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. 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

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Expect the Unexpected

It hasn’t been the best of weeks here in beautiful California, which is currently experiencing the deadliest fires in state history.  The set in the northern part of the state started on Sunday and are continuing to blaze away.  Though they are miles away, but the air here has been smoky all week and there is a dusting of ash on the back deck.  Thousands of people have lost their homes and businesses – including two wineries – and dozens of people are confirmed dead so far.

Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 3 Weeks To Go

I began the countdown to NaNoWriMo 2017 with last week’s post on outlining, which generated some good discussions amongst our commenters from both ends of the outlining continuum.

Kristi said,

“More and more over the last few days I’m starting to think of outlining (at least the way I usually do it) as a first draft. It’s just lacking details.”

That makes sense to me.  Whether your first pass through a new story is via an outline or via a purely “pantser” style process you’re just trying to tell yourself the story.  However you start out you will (hopefully) wind up with a draft that you can then flesh out into a full-blown story.

The outline for my upcoming story currently looks a bit like a movie script.  For each potential scene there are notes about location and timing, the characters who are involved, who “owns” the scene, and what the outcome of the scene will be.  In some cases where I felt especially inspired, I even managed to capture a few lines of dialog or action that I thought of while sketching things out.

One thing that slowed me down a bit during the outlining process was not having the setting(s) for the story nailed down.  I know where it starts and ends and have some ideas about the middle, but I definitely need to do some more work in that area.

Conveniently, this week my focus is on:  Setting Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – I Dare You

Have you ever done anything on a dare?

As a kid, dares resulted in me climbing (and getting stuck in) a tree or two, asking a boy to dance at a junior-high dance, and a few things best left unmentioned.

As a teenager, the game “Truth or Dare” was popular, especially at slumber parties.  The dares were typically pretty outrageous, so most players went for “truth” instead.   My memories are a bit hazy, but I’m pretty sure boys were the subject regardless of which was chosen.

The subject of dares is fresh in my mind today because I was just sorting out the DVD cabinet and came across the Christmas Story DVD, which includes the “double-dog-dare-you” scene that results in one of the characters getting their tongue stuck to a frozen pole.  Thankfully, not the kind if dare *I* was ever involved in.

Now that the DVDs are all sorted and I’ve finished my trip down memory lane, it’s time to do a little writing in preparation for next month’s NaNoWriMo.    I’m thinking a few minutes of Random Word Improv will be a great way to get started.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 4 Weeks To Go

The kids are back in school, holiday merchandise is popping up at the local stores, and my heater at home came on for the first time this season.

Do you know what that means?

Right, National Novel Writing Month is almost here.  For those of you who are not familiar with NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short), it’s a month where writers around the world do their best to get 1,667 words on the page every day in the month of November, resulting in a 50,000 word manuscript by December 1st.

It’s fun and exciting and motivating and challenging and, frankly, hard as all get out.

It’s also a great way to focus on a writing project and get some words on the page.  Of course, not everyone has a creative muse who responds well to that kind of pressure, but as I found out in 2015, mine seems to be okay with the idea.  Something about the accountability and not wanting to be left behind when others reach their target word counts is just the motivation I need to move from “thinking” about story to actually writing it down.

Last year was a bust, for reasons outside of my control, but I’m looking forward to November this time around (and not just because there will be Halloween candy right beforehand).  I’ve already decided on the story I’ll be writing, a contemporary romance with the working title A Change of Heart.  The story is the second book in the series that I started with my 2015 NaNo story, Second Chances.

In order give myself the best chance of success this time around I’m doing a fair amount of pre-work.  It worked well for me in 2015, so it makes sense to do it again.

This week my focus is on:  Outlining Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – It’s a Girl!

Today we had a “virtual” baby shower at work for a remote co-worker who is due to deliver a baby girl in a few weeks.   There were no party games or gifts to open, but we did have homemade enchiladas and cake.  It was a little disconcerting having a team gathering via video screens, but it turned out surprisingly well.

I’m lucky enough in my Day Job to work with a small group of people who think of each other more like family than just co-workers.  Work can be crazy, but taking the time out to celebrate birthdays, babies, and other accomplishments make it a bit friendlier.  Plus, there is usually cake.

Now that the shower is all wrapped up, the left-overs packed away, and the mom-to-be sent on her way with a random assortment of conflicting parenting advice, it’s time to take a creativity break.  I’m thinking a few minutes of Random Word Improv will be just the thing.

Care to join me? Continue reading