Tag Archive: writing


Writing Prompt

I subscribe to Writer’s Digest. I love it; it’s one of my vices because it is kind of expensive. But one of the things that I love to do is to enter all of their writing prompt competitions. Needless to say, I haven’t won any of them, but it’s a nice way to get the brain going when it’s parked in neutral.

The prompt this month is:

In 25 words or fewer, wirte an opening sentence – just one – to a story, incorporating the following words: lucky charm, and calamity.

Okay, I admit. I kind of know what calamity means, but I decided to look it up to get the EXACT definition.

According to www.m-w.com:

Definition of CALAMITY

1
: a state of deep distress or misery caused by major misfortune or loss
2
: a disastrous event marked by great loss and lasting distress and suffering <calamities of nature> <an economic calamity>

Examples of CALAMITY

    floods, earthquakes, and other calamities He predicted calamity for the economy. Twenty two years passed. Twenty-two years of excellent health and the boundless self-assurance that flows from being fit—twenty-two years spared the adversary that is illness and the calamity that waits in the wings. —Phillip Roth, Everyman, 2006
    Below that was a definition of Calamity Jane:

Calamity Jane , byname of Martha Jane Burke, née Martha Jane Cannary  (born May 1, 1852?, near Princeton, Mo.?, U.S.—died Aug. 1, 1903, Terry, near Deadwood, S.D.), legendary American frontierswoman whose name was often linked with that of Wild Bill Hickok. The facts of her life are confused by her own inventions and by the successive stories and legends that accumulated in later years.

She allegedly moved westward on a wagon train when still quite young—her mother dying en route and her father dying in Salt Lake City, Utah, leaving her on her own at an early age. During the following several years she wandered about the West, working as cook, dance-hall girl, camp follower, and bawd and doing whatever necessary to earn a living. In the spring of 1876 she ended up in Deadwood, South Dakota, site of new gold strikes, and became a bullwhacker, hauling goods and machinery to the outlying camps. It was probably there that she first met Hickok and knew him only briefly (he was shot dead in a saloon soon after). Other, disputed stories put their meeting years earlier and even vouch a marriage (September 1, 1870) and a child (Jean Hickok McCormick, born September 25, 1873, and allegedly given up for adoption). By the late 1870s Calamity Jane had captured the imagination of several magazine-feature writers who covered the colourful early days of Deadwood.

In 1891 she married Clinton (Charley) Burke, a hack driver, after living with him for seven years. Beginning in 1895 she toured with Wild West shows throughout the Midwest. In 1901 she appeared at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, but was fired for her erratic behaviour and alcoholism. She returned to Deadwood and poverty. She was buried there beside Hickok.

So with all this information, I came up with these sentences:

1. Deadwood wasn’t exactly how Calamity Jane had pictured it – full of backbreaking work and ignorant people – and all she wanted to do was return to her hotel room and wrap her hand around a bottle (her only lucky charm).

2. The lucky charm Cherri always wore (an heirloom St. Christopher medallion) rested between the bandages that were now the only remainder of what used to be her breasts and settled into the calamity that now invaded her emotions.

3. Oh my Gawd, Kayleigh whispered as she observed her ex-boyfriend, Robbie “Lucky Charm” Stephens, lean in to make out with his new girl friend, whose outfit could only be described as a calamity – acid-washed jeans, a holey tank top and a Michael Jackson style leather jacket (complete with metal studs).

I’m interested to see what you guys come up with. Comment me back and let me know. I promise not to use yours in the competition (unless it’s REALLY good.) Or you could go to:

yourstorycontest@fwmedia.com and enter it yourself!

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I just received another rejection letter. But it was a fairly detailed one and gives me something specific to work on with my book. Here it is:

***

Dear Kelly,

Thank you so much for sending me the additional material of this project for further consideration. I am sorry for the delay in getting back to you on this one. I appreciate the patience.

After having a chance to look over this project, I am afraid I am going to pass on this project. I will say, it is refreshing to see someone trying something new with this genre. With that said, I just didn’t feel the story had the depth of character development in the early pages to really draw me into the story. In many ways, I felt on the outside looking in.

I do want to wish you all the best with your writing and thank you again for giving me the chance to read this.

***

Not too shabby, as far as rejections go.

So, grudgingly, I’m diving back into my manuscript for even more revisions. Go me!

But I just learned something about one of my favorite authors that I will somehow work into a mantra for motivation: Meg Cabot (author of The Princess Diaries and many, many more) spent three years sending out queries before she got an agent and another year before that agent found a publisher. Meg was thirty at the time. Now she has dozens of books published.

This is good because a) I’m not quite thirty – just a handful of months to go, though, and b) I’ve only been querying for about a year.

So even though I totally want to cry (or die) of frustration, I’m going to press on. Wish me luck!

Five “bad” (or not-so-great) things:

5. It’s a snow day for the kids, so they are cooped up in the house all day and aggravated they don’t get to go to school. (Yeah. Weird, right?)

4. I can’t seem to get anything done with my writing the last couple of days. I’m the worst kind of writer: the kind that waits for the muse to inspire her. Good writers force themselves to fill a writing quota. I have one, but I ignore it most days, like a smelly trash can that I’m too lazy to empty.

3. The agent that requested my full manuscript – I just learned – has the reputation to request A LOT of manuscripts, take forever (like half a year) to read, and then send a rejection letter. But let’s stay positive about that shall we…?

2. Laundry is really piling up.

1. It’s been a bad coupon weekend. There aren’t a lot that match up with sales. But at least the coupons won’t expire for a little while, so maybe next week’s sales will be better.

Five “good” things:

5. I got some of my books that I won:

I still have one more that is supposed to be on the way and I think it’s signed by the author. I thought these were supposed to be signed as well, but it seems that I’m mistaken. But, really, that’s okay. I feel privileged that I won and happy that I get free books. The author of Stealing Heaven  (Elizabeth Scott) emailed me and I feel super star-struck. I’ve read and admired ALL her books.

 I’ve already started ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and it’s amazing. The first chapter is unlike anything I’ve ever read – about a family getting frozen for the trip in deep space that will take over 300 years. Super cool! It was described as Titanic meets Brave New World.

4. I’m having a good hair day.

3. Simon (my oldest son) is really becoming such a good reader. Alvin (my middle) is growing less and less ornery every day. (Not that I really want to break it of him completely, because that is just who he is, but less is nice.) Theodore has decided to play this game with me called “I’m pretending I’m not potty trained anymore” and it’s been literally driving me INSANE. He’s been potty trained since he was a year and a half and now, over six months later, decides he doesn’t want to be anymore…? What? But I put this in the “good” section because when I’m irritated at him (yet again) for doing a number two in his undies, I smell the top of his head. I know…weird, right? But he still carries with him some of his baby smell (that the other chipmunks have all but lost completely) and the aroma calms me down, forcing me to remember all the cuddling we did in his early days.

2. I’m planning a trip to go see my bestest friend that I don’t often get to see. (If the weather permits). Along with her beautiful baby girl.

1. (Sappiness alert) I’m totally – and unbelievingly – falling more and more in love with my hubby the longer I’m with him. He’s just so effing funny and handy that I can’t believe it.  We’ll be celebrating our fifth anniversary on April Fool’s Day. Love you, hon!

Five “ugly” things:

5. The weather (duh).

4. My allergies. I know what you’re thinking. Allergies? This early? No, you’re probably just sick with a cold. Well, yeah…maybe. But I don’t usually have super itchy eyes and sneezing fits in the winter time. The groundhog did predict an early spring, after all. Despite the several inches of snow out my window.

3. My house. It needs some serious TLC to get it in Functioning Mode. (ex. laundry, dishes, a good sweeping.)

2. My writing (or lack thereof). The novel I’m currently working on needs some editing and tightening up…but…I DON’T WANNA!

1. Theodore’s haircut. Okay, it’s not THAT bad. Well, to me. Usually I use electric clippers to cut my sons’ hair (because who in their right mind wants to pay for three boys at a barber every couple of weeks?) but this time I decided to use scissors. And it turned out…okay.

And one more positive: this blog seemed to have gotten my creative writing juices flowing and the kids are busy with Mario, so I might just get something done with my writing today! Yippie!

Top Ten List

I wanted to compile a top ten list of what I’ve learned in the course of writing my novel:

10. The difference between “past” and “passed,” as well as the difference between “illicit” and “elicit.” Yes, really, there are BIG differences.

9. Writing is the one thing I long to do every day, the thing I loathe to do every day and the one thing I must do every day – it’s as necessary as toilet paper.

8. When my best friend in the world won’t read my book, that means it still needs some serious work.

7. Not to send out crappy drafts to people, no matter how excited you are that you have written well over 300 pages (sorry Sis).

6. After three years my characters can still be flat, my setting unclear and my plot unconvincing.

5. My kids will fist fight if I’m on the computer too long.

4. I don’t care to make it big – I really don’t see myself on the red carpet – but before I die I would like my name printed on a hardcover book with at least one great review.

3. A lot of first novels are scrapped and the way mine is going, it  just might as well.

2. There’s always the second novel.

1. Even though writing is necessary to do every day, it’s always much more fun to close the computer and play GI JOE with the chipmunks.

I’m nearly finished with my fourth draft of my book. I’m so sick of the thing that I could throw up on it. (But I’ve read other authors who feel the very same way and said that it in no way implies that my book isn’t good or worthy of publishing.)

I’ve changed my point of view from 1st person “I” to 3rd person limited “she” and played with changing the title. But after a vote I kept the original. After nearly three years of working on the book, I’ve decided to change the end so that there will not be a sequel and in turn made it a much stronger ending. But now I’m rethinking the first couple of chapters.

They are just so…cliché.

The premise of my book is such an original one – there is NOTHING out there like it. (Which makes me nervous for a different reason.) But I seem to be gumming it up with cliché after cliché. An outcast girl’s first day of school. Her best friend moves away. A new – albeit very cute – boy moves into town. She makes new friends.

Cliché. Cliché. Cliché.

So, my question of the day is…when does a writer know when to quit? No, I don’t mean give up. I don’t mean that it’s too hard and I want to stop working on it. I’m sure if I don’t get it published soon I will work on it for the rest of my life. But when does a writer know to cut her losses and move on to a new project?

Is my idea just TOO out there? And am I totally botching it up?

Well – for at least today – I will work on it, cutting it up. Wish me luck!

Okay, since you’re reading this, you are probably wondering why the heck I’m talking about the new year. Well, I’m not really. I wanted to start out the blog introducing myself and talking about some of the things that I would like to accomplish within the near future. I didn’t want to title the blog “My Goals” because that has too much of a Freshmen-in-college feel, so since I’m somewhat in the holiday spirit, I decided to bring a festive feel to my page.

First of all, before I talk about some of the things that I hope to accomplish, I want to just throw out a few words about my life. I’m not yet thirty and I already have the life that I’ve dreamed of. I have a supportive and wonderful husband who works hard to provide for his family: a wife who makes pennies from her writing and three head-strong and lively sons. I actually get to stay home with them and work on my writing. There is truly nothing else that I could ask for in life.

But since my ancestry comes partly from Ireland, I try to follow the age-old addage: May you get all your wishes but one, so you always have something to strive for. So here are my wishes/resolutions/goals/dreams…whatever you deem to call them:

1. Continute to strive for a content and sucessful family.

2. Find time every day to write and read.

3. Finish my millionth draft of my first novel.

4. Find a agent for said novel.

5. Entice more than a handful of people to subscribe to this blog.

6. Find a way to make a living from my writing.

Okay, okay. Maybe I’m being greedy here. But I like having a lot of options. But, currently, my most immediate goal (or you could call it an obsession, but that discussion is for a different time, a different post) would be to watch the finale of “The Sing Off.”

I’m all about the Street Corner Symphony.

Comment me and let me know who you’re going for.

More later,

Kelly