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Day 8- Keeping it Personal by Julie Duffy

In today’s StoryADay writing prompt, we’re working with first person perspective

The Prompt

Write a story in the first person about an incident that happens to a character who is your opposite.

TIPS

Think about some situation you are sure you would FREAK OUT in, and give it to a character who is utterly unlike you (in some ways you admire, and perhaps some ways you don’t)

In many ways, first person is the most natural way to tell a story because it’s how we tell stories all day long. “How was your commute?” “Where did you park?” “What did you do this weekend?”

All of these questions invite stories.

The most important thing to remember about first-person is that the reader is only ever privy to the thoughts of the person telling the story. They can infer, from other people other people’s expressions, what they’re feeling, but you can’t know for certain. You can’t tell me exactly what your spouse was thinking when you took a wrong turn. You can tell me what they said and how they said it….

The character can be self-aware or self delusional or mixture of the two.


Julie Duffy

I am Julie Duffy and this is a first-person bio. I founded StoryADay May in 2010 because I was stick of never finishing anything I started. Ironically, StoryADay May turned into an annual event and now I hope it will never end! I also encourage people to make weekly goals during the rest of the year, in our Serious Writers’ Accountability Group posts. If you’d like email reminders about them, fill in the form, below.

Bingo!

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Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Day 7- Fourth Grade Spelling List by Julie Duffy

Cram all these words into a story, and tell your inner editor to hush…in today’s StoryADay Writing Prompt

The Prompt

Use these words in a story:
poison
kingdom
keyboard
castle
garbage
vocal
syllables
seventy
mountain
return

In the past I’ve used spelling word lists from my own children’s 3rd Grade (https://storyaday.org/write-on-wednesday-third-grade-word-list/) homework. Sadly, those children are way too tall for spelling homework anymore (and let autocorrect do most of the work for them), so I’m upgrading you to a spelling list for Fourth Graders that I found online.

What is the point of writing a story from such a silly prompt, I hear you ask?

The point is that it is silly.

As soon as you start to practice your writing consistently, the voices in your head begin: “You must write something good if you’re going to spend this much time alone with your imaginary friends. You must justify your time by writing deathless prose that will win awards, and you must do it now.”

And those voices are the ones that will block you, stall you, send you running from your desk not to reappear for months or even years.

Today’s writing prompt encourages you to lower the bar.

Today’s triumph is that you manage to write something — anything — that resembles a story and contains these words.

Simply writing, is your goal, today. Not writing something good. Just writing.

Have a go. You might even like it!


Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is the founder of StoryADay and takes silliness very seriously.

Bingo!

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make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Day – 6 Flash Fiction Friday

Psst! If you’re getting tired and losing steam, pop over to the comments of yesterday’s Fun-Size Challenge, where people are working through the early parts of the Short Story Framework and getting excited about their ideas. It’s quite infectious.

Why not pull out the Short Story Framework and use it to help plan today’s story?

The Prompt

Write a flash fiction story that involves a flash of light

Tips

Realistically, most of the stories you write this month will be Flash Fiction in length (anything up to around 1200 words), but today I want you to focus on making it vivid, the way great flash should be.

Flash Fiction is about more than word count. It is deliberately taut, and yes, short. It should contain one or two vivid moments or images that stay with the reader long after they’ve gone.

Write your story of 1200 words today, and work on making it flash.

Read the StoryADay Flash Fiction Essentials if you need more inspiration.

FLASH FICTION FURTHER READING

Steve Almond, Stop

Erin Morgenstern, The Cat and The Fiddle

Ariel Berry, Useless Things

Naomi Kritzer, Paradox

Josh McColough, Meteor

Jennifer Wortman, Theories of the Point of View Shift in AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’

Rachel Engelman, Joan of Arc Sits Naked In Her Dorm Room

Julie Duffy, The Girl Who Circumnavigated The Earth In An Act of Her Own Making

GO! Need support? Post here!

Bingo!

make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Day 5- Spell It Out by Carey Shannon

Write a prose poem/story as an acrostic

Psst! Are you keeping up with your bingo card? If you post a pic of your card on Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter with 7 pieces filled in this Saturday, I’ll enter you in a drawing and you might get a personalized piece of mail from me! Use #storyadaybingo so I can find it.


Don’t use social media? Post here and pinkie-swear you’ve filled in all the boxes for this week, and I’ll enter you anyway.

The Prompt

Write an Acrostic prose poem for a person, place or thing you encounter in your daily life. An acrostic is where the first letter of each line must spell out the subject of the poem. An acrostic can be beautiful or sentimental like ROSE, Regal bloom, Omen of love and beauty, Scent of heaven, Enigma of youth. Or it can be a silly take on an existing abbreviation or acronym. S.O.S. Society of Sissy’s. or UFO – Universal Freak Organization. Be as serious as you want or have fun with it!


Carey Shannon

Carey Shannon loves to use her writing to make humorous connections between items that may appear completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for a serious Elvis fan and frequent blood donor.
Carey Shannon loves to write about humorous connections between items and subjects in life that may appear to be completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for an Elvis super fan and frequent blood donor. She has been a member of the Story A Day community since 2020 and now hopes to provide some inspiration quirkiness to other writers.

Bingo!

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Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Day 4- The 40 Minute Retelling by Julie Duffy

Set your timer…today’s StoryADay writing prompt forces you to focus!

The Prompt

Set a timer for 40 minutes and then retell a story that you know well.

Tips

The story might be a fairy story or fable, or perhaps you just wish that series you watched had a better finale, and you fancy rewriting the last half of that episode. (Remember, fanfic is fine as long as you’re not selling someone else’s ideas and characters as your own!)

To write a 40-minute story, I propose this timeline (and I’m serious)


  • 0-5 minutes: use the Short Story Framework to brainstorm your character and their need, and the first action they will take to move towards it.
  • 5-15 mins: Write the opening of your story based on those notes
  • 15-35 mins: brainstorm and write 1-2 ‘and because of that’ actions your character takes, which take them towards the conclusion of the story.
  • 35-40 mins: write a quick ending when you have answered the question of whether or not the character gets what they wanted.
  • 40-43:20: do a victory dance (seriously, put on some happy music and dance around your room. Celebrating your wins is important!)

This week, you might have noticed, all the prompts have built-in limits.
There’s a reason for that.

Historically, writers get very excited in the first week of StoryADay, and that leads them to get a bit over-ambitious. Stories start to balloon into novel ideas, and it’s hard to finish a story like that every day. With so many ideas lying around unfinished, it’s an invitation to burn out.

So, in recent years, I always start the challenge by pulling back on the reins a little, and asking you to enjoy the creativity that comes from limiting the possibilities for your daily writing practice.


Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a writer and founded StoryADay in 2010. She finds it very easy to get lost in her writing. She maintains that nothing in her life would get done without timers and calendar alerts. Her husband agrees.

Bingo!

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Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Day 3- Limit Spaces by Megan Alongi

The Prompt

Write a scene in which your character’s physical space is smaller than usual.

Tips

Maybe the scene will take place in a vehicle.

Perhaps place a limit to one particular room in a house.

A whole dramatic scene could be set in an elevator.

Limits on physical space could be as large as one planet in a solar system or as small as one fairy treehouse.


Megan Alongi

Megan is a writer who lives in New Jersey.

Bingo!

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make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Here’s your next Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Day 2- New Words on an Old Theme by Julie Duffy

Today’s writing prompt encourages you to keep things short

The Prompt

Write a 100 word story inspired by an aphorism

Tips

Remember: the prompts are only here as inspiration if you need them. Some people decide to write to all the prompts no matter what (to force themselves to stretch), but you can play any way you want!

Writing a 100 word story is a wonderful way to warm up and get some writing done even on a day when you are busy. It’s not necessarily faster to craft a 100 word story than it is to dash off 1200 words, but it is incredibly satisfying, and it sharpens your word-choice skills.

Today I’m going to suggest that you choose an aphorism or proverb to inspire you story (here’s a handy collection).

You’ll need to choose a character who embodies (or defies) the message of the aphorism, pop them in a situation where they can take an action and, ideally, give us an idea of how they are changing through their experience.

100 words isn’t a lot, but I believe in you!

If you need some inspiration here is a site full of 100 word stories.


Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is the Founder and Director of StoryADay.org. She began thus challenge in 2010 and is proud to have encouraged thousands of writers, since then. She never tires of hearing from writers whose StoryADay drafts turn into published stories, or gifts for friends, or other forms of art, so do please keep in touch!

Bingo!

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make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

Remember: I don’t recommend posting your story in the comments here (and I talk more about why not, here). Best practice: Leave us a comment about how it went, or share your favorite line from your story.



Day 1- Opposites Attract (Readers) by Julie Duffy

A writing prompt that focuses on a limited set of characters and locations, so you can start and finish your short story with success

Welcome to Day 1 of StoryADay 2022!

I’m sure you’re nervous and excited and eager to get on with it, so I’ll just say good luck, be good to yourself, never worry that you’re ‘failing’ because someone is doing something different from you (are you writing at all? Then you’re learning what you need to know!).

Keep reading to the end to find out what to do with that Bingo Sheet..

The Prompt

Write a story with 2 characters eating a meal together, who want different things

Tips

Limiting the setting and the number of characters is a quick’n’dirty way to keep your story from growing into the opening of a novel (not guaranteed, but…).

With two characters and one setting (a meal table) you are limited to focusing on these characters.


You can write this as a dialogue or allow the characters’ phsyical reactions tell the reader what they are feeling and thinking (how the character fidgets in their seat, what they pick up and put down, what they look at).
Remember that even if the characters want two different things, they will both believe they are right and have valid reasons for wanting what they want.

(They may even want the same thing, but have different approaches to achieving the goal: i. e. they want to keep their child safe, but for one that means letting them go on the school field trip with their friends, for the other, it might mean keeping them at home, away from physical danger).


Remember that people are rarely clear on what they want (or why they want it) so a conversation between two people gets messy quickly. Play with that.


Julie Duffy

Julie Duffy is a writer and the founder and director of StoryADay. When not working on her own writing or hanging out with the fine folks at StoryADay, she can be found playing board games, or music, or finding a quiet corner in which to read and/or knit. She looks forward to traveling again.

Bingo Pieces

make sure you set your printer to print this at original size, not full-page!

Here’s your first Bingo Piece. Download the pic, print it out and paste it onto your bingo sheet. Then share a picture of it on social media with #storyadaybingo

I know, 31 days of this is going to be a lot of wasted paper, but you can use the scraps as book marks, places to catch story sparks, opportunities for origami…and more

Or you can use your fave image editing software to add layers to this image.

But I think rewarding yourself every day with a bit of scissors-and-glue hands-on crafting, is a much better idea!

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!


Please note, I do not recommend posting your whole story in the comments here, for various reasons. Best Practice ; post about your experience of writing the story, or share an excerpt.

Q&A For May 2022

We got together this morning for a writing sprint and to get some questions asked and answered, about the challenge.

Watch it now:

I know it was too early for some of you, but I opened up a Q&A session about StoryADay May this morning and recorded it, so you don’t have to miss out.

Some of the questions answered:

  • When do the prompts arrive (and how)?
  • Where do we comment?
  • Should we post our stories somewhere?
  • What are Story Sparks?
  • What will the Fun-Size Challenge tasks be like? 
  • What if I ‘fail’?


You can watch me, and some veteran StoryADay writers, tackle these questions in  the replay here or, if you’re subscribed to the StoryADay Podcast the audio version of it should show up in your feed today.

SIGN UP FOR STORYADAY MAY 2022

If you haven’t yet signed up to participate in the Classic Challenge or the Fun-Size Challenge, you can do that here.

(If you have signed up already you would have received a “Day 0” email from me, yesterday. No need to do anything further.)
If you don’t sign up, I can’t send you daily emails during the challenge, but you’ll still get my weekly(ish) notes of encouragement.

Still have questions? Post’em below.

Haven’t signed up yet? Get on that!

Day 0 of the StoryADay Challenge

Are you excited (nervous?) about StoryADay May? I have an invitation that might help settle you into your writing chair.

I know it’s last minute, but if you’re around, I’d like to invite you to join me live on Saturday, April 30 for some writing and  Q&A

Live With Julie – Saturday, April 30

When: 9:30-11 AM (Eastern US)
Where: Zoom (link will be emailed an hour before the meeting)

Over the next month I’m going to be sending you lots of prompts, to help develop your writing practice.

But for any of that to matter, you have to really believe that you can be a writer and can fit it into your life.

I’d like to invite you to start that process tomorrow morning. 

If you can, I’d love for you to join me on Zoom  for a Q&A session, and stay for a writing sprint, where you’ll have a chance to stretch your writing muscles, and get warmed up before May starts.

You can work on your Creative Challenge Workbook or your Story Prompts, even your Short Story Framework brainstorming, or you can read some inspiring short stories or work on your first, warm-up story.

Q&A will start at 9:30 AM (Eastern US) CHECK YOUR TIME, and we’ll get down to some quiet writing, in community. (If you’ve never been to a Zoom writing sprint, you’ll be amazed how productive you can be, writing quietly in the presence of others!)

You don’ t have to stay for the whole thing. Come and go as you please.

I’ll send another email tomorrow morning around 8:30 AM with the link.

Until then…here’s a little gift for you. Save this picture, cut it out, stick it to your notebook or your laptop, because you are, an official StoryADay Writer! Congrats!

Leave a comment and let me know if you’ll be there

Keep up with all the Classic Challenge Posts Here

Announcing the StoryADay Fun-Size Challenge


Whether you’re easing back into a writing routine, need a break from your magnum opus, or just want to inject a little fun into your day…

YOU ARE INVITED TO SIGN UP FOR THE STORYADAY MAY CHALLENGE

New For 2022: 2 Ways To Play

This year, for the first time, I’ve created a Fun-Size StoryADay challenge—one month, one story—to ease you (back) into a daily writing practice that fits your life.

Your Perfect Writing Day

Imagine opening your email each morning of May and finding an encouraging note, writing prompt or tiny task that will start you off on the right writing foot.

No guilt, just an invitation to let your inner writer come out and play.

What’s In the Fun-Size Challenge?

Each day you’ll receive a tiny task to lead you through the process of writing one story during the month

  • Week 1 – Ideas and preparation
  • Week 2 – Developing your ideas and beginning to write
  • Week 3 – Working through the middle and ending the story well
  • Week 4 – Tidying up and planning ahead

PLUS anyone who signs up will have the option to enter the ‘review lottery’ and may get feedback on their writing, live on a group call.

By the end of the month you will have a draft of a story that didn’t exist 31 days before.

Perhaps you, like StoryADay writers Gabrielle, Marta, Kim, and Lex, will have created the draft that gets you your first, second or fiftieth fiction publication.

Or maybe, like Laura, or E. Rankin, you’ll make your first paid sale.

And how great would it be if, at the end of May, you are like StoryADay writer Michele who finally created “that daily writing habit”, or Robin who says “I have become a real writer”? Or Jeff, who says “every day, I have that desire to put in a little time with my writing and I’m confident that will always be there for me, now.”

Even if you need to take a day or two off, the tasks are manageable enough that you’ll easily be able to keep up. Importantly, you’ll keep making progress towards your goals, throughout the month.

(And don’t worry, for all you hard-core challenge fans, the classic 31 days, 31 prompts, start-and-finish-a-story-every-day version is still an option, with new writing prompts every day, and a lively community to keep you going!)

If you’ve been looking for a way to break through your blocks, fight the fear that comes with perfectionism and high expectations, and simply have some fun with your writing again, join us this May for the free StoryADay May challenge.

A Foot in Both Worlds

keeping one foot in each world—living up to your obligations to other and saying ‘yes’ to your need to write—-takes time and practice.

I took a week away from my writing. And I want to tell you why, and why it might (or might not) be a good idea for you to do the same.

It’s not like the timing was perfect…I’m two weeks out from putting on the 13th StoryADay May challenge, and this year I decided to make it easier (on you, not me) by creating a whole new Fun-Sized Challenge. (Have you signed up yet?)

But frankly, the time is never right. Not for vacation, not for a crisis, and certainly not for you to become a writer.

So what are we to do?

Continue reading “A Foot in Both Worlds”

New! StoryADay ‘Fun-Size’ Challenge Debuts this May 

Introducing a kinder, gentler challenge for busy writers

Every May writers challenge themselves to write a story a day, to stimulate their creativity and create lots of new drafts. This year for the first time, the founder of the StoryADay May Challenge, Julie Duffy, is issuing a new ‘fun-size’ challenge for people who would like to write, but find the idea of writing 31 stories in a month intimidating.

Continue reading “New! StoryADay ‘Fun-Size’ Challenge Debuts this May “

The State of the Short Story

Some early details about the new flavor of StoryADay May I’m introducing this year, and my note from the AWP 2022 Conference – and my thoughts on the state of the short story

::LINKS::

Subscribe to the podcast in your favorite podcast app and automatically download every new audio episode

3 Day Challenge: StoryADay.org/3dc

My interview with Jane Friedman:

Full transcript

SWAGr for April 2022

It’s that time again: time to make your commitments to your writing for the coming month. Join us!

Welcome to the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group!

Post your goals for this month and let us know how you got on with last month’s goals.

Serious Writers' Accountability Group

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

Download your SWAGr Tracking Sheet now, to keep track of your commitments this month

****

Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Finish first draft of story and write 3 articles for my school paper. – Courtney
  • Write on seven days this month – Clare
  • Extend my reading and to read with a ‘writers eye’- Wendy
  • write 10,000 words – Mary Lou

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends!)

Stay Weird – A Writing Prompt

The Prompt

Write a story just for you

A Story and Some Tips

When I was working for the first company to help authors publish using digital print on-demand tech, I talked to a LOT of authors,

  • Best-sellers like Piers Anthony who had grown disillusioned with traditional publishing;
  • Mid list authors who had been dropped by their publishers and wanted to republish out-of-print books or finish out that series their fans wanted;
  • Unpublished authors who hadn’t been able to place their novels with traditional publishers not because of the writing quality but because the publishers couldn’t see a large enough market for it.

Publishing is a business, and it’s hard to get picked, and it’s hard to stay lucky.

And if you want to ‘be published’ traditionally, you must convince someone that there is a large enough audience waiting for it.

But what if that’s not what you’re writing? Should you just stop?

The Woman Who ‘Invented’ a Genre

Continue reading “Stay Weird – A Writing Prompt”

Use Conflict to Make Stories More Interesting – a writing prompt

Avoid the trap of writing beautiful language with no plot, but injecting some conflict into your stories…and I don’t mean car chases or war! 

If there is nothing happening in your writing, your stories will be boring!

Full transcript: https://share.descript.com/embed/Wnfp8TWAI7m

Ready for more? Take the 3-Day Challenge!

You are not Brandon Sanderson

…and you don’t have to be.

The writing world is fascinated with the tale of fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson who announced he had written four surprise novels over the pandemic and used a record-breaking Kickstarter to launch them.

So I’m here to remind you about the different paths available to writers, from creating a practice, to creating an empire that can run a record-breaking Kickstarter campaign.

::LINKS::

John Scalzi’s article: https://stada.me/scalzi

The 3-Day Challenge: https://storyaday.org/3dc

Stay updated with StoryADay: https://storyaday.org/signup

Ready to write today, not “some day”?

Healing – A Short Story

Yesterday morning, my iPad and iPencil kept telling me they needed recharged (yes, normally I write on paper, but I was working with electronics for…reasons).

I charged the iPad for a while, then, impatient, pulled the cord and moved around with it.

It worked for a while then complained it needed charged.

The same thing happened with the iPencil.

In my impatience to get things done I was trying short-term, stop-gap fixes.

Finally, I realized my devices were trying to tell me something I often ignore when my body tells me the same thing:

Continue reading “Healing – A Short Story”

SWAGr for March 2022

It’s that time again: time to make your commitments to your writing for the coming month. Join us!

Welcome to the Serious Writers’ Accountability Group!

Post your goals for this month and let us know how you got on with last month’s goals.

Leave a comment below telling us how you got on last month, and what you plan to do next month, then check back in on the first of each month, to see how everyone’s doing.

(It doesn’t have to be fiction. Feel free to use this group to push you in whatever creative direction you need.)

Did you live up to your commitment from last month? Don’t remember what you promised to do? Check out the comments from last month.

And don’t forget to celebrate with/encourage your fellow SWAGr-ers on their progress!

Download your SWAGr Tracking Sheet now, to keep track of your commitments this month

****

Examples of Goals Set By SWAGr-ers in previous months

  • Finish first draft of story and write 3 articles for my school paper. – Courtney
  • Write on seven days this month – Clare
  • Extend my reading and to read with a ‘writers eye’- Wendy
  • write 10,000 words – Mary Lou

 So, what will you accomplish this month? Leave your comment below (use the drop-down option to subscribe to the comments and receive lovely, encouraging notifications from fellow StADa SWAGr-ers!)

(Next check-in, 1st of the month. Tell your friends!)

Please don’t do this…

I popped into a writers’ group on Facebook this morning and saw something so awful, so muse-crushing, so career-killing that I had to write to you and beg you not to make the same mistake.

Sound dramatic? 

That’s because I feel so strongly that you shouldn’t do what these two writers did. I’ve seen it stop writers in their tracks for years, if not forever.

What was this horrendous thing?

In two separate posts, this morning, I saw writers post their tender first efforts at writing (in their words “the opening of my novel”)  in a forum full of strangers and ask for feedback. 

Here are some of the responses they got:

Continue reading “Please don’t do this…”

Community & Communication

Whether we are from within a community or an outsider, it affects how we perceive the group. That’s important for characters in your writing and it’s one of the topics on this week’s podcast, along with mindset (of course!) and what I’m reading this month.  Included: a writing prompt all about the ways your characters and your readers interact

::LINKS:: 
Bob Newhard: https://youtu.be/p1KbtLrBZ0k 
Neil Gaiman’s “Orange”: https://amzn.to/2GgNPb8 
Podcast questions: https://storyaday.org/podcast 
Julie Explains Things, Simply: https://stada.me/jets

00:00 20220211 Podcast
03:43 Reading Room 
06:01 Community & Communication
11:13 Julie Explains Things, Simply
13:58 Writing Prompt

 

Transcript: https://share.descript.com/embed/IxDntQCz0Zp

Ready to write today, not “some day”?

[Reading Room] Cosmogramma by Courttia Newland

This collection is a great example of what modern speculative fiction can be: fascinating, compelling, peopled by sympathetic (and not-so sympathetic) characters; surprising and familiar, inspiring, filled with mystery and a sense of discovery for the reader…and I love it when stories are connected, so I enjoyed piecing together the connections between some of the stories in the collection.

Continue reading “[Reading Room] Cosmogramma by Courttia Newland”