Michaeline: Spring Break 2019!


A redhead with rose wreath plays the harp outdoors while two toddlers dressed in white robes bring her flowers and what looks like a large iguana, or a small dinosaur.

Composing some poems/Thinking of spring/A small dinosaur/My cherubs bring. Ah, spring is a crazy time of year! (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Well, it’s officially official! The 21st in Japan was the spring equinox, and the 20th for North, Central and South America. And, my elementary school students graduated on Friday, which is another sure sign that the season is about to commence. Peak cherry blossoms are predicted for March 29th in Tokyo. Spring has sprung! The season’s begun!

And one of my favorite late-night shows announced a fun hashtag contest. #SpringBreakHaiku “winners” may have their winning tweets read on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. There are so many fun little creative contests associated with the show, but this one hits all my sweet spots. I love spring! I love breaks! And I adore a cute haiku!

They’ve already chosen their favorites, and you can view them on the gallery here: https://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/photos/hashtag-gallery-springbreakhaiku/3122635

This was one of my favorites.

I wrote about ten poems for the hashtag, and posted five.

My favorite darling.
Strewn across the floor:
Beer bottles from five nations.
Passed out guys from three.

Of course, you know the haiku police were out there, saying mean stuff about people’s numerical abilities. (For the record, the modern haiku doesn’t have to stick to a 5-7-5 syllable pattern. But try telling pedants that!) So, just out of silliness and spite, I posted this:

There once was a girl from Kentucky
Who went to Florida to get lucky.
She ran into an ex-,
Said, “Thank you, next.”
And hooked up with a guy much less sucky.

#SpringBreakHaiku #IrishHaiku

How about you? What silly little word games are you playing to keep your skills sharp?

Jilly: Storyteller v Smooth Writer

storytellerI’m planning to spend today judging romance writing contest entries. It’s time-consuming and headache-inducing, but over the last couple of years I’ve discovered that analyzing other unpublished writers’ work is a great way to improve my own.

I guesstimate that on average it takes me about three or four hours per entry from first read to submission of score-sheet. Multiply that by four or five manuscripts, and you’re talking about a serious investment of time. It’s relatively quick, and usually great fun, to read an entry and reach a first impression. Are the scenes well-written? Do I care about the characters? Would I read on? It’s much harder to pinpoint what it is about the writing that makes me feel that way, and harder still to find the right words to give that feedback to the author in an honest, courteous and professional manner.

The last time I judged this particular contest I was lucky enough to read two very good entries back-to-back that made me think hard about Continue reading

Jilly: Embarrassing

embarrassingWhen’s the last time you did something really stupid? Something so obviously dumb that when it’s pointed out to you, you can’t believe you did it?

That would be me this week.

I said in last week’s post that one of my main writing goals this year is to enter Alexis’s story in the RWA Golden Heart contest. I also wrote: I’ve entered Alexis in a few contests already, well-established ones with a track record of training their first round judges. I’ll use the feedback from those to consider what changes (if any) I’ll make to my opening pages. I don’t think major revisions will be needed…

Yeah, no. Thank goodness I did enter Alexis in those contests, because I got some feedback from one of them this week, and it was a *facepalm* experience.

One of the questions on the judges’ score sheet for this particular contest was: If I was judging this entry in the Golden Heart, I would give it a… The judge gave me 1 from a possible 10 points. In the comments she wrote: Continue reading

Jilly: Learning to Listen

Learning to ListenDo you get good, actionable feedback, on your writing or your career or any other aspect of your life? Do you make the best possible use of it?

I’m writing this post a little ahead of time; by the time you read it I should be comfortably settled at Justine’s house with all the 8 Ladies except Michaeline, who’ll be joining us from Japan via Skype. We’ll be congratulating, commiserating, planning, critiquing, brainstorming, writing, talking about writing, and generally having a fabulous time.

Some of the Ladies will have concrete goals for our writing retreat. I’m taking a looser approach. I’m sure I’m going to get a lot out of my trip to Arizona, and I think I’ll get the most by casting my net as widely as possible. Jeanne and Michaeline have already given me some fantastic feedback on Dealing With McKenzie, and I’ll be squirreling away any other comments, good and bad. I’ll be asking questions and brainstorming Cam and Mary’s story, but I suspect I’ll get my best ideas from talking about the other Ladies’ books. I’m also going on a side trip with Kay and Kat, and who knows what that will bring?

One of the big lessons I learned Continue reading

Justine: The Benefit of Contests

writing contest, royal ascot, regency romance[First, a little housekeeping. Kat and I have switched days, so starting today, I’ll be posting on Tuesdays and she’ll be posting on Fridays. My apologies if you were looking forward to her post today…you can catch her this Friday! And now…onto my post…]

I’ve been working with the same beginning for awhile now:

  • Scene 1: Susannah and her uncle face off; he tells her she’s marrying his friend, she says no.
  • Scene 2: We meet Nate, learn he’s out for revenge with Susannah’s uncle as the presumed traitor and target, and must court Susannah (whom he’s never met) so he can get inside the uncle’s house to find damning evidence that’s been eluding him for years.
  • Scene 3: Susannah and Nate meet on the street (but do not reveal themselves to each other), then Susannah shops for a dress (necessary) and brainstorms with her seamstress friend an alternative to marrying her unwanted intended.
  • Scene 4: Susannah meets the marquess (the unwanted intended) and his mother at a dinner hosted by her uncle. Sparks fly.

The sum total of these four scenes is about 10,000 words…and Susannah and Nate don’t even know who each other are yet! Continue reading