Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Contest/Writing prompt

I saw this contest announcement, and I think "smoke" makes and interesting writing prompt, so I thought I would combine the two in the near future. Look out for the post soon! Care to join me?

Submission Call for SMOKE themed anthology. Poetry and Micro or Flash Fiction. Deadline October 31, 2009.

More details can be found at The Smoking Book blog,, the on-line edition of SMOKE.

Poetry (any form or style) and Micro or Flash Fictions wanted for an anthology on SMOKE. Not just the black clouds rising from the five-alarm fire next door, or the billowing plumes of smoke warning us of a forest fire, or the emissions from smoke stacks, apartment house incinerators, and crematoriums, smoke rings rise from cigarettes, smoke pours out of headshops, pipe shops & cigar stores--see that purple haze rising over the fields of poppies and marijuana we just planted--we've used it to communicate via smoke signals and skywriting, to cover our tracks and disappear with and without mirrors, combat the enemy on and off the battlefield, kill bugs, flavor food, cure illness, declare peace treaties, and fragrance our homes. Got the idea? Release it onto the page. Best Blogger Tips

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sunday Scribblings: Scary

This is from the point of view of Em, the main character in my novel-in-progress

What am I scared of? A few weeks ago I would've said nothing. I would've even told myself that, answered with the one word before I even gave the question any thought. Now I'm realizing that I'm scared of my life continuing on like this, so lonely, so alone.

Before Carrie died, she was the only person I needed. Even when she was in New York and I was in Boston, just knowing she was out there was enough. Knowing that someone, somewhere understood me, saw me. I never would've said that to her, never would've even thought it. I just knew it in my gut.

It's been five years since I've felt like someone got me. I have friends who I drink with and play darts with. We do trivia once a week. From the outside, it would seem like I had created the family I didn't have growing up. But they don't even know about Carrie, let alone what I think or feel about anything other than the Red Sox, the sloppy old guys who sit at the bar, and the various political stories of the moment.

It's terrifying to think of going through life like this forever. The only thing scarier? Actually opening up. Best Blogger Tips

Friday, April 10, 2009

Listen up!

As some of you know, I like listening to books on tape and other audio materials while I knit, drive, clean the house...pretty much anytime I can't actually be reading but my mind can focus on a story.

I started a new little area on the blog where I can keep links to some of my favorite sites for audio materials. See "Listen up!" on the left. Let me know if you have any favorites that aren't listed, or if you like any of the ones I have listed. Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

My writing class, a review

Last weekend, I taught the writing class that I blogged about a few months ago. It was through the Boston Center for Adult Education, and it was called an Intensive Writing Retreat. I'm happy to report that it went really well!
There were 4 students, so it made for a very intimate experience. I really enjoyed it--I did some of the exercises along with the class, and we each read some of our freewrites. I learned a lot--and it seems the students did too. They were all very good writers, and had interesting things to say about writing and the process. For next time, I'll have a better sense of timing--things took longer than I expected them to, which was fine because my outline was flexible.
And the new BCAE building is beautiful! So bright and airy, and both modern and homey at the same time.
My take home from the class was remembering that writing should be done for its own sake, not to "finish" something or publish it, necessarily. Those are fine goals, but they can't be what drives a writer to write, or at least, they can't be what drives this writer to write if she wants to enjoy the process--which she does!

I also applied for a college-level adjunct teaching course. Fingers crossed! Best Blogger Tips

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Novel exercises

In working on my novel, I'm realizing that one working style is not going to carry me through the whole process. I started out able to write scenes in the order I imagined them appearing in the book. I got through the first few chapters doing that. Then, I got completely blocked. The idea of tackling the next chapter scared me because I didn't know enough about what was going to happen there.

So I stopped writing for a week or so. Then my husband asked me to read an exercise he was working on for a class he's taking on writing the mystery novel. The exercise entailed writing one scene, about a time when the main character felt his or her life changing very quickly. I read B's scene and was totally inspired. Not only was his scene good, it reminded me that I don't have to write a chapter at a time. I can write scene by scene. One scene! That's all I have to do to keep going.

And that is what I have been doing. Imagining one scene that I believe will occur in the book, thinking about it over the course of a day or two, and then writing it out on paper. I'm saving each as an individual Word file, organized into folders around the theme of the scenes or whose in them, such as "mother", "father", "break up", etc. That way, when I go to plug them into chapters, I can find the pieces that belong in each.

B is doing the same thing, and he's looking for more exercises to give him ideas about the kinds of scenes to write. So what do you think? What ideas to you have for exercises in scene writing? Best Blogger Tips