Archive for the ‘short story’ Tag

New Year’s Resolutions, So How Am I Doing?   Leave a comment

Pen & Ink

It’s time to get writing! (Photo credit: mbgrigby)

Depends what your expectations are. If you expected me to be golden every single day, then I’m not doing great. If you think any improvement is better than none at all, then I’m fantastic, thank you very much.

In the past week, I’ve written two pretty decent short stories, and I’ve edited about five others as well as two poems. This has given me, all told, about 3000 words. I also do a lot of copy writing for my Etsy store, so that’s given me about 100 words an item, so somewhere between 200 and 500 a day. My freelance work can get me another 500 words or so. This means that some days it’s really easy to meet my goals; I can do it without having to start a new story or poem. Other days, I have to add a project to the list. I find that if I have a specific idea or something I want to edit that day, it makes it easier to stick to my writing schedule. Lists are our friends, people. Learn to love the list.

I’ve submitted material to four places, two of which are new to me, one that’s a contest. I’ve always looked down my nose at literary contests, thinking they were just easy ways for magazines to gain revenue while getting up the hopes of desperate writers who could use 1000 extra bucks in their pocket, thank you very much.

But I know people who have won contests. I’ve received submissions to Waterhouse that included wins in the writers’ bio. It makes me think, shoot, if this person can win something, surely so can I. So, here and there, I’ll enter something.

I’ve also made the decision this year to only submit to markets that pay. Which pains me, it really does, because there are a lot of really great places to publish out there that don’t pay. That can’t pay. At this point in the game though,  my dues have been paid. It’s time to move to the big leagues, or so I’ve been told.

So, there we are. I’m getting it done, but I’m not beating myself up about it. Bravo 2013, let’s keep this up.

Fall Open Mic Night at the MSU Writing Center   Leave a comment

Microphones

The Mics are OPEN!!!!!

 

Last night I attended my first open mic reading with my husband since we moved to Michigan in September. It took place at the MSU Writing Center in Bessey Hall, on the Michigan State University campus.

 

We had been invited to attend by members of our writers’ workshop at the East Lansing Library. The group is also sponsored by the MSU Writing Center, and meets every other Thursday. We were happy to see that, as with the writers’ workshop, we weren’t the oldest people in the room at the Open Mic. The performers included several poets, some musicians, and a story teller or two. There was free pizza and drinks for everyone, and each person that got up to read received a t shirt. There was also a raffle drawing throughout the night. I won a 25 dollar gift card to Schuler Books in Okemos, which was a pleasant surprise.

 

The students were very open and welcoming to two old timers like us. There was a poet who went by the name Logic, about our age, who seemed to be a regular in local writing circles, who had a rapid fire delivery and had everyone laughing and shaking their heads at the way he would spin truth into poetry.

 

Overall, it was a good night out, and the perfect way to start November, fresh and inspired and ready to take on that novel I’ve been attempting to write for a year and a half. It’s been sitting dormant for about six months, so it’s time to get writing again!

 

How are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Any great open mics or writers’ workshops in your area? I’d love to hear about them!

 

Jmww 2012   Leave a comment

 

To read Jack and Jill Get a Mortgage, click here: http://jmww.150m.com/PetersonH.html

Jack and Jill (nursery rhyme)

Jack and Jill (nursery rhyme) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

I was thrilled, after two years of trying, to finally have a story accepted into jmww this past year. Jack and Jill Get a Mortgage, published in the Winter 2012 issue, is a modern take on the old nursery rhyme, imagining how Jack and Jill might have grown up.

 

I wrote this flash during Hurricane Irene, while I myself was brewing tea with FEMA water and cooking sausages out on the grill. Besides cooking and eating al fresco, there wasn’t much else to do but write while the light was good. I was also in the middle of writing a collection of short stories and poetry based upon nursery rhymes and fairy tales. During a trip to town hall to charge my cell phone, catch up on town news, and fetch a pail of water, it occurred to me that Jack and Jill would be a perfect fit for the situation my family and I were currently in.

 

Rewriting and retelling fairy tales seem to be all the rage these days, look how there’s been two Snow White movies this year. I try to be a little different with mine, find stories and rhymes that may get overlooked by more mainstream writers, and taking the characters and putting them in situations they’d never find themselves in the original stories. It’s great fun to research folktales and legends. You learn more about how we’ve come to think about life, where the tales got their start; it’s interesting to see how these cautionary tales can still be applied to life today, when there are still wolves to avoid and hills to tumble down.

What I’ve learned about novel writing, thus far   Leave a comment

A woman typing on a laptop

Image via Wikipedia

So, by working on it here and there, I’ve come up to about 16,000 words which, to me, is amazing and scary and just weird. I’ve never written this much in my life about one thing. Zombies. Who knew?

I’m not done by any means, but I’ve learned a thing or two thus far, and thought today I’d pass them along.

1. Outlining. It’s not for sissies.

I’ve always been a fly by the seat of her pants kind of girl, both in life and in writing. This works, sort of, for poems, flash fiction, and short stories. It doesn’t work at all in marriages, mortgages, and novel writing. Seat of my pants style, it was hard to get into any sort of routine going. If I wasn’t “Inspired”, or it had been a number of days, (weeks…months…) since I’d written, it was hard to get back into the flow of the story, I would spend all of my limited writing time trying to figure out where exactly I was going.

I don’t always stick to the outline, my writing still takes interesting turns on its own. Now, however, I can sit down, check on my outline where I left off and where I’d like to go, and actually spend my writing hour doing just that, writing.

2. Attempt to Set a Routine, but Accept that Life Happens

I have three children. Finding time to write where I’m not distracted is tough. In the summer, when I’m not working, it’s easier, I try to write during nap time. But we don’t always have nap time. Sometimes we’re at an event for the day, and no writing gets done. And that’s okay. Sometimes I need a break. Burning out is never good, for anyone.

Another great thing is using the gifts of time I sometimes get. Earlier this year, I had to attend a funeral sans children in another town. I brought my laptop and wrote in the hotel after attending the wake, and again in the morning before the funeral. This summer, I had the opportunity to use a friend’s cabin for a couple days, sans kids. Again, I took my laptop, and got a lot of work done. Speaking of laptops

3. Set aside an internet free computer/laptop just for writing.

It is hard, when the world is only a click away, to get any kind of work done, I don’t care what it is. I try to write on the main computer of the house, I get stuck digging for treasure, or chatting with friends, or refusing crap from Farmville. My laptop is ancient, it has very little battery life, and no built in modem. And that’s the way I like it. (OK, more battery life would be nice, but I digress.) If there’s something along the way I’d like to research, I make a note of it, or I grab my Droid real quick. Then I put the phone down and get back to work.

4. Love your characters. Even the unlovable ones.

This can be hard. In my novel, Divorcing the Corpse, there are some pretty ugly characters, and I’m not just talking about the zombies. You’ve got to find a way to like at least something about everyone you create. One thing I’ve done that has worked with the villain of the story, I asked a very “close personal friend” to help me name him. That way, when I write about the bad guy, I do it with a smile on my face, thinking of my “close personal friend”. The story gets written, someone gets added to the acknowledgments page, everyone’s happy.

5. Have Fun

No, writing a novel is not easy. No one is saying it is. It requires time, thought, and lots and lots of work. But if you don’t enjoy doing it, the work is going to suffer, and your story isn’t going to be as good. It’ll become as much of a drag for your readers as it has become for you. Put it aside, go write something else for awhile. Remember why you love to write in the first place.  Then come back to it. Maybe.

 

So ok, five things I’ve learned. I’m sure there’s many more, I’m sure I’ve got more to learn. But this is what I got so far, hopefully you can use a little bit of this in your own work. Feel free to share your own tips in the comments. Write on!

 

The Legendary 2011   Leave a comment

Coffee and Sunshine

Image by Frank Gruber via Flickr

The Legendary had a special Flash issue in March, and included two pieces of my flash fiction. I love being in the Legendary, because every issue is well put together, the stories and poems are always excellent, quality work. Katie and Jim have a good eye, a good ear. Thanks guys!

Male/Female is a flash about the maybes, the could have beens, that occur in our lives every day. A moment between coworkers allows a woman, trapped in an unhappy marriage, to imagine what life would be like with the IT guy. Personally, I’ve known some perfectly wonderful IT guys, and gals for that matter, but none I’d necessarily like to date. At least, not yet.

Hermit is a flash from the mind of someone terrified of the world. Written as stream of consciousness, they go to Dunkin Donuts for coffee, and survive the trip to tell the tale. Again, not necessarily a situation I’ve found myself in. I’ve been at parties where I’ve wanted to shrink into the wallpaper, but never while purchasing fast food.

It’s a fun challenge, writing from a perspective that isn’t exactly yours. Taking experiences, twisting them, expanding them in a way you’d never take them in your normal everyday life.  For example, in the novel I’m writing now, the protagonist is in the middle of a divorce from her husband, who happens to be a zombie. Divorce I’m all too familiar with, but I don’t know many zombies.

Today, try to write from a different point of view. Write from a different race, or gender, from your own. Take something you’ve experienced, and imagine how someone else might handle that same experience.

 

To read these stories, click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diddledog 2011   Leave a comment

Un otage nommé Bumpy

Image via Wikipedia

To read the flash fiction Feed Me, click here.

Everyone’s got a creepy monster in the closet/ under the bed story. The fact that, as children, we all see things that aren’t there going bump in the night speaks to me of subconscious, primal fears that have been passed on from generation to generation.

With this story, I wanted to harness that fear, but also throw a little humor into it, as well as more grown up fears, (dying alone, getting fat, remaining unloved) we all develop in one way or another over time. I wanted to present a creation story for my monster, give him a weakness, define him in a way that makes him not quite as scary anymore.

What is it you fear? Today, give those fears legs, a monstrous face. Teach that monster a lesson using storytelling to give your monsters a beginning, and an end.

Day 3   Leave a comment

Plate with various land slugs

Image via Wikipedia

Today’s word is torpid, because sluggish is how I feel after running five kids every which a way after work. You’ve got to be so fast, when you finally get to slow down, the hurt catches up to you.

To be honest, it was like pulling teeth just to keep my head up long enough to write a poem. Meh. The novel and short story can wait another day. Or two. Still 27 days left in the month, no?