Blog Post about StoryADay

I’m still not caught up with my blog posts here at Penguin Prose, but I did write a blog post at The Lone Gosling (the blog for Callihoo Publishing) about my experience with StoryADay.  So I’ll put a link to it here.  http://callihoopublishing.blogspot.com/2013/06/what-storyaday-has-taught-me.html

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16 May 2013

For some reason I haven’t been sticking much to the prompts this time.  The idea for this story came because two writers who were very beloved and influential to my writing died within the past few years.  Their names were Ken and Kelly, and I got to thinking that there must be something bad about starting a name with “Ke,” something that would take excellent writers out of this world before their time.  Of course I then proceeded to warp that concept into a weird little fantasy story.  (Well, not precisely little.)

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14 May 2014

I am so far behind!  But I’ve been sick, and getting ready for a science fiction convention I’ll be attending this weekend.  So I hope to get caught up soon, but I’m not holding my breath.

For today, I was playing with settings, and came up with a generation ship (a starship that travels slower than light, so it takes many generations of the inhabitants on the starship to reach another planet).  But I decided not to use that, but instead to use a prison ship that was taking hardened criminals to some nasty rocky planet to live out their lives mining ore for the civilized planets.  This then took a twist . . . and another twist.  I ended up with a silly little 330-word Micro Short Short Story.  I might actually use the idea for a longer story later, but this was all I had time for today.

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13 May 2013

I didn’t use a prompt today.  I came up with a weird idea about mail that has been missing for twenty years suddenly turning up in people’s mailboxes.  It was fun to write, especially the ending.

Snippet:

Rosie turned the envelope over curiously.  She recognized her mother’s handwriting.  On the front, in her mother’s elegant cursive, was written the address to an apartment Rosie had lived in decades ago.  It had been crossed out, and in tidy block printing was, ‘Please forward,’ and her current address.

She bounded up three flights of stairs, wondering about the envelope.  In her apartment, she jerked open the drawer in her tiny kitchen, took out the scissors, and carefully slit the top of the envelope.  She sat down with it on the sofa and poured pictures out onto the coffee table.

Tears rose to her eyes.  She recognized them all.  The picture of her mother with her parents, brother, and sister, all of them making silly faces.  Baby Rosie, age one, with her first birthday cake.  Dad in his military uniform, young and solemn.  So many others, all well-known and precious.

Rosie had thought the photographs all gone when her mother’s house had burned down a month ago.  Her mother was still in the hospital, recovering from burns and smoke inhalation.  Very little had survived the fire.

Turning the envelope over again, Rosie studied the address.  Her mother’s address, the old family home–the house which had burned.  Her address, an apartment she had moved from years ago.  Her gaze moved to the postmark, and a thrill tickled up her spine.  The date stamp was twenty years ago.  Twenty years to the day.

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11 May 2013

Spent today polishing the story I rewrote yesterday.  I printed it out for my husband and youngest daughter, both of whom are also writers.  From them I got some great ideas and help in making it shorter, so I did the final rewrite, which included a much better ending.  Then I read it out loud to myself, which caught some rather embarrassing places where I’d left out a word, or left one in that should have been excised in the rewrite, and helped me find places where I’d used the same (or similar) words too often.  Final polish done, it stood at just under 7100 words.  I called that good, and emailed it off.

Snippet:

He wore the same dirty, singed robe he’d had on yesterday; he must have slept in it.  As she set the tray on the table, Anthinaya asked, “Sir, would you like me to bring you clean clothing?  That robe is quite dirty.”

The wizard marked his place in the book he was holding and looked down at himself.  “Ah, yes.  You’re right.  I had best change.”  He smiled at her distractedly.  “When I’m creating new things, I do forget.”

Bravely, she added, “And comb your hair?”

He didn’t chide her, but gave one of his thunderous sighs.  “That, too.  Bring up warm water with my breakfast from now on.”

She felt like sighing too, but held it in.  He was her master, after all.  But curiosity overcame her.  “Can’t you get warm water with magic?”

“I can’t create water.  Well, that’s not precisely correct.  I can create water, but why should I?  It takes more power than it’s worth.  There’s plenty of water in the world.”

“But heating it?  Is there a spell for that?”

“Again, it’s more economical to use fire to heat water.  Why should I waste my power on something that is so simple to do otherwise?”  He tilted his head to one side and smiled at her, bright black eyes gleaming in the firelight.  “I see there is much you need to learn about magic.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, excitement bubbling in her chest.  He was finally discussing magic with her!  “It’s hard to learn just from books.”

“Alas, it is a bad time for me to be teaching.  I am at a point in my experiments. . . .”  He shook his head, the matted, filthy hair barely moving with his head’s motion.  “Perhaps soon I’ll be able to do more for you.  Until then, continue as you have been doing.  I’ll give you better books to study, and when your other chores are done, you may watch me work.”

He opened the book again, but she ventured, “What about the water pumps in the kitchen and the laundry?  Are they not magic?”

The wizard laughed, the sound rattling bottles on the table near him.  “That’s not magic, it’s plumbing.”

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10 May 2013

Today I spent the day rewriting a “short” story I’d written that needs to be submitted by tomorrow.  The original was nearly 14,000 words long.  I managed to get that down to just over 10,000 words, then ran it through my writers’ group, who gave me many good ideas for not only making it shorter, but rewriting it.  So today I took 2,000 words off the beginning, started it much closer to the payoff, and then went through and changed everything that was different in the story because of the 2,000 words I’d killed.  Got it down to about 7,800 words.  It’s a fantasy story, and I’ve been playing with the background concept for several years before finally coming up with a story to use the concept.

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7 May 2013

Today, instead of writing a new story, I rewrote a story I first come up with back in 1973.  It’s been through quite a few rewrites over the years, and never sold, but I still like it.  I figured I’d bring it into the 21st century with mentions of HDTV and cell phones.  It’s short–only 2400 words even after I added 200 in the rewrite.  It’s science fiction, stars a four-year-old and a cat, and takes place in the present day.

Snippet:

Marty wandered over, a few days later, to where I lounged in a lawn chair reading.  He asked, “Mommy, what do ghosts look like?”  He pronounced it ghost-es.

“Ghosts?  Umm . . . like people only foggy or shimmery and you can see through them.”

“Oh.  Do ghostes grow?”

“I guess they could.  You know, the way the genie in Aladdin did.”

“Are they ever colors; maybe blue or yellow?”

“I don’t know.  I suppose they could be.”

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6 May 2013

As my husband just, rather suddenly, became retired, I’ve been doing a ton of calling around, paperwork, and other things that happen when one’s lifestyle is turned upside down.  So I’ve been rather distracted, and not getting some of the things I really want to do–like writing for Story a Day–done.

Fortunately, I’m still in a writers’ group, and every quarter (this one ending May 1) we have a challenge to write a story using a prompt we decide on at the beginning of the quarter.  This quarter’s challenge prompt was “Mayday,” or emergencies, with a bonus prompt of crickets.  So for my story for 6 May, I managed to get both an emergency and crickets (or at least the sound of crickets) into the story.  I read it for the writers’ group’s challenge, and tied for second place (out of four stories).

I didn’t use a prompt for this story, but continued on my “twist a stereotype” ideas.  Most of them have been micro short short stories, or flash fiction.  This one ended up over 2,000 words.  The stereotype this time was construction workers wolf whistling as a woman walks past.  As the story progressed, the male characters became part of a demolition crew, and the woman . . . well, she is something else.

Here’s my snippet:

The woman across the street frowned, looked left and right once more, then started out, threading through traffic with insane disregard for hybrid cars, semi trucks, and mini vans full of screaming children.  George whistled in admiration.  The big woman was graceful as a jungle cat, and even a near miss by a madly honking taxi did not faze her.

At George’s whistle, the woman looked away from the car heading straight for her, and her gaze met his with an intensity that was almost electrical.

“Oh, you’re in trouble now,” moaned Josh.  “She don’t look like the type who wants to be whistled at.  I think I need to get back to work.”

“What, and abandon me?  You’ll have to take that last wall down by yourself if she kills me.”  It hadn’t been a wolf whistle, after all.  Simply appreciation of her grace.  If that upset her, well, he’d had women upset with him before, and he was still alive.

The woman had survived jaywalking through traffic, and stopped right in front of George.  Josh didn’t move.  Probably didn’t want to draw attention to himself.  She could look George straight in the eyes–and she was wearing flat shoes.  His appreciation of her soared.  Most women were about armpit level for him.

“Lovely day,” he said conversationally, meeting those chocolate-brown eyes again.

She smiled slightly, and reached into the pocket of her jeans.

Josh gave an almost inaudible moan.  What, did he think she had a knife or gun in there, and she was going to off George here and now simply because he’d whistled at her?  Besides, the jeans were tight enough he’d be able to see the outline of a knife or gun.

The woman held out a card, the size of a business card, to George.  Curious, he took it.  Plain and white, with an address scrawled on one side.

“Tonight,” she said.  “Eight o’clock.”

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5 May 2013

Because today was Sunday, and I had a migraine, I did no writing today.  Tomorrow I need to rewrite a story for submission, so I’ll see if I have any time to write my Story a Day story!  I also have a gaming session (we play Space: 1889, where my character is a sharpshooter who hides weapons in her bustle), so this will be a busy day.

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4 May 2013

Because I was extraordinarily busy all day, trying to sort through things we took out of our storage unit before 1) it rained and 2) the sun went down (we were sorting out in our back yard), I didn’t have a lot of time to write.  So today’s story is very short, 148 words.  It’s a “Micro Short Short Story,” which is a story that consists of a title and three sentences.  The three sentences can be as long as you can make them, as long as they are grammatically correct and punctuated correctly. My first sentence uses a comma, a semicolon, and an m-dash, and is 56 words long.  I’m continuing an idea I started playing with during the last session of Story a Day, where I write a very short story that turns some stereotype on its ear.  This time, it was cops and donuts.  Other stereotypes I’ve used are a mother sacrificing herself and saving her child, an absent-minded professor, a pirate on a desert island, a crazy cat lady, Cinderella, and sacrificing virgins to dragons.

I just realized this post is longer than my story ended up.

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