Monthly Archives: July 2013

Ten day challenge day 8: writing routines

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Jumping back on board with day #8. Today’s prompt:

Post about your writing routines / rituals / habits or quirks – or – your writing origins story

The key word in the above is routine. Not rut. Not chore. But routine, like exercise routine. (See post #6 in this challenge where I write about exercise.) The benefit of a routine–or habit–is that you remove the decision-making part of the process–and the angst that surrounds it. Now is the time I exercise. Now is the time I write. Now is the time on Sprockets when we dance.

You know, like that.

Anyway, after I eat my lunch, then I write. Since I’ve been doing this on a regular basis, I’ve discovered that some of my best days happen when I walk in without any idea what to write. I do mean nothing. Not a clue. No muse. No inspiration. But! It’s time to write. So. I go do it. Often, I have a conversation that goes like this:

Me: You’ve got something brewing back there, right?
Unconscious Mind: Don’t I always?
Me: …
UM: No, really, I do. It’s only when you force it and think too hard that I don’t. I’m shy that way.
Me: Right.
UM: I always have your back, as long as you don’t think.
Me: I’ll stop thinking.
UM: Good girl.

Or something like that. The hard part is trusting yourself to do this. But this idea is hardly original to me. In fact, I’ve borrowed this idea from Ray Bradbury. On a card I carry with me, I have these three rules from Zen in the Art of Writing:

  1. Work
  2. Relax
  3. Don’t Think

Need a bit more convincing? Here are seven more rules from Mr. Bradbury. See if they don’t resonate.


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Write 1/Sub 1 check in: week 30 the one with more invisible characters

Week 30! I almost thought I wouldn’t make my write 1 this week. Yesterday, I had two invisible characters, a mystery on my hands, and no idea how the story might end. None. Zero. But I kept writing, since I could see what happened just a sentence or two ahead of where I was in the story. That, and I kept muttering, “The end is in the beginning.”

And what do you know? It was. Considering that I started this story with no idea that the end would be there, I’m pretty pleased with that. Also, if you’re keeping score at home, this would be my third story of the year that involves invisible characters. I have no idea what’s up with that.

I also took the day off from the blogging challenge yesterday. I did write 3,000 words of a 5,000 word story. So. There’s that. Plus, I proofed another that I hope to send out today.


  • Pulling Threads ~5,000 words
  • Blog post challenge


  • The Short Sweet Life of My Invisible Prom Date


  • None (!) but looking at my submission tracker, I’m due for a deluge any day now.


  • None.

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Ten day challenge day 7: tools of the trade

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Today’s prompt:

Post a techie-type blog previewing the software or technical tools you use for writing – don’t forget about your organisation approach, backups of your files, and reference tools etc. If you have lots, choose one tool you can’t live without, and profile that. Don’t forget links, and screenshots.

The more I write, the more I find the whiz-bang techno tools less useful. While they might be helpful for some writers, to me they always have that whiff of “magic bullet/secret handshake” about them (not that you can smell either of those things). What I mean is this: It’s that promise that if only you use this software/method/whatever, then–and only then–will you achieve your publishing dreams.

But the more I write, the more I find I simply need this:

Paper and pen–cat optional, but highly recommended.

That would be paper and pen, word processor when I can’t keep up with my thoughts. That being said, I am not averse to technology when it comes to writing and submitting. Tools I use:


Love, love Dropbox. File backup, file access, file sharing.


I know a great many writers were upset when Duotrope went to a pay-model (you know, in order to stay in business, pay their staff, minor things like that). I decided that it provides more than enough services to be worth the subscription fee.


I don’t have a link to this one since this is something you’ll need to play around with, and what you end up choosing (if you do) depends on the OS/software/technology you have. But! I highly recommend some sort of text-to-speech program, either on an e-reader, your PC, or both.

This is how I proof stories and queries and such that I send out. True, you won’t hear the difference between there and their, but did you leave the “l” out of public? You’ll hear that. Worth the price right there.


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Ten day challenge day 6: come on, everybody, do your exercise

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Today’s prompt:

Share a personal interest or hobby that you have aside from writing – how has this inspired and impacted your writing? Required: at least one photo!

I’m fairly certain the photo is meant to highlight my wonderfully creative hobby that I have in addition to writing. Alas. I have no such thing, at least nothing worth taking a picture of. Instead, I have this:

Exercise cat says no pain, no gain.

Yep. Exercise. I work out every single morning, even when I’m sick (because generally I don’t realize I’m sick until after I exercise). How does it inform my writing? Let me count the ways:

  • That initial tug of resistance. It lasts for all of five minutes.
  • Some days you simply flail around. That’s okay.
  • Some days, you’re so hot, you’re on fire.
  • Endurance.
  • Pyramiding up on the weights.
  • Lightening the load.
  • The zone.

In fact, I find exercise so similar to writing that I wouldn’t want to do one without the other. Plus, I use the same handful of workout tapes. I know the routines so well, I often daydream about my stories while I work out.


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Ten day challenge day 5: top blog posts

10 Day Write Blog Challenge button200Here we are at day 5! Halfway through the challenge!

Today’s prompt:

Show off 3 of your best blog posts (with links!)

Why are these your best (so far!). Consider comments, page visit stats, or the content.

My top three are really an illustration of: author platform, you’re doing it wrong. That being said, if I cared deeply about that sort of thing, my blog wouldn’t have the name Writing Wrongs, would it now? So, drum roll please, for my top three blog posts:

Part 1: I want to be an Airborne Ranger

I remain amazed and humbled at how many people continue to read my Blogging Airborne series. It gets so much traffic, I’ve been thinking of compiling the posts, doing a bit of polishing, and offering it in e-book format. I suspect some people may want to read the series, but would rather not do it on the computer.

George Clooney doesn’t live here anymore

The popularity of this post simply makes me laugh. Plan on stalking Mr. Clooney? Be sure to stop by my blog first. I suspect it’s the inclusion of photos that makes this post land in my top ten month after month. Well, that and the varied antics of Mr. Clooney.

Life less creepy: The Janesville Baby

Come for George Clooney, stay for the creep out–my reminiscence about that unexplained doll hanging in the window of a house in a small, southern Minnesota town. The owner of the house died last year, and the doll was removed, but this post ended up linked on a site about the doll, so it gets a fair number of visits.

So, to summarize my blog in three phrases:

  • Airborne School
  • George Clooney
  • the Janesville Baby.

Honestly, I think this reveals more about me than I want it to.


Filed under Famous people, Writing

Ten day challenge day 4: writing books

10 Day Write Blog Challenge button200So for yesterday’s Ten Day Writing Blogger Challenge I decided to take the day off, since I didn’t take a day off on Sunday. Make sense? Well, it worked for me. My daughter was sick (germy camp is germy) and I wasn’t feeling all that great either.

So she spent the day reading in the living room fort she constructed and I sat in a nearby chair and did much the same (reading, not fort construction). In the evening we watched an episode of Doctor Who. As sick days go, it wasn’t too bad.

But I’m back at it today with books on writing.

Today’s prompt:

Profile 3 to 5 top writing craft books.

I’ve picked the three below because they each changed something about the way I write. In video game terms, I felt I leveled up after working through each book. That being said, I think the key word in that sentence is work. I’ve read a metric ton of writing craft books (no, really, I bet if you stacked them all on a scale, they would weigh a metric ton), but some I just skimmed, some I got halfway through, others I did read and maybe did some of the exercises, but I wasn’t militant about it.

The three below? I threw myself into the process. My mindset was: I am going to do this thing, no matter the outcome. It’s very much how I’m approaching Write 1/Sub 1 this year.

Anyway, my three books are:

Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook

Interestingly enough, the outcome of this was the spine for The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading.

The Anatomy of Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller

The jury is still out on this one, at least where the product piece of it is concerned (we’ll see, we’ll see–and that’s all I’m saying about that). I used it to write/revise Speechless. I will say this particular craft book is not for everyone. It’s dense and intense and a completely different way of looking at building a story. Still, I got a lot out of it.

Around the Writer’s Block: Using Brain Science to Solve Writer’s Resistance

This is less a how-to book and more of a how-to-get-writing book. Some days all it takes for me to start my writing session is to acknowledge that I’m feeling that tug of resistance. The author, Rosanne Bane, has a terrific website, The Bane of Your Resistance, if you want to try before you buy. I recommend both the book and the website.


Filed under Books, Reading, Writing

Ten day challenge day 2: Writing Confessions

10 Day Write Blog Challenge button200Today’s Ten Day Writing Blogger Challenge included the option not to blog at all (got to love these prompts).

Instead, I went with the one that involved posting, since I already had for my Write 1/Sub 1 check in.

Today’s prompt:

Make 10 Writing Related Confessions

Here are my ten (odd) writing confessions: 

  1. I must have short fingernails to write. If my nails are too long, I get annoyed; I feel less creative. This makes no sense, I know. But that’s the way it is.
  2. The more I write, the less I’m tempted/impressed by programs, software, etc. to help me write more efficiently. It’s like I’ve regressed. Give me a pen and some paper and I’m happy.
  3. I check my submission tracker at least once a day. Everyone knows looking at your submissions makes editors respond faster.
  4. I once edited a manuscript in Chuck E. Cheese’s while my kids attended a birthday party.
  5. I also write major chunks of stories in the lobby areas of my daughter’s dance and gymnastics studios. A little ambient noise + music? Not a bad combination.
  6. If I don’t write every day, I feel like I will lose the ability to write. Yes, just like that. Overnight. And forever.
  7. My favorite pen is the uni-ball Vision Elite. I can write with other pens, but … meh. I put these on my Christmas list every year.
  8. The blank page still scares me.
  9. I’m always amazed when someone likes something I’ve written.
  10. I’m always amazed when I sell something I’ve written.

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Write 1/Sub 1 check in: week 29 the one with the milestone

Week 29! This week saw a milestone in my Write 1/Sub 1 journey. I submitted my fiftieth story for the year. That’s right. 5 – 0. 50 submissions (if not 50 stories) since January first.

My daughter was at camp this week, which means the yearly tradition of the story I write about the alien who lives in her bedroom when she’s away. This year it was Xelenia: Alien Spy Girl, who battled the Blocknarians–because I’m all kinds of creative when writing these off-the-cuff camp stories.

Still, I must do a somewhat convincing job of it, since my daughter still isn’t sure if Xelenia does live in her room while she’s away or if I write these for, as she put it, “my entertainment.”


  • Cracks in the Sky ~2,500 words
  • Xelenia: Alien Spy Girl (camp story)
  • Pitching a Fit (blog challenge post)


  • The Girl with the Piccolo


  • None (!)


  • None, but a short YA story of mine has been short-listed, so I’m pleased (and a little hopeful).

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Ten day challenge day 1: Pitching a fit

10 Day Write Blog Challenge button200So, I decided I needed a little bit more in my blogging life than my weekly Write 1/Sub 1 check in post each Sunday. Enter the Ten Day Writing Blogger Challenge hosted by Hunting Down Writing. I like this challenge because it’s open (until November) and there are alternative prompts as well. 

For someone, like me, who often stares at prompts and gets the mind/screen, both are blank reaction, this is perfect. Day 1 prompt is:

Introduce your latest writing project with an elevator pitch or maximum 250 words.


Discuss whether writers should blog about writing.

I’m going to go with the first, because I think it’s obvious how I feel about the second. Here’s the pitch that won the pitch contest I entered a few months back, for The Fine Art of Holding Your Breath:

MacKenna’s mother died when she was a baby, a casualty of the first Gulf War. Now seventeen, MacKenna has spent her life navigating the minefield of her dad’s moods, certain of one thing: she is destined to follow in her mother’s combat boots. But when she pursues an ROTC scholarship, she finds herself at war before even enlisting.

Her father forbids her from joining the military, inexplicable considering he’d raised her to be a “warrior princess.” MacKenna turns to her grandmother–who arms her with an ammo crate containing her mother’s personal effects from the war. Hidden in the crate’s false bottom is a journal, one her mom stashed there hours before her death.

While MacKenna untangles the secrets of her parents’ tragic love story, her own life unravels. Dad’s behavior becomes erratic, her best friend grows distant and even hostile, and a boy from her past returns–with a life-threatening secret of his own.

If ever a girl needed her mother, it’s now.

The pen may be mightier than the sword, but are a mother’s words strong enough to slice through years of hidden pain? Can those words reach through the battlefields of the past to change MacKenna’s future?

As with my other military-themed books, it’s something people like the sound of, but not the actual product. The consensus is: writing–you’re doing it wrong. This is followed by: But if only you did this, or this, or that, or this other thing, then, THEN, then we’d have something.

The problem? This, or this, or that, or this other thing are never the same thing. Ever. This is a two-fold problem. I totally admit to being close to this subject and yes, stubborn about some of the content. The other is everyone has preconceived notions about the military and they can’t help but bring that to the manuscript. I don’t blame them because it is that sort of topic.

What will I do with this book? As of now, I like where it’s at. I really do. If I decide to self-publish, I’d probably want a touch more distance from it (because yeah, I’ve changed my mind about whether something is “done” in the past). For now? I’m happy with it. I learned a lot in writing it, and I’m glad I took the time and effort to get it as close to the book that I want it to be.


Filed under Writing, YA

Write 1/Sub 1 check in: week 28 the one with the birthday and amusement park

Week 28! It was my birthday this week, also, the big trip to the local amusement park with my daughter’s Girl Scout troop (I’m one of their leaders). It’s what they wanted to do with their cookie money this year. I hazard to say that a good time was had by all–yes, even me.

We got to the park right when it opened, did all the long-line rides in the morning (when there were no lines) and the water park in the afternoon. The hardest part was the shopping at the end (each girl had some money to buy a souvenir). Oh, the deliberation that went into that!

Writing wise, it was a quiet week. Wrote a story, submitted a story, and that was it.


  • Odd Jobs ~2,500 words


  • Just a Matter of Time


  • None (!) I had to double check, but no rejections this week.


  • None

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