Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge - Stuck?

I had posted on Facebook that I had all my words picked and inspiration photos saved. A good friend on Facebook posted that she was stuck and this was my reply to her. If you're stuck maybe this will work for you. Oh, and if you haven't signed up, it's still not too late.
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First decide if you want a theme or not, something that speaks to YOU. Love dogs? Got kids or grandkids? Horror or science ficion your thing? Famous people? Sewing or quilting? The list is endless. My theme was picked after most of the words were done and was kicked off by my love of flash fiction.

Start a new text file and put the theme or just A to Z Challenge at the top.

Next, list the alphabet down one side. Open the file everyday, look at each letter and the first word that comes to mind, write it down next to that letter. Do this for as many letters as you can. It's okay to list multiple words. Do NOT think about what you are going to write. Just think of words - nouns, verbs, adjectives, names - it doesn't matter.

Once you have all or most of the letters filled, go back and chose the one word that speaks to you the most and delete the others. Do this every day and hopefully in a week or so you will have your list.

That said, don't be afraid to change a word right up until the day you publish the post. Remember, it's YOUR choice!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge


I mentioned earlier that I had signed up for the A to Z April blog challenge. It runs in April which gives me plenty of chances to "plan". Yes, I am a planner at heart. I outline my books. I make lists (lots of lists). I can adapt my plans fairly easily but plan I must.

Since this is my first go round in this blog challenge, I've been reading a lot of tips on how to approach it most effectively.
  • I have started a text file where I am building a list of one word letters to use.
  • I will keep it each one short and sweet, thanks to a blog I read today. DL's Guide To Surviving A to Z
  • I will have a theme, thanks to a blog I read earlier. Inspiration For Your Posts
  • I will be writing my entries ahead of time (remember, "planner") because these posts will be in addition to my normal blogging.

Interested in learning more? Signing up? Following the bloggers? You can:

Oh, and you don't have to be a writer to participate, there is A to Z for videos, too.

I plan on using one word only title, inspired by the one word five sentence flash fiction stories I have been doing for Lillie McFerrin's blog. My theme will be 10 by 10: a maximum of ten sentences, a minimum of 100 words. I will also find a photo to use for inspiration for each word. I hope you'll tune it and enjoy!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Women, Winter, Motorcycles & Bathrooms [a tale of woe]

There is an email making the rounds that every woman can relate to....discussing in detail the horrors we, as women, have to deal with every day when using public restrooms. No toilet paper, wet seats, no liners, doors that don't lock and THE STANCE.

After reading it recently, I thought it was time to write about a lesser known side....dealing with public restrooms while riding a motorcycle in cold weather. This is written from fact...based upon my solo motorcycle trips over the last couple of years.

Now imagine a cold winter day. Your bladder has reacted in double-time to the one cup of coffee you just HAD to have at the last gas stop, also used to warm your hands as well as your insides, and the vibration of the motorcycle, all combined with the cold.

You spy a gas station, pull in and immediately have to make a decision. Do you pump gas first and then move bike out of the way or is it slow enough that you can head to the bathroom first. Sometimes the decision is made for you, you KNOW that you can't take the time to get gas first.

So you head inside, praying that this isn't one of the 10% of places that still have outside bathrooms. Depending on how cold you are and how much function is left in your fingers, you may or may not take off your helmet.

Ah, you spot the sign! It's inside and available. If you took off your helmet you now have to find a place for it, preferably not the floor. If you're real lucky you get a handicapped stall with a Koala baby seat, pull it down and start stacking up the gear. Next best case is the Koala seat outside the stall where you can at least drop the helmet and maybe your jacket.

Now remember, it's COLD. This isn't just a matter of unzipping your jeans. Oh no, that would be too easy. First you have to unzip your jacket because it's 3/4 length. Of course this is only done after taking off gloves & glove liners. Then you have to unzip the polar fleece under that. Since it's really cold you now have to negotiate the textile riding pants (zipper number 3), the zipper on your jeans, and then a layer of either polar fleece, long underwear or at a minimum tights. Finally down to the last layer, undies. And don't forget, with each layer peeled off, the stack of material above your knees grows higher,so now one last push to be sure you can clear the cloth. At least you have no purse to worry about, everything critical is in the various pockets of your riding jacket.

Now you go into the stance, having done your best to follow the "wipe or cover" the seat procedure outlined in the email message. At least you have your Kleenex handy if needed. Um, well, you do if you didn't leave your jacket outside with your helmet.

Finally.....ahhhhhh, there is no better feeling.

Done, you stand up. Now, remember that helmet you left on because you were in a hurry? Well you are quickly reminded it's there when your bent stance slams it into the back of the door (unless, again, you were lucky enough to get an oversized handicapped stall). Hoping you haven't permanently damaged it so that you have no protection in a crash, you start pulling up and re-zipping all the layers .

This is when you hope there is no line waiting for a stall, ask any woman out there about restroom lines. It takes time and a lot of it to pull everything back together. When several women are riding together, we find ourselves stumbling out of the stall with layers pulled up but unzipped, finishing that process outside so the next lady can enter and start her own trip of joy.

So the next time you head into a bathroom stall, remember, it could be winter and you could be wearing riding gear!

Touring in 2005


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My writing origins


I've been a extensive reader since I was little...loving the escape that a good book provided. Hours were spent reading the Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Beldon. On to Mary Poppins, Charlotte's Web, Cheaper by the Dozen and many others. High school meant less time to read, not due to dating but a heavier schedule mixed with working after school.

Writing also began early, at around age nine or ten, with my starting a weekly neighborhood newspaper. I typed each copy myself on my child's typewriter that I had received for my birthday. I think three neighbors took pity on me and "subscribed" at a cost of 10 cents a week. Wish I still had copies of the few papers I actually completed.

Once out of school, life intervened with an early marriage, blessing me with two children by the age of 22. Reading was still my favorite escape. The more I read, the faster I read, learning to skim read with time and practice. By my thirties I was resorting to only buying 2-3" thick paperbacks, something that would take me more than 2 hours to read.

That was also when I discovered my career passion, moving from bookkeeping into computers. Over the next thirty years I advanced from a data entry operator to VP of Client Services, with many titles and job descriptions in the middle. I learned to write professionally; constructing marketing materials, class outlines, program documentation and client reviews.

I've never been an intellectual reader since, for me, reading is an escape from everyday life. Science Fiction, fantasy and epic historicals ruled my forties. But the career of my forties meant no time to read unless I took a whole day on a weekend to do nothing but that...what a luxury. I remember one Sunday that I took off, reading Robert Heinlein's Time Enough for Love. What a treat! Another was Centennial by James Michener (a favorite that I have read several times) and James Clavell's Shogun.

My fifties gave me my first foray into freelance writing. Scott Kurnit started a small Internet company called "The Mining Company" (TMC - now About.com). I was already running a side computer business and had been networking with other self-employed women. Several of them had applied to be a Guide at TMC. I read the website application process, read their applications and was pretty sure I could do it. So I applied and was accepted.

Web content, magazine and local newspapers were the recipient of my words...besides The Mining Company, I also wrote weekly content for BellaOnline.com, Suite101.com, as well as columns for an RVing magazine and a free weekly local newspaper for seniors.

Several years of non-fiction whet my appetite and I wanted to try my hand at fiction writing. I wrote some children's stories, submitted them and although rejected, I did get some nice comments.

Then once again, real life intervened and my husband was diagnosed with cancer. He became my number one priority and my writing was limited to health updates to our family and friends. He passed in 2004 and I completely lost my writing voice.

In 2005 I took several motorcycle trips covering 42 states, riding 27,000 miles...solo. No, I didn't journal. I tried, I really did. But my voice was missing. Instead I made notes about what animals I saw, where I found the cheapest McDonald's senior coffee, what songs I sang in my head as I rode...silly stuff like that. My year of sanity...

In 2006 I made the decision to sell our house and go full-time RVing. I had lived the life for almost two years when my husband was alive and knew I liked it. Blogs were becoming more popular and I decided to try my hand at one. That was the beginning of finding the joy in writing once again.

Now in 2012, I am back trying my hand at fiction writing. If you made it this far in the post, congratulations. I know I'm rambling a bit, but now I have a post to send people to when they ask me about the origins of my writing.

Oh, I read less science fiction now, but love a good romance (especially with a touch or comedy or time travel - thank you Diana Gabaldon) and have started to really enjoy thrillers and mysteries (James Patterson, Alan Jacobson, Lisa Jackson and others).

Friday, February 17, 2012

Blogger and Word Verification [rant]

I've been on blogger for several years now...I think my first blog was started in 2006 when I considered selling my house and going full-time RVing. Initially I only allowed registered users to comment (no anonymous posters), I had to approve every comment and I used word verification.

Fast forward to three years ago, I had already decided to allow anyone to comment and with the advent of the new spam filters put into place by Google/Blogger, I also decided to no longer moderate comments (with one exception - comments on posts over 14 days old need my approval). I still used word verification.

Two years ago, or thereabouts, Google/Blogger changed the CAPTCHA they were using for word verification and it became almost impossible to discern the characters. I turned it off on all my blogs, knowing how much it frustrated me.

Now we come to the present and once again, Google/Blogger has upgraded the word verification. Now we have to enter TWO words with a mix of case and symbols. Definitely more frustrating than ever.By the way, it's not just me. I've read several blogs recently on the same topic.
I rarely get spam anymore, usually the reverse. A good comment has been marked as spam and I have to 'un-spam' it. The filters are working well. Please consider turning off word verification for your blog, you might be surprised by how many more comments you receive!

Exquisite [five sentence fiction]

He slinked across the floor as the strange new bundle wiggled.

He poked at it and it made funny noises; it was soft and squishy.

He nose twitched, it smelled funny, too.

He tugged on the blanket wrapped around it and heard a sharp "NO".

"Isn't she the most exquisite little girl," his master murmured.


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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Taxi Ride [flash fiction]

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Yearning for Wonderland Flash Fiction Contest
[300 words or less]
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"I hate night shift, gives me heebie-jeebies," I whispered, looking in the rear view mirror at my latest passenger. "So where can I take you tonight?"

"The Pit," a voice rumbled from the back.

"The Pit, huh. I hear stuff about that place."

He grunted.

"All kinds of weird things. People go in and freaks come out."

"Don't believe what you hear, believe what you see."

"Well, I'd rather not see those kinda things." I sought his face but it was obscured by his hood.

The Pit was an old mansion about 10 miles outside the city. For the last dozen years it had became a gathering spot for the fringes of society.

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


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Kisses [silly short]

Mommy kisses with LOVE.

Daddy kisses with PRIDE.

Grandma kisses with HUGS.

But puppy kisses with . . .
 
photo credit: JoePhilipson via photopin cc

. . . a BIG LICK!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Back to reality....

I'm back from the cruise and trying to plow through ten days worth of blogs, Facebook updates, emails and Tweets. Phew....we are a wordy bunch....big surprise.

Speaking of BIG SURPRISES, the best email I read was notifying me that I won SECOND PLACE in the Blog Hop sponsored by Lillie McFerrin, Angela Goff, Angie Richmond, and Daniel Swensen. I was shocked and pleased, there were some amazing entries. I look forward to getting my critique done by Angie. Thank you to the sponsors as well as all the writers. You can read my entry here, Forest Flowers.

I did think about my two novels while I was on the cruise, in between reading several books (all mysteries). I am debating whether to put my romance novel on the shelf and start my mystery. I go back and forth...tomorrow I will put pen to paper (okay, fingers to keyboard) and see what happens.

Lastly, thank you to those who took the time to critique my blog. I have made several changes that I hope are to the good. I'm frustrated that some can't read the blog because the "book" background never overlays the wood grain. At some point I will probably switch the format. In the meantime, I hope anyone that has problems reading the blog will use Google Reader or some other method of keeping up to day.

Enough for today, if anyone is interested you can see all the cruise photos I took in my SmugMug album. More coming after hubby uploads his dive photos and videos.