Win, Lose, or Draw


Welcome to week 12 of the MFRW blog hop.

This week’s prompt: My contest experience: Win Lose or draw!

 

How far back do you want to go? Hmmm . . .

In Junior High, there were essay contests.  I won 2nd place in our 8th-grade competition out of 120 students. I think I won a gift certificate to Spinning Wheels for a season pass. Disco Skating was all the rage and the roller rink was where the in-crowd hung out.  It was an essay about exploring, modern-day Tom Sawyer girl scout entrepreneurial adventure! I reread that about a year ago as I was clearing out some of the junk, and tossed it.  It would make you shudder to see the poor grammar. In a way, it brought a smile to my face as I was obviously very naive, had an idealistic view of the world, with childish expectations. Remind me again, why were we in such a hurry to grow up???

In my high school days, I took the obligatory English Composition but then took 2 creative writing classes. I loved those classes. The teacher,  a 5-foot tall lady named Mrs. White, who was married to the girls’ basketball coach – obviously Mr. White who was 6′ 6″. They were quite a pair! Anyway, Mrs. White encouraged me to submit a couple of my short essays to competitions in the region.  I got an honorable mention in a competition hosted at Lindenwood College.  It was a humorous piece, but I don’t have a copy of it anymore.

My passion for writing continued to a degree, I wrote several more short essays between 1000 and 5000 words. Most of which didn’t even get honorable mentions. During my college years,  who has time to write for fun??? I wrote term papers, assigned reports, and other miscellaneous papers that were required for my classes.  I usually got A’s on my term papers.

One mention here,  I wrote a report on the Battle of Antietam for a US History class.  I got an A on the paper,  but the instructor wrote a note on the side that it wasn’t necessary to be quite so graphically descriptive in my report, that it nearly made him sick reading my descriptives.  The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. It isn’t my fault that he assigned that one to me. I wasn’t about to copy verbatim the research I read before writing my version.  It isn’t my fault that the weaponry of the day didn’t kill a man with one shot.  At least it wasn’t a medieval battle with broadswords and hatchets. The fact that he could connect to the horrors of battle as described in my paper means that I nailed that scene,  right?

Then the years went by while working for the defense department,  working in the corporate world,  raising my children and there wasn’t any time for writing or pursuing my writing dreams. Once my kids were in school,  I had a little more time that I could put my thoughts down and started entering contests again.   I sent in a few submissions to Writer’s Digest contests and other contests. I had a few responses but few wins.  Then I entered a competition for the opinion column and won. It was a rotating position with 3 others and mine got a LOT of feedback. That was really the turning point when I started putting more efforts into my writing whether it’s fiction or humor.

It’s been a long bumpy road for me from those early efforts to now. If I had it to do over I may make some changes but since I don’t,  these are life lessons along my highway. Live, Learn, do better!

 

 

Go check out what others are sharing on this topic: MFRW BLOG HOP. Be sure to leave comments!

Write on my friends, write on!

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If Only!


Welcome to week 11 of the MFRW blog hop. This week’s prompt is: If Only I Never Had to Do This One Task again . . .

 

When I sell enough books on a regular basis to hire a personal assistant,  I will.  Then, I will never have to . . . . Oh wait,  I still would probably have to do those things. Top on my list would be writing the cover blurb. UGH!

I find it ironic that I can write a blurb for a friend or tweak their starting efforts enough that it’s back cover worthy.  When I start to write my own blurb, however . . . *crickets*.

Why is that? Is it because I am too familiar with the story?  I know too much and tend to want to give out details? I know two amazing authors who are fantastic with blurbs.  I can send them a starting point and they will send me back something I can use! This is one of the reasons I have done pro bono work for those friends.

*Will trade editing for blurbs and elevator pitch!*

Blurbs would definitely be at the top of my list,  but then there is also mailing the packages – I have carried packages around in my car for days before actually stopping at the post office.

* hangs head in shame*

On a more personal note,  if I never had to wash another dish in my life, I would be all too happy.  Same goes for rinsing/loading/unloading the dishwasher. There are days when I consider investing in the paper plate industry and buying an industrial-sized case at Costco. That’s right,  I hate doing dishes! If it weren’t for my eco-friendly daughter that has us consistently recycling, nope,  I just can’t see the point of adding to the landfills because I don’t like doing dishes. If it’s just my lunch, I’ve been known to just use a paper towel for a sandwich. Eliminate the need to wash more!

You were probably expecting something deep and earth-shattering, but nope –  just the dishes. I don’t think I could get away with serving a can of peaches in the can, or persuading the hubs to just use a napkin instead of a plate. . .  never going to happen.

Maybe when I have the resources to hire a personal assistant,  then I can hire a maid as well!

Everyone has their dreams,  mine in this area are pretty simple.

Go check out what others are sharing on this topic at: MFRW BLOG HOP. Be sure to leave comments!

Write on my friends, write on!

Memoires from the Quarry Girl


Welome to week 10 of the MFRW blog hop. Yeah, yeah, yeah,  I’ve missed a few but I’ve had mostly good reasons. We’ll get to that in a bit. This week’s prompt is: Things Only my Family would understand.

OH, now y’all are getting personal. You know, there are some things about my personal life that I’d rather not share. I’ve got issues.  My issues have issues. those issues have itty bitty baby issues of their own.

I have to ask myself,  what does this have to do with writing?  What does this matter to anyone besides embarrassing the life out of me????? Whatever, let me grab a cup of joe and we’ll jump in with the top 5 Things Only My Family Would Understand. You might want to take this opportunity to run to the bathroom,  just in case you find these funny and have a laughing fit.

Alright, here we go –

Top 5 Things Only My Family Would Understand

  1. Don’t Move My Table We have a small eat-in kitchen. When my daughters were teens,  they developed this habit of pushing themselves away from the table. As they were nearly adult sized,  they pushed the table about three inches, and suddenly the plate my husband and I were eating from is three inches to the right.We’ve gone round and round about this. It’s a major pet peeve of mine. Sometimes I come in from doing whatever and my table has been moved on purpose, or one end of the table is angled closer to the wall. I’ve been known to bellow from the kitchen down the hall “Who moved my table?” in a not so pleasant voice. They usually just snicker which then ticks me off more.
  2. Radioactive Turkey Everytime Thanksgiving comes around, or Dad is cooking,  I hear the pathetic cries of  “You’re not going to make us eat radioactive turkey again are you?” Long story – when my girls were in 4th and 2nd grades, I went away for a ladies retreat weekend – actually it was like five days of bliss, with a spa day,  and luxury massages, dinner out for the duration that I didn’t have to ook or clean up –  it was heaven!  Yeah, I was glad to get back to my family,  but oh those days of being pampered. . . anyway, I digress.  So, while I was away, the hubs was in charge of feeding our children. They had such luxury foods such as beenie weenies, frozen pizza, burnt scrambled eggs,  ravioli from a can, you get the idea. I do 99% of the cooking in our household. So, on Saturday afternoon, after a busy morning of cooking cleaning and laundry, time got away from him and they were like “We’re hungry” around 2 o’clock. He checked my menu – because I made sure they had three meals and snacks for the time I was away.  Come on, I’m not a horrible mom. So he read the menu – chicken broccoli with rice. He opens the fridge, and there are not Chinese takeout boxes of Chicken broccoli. Hmmm, so he calls and asks –  the chicken breasts are in the freezer,  the veggies –  carrots celery, bok choy, and broccoli are in the vegetable drawer –  just in case they wanted stir fry and not just the broccoli. Then I told him since you didn’t thaw the chicken out this morning,  you’ll have to switch the dinner for lunch and have that later. Too much work,  so he took out this frozen family dinner thing that we had gotten from a monthly food box plan for a while.  I have no idea how long it had been up there because honestly,  it sounded disgusting. Turkey and dressing, frozen in a cardboard box.  When he peeled the top off,  the “Gravy”  was a chartreuse radioactive color. Of course, when I arrived home Sunday afternoon,  the girls clung to my leg. “Dad tried to feed us radioactive turkey!”
  3. Crow sandwiches – I think I’ve shared this tale before,  but here goes again. Back in 2009 when my mother passed away, she left the house to my siblings and myself.  Five of us to have to agree on everything. The chances of the planetary alignment happening again in this century has better odds. I got into a heated discussion with my second sister. They are both older,  but she’s the younger of the two.  Anyway,   after a few hours,  I knew I had to make amends.  I was standing at the kitchen counter, slicing chicken breasts to make filets for sandwiches. My husband called to say he would be a little late, and I told him that I was going to have to eat some crow. My youngest was sitting at the kitchen table coloring. When I served the pan fried chicken breast filets on kaiser rolls,  she cried.  “I don’t want to eat crow.”  I didn’t understand what she was talking about, then through sobs, she told me:  “This morning you told dad he was going to have to go shoot those crows because they kept eating Ginger’s food. Then I heard you tell dad we were going to have to eat crow.” Now keep in mind that my husband was laid off for 18 months and things were unbelievably tight. So since then when I fix chicken filets,  they are crow sandwiches.
  4. Bleeding Out Your Eyeballs When my kids were school aged, specifically junior high and high school they started the wanting to skip shool thing.  “I’m sick.” “I don’t feel good.”  Hey, I knew all the tricks.  back when I was in school,   my parents left the hosue before our bus came. I have to admit,  there were a few days that I took advantage of it.  But,  I had things I really enjoyed at school. For one,  if you missed school the week of a track meet, you couldn’t participate.  You still had to go, but you were benched.  I hated being benched.  Anyway,  so the kids are pleading with me,  their stomach hurts,  they have cramps they feel feverish (always I mean always have the thermometer ready!) So after the assessment,  my standard answer was. take some Pepto, aspirin, Tylenol, eat a piece of toast,  go poop – followed by “You’re not bleeding out your eyeballs so you’re going to school!”  They hated it then and still hate it now.
  5. Quarry Girl This is my husband’s favorite nickname to tease me with. I grew up in a small town smaller than the one I live in now. My parent’s home was in a valley just below a quarry. every Tuesday morning and Friday morning,  they would blast dynamite and the whole house would rattle,  sometimes pictures fell off the wall. The walls were plaster,  so my father was reluctant to even put things on the walls. The quarry was a dangerous place so of course as kids,  we snuck under the gates as often as we could. The mounds of sand and gravel were ideal for sledding, or in the summertime we would run up the ramp that the trucks would dump their loads down and jump as far as we could. Other times we climbed on the rocks or scaled the cliffs.  I can’t laugh at the stupid things kids do today because we did stupid things too. One particularly hot summer,  we were jumping down the face of the sand pile –  you would sink up to your hips at times – and just after my friends and I finished that round of jumps, a big cavity caved in, and snakes and tarantulas poured from this “air pocket”.  I have to say,  it was the last time we did those jumps. I got bit by a copperhead climbing on the rocks in that quarry. I sprained my ankles more than a few times.  We were chased off of the premises more than a few times and were lucky to not have charges pressed against us. But, my husband thought it was hysterical as he grew up on a farm. He teases me about being a redneck quarry girl. *Shrugs* I guess I am.  Not everyone can claim the title, or get it.

So there it is,  a whole lot more about me than you ever wanted to know!  Hope that it offered a few laughs. So, back to the reason I have been AWOL, . . . I shared the other day about the anthology that I have been asked to be a part of,  and I’ve been plotting, drafting and rewriting my short story for this anthology.

I am pleased to say that a few days ago, I typed THE END!!! It’s gone to a couple beta readers and is now in the hands of my wonderful editor. WHEW!  Can’t wait to share the cover reveal – soon!

Go check out what others are sharing on this topic at: MFRW BLOG HOP. Be sure to leave comments!

Write on my friends, write on!

From Leslie’s Pen


Greetings!  It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and even longer since I’ve done my guest spots. 

Have y’all missed me? As one of my writing buddies has been saying, I’ve been working on a “super secret” project. Only, in my case, I suppose it hasn’t been super secret. I think I shared here that I was invited to be a part of this project for Cancer Research. 

So while I’ve had my nose to the grindstone plugging away on my short story for this,  I thought I’d let Leslie Moise have the platform today. Please give a warm welcome to Leslie!!

Five or six mornings a week, after I eat breakfast and let out my dog, I write.  Most often, I sit down in the comfy chair by my window overlooking the woods and close my eyes.  Then I ask a character in my novel-in-progress what she wants, or what he’s afraid of, or how she feels.  I keep still until the character walks me up to me in my mind and shows me the answer.  Then I open my eyes and write down what she’s done or experienced.

A couple of decades ago, my friend Rita and I attended a writers retreat led by author Louise Hawes.  She taught the participants how to listen to our characters and to write down what they genuinely did and wanted, instead of forcing them to do and feel what we thought they should.  Have you ever read a book and felt the characters didn’t ring true and the action felt forced?  The author must’ve had her own agenda and was making the characters move about in the book like stick puppets.  At that workshop, I learned to keep faith with my characters–and my readers.
For example, years later, I listened to each of my characters while I drafted my historical novel, _Judith_.  There were a number of times when I felt certain what Judith showed me could not be historically accurate.  I’ll change that after I fully research it and revise the manuscript, I thought.  Imagine my shock during research when I saw what Judith had shown me depicted on Assyrian tiles commemorating wars won by the Assyrian army.
But what about those mornings when life gets too disruptive for me to sit down in my armchair, or at my desk?  Like the week my 89-year-old father had stomach flu.  Or the day after I only slept for four very broken hours, and had minor surgery scheduled that afternoon.  Non-writers may imagine those are the times when a writer settles on the sofa with a glass of Merlot and binge watches a favorite series on Netflix.  People who think of writing as a hobby might treat days like these–when the muse is mute or unavailable–as days when the writer shouldn’t even try to write.  Reality is more prosaic and more inventive than that.
I may not produce lots of words on any given day–even a good day–but cumulatively, I produce many pages in a week.  And I average a drafted novel in a year, plus who knows how many poems, the occasional essay, and so on.
On those difficult days, I at least make notes for questions to ask my character/s on a better day, jot ideas about character dynamics (like who tends to see themselves as a victim, who is a bully, and so on).  At the very least, I do some preliminary research about how doors were hinged in 70 B.C.E., or the types of workboats commonly used on the Chesapeake Bay.   And I take at least one action a day to help promote my books already in print, submit a poem to a literary magazine, or contact an agent about my newest manuscript.
If I only get to take an action to promote my work in the morning, I may squeeze in some revision time in the afternoon.  Though I draft the best in the morning, when I’m fresh, revision or editing can work later in the day.
Before my stroke five years ago, I took a Client Attraction Seminar led by Sandie Griffin.  We talked about the importance of taking time off as part of the creative process.  Up until then, I never took a day off from writing, and felt guilty when circumstances meant I couldn’t write on a particular day.  Now, I choose a day or two to take away from writing each week, and if a day happens when I can’t write, I choose that as one of my days off.  But I try not to take many days in a row away from writing.  A day off after several at work refreshes; too much time away from the notepad and pen, or the keyboard, makes it difficult to get back into the flow.
There is a benefit to keeping my writing a priority:
When life happens and I can’t do any drafting for several days in a row
–when I can’t manage more than jotting those questions to ask my characters later, the way I had to when Dad had flu–something inspiring happens.  Decades ago, when I only wrote when the muse struck, this didn’t happen.  But now, if I don’t write for several days in a row, a poem will pop up, often later in the afternoon of the third or fourth day.
My mother died a year and a half ago.  For most of that time, I drafted poems about and for her, but none of them came alive.  Then, several days into Dad’s bout of flu, early one evening I read an article about spark birds, the bird that sparks a birder’s interest in birding–learning about them.  It set me thinking about my own spark bird, and a poem rolled through me about watching birds with my mother.  Neither of us knew or cared which birds we saw, but now I easily identify all the birds that come to my feeders.  I wrote about the Juncos my mother called “milk birds”, my spark bird.  I wrote about my love for birding that grew out of the love I shared with my mother.
It turns out that I’ve shown up for writing so often and so long, now if I don’t show up to write, writing shows up for me.  I am not the only writer I know of who’s had this happen.  A poet friend of mine would have poems force themselves into her daily life if she couldn’t find time to write when life got busy.  She worked at a meat counter in a butcher shop, and if a poem thrust itself on her at work, she jotted many a draft on butcher’s paper between customers.
Writing is like jogging.  If you do a little bit most days, soon you find yourself running longer, faster, farther.  It’s not about how much you accomplish in one day, especially if your life interrupts your writing time that day.  It’s about how much you write in a week, a month, a year–a lifetime.
No matter what life throws at you today, carve out five minutes to write.  Sit down with a notepad in your lap, if nothing else.  Put pen to paper, and write for that five minutes, even if it’s just wondering about your character, jotting down a poem idea, capturing a few ideas for an essay.  Sitting and staring out the window doesn’t count.  Writing does.  By keeping creativity’s door open for little things, you make it more likely big ideas may show up eventually, over time.
P.S.  I drafted a chunk of this blog post after a night of little to no sleep.  If I can do it, so can you.
Thank you Leslie, for sharing this insight. I hope you’ll come back and be my guest again soon! 
Leslie Moise’s historical novel, _Judith_, won a grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, as well as an International Book Award Finalist Medal in 2015.  _Judith_ and Moise’s knitting memoir, _Love is the Thread_, are published by Pearlsong Press, and are available on the Pearlsong site, as well as Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powells.
Her poetry chapbook about her friendship with another woman writer, _Linked by the Joy of Words_, is published by R. C. Linnell Publishing, and is also available on Amazon.
She lives in Louisville, Kentucky, on a bluff overlooking the Ohio River.  She is on Facebook and welcomes discussion with other writers and fans.
Go check out Leslie’s books and follow her!
Trying to get back into my schedule for my blog posts, and now that the end is in sight for this one,  I have a little breathing room.
Write on my friends, write on!