Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Bouncy Edition

When I was growing up, carnivals would magically appear in parking lots or vacant parcels of land from time to time.  There were games to play, foods to eat, and whirling rides to enjoy.  There was invariably a Ferris Wheel, made more exciting by the knowledge that it had just been erected hours before (safely, one would hope), spinning rides that left riders stumblingly dizzy, and roller-coasters of a sort.

From the house I’m in now, I used to be able to look across my backyard and see the illuminated midway lights of the local carnival in past years where a Home Depot sits today.  Over time, the carnivals have come to town less and less often and it’s been years since I remember seeing one.  In their place, a sea of inflatable castles and slides and bouncy-houses has appeared.

Down the road, where there used to be a weekly farmer’s market, the “inflatable carnival” came to town a few weeks ago.  One day the lot was empty and the next day there were dozens of brightly colored inflatable structures, filled with happy shrieking little jumpers.  There are no carnival games or foods to eat, but there are bales of hay with pumpkins to purchase which, several weeks from now will give way to Christmas trees to buy.  Late at night the lot is a little creepy, with everything deflated, looking much like a multi-colored sea of popped balloons

It’s progress, I suppose.  Those bouncy-houses are undoubtedly safer than old carnival rides were, though hardly as thrilling.  I can’t help wondering what happened to the rides and the folks who used to manage and run them.

Since rain started falling a few hours ago, there won’t be any carnivals, traditional or inflatable in my immediate future, so I’ll have to find something else to do.  I’m thinking a few minutes of Random Word Improv will be an excellent way to spend at least a bit of a rainy day.

Care to join me?

Whether you’re reminiscing about the past, making plans for the future, or just living every moment of the present, a few minutes of Random Word Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.

Ready?

Today’s words are pretty random, so the theme is up to you.  There will be bonus points for actually including a giant stuffed bear though.

surprise             spin                     win                       sweet

track                   shout                   excitement        flashing

colorful             mystery               illusion              cake

treat                   balloon                tent                      strength

For any of you new to Random Word Improv, here’s how we play:

  1. Pick as many words from the list as you want
  2. Write the first line(s) of a story incorporating your words
  3. Post your results in the comments section.

Okay.  Are you ready?  Let’s sprint!

*whistling aimlessly while you are off being creative*

Ah, you’re back.  Kind of fun, right?  Can’t wait to see what you have come up with.

Michille: Getting Ready to NaNo

NaNo-2012Piggyback.  Yesterday, Elizabeth posted about her focus for NaNo. I’m not planning to do it this year, unless it can be stretched to editing 50,000 words, instead of writing them. But I am reminded of planning that I have done in the past to prep for it.

One of my favorite writing blogs, Writers Write, posted an organizer that led to a brainstorming worksheet and 30 tips (with lots of links for other helps). From the Writers Write blog, I found some resources that are on the NaNo website. Like the Reference Desk. I never knew it was there. Rather than spending time noodling around on the internet doing research, post a question on the reference desk and another writer might have the answer. Want to know how to rig a 500 gallon propane tank for explosion? Need information on growing up in a Turkish Cypriot family in London? Need to know how to milk a cat (really?)? Post your research question and get an answer (maybe – no one seems to know how to milk a cat). Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 2 Weeks To Go

We’re halfway through the month of October, which means there are just a few weeks left before NaNoWriMo kicks off on November 1.  In order to prepare for what I hope will be a successful month of writing I’ve been doing a bit of prep-work these past few weeks.

As I mentioned in my first post in this series here, I began the countdown to November by working on the outline for the story I’m planning to write.  As the outline developed, I found I needed to clarify the setting, in order to get a big picture view of how the story will progress.  If you missed it, you can read that post, and the helpful suggestions from commenters, here.

With a general outline and the story setting(s) nailed down (kind of, sort of), I still have a pretty large gap that needs to be addressed before I start trying to put words on the page.  I need to know who these people are who will inhabit the story.  My heroine needs a hero.  My antagonist needs a supporting cast.  And I need to know who that random assortment of secondary characters is and what roles they are going to play.

Piece of cake, right?

Not surprisingly, this week my focus is on:  Character Continue reading

Jeanne: Getting It Out of My System

I’m currently working on the second book in my Touched by a Demon series, The Demon’s in the Details. 

So far I’m liking it. (Which is good, because that is not always the case.)

One thing that I suspect isn’t so good are the jokes I’m writing into it.

Some of you are now thinking, “Jokes are good. And Jeanne’s pretty funny, so they’re probably good jokes.”

These jokes are really goofy. They take a dopey premise (the physical act of a demon possessing a human–have you ever given any thought to just what that choreography would look like?) and wring every last drop of comedy gold (and silver and copper and tin and lead and that grody stuff you have to scrape from the the crack between the stove and the countertop) out of it before I let it go. Continue reading

Nancy: Boom and Bust

Several weeks ago, I found myself in a familiar place. I was coming off a big day-job project, which had included long hours every day for the last couple of weeks to complete it. I hadn’t been able to touch my writing during that time and for weeks before that, because even when I wasn’t working quite as many hours, I was expending all my mental energy on that other job. But now that I and my team had completed that project and submitted it to the customer, I was able to reclaim my life, including my writing time. “All shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well,” right?

Um, no.

When last I’d communed with my writing, I’d been on a hot streak (despite that pesky novella that I’ve struggled to revise). I was writing for long hours and wracking up word counts, knowing all the while it couldn’t last. I’d signed a consulting contract. A company was going to write me a monthly check; it stood to reason at some point they’d want me to do something to earn that money. Then I got a call saying a project that was supposed to start in October was actually starting six weeks early. I went cold turkey on my writing. Turns out, by the time I finally got back to it, it had gone cold turkey on me. I had one novella and one full-length novel in need of revision, and the first act of a second full-length novel all set in the same story world. I also had the first half of my women’s fiction story waiting for completion. But when I sat down at the computer, I couldn’t get back into any of those story worlds. I’m not going to lie – some panic set in. After all, it’s only a matter of time before I get the next call about the next day-job project, and then I’ll have to go cold turkey on writing again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Continue reading

Jilly: Seeking Playlist Recommendations

Anybody up for a playlist recommendation or two? I’d truly appreciate it. 😉

It’s only two weeks since I posted my plan for the rest of the year, and I’ve already made a significant change. I sent off Alexis Book 1 to be edited, (yay!), but when I sat down to start work on the prequel, I realized that wasn’t the story I wanted to tell…not yet, anyway.

The prequel is the story of Alexis’s parents, Daire and Annis. It explains how Annis ends up running for her life, carrying little more than her unborn child and the most powerful jewel in the history of Caldermor. But, but, but… that story stems directly from Daire’s failure to secure the hand in marriage of a very different woman. All the characters from the debacle are major players in Alexis’s story, and I’ll need a novella to give away next year when I finally hit ‘publish,’ so I decided to write Kiran and Christal’s story now, and (hopefully) let the momentum carry Daire and me into the prequel.

I know where the novella is set (Darrochar, the kingdom adjoining Caldermor). I know how it ends, and I know the main characters. I’ve made a few pages of notes, but I need a playlist to really get my imagination working.

The story so far:

  • One arranged political marriage;
  • One clever, rich, handsome, spoiled princeling who’s too busy having a good time to stand up to his ambitious, power-mad mother;
  • One elegant, clever princess, determined not to waste her life and talents on a golden loser.
  • One scheming, murderous Princess Dowager (the mother-in-law from hell);
  • One plainspoken, upstanding career soldier turned princely bodyguard-slash-advisor who’s wondering what the hell he’s let himself in for.
  • Fighting (physical and metaphorical), in-fighting, hard truths told, harder lessons learned, risking all, expecting to lose all and (spoiler alert!) somehow the good guys emerge triumphant.

I’ll add to the list as I build up the story, but here’s my first stab at a few tunes: Continue reading

Michaeline: Beetlejuice: Juggling the Ensemble

Betelgeuse in Orion: It takes a lot of stars to make a brilliant constellation. (Image via Wikimedia Commons, NASA Hubble photograph)

I love October! There’s a phrase in Japanese that goes “Reading Autumn” and I grew up reading all sorts of really great stories during the Halloween season. I haven’t had time for reading much lately, but made time to re-watch the 1988 film, Beetlejuice. (IMDb)

I think my Girls in the Basement were prompting me to do it, because afterward, I realized it had a very similar conflict structure to the story I’m working on.

From the beginning, Barbara and Adam Maitland show a lot of spunk, determination and love. There’s a hint of tragedy in the beginning, but all of their life is quickly overtaken by the fact that they wake up in their house after a car accident, and realize they didn’t survive the crash.

These are our main protagonists. In the first few minutes of the film, they fight a little with Barbara’s sister (who wants to sell their beloved house). They win the immediate battle by shutting her out, but lose the war when they die. The sister sells the house to Antagonists #2.

Antagonists #2 have a lot more going on than Barbara and Adam. Team Maitland basically speak and act with one heart and mind, often led by Barbara. But Charles and Delia Deetz? They have different goals entirely. Delia wants to be an important and influential artist. Charles initially just wants to recover his health from a nervous breakdown, but as he begins to feel better, his ambition to connect people to real estate returns. All that Team Deetz has in common is love, and even that is called into question. They support each others goals in the abstract, but are too busy with their own goals to actively help each other out. Delia wants to gut the house and turn it into a showcase, while Charles compromises by staking out one calm and peaceful room, and letting Delia turn the rest of the home into Continue reading