Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Critique My Blog...please?


I'm taking part in a blog hop that is a little bit different...it's not really about 'writing', it's about our blogs. Everyone listed below is interested in getting their blog critiqued.

While I know my blog is new, I'd still like to get some input. The blog hop should bring some new readers and hopefully some input.

Here are some areas to look at and ccritique. Feel free to pick one or more or come up with your own.
  • Appearance: Does it appeal to you? Is it too busy, or too plain?
  • Layout: Is it difficult to navigate? Is it cluttered, or sparse?
    Frequency: Does the blogger post too often? Not often enough?
  • Content: Are the posts interesting? Unique? Are they focused, or all over the place?
I won't be replying or commenting until I get back from the cruise on 2/11, but feel free to chime in and THANK YOU!!



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Cruisin' the night away....

Well, it's finally arrived...our winter cruise time is here. Just wanted to let everyone know that I will be off-line until Feb 11th. The next three days we'll be in Orlando at Stu's annual retired firefighter reunion. On Saturday we head off for a seven day Western Caribbean cruise with several retired firefighter friends.

photo credit: Marilyn M via photopin cc

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Clandestine [five sentence fiction]

Hovering in the dark night, the orb slowly circled the area; seeking, searching, prying, peeking, not sure what he was looking for. He avoided the streetlights and flashing neon signs, staying in the back alleys where the vermin and leftovers of humanity reigned. Higher, lower, back and forth he drifted along, ever probing the corners and recesses of the city for something known only in his subconscious. He stole a quick look at the object he gripped tightly; a key, a skeleton key in human tongue; something that unlocked doors, doors that kept out the unwanted and unexpected. Suddenly, there it was, THE door, bright red, holding the people on the other side safe from prying eyes even as their voices drifted outside; he placed the key in the lock, they would be hidden no more.

### 




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A couple of fun items for writers...

I follow many blogs for many different reasons. The topics range from RVing (many full-timers, like us), motorcyclists, computers, blog writing, general writing (authors, publishers), and other hobbies (beading, photography, music).

Thank goodness for a great product like RSSOwl, a great stand-alone program that lets me easily follow almost 500 blogs. I can easily create folders for organization, see only unread blog/reads listed or show them all. I can save blogs in folders that will never be automatically deleted (during clean-up) and I can subscribe/unsubscribe easily. Oh, and it can be synched with Google Reader if you use that.

So today I was reading another writer's blog, Lynn Viehl - Paperback Writer, and she mentioned this great "writer's revision towel". I just had to click over to Author Outfitters and check it out. What a fun site!

I found two things I'm putting on my wish list. The first is the Writer's Revision Towel (great for keeping your computer screen clean).


The second is this fun Writing Elements mug (there are several other designs to choose from, this was my favorite).


There are other mug choices, lots of shirts and other products, too. Great way to find gifts for your writing friends and family.
Off to place my order!


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Monday, January 23, 2012

Forest Flowers [flash fiction]

Blog Hop Competition
Write a piece of flash fiction, poem, or song (300 words or less) using the photo above as your inspiration. See all the rules/conditions/prizes HERE


[copyright Luis Beltran]

We started as one. A single seed dropped from above. We took root. We drank water. We fought for sunlight with the trees. Then there were two, no - three, wait - four more. It was hard, we stayed short and stubby, struggling for survival.

We didn't know where we came from. We didn't know why we were here. The trees ruled the forest but we owned the forest floor. We drank their water, they took our sunlight. They were the gods, we were the minions.

To read the full story, please check out the Amazon e-book
"A Flash of Fantasy"
It's only 99 cents!

###
 Second place winner!

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The Dance [flash fiction]

Chuck Wendig posted a flash fiction challenge on his blog. We were to use the Flickr random photo display and choose three of the photos on the page as inspiration for our story. My choices are at the end of this blog. Hope you enjoy it.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The music was her muse, captivating her imagination, orchestrating her every move. Slowly she contorted her body into ever increasingly difficult positions, striving for that perfection that never arrived.

She'd been dancing since she was 3, a little girl with ringlets showing off for her parents and friends. They had doted on her, sending for training at all the right dance academies. She had talent, everyone told her so.

She concentrated on how the music made her feel and tried to translate those feelings into movement. She hurt inside, why couldn't she get those feelings out? She wanted to share her pain with everyone, then maybe it would go away.

Suddenly the music stopped. She turned and saw Jacob standing there, a dark look on his face. "Don't frown at me," she said turning back to the mirror. "Please turn the music back on."

"You shouldn't be here, Sophie" Jacob crossed to the window. "It's such a pretty day outside. Let's go for a picnic."

A smile crossed her face, she knew he was worried about her. "Maybe later. I need to get this one movement down. It's frustrating me. Now please turn the music back on."

Sighing, Jacob did as she asked. "I don't know why you do this to yourself," he mumbled as he sat in the chair next to the door. She was so beautiful. He fell in love with her the first time he saw her dance. They were both sixteen and going to the Ruth Asawa San Francisco School of the Arts in San Francisco.

Tall and slender, her long hair swept up into a pony tail, she danced like no one he had ever seen before. Her body moved in synch with the music, then would suddenly seem to have a mind of its own, telling a story that spoke to everyone watching.

They became good friends, studied together and critiqued their performances. They enjoyed the antics of a few close friends, also dancers and actors.  They met again three years later at an off-Broadway try-out in New York City, got married and eventually moved back to San Francisco where he had opened an acting school and she had joined a local contemporary dance troupe. Jacob sighed, "Our life was  so good...before-"

"Jacob, what do you think? Is this working? Can you feel it?" Sophie twisted and turned, bending her body into positions he knew were hurting her.

"Sophie, you've been in here practicing for hours. You've gone way over your endurance level. Please don't exhaust yourself. C'mon, let's go for a ride."

She was tired and discouraged but didn't want to admit it. Jacob wasn't helping her mood. "Just leave, Jacob. Please."

Watching as Sophie struggled to get into a comfortable position, Jacob opened the door. "I'll be back in 30 minutes. I'm packing us a picnic lunch and we're going for a ride. Be ready."

Knowing that no one could see her, Sophie crumpled, laying her head in her lap. Life wasn't fair, she knew that better than anyone. Her parents had died young, leaving her in the custody of a guardian when she was only fifteen. Now this. How much could one person bear?

She crossed to the window enjoying the view of the valley below here. Jacob had brought her here to heal but she wasn't sure it was working. He was too good to her and she rewarded his love and affection with anger.

That was it! She needed to dance out her anger, then she would feel better and wouldn't take out everything on Jason. She turned towards the mirror once again. Gathering in all her anger, she started again.

This was HER dance, the dance of her life. She waited for the music to flow through her. Slowly she started moving, swaying, feeling...dancing. She let the anger fuel her and she felt better than she had in months. Yes, this was the answer. She laughed, knowing she'd found the secret.

Jacob opened the door and stopped and watched Sophie dance. She was so beautiful in so many ways. A tear slid down his cheek as he felt her pain and knew it was leaving her body through the dance.

The song ended and once again Sophie slumped with fatigue. Breathless she looked up at Jacob. "Did you see me? Could you feel it? It was wonderful...I danced!"

Jacob headed to her, "Yes, I did see you and I did feel it. You are wonderful." Standing beside her he took her hand and kissed it. "So, are you ready for the picnic?"

"Definitely. Let's go."

Jacob steered her wheelchair out of the room.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Before: http://flickr.com/photos/7997441@N08/6689198385/
Dance: http://flickr.com/photos/7997441@N08/6182410870/
After: http://flickr.com/photos/40583498@N03/6721584761/
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Too many projects

Now that I've started writing again, it seems that I have too many irons in the fire. I have my main WIP (work in progress), a romance - A Montana Chance, that is still early in the writing phase (chapter three).

Then there is the mystery WIP, Not a Whisper, that is in the early outline stages.

I've written several flash fictions here on the blog. The first one seemed to get a lot of positive comments, so I recently expanded it into a short story. I hope to do the same with a couple more and then will compile them into an eBook to be published at Amazon and Smashwords. Wish me luck!

I'm finding inspiration all around me, every photograph I look at starts me thinking about new story ideas. Snippets of conversation around me are stored for later regurgitation.

I've discovered I have a darker side and flash fiction is bringing it to the forefront. It will be interesting in how that plays out when I get into the guts, no pun intended, of my mystery writing.

I am keeping up my reading, from short stories to mysteries to romance novels to books on the art of writing. Phew! No wonder I sit all day...

That said, a motorcycle ride today helped blow out some cobwebs and tomorrow I get to ride hubby's trike when we take the Big White Truck (Freddie the Freightliner) in for service. That and breakfast out...good day!

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Radiance [five sentence fiction]

Her eyes were shining brightly with a few unshed tears, a huge smile on her face. It had been so long and she knew he was afraid she had forgotten. How could she forget, there was no one like him in her life. She got closer and saw his eyes were shining brightly with a few unshed tears, a huge smile on his face. She jumped into his arms proudly proclaiming, "Daddy!"

### 



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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nineteen [five sentence fiction]

This week was reader's choice...any topic from last year. So I'm extending the choice to my readers. Pick your favorite and post in comments.

###
STORY 1

It was twenty yesterday, she knew, she had counted them. Twenty pink, wiggly little digits; ten on her hands and ten on her toes. She was only five and loved to count. But today she was confused, she only counted nineteen? Then she remembered the accident and started to cry.

###
STORY 2

The sound hurt his ears, so close, so loud, so insistent. Bang, bang, bang to a count of nineteen. The quiet descended like a blanket, soft and tender, cloaking him in comfort. Then bang, bang, bang to a count of nineteen. He thought back to yesterday when the MRI appointment was made, no one told him to bring his MP3 player.

###
STORY 3

It was so long ago. His draft notice arrived a week after he turned eighteen and he headed off to Vietnam. He watched friends kill and he watched friends be killed. The war didn't end soon enough. He came home at nineteen but he never knew it, he was in a box.

###
STORY 4 {not sure this really qualifies as a story}

Sixteen, so sweet and virginal. Seventeen, just on the cusp of adulthood. Eighteen, an adult ready to face the world. But nineteen was different. Nineteen meant leaving behind the teen years, the joy of childhood and facing the terrors ahead that eighteen had barely introduced to you.

###


Watch for Five Sentence Fiction every Tuesday.




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Thursday, January 12, 2012

No Use Crying [flash fiction]

The challenge: Set shuffle on your MP3 player, use the title of the first song played

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
No Use Crying
[Buddy Guy & Junior Wells]
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~


He turned around and faced the wall. The spray can in his hand seemed to have a life of its own, transforming the time worn concrete into a work of art. Spray after spray, layer upon layer, colors bloomed and abstract shapes started to take form.

He never knew what would appear, he just knew when. His brain would get foggy, it would be hard to focus and he felt like someone was watching him. He could take it for a while but he always gave in, getting the spray can, searching out a blank canvas, shaking it and letting the paint fly.

This time seemed different, the urge was the strongest ever but the timing was off. He never painted at sunset, always sunrise, letting the warmth wash over him as he worked. But today he started at sunset. That was the first mistake.

To read the full story, please check out the Amazon e-book
"A Flash of Fantasy"
It's only 99 cents!

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Rejection [micro fiction]

The small table wobbled as she leaned towards her computer. Grabbing her coffee cup before it toppled, she tried again to read her email hidden by the bright sunlight. Squinting, she took off her sunglasses. Not much better but it helped.

"Dear Ms. Middleton:
Thank you for your submission of 'Real Men of Miami' to our magazine. We regret to inform you..."

She heaved a sigh and refocused her attention on the scene around her. She loved little cafes where she could people watch while enjoying the outdoors. The smells swirled around her; fresh oranges on the truck that just passed, stale cigar smoke from the elderly gentleman who was walking by, strong perfume from the patron at the table next to her. Pleasant and unpleasant, they were all fodder for a writer. Characters, scenes, snippets of dialogues - they all melded together into unique stories.

Her eyes returned to the rejection letter. "We regret to inform you that we have no room in the upcoming issue of our magazine. We have decided to add it to our summer issue instead. Please find your contract enclosed, outlining our publication rights and other contractual information."

She stood up suddenly, tipping her coffee into her computer and knocking over the wobbly table, but she didn't even notice. "I'm going to be published!"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Story prompted by the writing prompts app by Writing.com [iTunes and Android]
PLACE: a small cafe
CHARACTER: a writer
OBJECT: a pair of sunglasses
SMELL: old perfume

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Hunger [five sentence fiction]

She walked along the sidewalk, sneaking glances at the people around her. They were oblivious to anyone but themselves; totally wrapped up in their world to the exclusion of everyone and everything else around them. A tear rolled down her cheek and she wiped it away with her sleeve. Why couldn't anyone see her? Why didn't anyone want her?

###

Watch for Five Sentence Fiction every Tuesday.


.
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The Drive [flash fiction]

She tugged on the seatbelt but it wouldn't come loose. The car careened backwards down the hill. She hit the brakes so hard she thought she broke her foot. "Change gears, change gears!" The words echoed in her head over and over.

She slammed into first gear and floored the gas. No good. The car was moving too fast. What happened? It was all so quick. One minute she was climbing into the car, the next she was sliding down the hill.

It was a nice day for a drive and she loved her scarlet red, completely restored Triumph Spitfire. Top down, radio blasting, carving through the winding mountain roads; perfect day. What had gone wrong?

She had stopped at an overlook to take some pictures, first of the scenery then of her car with the mountain backdrop. She spent a few more minutes just enjoying the sun and the views. Back in the car, she fired up the engine - that's when it happened; just as she shifted into reverse to pull out of the parking spot.

Someone had appeared out of nowhere and rammed into the front of her car, forcing it backwards down the hill. No time to react, no time to do anything but try to stop the car. "Think, THINK!" she screamed at herself but nothing came to mind.

She tried the seatbelt again. No good. She was going to die. "I'm going to die and my mother thinks I hate her." They hadn't spoken for a week, not since her mother had hung up on her after a long argument about her fiance, Darrell Jackson, and his being listed as her beneficiary on the life insurance they were paying for.

"I need to tell her," tears rolled down her cheek. "I need to tell her I do love her. Doesn't matter that she thinks I shouldn't marry Darrell. I know she loves me. I need to tell her."

She noticed the ground was leveling out. Unfortunately the car was still rolling quickly. Repeatedly jabbing the brake did nothing, the pedal went to the floor. Something had gone wrong, horribly wrong. She twisted around in the car looking for something, some way to help slow the car. Her hand fell to the console and saw the stick for the emergency brake. Could it help? She grabbed it and pulled upward as hard as she could.

The car started to slow, little by little. "I'm going to live!" she screamed to the sky. "I'm going to live!" She was so thankful there hadn't been any trees on the way down. They might have slowed her descent but they also might have killed her.

Once the car finally slowed to a stop, she stepped out on wobbly legs and looked upward. What or who had hit her? She stared at the top of the hill. She could barely make out a car and someone standing beside it. Who was it? Did she know them? Was this an accident?

Taking her time she climbed the hill, rolling the questions around in her mind. As she drew closer she noticed someone standing beside a pickup truck. Had someone seen her go off the road and called a tow truck?

"Hello - can you help me?" she shouted as she waved excitedly. "Can you hear me?" As she got closer she could see the man had his arm extended. She squinted and thought she recognized him. "Darrell? Is that you?"

A shot rang out. Now it was her turn to careen down the hill.

###

Try number two at flash fiction. I don't like this one as well as my first but thought I'd share it anyway. Feel free to leave some constructive criticism. ;-)

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

An addict jots it down...

Hello, my name is Donna and I am a pen/paper addict. I can't visit the office supply in Wal-Mart without buying something. Office Depot? Never take me in there. Before I moved into an RV, I had a home office...a well stocked home office. Paper, notebooks, stationary/envelopes (when was the last time you used that?), pens, cute Post-it notes...you name it, I had it. Yes, most of it was bought on sale...that just makes it worse.

Fast forward four years and I find I am a frustrated addict. I've been deprived. I've been denied. I've been in withdrawal. But now that I am writing professionally again, I am letting loose. The first thing I did was pick up nice three subject 8.5: x 6.5" notebook. It lets me jot notes down for my two works in progress with the third section free for whatever.

But it's too big for my purse or a pocket. After reading a blog today by author Toby Neal on creativity, I was on the hunt. I needed something small but sturdy. Having a pen with it would be a bonus.

I found the perfect notebook. Only 4.5" x 3" and .5" thick, made out of metal, refillable 50 sheet pads....AND a pen! Oh no, now I have to decide on what cover! The first one was black crocodile look...so I did a more general search for this brand/model.

Pink, green, blue, silver, favorite teams, motivational mottos, girly-girly ones, macho for the guys...where to start? Well for me, with an Amazon Prime account, that let me cut it down quickly. Then I scanned for three favorites. These were my choices. Can you guess which one I picked? Classy, girly or road gear? [PS. If you are using Ad-Block, you may not see the images below.]


I really debated...the pink spoke to me. I've grown to like bright colors (in small doses). But the class look of the brown also called to me. The tire tread...well, if you know me at all, think travel - RV - motorcycle.

Yup, the Silver Tire Tread notebook was the one! Looking forward to getting it so I can jot down those fun little snippets of conversations, notes about those interesting people you see all around you, story ideas, character and location names...having a fun and interesting notebook to record it all in makes it all that much more interesting!

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Surprise [flash fiction]

She spit it out. "What is that?"

Jake laughed as Rachael scraped at her tongue. "Okay, so I won't make that again. Hey, you can't blame a guy for experimenting."

"Experiment out of the kitchen and in the bedroom next time," she smirked.

He carefully wiped up the mess, disposing of the leftovers in a zip-lock bag. Rachael yawned. "I don't know why I'm so sleepy now."

Must be the drugs I put into the food, Jake whispered to himself. "Go ahead and stretch out on the sofa, honey. I'll clean up."

"Okay, thanks." Rachael kicked off her shoes, laid on the sofa and pulled down chenille throw from the back. In less than 5 minutes she was sound asleep.

Jake pulled the bag out of the closet and started setting out the ominous looking tools. This was his first and he wanted everything to be perfect. Well, as perfect as his imagination would let it be. Until he had done it more than once, he really didn't know what perfect could be. Pulling on his latex gloves and looking at everything laid out on the coffee table, he smiled. Rachael was in for a big surprise! He was tired of her disrespect, tired of her putting him down at every opportunity. He had worked hard to keep her happy and satisfied. It was never enough. Now he was done!

The next morning Rachael woke with a stiff neck. What was she doing on the sofa? Where was Jake? Why did she have this strange pain on the side of her butt? She crawled off the sofa and headed towards the shower, hoping to clear out the cobwebs. As she undressed she caught sight of herself in the mirror and screamed.

Jake had tattooed his name on her ass!

###

My first clumsy attempt at flash fiction...it gets the creative juices flowing while it helps you craft your writing skills. This is completely new to me, hoping I improve as I do this more often.


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My Introduction

Welcome to my blog. Some of you may have come from my website or personal blog, some from Facebook, some from Twitter or referrals by friends. The rest of you have obviously just stumbled in unknowingly. No matter how you found my blog, I hope you'll stay and visit a while. Grab your favorite refreshments, put up your feet and get comfortable.

I'll be blogging about my foray into the world of fiction , general writing topics and maybe a personal post or two. I'm thinking about trying my hand at flash fiction to work on my writing skills. I hope you'll leave your comments, good and bad. I promise to not take offense...well, unless you are obviously behaving as a troll or sock puppet. No one likes them...

A little about me? Okay, I'm a past 60 y/o mother of 10 and grandmother to 25 (large extended family). I currently live full-time in a 41' toy hauler fifth wheel trailer. The back end is a 10' garage for our two Harley-Davidson motorcycles....my other passion.

I am retired from over 30 years in the IT industry, ranging from data entry to consultant to VP of Client Services. It was a good run. I've had some type of home business for the last 20 years, 15 of that doing non-fiction freelance writing. After I was widowed in 2004, I spent weeks traveling the country solo on my Harley. I managed to hit 42 states and rode 27,000 miles. What an adventure!

My husband is retired from over 30 years in a Maryland fire department, ranging from fireman to paramedic to PIO (Public Information Officer). He was widowed when we met in 2008, I was widowed in 2004. We married in 2009 and love our traveling lifestyle. We travel with our young pup, Sadie, a little Boxer mix who has her own blog.

Enough about me...tell me about you!

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