Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do You See What I See?

We've had two or three sporadic warm days in the last month, and we spent a bit of time at our lake's beach for one of them.

I was able to get this photo, and I really love it.

I see inviting sand, ready to welcome me as I kick back with my pen and notebook. The sun would warm me, the soft waves comfort me, as I let the beautiful sight call my creativity forward.
What do you see?
**And speaking of photos... I posted a new one over under my profile blurb. Is it as dorky as I think it is? Talk a girl out of panic, wouldja?

Friday, February 27, 2009

Let It Be a Lesson

Two nights ago I awoke about 1 a.m. And as a mom who's often up a few times a night to check kids or visit the loo (a bladder is never the same, eh?) it was no big deal... until I couldn't get back to sleep.

My WIP wouldn't let me be, wouldn't stop poking and prodding me with important thoughts to get down. Thankfully, I actually had a notebook on my nightstand, ready to go.

I wrote some furious notes in the dark (so as not to disturb hubby, of course). And then a memory of someone's comment from this post came back to me, and I worried, "What if my pen is out of ink? What if there's nothing there tomorrow morning?" I had to check, just to be sure.

When I turned on the light, I saw this:

It seems I can't turn the page when I'm half-asleep. Instead, I stack notes on top of notes. It took me thirty minutes to decipher the scribbles.

Let it be a lesson: Turn on the light! Or, at the very least, write one word per page.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You Love Me, You Really Love Me!

I know Stina does, anyway. She has bestowed upon me the Your Blog is Fabulous Award, and I kindly thank her for it. Makes a girl's day, Stina!

And so, in response to the award, I'm to confess 5 things I'm addicted* to. I have to admit, they may come as no surprise, but here we go anyway.

1) Iced mochas. (See what I mean? You all knew that already.) But I've been shifting my addiction lately, from Starbucks' pre-bottled frappuccinos to a homemade version. I haven't tweaked it to perfection yet, but it's saving me loads of money and hitting the spot well enough. I'd still prefer a Starbucks Java Chip or even the iced mocha McDonald's sells now, but I can't run out each time I want one.

2) Chapstick. When my lips are chapped, I can't leave them alone. And when I can't leave them alone, they remain chapped. Hence: A chapstick addiction. (I have made the connection that it's most likely to happen when I'm deep in thought. But that's something I can't change... because I'm always deep in thought!)

3) Clean hands. If I were to get any kind of OCD diagnosis, it would be due to chronic hand-washing. I cannot stop myself, especially if I'm in the kitchen, messing around with things. And if I'm out in public, where I can't wash? Well then, I'm in trouble.

4) Feedback. From family, friends, strangers; as long as it's positive - and about my writing - I'll take it. All writers need reassurance that they're on the right path (although as I think about that statement, it's probably true for the entire human race), and I'm no exception. Bring it on!

5) People Magazine. I've been a subscriber since my firstborn was a baby, and I can't tell you how excited I get to retrieve it from the mailbox on Fridays (or how disappointed I am if it's late). Sure, it can be a superficial magazine, but that's kind of the point for me. It's a break from life; a chance to sit back and disconnect. On the other hand, they talk about everyday people, too, like you and me, and they offer reviews (on books! I particularly like the debut novelists...), among other things.
And next I'm supposed to pass the award on to five fabulous bloggers myself. I have to say, I thoroughly enjoy far more than five, as evidenced by my blog roll and the list of those I follow. Maybe it's a cop-out, but I can't do it. Can't narrow it down to just five. (If you'd like, though, feel free to pass this sucker on!)
So instead, tell me a thing or two you're addicted to. What can't you "live without"?

*I'd like to point out that I use the term addiction lightly. We all know it implies a serious problem, and I deal with my own concerns over how much I want or rely on certain things. It's an important thing to be aware of.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fiction: Complete

The day has come! It's Monday and, as promised, I've got a copy of Sam's Letters to Jennifer ready to go.

We had some awesome responses to this post about a 70-year-old envelope I got at an antiques fair. I'd asked you guys to write something based on its information, and 7 phenomenal pieces were the result.

All you ladies (no dudes, really?) did super. But, hard as it was, I did have to pick just one. And I chose the piece from...

Kelly! As a scrapbooker, she doesn't claim any writing talent. But she should! Here is her moving piece:

Nellie sat against the wall, feeling the icy wind whistle through the cracks and seep under her worn sweater. In front of her were two girls, sisters, playing with a scrap of a doll. The oldest sister tied a handkerchief around the cloth body, hiding the many imperfections. Nellie lowered her eyes into her arms. She wasn’t old enough to know the words, but her heart knew it was hard to watch this small family.

Downstairs the front door hit the wall. A small commotion followed and then silence.

A moment, an hour later--time meant so little here--a woman walked through the girls’ dormitory. She held out a hand to Nellie and the girl took it silently. With soft footsteps the two made their way to Father Flanagan’s office.

Perched on the edge of a chair, hands clasped tightly in her lap, Nellie waited.

“Nellie,” Father said. “These are for you.” In his outstretched hand Nellie saw three small packages. Shyly, Nellie reached forward and took the candy. “Thank you,” she whispered.

“You may go back and play now,” Father told her gently.

Nellie slid down till her toes touched the floor and scooted quickly from the room. Back inside the office the woman looked to Father Flanagan. “The letter?” she questioned. Father shook his head. “They cannot take her, poor dear.” The woman’s eyes filled with unshed tears. “Will you tell her?”

“Later,” Father replied. “For now, let her enjoy the chocolate.”

Just brilliant, Kelly! Are you sure you don't want to take up writing?


All the other ladies deserve mention.

Jenni - You should take your story further, as you mentioned. There's a great tale to be told with your words! Loved it.

Angie - Oh my gosh. Such a heartfelt piece; it evokes such rich emotion! Thank you for sharing this with us.

Vesper - Welcome to Something She Wrote! And thanks for participating. I was surprised to learn you're so young! You keep at this writing thing, chick. You've got something. :)

Barbara - You so well captured the life many likely lived. Made my heart sad - in that way I so love because it's due to good writing. Excellent!

Melanie - Love that you made it a present-day story, looking back on an old letter. And the helicopter seeds, I remember playing with those! An awesome thing we all likely remember; it connects us all to the story. Great stuff!

Joy - I really loved where you went with this; that the circumstance came about only temporary, until things are more adequate for Nellie. Such a full story; there's so much behind the scenes of what you wrote. Well done!

Keep at it, all of you. I suggest writing fiction blurbs whenever inspiration hits - even when you're working on bigger projects. It's good for motivation and creativity, and can even help with mental block.

Thank you again, ladies. I'm so honored to write alongside you talented women.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Meet Liv

Remember the sentence prompts I did a week or so ago? (You can see my answers here.) My friend Turkey took it to a new level, filling in the blanks as a character from her new project would. (I'd link, but the talented turd doesn't maintain a blog anymore. Hint hint. I'm lookin' at you, turk.)

It's a super way to brainstorm, and it helped me figure out whether my main character and plot (and sub-plots too) are developing as I need them to. I think I'm headed the right direction.

Here's what Liv would say...

Outside my window... I see the February winds blowing. They kick up thoughts about my thirtieth birthday, just around the corner.

I am thinking... about my mother again. Why’d she have to send that letter? And why now? I’ve been fine without her, for all these years.

I am thankful for... Aunt Therese and Uncle Rye. If not for them, if they hadn’t taken me in so long ago, where would I be today?

From the kitchen... comes the smell of just-brewed coffee. Hot as it is, though, I know it won’t be enough to warm me through.

I am wearing... the locket I told you about, the one that was my mother’s. I promised myself I wouldn’t, that it would stay tucked away. But now it hides beneath my sweater, so no one will question its existence. I’m still getting used to how it feels against my collarbone; so heavy, like it’s filled with the past.

I am creating... a new me—the real me.

I am going... to the hospital later.

I am reading... a pamphlet I picked up at the doctor’s office. Maybe it will answer some of my questions.

I am hoping... for the best. I just wish I knew what to expect.

I hear... the phone ringing, but I won’t answer it. I'm too busy soul-searching.

Around the house... are the things I’ve had all my adulthood. But I really wish I had something, anything, that used to be my dad’s.

Plans for the weekend... may upset my best friend. Someone else – someone I didn’t invite – is going to join us for dinner.

I think I'm pleased with where all this leads me.

Would an exercise like this help you? What would your MC say?


And it's not too late to turn a letter into fiction! Get your entry in before midnight CST tomorrow, for a chance to win James Patterson's Sam's Letters to Jennifer.

Good luck!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Turn A Letter Into Fiction

I've been enjoying your great thoughts on Monday's post about honesty in writing. Thanks for the discussion!

And for today's topic...

Some may recall I have an interest in antiques. What seems to catch my eye most often of late are old letters and postcards, and I know it's because of the stories - whatever they are - behind those pieces. I love turning possibilities for their existence over in my mind.

Two weekends ago, I attended an antiques show and vintage market with some friends. One booth had a plastic tub full of old envelopes, and I brought two home. My favorite is this one.

Postmarked on February 18th of 1939 (70 years ago today!), it journeyed from San Francisco to Father Flanagan at Boys Town in Nebraska. I just think that's pretty darn cool. Handwritten notes in pencil declare it a personal, first-class letter, and that postage was 3 cents short (for a total of 9 cents). What tugs at me most though, is the ever-so-light script that reads: "Father - chocolate enclosed for Nellie." It's like a playground for my imagination.

And I want you guys to play with me.

You've read pieces of my flash fiction (some of which you can find in the sidebar to the right), but today I'm asking you to write some.

Using any or all of the details above, or even just the picture, write a blurb. (Keep it on the shorter end, though. Let's say as few as you need, but no more than 250 words.) Post it in the comments section - or on your own blog, and let me know you've done so.

I'll take "entries" until Saturday, midnight CST. I'll then deliberate and choose the one that speaks to me most. Come Monday, a "winner" will be announced, and he or she will receive a new, hardbound copy of James Patterson's Sam's Letters to Jennifer. Fitting, eh?

Are you up for the challenge? If so, hop to. And spread the word! The more the merrier on my playground.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I've come to realize that writing takes a certain level of truth; truth in a situation or with a character, etc. We can't hold back, be timid toward or afraid of what might happen, for any number of reasons.

An example is that I've held back before, concerned about what future readers might think of me as a person if they read something I wrote a certain way as a writer. But that's not always true to the writing, is it?

We owe it to our readers to fill our work with honest moments; moments they can relate to, sink their teeth into.

I strive to meet the truth of the human condition, and explore in an honest way the emotions we go through.

What is honesty for you, in your writing?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Light and Fluffy

It seems I've been all about the heavy-hitting and thought-provoking posts of late, so I thought I'd change it up a bit today. And once again, I'm filching (and twisting) an idea from Barbara. Shh... don't.tell.anyone.

The ABCs of ME! (My only hope is that this entertains someone other than me...)

A - Anxious for time Alone

B - Brainstorming Blurbs for the little Book I'm making the hubs for Valentine's Day

C - Can't get Cold toes warmed up

D - Disappointed in the book I started reading this morning

E - Excited about my WIP!

F - Fulfilling the demands of a sweet (and busy!) three-year-old

G - Glad it's Friday

H - Hoping my oldest makes it through the full school day (she's been sick all week) and can enjoy her Valentine's party this afternoon

I - Ignoring the pile of laundry... for now

J - Juggling lots of tasks

K - Kicking myself for bad habits I've fallen into

L - Looking out my window, over the falling snow

M - Massaging my head to keep its ache at bay

N - Not hungry, which is unusual

O - (trying to) Overlook frustrations, so I don't get bogged down by them

P - Plots and premises are on my mind, thanks to Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel

Q - Quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson: You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.

R - Relishing the warmth and light two new lamps throw from my bedroom

S - Sipping on a (homemade!) iced mocha... *sluuuurp* Oh no! It's all gone!

T - Thinking of renting Fireproof for the weekend

U - Urging thoughts to travel to my fingertips and onto my WIP's document

V - Valentine's Day wishes fill my mind...

W - Waiting for the roast and peppers to heat up and fill the house with thick aroma

X - X-rays showed a need to return to the dentist

Y - YouTube's playin' a beat, got me dancin' in my seat

Z - Zippin' around to music - that's how I best accomplish housework

What are your ABCs?


Happy Valentine's Day! Hope it's filled with blessings and love.

And here's the link to an article I wrote last year (I can't explain it, but for some reason the opening paragraph is missing...) : Valentine's Day Activities for Preschoolers


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Whenever, Wherever

I'd wager to say most (if not all) writers do whatever it takes get a thought written down just as quickly as it's come to them. Agree? It's part of this affliction we have called Writer's Brain.

Yesterday as I showered, exciting ideas and new plot points for my WIP were swirling through my mind. I couldn't wash and rinse fast enough, since I knew I had to get them noted. And so when I was finished, I ran the fifteen feet to my laptop and started clacking away.

Enter my husband.

He found me perched at my desk, wet hair plastered to my head, loose towel draped around my body.

"Tell me you're not writing straight out of the shower."

"Indeed," I said. And I kept going.

Have you ever found yourself writing (or doing what you do) under strange or funny circumstances?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Looking Out

I've been listening to Michael Jackson's Hits a lot lately, and I'm reminded how brilliant a musician and lyricist he is. (I really miss the 1980's Jackson.)

One of my all-time favorites is Human Nature, both for the lyrics and because of its music. In the song, Jackson looks out over, first, the night time, and then the morning, telling us what he "sees" in the city.

In keeping with that thinking...

I want you to look out over the moment. Right now, this one you're in. What do you see? Feel? Hear? You can be literal or creative, as descriptive or vague as you want.

Tell me.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Barbara's Questions

Barbara, from The Serenity Gate, offered several thought-provoking sentence prompts on Tuesday. I think taking the time to finish them is a great way to tune in to the day around us. And they may also serve to boost a little creativity.

Here are my answers:

Outside my window... dusk falls over the beautiful, 60+ degree day we had.

I am thinking... I'd like to have a glass of iced water.

I am thankful for... my daughters. My love for them feels deeper of late.

From the kitchen... comes a chocolatey dessert's call. Janna, Janna! I'm in here!

I am wearing... my glasses, because my right contact lens continues to irritate me.

I am creating... a better me.

I am going... to get that luscious chocolatey dessert and settle in with my book.

I am reading... Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult. I'm really enjoying her writing, and I wonder at the fact that I never picked up any of her titles before.

I am hoping... I can keep the headaches at bay.

I am hearing... talk between my three-year-old and husband, as they discuss a tv show together.

Around the house... is comfort.

One of my favorite things... is a good laugh with someone special.

Plans for [the weekend]... include going to a vintage market and antiques expo. I can't wait!

How would you complete these questions?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Sometimes I Wonder


It was a great movie, and an even better 80s tv show (says me). I'm sore excited it's to be redone.

My high school show choir (you know, singing and dancing while wearing pretty dresses and heels, the guys in matching vests and sharp, black pants) did a medley of Fame's music my senior year. The lyrics from Own My Own - along with a memory of the moment I stepped forward on stage to sing some of them in the spotlight - came rushing back to me this past weekend.

I get pumped when I think about it. It.was.awesome. And I miss those days.

Every year when we watch American Idol (season 8 has gone to Hollywood!), any short-lived singing dream I may have once had thumbs its nose at me. What if... I'd gone on to college and studied vocal music? What if I sang every chance I got, or had enough confidence to try for a local talent show? I know I can sing, but can I sing? Sometimes I wonder.

I just don't put too much stock in that "dream."

Instead, I write. I love it most, and it suits me much better; the solidarity, the fact that I can do it without putting myself out there in such a visible way, the... well, the being on my own. It's where I really shine.

Where do you shine?

Do you have an underlying dream?


I missed everyone during my extended absence! My oldest got sick with the tummy flu on our trip, which delayed our return. (She's much better now, thank goodness.) Once we did get home, I got waylaid by another migraine, and after getting the house back in order and grocery shopping and the like, I'm just now hoisting back into the saddle. How's everyone been?