#Writober Day 8: Hungry Tree In The Military Cemetery

Tree eating military gravestone

photograph by Maria L. Berg 2017

This tree takes me straight to Poltergeist only these gravestones stayed in the cemetery.

Any of the Poltergeist movies would be great for those of you doing the RIPXII Peril on the Screen challenge.

#vss: very short story

He blamed the trees for his losses; roots tripping his men; branches scratching. The trees seek punitive damages beyond the grave.

#OctPoWriMo

Theme: How Could I Know

The prompt at OctPoWriMo.com suggests the poetry form called Joseph’s Star. It’s a syllable line rule ( Syllables are 1, 3, 5, 7, 7, 5, 3, and 1) poem like a haiku but it creates a diamond shape and you can repeat the pattern in as many stanzas as needed. I like these poetry form prompts.

How

could I know

a large tree would grow

when the bird dropped the seed cone

while flying over your stone

out of all the dead

and find life

there.

How

did its roots

find food in old boots

of hallowed ground deep with you

do I dare imagine, too

reaching searching first drink

inside the loosened

seems of the

box?

How

could I know

it would cradle you

suck in your essence like food

lift you through its veins of wood

make you one with it

are you a

tree?

 

#FlashFicHive

Develop a story inspired by a word cloud.

FlashFicHivewordcloud

#FlashFicHive Day 8 Word Cloud by Anjela Curtis

I think some of these words will work nicely with today’s prompt. Until now, I hadn’t thought of a nest with eggs in that tree. Or maybe our protagonist finds a bag full of money in a hole in the tree, or under the limb holding the grave stone or . . . Ooh, this is a treasure trove of ideas.

#RIPXII Peril On The Screen

Because my whole face and head have been invaded by the mucous monster, I spent my Saturday in bed feeling sorry for myself. To feel like I accomplished something, I decided to tackle The Peril On The Screen challenge.

Horns – * * * * (Four Stars)

Horns was not what I expected. It was much better. It had elements of dark comedy and a rich mystery wrapped up in religious symbolism and a truly horrible premise. It even had some Stand By Me moments with flashbacks to the main players as childhood friends.

Swiss Army Man -* * (Two Stars)

This movie was a disturbing, fantasy portrayal of necrophilia. Though I liked the imaginative arts and crafts and am impressed by the obsession it took to raise the bar for fart jokes,–That bar has flown to an unimaginable new height–I felt icky and worried for the writer, director and producers when the film ended.

Watching Horns and Swiss Army Man back to back, I was impressed at how Daniel Radcliff brings his characters to “life” (Ha! Ha!), and wondered if, in trying to get away from Harry Potter, he hasn’t made some odd choices.

The Cabin In The Woods – * * * * (Four Stars)

When I watched this movie before, I may have only caught part of it, or been distracted because, though I knew the plot and remembered the monsters in their cubes, I did not remember that the cast included the likes of Thor, Jamie from Zoo: Season 1 and the Alien huntress herself- Sigourney Weaver.

This movie is so fun. It is a lesson to writers that any trope, no matter how over used, can be seen in a new and create way.

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#Writober Update

 

 

I wanted to add a few things to the line-up for #Writober. While reading Slade House: A Novel by David Mitchell for #RIPXII’s Peril of the group read, I had another idea of how to use the #Writober 2 pinterest board. Each image could be a scene in a continuous story. You might end up outlining your @NaNoWriMo novel.

Just discovered #Writober and feel like you’re too late, or feel like you can’t participate because you don’t have enough time? No worries. I stumbled upon the challenge late last year and wrote most of my stories in one weekend. The only limits to the #Writober challenge are the ones you creatively place upon yourself to get your stories written.

The way I did #Writober last year (and I’m doing it again), was I created an Open Office (Word) document and named it #Writober. I then typed a number for each day/image and for the images I had story ideas for, I wrote a title and notes, or just started the story. That way I could jump around whenever inspiration struck. I’m a non-linear thinker and this works for me. I look forward to hearing how the #Writober challenge works for you.

October Pairings: #OctPairs

I had another idea that I thought would be fun for #Writober: October Pairings. Every Wednesday this month, I’ll be posting about things that combine well, like Halloween candy and scary books, or Halloween movies and hot beverages.

I hope you’ll post your ideas for good October Pairings on twitter with #OctPairs.

 

trick-or-treat-book-blog-hop-banner_5_orig

If you have written a scary book and would like to promote it by giving it away on Halloween, head over to Trick-or-Treat Reads.

If you haven’t written that book yet, but love to read scary stories, don’t forget to Trick-or-Treat for books on Halloween.

Have you planned your costume yet? What are you dressing as this year? In the past, I have had my costumes inspire my stories and my stories inspire my costumes. I hope #Writober inspires you.

Happy Writing and Reading!

Easy Inexpensive Halloween Decorations

These ideas from KellysDIY are so fun, I had to repost. Amazingly simple decorations to get you in the mood for #Writober. I think my Halloween decorating will be a month long process this year.

Halloween is just around the corner….so I found some ideas you can do to dress up your home….scary. Fun and easy to do.. I used felt for everything except for the white eyes and teeth. They’re just card stock. We have a covered porch, so I didn’t need to worry about rain. This was totally […]

via Easy Halloween Decorations — kelleysdiy

What are you planning for #Writober?

#Writober – a writing and reading extravaganza leading to Halloween

September is flying by too quickly. I haven’t even posted my giant Summer reading review yet, but it’s already time to start looking toward October. October is a great time for writing, especially creepy fantasy and horror challenges. I’ve decided to use J.S. Nagy’s challenge name from last year #Writober to describe the whole month, because of all of the fun writing and reading challenges I’ve found to enjoy. I hope you’ll join me for a spooktacularly productive #Writober.

The Pinterest Board #Writober 2

Last year, I happened upon a great writing challenge called #Writober. The organizer, J.S. Nagy a.k.a @BrassGoblin, created a pinterest board and challenged himself to write a 101 word story inspired by one picture each day. He asked other writers to join him and read each other’s stories on Wattpad. Though I did not post my stories, I did read the other stories. I didn’t end up writing a story for each image and I collected some images of my own, but the stories inspired by the challenge were fun. One of them was even published!

This year, I got excited to add some of my own images to the #Writober board, so I contacted J.S. Nagy to see if he had started planning #Writober for this year. Sadly, for me, not him, he is headed to Japan and does not have time for it this year. So I have taken on #Writober 2 and hope you will join me. Here’s the #Writober 2 pinterest board. I have numbered each image in its description and hope you find inspiration for each day in the array of images I collected.

You don’t have to use the images to inspire daily 101 word stories as @BrassGoblin suggested. Last year, I used the images as inspiration for flash fiction of any length under 1,000 words. I also used them to inspire tweet length #microstories (#vss – very short story). This year, I plan to add poetry, a twitter flash fiction group, a reading challenge and #pessimisticmoustache to the mix.

Poetry

I took a CalArts poetry workshop online through coursera.org last month and got a lot out of it. I thought it would be fun to challenge myself to continue writing poetry with a daily poetry writing challenge. This will be the 6th year of #OctPoWriMo  poetry challenge. They have a poetry prompt for inspiration on the website every day. I wonder how my #Writober 2 images will interact with their inspirational prompts. Could be interesting. I’ll be posting my poems here on Experience Writing.

#FlashFicHive

FlashFicHive

This is a group challenge that comes up every two months. I’m glad it corresponds with #Writober. I’m hoping they will doubly inspire me to write flash fiction every day.

R.I.P. – Readers Imbibing Peril

This is the twelfth year of  Readers Imbibing Peril #RIPXII. This reading challenge has lots of different perils to choose from. It began the 1st of September, but I arrived late to the party and plan to participate for October. I’m planning to be in a lot of peril, including:

In peril the first:

The four books I want to read are:
What the Dead Know: A Novel – Thriller
Small Town: A Novel (Block, Lawrence) – Mystery
Gwendy’s Button Box – Horror
and a surprise that I’ll tell you about in about a week. I’ll be reviewing a book that isn’t released yet.

In peril of the short story:

I recommend looking for stories to read and linking your stories to #Writober.

There are also great stories at:

The Evening Theatre, Twisted Sister Lit Mag, Sick Lit Mag, Five on The Fifth, Fictional Pairings, and many, many more great online literary magazines.

Peril on the screen:

For this peril, I thought I would watch Horns based on the Joe Hill novel and that made me think of Swiss Army Man which I also haven’t seen.

And Peril of the group read:

I already have my copy of Slade House by David Mitchell

#PessimisticMoustache

I created a creative description game based on a great line from Agatha Christie. Author Diana Rose Wilson and I play it sporadically on twitter. We post pictures and GIFs and challenge ourselves to come up with an ism to describe a feature. For #Movember it’s full of mustaches, and December was full of creepy Santas, but for #Writober, I’m thinking of using the images from the pinterest board. Here are the rules of play with links to lists of isms. I hope you’ll head over to Twitter and join us. Last year we had a lot of fun through November and December as well.

Enjoy #Writober!

So there you have it. A selection of fun writing and reading events I plan to enjoy this October. From experience, I know life will get in the way, and some days, I might just run out of time, but my #Writober is all about inspiration and creation, so I hope you’ll join me in any way that works for you. Please check back here at Experience Writing for my daily poems and flash fiction ideas and I hope you like the #Writober 2 pinterest board. I look forward to hearing about how you will be spending #Writober.

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.

 

 

Author Interview with Diana Rose Wilson – November: It’s not just #NaNoWriMo. Don’t forget #Movember.

pumpkins with mustaches

Visit saralukecreative to get your mustache stickers

bio pic of Diana Rose Wilson

Last month, author Diana Rose Wilson shared her great writing tips and tricks in her guest post Be Outrageous!  Now, just in time for her favorite holiday, Halloween, she has agreed to answer my questions about her writing, her websites and her love of mustaches.

We met at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Conference (#PNWC16), so let’s start off with: When did you first know you were a writer?

I got the writing bug when I was in about 3rd grade. Between reading The Black Stallion and Watership Down, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I tried it up through high school but knew by then I didn’t have the chops to make a living doing it. In my twenties I wrote fan fiction and played text based role-playing games but couldn’t get anything published. I hung up my pen and went to the corporate world until a few years ago when I decided to try again with some life behind me.

Do you write every day? Tell us a little about your writing practice.

I do write every day but not always on a story. When I’m in story mode, I try to put down about 3k words. I love when I can get 5k but sometimes it’s more like 500. I am a little embarrassed to admit that I still play text-based role-playing games. When I’m in editing mode I don’t keep a word count and I will spend two or three hours ‘writing’ on the game.

Are you a plotter or a pantser (someone who outlines and plans or someone who writes by the seat of her pants)?

I was a plotter when I first started and then I went to pants’ing and now I think I’m a plantster. I like to have my characters fleshed out and some ideas of the story’s direction but I string the plots together a little like Christmas lights. Bulb by bulb. Right now I have a wide reaching story so I have a lot of wire to put bulbs in. I know where they need to go, I just never know what color light is getting hooked in next. Maybe I’m a new mutation: The Stringer.

What is your best trick for getting more words on the page?

When I can’t get a scene or plot to move forward, or when I’m completely blocked. I physically make myself type. I have sat down and wrote myself a pep talk until the scene started to form in my mind and I could transcribe it. I have written random character descriptions and histories and drawn up family bloodlines just to put fingers on keys to write something.

Where do you find creative inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from music. Sometimes a song will just strike me just right and I’ll get an idea for a scene or a character or it will help drive me through a less than interesting point in a story.

Who have you found most influential to your writing?

My husband absolutely is the most influential. Not only because he’s a sounding board for all my ideas but he really pushed me to do what I love. He always encouraged me to write, even when I had completely thrown away the idea that I had ‘it’ in me.

Do you listen to music while you write? What do you listen to? Do you create playlists?

I always have music going when I’m writing. Depending on what I’m writing the music will change. I like a lot of sappy love songs when I’m doing the sweet scenes but very hard metal when for action and drama related scenes. I keep a few playlists and I have a songs I relate to various characters and tend to play them to get into the mindset to write them. I’m not a big country music fan but if I want to write something emotional it’s western music all the way.

Who are your favorite authors?

Richard Adams

Sharron Lee & Steve Miller

Jim Butcher

George R. R. Martin

Christina Lauren

What are your favorite books?

Watership Down (Who doesn’t like war-rabbits?)

MAIA

The Stand

Korval’s Game (Liaden Universe®), (Ok, so it’s two novels: Plan B & I Dare but do yourself a favor and try it. They are addicting. You’ve been warned.

Dresden Files (15 books) – I can’t order them in favorite.

What three writer’s blogs do you visit most often?

Jane Friedman – https://janefriedman.com/blog/

Janet Reid’s blog – http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/

L.M. Pierce’s most awesome and helpful blog – http://www.piercebooks.com/blog

What three writer’s websites do you visit most often?

http://www.georgerrmartin.com/ (For any whisper of the next book)

http://korval.com/ – Sharron Lee & Steve Miller. Sharron Lee has a great blog too.

http://christinalaurenbooks.com/ – Keeping up to date with release dates.

Also http://www.writersdigest.com/ – is a great site /for/ writers.

I know you love Halloween. Are you dressing up this year? Tell us about your favorite Halloween costume.

I love Halloween and El Dia de los Muertos and Samhain too. Then there are costumes! There’s something fun about pretending you’re someone else for a day (or weekend). I am pulling off Wonder Woman this year, just so I can wear tights, a cape and a mask! My favorite costume would be the year we cross-dressed as Napoleon and Josephine. I make a sexy Napoleon!

Very cool. I made Napoleon and Josephine costumes for my friends’ band. He wore his Napoleon costume for Mardi Gras this year.

I noticed you changed your name on Twitter from @DianaRoseWilson to DIE-ana Thorn Wilson. Are you doing any fun Halloween themed things on your website spiritbeast.org? The name sounds perfect for Halloween already.

I don’t have anything planned for Halloween but I am trying to get a gathering together this weekend. I released a free Halloween story for fans and hope to reconnect with some people I haven’t seen around for a few months. I welcome people to drop in and make a persona and check it out.

Let’s talk more about your webite. You have to swear you’re 18+ to enter. Is it scary in there?

Scary? Well, not really. I have been writing primarily erotica and worried if I didn’t have my disclaimer someone was going to get offended. I set up the spiritbeast.org site for fans that were dying for updates. I have this page set up for guests to make more of a persona rather than their ‘real’ information. I want it to be a safe chat area to talk about adult themes in text. There are forums and a chat feature. I have a few story-related goodies like the Harris and Wallace family trees (going back to the 1800’s). I’ve really thrown myself into world building so the website is a place to share some of the goodies.

You have another website Direwill.com. What will readers find there?

This is more of a general author website with information about upcoming books and what’s going on with me. I keep it tame and all-ages appropriate without spoilers, goodies or role playing.

You play a mean game of #pessimisticmoustache. Where do you get those great mustache GIFs?

I love me some manly facial fuzz! https://giphy.com/ is a great place for some action GIFs, or I do a search on Twitter for them. I have some secret weapons in my photo ‘stash’ as well. I come from a long line of bikers and outlaws, I think it’s part of the rule book that the men must have face fuzz.

This November you and I will be talking a lot about Movember. Can you tell the readers what that is and how they can participate?

Movember is a fundraising effort for men’s health issues. Like wearing pink for breast cancer awareness, the ‘mo’, slang for mustache, is the ribbon guys wear. For the 30 days of November men grow their ‘stache and form teams to raise money. No shaving for the guys upper lip for the month. Check out information and how to set up a team here: https://us.movember.com/

Since I’m not going to grow out a sister-stache, I’ll celebrate facial hair using your awesome game I have hijacked: https://experiencewriting.com/2016/07/22/the-pessimistic-moustache-game-avoiding-cliche-description/

There will be a mix of blog and twitter posts coming out using the #pessimisticmoustache hashtag.

Now, in your original game you encourage other body parts and throw an ‘ism to name it, but for the sake of Movember and awesome beards/mustaches/goatees/chops everywhere, I’m going to focus only on the hair.

I’m locating some random face-fluff pictures ala Santa Clause and players are encouraged to describe it with one word. An ‘ism, an ‘istic or something completely off the wall. I may have a list of a few for a multiple-choice vote to mix things up.

What are you going to do for Movember?

In past years KISW’s The Men’s Room (Seattle seriously has the best radio station!) usually has a Movember team and I donate to that. A have threatened to try to grow my own stache, but I’m just not brave enough. 😉

Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Have you ever?

I will! NaNoWriMo got me back into writing when I decided to try writing again. The first two years I didn’t win but the third year is when it finally clicked and that is the story that started the whole ball rolling. I’m not sure what my project will be exactly but I have a few weeks to pick what to focus on.

When you’re not writing, what is your favorite thing to do?

I’m very lucky to live in wine country between Napa and Sonoma where I can enjoy as much wine and fancy food as my little heart can handle. Food. Wine. Writing. Sounds prefect to me.

Are you a dog person or a cat person?

Cat person, on the crazy cat lady end of the spectrum.

What bit of wisdom would you share with new writers?

I encourage writers to to keep writing. Give yourself permission to write what you enjoy. Write as much as you possibly can and experiment until you find what brings you the most joy. The other thing is to find a support group of writers who you can talk and work with. Look for people who will lift you up and be kind in their feedback. Not a lot of non-writers can grasp what we go through when we’re living in an imaginary world with our invisible friends for weeks, months, years at a time.

Thank you, Diana.

Currently Diana lives in wine country with her husband where she enjoys good wine, better food, loud Harleys, 3-day eventing and the delights of deviant erotica. She is a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Redwood Writers, Snoopy Writers and CFTW Writer’s Block.

Readers, make sure to visit Diana at spiritbeast.org and Direwill.com and follow her on twitter @DianaRoseWilson.

Diana and I look forward to more players at #pessimisticmoustache for the month of #Movember.

 

Beware The Creeping Nouns

creeping-nouns

I am reading A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work by Jack Hart. Though it is geared toward journalism,  the information is useful and inspiring for my fiction.

One sign of a skilled writer is avoiding redundancy. Mr. Hart uses the analogy of felling a a-writers-coachtree. The skilled woodsman takes efficient strokes and controls where the tree falls, but the “city slicker” hacks away, exhausting himself and endangering his neighbors.

Sharpen Your Axe

During your first draft, you don’t want to think about word choice, you just want to get your ideas down, right? But what if, some of those overused words, those pesky redundancies and expletives never got on the page? It would save you a ton of time during editing.

This Halloween, you are sharpening your axe for a monster hunt. You are hunting E.B. White’s “leeches that infest the pond of prose” and Jack Hart’s parasites that live alongside them in that pond. Once you are trained to recognize these monsters you can stop them dead before they get to your pages!

The Leeches and Parasites

leech

Leeches –

Expletives are more than the beeps we hear on TV. The word expletive also means any syllable,word, or phrase conveying no independent meaning,esp inserted in a line of verse for the sake of the metre (from dictionary.com).

Make sure to hack away at “it is,” “it was,” “there is,” “there were,” and “there are.”

Creeping Nouns are nouns that attach themselves to other nouns but add nothing but dead weight. Mr. Hart believes that if we avoid unnecessary use of “situation,” “field,” and “condition,” we could eliminate half the creeping nouns published. Here are a couple examples from A Writer’s Coach.

. . . and one source said the Cincinnati Reds manager faces a possible suspension for gambling activities.

Gambling is already the activity causing the possible suspension. Activities is redundant.

Officials are saying the combination of millions of dying trees, the seventh year of drought conditions and . . .

Drought is the condition thus conditions is redundant.

Hart’s other examples of creeping nouns you should include on your monster hunt are: field, industry, profession, concerns, event, experience, facilities, situation, and status.

Remember: these aren’t words you want to eliminate from your writing, they are words that can become creeping nouns that create redundancy when they cling to other nouns.

parasites

Parasites –

To avoid parasites, you want to avoid over using qualifiers. A qualifier is the same as a modifier – a word, phrase, or sentence element that limits or qualifies the sense of another word, phrase, or element in the same construction.(dictionary.com)

Mr. Hart calls these parasites “petty modifiers” and “needless qualifiers.” The monsters that should see the sharp blade of your axe before they mangle your writing are: rather, somewhat, generally, virtually, pretty, slightly, a bit and little.

And don’t forget the pernicious overused words: very, like and just!

Happy monster hunting and happy #Writober.

 

Inspiration: Stay ready. You never know from which strange place, or species, it could come.

Picture of new-to-me lake species

What is that? Something gross-looking this way comes.

This is a slightly different post than the norm, but it is also a wonderful way to get us all into the Halloween spirit and I love Halloween. When I was driving home last Sunday and saw a pumpkin patch full of people, I said “Their jack-o-lanterns will be completely rotten by Halloween.” Of course, I assumed that, like me, they wouldn’t be able to wait and would carve their pumpkins the moment they got home. Why not have nice, whole pumpkins decorating the house all month until it is time to carve them? Then, when my mother told me she was having a costume party with Halloween games this Saturday I was surprised they would have a Halloween themed party so early, but why not? When I asked my neighbor what he was going to be for Halloween, he already had a plan–which is great because that gives my sister time to dig out the costume I made for my nephew years ago, so he can borrow it. Thus, when the lake spirit left me a dead lake monster this morning, I shouldn’t have been surprised. I think I will take it as a sign that this October is going to be a whole month of the fun, gross and creepy.

Colony of Pectinatella Magnifica

This is a real colony of organisms! I took this picture this morning.

Here’s what I wrote on the neighborhood group and facebook (those of you who get those posts can skip this part): This morning, I saw something very gross-looking washed up on the ramp. I joked with a friend that it looked like a giant jellyfish or a swollen piece of intestine, but I thought it must be a rotten old boat bumper, or piece of plastic. To my horror, upon closer inspection it really did look like a giant jellyfish, or a huge sack of eggs, or a huge bloated pile of fat. Luckily, the internet had some answers.
http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news/s…,

http://www.bradwiegmann.com/fish-biology…

This jelly blob, or massive colony of pectinatella magnifica, is a cluster of tiny invertebrates that supposedly are a sign of good water quality.

Seeing it up close, I’m going to continue to call it a gross lake monster, but I’m happy to know (and wanted to share with all of you in case you see one too) that it will not sting me, lay eggs in my stomach, or consume me as part of “The Blob”, or like “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”. It arrived a little early for Halloween, but it wins best gross-creepy lake creature in my book.

Close-up after opened with a stick

I tried to see the underside by moving it with a stick. It quickly fell apart.

What does this have to do with writing inspiration, you ask? Last week, I mentioned a series of stories I’m working on about The Lake Spirit. My ideas about her were first expressed as a Halloween costume I created and wore while playing the Theremin to greet Trick-or-Treaters. I have been playing around with her story for a while and have recently enjoyed where the stories are going. Since beginning my work on Stories of The Lake Spirit, I discovered, or have been made aware of, interesting, new-to-me, fresh-water species: When the lake was down, I discovered fresh-water bivalves (clams); last week a friend told me about Periwinkle bugs that I believe are equivalent to Caddisfly larva; and then, today the most shocking of them all—the super-gross jelly blob. The colony of pectinatella magnifica will soon make its way into one of the lake spirit stories, I’m guessing as an offering to the narrator, but there are so many fun possibilities.

Close-up with a bee

The sun came out, so I took more pictures. Now, there’s a bee on it. I wonder if raccoons will eat it.

I am grateful I was on the phone with a friend when I first spotted the ugly blob at the edge of the water and that he told me I had to go check it out and send him pictures. Timing is everything. We need to always be ready for inspiration.

Have you discovered any new-to-you species lately? Have you found inspiration in strange places? Please share in the comments.

Happy Writing!

Update: By the time my neighbors came over to see it, the jelly blob had mostly been reclaimed by the lake. We found a small piece under a piece of wood, so the boys could get an idea of its consistency. The consensus was GROSS, but worth getting wet in your shoes (if necessary, but hopefully not necessary) to pull out from under some wood and cool enough to want to show Mom. The answer to the raccoon question is: most likely nothing left for them to eat. But if they drink the water, do they get a couple inside them, that then gelatinize into colonies over time? Just wondering, you know, for the raccoons.

Happy Halloween! Friday Exploring

This year's jack-o-lantern has a brain sucker.

This year’s jack-o-lantern has a brain sucker.

That could have the strain.

That could have the strain.

It might already be a zombie vampire. Watch Out!

It might already be a zombie vampire. Watch Out!

Looking for rare, collectable, hard to find books? Try Turn The Page Books, an online bookstore with a huge collection of well preserved treasures. Happy exploring and have a great Halloween. I’m already in my luchador costume and plan on playing the theremin and ghost hunting until dawn.

Busy Writer’s Life Update: Gator McBumpypants 2 and searching for an agent

Herman becomes a dragon at Hogwarts

Herman becomes a dragon at Hogwarts

I can’t seem to stick to my goal of a weekly blog, but I’ll keep trying. However, while I’ve been neglecting this blog, my writing life has been very busy indeed.

First, I’ve finished the text and taken the pictures for the second book in my Gator McBumpypants series. I’m pretty sure I’ll stick with the title Gator McBumpypants in Herman Learns to Fly. I had the idea for this second book as I was working on the first. The reactions from my readers the moment they finished the first book (e.g. “Herman needs to learn to fly”, “When does Herman learn to fly”, etc.) prompted me to not waste any time before writing the sequel. I hope to have the second book available for the holidays. I plan to finish my guide for self publishing children’s books while I go through the process a second time. That way I’ll be sure I don’t leave anything out. Look for it in late November/early December. If any of you have specific questions about self publishing children’s books  you would like me to answer, please ask in the comment section, so I’m sure to put it in my free guide for you.

Secondly, I’ve been working on my query letter for my Middle Grade Fiction story. A well rounded writing life should at least attempt traditional publishing routes, right?  The rough draft is finished and edited. The summary and hook for the query were positively reviewed by a group of writers. The hard parts over right? Ohhhh, NO. I spend countless hours each week trying to figure out which agent/s I want to query.Many books I read say to read everything I can in my genre, find a book similar to my work that I like and find out who the author’s agent is. Every time I finally find something similar, find out who the agent is, research the agent on agent query or their website –the agent isn’t accepting new clients. So frustrating!

I’ve decided to do the opposite of the original advise: find an agent that sounds promising and accepts new clients, then read the books they represent. This last week I found a little help in my search, a great blog called Middle Grade Ninja. Middle Grade Ninja has mini interviews (7 questions) with a list of authors and a list of agents. I’ve been going down the list of agents, cross checking them on agent query and then looking for any other interviews on the web. Then, if they still look promising (so far I’ve found two), I’ll download the books they represent from the library, saving so much time and money. I usually don’t like reading ebooks on my laptop. I don’t have a kindle or other specific ebook device, so I’m not sure if I would feel differently, but I’ve only read all the way through about 5 books on my laptop. I don’t like the glow behind the words; I tend to read what I can in about 10-20 minutes and then not go back.  However, for this project I love ebooks. I can find out in the first 10-20 minutes if the work is like mine, if I like it, if it was well edited, etc. Imagine having to request each book at the library and wait for the few you could find to become available and the cost of purchasing the ones you couldn’t get from the library. I have to admit, the downloadable ebook is the true friend of the author attempting to find an agent through a query letter.

Thirdly, I’ve been focusing on reading. My whole life I’ve been a voracious reader. I often come back from the library with ten to twenty books at a time. However, for the last few years, the majority of the books I read to the end were How To books. I would pick up plenty of novels, but not get past the first few chapters. Finishing a few of the novels I read  in the last year was like listening to a dentist’s drill through my eyes and letting it echo through my brain. Hopefully, that’s all over. I finally joined goodreads (to set up my author page for Gator McBumpypants) and after reading an article about the new recommendation algorithm, I spent some time rating many of the books I’ve read. At first I didn’t think the recommendations were very accurate, but after a while I started finding book descriptions that sounded very interesting. Every book I chose to read from the recommendations, so far, has been great! I’m very excited. I used to think I was an intellectually eclectic reader, but I’m finding out that, though my interests are vast, they are also semi-specific. It’s nice to not have to wade through ALL the muck to find what makes me happy. I’ve posed this challenge to my critique group: to find a the closest book to your work. I’m looking for something like my novel, but I still haven’t found anything close. I’m hoping goodreads will be a catalyst to finding some similar work through my preferences and friends. Meanwhile search engines and libraries will continue to be my stabbing grounds.

Have you found the novel you will compare your work to, or use after the fact as a learning tool? I’d love to hear how you found it.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! What will you be this year?