It’s a good week for writing. Let’s get to it!

 

Hello fellow writers and potential readers! Happy Monday! I know that it’s 4pm EST, so the dreaded Monday is almost finished…but there is still so much WEEK ahead of us! Carpe to the Diem, baby!

Let’s get to it. Here’s my task list:

  1. 3 blog posts this week
  2. Finish a first draft of Escort Mission and post excerpts by Friday.
  3. Work on my second character for A Terrible Thing to Waste:. Post excerpt of first-person interview by Friday.
  4. Seek feedback for current edit-in-progress project, Never a Day Quiet. Post small excerpt (I’m polishing this for submission, so I don’t want to publish too much here).
  5. Find some inspiration for this week’s Short Story Saturday (a sequel to Escort Mission, perhaps?) Post teaser/inspiration sentence by Friday.

5 items, but that is a lot to tackle. I hope I can get it all done!

What is your task list this week? Any advice for me on how to eat this elephant?

 

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Short Story Saturday! Mixed Results: 900 words in, but only 425ish are good…

 

Another Short Story Saturday has come and gone, and while I have admittedly spent most of today with my boys and my husband, and I even got the opportunity to sleep in and take a nap today (A miracle. An utter luxury! I haven’t slept past 8am since my youngest son was born–over a year ago!), I did get a chance to do a little bit of writing.

As I wrote on Friday, a story idea flew into my head on my way to playgroup on Wednesday. I had to make my son a little late so that I could e-mail myself the story idea. I’m calling this story “Escort Mission,” and I am excited about the idea. What I’m not excited about is how I’ve executed the idea so far. The beginning feels….good…not perfect….but gooood….but somewhere things when splat. Here’s where things feel good:

 

               Three children sat at the kitchen table, fastened to booster seats and highchairs, chewing on hotdogs and microwaved peas while their mother stood in the kitchen, eyes glued to the evening news. “The numbers have dropped lower than have been seen in a decade. Indeed, we might be witnessing a crash worse than that of the Great Depression.” The handsome news anchor stated, opening music to the national evening news strumming in the background. She had her hand to her chest. The news had been this way all week, and now it was culminating into everyone’s worse fears.

“More apple juice, please!” Her eldest called from the dining room.

“Just a minute, baby!” She called back. She had no intention of giving that child more apple juice. Her mind went toward filtered water, but her body did not move.

“Protests in four European countries and terrorist attacks on the markets of Tokyo and Beijing have brought the world economy to a grinding halt. Despite the efforts of the Fed and other organizations, the repercussions have come to our shores…”

She shook her head in disbelief. Water evaporated while her mind turned to an inventory of supplies. Did she have enough food and baby supplies to get them through a few weeks if they needed to ride things out?

“Mama! More apple juice, please!” Her eldest called.

“Juice, please!” Her second son echoed.

She took herself from the television and poured water into two brightly colored plastic cups. She delivered them to the table with the best smile that she could put on. “We’re all done with apple juice, gentlemen, but there is plenty of water!” She announced, though the caveat of for now came to the forefront of her mind.

The front door opened and closed right on time.

“Daddy!” All three of their children chimed merrily.

“Hello gentlemen!” Her husband said in an exhausted, but cheery choice. He walked up to her and gave her a kiss. “Hey, Viv.”

“Hey, Cal.” Vivian answered. She couldn’t mask her worry anymore. The news could still be heard from the kitchen.

He noticed, of course. “NPR is full of reports, too. I’m going to take a quick inventory. Do we need to make a baby and food run?”

“Maybe.” She frowned.

The boys didn’t appreciate their mother hogging of their father’s attention. They peppered him with questions and requests. When was he going to sit down and eat dinner? When was he going to shower them with love and attention? Would he please bring them more hotdogs?

 

I like how I started this. I know that there are issues, but I like the start. But then I get bogged down: Viv gets a phone call from her friend Henry, who needs to get to New York. She hesitates, and that hesitation leads makes the entire dialogue awkward, and tedious to read. Here is the rest of the story:

Vivian managed their food requests while Calvin went to change clothes. By the time he returned, a plate full of risotto and baked salmon in hand, Vivian was all but ignored by her children. She first went to the kitchen to turn off the television set. She didn’t need to hear anymore about the world falling to pieces. She then went to the nursery to assess diapers and pull-ups. The eldest, three and a half, was mercifully potty trained but for the occasional wet night. The other two, two and one respectively, were still dependent on diapers. She had enough of both of their sizes to last them a month. She had to pass by the laundry room in order to get back to the kitchen, so she went to check on her supplies there. They were running low. She made a mental note.

Walking through the living room and glancing outside toward the cul-da-sac, she noticed neighbors outside, huddled quietly, hands to breasts, speaking with worried faces. She was tempted to join them, but a vibrating sound distracted her. Her cell phone was ringing.

Picking up the device and looking at the caller ID, she quickly answered. “Hello, Henry! I’m surprised that you are calling.”

“Hello, Vivian. I am sorry to bother you. I know that we usually correspond over e-mail, but I am in great need of a favor, and I can’t really wait.”

“What’s wrong, Henry? Are you alright?” Calvin had pocked his head in. Vivian gave him a concerned look, but dismissed him with a shake of her head. He retreated back to the family room.

“I need a ride to New York, and due to various reasons, I can’t get a ticket for any train or bus that is leaving within the next 24 hours. I need to get there as soon as possible. Vivian, I hate to ask you this, but would it be possible for you to take me?” The desperation in Henry’s voice came through loud and clear.

Yet, she could not help but hesitate. “I’d have to talk to Calvin…someone has to take care of the boys…”

“I know that this is a grave imposition. I wouldn’t do it if I could avoid it. I really need this. Please, Vivian.”

“Let me just make sure that I can logistically make it happen. I’ll call you back in five minutes.” She didn’t wait for an answer, she simply hung up the phone. She stared at it for a few minutes, then looked out the window toward the still congregating neighbors.

Shouts from the family room indicated the end of dinner. Indeed, the clank of dishes on the kitchen counter heralded Calvin’s impending arrival. “Who was that?”

 

And here is where I got bored writing it. And you probably got bored reading it. It’s as if my Muse read through that and was like “I gave you brilliance and this is what you produce? I’m outta here…”

But the thing is, I really love the idea and I think that it’s worth pursuing. The journey, as they say, is worth taking. But clearly I need to find another way to get the trip started. A phone call isn’t going to work. We lost the urgency over the phone. I’m looking forward to going back and rewriting. The goal, to finish the first draft by Wednesday (and I’ll post for accountability).

Here’s to recognizing that the first draft sucks. Here’s also to recognizing when you need to cross the wide river in a different way.

Happy Saturday Evening to you!

 

This Week’s Report Card and gear up for Short Story Saturday!

I’m feeling really good about what I accomplished this week! Let’s go back to the task list, shall we?

 

  1. Editing a short story that I’m polishing for submission: Never A Day Quiet  Shablam! Done! And being sent to another set of eyes so that way I can start another round of editing and polishing.
  2. Finishing a short story that I started on Saturday: Laundry on the Line (working title) …….yeah….didn’t do this one… 
  3. Doing intense character development (using the Holly Lisle  Create a Character Clinic) for the protagonist of my novel, A Terrible Thing to Waste.  I hope to have him fully formed this week.      SHABLAM! Done! Hours of work, it was, but my protagonist is aliveeeeeee…he’s alliiiivveeeee! [Lightening and thunder here]
  4. Reading more about website/twitter/tumblr use by authors and building a stronger platform.   awwwww yeeeaaaahhhh feeling so good! Did I act on any of the reading yet? No. But am I working on acting? Yes!

3 out of 4 tasks accomplished!! I’m high-fivin’ a million angels!

(Isn’t 3/4 only 75%? Isn’t that, like, a C?) Shhhhhhhhh don’t harsh my buzz!

I really need to finish Laundry. I’m going to try to get to that this weekend. 

And tomorrow is Short Story Saturday!  I have an idea that came to me on Wednesday morning. Had to scramble and pull out my phone to e-mail it to myself because the idea came to me while I was dropping my eldest off at playgroup. Here is the idea as written to myself in e-mail:

“An eccentric student, in desperate need to get home, asks a local friend with a car to drive the 5 hours from Boston to NYC. At great risk to both (physically and emotionally). The country (and maybe the world) deteriorate as the journey unfolds…”

I felt really good about that…so when I got home, I broke out my inspiration notebook, rewrote the original inspiration there, and then started expanding:

“A eccentric student, desparate to get home to his father’s (bedside? Funeral?) asks a local friend with a car to drive the 5 hours from Boston to New York City, at great risk to them both.”

Here is what I know:

  • The world is about to start crumbling around them, but I don’t know why. Government collapse? Foreign take over? Natural disaster? While I like a good zombie movie, I’m not much into writing them. This won’t be paranormal. It will be something else. 
  • The student’s “local friend” is a woman, who is married and has a family. Her husband isn’t please that she’s taking the trip, and her mind is going to be on the 3 kids waiting for her at home. I’m also trying to decide if she’s pregnant with number 4.

There are more details written, but I won’t spoil everything. I’m excited to write this one. I’ll post a raw excerpt tomorrow!

How inspired have you been lately? Are you looking forward to a productive weekend?

Character Development: My novel Project of the Week

 

I have had a surprisingly productive writing week! I have outlined the compelling needs of all of the characters for my novel, A Terrible Thing to Waste, and I have also done a lot of exercises around finding their individual voices. I was very worried that I was going to write characters with the same voice and world view, but I was incredibly mistaken. Each of these people have different important stakes in this world, they have a lot to win and lose, and they have a lot to say about it!

There is still a lot to do–I’m not trying to create a Bible for each of them,but I am certainly working on backstory and other features that will make these characters more human and interesting. Indeed, I’m trying to make three-dimensional characters, and that is a lot of work! But I have made a lot of progress, and I am thinking that this time next week, I’ll be able to leave character development and move on to formal culture and world building. I’m feeling on track for my August 1st date to start writing. I might even to, at this rate, get to start early! We’ll see, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Today, aside from continued character building, I’m working on me and my writer’s goals. There are goals that I have as a writer, and goals that I have for engaging with my readers (established and potential), so I am doing some platform building. I look forward to doing that work as well!

And in the midst of all of the work that I’ve been doing, my Muse gave me a tidbit today that will either turn into a great short story or possibly a full fledged novel. I’m not quite sure, but it’s got a lot of potential. I’ll share details on Friday!

How is your week progressing? Stay productive out there!

Weekly Planner: Crawling Back From the Week From Hell

 

I live in the northern suburbs of Boston, so next week was more than a little intense. Add that to flying solo with the 2 toddlers while the husband was away on business, and you have a recipe for disaster!

So, basically, I wrote a total of 3 paragraphs last week.

But we’re back on it this week. I wrote the beginnings of a great short story on Saturday, I’m editing a short story that I wrote a few weeks ago, I have a lot more character development to do this week, and I’m doing a lot of reading on platform building. I lost a week of my writing life last week, and now I’ve got a lot of work to do.

What I’m Doing This Week: 

  1. Editing a short story that I’m polishing for submission: Never A Day Quiet
  2. Finishing a short story that I started on Saturday: Laundry on the Line (working title) 
  3. Doing intense character development (using the Holly Lisle  Create a Character Clinic) for the protagonist of my novel, A Terrible Thing to Waste.  I hope to have him fully formed this week.
  4. Reading more about website/twitter/tumblr use by authors and building a stronger platform.

That is a lot going on, and I have plenty of things to do with Ursa Major and Ursa Minor this week! Did I mention that I’m taking two classes on EdX that I’m utterly behind on? There simply aren’t enough hours in the day.

But it’s Monday. The week is fresh, the air is clean, the spirit is high. So we’re going to get it all done!

What’s on your plate this week?

Progress report on Wednesday!

Today is NANOTHON!!! annnd Short Story Saturday!!

 

and what a blessing it is!

I was SUPPOSED to be entertaining my in-laws this weekend for my youngest son’s first birthday, but my mother-in-law came down with a cold [insert sarcastic “awwwwww” here.]

Sooooo,

I get to celebrate with my son in our own special way on Monday complete with no asshat bullshit.

and

I get to participate in Nanothon!!!!

And, as usual, it’s Short Story Saturday!

So let the writing commence!

What are you working on today?

5am–My Writing “Witching Hour”

 

 

I love the world at 5 am: Everything is new and fresh, the birds are newly chirping, the soft and tentative peeks of sun start climbing out of the eastern horizon. My boys are still sleeping, my husband is still snoring, and for a beautiful hour and a half every day, the entire apartment is mine for play.

And by play, I mean writing.

5am is my “witching hour”–the time when I can get upwards of 1000 words in if I’m really inspired and get into a groove. Right now, it’s been a great time for research and brainstorming, gearing up for character, world and plot building that I’m about to embark on. There are certainly other hours during the day when writing happens, like right now, nap time. But there is just something magical that happens in the early morning.

What I’m up to: 

Tonight is dedicated to my EdX courses–I’m taking Justice and I’m also taking Ancient Greek Heroes, which focuses on the Illiad. I’m having a lot of fun, and the Greek Heroes course has given me a lot of thought about story telling, hero building, and this idea of micro stories helping to tell macro stories. I’m going to play around with that a lot as I start plotting.

I’m also going to try to dedicate a little bit of time to the short story that I’m rewriting, Asinine Rebellion. I hope to have an excerpt up by this weekend.

Since I’ll have visitors on Saturday (non-awesome visitors. my in-laws…), Short Story Saturday might have to become Short Story Friday Night…we’ll see.

 

When is your writing witching hour? Is it consistent? Should it be?