Windows, Screens & New Insight Into My Fictional World

For this week’s Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge, I didn’t know what to write for the longest time. The prompt didn’t speak to me. I wasn’t finding any inspiration in it at all. Here is the prompt for this week:

Consider the benefits of living in a house with screened windows vs. living without them. Write a paragraph describing both.

There are some of these writing prompts that I find difficult, boring, or even useless. Like this one. When I drew it out I gave serious consideration to returning it and trying again. But since the point of this Challenge is to encourage creativity I decided to stick with it and try to make the best of it.

Observations from real life:
To start, I did exactly what the prompt instructed. I tried to write down some observations from my real life about the pros and cons of screened or screenless windows. In my house most of the windows unfortunately lack screens.

I can’t open most of the windows in my house. For some reason, there are no screens of them. Only a handful have a screen. If I open the windows, the flies will come inside. Though, I don’t know what difference that makes since the back door, of the sliding glass variety, is nearly always left open, at least a little bit, so my boys can easily run in and out. So the flies get inside regardless.

I do like to be able to open the windows. Especially on a summer evening when the weather outside is not too bad, and there’s a nice breeze. I like to be able to listen to the birds singing. To smell the early summer flowers or the blackberries that will be here soon.

Some historical observations:
Because I don’t really see the point in writing about screened or unscreened windows, I did a little research about windows and screens. It turns out, glass windows date back to the time of the Roman Empire, likely originating from Alexandria. And the panes would have been small and full of imperfections.

The wire mesh used in making screens for windows dates back to the mid-19th century. Today, most homes in the United States, Canada, Australia and other parts of the world use screens on windows to prevent insects from getting into the house.

As a bit of historical trivia this is all interesting enough, but I still have to wonder what does all this really mean for me, particularly as a writer of fantasy fiction?

Some fictional observations:
This started me thinking about window treatments in my fictional worlds. I have to admit, I haven’t actually considered this before. Would there be glass window panes in the worlds I’ve created? If so, what sort of quality would the glass be? Or, if not, what would the windows look like?

I did a quick survey of one of my current drafts, and found the word “window” appears eighteen times. This represents a mere 2/100ths of a percentage of the total word count. Which doesn’t seem like a whole lot.

During this perusal, I found that windows in this novel must have glass panes as in one instance a window is shattered. At least some have shutters, and they appear to serve the purpose of providing light into a room. I also got the impression that the windows were fairly large, as I spoke at times of the view from the window, or of being observed through the window.

This last observation gives me a bit of insight into my world, and how I might need make a few changes when it comes time to edit the novel. The world in which this story takes place is one roughly based on Earth history from the ancient to medieval times. As such, quality glass panes for windows would not likely exist. They certainly wouldn’t be very large. And more than likely, no one looking into a building would be able to recognize a specific person standing near the window but would rather see only a vague figure through the imperfect glass.

So there you have it. The value of screened windows, a little bit of history, and a fictional application. Who knew I could write seven hundred words about windows and screens? I think this is what these prompts are designed to do. To turn the image just enough that light falls in a new way so that something more complete and beautiful emerges.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson: A Review

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo first drew my attention through all the media hype surrounding both the books and the movie. I grew curious enough that finally, upon finding a copy among a selection of used books, I gave in and picked it up. It’s described on the back cover as “a sexy, addictive thriller,” and “a blazing literary sensation.” It sounded fun, and exciting. So I added it to my 2017 Reading Challenge.

Given this high praise, I was a little surprised by how slow this book opened. I was a good third of the way through it before it finally snagged my attention. This could be the slowest book I’ve ever stuck with. It opens with a huge chunk of financial intrigue that I had a hard time wading through. Honestly, I wondered what all the hype was about this book. But I pressed on.

The story opens with the main character, Mikhael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist, who has just been convicted of libel and has been sentenced to pay reparations as well as serve some prison time. There is a detailed account of how Blomkvist got to this point before moving on to the story’s main events.

The narrative jumps between Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, a researcher for a security company. Salander is far from an ordinary character. She’s not especially likeable or even relatable. But she is interesting and compelling.

It isn’t until about half way through the story that these two major characters meet for the first time. Salander is aware of Blomkvist, but not vice versa. And neither has ever met the other. The story seems to sort of circle them around each other, drawing them nearer with each pass, until finally, their paths intersect.

This is the point at which the story truly gains momentum. From here to the end, things are happening at last and the story is propelled forward at a much quicker pace. It finally becomes that thrilling ride promised on the back cover.

Overall, the book is well written. The characters are interesting, if slightly over-played. I enjoyed this book, and I am curious to see where the characters will go from here. I’ll likely be reading the next book in the series at some point.

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – June 21, 2017

It’s Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge again! This is the place to find unexpected inspiration to encourage creativity.

I post a writing prompt, or exercise, here each Wednesday. Follow the prompt precisely, or use it to spark your own writing—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are some simple rules, so check them out below before posting.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Here is the writing prompt for the week. Have fun!

Consider the benefits of living in a house with screened windows vs. living without them. Write a paragraph describing both.

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

My aim is to maintain a site that’s open to a wide audience. I write for middle grade on up to adults. I will review any content shared on my site, and reserve the right to remove any link.

Please, have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

100 Posts – Time to Celebrate!

I’ve been at this blogging thing for about a year and a half. I’d like to say I’ve got it all figured out. That I’ve found my place in the blogosphere, and I’m happily working away at creating good and consistent content and that my little blog is growing.

The truth is, I don’t have it all figured out. I haven’t found where I really belong in the blogging world. And I still struggle with creating consistent content. I do, however, believe that my blog is growing. Slowly, to be sure, but growing just the same.

This is my 100th post. I’ve written about words. Words I’ve read and words I’ve written. I’ve read a lot of books and shared my thoughts with you. I’ve written about my progress on my own novels and even shared some short fiction.

There are also nearly 100 fine folks who have decided to follow my blog. I’ve decided to celebrate by offering a giveaway to you, my faithful followers. Once I reach 100 followers, I will randomly select one of you and I will send you a copy of one of the books from my reading list. The winner gets to choose which book! I will also have a special thank you gift for everyone who enters.

Looking through those who have followed my blog, a good number of you are other book bloggers. You are, like me, readers. Therefore, I will have a special bookmark as a gift for each of you.

If you don’t wish to participate in the giveaway, you don’t need to do anything. If you would like to be considered for the prize, just send me an email to let me know that yes, you’re in.

I’ll need an address to send you a special thank you gift. I promise, I won’t send you anything else!

If you know anyone who might find my blog interesting, please spread the word! I appreciate each one of you. Thanks for sticking with me through this learning process. Here’s to many more posts!

The Hidden Box

When I randomly selected this prompt for the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge for this week, I knew at once what I would write about.

One of your characters keeps something in a box, buried where no one will ever find it. What is it, and what’s the significance of that object?

It brought to mind a scene in my current work in progress that is actually deep backstory. I realized in that moment how I could bring that scene full circle and close that line of thought at the end of the novel.

I started imagining the scene right away, and wrote it down the next day. It isn’t long, around 1,000 words. But it is a significant moment for my character.

The scene involves a box, hidden years ago by the character. A box containing childhood treasures such as a blue jay feather, a cracked snail shell and a pretty red stone. A box hidden away for safe keeping and all but forgotten for many years.

I can’t share the scene with you, however. Not yet. It’s too vital to the novel.

Is there a secret box in whatever you’re working on?

Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – June 14, 2017

It’s time for the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge again! This is the place to find unexpected inspiration to encourage creativity.

I post a writing prompt, or exercise, here each Wednesday. Use it to spark your own writing—a journal entry, a poem, a short story. If you wish, consider sharing a link to your response in the comments below. There are some simple rules, so check them out below before posting.

Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

Here is the writing prompt for the week. Have fun!

One of your characters keeps something in a box, buried where no one will ever find it. What is it, and what’s the significance of that object?

Rules for posting to Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge:

  1. Must be family friendly.
  2. Hate and intolerance will not be accepted.
  3. No pornography, erotica, graphic violence or excessive profanity.

My aim is to maintain a site that’s open to a wide audience. I write for middle grade on up to adults. I will review any content shared on my site, and reserve the right to remove any link.

Please, have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words!

Brainstorms, and the Art of the Query

The prompt for the June 7 Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge was not an easy one for me for a variety of reasons. First, I don’t write magazine articles. And second, I’m not yet in a position to send out query letters.

This week’s prompt:

Brainstorming – think up five ideas for magazine articles. Pick the best one, and send it to an editor in a query letter.

The Brainstorm
If I were to write articles, what would I write about? I have no specific expertise in anything. I know a bit about a fair number of subjects, but I doubt I could be called an expert.

I do know little bit about hand crafts such as counted cross-stitch and crochet. But all I know on these subjects I’ve learned from other experts. I have nothing original to add to the conversation.

I’m the mother of three boys, and I’ve learned a thing or two about raising children, specifically boys. We’ve just left the preschool years behind us for good and are currently in the gap-toothed smiles phase. But as a parent, I’ve failed at least as often as I’ve succeeded, so what could I hope to offer anyone on the topic of parenting?

Then there is the writing itself. I feel the least qualified of all to offer any advice on this topic. I’m muddling my way through this process, trying to learn as I go. And hoping I don’t make too many mistakes along the way.

Still, I am a writer. I write this blog. I write short stories and novels. And I sometimes struggle with what to write about. Therefore, I did use this prompt to explore some ideas I might want to pursue both for my blog and in fiction.

I came up with a few ideas, more than the recommended five, in fact. I’m not going to share my list here, however. A girl’s got to keep a few secrets, after all.

The Query
As for the next part of the prompt – write and submit a query letter – this was even harder for me than the first part. As I said, I don’t write for magazines, and I’m not currently prepared to submit any short stories for publication. Nor am I quite ready to reach out to an agent.

Instead, I used this prompt as an opportunity to explore some marketing ideas. It can’t hurt to be prepared with knowledge when I am ready to submit an article, a short story or a query letter to someone with the goal of having my work published. There are a number of resources available for seeking out publication markets, The Writer’s Market perhaps being the largest.

One day, hopefully soon, I will be at a place where I will need to seek out an agent. At that time, it would be good for me to know how to write an effective query letter. Again, there are tons of resources available with a simple web search. The Writer’s Digest blog is a wealth of information on all aspects of writing. Here are a couple related to writing queries:

How to Write the Perfect Query Letter

The 10 Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Query Letter

And this article from AgentQuery.com:

How to Write a Query Letter

All three include links to various other potentially useful articles as well.

These Wednesday Challenges aren’t always just about the writing. Sometimes, like this one, they are more about the business side of writing. Still, no matter where you’re at in the process, and no matter what your specific writing goals might be, I think it’s useful to visit this side of creativity once in awhile. It could even be that in writing a synopsis for your novel you discover the true conflict at the heart of it.

Did you find this exercise useful? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments. Thanks for reading!