June is here and I think it is finally looking like summer in Colorado. We had a cool, wet spring. In late May we even had 8 inches of snow. Quite unusual for this area of the state. With all the weather I spent a good deal of time indoors working on my new book, Sulpher Gulch.
I have written in many styles and am finding the cozy mystery quite fun. I read a series of books by Amanda M. Lee that really tickled my funny bone. Her series, Wicked Witches of the Midwest, are based on three witches who live in Hemlock Cove, a quiet village in the lower part of upper Michigan. For me, it is a laugh out loud series. Janet Evanovich is another author who also gets giggles from me. I loved the Plum Series.
How do I keep those giggles going after the series end (or I just need a break)? Write my own. First off, writing a cozy mystery was a new venture for me. Add the humor side and I found myself in uncharted territory. Yet, I didn’t feel discouraged, lost, or otherwise sinking in a doomed ship. I felt energized (remember the pink bunny?).
I started Sulpher Gulch just a short while ago and am nearly finished. I am excited to see this coming together and am looking forward to the cover design and its release. I haven’t set a date for that yet, but when I do, you will be the first to hear.
The A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2019 is now in the history books. I participated right up until I just couldn’t. I had some deadlines that squeezed between having to adult and my job. I had to make a choice and left the challenge at ‘R’.
The Reflection post is a tradition at the A to Z Challenge. It gives everyone a chance to look back at what worked, what didn’t, what we’ve done, what was learned, and where we hope to go from here. There is a list of 10 questions that have been posed by the A to Z organizers. I may not answer all of them, but I hope, by doing this reflection post you will join us next year, or you will do your own challenge at some point.
A to Z asked: What did you love about the challenge? This is the second year I participated and what I like the most about it is the push to keep up on this blog. I sometimes forget my readers (how rude!) when I’m falling down the writing rabbit hole. By doing this challenge I am reminded to get back to the important people — YOU, my readers.
A to Z: What would you change about it? I would like to see a Blog Hop link. Was there one? Maybe I missed it. It would be nice to be able to have a link at the end of our posts (Linky Tools) so readers can easily check out the rest of the blogs participating.
A to Z: What was the best moment for you during this year’s challenge? I hate to say this, but the day I had to call it to a stop. I know that is counterintuitive, but I was relived. I over extended myself and by stepping away I was doing myself (and everyone involved) a service that benefited all of us.
A to Z: What is the best comment your blog got during the challenge, and who left the comment? I got so many wonderful comments from everyone who read the posts. I hope they all keep coming back to visit and commenting. It is encouraging to have comments and likes because then I know there are readers who enjoy the posts.
I found several new blogs to follow along the way. Check them out :
A to Z: Will you do the challenge again? Absolutely!
There were more questions and much more to say, but I think I will close here by saying WOW!! A huge thank you goes back to everyone who worked hard to make this challenge happen. This is one of the best writing challenges I participate in and I’m looking to continue for sometime to come.
What was some experiences where you learned that language had power?
Language, I have found, has more power than I ever realized. What about you? Think about it. If you were to walk up to a random person on the street and tell them their shoes were ugly, what would happen? My guess is that, if you could be a flea on their sleeve, you would see them go through the rest of their day in the dumps. On the other hand, change a single word – ugly to awesome – you change the tone of their entire day.
Television, books, social media, person to person communication, and even books, are opportunities to use language to influence, support, or demoralize people. In my home, we dropped network television and I immediately noticed a difference in my attitude. If I read a humorous book my outlook brightens.
Much of my childhood was spent learning the negative power of language, and as I grew, and had children of my own, I learned how to turn all that negative to positive. In college I studied photography and we had to give, and take, critique. I saw first hand how a few, carefully stated words, could either save, or kill, the artist within a person.
When I read books, then write a review, I point out the best of it rather than everything the author has done wrong. Mind you, there is room for improvement in most things, but I show a writer how to improve with positive language. Whenever I am given feedback that is supportive, I tend to learn more and have a stronger desire to continue on.
Language is a powerful thing. It really is as simple as having a glass half empty or half full. To borrow on another saying, “You attract more bees with honey.” That honey will always taste sweeter when you carefully choose words that support and encourage. Now that’s power!
Every month, IWSG announces a question that members can answer in our IWSG post. These questions may prompt us to share advice, insight, a personal experience or story. We Include our answers to the question in the IWSG post or let it inspire our post if we are struggling with something to say.
I enjoyed getting to know my fellow A to Z Blogging Challengers. Your blogs are great and I look forward to reading them through the rest of the year.
Unfortunately, I have to jump ship on the A to Z Blogging Challenge. I left off at R and with the deadlines I have been facing, well…………. S, T, U,V, W, X, Y, and Z will have to go on without me. Thank you to A to Z Blogging Challenge for hosting. I’ll be back in 2020!
Once we get into May, when the dust has settles, I will introduce everyone to the new blogs I found that I think you might enjoy as well.
What is the big deal about short stories? Why have them? Why do readers prefer the short story over a full blown novel? First, let me say that novel length manuscripts have NOT gone by the wayside. There are still vast numbers of people (myself included) who read the thousands of wonderful books out there. Yet, short stories are on the rise. More and more readers are turning to the short story. What is different today, then let’s say 40 years ago? Are there reasons the short story is more popular to day?
Short Attention Spans & Time
It has been said that our attention spans are shrinking, therefore our desire to sit a read a four hundred page novel has also shrunk. One study suggested that our attention span has dropped to a mere 8 seconds. The statistics were published in Time magazine, the Telegraph, the Guardian, USA Today, the New York Times and the National Post. Since 2015, that theory has been debunked.
Another angle is we just have too many choices (think mega-stores like Costco or Sam’s Club, or coffee shops like Starbucks). When I walk into a coffee shop with a menu the size of the Encyclopedia Britannica I can’t make a clear decision so I order coffee and leave. Quick, easy, and black.
Time, for many people, is a huge culprit. Busy lives can drain away minutes, hours, days, and weeks before we realize that the time has gone by. Careers and family obligations alone can drain the day away. When there is only twenty minutes left for reading, a novel is challenging to get through.
Whatever the reasons, a short story can fill the tiny gaps in our day. They are usually quick reads that are satisfying, and packed with meaning. Short story writers learn early on how to keep a tale riding on a tight rope. They are a trapeze artist walking a narrow path with the reader, their audience, holding their collective breath. When the artist reaches that last sentence the audience erupts with applause.
There is always the quick gratification that is gotten through a short story. A reader can sit and finish a full bodied story in about an hour.
Marion, Nelson, and Oscar were behind. Finals already started, and they had nearly a month of work to catch up on. Keeping up was a challenge at times, but they were lucky that most of their professors were understanding.
Oscar stared out the dorm window. He watched a few students crossing the quad with coats pulled tight against the blizzard conditions. Campus should have been shut down for classes but this campus never closed.
“It’s a bummer classes weren’t cancelled. It’s a bomb cyclone and a blizzard. They could at least give us a break.” Marion was the youngest in the crew. Her straw hair frizzed out in every direction.
“That would be pretty
cool.” Nelson, was a brainiac only because he had a photographic memory. He
complained it was a burden, but Marion and Oscar had a hard time feeling sorry
Simultaneously, three watches pinged incessantly and furiously they started thumb punching on their cell phones. “The other side of campus. Let’s rock.” Oscar gave a confirming nod to the other two just before they blinked out.
The three reappeared behind the chemistry building. Crouching low they scanned for any threats. The wind ripped through their clothing and snow pummeled into every crevice.
“See anything?” Oscar
shouted over the storm’s pandemonium. If anyone replied, it was ripped away by
A pop. Then another.
Oscar wheeled back
around to see Professor Bane standing over two forms lying in the snow.
“Next time, you might
want to materialize somewhere less in the open. Now, get back to the dorms. The
weather is quite unpleasant.” Professor Bane turned and blinked out before he
took a step away.
Oscar transported warm gear to the so none of them froze to death, but he still didn’t know how to transport anyone other than himself. He spent the next two hours dragging his crew back to the dorm room.
It took another hour for
the two to wake up. “What happened?” Marion was the first to wake, but they
waited for Nelson. The three settled, wrapped in thermal blankets drinking tea.
“Finals week happened. We just flunked the first part of Professor Bane’s test.” The three groaned in unison. Oscar continued, “I’m not sure how, but we have to get through these finals. My Dad will kill me if I flunk out again.”
Professor Bane went directly to the Director’s office as requested. Director Thorne sat behind an ostentatious mahogany desk looking up when Bane entered.
“How did they do?”
“Fastest reaction time on record, but they materialized in the open. They are going to be good though. I could feel their power surge when the signals came in and when they materialized. You were wise to choose them as recruits.”
Thorne leaned back in his chair, “Yes. I am looking forward to seeing how they progress.” A slow grin grew across his face, “I must say, tonight was a bit on the cruel side, don’t you think?”
Raising his shoulder in a shrug, Bane replied, “Maybe. But the storm will make sure Oscar knows how to transport others by the time they are tested again. Frost bite is a great motivator.”
This is a scene I wrote ages ago when I was thinking of a book about a school for gifted students. The school was going to be a college of sorts, but I never got a clear path as to where the story would go. Then a slew of books came out centered on schools like this and I decided to shelve it. I came across it last week and thought I would share it. I changed it up a little bit to fit my need to get caught up in A to Z. Life likes to rear up and grab me every once in awhile and I have to step away from my desk.
My inspiration for this post was: to catch up on A to Z in one post (sorry for the little bit of cheating) and for the letters……….
Pretty easy definition until those last three words, “voiceless velar plosive.” My knee jerk reaction was, “Is this some kind of new storm that replaces the Bomb Cyclone? Or, some other kind of explosive that has a silent EX at the beginning?
If you are anything like me, you may have already clicked the link above (or you’re a linguist and already know what it is). So, down the rabbit hole of links I went. If you haven’t clicked on the voiceless link above you should.
This is where things started to get tricky. In my writing I like to come up with different ways to show my readers how my character feels without actually saying the word, like sad, happy, depressed, or bored. It is a real challenge. When I read the definition of voiceless velar plosive I thanked the writing forces I did not have to come up with that definition. My eyes started to glaze over.
The next hop down this rabbit hole was, “…and the equivalent X-SAMPA symbol is k . X-SAMPA peaked my curiosity, and another click. There you will find, ” The Extended Speech Assessment Methods Phonetic Alphabet (X-SAMPA.” (Aren’t you glad you came along for this ride?) I have been sitting here, re-reading what X-SAMPA is, only to scratch my head wondering if they were talking about a computer language rather than language.
Scrolling down there is a chart of the X-SAMPA, IPA, and IPA Image for Lower Case Symbols (aren’t they letters?). Keep scrolling and you will find charts for Capital Symbols (upper case in my dictionary), Other Symbols, Diacritics, and so on. Reaching the bottom of the page I lost it. Go ahead…I dare you to make heads or tails of that last diagram.
Feeling like Alice in a linguistic Wonderland I had to bail out. I think I’ll stick with just writing the words and leave the reason for their existence to someone else. With that, I will enjoy each letter for what they are; twenty six opportunities to write words that start with the letter K.