writing for fun

All posts tagged writing for fun

A Chicken in Every Plot

Published September 10, 2012 by Ms. Nine

By mazaletel (Flickr: the ladies) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

During Labor Day weekend, my husband decided to build a chicken tractor.  What is a chicken tractor and why did he want to build one? Simple answer – someone at work talked him into it.

“It’s a mobile home for chickens,” he explained, “a coop and a run on wheels.  The chickens will perform magic by changing a patch of ground into fertile garden space within a few weeks.  We’ll move it so the chickens will make lots of garden plots.  By spring, the plots will be ready for planting,” he told me. “What do you think?”

“Go chickens!” I said. “Let’s do it.”

“Great.  I’ll take some time off work.  We can build it this week.”

The fact that we didn’t know a cluck about raising chickens didn’t deter our enthusiasm.  How hard could it be to build for chickens?  After all, we’ve been building from scratch for years.

We researched building plans, inventoried our own stock of scrap materials, and foraged in hardware stores for materials we needed.  Within a few days, we were ready to start building.

When my husband and I build together, my job is “the holder and go-fer”.  This means I hold off the distractions (kids, phone calls, and visitors) and get necessities (food, beverages, and music to maintain the work rhythm).  Occasionally, I’d hold a board in place for my husband to nail, but usually someone else does the heavy lifting (a daughter’s unwitting boyfriend trying to make a favorable impression).

Sadly, after years of observing my husband, none of his skills has transferred to me.  I can’t even swing a hammer.  Unfortunately,  all other conscripts have flown away leaving me holding the screws and everything else.  My poor husband has no idea how limited I am regarding basic carpentry skills.

“Hand me the square. It’s on my workbench.”

His workbench is not my domain. It is littered with tools, boxes of screws, deely-bop-its, and buckets of nails –  a Home Depot garage sale on clearance.  I needed a hint. “What color is it?”

“Yellow.”

Ah, that’s better. It’s easy to spot yellow in a grey area.

He placed the square on a piece of wood to mark a line.  His pencil broke.  He cussed.  “Get me a pencil. No. Get me a pen.”

What were my chances of finding a pen on his workbench?   I scrambled into the house to retrieve a box of pens on my desk.

The pens didn’t write on the damp wood.  He cussed again.  “I can’t figure out the angle for these rafters. Get me the angle guide.”

I handed him a metal object shaped like a triangle. “No, not that,” he said.  Eggs-asperated by my lack of  nomenclature knowledge, he huffed, “I should have said the ‘adjustable’ angle guide.”

By now my husband thinks I’m a wing nut.  His instructions become more explicit.

“Go get me a half-inch socket. Tool case. Third drawer. Round objects – calipers on the side.”

During the next few days, I handed him screws, nails, boards, held up things, plugged in power tools, and picked up things he dropped.  I cheered when pieces fit together and cussed when they didn’t.  I cracked chicken jokes and made him laugh.

More than a few days later, we managed to build the basic frame.  Our next step is making it mobile.  I have a feeling we’ll nail this thing hens down.

Okay, no more fowl jokes.

For now, we’re thinking of names. Yes, we’re going to name our coop.  Any suggestions?

By VanTucky (Own work) [CC-BY-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks for stopping by!

Light as a Feather

Published July 23, 2012 by Ms. Nine

 

Just when I think I’m a goose feather in the wind, I wake up and discover that I’ve become the down in someone’s pillow.  I have no idea how this happens, but somehow my writing drifts in the wind and lands on somebody’s head.  Luckily, it’s light as a feather.

Thanks to Vikki for nominating me for the Illuminating Blogger Award.  I enjoy visiting her blog and  her perspective on writing.

The rules for acceptance are:

1. Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you 

2. Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back 

3. Share a random thing about yourself

4. Select five or more nominees and notify them on their blogs.

Copy and paste the award on your blog somewhere.


Here’s my random thing:  Once I taught mathematics to students in a psychiatric hospital.

Please visit these worthy blogs for inspiration and enlightenment:

Susan

Cyronette

Brian

Chris 

C. A. Husted

                                        

                                                   photo by kat@1bydesign.com

Thanks for stopping by!

 

Sky King and One Lovely Blog

Published July 17, 2012 by Ms. Nine

I was just nominated for the One Lovely Blog award.  I never know what to think when this happens.  This time, I’ll play by the rules.  The rules are to:

1) thank the blogger who nominated you with a link to the site.

2) write seven things about yourself that other bloggers don’t know

3) nominate fifteen other deserving blogs

Thanks to i.arxiv for the nomination!  Check it out for insightful and eclectic writing.

Seven trivial, random, and undisclosed things about me:

  1. Four years ago the US Army Corp of Engineers searched my property for Unexploded Ordinances (UXO) from WWII.  But they missed one.  I found it in my garden this spring.  So, tell me, what were they really after?
  2. I’m a conspiracy theorist.
  3. My husband and I make salsa with our own tomatoes.  We name each batch because it takes more time to make salsa than it does to make children (and we gave them names).  It’s only fair.
  4. I think Vesuvius is a lovely name for anything hot.
  5. I’m writing a novel about an evil rabbit and MK-ULTRA.
  6. I drink scotch.
  7. I wonder if Sky King became a victim of his own crop dusting.  What do you think?

And the nominees are: (Could somebody please tell me how to link better)

http://cahusted.wordpress.com

http://alwaysthewritetime.wordpress.com

http://ldalford.wordpress.com

http://helpfromcyranette.wordpress.com

http://grumpytyke.com/

http://perlesink.wordpress.com

http://theboywithahat.wordpress.com

http://susanwritesprecise.com/

http://veganchopnchat.com/

http://ashleyjillian.com

http://robincoyle.wordpress.com/

http://presentsofmind.wordpress.com

http://loiselsden.wordpress.com

http://jannatwrites.wordpress.com

Thank-you all for your lovely contributions to the clouds.

Prompt: Everything Went Black

Published July 12, 2012 by Ms. Nine

From http://wordsformwindows.com/

There were twelve of us at the dinner table when my sister and I washed dishes.  I was never in a hurry to finish the chore because of the evening entertainment just outside the kitchen window.  The main character, a blazing ball of hot orange, bowed for the final curtain call.   Exiting stage right, it hung back a little sharing the limelight with its supporting cast, the streaks of brilliant colors.  These streaks would blend and bend like ribbon candy.    I held my applause, gripping the last plate, entranced.  Next, I’d drain and refill the sink to wash the pots and pans.  Like an automaton, I’d scrub them, my attention fixed on those colors.  They were different every night.  One night the reds would dominate with a stage presence so profound that cold stones wept and glimmered with tears.   On other nights, the yellows and pinks prevailed.  Their dainty and wispy wings would flutter a final good-bye.  Sometimes all the bands would orchestrate together in a medley so compelling that it I would genuflect.   Nothing compared to those sunsets until everything went black.

Summer Shorts, Part II

Published July 3, 2012 by Ms. Nine

Flash fiction, a genre I’m experimenting with this week, is challenging but worth the exercise.  The fun part comes in editing.  Cut.  Cut.  Cut.

Readers, I challenge you to write a short (500 words or less) and post it in a comment (or link me).  Here’s a link with ideas and prompts: http://www.everydayfiction.com/flashfictionblog/10-ideas-for-flash-fiction-writing-prompts/

If you’re new to this genre, here’s another site with a clear definition: http://365tomorrows.com/03/23/what-is-flash-fiction/

Oh, and there are lots more.  Google it and see for yourself.

Here’s my short for today.

Waiting

     Marlene twirled her fork in the linguine alle vongole.   She saw Pedro, the head cook, watching her from the kitchen’s swinging doors.  She smiled. If only her father accepted him, she wouldn’t need to sneak.  Tonight she would wait for him by her mother’s head stone, a place her father would never look.  She left her plate untouched.  “My father works late tonight.  I’ll go home and get ready for Pedro.”

“I’m clocking out.”

“Nice job tonight, Pedro.  And remember what I told you about my daughter.  She’s too young for you.”

“Yes.” Pedro averted the old man’s eyes. “I will wait for her then.”

“That’s best.”  The old man sighed, appreciating Pedro’s honesty.

She wore the modest black dress, the one Pedro liked.  Pedro.  His name alone delighted every part of her.  She waited for love with the pain of anticipation.   To distract her, she read the words on the gravestone.

“Loving wife and mother taken by her own hands

Merciful God, forgive her.”

She wished for a word, a mother’s advice, a discourse, an approval, a sign.

An owl hooted.

She waited.  And waited.

If you have some flash, please post and share.  I’ll be waiting!

Thanks for stopping by!

Summer Shorts

Published July 2, 2012 by Ms. Nine

Like these summer shorts, less is more.

Here’s the first of my summer shorts.

That Woman

She put her salad fork down.  “I want a dog for my birthday,” she announced to her old man, her husband of thirty years.

“A dog? But you don’t even like dogs,” he grumbled, mouth full, steak juice dripping from his chin.

“Not a big one, a toy, a house dog to keep me company and sit in my lap at night.”

So he bought her a dog, a designer mixed breed, small and cute.  He snapped a photo of her holding the peppered fur ball as he sang the birthday song.

Later when she viewed the photo, a shadow from a clouded memory crossed her brow.   “I’m that woman,” she said, “the one I said I would never be.”  Her tone did not betray the lament that boomeranged back to her from the past.

She was pushing a stroller in the park, her attention fixed on an old lady sitting alone on a bench.  No, not quite alone, she was tethered to a Yorkshire Terrier which was sharing her ice cream cone.  Gross!  When I’m old, I won’t need a dog for that.  I’ll be feeding ice cream to my grandbabies instead.  I’ll never be that woman.

What Does This Say?

Published June 8, 2012 by Ms. Nine

You’re not new to writing.  You’ve been writing most of your life.  Everybody writes, even if it’s only a to-do list.  My granddaughter is only four and she writes her name followed by all the letters she’s learned so far.  She hands me her completed page and asks, “Grandma, what does this say?” What does this say?  Indeed, when the writer wants the reader to find meaning in her written word, a loop is formed.  The reader and the writer are one and the same.

Finding meaning is a scary prospect.   What does your writing mean to you?  Is writing a requirement for your day job?  What do you need to write?  A report?  A progress note? An invoice?  A manifest?  If you don’t want to ask the reader what does this say, then your writing becomes an artifact, a crumb in the continuum of man’s time on Earth.

When I was a full time teacher of 152 children, I wrote curriculum content, lesson plans, grants, progress notes, emails, and countless other written works necessary for the job.  In my spare time, I started writing a novel.   For the first time, I wanted to know what does this say.   Then the idea struck me.   I’m happiest when I write for myself.  In March, I left my teaching position to write full time.

For me, the transition from full time teacher to full time writer is a strange and astonishing journey.  What’s most astonishing is the freedom to write and to create my own schedule for doing it.     

Do you have a writing schedule? What does it say?

On a good day, here’s mine:

5:30AM – 10:00AM

     Turn on computer, check email, write blog, read other blogs for inspiration.  Think about what does it say.

10:00AM – Noon

     Take a coffee break.  Do household chores.  Write more.  What will this say?

Noon –lunch break.

12:30PM – 3:00PM

     Think and write more.  What does this say?

3:00PM – 5:00PM

     Write more. Read what I’ve written while preparing dinner and finishing household chores. Try to answer the question what does this say.

After 5:00PM

     Stop writing.  Stop asking what does this say.  Spend time with family. 

At bedtime

     Ask what does this mean.

 Image

Thanks for stopping by! 

Foreshadowing, the Ties That Bind

Published June 5, 2012 by Ms. Nine

     Foreshadowing is necessary to add suspense, connect scenes, and convey information that helps the reader understand what comes next.  If you don’t use it, your reader will disconnect.   

     So, what is foreshadowing?  Think of foreshadowing as signposts in your narrative that lead the reader to a destination in your story.   The signs can be expressed in the setting, in a set-up scene, in dialogue, or in symbolic objects (and lots of other ways!)

In this post I’m going to have a little fun with foreshadowing.

Foreshadowing in the setting:

     Marcy woke up to Here Comes the Sun playing on her ipod alarm clock.  The bright tempo and lyrics bounced her out of bed.   Indeed, the sun streaming through her bedroom windows reflected the song’s sentiment and convinced her that today, she too would shine.  Last night she had worked on her portfolio long after Jay Leno said goodnight.     Now it pulsed on her laptop, a dazzling multimedia presentation.    This morning, she didn’t break the eggs, her coffee perked to perfection, and her toast didn’t burn.  Today will be different, she told herself as she pranced into the shower.   A few minutes later, she donned her only power suit, a coral skirt and blazer trimmed in navy blue.  Grabbing the flash drive and gathering her scattered papers into a folder, she headed out the door.    Carpe Diem!

{—this might be Marcy’s best day.}

Foreshadowing in the set-up scene:

     Marcy gripped the steering wheel of her Honda Civic as she rolled down Main Street at the tail end of the noon rush.   Why would anyone schedule an important meeting at one o’clock?  People are either sleepy from eating lunch or tired and hungry from skipping it. Well, that’s corporate thinking for youEither way, I’ll show them my prospectus and they’ll be eating out of my hand.  She squeaked by three traffic lights just before they turned red.  Bolstered by this good karma, Marcy was certain her interview would result in that promotion – Senior Merchandiser for Kmart’s Kitchen and Bath Department.    She turned right onto Crawford Street with five minutes to spare.    Those five minutes would be eaten up by red police lights flashing in her rear view mirror and the burping, sick horn of a police warning signal.

{—Marcy is going to be late.}

 

Foreshadowing in dialogue:

     Marcy rolled down her window as the officer approached.  “Is there a problem, officer?” she asked in a friendly way.

     “License and registration, please,” the officer replied, all business like.

     “Sure.” She fumbled through her purse, and then handed the items to the officer.

     “Marcy McDonald?  The break light on your passenger side is out.  I’m issuing a citation; you’ll have five days to fix it.  You’ll go to traffic court with proof of the repair and pay the fine.  Understand?”

     Marcy nodded.  

     “One more thing,” the officer continued, “are you planning on parking in this area?”

     “Yes.  I have a meeting in that building,” she said, pointing to a high rise across the street.

     “Then use the off-street parking.  There’s been a rash of break-ins at the municipal parking lot during the afternoon hours.”

     Great! I’m already late.  Finding an off-street space is next to impossible!  I’ll take my chances, carry mace, and lock my doors.

     “Thank-you, officer,” she said, flashing her friendliest smile.

{—Marcy is going to be very late}

 

     In my writing, foreshadowing is often constructed during rewrites.   How does foreshadowing work with you?  Do you write phrases about the future? Do you write changes in setting that guide the reader to a future event?  Do you write scenic elements that suggest emotions, emotions that are tacked on to what comes next? 

Share some examples of your foreshadowing by posting a comment.

Thanks for reading!

 

The Stein and Ms. Nine

Published May 24, 2012 by Ms. Nine

The writer married technology a long time ago.  Think about it.  They’ve always walked hand in hand – the invention of movable type, the ball point pen, the electric typewriter, and the ultimate machine – the word processor.  I thought it would be fun to consider writers of the 20th century like Hemmingway, Faulkner, or Fitzgerald using the technology of now.  Would they have accomplished more?  What would they say about it?  What would John Steinbeck think of word processors, the internet, or blogging?  To satisfy my curiosity, I invited Mr. Steinbeck into my imagination for an interview. 

Here’s a transcript of our conversation…

Ms. Nine:  Welcome, Mr. Steinbeck.  Thanks for spending e-face time on my blog today.

Mr. Steinbeck:  Please, call me ‘the Stein’; it’s my tag.

Ms. Nine: (the Stein??  I could NEVER!)… >cough< …I’ve invited you here so writers could benefit from your perspective on being a writer in the 21st century. 

Mr. Steinbeck: Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.

Ms. Nine: Uh..okay, if you say so… This is my first posthumous interview and I’m a little nervous… So here’s my first question.  How do you feel about using a word processor?

Mr. Steinbeck:  I hate computers.  They know so much more than I do.  Using a computer forces a writer to think harder, faster, stronger. 

Ms. Nine:  Would these modern tools have helped you write?

Mr. Steinbeck:  After I won the big P for The Grapes of Wrath, it was tough getting back on track.   I mean, I still had more writing to do.  Maybe if I had a word processor I would have won that Nobel Prize a lot sooner.  Who’s to say?

Ms. Nine:  Would you have finished The Acts of King Author and His Nobel Knights?

Mr. Steinbeck:  You had to mention that thorn in my side.  I’m not making excuses, but in my day writers had to set priorities.    Yeah, maybe a word processor would have helped.  But back then writers believed in the perfectibility of man.  We didn’t write frivolously.  We wrote – I wrote – to bring awareness of the economic and social injustice of the time.  I was making a statement!

Ms. Nine:  This brings me to my next topic – J. Edgar Hoover and the League of American Writers.  Do you think using social media and the internet would have made a difference?   

Mr. Steinbeck:  If I could have tweeted about what happened to Charlie Chaplin and the Smothers brothers, the resulting public outcry might have stopped that Communist brouhaha.   I am clever with words.  But remember, if I could’ve had access to social media, so too would McCarthy and Hoover.  The ability of social media to shape collective consciousness is astounding.   It flows in all directions. 

Ms. Nine: One last question – would you have used a website to promote your work?

Mr. Steinbeck:  At this point, I have grown beyond my work, walked up the stairs of my own concepts, and emerged ahead of my accomplishments, all achieved without a website.  Ironically, now that I’m dead, I have at least a dozen.

 

Well, there you have it – a 20th century perspective on writing in the 21st century.  Makes you think, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

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