Friday, June 7, 2013

Not Quite Heaven

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you.
~ Maya Angelou

About 10 years ago, I had a dream that I died.

But, alas, I did not go to Heaven.

However, I didn't head south to the hot place either.

Instead, I was led to a tiny wooden desk. It held an old black typewriter and a stack of white paper about two feet high.

“Have a seat,” I was told by some dude in white.

And as I did, hundreds of folks suddenly appeared in a line behind me.

As I looked them over, I realized that I knew them all.

They were all characters — my characters…

From countless stories I had started and abandoned over the years.

My white-wearing dude friend said, “They've been waiting a long time...

And you've got to finish their stories before we let you in.”


Luckily, I woke up before the first clickety-clack hit the page.

But I have to say that the guilt I experienced in that last moment of the dream stuck with me for quite some time.

These days I still don’t finish every story I start, but I do write more than I did back when my loafing fueled that dream.

So, I’m hoping when my real expiration date comes along…

That line is a whole lot shorter.

PROMPT: Avoid writer purgatory by working on one of your stories today… especially if you have a character who’s been bugging you a lot lately.  Trust me, their kind get rather out-of-line while in the line, so keep ‘em out of it while you still can.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Time Travel

Lately, most of my fiction assignments have been of the historical, not hysterical, variety.

In the past three months, I have fought in the War of 1812 and the War Between the States. I've also participated in the Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889, only to have my hopes blown away in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Somewhere in there I searched for Klondike gold and labored as a wee lad in a textile mill. Then after surviving the Great Depression, I did without sugar and butter on the home front during WWII.

Unlike the stuffy old history classes you may have suffered or slept through in high school, today learning history is loads of fun…

And a great jump-starter for great stories.

Thanks to many fabulous folks in cyber world, access to firsthand accounts of times gone by is just a click away.

For example, would you like to travel along with Lewis and Clark in their grand expedition?  Check it out here. But I’ll warn you, it’s not for the squeamish… They dined on dog, you know.

Feel the need to read some Civil War letters? Look here.

Perhaps you want to find out what it was like to be a soldier in WWII. Well, this is a great place to start.

Looking for Klondike gold? Dress warmly and go here.

And while you may not strike it rich —

story gold is guaranteed!

PROMPT: Spend some quality time with a person from another time today by snooping around in their diaries or reading their old love letters. Come on — you know you want to. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rants in Your Pants

“The word I'm searching for…
I can't say because there's preschool toys present."
~Woody (Toy Story)

Has anyone ever annoyed you?

Say it isn't so!

If you've done any time on the planet, you know there are going to be those rare occasions when somebody ticks you off.

Okay, okay, some of you may have these occasions more often than “rare.”

Anyway, isn't it amazing how you can think of 47 awesome comebacks only when the “ticker offer” is likely sleeping soundly at 2:00AM and you’re in bed stewing?

Well, stew no more!

Today is the day those comebacks are going to come in handy.

Make a somebody’s done somebody wrong list and then spout off —

On the page.

Because everybody knows that preschool toys can’t read.

PROMPT: All those things you've really wanted to say? Let ‘em rip in writing today. Trust me, one of your characters is going to need them one of these days.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

That’s a Lot of Bul…

Bulwer-Lytton, that is.

Have you ever wanted to enter a contest that rewarded bad writing?

Admit it, you know you have.

Well, today is your lucky day.

All you need is one agonizingly long, painfully poorly-written sentence by June 30th.

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, put on by the San Jose State University English Department, has been going strong since 1982. Their website describes it as a whimsical literary competition challenging entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.

For inspiration, look no further than the contest’s namesake.

Edward George Bulwer-Lytton is the guy who penned this famous line back in 1830 —

“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents —
except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”

If you have a headache right now, you are not alone.

So, get your wretched writing game on and check out last year’s winners here.

By the way, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton is also credited with this famous line —

“The pen is mightier than the sword!”

And with killer sentences like his…

I don’t doubt it one bit.

PROMPT: It was a stark and dormy night… Get your entry ready today!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Here Kitty Kitty

Time spent with cats is never wasted.
~Sigmund Freud

June is Adopt-a-Cat Month!

And everybody knows that cats and writers go together like Q and U.

Hemingway had as many as 23 cats at any given time.

And Mark Twain once said, “I simply can’t resist a cat, particularly a purring one.”

Well, neither should you.

I have two cats who provide oodles of writerly inspiration.

To protect their sensitive feline identities, I will call them Thing 1 and Thing 2.

Thing 1 is the official office mascot. He is here to provide continual loving support from his nifty desk basket…

And a little office humor from other places as needed…

Thing 2 is the story maker. It helps that he’s one of those bad luck kitties…

And he has quite a few quirks that are— shall we say— inspiring.

You may recall from a previous post, that he’s the one who will ignore every single stuffed animal in the house except for the unicorn


More recently, he has had some difficulty adjusting to the new flat screen TV.

So, it was no surprise that the yellow flags during the recent Indy 500 were caused by… CatZILLA!

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that right about now you need no further convincing.

So, ramp up your writing game by adopting a cat this month…

After all, there’s no better way to find a great mews.

PROMPT: Get your mews on with a terrific cat tale. If you've ever had a feline friend, I’m sure you've got a story. What’s yours?