Jeanne: Contested Decision

award-155595_640Last month, I was elected President of my RWA Chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers (COFW). After a couple of years of very little income, it’s imperative that our annual Ignite the Flame contest do well this year.

The contest coordinator sent me the contest description for a listing to be placed in Romance Writers Report, a print magazine sent out by RWA to all members. The copy felt dated to me. In light of the organization’s efforts to update their image and embrace diversity, I decided to try my hand at a rewrite. Continue reading

Nancy: In Praise of Rest

Last week at this time, I was on day five of a virus from hell. A little less than three weeks ago, I was in a doctor’s office learning that, according to some X-rays of my hip, I have an issue that requires a change to my workout regimen for the foreseeable future. And a few weeks before that, I’d had a stiff neck/pinch nerved – possibly related to having my alignment thrown off by the bum hip – that made it difficult to climb out of bed. What all of these ailments have in common, other than making me feel like I’m approximately one hundred years old, is they were, to some extent, preventable.

Given these circumstances, a normal person might think, “What am I doing that’s making me so physically vulnerable?” I, on the other hand, thought, “When will all this be over so I can get back to my normal, totally unrealistic, and probably unsustainable schedule?” At some point, maybe it was around day three of the virus, I knew it was time to abandon my mind-over-matter mindset and listen to what my body, my orthopedist, and the universe were trying to tell me. Assuming you’re less obtuse than I, you can probably see where this is going.

It’s time to slow down a bit. Not forever. But for a while. And probably time to come up with a more sustainable long-term approach that builds downtime into my plans.

So today I present myself as a cautionary tale. Behold what happens when you set up unmanageable expectations. I’ve spent the past nine months riding hellbound for leather to reach a multitude of goals in 2018. And I’ve met most of them, so yay! But follow my lead at your own peril, because you could break something. Quite literally. Continue reading

Justine: Editing Sucks…Until it Doesn’t

angry business woman throws punch into computer, screamingI am in the throes of editing my first novel. I’ve never done this before. I’ve written a first draft…numerous times. But I have never gone back through and cleaned it up to make it spit-shined, polished, and ready for the world.

My thoughts on the process? Editing sucks.

I finished my draft, read through the whole thing from beginning to end, and focused on the high-level changes that thought I needed to make. And about ¼ of the way into my first chapter, I was so overwhelmed by my perceived flaws that I didn’t think they were surmountable. I was ready to toss the whole story and start over. At a minimum, I wanted to play the avoidance game, doing such things as scrubbing tile grout or watching repeat episodes of The Queen while eating lots of chocolate.

It was bad. Continue reading

Michaeline: Anti-Procrastination Pep Talk

Baby New Year with sunshine and roses and a midnight clock

Sweet baby New Year also carries a stinging, harsh whip during the final days of the old year. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

My procrastinating ways always come back to bite me in the butt in December. I think it’s true for most of the world on the Gregorian calendar, but especially in Japan, there’s a very firm cultural deadline on December 31. By about 8 p.m. that evening, you should have taken care of all your social obligations (including any gift-giving and your New Year’s cards), paid off all your debts, finished your work, prepared a feast for New Year’s snacking, and your house should be clean and tidy so that the Gods of Luck who come to visit on New Year’s Day feel inclined to stick around.

Every year, I fail miserably. However, the panicked weeks (or days, if I’ve had a rough year) of cleaning and finishing stuff up means I do start the new year in a better place. Never the ideal place, but still, noticeably cleaner and noticeably freer of looming projects and deadlines.

I started early on the New Year’s cleaning this year – I think I’ve got two things going for me. First of all, it’s about reached the “I can’t stand living in this pigsty anymore” point. (This does happen frequently throughout the year, but if I lie down for a little while in a dark room, the feeling usually goes away.) Second, I’ve been exercising regularly since the end of October, so I actually have some more energy to tackle the tasks.

I’m often on the edge of despair. “I should be so much further along than I am!” But so far, I’ve been able to pull myself back. “Look, it’s better. Don’t go into a blue funk, because even tiny baby steps are better than hibernating and doing nothing.”

Anyway, things have hit hard this week, so I have gone into a blue funk (just a little bijou, powder-blue funk), and have been self-medicating with the internet. I found two articles of interest. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

If you’re reading this on Friday, then congratulations for making it through another week.  Only a few more and then it will be time to start a whole new year (ack!).

My Friday will include lots of Day Job stuff, but at least no Day Job Commute.  I’ll be comfortably working from home – probably in my new flannel jammies – with the Christmas tree twinkling over in the corner and a delightful warm beverage close at hand.  I should be spending the afternoon at a Christmas party, but it’s being held quite a distance away and would entail a 3 hour commute back home afterwards, mostl likely in the rain.  It would take a pretty great party to make that worthwhile.

I have lots of other things on my Friday ToDo list, including a visit to the dental hygienist, but I’m going to do my best to make sure “writing” is one of the things that I check off as successfully done.  I’ll have plenty of time while I’m at the dentist, so I think I’ll use it to warm up my creativity with a little brainstorming about today’s story prompt.

Care to join me? (For the writing, not the dentist). Continue reading

Kay: Quiz for Y’all—Would You Go Here?

7 bedrooms, 3 full baths, 3 half baths, 5,000 sq ft, small city environment

Motivated by the arts community Yaddo, I cooked up an idea some time ago that I’ve begun pursuing with some interest.

For those who don’t click on the link, Yaddo is an artists’ retreat located on a 400-acre estate in Saratoga Springs, New York, where artists of all stripes can apply to work for up to two months. They get a studio and room and board for free if they’re accepted. Collectively, Yaddo artists have won 74 Pulitzer Prizes, 29 MacArthur Fellowships, 68 National Book Awards, and a Nobel Prize (Saul Bellow, who won the Nobel for Literature in 1976). Notable Yaddo artists include James Baldwin, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Patricia Highsmith, Continue reading

Elizabeth: A Turn of Phrase

agents, editors, agent, editor, pitch, pitching, manuscriptIt’s probably no surprise to anyone, but I’m a big fan of words.  When writing, I love it when I find just the right one, with just the right nuanced meaning to get an idea across.  I like words that are slightly old fashioned or not commonly used; words that are whimsical; and words that are evocative.  I’d give you some examples but naturally, all the words in my head went into hiding as soon as I tried to find them.

I’ve been doing more of my reading on my Kindle app recently and one of the things I’ve really enjoyed is being able to click on a word and instantly get a definition while I’m reading along.   Sure, I could pull out the dictionary when reading a physical book, but that’s not nearly as instantaneous.   I’m finding that I’m looking up words fairly frequently – even words I’m pretty familiar with – just to be sure I’ve got their meaning correct.  I’ll admit there have been a few occasions where my understanding of the meaning of a word was not quite as precise as I’d thought.

Looking up a word when you are not completely sure of the meaning is one thing, but what happens when you encounter a phrase that leaves you puzzled?

I’m thinking about a book I read a while back that had the line: Continue reading