The brightness of the television screen was the only source of light in the otherwise dark basement. There was no reason to go outside. The volcanic dust was forecast to thicken as the twin volcanoes that rose inexplicably out of the Mississippi River basin following the 8.9 magnitude quake on the New Madrid Fault line belched the air full of hot lava and acrid smoke.
The commercial began innocently enough, showing kittens and bunnies frolicking in a grassy park. But then a dark shadow enveloped their playground in the shape of a mountaintop before darkness quickly engulfed the screen. Then splashes of hot lava landed here and there scorching the park grasses.
“Has all this Armageddon talk got you feeling blue?” the commercial announcer began. “Do you feel like your world might as well have ended when the New Madrid struck? Well we want you to know your government cares. There is no need to deal with all struggle to come in the new world. Just choose blue. Blue is right for you!
Martin stabbed the Off button on his remote as he stood. “Damn big pharma thinks they have a potion for everything!”
Everyone knows about the San Andreas fault and how it could potentially reshape the west coast of the United States. But there is another in the Mississippi River basin called the New Madrid that could accomplish the same damage to the East Coast. I live on the Eastern side of Tennessee and have experienced some of the earthquakes originating in the New Madrid seismic zones.
The disappointment was thick in his eyes, much like a new lens to a pair of glasses meant to correct his vision. But there was nothing wrong with what he saw. Wait, I guess I see that wrong looking at it from my side of the barbed wire strands. To him I was leaving him alone. I was returning to my home where barbed wire was an implement of choice in containing livestock, not culling humans who didn’t fit a specific profile. True I had not made the choice to string it here, but did I do enough to contest it?
“What is a doctor supposed to do about such social injustice. I was here to treat the ailments in a physical manifestation. But there were more ailments in play, some of which no medicine in the world could cure. A government policy or policies I guess that drew this stark demarcation between acceptable and unacceptable. I knew Manny, or Manuel as his mother liked to call him. He was a good kid, with no evil intent anywhere in his skin. But as I turned away with my bags in hand to board my plane I could feel his dark eyes asking “Why not me?”
If you are an aspiring novelist you already know what National Novel Writing Month or #NANOWRIMO is. It is a harrowing thirty day adventure where you try to craft a novel of 50,ooo words. Write a complete novel in a month? Who came up with such madness? No doubt it was a writer. Only people such as us can dream up such utter madness!
But here I am, drinking the Kool-Aid for a second straight year. I will be quick to admit that NaNoWriMo ate my lunch last year, as my first attempt ran out of gas at 29,000 odd words. But I learned a lot from the experience and armed with a solid outline I am back for more. I have also picked up some knowledge I want to impart in this blog post. Here are six things I have learned through Twitter.
People want to share their ups and downs with others who will commiserate or celebrate. Let’s face it, if you don’t do this thing called novel writing you cannot hope to understand the strain it puts on a writer. You see we go into bookstores all the time and dream of seeing our name on the front of a book in that shelf. To get to that point however means a lot of days where our success is either invigorating or lack thereof is energy-sucking.
Some people have more time to write than others and trying to keep pace with them is foolish! I read several Twitter posts each day and I knew within a few days I would begin to see fellow novelists boast of being half-way or futher in their 50K journey. But today, on November 4th, I saw someone celebrating their “win”. For those of you not in the madness a “win” is crossing the 50,000 word threshold. I said “SERIOUSLY”, what do you do for a living. many of us have full time jobs and cannot devote the kind of time it would take to write 50,000 words in 4 days.
Being and encourager is desperately needed! As a Christian I have always tried to live within the bounds of something I know as the J.O.Y. Principle, which is explained as Jesus First, Others Second and Yourself Last. So I try my best to read through some Twitter posts, find one with a post that reflects the need for encouragement and have at it. I even began using this hashtag: #Encourageawriter. I hope I can enlist a legion of others to help me make it trend between now and the end of NaNoWriMo2016.
There is no end to the NaNo Tips Posts. Thanks to all of you who are trying to help those of us still cutting our teeth in the business, but who has time to read all these and reach our desired daily word goal? Yes, I realize I am joining this group, but I wanted to share some insight for those interested in the topic but not doing the dance.
Too many people sabotage themselves by trying to get it perfect the first time through. The idea is to get the first 50,000 words assembled within the 30 days of the month of November. No, they may not be part of the final 80,000 or so words when you submit to a publisher, but it is much easier to submit a finished work if you get it started. Editing comes later, not while you are in the midst of NaNoWriMo.So what if you claim the win on November 30th and find yourself on December 15th with a 41,000 word revised manuscript? At least you have created something!
There are so many great writers out there! Everyone I have encountered both last year and this year are just like me, only wanting to enjoy the thrill of a publisher asking to publish our creation. Oh how we will celebrate that day! I am trying to collect a few friends to share my celebration with and who will want to celebrate their success with me.
I am sure there are more Twitter discoveries I will collect during this adventure, but for now this is what I will share. If you want to help me encourage use the hashtag I mentioned above. You may get a nice 140 character thank you note!
What does it look like to be crushed by an idea you embraced with such excitement and enthusiasm in its buildup? I think the picture that follows can sum up my response.
What I envisioned as a 747 arcing across the sky over the month of November headed for at least a 50,000 word beginning of my first published novel instead is holding its place as a 29,039 word beginning. Rest assured I have not thrown in the towel or the landing gear on this quest. But I do know this, 50,000 words in 30 days is a monumental task, one I had known in the preceding years and avoided at all costs. But in 2015 I thought it would be worth the effort. I can say it was not.
I got tied in with NaNoWriMo.org (for free or I would not have done it) and they go to great lengths to try to encourage you and get you involved with other writers. This is all fine and well if you have scads of time to devote to such. But if you intend to tap out the average of 1,667 words per day to stay on pace it leaves little time for anything else.
I did attend one write in, which is a physical gathering of those taking part in the month long exercise at a local site. With the exception of the two liaisons from the event there was one other writer and myself, so not much opportunity to feel a part of a community. It is true that writing is a solitary adventure and most of your motivation has to come form within, but you would think writers would jump at the chance to share a brief time with others.
The novel I am in the midst of writing was not the problem, that story is in my head, begging to be transferred to the computer. The issue is the demands of writing it within such a short and yet hectic time period. Consider the holiday that falls within the 30 day period. Then I can add in the fact that I left the country for a week long mission trip. Of course I knew that going in, but in the early days when the enthusiasm was tied to adrenaline I was able to get ahead of the pace and felt I could easily reach the goal.
So in summary I guess I would say this experience confirmed what I already believed, that NaNoWriMo is not for me. I will finish this novel and get it ready to be published either with a traditional publisher or by publishing it myself through Amazon or another means. It is my greatest desire at his moment after the things that are always bigger priorities (spouse, children, job, etc.). I suppose I will have to try to find another avenue to develop a writer network of friends.
Baraba Beacham gives us a photo prompt and first sentence of a fiction prompt on Mondays. You can join us here.
Not knowing what to expect, he made his way into the dark of the forest. He was too old for initiation, wasn’t he? Yes, he wanted to finally gt a chance to do this extreme ropes and zip line course, but the guys of Theta Kappa Phi were determined he had to do this first. Starting a second degree at 34 had been the wife’s idea. He knew she was right, his two year degree wasn’t generating enough income. But really, was this necessary?
He turned to look at the group of eighteen, nineteen and twenty year olds who were loving every minute of this. He fully expected some others to be waiting in the woods. What they didn’t know was he was an excellent woodsmen and had special forces training. This was going to sour on them very quickly. He wouldn’t hurt them, just scare the daylights out of them.
Here we go with Friday Fictioneers again, the best photo fiction prompt on the planet, hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. I took a break from the path I have been on to give the romantic story a whirl.
copyright – Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
She didn’t want to leave. They said this was forever. She said it was love, so did he. But here she was a suitcase in one hand and her keys in another. She hoped he would chase her into the rain, no not hoped, she counted on it.
She paused at the side of the car, listening for his familiar call, but there was only silence. Her tears were washed away by the wind and rains. Her heart ached with the reality of the moment.
Inside the apartment he was lying on the sofa, asleep and unaware of her decision.
The Grammar Ghoul Press offers two prompts each week to satisfy your fiction writing urge. One is a micro-story prompt offering multiples of 13 words, i.e. 13 in week one, 26 in week two and so on but always less than 53 words. The other is a 750 word offering known as the Mutant 750. I usually don’t get it together in time to include with the others. The prompt for The Shapeshifting 13 Mico-fiction Writing Challenge begins at noon on Friday and is open until 8:00 p.m. Sunday. Their is a grid you can add your offering to and there is a 24 hour reading and voting period by anyone who happens by.
So enough with the offical words, here is my interpretation of the prompt, which is the photo that follows along.
“The Six Million Dollar Cow” by Anthony Wolff
Trading with aliens was new, but money was money and Farmer Jones made a killing. How the aliens ate the heifer was their business, not his.