About K.J.

Dust bunnies are prolific throughout our lives and in the world. They hide in dark places, and when least expected they roll across the floor in silence.

Loving Photography

Besides writing, what other creative outlets do I have?

When I was in high school I was going to be the next Van Gogh (without the crazy factor). I dreamed of having a huge studio with massive canvases piled along every wall. In college it was the dream of photography. For twelve years I photographed everything from sunrises to newborns. Those were the days.

Today, so many years later, I am a writer, but I still love to photograph the world around me. Mother nature is the most wondrous place to be and my camera and I enjoy working together.

For today’s post, I am sharing just a few of my photos taken around Colorado.

Loveland Ski Area, Colorado
Loveland Ski Area, Colorado
Kayaks, Selida, Colorado
Kayaks, Selida, Colorado
Ferns, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Bear Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Fall Leaves, Buena Vista, Colorado
Fall Leaves, Buena Vista, Colorado


Insecure Writer's Support Group logo

Today’s post is inspired by Insecure Writers Support Group.
Every month, they announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story.

The awesome co-hosts for the February 6 posting of the IWSG are Raimey Gallant,Natalie Aguirre,CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace!

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It’s a blog hop! Click around and see who else is playing today.

Plot Generator

This morning, I sat staring at my computer looking for inspiration. I noticed a bookmark that I saved ages ago. I left it in the nav bar so I could go back and check it out later. Instead, I proceeded to forget about it. Until now.

The book mark is to a plot generating website. It is similar to the game, Mad Libs.  With Plot Generator, you put in a bunch of words and it will write a full short story for you. With my need to have some inspiration I plugged in a bunch of words, moods, places, and descriptions then I indicated I wanted a short story. It took a matter of about 5 seconds and VIOLA I had a short story.

Now, mind you, I had no idea what to expect. The words I gave were pretty arbitrary and some did not match up to what they asked for. It was a hodge-podge of gobbely-gook. As a result…this short story is too, but it’s also really funny. It is worth noting that I did not edit, change, reword, or touch this in any way. This is raw and right off the press. So, without further delay, here is an amazing short story.

Two Steady Uncles Swimming to the Beat

A Short Story
by KJ Scrim (written by Plot generator)

Kaitlin Manning looked at the heavy cup in her hands and felt depressed.

She walked over to the window and reflected on her homey surroundings. She had always loved small Parker with its quirky, quarrelsome quaint. It was a place that encouraged her tendency to feel depressed.

Then she saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Sam Goodman. Sam was a smart giant with rugged eyes and robust feet.

Kaitlin gulped. She glanced at her own reflection. She was a nasty, moody, cocoa drinker with skinny eyes and large feet. Her friends saw her as a barbecued, bitter bread. Once, she had even helped a shiny puppy cross the road.

But not even a nasty person who had once helped a shiny puppy cross the road, was prepared for what Sam had in store today.

The snow teased like playing dog, making Kaitlin happy.

As Kaitlin stepped outside and Sam came closer, she could see the bitter smile on his face.

Sam gazed with the affection of 9,468 funny flaky fish. He said, in hushed tones, “I love you and I want equality.”

Kaitlin looked back, even more happy and still fingering the heavy cup. “Sam, Is that real leather,” she replied.

They looked at each other with satisfied feelings, like two clumsy, calm cats drinking at a very loyal party, which had rock music playing in the background and two steady uncles swimming to the beat.

Kaitlin regarded Sam’s rugged eyes and robust feet. “I feel the same way!” revealed Kaitlin with a delighted grin.

Sam looked curious, his emotions blushing like a fluffy, fluttering fork.

Then Sam came inside for a nice mug of cocoa.

THE END

Praise for Two Steady Uncles Swimming to the Beat

“I feel like I know Kaitlin Manning. In a way, it feels as though I’ve always known her.”- The Daily Tale

“About as enjoyable as being hailed on whilst taking in washing that has been targeted by seagulls with the squits.”
– Enid Kibbler

“Saying the snaw teased like playing dog is just the kind of literary device that makes this brilliant.”
– Hit the Spoof

“I could do better.”
– Zob Gloop

Questions About Writing

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

Are your ready?

Now there’s a question I always have to scratch my head over, and return that question with another. How exactly does one get ready?  Do you make lists? Throw things away? Clean the house? Wash the roof? I just don’t get it.

As a writer, I get some questions that also make me pull on my beard – well, I would pull on my beard if I had one. Here are a few of the top questions I sometimes don’t have a clear answer for.

“How’s the writing coming?”

Most people, who are not writers, may not understand why this is an odd question for a writer. You will, most likely, get the same answer from everyone. “It’s good.” Then the writer will stare blankly at you figuring out how to use you in their book. You could become a wizard or a side-kick, or (more likely) you’ll be killed in some horrific way.

“What are you working on? Can I read it?”

Well, sure. You can read it in about a year. After I have ripped my beard out. (In reality I don’t have a beard so you’ll be waiting a long time to be able to read a work in progress.)

Who is in your book?

This is another quirky question that I have gotten a few times that could be taken in a couple of ways. They could be asking whether they are in my book and will I kill them off for asking such a quirky question? Or, they are just curious about the characters I’m creating. I usually answer for the latter, but the former does cross my imagination.

Where can I buy your books?

This is one of the hardest questions for me. I, as of this writing, do not have anything in print right now. I wish I could say, “Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Book Bub, or anywhere books are sold.” Unfortunately, I can’t say that yet.

What I can say is that I am excited about what I have in the works. You have all already heard me talk about The Manx, and I promise to have it done this year. It is near completion and then it needs editing and revising. I also have a fun new project that has me giggling all the way through it. I won’t be saying more at this point, but I hope you will laugh as well.

Seriously

With all joking aside, I actually love to talk about writing and the joy I get from it. I really do want to be asked “How’s the writing?” “What are you working on?” These questions, and more, keep me honest to my craft and to my audience. They remind me that I am a writer.

Thanks for stopping by today…

Keep those questions coming!! Add you own to the comments below.


Today’s post was inspired by:

The awesome co-hosts for the January 2 posting of the IWSG are Patricia Lynne, Lisa Buie-Collard, Kim Lajevardi, and Fundy Blue!

The purpose of the IWSG is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

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It is a blog hop!!!

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Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

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What’s on Your Desk?

Every month I join with a group of writers to answer a question. These monthly writing questions are a fun way for me to let you into my writing life taking a look at the frustrations, successes, and, sometimes, the everyday.

Today’s question from the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is: What are five objects we’d find on your writing desk?

My desk

Sitting at my desk there is a general clutter of a lot of stuff, most of which is paper. Paper is the bane of my life. Worse yet, it’s self-inflicted. I am old school from the days when everything was done on paper. Computers and smart phones were straight out of black and white sci-fi movies, and calculators were owned by the rich. Today, in our paperless society, I still think it’s important to get a paper receipt, solve simple math problems with pencil and paper, and scratch notes on a pad. The process of writing things out helps my creative process and keeps my brain from turning to mush.

What else do I have on my desk? There are usually one or two coffee cups, sometimes three. One cup I am actively drinking from, the second is the cold cup of coffee forgotten from the day before and the third is if I throw in a cup of tea during a late-night writing session.

Reference books are within reach. Which include Roget’s Thesaurus (4th Edition), a very old dictionary, 20,000 Words (yes, that’s a real book that is a simple listing of 20,000 words in alphabetical order), The Phrase Finder, and The Emotional Thesaurus. I have been asked why I don’t just use the reference materials found on the internet? It is, again, that creative process. I find that by using my hands to turn pages, the feel of the paper, and the search in a book is more stimulating than staring at the computer screen. It creates an ebb and flow in my mind that sometimes picks up an idea that would otherwise never find its way to the surface.

Of course, I have a computer on my desk (go figure!). This is my central station for writing. With all of my tools in the physical world, the final steps in creative writing happen on the computer. Inside this electronic notebook sized piece of technology is the entire world. Not only do I keep all my writing here (I do keep backups too), but my business, bills, and grocery lists exist here. I have had computers crash and for a horrifying moment I think I’ve lost everything, but guess what? Yep, you guessed it- I have a paper copy of everything I’m writing.

Hand colored print of my daughter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fifth thing? Well, it’s a group of things. Portraits of my family to be precise. There is a hand-colored photograph of my daughter that I created back when I was a photographer, along with two oil paintings of my son and husband created by my talented sister-in-law, Mary Scrimgeour. My family is my inspiration for life and these pieces of art remind me why I do what I do every day.

What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

 


This post was inspired by:

Who’s purpose is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the December 5 posting of the IWSG are J.H. Moncrieff, Tonja Drecker, Patsy Collins, and Chrys Fey!

~~~CHECK OUT ALL THESE GREAT WRITERS ON IWSG~~~

It’s a blog hop Powered by Linky Tools… Click here to enter

Writing Through It

One of my favorite days of the year is October first. Not only is it my husband’s birthday, but it is the day I mark to bring the Halloween decorations up from the basement. Halloween is at the top of my list for fun holidays. I dress for the Trick-or-Treaters and we pipe spooky music out of the upstairs window. My outdoor decorations are on the fun side rather than the creepy. I love the tiny tykes who are out for the first time in their princess crowns, ninjas, or ghost costumes.

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It doesn’t score high on my “fun holiday” list but, being a survivor it has risen to an important level for me. I went through treatment in 2015 and three years later I am thrilled that I am still cancer free.

A couple of questions were posed to me (Insecure Writers Support Group) about major life events and writing. The exact questions were: How do major life events affect your writing? Has writing ever helped you through something?

Breast Cancer was definitely a major life event, and here is how it effected my writing – Cancer crushed it.

Early in 2014 I had changed my focus to writing. I attended Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference starting my uphill learning curve to write and publish a book. My brain was overloaded with the amount of information I had to absorb, but I was in for the long haul and I was happy.

Then late in November 2014 I found the lump. My entire life crumbled around me as I collapsed on the floor weeping. Cancer? Me? How? Why? Treatment began in earnest on Christmas Eve.

Did this event affect my writing? I’d say a very loud YES. Did writing help me through it? Again, I yell, YES. But, it helped me through it in a way most people aren’t expecting. When I am emotionally raw I do not write about it. I don’t keep a journal. More often than not I collapse inward curled in a ball. Once the pain subsides I will reawaken moving on in my life.

Cancer was a big blow not only to my emotional well-being, but my physical as well. One of the big side effects that many non-cancer people are unaware of is “chemo-brain”. When a patient receives chemotherapy not only is the entire body decimated, the brain is too. Sometimes the damage lasts for years afterward.

Chemo-brain effects memory, cognition, problem solving, logic, and an array of other things that happen in the old noggin. Trying to write while impaired was an immense challenge for me. The harder I tried to think of a word the further out of reach that word went. My brain was thick slog. Nouns, verbs, adverbs, sentence structure, and spelling were not just elusive at times, but completely gone. I remember many days not being able to remember enough about sentence structure to make much more than babble.

This highly frustrating process of writing babble is what helped my brain begin healing. I forced myself to write a little bit here and there no matter how awful the story progressed. I wrote short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and all sorts of other garbage just to find the words again – making mental connections.

Three years later the struggle to write has lessened. When I need a word I can more easily find it. There are still residual mis-connections up there, but my doctor assures me that this will eventually pass. Keep writing and keep healing.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I ask you to take the time and make a contribution to the organization of your choice. My personal favorite is the American Cancer Society. If you would like to read my cancer story you can link to part one, Dread in the Dark, here.

I also hope that you have a very Spook-tacular Halloween!!

Until next time….


This post inspired by The Insecure Writers Support Group. Our awesome co-hosts for the October 3 posting of the IWSG are Dolorah @ Book Lover, Christopher D. Votey, Tanya Miranda, and Chemist Ken!

 

This is also a BLOG HOP! Click here to enter.

Traditional or Self Publishing?

It is already September and I haven’t written a post since early August. Last month was beyond busy so this blog was set aside, until now. It is time to turn over a new leaf and begin posting at least once per week. It is a simple goal and I am excited to get started with this post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. The question for September?

What publishing path are you considering to take, and why?

Each day I get closer and closer to completing The Manx and I have just started to scratch the surface of how to publish it. There are two ways to go:

  1. Self Publish
  2. Traditionally Publish

Both are beneficial.

Self publishing gives the author the freedom and flexibility to make all of the decisions regarding publication. The author, alone, takes on the role of publisher (and the costs involved) by doing the marketing, setting prices, securing an editor and agent. By doing this the author keeps all the profits – if any – to themselves. There is no publisher who wants a piece of the pie. Yet, all of the work falls on the writer which takes away from the writing itself.

Traditional publishing is, as it sounds, done through traditional process of finding a publisher who will coordinate many aspects of getting your book from your computer to print. The financial responsibility is shifted away from the author, but the publisher collects all profits and shares them with the author through royalty checks. On average an author can expect 10% on a hardcover which increases as sales increase.

Both have benefits. It is up to the individual author to choose which method they want to pursue. For me, I am leaning toward traditional. I know myself. I’m not very good at tooting my own horn so my marketing would fail if I self published. My skin isn’t very thick either and I have a hard time saying ,”No”. A traditional publishing house will, I hope, be strong in the areas I am not resulting in better sales.

Now What?

For now, I will keep writing and working toward the day I type, The End. 

What’s New?

In the mix of working on The Manx, I found the need to write something else. It happens to me on a regular basis. So I started something VERY different for me; a cozy mystery. Murder in Sulfur Gulch  is turning out to be quite fun to write. It is funny, light, and has started to twist and turn. It is slowly turning into a prequel to The Manx so I hope they will organically turn into books #1 and 2. I’ll let you know as I progress.

It’s a Blog Hop!!

As with all posts for IWSG posts this is a blog hop. Check out the other writers who take part in this monthly post.

Click here to start hopping!

This post inspired by:

The awesome co-hosts for the September 5 posting of the IWSG are Toi Thomas,T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!