During my “I’m Back!” and “What’s been happening so far in 2019?” posts, I mentioned two occasions when I visited and spoke to middle school students.
Back in April, I attended the USVI Literary Festival and Book Fair in St. Croix and spoke to students about self-publishing and life as an author with respect to inspiration and creating an entire story from my imagination. They enjoyed listening to a scene from one of my short stories and asked many questions from how do I research to how much time do I spend writing each day. The students listened intently and didn’t want the time to end.
In June, I participated in a Career Day where I spoke about the various skills and events that are a part of being an author. During my twenty minute time limit, I fit in a reading from another short story. After interacting with four sets of students, my voice needed a well-deserved rest.
I look forward to more events like these as I’m always eager to help the next generation of writers get started.
I’d been bombarded with an injury and had only one week until the deadline. I stared at the screen. No way. I wasn’t even going to try.
Just so happens, I mentioned my decision to a couple co-workers. They balked at my throwing-in-the-towel attitude and encouraged me to enter the competition.
“What do you have to lose?”
Sleep, maybe. But then I’d have a story in the making, even if it wasn’t so good at first. I let my concern over not having time to let an editor read it over trip me up. However, with their friendly badgering, I decided to go for it.
How do I start writing a futuristic battle when I’m not military nor do I have close relatives who are? I talked to another co-worker who had, that’s what.
I learned which websites to visit for ranking and which movies to keep in mind for fight scenes. I asked about when it’s appropriate to salute and who goes first. I paid attention to how former military co-workers talked to each other. The challenge became that I was talking to someone from the Air Force, but I needed to write a story for the Army. There are differences many civilians wouldn’t even notice.
I spent the next couple days searching the web and even discovered maps and historical data for the “fake” countries mentioned in the contest requirements. In the meantime, an idea for the battle scene popped into my head. The rest was just brute force writing and revising. I even gave the in-progress paragraphs to my coworkers for feedback on realism.
In the end, I used the last names of those who helped me along as I heed and hawed over writing this short story as a tribute to them. I think I really made them proud.
The best part? “Battle at Kitee” brought some happiness to a dying man. That never would have happened if I’d refused to write this story.
So glad I didn’t listen to myself this time around.
And I’m calling it research. (Friends who know how old I am will laugh when they read this.)
I stayed in bed until 11:30am and was the last one in the shower. I didn’t comb my hair. Just ran my fingers through it. (Is it cheating that I have braids?)
Vitamins? No way. Breakfast? Oh, well. Guess not. Got up late.
Stuffed my face with Indian buffet for brunch as I pushed the bitter stuff to the side of the plate and swallowed down the spicy burn with Coke, my first drink of the day, with no thought about calories. Don’t worry. I sipped water too in an attempt to be healthy (and appease the mom in my head).
Oh, and I made it to the buffet line first.
I got a wind up toy and smiled each time it shimmied across the table with my birthday card held high. What teen doesn’t appreciate brainless playtime? Spending way too much time liking bday posts on FB and responding to texts was a blast.
I even watched like over 3 hours of TV. What 15 year old girl doesn’t enjoy watching older people’s attempt at romance? (I know. I’m exaggerating like a teen.) I even giggled at the sloppy kisses. (hehe)
Work email? Not a chance. What’s work? I walked the dog and stared at butterflies instead.
Cake and ice cream? Yum.
And after all that, I stayed up until almost midnight talking on the phone.
Today? I return to my real life, but it sure was fun being a teenager for a day.
Now, back to writing for them.
In June 2018, I entered my first ever short story writing competition. The Theme: Beach Fun. The Setting: Rehoboth Beach. The Problem: I’d never been to Rehoboth and had no idea what kind of beach plot would be of interest.
But I like stories about mermaids and learned that the they are a hit in Rehoboth Beach, too. Since stories about mermaids have saturated the market, I wrote about a merboy and his initial adventure on land. Learning about Rehoboth Beach via maps, pictures, and historical articles was a ton of fun.
About a month later, I received a phone call saying my story made it into the Beach Fun Anthology. Then, I joined other authors for the book signing at Browseabout Books in November.
This year, I wrote part two of Zale’s story. Although not picked for the Beach Dreams Anthology, I am one story closer to completing the planned short story trilogy. But who knows? Zale’s tale just might take me to other far away places.
Someone recently asked me about my web blog. Did it cost a lot? Was it hard?
It just so happens a friend set up my very first blog page years ago (blogger.com) because I had no clue how to do any of that. After learning some basics, I took it over and added more tabs containing additional content.
With that new skill in hand, I ventured out to create this website, which is in its third overhaul, now using WordPress. This is the first time I’ve added a blog to my website. I’m continually learning new skills to keep it going.
So, the only costs to me has been time and the web hosting fee because I had the inclination to learn how to do everything myself. Otherwise, I’d be paying someone else hundreds of dollars to create and update the site. It helps to have a great web host (InMotion Hosting) to help when I mess something up. Prices vary depending the plan chosen.
Basically, create an account and give it a go. Be sure to tell others about your blog via social media and include keywords so the search engines can find the page. Good luck and have fun with it!
So sorry for my absence the last few months. It’s crazy how life turns sideways sometimes. I did attempt a return in May, but nothing got posted due to a site mishap. Go figure!
Anyway, despite all that’s happened, I continued writing. In fact, I entered a few contests and have already received rejections. Life of a writer! However, one of my short stories, Battle at Kitee, was published online by Small Wars Journal. This was my first attempt at writing a futuristic battle scene. Let me know what you think.
I’ve also been posting on my FaceBook Author Page and on my Twitter feed. Please check them out and follow me.
But the most fun times were the two occasions when I spoke to middle school students about writing. It was cool to see them interested in the stories I read them. More on this in follow-up blogs.
So, do come back again. I hope to post more often in the weeks ahead.
Read What Happened in 2018
The year started with first place in a poetry contest and finished out being voted as the South Jersey Writers’ Group ‘Writer of the Year,’ a culmination of all the accomplishments achieved throughout the year. Short story Zale’s Tale won a spot in Beach Fun. Another short story Adelle and Brandon: Friends for Life went live on August 29th. A radio interview with Abdul Ali on WSTX Radio 970 STX added excitement to the summer which closed with one my poems being put to music. I even had the opportunity and pleasure of singing Love Song to Jesus from A Love Gift at church. I’m still waiting to hear about a manuscript submission but hopeful for positive news in 2019. Thanks for your comments and kind words throughout the year. I’m grateful my writing has encouraged so many of you.