Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Telling Tuesdays 1/31/12--"She felt sick."

Welcome to Telling Tuesday, a day reminiscent of those in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought for show and tell. This weekly feature was inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, called "How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre."


It is one of the best articles I've seen on the rule all writers know--show, don't tell--because it doesn't just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre's very own examples.


" . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander." -- Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I'll give a "telling" prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander. Feel free to use the prompt, or the photo (if a photo is shown.) Of course, if you have a completely different "telling" prompt, you can "show" us that, too.


As always, I invite you to leave a link to your website or blog with your comments.

THIS WEEK'S PROMPT:
The other day, for some unknown reason, I began to feel sick to my stomach shortly after eating lunch. Thus, my prompt for this week. To "show" feeling sick, I've used an excerpt from Broken Dolls. At this point, I'm not sure if I'll use in the final draft of the book or not.

She felt sick.




Sumiko clutched her stomach and knew she must be an awful shade of green. She’d had morning sickness before boarding the ship, but comparing that to the queasiness she'd felt since the Korea-maru left Yokohama was like comparing waves on a shore to a tsunami.  Whether she was standing or sitting, awake or asleep, the room rolled left and right, up and down. There was no way to escape it. And how could she possibly hover at the edge of retching once again? Surely by now, her stomach was completely empty.
Chopsticks trembled in her hand as she forced herself to take another bite of rice. She could not risk losing the child growing inside her, the only part of Taro she would ever have.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Morrill's Monday Morning Mashup - 1/30/12


MASH-UP

creative combination
or mixing of content
from different sources.


For me, the past week has been full of writerly challenges. First, after a series of editing back-and-forths with my editor for Broken Dolls, I'd begun to have some concerns that the Japanese culture and the "little girl' nature of my character, Sachi Kimura, were being taken from the story. It was a tough decision, fraught with indecisiveness and fears that my editor had a world more of experience than I, and that I was giving up. But finally, by mutual decision, we ended our editorial relationship and wished each other the best.


Of course, that leaves me with the question, "What now?"


Second, because I had been so devoted to the editing process, I had decided not to enter any of the contests for the Oklahoma Writers' Federation 2012 Story Weaver's Conference this year. But, after the events referenced in my first paragraph, I decided--five days before the deadline--that I would pull together some stories and send them in. Good thing I work well under pressure.


Here are a couple of articles I found that helped me along the way this week:


C.S. Lakin
Once again, Jane Friedman to the rescue. If you haven't yet begun to follow her blog in one of the ways given in last week's mashup, you're missing out. I found useful information on the editing process in two posts this week. On JaneFriedman.com, Jane's guest blogger, C.S. Lakin, posts the article, "Four Ways to Find the Right Editor." Ms. Lakin's article provides good information, as well as links to other helpful sites. But it was in something she said about "fit," that brought me some comfort:
"Sometimes the fit just isn't right."





Jane Friedman
One of the links that Ms. Lakin refers the reader back to is Jane's article "Should You Hire a Professional Editor?" This post lists three elements that explain why hiring a professional editor sometimes leaves her feeling "less confident about an author's work."






Kristin Nador


For those of us who are challenged with keeping up our blogs, Kristin Nador has an excellent series called "Sharpen Your Blogging Habits." From finding your audience to amplifying your blogging voice, she gives step-by-step ideas on one of the best ways to build your social network.









QUOTE OF THE WEEK:


You must meet the outer world
With your inner world or
Existence will crush you.


      -- Mark Nepo

Friday, January 27, 2012

#FlashFriday #FridayFictioneers: That Girl

Welcome back, Madison Woods! Though she says it's a long road back to reality after her memorable vacation, it's good to have her back! We missed you, Madison!

I thought this week's photo prompt was different from most, but as always, I enjoyed the challenge.

You can read how it inspired other Fictioneers on Madison's blog at: http://madisonwoods.wordpress.com/flash-fiction/first-contact/

As always, feel free to leave a link with your comments!

That Girl

     I lit a cigarette and thought about how I hated to see her go. Again. Thank God for dark glasses.
     "Wow, Mister."
     The kid snapped me out of thoughts of our bedroom farewell. “Wow, what?" I asked.
     "That's some pretty girl you got."
     I took a long drag. Yeah, tell me about it.
     I heard a whistle . . . and it wasn't the train's. It was the steward, gawking up at my girl.
     Hell. I'd sure miss her.
     Another drag and I headed back to my empty bed, wondering if I'd ever quit smoking.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Telling Tuesdays 01/17/12



Welcome to Telling Tuesday, a day reminiscent of those in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought for show and tell. This weekly feature was inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, called "How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre."


It is one of the best articles I've seen on the rule all writers know--show, don't tell--because it doesn't just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre's very own examples.


" . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander." -- Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I'll give a "telling" prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander.

THIS WEEK'S PROMPT:
We had a bit of a mishap at the bonfire on Saturday. One of the lanterns we released into the air caught a down draft and the lantern came crashing down into the grass. At first it looked like it would burn itself out, but then we could tell the grass caught fire. With the wind blowing, it wouldn't be long before the tiny fire got out of control. This gave me my prompt for the week:

Smoke got in her eyes.




     Only moments before, the group of friends had circled around a bonfire. Into the flames, they had each tossed notes jotted with things they wanted to be rid of in the New Year.
     Hers was fear.
     Now, they watched lanterns they had released into the air, filled with aspirations and blessings for the New Year. Up the bright red lanterns drifted. Up, up, up, carrying each into the Universe.
     But the wind whipped and blew one to the ground, bringing a chorus of "oh no" from the group.
     Whose lantern had crashed? She watched it begin to burn out, until another gust of wind blew.
     The embers turned the flames! The grass was ablaze!
     She ran. Ran hard, her mind filled with images of an out-of-control blaze. Breathless, she arrived at the circle of flames that danced like devils in the wind. She stomped the orange heat, but it continued to grow around her, so she stomped harder. Faster.
     Water. A shovel. She needed something. Anything. The flames spread. Smoke burned her eyes. Fire scorched her shoes.
     It was out of control.
     Then, someone came beside her and began slamming the ground with a coat. She stomped, the person next to her slammed. She didn't know, didn't care who it was. She was only glad not to be alone.
     "Don't worry, Jan," the person said, "I got your back."
     Ruth!
     "Oh, please, God," Ruth whispered. "Please help us put out this fire."
     Slowly, slowly, the flames died. Jan kept stomping. Ruth kept slamming. Until at last, every ember had burned out.
     Relieved, they hugged each other, each reliving the experience through breathless phrases.
     "Can't believe . . ."
     "Brave . . ."
     "Got your back . . ."
     "Thank God . . ."
     As they walked away from the blackened circle in the grass, Jan smiled, remembering that piece of paper she'd tossed into the bonfire.
     Fear.
     And the blessing she had released into the Universe.
     Friendship.


Okay. That was my slightly creative non-fiction of an actual event. Show me yours!


As always, feel free to offer critique (ie, was it suspenseful? Did you "feel" it? How can it be improved?) And I always invite you to include a link to your blog in your comments.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Morrill's Monday Morning Mashup - 1/23/12

MASH-UP

creative combination
or mixing of content
from different sources.

It's another Happy Monday. I had a weekend filled with ambivalence about editing challenges. Fortunately, I was also lucky to spend an evening in front of a bonfire with good friends. As we circled around, warmed by firelight and friendship, we cast into the flames things we hoped to be rid of in 2012. For me, it was fear. Fear of making changes. Fear of disappointing . . . or disappointment. Fear of saying "no."


The best part was, as we held hands and shared our energy and support for each other's aspirations and goals, suddenly I felt less afraid.


So now, back to the mashup. I hope some of these links will be helpful in achieving your aspirations.
****


Jane Friedman has one of the best blogs I've seen for writers. Every post I've read provides useful information. "When Do You Need to Secure Permissions" is a perfect example. In this post, Jane gives us concise and useful information, with links to more detailed information about the ins and outs of fair use, public domain, copyrights, etc. If you would like to follow her on Facebook or Twitter, here are the links:


****



I am still trying to learn the most effective use of Twitter. Though I'll admit it's still a challenge, every day I learn a little more about learning to "tweet", or speak the language of Twitterdom. This article, "Nine Things You Didn't Know About Twitter," which appeared in the New York Times discusses several features I did not yet know. My favorites were: "Save Your Favorite Tweets" and "Do Power Searches." Both are invaluable time savers as we all try to balance social media with writing.


****


Write It Sideways is another blog that consistently posts excellent information for writers. Its creator, Suzannah Windsor Freeman, posts--and invites guest bloggers to post--"writing advice from a fresh perspective." This week's mashup link is by guest blogger, David Lazar: "Five Tips for Writing an Effective Plot Twist." Not only did I find a few ideas I haven't tried, I thought all of the suggestions made great writing prompts, too. If you'd like to follow Write It Sideways, here are the links:




****



QUOTE OF THE WEEK:


I say yes when
I mean no and
a wrinkle grows.


      -- Naomi Shihab Nye

Friday, January 20, 2012

#FlashFriday #FridayFictioneers: Red, White and Blue No More

Every week I think Madison Woods has posted the most challenging photo yet. This week, while Madison is on vacation, the Fictioneer guest host, Susie Lindau, has posted a photo, and I said the same thing. What a nice workout our imagination gets every Friday! You can read other stories based on this week's photo at her blog, http://susielindau.com/.


Red, White and Blue No More


     Wide-eyed, Sam pointed. "I've never seen so many flags!"
     "Neither have I," his mother replied.
     He noticed she looked sad. "What's wrong, Mommy? Don't you think they're pretty?"
     She patted his hand. "Sure they are."
     "My teacher told us flags used to be red, white and blue. What happened to the red and blue?"
     "Once, our country had a red party and a blue party. Have you studied the Second Civil War yet?"
     "No."
     "It almost destroyed the country, until finally, a white flag was raised. From that day, it was decided there would be no more red or blue. Only white."

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Interview with Author, Beth Carter

Hillbilly Formal, 2011


I first met Beth Carter online (during my social networking time) and liked her so much I wanted to meet her in "real life." Our first meeting took place at the Ozarks Creative Writers Conference in October 2011, and we hit it off. It was at this conference I bought a copy of Beth's book, What Do You Want To Be for my future grandchildren.





Here's Beth, holding my autographed copy. I texted this picture to my son and his wife as a bit of a hint that I'm ready to be a grandma.


I hope you'll enjoy getting to know Beth Carter as much as I have! (And I even learned some new things!)

      1) What Do You Want To Be is a beautifully-illustrated children’s book that encourages kids to dream about the hopes and possibilities of their futures. What was your inspiration for writing this it?
Thank you for the compliment, Jan, and thanks for having me!
     Actually, my inspiration might surprise you. It was our country’s economic downturn, especially the huge unemployment numbers. I knew many people (including my sister) who were unemployed for over a year. As a child I was a worrier, and I knew other children in America had to be worrying about either their parents’ jobs or their own future. I imagined kids wondering whether there would be a job for them when they grew up, so the high unemployment rates and inspiring kids were my impetus for WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE?
     The other reason for writing in this genre is that I can’t think of anything more important than children’s literature. I loved to read as a kid and have fond memories of going to the library and carrying home stacks of books. I also loved reading to my daughter and can still hear her giggle and instructing me to reread the book or calling me out if I skipped a page.

2) Was there a person in your life who inspired Mrs. McGee, the teacher? Who is your favorite character in the book, and who was the inspiration for that character? How did you chose which professions to highlight in your book?
     I chose Mrs. McGee for a very specific reason—it was easy to find words that rhymed with her name! I’ve had several people tell me that she looks like their first, third or fifth grade teacher. I think the illustrator did a phenomenal job with her and the only guidelines I gave him (Leo Silva) were to draw her with black hair in a bun, wearing glasses and a pearl necklace since those were all mentioned in the story. He first sent me a skinny version and a plump version of Mrs. McGee wearing a fabulous hot pink dress! I sent an email with the two images to 15 friends and family members. All but two preferred the plump version. I guess we can all forego Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers now!
     My favorite character would be my daughter, Amy, who is portrayed as a dancer and truly is a professional dancer. I love all the characters, though, and named most of them after our children, nieces, five grandsons and granddaughter!
     As far as professions, I wanted a wide range that children could identify with including both white collar and blue collar jobs. For example one is a baker and another wants to be a fireman. One wants to be in the Navy and some are professionals like an architect and an astronaut. I want kids to dream big! I chose careers that both girls and boys could identify with.
3) Have you always wanted to write? When would you say you became a “serious” writer?
     My first writing gig was at the age of 13 when I was a reporter for Pipkin Junior High. Even then, I loved seeing my byline. I wrote several articles and also served as the roving reporter.
     Even though I took several writing classes at Drury alongside accounting and algebra (trying to develop both sides of my brain) I didn’t try fiction writing until four years ago—except for my writing classes where I had a professor encourage me to submit my essays to magazines. I never did, but she instilled confidence nonetheless.
     I’ve been in marketing for over 20 years so all of my writing was corporate writing—press releases, print ads, brochures, annual reports, television and radio scripts, billboards and web copy. I had a few non-fiction articles published in Today’s Woman Journal and Senior Living. I won a second place, state-wide award for my television script highlighting substance abuse. It was fascinating to interview the counselors and tour the treatment center.
     Prior to writing full-time, I worked as director of public relations for Doctors Hospital for nine years. Then, I was director of marketing (and later promoted to vice president) at Citizens National Bank for six years. I did plenty of writing in those two industries. Whether I was interviewing a doctor, promoting a new physician or service, I tried to make it interesting and wrote about substance abuse, depression, obstetrics, general surgery, and other services.
     It was more of a struggle in banking. That’s a pretty dry industry! I promoted new lenders, came up with branding campaigns, wrote about CD rates, mortgage loans, construction loans, and tried to get creative with the bank signs and the bottom of the teller receipts!
     After leaving the bank and marrying my husband, we started Ozark Hardwood Products where we promote green collar jobs and green heat. I wrote all of the original marketing material, came up with the logo, designed the pellet bags, wrote the web copy, letterhead, sales material, proposals for grants and more. But now that I sleep with the boss (my husband!), I’m finally able to do what I want to do—write fiction.
     Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to write a novel. In June of 2009 (yes, we authors know the stats as if we had birthed a baby, right?) I completed my first novel, THURSDAYS AT COCONUTS, a work of women’s fiction. I set it aside to savor the accomplishment, and then tragedy struck our family. The horrific stuff you see on Dateline, which I won’t discuss here. I was unable to go back and edit my novel because I had written a tragic scene with several chapters on grief. I just couldn’t read anything sad after our horrifying year, so I switched gears and learned all I could about writing children’s picture books. It has been therapeutic. Going to classrooms and seeing the kids’ faces light up, receiving fan letters from children, emails from parents and teachers, and pictures of the kids holding my book have all done wonders toward healing my heart.

     In 2010 I was published in a collection of six-word memoirs entitled IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT alongside famous writers like Amy Tan, Dave Barry and the late Frank McCourt. Celebrities’ memoirs were also in the book including Marlee Matlin, Neil Patrick Harris, Bob Barker, and even the Fonz, to name a few. I was thrilled because the editors, SMITH, received 200,000 entries worldwide and chose just 1,000. I was invited to go on the tour in New York City and about fainted when I saw that my memoir was on page one! I am also the only memoirist with two memoirs in this book. (Click here to purchase from Amazon.com)


Here are my two that were published in IT ALL CHANGED IN AN INSTANT:

Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nothing published. Yet.
and
He left. Sparked my personal D-Day.
 

     I’ve also just learned that I’m going to be published in another of SMITH’S collections:  SIX-WORDS ABOUT WORK. This was a project they did in conjunction with Mercer Consulting. My copy should arrive any day. I’m a little nervous about which memoir they chose because I wouldn’t want some of them in print! Sometimes I get carried away… (Click here to purchase from Blurb.com)

     Six-word  memoirs are a big part of my writing life. I love them. They're great for writer's prompts. Watch for a six-word memoir contest on  my blog in the next few weeks!
     I’ve also had a poem and a YA short story published in the last two ECHOES OF THE OZARKS anthologies. It’s exciting to be among all of you talented writers.

4) One of a published author’s challenges is how to devote time to the craft of writing new material when time must also be given to marketing her published works. What percentage of your day would you say you give to the following:

*  Marketing your book – ie, book signings, distribution, etc.
*  Social networking – ie, your blog, Facebook, Twitter, speaking
   engagements, etc.
*  Writing
*  Your non-writing life
     This is how it's supposed to go: Have coffee, watch the morning news, check email, Facebook, a couple of blogs, eat, exercise and start writing from noon until 5 p.m.
     This is how it really goes: Have coffee, watch the morning news, check email, check Facebook, a couple of blogs, recheck Facebook, refresh FB, maybe check Twitter while I’m at it, then realize it’s noon (or later) and I haven’t eaten nor gotten out of my pj’s.
     Seriously, my life is so different now from when I was a single mom for 16 years and worked from 8-5 in corporate America. I have gotten so laid back the past few years—almost too laid back.
     BUT prior to the release of WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE? I kicked it into gear. I decided I would spend September-December solely marketing and promoting my book (no writing except for my blog) and I stuck to that plan. I had ten book signings and visited five classrooms in two months! The publisher takes care of the distribution and my book is found online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million:
and


5) What is your greatest challenge as an author?
     Managing my time. Social media is the best of things and the worst of things (to butcher a well-known saying). It makes promoting our work much easier but the distractions are enormous. I like to think I’m a great multi-tasker but I need to rein myself in and focus. To make matters worse, I’m a perfectionist which means it’s never good enough. My 300-page novel edits drive me crazy. I really need someone to crack the whip. When I was in marketing, I had weekly deadlines. It was stressful, but I thrive on deadlines. Sadly, the self-imposed deadlines don’t work as well. Want to pretend you’re my boss and breathe down my neck?!

6) Will you write other children’s books? Do you write in other genres? What is next for Beth Carter?
     I plan to write several more children’s books. A few are already in draft form. Picture books look deceptively easy to write but it isn’t a cake walk to write a story  (with conflict) in 500-550 words, often in verse. It’s also important to think visually while writing so the illustrator will have something to work with.
     My next picture book is entitled THE MISSING KEY. I plan to submit it to the publisher soon. I also plan to write a series with the teacher, Mrs. McGee, because she’s so darn cute. Also, my daughter and I are co-authoring yet another picture book series that I’m very excited about but we have a lot of research to do first.
     This spring or summer, I plan to finish tweaking my women’s fiction and query agents. Yes, I will! I must! This isn’t crazy talk. And…I would love to finish my romantic suspense novel in 2012 or 2013. I also enjoy writing short stories, haiku, six-word memoirs and non-fiction. I like to write a little bit of everything as you can tell.

Thanks for having me, Jan. I greatly appreciate your promoting my new picture book, WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE?

Stay in touch with Beth Carter:

Her blog:
www.banterwithbeth.blogspot.com

Facebook:
Author Beth Carter

Twitter:
@bethsbanter

Coming soon!
www.bethcarter.com

Thank you, Beth, for sharing a virtual cup of coffee with us! I look forward to sitting down with you again soon over a "real' cup of coffee!

Leave a comment by
Wednesday, February 1
to be entered in a drawing
for an autographed copy of
What Do You Want to Be!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Telling Tuesdays 01/17/12


Welcome to Telling Tuesday, a day reminiscent of those in school when I looked forward to seeing what everyone brought for show and tell. This weekly feature was inspired by an article on WriteToDone.com, called "How to Show (Not Tell): A Writing Lesson from John LeCarre."


It is one of the best articles I've seen on the rule all writers know--show, don't tell--because it doesn't just tell us how not to tell, it shows us some of LeCarre's very own examples.


" . . . descriptions can set the scene, convey the inexpressible, and turn the reader into a witness, instead of remaining a mere bystander." -- Mary Jaksch, author of the article

Each week, I'll give a "telling" prompt, and invite you to show us, to make us a witness, not a mere bystander.

THIS WEEK'S PROMPT:

I'm out of town today, so have not yet written my "showing" for my prompt. But, I'm looking forward to reading the variety of senses you use to "show" me stress. Not that I need it. :)


I'll have my tale posted by tomorrow.


She felt stressed when she noticed the time.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Morrill's Monday Morning Mashup - 1/16/12

MASH-UP

creative combination
or mixing of content
from different sources.

In recognition of Martin Luther King Day, I reread the text of his famous August 28, 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech that he gave in Washington D.C.:

Perhaps the most publicized line from his speech, and the one I remember best, is:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."
Beautiful, yes, but when I read the entire text, I was awed by the breadth of Dr. King's wisdom, and particularly, how much of it still applies today:

"We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone."
# # #

Thank goodness for our dreams. As a writer, I'll admit, I sometimes daydream about my book, Broken Dolls, being made into a movie one day. (Click here to read a post on that daydream.)

So, though I had planned to post BookRiot's blog article on "Why Books Make the Best Movies" before the broadcast of The Golden Globe Awards, it is all the more appropriate now, because The Descendants, a movie based on a book by Kaui Hart Hemmings, won Best Picture.

Ms. Hemming's story (as told in the Garrett on the Road blog) is the stuff of dreams. But, I have to say, I was disappointed as I listened to the producers and directors accepting their awards last night, because Ms. Hemming's recognition as the author was only an afterthought, and barely captured before the award winners were cut off.

Where would all of them be had it not been for the story Kaui Hart Hemmings created?


# # #



Every Tuesday, I have a feature called "Telling Tuesday," where I give a "telling" prompt, and ask my blog readers to "show" the scene, to use all five senses to "put us in the scene."

The article "Showing vs. Telling - When Telling is Okay," (J.A. Bennett's blog) suggests that "showing isn't perfect 100% of the time," and gives several examples. The article (and its comments) is a good reminder not to go overboard with "showing."

# # #

And on the same subject of "overdoing it," this brief post, "Something Should Remain Unsaid," on the Advice to Writers blog, reminded me of a critique I once received, when a wise-beyond-his-years young man told me, "Trust your reader. You don't need to tell him everything." As a hands-on-Type-A-control-freak writer, I understand that my natural inclination is to guide my reader through each line of my story, to tell him what he should be thinking and feeling. After that comment, I realized I need to "let go and trust" in my writing.


It's something I could probably stand to do in my real life, too.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Flooded With Moonlight

Unmoored in midnight water,
No waves, no wind--
The empty boat is
Flooded with moonlight.
                    ---Dogen

Though this quote by Dogen brings a note of peace, it arrived during a perfect storm.

I came across the quote a few days ago. I wasn't surprised I liked it--after all, it projects a beautiful image. But I was surprised at how it has drifted in and out of my mind several times since reading it. "Why?" I ask myself.

Recently, perhaps due to the New Year, the winds of previous discussions with my writerly friends have whipped up--discussions on the challenges of balancing the highly-preached importance of social networking with the actual act of writing. Balance? What's balance? For me, I must admit that in the last several weeks, my social networking time has devoured my writing time.

One friend suggested he was addicted to the Internet. Addicted? Could I be addicted, too? Perhaps the very nature of an addiction is denial. Has my "excuse" of needing to build a social presence been a ruse in my own denial?

Let's consider:

1) I sometimes lose track of the amount of time I've spent online.
2) I sometimes feel guilty about the amount of time I spend online.
3) I have trouble focusing on other tasks.

An addiction? Sounds a little too close for comfort. One thing I will admit is that being online is hardly being "unmoored." And there's no doubt that the Internet is rife with high waves and too much wind. The perfect storm. No wonder moonlight has evaded me.

The New York Times posted an article, "The Rise of the New Groupthink," which discusses the new philosophy of "groupthink"--that creativity comes from sharing ideas, brainstorming, etc. (Social networking?) However, research suggests that people are more creative in a private environment, free from interruption. I agree completely. I need privacy and interruption-free time to fully get into my story and my characters. One little interruption, whether it is the tiniest glance at Facebook or Twitter, a nudge by my dogs or a question from my husband, snaps me out of my story's world and back to reality. And, the trip back to Storyland is a far, far distance. Sometimes too far.

So, my -- our dilemma -- as writers is, how do we balance our need for solitary space and time to create, with the (unfortunate?) necessity to maintain an online presence? Obviously, I have not been successful at both -- at least not lately.

So, here is my solution. I'm going to check myself into a detox facility. Well, kind of. I've created an Internet Dead Zone in my house. Is it really Internet Dead? No, it's not. But I'm a writer, and I have an imagination. I've added a sign to the door to my home office:



Every day, I'll check myself into my Internet Dead Zone for at least two hours, where I'll write or edit, and where I pledge not to turn my wireless on.

If I don't suffer too badly from withdrawal symptoms, I'll graduate to an Internet free day, but, as they say, one step at a time. I feel my hands sweating even as I consider it.

Still, I must admit, I'm looking forward to this little experiment. I'll let you know how it goes -- outside of my Internet Dead Zone, of course.

I look forward to being flooded with moonlight. Ah, just the thought of it . . .

Friday, January 13, 2012

#FlashFriday #FridayFictioneers: A Brief History of The Pernicious Pod

This week, I am honored to be the guest "host" on Madison Woods' blog for the Friday Fictioneers. Madison posted another challenging photo prompt, which moved me to write something completely outside of my usual genre. I don't know how successful I was, but I enjoyed it! And, I'm looking forward to reading the variety of stories this photo prompted.

Please feel free to leave a link to your blog with your comments.



A Brief History of the Pernicious Pod

     The Pod arrived on Earth from the planet Iniquitous, more than four hundred years ago. Documents left by the aliens were transcribed by cryptologic linguists centuries later and indicated the creatures were sent to Earth with the objective of mating with various life forms in an effort to inconspicuously occupy and take over the planet.

     Unfortunately, the scientific community of Iniquitous did not anticipate the Pods’ primary source of attraction would be rocks, which they apparently mistook for Earth Pods.


     Hypothesis: The Pods failed in their attempt to take over the planet, but they went out smiling.