Michaeline: Go Ahead and Bang Some Rocks

A monkey sculpting a bust of a woman

Banging rocks can be a fabulous hobby. Who knows what can come out of it? (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Efficiency, productivity, streamlined, maintenance . . . buzzy buzzwords that can keep our butts in the chairs and us writing our hearts out. However, sometimes, The Girls in the Basement (our inner muses) send up something that seems just . . . useless. For almost two years, my mind has been pre-occupied with David Bowie and the ukulele. I’ve written two short stories and worked on a longer piece thanks to the David Bowie obsession, but the uke? It hasn’t paid off – except I love doing it, and it’s brought me a lot of joy and feelings of achievement. As hobbies and obsessions go, you can’t ask for much more than that, really.

However, my upper mind – the Censor in the Attic, perhaps – is terribly concerned that I should be Writing, and not just any old writing, but Great and Wonderful Stories that Will Enchant the Masses (or at least a few Niches). It’s almost a daily battle between the Censor, who wants to direct things, and the Girls, who just want to have fun. Sadly, as is often the case in war, neither side wins on many days.

But this week, I stumbled upon a 2016 Atlantic piece that soothed my censor a little bit. Ed Yong’s “Rock-Smashing Monkeys Unintentionally Make Sharp Tools” really resonated all over for me.

Here’s the basic premise: Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

Are you in the holiday mood yet?  I can hardly help it myself, having been watching the Hallmark Channel holiday movie marathon for weeks now.  I figure it’s better for my piece of mind than watching the nightly news.

My house is definitely getting in the holiday spirit, though not very quickly. There is a holiday tree in the corner, but it’s still awaiting lights and ornaments.  Guess I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.

Maybe.

Right now I’m just focusing on making it through one final day of work before calling this week done.  I was off at a conference for a few days, so that made the week fly by.  As a bonus, the conference was near a favorite New Orleans style restaurant, so my week included Jambalaya and Beignets – a definite win.

Now that the leftovers are gone, it’s time to turn my mind back to writing, which has been on the back burner lately.  I have some revisions to do, but first I think I’ll flex my creativity a little by giving today’s story prompt a try.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Michille: 50,045

NaNo-Shield-Logo-Web

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month is over. And for the first time since I’ve started participating, I DID IT! 50,045 words. 32 scenes (plus a blog post). 24 days with words on the page. Fewest words – 0 (6 days of no writing). Most words – 5,307 (on November 30). Fortunately (or unfortunately) I ended up with a severe case of insomnia for the last week of NaNo so I was up at three or four a.m. making up word count from the previous weeks/days of missing the mark.

How did I do it? I wrote. A lot. I didn’t stop and go back and edit. One day, I wrote, ‘she grudgingly pushed the cell phone across the table to him’. I started to think of what that would look like instead of using the word grudgingly. How does one ‘grudgingly’ push a phone? Then I told myself to stop that nonsense and just keep writing. I could fix that later. Every line of dialogue had a tag. There are lots of adjectives, adverbs, filler words, inane conversation, and side bars. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Gifts for Writers

I was at the local craft store this weekend  to pick up something for a project I was working on.  They didn’t have what I was looking for, but it all turned out okay since once I got home I found that I actually already had what I needed, it had just gotten put away in the wrong place.

Perhaps there is such a thing as too tidy.

It’s lucky that I wasn’t planning to stock up on holiday items at the store, however, since deep-discounts on all things Christmas were well underway on the day I was there.  The shelves made me think of the food dish after the puppy has eaten – licked clean and knocked over to make sure there was nothing left underneath.

Fortunately, if you’re looking for gift ideas for that special writer on your list you don’t have to brave the craft store, or even leave the house.  Instead, why not consider one of the non-traditional items listed below? Continue reading

Jeanne: The Complexity of Romance

muffins-2225091_640Romance may be the single most complex genre of fiction there is.

A romance author has to juggle five different arcs:

  • Story (plot) arc
  • Character arc for the heroine
  • Character arc for the hero
  • Relationship arc
    • And within that relationship arc, both the emotional arc and the physical arc of the romance

That’s at least double most other genres, which have a plot arc and character arcs for only one or two characters (and sometimes no character arc at all).

To make things even tougher on the romance writer (though easier for the reader), some of those arcs should line up, sharing common turning points.  Let’s do a hypothetical example:

Our Heroine wants to open a bakery in the perfect location in her little town. She has a character flaw, though. She hates confrontations and backs away at the first sign of conflict.

Our Hero wants the same spot to open a mobile phone franchise. He’s a good guy, but he’s very competitive. Continue reading

Nancy: Progress and Plans

Welcome to December! While I’m labeling today’s post accountability thread, you’ll note that in place of the runners jumping over hurdles image I usually include, I’ve chosen a picture of a woman in a zen pose as she looks out at the mountains in front of her. That’s in honor of the kinder, gentler approach I’m going to take this month to scaling all the cliffs in front of me. With the holidays, family obligations, and some exhaustion setting in from the breakneck pace I’ve been trying to keep, I don’t have much choice.

By this time in January, I might be lacing up my Sauconies and hitting the trail, sprinting up the side of the next mountain. But for today, I’m going to calmly celebrate November’s accomplishments and peacefully prepare my December plans. Continue reading

Justine: Going Nocturnal

yellow eyes black PantherA few weeks ago, Jeanne blogged about chunky writers, or writers who need large chunks of time in order to be productive. I completely identified with this…it takes me a little while to get into my story world, and if I’m on a tear, I want to stay there.

However, as some of you know, I have a family…kids, a dog (who unfortunately does not use a litter box and so needs to go out), and a husband who travels a lot. I’m also the point person on just about anything to do with repairs, errands, etc. And, because most businesses are open during the day, that’s when I have to take care of those things, usually at the expense of my writing.

But it didn’t used to be like this. When my kids were younger (and I needed to parent them all day), I would work at night, usually starting after they went to bed. I would work until midnight or later, then come to bed and try to make it through the next day with IVs of caffeine. Not only was I a migraine-wielding zombie, Continue reading