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March 16: Flash Fiction Challenge

March 16Today is a cake kind of day. Go on, grab a fork and savor a bite. Settle in for a story.

Carrot Ranch is imaginary. It’s a place where literary writers gather. Like rainbow cake, we are many colors and layers. Some write novels; some short stories. Some write memoirs; some science journals. Some write poetry; some write web content. We write from different places around the world: Australia, UK, Canada, Poland, US, Spain and have welcomed others passing through from Germany, Turkey and India. We’re a mash of genders and generations. We have different views regarding writing, books and publishing.

All those differences are what makes us a tasty layer cake!

The frosting that holds us together is literature. This might surprise you if you expected me to name the frosting flash fiction. That’s certainly what we do here, and flash fiction is common ground. But the original intent of Carrot Ranch as of March 5, 2014 was to create a bully-free zone where writers could learn to access creativity through problem solving (the constraint); write from a unique perspective (diversity); read and discuss the process or prompt (engagement). All those attributes add up to a literary experience.

Literature most commonly refers to works of the creative imagination and includes the responses we create as flash fiction. Often we think of literature possessing artistic merit or lasting value, so how is it that we can claim literary status for works created at an imaginary ranch and constrained to 99 words? It goes back to that literary experience — we are not collecting a canon of trendy flash fiction, but rather using them to explore our ideas, characters, longer works, craft and more. We share what we write. We read a collection each week that speaks to our world experience right here, right now, from multiple perspectives.

Literature is what speaks to us and through flash fiction we are speaking how we observe and interact with the world.

Consider these thoughts:

“It’s in literature that true life can be found. It’s under the mask of fiction that you can tell the truth.” ~ Gao Xingjian

“Literature is the art of discovering something extraordinary about ordinary people, and saying with ordinary words something extraordinary.” ~ Boris Pasternak

“Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.” ~ C. S. Lewis

But who comes to an imaginary ranch to be constrained and roped into a literary process?

I have a Just One theory. For something to happen, it takes just one to set the spark. On March 5, 2014 just one person bridged people I knew with people I did not. Several writers from social media, Susan Zutautas and Ruchira Khanna, showed up to the first challenge, and I was grateful. My friend and family member, Paula Moyer, also showed up and I felt supported. Yet, from Australia, and only serendipity can say why, Norah Colvin stepped on to Carrot Ranch and took the challenge.

Norah was my Just One. She is the catalyst that got flash rolling. All four writers who showed up that day set the flames of the future in motion. The next week Pete Fanning showed up, followed by Georgia Bell, Sarah Brentyn, Anne Goodwin, Geoff Le Pard, Lisa Reiter, Larry LaForge, Irene Waters, Amber Prince, Jeanne Lombardo, and Sherri Matthews. I don’t know what stars aligned, but it took just one writer to saddle up and here we are. These are the earliest members of the Congress of the Rough Writers, which now consists of 33 writers and more Friends who join us weekly.

Today is our 99th Flash Fiction Challenge. When I compiled all the stories for the anthology manuscript, I narrowed the responses down to the literary group and contained it to our first year. That amounted to 68,706 words or 694 stories. And to think it started with just one!

As a treat to go with cake, I’m going to share with you some “firsts,” including my first McCanles flash fiction. I never thought I’d actually write Rock Creek, yet all it took was just one 99 word story to plant the seed of a novel. It reminds me that I might get 8,000 publishing rejections to wall-paper my office with, but all I need is just one acceptance.

Firsts

Flash Fiction by Paula Moyer

Jean scrunched her fingers and toes, back and forth. They were all moving, but she was not strong enough to shake off the rubble. There was just too much of it. She was also unable to bat away the sense of shame. It was all her fault. She had known for some time that she needed to clean up her home office – excavate it, to be more precise. But after years of neglect, the once-rectangular stacks had rounded up into piles – and piles. Yet today, right on time with spring, she sneezed while reaching for a pen. Buried herself.

###

Flash Fiction by Susan Zutautus

As we were racing down the hill I felt a strange and eerie rumbling going on as the earth shook beneath my skis. I looked over at my son who most likely did not hear or feel anything as his music was probably cranked.

Scared to turn my head but feeling I had to; I saw the white cloud approaching behind us. Quickly I motioned to Allan that we were in big trouble. Seeing the look of terror on his face we both knew deep within our souls that this might indeed be the end for both of us.

###

Repercussions!! by Ruchira Khanna

Sandra is in a cleaning spree cause if mom will find out she is bound to get a time out for goofing around. As she is wiping those stains from the floor, chair, and table she hears footsteps. Her face is red with guilt and is ready to face the music for her actions.

Gets up to face her mom, who surprisingly has a calm expression and is all ears to hear her side of the story before coming to a decision. Startled Sandra explains how the cans came avalanching when she opened the cabinet thus the mess everywhere.

###

The Avalanche by Norah Colvin

The trickle began; imperceptible, unheeded and ignored.

Needing more attention, the volume swelled and quickened pace.

Still no attention was forthcoming so the surge became more urgent and incessant in its plea.

“Slow down! Stop me!”

To no avail.

The avalanche engulfed her.

Heat flashed through her body, from feet straight to her head.

Heart pounding loudly, “Let me out of here!” it pled.

With reverberations magnified in each and every cell,

the heady swirl became too much –

she trembling choked. “I’m dying?”

But no:

B-r-e-a-t-h-e s-l-o-w.

B-r-e-a-t-h-e d-e-e-p.

R-e-l-a-x.

S-o-o-t-h-e.

B-r-e-a-t-h-e . . .

The panic abates.

###

Flash Fiction by Pete Fanning

Any other day a ride to the dump would have made my week. The mountains of treasures, stacked far and wide over the rolling hills. Sure, the smell could get thick, nearly visible during those muggy days of summer, but today my nose was too stuffy to smell anything. I wiped my face with the back of my hand, still unable to look back at my old friend, sitting on garbage bags in the bed of the truck. Dad put a gentle hand on my shoulder, his eyes soft.

“Son, I’ll get you another big wheel, this one’s caput.”

###

It’s Just the Wind by Georgia Bell

I pressed my forehead to the window, the cold glass soothing against my flushed skin. How long had I stared down at the sidewalk, waiting for something – for someone – to be the change I couldn’t initiate? How long had I been sitting here, wanting and needing and not acting?

I felt him standing behind me. His silence as loud as the words he wouldn’t say. I didn’t turn, but flinched as the window rattled in the frame.

“It’s just the wind,” he said, and I nodded, closing my eyes, hope burning as hot as the tears on my face.

###

Dreams and Debris by Sarah Brentyn

Sitting next to the bonfire, I read the words I wrote when I still believed. Better days were ahead. Success awaited me. Love would find me.

Flipping through pages, I watch my handwriting change. Ugly scribbles fill the diary toward the end where I wrote about the things that were lost and the things that were never found. I want to remember, to feel something. But I can’t hold on. Bits of my life flutter in and out of my head and these memories lose their meaning. I toss the book into the flames and walk into the lake.

###

Virgil Kane is My Name by Charli Mills

I says to my wife, there goes them no-good McCanlesses. Me, I’m out plowing the field them Yankees trampled after murdering Cap’t Morgan. Stoneman’s cavalry. Bah! Bunch of thieving turncoats, I say. “You leave Tennessee,” I shouts at them. Their wagons creak but they say nothin’ to me. Old man Cobb McCanless slumps in his wagon seat. Hope he feels a fool having to flee Tennessee. He was my school teacher once. Old man Cobb. A poet. Virgil Kane is my name and I rode on the Danville train. Until Cobb’s sons came and tore up them tracks again.

###

Flash Fiction Character Bio by Anne Goodwin

Winning the TV quiz show, Family Challenge, assured me a rosy future. My encyclopaedic knowledge would fuel my teaching career. I hadn’t bargained for a pregnancy midway through the training. When I surrendered my baby for adoption, I lost my sense of purpose too.

Can’t complain, though. I work in a school, albeit in admin. I’m extremely popular on quiz nights down the pub. But, if people ask if I have children, I don’t know what to say.

Everything’s changing again, as Jason has made contact. Given he’s about to become a father, can I call myself Grandma now?

###

Seth by Lisa Reiter

Stooped and bowed, by both time and hard living, his florid, round
face and rude countenance throw up barriers he wishes were not there
but like a caged animal, knows little else.

Once a traveller, now he only journeys between pub and house – no
longer much of a home since Helen left, except for the loyal, mangy
Skip who barks at every passerby – claiming Seth as his pack.

But he loves that dog and ruffles his coat roughly in greeting. Might
be the only time you’ll see him smile but you’ll get a glimpse of a
once warm man.

###

Dogged by Geoff Le Pard

Harry dropped his gaze to avoid looking at Sally. No point; she didn’t know he existed. He looked at the dog. Milton looked back; he scratched his ear before lowering himself into a squat.

“No. Christ. Not here.”

Milton held Harry’s gaze as he shat on the pavement.

“Great” Harry stared at the sticky turd. He patted his pocket. No bags.

Harry glanced up, wondering if he could leave it. To his horror, Sally was a few paces away. She held out her crisp packet. “Here.”

“What?”

“For that.”

As Harry cleared up, Sally rubbed Milton’s head. “Cute dog.”

###

Bye Bye Betsy by Larry LaForge

He’s struggling with it, but knows he must dump her immediately after graduation.

They had a great ride for four years. He took her everywhere, and she never let him down.

She didn’t come with a manual, so he had to learn everything on the fly. It was rocky at times. Someone more experienced could have kept things running more smoothly.

Her presence at the big job interview was embarrassing. Now that he must impress his uppity colleagues, she just can’t be in the picture.

But deep inside he knows.

That’s the best pickup truck he will ever own.

###

Vacation Getaway by Amber Prince

Night had fallen like a thick blanket dropped from the sky.

I gripped the steering wheel, drying blood oozing between my fingers. I pressed further down on the gas.

It was too late. Headlights flickered in the rearview mirror.

I turned off my own lights and let off of the gas, not using the brakes. I veered off of the road, flying into the field.

I maneuvered into the backseat, pushing the still warm body over top of me.

My only hope was the dead taxi driver, and my ability to play dead.

Man, I should’ve vacationed in Alaska.

###

The Wheel Barrow by Irene A Waters

The sound came again. Closer this time. It sounded like a squeaky wheelbarrow. He ran to his mother’s room. She would know what to do. Hugging, they listened to the sound. She rang the police. Arriving quickly they searched outside, returning pronouncing the culprit was a leaking hot water system. The plumber was called and the leak repaired. The next night he was again woken by the sound of a wheelbarrow. Not waking his mother he went to check the hot water. He saw the wheelbarrow when suddenly, a hand over his mouth turned his scream silent.

###

The Patrick Cat by Jeanne Belisle Lombardo

The rain stopped. She stepped through to the patio, drank in the scent of quenched earth and creosote, then moved to the Palo Verde tree.

Her hand on the smooth, green bark, she looked east. A rainbow crowned Fire Rock Mountain.

Then she noticed it, the chain, hanging free from a bough. The terracotta winged cat that Patrick had given her was gone.

She toed the earth. “Where are you Patrick?” she whispered. “Don’t die on me again.”

A rustle near the rosemary. A cat the color of clay pawed the air. “Meer,” it said. And took flight.

###

Last Train Home by Sherri Matthews

Settling in for the train journey, Jamie plugged in, metal guitar riffs screaming. An hour in, he turned and saw her.

Dark eyes met his, frozen in disbelief. Turning to her new man, she giggled as they sat down in the seats in front of Jamie.

“That’s Jamie sitting behind us!” They swapped tongues.

Jamie exploded out of his seat, leaping off at the next stop. He caught a glimpse of her staring blankly out of the train window, chewing her nails, looking ugly. Jamie turned away and kept walking. He smiled then. Poor bastard, it’ll be him next.

###

March 16, 2016 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write about the idea of “just one.” If all it takes is just one, what is the story? Explore what comes to mind and go where the prompt takes you. Bonus challenge: eat cake while you write, or include cake in your flash.

Respond by March 22, 2016 to be included in the weekly compilation. Rules are here. All writers are welcome!

Thank you to all who come here and add to the literature of our times, joining together to write in fellowship.

***

Just One to Speak the Truth by Charli Mills

Sarah handed Leroy a cup of cold coffee and the carrot cake his wife had fixed earlier. Five days now since Cobb was gunned down at Rock Creek. She could still smell blood. Hickok, Doc Brink and Nancy Jane’s lover were under arrest for murder in Beatrice.

“Did you find the teamster?”

“Yes.” Leroy downed the coffee and set aside the plate.

“He’ll testify?”

Leroy growled. “No. Not one man will speak well of Cobb.”

“Mary’s got to let Roe testify.”

“She won’t. She’s scared.”

“Cobb wasn’t armed. I’ll testify. You need just one witness…”

“…who isn’t a woman.”

###

April 23: Flash Fiction Challenge

Carrot Ranch Flash FictionCreativity seems like a night sky full of burning stars sparking into infinity and beyond until it pokes the eye of creation. Endless. Boundless. Open to all possibilities.

Yet, that might not be so. Consider the blank page.

Many writers have stared into the endless, boundless white ready to take on all possibilities only to discover that they have nothing to add. In fact, writer’s block is often denoted as the blank page.

Creativity is also viewed as something free-spirited. I’ve even known parents who excused the poor behavior of their toddlers as creative free-spirits.

Yet, behavioral experts advise that toddlers best thrive in an environment that offers a schedule. To raise a free-spirit requires parenting with constraints.

Apply that to our writing, and you can see that constraints can also make for an environment where creativity can thrive. Give an artist a frame and she’ll give you a painting; give a writer a specific number of syllables and he’ll give you a poem.

I don’t claim expertise in the area of creativity and constraints beyond what I’ve personally experienced. When told to write anything, my mind tends to freeze. Anything? Suddenly I know nothing. The blank page remains white.

When told to write anything as long as these three words are included (lioness, taxi and lemon), suddenly my mind is making brilliant connections–“the lioness of New York city with her bottle-bleached, lemon-blonde hair drove a taxi at night to stalk her prey.” A story emerges from the constraint.

Why is that? One of our flash fiction writer’s from last week’s compilation, Biographies Real and Imagined, reflected on the 99-word constraint of Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction. Anne Goodwin wrote that reducing a story to 99 words “was like growing bonsai.” Yet she recognized that “limits can be liberating.”

Anne introduced me to another blog that explored the genius of Dr. Seuss. The post, “The Weird Strategy Dr. Seuss Used to Create His Greatest Work (And Why You Should Use It Too)” reveals that Theo Geisel wrote “Green Eggs and Ham” after a publisher issued him a 50 word challenge.

It’s worth the read to better understand the power of constraints. They can help you define your white page. And that’s what we are doing here each week–using constraints to create. A weekly prompt and the 99-word rule can work to spark that expansive creativity we feel when we look up into the night sky.

Seems how it is the day after Earth Day, our prompt is going to be about climate change, so to speak. Climate in fiction can be the container that holds our characters and their story. Climate can set the scene, shadow the tone or hint at a plot twist.

Mastering the setting is a subtle but vital skill. This week, let’s practice the impact that climate change has on a story, even a very short one. Think of ideas like sunshine and happiness, or rain and depression. What does it mean to your story if the clouds move in to block the sun, or the rain suddenly stops? Your climate change can be overt or implied.

April 23, 2014 prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) describe the climate of a story as it changes to reflect a character’s mood or to create a sense of what is to come. Respond by noon (PST) Tuesday, April 30 to be included in the compilation. My contribution follows and is an exploration of a larger project I have in mind. May the sun shine on your writing this week!

Basking by Charli Mills

Chickens scratched at bare dirt as Sarah tossed dried corn from her apron pocket. They pecked at kernels and she watched, feeling the morning sun warm on her back. It was like basking with Colb in bed, his chest pressed to her back. His arms snugged around her. He’d crossed Rock Creek two days ago to take care of business. Business always drew him away, but like the chickens at her feet he never wandered far from his favorite roost. The trundle of wagon wheels caught Sarah’s attention. A dark cloud slid over the sun. It was Colb’s wife.

###

Rules of Play:

  1. New Flash Fiction challenge issued at Carrot Ranch each Wednesday by noon (PST).
  2. Response is to be 99 words. Exactly. No more. No less.
  3. Response is to include the challenge prompt of the week.
  4. Post your response on your blog before the following Tuesday by noon (PST) and share your link in the comments section of the challenge that you are responding to.
  5. If you don’t have a blog or you don’t want to post your flash fiction response on your blog, you may post your response in the comments of the current challenge post.
  6. Keep it is business-rated if you do post it here, meaning don’t post anything directly on my blog that you wouldn’t want your boss to read.
  7. Create community among writers: read and comment as your time permits, keeping it fun-spirited.
  8. Each Tuesday I will post a compilation of the responses for readers.
  9. You can also follow on Carrot Ranch Communications by “liking” the Facebook page.
  10. First-time comments are filtered by Word Press and not posted immediately. I’ll find it (it goes to my email) and make sure it gets posted! After you have commented once, the filter will recognize you for future commenting. Sorry for that inconvenience, but I do get frequent and strange SPAM comments, thus I filter.

Take Time to Play

liebster2Today’s tip for writers is: take time to play.

We take time to write, improve our craft, publish and promote our words. We understand that there’s this word “social” in social media, but we get so serious about promoting that we for get to play. We forget to be social.

Within a span of two weeks, I’ve had two fellow bloggers reach out to me at Carrot Ranch with a Liebster Award. In essence, I was called up to play. Back in December I had a fellow writer surprise me with a Sisterhood Blogger Award. While I was thrilled and delighted, I failed to play.

And that’s not good for the writing soul. We need to take time away from our busy-bee business and interact with people as people (more than writers or readers, buyers or sellers). As one blogger told me, “It’s always a great feeling when we realize we’re not talking to thin air.” Yes, it’s a great feeling to be asked to play hopscotch on the playground instead of watching from the shadows.

Publicly, I have four writers to thank. Susan Zutautas of Everything Susan who calls me out daily to play while keeping her own writing energized and prolific. Thank you for the Sisterhood Award despite my fumbling the play. Lorraine Marie Reguly of Poetry Perfected for taking time to research and post what the Liebster Award is all about. Maggie (Cafe Maggieato) of Just Get it Written for honoring me with the first Liebster Award. Her blog is an inspiration to writers. Norah Colvin of Norah Colvin for honoring me with the second Liebster Award. Her blog is full of intelligence and educational advocacy. Thank you!

Yes, Writers, I hear the call to play and will respond with a post for each set of Liebster questions. To the rest of you out there, tapping away at keys, remember to pause and play. It just might refresh all your serious to-dos and writing!

Liebster Award — Just Get it Written Response

Liebster Award — Paying it Forward Response

Liebster Award Paying It Forward

Blogger Norah Colvin of Norah Colvin has honored me with my second Liebster Award, reminding me that bloggers can pay it forward. It’s an opportunity to read other bloggers and to be read. As part of the acceptance, she has posed the following questions to her nominees, which I have answered:

  1. What do you value most in life? I value living in such a way that I look for beauty all around me and find good even when life’s path gets rocky. It feels like a way to live truth. Not big truths, necessarily, but my own.
  2. What activities do you enjoy and why? Since I still love to dig in the dirt, I enjoy gardening and scrounging for rocks and old bits of broken glass. Activities that connect me to living in the moment are best; simple things like cooking and writing about the birds outside my window.
  3. What is something you wish you had more time for? I used to wish I had more time for writing, and now I do. I think we fill our lives with too much busy-ness. I’ve found that by taking time to stare at a sunset or falling snowflakes, I have all the time in the world. It’s what I do with it that matters.
  4. What is one change you would like to make in the world? I’d like to contribute to world change through one beautiful book at a time. It seems we have too many books embracing darkness, and I just want to honor the hero’s journey within us all and to actualize everyday beauty.
  5. What is something you would like to change about yourself? To stop worrying whether or not people approve of what I do. It’s a deep-seated issue that I work on rooting out and some days I do better than on others.
  6. What surprises you most about your life – something good in your life that you hadn’t expected, dreamed of or thought possible? Wow, if you would have asked my three years ago when I was going to take on the “writer’s life” I would have said, maybe in 20 years. Little did I know that an upheaval in my life would open the door for me to step into that writer’s life. It isn’t easy, but it is what I’ve dreamed of doing and I’m doing it.
  7. What ‘big” question do you often ponder? How do I listen to God’s calling and live in the light?
  8. What sorts of things amuse you? Silly little things amuse the daylights out of me. I have a quirky sense of humor that’s easily triggered. I laugh at things like realizing that my hubby and I forgot to drop off our trash at the dump before we drove into the mountains to fish. I laugh at the knowledge that it’s going to summon every grizzly bear in the region and I’m so scared of bears. All I can do is find amusement in the juxtaposition of garbage vs. bear-fear.
  9. What do you like to collect? Stuff from the ground that’s old–rocks, fossils, arrowheads, purple glass. I have a keen eye for these things. I have a large glass vase filled with old glass, buttons, marbles, tokens that I find while gardening or walking the pastures around the house. I have bowls and clusters of river rocks, fossils and Lake Superior agates and beach pebbles. Oh, and books!
  10. If you could talk with anyone and ask them to explain their ideas and/or actions, who would it be, and why? I’d love to talk to my 5th-great grandfather, James McCanless, and ask him why he left North Carolina. He was a poet and wrote such sad verse about leaving those mountains as an old man. I’d like to have coffee with him and talk about why we feel compelled to seek other places beyond what is familiar.
  11. What is something you can’t do without? Internet! Awful to admit, but I’d go crazy as an isolated writer in the Rocky Mountains without human connection, and the Internet provides that daily touch. Also, I’m not only compelled to write, I’m compelled to share what I write and read and comment on what others write.
  12. What is something important you learned about life, and how did you learn it? A life of truth is not an easy one. Some truths are scary, others humiliating, yet  truth sets us free. But many people cling to lies that they use to cover up truth. I’m drawn to people, artists and writers willing to be vulnerable in seeking their truth. This is why I’m drawn to  write fiction–I seek the truth that is revealed in the hero’s journey. I learned this the hardest way, being a survivor of incest. Such families are masterful at deceit. Seeking a different way became my own hero’s journey, and I successfully raised three children away from that family, thus breaking the cycle of lies and ugliness. But it’s hard, not to have a family of origin that I can trust.
  13. What is your earliest memory? One of my earliest memories is of a black cat that I coaxed into being a pet on a ranch where I lived the first seven years of my life. That cat made me feel safe.

The purpose of the Liebster award is to help discover new blogs. In keeping the engagement dynamic, I’d like to offer this nomination to the following bloggers who I’ve recently discovered their poetry and short stories, something that inspires me in pursuit of my own fiction. You can read their work at:

I Am A Writer, That’s What I Am is a terrific blog with stories, thought, photos and quotes. Truly it’s a well of inspiration. I’ve learned that creativity is a pool we swim in; if you don’t dive into its waters, you’ll never know. This is a blog that you can dive into and find out about yourself and your own writing.

A Little Bit of Poetry is a new blog by seasoned blogger, Susan Zutautas. This blogger is multi-talented from the kitchen to her writing space. She inspires me daily with her posts, recipes and poems. I have fun every Sunday with her on another blog (she’s prolific) but this new blog of hers is new and deserves discovering.

The Well Tempered Bards is an amazing blog of poetry. It’s the kind of poetry that seeps into your bones. You’ll discover many poets who make guest appearances so it offers a variety.

Squirrels in the Doohickey is great fun. I started grinning at the title and went into full-blown belly laughs as I read entries. This is a new blog to me, but I hope other will discover it too–sharp writing, well-branded and spot-on humor.

The Real Housewife is neither fiction nor poetry, but is so funny it should either be chick lit or a series of life’s limericks. Kelly finds funny anywhere, and her humor is scathing. She’s such a character she might show up in my fiction (just kidding…sort of…).

If you have been nominated you can choose to accept to play along, or not. No pressure. It’s a bit of fun, an opportunity to connect and can help spread knowledge of your blog. If I nominated you, it is because I do read your blog! If you accept, here are The Liebster Award Rules adapted from Wording Well:

  1. Each nominee should link back to the person who nominated them.
  2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 5-11 other bloggers for this award who have less than 1,000 followers.
  4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

Questions for my Liebster Award Nominees:

  1. Congratulations! You just won a Liebster Award. What award do you dream about winning?
  2. What compelled you to start a blog?
  3. How did you come up with the blog’s name?
  4. What else do you write?
  5. Why are you drawn to writing fiction?
  6. What is your favorite genre to read?
  7. What is your favorite writing snack?
  8. What is your strongest writing strength?
  9. How do you keep focused on your writing?
  10. Who is your favorite book character and why?

Liebster Award: Just Get it Written

liebster2Blogger Cafe Maggieato of Just Get it Written has honored me with a Liebster Award. It’s an opportunity to play with other bloggers, to know that I’m not writing into thin air. As part of the acceptance, she has posed the following questions to her nominees, which I have answered:

  1. Which fictional character do you most identify with and why? Laura Ingalls because I grew up in an old mining town surrounded by abandoned cabins, forgotten cemeteries and old-timers who told me about their childhoods on the “frontier.” So somehow, I felt connected to Laura Ingalls, as if her knowledge of old stuff and pioneer ways explained what was in my environment. There was an old Conestoga wagon on a ranch near my childhood house that I’d clamber up onto the seat–it was so tall–and I’d pretend that I was riding with Pa Ingalls to the next prairie farm or town.
  2. In another life, what would you be doing, if not writing? I’d be an archeologist! I love digging into dirt and the stories it can tell. I have an ability to find old stuff anywhere on the ground.
  3. Would you rather have a slow painful death by terminal disease or a quick death by accident? There’s a gift in each–slow and painful allows for introspection and more time with loved ones and quick is, well, quick! But either way, I want to live a worthy life breathing the essence of daily beauty.
  4. Your books are a big hit. Would you rather see it as a: (pick one only) movie, TV series, computer game, or a Broadway show? Why? Woohoo! I’d go for a movie because I’m into narrative and I think a movie would be the best medium for telling the book’s story.
  5. Admit it, you already have a dream cast in mind. Who are they? Yes, I do. Adam Beach will play Michael Robineaux and Evangeline Lilly will play Dr. Danni Gordon (who’s an archeologist). Purebred German Short-haired Pointers will have to be “discovered” for their roles.
  6. Any part(s) in your manuscript(s) you’ve been embarrassed to let your family/friends read? This is why writing romance novels is my “plan B” as a writer! Not so much from embarrassing scenes but from my husband’s sure-to-be-embarrassing reactions to me writing hot scenes. He’d be calling up army buddies…no we’re not going there.
  7. Was there ever a book you just couldn’t finish? Why not? “Moby Dick.” It was required summer reading for Honors English my freshman year of high school and I just couldn’t finish the darn book. Yet, I was able to discuss it in class…thus revealing a talent I have for skimming literature. That’s why a book has to grab me to really read it.
  8. What is the one thing you would never, ever let your characters do? I’d not let my characters be unflawed. I think our flaws, as well as our strengths, are what make us believable and interesting. What I want my characters to do is to overcome their situations despite their flaws not because they are perfect.
  9. What do you think is the most underrated book/movie? “Smoke Signals” got good reviews but is not that well known. Less known is the book it is based on–“The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” I blame Sherman Alexie for my momentary bouts of wanting to be a poet, then I come back to myself and remember that I’m a story-teller.  But I want to tell stories like Mr. Alexie! Lyrical, sharp, funny, tragic, true.
  10. Do you prefer happy endings or tragic ones? Why? I like books or movies that move me or convict me or challenge my thinking, but I hate tragic ending that leave me feeling hopeless or helpless. It’s not that I want the happy-ending, per say, but I want a sense of conclusion, of growth, of hope. There can be beauty in tragedy if the writer is adept.

The purpose of the Liebster award is to help discover new blogs. In keeping the engagement dynamic, I’d like to offer this nomination to the following bloggers who have become my core support group online:

Ruthi Reads Books for Kids has a strong mission to increase literacy one children’s book review at a time. It’s a blog that engages both readers and writers in the purpose of sharing children’s book. Anyone can recommend a book for Ruthi to review and you can contact her if you are an author of a children’s book. Reviewers can join her in her mission as the Books for Kids Contributor on Squidoo. If you are a writer, it’s a great way to link up with other writers and reviewers.

Review This! is a new blog that combines the blogging efforts of 12 Squidoo Contributors. This blog serves as an example of writers working together to share their contributions of knowledge in a variety of areas from romance to food to recycling. Each writer is an expert in their niche and I always learn something new or useful from this blog.

Doing’ Time on My Behind is a great name for a writer’s blog! As writers we have to put in the time writing, and blogger Dawn understands that. She recently held a book give-away on her blog in support of her Mid-Atlantic State Travel Contributions which I greatly enjoy reading to learn about this region. We share a passion for digging in the dirt, too.

Weeds and Seeds is a great blog full of useful information on plants and herbs not readily found on other gardening sites. As I plan for my garden (and filling some of those wild spaces) the archives of this blog will be useful.

Fun Food Network has a line up of tabs that includes cupcakes, candy & snacks, and bread & breakfast. That’s my idea of fun food! Plus the posts are easy to follow with tutorials involved. It’s a beautiful blog for food.

If you have been nominated you can choose to accept to play along, or not. No pressure. It’s a bit of fun, an opportunity to connect and can help spread knowledge of your blog. If I nominated you, it is because I do read your blog! If you accept, here are The Liebster Award Rules adapted from Wording Well:

  1. Each nominee should link back to the person who nominated them.
  2. Answer the 10 questions which are given to you by the nominator.
  3. Nominate 5-11 other bloggers for this award who have less than 1,000 followers (this number is flexible).
  4. Create 10 questions for your nominees to answer.
  5. Let the nominees know that they have been nominated by going to their blog and notifying them.

Questions for my Liebster Award Nominees:

  1. Congratulations! You just won a Liebster Award. What award do you dream about winning?
  2. What compelled you to start a blog?
  3. What has been your most memorable blogging experience?
  4. What else do you write?
  5. If you could watch the sunrise with anyone, who would that be and why?
  6. What is your favorite genre to read?
  7. What is your favorite writing snack?
  8. What is your strongest writing strength?
  9. How do you keep focused on your blogging?
  10. Who is your favorite book character and why?

Thanks for taking time to play!