July's #writemotivation

#writemotivationUh, could someone please tell me where the heck June went?  I couldn’t believe it when I saw it was time for another one of K.T. Hanna’s #writemotivation goal check-in months – since they only happen every other month that means it’s now JULY.  Seriously?!?  I never even got around to posting my wrap up for May’s goals!  Although I guess that’s probably because I was a little embarrassed. 

My goal in May was to make serious progress on rewriting my WIP.  And I really did… as long as it counts as serious progress even if I didn’t rewrite a single word.  I spent May doing in-depth thinking about my five main characters, figuring out a new approach for the tone, and working out plot issues that were tripping me up.  I feel like I finally have a deep understanding of my characters and story, but by the time that last minute of May rolled around, I still had not cracked open my manuscript.

Fortunately, all that prep work went to good use in June, and I actually, finally, I know it's hard to believe, started rewriting.  Progress has been slow as I’ve settled into a new voice for my protagonist, and after I finished chapter one I had a crisis of confidence and had to be talked off a ledge by some truly awesome critique partners, but I’m now getting into a rhythm.  I was the speedy hare when I wrote the rough draft several years ago during NaNo, but for the rewrites I’ve turned into the slow tortoise, possibly the slowest tortoise on the planet.  However, progress of any kind puts me in a much better place than I’ve been in years.  

I have scenes that need to be added, other places that need to be completely rewritten, and some places that just need a bit of tweaking, so my pace will vary throughout the month, but I don’t want to settle for the vague goal of “progress” this time.  Therefore, I’m keeping my goal for July tangible yet realistic: edit, rewrite, or add three pages a day on my WIP.  I’ll push to do more, but I won’t feel bad if I don’t.

Best of luck to all of us this month as we work towards our goals!

Are you participating in #writemotivation this month?  Are your goals aggressive or comfortable?  Are they concrete or more general?
Photo credit to Hugh Lee and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 24

15 Minute Tweet TalesThank you to everyone who helped test the spam software yesterday.  It asked a few more valid commenters to enter a CAPTCHA than I would have liked, but it’s doing such a great job filtering out the real spam that I’m going to keep it installed for a while and see how it goes.

And now for this week’s 15 Minute Tweet Tales:
6/20 - The residents’ endemic pale green eyes can be traced back to an early settler who knew how to charm the ladies. Even the married ones.
6/21 - She pretended to like her gifts, but an unconscious moue revealed her true feelings. Who had told everyone she loved cow figurines?
6/22 - Her sexy brand of chicanery gained her access to exclusive clubs where she worked her wiles on many rich victi— uh, boyfriends.
6/23 - She stayed quiet as he visited various quacks. Many of the nostrums caused more pain than the cancer, but she hated to dash his hopes.
6/24 - The judge gave him a bright-line list of tasks 2 complete for probation. He thought she was joking, He didn't laugh much back in jail.
6/25 - She flinched when her husband walked in the room, then relaxed realizing he was a phantasm. She'd buried the jerk out back 2 days ago.
6/26 - Honored to be chosen as rapporteur for his group, Tom still remembered the guy who gathered info tended to end up in jail. Or dead.
I’ve always liked the word ‘moue,’ but it’s tough to use in casual conversation without people thinking you sound like a French cow.  And I always forget about the fantastic word ‘phantasm’ – that’s definitely one that needs to be brought back to the forefront.  
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words.  If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them.  Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales?

Only a Test

Emergency Broadcast SystemThis is a test. This website is conducting a test of the Emergency Spam-fighting System. This is only a test. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

In the last few weeks, the spammers have hit my site with a vengeance. My blog is self hosted, so I don't have the might of Blogger or Wordpress to swat away those annoying flies and have been getting around 500 spam comments a day. Since I don't have a penis to enlarge or need a payday loan, it's super frustrating and time consuming to delete all of them. I really don't want to add CAPTCHA because everyone thinks they are so annoying, but I have to do something.

I consulted my good friend Google and found this service called Mollum, which I've added to my site. If it does everything it promises, it will be so awesome. When a comment is submitted, it is immediately analyzed: if it's definitely identified as valid, then it is automatically posted; if it's definitely identified as spam, it is automatically deleted (or sent to a moderation queue like I'm having it do while I evaluate its accuracy); but if the system is unsure whether it's spam or not, then it displays a CAPTCHA for the user to identify.

I've had it installed for two days so far, and it's doing an excellent job isolating out the spam comments. But now I want to make sure I won't get false positives or even false unsures because that would mean my awesome commenters are getting hit with annoying CAPTCHAs. So if you've made it this far, I would really appreciate your help with testing this.

1. Write a comment like you normally would. Either pretend I just said something truly witty and inspiring or something really idiotic you disagree with.

2. Press the Save button for the comment and notice whether it posts automatically or if it asks you to identify a CAPTCHA.

3. Reply to your own comment and tell me whether it automatically posted or if it displayed a CAPTCHA.

Thank you so much for helping me! I really hope this works as promised.

This concludes this test of the Emergency Spam-fighting System. And now back to your regularly scheduled program....

My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop

My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop.In my wanderings around the interwebs, I stumbled across a blog hop happening this marvelous first day of summer called the My So-Called Teenage Life Blog Hop.  It’s being hosted by Christa Desir and Amy Sonnichsen and we’re supposed to “Dust off those old sappy journals or high school notebooks filled with bad poetry” and pick something to share.

It sounded like so much fun I decided to participate.  Just one problem – I didn’t keep a journal in high school.  I know that probably puts me in the minority of writers in general, but especially YA writers.  I think I spent so much of my time reading books and living fictional adventures that it never occurred to me to think deep thoughts about my own super boring life.

I did write a few poems, although none of those angsty, yearning, romantic sonnets or deep, philosophical, navel-gazing poems from me.  Instead, my masterpiece was a spoof of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky.  We had to memorize Jabberwocky one year, and it’s now the only poem I can still recite in full, which is strange considering all the bizarre words.  Anyway, at some point I rewrote Jabberwocky as Jabberflu-y.  I remember being mighty pleased with myself when I wrote it, and it still makes me smile when I think about it because it was so fun and silly.  I'm not sure it really fits the blog hop theme since it doesn't have Angela Chase-type teen angst, but it is a peak into how my weirdo adolescent mind worked.  
Unfortunately, I looked in all the likely hiding places, but I couldn’t find it.  I hope it’s in storage because the world should not be deprived of the awesomeness that was Jabberflu-y.  But in another instance of my brain retaining the most random stuff, I do remember parts of it.  So since I signed up to share my teen writing, I’ll post the parts I can recall.  And I’m certain the sections I’ve forgotten were the truly hysterical parts that practically sang with their mastery of language. 
‘Twas feverish and the snotty nose
Did run and dribble down the face
Beware the Jabberflu, my son!
The body that aches, the eyes that itch!
A-choo! A-choo! Bless you, bless you!
The clogged up lungs went hacka-hack!
He felt dead with his stuffed head
And collapsed upon his back.
“And hast thou caught the Jabberflu?
Come to my arms, my poor sick boy!
Drink your OJ, you’ll get better I pray!”
And that’s all my creaky ol’ brain can muster up - although I’m kind of impressed since it’s more than twenty years later.  I actually wouldn’t be that upset if my brain decided to relinquish that particular hard drive space to, oh I don’t know, remembering where I put my keys.
Did you keep a journal or write poetry when you were a teen?  If so, what do you think when you read it now?  If not, do you wish you had kept one?  

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 23 + Booker Award

The Booker AwardBefore I get to the regularly scheduled 15 Minute Tweet Tales roundup, I wanted to thank Medeia Sharif for passing The Booker Award to me.  The tagline for this award is: for those who refuse to live in the real world.  That fits me to a T – whether I’m writing, reading, or watching TV/movies, I spend much more of my time in fictional worlds than in the here and now.  Some people might think this is a problem, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The rules for this award are:
This award is for book bloggers only. To receive this award the blog must be at least 50 percent about books (reading or writing is okay).
Along with receiving this award, you must also share
your top five favorite books you have ever read. (More
than five is okay) You must give this award to 5-10
other lucky book blogs you adore.
My top five favorite books are tough to narrow down.  Do I pick ones I loved as a child/teen?  More current favorites?  Ones I’ve read multiple times?  Quality over entertainment value?  Argh!!!  OK, here I go:
Watchers by Dean Koontz.  I loved so many of Koontz’s books as a teen (Strangers and Lightning were close runners up), but Watchers is my absolute favorite.  A super smart dog?  Of course I was going to love it!  Plus the terror, drama, humor, and romance all combine to make this an awesome read and one of the few books I’ve read multiple times.  Although it’s been a few years – it might be time to dust off my copy.
The Stand by Stephen King.  King is another author whose works I devoured as a teen.  Truthfully, I think I prefer his short story collections, and his On Writing is my most favoritest book on writing ever, but The Stand (very closely followed by It) is my favorite of his novels.
Chain Letter by Christopher Pike.  I used to describe Christopher Pike as the Stephen King for teens (even though all of us teens were also reading King).  Now I tell people I want to write YA thriller and horror novels like Christopher Pike.  Chain Letter was the first one of his I read, so it will always be my favorite.  
Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling.  I can’t pick a favorite of the series, and since they’re all basically one long story, I’m just going to say all of them.  Rowling’s ability to breathe life into even the smallest of bit characters and make them memorable is an inspiration.  
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery.  I actually saw the movie with Megan Follows first, and I loved it so much I proceeded to tear through all of the Anne books.  She was such a spunky heroine, and since I was a shy, quiet girl, I wanted to be outspoken like her.
Well, that’s five… sort of.  I could go down the page listing books I’ve loved, but I’d better stop here.  And since I always break the rules with these awards, I’m not going to pass it on.  Thank you again to Medeia for passing this award to me!  Medeia is a very disciplined writer, and I’m in complete awe of her ability to juggle multiple manuscripts at one time.  
And now for the tweet tales for the past week:
15 Minute Tweet Tales6/13 – Her cakes were a palmary example of the benefits of baking with love. Although no one knew she considered her saliva love extract.
6/14 - Her family members were arrested so often she chose a career in jurisprudence, which made her the most successful thief in the family.
6/15 – She said his practical jokes were juvenile, so he deep-sixed his prank-filled proposal plans. He wanted a woman who’d laugh with him.
6/16 – When she peeks in his bathroom cabinet, she finds the accoutrements of a surgeon. Chills run through her. Isn’t he an accountant?
6/17 – Bullied at school, he decided to learn wushu to defend himself. He felt tougher after one lesson, but he should have fled like usual.
6/18 – With her haptic sensitivity she can instantly judge letterhead quality. But in this digital age, a stationery QA career is paper-thin.
6/19 – They reward his steadfast loyalty by dropping him off at the pound when the baby comes. Heartbroken, he refuses to eat & is put down.
What are some of your favorite books?  Play along and write tweet tales for the above words.  If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them.  Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales?

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 22

15 Minute Twet TalesAfter knowing and even regularly using most of the word-a-day words last week, things were back to normal this week with only knowing a few of them.  Here are the 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the week: 

6/6 – She thought his keen fashion sense made him an apposite fiancé for her designer daughter. Accurate gaydar was not a family trait.
6/7 – While his big, sad eyes made it a snap to cadge treats from his humans, he preferred the thrill of snatching food from the counter.
6/8 – He dealt with each insult, shove, punch with longanimity – each added a name to his list for when he finally brought his guns to school.
6/9 – He enjoyed his life as a flaneur, but started to feel like he needed a purpose. A week working a real job quickly changed his mind.
6/10 – When her dad said being dumped was small beer compared to the problems of the world, she suspected he’d never actually been in love.
6/11 – As her sister, Mary felt the onus was on her to tell Beth her husband was cheating. She left out the part about being the other woman.
6/12 – Swept away by desire, they knocked over a shelf of gimcracks. The decapitated clown figurines watched the lovers with creepy smiles.
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words.  If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them.  Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales? 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 21

15 Minute Tweet TalesBecause I’m an avid reader and a writer, I like to think I have a better than average vocabulary; however, five months of these word-a-day words has really opened my eyes to the vast number of terms out there I’d never heard of before.  That’s why this past week’s words were so surprising.  I was previously familiar with all of them except traduce, and other than callithump (such a fun word!), I actually use five of them semi-regularly in conversation.  I’d like to claim I’m getting smarter, but it’s more likely the word picker person was on vacation that week.

Here are the 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the past week using these more familiar words:    

5/30 – Every Friday afternoon the neighborhood kids formed a callithump to celebrate the weekend. Mildred’s calls to the police were ignored.
5/31 – New job at chocolate factory. Many pieces not up to scratch. Must be discarded… in her belly. Fired after a week. Gained 20 pounds.
6/1 – People thought she was snooty because of her impeccable manners, but she used them to hide the shame of growing up as trailer trash.
6/2 – Budget slashes turned her dream junket as a pampered debut novelist into nights in sketchy motels after choking down $ menu fast food.
6/3 – The animal-themed retirement party paid homage to his work as SPCA director – too bad the cops crashed to arrest him for embezzlement.
6/4 – Furious about a D in gym ruining her perfect GPA, Amy traduces Coach Jones by ripping her shirt and fleeing his office sobbing loudly.
6/5 – While plausible he didn’t know his older brother was in the woods when he released the arrow, the people never trusted their new king.
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words.  If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them.  Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales? 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 20

Powerful Woman Writer AwardBefore I get to the 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the week, I wanted to thank Deirdra Eden for awarding me one of her fantastically pretty homemade awards - the Powerful Woman Writer Award.  It’s very much appreciated!  I just wish I could wave my hands and have my stories magically written!  

Now here are the tweet tales for the week:
5/23 – Her life was an argosy of broken promises and shattered dreams that could sail down ‘denial’ and sink in an ocean of despair.
5/24 – Broke, but desperate to look great for prom, she employed her sartorial skills. Unlike the movies, her dress was more Vile than Vogue.
5/25 – “I thought it was germane to our friendship to tell him I slept with his wife.” “Dude, no. Especially not during your wedding toast.”
5/26 – I whisper in her ear, “I’m going to osculate you now.” She puckers her lips, and I smile at how destiny brought together 2 word nerds.
5/27 – The vagaries of when she remembered to fix dinner through her alcoholic haze made Tim so adept at cooking he grew into a famous chef.

15 Minute Tweet Tales

5/28 – Mortimer was not a paradigm of knighthood, but he still took up one of the fallen swords and defended the king until his last breath.
5/29 – She adjured her son not to marry that woman after the PI dug up her past. He refused to listen. A year later he was alone & penniless.
The noteworthy word for this week is osculate – what a terrible word for kiss.  Nothing romantic about it at all.  I can’t see that one becoming a word I add to my everyday vocabulary. 
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words.  If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them.  Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales? 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 19 + #writemotivation

#writemotivationI didn’t post anything about my #writemotivation progress yesterday because there’s not much to report.  A big part of the reason is my iPad arrived in the mail last week.  I’ve never had a tablet before, so when I took that sucker out of the box, it practically made that celestial/angelic choir noise.  How the heck was I supposed work on my rewrite when I had such a shiny, new toy to play with?  But I think the novelty had just about worn off now, so I’m hoping to make some serious progress these last two weeks of May.

And now here are the 15 Minute Tweet Tales for the past week: 

5/16 – Tina decided to indagate which jerk was letting their dog poop on her lawn. It was a crappy way to get to know her new neighbors.
5/17 – The hidebound principal refused to listen to the students, so they dressed in drag to protest the firing of their transgender teacher.
5/18 – She mollycoddled her dog so much his feel hardly ever touched the floor; thus he got so fat his feet actually can’t touch the floor.
5/19 – Desiring his wealthy lifestyle, Tom attached himself like a remora to Dickie, forgetting the fish never drain their host to death.
5/20 – When his wife invited the new neighbor in for coffee, he realized he was whipsawed: he’d never told his boyfriend he was married.
5/21 – He insulted her. She flounced across the room to slap him. He caught her arm and kissed her. Kim turned off the rom-com in disgust.

15 Minute Tweet Tales

5/22 – After 10 yrs of marriage, he worried about his pick-up skills falling into desuetude. In truth, he’d never had any, just a fat wallet.
Two words I really loved this week:
1. Mollycoddled because it is so fun to say, and also because my sister’s dog is named Molly, and she is definitely the most coddled of all the Rish family dogs. 2. Flounce because it is such a Southern Belle word, and as a Southern gal, of course I was taught the proper way to flounce out of a room at a young age. 
Play along and write tweet tales for the above words.  If you’re willing to share, post them on twitter with the hashtag #15tt or add them below in the comments because I’d love to read them.  Any thoughts about this week's tweet tales?  How did you progress with your #writemotivation goals?

National Flash Fiction Day

Today is National Flash Fiction Day (NFFD), which is a day to celebrate the art form of the very short story.  I love writing flash fiction - it’s a fun challenge to create characters in such a small space and still get the reader to care about them and their situations.  Also I’ve always been a fan of twist endings, and flash is the perfect medium for twists.  

I regularly participate in flash fiction competitions held by NYC Midnight, which is where I met the fabulous writer Rachael Dunlop.  Rachael is part of the team organizing Flashpoints to celebrate NFFD, so I heard about this fun writing activity from her.  Flashpoints combines the public spontaneity of a flash-mob with creating and sharing a story.  The full explanation is here, but basically: you go somewhere public, get inspired, scribble down a very short story, and leave it for someone to find.  This sounded both exhilarating and a tad bit scary to me (no editing? no deleting and retyping every word choice 20 times?), so I was on the lookout for the right time to Flashpoint (does it work as a verb?).

A few weeks ago, my brother and I had a sneak peek screening of our latest short film High Heels and Hoodoo at the Indie Grits Film Festival in Columbia, SC.  We had dinner with out-of-town family members, which finished sooner than we anticipated, so we ended up at the screening over an hour early.  I was pacing to burn off nervous energy and trying not to fret, when out of the blue I remembered Flashpoints – what a perfect way to distract myself!  

Jocelyn with Flash Story at Indie Grits

I glanced around the lobby of the theater at the other people waiting to see the films, and the idea for a story popped into my head.  I pulled my handy-dandy notebook out of my purse and started scrawling.  When I was done, I took a picture of it “in the wild” like the Flashpoints website requests.  I also took a close-up picture so I could transcribe it for sending to Flashpoints.  And I even took a picture of myself with it because I was all dressed up and since that so rarely happens I needed a photo for posterity.  Then I left it in the lobby – I pity the poor person who tried to decipher my chicken scratch.

If you’re interested in reading the “masterpiece” I wrote that evening, you can find it here on the Flashpoints website.  

It was a fun exercise, and I encourage all my writer friends to take a moment today to write a quick short story in celebration of National Flash Fiction Day.

Do you enjoy writing flash fiction? How are you celebrating National Flash Fiction Day?  Are you thinking about finding your own Flashpoint?