Posts Tagged ‘Writer’s Digest’

I am getting ready to take a new step in my writing life. For the first time ever in my life, I am planning to . . .pay *gasp* . . . to enter a writing contest. I have a short story all ready to go – well, almost. I am waiting for edits from two of my favorite people because I have to cut it down to 1500 words and so far I have only been able to cut it down to 1600. I just have to remind myself that just because I pay to enter it doesn’t mean I am going to win. It is certainly inspiring me to spend more time on the story, however, and even allow people to edit it – which is another huge step for me.

I don’t need first prize – I would be perfectly happy with an honorable mention! But even if that doesn’t happen, at least I am taking my writing life in my hands and moving forward.

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 7_14_55 PM

Read Full Post »

So I completed my first short story in forever a couple weeks ago. No, not the one for Writer’s Digest. This is one that I actually came up with on my own – and longer than 750 words – and I actually finished it! Granted, it is a little . . .what’s the word? A little corny, I guess. and unrealistic? But I wrote it and it is all mine. Ever since then, however, I have been scared to pick up a pen again. I don’t know why. It is almost like I actually accomplished something and I am afraid I will ruin it by picking up my pen and not finishing something else. Or perhaps I am disappointed in myself for writing something I am not entirely pleased with and afraid I will do that again? Or perhaps I just feel like someone is going to see anything I might write and therefore I can’t write it unless I am sure it will be good. I don’t know. But, once again, I have Writer’s Digest to thank for making me pick up my pen again. They are doing another one of those “Write the first sentence to a story based on this picture.” But, sometimes, a picture requires so much more than once sentence. It requires a description.

Of course, it isn’t on the website yet – only in the magazine, so I can’t share the actual picture, but it is something like this:

It was the bench that did it, really. Not the soft glow of pink stretched like cotton candy across what remained of the light blue sky. Not the sound of the water hitting the sand, causing a lonely wail of mourning. It was the empty, decrepit old bench, still standing, but barely, as though a light touch would cause the foundation to go crumbling away, just like the memories that were slipping further and further away, no matter how hard I worked to hang onto them. I took a deep breath and closed my eyes, lifting my face to the soft breeze kissing it. “I still love you!” It seemed to cry. “Everyone else may have abandoned you, but I am still here!” It enveloped me in a gust with a gentle push towards the last symbol of my love. The bench.


Read Full Post »

For you beginning writers out there, who, perhaps have always loved to write, but never made it into a career, and now you find yourselves in your late 20s without a published novel (a thing that seemed impossible when you were younger), and you are stuttering along trying to get back that magic thing called imagination in your writing, and the most terrifying thing you can think of is actually sending something in to get published, because you feel like that first rejection is going to say that you aren’t really a writer and you might as well give up? Yeah. That’s me. Which I am sure you guessed less than halfway through that run-on sentence.

So, here is my solution – which I did last month and I am going to do this month. Submitting to Writer’s Digest contest “Your Story”, which, as the only free contest they hold (I think), makes it feel like so much less of a rejection when your story or sentence or whatever it is isn’t selected. Because can you even imagine how much hundreds, perhaps thousands, of submissions they receive? So it seems like a safe baby step. And yet, I still agonize over what I am going to submit. Despite the fact that this current contest is all of one sentence – the opening sentence in a story – all of the sudden, it seems like the most important sentence I could possibly write. As I reject try after try.

Man, what I wouldn’t give for those days when I could look at anything, and I mean ANYTHING, and create a story out of it. Right down to a nick in a tree being stepping stones for fairies.

Well, I guess the only way to reach that point of imagination again is to keep practicing, right? Try and try again.

Stupid writing contests. One day, I won’t be afraid of you.

Read Full Post »

Not going to lie, I am nervous to even put this on my blog because I know it is awful. But it is the first story I have actually completed in probably years. So, I thought I would take a deep breath and post it anyway.

This story was in response to the Writer’s Digest Your Story Competition #66. Not that I have an illusions about this winning or getting anywhere other than the bottom of the pile – but, again, at least I wrote something.

Prompt: Write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on the following prompt:
Mommy, I don’t like this.

“Give it to me!” “No, it’s mine!” My children’s angry voices reached me from their bedroom as I leaned down to pick up the toys left on the floor from today’s play session. I sighed inwardly, and only hesitated a moment before deciding to wait and see if they worked it out themselves rather than rushing in to break up yet another fight. Both had woken up on the wrong side of the bed this morning and it had been a very long day.

As I moved to the toy bin, I heard their cries get louder. “You had it ALL DAY! It’s MY turn! MOMMY!!!” I dropped the Legos in the Lego bin and turned to the Barbies, still hoping they would work it out without assistance. “You’re mean! You’re always mean! You would be nice if Daddy was here!” My heart constricted as I heard my little boy’s reasoning, and the long day finally fully caught up with me as I sank to my knees on the carpeted floor, my heart heavy as it echoed my child’s wish. If only Daddy were here. I felt an unnatural heaviness in my arms as I reached out to pick up the next toy, but couldn’t find the strength to actually pick it up. I let my hands rest on the ground as I stared at the floor, both unwilling and unable to force myself to rise as I fought to keep the exhausted tears back, and re-construct the wall around my heart that always fell too easily. At least not until there was no one awake to hear me cry and the darkness overwhelmed me alone in the large bed. Then it wasn’t worth the effort to keep the wall up.

“Well, he isn’t here! Daddy is NEVER here!” His sister’s harsh tones pierced me, and evidently her brother as well, as I heard the thump of a small hand hitting something- or someone – hard. “OUCH! MOMMY!! DAVEY HIT ME!” My children’s need for an intermediary overruled my lack of fortitude as I forced myself back up and walked toward my children’s room as slowly as if my legs were made of cement. I didn’t want to see their little faces, full of accusing tears, staring up at me and silently demanding to know why their daddy wasn’t here anymore. Everytime I saw them cry, my mind would flash back to when we had our final fight – the one that had climaxed them all – and he had driven away. My children seemed to know something was different that time because they had gone running to the door as he slammed it behind him and stared out the window, tears welling up in their little faces that time too. Davey had summed it up for all of us as he turned to look at me that night as his daddy’s truck disappeared over the hill. “Mommy, I don’t like this.” “Me neither. Me neither.” I mumbled in response yet again to the memory. But I hadn’t known how to fix it. How to fix what I had said – what he had said – how to erase everything that had happened between us. It was too much. So I hadn’t tried. And he hadn’t either. A week of silence had turned into a month, which had turn into six months. It was too late now – what could you say after six months of silence to erase the hurt that had had such a long time to stew?

My hand reached for the doorknob just as I heard my daughter’s voice, suddenly quieter. “Why are you cryin’, Davey?” “Cause you are mean!” my little boy sobbed. “No I ain’t. You are the one who hitted me!” Her voice resonated with indignance. “But you said mean things.” Silence. Then. “I’m sorry, Davey. I was just mad.” Silence again. I peaked inside. Susanna had her arms wrapped around her little brother. “I forgive you.” He whispered, and hugged her back.

I shut the door again silently, unheeding of the instant tears that spilled down my cheeks, struck with the simplicity of their exchange. It was the most beautiful demonstration of love I had ever seen. I walked back into the kitchen, and stood there. Then I reached for the phone.

Read Full Post »

Tonight I made lasagna, baking powder biscuits, and, again, salad. Although, I don’t think the salad should count since it is a pre-mixed bag. Because I grew up saving money, I still always immediately grab the most inexpensive ingredient I see at the grocery store. This time, interestingly, the least expensive cheese for my lasagna was Velveeta’s new shredded mozzarella, on sale for only $2 a bag! It actually gave the lasagna a very rich, creamy taste. I haven’t decided if I like it better or not, but Daniel’s family didn’t seem to mind. I did love the new baking powder biscuit recipe I found! Best batch I have made in a long time, I think! I think I will bookmark this recipe: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/basic-biscuits

I am slowly working my way back up to writing. On Friday, I began writing [very light] character sketches for everyone in my book. I was starting to lose track of names, which is never good. Plus I discovered that, true to Writer’s Digest articles, knowing the background of your characters, whether your audience knows them or not, helps you know where you want to go next in your story and adds depth to the character. So this may be one of my new writing-stalling techniques. If I don’t know what to write, maybe I will work on the background sketches. It will make me feel like I am working without actually having to come up with the next piece of the story. 😛

An article I read in one of my Writer’s Digest magazines did help me, though. It recommended giving your character a scar or trauma from his or her background. In other words, something bad that happened that helped make them who they are or influences who they are now. Well, that wouldn’t work with Elizabeth, since the general point is that she has never had to deal with hardship her entire life. But that doesn’t mean her mother couldn’t have had something in her background – and that maybe she could tell the story to Elizabeth, and that maybe that would be the true turning point in Elizabeth’s attitude! This has been a problem I have had, you see – how does someone self-centered and unhappy finally begin to notice others around her and take little steps toward becoming a new person? Movies have it easy. Begin nostalgic music sequence, show-several-flash-scenes-slowly-becoming-closer-with-hated-person-and-smiling-more, have-one-scene-with-enlightened-look, end music sequence: presto, changed person. Books, you actually have to spell it out. The thought process, the reasons, the scene. So, if Breanna (Elizabeth’s mother) would just be so good as to tell me what she suffered, then a part of my problem would be solved. I had this idea of what she was going to say to Elizabeth on the plane Friday, but wanted to put it off until I wasn’t so close to landing, and, of course, have completely lost what it was. I should know better than to wait to write down an inspiration by now.

Ah, me. The things you forget after not writing for awhile.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy Memorial Day (again), and inviting you to remember to write for 15 minutes – or at least to remind me to, since I am sure I will put it off without a reminder. 😛

Read Full Post »

Sorry I haven’t posted in so long – I have been busy with life: Settling in to my new job, setting up Christmas stuff, recovering from a week and a half with my in-laws . . . all that. 🙂

So, here are my upcoming writing goals. I think it will be significantly harder to keep without a whole community of writers doing it, but I am going to do my darndest anyway.

By the end of this month, I would like to have finished the (extremely) rough draft of my book, since 50,000 words by no means finished the book. Then, by March 2015, I would like to have finished the editing process enough to send it to friends for critique. By June 2015, I would like to have it finalized. At that point, I will decide if I want to actually try to get it published, or just enjoy the fact that I completely completed a novel. Maybe I will even do Nanowrimo’s offer to get two free self-published copies.

In the meantime, I have decided to start entering some of the Writer’s Digest writing competitions. I finally subscribed to Writer’s Digest a few months ago, and am amazed at how inspiring the articles are to me as a writer. I think having goals to work toward (as in, writing contests) will help improve my writing speed and style and whether I win the actual contest or not, I think it will help me move forward, and I am tired of putting off something that I have always wanted because I am afraid of failing.

Read Full Post »

So, I decided to actually do something today rather than mooning about, thinking about how I wished I was writing again. So, I signed up for Writer’s Digest, dug through and pulled out several old pages of long ago story titles and ideas, and reread them, and then I pulled out Gail Carson Levine’s Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly, read through the next chapter, and did her writing exercise – which was to sit down and write out 12 ideas for stories no matter how dumb they seemed. Just write them as quickly as possible. To my complete shock, I discovered I actually did have some new stories tucked inside of me. I was almost scared to keep writing for fear the creative juice that appeared to be flowing through my pen would suddenly get clotted. But I did, and though not all the ideas are exactly worthy of anything more than a trash chute, some fairly good ideas did come forth, a few of which I will share below:

2 – a woman ends up caring for an elderly man in a nursing home and spends her evenings listening to his old wartime and love stories. Hearing everything he went through for his one true love ends up saving her marriage.

3 – A commonplace construction worker is injured in a worksite accident and is paralyzed from the waist down. He discovers his unique talent for painting and reconstructs his life around it.

7 – A drifter goes from door to door asking for work and completely changes the lives of those he stays with by changing their perspective on life.

8 – A woman is caught in a fairytale world, living out someone else’s life, and learns that even fairytales come fraught with difficulties.

Anyway – as a follow through, I took an excerpt for a potential story I wrote over 10 years ago, typed it up, and then rewrote it. It is available on my blog here: Once Upon a Story.

Read Full Post »