Sunday, July 26, 2015

8 Sentence Sunday: Outlaw Born snippet

Finally getting back into a writing groove and Ben Mason has been demanding attention to his story. I'm joining other Weekend Writing Warriors in sharing an eight to ten sentence excerpt of our WIPs. So here is a snippet from my work-in-progress Outlaw Born.

Orphaned young and raised by a preacher's family Benjamin Mason became a good man. He wanted to forget and erase his real father's legacy of blood and violence from their name for his own son.

Then tragedy struck. The law wouldn’t give him justice, so he would take it. After all, wasn’t he born to be this kind of man, an outlaw filled with hell and vengeance in his blood? Ben Mason is outlaw born.

8 Sentence Excerpt
The battle felt as though it had gone on for days, instead of hours. The day had faded into dusk when they heard the Confederate officers recall their men. Once Johnny Reb is out of sight, the men cheered. More for the joy that they still took breath than for the victory.

Ben surveyed the damage. He was thankful the cannon had dulled his hearing. This night he would get a reprieve from the cries of those fatally wounded, as they called out for someone to take their final words home.

Ben took count of his men as they began to emerge from the trenches. Their numbers appeared reduced, but most were still with him.

To read other great Weekend Writing Warrior excerpts go HERE

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Keeping the plates spinning and new goals

Have you ever seen the plate spinners at a circus or carnival? They start by balancing one plate on a thin long stick, then making it spin. Then they pick up another and another balancing and spinning all these plates on sticks.

Sometimes one will warble and the spinner has to very carefully adjust to make sure it stays spinning and even or… CRASH and the show’s over. Writing and life can feel like that. There’s a plate on a stick for everything we need to do and all the projects we have waiting to be written on.

They warble and sometimes crash to the ground. The key is to not worry about picking up all those shattered pieces. That plate fell, it’s broken beyond repair so just kick the pieces out of the way and put a new plate in its place.

As writers we know that not every project is going to go smoothly, there might be several plates that fall shattering our plots and a bit of our determination as that novel is written. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book or that it’s not worth your time. It just means that we have to make adjustments. Change the plot, setting or character. Maybe even let the manuscript set for a day or so, then dive back in with a refreshed muse.

Life can interfere with those projects too. That’s been my biggest hurdle as of late. RL making all those plates warble and tip, more than a few have crashed to the ground. Instead of worrying about all that broken china, I’m going to put new plates on my sticks and get them spinning. All the glass on the floor is from yesterday, it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s a new day and a new set of plates and a chance to keep them spinning with a new set of goals.

So my ROW80 goals for this week are:
Write daily. Word counts are out the window for right now. Even if it’s only a paragraph that day, it’s forward progress through the RL chaos.

Write one article. I need to work on picking up the pace of some of my freelance work. Consistent paychecks can help keep some of my plates from warbling so much lol.

Write three blogs. Gladiator’s Pen is in need of new content. I don’t want to have a huge gap again in posts. I know it drives me batty when I subscribe to a blog and then… they stop posting. My apologies for making any of you nuts too J I’m going to try and prevent any more long lapses.  

There we have it a set of goals and all the plates spinning with a few minor warbles but mostly balanced…. For now. :)

What do you do when your plates start warbling and crashing? How do you keep your write life balanced with that real life stuff? 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

4 tips to break through writer's block.

When it hits writer's block can feel like a Rubix Cube. An unsolvable puzzle that makes you want to give up and see what series is next on Netflix to marathon.

There is only one way to break that block and solve the puzzle. Write. That's right, you have to write your way through it, around it, over it or under it. Instead of giving up and watching all nine seasons of X-Files in one sitting on Netflix, try one of these ideas to wake up your muse and get back to the story. 

Get Nosey
We all have looked in someone else’s medicine cabinet, so why not your main character?  Write about what they find in there. It could be mundane everyday stuff, something tawdry, or a hidden secret.

It doesn’t have to be a medicine cabinet. He/she can look in a drawer or the glove box in a car. Just open something up and take a long gander at what’s inside. You will be quite surprised at what he or another character is keeping stashed away. Somewhere, hidden in the back of the junk drawer of your character’s boss’ desk is way back on track with your manuscript.

Lost and Found
A lost object is another great way to trick the muse into walking around that block. While searching for lost keys, phone, cigar clipper, or the hamster that escaped his cage you can find all sorts of things to fluff your plot. Use it to explore a bit more of your character’s personality, or, that of another character helping in the search.

All else fails have disaster strike. It’s amazing how much a lightning strike or freak tornado ripping across the front lawn can get the creative juices flowing again. In real life, these things can come out of nowhere so why not use a cyclone to drop a house on your writer's block.

Background Check
Open a new doc and pick any character but your hero/heroine. A background character such as the guy in the parking garage, the waitress with the great smile, someone who is mentioned but really isn’t a player in your story.

Now take that person and write a page about them. What were they doing before meeting your MC? Do they have a cat or is she slinging hash until she’s discovered as the next Marilyn Monroe? Once you’ve gotten a few paragraphs or a page you can go back to your WIP, you’ll find your muse is now ready to take off again.

Writer’s block can be a wall that falls in front of our muse. Looking up it seems impossible to get over that wall. Put your fingers on the keyboard and write until that wall crumbles.  When it does the sun will shine, the forest animals will surround your desk in song…. Okay, not really but you’ll be celebrating with your muse as the story picks up speed again. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Hungry: Friday Flash

A deep rumble woke Ben. He sat up and looked around the loft of the stable thinking he’d been caught by old man McKeen.

The rumble came again only louder. It wasn’t the old geezer tossing him out, it was Ben’s stomach. Four days, it was four days ago his mama had left him at the station.

She left him behind, telling him to sit and wait. She would be right back with the tickets. They’d go to Virginia to live with his aunt. Mama never came back from the ticket booth. Her carpetbag was gone. All Ben had was his small pack and the Bible she gave him.

Dawn was breaking. He needed to get out before the old man really did catch him. Quietly Ben made his way to the street and around the backs of the buildings. Maybe he could find a scrap of something. Anything he was so hungry.

His insides felt like they were shriveling up as he stopped at the rain barrel by the inn. Cupping his hands he took a few long drinks to try and fill the void.

As he splashed water on his face a scent drifted down the alleyway. Ben’s stomach clenched with hunger as the scent filled his nostrils with one of his favorite things in the world.

Fresh baked bread was somewhere close, very close. He sniffed at the air and turned down the alley. He followed the smell, stomach growling loud enough to make the stray dog napping in the shade raise his head.

Ben stopped at the window there they were. Three fresh baked loaves of bread. The steam was still rising off the tops. His tongue licked along his bottom lip as he took a step forward to get a deeper breath of it.

Something hit him on the back. Mr.Grove the owner of the inn shook the broom he’d just walloped Ben with. “Get, you urchin. Take your filthy self back to the gutters.”

Didn’t he recognize him? His mama had done some work at the in. “Mr. Grove, sir… “

Before Ben could finish the broom was raised again. He raised his little skinny arms and ran back down the alley.

The innkeeper satisfied the boy was gone went back to sweeping the stoop.

Ben sat behind a barrel and rubbed his lower back. He could still smell the bread. It made his mouth water. If he didn’t eat something soon he’d turn to dust and blow away.

He tried to drink some more water to fill his gut, but, that only made his stomach groan and ache worse. The bread smelled so good.

He could feel it in his hands warm with a crispy crust and soft fluffy inside. It would melt in his mouth as he took a bite.

The sound of the inn’s back door closing made him open his eyes. Mr. Grove had gone back inside. There wasn’t anyone in the alley.

He crawled on his hands and knees to sit under the window so he could smell the bread. His belly ached to the point of tears now. Ben was so hungry. He could take it. There were two more loaves. They surely wouldn’t miss one.

No, he couldn’t take it. He didn’t have no money and stealing was a sin. Ben’s mama always told him to be good. Be a good boy and grow into a good man. He couldn’t do that if he stole. That would make him bad.

Lifting his face up he could feel the warmth from the fresh loaves. If he didn’t eat soon he wouldn’t make it past the age of eight to become any kind of man.

Stomach tight with hunger Ben raised his arms up and grabbed the edge of the cheesecloth. Slowly he pulled it toward him.

Mrs. Grove called out to her husband startling Ben. He jerked his arms back and hugged his knees waiting for the innkeeper to come back with the broom. Nothing happened.  Mrs. Grove went back to humming.

Sitting there had become torture, he didn’t want to make his mama angry. What if she came back and found him with the stolen bread. She’d have his hide for sure.

Ben looked up at the loaf. It had been four days since he saw his mama last at the station. She wasn’t coming back, no one was going to help him. He had to help himself.

He stood stomach aching and growling as his breath panted with fear and excitement. Before he could change his mind again Ben reached out and grabbed a loaf of bread. He took off running as fast as he could behind the buildings.

Turning a corner he ran to the ladder of the livery loft and climbed up. Hiding behind a stack of hay bales he hugged the loaf to his chest. It was still warm and smelled so good. He was panting still from his run. Waiting for someone to catch him.

When there were no shouts he began to relax and looked down at the bread. Ben licked his lips as his
fingers dug into the crust and it apart. Steam flowed out as he pulled a hunk of the soft white fluff into his mouth.

Tears rolled down his face as he ate. His belly hurt from not having anything this solid in so long then it started to feel full. That feeling was the best thing he’d ever felt. He wasn’t a good boy anymore. Maybe he wouldn’t be a good man but he wouldn’t be hungry again.

Monday, July 13, 2015

OneWord/60 Seconds: Scanned

He scanned as much of the dark room as his eyes would allow. He felt it, the weight of its presence. He thought they were finished with him these visits were over. There would be no more lights, no more experiments. It moved from the shadow toward him large black almond eyes held no comfort. It wasn’t over, it would never be over. is a website for getting the muse warmed up. Each day you get one word and sixty seconds in which to write what it inspires.This is my entry for today's One Word. What's yours? For more of my past One Word entries, check out my One Word Profile EliseV.
Your turn, 60 seconds. Go!