Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Nothing like starting the week off with a holiday to make it seem like has lasted forever.  Wait.  That’s not right.  Is it?

Whether your week has gone by quickly or slowly the weekend is definitely on the horizon.  I have lots to do and will probably avoid doing most of it without a qualm of remorse.  Unless there is reading involved.  I’m a sucker for a good book, regardless of whatever I *should* be doing.

I have also long been a fan of quirky television shows, especially if there is catchy music involved.  One of my favorite shows growing up was The Monkees and I probably still have at least one of their record albums (yes, I’m really that old) hanging around.

You may have seen on the news that one of the cast members, bass player Peter Tork passed away on Thursday.  He and the other band members will always be about 22 in my mind, but he was, in fact, 77. I haven’t thought about their show in years.  I wonder if it’s out there on Netflix or Amazon.  I may have to go take a look, just to see how it’s held up over the years.

Before I get lost searching the internet or engrossed in the next book from my TPR pile that is calling my name, I’m going to do my best to get some words of my own on the page, starting with today’s writing prompt.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Haven’t I Read That Before?

Image courtesy of http://www.keble.ox.ac.uk

It was a busy day in Romancelandia today and not in a good way.  If you spent any time on social media recently you’ve probably seen the stories by now.  A Brazilian romance author who had a book entered in this year’s RWA RITA contest, appears to have engaged in some very blatant plagiarism.  I got wind of the story by way of Courtney Milan’s blog at lunchtime and by the end of the day, the list of authors whose work was thought to have been plagiarized read like a Who’s Who of Romance – Courtney Milan Tessa Dare, Bella Andre, Loretta Chase, Victoria Alexander, Nora Roberts – just to name a few.

It was disheartening to read posts from the various authors who were impacted, describing how it felt to see bits and pieces of the stories they’d put their whole heart and soul into writing, being passed off as the work of someone else.

The author, when confronted with the accusations, gave the equivalent of a “the dog ate my homework” excuse, saying “the ghostwriter did it.”  That didn’t fly with anyone, including the understandably outraged ghostwriting community. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

Congratulations for making it through another week.  As a bonus, here in the US, that means it’s time for a 3-day weekend, courtesy of President’s Day.

Yay!

Although Valentine’s Day is a well-known holiday, February 15 marks a slightly lesser-known celebration:  Singles Awareness Day.

By placing Singles Awareness Day on the day after Valentine’s Day, the undertone of self-pity and sadness was removed from it, and it instead became more of a celebration and a day of pride. It became an alternative day to Valentine’s Day for single people who may have felt left out, and it reminds everyone that being single is okay. It celebrates the love between friends and family, and love for oneself.  Celebrants also spend the day volunteering, traveling, and treating themselves to things they enjoy.

Although celebrating the day with a little traveling sounds like a great idea, I’m pretty sure my boss would much prefer that I spend the day in the office.  Sigh.  Ah well, at least I can mini-celebrate with some of those left-over chocolate strawberries and heart-shaped cookies left-over from yesterday.

Always a bright side.

Before I call it a day and officially kick-off the three-day weekend I think I’ll give today’s random words a shot.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Valentine’s Day Curmudgeon

Who could pass up chocolate dipped strawberries or heart-shaped cookies?

Unlike some of the others here on the blog, I didn’t need Michaeline’s reminder on Sunday to know Valentine’s Day was fast approaching though, frankly, it’s a holiday I’d just as soon forget.

That probably sounds strange coming from a romance writer and a life-long fan of Happily-Ever-After but the day unfortunately has some pretty negative memories attached to it.  While it may be a magnet for love for most, for me it’s when I got laid off from a job I loved – twice – and when my mom lapsed into a fatal coma.

Hardly the stuff of a cheery Hallmark greeting card.

You’d never know I harbored a dislike of the holiday by looking around my house or in my office at work though.  There’s a heart-shaped wreath on the front porch, a vase of fresh roses on the dining room table, and a Valentine-y plaque and a bowl of chocolate hearts on the corner of my desk. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

I’m writing this post on Thursday evening, which I just found out is “National Periodic Table” day.  That certainly explains some of the posts I saw on FB today from my science-y friends.  It’s also apparently “Fettuccine Alfredo Day”, which I would have been far more likely to celebrate, had I only known sooner.

It’s too late now, so I guess I’ll have to set my sights on tomorrow which, among other things, is “Fly a Kite” day (cue the Mary Poppins soundtrack).  Luckily I’ve got a brand new kite in the garage just waiting to be taken for a soar and the wind is rattling the trees as we speak.

That certainly sounds like more fun than going to work, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, go to work I must, so my kite flying might have to wait until the weekend, especially if the rain in the forecast materializes.  I have plenty of other things to do tomorrow including getting some words on the page before I crack open the latest book from my TBR pile.

I think I’ll start things off by giving today’s random words a shot.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: We Interrupt this Story . . .

Like several others here on the blog, I’ve spent a bit of time recently reading and judging contest entries. Some have been really good and some, like Jilly mentioned in her Give that Girl A Goal post, have suffered from an unfortunate lack of goal-motivation-conflict direction.

Sadly, a few have also suffered from “and here’s a big chunk of backstory”. That’s annoying enough in a full-length book, but deadly in a 50-page contest entry where the author has a short amount of story real-estate to make a strong impression.

It can be hard for a new writer to avoid weighing down their story with all of the details about the characters that they have dreamed up over time, just like it can be a challenge not to include all the fascinating facts that might have been dug up during the research phase of the story. As we were taught at McDaniel (and frankly in most wring craft classes), backstory is best when it is interwoven throughout the story with a light touch. Too much backstory, especially in big chunks, can slow the story down, break the tension, and cause your reader to lose interest.

Swaths of backstory aren’t just the purview of beginning writers, however. I recently read a new mystery story by a previously-unread-by-me author that was just swimming in it. The book was part of a popular series with more than a thousand reviews on Amazon and a 4.5 rating, so I had high expectations. The story got off to an okay start, but after about 75 pages or so, the current action stopped and there was about 100 pages of backstory. While it provided information about the heroine’s past, it was completely unnecessary. The relevant information could have been woven into the story with a few well-placed sentences here and there. Instead, it was a big, not particularly interesting slog of “this happened, and then this happened.” After about 20 pages I started to skim. By the time the story returned to the current action, I had lost interest and pretty much speed-read the rest of the story.

Unfortunate, as I had high hopes that this would be the beginning of an entertaining, new series. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints

If you’re reading this on Friday the 1st, are you celebrating National Wear Red Day?

Celebrated annually on the first Friday during the month of February, National Wear Red Day is a holiday in which men and women wear the color red to raise awareness about heart disease. It’s also a day in which women are encouraged to find out their five most important health numbers: Total Cholesterol, HDL Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, Blood Pressure and BMI (Body Mass Index). By knowing these numbers women can find out their risks for developing heart disease and take measures to prevent it.

I’m sure I’ll be red-in-the-face after I finish my workout at the gym – I wonder if that counts?  Maybe I better wear the red-sneakers, just in case.

Since I already know my Five Most Important Health Numbers, I think I’ll focus on writing instead.  Once I finish with work, the gym, and dinner, I’m going to give today’s “what-if” and random words a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading