Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – What’s in the Trunk?

locked_trunkGetting back into the daily habit of writing has meant more than just putting words on the page; it has also meant a very tidy house.  When my characters don’t want to cooperate or when a scene just isn’t working and I don’t know quite how to fix it, a mindless activity like cleaning out a cupboard is often just the break I need.  I invariably wind up thinking about the story and, on occasion, I’ll run across some random item that triggers a story idea.  That happened just today when I was cleaning out the trunk of the car.  Of course it wasn’t an idea for the current story, but still, and idea is an idea.

Anyway, now that the car is devoid of debris, the kitchen junk drawer is a vision of organization, and the DVDs are in alphabetical order it’s time to get back to the computer and turn my attention to a little Random Word Improv.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Kay: When Writing Can Save Your Life

Władysław Podkowiński (1866-1865)

Władysław Podkowiński (1866-1865)

Every day that I describe (okay, complain) about my various writing blockages or my inability to move my manuscript forward, there’s a small place in the back of my brain that reminds me how lucky I am that I have the time, the space, and the quiet to write essentially as much as I want. When I have a good writing day, all is right in my world. But even a bad day writing—when nothing works and I delete 1,000 words for every 100 that I add to my manuscript—is still a better day than a day spent at the office.

But my bad writing days are nothing compared to those of some military vets, for whom writing can be a testimonial to life itself, an “act of survival,” as one vet described it. More returning soldiers are discovering that writing can ease re-entry in several ways: their narratives can help explain their experiences to friends and family (between 2001 and 2014, 2.7 million service members deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan; that’s less than 1% of the population), and it can help them cope with trauma and PTSD.

However, for some vets, writing about their wartime experiences means peeling back layers of memory and pain that can amplify the symptoms it’s meant to diminish. Ex-soldiers can be unprepared for the trauma—or not know how to manage it.

The article “War of Words” has a lot more to say about vets and the writing they do to corral their demons and make sense of what they experienced. I don’t want to paraphrase it: the writers can describe how they feel and why they write more powerfully than I.


Elizabeth: 100 Words

100_signIt’s officially fall, so naturally we’re in the midst of a post-summer heat wave.  The raccoons are back to foraging in the back-yard in the evening and there’s a hopeful (though unappealing) possum who stops by the front porch after dark to check for left-over kibble in the cat’s dish.

The joys of suburbia.

The arrival of fall means it won’t be long before the holidays are upon us.  More importantly, it means there are only 34 days before the start of NaNoWriMo.

Are you appalled?

Excited? Continue reading

Justine: A Yahoo! Reminder…Backup Your Work, Encrypt, and Create a Good Password


A visualization of data breaches by year and number of records stolen. Image courtesy http://www.informationisbeautiful.net.

With all the recent hoopla about Yahoo! data breeches, DNC hacks, and password reset emails that give hackers access to your personal life, I thought it would be appropriate to remind everyone of a few basic digital safety precautions. Below is a repost (with some tweaking) I did a couple years ago. The information I presented then is just as important now, if not more so.

The three key things to remember are:

  • Variety (as in having more than one password — there’s a tip below on how to create one that’s different for every site, yet easy to remember)
  • Frequency (backup your data frequently, change your passwords regularly)
  • Redundancy (have more than one backup, preferably a cloud-based backup as well as something local)

Keep yourself — and your data — safe!


Today’s post is admittedly not that inspiring…unless you don’t want to lose your work. Awhile back, I happened upon a post by Mat Honan about how his iPhone, iPad, and Macbook were completely erased, and his Twitter and Google accounts compromised. The hackers did it with a few digits of a credit card number that show up readily on Amazon. He lost EVERYTHING. All the pictures ever taken in his daughter’s life. Documents he saved no where else. In a word, it was catastrophic. You can read about his “epic hacking” here.

Then the other day, I had a terrible dream about my house and all of its contents going up in flames. In my dream, I said to myself, “Oh, it’s okay…I have a backup!” and then I realized that I’d been doing backups on a too-small external hard drive (I’d been putting off getting a larger one). That dream was the impetus I needed to buy a larger external hard drive, and reevaluate not only what I was backing up, but how. Continue reading

Jilly: Snippet

My head is so deep in my WIP right now, I don’t want to think about anything else. I love this feeling. Even when I’m dealing with Real Life – and life’s currently throwing some meaty challenges my way – Alexis is in the background, ready to grab my attention as soon as I have a moment to spare.

After weeks of spinning my wheels, I feel as though I’ve found some traction again. Yay! I hope it lasts, but just in case, I’m spending as much time as I can buried in my laptop. So instead of writing another progress report, this week I thought I’d share a snippet instead.

I hope you enjoy it!


“I still think we should wait until the morning to try this,” Kierce said.

We stood barefoot in the moonlight on the damp grass in front of his house on the northern boundary of the farm. Continue reading

Michaeline: Secrets, Secrets Never Cease

Elizabeth Bennet with the scales of justice

In Pride and Prejudice, secrets are kept from the readers, but we have a friend and guide as Elizabeth Bennet discovers the secrets and weighs the characters of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Wickham. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I’m not sure why, but my mind is still on secrets this week. Last week, we expressed indignation in the comments about writers who keep secrets from the readers, but I’ve been thinking about it a little more, and . . . isn’t that precisely what writers are supposed to do? The writer, by the third or fifth or fiftieth draft, knows exactly what’s going on and all the secrets in the book (in theory). The writer could reveal everything in the first paragraph and be done with it. The art and the skill comes in revealing the secrets bit by bit.

I think what we protest against is clumsiness in handling secrets. As Nancy mentioned, one way of handling it is that there must be clues, they have to make sense, and the reader shouldn’t feel duped when they discover what’s going on.

I’m re-reading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen for the umpteenth time this week, and you’d think by now, I know all the secrets in that book so thoroughly that the story would fail to entertain. But it doesn’t . . . I still find it very hard to put the book down.

The big secret is Mr. Wickham’s true character. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – I’ve Got a Secret


Halloween costumes are in the stores, the Hallmark Channel is promoting their “Countdown to Christmas,” and outside we’ve been having our traditional end-of-summer heat wave.  It never fails, just about the time I start moving the sweaters and long-sleeved tops to the front of the closet, the temperatures spike and I’m scrambling to find my tank-tops and flip-flops.

Along with the last-hurrah of summer, sunset has been coming earlier and earlier, which means no more working in the yard after work.  On the bright side, the landscaping loss is a writing gain.  What better time to engage in some Random Word Improv than in the evening after dark?

Care to join me?

Whether you’re in the midst of a heat wave, finishing your Christmas shopping (gosh, I hope not), or hard at work in the office, a few minutes of Random Word Improv are a great way to have a little fun and get some words on the page.  I’ll be doing my writing once the last of this week’s day-long business meetings is over.  Feel free to start on today’s words without me.

Ready? Continue reading