A thought-provoking question! For Gabriela Pereira, author of the DIY MFA Book, she doesn’t believe in waiting on your muse to inspire your writing.
“I firmly believe that creativity isn’t something random that may or may not happen to us. I don’t believe in an uncooperative muse. Instead, I believe inspiration is something we make happen. Yes, there is something magical about creativity, but it’s also something we can harness, channel, even manipulate.”
So, how do I usually jump-start my muse whenever I need her?
Sometimes, I even do all three at once! If I’m looking for a particular mood, I’ll select the type of music (via You Tube or Pandora) that fits the bill. When I’m “blocked,” music or some form of exercise almost always work for me. Other times if none of the above are successful, I’d take a short break and binge-watch a TV show in the genre I’m attempting to write.
***Would you like to join in this virtual Book Club? Click here.
Becoming a writer (for me) didn’t happen overnight; but, the seeds were planted at an early age. As a young kid, I felt different, acted different, and was treated different. Why? Because of my inability to communicate with the world around me. In fact, my Kindergarten teacher approached my parents to have me pulled from school as I was deemed as “unteachable.”
This all occurred during the mid-1970s in rural upstate New York. My parents had just spent two years taking me to various specialists all across the state as well as Vermont; but, no one could definitively find what was wrong with me. In the end, they told my parents that I had behavioral issues which should be directed at a psychiatrist.
Faced with one school unable to teach me, they decided to have an audiologist, Aubrey, to check me out as a second opinion. She discovered that I had moderate hearing loss in both ears (over 65% loss) due to nerve damage.
After being fitted with hearing aids, I spent the next two years attending speech therapy in an effort to get me “caught up” as I was quite behind in speech development. School was still a challenge not just in learning; but with having friends. As a loner with maybe one or two good friends, I spent much of my free time with imaginary friends and creating various scenarios and settings for myself. The only thing these tend to get me in trouble; one time it actually landed me in the ER!
In 5th grade, a classmate challenged a bunch of us to a contest to see who could write the scariest story. I concocted one about a girl going into an old house and discovering a decapitated head in a fridge. Everyone seemed truly unnerved by that one. 🙂
Just watching everyone’s reaction to my story made me feel good about myself for once; like I was actually good at something. I also found that writing enabled me to bring the stuff I had in my head to life on a piece of paper. Not to mention that it was much safer!
This one experience planted the seed within me to become the writer I am today.
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This month’s question: What steps have you taken to put a schedule in place for your writing and publishing?
For the past few years I’ve managed to keep a schedule of some kind for blogging. This year, since I desire to convert a screenplay into a novel, I feel I need to set up a schedule for that as well. Just figuring out the how part.
I joined a Facebook group, Finish Your Novel, a project really that’s dedicated to doing just that-finishing a novel. It’s my hope that this group will help keep me accountable and moving forward throughout the year with my book. I’ve been a writer for a number of years with short works published; I’m ready to take the next leap to being a published author.
I think about setting aside three days each week to devote solely to writing the first draft. Will probably do it chapter by chapter. The challenge will be how to best incorporate the flash-back scenes since they will take place throughout the novel. Also to keep me going forward, I plan to set a daily (or maybe a weekly one instead) word count goal that I can track via Word as well as a spreadsheet.
Now, the next question is–should I start by planning out the book (character development, outlining the story line/subplots, etc.) or just jump right in and start rewriting the story from the screenplay?
Hard to believe that it’s nearly Thanksgiving (US). Where has the year gone? Since I may go “quiet” here for the next few days, I’d like to list some of the things I’m thankful for.
First, the usual:
Without any of these, I would not be where I am today.
Next, the more contemplative ones 🙂
I am so grateful to be living in the rural country now instead of the city. Here, my anxiety level has dropped dramatically, and I feel that my life has been more enriched and healthier. I love seeing my son reveling in the freedom to play outside and not worry about various dangers.
Here I can immerse myself in nature and the seasons which all fertilize my imagination, and allow me to create more abundantly. No booming rap music next door. No noisy traffic outside our front door. No fighting neighbors over POA regulations. Just peace and quiet.
My struggles fuel my writing. They enable me to be a more compassionate and empathetic person. To be more thoughtful of others. They also help in creating more realistic characters.
In other words,
The next chapter of the interactive story will post on Friday!
The four-some now seated in chairs around the large oval oak table as the waiter retrieves the menus.
“I will get your orders in.” And the short black man walks away.
Julie’s brown eyes carefully study the faces around the table as she slowly sips at her wine. “So, Brad,” and turns them solely to the man sitting to her right, “What on earth have you been up to since I last saw you?”
Brad grins as he leans back. “Nothing exciting. Just work.”
“Marketing, huh?” She purses her lips, “For whom?”
“Altvision Communications.” He replies as he bit into a breadstick.
“Wow, one of the four media giants.” Her smile widen as she fingers her glass. “You must be one of the lowly assistants working his way up the career rung by now.”
He chuckles, “Hardly. Try the Director of the Marketing Department.”
“Di-rec-tor…my heavens, that’s a far cry from being a lab rat with Dalton Co-Op.”
“A lab rat?” Eddie’s hazel-green eyes sparkle as he stares at Brad across the table.
Brad lets out a laugh, “That’s Julie’s way of calling any desk clerk who worked for Dalton back in the day.”
“They were directly responsible for polluting all the lakes upstate which cost taxpayers well over a billion dollars.”
“And you don’t feel the least bit guilty for forcing them out of business and driving hundreds of people out of work?” Brad asks, the smile now gone.
“What they were doing was criminal, and it was my job to expose them.” Julie’s eyes now slits.
“Yeah, well, the timing couldn’t have been worse.” Brad grabs another breadstick. “You could have at least waited until after Christmas to break the story.”
“Are you a reporter?” Eddie’s interest now piqued as he focuses on the curly red head between Brad and Laura.
Julie shrugs, “Yeah, a crime beat reporter,” and takes another sip of the red wine.
“You don’t sound very enthused.” He says.
“It’s a job.”
“Don’t let her fool you, Ed.” Brad points a half-eaten breadstick at his friend. “Journalism’s in her blood just like her father, and her grandfather.”
“I see.” Eddie drinks from a bottle of beer. “A generational legacy that you don’t seem to relish much of.”
“It comes natural, and it made sense at the time.” She says.
“Writing comes natural to Julie all right. Did you know she’s also a published author?” Laura smiles at Julie who frowns back.
“Oh, really?” Brad says, “What do you write?”
“Guilty pleasure. Let’s not make a big deal out of it.” Julie replies.
“She writes horror.” Laura answers for her friend.
“A crime beat reporter slash horror writer. Wow, never saw that one coming.” Brad sneers.
“Whatever.” Julie flicks her long hair off her shoulders and turns to face Eddie. “What of you? Let me guess, an international spy?” She asks in a leering tone.
“You’re not too far off the mark.” Eddie replies. “I’m a freelance Threat Analyst.”
“What the heck is that?” Julie’s nose crinkles at him.
“Mainly I hunt the web for any malicious activities, and put a stop to them.”
“That sounds–interesting I suppose.” Julie says.
It was Eddie’s turn to laugh as he drinks more of the beer. “Oh, it can get very interesting.”
“What about you, Laura?” Brad asks.
Laura leans forward as she studies the flickering candle at the table’s center which casts shadows across her fair face. “I’m currently doing my Forensic Pathology Residency at North Peak’s Regional Medical Center.”
“Fascinating. We have a budding doctor with us.” Brad smiles at her.
“You did it.” Eddie says. “You’ve accomplished one of your dreams.” His warm smile causes Laura’s cheeks to color.
“It’s still a work in progress, but yeah, I’m getting there.” She returns his smile.
His expression then grows more somber. “I’m sorry I haven’t kept in touch. I never meant to leave like that.”
Laura shrugs, “You had a family emergency that required you to leave the country. Besides, it was for the best. For us, anyway.”
Eddie nods. “You’ve always been so understanding, Laurie. You deserve someone to be equally so.” His accent now more pronounced.
“Oh my, here’s our dinner!” Julie blurts out as the waiter came to their table with a tray full of food. “I’m starving!”
Today I’m sitting on 3,374 words which is quite poor IF I was shooting for 50,000. I could be called (sort of) a NaNo Rebel in that I’m marching to my own tune this month. I’m juggling three different writing projects:
Serial fiction, The Hidden Realm: I haven’t started to work on this yet but the plan is to finish the second half of Part One.
Novelette, Untitled: written 2,417 words so far. Genre: suspense/thriller
Interactive story, Untitled: wrote chapter one, A Snowy Reunion, which has posted on this blog earlier in the week. Genre: TBD
Speaking of #3, be sure to read the chapter and vote in the poll included to determine future outcome of the overall story line. The poll closes soon so I can start writing the next chapter so don’t wait any longer! 🙂
What about you? How’s your writing going so far this month?
*Am starting a new story, an interactive kind, which means feedback from readers will determine the direction of the story. Read the first chapter, and then answer the poll. Your input will determine the story’s results! Enjoy 🙂
Fluffy white flakes drift from the sky on to the urban landscape below. Mazes of paved and cemented pathways spread across the city like a grid, nearly all are inhabited by flickering white and red lights. While the heavens fill with solemn hushes, the earth brims with noise and movements among the living and their worldly gadgets and possessions.
On a particular street level, two women walk briskly, huddled deep in their coats and scarves. White mists emanating from their faces as they huffed.
“I can’t believe you talked me into going out tonight!” The shorter woman says.
“Nonsense, Laura.” replies the other. “You work too much. Besides, I haven’t seen Brad in years. I’m curious to see how rich and successful he became.”
“Really, Julie, you’re just too shallow.” Laura scoffs. “There are more to men than sex and money.”
“Don’t forget power.” Julie raises a hand covered in a black leather glove.
“You’re one to talk, dearie.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Laura smirks.
“Okay, how about Scott Mendler?” Red ringlets flickering across her cheeks.
“Him? The Pharmacist? Oh, c’mon! He didn’t know right from left!”
“Oh? Let’s try this one…Frank Aleman.”
“Computer repairman. Too boring.” Laura says.
“Kissed like a girl.”
Julie stops suddenly. “And you know this how?”
“Kidding!” Laura grabs her friend’s arm to prod her along once more. “I still don’t see your point.”
“My point is that you’re just as shallow as I am when it comes to men.” Julie says.
“Are you saying we’re hopeless?”
“Nah, just haven’t found the right ones.”
Laura shakes her head. “I’m starting to believe there’s no right one out there.”
“Perhaps we’ve been looking at the wrong ones.”
“Or perhaps I need to shorten my ‘qualities desired in an ideal mate’ list.” Laura frowns.
Julie suddenly stops. Again.
“Now what?” Laura asks.
Julie glances behind them. “Been having this feeling that someone’s following me all day.”
“Halloween’s long over.” Laura says.
“Yeah.” The red-head turns back around. “Probably just my imagination.”
“Comes with the territory for being a horror writer.” Laura replies.
“Well, that’s not all I do, honey.” She sneers.
“That’s even creepier.”
“Yeah, whatever, speak for yourself.” Julie pulls at her friend’s arm. “There it is. Let’s run…I’m freezing!”
The two women carefully jog across the icy road hopping from one section of tire-tread pattern on the ground to the next to keep from slipping. Once they reach the other side, they stood briefly at the wooden door with “Carroll’s Diner” etched in it.
And pushed it opened to enter inside.
Carroll’s Diner’s rustic interior immediately warmed up the women as they peer into the dining section for familiar faces.
“I think I see Brad at the bar.” Julie says as she immediately heads in that direction with Laura following close behind.
She quietly approaches a dark blonde-haired man and taps him on the shoulder which causes him to stir instantly.
“My god! Isn’t it jolly ol’ Julie!” His hazel eyes twinkling as he pulls her in to his arms for a bear hug.
“Easy there, Brad. You might break some ribs.” She giggles into his musky-smelling neck.
“Sorry, my bad.” And moves her to a more steady position, standing in front of him. He then notices a woman besides her. He blinks a few times before speaking. “Laura Hines?”
Laura smiles sheepishly. “Yeah, that’s me.”
Brad cocks his head slightly as he takes turns studying both women. “Friends?”
“Hard to believe, Bubba boy, but yep, we’re good friends now.” Julie smiles widely.
He shakes his head slowly and let out a low whistle. “I thought you two hated each other during college.”
“Old history.” Julie replies as she winks over at Laura. “It’s a long story.”
“I’ll drink to that!” He turns and picks up a shot glass and downs it in one gulp.
“Hey! Not so fast!” Julie pouts as she makes herself comfortable on a high stool. “I’ll have what he’s drinking.” She tells the bartender.
“Make that two.” Laura says as she sits on the other side of Julie.
Julie glances around Brad. “I thought there were two of you.”
He nods. “There is. He had a call but should be back any time.”
“Who’s back?” Comes a husky voice rich in accent.
The women both peer around Brad to see a gorgeous man taking his seat at the end of the counter. Golden brown skin. Dark black hair which even partially covers his face, but one could still spy the dimples in his cheeks when he smiles.
This time it would be Laura speaking first.
“Oh. My. God. Eddie?” Her voice rises several decibel.
“Hello, Laura.” His smile held as his deep hazel eyes meet her blue ones. “It’s been a long time.”
She shifts in her stool but never moving her gaze away from his face. “Yes.”
“Hello? Pheromone city!” Julie butts in effectively slicing the momentary connection. “You two know each other?”
Laura’s smile wavers as she fingers her glass that mysteriously appeared seconds earlier. “College.”
“History?” Julie whispers close to her ear.
Laura nods once.
“Well, I’m Julie Yourdon.” In her next move she turns to the dark hair man, and gives him her most alluring smile.
“Eduardo Santa Perez.” He bows his head to her. “A pleasure to meet you.”
“Pleasure’s all mine.” Julie mutters under her breath as she sips her liqueur.
Snow came way early this year in my neck of the woods (as shown above). In fact, here in North Dakota, we went directly from summer to winter. There was NO fall. According to the local weatherman, we’re to get an additional 3-6 inches of the white stuff between today and Sunday.
Originally, I’m a northern-climate gal having been born near the border of Quebec, and grew up in the Adirondacks so I’m no stranger to the cold and snow. However…I spent nearly 15 years in North Carolina before moving up here so my body is still trying to get re-acclimated to the changes.
I’ll get there eventually. 🙂
Whether it’s the sudden changes or getting older (I’ll take the former thank you very much), I’ve been slow getting started with NaNoWriMo this year.
Sitting at 500 words on day 3 kind of slow.
But, at the very least, it’s a start.
I will be working on two writing projects. One’s projected to be about 7,500 words while the other around 10,000 so most likely I won’t win this year. That’s okay just as long as I get the drafts of these two completed by November 30.
The 7,500-word novelette is inspired by the TV show, Deadly Women, I binge watched the past several months. It’ll be a slightly different genre than I’m used to writing, but so far, an enjoyable experience. I plan to post the synopsis later this month. My goal for this story is to hopefully either self-publish it, or place it on Channilo. In the past, majority of the stories I wrote have been horror and/or young-adult with sprinklings of science fiction and fantasy. This particular story is Suspense/Thriller with some Romance.
The second project is a serial fiction I started last year called, The Hidden Realm, which is a fantasy/horror story.
Click on image to start reading it
During this month, I plan to finish writing the second half of Part One. Writing serial fiction is tricky for multiple reasons; one being that it requires long-term commitment to post a new installment in a timely manner until either the story’s completed, or you give up on it. I’ve written several in the past, and gave up on them all mostly because I either got bored with it, or got stuck on the storyline. I hope by writing large blocks of the story in a short time and then posting them in small increments will enable me to actually finish this one.
I will post more on both stories throughout the month of November.
What about you? What are you working on this month?
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This month’s question: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?
I’ve participated in NaNo nearly every year since 2008, and I will do so again this year. I won twice, first time in 2008, which was the most complete first (and only) draft I’ve written. It’s an apocalypse-science fiction story I titled Hope Falls. It’s to be the first book in a series. I believe it has promise only that…
It’s still sitting on my hard drive (have a binder with printed pages as well–somewhere).
I love to see it published.
Why haven’t I done it yet? I mean, it’s only been NINE years.
Honestly, the editing/revision part scares the crap out of me.
Shorter works I can handle. Just not sure how I’d handle a book-length editing process.
I feel like a wuss.
And I’m worried. Really worried. If I’m this frighten over one manuscript why would it be any different with another?
Am I a lost cause? Can I break this rut I’m in?
I’m a published writer in that I have short fiction and poetry published in multiple zines (both online and print). My next goal is to be a published author.
*Note: This story’s inspired by the very first short story I ever wrote decades ago.
Penny, the new kid on the block, stood in front of an old, rickety house along with two new-found friends.
She swallowed hard as she stepped up to the front door.
“Don’t be a scaredy cat and go in!” Darla called out.
Inside the dank-smelling entryway, cobwebs littered every nook and cranny. Dark and not a living soul present as the young girl walked down a hallway.
A movement on her right caused Penny to pause.
On the long, narrow table sat a huge glass platter with a steel cover.
The cover rattled ever so slightly.
She slowly reached for the metallic lid, and lifted it.
The first thing she saw was the wrinkled balding head, and in a great start, she released her grasp on the heavy top which landed on the hard floor with a thunderous clang that echoed throughout the building.
Her brown eyes widened as she stared at what sat on the glass dish.
A head of an elderly man who appeared to be asleep. His skin pallor and sunken except for one eye where folds of flesh drooped.
The sight had her rooted to the spot as she held her breath fearing that any noise would awaken him.
Suddenly, his eyes sprung opened. Black as coals they completely mesmerized Penny…
Until the mouth opened and an evil cackle bellowed from it.
She turned and ran screaming out of the house, and didn’t stop screaming until she reached her friends down on the curbs.
What dismayed her further was that they were laughing.
“It’s not funny!” She said.
Darla, the brunette, giggled through her hands but it was the blondie who spoke.
“If only you could have seen your face!” Roxie said as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
Penny glared at them. “You knew about this?”
“Oh yeah.” Darla finally replied. “Old man Marco’s been doing this every year for years.”
The red-head folded her arms at her two so-called friends. “And where does he usually pull this prank?”
“In the kitchen. On the table with the red cloth.” Roxie answered.
“Well, his head was on a platter in the hallway between the kitchen and living room.” Penny stated. “And it did NOT have ANY table cloth.”
Roxie and Darla looked at her.
“Go on.” Penny pointed to the house. “Go check on the old man!”
Clasping each other’s hand, the two girls walked across the front yard, and through the door way disappearing into the murkiness.
Penny continued to stand with her arms folded, and waited.
Moments passed before screeching screams sounded through the house, and the pale-faced girls galloped outside, nearly colliding with Penny.
Unmoved, Penny asked, “Well?”
“Th-that wasn’t Marco!” Darla said. “And-and there was no body under the table!”
“But the head is real, right?” Penny asked.
Both girls nodded in earnest.
All pairs of eyes turned to the house just as the front door creaked shut.
She'd been locked in the house for monthsas the undead raged outsideFamished and dehydratedshe stared out the bedroom windowand spied the pair againFor days, these cats roamed outon the limbs of the enormous hardwood treeas she wondered how they're surviving the apocalypseToday, she decided to find out and proceededto climb out the second floor slim windowpane As she dangled on the limb, she glanced belowThere her momma stood, gaping up to her daughtermouth opened and gnawing as if ravenous withflesh-thirsting hungerShe scrambled up on the branch and glanced towards the tree's coreA small hollowed hole revealed the bloody mass of flesh and boneand it was then she realized what a grave mistake she'd made