Category Archives: Writing

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Goodbye 2017

What many people may not realize about being a writer is that it can be nerve wracking. We writers pour our hearts and souls into what we do, and if there is a single misspelled word we feel failure. It is not an easy job, but one that we all feel crazily compelled to do. We can be an insecure bunch of people, but we are not in it alone.

I am a member of The Insecure Writers Support Group, and every month we are given a question that we can answer in our IWSG post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. This month, the last in a very long year, our question is:

As you look back on 2017, with all its successes/failures, if you could backtrack, what would you do differently?

The only thing I would do differently is to wrap my entire family in bubble wrap. Without going into detail, let me just say that seeing the inside of nine emergency rooms in twelve months is more than anyone should have to go through. (No one died this year, so there’s that). To say the least, this put a huge crimp on my writing progress. Getting a story out has been the last thing on my to-do list.

It wasn’t all bad though. I did manage to complete a couple of short stories, several blog posts, and I wrote everyday for NaNoWriMo. My debut novel, The Manx, is shaping up with characters that are living and breathing entities in a brilliant world. I also attended two writing conferences (PPWC and RMFW) where I reconnected with writers across the country and re-energized my creative battery. I also had the pleasure to meet one of my favorite authors, Diane Gabaldon.

At book signing during RMFW2017

My advice to anyone who is in the thick of life’s challenges? Get through it anyway you can. Writing does not have to be at the top of your to-do list, but sometimes it should surface to the top just so you can have a few moments of sanity. It is okay to let the words fall by the side of the road while you are trying to maintain a straight direction with four flat tires.

Say goodbye to 2017 because 2018 will be a better year. It has to be.

Thanks to our awesome co-hosts for the December 6 posting of the IWSG, Julie Flanders, Shannon Lawrence, Fundy Blue, and Heather Gardner!

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NaNoWriMo – 2017

It is that time of the month again where I join with other writers to discuss the “dark side” of being a writer. Actually, that might be a bit of a strong term, but it will do for now. On the first Wednesday of every month Insecure Writer’s Support Group (#IWSG) posts one or two subject questions so we can talk about our doubts and the fears that we have conquered as writers. We can discuss our struggles and triumphs then offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling with their own writing.

This month’s question:

  • Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

Let me explain NaNo for the readers who are not familiar. The full term is NaNoWriMo which is short for National Novel Writing Month. During November of every year, writers around the globe sit down to write a novel in thirty days. Sound easy? NOT! The goal is to crank out 50,000 words in a mere thirty days, and if you want one day a week off you have to manage 2,000 everyday of the month. It is, to say the least, an insane challenge.

On to the questions. Do I finish NaNo? I have only participated once before and it kicked my butt out the door by day 10. November is just plain HARD. It is a month when my job intensifies and life just pulls in too many directions. I am trying again this year so I’ll let you know the results. Needless to say, nothing has been published ——

YET.

Thanks to the awesome co-hosts for the November 1 posting of the IWSG, Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!

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#IWSG – For Writers of All Ages

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. I just learned about this fun group from Shannon Lawrence, who is a fellow writer and blogger. Just the title of the group screamed that I needed to check it out. This group was founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh so writers could virtually gather to express their thoughts about writing. It looks intriguing so I have joined in.

Our co-hosts today are Christine Rains, Dolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner!

The question for this month is: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing? Let’s take a look at these one at a time because each one raises a different set of Pet Peeves for me.

READING: When I read a book that has gone through all of the gyrations to reach publication I have high expectations. My number one issue is misspelled words. I can accept a couple, especially in a manuscript of 100,000 words, but when I see multiple instances of spelling errors my hackles start to raise.

A manuscript goes through the mill before publication, and if an author has done due diligence it would have been seen by the author, spell check, critique groups, beta readers, editors (line and content), publishers, early prints, and then reprints. By the time a book is into the mainstream it should not have spelling errors.

Editing: When I’m editing my own work my pet peeve is that I’m too hard on myself. I do endless comparisons of my work to great writers I aspire to write as well as. I remind myself that they have their creative greatness and I have mine. If I find myself being too hard on me, I set it aside and come back later when I’m not thinking of a Jane Austin novel.

WRITING: In this area I tend to not be too hard on myself. The entire process of writing is, in of itself, a process. Like all writers, I start with an idea then progresses through a vast journey of discovery. When I first started to write I thought, “This will be easy. I just put words to paper and, voila, a book appears.” I laugh at myself. Just getting started was a huge learning curve, and today I continue to learn my craft. If I had to name one thing that is difficult for me it would be to write everyday. Getting in a few days a week is a thrill, and I hope one day life will allow me to write daily.

As a reader, what are your Pet Peeves?

#IWSG

@TheIWSG

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Dragon Naturally Speaking

I just bought the software, and thought it would be rather fun to try and do a single blog post without editing without doing anything that that Dragon Naturally Speaking can’t do. So here it is, a single stream of consciousness type of post without using the keyboard. As you read this remember that I’m not using the keyboard I am not making any corrections in my editing so therefore this post will be a little clumsy.

I just got the software yesterday. Install it on my computer. And found it didn’t work. Way? Okay that word that last word was supposed to be “really”. While actually the software did work, it was just my headset. So once I got my regular headset one that actually works, the software kicked into action. My first attempt was to post something on Facebook, doesn’t that just figure? Doesn’t everyone post on Facebook first when they’re trying something new? Pretty simple stuff. I was able to do a post with a little bit of help from my keyboard.

So this is my next test on the software. So far, making this post has worked out quite well. Most of the words I have spoken have come out correctly without with the exception of “the word above” really”. Okay too many quotes. I haven’t quite figured out how to backspace and delete yet so I will work on that one. Back to the subject at hand. It really does pick up the voice quite well, as you can see there have only been a couple of mistakes in this post I’m quite happy with it.

What I find the hardest is when I see mistakes and have to backup or erase or delete or whatever I have not quite figured out how to do that yet. Also being sure that I have all of my punctuation in their quick correctly has not worked perfectly either. Trying to think of what I’m going to say, plus adding punctuation has challenged my brain a little bit.

I will continue to use and learn this program, and work to improve my dictation skills. I find the more clearly I speak, and the more precise my enunciation is, the better the software works. if you are considering purchasing a speech to text type of software I find that this one seems to work extremely well. Although, I don’t have a lot of experience or comparisons to this software. I feel pretty impressed with what I’ve seen so far. Dragon Naturally Speaking is a software that does seem to truly know what you’re saying.

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Flash Fiction

I love discovering new things and I recently was introduced to a style of writing called Flash Fiction. I had heard of this genre in the past, but never gave it much thought. A writing friend of mine shared a piece by Erica Satifka called, Real Plastic Trees that I had to share with you. A taste of the story is below and you can finish reading it at Fantastic Stories of the Imagination.

ENJOY!

Real Plastic Trees by Erica Satifka

Bam. Bam. Bam. I throw on my tattered blue bathrobe and hobble to the door. “Hold your horses, I’m coming.”

It’s the New Woman across the hall. Julie, she calls herself. She gets nervous if she doesn’t check in on me at least every other day, and I don’t blame her. I’m an old, old woman now. “How are you feeling today, Mrs. Delacorte?”

I sigh. “Can’t complain. Want to come in for some coffee?”

Of course she does. Julie’s kind can get nutrients from anything on this ruined Technicolor world of ours, but when given the option, they’ll always pick traditional food over Styrofoam and concrete. They’re bred that way, both to fit in with real humans and to, in some way, continue our legacy.

Earth’s dead. The neon crazy-quilt of the atmosphere sees to that. If you’re staying here, you’d better be okay with living behind a six-inch layer of reinforced glass. It’s no wonder that so many humans choose to emigrate to the extee colonies, even with all the hardships involved.

Read the rest at: Fantastic Stories of the Imagination

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The Yampa*

The wagon train had left her station hours ago. She had worked through the rest of the day cleaning the horse dung and the human stench from the walls. Once a month they came through, sometimes twice in a month, and Margo never got used to it. The humans had a smell about them that reminded her of the dead rats she found in the barn sometimes.

Satisfied, she went back upstairs then out the window to sit on the roof. This is where she spent most of her time staring into the sky wishing for home. In the years spent in the southern hemisphere she could see her home cluster in the night sky, but here in the north she could only see the local sun. Only ten more years and she could go back south. Ten more years of being in this dust bowl serving the wagon trains that kept pushing to the west carrying those petty humans into the frontier.

Stirring out of her own mind she turned to go back inside. Mid-stride Margo met the blunt end of a shotgun in the gut. “Hello Margo. Been a long time wouldn’t you say?”

“Kate. What in tarnation are you doing here? How did you find me?”

“You are a slippery one Margo. I’ve been hunting you for the past couple of centuries. I have to admit you found yourself one hell of a place to hide. How did you find this dump anyway?”

Pushing past her, Margo went back through the window. “Believe it or not, I crashed here. Been stranded for at least a couple hundred years.”

“Come on Margo. You can’t expect me to believe that you, our top pilot, crashed on this rock. You’ll need a better excuse than that.”

“You know me Kate. Weird shit happens.”

“Weird shit my ass. Is that your excuse for the string of dead bodies you left all over the home cluster? Is that your excuse for decimating Corkerelle? Give me a break.”

Margo couldn’t help but laugh a little bit. “You have no idea do you Kate? You have spent all this time looking for me and never stopped to wonder if it was really me? Wake up Kate. Look around you. What do you see?”

“What are you talking about Margo?”

“I’ve been here for eons watching these humans scrape across their globe. They drag their sorry souls over the land and darken every corner of it. Right now, they drive their wagon trains out west in a thirst for riches and in their wake; they leave only a stench and rot. Did you smell the trash heap on your way in? Did you see what they do? Doesn’t it look even a little familiar? How long ago did Corkerelle happen? Think about it Kate, could I, one solitary being really destroy an entire planet? Think back, Kate. Remember what it smelled like?”

The shotgun began to weigh more than Kate remembered when she first pointed it at Margo. “They came here, didn’t they? They came here to do it all over again didn’t they?”

“Oh, they’ll try alright, but there will be bloody hell to pay before they can cross the Yampa.”

*****

They had celebrated that night once they arrived at the edge of the Yampa. It had been a long trek across the eastern plains and everyone was ready for fresh water and time to dance. They had made it. Living to see the Yampa River was all they had prayed for and here they were. Smiles were served all around and the music played late into the night.

The warmth of the rising sun pushed the gentle breeze through the camp. The air licked at the canvas capes that draped each wagon ruffling the bare threads. The horses had long left the area along with the cattle. A few stray dogs were all that remained behind. Silence filled the morning breeze. The celebrations from the night before were just echoes fading into the distance. Crawling out of the red masses, the tiny machines had done their job and marched back toward the water. The next wagon train was due in just a week and they needed time to recharge.

*The Yampa originally appeared on the blog: KJ Scrim, Writer and is used here with permission from the author.

© KJ Scrim 2015 – All rights reserved – No part of this story may be used or reproduced, graphic, electronic,or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping, or my any information storage retrieval system without written permission from the Author.

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A Word Game

Words, words, words, words, words, words,

more words, words, words,

her words,

my words.

She fed me my words on a platter then dropped it.

The platter cracked and my words spilled on the floor.

~©K.J. Scrim 2014

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Send it Snail Mail

Not too long ago I celebrated a birthday. Before you ask, I’m not saying how old I turned, but suffice it to say that I remember watching the Vietnam War on television and seeing Father Knows Best in black and white. I also remember the day when birthday cards would come through the mail and each one was a gift in of itself.

Whenever I got a card or letter in the mail I would get a charge of excitement. The return address was the first thing to check and then see the postmark and stamp. Anything from overseas was the best (my brother served in Korea and he sent me several letters from there), but mail from anywhere was plain grand. After learning the distance the letter or card had come I would turn it over to carefully open the envelope.  I never ripped into a letter, and I would either get a knife to cut a neat slice across the top, or very carefully lift the paper along the glued edge.

Anticipation was the best part to opening a card or letter that came in the mail, actually it was the best part about going to the mailbox everyday. As I celebrated another step toward being ancient I made my daily trip to the mailbox and was pleased that I actually got two (count them, one, two) cards in the mail. There was a time that ten was more the normal, but now it is two. I did receive several e-cards, along with a slew of Facebook one liners, “Happy Birthday.”

On the one hand I was thrilled that anyone remembered my birthday at all (usually everyone forgets). I had a wonderful time going to lunch with friends and my family took me to dinner as well. On the other hand, it bothered me that I only received two cards in the mail. I miss the old days. I miss that anticipation. I miss going to mailbox everyday. Don’t you? When was the last time you received a nice letter from your Aunt who lives in New Jersey? Did you get very many cards in the mail for your birthday this year? Wouldn’t it be nice to get one?

I work for a greeting card company and I hear a lot of stories from customers who’s day was brightened just by receiving a real card made out of paper tucked in an envelope and sealed with a kiss. These are the things that make our world a better place and I, for one, will be sending more cards out this year. Let’s spread some cheer around and send a card, a note, a letter. Better yet, maybe some sand from the beach you live on, or a pressed flower from your garden. Be creative. Just send it snail mail and make someone smile.

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From Kurt Vonnegut

“Go into the arts.

I’m not kidding.

The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.

Sing in the shower.

Dance to the radio.

Tell stories.

Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem.

Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward.

You will have created something.”

~~Thanks to Delve Writing for initially sharing this on F.B. and inspiring me to re-share with you here.~~

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Do Not Mock Me

There you are, sitting in front of me, mocking me.  Do you not understand what it takes to decorate your face with just black ink?  How am I to write upon you when you are not giving me any expression or meaning?  I have needs too you know? Are you amused when I wince uncomfortably searching for just the right word, sentence, or structure?  I am a writer who crafts words to put on you while you laugh each day that I struggle to fill you.  Be wary my white friend.  The day will come when you laugh too much, or taunt me into a cruel corner.  I will crumple, shred, and send you into oblivion without a thought then turn my back on your pitiful pulverized mess and pull a clean sheet from the stack.  This new paper will not disrespect me, and  I will continue to write whether you are a clean slate or a small mount of powder in my waste bin.  I am a writer and I will fill your face with my words, and laugh at your weak attempts at ridicule.  Now, step aside, I have a story to write.

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