Kay: Golden Contests

For writers who want to get sincere feedback on their pages, contests are one option to hear from judges who won’t have any inhibitions about criticizing a friend’s work. In addition to any critique, finaling—and especially winning—a big contest can bring the attention of agents and editors, not to mention fame and fortune, to the author.

Three years ago, our own Jeanne Estridge won the Golden Heart, a contest for unpublished romance authors. It’s a big deal, with more than 1,500 entries. We were all there to whoop it up when her name was announced. (She’s finaled again this year, and we have our fingers crossed.)

However, not everyone is a romance writer, Continue reading

Jilly: Sunday Short Story–Dr. Livingstone’s Redemption

Spring is here, at last! The snow has gone (sorry if, like 8Lady Michille, you’re still knee deep in the cold, white stuff), and every day gets a little brighter, a little longer. This is usually my most productive time of year, so I have high hopes that my right brain will emerge from hibernation some time soon.

To help things along, here’s a short story using Elizabeth’s most recent Friday writing cues. This week, she gave us the theme stuck in an airport, and these prompt words:

loudspeaker                seat                                smile                            chemical

contagious                   apparatus                     skyline                         robotic

pest                               cage                               memory                       limousine

cellular                          homicide                      plague                          fashionable

 

Dr. Livingstone’s Redemption

Dr. Jean-Xavier Livingstone, erstwhile homicide detective and current jack-of-all-trades, powered down his scanning apparatus. In the time it would once have taken him to wait for the elevator, he exchanged his lightweight suit for a pair of denim cutoffs, secured the old sugar mill that served as the terminal building, and headed for his boat.

There were worse places to be than stuck in an airport, if it happened to be on a private island owned by a reclusive photographer.

Minor downsides: the robotic announcements that issued from the single loudspeaker when a flight was expected; a faint chemical tang, courtesy of the recent pest control visit.

Minor upside: the fashionable women that emerged from the private jets, all designer-casual with their long legs, long hair and dark glasses as they undulated from ergonomically designed seat to dark-windowed limousine. Many of them offered him a smile as they passed, and their good humor was somehow contagious.

Better still: no cellular coverage, moody skies over mirror-smooth water that stretched unbroken to the skyline, and an old wooden cottage over the far side of the mountain, right on the shore. A shelf of books, half a bottle of old Clynelish, and some of the best fishing he’d ever enjoyed.

No rulebook to cage him.

No memory of past failures to plague him.

Best of all: nobody had died yet. And this time, he’d make sure nobody did.

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

By the time you read this I’ll have successfully (hopefully) made it through a business trip that included my having to speak in front of a roomful of business professionals.  I’m all about data, analytics, and storytelling.  People . . . not so much.

On the plus side, I’ll have spent the week at a hotel that claims to have a state-of-the-art fitness center, as well as a pool and spa, so my fitness routine won’t have suffered and I’ll have had a chance to do some relaxing after the torment presentation.

Now that I’m back, it’s time to unpack the suitcase, toss in a load of laundry, fill up my coffee mug and get some words on the page.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

The clock may have sprung-forward this past Sunday, but the weather has definitely been wintery this week.  Luckily I took advantage of a break in the rain Sunday to get some much-needed yard work done.  Now I’m back to cuddling up in a cozy blanket and trying to make a dent in my TBR pile.

Yesterday I finished Death at Wentwater Court, a Daisy Dalrymple Mystery by Carola Dunn.  The story is set in 1923 England and is a fun, entertaining period-piece.  It was just the antidote I needed after exposure to too much current political news.  I liked the story so much that I went online and ordered the next in the series as soon as I finished reading reach “The End.”

While I’m waiting for my next Daisy Dalrymple fix I think I’ll take the opportunity to do a little writing of my own.  I have a scene in my Regency story that has been giving me fits, so I’m planning to do a little brainstorming and/or free-writing with today’s story prompt to get my creativity engaged.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

Thursday was International Women’s Day, a day that commemorates the movement for women’s rights and celebrates the political, cultural, social, and economic achievements of women.  In case you are curious, it was also National Proofreading Day, World Kidney Day, and of course, Popcorn Lovers Day.

More importantly, at least for me, it was the end of a busy work week full of strategy, goal setting, and the annual performance review process.  Things went well on all counts.  In fact, I’m still reeling from hearing things like “dream employee” and “decisive leader.”  I’m thinking of having buttons made. 🙂

Now that Friday is here, it’s time to put away the work clothes, pull out my favorite writing shirt, and focus on getting some words on the page.  I have two characters stuck in a holding pattern while I’ve been trying to figure out how to escalate (and then resolve) their conflict.  I need to get that taken care of before they give up and wander off.

I’ll be kicking off my writing in the afternoon, after lunch and a little creative inspiration via a showing of Black Panther.

Care to join me?

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with and would like to share.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, maybe our weekly writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.   This week we’ve got a theme and some random words to work with.

Ready?

Here is today’s writing prompt:

Write a story that includes:  a time-traveler

And includes any (or all) of the following random words:

impulsive            minute                 crackpot               getaway

flag                        murky                   year                       distortion

gunk                      night                     locust                    battle

zebra                     time                      control                 buzz

Whether you’re sharing a bit of your current work or writing something fresh based on the writing prompt, we hope you’ll join us for today’s Story Time.

Happy writing to all!

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

Today’s dose of adorable came via a photograph posted on Facebook of a row of eight comfort dogs waiting to greet the Stoneman Douglas school kids on their first day back this morning.  I felt calmer just looking at them and hope the kids felt the same.

I was at a conference in a big hotel a few weeks ago, and one of the other conferences there at the same time had a room set aside where attendees could pick up and cuddle with puppies and kittens.  I kind of wished I had been part of that conference instead of my own.  I’m sure that would have improved my conference experience substantially.

For now I’ll have to keep the cuddling to my own (no longer a kitten) cat and look forward to the time (in the not too distant future) when there is a new puppy here to cuddle as well.  While I wait for that, I think I’ll try to kick of my new Day-Off-Work /  Friday-Writing-Practice” with a little creative writing.

Care to join me? Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints – Brr!

We’ve been talking about cold starts this week and Mother Nature has been doing her part to provide an appropriately chilly atmosphere.  My outdoor plants, which had been fooled into thinking it was springtime by the warm weather just a few weeks ago have been shivering their way through several nights of freezing temperatures – not something they are used to here on the West Coast.

I have been bundling up in my fuzziest blanket here at home and watching coverage of the Olympics, something that’s not particularly conducive to getting words on the page.  I have the day off work on Friday, however, so I’m going to throw off the blankets and make a serious attempt at getting some writing done.

Care to join me? Continue reading