WFMAD Day 26 – contagious and miserable

I’m struggling with both allergies and some kind of stomach bug, so don’t come too close.

I am tempted to ramble on in horrifying detail about the various sensations and infestations and colonies of bacteria all busy breeding a world under my skin, but frankly, I don’t have the energy. I’m going to post this blog and curl up with a nice tome about 18th-century surgical techniques.

Be sure to read this interview with poet/photographer/picture book wizard, Charles R. Smith Jr.

Do you have any thoughts about this map of book banning and challenges?


Today’s advice: "Stay away from all other human beings because they will just make you sick."  Me

Today’s writing advice: "Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions." Mark Twain

(If you are in the mood for an essay, compare and contrast today’s two quotes.)


Today’s prompt: (This is a good one. Feeling like something the cat threw up inspires me.)

1. Pick a fairy tale.

2. Write your own version of it.

3. Start with "Once upon a time…" (Read the opening to my book, Prom, if you want.)

4. Write a modern and or twisted version of the story.

Extra Bonus Points: Keep it under 750 words and set it in picture book format.

Crown of Gold Award: Illustrate it, too.


WFMAD Day 25 – and a child goes to school

On September 7, 1992, this child went to first grade.

That is the OfficeMouse.

I bring this up because today is her first day of school again, this time as an eighth grade science teacher. Congratulations Ms. Anderson!!!

The day she started school in 1992 is the day I mark as my first day of being a "real" writer. I had been a freelance journalist for a while and had been playing around with the notion of trying to write books for kids.

After I put OfficeMouse on the bus that day, I went up to my little writing nook and wrote myself a long journal entry. In it, I gave myself the goal of being published in five years.

It took me four years.

Looking back, I should have given myself ten years. That is a much more realistic time line.


Today’s advice: "Most of us spend half our time wishing for things we could have if we didn’t spend half our time wishing." Alexander Woollcott


Today’s prompt: Write down where you want your writing life to be in 2010, in 2014, and in 2026.

Be specific and bold. What kinds of books do you want to write? When will you have them ready to submit?

Don’t worry about the things you can’t control, like editors or publishing houses or marketing plans.

You have total control over the quality of your work and the amount of time and energy you put into it. Write yourself a road map from now to 2026 defining how and what you’re going to write.


WFMAD Day 23 – Conjugate this:

Yesterday I wrote. Today I am writing. Tomorrow I will write some more.

Color me happy.

If you really want to write, treat yourself and enjoy these 9 ideas for improving your writing productivity.


Today’s advice: "Novelists… fashion nets to sustain and support the reader as he falls helplessly through the chaos of his own existence."  Fay Weldon


Today’s prompt: Your goal today is to move your pen across the paper or zoom your fingers on the keyboard without pausing to think.

Got that? "Don’t think. Just write." ©

Is it hard? Does your pen slow down, your mind drift off course? I have an idea that might make this easier.

Start by writing "I remember…" then follow that with a memory. If your falter, question yourself, or judge the quality of the memory, you can do one of two things:

a) Move one line down and start again "I remember…"

b) Where you get stuck, write, "or maybe not, maybe it was…" and release yourself from the confines of literal memory, allowing your imagination – anchored in something real – to take off to the stars.


WFMAD Day 22 – Showers of Words

Here is an almost typical writing day for me. I woke up yesterday at 5am, ate breakfast, wrote my blog entry and wrote in my journal. Then I had to drive BH 40 miles into the city so he could pick up his car. When I got back to my village, I took care of a couple of errands and wrote in our new bakery for a while. (Greco’s, for all of you guys who live near me. It’s next to the Dollar Store in Mexico. A GREAT place to write.)

When the traffic outside the bakery got too heavy, I headed back home and wrote until dinnertime. How many words did I write? I have no idea. 

I was struggling and struggling with the elements of a new chapter. I knew what was going on with my character up until that chapter. I sort of knew what was going to happen after it. Chapter X, however, remained murky.

I brainstormed several courses of action my character could take. Didn’t like any of them. Checked my email. Didn’t like any of that, either. Went back to some of the primary sources that were the inspiration for this chapter. Felt like the right idea was teasing me; staying just out of my line of sight, but rushing up and poking me in the side to let me know it was there.

And I felt like an idiot for not being able to solve this knot.

I looked at the possibility that this was an unnecessary chapter. Nope. I needed it. This is a turning point chapter in which one series of events resolves and another begins. A new character was present in this chapter; he showed up two chapters earler, and I didn’t know much about him. I finally figured my character’s emotional journey in this pivotal chapter, but I was stuck on how to show how he makes that journey through action and dialog.

BH and I ate dinner. I talked to a couple of our kids and read for a couple of hours. I had planned on going back to my office to write before bed, but just couldn’t find the energy. So it was off to the shower.

My answer was in the water. This happens so frequently, I don’t know why I don’t just work in the shower ever day.

In the course of the shower, all of the answers dropped into my skull: the new character’s name, motivations and background, his connections to my Main Character, and best of all, the way this irritating chapter was supposed to unfold.


The interesting thing was that my new understanding of the new character requires me to go back two chapters where he is introduced and completely change his reaction to the Very Awful Bad Thing that happens back there. That’s today’s work.


Today’s advice: "Every writer I know has trouble writing."  Joseph Heller


Today’s prompt: Part 1. Go to the Poem-A-Day archive at  Choose three poems at random. Print them out.

Part 2. Take a page out of your local newpaper.

Part 3. Grab your scissors and cut up the newspaper and poems into narrow slips of paper that contain no more than two lines of text. When you are done slicing and dicing, mix all the pieces of paper together.

Part 4. Close your eyes and pull out a couple or three or five slips of paper. Use the words on them to spark your writing today.


WFMAD Day 21 – taking stock

All of the peaches have been skinned, sliced and frozen! Now it is on to more green beans. My tomatoes have been blighted, so I might have to buy a peck or two to make salsa.

But more important than filling the freezer and pantry is writing.

I had a good day yesterday; I threw out almost everything I wrote. Why is this good? Because what I wrote and threw out helped me better understand the motivation of my character in those scenes. A long walk helped me figure out what was missing. (The character had long-term desires, but not enough immediate internal pressure.) So I am proud of what I wrote yesterday and excited to see what today brings.

If you’ve been mostly playing by the rules of The Challenge, you’ve been writing daily for three weeks now. Has it been harder than you thought? This article at Zen Habits will help you understand why you went off track. Don’t waste any time beating yourself up. Make a minor course adjustment in your life and recommit to your 15 minutes a day.

Writing makes you happy. You are allowed to write and be happy and proud about it.

Since we’re in a reflective frame of mind, please take a moment to answer the following questions in the Comments section or email them to me at laurieAtwriterladyDOTcom.

1. What interfered with your writing in the last 21 days?
2. What did you do differently to protect your writing time for the last 21 days?
3. Which prompts were the most useful?
4. What part of your writing do you need the most help with?
5. What questions do you want me to answer about writing or the writing life?

Yes, you are allowed to count the time you spend answering the questions as your fifteen minutes!


Today’s advice: "I try to leave out the parts that people skip." Elmore Leonard


David Small has written a memoir of his childhood in graphic novel form. Read this interview with him first.

Sounds fascinating, doesn’t it?

Secrets have dark power. Their impact can be felt for generations.

Write about a secret from your childhood. Don’t be afraid – you don’t have to show this to anyone, unless you choose to. Try to write about it from your POV as a child, not with the wisdom and perspective of an adult.

Write about a secret from your character’s childhood, or from someone who is close to her.