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I hope everyone is just about thawed out now and enjoying spring. I barely made it through the kids’ Spring Break last week. While we are enjoying warm breezes here, we are also breathing in all the pretty yellow pollen. My head is just about to blow up. Generally, though, I love Spring. It definitely puts some more energy in my writing flow. And April is chock full of fun and treats for writers and readers.

I’ve been seeing lots of chatter on the Twitter about Scriptfrenzy, brought to us by the kind people who plot NaNoWriMo every year. The goal is a 100-page script finished in 30 days, which is undoubtedly harder than it sounds. Kudos to all you wild souls in a frenzy right now :) It has to be a great way to learn the genre. I want to try my hand at a play, but am not starting another project now. I always liked reading plays and scripts, which is sort of odd (maybe? At least for a non-thespian, I think). I remember devouring “Plays” magazines and drama collections when I was in elementary school. Then, of course, I learned about Shakespeare, as well as geniuses like Ibsen and Miller. I even did a thesis paper on Lillian Hellman in my junior year. Maybe I subconsciously wanted to be a playwright, though that was when I was sure I would be a Pulitzer-prize winning  journalist by, um, now. Screenplay writing seems to be a whole other beast that I know little about. I did try “writing a movie” with a friend in ninth grade, which was going to star River Phoenix. Sadly, that can never happen, so my Hollywood dreams faded away.

I have been writing some poems for the April Poem-A-Day challenge over at Poetic Asides. April is, of course, Poetry Month. I always thought it was because  Shakespeare was born in April, but I could be wrong. Either way, it is a good month to read and write poetry of all types. Apparently there is also a NaPoWriMo which I did not know about, though 2011 is the ninth year. Though I usually write poems only when “inspired,” I sort of like using the prompts Robert Brewer comes up with daily. I have not written all of them, but it has been a nice writing stretch while I ignore the WIP and focus on work. Poems are relatively quick and easy, though they also force us to use other thinking muscles. Personally, poetry has always been my relaxing writing, when I just want to expand on a thought or event, though sometimes I have written in anger or other forms of stress. Sometimes getting the poem out helps relieve that, as I am sure most poets would agree.

One of the prompts was to write about a “type of person” which can mean anyone from a teacher, a nail-biter or a Type-A person. Any interpretation welcome. I am doing some research on hoarders and have had a slight obsession with this type of person for a few years now. Frankly, this is because I fear becoming one of them, as I sit at my desk piled with books, papers and bills in a house cluttered with a wide variety of clothes, toys and books (OK- I may be a book hoarder). I admit to having sentimental attachment to a few inanimate objects, and I am an obsessive recycler/reuser. I actually am related to borderline hoarders (only they call themselves “collectors”) and I have been helping my mother clean through years of collected stuff. So, naturally, hoarding is on my mind these days. I know that I am not *that bad* (yet) but I still get the cold sweats when I see some of those shows. So this was my rough draft poem on the subject:

HOARDER
It starts with the little things,
of course. Or maybe the big stuff
gets you first. Takes up room.
Then the smaller pieces add up,
Fill in spaces.
It’s not like you plan on it,
it’s just a fact. A part of life.
It makes sense.
You never know when you may
need the back of a pin, this magazine,
or one of those jelly jars.
Just the right size.
And you would never want anything
to go to waste.
That would throw you for a loop.
You’d never be able to get rid of
the image, never erase
gnawing, guilty thoughts:
plastic floating on glass, choking life,
taking over, never ending, leeching, trash.
All your fault.
At least you know it’s all here, somewhere,
safe. You can find it, if you need it.
It’s easier this way.
 

Glaring isn’t it? It makes it look like I am slacking already but REALLY, it’s a reminder of last night’s NaNoNightmare.

As I said, I want to use this NaNo to really focus on getting in the habit of writing every day, which really means every night, for me. I can get in the flow and write a lot better when I do not have juvenile distractions and other duties to perform. I have eagerly looked forward to 9pm (aka: bedtime) every night. Last night, I was somehow waylaid and it was closer to 10 when I got back online. So, I used Write or Die which helps me do fast sprints. 2000 words in 90 mins was my goal and I made it, passed it with time to spare and was typing along when everything disappeared.

The whole computer was off. The screen was black, my headset was silent. I almost passed out. It was raining, and we do tend to get the power blown out sometimes, but no, the rest of the house was still electrified. So, trying not to panic (i.e. “cry”) I got on my hands and knees and checked every freaking plug and wire and yes, the main cord to the tower was wedged loose. But, I still thought all was lost. I  felt like a loser who had just lost over 2000 words and I was mentally kicking myself while watching the computer reboot.

I knew that if I had been on Scrivener, like I was supposed to be, the Autosave function would have saved me (*maybe). And that if I was already a more dedicated writer, writing daily would not be such an issue. I also knew that  it was not an enormous problem; I am still on track and can easily finish at this pace. I was going to chalk it up to Lesson Learned and just take the red mark. I restarted Firefox, planning to just post a sob story about the words that got away. So, I was truly grateful to see Dr. Wicked’s tab open with *My Words* still in that wicked box. :) Oh joy! I thanked the gods, declared my love for Dr. Wicked, and opened Scrivener. I Cut and Paste and Saved and Saved As and checked my word count and…

Seriously, then I could not find the chapters I had written the night before. Now, I was pissed. I like teh way I can organize and split up the document with Scrivener, but I thought somehow when I Split the entire text up, the new pages had been eaten.  I had seen them the night before, neatly filed, but they were gone. So I had the first chapter and what I had written on Write or Die. Fortunately, I did make backup copies, saving it in Rich Text and on open source software, on a flash drive, so I pieced it all back together and finally…

I made it back to the NaNOWriMo site to put in my update, waited…this week is definitely kicking their servers around…and the update saved– at 12:01 am! Seriously. And now, that red box just stares at me, taunting, mocking me. Let it stare. I know that I wrote, and I know that all of those obstacles were just tests, minor setbacks and that I met them all, kept trying, did not lose my shizzle, and I wrote. Tonight I will break 10K and I should be at 15K by Monday. I hope everyone else is having fun and remembering to BACK UP YOUR WORK!

Day One! Hope everyone is having fun so far. If you are participating in NaNoWriMo you are keenly aware of what today signifies. Of course, we are still coming down from a national sugar buzz (actually, I think today is National Eat Candy Day) but for many of us crazy folk, this past weekend/week/month has been all about preparing for “30 Days of Literary Abandon.” Last night, I was watching the time zones count down and I realized that I was somehow set to Pacific time. I wouldn’t have been able to update for 3 hours. Glad I caught it, though I still was on when the West Coast hit midnight. It was like NaNoNewYear’s! So we are all in now, and the fun is only beginning.

So, the good news is, I read over last night’s (this morn’s?) 2000 words and I still like them. I know that a lot of NaNoDieHards say I should not read back or proofread, but um, sorry. If I don’t feed the Inner Editor, she gets mean. I have set myself a daily 2000 word/day goal and I am determined to use NaNo to get into the very good habit of writing every day. I am still writing today, so I will already be ahead. We have to drive to Ohio for Thanksgiving and it would be very nice if I was past 50K by the 25th. Though I do love the rush of the final two day catch up. :)

I liked Nicole Humphrey’s idea to taper down the writing so you can end on Day 30 with only 1 Word. When we start NaNo we often have been holding back the writing flow, so it all comes out in a rush. Then we hit Week 2… Some folks write towards 100,000 words which is closer to an actual novel length. [BTW: 50K is pretty short for a novel unless it is middle-grade or some genre paperbacks.] I am not that ambitious this year. But I will win! :D

I am participating in the NaNoBlogger blog hop and will be visiting every single one of those blogs, at least once! My favorite part of NaNo is the connections we make. I can write alone anytime. So, I welcome visitors, writing buddies and cheerleaders! I am going to blog about NaNo, but not every day. I will be on Twitter for word sprints and pep chats.

I am also using the Beta version of Scrivener for Windows, so I need time to learn that program.  I studied their tutorial and demo last week, but did not write in it until last night. Before midnight, I made an outline, using their cool corkboard feature, and laid out the chapters as I envision them. Then I was ready for Chapter One. So far, I like the program. I have been hearing praises of Scrivener from writers who are Mac people for a while now. I was very excited when I heard they were going to have a Windows version available next year. If you want to test it out during NaNo they have a Beta download. All winners of NaNoWriMo will get 50% off the final version in January, which makes writing 50K worth it, imo. But using the Beta version is fun. I am fastidious about backing up, ever since a nasty incident with a college thesis paper. They want us to report bugs and I will be sending a note about the ‘spelling’ feature they have which is very quirky. I know, I know, I am not supposed to be editing…. It’s a sickness, really.

I leave you with a musical interlude. I love the many other creative projects WriMos produce and this was one of my favorite things last year. Write on, y’all!

I just had to share this link, a guest post on Adventures in Children’s Publishing, because I think it is exactly what all writers need to read. I know I did. I don’t feel much like a writer today, but the way I reacted to this brilliant pep-post tells a different story :) Go on, click it. It’s worth it :)

I also want to point out my nifty NaNoWriMo badges over yonder, especially the NaNoBloggers one. I will not be blogging every day, though I am determined to write every day (practice good habits and all that jazz). I will be using this linky thing, though, to connect any posts I make in November to the “Blog Hop” which has a huge list of other NaNoBloggers. It should be fun to check out others’ experiences, and as far as I am concerned that is the main point of NaNo: having fun. The writing too, of course.

I’m actually struggling with what to write this year. I have one of those problems that some people may roll their eyes at: too many ideas. I originally planned on using NaNo this year to try writing a new genre for me…Romance. Don’t snicker, because Romance is one of the greatest traditional forms of literature we have. In fact, most books seem to have some element of romance in them. The popular romances today sell more than any other form of book in our culture. I am not a fan of most formulaic romances, but I love a good historical fiction read (many of which are of course Romance), and have several favorite books which would be considered romance by definition. Besides, if it was good enough for Jane Austen, its good enough for me :)

So, I had this idea and it keeps growing in my head. I think it will be fun to write, and I want to expand my skills. I think that trying new genres is a great use of NaNoWriMo. Though I already have some dramatic points sneaking into my outline, I wanted to veer away from moody literary eco-novels and YA drama. I do have some of those on the list though :) I haven’t officially decided yet, and could end up sitting down on November 1st and flying through another story by the seat of my pants.

Now, don’t think that I am suggesting writing romance novels is any easier than writing any other form of book. In fact, I probably will suck at it (this will not  be erotica in any form. That would be embarrassing and stilted). Like I said, I want to practice, so I was thrilled to find out that Harlequin Books (which has romance written all over it-lol) is sponsoring “So You Think You Can Write” a week of writing workshops, blogs, critiques, etc to begin the month of NaNovember. I guess there is also chance at publication involved, but I won’t be going that far. However, I am sure to learn a thing or two which will improve my MC’s love life, as well as my own writing life. There’s also a hashtag for Twitter of course :)  #SYTYCW

Yes, November will be busy (along with all of the other life activities, natch!). I am excited about it though. Anyone else who is participating in NaNo is welcome to add me as a writing buddy. I think I can be a good one. And follow me @janflora on Twitter, because I will need chat breaks and love the word sprints. I wonder if anyone else is trying a whole new genre this year? Or has any advice on writing a cool-and-not-too-cheesy romance novel?

Water,

water everywhere

would be enough, you’d think.

We watch it flow,

throw it away

while some can’t get a drink.

 

Water, water

sates our life

and drenches us to death.

We play on water,

while others work

until it takes their breath.

 

 

 

Wasted water,

sculpted decor,

drained down the sink,

tarred in oil,

feathered trash,

while many need a drink.

 

 

 

{This post is just one of thousands dedicated today to Blog Action Day:Water}

 

{Prompt:Your character is determined to do something they know to be a mistake.}

The bells hanging on the door sound almost like church bells tolling doom instead of the cheap leftover christmas bells thta they are, hanging on frayed green and gold yarn. I swear the door slammed behind me and I expected everyone in the place to turn and stare at me. I paused, waiting, but they were all looking at the glittering jewel tones, trying not to acatch anyone’s eye themselves. It was only when the clerk asked if i needed anything that I realized I was standing in the middle of the entrance still, so I slunk over to the side, shaking my hand at him, denying, denying.
I hid behind a display of collectible sets for five minutes before I heard him speaking to a customer. Part of me was thinking I could make a bolt for the door and just get out of here. Should get out of here, but I felt stuck. I was here, I made it this far, and I was not sitting in the corner licking a bottle yet. Maybe I could make it through a simple purchase. Maybe.
I was walking down an aisle, tripping through a flashback slideshow of memories, linked to each different silhouette on the shelves. I couldn’t stop myself, I remember when I had that one in Vegas, I remmeber when Joe bought that one to the wedding, I remember…
Why I am here. Not for me, but now I can’t remember why not Those are good memories. Where are the bad ones? when DO they come floating in? Maybe it has been long enough as they say, or maybe not long enough, because it has taken me this long to walk down one asile of memories, and I still have not gotten what I came for.

So i literally take a big breath and start all over agin. Not at teh front door, but at least in my own mind. Noone here knows that I should not be here. In fact, maybe they should not be here. That thought at least carries me over to teh other aisle, where I should find what aI need. I mean, what I am here to purchase. Can;t believe it I am actually berating myself for doing a simple errand.

But it is not that smple, really, is it? I have been adding complex levels to teh entire chore ever since the PTA meeting last week when what’s her face said, “You can pick taht up for us, right? It should make a nice retirement gift.” I could have said no. Should have, but then I may have had to say why, and that was just not happening in front of her and the other moms. So I’m here. And it only took me twenty minutes to get from the car to the store, and now at least twenty to do the lap around.

[That was "at least five minutes" just to keep myself going, and now the teen's home and I must run all over town again...have a good weekend all.]

As the air starts to tease me with an early autumnal breeze, I find myself looking forward to all things Fall, including the writing blitz known as NaNoWriMo. Technically, it is still summer though and I know that we can expect at least two more stifling heat waves here in south-eastern Virginia before November arrives. Labor Day weekend is here, which many consider the unofficial end of the summer season and an excuse for one more mini-vaca. Personally, I will actually be laboring on Monday, but if you have a free weekend (and 50 bucks) you may want to try your hand at the 3-Day Novel Contest which essentially makes NaNo’s challenge look simple. The premise is the same, but there is no word count, only a restriction to three days of fast-paced, no editing writing. It is a contest too and the winner does get publication, so it may be worth the investment (and exhaustion). You must register by Friday, but this is the 32nd year, so you can always plan for 2010.

Just a quickie because I want to share this link with the world. I recently discovered a group on WordPress called ReadWritePoem (see sidebar) and I just jumped at the chance to join yet another network. Seriously, it seems to be a  good network for poets and poetry lovers to gather. I am still checking it out and setting up camp, but I love what I see so far. I may even get the gumption up to submit some poetry :)  So, then I followed a link to a blog because the name “I Was Born Doing Reference in Sin” made me literally LOL, and I was fortunate to read the newest post called Why Do I Write from a poet named Arisa White, which is what I want to share. Definitely some very good reasons there i.e:

It is truly, the times when I feel safe. Free to take risk, to emote, and to be led by imagination without fear.

I believe we all have our own reasons, and some are more personal than others, but she has definitely summed up some of my own feelings. Hope you enjoy!

One of the wonderful things I have found in my wanderings is  a site called Write Anything right here on WordPress. I am actually surprised I have not seen them before.  Six writers from different genres, styles and countries take turns blogging about all things writing, including their own experiences and advice. I definitely recommend new writers check it out. I was drawn there on Wednesday by the catchy-titled post “Handling Rejection and Criticism” by Annie Evett. Each writer blogs a certain day, but Fridays are for us! As a creative writing exercise, Fiction Fridays offer readers a prompt and a place to share your results. This is my first participation, with the prompt being:

Start your story with a game of hide and seek.

They recommend writing for at least five minutes, without editing. As soon as I began, my daughter started a pots-and pans-band and then my mother called, and then…well, everything I do takes longer. And apparently my environment does contribute to my writing. Also, I still have that nagging constant editing thing going on. So, I already broke the “rules”…oh well. I know it is awkward to read, but I am trying to practice the second-person voice for a character in the incomplete NaNoNovel. So, please bear with me. It’s a quickie :)

Fiction Friday: Hide and Seek

You know in a way that you are taking advantage of the situation, but you cannot help mentally reveling in your own genius. You even give yourself extra points for insisting on adding the one-way film to the windows during last summer’s renovation. Brilliant. You can see them taking turns passing by, calling the only name they know you by, but they still have not found you. It has already found the others and now they’ve ganged up to find you. You’ve got five minutes, tops.

Leaning back with a sigh, you wash off the nagging guilt with a reminder, “It was their idea in the first place, I am doing nothing wrong.” It works as a mantra, echoing back from the tiles as if your conscience has its own public address system.

With eyes closed, you watch the colors dancing and try to focus on the sound of bubbles popping. The tenth cry of “Ready or not, here we come!” snaps you back to attention less than a minute later. That one was pretty close. Peeking again through the window, you are startled when you see It peering suspiciously in your direction. The tell-tale sloshing sounds louder than possible when you slide out of view. It echoes back, ominous in the sudden silence which you break with a laugh. Now you are just being ridiculous.

“But I may as well enjoy it while I can,” you tell the tiles, leaning back into the warmth again. Half a minute of bubbles is all you get to hear before the feet start thumping down the hallway. And you smirk, eyes still closed when they pound on the door.

“Mom, we know you are in there!” the nine-year-old is starting to sound just like you.

“Ready or not! Ready or not!” the other two are chanting. You can picture them jumping up and down behind her.

“Not!” you say, stretching your legs out and watching the suds slide trough the stubble. Maybe next time.

“Come on, Mother,” says the darling on the other side of the door. With another sigh, you lean forward and pull out the plug.

When you open the door, she is shaking her head, arms crossed, looking more like your mother and the twins are wrestling on the floor.

“We found you!” one of them squeals when he sees you standing in the doorway in your robe.

“What took you so long?” you ask with a smile, pulling your daughter into a big hug, while her brothers grab onto your legs.

“You’re It! You’re It!”

“Okay, then,” you say with another smirk, “You hide somewhere in the house, and I’ll go in my room and count to a million.” That should give you time to dress.





I’m struggling. I admit it. The only thing flowing out of me these days are low-paying online articles and that’s more like a trickle. I keep making deals with myself, that when I finish the income-producing work, then I can get creative. More often than not, though, I’m sapped after a day of kid rearin’ and service workin’. And I let myself get sucked into the online pleasure dome of social networks and blogs, etc. I admit I would rather read someone else’s great post than write my own mediocre one. Fortunately, I do find something worth seeing, and even learn a thing or two in my virtual escapades. I have been playing on Twitter more often, and definitely finding as many inspirations as distractions. And you know I like to share, because what is better than an excuse to procrastinate more? A: a reason to write, of  course :)

  • This link came across through someone’s tweet a few weeks ago and for some crazy reason appealed to me, so I saved it in my quick post sidebar (which has become something of a catchall for links and blog ideas.)…A post called 6 Tricks for Writing when You Don’t Feel Like It on Writer Unboxed which is a great collaborate blog for “genre” writers (btw, no offense, but I thought everyone wrote in some genre, but apparently that term has become common now for mystery/sci-fi/fantasy/etc writers)
  • One of the coolest developments born on Twitter are the tweet chats that are occurring regularly. Anyone can contribute or follow just by using the #(hashtag-yes, just like on the trending list, but better)… there are topics for just about everyone, including book chats (i.e. #followreader is mainly book bloggers and Tuesdays @ 7pm EasternTime is #TuesBookTalk) and writing chats like #writechat (Sundays 12-3pm PT), which is hosted by Writing Spirit who also has a very helpful and inspiring blog.
  • Speaking of hashtags, there are several writers can use, both to keep up with other writers and to keep oneself on track, including #writegoal, #amwriting and #writetip. I have found several new resources and blogs to read by checking out these lists. Warning, though, Twitter has been discovered by spammers, and they know how to use the tags too. I suggest going to interesting tweeters, then checking their actual blog/website link before adding them to your list. And do not hesitate to block obvious spammers. They deserve it.
  • If all else fails, I can ensure my place in literary culture simply by submitting a piece to the National Gallery of Writing. In conjunction with the National Day of Writing (October 20, 2009) this project is open for groups and individuals to contribute any form of writing (within specific limitations of course, this is sponsored by English teachers). Schools and classes are forming their own “exhibits” but submissions range from scientific essays and memoirs, to stories and poems. Frankly, some of the best pieces I have ever written were for English class, so maybe I should dust off one of those. :) Write on y’all!

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