Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge – May 31, 2017

Welcome back to the Wednesday Writing Prompt Challenge! This is the place to find unexpected inspiration meant to encourage more creativity.

I’ll post a writing prompt 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.

Please, have fun. Be creative. And let’s write more words! Thanks for playing along! Happy writing!

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

Be your own thesaurus. Pick a word, and write down as many synonymous words as you can. Then, expand to synonymous phrases, then to synonymous metaphors. Play with the idea of similarity.

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!

Party Time!

One thing I love doing for my kids’ birthdays since the very beginning is to create a fun party centered around a theme. I probably go a little overboard with the cake, decorations, snacks and hand made invitations. I’ve done bug-themed parties and lion-themed parties. Dump trucks, monster trucks and fire trucks. There was Batman, the Avengers and the Flash. Most recently it was a Pokémon/Minecraft party.

When my boys were really little, I had freedom to choose the themes for their birthday parties. Now that they’re getting older and have distinct interests of their own, I let them choose the part theme. Then, I go searching online for ideas. I prefer to keep things simple, but I also want them to be fun.

The next birthday comes up in early March. The theme this time is pirates. Or, more important – treasure! My middle son is obsessed with tiny things—figures, cars, coins—that fit inside his fist. Sparkly things are especially attractive to him. A treasure hunt birthday party wasn’t a hard sell.

First I went looking for the perfect cake. There are some seriously talented bakers and decorators out there. I’m no professional cake decorator, but I love making cakes for my boys. I found treasure map cakes

and treasure chest cakes

and even this amazing pirate ship cake

Again, I’m no professional, but my children think I can work miracles. My version will not look nearly so cool as one of those. But I’ll have fun with it.

Before I can make the cake, and before I go all crazy with pirate-themed food and games, I’ve got to make the invitations. It will be a pirate’s treasure chest, complete with gold coins and sparkly gems. They might look a little bit like these invitations, but not nearly as adorable.

I’ve got some work to do. Sometimes I get a little carried away with the birthday parties. But it’s about having fun. And making memories for my children.

Working To Completion: Celebrating a Work-in-Progress

September has been a month long celebration of my current work-in-progress through the Twitter #hashtag game, #WIPjoy. There is a prompt for each day to share a bit about the novel I’m working on. The month is over, but that doesn’t mean the celebration needs to end.

First, let me say a huge thank you to Bethany Jennings (@simmeringmind) for hosting this event. She has put together a great list of prompts that get me and other writers thinking about our current work and allows us to get excited about what others are working on. There are a lot of really exciting projects going on right now! Apparently there were over 400 writers participating in the event this month.

WIPjoy has been incredible fun, and more importantly, has renewed my excitement for this story. NaNo is approaching rapidly, and I’ve been in full-on prep mode. It can be too easy to lose sight of the fun.

In the spirit of sharing this fun, here is a compilation of my September 2016 WIPjoy lines. I hope you enjoy it. And don’t forget to check out all the amazing writers on Twitter! #WIPjoy

Intro Week
1. Tell us about your WIP!
#WIPjoy D1 – With the empire on the brink of war, it falls to Cypriano, a bard, to uncover the true enemy and restore peace to the realm.

Here’s my “official” blurb as it currently stands:

The empire is on the edge of civil war. A foreign army stands poised to invade. The Prince has been assassinated and the Princess kidnapped. It falls to Cypriano, a simple bard, to guard the realm’s most treasured secret, uncover a hidden traitor and restore peaceful rule to the realm.

2. What stage are you at with this project?
#WIPjoy D2 – My WIP is in first draft stage. It’s at 72k + about 75k that needs to be completely rewritten. I’m within 30-50k of “the end.”

You can read more about the history of this project in my post, Unfinished.

3. Describe your WIP with 5 verbs.
#WIPjoy D3 – My WIP in 5 verbs: Betray, redeem, sing, protect, restore.

Background Week – Settings and Backstories
4. What emotions do you evoke with your setting?
#WIPjoy D4 Setting is still a work in progress. Opening scenes should evoke a sense of despair & determination. #amwriting

5. Share a line with a detail about your protagonist’s past.
#WIPjoy D5

“Were we ever that innocent?” Tomas asked with a wry grin as they watched the boy play.

Innocent? Don’t you remember? By the time I was his age, I was already plotting against your grandfather.”

“Ah, right. Cypriano, the evil traitor.”

6. What does your antagonist love deeply?
#WIPjoy D6 – Duke Cyril has a deep attachment to his family heritage, to what he believes is his by birthright – power, wealth, immortality.

7. Which two characters have the most interesting history?
#WIPjoy D7 – Besides my protag: Darla, war refugee turned lady-in-waiting. And Kel, a blacksmith with a dark secret.

8. Name something experienced with each sense in your WIP.
#WIPjoy D8 Kel’s forge. Sweat glistens on thick arms. Heavy hammers clang on anvils. Coal smoke so thick in the air you can taste it.

9. Is any part of the backstory inspired by your own life?
#WIPjoy D9 – That would be a no. Unless you count reading books by Tolkein, Brooks, Williams, Jordan (and more!) as inspiration?

10. Share a line you love about a setting.
#WIPjoy D10
bard_wipjoy10-setting

Protagonist Takeover Week! (All answers must be in your character’s words!)
This week was so much fun. Both tweeting from my characters voice and reading those of other writers.

Bonus Question: Introduce your protagonist for Character Take Over Week:
#WIPjoy Bonus: Cypriano, bard. Exiled from the imperial city, he’s been living a dual life for too long. It’s time to take back his city.

11. Share a deep regret.
#WIPjoy D11 – I regret that I never told my father the truth of that night.

12. How do you really feel about a character closest to you?
#WIPjoy D12 – The boy? No, I don’t like the boy. He’s- He’s too much like his father. Good and brave, and… Well, I just don’t like him.

13. Weapon of choice?
#WIPjoy D13 – Weapon of choice? My lute. I’m a lover, not a fighter. I do keep a few daggers close at hand though.

14. How do you feel about romance?
#WIPjoy D14 – Romance? What a ridiculous question. How does one feel about breathing? Romance is just as natural and necessary.

15. How do you feel about your author?
#WIPjoy D15 Author? She killed my best friend. Forced me into this mess. Ripped away from me the only woman I’ve ever loved. Need I go on?

16. Any words for future fans of yours?
#WIPjoy 16 Future fans means I will have at least some success turning this disaster around. So, thank you. Thank you for believing in me.

17. When alone, do you make faces in the mirror? ‘Fess up.
#WIPjoy D17 – Any orator worth anything at all practices his delivery before the glass now and again.

Deep Stuff Week
18. Share a line that hints at your theme.
#WIPjoy D18 Theme is still in development. But I have this line from a recent “interview” with my character that has potential.

themequote

19. What’s one big reason you’re writing this story?
Reason #1:

mayaangelou_quote

Reason #2:

franzkafka_quote

#WIPjoy D19 – Why write this story reason 3: The character, Cypriano, came to me and won’t let me rest until I tell his story.

20. What kind of reader desperately needs this book?
#WIPjoy D20 – The reader who needs this book is the one who prefers her epic fantasy a little on the dark and roguish side.

21. What’s been your biggest challenge with this WIP?
#WIPjoy D21 – My biggest challenge with this WIP thus far has been to simply finish it! Only then will I be free to move on to the next one.

22. Represent your WIP with a single image.
This one was really hard. I spent an entire day distracted with searching for an appropriate image. I wish I could draw. Ultimately I chose to share this picture. Here is My MC, Cypriano:

cypriano_portrait
Artwork by: bisart.deviantart.com

23. What aspect of the book is the most unique?
#WIPjoy D23 – The most unique aspect of this book is that I’m writing it. No one else can tell this story the way I can.

24. Share a line that’s a fantastic example of your writing voice.
#WIPjoy D24 I don’t know if it’s fantastic, or even an example of my writing voice, but I’ll go with it.

bardvoicequote
Community Fun Week
25. If you could choose any other book to mashup with your own, which would it be?
I started to answer this prompt thus:

#WIPjoy D25 If I could absorb some of the richness and incredible detail of the #RobertJordan #WoT books into mine, that would be awesome.

I’m no where close to this level #worldbuilding, but a girl can dream.

But I ended up writing The Great Literary Mash-up instead.

26. Shout out to this WIP’s most encouraging fan!
#WIPjoy D26 My sisters are my best fans! Without them, this book would’ve fallen by the wayside long ago. @seekingredress @tlynnejohni1122

Seriously. They keep pestering me to work on this book. All the time. They get a little pushy sometimes when I get distracted with other ideas. Thank you, sisters! Oh, and get to work on your own books, would you?!

27. Does your WIP contain any inside jokes?
#WIPjoy D27 There are no deliberate inside jokes in this WIP. Though I don’t think that means it will be humorless.

28. Share a line that made someone feel FEELS.
#WIPjoy D28 It took me way to long to find the perfect line. I don’t know about perfect, but this will have to do:

bard_wipjoy28feels

29. Shout out to writer friends who inspire you.
#WIPjoy D29 Who inspires me? My local writer’s circle – they keep me pressing forward. And the amazing Twitter writing community! #amwriting

Again, I found this one harder than it should be. There are so many writers on Twitter that have shared their amazing stories. I am alternately inspired and terrified by their talent. I’m still trying to find my place in this Twitter community, and I’m hugely grateful for everyone’s support.

30. Remind us all what your WIP is about. Now everyone RT/share your favorites and state why you love them!
#WIPjoy D30 To all appearances, Cyp is an ordinary bard. Selfish, womanizer, lazy. Why then, does the fate of the empire rest on him alone?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey with me at least a little bit. I’m excited again about this story and my characters. I’m anxious to finish their stories.

I’m super grateful to @simmeringmind for hosting this event. And to the online writing community, thank you for your interest and support.

The Great Literary Mash-up

Since the beginning of September, I’ve been participating in the Twitter #hashtag game, WIPjoy. Hosted by @simmeringmind, there is a prompt for each day encouraging writers to share about their current work in progress.

WIPjoy_Sept2016

Today’s prompt is this: If you could choose any other book to mash-up with your own, which would it be? I never intended to write an entire blog post on this subject, but in trying to come up with an answer, that’s just exactly what happened.

I’ve honestly never given any thought to this idea – that of mashing up the world I’ve created in my novel with the world created by someone else. I’ve never considered writing fan fiction either. Those worlds, no matter how much I’ve fallen in love with them, belong to someone else.

The more I thought about this question, however, I’ve come to the conclusion that my work is already a mash-up of sorts of everything I’ve ever read, seen or experienced.

I’ve been a reader from a very young age. Some early influences I can remember include the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden mystery series. Anything by Roald Dahl or Beverly Cleary. I loved Charlotte’s Web, the Black Stallion books and Where the Red Fern Grows.

At one point I went through a romance phase and I read every Harlequin or similar title I could get my hands on. The particulars of the story didn’t matter – cowboys, cops, surf stars – I read all of them. I read the sweet romances, the intrigue stories, even the “spicy” ones!

I don’t remember for sure when I read my first fantasy novel, but I’m pretty sure it was J. R. R. Tolkein. I was hooked in an instant. Tolkein was quickly followed by others: Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Stephen R. Donaldson, Tad Williams.

There’s been more influences, of course. Suspense and thrillers like John Grisham, Tami Hoag, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich. And classics such as Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Homer, George Orwell, Mark Twain.

All of these and more have become “mashed up” together in my imagination. This is where my own stories come from.

I can’t deny that the greatest influence has been my background in Christian faith – an influence that began even before my birth. I grew up going to church, reading the Bible and so on. The stories of Noah’s Ark, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Balaam’s Donkey, the miracles of Jesus. These stories formed the foundation of my imagination.

What then would I “mash up” with my own current novel in progress? I can’t choose just one. I’d have to go with the rich, world-building details of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, the exciting suspense of Tami Hoag, the beautiful language of Shakespeare and the simple, outright fun of Janet Evanovich.

And yes, I’ll own my faith too. This is who I am, and I write from this worldview. A worldview that is built on the foundation of faith and that expands with each new book, each new experience. I won’t pretend it’s a complete or perfect worldview. That’s why I keep reading. And writing.

Passion & Creativity: In Pursuit of Ingenuity

pas·sion·ate
adjective
showing or caused by strong feelings or a strong belief

There are a number of things I’m passionate about: my children, words, needle crafts, football, teddy bears, cheesecake. When I put this list together, a common theme emerged: creativity.

Growing up, imagination and creativity were encouraged in my home. There was a lot of reading. We played music. My sisters and I played with dolls, with cars, with building blocks. Once in school, I started drawing and writing. Along the way I picked up counted cross-stitch, taught myself crochet and discovered miniature teddy bears.

As a mother, creativity is no less important to me. I do everything I can to encourage my children to use their imagination. We read together, color together, build together. I take great delight in their creative endeavors. I make sure they see me read and write.spiderman_m

And I love the results. Their efforts at art make me happy. Their enthusiasm for library visits and reading books thrills me. Now they are learning to read and write for themselves, and I can’t wait to see where they go with that.

cre·a·tiv·i·ty
noun
the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work
synonyms: inventiveness, imagination, innovation, originality, individuality, artistry, inspiration, vision, enterprise, initiative, resourcefulness

I love this list of synonyms for creativity. Innovation, individuality, inventiveness, vision. Creativity isn’t all about art. There is creativity in science and engineering as well. I’m sure I’m not the only parent with a love/hate relationship with Legos. Incredibly frustrating to maintain and the basis of any number of conflicts, they nevertheless provide hours of creative play. I am always impressed with the ingenious structures my boys come up with.

enterprise_eSo yes, I am passionate about pursuing creativity. I’ll continue to pursue it for myself with my writing. And, perhaps more importantly, I will encourage the pursuit of creativity in my children, whatever form it takes for them.

I think Albert Einstein has the right of it…

Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.
– Albert Einstein

September, Tent Forts & Pumpkin Cheesecake: New Season, New Goals

I can’t believe it’s September already. Just two weeks ago, we had triple digit temperatures, but now, we have gray skies, rain showers and a bit of a chill in the air. It was downright shivery at work today as the air conditioning must still be in summer mode.

Yes, September has arrived. The leaves are turning and falling. The first day of school is only a week away. My children are sleeping in a make-shift tent on the floor in the living room tonight. And I am staying up late baking a pumpkin cheesecake. Indeed, summer is on her way out.

It’s a new season, it must be time for some new goals. I started this blog back in January without any real clue as to what I hoped to accomplish with it. I intended that it would be a place where I could share my words with others and push myself to do more with my writing. I think I’ve made a good start, but I still don’t really know what this blog should be about.

Writing…

I’ve been sharing my experiences as I work through my writing projects. This has been a bit of a wild ride for me. Exciting, but a little intimidating. In April, I shared some background and research bits on my middle grade novel in progress, The Curse of the Anne Venture. Introducing my three main characters, Mike, Tommy and Elijah was particularly fun.

Then, in July, I began working on fantasy short stories from the world of another novel in progress. I decided I would publish one here on my blog, and asked you to help me decide which one that would be. The process of writing, rewriting, revising and polishing a story for publication has proven to be different than I anticipated. Thus, I am behind on this project. I had hoped to publish the completed story, “Shattered”, on September 3. While I’ve had to rethink this schedule, I still intend to publish this story on the blog. But first, I want to make it the best story possible.

My writing goals this month then are first, to finish the story “Shattered” and have it ready for publication by the end of September. Second, I intend to continue with the book reviews, ideally, one per week. And last, I will continue with the personal essays in response to the WordPress daily prompt as well as any others that might come up.

Reading…

When started this blog I intended to also write book reviews. This is something I’ve never really done before, so it’s been a learning experience. I’m enjoying it more with each book. Participating in the 2016 Reading Challenge has pushed me to expand my reading experiences.

I’ve fallen a little bit behind with this challenge, however so one goal of mine is to catch up on my reading during the month of September. With November (National Novel Writing Month) coming quickly, I’d prefer to get ahead even. But two of the biggest books on the list are still to be read.

Ideally, I will be able to finish at least three books from this list. Currently I’m working on Slaughterhouse Five, by Kurt Vonnegut, and next up will be Ivanhoe, by Sir Walter Scott, followed by Stop That Girl, by Elizabeth McKenzie.

…and Life in General

As I work on expanding the reach of my blog, I decided to try responding to the WordPress daily prompt. A one-word prompt meant only to stimulate ideas, wherever that might take you. I wrote about more random subjects this past month than I would have thought possible.

While I’m enjoying this activity, and my posts seem to be well received, I’m not convinced this is the direction I want to go with my blog. I’ll keep at it for now. I’d like to see how things take shape over the course of the next few months.

My goal then, is to continue to respond to the daily prompts as I’m inspired. When I started this, I didn’t think I could ever find time to write something every day. I’m not there yet, and I don’t intend to push myself that hard. At least for now. I’d like to see at least one post a week, however, and I think that’s very doable!

 

These are my goals for September. It will be a stretch to accomplish all that I want to do, but they are not unreasonable. And there can be no growth without a bit of stretching. It’s a new season, a new start.

What are your goals this fall? Thanks for reading!

Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich: a Review

You don’t need to wait for inspiration to write. It’s easier to be inspired while writing than while not writing. – Josip Novakovich

The Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich provides an excellent resource for writers at any level of experience. With chapters on every element of fiction from plot and character to description and voice, Novakovich has written a solid overview of the writing process.

It’s great for the novice writer, building a solid foundation of the basics. Novakovich includes dozens of specific examples from numerous well-known authors such as Mark Twain, J. D. Salinger and Charles Dickens to illustrate the point of each chapter.

This book could serve the more experienced writer as a resource to refer to as needed. Each of the ten chapters are short, and center on a specific element of fiction. This enables the reader to go to a specific target area.

At the end of each chapter, Novakovich has included a dozen or more exercises to help the writer put each lesson into practice. This allows the novice to learn the craft and practice immediately. The exercises work equally well as writing prompts, helping any writer out of a stuck place, or to spark new ideas.

Josip Novakovich has published a novel, April Fool’s Day, two collections of short stories and several collections of essays. Besides Fiction Writer’s Workshop, he has also published another writing instruction book. Novakovich has received a number of awards, including the Whiting Award. He was a finalist for The Man Booker International Prize in 2013 and has been included in the Pushcart Prize and O. Henry Prize anthologies, among others. Novakovich has taught creative writing at various universities, most currently at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec.

Overall, I consider this a useful book whatever level you’re at as a writer. I will likely keep it on my shelf and use it as a resource to refer to as needed. And the exercises will make great prompts when I need something to get me started.