#Writober 2019 Day 6: Blue

Quintessence of the abstract

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s OctPoWriMo theme is Blue. I liked all the different ways blue is used, especially “bluing the air.” I don’t remember hearing that before.

Blue Sidewalk

You yelled ’til you were blue in the face
while the blue clad woman just won the race
and the blues man played his bluest blues
without hitting a single blue note
which made you bluer than blue
but no one would know because your blue eyes
reflected the bluest skies.

#Writober4

The image for Day 6 on the Pinterest board shows a frightening head/mask floating in the corner of a kitchen.

My take: I find this image particularly disturbing. I think it’s the juxtaposition of the giant, disproportioned figure-are there shoulders there in the shadow?-to the mundane, every day, safe kitchen. Is that monster always there lurking and only showed itself in this moment. If you hadn’t looked in that split second would it have only been a chill or a shudder?

Micro-fiction: Brenda sat at her meager kitchen table, her tear dripped into her coffee. It had been their first night apart in ten years; she didn’t want to face this first day alone. But she wasn’t alone. She shivered and looked toward the stove. Through the blur of tears a distorted head floated near the ceiling. A shadowy hulk blocked her way from the room. She settled in with her tear-salted coffee. At least she was distracted from her other problems.

Writing Process and Tools

Celtic Cross Plots: How could we use yesterday’s reading for today’s plot?

What if: our character has been sick for a long time and has finally gotten out of bed and gone to the kitchen to get some tea. While she was ill, she reflected a lot on her life and has decided it’s time to quit the rat race and start a new project. Just as she is feeling like she knows what good she can do for the world and how to get others involved, she sees the haunting figure staring at her from the corner. She feels it judging her. It frightens her. She wonders if it will see the her of her past or the her of now, but mostly she fears not knowing what it wants. The creature won’t say anything, so she has to come up with a plan.

Did the tarot plot inspire or change today’s story idea inspired by the image? It brought up the idea that the character had been ill for a long time which I think goes well with the image and brings new meaning to the scene.

Creepy verbs: startle, jump, burst, jerk, seize, shiver, revive, resurrect

Story Cubes Symbols: bridge, arrow(bow&arrow), earth, keyhole, magnifying glass, rainbow, balance, question mark, fire

Woodland creature: frog

Horror trope: cabin in the woods

Oblique Strategy: Emphasize the flaws

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

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#Writober 2019 Day 5: Doorways

conjoined twins

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme is doorway- open or closed. Bop poetic form

Crossing the threshold

Inside
Flannel pajamas
covered in blankets
heating pad on my belly
alone in thoughtful silence
imagining a better world
Need a push to cross the threshold

Outside
People, places, things
aspirations and collaborations,
beauty, love fresh and new
expectations, disappointments,
together in thoughtful silence
peppered with communication
that can be misunderstood
Need a push to cross the threshold

Inside Out
Comfort or  adventure
alone together
creating more existence
forming bonds
entering or exiting
Need a push to cross the threshold

#Writober4

The image for Day 5 on the Pinterest board two women in masks, sitting at an upright piano, pointing guns at each other. A man’s head sits on top of the piano between two bottles.

My take: Two women are in a deadly stand-off. Will they continue to play duets, or can only one pianist survive?

Micro-fiction: Azealia couldn’t practice the duet with her sister anymore. She would rather die. She should have known her twin would pull her gun at the same time.

Writing Process and Tools

Celtic Cross Plots:

  1. Four of Swords 2. Ten of coins 3. Nine of cups 4. The magician 5. The Hierophant 6. Seven of coins 7. The Chariot 8. King of swords 9. Ace of swords 10. Three of wands

Today I’m using The Tarot Revealed: A Beginner’s Guide by Paul Fenton-Smith to interpret the cards for our plot.

A person in physical or mental retreat is in conflict with material success. S/he reflects on success earned, but it is time for a new project. S/he believes others will follow. S/he is at a crossroads pondering long-term needs of hopes. Others see him/her as clear-thinking, practical and honest. S/he puts these plans into action.

How would this plot work with a scary story? I’m thinking one member of a business partnership gets a conscience and wants to dissolve the business, maybe come clean about bad business practices. The other partner needs to stop him putting them at deadly odds.

Creepy verbs: awe, reverence, wonder, scorn, frighten

Story Cubes Symbols: cane, bridge, apple, light bulb, keyhole, rainbow, scarab, magnet, key

Woodland creature: snail

Horror trope: omens of death

Oblique Strategy: Use filters

Oblique strategies are creativity cards created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. I often like to draw a random card for inspiration. Today’s card “Use Filters” is an interesting one for me. I like to use filters in my photography: color filters and handmade bokeh filters. What kind of filters could we create for writing?

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober 2019 Day 4: Escaping the Cage

Escaping the Cage

Burning sculpture by Spencer Matthews photo by Maria L. Berg

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme “Cage – Pewter, Silver, or Gold” has to do with feeling caged, even in a beautiful, shiny cage. The poetry form Tetractys looks like fun. It is a form of counting syllables that can be used forward and backward.

Hem No More

Hem
inside
expecting
available
Not this time: without respect: I want more
Friendship isn’t a one way street today
I don’t serve you
I want some
equal
ground

#Writober4

The image for Day 4 on the Pinterest board is a painting by Berlin artist Daniel Richter. The painting shows two electrified looking silhouettes with frightened eyes.

My take: This image works well with the idea of escaping the cage. For some people, their whole world is a cage. If a portal to a new world opened up, that could be an escape from a cage. The figures appear to be running through an alien, unknown land that is unstable, perhaps erupting, crumbling, deconstructing. They appear frightened and look to be carrying weapons.

Micro-fiction: Dr. Haviaras pulled the plug and smashed the crystal of Havmillarium. She knew there might not be another speck left, so her life’s work could never be repeated. The glimpse of that world and the figures running toward her was enough to quash her ambitions.As she yanked the cord and raised the hammer, one of the attackers put a hand on the other’s chest as if to restrain their flight into her dimension, but she didn’t have time to ponder what that could mean. She had to stop them. She was the only one who could.

Writing Process and Tools

Celtic Cross Plots: Here’s another celtic cross plot

Writober plotting with tarot 2

  1. Four of Swords 2. Ten of coins 3. Nine of cups 4. The magician 5. The Hierophant 6. Seven of coins 7. The Chariot 8. King of swords 9. Ace of swords 10. Three of wands

Creepy verbs: slash, gash, pierce, slice, hack, flay, blister

Story Cubes Symbols: pyramid, flashlight, magnet, arrow (down, left), clock (four o’clock), crescent moon, question mark, flower, scarab

Woodland creature: hedgehog

Horror trope: monsters

 Using the October Planner Pages

Planner exterior

Last night, I posted the Fourth quarter opening pages and the pages for October. I started working with the pages this morning and found that the prompt for October 14th somehow moved up to the middle of the previous page. Sorry about that.

I typed in the names of my stories and poems that need homes. I needed to add text boxes to type inside the boxes. I highly recommend starting with this exercise. I found it inspiring to see all of the work I have done that is ready to be sent out into the world listed on one page like that. Fun and exciting!

Planner interior

Then I printed the planner. Make sure, when you select duplex printing, that you select staple on short side left. I took my little chisel (couldn’t find my awl) and quickly pierced the pages along the fold. I sewed them together into a book. I am really liking the look of things now.

Self-critique: At this size, I think the boarders around the sections are a little too thick now. The writing prompts need to come down a bit from the top edge on some of the pages and the fonts within the daily boxes can now be smaller. Next month I’ll definitely try a different color scheme which I plan to do each month anyway. Overall, I think it’s almost there.

This month, I hope to fill in every box on every page, so I get the full experience. I hope to try every prompt and hope you will tell me which prompts (written and visual) you like the best. Thank you for playing along. I hope you find inspiration in these pages.

 

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

The Planner Project Returns

fourth quarter goals

I remember why I needed a break from this project: It is incredibly time consuming, which I find stressful. However, I like to finish what I begin, so I have made the opening fourth quarter goal pages and the pages for the whole month of October.

What has changed

As you will see, I’ve made some changes. I reformatted the pages to use as much of the page as possible with two pages per letter-sized piece of paper. I have continued to group my original prompts with the intent to work together to inspire a story per week. The major change, this time around is moving the featured magazine information from the left side to the center top and instead of including an image of a magazine cover, I decided to include my original photography and artwork for inspiration as another writing prompt.

The pages

The pages are made in open office and can be printed or typed in your word processing software. Once you have downloaded the pages and worked with them, please come back and give me some feedback. I would love to hear what you like and don’t like. What parts are useful and what you would find more useful. Thank you in advance.

Fourth Quarter 2019 Planner Pages

Printing as a booklet

I redesigned the pages, so there would be a lot less white space, but when I tried to click booklet printing in my printer properties, it reduced my pages and put large white space around everything negating my efforts. It took some time, but I figured out how to print it (almost) how I want it.

  1. Select File →Print
  2. Select the Page Layout Tab and select brochure
  3. Click the General Tab and click properties
  4. Select duplex printing. Make sure, when you select duplex printing, that you select staple on short side left.
  5. Print

Next Steps

The next steps are to submit stories and poems to all of these opportunities. Remember, the goal is to get 100 rejections by the end of the year. I’m not quite half way there, so I need to get back to submitting at least once a day to reach my goal. And with the response times what they are, I’ll want to get as much out this month as I possibly can.

Good luck with all your submissions!

Get those stories into the world.

#Writober 2019 Day 3: Inside Out

DSC05671

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme is Womb. I once went to a festival that had a “womb room.” You had to walk through stuffed fabric labia to enter.

My Womb

The lake is a womb I return to each summer
I am reborn

#Writober4

The image for Day 3 on the Pinterest board shows a yard flamingo that has not only lost its feathers, it lost its skin. It makes me think it might have irritated the witch it stands next to.

My take: Maybe our witch tried to raise the dead, but made a mistake and all the dead animals came to life. That would be terrifying: flocks of skeletal flamingos. My theme “Inside Out” made me think of the movie The Fog and of course Inside Out (Theatrical) the Disney movie. I think I’ll put on The Fog while I work to get in the mood.

Micro-fiction: Anjali watched as the live deer frolicked among the recently risen. Her longing for her lost love, the inspiration for this mistake, still consumed her, but she was also filled with wonder by this lone creature unaware or unafraid of those defying death while the other living cowered and hid.

Writing Process and Tools

Creepy verbs: alarm, worry, unhinge, forewarn, appall, carillon, toll

Story Cubes Symbols: crescent moon, erupting volcano, sleeping person snoring, rainbow, cell phone, parachute jumper, worried face, monster shadow, tall building

Woodland creature: deer

Horror trope: past lives

Other People’s Writober Prompts

I found these lists of daily prompts on twitter, in case you are looking for even more inspiration:

Inktober promptsWritober Writing Prompts

Happy Reading and Writing! I’ll see you tomorrow.

#Writober 2019 Day 2: Changeling

Contemplating the Other

photo by Maria L. Berg

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme is Changeling. I can really related to this theme as I often said I must have been found somewhere as a baby. I did not believe I could have been related ;). I also like the example Minute poetry form. I don’t think I have tried it before. I’ll give it a try later since the poem that came to me does not fit the form. My poem was inspired by the definition given for Changeling.

When I Think of Me

I wonder where they took her
That me that might have been
Did they shrink her down
and give her wings
to secret among their kin

I wonder where I come from
and why they placed me here
Did they make me big
and break my wings
just so they could leer

Does she send the hummingbird
that flits among the flowers?
Or the squirrel
who sits and chits at me
as the summer fruit sours

What would be the purpose
of the changeling child
to never know
one’s true home
nature never reconciled

#Writober4

The image for Day 2 on the Pinterest board shows a group of five monsters standing in a row in a field.

My take: This group of monsters looks poised and ready, but ready for what? And what are they waiting for? Is there someone commanding them? Has someone conjured them? Each monster is unique, and appear to have different animalistic characteristics. They may each have different skills or powers, but they all have huge sharp teeth, so I would think they are all carnivores.

Micro-fiction: As she stared into their dead eyes, she wondered what they were waiting for. She was relieved that they hadn’t eaten her too, but that made her wonder if it was her rage that had invited them. She worried they would never leave.

Writing Process and Tools

Yesterday, I forgot to explain what I meant by Story Cube Symbols. I’ve added a link to a post I did about story cubes and different ways to use them. Recently, I’ve been using them a little differently. I’ve been rolling them to look for symbols, either in relation to a character during character creation, or as a way to think up theme symbols.

Celtic Cross Plots: Today I linked to a post from November of 2017 when I started plotting with tarot. It talks about the spread and how I interpret it.

Yesterday I showed this spread as an idea for some creepy flash stories:

  1. Queen of swords 2. Seven of swords 3. Two of cups 4. Death   5. Judgement 6. Page of swords 7. The Chariot 8. Two of wands 9. King of coins 10. Queen of coins

Today, I looked at my copy of The Ultimate Guide to Tarot: A Beginner’s Guide to the Cards, Spreads, and Revealing the Mystery of the Tarot by Liz Dean and came up with this interpretation:

A strong, independent, well-off, recently-married woman finds out her partner betrayed her. The partner dies of “natural causes,” but she fears judgement. She becomes alert and carefully observes what others say. People see her as a rising star and help her further her ambitions. She has firm boundaries and will not tolerate those looking to take what is hers and she ends with wisdom beyond her years and physically content in her physical world.

So can we apply this to today’s story? Is one of the monsters in the picture a strong independent woman who was recently betrayed by one of the other monsters? Or does our strong, independent woman command the monsters to do away with her new husband who betrayed her? Did the monsters kill her husband and no one believes her? Does she feel guilty because the monsters killing her cheating husband makes her happy? Or are those monsters perhaps aspects of her own psyche?

There’s a lot to play with there. This is why I enjoy combining different kinds of prompts to spark ideas.

Creepy verbs: frighten, scare, dread, curdle the blood, curl the hair, strike terror into, spook, startle

Story Cubes Symbols: postcard, hand, fire, apple, key, thought bubble, arrows in all directions, bee, arrow (up, left)

Woodland creature: squirrel

Horror trope: demons

I hope you find inspiration and do some fun writing today.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober 2019 Day 1: Dark Night of the Soul

Halloween writing fun

Fun tools are motivating even when approaching the dark night of the soul

#OctPoWriMo

Today’s theme is Dark Night of the Soul. I really like this as the theme to start Writober because it gets to what flash fiction and poetry are all about: confronting the self, inspecting the human spirit, facing change and facing fears.

A Shudder in the Shadows

Is it that I finally see?
You that always follows me,
a shudder in the shadows,
a spark just out of sight
Or is it you who leads?
My silent guide through endless night,
the tiny hope at tunnels end,
or but a trick of light?
Scattered photons on the mist
perceived as wondrous sight
Are you of bad omen or fair?
Are you with tidings or but glare?
Do I face truth?
I do not dare.

#Writober4

The image on my pinterest board I chose for day one shows a person deep in the woods on a foggy night encountering a giant floating fish with glowing eyes. The person appears to be about catch a glowing orb, or perhaps forming a glowing orb in space. Is s/he receiving a gift from a spirit guide? Attempting to communicate using his/her own life force?

My take: I think this image is a great illustration for the theme “Dark Night of the Soul.” Today’s story is about a man who is given the opportunity to see beyond the veil. He has to choose if he wants to live a life with this new truth or go back to not knowing: a more comfortable, but less complete life.

Micro-fiction: Bertrand opened his arms wide to accept the gift of sight from the great fish floating in the misty wood, but at the last moment he put his arms down and ran back to his tent. He didn’t want to spend his days surrounded by giant all-knowing floating fish with glowing eyes. He wanted to curl up in his warm sleeping bag, go back to sleep and forget what he had seen.

Writing Process and Tools

To prepare for a month of writing a flash story every day, I opened one of the great little blank books (pictured above) and made some inspirational notes to use as needed. Feel free to use any or all of these elements in your story.

Celtic Cross Plots: A couple years ago I learned about plotting with tarot cards. It has nothing to do with divination, but everything to do with the symbolism of the cards and layout to inspire your storytelling. If you follow the link, you’ll see how I made my own cards. I had always intended to continue decorating the cards as I learned more about their meaning and symbolism. This year, to get myself started, I added Halloween stickers to the cards as they came up. Here’s a picture of the first horror story plot for this Writober:Halloween plot with tarot one

  1. Queen of swords 2. Seven of swords 3. Two of cups 4. Death   5. Judgement 6. Page of swords 7. The Chariot 8. Two of wands 9. King of coins 10. Queen of coins

Creepy verbs: paralyze, deaden, maim, demolish, destroy, petrify

Story Cubes Symbols: balance scales, arrows in all directions, tall building, alligator, postcard, monster shadow, shooting star, footprint, sleeping person snoring.

Woodland creature: bunny

Horror trope: The grim reaper

R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril)

Since I am currently editing a thriller and planning a thriller for NaNoWriMo, I am reading–you guessed it–Thrillers. Since this challenge started September 1st, I can include the last book I read,
Blind Side by Catherine Coulter. She did a good job of keeping me turning the pages, though I did not find the sudden marriage aspect very interesting.

Now I’m reading Gone for Good: A Novel by Harlan Coben. I liked his book The Stranger and Gone for Good: A Novel was used as an example in Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook by Donald Maass for creating tension on every page. The specific example was about creating tension even in friendly dialogue. I’m excited to give it a read.

Happy Reading and Writing!

I hope you are all having a great first day of Writober. I’ve got to go type up my flash story. Check back tomorrow for more poetry, inspiration and fun. I look forward to hearing about what you are doing for Writober and reading your poems over at #OctPoWriMo.

Don’t forget to pick up your copy of Writer Shed Stories for only 99 cents. Available today! I hope you enjoy my story “More Than He Could Chew.”

Are You Ready for #Writober?

colorful skulls.jpg

photo by Maria L. Berg

October is almost here and I’m excited. I enjoy many fun writing events in October. And this year I’ve added the planning pages and submissions, and The Writer’s Games. It’s going to be a very busy month here at Experience Writing.

Writing Challenges

Short Stories

The Writer’s Games‘ second session is half over. I just submitted my story for the third event. I recommend joining in when the next session starts in April if you haven’t tried it yet. It is free to participate and you receive feedback from three separate judges on each entry. Each event provides a writing prompt on Friday evening and you have to send in a new story by end of day Monday. Each challenge has stretched my creativity and the feedback is encouraging and thought provoking.

Flash Fiction

I didn’t have time to do #Writober last year, so I’ll go back through the images I collected and choose the best ones to add to this year’s collection #Writober4. For those of you who don’t know, #Writober is a fun writing challenge that was originally organized by J.S. Nagy a.k.a. @BrassGoblin over on Wattpad. The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction (he wrote 101 word stories, I wrote stories under 1000 words) each day of October inspired by a spooky, creepy image. I enjoyed it so much that first year, I decided to keep it going. I created a collection of images on Pinterest. This year’s collection is #Writober4. I’ve numbered each image for the days of the month. I hope you will join me.

Poetry

It’s also time for #OctPoWriMo,  fall’s event for those who enjoy National Poetry Writing Month. There are great writing prompts every day. This year I’ve taken my participation a step further and volunteered to take on three of the days. I’ll be your host on October 10th for the theme “Touch”, October 20th for the theme “Mountains or Oceans”, and October 27th for the theme “How Did I Get Here?” The overall theme for this year is “Diving into the shadows to mine for gold.” If you haven’t participated before, head over to OctPoWriMo.com and learn all about it.

Reading Challenge

Until I took a look at my post from #Writober2, I had forgotten about Readers Imbibing Peril. It’s a fun reading challenge to get readers in the autumnal mood.

Planning

And as if that’s not enough fun for October, it’s also the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year and I need to catch up if I’m going to meet my goal of 100 rejections this year. During my hiatus, I reformatted the pages in an attempt to use up most of the white space when printing it out as a brochure. I also decided not to use images of the journals, but to add my own photography and art as visual writing prompts instead. These next couple of months will be my final push to finalize my design. Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

If you’re ready to send out stories right now, there are Oct. 1st deadlines at:

See you tomorrow

And so it begins. I hope you’ll join me throughout the month. There will be new posts here every day of October with poetry, micro-fiction, prompts and so much more.

Revising with scene cards

finished scene cards

Hello everyone. It appears my hiatus is over as I’m excited to get back to Experience Writing. But I’m not going to get back to the planner pages quite yet. While I took an extended break from blogging and social media, I finally found the excitement and energy I needed to return to revising my novel.

I will be following Janice Hardy’s “Revise Your Novel in 31 Days.” It looks like exactly what I need to stay motivated and do the work every day until it’s done. With that in mind, I read her workshop prep and set out for the store to pick up colored 3X5 cards. However, my local store had moved their office supplies and by the time I finished shopping, I had forgotten all about them.

Making scene cards – the design

I was positive I had some in the house somewhere, so I began an extensive time-suck search instead of just returning to the store. And I’m glad I did because I found a bag of paper supplies I had stashed and forgotten about. In this fabulous bag I had card stock and resume papers of many colors. They gave me an idea. I could make my own index cards with guiding questions already printed on them. This way I will know exactly what I am trying to do in each scene and be able to evaluate the scenes in the same way each time.

Making scene cards tools

Here’s what I did:

  1. I created a word processing file with the page in landscape and separated the page into four sections.
  2. I used the scene evaluation questions that Janice Hardy proposed in her prepping lesson “How to create an Editorial Map” and fit them with plenty of space to write answers  repeated in the four sections.
  3. I printed onto different colors of the resume paper
  4. I glued the resumed paper onto the card stock
  5. I cut them apart

And voilà! Custom scene cards.

 

Using the scene cards – they work!

Using the scene cards has helped me see my draft differently. I’m finally understanding the big picture edit process more clearly. As of today, I’m half way through my draft and I’ve already found:

  • Unintended POV shifts
  • Chapters that do not move the story along  (completely removed)
  • Places to split a chapter to increase suspense
  • Places to rearrange chapters
  • Places to add character development and tie plot lines together
  • An unnecessary character and a character that is necessary that needs more development

Here’s an example of a scene card I filled in:

filled in scene card

Things to remember when using scene cards

Chapters may and often do have more than one scene. Fill out a card for each scene. You may have many cards for one chapter.

I’m filling my cards out in pencil and it’s freeing. My original answers to my POV character’s goals and motivations are often not the correct answers after I think about it for a while. Also, I like to number the cards in the top right corner and as I cut scenes and rearrange scenes, I can easily renumber them.

Having several different color cards can be used as a great organizational tool. Because the novel I’m working on has different POV characters in different chapters, I’m using different colors to represent my POV characters. That way when I’m done, it will be easy to look at each of the different narratives by putting same color cards together. You may want to use different colors to represent your main plots and subplots, or different settings if you’re writing a story that takes place in three different countries for instance. There are a bunch of fun possibilities, but remember that the color of the cards is also a tool, so be consistent in whichever plan you choose.

Other Uses

I’m going to try using these scene cards to plan and outline my idea for NaNoWriMo this year. In the past, I haven’t been great with outlines, but that could change. Knowing my POV characters goals, motivations and conflicts for each scene ahead of time should make writing that draft a lot easier.

I also had some star-shaped paper, brads and stickers I look forward to adding to the cards in some way. If I have an epiphany, I’ll let you know.

I hope you find using scene cards as helpful and motivating as I do.

Happy Reading and Writing!

The Planner Experiment: The last week of June

Hi all. I had the daily planner pages for the last week of June ready to go yesterday, but I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to talk about. And . . . I still haven’t, so I’ll let the pages speak for themselves.

2019 Planner June week four

It’s the last week of the quarter, so reach hard for those goals and make time to reflect on your achievements so far.

Have a good week.