Thursday, December 1, 2016

Reflections: NaNoWriMo 2016



As I reflect on another NaNo gone by, it’s hard to reconcile my joy of writing over twenty-two thousand words, and my regret at losing yet another NaNo—six now. I’ve lost six NaNos.

I’ve never even come close.

Most of the time, I don’t mind. I know I’m not a fast writer. I know that I’m more of a tortoise than a hare. I know that my careful attention to word choice and phrasing make for an easier time during the editing process. I know that I’ve completed two novels of way more than fifty thousand words (and one of those is almost finished being edited!), and that my writing life is more than November. But I feel like a loser tonight.

I don’t know why this year is different. I’ve always been super excited at whatever word count I could manage each of the five previous attempts. My first NaNo, I reached eighteen or nineteen thousand words and I felt like a whole new world had been opened to me. Each year I’ve managed to write a little more than the last. Except this one. I beat my average, but only just.

Perhaps this is the first year I actually thought that maybe I could do it, maybe I could actually write that fifty thousand. I’ve never believed that before. And I was on-pace (over-pace) that first week. It was an amazing feeling! Then the election happened, and I had difficulty summoning any extra energy to write. My creative brain was exhausted and listless. I wrote a few thousand words over the next week or two. Then when I finally felt a little better, we had company come in for Thanksgiving (wonderful people who I don’t see nearly enough!) and life was focused elsewhere. By the time they left, I had two days to make up the thirty two thousand word deficit.

Not happening.

I know there are people who can write that in a couple days; I am not one of them. I sat down and cried at what could have been. Then I went to a write-in and pounded out a couple thousand words. The next day I managed a couple thousand more. The end. NaNo is over. I want so badly to post that stupid winners badge. I want so badly to cheer, but all I can think is, “I should’ve done better. I could’ve done better.” But I couldn’t’ve. I did the best I could.

And that is good enough.

I’m super proud of the scenes I wrote and really excited about the stories and where they’re going. (I was a rebel this year and wrote scenes in three different stories this year…well, four, but I don’t know where that one came from—well, I guess I do, but I don’t know if it’s going to go anywhere.) Today I came home from work, took care of the kids, made dinner, then got out my ipad and wrote more words. It’s not November anymore, but the writing doesn’t stop.

The stories don’t stop.

At some point my feeling will catch up to my knowing. Until then, I’ll keep writing.

And afterward also.

(And I’m sure I’ll sign up for NaNo again next year…)


Monday, February 8, 2016

FINISH THAT THOUGHT





I regret to inform you that Finish That Thought will be on hiatus. I haven't decided if it will be permanent or not, but there just hasn't been enough participation to make it worthwhile. I know many of you come to check the page and the prompt, but we haven't had an entry in a couple weeks and it's been slim for several months before that. 

I started this contest to encourage writers and provide a place to hone skills and challenge each other. It seems as though the time of FTT has passed. It may be a difficult day of the week for some. It may be a hard couple of months for others. Whatever the reason I have missed you all, but I know we each have our families and responsibilities. 

Know that you have enriched my life. Thanks for sharing your stories for the last few years. Now run with wild abandon toward the next great thing. I wish you all the best, Alissa :)



Monday, February 1, 2016

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-30




Welcome back! It's been a tough month here. Perhaps February will be better. Thanks for joining us this week! I hope you're inspired by the prompt and write something amazing. Have at it.



If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

Rules:
1. Start with the given first sentence. (Allowable alterations listed below)
2. Up to 500 words (exclusive of title)
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST
8. Only one entry judged per round. If you write/post more than one story, you need to indicate which you would like judged. If you fail to indicate, it will be the first one posted.
9. Winner judges next round.



Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...



Our Judge today is Patrick Stahl. Read his winning tale from last week herePatrick Stahl is a freshman Creative Writing major (French minor) at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.  He dabbles in speculative fiction and Protestant ministry.  Patrick aspires to become an editor or publisher of SF/F/H.  He spends his free time playing the mandolin, reading, writing, and watching television (to bolster his writing skills, of course).  His blog can be found at intotheravenousmaw.blogspot.com, and his Twitter handle is @patrickjstahl.



 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-30 is:



There were only three rules in the camp, and I broke all three in one night.



 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:



Make clear what the rules were without actually stating them in the story (then write what they were after the story).


 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!






Monday, January 25, 2016

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-29




Welcome back! So sorry again about last week, but we're here this week and raring to go! We hope you are too! Go read the prompt and write something amazing! :)



If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

Rules:
1. Start with the given first sentence. (Allowable alterations listed below)
2. Up to 500 words (exclusive of title)
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST
8. Only one entry judged per round. If you write/post more than one story, you need to indicate which you would like judged. If you fail to indicate, it will be the first one posted.
9. Winner judges next round.



Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...



Our Judge today is Patrick Stahl. Read his winning tale from last week here! Patrick Stahl is a freshman Creative Writing major (French minor) at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.  He dabbles in speculative fiction and Protestant ministry.  Patrick aspires to become an editor or publisher of SF/F/H.  He spends his free time playing the mandolin, reading, writing, and watching television (to bolster his writing skills, of course).  His blog can be found at intotheravenousmaw.blogspot.com, and his Twitter handle is @patrickjstahl.



 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-29 is:



If [he] knew how much [he] meant to [me], [he] would probably think [I] was really weird.



 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:



Show both points of view, either by making the story consist of multiple scenes or by hopping heads in-scene.



 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!







Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Apologies...

I'm so sorry I didn't get Finish That Thought posted this week. I've been so busy I only just realized it now. I've messaged the judge and I decided to postpone to next week. I considered just posting it tonight and having it run through tomorrow, but that would probably be confusing. Again, I apologize. We will be back next week.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-28 - RESULTS!




Thanks for joining the fun this week! If you missed any of the amazing stories, go read them here. Finished? Great! Here's what the judge had to say:




These stories were great! The rotten watermelon smell really stayed with me, as did the annoyed ghost materializing from the writer's computer. I also loved the concept of the piano with a mystery ghost sold at auction and the mood set in the story with the rose quartz girl. Be careful with spelling errors, as they can be very distracting to the reader.


LETTER TO AMELIE by Mordea - The author creates a clear mood in this story; however, the plot is not totally clear. Is Amelie an actual ghost, or does the author just think of her whenever she sees the piano? Who is playing the piano? The first sentence is not as well integrated into the first paragraph as it could be.


STORY TIME by Audrey Gran Weinberg - Fabulous use of the story prompt. Enjoyed the bit about her naming her characters after her parents. Rachel's jump to the worry that she might be insane with the ghost's comment was a bit quick for me, especially after the nonchalant way she reacts to the chicken soup smell. This story is very clever, but would benefit with a bit more consistency. Maybe a hint to the reader that the chicken soup might be supernatural?


THE PIANO OWNER by Nada Adel - Loved the concept, although I would have like more detail about witches in your world. The story would also work without your writing that the house belonged to a witch. There is one moment where the story seems to go from third person limited to third person omniscient, when you write about the way that the others at the auction feel. Sheila and the ghost are both very well-realized and interesting characters, but I would have liked a bit more majesty in the last line, as "tunes" seems out of character for the Count, as well as for the music of Beethoven.


UNTITLED by Riham Adly - This story lacks a title. It sustains its melancholy mood very well, but has several spelling errors. I found the description of the piano keys as "checkered" to be a bit jarring, and I was confused by the rotating of the rose quartz pendulum, thinking "pendulums swing back and forth; they don't rotate." The use of quartz jewelry for communicating with spirits needs to be shown. I enjoyed the use of first person for the ghost. I could see this being lengthened into a short story for young adults.



Special Challenge Champion
HOW TECHNOLOGY AND DO-IT-YOURSELF FISH TANKS CURSED THE GHOST OF THE PIANO
by Holly Geely
This story made me laugh out loud! I loved the mix of ghost story tropes (i.e. temperature dropping several degrees) and contemporary irreverence. I would have picked a title that left a little more of the concept to the imagination, as the ending to this story is quite delicious. Loved the rotten watermelon smell and Janet's voice. There were a couple of grammatical and spelling errors that were distracting for me. The last sentence was excellent. The way she described the ghost with all five senses sticks with the reader: the rotten watermelon, the draping pose on top of the piano, and the howls at her attitude. Great work!


Grand Champion
AS DISTINCT AS MULBERRIES
by Patrick Stahl

This story is very well conceived and executed. The dialogue is clever and we get a feel for both the narrator and the ghost. The sensory detail fits seamlessly into the narrative, especially the smell of mulberries. I also loved the narrator's smelling the wet paint at the beginning of the story. The spooky but unexpected ending featuring the ghost's father and a mulberry worked perfectly. Congratulations!






Monday, January 11, 2016

FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-28




Welcome! We're glad to have you here today! Hopefully your year has started off on a positive note and you're getting into the swing of 2016. I look forward to reading your stories this week. Go read the prompt and write something great!



If you haven't read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

Rules:
1. Start with the given first sentence. (Allowable alterations listed below)
2. Up to 500 words (exclusive of title)
3. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Stories submitted must be your own work, using characters and worlds that you have created. Sorry, no fanfiction.
6. Include: Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
7. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST
8. Only one entry judged per round. If you write/post more than one story, you need to indicate which you would like judged. If you fail to indicate, it will be the first one posted.
9. Winner judges next round.



Oh, and feel free to change pronounspunctuationtense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...



Our Judge today is Tara O'Dowd. Read her winning tale from last week here! Find her on twitter @TaraODowd1. Tara worked for ten years as a union organizer in the United States. She now lives in Amsterdam where she is writing picture books and her first novel and goggling at bicycles. Unfortunately, she can't quite seem to get rid of her subversive tendencies.



 Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #3-28 is:



It was an inviting piano, but it came with a ghost.
 




 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:



Use all five senses to describe the ghost.



 
AAAAAAAND WE'RE OFF!!!