Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Accentuate the Positive

accentuate_the_positiveI’ve got a box of old ’78 records in the garage that belonged to my mother years ago when she was accordion playing young mom.  As you might guess, there are a number of polka songs in the mix.  There were also a couple of the records that I used to play over and over when I was a kid.

One was Frank Sinatra singing Five Minutes More.

“Give me five minutes more,
only five minutes more
Let me stay, let me stay in your arms
Here am I, begging for
only five minutes more
Only five minutes more of your charms”

The other was Bing Crosby singing Accentuate the Positive.

“You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”

I recently came across the box of records and wound up the old Victrola to give them a listen (yes, I really do still have one).  They were a little scratchier sounding than then used to be, but they were just as much fun as I remembered.  I thought Accentuate the Positive was especially fitting, given all that’s going on in the world these days. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – The Hot Sweaty Sex Edition

love_holding_handsWhat better way to wrap up Valentine’s week than with a little hot, sweaty sex?

Right?

For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about writing (or not writing, as the case may be) sex scenes.  If you missed the posts, you can check them out here, here, here, here, and here.  It’s an interesting topic and one that has no real right or wrong answers.  What works for one reader may leave another cold, bored, dissatisfied, or skipping ahead.

I did a little research via my own bookshelves and found that, as a reader, I’m not even consistent about which scenes work for me and which don’t.  One of the “didn’t work for me” scenes was 27 pages long.   I’m still not entirely certain exactly what happened and I’m pretty sure some things were anatomically impossible.  Conversely, a scene that “did work for me” was almost as long, but had great pacing, a dash of humor, advanced the plot, and left a nice tingly feeling at the end.

What’s a writer to do? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Into the Inferno

gates-of-hell

The Gates of Hell, Rodin, Stanford University

This week I was at a conference at a local university.  In between the plenary sessions, break-out discussions, and appallingly health conscious breakfasts and lunches, there were chunks of time set aside for networking and “continuing to discuss the material covered with other attendees.”

Naturally I chose to slip out, despite the ongoing rain, and use some of that time to explore the university’s nearby Rodin sculpture garden.  What can I say?  You can lead an introvert to people, but you can’t make her talk.  Or something like that.

I’m a big fan of Rodin’s work and was even lucky enough to see a number of his pieces in the Musée Rodin in Paris several years ago.  Looking the Gates of Hell yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of all the stories it contains and what a monument to persistence it is (he worked on it, on and off, for 37 years).

Next time I get discouraged with the progress on my WIP, I’m going to remember that persistence and be glad that I haven’t quite hit the 37-year mark with my current characters. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Measuring Joy

img_1231As I mentioned back in my New Year’s post, my watchword for 2017 is Joy.  Now that January is over, it seems like a good time for a check-in to see how just how that’s been working out so far.

There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” ~ J.K. Rowling

Discovery

January was a good month for new stories.  Maddie and Dan from my holiday Mistletoe Reboot story got another installment in their “is it over or not relationship”; Jack and his brother Nick were featured in my January Short story; and Katie and Grant made their way around London on a team-building treasure hunt in last Friday’s Random Word Improv.  Even better, as far as meeting some longer-term goals, Cassie and Nicolai traveled along with me on this week’s business trip and are slowly inching their way through Act 2.  All of that is definitely “joy” inducing.

“Life is uncertain, eat dessert first.” Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Tell Me a Story

tell_me_a_story_istockFacts have come under attack recently, especially those “alternative” ones (pretty sure we used to call those lies).  In reality, people have been finding facts to back up whatever point they want to make while conveniently ignoring those that don’t for ages.

That’s why I was interested to come across an article at work about how storytelling, not facts, was a more effective way to provide information, get people to listen and change minds.   It makes sense.  Think about those commercials on late night television seeking donations for animals in shelters.  If someone tells you there are 100,000 dogs currently in shelters it’s not going to be as memorable (or impactful) as seeing a picture of a poor abandoned pup. Storytelling makes the difference.

The other tangentially related news story Continue reading

Elizabeth: The Call to Action

call_to_actionAs writers, we’re taught that a story rightfully begins with an inciting incident; an event that changes something for our hero/heroine, throwing them off their traditional path and setting everything in motion.   It can be as simple as meeting a cute guy in the bar, the death of a family member, or being transferred to a new job, or more complex, like being transported into a whole new world.  Typically, the inciting incident is something that happens to the hero/heroine, rather than something they actively do.

Simply put, before the inciting incident there is equilibrium.  Afterwards, the balance has been upset and there is a problem to be solved. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – It’s a Circus out there

barnum__bailey_circusNo, I’m not talking about politics in today’s post, I’m referring to the recent announcement that, after 146 years, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus will be folding up the tents and calling it a day later this spring.

I don’t know about you, but I have fond memories of going to the circus when I was a kid.  The jugglers and acrobats were my favorites, though the clowns were always a bit disturbing.  As I got older, the lure of the circus faded, especially when they added the noisy, smelly motorcycles that used to race around and around in big circular steel cages.   The lure apparently faded for others as well, especially those against the continued inclusion of animals.

As a fan of Regency fiction, mention of the circus brings to mind Astley’s Amphitheater in London which, in 1768 pioneered the standard circus ring and was the place to go to see feats of trick horse riding, acrobats, clowns, and other acts.  It was entertainment enjoyed by Londoners of all ages.

While we might not be able to run away to the circus right now, we can bring it to life here on the blog in today’s round of Random Word Improv.

Care to join me? Continue reading