up.  Just break down the numbers and go from there, remembering it's a first (rough) draft, no editing, you can skip around and do scenes out of order, and you are free to write the worst junk in the universe!   Sprinting is also good for Editing as well.  So you can keep track by number of pages done during a sprint, or number of paragraphs done.  With these tips, you should be able to finish 50,000 in a month or less!
                         





















Sunday, June 10, 2012

Road Kill? First Draft


This is an example of a first draft of a story.  I will post the edited/final version later...but you can see how rough it is.  :)  Thought I would share, and if you wish to make a critique...feel free to do so :)  Feedback is always great!  Thank you so much.  And the idea behind the story....I was driving to the library today, I saw a dead groundhog on Scioto Darby Rd. on my way to the library.  I got to thinking about zombies for some reason, then I giggled as I thought about zombie ground  hogs.  There ya go lol.



Road Kill?  Draft 1

The wind buffeted their wings as they flew high above the land below them.  They were enjoying the flight, but they were also getting peckish.  Their leader started the circle, and the others fell in line.  They saw what was below.  It was plump, big, and had brown fur.  They started to circle in.  No other predators about.  They were natures clean up crew.
The ground rose to meet them, and they put out their talons down.  They came to a rest, and pulled their wings into their sides.  The leader stalked over to the kill, and he surveyed it before starting to put his beak down to take a first bite.  Suddenly, the leg jerked.  The leader reared back startled.  The leg stopped, and he looked perplexed at the now still again form.  He smelled it...yes, death was on it.  And he went to take another bite.
The leg jerked again.  And the leader moved around to the head.  He surveyed it more, and then it jumped into motion, and the last thing the leader saw, was its lifeless eyes, and the mouth chomping down on the leaders head.  The others rose in confusion and fear, they took off as their leaders life force drained from him.  The road kill got up, listed a little to the side, and then he got into motion.  Dragging his crushed limb behind him.

xxxx


The little boy in his backyard, played with his swingset.  The swingset was his favorite thing in the whole world...well besides his mummy and daddy.  He sat on the rubber seat, and pumped his legs back and forth.  The swing raising higher and higher until he thought he could touch the sky!  He swung saw sky and tree, gravity taking him back, he saw the ground below.  Back and forth he swung, and then on the third pendulum swing, he saw something that wasn't their before.
He stopped pumping his legs, and pulling his arms, slowing the pendulum down.  The started dragging his feet to slow down even further, until he planted his feet, and came to a complete standstill.
He looked at the thing that had caught his attention.  It didn't move, it just laid on the ground.  He transferred the weight untill he was standing on his legs, and the front of the swings seat was hitting him on the back of his bare legs. He pulled  his shorts down and walked over to the brown thing laying there.
He circled it, and then he took his tennis shoed foot, and kicked it.  Flies started to descend on it, that was when the stench hit his nostrils.  He moved back a little, but stayed close.  He saw a limb from a tree that had  fallen on the ground.  He walked over to it, and he bent down to pick it up.
The stick was as long as his body, so he went back to the brown thing on the ground, and took the tip of it...gingerly, he poked it in the side.  It didn't do anything.  Then he prodded it harder with the stick.  It still didn't move, and he started to beat it with the stick.  Twitch!  the leg moved.  The little boy jumped back.  But then when it didn't move again, he took the stick and started beating the leg with it.  Just for its impertinance.
TWITCH.  This time it took the body with it.  He looked at it startled.  Then it started to get up from the ground.  The fir rippling, and the oozing from its side as the bowels discharged.  The little boy took the stick, and pushed it back down on it's side.
The thing stayed once more on his side.  Its eye still open, but covered in white.
He started to tire of the stick poking game, and he sat down about four feet from the thing.  It stayed quiet, and then it began to move.  It gathered its stiffened limbs, and swayed some, but it began walking towards the kid.  The kid was startled, but he stayed put.  He grabbed the stick just in case.  But he wasn't afraid of it.  It couldn't hurt him... after all it was dead!
It made no noise, but moved to about a yard from him, and came to a halt.  The standoff/sitoff stayed in place, and the thing stayed in place.  The milky eyes staring at nothing, and the lively eyes, squinted at the thing.  He didn't see any motion until the thing was on top of him, biting and gnawing on his face.  The little boy screamed, and his father ran out to see what was the matter.  He couldn't imagine what was attacking his son, but he sprung into action, and grabbed the thing on his sons face.  It was firmly stuck in place, and then he saw the stick his son had abandoned when he tried himself to loosen the groundhog.
His father finally got the thing off of him, but the damage was done... His son's face was almost all the way gone, and the thing had reached his son's brain.  His eyes registered the shock, and he flung the thing away as far as he could.  It hit the tree with a thud, and slid down to the ground.
Daddy picked up his son from the ground, cradling him in his arms, and running to get him into the car.  He couldn't tell if his son was alive or dead, but he sped away to the hospital.

xxxx

The thing stayed still, until Daddy came home.  He walked like he was in a daze, his son dead in the morgue.  They couldn't comprehend why a dead thing would attack someone...and they thought the father had something to do with it...he heard their whispering.  But he ignored them, and walked out of the hospital.  He would damn well get rid of the thing that killed his son!
He saw it lying on the ground where it had landed.  He took a torch, lit from the bar'b'que on the back patio.  He took the raging flame over to the tree side, and then lit the dead thing on fire.  It was reduced to bone in seconds, and it moved no more.  Daddy took the torch over to the garden hose, and he watered it down until it was out.  In the house, he took a shoe box.  He took the shoe box out to the garage, placing it on the shelf momentarily, while he picked up and put on his garden gloves.
The task done, he grabbed the box, and picked up his shovel back through the back door of the garage, and into the back yard.  At the base of the tree, he picked up the charred bones, and bits of fur left, and placed them in the box.
The shovel he used to dig a hole.  And he silently dug the scratching sound of dirt parting for steel.  Soon he had a hole big enough to drop the box into, and he started reversing the process, putting the dirt back in the hole.
He patted it down firmly, and took the shovel back to the garage. Placing it onto the hooks where he hung it metal up, and the handle swinging down, he found the next thing on the other side.  It was rope that he had used to spelunk in college.  His wife always told him he was a pack rat.
He pulled it off of the nail on the wall, and then went back to his backyard.  He knew where he would do it, and the tree was perfect for what he intended to do.  They thought he had killed his son.  He knew it would be a matter of time, and they would never believe he had been killed by a zombie ground hog.  And he didn't want to be without his child.
Arriving at the tree, he uncurled the rope, and flung the one end over the limb.  But it fell back to the ground.  He left it on the ground, and walked back to the garage, where he grabbed his ladder from yet another hook.  At least it was organized pack rat.
He lowered the top of the ladder so it would fit through the garage door.  The tree awaited him, and he moved the latter into an upright position, and then he opened its bottom legs.  He put it under the limb, and bent down to grab the rope.  Ascending the steps, he fixed the rope into place on the limb.  He tied slip knot in the other end, and put this loop around his neck. It felt tight against his flesh, and he swallowed before taking his last breath on earth.  He got on the top step careful not to fall, and he giggled maniacally.  That's what he wanted after all, to take one last fall.
From the top of the latter he jumped higher into the air, and then his neck broke when it reached the end of the teather.  That is how the police found him.

xxxx

The buzzards circled overhead, they saw something on the ground, and they moved into investigate.  They landed and moved over to the thing lying on the ground.  It didn't move, and it smelled of death.  They saw it was one of their own, but that did not stop them.  It was the circle of life after all.
They jumped slightly when the wing twitched.

The End?


Sunday, May 27, 2012

12 Days, of...Writing Distractions


       It's a fact of life for me, that I'm caring for my 87 year old mother.  I'm glad to do it for her, and make her as comfortable as I can.  So the following is no way intended to be disrespectful to her.  So without further ado...My take of the "12 Days of Christmas" with...drumroll please....


The Twelve Days of Writing Distractions

On the first day of writing,
distractions gave to me...
a day of caring for my mom....

On the second day of writing,
distractions gave to me...
Two Snuffles outings
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the third day of writing,
distractions gave to me...
Three loads of laundry
two Snuffles outings,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the fourth day of writing,
distractions gave to me...
four hallucinations
three loads of laundry
two Snuffles outings,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the fifth day of writing,
distractions gave to me....
five pain pills for my back,
four hallucinations
three loads of laundry
two Snuffles outigns,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the sixth day of writing,
distractions were all about...
six bills to pay,
five pain pills for  my back
four hallucinations
three loads of laundry
two Snuffles outings,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the seventh day of writing,
distractions were beginning to kill me...
seven kitchen things cleaned,
six bills to pay,
five pain pills for my back.
four hallucinations
three loads of laundry,
Two Snuffles outings,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the eight day of writing,
distractions were looming.
eight wounds to cleanse
seven kitchen items cleaned
six bills to pay,
five pain pills for my back...
four hallucinations
three loads of laundry
Two Snuffles outings,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the ninth day of writing,
distractions started stalking
nine hours of facebook games
eight wounds to cleanse
seven kitchen items cleaned
six bills to pay,
five pain pills...
four hallucinations
three loads of laundry
Two Snuffles outings,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the tenth day of writing,
distractions were breathing down my neck.
Ten brain cells dying.
nine hours of facebook games
eight wounds to cleanse
seven kitchen items cleaned
six bills to pay
FIVE PAIN PILLS....
four hallucinations
three loads of laundry
Two Snuffles outings,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the Eleventh day of writing,
distractions teeth were felt...
eleven body dings.
ten brain cells dying
night hours of facebook games
eight wounds to cleanse
seven kitchen items cleaned
six bills to pay
FIVE GARGANTUAN PAIN PILLs (think Mr. ED sized)
four hallucinations
three loads of laundry
Two Snuffles outings,
and a day of caring for my mom.

On the Twelth day of writing
distractions had me
pulling out my hair....
Twelve hours of hallucinations (of my own from all the pain pills)....
eleven body dings
ten brain cells dying
nine hours of facebook
eight wounds to cleanse
seven kitchen items cleaned
six bills to pay
TAKING THE WHOLE BOTTLE of PILLS
four hallucinations (yea, after taking a whole bottle of pills do you blame me?  they are my hallucinations now lol)
three loads of laundry
Two Snuffles outings
and a day of caring for MY mom......


<huff... puff....wheeeze>

Friday, May 18, 2012


Hoaxes.

We've all seen them.  On Facebook, Twitter, other social media sites; those irritating messages that people keep passing on, thinking that whatever is being said is real.  One of the earliest ones that I came across on Facebook, was the "Becoming a Parent (Father/Mother) was the best thing to happen to me" which was supposedly a site for pedophiles.  I checked my "bible" (about such things), www.snopes.com, and they said it was a hoax.
Hoaxes take time to check. They can also be aggravating to find, when you have to find the right key words to bring up the right information.  However, my real thorny spot/annoyance, is when others do not take the time to verify (with Snopes or other sources) before reposting.  I actually go a step further.  After I have verified it on Snopes as a hoax (or other findings), I copy the link, and then I post it as a comment on their post.  Most people appreciate it, but not sure all do.
Seriously though, some of these things LOOK legit.  Years ago, the person who told me about snopes, did not check it first with a report that looked legit.  The "Penny Brown" story was circulating, and had a picture of "Penny Brown," and vivid details like it was real.  But I went ahead and verified first, then let this lady know that it was a hoax.  She was like, "I usually always check...but it looked so real."
I once told someone off for posting an urban legend without checking first.  I told him as nicely as I could, "I like getting the informational/personal stuff from you.  Like what is happening  in your life, making plans to get together, those sort of things...but please stop sending me the bullshit emails without checking their validity first."  Needless to say, I didn't hear from him for a while.
But seriously, my point is, don't pass anything before checking first.  Virus hoaxes run rampant, and even false missing kids notices.  Unless I know dang well someone has done a check, I won't repost without checking first, or at least asking the poster if they have verified the information before posting.  If people would look these up first, a lot of this misinformation could be eliminated.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Devil is in the Details

DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS - The "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996) shows this phrase as a variation of "God is in the details - Whatever one does should be done thoroughly; details are important. The saying is generally attributed to Gustave Flaubert (1821-80), who is often quoted as saying, 'Le bon Dieu est dans le detail' (God is in the details). Other attributions include Michelangelo, the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and the art historian Aby Warburg. 'The Devil is in the details' is a variant of the proverb, referring to a catch hidden in the details. 'Governing is in the details''and 'The truth, if it exists, is in the details' are recent variants. Listed as an anonymous saying in the sixteenth edition of Barlett's 'Familiar Quotations,' edited by Justin Kaplan." - http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/24/messages/694.html



The Devil is in the Details.

        When I was in High School, (never mind the year!), Mrs. Brenneman (who at the time was Miss Rosenfeld), was my English teacher. She gave us an assignment for creative writing. And we were each assigned one ingredient to illustrate the story. Some of us brought in loaves of bread, some had to bring in jars of peanut butter (and some jelly.)
        The assignment seemed straightforward enough; an alien has landed on earth, and is hungry. Describe how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. She did warn us to use “...specific details.”
We went home, wrote our stories, and brought our assigned ingredients (I seem to recall mine was a loaf of bread, but you know what they say about the mind.... no wise cracks from the “Peanut” butter gallery!). And I thought I had it made... how wrong I was!
        So Miss Rosenfeld chose a story, and had all the ingredients on one table, and a second empty table to work on. As she read each story, she would do exactly what was directed, so there were a lot of unopened jars on top of unopened loaves of bread. We were all laughing hysterically. I knew mine would get such treatment!
        She told us that, “Remember they don't know how to extrapolate from your directions how to;
open the loaf of bread, taking out the two slices of bread, putting those slices of bread on a plate (its that round flat thing on the table), then open the jar of peanut butter, place the knife in the brown substance (peanut butter), and move the knife around, to mix the peanut butter, then take the knife with a scoop of the peanut butter, and wipe it on the bread. Then put the knife back in the peanut butter, take it out, and put more on the other slice of bread. Now take the jar of jelly, open it, and take another knife, scoop some up, and put it on the first slice of bread on top of the peanut butter. Now you put the two slices with the peanut butter and jelly side facing each other, and put them together.” Of course I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of what she said.
        I've always remembered that lesson for writing, though if I were doing it now, I'd be the smart-ass and ask, “But what if they are allergic to peanuts?” Detention here I come!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Editing for this Dummy :)


It is a process for all of that.  It too has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  It helps to have a "Plan of attack."  My first salvo, is to reread the first ROUGH draft.  Just read, no writing anything down, or editing yet.  Then a second re-read I do make notes of the obvious flaws (timeline, keeping the characters names straight).
Next I do the actual outline phase.  This way, I know the way I want to make the story look.  This will be the structure.  For my latest editing foray, I have started chapter 1 4 years after the prologue.  So I did some notes of what transpired in those four years.  The outline functions as a timeline as well.
Plan A was to follow the original draft, fixing the errors.  But I had a huge timeline issue, you could drive a military grade Hummer through.  Actually more like a tank!  So I came up with plan B, which was to have Chapter one begin 10 years after, with the 2nd main character Lucy, fighting to keep her mother alive, to keep her on life supporting feeding.  And it would have fixed the novel somewhat, but then the 3rd main characters would have been screwed.
Why three main characters?  Well, Lucy and Janice would have been secondary, until I realized that they were too strong to be anything but main characters in their own rights.  So it is working out well from that standpoint.  But I'm having to make sure the timelines mix well.  Hence, going back, in some aspects, to be more true to the first draft.
Once that is done, then I make sure that the character names and facts are straight throughout.  Or you have no going against what you has come before.
Finally punctuation, grammer, the nit picky little details that we all hate to have to work with, but make all the difference in comprehension.
Now should everyone follow my way...if it works then yes.  If it doesn't, then take what you need, or move it around so it works for you.  It seems more time consuming, and it is...but it is the way I work most of my editing...but ymmv.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Care and Feeding of a Muse, or Ode to that most Beautous Creature


The Care and feeding of your Muse....Or Ode to that most Beautous Creature...The Muse.

"What does a muse eat?"  If I had a dime for every person who asked me that question...oh right, I'd have zip!
Honestly, the question never gave me much thought before.  The next question I asked myself, "If they eat...what do they eat?"  The muses were part of Greek Mythology, so maybe something with Feta in it?  Maybe a big honking Gyro?  (And by the way, that is pronounced Euro...made the mistake of calling it a Gy...ro, heavy emphasis on the G sound hard G to a Greek Gyro shop owner once.  He settled me out on it PDQ).
Or maybe ambrosia.  Hmmm....I wonder if they feed on our creative energy, and recycle it into our wellspring of writing?
I do know they are an invaluable asset in our writing endeavors.  They are our partners, our confessors, our breath of energy when we are at our lowest ebbs.  To quote (and pun) a song...they are the "...wind beneath our wings."
But we should not ignore their needs. If we tend them carefully, cautiously, and with GREAT respect... we should get years of partnership from them.  That and camaraderie.  And a jelly donut.
HEY Stop that!!!!!   That last part was not from me!
"Yes it was...I was just picking up on your stomachs thought!"
Uh, good point.  Can't argue with a good Muse!
"Point of order, yes you can...but I wouldn't advise it."
So, do you like this blog?  Does it meet your high standards?"
"Yes."
Good because I'm finished.  I've had my say!  Oh, forgot, they like music (gee wonder where that word came from?) ;)  And chocolate....and an occasional glass of wine.  And pin wheels, and lollipops.
"Don't forget the bright shiny objects."
No, we musn't forget those!
"And rainbows..."
Are you QUITE through yet muse?
"Yea, I think I got it!"
Okay, so the last word is...drum roll please...

MUSE...it isn't for breakfast anymore!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

My review of "The Hunger Games" Movie....EXTREME SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!


The Hunger Games Movie Review, by L. Anne Wooley

"May the Odds ever be in your favor."

And so begins the first movie installment of the widely popular trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  I have read all three books of the trilogy twice, and I highly recommend them.  Some movies are close to the books (i.e. Bram Stokers Dracula, however you get sympathy for Vlad in the movie, not so in the book), some are not so close (Harry Potter).
As far as a movie adaptation...this was pretty close to the actual books with some glaring discrepancies.  First, the Mockingjay Pin that Katniss gets, was actually given to her by Madge, the daughter of the mayor.  The movie shows her getting it from (probably)  Greasy Sae.  She gives it to Prim, who gives it back.
Secondly, on the train and in the Capital, Katniss and Peeta are shown stuffing themselves to almost sickness with food.  In the movie, I did not see them touch one scrap.  The book basically shows them using the food to bulk up to survive better in the games, and the fact they never have enough to eat, which should have been brought out more in the movie.
The GLARING screw up, was putting the riot in District 11 in this movie....it happens in the SECOND book...not the FIRST.  The riot happens when Peeta and Katniss are on their victory tour of the districts.  It happens after Katniss thanks Rue, and the other tributes families.  So I have no idea how they are going to handle that when that comes up in book 2's movie.
The scene with Rue was handled exactly as it was in the book....and yes, I bawled.  I'm not ashamed to admit it.  It was very touching.
The costumes were amazing, especially Peeta and Katniss's fire costumes.  Pretty much everything else is very close to the book.  So I was not displeased.
Overall, I felt the movie was well worth the price of admission, and did not soil the book, or sour the book for me.  I give it a big thumbs up!
 

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Ice Maiden for Becca's challenge "Frosty Path"

The Ice Maiden By, L. Anne Wooley



     Act. 1 Scene 1.

     Setting: Washington, DC. Path that runs alongside the mirror pool
     between the Washington, and Lincoln monuments. Winter time late in
     the day.

          Amanda Thornton, a supermodel, is jogging along the path.

          CrunchcrunchCrunchcrunchCrunchcrunch.

          The path below her feet crack under the pressure of her cleat filled tennis shoes. Amanda would run without fail, every day, no matter how bad the weather.

     “John, I have to go to work. Jason is expecting the new novel in a couple of weeks....I sure hope that is what you are working on,” Robert smiled exasperatedly at his lover. He knew better than to push though, John was a workaholic.
     “Just something I'm working on,” John said.
     Robert stepped behind John, and noticed what was on the screen.. “A Screenplay? You've never written a screenplay in your life!” Robert retorted incredulously.
     “Always a first time for everything,” John muttered.
     A heavy sigh was his response. Then he felt Roberts lips on his neck, and he smiled.
     “Don't work to hard on that. You need to finish the novel,” Robert warned. He then turned walking to the door, “Ciao.”
     The absent wave was all he got in response.

     The snow on the ground deterred the other joggers though, and Amanda had the whole trail to herself....well and one other. Unbeknownst to her, someone was up ahead of her, hidden by a tree.
When she reached his position, he stepped out in front of her, arm outstretched, and connected with her neck. She went down on her back. The knife descended too close for her eye to
follow, or to make out a cry. The blood squirted out, and the death rattle came very fast. The blood saturated the snow around the path, and the killer dragged her body deep into the brush.


       John paused. He felt something familiar about the thing. But he felt the need to finish the
Scene. But where to put her body?

      He came through on the other side, and the deepening gloom covered his
movements. He pulled her up, putting his arm around her like he was holding up a drunk. His car was close, and he managed to get her inside the trunk without anyone being any the wiser. There was a plastic liner inside, and he tucked it around her body, like a parent would a child. Except he covered her face last.

     John could not shake the feeling that he knew something about this, the deja vu sense was so strong. He clicked on the Google Chrome Icon on his computer, and looked up the name, “Amanda Thornton.”
His eyes grew big, the first few results were for a model/actress who had been murdered. He remembered the case now. It was big in all the papers, and her body had never been found. The picture of her face came to his mind. Not as it would have appeared when she was alive, rather in death.
       Then he sat back clicking open the document he had started writing in, and then he dove back into the narration.

      He drove for three hours, humming absently to himself, the George Washington Highway led him quickly out of town, he headed towards the Virginia mountains. His cabin was at a higher altitude and secluded.
     His harem was getting larger. He turned off a few hours later, the gravel
drive was slippery with the ice.

     His car navigated the slippery slope, and made it to the top of the driveway. He parked in front of the barn, and the cabin sat to the
right of that.

     He turned off the motor, the adrenalin of getting away once again,
coursed through his veins. The high he got from a successful
slaughter was better than sex.


      John, started looking at Google Earth. This region of the Appalacians was one he was familiar with. His parents cabin was there. He had not been there for ten years; the time that her murder occurred.

     The crunch of his boots on the snow sent chills through his body
and the air was coming out in white puffs. He moved around to the
trunk and opened it. He pulled the bag covered body, placing it over his shoulder,
and walked it into the barnwhere his tools awaited. There was a tractor in it,
and an attached flat bed trailer. He deposited Maggie's body on top of it,
and looked over to where the hacksaw was hanging on the barn wall.

<killer moves over to the wall, where he takes the hacksaw
down from the wall>


               John remembered the tangy scent of blood. He stopped writing, and picked up the phone... “Hello 911....I know where Maggie Thornton and the others are.”





Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Wolf and the Crow Flash Fiction for Bony Fingered Limbs Contest


The Wolf and the Crow By, L. Anne Wooley

     Kai sat, legs crossed as he breathed in the peyote smoke. He ignored all the voices that had taunted him. The voices that said he would fail again, even his best friend. He centered himself, using his Grandfathers voice, instructing him in the vision quest. He felt the earth below his body, and the sky above him, as if they were physical beings. The fire in front of him flickered and sizzled. He watched the flames, first they slowed, and then then they stopped. His heart beat slowly, like the drums, and then the dark moved in to surround him. He heard a noise behind him, and turned quickly. He saw ...glowing eyes.
     He leaned slowly to his right, feeling for his knife. He touched the metal comfortingly in his hand. He picked up the hilt and curled his hand around it. He held it slightly in front of him.
The great beast moved into the light of the fire. Its coat was silver, and touched with frosty white edges. Kai looked into it's eyes, knowing breaking contact might mean his death. The two solemnly regarded each other. The wolf blinked but otherwise never broke eye contact.
Kai poised, ready for defense. He felt fear course through his veins, but tried not to let it show. Somehow, he knew the wolf knew.
       The wolf sat, and regarded Kai solemnly. "Well boy, are you going to kill me?"
       Kai jumped about a foot up in the air, he shook his head as if he was hallucinating.                                                                                                                      
       Then another voice broke in, "Yes, are you going to kill the wolf? Because, I would really like some wolf meat. Mighty tasty....mighty tasty." Kai glanced quickly to where the voice was coming from, and he didn't see anything but two glinting eyes. They were closer to the ground.
        "You be silent crow," the snap came so quickly the crow almost did not see it. It jumped back quickly.
       "Oh my, I'm so scared."
      "You're Father Crow." Kai stated.
      "Well spotted boy."
       The wolf sighed. "Human, this is your vision. What do you gain from it?"
       Kai was surprised. He thought he understood that the vision was supposed to tell him, not the other way around.
      "It does not work that way human. This is your vision."
      Kai looked surprised...”You can read my mind?”
      “Of course we can...that's part of the deal,” the crow sounded smug.
      "So I can control it?"
      "To an extent," the wolf responded.
      “So what am I supposed to learn? Why have you never come to me before?” Kai looked puzzled.
      "Human you have much to learn about patience. If you are to lead your tribe, you need patience, wisdom, and courage."
      "And cunning...don't forget the cunning," the crow butted.
      "Cunning has it's uses, but one should never rely on it solely in all situations."
      Kai nodded. "So you are not real, and I don't need to worry about you eating me?"
      "Didn't say that human."
      "What. that you aren't real, or that you won't eat me?"
      "Stupid human. I would have to be real to eat you, now wouldn't I?" the wolf growled and the crow cawed its laughter.
      "Of course not. Sorry," Kai felt very disconnected.
      "You are real if I make you real. My mind controls the vision."
      "You're getting it human," the crow sounded surprised.
      "Now I get it. You are guides, my spirit guides."
      "The boy has some redeeming qualities after all," the wolf admitted reluctantly.
      "You are teaching me a lesson," Kai stated.
      "What lesson are we teaching?" the crow asked.
      "Well wolves are pack animals, much like a tribe," Kai began to work it out in his mind. "There is an alpha wolf that is like a chief. The older wolves train the younger ones, so they are like the shaman."
      "Good human," the wolf nodded, its whiskers rippled in the wind.
       "And what am I then boy?" the crow impatiently broke in.
      "You are the trickster, the cunning one. You wait for the prey to come to you. Or rather their leftovers from the ones who killed them."
      "So far so good."
      "Father Crow, you are the wisest of the guides. What would you have me do?”
      “Only you can find your path, Spirit Walker.”
      “I'm to be a Shaman?” Kai whispered in awe.
      “Yes, Spirit Walker.”
      The crow squawked in response, “You will be the greatest of your tribe.”
      Kai woke to the sunlight on his face....no sign of the wolf or crow.

******
      He walked into his village, and up to the teepee of his Grandfather. His grandfather waited, “I left my village as Kai, and return to you as Spirit Walker.”  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Writing a Story

People ask me "What is your process in writing a story?" Which is usually followed up by the dreaded question..."Where do you get your ideas?" The answer to the first question is pretty much straightforward...though on the surface, maybe not so much. One answer is, however it dang well wants to be written. In other words, whatever works for that project is what I do. The same process may work well for one project...but not for the next. But pretty much there is a method that is shared by all, but maybe not in the same order, is what I should say.

I'm not much of a formula type person. Or much of a form type person either. Though form can be really cool, and there really is one even if it isn't apparent. For last years Nanowrimo novel, I did prep work for it. I did the character sketches/interviews; research on Julliard (setting is like Juliard but not Julliard), and a basic outline. Though I didn't necessarily follow that outline. But I had a basic knowledge of my characters, and plot.

For a short story, especially where there is a prompt like a picture...then brainstorming comes in handy. The problem with prompt writing, is that a lot of people will write the same kind of story. It is really hard to come up with something at times, that other writers aren't doing. It's still a valuable asset to have. There are differences between short stories and novellas/novels, but there are also similarities.

For short stories, I do a rough draft "free-write" where I just get the words down. The structure comes out of that, and then I rewrite/edit from there.

Now as to where I get my ideas... they come from everywhere. Something I read will sometimes spark ideas, writing prompts also do...the news. Snippets of conversations...pictures. Pretty much everywhere. Even people bouncing off their ideas at me, will give me an idea that I can use. But to make the idea unique, that is the hard part.