June Writing Bug: What’s Next on the Agenda?

We did it! Yay! ¡Lo Hicimos! 

Now that I’ve shown my age ( 😉 ), let’s talk about writing, and writing A LOT.

After wallowing in my own self-pity for many months due to the incessant beast that is writer’s block, I’m happy to announce that I’ve caught the writing bug! For the last two months I’ve been writing nonstop, posting almost every day for April’s A to Z Challenge and May’s Short Story a Day Challenge, and during the first week of May, I also participated in the poetry challenge, #fapalywo. My followers have slowly started to come back to visit, now that I’ve assured them I won’t disappear again. It feels good to be back to form.

But now it’s June, and I don’t want to wear myself down by committing to another month-long writing challenge. I could already feel it starting to become a burden toward the end May. I was reaching for good short story ideas. The last week and a half of prompts weren’t all that inspiring, so I really had to force myself to write something. The ironic thing is the stories I posted in the last week of May seemed to have been the most popular. That is truly a confidence boost, so thank you. (You really like me!)

One of my goals for May was to write a new short story to submit to literary magazines. I haven’t had anything published since 2015, mainly because I haven’t written anything. For the second half of this year, it is my hope to change that. Unfortunately, that will have to wait at least another month, because I didn’t get to write the story yet. I have an idea for what could be a strong story. To give you the basic premise, it’s a redemptive tale about a wayward woman who wanders into a church service one Sunday morning and has a life-changing experience. I’m still working out the details in my head, but while that story is still in progress, another rose to the surface while I was deep in the trenches of Short Story A Day May.

In short story #10, “I Can’t Stay,” I was exploring a story that came to me in a dream a few years ago about a woman who is running from her current boyfriend and has a “chance encounter” with her ex/the one who got away. I brought it back and expanded a little more with short story #31, “To Rewind Time,” and I think short story #26, “A Mother Still,” will also be a part of that story arc. So I will spend this month further developing the story and bringing it all together, and hopefully by July, I’ll be back to submitting to magazines and receiving more rejection letters than acceptance notices. (Hey, you gotta laugh at these things sometimes).

One portion of the Short Story A Day May Challenge that I really enjoyed was novel week. It not only gave me the opportunity to do some further sketching for my NaNoWriMo novel, Lost Boy, but I also got to revisit some characters I haven’t looked at in two years: Jessica, Whitmore, and Bruce, from my 2015 A to Z Challenge melodrama, Love PoetryAnd it gave me a wonderful idea—Why not write this novella (which I should have finished in 2015) for Camp NaNoWriMo in July? Camp isn’t as strenuous as the real deal in November; at least here we can choose our own writing goals, so if I don’t make it to 50,000 words, I won’t be a total failure. Camp will also prepare me for writing (and hopefully finishing) my first novel, Lost Boy, for NaNoWriMo in November. (My heart is pounding just thinking about it!)

So I took fifteen minutes to sketch out a quick outline for Love Poetry, which is slightly different from what I posted back in April 2015 but not too much, and for July (so you don’t think I’ve disappeared again), I’ll be taking a chapter out of fellow blogger, Marquessa’s, book (I hope she doesn’t mind), and while all my focus will be on completing Love Poetry for Camp NaNoWriMo (what’s ironic is that I first attempted to write this novel back in 2014 for, you guessed it, NaNoWriMo 😀 ), I’ll be re-posting my 2015 A to Z Challenge, along with other Whitmore and Jessica related stories (because I have more than a month’s worth). If you’re a new follower since May 2015, you’ll be getting a treat, and for those of you who’ve been here a while, a blast from the past!

Getting back to June, I have a few ideas on where I want to take this blog moving forward, but I need your help.

First, I am overdue for another serial story. If you want to check out previous (completed) serial stories, read the Buried Series from the beginning here, and my 2016 A to Z novella, 26 Husbands—26 Unusual Deaths here. I thought my next series would be Oceanview, but while attempting to write Part 3 for one of the Short Story a Day prompts, I went completely blank. So that story goes back to the drawing board for now. However, I did write a few stories that are a little more developed and could possibly be expanded into a series. Below are the links to those stories. Which one do you think I should turn into a series? Vote in the poll, and I’ll reveal the winner next week!

For the Sake of Humanity

Widow

Dreams are Real

One Night Stand (from the “White Jesus” story line)

Dry Spell

 

Was there a story not included above that you would like to see in a series? Not a problem. Let me know in the comments, and I’ll consider it in the voting too.

Also in June I’m doing a test trial for a new Flash Fiction writing challenge. Last year, I hosted a short-lived challenge, Moral Mondays, which was fun, but too much of a commitment for me at the time. I may be shooting myself in the foot here, but I’m bringing back the Monday challenge, because we all need a little Monday motivation, right? This challenge will be One-Minute Fiction. As the title suggests, you’ll be challenged to write a flash story in one minute, no more no less, based on the prompt (a word, a phrase, a photo, whatever I’m feeling for that week). Sound promising? It should really light a fire under your bum and set you up for a whole week of writing! If it’s a success, I’ll keep it going; if not it’ll end June 26. (womp, womp )

Other June personal blogging ideas:

  • Throwback Thursday – Share a post (fiction or poetry) from the past.
  • Fright Night Friday – Post a frightful (thriller, suspense, paranormal, etc.) story or poem every Friday night. (You already know I love a good ghost story.)
  • Book Reviews – I have a lot of book reviews in my arsenal. I think I might reserve these posts for Saturdays.

So what do you think? Are you excited for June? Do you think writer’s block is plotting its revenge? Would you be interested in purchasing Love Poetry if I were to self-publish it? Do you plan to participate in the one-minute fiction challenge? Are you looking forward to the next serialized story? Or maybe you’re waiting for me to mention the one left unfinished…I’m being really secretive about it.

You’ll see why in due time… 😉

By the way, are you enjoying these beginning of the month goal setting posts? They’re my way of holding myself accountable, but sometimes I think I’m just talking to myself. Prove me wrong and leave a comment!

English #frapalywo: Warrior’s Return

Love Haiku #8

I hear crickets chirp
in the fields as the door creaks
open, and the wind

blows your mint cologne
to my bed. Your boots tread the
carpet—home from war.

—Nortina


Written for English #frapalywo. #Frapalywo is a German poetry challenge for Mrs. Paulchen’s poetry week. All this week, we are writing poems about our theme, noise. Today we end the week with one last prompt: “in the night.”

English #frapalymo: Fire of Love

Crack. Pop. Snap. Pop. Crack.
Your lips melt in my mouth
like marshmallows, gooey,
cloying on my tongue. The
fallen tree becomes our bed
before the fire, a soundtrack
to our exploration of one
another. Crack. Your hand
under my skirt. Pop. Kiss
on my neck. Snap. My fingers
through your hair. Pop. Shirt
tossed to the flames. Crack.
Your bare chest press hard
against mine. Snap. Goes
my bra  strap. Together we
make delicious s’mores.

—Nortina


Written for English #frapalywo. #Frapalywo is a German poetry challenge for Mrs. Paulchen’s poetry week. All this week, we are writing poems about our theme, noise. Today’s prompt is “at the campfire.”

English #frapalywo: Rock. Steady. Love.

Love Tanka #9

He took me to sea
to meet his first love. The salt
in the air, I ask.
No. Kiss of mist on my cheek
in ocean breeze—No. Gleaming

reflection of sun
on rippling waves’ surface—No.
Shhh, he whispers, his
breath a spritz of water—
refreshing. His hands on my

waist, gently rock me,
steady. Listen, soft lips pinch
my earlobe, voice calls
my name in the wind. Nothing.
No – thing. You, my love.

—Nortina


Written for English #frapalywo. #Frapalywo is a German poetry challenge for Mrs. Paulchen’s poetry week. All this week, we are writing poems about our theme, noise. Today’s prompt is “at sea.”

English #frapalywo: Living Home

House comes alive
in heat of summer.
Walls creak with
sweat of chipped
paint. Above my
head a rotating
pendulum, a steady
murmur, circulates
thick, humid air.
I shower to cool,
let the water rain
down, kiss away
the stickiness
of skin, slick
with perspiration.
Steam rises, fogs
the mirror. I clear
a path in the
glass. Behind
me a bump—
something falls.
Always when I am
alone, I never
quite feel alone.

—Nortina


Written for English #frapalywo. #Frapalywo is a German poetry challenge for Mrs. Paulchen’s poetry week. All this week, we are writing poems about our theme, noise. Today’s prompt is “in being alone.” Ever notice how something always goes *bump* right when you step in the shower?

English #frapalywo: Shop and Repeat

A baby cries.
The bell from
the checkout
register echos,
and a baby cries.
Someone’s dropped,
a bag of apples—
they tumble
bounce and roll
in different
directions, and
a baby cries.
Tennis shoes
slide across
puddles left behind
by sprinklers
that water the
cabbage the kale
the mustard greens
and collards, and
a baby cries.
A sticker label
is peeled from
a banana and an
orange and an
overripe avocado
and a manager’s
special pound of
beef, and a baby
cries. The buggie
wheels squeak,
its metal frame
rattles, and a baby
cries. “Excuse me”
repeats and
“How much?” and
“Where do I find?”
and above them all—
a baby cries.

—Nortina


Written for English #frapalywo. #Frapalywo is a German poetry challenge for Mrs. Paulchen’s poetry week. All this week, we are writing poems about our theme, noise. Today’s prompt is “in the supermarket.”

English #frapalywo: A Voice in the Cool Dampness

It’s so cliché—to hear singing in the rain—
but that’s just what I hear, waking me from
deep sleep, the sonorous melody resounding
through torrential downpour beating on my
windowpane. A soprano’s solo—her voice
crescendos to the eighth and highest note
of the musical octave, and the floodgates of
heaven burst open. I’m drenched, red clay
gushing between my toes, my slip translucent;
I wear no bra to conceal my breasts drawing
forward in the cool dampness. By the pond I
catch the canary yellow feathers of a baby
duck. She dips her head under water, webbed
feet splashing with the raindrops. A flip in my
stomach tells me she is my mystery soloist,
and when she comes up for air, beak open, I
part my lips, and a sudden gust of wind sweeps

both
our
breaths
away

—Nortina


Written for English #frapalywo. #Frapalywo is a German poetry challenge for Mrs. Paulchen’s poetry week. All this week, we’re writing poems about our theme, noise. Today’s prompt is “in the rain.”

English #frapalywo: Heartbeat

We lay together under the apple tree
counting the thuds as apples fall,
ripe as my love for him. He seeks the
equation for gravity in the force by
which they hit the ground, digging his
fingernails into the dirt, pulling up
clumps of earth in his palms. Every
living thing has a heartbeat.
He
extends his hand, and I plant an
apple into the soil, take a bite as
he holds my head against his chest.

Nortina


Written for English #frapalywo. All this week, we’re writing poems about noise. Today’s prompt is “under the tree.”

Mayday! Mayday! Writer’s Block is Going Down!

We’ve all heard the saying, “April Showers Bring May Flowers,” right?

Well, my April showers started at the end of April last year. After finishing my A-Z theme of Grandma’s 26 Husbands—26 Unusual Deaths (which you guys really seemed to love), I descended into a nasty case of chronic writer’s block. In hindsight, I believe I had become obsessed with topping 26 Husbands. The series had become so popular, and I wanted to continue that popularity with something even better. Unfortunately my perfectionism was at its peak also, and eventually I crashed, flipped over, rammed into a tree, exploded, and burned.

My posting became erratic, and eventually I disappeared from blogging altogether. I couldn’t force myself to write. Everything my pen produced was total rubbish (according to editor bitch), and if my writer’s block relented enough for me to start a new project, it came back with a vengeance so catastrophic, I was never able to finish.

But that all changed this year. If last year’s A to Z Challenge put me in this crud, then this year’s A to Z Challenge would get me out of it, and that’s just what it did.

This year’s A to Z Challenge was all about planning for NaNoWriMo, another project I’ve unfortunately never been able to finish. For 26 days—yes, 26 days—(some days were harder than others, but I stuck in there), I wrote outlines, character sketches, and back stories. I brainstormed on themes, conflicts, subplots, stakes, and resolutions. Last night, I finished—yes, finished—with my zealous “Z” post, and I only want to continue. It may be be the end of the April A to Z Challenge, but it’s just the beginning for me. I still have a novel to write, and I’ve never felt so prepared for NaNoWriMo in my life!

But it’s not just NaNoWriMo, I feel reinvigorated to write any and everything! Writer’s block, hear me roar!

The end of April marked not only the end of the A to Z Challenge, but also the end of National Poetry Month, which means that May is . . .

Short Story Month!

Ahh, short stories, my first love. I’ve been writing them since I was old enough to write, been reading them for even longer. I haven’t written a new short story to submit to literary magazines in a long time. Speaking of submitting to literary magazines, I haven’t submitted anything to a magazine since 2015 (yikes)! So in honor of Short Story Month, I’ve challenged myself to keep this writing buzz going and write a complete short story that I hope to submit to some magazines and get back on my publishing journey. I’m giving myself a whole month to write just one story (probably between 3,000 and 5,000 words), which is plenty of time to produce something great! I’ll be posting weekly updates on my story status for you guys just to assure you that I won’t let writer’s block win, but in the meantime I have a couple of treats for you.

Also for May, I will be participating in the short story a day writing challenge. Each day, I’ll post a micro fiction tale between 100 and 300 words. There is an optional prompt, but I can’t guarantee I’ll stick to it; it just depends on how the prompt inspires me that day.

I also want to exercise my poetic pen (since I didn’t get a chance to during NaPoWriMo in April) and jump back into #frapalymo, which is now called #frapalywo. If you’re unfamiliar with #frapalymo/#frapalywo, it’s a German poetry writing challenge, translated Frau (Miss) Paulchen’s Lyric (Poetry) Month/Week. It’s usually held every May and November, but it looks like she’s changed the May challenge to a series of week-long prompts (the first one was back in February) leading up to the big shebang in November, which I won’t be able to participate in because of NaNoWriMo, but I can still do the week-long challenges. This first week of May, the prompt is “noise.” So stay tuned for seven days of NOISY POETRY!

It looks like I have a lot to do for May, so why am I still talking? I’d better get started—we’re halfway through the day already! I’ll be back soon with a new story for Short Story A Day May. Writer’s block won’t hold me down!