Michaeline: Olivia, Jack and the Stupid Cupid

A male skater, a woman on a swan-shaped sled, and a small cupid playing the flute beside them.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

It was one of those beautiful February days – the sky was blue and the ice on the rink was rock hard. Olivia took another leisurely turn around the pond, idly wondering if Jack was ready to go inside yet. Jack zoomed past her, a vision of gracefulness in black leggings and a black turtleneck, his black hair in winter spikes and roses in his pale cheeks. At the far end of the pond, just where she could best appreciate his athleticism, he jumped and spun, drew a heart in the ice, then zoomed around again in long, lazy strokes. He was like a Mercedes on ice – he didn’t seem to be putting in any effort, but in two heartbeats, he was behind her, slowing down in a spray of ice crystals, then gently taking her hand.

“Cold, darling?” he said.

“Not yet,” Olivia said. “But maybe we can go in about 15 minutes?”

“All right. Skater’s waltz?” He kissed her nose, and pushed off, pulling her behind him while humming a ridiculously resonant version of “The Blue Danube”. It had been almost an entire year since they met, and Olivia was as crazy about him as she was when he first showed up on her doorstep. Always the showoff, he turned and skated backwards, now holding both her hands, dazzling her with his smile. And that was the reason neither of them saw the snowfairy in her tiny sled drawn by a floppy Shih Tzu, barrelling across the pond and right into their skating path.

Everyone went down in a tumble of arms and legs, with the snowfairy winding up on top, her sled underneath, and her doggy spinning around on the ice like a furry Roomba, barking furiously at the outrage. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

Some weeks can’t come to an end quickly enough and this has been one of them.  Once again we have families here in the U.S. trying to understand the latest act of senseless violence.  Even here on the other side of the country, there is talk of little else.

Needless to say, creative writing isn’t currently high on the list and even trying to read the current ARC that I’m reviewing has been challenging.

However writing can be a good way to work through issues and even figure out what you think about things.  Better yet it can sometimes provide a needed distraction, so after work tomorrow I’ll be giving this week’s writing prompt the old college try.

Care to join me?  (I completely understand if you’d rather not.) Continue reading

Kay: Getting There!

From homeofservice.com

The Ladies have been writing this blog for five or so years, and we’ve all made significant progress in our writing and publishing careers. Despite life changes, major events, illnesses, accidents, day jobs, volunteer work, writers block, and the demands of family, many of us are nearing the goals we set for ourselves when we embarked on this path. Just in the last few days we’ve heard from Jilly, Jeanne, Justine, and Nancy about major milestones. Reading their thoughts on edit reports, blurb writing, and revisions is a good reminder that it takes a lot to put out a book.

I thought of our collective efforts recently when I listened to a podcast by Mark Coker of Smashwords. He talked about best practices of booksellers—and he meant people like us, people who write books and publish them independently. I enjoyed it particularly because he discussed the things we’re doing, and he put them in context, and he included data that Smashwords has gleaned from analyzing the sales of the half-million or so books that authors have published on that platform. There’s a transcript as well as the link to the podcast here. But these are his major points. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Words of Love

I was randomly perusing the internet earlier today when I came across a site full of images of old-time Valentine cards.  They brought back memories of grammar school where we decorated brown paper lunch bags with hearts and glitter and taped them onto the front of our desks, awaiting the annual delivery of Valentine cards.  The cards came from the dime-store, in a cardboard box, and the night before Valentine’s Day was spent addressing an envelope/card for each classmate (whether we liked them or not).

The cards were often corny, like the image in this post, and the sentiments expressed were not always meant, but it was always fun to open up the little stash of cards, especially those that included a sucker or candy heart in the envelope.

Based on my latest foray to the Hallmark store, Valentine’s cards have evolved a bit over the years, but are still just as popular.  I spent a happy hour perusing the cards which ran the gamut from amusing to treacle-sweet, with a few oddities in between.  I was actually at the store to get some birthday cards, but it was fun trying to decide which of the Valentine cards my fictional characters might give one another.

It was more difficult than I thought. Continue reading

Nancy: Oops, I Did It Again

This could be me in March.

There I was, just whistling down the primrose path, working through the problems in my manuscript that I’d identified during a Revision Sprint class and the subsequent weeks of revision. I didn’t mean to do it. Really, I didn’t think it would happen! But as I updated the final scene sequence of novel 1 of my Victorian Romance series, the next to last step (last step being read-through/proofreading) before sending it to a content editor, I realized it had happened.

I am in love with my story.

Now, being in love with your story in and of itself is not a bad thing. In fact, during the long, dark days that try writers’ souls, sometimes the only thing that keeps us going is our love for our stupid, ugly, misshapen mess of a (kind of, sort of, almost) story. But to spin the story mess into gold, at some point most writers will want input from other smart people, fresh eyes on the story to catch what we who are too close to it just can’t see. Those other people might be individual critique partners, members of a critique group, or a content editor (as ladies Jeanne and Jilly).

For this particular story, I plan to work with a content editor. Sounds great, you say. Should help clean up the hot mess, you think. So what’s the problem? you might ask. Continue reading

Jilly: The Pirate’s Parrot–A Shapeshifting Short Story

It’s been a difficult start to the New Year, and I haven’t written or edited anything for the last few weeks, so I thought I’d try to get myself back in the swing by tackling Elizabeth’s writing prompts from last Friday.

I’m not sure what to make of this. It took me a while to get going, and the final result came out quite dark, but at least it got the wheels turning.

The prompts were:

Something floating in the swimming pool

Ripple                          flicker                          shade                           depth

Breeze                          killjoy                          parrot                         shadow

Moonbeam                 symbolic                     acrobat                       daredevil

Headphones               contestant                  cougar                        bludgeon

The Pirate’s Parrot

A persistent breeze shepherded fluffy clouds across the balmy North African night sky. Intermittently—too often—a moonbeam shone through, illuminating the battered body floating face down in Hizir Barbarossa’s white marble swimming pool.

I’d perched, frozen, on Hizir’s beefy shoulder as he’d lounged on his white marble throne while Oruc, his First Mate, fought a contestant for the coveted place at the pirate lord’s right hand. I’d witnessed Oruc humiliate the challenger, bludgeon him to a pulp, and then make him walk the plank along the antique wooden diving board as the assembled thugs cheered and jeered.

Apparently it was symbolic, like Hizir’s decision to adopt the name of a long-dead pirate and decorate his person with brocade coats, antique pistols and dangly ear-rings. There was nothing archaic, however, about his fast-growing empire of people smugglers, slavers, drug-dealers, money-launderers, and online scammers.

Unfortunately for Barbarossa, his sartorial preferences had made him the perfect target for the Powers-that-Be’s super-secret new shifter division. The Boss had figured that an ultra-rare Spix’s Macaw would make the perfect shoulder ornament for the discerning pirate-psychopath, so I’d exchanged my jeans, boots and smart remarks for brilliant blue feathers and a vocabulary of limited depth.

Continue reading