#Writober Day 10: Voyeuristic

writober day ten

by Gregory Crewdson

There is so much story in this image. Why is Dad outside, in a crazy patio garden, looking in on his exhausted family? Is that even Dad?

This image makes me think of the dysfunctional family in Close Encounters Of The Third Kind when Dad is throwing the plants into the kitchen to make his model.

Don’t forget #pessimisticmoustache. The title of this post might give you an idea for an ism you could use in your description.

#vss: very short story

The veil between the heavenly garden and his living-room grew thinner at night, but worked like a one way mirror. They never saw him. (edited to fit 140 char. limit)

(Original) The veil between the heavenly garden of the afterlife and his living-room grew thinner at night, but worked like a one way mirror in an interrogation room. His wife and daughter never saw or heard him.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: Power And Control

Today’s prompt recommends using a mind map which is fun for me because last month I created a mind map graphic (feel free to print it and use it) for Geoffrey Calhoun’s guest post Power through Act 2: Tricks and Tips for finishing your story. 

I printed out my graphic and used the starting words from OctPoWriMo.com. I set my timer for 10 minutes. Here’s how my brainstorming session turned out:

A mind map around the word "power"

Maria L. Berg’s Mind Map of Power

Ha Ha! I can barely read my own handwriting. I liked using my Mind Map graphic. It’s fun how the mind goes in unexpected directions. I think I’ll print a bunch more of those and do them for the #Writober flash fiction stories, and random words, and . . . I’m going to need more printer ink.

I thought the #Writober image and #OctPoWriMo prompt paired well today. Here’s my poem:

The Voyeur

He held her

Controlling her with his eyes

He saw everything she did

Power soared with his every shallow breath

In anticipation

Of the moment

She would recognize

The violation

His eyes held her

Pronouns – power and gender rolls

This theme and my poem made me think about the problems with power and gender-inequality, so I decided to change the pronouns in my poem.

Voyeur

She held him

Controlling him with her eyes

She saw everything he did

Power soared with her every shallow breath

In anticipation

Of the moment

He would recognize

The violation

Her eyes held him

Contrast and Compare

What do you think? Does the meaning change? Or is equal representation, equally creepy?

#FlashFicHive

Where do you post your flash stories?

I have been posting my #Writober microstories on twitter at #vss. I hope you’ll join me.

flash fic day 10

graphic by Anjela Curtis

This last spring I wrote about the great online magazines I found a good fit with in #LitMag+ and LitMag+ the sequel. They even published some of last year’s flash from #Writober. I’m always looking for more flash fiction magazines. Which ones are your favorites? Please leave links in the comments.

I am finding these prompts very inspiring and I hope you have too. It’s never too late to join in all the fun #Writober challenges.

Any words on the page are words that weren’t there before.

Happy Writing and Reading!

 

 

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Happy Halloween!

happy-halloween

This is the first year Gator McBumpypants and his friends decided to get dressed up for Halloween. You can tell it was all Dee Dee’s idea, but I think Herman’s going to have the most fun.

happy-halloween1

This year’s jack-o-lantern won “Best in Show” and “Most Creative” at the annual pumpkin carving party. I won this adorable Witch’s Brew glass.

Feel free to share these Halloween greetings with friends and family.

I hope you get more treats than tricks.

 

 

I’m excited to say: It’s that time of year again!

dee-dee-talking

I’m not talking about back to school or even the gorgeous turning of the leaves. What time of year is it that I’m so excited about? Gator McBumpypants time!

The manuscript for the fourth Gator McBumpypants adventure is complete and I’m making a new friend for Gator, Herman and Dee Dee.

To share my excitement about the new book, I am having a contest:

Can you guess what kind of animal the new friend will be?

The first twenty people to guess correctly will receive a free digital copy of the new book before the book is released!

Enter the Contest

Please type “Gator’s New Friend” in the Subject line and the kind of animal in the message box.

Good Luck! Winners will be announced October 1st, 2016.

 

Great News for Writers and Anyone Who Wants to Write!

No longer CohesiveSometimes things just go right. And when that happens, I get excited and want to share.

I got struck by the spring cleaning bug and in my sorting and tossing, I found a copy of Writer’s Digest that was part of the swag from an author meet I went to last year. Inside was an interesting article on planning your own writing retreat. I liked Steve Holt’s ideas, especially his daily schedule that broke up writing around meditation and exercise.

Believing that I can convince myself that I live in an ideal setting for a writing retreat, I started my retreat this morning and what did I see when I checked my email? Future Learn’s free eight-week fiction course started today. The timing couldn’t be better (except for the fact that I was so excited, I’ve already started week two).

The trouble I’m having in my writing has nothing to do with writer’s block. It is more about bringing new ideas to my table. I know what I want to accomplish with my novel, but an interesting story isn’t enough. Now, I have to make every page interesting, every sentence interesting, every word exactly what I want. And a lot of me wants to run. But I can’t. I have a deadline.

So, why would I take on a fiction class during my retreat? Because within just a few hours, I was inspired to write some interesting paragraphs I wouldn’t have written otherwise. The exercises were harder than I expected them to be. I over-thought them, but that was the thought I needed to write a section of a short story I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years. And I invented three unique character sketches.

What does this have to do with finishing my novel? Each thing I wrote today helped me stretch my imagination and improve my observational skills. You can always build on a strong foundation, so I want everyone to give themselves the gift of free education. The course is self-paced and you don’t have to do it as an eight week course though I personally am going to try to make it last so I can keep the inspiration going over my Spring Retreat.

Happy Reading and Writing!

 

 

The Misadventures of Moxie Sharpe Episode Four

The Misadventures of Moxie Sharpe banner for episode four

Episode Four: She Only Tastes What She Wants to Taste

When we left Moxie, she was buying shoes and overheard Nettles making mysterious plans . . .

 

Moxie signed her receipt with her well-practiced illegible scribble and hurried around the side of the tent, but Nettles and his conspirator were nowhere to be seen. She didn’t have an appetite for greasy fair food, so she decided to spend the rest of her break relaxing at her tent. She enjoyed the new spring in her step as she followed the footpath. The trees and underbrush thickened around her until it was almost dark in the mid-day sun. The first couple of tents she passed were obviously new and temporary employees—small tents with no sign of life around them. The further she walked, the larger the tents and more elaborate the living space. The camp across from hers had a full wood dining area with a table, shelves, two walls and a roof.

Moxie’s tent had been set up where Sir Gerald, the missing lute player, had lived every summer for the last eight years. The entrance of her three room, eight-person tent opened to a stone patio with a rock wall with little nooks for candles and outcroppings for coffee cups or bowls. Moxie imagined him spending all of his free time wandering the area alone searching for the perfect large, flat stones to plant in his patio and collecting shiny treasures for the wall. Then she remembered Nettles had said Sir Gerald liked the wenches, so maybe rock gathering walks was how he drew in his conquests. She now saw each of the prettiest rocks as a notch in Sir Gerald’s bedpost.

Moxie dove into her complete mess of a living space. Her bags had exploded, throwing her possessions everywhere, the moment she opened them. A slight smell of musk made her think that Pearl must have stuck her with some old, used tent. She grabbed her motorcycle helmet and put it on, buckling her chin strap just to feel normal. She unburied her leather jacket and hugged its thick leather to her chest before slipping her arms into the silky lining. The smell of motor oil and the grime of the road embraced her like a friendly hug.

Moxie believed that to be the best she had to always push her boundaries. That philosophy had led to many gnarly spills, so now she lived in constant pain. Walking up and down the hills of the fair on uneven ground wasn’t helping. She set up a folding chair on the stone porch and sank into it. The sound of frogs chirping in ecstasy bounced off the trees from a distant unseen pond. She popped a couple Tylenol 3 and washed them down with a swig from her flask. The warm burn finally loosened the knot in her shoulder and she took a deep breath of clean forest air which instantly threw her into a coughing fit.

Finally feeling like herself again, Moxie took another swig from her flask and contemplated the events of the day. Sure, she was a stranger to the ways of the renaissance fair, but this place and these people seemed extra strange. She wondered what Nettles was up to. And the King and Queen were certainly worried about something. Maybe the Queen was the one talking to Nettles by the shoe tent. Or maybe it was Megan. Megan and Ryan were involved somehow. What about the angry jouster? What did the King do to make that actor so angry? Does any of it have to do with Sir Gerald’s disappearance?

Moxie caught herself imagining Sir Gerald looking similar to the angry jouster, flowing blonde mane, perfectly groomed facial hair, muscular arms and those abs. . . . Wait a minute. The jouster was wearing armor. She was fantasizing about the lead singer of Sex With Helmets. He was so hot. And she should be spending this weekend with him at Scandrum. Why Pearl, why?

 

Family of skunks

from hww.ca

Moxie’s thoughts were interrupted by a little grunt that sounded like a tiny pig under her chair. She froze when she saw the black and white critter waddle out only inches from her foot. She imagined she was a statue and held her breath. She had heard many horror stories of the consequences of startling a skunk. This place was bad enough without having to bathe in tomato juice for the next few days. The skunk sniffed and grunted along the little rock wall, circled her chair and waddled back under her tent. As it ducked under the pallets she saw a little family of eyes and noses welcome it home. Oh great, thought Moxie, not only do I have to worry about my fellow musicians, the King and Queen and a violent jouster, I get to live in fear of stepping on a skunk every time I’m near my tent. What if I have to pee in the middle of the night?

Moxie took a long swig from her flask and with a big sigh got up and left her camp. She walked down the path to the bottom of the hill near the frog pond and tromped through the woods to the back of the joust field. Her helmet protected her head and face from branches and leaves and her leather jacket protected her arms from brambles and thorns. She was thinking how well her motorcycle gear prepared her for life in the woods when she opened the door at the back of the castle.

“My lady, hast thou lost thine God given mind?” Nettles shrieked. He ran over to Moxie and tried to yank her helmet off of her head.

She pushed him away with one hand while undoing her chinstrap with the other. She calmly put her helmet under her chair and put her jacket on a trunk along the wall. “Calm yourself Nettles. I walked the back way. Nobody saw me, except a skunk and maybe some frogs.”

Nettles scowled and returned to his seat. “You were supposed to join us earlier as a wandering minstrel. Where were you?”

“I needed to buy shoes and then I needed to set up my camp. I’m sure you understand.”

“Indeed. However, you will be expected on the morrow.”

“Whatever you say Nettles.”

During the second joust, the angry knight was nowhere to be seen. He was replaced by his squire who could barely stay on his horse and yet managed to win his joust. Everyone stuck to their script and their lines were stilted and emotionless. She wondered what happened to the King and Queen. They had been such amazing actors this morning, now they might as well be wooden cut-outs. She also wondered where the angry knight had gone. The show was completely lacking without him.

She planned to ask her fellow musicians after the joust, but they were packed up and out the door as soon as the last note finished resonating. She took Nettles’s brisk “On the morrow” to mean they were done for the day, so she grabbed her helmet from under her chair and hurried out the back of the castle. She happily skipped back along the path she had made through the woods thinking that this gig was actually not that bad. Then she felt a stinging, itching sensation and noticed scratches on her arms. She had forgotten her jacket.

Moxie hurried back the way she had come. She didn’t want to give up a minute of her free time. She didn’t notice that she wasn’t alone until after she put on her jacket. She recognized the King’s voice. He sounded nervous.

“Look. I made a mistake. What do you want me to do?” he said.

She didn’t hear another person, but then something heavy scraped across the floor and she heard thuds and a crash like something or someone falling over.

Then the King begged, “Please, don’t.” She heard a grunt like someone was punched or kicked in the gut and then the King yelled, “Oh God. No.”

Then nothing, complete silence, so Moxie peeked around the wall. She saw the King lying in a heap on the ground and a dark figure at the back wall about to open the door. Before she could duck back behind the partition, the figure turned and stared through her with piercing green eyes. The figure paused. Had he seen her? Was he coming to get her? Moxie didn’t dare to look. She grabbed the lute, holding the body of the instrument to use the tuning pegs as deadly weapons. Just as she was sure the figure would be upon her, she saw Nettles.

“Lady Sharpe, what doest thou?” he said.

Moxie screamed and almost impaled him, but caught herself and put down the lute. She peeked around the corner. No one was there, except the motionless king.

Nettles followed her gaze. “What’s going on in here? Is that King Terrence?”

Nettles hurried forward and checked for a pulse. “Oh the realm is lost. The king is dead.”

“Really Nettles? This is real life. Could you stop?”

Nettles turned sharply. His green eyes bore into her like daggers. “Moxie what have you done?” he said.

 

Is the king dead? Who was the shadowy figure? Is Moxie a suspect? Tune in next time for another heart-pounding, thrill-a-minute misadventure.

Two books for only 99 cents !!! The Anticipation Builds for Dee Dee Makes Three

sticks and canvas in the grass

I mentioned in my last post that my new Gator McBumpypants picture book will have props. What do you think the one in the picture could be?

You can find out soon! As soon as this weekend!! I sent Gator McBumpypants in Dee Dee Makes Three off to Createspace review mere hours ago. I can’t wait to share it with the world.

In the meantime, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is still free to download and as of today, Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly is only 99 cents.

You don’t need to read the first two books to enjoy the third adventure of Gator McBumpypants and his friends. But here’s your opportunity to meet a happy alligator and his friend Herman, read how they became friends and learn how Herman learns to fly. All of that, and you will have the inside scoop for Dee Dee Makes Three for only 99 cents!

🙂  But wait, there’s more  (:

You don’t have to have young children to enjoy Gator McBumpypants. Photographers, artists, writers, alligator lovers, stuffed animal aficionados–Here is your chance to inspect progress over time. The first book was inspired by a new DSLR camera and a photography class. The second book was inspired by feedback from readers and some new photography techniques. In my last post I mentioned many of the fun new things to expect in the third book, but I will add: this last year my photography focus was light and I received weekly critique. Have my efforts paid off? You will need all three books to judge. 🙂

I can’t wait to hear what you think  is in the picture!

Enjoy the books and happy writing.

Happy Thanksgiving

Herman rides on Gator McBumpypants' head next to their book.

Herman is thankful that Gator McBumpypants doesn’t eat flying things.

Gator McBumpypants wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. And to the turkey he says,

I don’t eat flying things if that’s what you’re worried about.

Don’t forget to pick up your free kindle download today to share with the whole family!

And for more fun Gator and Herman now have their own theme song and it is now on their video

FREE! – Promoting Kindle Free Days and Diving into Social Media

Herman rides on Gator McBumpypants' Head

Gator McBumpypants and Herman on an adventure through the internet.

Today is all about announcing my kindle free days to the world! For all you self-published authors who used createspace, or went straight to kindle direct, or are working with amazon in another way, this post is about using your kindle free days the best way possible to let the world know about your book. First, my plug, then I’ll share my advice from everything I’m learning.

Get Your Free Download of Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

In anticipation of the soon to be released second book in the Gator McBumpypants adventures series, Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise is available as a free download from Today Nov. 24 – Friday Nov. 28.

Don’t have kids? No problem. The beautiful pictures and fun story bring a smile to the kid in anyone.

Don’t have a kindle? Also, not an issue. You can read it in the kindle cloud at amazon, or download free kindle software to all your devices.

After you’ve read it, PLEASE share with friends and take a minute to write a review to tell the world how much you love Gator McBumpypants .

Okay, so now the dirt! When I published Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise, I decided to self-publish because I read that breaking into the children’s picture book market was harder than becoming an NFL Football Player. I loved writing Gator McBumpypants and spent almost a year putting it together. My niece was really excited about it and the other children I shared it with were enthralled, so why not self-publish, right? I was ready to see the dollars roll in, so I could spend all of my time taking pictures and writing books.

Though I originally imagined a big, long, hard-cover book, Create Space’s 8″X8″ paperback–that I decided would work best with my original concept–turned out great, and I really like it. So, why haven’t the dollars started pouring in yet? Emails to my friends, my website mbercreations.com, this blog, goodreads and an amazon author page were not enough.

Why not? Because these reached very few people. I love you guys, but I’m still new at this blogging thing and your numbers are at the moment few. Plus, I attract other authors, and many of us don’t have the money to buy each others’ books.

The answer? I had to dive into social media. I had a rather strong relationship with social media before it hit the stock market. Then I got upset that our friendships became a commodity to be traded like fossil fuels and corn, so I removed myself. However, as a self-published author, or any self-employed self-promoter, we need any word of mouth we can get. Most of you are probably way ahead of me here.
So what IS working? Make sure you give yourself at least three days before your planned free days and choose all five free days.. I recommend starting at least a week before. I, of course, did all of this starting last Friday, but mostly Saturday and Sunday ( I did NOT want to do facebook and twitter, but now I’m happy to see my friends and what they’re up to).

Gator McBumpypants on FACEBOOK! – Not that I want to promote it for personal info after all the stories I’ve heard (actual local businesses) of people getting fired (or arrested) because they posted stupid stuff on facebook, but facebook is working to get the word out. I was able to create a separate page for Gator McBumpypants and invite my friends to like it. I can also wander facebook as Gator McBumpypants and like other books and authors.

Gator McBumpypants on Google+ -Though I have yet to see results here, I was able to create a separate Gator McBumpypants page which corresponds to a Youtube channel. I plan to put up little promotional videos throughout the week.
Twitter  – I’m haven’t created enough presence here yet, but I have four more days to figure this out. Please click on this and find me with your 140 character tips on how this works for you. In the meantime, I did find out how to link to my free days in a tweet. The amazon URL is WAY too many characters to put in a tweet. TinyURL.com is a great free service for easily turning that long web address into something that fits into Twitter. I have yet to use a POUND SIGN (=hashtag: isn’t pound sign more sexual, wouldn’t that be more popular? just sayin’.)
eReaderPerks.com – I found a lot of sites that say they will promote your kindle free days. There are many services and blogs that will kindly take your money to promote for you, but the majority were not geared toward my needs. Out of more than 50 sites, I found ten that were free and didn’t need more 5 star reviews than I had.  The ten I submitted to were:

FreeBooks.com

Indiebookoftheday.com

Freebookdude.com

Ereaderutopia.com

Bookangel

eBookLister.net

eReaderPerks

Freebies4mom

Jungledeals&steals

Onehundredfreeebooks

The only one that listed my free kindle download was eReaderPerks.com. They listed it as an “Activity Book” which makes no sense, but they listed it. As a friend of mine said, “Reading is an activity” and I agree, but then all the books should have been listed as Activity books, right? I did only give them two days prep, and my give-away goes until Friday, so there’s still hope. I’ll come back to this list throughout the week if any others post my free download.

Other sites: Think about all of the sites you interact with on the web. These days, almost every site has some sort of social aspect. As I started my announcements this morning, I kept coming up with more places to put them. I’m part of a writer’s meet-up that has a page for announcements and my neighborhood has a nextdoor.com site that has a free stuff page. I have an old MySpace page that, though it confused me and seems to be owned by Google now, still has my original music on it, so I posted there too. Why not?

I still have much to explore. Pinterest? Reddit? Instagram? Flickr?

Results? From looking at the stats at kdp.amazon.com, I’ve gone from no activity to 17 downloads, just today and I have a new review.

My first day results are very exciting! Because I used all five free days, I have time to work on my platform and connecting all my sites to motivate more people to read my book throughout the week. Hopefully, people will be sharing Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise with their families for Turkey Day/Thanksgiving and buying the sequel for Christmas and Winter Holidays. I will be truly Thankful!

A Good Reads Give Away for Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

Gator McBumpypants

Gator and Herman stop to smell the flowers.

Happy Monday! This is the second week of my new posting strategy and I want to thank all of my new followers and commenters for making this part of my writing life so much fun! I’m enjoying these targeted daily posts: They are not only fun to write, they inspire me.  So as a thank you (and a marketing strategy suggested by readers), I’m having my first Good Reads giveaway. Over the next month, you can sign up for a chance to receive one of two signed copies of Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise. The winners will receive their copies in time to give them as gifts! That is if you can bring yourself to possibly part with all that cuteness.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise by Maria Berg

Gator McBumpypants Hears a Scary Noise

by Maria Berg

Giveaway ends December 10, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Any other authors having giveaways you want to tell us about?

Do you have other promotion suggestions?