Monday, January 25, 2016

The 6 Word Challenge by Robin Janney

One of the things I've been doing since I've been feeling better, is getting back into my social media accounts.  Everything from Twitter to Facebook to Google+ and one of the things I've really begun to enjoy are the 6 words challenges from a woman I follow on Twitter.

Kelsye is someone I've never met, and I honestly have no idea how I came to follow her.  We have 41 twitter contacts in common, more people I've never met but have stumbled upon throughout my social networking.  She's a writer and a publisher and one of the things she tweets are the challenges to write a story in #6words or less.

Not easy, but it's a challenge I enjoy.  I've read some of the other attempts on the posts, and know I'm not the only one!  I also know my attempts aren't always the best, but it's all about trying and stretching those creative muscles.

One of her challenges recently made me stop and reflect a little longer than usual.  Especially since I read it backwards!  I think it was supposed to be advice that my 12 year old self would give me today, instead I read it as advice I'd give her!

Either way, it's good advice.

At 12-ish, I had more thing on my mind than the future really.  I had a sick father.

He was in the hospital for abdominal surgery.  A year and a half before this, he had appendicitis and that surgery created too much scar tissue for his body to handle.  Of course, every surgery he endured had the same risks.  That particular summer, he underwent 3 surgery in the matter of a few weeks...and during one of those surgeries, he had a stroke and our lives changed forever.

Aside from the normal affects of a stroke, my father also ended up with a permanent tracheotomy.  The doctor was worried about him being on life support for longer than a week, so they cut into his trachea.  And back to that scar tissue issue...they were never able to take it back out.  The one time they tried, scar tissue started squeezing his trachea was like an hour glass shape.  He ended up being flown to Philadelphia for laser surgery, lost 2 inches of his trachea.  I remember his electronic speaker voice more than I do his natural voice.

What I would tell my 12 year old self is to keep plugging along.  Which she did, obviously - I mean, I'm still here.  I'd tell her to hang on to those dreams, they might not turn out the way she was expecting, but a girl has to have something to hope for - Don't lose that focus.  I'd tell her to keep writing and not worry so much about whether it's good or not.  Writing is something that gets better with practice, just like most of life.  I'd tell her not to worry about the boys, there's only one that matters and he won't come along until you're over 30.  As aggravating as Mr Janney can be sometimes (hello, he's a man!) he's worth the wait.

And what I would think she'd tell me, is: Don't be afraid to live, because life is short and uncertain.  You can be watching your favorite television show as a family one night, and the next morning...everything changes.  Take care of yourself, because you want to be able to enjoy living life.

All that from a 6 words challenge!  And they are challenging!  How do you tell a story in 6 words or less?  It's a test of our creativity.

Here are two that I found and responded to today.  I read 'lost boy' and immediately thought of Peter Pan and Neverland.  So my response was "Found Neverland, but not Peter Pan".

The other one is a very timely one considered much of the upper east coast is blanketed in snow.  Not me.  I'm just enough north and west of the storm that I never even saw a flurry.  As much as I hate driving in snow, I was really rather disappointed that we didn't get hit with the storm.  I mean, it was a weekend storm and I didn't really have to go anywhere.

But when I read the challenge, my memory went back to school days when snow days were much school and you got to play all day!  So my 6 word story was "I didn't do my homework" which I think I may have done a time or two in High School when we knew the night before that school was canceled.  Of course, the next night I always regretted it because I still had to do my homework!

I always wait until after I've written and tweeted my own short story to expand Kelsye's tweet to read other responses.  It's quite the treat to read what others have imagined, and by waiting, it's not influencing my own thought process.  If I don't see anything from her when I open Twitter, I'll even go directly to her profile and look for them.

Probably one of my biggest 'flaws' as a writer is being too verbose.  There is a time and a place for many words, and a time to be brief and concise.  The trick is learning when those times are.  And like I'd tell my 12 year old self, practice makes perfect.

So readers, how would you respond to these 6 word challenges?  What do you think your 12 year old self would advise you to do?   What story would you write about a lost boy or a snow day?  How about a lost boy on a snow day? "Took my sled too far." is my attempt for that last one.

Until next time, I'm back to working on book #3 and trying to decide whether I have too many female antagonists.  That worries me a little, but that's a post for another time!

Thursday, January 21, 2016


Maybe it’s the planets aligning just right this week (No, really, they are! Just ask the astronomers!) or my muse is talking to me again. Whatever the reason, I can honestly say I’ve had a decent word count and, despite the plans I had for a topic on the blog (I’d already started a draft), decided to “bank it” for a later week on Broads of a Feather in the near future.
Sia without her face covered...she doesn't like showing
her face in public anymore. (Photo courtesy of E! Online.)
I’ve blogged in the past about how important music is to me during the writing process. On Monday night, I created a new playlist that seems to be helping fuel my latest creative blaze. Some of the artists include: Sia, Passenger, Anna Kendrick, Sam Smith, and Ed Sheeran. I find Sia’s vocals particularly haunting—especially in Big Girls Cry.
The expressive Maddie Zeigler in Big Girls Cry. (Photo courtesy of
E! Online.)
 Sia wasn’t an artist I had even heard of until the controversy over Elastic Heart’s video came out. I live under a rock. I found myself watching the videos with Maddie Zeigler over and over. Especially Big Girls Cry. The choreography was so beautifully set to those songs and Maddie’s translations nailed the emotions of the lyrics so perfectly. I mean, how simplistic yet utterly spellbinding is Maddie performing in front of a black screen in Big Girls Cry? Subject and black screen is simplistic. The true artistry is found in her translation. I dare you to watch it without being moved to near tears. We've all experienced a relationship ending. The phases we go through. Emotions are turbulent. Regaining your own identity. It's all conveyed candidly. Another interesting element, Sia not only wrote the songs (love when performers write their own stuff), she was the co-director of the videos as well. I've also learned that she wrote a one-page story eight years ago and has recently co-written the screenplay with children’s book author Dallas Clayton for a movie titled Sister and Maddie Zeigler is slated to play the lead role. It was like Christmas morning when I read that little tidbit this morning!!
Dallas Clayton reading to school students. (Photo courtesy of Copiic)
Dallas Clayton is an internationally known author whose first book, An Awesome Book, was rejected by several large publishing houses, so he went on to self-publish into rock star success. He’s now signed on with Harper Collins and Candlewick Press and runs a non-profit that promotes childhood literacy. I’m in love. Just look at this photo---------> A man reading to children, is there anything sexier?!? *sigh* I bet he even does special voices while reading. Yea. He would totally do that. 

So as not to snub The Muse, I’m going to keep this week’s post short. Never fear, one of my biblical-length blog posts is on the horizon. The subject matter is on the serious side and will pull at your heartstrings as well as anger you about the injustice of it all. In the meanwhile, tune in next week for Robin’s turn at Broads of a Feather. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

By Grabthar's Hammer and the Suns of Warvan

If only Alan Rickman could be avenged!  Damn you cancer!

It's been a rough start to the year when it comes to talented individuals dying. Cancer also took David Bowie, Dan Haggerty from Grizzly Adams, and Céline Dion's husband René Angélil from us this week as well. But the one who breaks my heart the most is Alan. Because no one delivers a line quite like he did. Between his accent, his deep tone of voice, and the way he held his body while speaking, he can't be matched.  And because I've had a Hollywood crush on him for years!


 He gave us many hated, many beloved characters over the years. From Hans Gruber and the Sheriff of Nottingham to Severus Snape and Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest, the movie from which my title paraphrases from. His talent shall be missed, but he will live on in video and in our memories.



Tuesday, January 5, 2016

New Year, New Story, No Excuses By C.P. Stringham

The MRI that revealed my daughter's brain lesion.
I admit it. I’m a grudge holder. I know it isn’t healthy. Let’s just say I won’t be sorry to see the backside of 2015. Yes, I’m holding an entire year accountable for my grudge. While many great events happened, my family experienced more than our fair share of health issues. These issues affect both of my children and will never go away. Still, I know things could be much worse, but, as a parent, these things just weigh heavy on the mind and heart. We always want what’s best for our kids and to protect them. Each has something that won’t simply go away. Focusing on that isn’t going to make it easier. I’ve resolved myself to the fact that, while I can’t fix things, I need to redirect my worries into something productive. Fixating is destructive. I’ve watched my two years of healthier eating and exercising go to the wayside in nine months of recklessness. I detest New Year’s resolutions, but here I am starting a new year and hoping to make changes. Oh, the irony.

I have leaned on social media to be my escape. Especially the last three years. I can’t even begin to estimate the hours I have spent liking, commenting, and posting on Facebook. As an indie author and a stay-at-home mom, let’s face it, I have very little outside interaction with the rest of the world. Facebook, in particular, filled that hole. And filled it. And filled it. While I have loved reconnecting with old classmates, past coworkers, and long lost relatives, I know I have to limit my time spent “connecting” and get back to engaging with the non-virtual world—the real world. That includes spending quality time with my children, returning to an exercise routine, pleasure reading, and WRITING. I can’t do that while absorbed in what everyone else is posting on Facebook. I need to be grounded in the here and now.

My beautiful family from a November photo session. Can you tell we're Elmira College proud? Or maybe we just really like wearing purple.
Speaking of writing, I’m at a crossroads. While I have four writing projects well past the halfway point in their progress. I have no desire at this time to finish them. I was content before with multitasking projects. Working on one when I felt the creative urge, but it’s been so long since I’ve revisited each story, I can’t seem to return to them. That doesn’t mean it will never happen, only that I need to move on to something else. Writers evolve over time. Our emotional state dictates what we write. It sets the tone for our creativity. I’m ready to write, but from a different place and that means a new, single-focused project. That also means promoting my work again by tweeting and blogging. Robin Janney - Author posted last week, so I hope this means the ladies at Broads of a Feather are back to our weekly blogging. 
Out with the old: writing projects on hold, but not forgotten.

Here’s hoping for a healthy and productive year with lots of personal change in habits! 
And in with the new: both in outline form. Do I want to work on a dark comedy or a women's fiction literature story?

Friday, January 1, 2016

A New Year!

Happy  New Year everyone!

I hope everyone is safe and happy (or happy enough) this first day of 2016.  Can you believe it's almost over?  The second day is almost here!

I'm going to keep this post short and sweet, because I just wrote a post over at my own blog.  You can read it here if you want to.

I rang the new year in at my in-laws last night.  We played cards and snacked while we waited for midnight to roll around.  Then we went into the living room to watch the ball in Times Square drop. We hooted and hollered, giving each other hugs and kisses.  My first kiss was a smooch on the cheek with my sister.  And then I attacked my hubby.

Did you do anything special to ring the new year in, or did you go to bed early? No shame if you did, I've done it before and I completely understand!