Elizabeth: The Season of Story

Smiling Christmas snowflake ornament on the tree
© Eldridge Photography

As I write this post, I’m sitting in the living room, basking in the glow of the holiday tree that is dressed in its strings of twinkle lights and golden garland.   That cat, of course, considers it to be his own personal giant toy.  I hope I don’t have a reason to regret not bolting it to the ceiling this year.

The holidays have changed a lot since I was a kid, when the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas used to last what felt like an eternity and the tree (at least for some  years) was oddly metallic and sported lots and lots of tinsel.  Now the time seems to be speeding along at an alarming rate and the tree is real and giving off a faint pine scent.

I’ve run out of time this evening, so putting on the ornaments will have to wait until I get home from work tomorrow.  When I pull out the ornaments, I’ll be pulling out memories along with them.  There will be the glass ballerina that I got from my dance teacher the year I went en point in ballet class.  There will be the brightly colored fish made out of ribbons that I got in the Honolulu airport while on a business trip just before my son was born.  There will be ornaments picked up on trips, received as gifts, made in school, and any number that never seem to make it to the tree, but all of them will have some kind of story associated with them.

In some ways, decorating and storytelling have some things in common, which is the actual point of today’s post. Continue reading

Jeanne: November Progress Report

To refresh everyone, my goal is to release three books next fall (September/October/ November) and  then a boxed set of all three in December.

To make that goal, I need to finish the second draft of the second book in the trilogy, The Demon’s in the Details, by the end of the year. I know this because I’ve done a fair amount of project management over the years and Rule One of project management is: Meet your intermediate milestones.

You may recall that, citing the pressure of the holidays, I set only a single goal for November: revise 125 pages.

I didn’t make that goal, but I’m happy to report that I did get through 102 pages. (Rule Two of project management: When you miss a milestone, put a positive spin on it.)

I’m now at the beginning of Act 3 and the manuscript exceeds 50,000 words. The finished book should run between 80,000 and 90,000 words–approximately 300-350 pages.

So, not goal, but not too shabby.


Continue reading

Nancy: December Accountability Thread

This is it, our last monthly accountability thread for 2017! Can you believe it?

For the past eight days, I’ve been a few thousand miles from home. I’ve been sightseeing, extroverting (in my own introverted way), and occasionally (very very occasionally) squeezing in some writing. In a few hours, possibly around the time you read this, I’ll be frantically checking to ensure I’ve packed everything, running off to see a few last sights, and dashing (sitting) through rush-hour traffic in LA to make it to the airport in time to catch my flight home. But all of this is to your benefit, as for this month’s accountability recap and next month’s goal-setting, I’ll be brief!

You know how this works. First, we’ll recap November’s progress. Continue reading

Jilly: Practical Gifts for Writers

What’s on your wish list for Christmas, or your holiday of choice, or your next birthday? Do you prefer to receive pretty, imaginative gifts or plain, practical ones?

On Thursday, Michille offered a selection of cute and clever writing-themed ideas. I’d be delighted to receive any of them (my fave is the bathtub caddy with built-in kindle and wineglass holders) but if I had my choice I’d prefer something practical to keep my writerly bandwagon rolling.

Any of these would put a smile on my face:

Free: Creative Kickstarters
I’d love somebody to spend a little time and trouble curating (say) a dozen recommendations especially for me—could be novels, or biographies, music, movies or experiences. The idea would be to offer suggestions that the giver thinks would be new to me and that I would enjoy. Part of the fun for me would be to investigate the suggestions, to think about why the giver decided to recommend them for me, and to decide whether to go ahead and invest in them.

Inexpensive: Screen cleaning cloths
Do you use microfiber cloths to clean your phone and computer screen? It seems as though all my electronic devices are perpetually smeary, and there’s never a clean microfiber cloth to hand when I want one.

Inexpensive: Kitchen timer
When I’m in a good writing rhythm, I like to write for 45 minutes and take a break for 15, rinse and repeat as often as I can. At the moment I use the timer on my phone, but a mechanical timer for my desk would be fun and useful. The UK version of Amazon has a mind-boggling 173 pages of products to choose from. Continue reading

Michaeline: Blog Recs, Or Toot Your Own Blog

A 14th century lady in a long gown who is pressing an organ key, and tooting a small horn towards her audience.

After you spend a whole morning at the keyboard, take a little time to toot your own horn. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Last week at Thanksgiving, I met a fellow writer who asked to see our blog here. I spent three days thinking it over subconsciously, and five minutes giving it some good old higher-executive thought.

It wasn’t easy. We’ve been here since 2013, and there’s been a lot of material we’ve covered. I think our main mission is covering the writing life as beginners, and most of our posts are self-reflections, and reflections of other writers’ thoughts that we’ve found helpful. But we’re more than that – we’ve also had great guest posts and interviews on the blog.

But I think the thing that I’m most proud of is when we display our story skills. The Friday Writing Sprints are a great chance to entertain ourselves and our friends. And then there are the times when we post excerpts or short original stories here on the blog.

My friend texted me, and said, basically, “Hey, I’d really like to see your blog.” So I sent her a link to the beginning of Christmas Week 2016, when we write short stories and share them. You can see it here, starting with Kay’s fairy tale: https://eightladieswriting.com/2016/12/22/kay-resetting-creativity/

How about you? Where would you send people who wanted to take a look at our blog? And, if you have a blog, where would you recommend people get their first taste of it?

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Binge Watching Edition

With a November that was crammed full of activity, my video streaming service and I didn’t spend much quality time together.  Fortunately, over Thanksgiving weekend I was introduced to the show The Good Place, a fantasy comedy television series that is currently in the midst of its second season.

The perfect calorie-free post-NaNo treat.

The show follows the heroine, Eleanor (Kristen Bell), as she wakes up in the afterlife.  She’s in “The Good Place”, but she’s pretty sure there has been a mistake.   In the first season, we see her trying to hide her real behaviour and attempt to become a better person, and then later deal with the fall-out from her actions.  The episodes (without commercials) are about 22 minutes long, so binge-watching the show is a lot like munching on a bowl of popcorn – you keep reaching for just a little more.

If you haven’t seen the series and have access to it via Netflix or some other on-demand service (apologies in advance if it’s not available in your area), I’d definitely recommend it.  Not only is the show a fun watch, but the writers did a fantastic job with the first season ending that resolved the initial story and then immediately threw it into a brand new direction.

Now that I’ve watched my way through the entire first season, it’s time for me to get back to writing.  Since I’m not exactly sure what my next story will be, I think a little Random Word Improv will be just the thing to jump-start my creativity.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Michille: Gifts for Writers (and Readers)

Writers Charm BraceletWe’re heading into a big holiday season for many. Personally, I celebrate Christmas. Even if you don’t celebrate something in December, you likely have other times of year when you do, like birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc. I’ve gathered a few ideas for the writer or reader in your life that are a little different than, say, an Amazon gift card. Last year’s edition of this included Aqua Notes. I have since found Eureka Shower Idea Whiteboard. Amazon also has The Writer’s Toolbox: Creative Games and Exercises for Inspiring the ‘Write’ Side of Your Brain and I love this bracelet. Continue reading