Author Anticipation

Today’s Prompt Words:

The Next NYT Best Seller

Starla, the starving novelist, was staring into space when her brother came into the room.

“Whatcha writing now?” Sydney glanced over her shoulder and read from the computer screen. “The Snide Snoop Solves the Crime at the Country Fair. Catchy title…I guess.”

“This one will be a real hit. A runaway best seller.” Starla beamed in anticipation as she envisioned her name on the New York Times Bestselling Author list.

“Looks like you have a long way to go, if all you have written so far is Chapter One – Chapter Two – Chapter Three.”

“This is my outline – and I dare not write any more specifically than that. Nanowrimo doesn’t start until midnight tomorrow, so today I’m getting my outline down. Then when the clock chimes twelve tomorrow… Blast off!”

“So you have today to get all your ducks in a row and twist your plot creatively?”

“Of course not, silly! I’ve been working on this in my mind all week. I’ve created the persona for my main character. I’m calling her Agasta Brazen; she’ll be a sort of an anti-heroine, one who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

“Agasta Brazen? I’m sure I’ve heard that name somewhere — or something like it.”

“Agasta has a pugnacious personality and makes truculent wise cracks to the people she meets. She’s the one who discovers the missing Be-Kind-To-Animals donation jar that normally sits at the entrance to the petting zoo. And being rather vain, of course she has to find the thief before anyone else does.”

“This is really sounding familiar — though not the petting zoo part. And that name definitely rings a bell…”

“Anyway, my protagonist will be unique, since I’m writing this story. But I’m thinking now that I need to give her a pal or a helper, someone laid-back to act as a ‘foil’, as writers say. Or maybe a pet?”

“And she has her pet in the petting zoo?”

“Hmm… Maybe I should change the petting zoo to a ‘Most Adorable Dog’ contest? Then Agasta can enter her dog in the contest. She should have a huge shaggy – but very clever – dog. One that loves everybody. The opposite nature to hers.”

“Oh. Like Oscar the Grouch teams up with Cookie Monster. That ought to work. Did on Sesame Street.”

“Oh, Syd. I love it. Yes, that’s brilliant! I’ll name him Snookie and give him an insatiable appetite for dog biscuits.” She flexed her fingers over the key board in anticipation. “Nano Novel, here we come!”

“I still think you might consider changing your character’s name – just in case. You wouldn’t want to spend December in court on charges of plagiary.


“You’ll be in trouble if you kidnap someone else’s character. Did you know the word plagiary actually means kidnapping? I happened to read it in the dictionary last week. Live and learn.”

“What if I call her Henriette Parrot then? She could maybe have a pet parrot that witnesses the theft and…”

“Well, I’ll leave you to it, Sis. Sounds like you still have a bit more plotting to do. I’m sure glad you have a computer to work on now. I remember what your desk looked like when you first started doing Nanowrimo.”

Image: Steve Johnson — Pixabay

Waiting for the Starting Gun?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was INTERIM

Here we are, almost the middle of October, which means NaNoWriMo starts in eighteen days and ten hours. Which means I’ve got two weeks to think of some brilliant plot if I hope to take part in the Great Event. For those of you who haven’t heard, Nanowrimo is a month-long event where hopeful biographers, memoir and travel writers, novelists and poets all around the world sit town and hammer away, aiming for 1500 words per day, give or take.

In the interim — these October days so swiftly passing by — participants will need to get their ducks lined up in a row. And here I am without so much as a feather of an idea!

I enjoy the challenge of trying to write 50k words in November. Just the thought of it starts my blood rushing through my veins, ready to pour out onto the pages, as one writer put it. I’d be delighted to sign up and outline my project — but at this point I’d be like the writer who said, “I’m writing a novel. Today I did the page numbers.”

October is when we’re supposed to do the research, fix the era, verify the dates, outline the plot, determine the objectives, envision the characters with their qualities good and bad. Would any of you readers like to suggest a title and some characters for my potential Nov. tale?

I have this e-book where the writer claims anyone can write 5000 words in an hour, and his claim is quite believable. I’ve done a thousand words in ten minutes myself. BUT… you have to know when you start to type exactly what you’re going to say. No mulling, no research, no rethinking or rewriting. This kind of writing takes serious planning before and between sessions, unless you’re a really good “pantser” who can start with an opening scene — like Snoopy’s, “It was a dark and stormy night…” — and just go wherever the characters take you.

One thing I will say about Nanowrimo: it’s worth a try. It’s an exercise, an encouragement to write. Even if a person writes a short story instead of a full-length novel, you still have the satisfaction of accomplishing something. However, like any other journey, you need some idea of where you want to end up and the route you need to take to get there, or you may just wander around in inky circles, lost and discouraged.

Kind of like life, right? Life coaches encourage everyone to set goals. They warn us that if we just drift through each day without clear goals we’ll end up nowhere — and find the trip unsatisfying.

So here’s wishing you inspiration and clear objectives, if you’re among those who intend to join the Nanowrimo crowd. Should my muse deliver a semi-load of inspiration before Nov 1st, I’ll sign up, too. 😉

Weather and Words

I see that our prompt words today are FALLING, given us by Ragtag Daily Prompt, and NAIVE, from Word of the Day.

I’ve no problem responding to these, as snow started falling Sunday about 8pm — within a few hours we had a white blanket over our land — and I’m not naive enough to think this will soon disappear.

At first the snow was coming down more evenly, but later Sunday evening the wind picked up and we had near-blizzard conditions at times. We haven’t had much more snow, but yesterday’s and this morning’s weather continues with icy wind.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day is LACKADAISICAL, an interesting word for sure. At least I always thought it meant something like HAPHAZARD, or lacking plan, order, or direction. Like my approach to cleaning: do a bit here, a bit there, a bit now, a bit then. It’s what this weather makes me feel like being. 

However, reading the definition I see that lackadaisical has come down from an old English expression, “Alack a day.” A “Woe is me!” type phrase. More like when you haven’t got the heart to start some project. Or when ice, snow, and wind rob you of the spirit or zest to go strolling or frolicking outdoors.

Speaking of spirit and zest, are you aware that NaNoWriMo starts in only three days? At 11:59 on October 31 writers all over the world will be taking their place at their computer to zealously power out their first session. The more laid-back writers will wait until first thing in the morning to begin the month-long writing jag.

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Are you gathering facts, working on your outline, plot and resolution? I always get enthused and enjoy the challenge of Nanowrimo, but this year I’ve decided to rather do my own marathon in November. I’m calling it ATCUSS: A Total Clean-Up of my Sewing Space. “Mend it, sew it, finish it, or out with it” will be my motto this month.

Unlike Nano participants, I set my own rules for ATCUSS and can start today. My sewing room tends to be a catch-all —“just until I can take care of this.” You know how that goes, right? Well, I’ve learned that having a cluttered work space is depressing and contributes to a lackadaisical approach to any project, so yesterday I took care of the clean laundry and ironing the sewing room been catching for the last two weeks.

If you’re doing NanoWriMo or some other special project this coming month, I do wish you the Passion, Fervor, Ardor, Enthusiasm and Zeal to establish and carry out your game plan. According to Merriam-Webster, these words ” mean intense emotion compelling action.” You can wish me the same as I begin my project.

Due to Start Soon

Fandango’s prompt for today: DUE

Oh, what a flexible word! I was to the library yesterday and borrowed a couple of books that give drawing and sketching lessons. This is due to my continued curiosity about art and my hope to someday produce some. My books are due back — must be returned to the library by — Sept 18th.

Due to my continued interest in writing practice, I’ve subscribed to The Write Practice. Sad to say, I don’t often find the time to do the assignments, but I get their posts. and their Fall Contest is due to start soon; participants must enroll before Sept 14th. Do check it out.

I’ve also come to enjoy haiku & senryu, both reading it and writing it. Humorous, serious, sometimes a bit wry. Like this one I wrote after visiting Value Village, a second-hand clothing & housewares store:

seniors’ day
at Value Village
Volvos in the parking lot

If you hop over to Call of the Page, you’ll see their haiku and senryu classes are due to start Sept 6th. If you enjoy this form of poetry, do consider these classes; I think they’re going to be a lot of fun.

Our hummingbirds are perhaps overdue to fly south. There were three twittering around here yesterday evening, and one came to the feeder this morning at 5:45 am. A new version of “the early bird gets the worm.”

And now I’m due to start my day with a quick visit to the Seniors’ Home where I work. Then back home to work on a writing project long overdue.

Heads up, everyone. Owing to — or due to — continued worldwide interest, NaNoWriMo will be starting again November 1st. Time to start thinking about our next Nano writing projects.

NaNoWriMo Behind Us; Christmas Ahead

Hello Everyone,

I’m almost done my time-consuming writing projects, namely my NaNoWriMo novel followed by my Christmas greetings to special friends and family. I’ve only a few letters to write, then work at formatting Silver Morning Song as a print book. I have a lot of older friends that never read e-books and there are lots of folks in general who prefer a print copy, so I’ll work through CreateSpace and do a print-in-demand edition.

So I’m ready to start blogging again and share something of my experience writing my novel in November. Usually I don’t sit down to write anything until I have the article, story, or book outlined and scenes gone over in my mind. With this project I had only a vague idea of the story I wanted to tell and a few particular scenes in mind. So my experience turned out much like this quote:

Driving--Writing quote

I’m so thankful for the way different scenes came to mind as I worked at the story, events that would fit into a summer “working holiday” for Joy, almost twelve, and her 15 year-old brother Gerry. I still have lots of smooth out and some more to write after Christmas, but I know where I’m going now.

I get the feeling that the greatest benefit of joining NaNoWriMo and committing yourself to write this novel is that by the end of the month you’ve learned to know and care enough about these people to keep on and finish their story!

My two siblings spend the summer with their widowed Aunt Patty, age 33, and her two small children. They’ve been sent to help her as she starts a market garden near a small Ontario town; they also help fix up her house which is old and sadly in need of repair. So they get to meet new — and some quite odd — people and do the things kids did before the electronic age. I’ve even included a writer of Wild West novels for teens. 🙂

There’s a family in this town — every town had at least one when I was young — where money is scarce and troubles abound. This particular dad, scarred by the battlefield conflict in WWII, drinks too much and domestic violence impacts the children’s lives. The oldest boy becomes a bully and gives newcomer Gerry — “that rich city kid” — a hard time. Joy becomes friends with Darlene, a girl from this family, and gets an idea of what life on the wrong side of the tracks feels like.

I barely knew my characters when I started, but now I’m enthused about them. I didn’t give them any major conflicts while I was writing because the conflicts only presented themselves to me as I got towards the end of the summer. I had no outline to start, but soon needed to make a two-month calendar to keep track of the day-to-day happenings.


Teddy Bear quote 3

I committed myself to updating my story EVERY single DAY. I’d drag my feet sometimes until late in the evening, unwilling to start. But then I’d tell myself, “You must — even if you only add another paragraph.” Which led to writing another scene, maybe a thousand words. So I’ve learned more about the value of commitment.

But I never left sloppy copy behind. I will need to delete some lines where I changed my mind and restated some thought or dialogue, but I corrected all typos and fixed my story as I went. I could have gotten done a lot sooner if I’d left all the changes, but I’d never have courage to face the task of editing now. To each his own. For me the important thing is to have a story when you’re done —not a 50,000-word mess to clean up.

I haven’t been very energetic this year, since my chemo-therapy treatments I’ve been tired a lot. However, I had a checkup at the Cancer Clinic Nov 23rd and the oncologist was very pleased with the effectiveness of the treatment. She tells me all is well with my blood counts. I told her I’m SO forgetful and she says that’s normal, things should improve, so here’s hoping.

I had a bad few days in November because of gout in my right foot. I guess it’s handy that I was planning on sitting anyway. 🙂 I was home-bound almost a week not able to put on shoes — which is nothing to really complain about. Since then arthritis has moved into my left knee.

But now November has sped by and we’re facing the Christmas season with all its glitter and glow, carols and gatherings. Texas has gotten the snow while we have a balmy 5 C! If this keeps up there’ll be no white Christmas for us. Nevertheless I wish every one of you, wherever you live, all the joys of the season.

Snow, Woe and Micro-Tales

We’ve had a fair bit of snow this past week; our world is quite dazzling white now. And it has been COLD! Yesterday our grandson, now working for his dad doing snow removal, came with a loader and cleaned out our driveway. Hard to realize he’s big enough, and mature enough, to operate such big machinery. How the years do fly!

I’ve been besieged by a new ailment this week. Old Arthritis in disguise. Monday morning my right foot — particularly my big toe — started to hurt. The pain has gotten worse, the swelling increased. Looks and feels like a genuine “club foot” now as I limp around the house. Not very nice.

Heading into Week Two of NaNoWriMo today and I’m well on the way as scenes keep coming to me for my story. Since I’ll be doing a lot of sitting this week anyway, maybe I can aim to have my 50k words written by Sunday night. 🙂 Then comes the edit — though I am editing a bit as I go along. Even if it reduces my overall word count, I will take out unwanted words and fix typos. Don’t like leaving a mess to clean up later.

Speaking of writing, I just got an e-mail telling me that one of my newest 100-word stories was published on The Drabble this morning. You might call this crime fiction — or you might not. You can read it here: “I Confess”