Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Expect the Unexpected

It hasn’t been the best of weeks here in beautiful California, which is currently experiencing the deadliest fires in state history.  The set in the northern part of the state started on Sunday and are continuing to blaze away.  Though they are miles away, but the air here has been smoky all week and there is a dusting of ash on the back deck.  Thousands of people have lost their homes and businesses – including two wineries – and dozens of people are confirmed dead so far.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – I Dare You

Have you ever done anything on a dare?

As a kid, dares resulted in me climbing (and getting stuck in) a tree or two, asking a boy to dance at a junior-high dance, and a few things best left unmentioned.

As a teenager, the game “Truth or Dare” was popular, especially at slumber parties.  The dares were typically pretty outrageous, so most players went for “truth” instead.   My memories are a bit hazy, but I’m pretty sure boys were the subject regardless of which was chosen.

The subject of dares is fresh in my mind today because I was just sorting out the DVD cabinet and came across the Christmas Story DVD, which includes the “double-dog-dare-you” scene that results in one of the characters getting their tongue stuck to a frozen pole.  Thankfully, not the kind if dare *I* was ever involved in.

Now that the DVDs are all sorted and I’ve finished my trip down memory lane, it’s time to do a little writing in preparation for next month’s NaNoWriMo.    I’m thinking a few minutes of Random Word Improv will be a great way to get started.

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Elizabeth: NaNo Countdown – 4 Weeks To Go

The kids are back in school, holiday merchandise is popping up at the local stores, and my heater at home came on for the first time this season.

Do you know what that means?

Right, National Novel Writing Month is almost here.  For those of you who are not familiar with NaNoWriMo (NaNo for short), it’s a month where writers around the world do their best to get 1,667 words on the page every day in the month of November, resulting in a 50,000 word manuscript by December 1st.

It’s fun and exciting and motivating and challenging and, frankly, hard as all get out.

It’s also a great way to focus on a writing project and get some words on the page.  Of course, not everyone has a creative muse who responds well to that kind of pressure, but as I found out in 2015, mine seems to be okay with the idea.  Something about the accountability and not wanting to be left behind when others reach their target word counts is just the motivation I need to move from “thinking” about story to actually writing it down.

Last year was a bust, for reasons outside of my control, but I’m looking forward to November this time around (and not just because there will be Halloween candy right beforehand).  I’ve already decided on the story I’ll be writing, a contemporary romance with the working title A Change of Heart.  The story is the second book in the series that I started with my 2015 NaNo story, Second Chances.

In order give myself the best chance of success this time around I’m doing a fair amount of pre-work.  It worked well for me in 2015, so it makes sense to do it again.

This week my focus is on:  Outlining Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – It’s a Girl!

Today we had a “virtual” baby shower at work for a remote co-worker who is due to deliver a baby girl in a few weeks.   There were no party games or gifts to open, but we did have homemade enchiladas and cake.  It was a little disconcerting having a team gathering via video screens, but it turned out surprisingly well.

I’m lucky enough in my Day Job to work with a small group of people who think of each other more like family than just co-workers.  Work can be crazy, but taking the time out to celebrate birthdays, babies, and other accomplishments make it a bit friendlier.  Plus, there is usually cake.

Now that the shower is all wrapped up, the left-overs packed away, and the mom-to-be sent on her way with a random assortment of conflicting parenting advice, it’s time to take a creativity break.  I’m thinking a few minutes of Random Word Improv will be just the thing.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – In the Dark

As I slowly woke up this morning, the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and someone off in the distance was mowing their lawn.  I was mentally congratulating myself on waking up before the alarm went off when I happened to notice the emergency flashlight glowing from the other side of the room.  I glanced from it to my blank alarm-clock before finally realizing what that meant:  the power was out.

Instead of waking up early, I was in reality late for work.  Ugh.

With no electricity and thus no internet, my plans to work from home instead of driving into the office were dashed.  As I was trying to remember how to get the automatic garage door open without electricity (so I could get the car out), I got a robo-call from the local power company on my cell phone confirming the outage and estimating that all would be restored in less than 2 hours.  What followed next was about 20 minutes of understanding just how much I rely on having power in the house just to do basic things like have breakfast and get ready for work.

Fortunately the power (but not the internet) was back in about an hour and by the time I get home tonight, everything should be back in working order (fingers crossed on that).  I thought maybe this morning’s outage was Mother Nature’s way of reminding me how lucky I am and to help me empathize with the folks in Puerto Rico, Mexico, and all the other places that have been devastated by recent events; some of whom may not have power for weeks or months, in addition to a multitude of other problems they face.

Since no experience is ever wasted for a writer, I’m sure I can put my own power outage to good use in a story.  I’m thinking it may just provide a great way to jump-start a little Random Word Improv.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – From the Headlines

I’m guessing this is a great time to be a news reporter or journalist.  Every day seems to bring a slew of new stories to follow and report on.  The challenge is not finding a news topic, but rather deciding which of the many things happening during the course of the day to choose.

This past week, of course, the news was all about the storms battering the Atlantic.   Now we’ve moved on to clean-up efforts and our tumultuous political environment.  I’ve been so distracted by the evening news I didn’t even notice that football season had started!

After bingeing on the news for the last week-and-a-half after my news-free vacation in Scotland, I’m ready for to dial things back a bit.  Now that I’ve finished today’s New York Times crossword and caught up on the day’s headlines, it’s time to turn off the news and focus on something else.  I’m thinking a little Random Word Improv will be just the thing to get me into a more creative frame of mind.

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Elizabeth: Friday Writing Sprints – Off the Grid

The Hermitage at Dunkeld
© Eldridge Photography

I’ve recently returned from a vacation in Scotland where I had a wonderful time taking in the sights, enjoying some quality family time and, at least partially, stepping off the grid.

Normally, I’m almost always connected, with the internet just a wi-fi or cellular signal away.  In Scotland however, I had no cell service on my smart phone, and my iPad access to the internet was limited.  While there was free wi-fi accessible in the major outside areas of Edinburgh, on the Isle of Skye, accessing the internet meant a walk to the bus stop in the center of town where there was a free signal.

It was an interesting experience.

I hadn’t realized just how much I had become accustomed to hopping onto the internet whenever a question popped into my head and periodically dropping by the blog to check for comments.  I will admit, however, that it was kind of nice not to be able to check in with work (or for them to reach out to me) for a few days.  While the break was nice, once I adjusted, I was happy to get back to a fully functioning smart phone and a connected computer when I got back home.  After all, I had a lot of unanswered questions to look up.

I may be back on the grid, but I’m trying to keep my connectivity down to a reasonable level.  What better way to enjoy a little temporary “off grid” time than with a little Random Word Improv?

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