Thursday, December 04, 2008

Spark Word

Today's Spark Word is:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write about someone who was fired from their job after accidentally dialing the wrong number.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write about someone who is
dressed up in disguise.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Five Questions for Characters

From The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood, five fab questions to ask your main character:

1. How did you get your name?

2. What object from your childhood do you still own?

3. What was in yesterday's mail?

4. When did you stop being happy?

5. What is your strongest superstition?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Spark Word

Today's Spark Word is:


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write a story about a musical instrument that is passed down through family generations.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Describe an everyday adventure.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write about an object that
has been mislaid.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tip For Today

Turn off your computer and reintroduce yourself to a pen.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Spark Word

Today's Spark Word is:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write about someone whose
differences are glaringly obvious.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write a scene involving the most romantic wedding proposal you can dream up. Give us tingles! Make us weep!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Spark Word

Today's Spark Word is:


Monday, August 04, 2008

The Right to Write

I am nearly finished reading and taking notes on "The Right To Write" by Julia Cameron. This book has literally changed my life. I cannot even begin to number all the misconceptions I had about the writing life that I wasn't even aware of until I read this book. It's incredibly positive, encouraging, compassionate and enlightening. I've read probably close to a hundred books on writing so far, and if there was only one I could recommend to anyone who is even slightly interested in writing, it would be this one. Buy it or check it out from your local library (I did). It'll blow your mind. And even better than that, it will get you writing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write a scene in which your character tastes something new.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Spark Word

Today's spark word is:

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write about a surprise guest.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Procrastination Station

Are you a procrastinator?
I know I am.
Why do today what you can
put off until tomorrow, right?
But while I'll readily admit
that I am the queen of procrastinators,
I'll also admit that living
like that is no fun.
Procrastinating is like walking around with a dragon constantly breathing down your neck. Whatever it is that we're avoiding doing, we can't get it off our minds. We can't really put our full efforts into anything else either, in the meantime, because we're using all
(or most) of our energies pushing those nagging thoughts back that tell us to go do what we really should be doing.
Especially when it comes to writing.
"Come on, what's the big deal?" you say, "All writers procrastinate."
That may be true. Robert Masello, author of Roberts Rules of Writing: 101 unconventional lessons every writer needs to know, says "Both successful writers and unsuccessful writers procrastinate -- but there is one big difference. Successful writers get over it."
"But I enjoy procrastinating," you say, "When I finally do sit down to write, that's when I do some of my best stuff."
No you don't, and no it's not. Trust me.
And if you don't trust me, trust Robert.
According to him, "Procrastination doesn't make the task any sweeter or better, it just drags the whole thing out. Every day you delay makes the work look more formidable, and every day you chip away at it, even with only a few paragraphs, makes it look that much more managable."
I don't know about you, but that's one quote that's going on a post-it above my workspace.
So, stop procrastinating and get back to work already!
Chip, chip, chip!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Describe a time you peeked in someone else's diary.
What did it reveal to you about that person?
How did it make you feel about yourself?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Your Creative Best

I stumbled across this fantastic gem
of a verse this afternoon, and I just
had to share it with all you creative,
passionate people out there.
It's from Galatians 6:4, The Message.
"Make a careful exploration of who you are
and the work you have been given,
and then sink yourself into that.
Don't be impressed with yourself.
Don't compare yourself with others.
Each of you must take responsibility
for doing the creative best you can
with your own life."
The creative best... Amazing little phrase there, isn't it? It's like an affirmation of your gift and the permission to explore that gift to your heart's content all rolled into one.
What a lovely feeling!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

According to the officials at
Graceland, Elvis Presley
receives an estimated 100
valentines every year.
Write about one of them.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Visit a nearby cemetary --
the older the better.
Sit down beside the most
unusual tombstone you can
find, and write about the
person lying underneath you.

Friday, June 27, 2008


I got my first official rejection in the mail today. Surprisingly, I'm not all that upset.
At my first Pennwriters meeting, a lovely lady named Jan showed me an issue of a Christian Poetry magazine called Time of Singing that she had illustrated. I used to write poetry in my high school days, and thought, "why not just try?"
I visited their website and got their submission requirements and printed out three poems that I thought might be a fit, though in truth, none of them seemed very similar with those I had read in that issue. Most of my work covered topics such as teenage angst and newfound love and were not at the same maturity level that they were probably looking for.
Still, I sent off three that seemed the most "grown up", one dealing with nature, one about introspection, and one about the poverty issue in third-world coutries and our Christian duty toward them (this one probably would have been the best fit, had it not been just a little preachy). These went into the envelope along with a SASE, and I did my best to put the issue out of mind.
Today, approximately one month later I received a response, thanking me for my interest, but letting me know that my poetry wasn't the style they were looking for. Perhaps that was just her nice way of saying "You stink!", and if so, I'm grateful for her subtlety.
I'm going to take it, as Steven King did, as the mark of a true writer. Rejection is just a part of the process. It's proof that you're putting yourself out there.
And so, I'll file it away as tangible evidence of my rite of passage, and try again.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write a story that begins with an explosion.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Into the Unknown

It was Martin Luther King, Jr. that said, "Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Though he was speaking of our faith in God, I believe that the same holds true in writing. In fact, I think there are many parallels between faith and writing.
Like Peter, we Christians are asked to step out of the proverbial boat into uncharted waters. To believe in something we cannot see, yet feel all around us and in the depths of our soul. Sink or swim, we leap blindly into the unknown, praying that grace will buoy us up. In her book, Chapter After Chapter, Heather Sellers notes that, "Like writers, people of faith focus on processes, not results." The joy is in the journey. It's where we learn, where we grow, where our relationship with God is formed.
As writers, we often start out with just an idea. A bit of plot line or a compelling character. We have no clue where it's going to go, but we step out on faith that one sentence will lead to the next, and the next, and with any luck, the next. Before the words hit the page, we feel it, sense it deep within that here is a story that must be told. But it is only on the way, when we're smack dab in the thick of it, that we truly discover what the story is all about.
We just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and step out into a world full of possibilities.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dream Jobs

5 Occupations I'd like to hold
vicariously through my characters:
(in random order)
1. florist
2. own and operate a children's bookstore
3. jewerly designer on the craft show circuit
4. design fabulous nurseries for expectant parents
5. pirate princess
What's your top 5?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spark Words

Today's Spark Word is:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

By the early 1990s, more than 30,000 Americans held reservations with Pan Am airlines for a trip to the moon.
Write about one of these people.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Time Tip

Here's a Writer's Tip out of the pages of The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspiration for Writing by Monica Wood:
Just for today, try writing at an unaccustomed time. Night owls can fire up the coffee pot and get cracking by dawn; morning folk can investigate the wee hours, just to see what happens.
Try it and let me know if it gives your creativity the jolt you've been needing!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pickles of Praise

So on the 10th I attended my 2nd Pennwriters meeting, and my first as a member, meaning that I was allowed to share my own work as well. I ended up taking the 4 1/2 page (double-spaced) prologue about the little girl who's hiding behind the couch when her parents die. I was so freakin' nervous, but I did it! First of all, we make up copies for everyone so they can write their comments on them, and then we have the option of reading them aloud ourselves, asking someone else to read for us, or having a silent read. I chose to read aloud myself, since I've been over that piece a million times and I know the inflections better than anyone else. I forced myself to read at a proper speed and with the correct emotion (even shouting when shouting was called for) and refused to allow myself to feel embarassed by doing so. If I want them to really feel it, I have to read it how it should feel.
Afterwards, we can let the others know what kind of critique we want (only positive, only on flow or grammar, etc) and I told them to just let me have it, because I truly want to learn. Basically, I told them to let me know if I have any business writing at all.I found out that they do what they call "Pickles of Praise" where if someone really loves it, they draw a little pickle (I know, I laughed too) on your page to let you know.
Surprisingly, the only negative feedback I received (if you can even call it that) was that several people agreed that one section seemed too sophistocated for a four-year-old's thinking, and someone else brought up that I used too many exclaimation points (she circled them all to show me, and boy was she right!).
Aside from that, I received one pickle, and several encouraging comments, such as:
"Good start!" from Todd
"Chris, very good! Do not change from using a narrarator to the child's POV." from Gene (it was brought up that maybe I should do it from Rilee's POV, but most people, myself included, agreed that this wouldn't work.)
"Keep writing. You have talent. Good emotional tension and description." from Dave
"Excellent debut! It really holds my attention, Christy! Keep working! (underlined twice)" From Jean
"Very good! Well done and reads well. Keep up the GREAT work." from Tom
"Pickle. Story line is great." from Tina
"Keep writing. The prologue is awesome. Be careful of slipping in and out of characters/narrarator. Have some in control." from Olivia
"Oh yes! You ARE a writer! POV is not confusing for me. Using a narrarator is fine, and then the man and woman." from Alice.
"Interesting! Powerful stuff. A lot of promise. Lot of tension, emotion." from Catherine
All in all, I was pretty encouraged! I can't wait for the next meeting!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Take the reader behind the wheel with the worst driver you've ever known.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spark Word

Today's spark word is:

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sticking By

Sometime last week, while lamenting once again that I cannot currently afford to enter a writing correspondance course (namely, the Christian Writer's Guild), it occured to me that I might be able to do something about it. After all, the library has a wealth of writer's reference books, and I've been taking advantage of that for some time now. So I decided to "homeschool" myself. I bought myself a notebook and a Pilot Precise pen (well, the pen I had) and began reading books not as a reader, but as a writer, critiquing and taking notes all along the way. Writer's reference, fiction, YA novels and childrens books: the genres that I'm interested in writing myself, and the self-help books to get me there. It's amazing how different the process is. Certainly not quite as enjoyable, but definitely more enlightening. If a line hits me as especially funny, I jot it down. If a find myself skimming over a few lines to get to the more juicy parts, I jot that down as well. Basically, I'm just disecting each book in order to discover what works and what doesn't. Mastering the craft.
One thing I came across since I began "schooling" myself was how a book-in-progress is like a living, breathing thing. It has a mind of it's own. As long as you're there for it, devoting your time and energy to it's care, it showers you with affection and small tokens of appreciation. But the minute you turn your back on it, and walk away for a few days, it becomes like a sulking child, difficult to manage and refusing to tell you what's wrong, no matter how long you persist in asking. As a way of warding off the story's disconsolation, I have developed a new system that works for me, and perhaps it will work for you as well.
The basic concept of "sticking by your book" is probably nothing new to seasoned writers but for some reason, it had never occured to me before. I came up with it because I am one of those people who thinks they never have time to write. It all goes together with what I just stated, about your book-in-progress being a living, breathing thing. You (meaning me) must no sooner consider leaving it behind than you would your newborn child, but rather, take it with you wherever you go. Obviously, we cannot all carry with us a sheaf of pages all day long, but you can carry a small notebook in your purse, or even a blank index card or two in your shirt pocket. When you are not writing, you can still be thinking of writing, going over scenes in your head or patches of dialogue or character traits. When you have time to spare (for me, it's waiting in my car out in front of the school for my kids to come out, for you it may be waiting in the doctor's office or during your lunch break) you can do a few, simple exercises that you can make up yourself, take as little or as long as you like, and that will keep you connected and focused on your project.
Here are a couple of sample excercises that I made up for myself.
1. The "Name 5 things". Totally off the top of my head, I'll scribble down 5 things that are on my character's desk right now. Or describe 5 pictures that are hanging on her livingroom wall. 5 items that are sitting out on her countertop, 5 things she might have on her to-do list, 5 things she'd have in her junk drawer. It doesn't really matter if I use them in the story or not, what matters is that I'm getting inside her head and seeing her world more clearly.
2. The "interview". As if you were doing an article for the paper, ask any (or all) of your characters a series of questions from what they had for breakfast to what's one thing they'd like to do before they die. Again, it's not about material for your story (though it is, in a way) it's just about getting to know your characters.
3. The "what if". Just for the heck of it, jot down what you think would happen if something totally unexpected happened to your character (pick one) right now. What if a car suddenly pulled out in front of them on the road? How would they react? What if a prank caller called? How would they respond? What if they forgot their backpack/purse/wallet in the last scene? How would they find it?
4. The "that's interesting..." Pay attention to anything that peaks your interest that day. An unusual name. A word you haven't heard in a while. A story you overhear. Write it down and see if you can incorporate it into your story (or save it for another one).
I'm sure there are others you can come up with. It's all about baby steps. Baby steps that keep you and your book connected and flowing like a well-oiled machine.
If you try it, let me know how it works for you!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Spark Word

Today's Spark Word is:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The PennWriters Group Has A New Member!

Thank you, God! An answer to prayer!

As you know, I have been searching for a writer's group to join for several months, to absolutely no avail. On Thursday, I opened up the Showcase (our local "events" section of the paper) to the Literary Events and discovered that the PennWriters Group was having a meeting at Barnes & Noble on Saturday afternoon. I contacted the group leader via the e-mail provided and got all the necessary information I needed.

So, guess where I was today from 1-4? You guessed it! I attended my first writer's group meeting! I can't remember the last time I had that much fun! Several of the members (there were about 25 people in attendance, including 2 other newbies) brought print-outs of a few pages of their work for us to mark up and critique and everyone was so helpful. Honest, yet kind. I really enjoyed it! And man, can those people write! I wonderered what might be said if someone's work was truly awful, but if today's meeting was any indication, I don't think I'll have to worry about that at all. Hopefully, I don't start a new trend!

You can't bring your work in for critiquing unless you're a member, so I'll have my turn at the next meeting. They meet on the 2nd and 4th Saturdays of every month. It takes about a week to process an application, so if I send mine out on Monday morning, I should be good to go.

I'm so nervous! What if they think my writing sucks? You know what though? I don't care if they do. As hard as it would be if they do, I'm determined to take whatever they say and learn from it. I don't care how much work it's going to take! It's time to make my dreams come true.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

Write about someone who has to abruptly leave town.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Blank Page Horrors

I have never before read a book by Stephen King. I am not a fan of horror by any means, though I did enjoy the movie version of his book, The Shining. And yet, the other day as I was browsing the Writing Reference section at Barnes and Noble, his book entitled "On Writing" somehow fell into my hands. I took it over to one of those big, comfy chairs and sat down with it for a spell. The next thing I knew, I was several chapters into it and my husband was nudging me to let me know that it was time to go.

I didn't buy the book that day, but I did check it out at the library a few days later (poor, starving writer and all). In the past week, it's been my constant companion, going with me wherever I go (I always carry some sort of book) and I've gained quite a bit of wisdom and knowledge about the craft from it.

Though he does mention his own works (it's really a memoir and writing book combined) it's definitely not designed for the horror or suspense writer (there's no push in that direction whatsoever) but just any writer in general. There's lots of helpful information and insight into the life of a writer, as well as the craft, including this little nugget that I purloined for my quote book:

"The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better."

How's that for a motivational kick in the pants?

I'm nearly finished with it, but I'm going to add it to my Amazon wishlist. I know that I'm going to want to read it again in the future. Besides, he deserves every penny he earns from it.

For all you beginner writers out there, do yourself a favor and go pick yourself up a copy (be forworned, there is a small sprinkling of f words in it). Zombies will come attack you in your sleep if you don't. ;)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spark Word

Today's Spark Word is:


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Weekly Wednesday Writing Prompt

You're sitting in an outdoor cafe waiting for someone when you receive a text message from an unrecognized number. The text says, "I have the money and hid the body." You think this is a practical joke from a friend, so you play along at first. But the more texts you receive, the more you realize that it isn't a joke. Write the text conversation you have with this unknown texter.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mocking me!

And as if to mock me, it is now suddenly working. It still won't let me go back and edit the other posts though.

What am I doing wrong?

What is with the lack of spaces?!?!

Here's what I hate: paragraphs that are not seperated with a space so that they look like a big jumbled mess! I have tried and tried to edit my posts so that it leaves a space between paragraphs, to no avail. I have tinkered with my settings and layout, and still my posts read like one bad, run-on sentence. With punctuation. Whatever.

Can anyone please tell me how to get my spaces back? I sometimes leave up to 10 spaces between paragraphs, yet when I hit "publish" and view my blog, they're all removed. It's driving me bonkers!!!

The Deal

I've been wanting a new laptop for nearly a year now. I say "new", but what I really mean is "my own." Our old laptop works fine, as long as you don't move it. The battery has passed on from this life, so that whenever you unplug the computer while still running, it crashes immediately. It's all hooked up in the back to the printer, DSL, my ipod shuffle dock, etc, so it's a pain to move around. And the desk we use it at is made for a youth, so it's not comfortable to sit at for long periods of time.I just want a computer that I can write on, that I can take with me to the coffee shop, or outside on our patio, or wherever, without worrying about if I have an outlet nearby.
It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just any old cheap laptop will do.
Yesterday my husband made me a deal. He said he will buy me a laptop IF I can complete three consecutive chapters of a novel. He knows all too well about my 2-pages-then-bail writing habits.
What do you think? Do you think I can do it?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Writer's Groups

The most prolific time of my life was when I was in 8-10th grade. My best friend Charity and I both loved to write, so we would go home each night and write and then bring our new pages to school the next day and switch. Whenever we got a chance (when the teacher wasn't paying attention, when we were finished early with a test, during study hall, etc) we'd read what the other had written and when we were done, we'd offer each other constructive criticism and encouragement. The other two best friends in our group, Mindy and Julie, didn't write stories (though they did dabble in poetry) but they would also eagerly look over our work and ask the tough questions that every writer needs ("I didn't understand this part," or "I'm not sure what you meant by that.") and it was so encouraging. Having someone else to write for, was like knowing your target audience. It was so valuable in keeping me focused and ensuring that the readability level stayed consistant.
I think part of why I can't seem to get farther than page 2 anymore is because I don't know my target audience. I don't have anyone to focus me and keep me going. To ask those hard questions, and offer encouragement. Perhaps not all writers need this, but I think that I am one who does.
For this reason, I think I would benefit greatly from being part of a Writer's Group. The problem is that I don't know where to find one! If I knew just one other person who might be interested, I'd try to start one myself, but I don't know anyone who writes anymore. I've tried to google it online (didn't help), search the newspaper (couldn't find anything) and even thought of putting up a flier somewhere, but I can't find anyplace that allows you to do that anymore.
Does anybody have any tips on how to find or form a Writer's Group?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Spark Words

Spark words are words meant to jump-start your imagination and get your creative juices flowing. Given to 10 different people, you'd most likely get back 10 different stories or scenarios. And that's the beauty of it! You decide what it means to you, or how it works in your story. You can use it in your exsisting work or use it to start something brand new!
Wanna try?
This weeks Spark Word is:

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Unknown Girl

Beside my bed there stands a picture in a distressed white wooden frame. The photo itself is black and white -- a snapshot of three young girls around the age of 10, I'd say, though I certainly wasn't there to document it. It was taken sometime in the early 1940s, from what I've been able to gather, and the three young girls are distant relations of mine.

On the far right is Rachel, standing straight and tall in her wrinkled, ill-fitting striped dress. Her dark hair is bobbed just above her chin, her face is strong and proud. She looks athletic, as if she prides herself on being able to run faster and climb higher than all the boys.

In the middle is Reba Jean. She is a little more petite than the other two, a little more refined. Her light-colored dress fits properly, her white socks neatly folded over above her little white shoes. Her blond curls frame her sweet face, but the slight wrinkle in her forehead and the turn of her lips hints at the dramatic. I can easily picture her lost in a book, or wandering through the wood with daisy chains in her hair, imagining that she is the princess of some unknown realm.

But it is the girl on the left who intrigues me the most. In contrast to the other two, she is wearing pants -- some sort of pale shaded overalls with a white button-down shirt and socks, and what looks to be loafers on her feet. Her wind-tossed hair looks as if it hasn't quite decided whether to be straight or curly. Her eyes dance with laughter and her smile is full of mischief. She is obviously the brains of the operation, and I have no doubt that she was able to talk the other two into performing whatever tricks she could think up on their poor, unsuspecting relatives!

There is something in her that speaks to me. Perhaps it is because when I was her age, I looked a bit like her. Whatever it is, I will probably never find out. I know almost nothing about her, other than that her young life was cut tragically short. Not long after this photo was taken, she and her father died in a house fire in West Virginia.

I don't even know her name.

Monday, March 17, 2008

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, a poem.
One I wrote just over 12 years ago,
as a mere girl of 19.

That was the year I had a love-affair
with all things Irish.

Deep down, I think I still do.

Patrick’s Song

When the moon is full and the stars are bright,
She walks beside the sea,
Beside the blue-black sapphire sea
So far away from me.

While waves lift their snow-white crested heads
To dance upon the shore,
Upon the sandy, Irish shore
Until her footprints are no more.

She sits down on a stony reef
And looks out into the night.
The night is dark, but the moon aglow
Has bathed her face in light.

As she gazes down at a placid sea
Her image is mirrored there.
There is her smooth, white, silken skin
And red-gold satin hair.

Her pale lips, her violet eyes,
Deep as a thousand seas, . .
O capture the image of my long, lost love
And carry her back to me!

For ‘tis you, O sea, that lies between
And keeps us forever apart!
O carry her image back to me,
To the arms of my longing heart.

And when fades the night and the first hint of light
Touches Margaret beside the sea,
Set her to soar on the wings of the mourn’
And carry her back to me.

by Christiana R. (formerly B.)
February 19th, 1996

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Abandoned Work

There comes a time in every writer's life when we must abandon the piece we are working on and move on.

What? You say, I could no sooner abandon my work than abandon my own child!

Yes, it's true that we writers to become extraordinarily attached to our work. And after all the time and effort that goes into birthing the piece, and bringing it into careful existence, it's no wonder. But there are times when, try as we may, we simply cannot get a piece to move forward. It remains obstinately mired and floundering, and we flounder right along with it. Our muse flees, and creativity vanishes like the early morning mist. At these times, what may be required, is to cut and run while you still can!

But all is not lost. Consider these words from The Pocket Muse: Ideas and Inspirations for Writing by Monica Wood: If, after all your best efforts, the piece you're writing must be abandoned, do not despair. There is no such thing as wasted writing. Sometimes you must search and destroy, search and destroy, search and destroy before finding your true subject. Kiss those hard-earned pages goodbye -- fondly, if you can manage it -- and take out a beautiful, clean sheet. The new, marvelous thing you are about to write will emerge not despite those abandoned pages, but because of them.

And so, do what you must. Tuck those pages away in a drawer, toss them into the fireplace, or attach them to a bottle rocket and send it into the sky. It matters not. What matters is that you set yourself free. Your work will live on in new and glorious ways!

All it takes to start is a fresh sheet of paper.