Posted in Writing

The Pushoff

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

That moment before you start. Your mind is filled with so many thoughts. How do I begin? I know what I want to say; but how to write it in such a way that hooks the reader? Will what you write be good? Will it hook the reader? Will it inspire them? Will my beginning be as good as the beginning of my last book/story? What if I “sink”? What if it “takes off”? Yes, I can do this.

It’s all so thrilling isn’t it? You may have written many books/stories before and still have these questions going through your mind before you start. You want to make your readers happy, and you want them to have fun. Not to sound pessimistic, but we can’t please everyone. Many will enjoy your stories/books and many won’t. So, relax. Have fun. Don’t stress yourself out. The truth of it is, you have what I call “Your Circle”. These are the people who you trust to give you an honest critique of your writing before you publish your work. If your beginning, middle or end or anything in between doesn’t sound right, they will tell you. Listen to what they’re saying, take it into consideration, and go from there. If you’re new to the writing craft, your self-confidence may need to be built up more. If you are more experienced, you may have more confidence and so on.

Trust yourself. Based on your writing experiences you will come to know what is good and what needs to be scrapped. So…..DIVE IN. Enjoy.

Posted in Writing

WarmUp

Do you warm up your writing engine before you start working on your writing project? I guess I would have to say, for me, it’s split 50/50. Sometimes I will warm up and sometimes I won’t. It all depends on whether or not the creative juices are flowing when I sit down to write. If I know what I’m going to write next in my work in progress (WIP), I don’t do a warm up. If I’m stuck, I do a warm up. That will get the ideas flowing again.

Types of Warmup Exercises

  • Writing prompts
  • Journal writing
  • Writing a blog article
  • Write a poem
  • Look at a painting/picture:
    • Describe the setting
    • Describe what’s is going on (Remember, a picture is worth 1000 words)
    • Write a poem using your descriptions (Who knows, you might be able to use it in your WIP)
  • Take a walk in a cemetery. Speculate about the people who once lived. What do you think they looked like? What do you think they did for a living? How do you think they died and/or what’s the story behind it? Come up with scenarios/stories regarding random people. Did they know each other? If so, what was their relationship? You could go on and on with this.
  • Go to the beach. What do you see? What connections can you make with what’s in front of you? Maybe the people you see walking along the beach are sea people. If so, why are they there on the beach? What’s their story? (FEEL FREE TO STEAL THIS IDEA IF YOU LIKE)

Don’t be daunted by the blank page ever again. The only reason the blank page is a stopper is because nothing is there. So put something in your head first before you look at that blank page, then you’ll be able to readily transfer it to the blank page when you look at it.

Posted in Writing

Writer’s Block

What do you write when you don’t know what to write? You can know what your story is about, but you aren’t able to put words on paper. Why? This article will seek to answer this question and give you ways to find your words again.

You’re sitting at your computer, and your typing away. The words are flowing and your mind is driven. You get to the end of the scene/chapter and you feel a sense of exhilaration because you’ve accomplished something. You’ve made progress. You’re in that writer’s zone. Eager to move on with the next scene/chapter, you move to the next screen and type the scene/chapter number, hit enter and stop. Your brain says, ‘huh’? So you sit there thinking about what you should write next. You can’t think of anything. Ideas may come but you push them aside because you feel they aren’t good enough, or perfect enough. This is the left side of your brain getting in the way of progress. Don’t let it do that. Forge ahead. Write anyway even if it isn’t perfect.

Reasons For the Block and How to Get Passed Them

  1. As mentioned above, the left side of your brain, the analytical side, gets in the way. It can be difficult to shut this part of your head down, but you need to do it. This has happened to me on a number of occasions. What I did was write anyway, even if what I wrote wasn’t any good. Later you can go back and change it, and who knows, this may spur on more and better ideas. Brainstorming also works, and sometimes you just need to work on the development of the story itself. I keep a binder with tabbed sections for various literary items, such as Character, Setting, World Building, Brainstorming, just to name a few. Writing in your binder, or whatever you keep, can create ideas as well. Read the following book by Henriette Anne Klauser called Writing on Both Sides of the Brain: Breakthrough Techniques for People Who Write. This book helped me tremendously. See link below.
    https://www.amazon.com/Writing-Both-Sides-Brain-Breakthrough-ebook/dp/B08537CTS1/ref=sr_1_2?crid=6XIUORJS0SZE&dchild=1&keywords=writing+on+both+sides+of+the+brain&qid=1600447565&s=digital-text&sprefix=Writing+on+both+si%2Cdigital-text%2C222&sr=1-2
  2. Indecision. Maybe you have 2 or 3 or more possible ideas regarding what should come next, but you don’t know which one to choose. This is a great time to stop writing and start evaluating. Yes, I said it. You’ll have to use the left side of your brain here. Write each idea down on a note card and place them in front of you. Think about what you’ve written thus far and decide which idea will move your story forward to where you want it to go. Does this mean you have to scrap the other ideas you don’t use? No, not at all. Save them for later.
  3. You finished your thought process. This is huge. Another author told me she doesn’t ever get writer’s block. When I asked her why, she said she doesn’t stop writing at the end of a scene/chapter. She stops writing for the day in the middle of a scene where it is easy to pick up on the movement of the story the next day. So she doesn’t allow her thought process for the story to stop when she stops. I hope this makes sense. There is just one problem with this though. You will come to the end of that scene/chapter eventually, which means you might get hit with reasons 1 and 2 above.
  4. Ordering of story information. Stories are written with the three act structure in mind. Act I: Backstory, Act II: The Chase/The Attach, Act III: Resolution. Certain types of information belong ONLY in their perspective acts. Put the wrong type of information into the wrong act, and your story will be thrown way off. The result of this can lead to writer’s block. How do you combat this? There is a book I HIGHLY recommend. See below. I’ve provided the link in case you are interested in purchasing.

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
https://www.amazon.com/Story-Engineering-Larry-Brooks-ebook-dp-B004J35J8W/dp/B004J35J8W/ref=mt_other?_encoding=UTF8&me=&qid=1600447148

In the end your story will work out. It’s not the road you travel, it’s how you travel along that road that matters. You’ll get there.

Posted in Fiction

An Eerie Scent of Roses (Part IV)

When I got home, my phone was ringing. The only person I gave my new number to was Aunt Helen, so it had to be her. “Hi, Aunty.”

            “Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,” came a hi pitched laugh. “You thought you could get rid of me, didn’t you? I told you that was impossible.”

            “How did you get my number? I told no one.”

            “You underestimate me Amanda Blake!”

            “Now look here–.”

            But it was too late. He hung up. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!” I slammed the phone down in its cradle then telephoned Aunt Helen. “Aunt Hellen, I need you to come over. He called again, and this time he used my new number.”

            “I’ll be right over to pick you up. We’re going to the police, and this time they’re going to listen.”

            When we reached the station, we were directed to Detective Blanche’s desk. His tough demeanor was accentuated with his crooked nose and broad shoulders. Maybe he was a football player at one time. Although, he kind of reminded me of a freight train that trampled everything in its path.

            “Why don’t you start by telling me what’s going on,” he said.

            Knot by knot, I unraveled my story, from the phone calls to the notes to the death threats.

            “Well,” he said. “It’s obvious that it’s someone you know. He knows where you work and live. He could be a colleague at work. Is there anyone at work who’s been acting rather strange lately?”

            I thought a minute.

            Aunt Helen joined in by telling her story of Mr. Dodge.

            “We’ll keep Mr. Dodge on the list of suspects. I don’t know about the janitor though. That might be just a coincidence. But I’ll keep my eye on it all the same. In the meantime, we’re going to bug your phone. And possibly trace some of those calls.”

            “Is that all you’re going to do? Can’t you assign an officer to watch her house?” said Aunt Helen.

            “No, because, as it stands now, no one’s made any attempt to break in or come near her at this point.”

            “Oh, so you’re going to wait until someone tries to hurt her before you’ll actually protect her.”

            “I’m sorry, but my hands are tied at this point. We’ll tap the phone, though.”

            “Thanks a lot. Thanks a whole lot,” Aunt Helen’s dripped with sarcasm.

            “Aunt Helen, it’s ok. You’re not going to change his mind. Let’s go. Thank you, detective.” I gave him my phone number and left.

            The next day I decided to stay home from work. I figured that if the stalker was someone at work, then home was the best place for me. At this point anyway.

            I was in the middle of laundry, when the phone rang.

            “Miss Blake?”

            “Yes?”

            “This is Detective Blanche. We traced some of those calls yesterday to a Mr. Dodge at the number in his office. He’s just been arrested.”

            “You sound sure that he’s the guy. Maybe someone else stole his office key and has been using the phone in his office. Remember? The janitor said Mr. Dodge’s office key was missing.”

            “Yeah, I’m way ahead of you on that.”

            I leaned back into my recliner and covered up with my grandmother’s knitted afghan. The deafening silence of the house ground at my nerves, so I picked up the TV remote. Before I clicked the power button, a tap on the air conditioner broke the quiet. I listened for the noise again, nothing. Maybe it was a bird. I raised my arm again to hit the power button and froze as another tap sounded. The tap continued and crescendo-ed until it became a bang.

Posted in Fiction

An Eerie Scent of Roses (Part III)

When I got home, I called both phone companies and had my landline phone number changed and my cellphone number changed. Unfortunately, my new landline number wouldn’t take effect until tomorrow afternoon. I couldn’t bear the thought of another night like last night, so I unplugged the phone again, and kept my cellphone off.

            The next day was a typical Monday, rainy, boring, and grey, and it drug on forever. The rain made my job as bookkeeper even less exciting. I wanted the day to end. Don’t we all on days like that? I couldn’t concentrate on the numbers I was computing, and I was so tired that it looked like all the digits were jumping off the page and running into each other. I guess being frightened and worried about what will happen next can really weigh on the brain. Then, I had a break in my boring day; the inner office mail came. I rose and took it from Cindy, our inner mail clerk. Great, maybe that will take my mind off this caller. As I opened the first envelope, I noticed a sickening, sweet, smell of roses; the note read:

Amanda,

You’re mine. You belong to no one. Just me. No one will touch that golden blond hair or have the pleasure of looking into those emerald green eyes. Your heart shaped face beats to the rhythm of my soul, and always will.

            Numbness took over and I sank in my chair. My stomach turned sour. Was it someone at work? At that moment, Dan walked past my door, stopped short, and said, “You look like you just saw a ghost. I something wrong?”

            “N-no, I’m fine, really.”

            “You don’t sound fine. Are you sure you’re alright?”

            He came in, sat in the chair to the right of my desk, and gave me a creased eyebrowed look. “I’m not leaving until you tell me what’s wrong.”

            I didn’t want to tell him anything. I didn’t know who to trust.  Part of me had my reservations about him, but he had this look about him. His full lips and light gray eyes was captivating. His look of genuine concern touched me. Then I caved and unfolded the whole story from beginning to end. When I finished, I watched him carefully, hoping to see some sign of guilt on his face. But I didn’t see anything. Maybe he’s just very good at hiding his emotions. Oh, really. Now I’m grasping for straws. I sunk my face into my hands. Seconds later, I heard my office door close. Feeling a hand on my shoulder, I looked up to see Dan kneeling beside my chair.

            “Don’t worry. I’ll help you find him.”

            “But for all I know, you could be him.”

            “I’m not, and you have to trust that. Okay? I understand how you feel. It’s hard to trust anyone. But sometimes you just have to.”

            “I know,” I said. “You’re right.” But was he?

            As he got to his feet, he gave me a kiss on the cheek, squeezed my hand and said, “We’ll beat this. Don’t worry.”

            I looked after him as he turned and walked out of the room.

            I got out of my chair and stood in the doorway looking in the direction Dan was walking. From behind me, I heard Carl, the janitor, say hello. I turned to see a short, chubby faced little man smiling at me as he fumbled with his keys. I smiled back and said, “Hi, Carl. What are you doing?”

            “I’m looking for the key to get into the cleaning closet. Gee, that’s funny.”

            “What?”

            “I’m missing the key to Mr. Dodge’s office. Who would want that?”

            I walked over to him and held out my hand saying, “Maybe you just missed it. Here, let me look.”

            As he gave me the keys, I noticed a tattoo of a rose on the top of his right hand. I froze. In a shaky voice I said, “D-do you l-like r-roses?”

            “Oh yes. They’re my favorite flower. Do you?”

            “I-I-I…” Dropping the keys, I fled down the hall. When I got to the front desk, I told Sabrina, the receptionist, that I wasn’t feeling well, and that I would go home early.

Posted in Fiction

An Eerie Scent of Roses (Part II)

No, no way. There was only one person who had my land line number and that was my Aunt Helen. The phone continued to blast out another ring. She’s sleeping at this hour. Right? What if it’s an emergency? If I ignore it… Again, another ring. And something has happened to her, I’d never forgive myself. But, what if it’s that weirdo from before? Another ring. Damn, I had to answer.

            “Aunty, are you ok?”

            A creeky voice ground out the words, “I’m just fine, deary. Hahahahaha.”

            This wasn’t my Aunt Helen. I slammed down the receiver. It rang again. I picked up and slammed it down. It rang again almost as soon as the receiver hit the cradle. I screamed and slammed the receiver down in repeated succession. Silence. My chest heaved out of breath. Hot breath tickled my ear and I jumped. “Damn it, Brandy,” I ground out.” The phone rang once more. This time I pulled the cord from the wall.

            As I sat on the edge of my bed, I wondered about who the caller might be. It’s not that the person on the phone was threatening. No. It was the evil iciness in their voice that struck the hardest. In a way I guess it was threatening. The tone of it, like something was coming. The feeling of something behind you in the dark type of sensation. A shiver hit at the mere thought of it. I didn’t want to, but I laid back down. Brandy snuggled up on my left side, which helped in calming my heart rate down. The rest of the night proved uneventful, but the chill from the phone call still sat at the front of my mind, which made sleeping the rest of the night next to impossible. I nodded off somewhere around 3:00 am.

            The next morning, I reached over to plug the phone back in but hesitated, then decided against it. My cellphone remained off as well. I fed Brandy and got ready for church. I needed a friendly face to talk to. When church let out, I went over to my aunt’s house. I always cherished my slightly plump Aunt Helen, with her brown hair always piled high on her head. I adored her soft pudgy cheeks, and her soft brown motherly eyes. After my parents died, when I was ten, she took me in and raised me from that point on. She’s been there for me through thick and thin and knew what to say and do to perk me up.

            I pulled into her driveway. As I stepped out of the car, I could smell the chocolate floating out of the open kitchen window from the chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven. Baking was a past time of hers, so she was always in the kitchen. I smiled and stepped inside.

            My aunt had a thing for ducks. Her whole kitchen was decorated in a wallpaper with pictures of little ducks. In her kitchen window hung a stained-glass ornament of a white duck with a yellow bill and blue bow tie set in a kelly-green background.

            “Hi, Aunt Helen. Those cookies smell delicious.”

            “Oh, hello, sweety. How are you doing this fine Sunday morning? You look tired. Didn’t you get any sleep last night?”

            “Uh, I, uh, no, I didn’t, as a matter of fact. It was too hot.”

            “I know. It was terrible. Say, I have some good news for you. Come and sit own a spell, eat some cookies, and take a load off.” Aunt Helen beckoned.

            I sat down at the round kitchen table. “Well, don’t hold me in suspense. Tell me what your big news is.”

            “Friday, I went to that school that you work at. Oh what was the name of it now? “Don’t tell me. I’ll get it.” She drummed her fingers on her knee.

I knew the name of the school, but I didn’t want to interrupt her train of thought.

“I remember now. It’s the Central Adult Education of Washington, but you know that I suppose. Well of course you know that. Anyway, I decided to take some morning classes. I’m tired of sitting home all the time.”

            “Aunt Helen,” I exclaimed. “That’s wonderful news. It will be good for you to get out of the house. Why didn’t you come and see me Friday? You could’ve told me about this then.”

            “Well, I wanted to keep it a secret until later. You know me, I like to keep secrets. Secrets are fun you know. Besides, there’s something I need to tell you, and I didn’t want other people overhearing.”

            “This sounds serious. What is it?” I asked.

            “Well, you know I don’t like giving out my address and other information like that.”

            “Yes, what about it?”

            “Those people at that school said that it was very important that I put this kind of information on the application”

            “Who told you this?”

            “Oh, that illustrious tyrant you have for an executive director. What’s his name now? Oh yes, Mr. Dodge. He made it sound urgent too. Boy, that guy, with his black hair and dark glowering eyes, really gives me the creeps. If he just wouldn’t open his mouth and show those ugly teeth, he’d be quite handsome. At least he didn’t smile. He just stood there with a frown on the bridge of his nose, talked to us for about five minutes, and left as quick as he came.”

            “Why would he tell you that? When did he tell you that?”

            “He talked to us at orientation. They asked for a phone number on one of the forms, so I asked him if I could leave it blank, but he ignored my request.”

            “That’s odd, about the phone number. I mean, yes, we should have it, but it’s an option. We communicate mostly through email.  It sounds like he made it out to be too big of a thing,” I said.

            “Darn, there’s the phone again,” said Aunt Helen. “People have been calling all morning. Hello.”

            A perplexed look crossed her face.

            “What is it?” I asked.

            “Did you tell anyone you were going to be here today? Did you give anyone my phone number?”

            “No, why?”

            “There’s someone on the phone asking for you. If you didn’t tell anyone you were going to be here, why are they calling for you?”

            As I took the phone, my heart pounded, my throat went dry, and beads of sweat formed across my head.

            The voice on the phone whispered, “You can run, but you can’t hide from me. I’ll always find you.”

            “Leave me alone!”

            “I love your emerald green eyes, and your silky, smooth body. I want to run my fingers through your luxurious blond hair.”

            “How did you get this number? Who are you? Quit calling me!” I slammed the receiver down.

            “Honey, what did he say? Come in the living room and tell me what he said. Come on now, you’re shaking like a leaf.”

            “Oh, Aunt Helen, I don’t know what to do. I want to tell someone, but I don’t know who to tell.”

            “Tell what? You can trust me, sweety.”

            I followed her into the living room. After taking a few deep breaths, I told her all the events of the night before. When I finished, she stood up, walked to the window, and peered out.

            “Gee, that’s spooky. That means he’s been following you, but who could be watching you? Where is he? There’s no one outside anywhere.”

            “I don’t know, but I’ve got to find out the answers to those questions or I’m going to go insane.”

            She turned away from the window and saw that tears built up in my eyes.

I felt like a helpless little kid who had just been beaten up by the school bully.

            “We can talk to the police, okay? I’ll go give them a call,” said Aunt Helen.

            Five minutes later, she came back with a stern look on her face.

            “What’s wrong? What did they say?” I questioned.

            “They said that there’s nothing they can do. That it’s probably some childish prank, and that you should change your number.”

            Frustrated, I said, “I don’t understand.”

            “Don’t worry, love, we’ll figure this out. In the meantime, why don’t you go home and get some sleep.”

(To Be Continued)

Posted in Writing

Floating Words

Sometimes we all feel like we’re floating along. The wind is blowing but your boat is going nowhere. It’s stagnate. You put your oars in the water and stroke, but instead of moving along, you go in circles. Life is funny. At times we think there is nothing out there for us. You want to write a novel, short stories, and/or poetry, but you don’t know how to get started or how to expand on what you already have. I’ve been down that road. Let me tell you, I wanted to be an author, but I had so much to learn. The problem was I wanted it NOW. Well, life doesn’t happen that way. Some things are a process and believe me writing is a process. What I learned though over the years of writing my first book was that it isn’t necessarily the finished product that is the most important. It’s important, yes, but there is another aspect to it that is even more precious. It’s the journey, the writing you do everyday, the process itself, the getting from point A to point B in your manuscript/story that plays a certain kind of music in your insides. THAT is what matters most. The finished product, when you hold it in front of you, speaks volumes. You end up saying to yourself, “It was all worth every time consuming minute.”