Off Track

I know, I know, I know. It’s been awhile. I have been out of it lately. I haven’t been writing much lately. I haven’t posted anything here on this blog in months. I haven’t been on Twitter much lately. I haven’t even been reading very much lately.

I have posted regularly on the collaborative blog I am a part of every Tuesday since I committed to do so, but had I not committed to the group, I wouldn’t have been posting there either. 

It’s easy, so very easy to get out of the habits you have established. It’s easy to make excuses. What is not easy is getting back into good habits. 

I am going to get back on track though. I am not doing OctPoWriMo this year, but I thought seriously about it because I enjoyed it so much last year. I decided instead to start prep for NaNoWriMo. I may not go the full 50K, but I will set a word count goal and work daily toward a new novel. 

It’s time for me to re-establish a writing commitment and to do so on something new. 

I’ll keep you posted and in a more timely manner. It’s a goal to get my blog back on track as well. Even though life is crazy and busy for me, I have been missing the writing and this blog. 

The first steps are often the hardest, but making them feels so much better than standing still. 

Here’s to not standing still any longer. πŸ™‚

Have a great week. 

~CJS

Always Learning

My writer’s group had a workshop this weekend. It was a real treat to just go over some basics together that may be overlooked in a normal writer’s group. Our primary focus for this workshop was story arc, but we also talked about getting the reader hooked and about setting goals. 

I enjoyed the workshop and learned a lot. Some big issues we all needed help working on were:

  • Knowing when and how to get the story started
  • Making ourselves actually finish things we have started
  • Use more action and dialogue to communicate key elements instead of passive voice “info dumping”
  • Have more confidence in ourselves as writers. Learning to trust ourselves and our voice seemed to be a very common goal 

Part of our discussion was about establishing good writing habits. I’ll freely admit I was far better at this when I was in my 365 day writing challenge last year and feel I need to get back to that. I have taken on additional responsibilities at my full time job, and have a very busy family life, but I have truly missed the habits I had established of writing every day. So one of the things I decided after my workshop today was to get back to daily writing. 

Beyond a commitment to establishing a daily writing habit again, I need to set some solid writing goals for myself. Our leader asked us today what our 30 day writing goals were, what our 6 month writing goals were and what our goals were for the next year. I was nowhere near setting realistic ones, but I need to be. Where am I headed? What do I want to see happening? How will I make it happen? 

I’m still figuring it all out and I am most definitely still learning a lot, all the time. I don’t think there are many of us who aren’t still learning something new. 

Being a part of a group of other writers who are largely in the same boat has helped me immeasurably. It helps to see I am not the only one struggling with getting things finished. I am not the only one who lets doubts creep in sometimes. 

How about you? Are you still learning? Do you have a group that helps support and push you? Do you surround yourself with others who are “in the same boat” as you? Do they help you not feel so alone? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 

Thanks & have a great week!

~CJS

Hot

When you live in Texas, as I do, one of the worst situations you can find yourself in on a hot summer day is to be without air conditioning or to have your air conditioner on the fritz. Running into a rattlesnake is probably worse. Getting bitten by a brown recluse spider also would be very bad. July with no A/C, though, is no picnic. 

I mention this because I write this while sitting in my living room, surrounded by portable fans blasting, drinking ice cold water and hoping that the A/C starts working again. I have been hoping this since yesterday afternoon, so I don’t have too much hope for that without some assistance from our trusty heating and air repairman. My hope, therefore, is now primarily that the repair doesn’t take too long or cost us too much. Fingers crossed for me, okay? πŸ™‚ 

Given my current concerns over it being hot, it was funny that the prompt for this week’s Carrot Ranch flash fiction challenge had to do with heat. My friend and fellow blogger, AJ Prince, has done many of these 99 word (no more, no less) Carrot Ranch blog weekly flash fic challenges. I have often thought I ought to give it a go. Since this week’s is so on point with my current situation, I decided this week was as good a time as any. πŸ™‚

Oh and just a note about my recently erratic blog posting schedule – I am sorry for the inconsistency, but I do plan to get back to my weekly posts on Mondays.  Thanks for stopping by! Have a great week! 

~CJS

Hot

“I need a margarita!” Dave said. 

“I need a cold beer.” Kyle said. 

“I’ll take anything.” Miles said, steering them from the course toward the bar.

“How about just throwing out our scores?” Dave suggested. 

“Done! And I’ll get the first round.” Miles said. 

“Man, it’s a hot one.” Kyle said as they gulped cold drinks. 

“I was ruined at Hole 2 and went down from there.” Dave said. 

“We all sucked” Phil said. “We survived. That’s all.”

“I’ll tell Judy I played my best ever though.” Dave admitted. 

Everyone nodded and laughingly toasted, “To our best game ever!” 

5 Day Photo Challenge Day 5!

I accepted a challenge to post a picture or a poem or something about a picture that inspires us. Today is Day 5! Thanks for following along with me. πŸ™‚
  

Life Lessons In a Bounce House 

1) Every new person who comes along could be a new friend. 

2) Just because you are the biggest and strongest doesn’t give you an excuse to be mean. 

3) Just because you are the youngest or smallest doesn’t give you the right to be mean.

4) Just don’t be mean. πŸ™‚

5) Always be kind and considerate of those around you. 

6) Look around for others who aren’t quite so sure of things and help them enjoy the ride. 

7) Sometimes you gotta stop and take a break to rest. 

8) It can be a lot of work but it’s worth it. 

9) Just have fun! 

5 Day Photo Challenge Day 4

I accepted a challenge to post a story/poem/other every day for 5 consecutive days inspired each day by a new photo. It started raining in the early evening tonight and I snapped this picture.

Tonight’s poem is free verse – details found on Shadow Poetry again. 
Enjoy! 

  

  
Early Evening Rain
The sun had not yet set

instead was merely dipping low –

obscured by broken bits

of rain-filled clouds.

The sun refused to go

to bed just yet 

and shook off the cover

of a building storm cloud.

The girl walked slowly

twirling her umbrella 

as she left her office

much later than she liked.

She saw the sun’s efforts

in the reflection

on the rainy, wet sidewalk.

She smiled and 

kept walking

knowing rather sadly

that the universe 

would not let the sun 

have its way.

It would be dark soon

and the storms were

headed their way,

but still 

there was beauty

in the light 

that remained,

and in the new puddles

where the last

of the sunlight

could dance. 

5 Day Photo Challenge Day 3

I accepted a challenge to post a story/poem/etc inspired by a picture every day for 5 days. Today is Day 3. πŸ™‚

For my selection today, I chose to do a poem. Since I have been trying to learn poetry, I like to play with different forms to try my hand at different patterns and rhyme. This form is a septuplet, which I found on the great poetry resource site, Shadow Poetry

I hope you enjoy, and I will see you tomorrow for Day 4. πŸ™‚
  

Ticking
Clocks tick, 

consistently, 

in measured beats.


Time 

stops –

and starts again,

when lovers meet.

5 Photos/5 Days Challenge Day 2

I accepted a challenge to post a story every day for 5 days based off a photo inspiration. Here is Day 2. πŸ™‚
  

Normally the sounds of lots of people screaming would be disturbing, but the bursts of blood curdling cries were nothing to Noah by now. No, it was just ‘another walk in the park’ – the local amusement park. 

Noah had been working this amusement park all summer. He had seen and heard it all by now. 

Screaming people on the rides, screaming kids off the rides being told it was time to go and screaming parents exhausted from the long hot day shuffling their munchkins from ride to ride to ride all day long. 

He had seen his fare share of blood, sweat and tears. Kids bloody noses, lots of sweaty kids and adults and many a teary-eyed toddler. 

He saw people angry that they had to wait in line so long only to find that it had been shut down. He saw happy people who just rode their first roller coaster and who had fallen in love with the thrill. He saw the genuine fear of people anticipating the possible terror awaiting them at the end of the long line. He saw relief as they got off the ride, knowing it wasn’t so bad after all. 

Summer was almost over now, though, and Noah was ready to see the end of this ride. Next summer he would get a job waiting tables like his cousin. There’s gotta be way less screaming at the diner, or at least he hoped so anyway.

5 Day Picture Challenge Day 1

My friend, AJ Prince, a fellow “Twisted Writer” from our group blog, must have seen my recent lack of blogging here on my regularly scheduled blog site since she has given me a virtual nudge to get me back on track. AJ nominated me for a 5 day challenge where the nominated blogger (like me) chooses a photo to serve as a writing prompt, posting the photo and the response on his/her blog. 

We then also nominate another blogger to keep the challenge going. I nominate my friend Shelley who also took on the A to Z Challenge for the for time this year and really rocked it out. I know that she is also crazy busy, so she is of course not compelled to participate. But if she chooses – the 5 Day Photo Challenge “rules” are as follows:
1) Post a photo each day for 5 consecutive days

2) Attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry or a short paragraph. It’s entirely up to the individual.

3) Nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation.  Just have fun. 

Day 1

 

He should have felt relieved. Practice was now over, and the season ended the next day. No more long, sweaty practices. No more Coach pushing them to run one more lap or run one more drill. No more endless wind sprints or tackle drills. He should have felt relieved.

Instead, he was damn near heartbroken. As the late fall sun fell low, he knew he wouldn’t be coming back for another season. He stood silently off by the uprights as the others started drifting away. The younger guys were laughing and cutting up, others were pumping each other up for the next day’s game. As he listened, he tried not to mourn what was likely his last football practice. 

Sure, the practices could be a beating. Sure, he had suffered an injury or two. Sure, he sometimes hated being pushed to hit harder and run faster even when he knew it made them better. Sure, he had more than put in his time through the years. 

But he would miss putting on the pads, lining up next to teammates who now felt like brothers, and fighting it out for another winning season. 

He sure as hell would miss it.

Of course, he could always watch games when he went to college next year, and he probably would, but he knew it wouldn’t ever be the same as standing on that local high school football field, with those guys he’d grown up with playing ball under the hot Texas sun. 

Z is for…

 

My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.
 

This quote is from a book I read in college,  Their Eyes Were Watching Godthat really opened my eyes to the beauty and richness of a unique voice.

I remember being absolutely mesmerized by the language. Some assigned reading you read, do the report and just move on, but some stays with you. This one always comes to mind when I think of voice and language as a deep and emotional aspect of the overall piece. 

I love these lines for the feeling of something important that is coming. Which year are we going to hear about? The one that asks or the one that answers? What will the questions be? Will we like the answers? What are those answers? Such a very rich beginning with which to begin to spin a story! 

But with this beginning we also find an end -an end to the A to Z Challenge for me for 2015! Thanks so much for joining in this adventure! Hopefully you have enjoyed it as much as I have. On my next regular post, I plan to share some of my favorite new blogger finds & also recap the month for you. 

Thanks & I will see you Monday!

– CJS 

Y is for…

 

My 2015 A to Z Challenge Theme is Quotes & Lines from Literature. Each day I will be posting a favorite quote or a few lines from well known short stories, poems or novels, with the letter of the first name as the A to Z. I’ll have a short write up with each quote, but each quote can also serve as a writing prompt for readers or myself.  I may write a poem or flash fiction based on that quote, or just throw it out there as inspiration. Hopefully you’ll join me in this adventure! I’ll try to include some of my favorite blog finds as I move through the challenge as well.
 Edit  
I bet you will never guess where I took today’s quote? Ok I bet you will. Though there was a Yoko Ono quote in 365 Days of Wonder, I took this quote from The 2,548 Best Things Anybody Ever Said by Robert Byrne which was again very handy because Y can be almost as challenging as X in the A to Z. But tomorrow’s Z is by an author I actually thought of when brainstorming my A to Z, from a favorite book in college. Think you can guess it? Wait til tomorrow and see! πŸ˜€

I chose this one because it was humorous but also because I think there is a ton of potential for story ideas based on the complications of fame, including being misquoted or even reported to have said things you never said. 

Since I took this out of context, I don’t know if he was being funny or simply stating the facts, but my guess is that it’s a mix of both. But even if not famous, I think anyone can relate to having someone say you said something when you know you never did. Maybe someone credits you from being more clever than you actually are – great! Or maybe someone tells lies that are meant to harm. Uh oh, not so good. Maybe an accidental mid-quote leads to all sorts of problems. It’s an interesting start to a lot of story ideas. πŸ˜€

And by the way, I thought for half a second about finding a Yogi the Bear quote, but wasn’t sure what words of wisdom he would have to pass along. But I guess you never know. πŸ˜‰

Have a good Wednesday & I will see you around tomorrow for our last day of the A to Z!