Random Wednesday: How Writing Affects My Life and Visa Versa

This might actually be a post without pictures or gifs. Weird right?

Today’s Random Wednesday is about writing, and life, and well…all the things that come with it. It’s a curious topic I’ll admit because I feel I can answer this in multiple ways.

How Writing Affects My Life – Physically: Writing is exhausting. I rarely find the time and often can’t find the words. There are occasions I’m staring at my flash fiction prompts or other projects and think to myself, “Yup. Got nothing.” But I only have an hour or two at most meaning, nothing or not, I have to make something out of that time. While this is difficult, this is what it takes to develop a skill. It’s hard work. I don’t always want to do it and the idea of just closing my computer and finding something else to do is very tempting. But, I’m not going to accomplish much or learn if I am not dedicated.

How Writing Affects My Life – Mentally: It’s a puzzle. At least this is how I view writing. For some it’s a blank canvas to express feelings and emotions. Those people probably write the kind of poetry that makes my head hurt and the eccentric high school lit teacher with the pixie hair cut and art show bought sweater super gitty. My passion is story telling and this, as I have discovered, is not always an easy task. There are many elements to a story from character development and general story flow. What is the purpose? Why do these characters meet? This guy needs to get from point A to point B, how are you going to make this happen? Oh, and don’t forget to make it sound interesting.

Now, lets flip the page, How My Life Affects My Writing: Listen to people. Shut your big old gob once in a while and listen to what you are being told. Ask questions. Lost of questions. The more you ask, the more people will talk about themselves. This was real advice given to me from my father in regards to how to be a successful salesperson. I believe these words of wisdom hold true even when what you are selling is a story. Everyone has health problems, someone is venting about their marital situation, many single young men are not sure how to ask out the girl, and there is always a woman in the booth behind you who is totally pissed off the waitress gave her sausage links instead of the side of bacon she asked for. A successful story is a story that contains an element of relatable truth. If you can’t pull those feelings of emotion, despair, happiness, or excitement from your own life, listen to others.

To see how the other ladies responded to this Random Wednesday topic please visit the blogs below:

Jessica Jarman

Kris Norris

Bronwyn Green

Paige Prince

Kellie St. James

Gwendolyn Cease

Random Wordless Wednesday: My Past

This blog is mostly dedicated to writing so it seems odd to have a post without words. I’m going to try and mix it up a bit. Here is my writing past, in pictures…kind of.

I enjoyed reading and writing at a very young age. I used to make my own books, color the covers, and “write” stories inside though not always using real words.

However my older sister was praised for her writing and always had her nose in a book. It was clear literature was her thing. I didn’t feel it was worth it to compete and pursued other interests.

I decided to learn technology and ended up developing a technical skill set which I use for my career today.

However, writing was something I always thought about and considered.

Then we moved out of state which resulted in a lot of emails to family and friends we left behind.

I often received comments about how fun my emails were when my husband asked me, “Have you ever considered writing?”

Well, actually yes. Many times.

So I gave writing a try. A few tries actually. I started two novels, my husband bought me writing books, and I tried writing contests.

Things didn’t go well and I decided to set things aside for a while. A couple years actually. I had a tendency to hate everything I wrote after I revisited my work.

But there was still this nagging feeling I gave up too soon. I decided to take a different route.

I started writing again and when I got stuck I didn’t give up this time. I joined a writers group.

Which was an incredible boost of inspiration and moral support. A comment during the first meeting still sticks with me and it was by a little lady named Peg who said, “You are so lucky you have support and are starting early. I didn’t start until I was 40!”

Now I have a novel written.

It’s still a rough draft I am working through but hey…

I did it.

Please check out my new friends. My writer friends. Who have invited me to be part of this blog group and continue to be an inspiration.

Jessica Jarman

Kayleigh Jones

Bronwyn Green

Kris Norris

Gwendolyn Cease

Kellie St. James

Paige Prince

Flash Fiction Song Edition: I can’t include the name of the band because it’s embarrassing…

It’s Nickleback. The song is called The Hammer’s Coming Down. And this is all Kris Norris fault.

I’m also sorry for the silliness for this flash fiction. I’m under a terribly busy schedule and wasn’t sure if I could participate in this exercise but I’ve decided I don’t want to let my girls hanging and just needed to set down a little time and muscle through it. It’s good for me to write and I do need the practice. Don’t forget to visit the other ladies:

Brownwyn Green

Jessica Jarman

Kayleigh Jones

Gwendolyn Cease

Paige Prince

Kellie St. James

Kris Norris

Here is my entry for our song inspired Flash Fiction post for March.

I Do Not Like This

His brows were furrowed and the lights of the jukebox were reflecting off his face. Neon tubes pulsated on a colored metallic surface, blinking, and shining like nothing he had ever seen before. The rest of the bar was dingy and dark, much like the patrons. Many hard lined faces looked his way, watching him with curiosity. Judging the outsider with cold mugs of beer in hands or on tables, cigarettes hanging out of faded flannel pockets.

“What is this?” He asked, his voice hard and demanding.

The bartender leans over with a smile cocked on his face, “It plays music.”

The foreigner leans forward, dirty blonde hair cascading over his shoulders and his red cape scraping the dust on the floor.

“So, uh, guy. Aren’t you suppose to be somewhere doing…whatever it is you do?” A small man asks. His hair tousled with sweat and grease, his work boots worn, exposing the steel toe.

“I wait.” His voice says loudly, his eyes still locked on the jukebox, “My companions will come.”

The small man raises an eyebrow, “Oookay then. You want a quarter?”

“For what reason would I need your currency?”

The patron raises from his seat and digs into his pocket, coins clinking against each other. Removing his hand, he pulls loose change from his pocket and approaches the jukebox. The foreign man towers over the patron but his expression is both curious and judging with caution as the patron hands him a coin.

“You just put this in the slot right there and pick a letter and a number, then a song will play. Hey, can I…uh.” The small patron reaches up and taps the foreigners breast plate. “Well shit, that is real armor.”

“I am real.”

“Yup. You are the real deal.” Shuffling his feet nervously, the small man moves a few steps back, “My name is Gary.”

“I am Thor of Asgard.” Without a word more he took the coin and placed it into the jukebox, pressing letters and numbers at random. Mechanical sounds emerge from the machine and the lights come to life, brightening and pulsating in a rapid pattern. With a quick motion, Thor stands prepared, pushing his cape to his side. Music emerges and dominates the quiet of the room but creates a deafening tension as Thor appears alarmed and the patrons nervous. A few take their glasses and slide away from the bar, moving to tables at the far end of the room.

Gary holds up his hands defensively, “This is all it does!” He yells over the music. “It just plays music.”

“Why does he speak of my Mjolnir?”

“What?”

“This man, he speaks of Mjolnir.”

Gary lowers his hands but Thor does not lower his defenses. Looking at the jukebox Gary replies, “You picked Nickleback ‘The Hammers Coming Down.’ It’s just a song.”

Thor moves his stance, broadening his chest, and gestures with his hammer. “I do not like this. This displeases me.”

“You can’t turn it off. It has to finish the song.”

Raising his arm, hammer in hand, Gary dodges quickly out of the way as Thor brings the hammer down. Pieces of glass, plastic, and metal scatter across the room. The bartender disappears behind the bar, hiding as debris crashes into the glasses behind him. A few patrons yell out in shock and cover their head with their arms.

A few seconds pass feeling heavy as if they had been minutes or hours. The bartender slowly rises and only a few patrons uncover themselves to see the damage done.

“I think you need to wait for your friends outside.” The bartender says, voice shaking.

“Is there a music outside?” Thor kicks pieces of destroyed jukebox away from his armor clad feet.

The bartender shakes his head quickly, “I promise you, there is no music outside.”

“Then so it be done.” And with a few long strides and heavy steps, his red cape flicked behind him as the exit door closed.

Random Wednesday: Things That Inspire Me A-Z

A-train: apple train, B-train: banana train, C-train: cookie train…What’s inside today?
Yes, The Alphabet Train, Food Train. It inspires my daughter to sing her ABC’s and has ruined me with repetitiveness. But how do I deny her an educational song? Especially when she has a bad dream at 2:00am and asks for a hug and a song.

Little De La Rosa: Momma, I want a song.
Momma De La Rosa: Okay, twinkle twinkle?
Little De La Rosa: Alphabet train!
Momma De La Rosa:………….fine………….

I’ll promise you the things that inspire me from A to Z are mostly not food related. The list however may still end with zucchini.

A – My husbands name starts with the letter A. He’s pretty awesome.
B – Bronwyn Green. She is my writing mentor and also in the awesome category.
C – Coffee. Normally drink coffee while writing however I’m expecting and must limit my caffeine…I miss it so much.
D – De La Rosa is a pretty name. Would look good on a book cover, right? …right?
E – Easter. It’s coming up and one of my favorite things to do is write the clues for a treasure hunt.
F – Free time. Because with free time comes one of two things. Writing or naps.
G – “Goofball.” A common name used in our house. It’s okay to be a goofball.
H – Ham roll-ups. Apparently it’s a bat signal. I tweeted this once and within 15 minutes had a friend call me and say “Is it true? I’m coming over.”
I – I as in, me. This book isn’t going to write itself. am responsible in making it happen.
J – Jibbers Crabst. The creativity in others provide inspiration for me to exercise my own.
K – Killing things. I spend a lot of time writing while my husband is playing video games.
L – Lunch break. I write on my lunch breaks. I would not be nearly as far as I am with the work I have done if it weren’t for lunch breaks.
M – Mental exercise. Writing is not easy, it’s challenging. No one writes because it’s easy.
N – Novel. That’s the end game.
O – Opportunities. I’ve very thankful for the opportunities I have been given to practice this craft and the people I’ve met along the way as well as the support from the friends I’ve had all along.
P – Potter. The name of my cat who takes advantage of cuddling with me every time I sit down with my computer.
Q – Quiet. It’s hard to find time to write in general while working a full time job and having a family at home but, if it’s quiet, I write. Or nap. Totally guilty about the nap thing as stated earlier.
R – Revisions. I can’t begin to explain how far my story has come.
S – Stories. This is what it’s all about isn’t it? Writing is sharing stories.
T – Toddler. I love the imagination my daughter has and how each experience for her is a new discovery. How can I not find inspiration in her?
U – Upside-down cake train? Yeah I got nothing for U.
V – Vacation. I could use one, just sayin.
W – Weather. While winter is nice, I am looking forward to opening up the windows and writing with the smell of spring in the house.
X – eXperience? Okay I’m cheating a little here but this is what I’m trying to gain.
Y – Year. How long it’s taken me so far on this project. I’ve learned a lot along the way.
Z – Zucchini train. Seriously. I make one hell of a chocolate zucchini cake.

There is my Random Wednesday contribution. Now go check out the others. Special shot out to our new blogger friend Paige Prince!

Bronwyn Green
Jessica Jarman
Kelly St. James
Kayleigh Jones
Kris Norris
Gwendolyn Cease

Random Wednesday: Five Favorite Websites

I’m going to come clean and admit I think this is a really weird topic. Five favorite websites? Alright Stalker McStalkerson, pull up a chair. I forewarn, you won’t be getting much out of this post.

1) Google.com

Image result for google

I google constantly. Whenever anyone asks me a question, if I don’t know the answer, I can’t let it go. I have to look it up. Like what is Chris Evan’s Bacon number?
Chris Evans’s Bacon number is 2*
Chris Evans and Matthew Skomo appeared in Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Matthew Skomo and Kevin Bacon appeared in X-Men: First Class.

*If you don’t know what a Bacon number is, I recommend you google.

2) Wikipedia.com

I like to kill time on wikipedia often and for the occasional giggle, I also enjoy tl;dr (too long; didn’t read) wikipedia posts. I understand wikipedia is regulated by the people who visit the site meaning, take what you read with a little grain of salt. The occasional trolls are funny and usually caught in a timely manner but if you just want the gist of a topic, wikipedia will give you what you need as well as sources if you would like to read more.

3) Imgur.com

I’m not part of the imgur community and would be considered a “lurker” for the most part. I like to visit the website, usually on my phone, and swipe through pictures as I’m waiting for something. Whether it be sitting in a doctors office or waiting for the timer between cookie batches, imgur is a great time killer. A little too good of a time killer.

4) NPR.org

The news often gets depressing and what’s great about NPR is the variety of it’s news. Book news, music news, and even quiz shows. All of which are entertaining to listen to and give me a little break from the day that doesn’t involve the, “if it bleeds, it leads” journalism or resulting to the radio which, if I hear Bruno Mars Uptown Funk one more time…

5) JennyTrout.com

When she isn’t spamming the crap out of my twitter feed, I visit her website because I’m obsessed with her Jealous Haters Book Club and her posts on Apolonia (-ahem- Jenny left off at chapter 8 and needs to update her links. hint hint). As weird as this sounds, her tearing this book a new one is the type of motivation I use to write. It helps reinforce the belief that even crappy writers are still writers. If I believe I can do better I need to prove it. Most of the writers I’ve connected with are published authors and seasoned talent. When I read their work I do not quite measure up, I still have a long way to go. And while Jenny is one of those authors, she also writes about the bad ones with examples of what not to do. It might be a little harsh, sure. However, I’ve learned so much even if her notes are along the lines of, if you write a science fiction story – put science fiction in the story. Should be a no-brainer but I’ve recently learned take nothing for granted as far as common sense is concerned.

Those are my five. Visit the lovely ladies to see their picks:

Flash Fiction: The Secret Hunt

Here is another installment of flash fiction pieces inspired by a photo. Below you’ll see a picture of a fancy orb and further down is my story. Don’t forget to check out the other ladies to see their awesome short stories:

Jessica Jarman 

Kris Norris

Kayleigh Jones

Gwendolyn Cease

Bronwyn Green

03-2015 -  Orb

We were at war. Many knew this but just as much denied the wars existence. It was dubbed the “Second Cold War” due to its prevalence but quiet and mysterious nature. There were no troops an any foreign soil, at least they weren’t called troops. No fatigues, no weapons strapped to backpacks carrying pounds of supplies. No one would hear gunfire in their neighborhood or the sounds of jets flying overhead. It was more likely to see computers or TV’s flicker from lost connects, cell phones losing service, and newspaper racks empty. Information to the people was being strangled but entertainment was in vast quantities all in the name of distraction. Very few seemed to notice the changes and those who did, their concerns fell on deaf ears.

“Washington state is without power right now,” Kerry greeted me as I walked in to the office. It was 5am but it was clear from her makeup free face, untidy hair, and the circles under her eyes she had been there all night. Laid out in front of her was a map of Washington. She was making notes the old-fashioned way, paper and pen.

“Who?”

She leaned back in her chair, threw down her pen, and began to rub her eyes, “Korea we think. We saw some activity prior to the outage. We think Russia had a hand in it but the evidence is pointing to Korea this time.”

I lean over to see her map. Kerry and her small but precise penmanship is marking each power plant location and the exact time it went down. The time stamps show a wave rippling across the state shutting down power for millions, “They did this in the middle of the night. This was a test.”

“They are also reporting heavy rains and high wind gusts.”

“Very clever. Bad weather is a perfect shield, the few that noticed the outage would assume the weather,” I place my hand briefly on her shoulder, “Finish up here and go home. Get some rest.”

She pulls her chair back to her desk and picks up her pen, “Yes, Sir.”

The office hummed quietly. Papers were being shuffled, cabinet drawers opening and closing, files being examined across tables. In the back office the overhead light was off and only a desk lamp illuminated its occupant in a low warm light. After thirty plus years together there was no longer an expectation for permission to enter. I walked right in closing the door behind me, hanging up my coat before sitting myself in my mentors guest chair.

His eyes looked up at me, blue, watery from age. He raised his eyebrow slightly, the white hairs curly, wild and free, “You’ve heard?”

I nodded, “Washington.”

“Well Marks, it wasn’t just Washington,” He lowers his eyebrow and narrows his eyes, leaning forward over his desk, “It was Washington, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Each goddamn northern state bordering Canada except New England. They pulsed us. Each state in a row. Bam! Bam! Bam!” pounding his fist on his desk across the desk as if it were a U.S. map.

“The population is too dense in New England from the Canadian and U.S. side. They are trying to bring something in aren’t they? Testing the power grid to distract us for when they cross. How are they getting through Canada?”

“Too many Russians in Canada,” He shakes his head, his bald head reflecting the light off his greasy scalp. “They’ve been everything but reliable. As of an hour ago there still has been no reports of power outages from our neighbors. We believe the reason why is because it is unnecessary. Whatever is passing through has a path already established through the Canadian side,” the old man looks down, closing the file in front of him. “Marks?”

“Yes, Sir.”

“We’re old men. I should be retired and you should be behind this desk.”

I looked down at my own hands. A few fingers had arthritis setting in and my skin was translucent, blue veins popping. I looked up to meet his gaze, “This is the only life I know.”

“Me too.” He sat quietly for a moment looking at the closed file folder in front of him before finally sliding it toward me. I reached up and took it as he began to explain, “This assignment is to track down what is coming through Canada. We know what it looks like but have no idea what it is. Our intel informs us it is Chinese made.”

Opening the file I see a picture of a round ball. Almost like an over-sized gem. The light passing through it reflects a prism showing all the colors of the rainbow. The file contains possible cross over points from Russia to Canada and from Canada to the U.S., pictures of informants and a list of known Russian operatives. The last item is a brochure.

“Do you like elk?”

“Not particularly, no,” I fan through the brochure, “Elk hunting? This is my cover?”

He shrugs, “Easiest way to get you moving through Canada. Security around this object is going to be tight. We’re referring to it as ‘the orb’ for now. We need you to get us as much information as you can and keep it from getting into the United States. That’s all I have for you now. Read through everything, Haydens will be getting you set up to fly out tonight.”

“This orb may be the strangest thing I’ve ever seen. Are we sure it’s a weapon?”

“No, it could be nothing more than a piece of art being used as payment. It could be some new piece of technology. Perhaps it’s a part of something much bigger. We really don’t know.” Reaching up, he rubs his head, his hand looking more aged than my own, “I can rely on you, Marks. You’re seasoned. I trust you.”

I close the file and rise from chair. Both the chair and I creaked slightly. On the other side of the door I could hear the office bustling. The morning was coming underway and more agents and workers were coming in to start their day. I take my coat off the hanger and fold it over my arm, feeling far too tired for another mission. I open the door and take a step out into the brightly lit office.

“Hey, Marks.”

“Yeah?” I turn and take one last look at my old mentor.

He sits low in his chair and smiles, “Happy hunting.”

“Goddammit, Bob.”

Laughing with an husky smoker laugh, “I’m sorry,  I couldn’t help myself. Get out of here.”

But no sooner did I close the door was Haydens standing in front of me, pushing his thick rimmed glasses up his young narrow nose, “Agent Marks, Hi. Um, change of plans. The orb is moving and we need to go now.”

A sigh escapes my lips, “Fine then. Let’s go.”