Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday and, for those who celebrated it, Happy Thanksgiving.  As I’m writing this, the cooking is finished, dinner has been eaten, and the dishwasher is running.

It was not quite a typical Thanksgiving day but there were dog walks in the park and socially distant family cooking in the kitchen, all wrapped up with a delicious apple-pecan-streusel pie. As a bonus, there are plenty of left overs, so I won’t need to cook for days. 

Though we were unable to be together in person, my siblings and I holiday Zoom call.  I’m guessing many other families did too.  Not quite the same as sitting around the same table for a meal, but a nice alternative.

Now, rather than sneak into the kitchen for “just one more” bite of apple pie, I think I’ll give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Something to Laugh About

I’m convinced that the speed at which each year passes by increases the older I get.  It seems like I’ve barely finished taking a chainsaw to the Christmas tree and vacuuming up all of the scattered pine needles when it’s time to pull out the sandals and sunscreen.  Then, just when I think I’ve finally found shorts that fit, Pumpkin Spice Lattes are back on the menu and it’s time to pull out the fuzzy sweaters and make a big pot of stew.

This year has been the exception to the rule.

By my estimation it has lasted just a few days short of forever.  The conference I attended in Phoenix in February–where the weather was unseasonably cold and we all shivered our way through the outdoor meals–seems like it happened years ago.  Had I known what was looming on the horizon just a few short weeks later, I’d have added a few extra days to the trip and enjoyed the amenities of the resort hotel just a little more thoroughly.

Like many other folks, I’ve spent these last 8+ months mainly within the confines of my own four walls, sheltering in place and trying not to turn into some kind of personal super-spreader.  Replacing my previous hour-long commute with a twenty step walk from the bedroom to the computer has been a joy (and a money saver).  Attending meetings (audio only) in pajamas has been a delight.  And, if I’m honest, not having to listen to my co-worker who has a tendency to talk to herself while she works has been a bit of a relief.

It has been a bit lonely though.

I may be an introvert, but it turns out even introverts need actual human contact on occasion, and I’m not sure trips to the grocery store actually count for that.  Fortunately, Zoom and FaceTime have stepped up to be major pandemic players here in the shelter-zone.  I have been able to attend virtual conferences, seminars, webinars, and even a virtual wine-tasting event (they sent actual wine and snacks for that).  During those hours when I previously would have been commuting, I’ve learned all kinds of new things relevant to my day job and explored outside interests that I never seem to have had time for before.  I’ve seen the flowers bloom in the back yard and have been fascinated by the hummingbird who seems to have a real fondness for the potted plants outside my window.  On the family front, there are weekly FaceTime calls so we can pretend we’re talking together in the same room, and rare socially-distant visits with takeout meals.  It’s not ideal, but I’m lucky and I know it.

One thing that has really made these past months just a little less challenging has been humor.  Author Julia London posts #BadJokeTuesdays on her Facebook page.  Things like:

I always wanted to be a Gregorian Monk, but I never had the chants.

or

I hired a handyman and gave him a list. When I got home, only #1, 3, & 5 were done. Turns out, he only does odd jobs!

Groan worthy, perhaps.  But they to make me smile and gives me a reason to look forward to Tuesdays.

I have occasionally found humor unusual places, like yesterday’s National Park Service Facebook page, which had these two images:

Gladys warned Beatrice to be careful near the edge, but she also had been eyeing Beatrice’s new shawl ever since they arrived at the park.

Shouldn’t have been waving

I’m not sure why, but that “Gladys” image cracks me up still.  Obviously whoever is doing the posting on that page these days has a good sense of humor.  And after months of pandemic and politics and turmoil, I think humor may be just the medicine I need.

 

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy 20th day of NaNoWriMo or, as others call it, Friday!

I hope your week has been a good one or, failing that, at least not a bad one.  Mine was a 4-day work week, to be followed with a 3-day weekend, so that’s good.  However, the refrigerator sprang a leak the other day, and I didn’t discover the fact for a few days, so that’s not so good.  

Who would have guessed something as simple as water could cause so much trouble.  Looks like that kitchen remodel of mine that I’ve been thinking about and putting off for years is about to become a reality.  If nothing else there is a new floor in the works since water+wood is not a good combination, especially when the wood is particle board, which soaks up water like a sponge.

I love the freedom of having my own house but . . . sometimes . . . it’s not as delightful as one would like.  Ah well, now I have an excuse to browse through all of those kitchen remodeling magazines I’ve accumulated over the years and a reason to drop by the local home improvement center to look at options–in a socially distant way, of course.  

Between browsing magazines for ideas and waiting for the insurance agent to call back about my claim, I think I’ll give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Friday!

Hope you all have had a good week.  Things here have been hectic, but now that the election results are in, it is at least safe to turn on the television again.

What it isn’t particularly safe to do is to go out in public and hang around other people.  I don’t know about where you are, but it looks like most places are in the midst of a “weather is cooling down, Covid is gearing up” scenario.  My area is increasing closures again in an attempt to stop the rise in cases before they get out of control.  It’s looking like it will be a very socially-distant Thanksgiving this month.

I wasn’t planning on going to a sit-down restaurant or heading to the local bowling alley any time soon, so the impact of the new closures is minimal.  As long as I can get to the grocery story every week or so, I’ll be fine.  We’re supposed to be seeing a bit of rain today/tomorrow, so that is extra incentive to remain safely at home.  Fortunately, I have plenty to keep me busy, even though I will be off work for the day.

My version of NaNo is starting this Sunday, so I think I’ll warm up by giving today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Welcome to the end of a week that feels like it has lasted for an eternity.  I haven’t watched the news or even turned on the television set since the election started here in US.  The brief results I heard from friends or via Facebook posts I didn’t scroll past fast enough left me feeling heartsick about my country.

The ongoing pandemic, which is surging ever onward and upward, isn’t our only sickness.  Racism.  Hatred.  Greed.  Ignorance.  Gaslighting.  A me-first attitude (and screw everyone else).  The country has those diseases too, and there isn’t a vaccine, let alone a cure, on the horizon.  I knew those things all existed, but I thought they were in ever shrinking pockets of people, and on the way to extinction, rather than flourishing and growing.  The tunnel vision of privilege combined with wishful thinking.

I spend the time in my day job working on issues of equity, diversity, sustainability, and inclusion.  Looking at the way my fellow citizens have voted on the issues and people put in front of them during this election, I feel like I’ve been working on a completely different planet.  Thus, I’ve skipped watching the news and tried to remind myself that the arc of the universe does tend toward justice; that there are good people out there doing good things; and that life is a marathon, not a sprint.

NaNo started on Sunday, but I just haven’t been able to face putting words on the page.  Instead, I’ve read my way through Golden Age mysteries like they were going out of style, watched amusing animal videos, and crocheted one blanket and started on another. 

My 30-days-of-NaNo will start on the 10th.  In the meantime, I’m going to do my best to focus for just a little bit and give give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Kay: A Writer’s Post-Election Blues

I watched some of the American election returns on Tuesday night, and since then I’ve been struggling to put words on the page. I’ve been upset and depressed and paralyzed. Writing is usually my stress reducer. What can I do?

Like many writers, I turned to Google. And I found a 1961 article by Philip Roth in Commentary Magazine. Philip Roth is not my favorite writer and 1961 seems like a long time ago, but political turmoil has always been with us, and his words resonated with me today.

“The American writer in the middle of the 20th century has his hands full in trying to understand, and then describe, and then make credible much of the American reality,” he writes. “It stupefies, it sickens, it infuriates, and finally it is even a kind of embarrassment to one’s own meager imagination.”

Some of his examples of a sickening and stupefying American reality seem quaint today. [following italics are mine]

“Who, for example, could have invented Charles Van Doren?” Roth asks rhetorically. [Van Doren participated in the television quiz show scandals in the 1950s and testified before Congress.] “…Sherman Adams [President Dwight Eisenhower’s White House chief of staff, who lost his job in a scandal when he accepted an expensive vicuña coat] and Bernard Goldfine [guy who gave Sherman Adams the vicuña coat]? Dwight David Eisenhower [boss of the guy who took the vicuña coat]?”

Those crimes seem awfully minor these days, don’t they? Or maybe they seem like small potatoes only if what our current president has done in the White House upsets and sickens you. Roth wrote: Continue reading

Elizabeth: Pet Peeves

While wandering around the internet today, studiously trying to avoid anything related to the election, I came across a group of copy editors  talking about the pet peeves they have when it comes to reading (and editing) fiction.  Being editors, a number of their pet peeves dealt with things like incorrect word usage (their/they’re/there or then/than) and the overuse of sentence fragments. They all seemed to agree, however, that the number of books that appear to have been published without being edited in the least is simply appalling.

Here are some of the other pet peeves that were mentioned:

Inconsistent World Building

This was the top issue that was raised, most frequently in relation to science fiction and fantasy novels.  If you’ve read enough books, you’ve undoubtedly experienced this issue on occasion.  Pages and pages are spent explaining the intricacies of the fictional universe, just to have those rules broken few pages later for no reason.  This also includes inconsistencies like having a cell phone appear in a story set in the 1960s or having a woman going off to vote in an election in the 1890s.  Sure, a work of fiction is not intended to be a historical text book, but unless inconsistencies are clearly explained or intentionally done, they just look like lazy writing. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Happy Final Friday of October. As I took my post-work-day walk this evening I could see that the church across the highway was busily setting up the parking lot for Saturday’s socially-distant Halloween trunk-or-treat event.  I’m not sure how it will all work, but colorful temporary structures and lots of sparkly lights will be involved.

And candy, I’d guess.

Here at the Writing Cave, all will be quiet.  I’m not sure whether there will be any children out trick-or-treating (local health guidelines say “don’t to it”), but since I have no candy to hand out and the set of twinkly lights I got the other day were defective, I will most likely turn off the porchlight and curl up with a good book.  

Before that, however, I have to participate in an early morning Zoom call, make it through another day of work, and give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me?

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), if you’re not feeling random, we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with and would like to share.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, I hope either today’s random words or writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.

Ready?

What if: “Your character has to choose between a trick and a treat?

Feel free to interpret the “What” any way you choose (or ignore it completely) and include any (or all) of the following random words:

brilliant          pocket             channel           background

ankle               belongings      hack                 entertain

elevator          spike                sweet               attempt

apology           goat                  groan               neurotic

I look forward to seeing your stories in the comments.  If you’re not feeling in the writing mood today, or don’t have time, feel free to post suggestions you might have for future “what-if” prompts.  Ideas are always welcome.

Happy writing to all!

Elizabeth: Playing with Words

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a fan of words.  One of the earliest memories I have is of being with my mom at the salon, waiting while she had her hair done.  I had not yet learned to write, but I had a crayon and a pad of paper and was diligently “writing” away, stopping every now and then to hold up the pad of paper and ask if I’d made any words yet.  I have no idea why that is stuck in my head, and I have a suspicion that it’s a story I was told rather than one I remember, but I know the fondness for words is real.

I think one of the reasons I write is because I love to play with words.  There is nothing like finding just the right combination of words to get an exact thought on the page.  Though, in all honesty, my writing is often filled with underlined spaces where I’ve been unable to think of the word I want and have pressed onward, hoping the right word would come to mind eventually. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Welcome to the end of another week.   The days are getting noticeably shorter, which makes my after-work walks a bit of a challenge.  At this rate, I’ll be taking my walks at lunch time.  On the plus side, at least I won’t have to worry about melting in the heat.

Shorter days also mean that November and NaNoWriMo are both on the horizon.  Looks like I have about a week to gather the Fall decorations from the garage and outline the story I’ll be working on for the month.  I’m cautiously optimistic about the success of both activities, though there is a definite chance I might be distracted or sidelined by one of the books in my TBR pile.  Especially one of the mysteries.  I don’t know about you, but I have the devil’s own time putting one of those down once started.

Providing I manage to log off work at a reasonable time and avoid the lure of the TBR pile, I plan to give today’s writing prompt and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading