The Planner Experiment: Fickle Spring

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This week spring sprung, pounced really. We raced from snow to Seattle summer weather with speed that could induce spine-snapping whiplash. The cherry plum trees in my yard went from bare to full blossom in forty-eight hours. I woke up one morning and found myself instinctively picking things up and putting them away everywhere I walked.

The sudden change in the weather is easy to correlate with my change in behavior, but I’ve noticed a different sudden change in behavior that doesn’t have a ready correlate. Lately, I’ve been moody in my reading. I’ll start reading a book, decide I don’t like it, and put it down. A while later, I’ll try it again, decide I don’t like it and put it back down. Another day, I think I’ll return it to the library and suddenly, it’s great! It’s as if I had to be in a specific state of mind and the stars finally aligned.

This made me think about submission rejections. The readers at literary journals, reading and reading stories all day, don’t have the time to pick up your story over and over until the stars align perfectly and they are in just the right state of mind to see the brilliance of your story. You have to keep submitting your best work, giving it the best chances by following submissions guidelines to the journals that appear to be the most likely to be looking for your stories, but then it is out of your hands.

I admit, the rejections got to me. I stopped submitting this month. Then when I did motivate myself to submit, the journal’s submission window had closed early.  But I am determined to make up for my little dip in motivation and confidence. This week, I have set a firm goal of three submissions a day for seven days! When I accomplish that goal, I will increase my submissions total from last month which was this month’s goal. It will be difficult, but I know I can do it. Wish me luck. I could use some encouragement. I hope you’ll join me.

The Pages

For this week’s pages, I chose a photo I took of the cherry plum blossoms in my yard. The white blossoms become little yellow, tasty plums. For the background I use GIMP to change the opacity and lighten the colors.

2019 Planner March Week Four

Coming in April

Last year, I participated in National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) for the first time. I also did the A-Z blog challenge, exploring a new word starting with each letter of the alphabet. I enjoyed how the new word interacted with the daily prompts. This year, though I know I will be spreading myself thin, I want to do both events again and add the Writer’s Digest PAD (poem-a-day) challenge. Since I’m finding that most journals will not publish anything that’s been posted to my blog, it makes sense to attempt two poems a day, at least.

What challenges are you looking forward to this April?

 

 

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The Planner Pages: Changing course

March week three pages

The Experiment

This month is flying by and I have very few submissions to show for it. My main issue is trying to read enough of each journal to get a feel for it and then when I’ve spent so much time reading the journal, I decide I don’t have a story that fits.

I’ve been debating if I want to continue to list deadlines, or reading period openings and I have officially switched to openings. This week, I finally convinced myself to submit to a magazine only to find they had closed submissions early due to too many submissions. I’m seeing more and more that journals that use submittable will only take a certain number of submissions per month due to costs which makes their deadlines indecipherable. I am also finding that I procrastinate, so deadlines are not really helping me plan ahead. It makes more sense, for all these reasons, to start looking at journals by when their reading period opens. So, after this week, I’m changing course.

This means I will have to redo all of the pages from this quarter for next year, but it was all an experiment, so I’m glad I’ve come to this decision now instead of in the fall.

Reading Discoveries

Though I have hit a slump in my submitting, I have made some fun discoveries through continuing the experiment. After reading an interview with the editor of Hinnom Magazine, I picked up a copy of The Nameless Dark: A Collectionby T. E. Grau. The first story, “Tubby’s Big Swim” is thoroughly entertaining.

In Blackbird I enjoyed Miniature Man by Carrie Brown and was excited to read This Is The Age of Beautiful Death by John Dufresne. I have read and enjoyed John Dufresne‘s books on writing and recommend them often. It was fun to recognize an author I admire as I was reading through the magazines.

In Shenandoah, I enjoyed Tender by Shruti Swamy.

I hope you’ll make some time to treat yourself to these great stories.

The Pages

Here are this week’s daily planning pages with new writing prompts and magazine information: 2019 Planner March Week Three

I hope you are finding the daily planning pages helpful, informative, and motivational. What do you think of the writing prompts I’m making up? Have you tried any of them? How are your submissions going? Do you think you’ll reach 100 rejections this year?

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

The Planner Experiment: March Week Two

March week 2While I worked through the week’s pages, I came across an error. The dates for Pseudopod’s reading period are 3/15-3/31. The good news is we didn’t  miss out. I will try to be more careful. I’m glad I have a story that I want to send to Pseudopod, so I noticed the error.

I found some new deadlines coming up soon. My original search weighted to the magazines that paid authors and did not charge fees, however, I think including as many deadlines as I can, so you can make your own choices and analyses, is a better goal. Luckily, this is a year long experiment, so I have time to consider this issue.

Here’s the new March planning page with deadlines: March Deadlines update

I had some fun photographing fabrics for backgrounds, so the next few weeks will have original, textured backgrounds. I’m still playing around with chart and graph ideas. Hopefully I’ll have something for next week.

Here are this week’s pages: 2019 Planner March Week Two

Plan a great week!

Happy Reading, Writing, Planning and Submitting!

 

#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!

 

 

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.

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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