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? 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 18

#15ttThis past week seemed to fly by!  It’s hard to believe it’s already Tuesday again and time for the roundup of the 15 Minute Tweet Tales from the past week.  Happy reading!

5/9 – While cleaning the litter box, she finds evidence that exculpates Rex from raiding the trash, so the cat replaces him in the doghouse. #15tt

5/10 – They’d been best friends forever, but as she breathlessly tells him Joe asked her to prom, he’s nonplussed by the ache in his chest. #15tt

5/11 – After reading that cyberpunk novel, Jen tossed her phone and computer in the trash & vowed to live simply. The machines just laughed. #15tt

5/12 – She spent so much time trying to obviate every little thing that might go wrong in her life that she never actually lived it at all. #15tt

5/13 – When the subway breaks down, Tim sings ad lib to entertain everyone. His mom thinks it’s adorable. The rest of the crowd? Not so much. #15tt

5/14 – Her random nightly hook-ups did little to palliate her broken heart, but she hoped he’d hear about them and be consumed by jealousy. #15tt

5/15 – Her lab co-workers adored her jocund personality: the perfect facade for stealing biological weapons to sell to the highest bidder. #15tt

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?

It's All About Character

#writemotivationIt’s Monday, so it’s time for another #writemotivation goal update.  Last week, with hat in hand, I had to admit I had done nothing to make progress on my WIP.  Sigh… not a great start to the month.  So what’s the progress report for this past week?  It’s a weird one actually.

On the one hand, I didn’t even crack open my WIP document, so a purist could say I made no actual progress.  But with the character work I did this past week, I think I’ve made more progress on my WIP than I have since that frenzied NaNoWriMo month when I wrote the first draft years ago.  With the insight I gained into my characters, this past week will go a long way toward improving my novel.

I’ve always been a plot-driven writer, but with recent feedback, I realized the characters in my WIP were more cardboard-y than I thought.  So at the advice of a fabulous critique partner, I sat down to do some serious character homework before jumping into the rewrite.  I found one of those character worksheets online with tons of questions about appearance, mannerisms, likes, dislikes, etc., as well as the extra important goals, needs, wants, motivations questions.  In the past, I’ve dismissed these type of things as kind of silly – I mean I’m making up these people in my head, of course I know who they are, I don’t need exercises like interviews or POV diary entries to get to know them better.

However, as I started going through these questions for my five main characters, I realized I didn’t know them as well as I thought.  I knew them in the way I needed for the plot to work, but I didn’t know them well enough to make readers see them as three dimensional people because I didn’t even see them that way myself.

I sat there rolling my eyes at how ridiculous it was trying to come up with a favorite book for one of my characters when she was never going to be reading or even talking about books in the novel.  Just to fill in the blank, I typed out The Hunger Games because it’s a book most teen girls read.  But before I moved on, I wondered if she would actually even like the book.  All of the sudden it hit me – she would LOVE it.  She’s the type who considers herself cutthroat enough that she thinks she would easily win the Hunger Games and look fabulous while doing it.  So then I realized: it’s not about knowing your character’s favorite book, it’s about understanding WHY it would be your character’s favorite book.  Yeah, it took me a while, but I finally got there.  

After that, it was fun filling out the rest of the character worksheets.  It didn’t feel like homework anymore because it was no longer a chore to do just to say I did it, instead these characters were becoming real people in my head.  It wasn’t always easy, but as I went through figuring out the answers, I got to know things about my characters I never expected.  And I also discovered things that are going to make plot issues come together and make more sense than they do now, which is a very good thing.  So even if there was not any actual physical progress on the WIP this past week, I feel like I accomplished a lot.  So now this week I’ll be jumping in and figuring out how to get all this new insight onto the page.  

Do you use character questionnaires/worksheets before you start writing?  How do you get to know your characters in a way that makes them feel real?  How did your writing goals go this week? 

Tweet Tales Tuesday Week 17

15 Minute Tweet TalesAfter the insanity of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, we’re back on track this week with the 15 Minute Tweet Tales roundup returning their regularly scheduled Tuesdays.  This post has two bonus tweet tales to accommodate the shift from Sunday back to Tuesday.  Enjoy!

4/30 – A fleer briefly flitted across her face as he chewed with his mouth open. Why couldn’t her friends have better taste in blind dates?
5/1 – His conciliatory body language contradicted the intense speech he delivered about why he shouldn’t have to put down the toilet seat.
5/2 – Hips too wide, skin too pocked, the casting director sighs when she walks in the room. But when she speaks, her duende is undeniable.
5/3 – With ironic synchronicity, the wife poisoned her husband the same night he shot her. And they’d seemed like such a loving couple.
5/4 – He vowed to live by ahimsa & believed plants were living beings too; although starving to death was the ultimate betrayal of that vow.
5/5 – Tim told the auto-barber he’d dye for a new hair color, but robots don’t understand paronomasia, so he’s buried with blood-red hair.
5/6 – Sue tried to convince her doctor to subtract a tare of 20 lbs. since her skin’s a container whose weight shouldn’t count against her.
5/7 – She hated when she had to substitute at the Wizardry School. Giving children magic wands made their flapdoodle even more tiresome. 
5/8 – Magic is wielded by the distaff line, but only men can claim the throne. The hermaphrodite became the most powerful ruler in history.
I was a big fan of two of the words this week: duende - both because of what it means and how it feels in your mouth when you say it, and flapdoodle – because it’s FUN!
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?

Alphabet Insanity

Survivor A to ZLast month I participated in my first Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and now it's time for the Reflections post - I have to say the experience was both awesome and awful.  Much like NaNoWriMo (or giving birth so I’ve been told), I hated it while it was happening and swore I’d never do it again, but now I’m looking back on it with fondness and already looking forward to the next one.  

Even though all the hosts and previous participants kept advising us to write our posts in advance, my bestest buddy Procrastination convinced me that was crazy talk because nightly adrenaline-fueled blogging sessions are the BEST!  Turns out they just made me feel drained and resentful.  By the end of week two, I really wanted to throw in the towel (and forever abandon my blog), but I’m a real stickler for finishing what I’ve started, so I kept slogging through. And now I feel such a fabulous sense of accomplishment, and I’m (mostly) proud of the posts I wrote.  And since I’m still relatively new to this whole blogging thing, I learned a lot about what I liked to blog about and what other people like to read (unfortunately, not always the same thing).

Instead of one overall theme, I broke it down by days of the week: obscure Netflix movies on Monday, writing tips on Tuesday, a free-for-all on Wednesday that turned out to be mostly about my dogs, television on Thursday, short films on Friday, and I wrote very short stories on Saturday.  My favorite days were the ones where I talked about movies and television, but the days I had the most blog traffic and comments were the writing tip days followed by dog post days.  

Writing tips being the most popular posts really surprised me.  I’d actually been avoiding those types of posts in the past because so many other writer-bloggers cover tips and advice on writing who are funnier/more insightful/have more clout than I do.  The fact that people responded so positively to my writing tips posts has me considering writing more in the future.  

I do have to mention I was a little disappointed about the “return on my investment.”  I spent A LOT of time commenting on other participants’ blogs, and I’d say only about ten percent of those people ever visited mine in return.  Since I’m such a goody-goody rule follower, I get frustrated when others don’t (even if it’s just common courtesy blogging guidelines).  Plus, since I don’t use Blogger, I can’t have the Google Friend Connect widget on my site; and people don’t seem to follow blogs via email or RSS feeds (both these numbers only increased by a few over the month of April), so I didn’t gain a horde of new followers like I was hoping at the start of the month.  Although both these things could be a commentary on my blog posts, so I’ll definitely be re-examining my posts to make sure I’m providing interesting and/or worthwhile content.    

But even though I felt a bit bummed about the number of new visitors, I have to say quality without a doubt trumps quantity.  I met some fantastic new folks over the month of April:  wonderful blogs I discovered and now look forward to reading and people who found my blog and became regular and insightful commenters.  So even though some nights had me moaning about writing a new post or sad that my numbers weren’t spiking, I am so happy I participated because otherwise I never would have crossed paths with these amazing people.  They were so worth those bleary-eyes nights of trying to think of something to say!

I want to thank all the wonderful hosts of the challenge (especially Arlee Bird for thinking up such a tortuous and rewarding challenge) for all their hard work.  And thank you to everyone who stopped by during April to read my babblings – it means a lot to me!

ABC AwardIn other alphabet-related news, Jeri at JeriWB Writes gave me the ABC award.  Since the ABC stands for “Awesome Blog Content,” I was extremely honored - thanks Jeri!  Jeri blogs about writing, teaching, and even restaurants, so swing by and check out her blog.  I’m supposed to use all 26 letters of the alphabet to say something about myself and then pass it on, but 1) these blog awards are one of the few times I actually do break the rules 2) the past month of abecedarian antics has me alphabet adverse, so I’m just going to suggest people read my A-Z posts since they reveal a lot about me.  

Write MotivationOne last piece of business before I sign off… Monday means it’s time for an update on my #writemotivation goals.  I must shamefacedly admit I have made no actual progress on my WIP.  However, I did have a lot of other stuff that needed to get done, which I have now completed, so hopefully with no other tasks to provide avenues of productive procrastination I will now be able to make some real progress.

How was your experience with the A to Z challenge?  Are you already planning for next year?  Did you make positive progress with your #writemotivation goals?