WFMAD Day 20 – in ink

I had a first yesterday; an email from a reader who said she was going to have "speak" (as in the title of my book that holds a lot of meaning for her) turned into a tattoo. She’s thinking of putting it on her neck.

Someone on Twitter asked me what I felt about that. Twitter is a great place for gut responses. I wrote: "Good chills. "Thank you, universe" chills. Humble chills."

There are layers, dermatological and metaphorical, to the words that we inscribe in our skin.

I have the first word of Beowulf inked (in Anglo-Saxon) just below my right hand.

There are volumes and libraries and bookstores of people out there who put their story into their skin. I think of many of their tattoos as short, epic poetry; the Song of Their Self. I know mine is.

For the record I spent about 5 minutes in the garden yesterday, picking tomatoes. In my defense, I did an absurd amount of writing and had to have my sore fingers pried from the keyboard by my BH rather late.

And I’m ready to go at it agin. You?


Today’s advice: "Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia."  E.L. Doctorow


Today’s prompt: Your character steps into a locker room or bathroom, or a dressing room and sees someone she knows without any clothes on. The nakedness does not shock her. It’s the tattoo. Describe the location, the person, and give the story behind the tattoo.

OR – after ______________ (insert significant incident here) your character steps into a tattoo parlor and puts her cash on the counter. What ink does she want, where does she want it, and why?

OR – If I gave you a magic cream that would cause your dream tattoo to beshielded from the eyes of people who would make your life miserable if they saw it…. what would you have inked. Why?

Extra bonus points: Go get that tattoo. Life is short.


WFMAD Day 19 – planting and harvesting

It is finally cooling off here a bit.

In fact, we have the first sign of winter!

That, in this morning’s early light, is the first load of our firewood. It came from land we own in the foothills of the Adirondacks. You might say that we grow our own heat. Once all the wood has been delivered, we’ll rent a splitter and spend a couple days splitting and stacking. This year we have two fireplaces to feed; the monster that heats our house, and the soapstone wood stove that will heat the cottage.

Before we split and stack, I need to finish canning peaches and take care of a LOT of garden chores. The goal today is to write for 10 hours and garden for 2.

Gardens are fascinating places.


Today’s advice: "Substitute "damn" every time you’re inclined to write "very;" your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be." Mark Twain


Today’s prompt: Your character finds strange-looking seeds in an unusual place. (Your job, if you choose to accept it, begins with a riveting description of both the seeds and their location.)

Have her plant the seeds. Focus on the action of planting – make it hard, and a vivid description of the setting. Your choice if you want her to be alone of with another person. As soon as the job is complete and she is picking up her tools, the plant explodes from the ground and reaches full-size in seconds. What does it look like? What has she grown?

What happens next?

Extra bonus points: Do not use adverbs. Any of them. If you find yourself reaching for an adverb, pick a stronger verb instead.


WFMAD Day 18 – Ready For Big Changes

I am going to spend the morning moving my niece into her apartment. I have figured out that there is some kind of natural law that requires relatives to move only on one of the five hottest days of the year. Natural laws are a bitch.

You can stay near a fan and clickety-click on all these links I found for you.

If you blog about YA books or write them or read them (or any combination) you want to read Persnickety Snark’s Guide to YA Blogging. Nice work, Adele!

Bitch Magazine has a great interview with Sara Zarr.

PLEASE participate and spread the word to teachers about NCTE’s National Day on Writing!


Today’s advice: "The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt." Sylvia Plath 


Today’s prompt: Part One: Write three quick lists, of five items each. Give a very detailed description – as specific as possible – for each item.

List 1 = five colors
List 2 = five sounds
List 3 = five textures

When you are finished with your lists, scroll down for Part Two…..

and be grateful you aren’t carrying boxes inthis heat…

think of me when you are sipping lemonade……….

or sangria…………..

almost there……….

Part 2 – Study your lists and come up with a bunch of different combinations, using one element from each list. One of these combination is going to strike a chord inside you. You might feel it in your gut or your throat. Freewrite for fifteen minutes on the combination.


WFMAD Day, um, err, Day 17, I’m pretty sure

Did you have a good weekend?

The Officemouse and I went to the Regional Farmer’s Market on Saturday. It is a sign how bad this summer was for me that this was the FIRST time I made it to the market this year. We came home with oodles of blueberries and peaches, froze most of the blueberries and made a couple batches of jam. Tomorrow I’ll can and freeze the rest of the peaches.

(Tangent: Remember how I completely lost my mind last summer and picked about a million pounds of strawberries and made a bazillion kinds of strawberry jam? Well, it was a good thing I did because I completely missed strawberry season this year. Needless to say, we still have strawberry jam. But now I can feel slightly smug about my foresight.)

We also got yogurt, milk, and cheese from the BEST dairy farm in Central New York…

Wake Robin Farm!! If you see any of their products in the store BUY THEM. Top-notch quality and taste made by people who care. (That’s Meg in the picture. I was stunned to learn she reads this blog. Hi Meg!)

Let’s get to work before the heat and humidity drive us all to the movie theater.


Today’s advice: "You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you." Ray Bradbury 


Today’s prompt: Today you need a coin, preferably a big one like an American quarter. (Are any of you guys living in countries other than the United States? If so, where? And what is the largest coin you have?)

OK, back from tangent. Sorry. Am having focus issues today.

Got your coin? Good.

You are going to do a quick and dirty plot outline with the help of Chance. You can do this with your current WIP or make up a new character from scratch.

This plot outline is going to be basic and fast. Start with a sentence or two, like "She walks in the grocery store."

Then ask yourself the next plot possibility, phrased in a binary way, like "Does she buy the pate?" (See howthat can be answered with a "yes" or a "no"?) OR "Does she steal the pate or buy it?" 

Once you’ve written down your plot question, assign an answer to each side of the coin. "Heads: she buys it. Tails: she steals it." Flip the coin and you have your next plot point. Continue with the consequences of that action and set up another coin toss, and another, and another.

Have fun with this. The point is to be a little more open to allowing your story to wander down unpredictable paths.


WFMAD Day I am not sure anymore

It amuses me how difficult I find it to stay on top of the days this summer!

They didn’t have horseradish for sale at the farmer’s market yet, so I bought 4 pecks of peaches and 3 pails (1 pail = about 8 quarts) of blueberries. The OfficeMouse made a delicious peach and blueberry cobbler last night. The blueberries and some of the peaches are destined for the freezer. I might make some peach jam and can some of the peaches, though the thought of heating up my kitchen when it is so hot outside is rather unpleasant.

One of the reasons I love living up here on the Tundra is that I truly LIKE cold weather. When it gets up to 90 degrees plus humidity, I turn into a grumpy, snarling madwoman. We only get that kind of weather for a week or two a year, so it’s not worth buying an air conditioner. So I will make jam and retreat to the basement when I get too sticky.


Today’s advice: “Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Don’t worry about appearing sentimental. Worry about being unavailable; worry about being absent or fraudulent.” Anne Lamott


Today’s prompt: Send your character into the world of her parents; unknown territory. She has to search through a parent’s desk in order to find something mundane. She is not supposed to go into the desk. What does she find there that will change the way her parents look to her? How will it change her?

If you don’t have a character young enough for parents, then have your character going through the desk of a friend, or a lover, or a boss. Or imagine yourself going through the desk of a friend, lover, or boss… or maybe one of your children.

Be sure to focus on the tiniest details; how did the sand get in the bottom left drawer? How old are those stamps? What does that key open?