Plot Generator

I have done this before and I will continue to do it because it is so darn funny.

I have been in a writing slump for almost a year now. I feel I have a good reason because of moving twice (one interstate and one local), plus I did help Pikes Peak Writers publish a book (check it out here).

Now that we have settled in our permanent home, I have realized I have basically not written much through all of it. Besides, I’ve also tried hitting the keyboard with little success. Now, you may ask, “How do you get over your slump?” Good question. I’ve been asking myself that for days now.

I have browsed through my usual haunts (social media, solitaire, news feeds), and find them to be less than inspiring. Today, I came across a site I haven’t visited for awhile, The Masterpiece Generator. It isn’t the most ideal place to find writing inspiration, but it certainly gave me a giggle. It’s a little like Mad Libs, but no one sees the results until you’re done. There are a few ways this can trip you up, but hey, it’s free and fun.

As you read this lovely masterpiece, keep in mind that this is somewhat unedited (I had to fix a couple of things because my OCD could not handle the grammar). So, I filled in the blanks and the program spit this out. Please don’t judge me…I really only provided a few of the words and the program slapped the rest out like a damp egg. (If you care to, here is the previous wonderous short story that Masterpiece Generator spit out.) Here are the results brought to you by, The Masterpiece Generator, The Short Story:

Two Optimistic Uncles Hiking to the Beat

A Short Story
by KJ Scrim (but more like…I only plugged in arbitrary words)

Karen Smitts looked at the heavy shoe in her hands and felt sad.

She walked over to the window and reflected on her dusty surroundings. She had always hated hot Catalina with its cooing, curly cactus. It was a place that encouraged her tendency to feel sad.

Then she saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Michelle Victor. Michelle was a perky witch with an athletic nose and rotund toes.

Karen gulped. She glanced at her own reflection. She was a brute, quiet, tea drinker with a slender nose and dirty blond toes. Her friends saw her as a silly, corned toad. Once, she had even rescued a damp egg from a burning building.

But not even a brute person who had once rescued a damp egg from a burning building, was prepared for what Michelle had in store today.

The dust storm teased like coiling scorpions, making Karen lonely.

As Karen stepped outside and Michelle came closer, she could see the pretty smile on her face.

“Look Karen,” growled Michelle, with a lying glare that reminded Karen of perky cougars. “I hate you and I want money. You owe me 2,796 dollars.”

Karen looked back, even more lonely and still fingering the heavy shoe. “Michelle, I know what you did,” she replied.

They looked at each other with frustrated feelings, like two frantic, famous frogs laughing at a very pessimist birthday, which had new age music playing in the background and two optimistic uncles hiking to the beat.

Karen regarded Michelle’s athletic nose and rotund toes. “I don’t have the funds …” she lied.

Michelle glared. “Do you want me to shove that heavy shoe where the sun don’t shine?”

Karen promptly remembered her brute and quiet values. “Actually, I do have the funds,” she admitted. She reached into her pockets. “Here’s what I owe you.”

Michelle looked bored, her wallet blushing like a breezy, brief ball.

Then Michelle came inside for a nice cup of tea.

THE END – OR IS IT?

DREAM Just Published!

Dream, Pikes Peak Writers second anthology, has hit the shelves. I am so proud of this issue for so many reasons. First, a little pat on my own back because, as Project Manager, I had the honor of designing the interior of the book. It was a first for me and an uphill battle all the way. Affinity Publisher* is a complex program to learn yet, once I got the hang of it it seemed almost easy.

The stories in this edition are amazing. The talent that came to us for this second edition was beyond compare. The authors hale from across the globe giving the stories and poems a flare from worldwide imaginations. Do I have a favorite story? It would be too hard to try and choose a favorite. So, I’ll say that they are all fantastic.

Graphic designer, Joshua Clark did a fantastic job of creating a cover that speaks to the entire book. Because the stories are eclectic, the cover had to encompass a wide rainbow of subjects. He captured this book perfectly. don’t you agree?

The editors, Edward Raetz and Deborah Brewer, plowed through over 150 submissions to widdle it down to the final 27. They worked with each author making their stories shine. I am so happy they are staying on for anthology #3. More information on that soon.

Cover of Dream; Tales from the Pikes Peak Writers.

About Dream

            Your climate control is broken, the engine is overheating again, and the traffic has come to a dead stop amidst a swarm of horns. To top it off you’re late for work. In a heartbeat, you find yourself in another place, another time. Just for a moment, your mind takes a break. Your subconscious decides to get out of the traffic and set sail along a coast of white sandy beaches and palm trees. Later that night, you wake with a jolt but don’t remember what startled you. Your thoughts are racing as sweat beads on your forehead. What was it? Is someone there? Are you afraid to go back to sleep?
           Whether you are awake or asleep, dreams take your mind and open it to a kaleidoscope of dreamscapes you never knew could exist. In a blink, the dream can transform from a bloody war to a little boy escaping his troubled childhood with his action figures.
          In this second anthology from the Pikes Peak Writers, you will take a journey through the creative minds of the twenty-seven writers who penned the following works based on a simple one-word prompt – Dream. Let yourself experience worlds in a spirit-filled house, on a pirate ship, or teeter on the precipice of Hell. Then, with the turn of a page, walk through the beauty of far-off lands, watch purple ducks on a yellow pond, or run with terror through a town filled with monsters. Enjoy this stroll down a crooked path that could hold your worst nightmare or your most beloved wish. Be careful what you wish for, a genie may be lurking in the labyrinth of your mind waiting to be set free.

~Kathie Scrimgeour

PRAISE FOR DREAM
“Story after story this anthology keeps the pages turning. What will the next chapter hold? Will it be a cozy mystery, perhaps a ghost story, or something unexpected? No worries, there is something for every reader in this collection. Well done!”

*A note on Affinity Publisher…it is an excellent program for print publishing, but be aware that it does not produce any output for electronic publishing such as for Kindle or Apple books.

A Great Year!

Another year has almost come to a close, thank goodness. I usually have a positive outlook on life but the past couple of years have made it more difficult. 2021 has proven to be much better than ’20 though! With that in mind, I am going to close 2021 out with a listing of the positive things that happened through the year. These are not in chronological order, but in the order that they pop into my head.

Here goes…
  • Comet Leonard will pass by earth for the first time in 80,000 years. You will be able to see this distant comet in the low western sky at sunset this weekend (December 18-21, 2021) . It is just a little bit of fuzz, but the astronomer who discovered it just found it early in January of this year. Way to go Mr. Leonard!
  • I moved! After 21 years in our house in Colorado, my husband and I sold our house and headed to the Arizona desert. So far? We love it. I won’t miss the cold and snow. The heat in the summer here? It is HOT!
  • My daughter got engaged. She has found an incredible guy and they will be married in 2022. Yikes! I have a wedding to help plan!!
  • I built an awesome snowman with my 23 year old son in the backyard. We both felt like kids again. I recommend snowman building to cheer up any day.
  • Since moving to Arizona we have visited Biosphere 2, Mt Lemmon Observatory, Reid Park Zoo, Tucson Botanical Gardens, Tohono Chul Botanical Gardens (they have an amazing brunch!), hiked many trails in Catalina State Park, and so much more!! There is so much to explore here and we plan to see and do everything.
  • We are having a house built so it is fun watching that slowly become a home.
  • I’ve picked up sketching again. I’ll post a few of my drawings when I have something I’m not too embarrassed by. haha. I’m no Rembrandt, but I can make a bird look like a bird.
You may be wondering at this point, “What about writing??”

The writing scene has been fantastic! I found Fresh Starts (Pikes Peak Writers first anthology) in our local bookstore, The Tattered Cover. Thank you for carrying it!! In about 3 months the second anthology, Dream, will come out. Myself and the editors spent the last few months furiously reading over 150 submissions that have now been trimmed to the final 27 authors. We will announce who they are right after the first of the year. We are expecting to publish sometime in March.

My personal writing has also been amazing this year. I am working on the edits for my first book, Murder in Sulpher Gulch, and I have several short stories in submission. I’m anxiously waiting for a reply. I’ll tell you, writing is not for the faint of heart. Well, the writing part isn’t so bad, but the waiting is tough. 🙂

Now that I am at the close of this post, I see that 2021 was a pretty wonderful year! With that in mind, I predict that 2022 will be be another great year for my family and I.

I hope life in your circle of family and friends shines brightly throughout 2022 as well!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

It’s HERE!

Fresh Starts, Cover Image

After nearly three years in the making, FRESH STARTS, Tales from Pikes Peak Writers, has finally hit the shelves. What a privilege it has been working with all of the authors and editors. It has been a long road to see this come to fruition and what a journey it was!

Publishing this anthology was a first for PPW so the editorial team had to create everything from submission forms and layouts, to cover design and contracts. Life derailed a couple of editors and a couple of new faces joined us. All in all, every bump was worth it.

This is a beautiful book. The cover design intriguing. The stories amazing. I hope you dive into it, and if you do please leave a review so everyone will know how fantastic this book is.

Until then, here is a little more about FRESH STARTS

After the fires are out, the smoke has cleared, the divorce is over, the widow has stopped wearing black, the sun has risen, the monsters are dead, the world is saved (or destroyed!), the storm has calmed, and the trouble is over…
…what do you do next?
We can’t promise only happy endings. Just that moment when you pick yourself up out of the wreckage and find the strength to begin anew.

Praise for FRESH STARTS:

One powerhouse of an anthology! From Josh Clark’s delightful NOLAN’S BUCKET LIST: SNOW DAYS to C.E. Barnes’ hilarious SIR GEORGE AND THE DRAGON, these tales are sorely needed lights in the darkness. The mix of stories and poems is a refreshing twist on traditional anthologies. Congratulations, Pikes Peak Writers, on your first anthology. Looking forward to many more. ~Darby Karchut, Award Winning Author of the Del Toro Moon series.

“FRESH STARTS bursts with wonderful stories that showcase exciting new literary voices! Very highly recommended!” –Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of V-WARS and INK

Who are we?

Thirty authors from all over the United States, plus India and Germany, had their work published in this first ever anthology from Pikes Peak Writers. Their stories, poems, and essays will move your soul, make you smile, or set your thoughts reeling.

Morgen Leigh, Terry Odell, Michael Chandos, Marilyn K. Moody, Harper Barrow, Gwynne Stanker, Lily Lapin, T. R. Kerby, Bill May, Laura Mahal, CS Simpson, Bowen Gillings, Kendra Griffin, Nikia Hunt, Tushar Jain, Josh Clark, C.E. Barnes, Sarah Reilly Pancoast, Lizz Bogaard, Denise Talamantez, Tami Veldura, Katie Day, Stephanie Amedeo, Shelley Kitchura Nelson, Karen Albright Lin, David Stier, Ian Neligh, Megan E. Freeman, Jere Ellison, Debbie Maxwell Allen, Kathie Scrimgeour (Project Manager), Jamie Ferguson (Editor & Layout Design), Lou J Berger (editor), Jenny Kate (Marketing director & Editor), Josh Clark (Cover).

A New Look

There are times when you have to open your closet and take a look at your wardrobe. You know what it’s like. When your closet bulges with outdated blouses that should have been retired with your patchwork bellbottoms. How about your great-grandmother’s fur coat that smells like an old shoe? That time arrived for me today, and the wardrobe I was looking at was my website. I haven’t done any major work on my site for over 4 years so I spent the day doing a little bit of revamping, and reconstructing.

I am not a graphic designer, nor a webpage designer. My budget doesn’t allow me to hire a professional so I hit the DIY easy button. Well, it wasn’t overly easy. Most of my time was spent trying to figure out how to work through WordPress’ templates and customizations.

More work is still in store, but for now, I hope you like my new wordrobe…no, wait…wardrobe…HA!…website!

In the end, I think it came out pretty nice.

What do you think?

It’s a Cover!

Can life get any better than this?

I can finally brag about having a book coming out. Although the stories are not my own, I am proud to have been the Project Manager with an amazing group of writers and editors.

FRESH STARTS will be available on April 9th.

Read more about this anthology on PPW’s website.

Upcoming Anthology

I am so excited!

Why?

In early April I will finally see over two years of hard work come to light. TALES FROM THE PEAK: FRESH STARTS is going to be published!

FRESH STARTS – A Quick History

In October of 2017 I went to a meeting with Pikes Peak Writers to talk about possibly publishing an anthology with stories, poetry, and memoirs written by members of PPW. What I didn’t realize was that I would raise my hand and volunteer to lead this project.

I professed to everyone in attendance that I had ZERO experience in how to do this project, but I would make it happen. After all, PPW is an organization that supports writers of all levels of experience. An anthology just seemed like the next step for the organization.

NEXT STEPS

The learning curve was immense. At times, I felt like I was climbing Mt Everest without equipment, but I pulled on my boots and faced the mountain. With guidance from my mentors, DeAnna Knippling, Jamie Ferguson, and Jenny Lovett, we pushed through setting budgets, developing a theme, setting a marketing plan, soliciting writers, and collecting stories.

The number of submissions we received was unexpected. When Lou J Berger joined the team as an editor we, at the time, had only received 35 submissions and assured him we would be lucky to break 60. Then the avalanche hit. In total we read and combed through 255 submissions.

TODAY

Today, the selected authors number 30 who were given a theme to write on. Each writer was asked to write their interpretation of Fresh Starts, with a simple added blurb:

After the fires are out, the smoke has cleared, the divorce is over, the widow has stopped wearing black, the sun has risen, the monsters are dead, the world is saved (or destroyed!), the storm has calmed, and the trouble is over…
…what do you do next?
We can’t promise only happy endings. Just that moment when you pick yourself up out of the wreckage and find the strength to begin anew.

What an amazing turnout! The choices were difficult, but we found our way to the best of the best submissions.

We are now working through cover art, contracts, bios, headshots, and the last leg of marketing. I never fully realized what went into publishing a book until I stepped into this project. The peak of Mt. Everest is in view and I am now armed with climbing equipment that will pull me, and this anthology, over the top to publication in April.

Learn more about the anthology here and sign up to receive updates as they are available.

Buried Treasure

Squirrel Thief

I sat in my back-yard reading when a squirrel came hopping into the yard with two huge peanuts protruding from his mouth. He went to the base of the apple tree and proceeded to urgently dig a hole into which he dropped the first peanut and buried it. Then, he went about 10 feet across the yard and dug a second hole into which he put the second treasured nut.

Mind you, he didn’t just bury two nuts and scurry away. He checked the second burial with great care. Satisfied, he went back to the first hole he dug and carefully sniffed the area. He seemed to decide the burial was not up to snuff so he carefully rearranged the topsoil then, one at a time, he quickly lay pieces of mulch bark over the top.

Like a criminal in the night after finishing his work and scanning the area for enemies, he scampered across the yard and hopped onto Fence Highway and booked it to the next yard.
After he departed I went to the tree to see what he left behind. If I wasn’t aware that he buried a nut where he did, I would have never been able to tell. He had put all the bark back over the hole covering his tracks perfectly. The second hole was so well hidden I never did find it.

I now wait patiently for his return to reclaim his treasured nuts.

Squirrel Thief
This is the same fellow who stole my bird feeder bell this past winter.

How I Started Writing

At the beginning of a New Year I look back on what went right and what went sideways in my writing life. I will say that this year, overall, was a good year. My work on Pikes Peak Writers debut anthology is slowly coming to fruition (there is an actual page on their site now), I typed THE END on my newest book, Murder in Sulfur Gulch, and I submitted two short stories (one was declined and one is still out awaiting judgement).

Of course, as I do this reflection over the year, how it all started drifts into my my mind. Why did I start writing in the first place? Was there a turning point that pushed me into this life or did it just grow from something intangible?

My daughter is who influenced me the most to start writing. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and during her college years I read her stories and essays. They were wonderful. She found so much joy in them. I wanted a piece of joy for myself and thought that writing would be fun.

I started writing just before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m not sure if this was a warped plan that the Fates set up for me, or what, but the cancer put a huge damper on my grand plans to write. There was no longer much fun to be found in writing. It actually made my writing life nearly impossible for almost three years. Despite that, I kept writing through those dark days because it brought in a bit of light into my day to day survival. Whenever I could, I wrote on my blogs and the other blogs I contribute to, but chemo and radiation took a toll that continued for a long time (and continues to a small extent even today).

Now, on the other side of cancer, I am starting to find the fun that I lost at the beginning. Because of the encouragement I got from my daughter, friends, and other writers, I am finding the fun that I sought six years ago. This past year was where I had hoped to have been back then, but life had other lessons to be learned first. I am looking forward to 2020. It is looking pretty bright right now. Most important of all? I think it’s going to be really fun!


This post inspired by:

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The awesome co-hosts for the The awesome co-hosts for the January 8 posting of the IWSG are T. Powell Coltrin, Victoria Marie Lees, Stephen Tremp, Renee Scattergood, and J.H. Moncrieff!

Really? You Asked What?

As you all know, I write a monthly post inspired by questions asked on the IWSG website. Each month I don’t have too much trouble whipping out some answers, but this month? Well, let me tell you, I am stumped. Not because I can’t answer it, but because I’m in brain meltdown mode. First, here’s the question(s)

December 4 question – Let’s play a game. Imagine. Role-play. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream? Or if you are already there, what does it look and feel like? Tell the rest of us. What would you change or improve?

Here’s my problem with these lovely queries. I just came off NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) to which I was successful in writing THE END on my first book. Murder in Sulphur Gulch won’t release for awhile yet, but it is done.

Thanksgiving was just last week.

Christmas is just around the corner.

I’m gone half of December (in Vegas as you read this).

So, yeah, my brain is tired. —-really tired—-

I think I’ll take a look at this question sometime next year. Like February. Yep. February should be good. Oh, wait….that’s when 28 Days of Writing takes place.

Image bug eye cartoon

This post inspired by:

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The awesome co-hosts for the December 4 posting of the IWSG are Tonja Drecker,Beverly Stowe McClure,Nicki Elson,Tyrean Martinson!

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