Michaeline: The Fable of the Green Pumpkins

I’ll warn you upfront: this will be a difficult fable if you are expecting me to hand you the moral. I’m not sure what it is, myself, but maybe it’ll give you what you need in your writing journey this month.

Two green jack o'lanterns in the day.

Sometimes, the timing is off. (Eileen Duskova)

That said, let me tell you the fable of the green pumpkins. Pumpkins are not easy to come by in northern Japan. You can get them, but you have to look for them. I usually grow my own, and this year, I planted my pumpkins too late. Even though the frost was very late, the poor pumpkins just ran out of time. When the first frost finally rolled around in the middle of October, I was delighted to find that I had about four good-sized pumpkins, even though they were green. I took the biggest two to the porch, because I figured all pumpkins are black in the dark. It probably wouldn’t matter.

I knew they were early, and that they’d not last for a full week. And in the daylight, they were the wrong color. It was OK, though. I think even orange jack-o’-lanterns look a little sad and gutted in the daylight. What mattered was how they looked at night.

And, on the plus side, Continue reading

Jilly: TMI

What have you been reading lately? What did you like or dislike? Did you learn anything?

Over the last few weeks I’ve sampled a number of new-to-me authors and had the same problem with several of them. I always read the blurb, Look Inside excerpt and a few sample reviews before buying, so none of my purchases was a disaster. They all had interesting characters, an intriguing premise, and quality writing, but either I didn’t finish them, or I skimmed to the end to see how the author wrapped up the plot.

I gave up on these books because I got overloaded. It seemed clear that all the information stuffed into the opening chapters would be used at some point in the story, but the pacing was lightning-fast and data was thrown at me until I wanted to beg for mercy. I was too busy trying to remember everything to care about the main characters. In the end, the read became too much like hard work and I quit, which was a shame.

In one book, we learned Continue reading

Nancy: The Schedule, Part 673

The Dreaded Schedule

Okay, you caught me. I haven’t really written 672 previous posts about schedules. It just feels that way to me, and possibly to you as well. But when I wrote a brief series of posts about my upcoming life changes, I promised to share occasional updates, to compare the reality with the ideal I wrote about in posts like this one. Well, I have some data points, so let’s get to it!

Looking back at this oh-so-hopeful post, it seems I had some very cute ideas Continue reading

Nancy: Closing Doors, Opening Windows


I was speaking with a friend  recently about Life Stuff. As sometimes happens during these types of conversations, we talked about the idea that when a door closes, another one opens. And if there is no other door, we hope we can at least find a window. A few days later, as I was skimming through my WIP, trying to get back in touch with where I’d left off on revisions to deal with Life Stuff, I remembered that conversation and realized that in a sense, the McDaniel writing program and the craft lessons we learned forced all of us to close some doors on our writing of the past.

In some cases, it’s easy to see that this is a good thing. As much as all of us struggle with applying the concept, realizing the importance of giving our characters goals, and positive ones at that, has been an important lesson that many of us circle back to again and again as we revise our WIPs. But other lessons, like treating every scene as a unit of conflict, are at times elusive and at other times just plain intrusive upon the creative process. I’m sure every one of us could point to lessons we learned that have clicked for us and that make us now wonder how we ever wrote without such knowledge. But we could also point to lessons that have become stumbling blocks in our forward progress. Then, to make matters worse, when we try to return to the familiar, the way we used to do things, that doesn’t work either. That door is now closed and deadbolted behind us. Continue reading

Nancy: The Intentional Writer

Life and Writing Are Like a Jigsaw Puzzle

Some weeks ago, I wrote about the difficulty of finding time to write. More specifically, I wrote about my own inability to prioritize writing given my other obligations, particularly those of my day job, which had reached a zenith of stressfulness in January.  While I was ‘this close’ to just turning in my resignation, I don’t like to jump into something that life-altering without a plan. So I started working on something that I often do in my day job: a gap analysis. Where are we now, where do we want to be, and what is in that gap separating the two.

For my life purposes, the ‘where are we now’ was the over-stressed, exhausted, time-deprived state of my life. The ‘where do we want to be’…well, that was harder to pinpoint. I spent more time thinking about where I didn’t want to be. But just like starting with a negative character goal in a story, coming at this from a negative angle was making it hard to see how I could progress to a positive place. Then I read this post on the Reinventing Fabulous blog, and puzzle pieces started shifting into place. Continue reading

Nancy: You Say You Want a Resolution

Time to write the pages!

As regular readers of the blog know, we Ladies have spent some time this January talking about our New Year’s resolutions or lack thereof. Many of us have chosen to go the route of using the dawn of 2014 to recalibrate and update e our goals instead of making official declarations. I am one of those in the goals camp. One of the upsides of that approach is that things I haven’t accomplished thus far aren’t lost resolutions or chances. Even if I miss a deadline for a goal, I can reset it and come up with a plan to do better starting now. Technically, the same can be said of resolutions, but words have certain connotations, and failing at a resolution just makes me feel worse than recalibrating a goal.

While some of my goals are specific to finishing drafts and submitting manuscripts for publishing consideration, one is the granddaddy of them all, because if I manage to achieve it, it will make my other writing career goals possible. Continue reading