Monday, January 26, 2015

My First Critique

Last week on Seekerville, I won a "gentle 5 page critique" from Missy Tippens.  I was excited and a bit nervous at the same time!  It would be the first time for anyone to read any of my writing other than family members (and however few people have found my "Happy New Year Flash Fiction".  I got her critique back today.  She gave me some pointers and places to clarify and work on.  She also pointed out things that I had done well.  I was very encouraged by her critique and motivated to keep on writing.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My "Workstation"

I don't have an office or special place to write, but I've been using the laptop at the dining room table.  I was having some problems with neck/back strain, so I started evaluating my work area.  The first change I made was to enlarge all my screens to 110% (does that mean I'm getting old?) and put a footstool under the table.  That helped some, but I was still finding myself leaning forward to write or view the screen.  I decided that if the laptop was another 2" or so higher, that would be a big help.  I scrounged around the house to see if I could find anything that would work.  I tried all sorts of lap desks and trays and didn't find anything that worked very well.  Most of them were too tall.  I did some research online to see what was available and saw a few that I thought I'd look into further.  Then I found a "laptop lift".  At first I thought that it would be annoying, but then I realized it would work better than what I was originally thinking of getting.  In the middle of my research, I needed to run to the school to pick up my daughter who hadn't heard that her Odyssey of the Mind meeting had gotten canceled before the bus left.  On the way home, we stopped at one of the thrift stores in town to see if they had something that would work.  I immediately found a Fellowes brand lift!  It looks like an older version, but for $3 I snatched it up!  It is adjustable, so I can change the angle if I want.  So far it seems to really be helping me be able to sit back in the chair and still type comfortably.  I also had gotten a cozy soft blanket at Goodwill last night since the corner I sit in tends to be sort of chilly.  I am all set now to write in comfort!

My workstation with "new" computer lift and cozy blanket

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Happy New Year--A Flash Fiction

A Facebook Writers Group that I belong to has been talking about Flash Fiction, which Wikipedia defines as: Flash fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as three hundred words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.  My group is going with 1000 words as the length.  

I wrote a WWII historical romance flash fiction before Christmas and a dream on New Year's Eve gave me a nugget for another.  I had hoped to get it finished by the end of New Year's Day, but with others wanting to use the computer, I just got it finished today.  

So without further ado, here it is for you to read:

     Elyse Richards tucked a lock of strawberry blonde hair behind her ear and looked around the mostly empty lecture hall.  It was the last day of the semester and most of her fellow students were already headed home for Christmas.  The only thing going on in class today anyway was that the TA was passing out the final exams with their results and answering questions.   At least it would be a short class. 
     “I've divided the finals into piles based on last name, so A-H is in the first pile there, I-P is in the middle, and R-Z is here at the end.”   Blonde Surfer Boy TA motioned with his hand.
     Elyse waited for the majority of the people to go down to the front to retrieve their papers before grabbing her backpack and standing.   She passed them, bumping shoulders with a few, as they made their way up the stairs to the back and freedom.  Five more minutes and she’d be free to spend the next two weeks however she wanted before J-Term started.  Not that there was going to be much to do on a nearly empty campus over Christmas break.  It wouldn't be the same not being with her family for Christmas, but it was just too costly to get a ticket back home.   Her paper was on the top of the stack of papers and she noticed the red 98% at the top.   As she turned toward the back of the room, she heard someone call her name.
     The guy at the desk wearing Bermuda shorts despite the snow outside was stuffing his paper into his bag and never looked up.  Her eyes scanned the distance between Bermuda Shorts Dude and Blonde Surfer Boy TA, the only other person in the room.   He took a step toward her, a genuine smile on his face.   “I thought you’d like to know you had the highest score in the class.  Are you going into math?”
     Blonde Surfer Boy TA knew her name?  Oh, of course, it was on her paper.  “No.  Reading, actually.”  I like math, but this is the only math class I have to take for my degree.”  She looked up at him from her paper.  She almost took a step backward, his eyes were so mesmerizing.  She had never before seen eyes that color.   They were a blend of blue and green.   Like a lagoon.  Fitting for Blonde
Surfer Boy TA to have lagoon eyes! 
     “Shame.  Mathematics could use more people like you.   Have a good break.”  He nodded at her.
       She heard the lecture hall door open behind her and she knew that Blonde Surfer Boy TA was also headed home.   She stopped walking and listened to his footsteps. He was walking away from her. She scowled, why should she care he wasn't following her?  He was kind of cute and all, but he was a TA and his hair was too long.   She shook her head.


     Elyse sat on a bench, a book hanging loosely in her hand, leg swinging.  She massaged the bridge of her nose and sighed.

     "Elyse!  Are you okay?"
     Her head jerked up to see who'd spoken.  Vaguely familiar, he had an athletic build, closely cropped blonde hair, and lagoon colored eyes.  "Blonde Surfer Boy TA?!?"  She clamped her hand over her mouth and winced.  She spoke from behind her hand.  "Sorry."  A peek at the man in front of her revealed an amused smile and twinkling eyes.  She shook her head, "It's something I do to keep people straight when I don't know their name.  Bermuda Shorts Dude, Dreadlock Chick,  Pink Princess."
     He chuckled.  "I know exactly who you are referring to.  It's Eric by the way.  Eric Masters."  He held his hand out to her.
     She took his hand.  "Hi, Eric.  To answer your question, I'm just a little lost."
     "What class are you taking for J-Term?" He sat beside her.
     "Sign language."
     "Where does it meet?"  Elyse pointed at the door across the hall.
     His brows furrowed, "You said you were lost."
     A quick smile, "I meant in life in general.  I miss my family and I don't really know any people here."
     "You should go to the New Year's Eve party."
     "I'm not into drinking and partying."
     He bumped her shoulder with his own. "I know."
     She tilted her head, "I know you, don't I?  I mean other than class."
     "We're in the same Sunday School class."
     She did a face palm, "Of course.  And you meant the party for class."
     He chuckled, "Yep.  I'll pick you up at 7:30, okay?"
     "I don't know anyone."
     "You will after tonight."
     Eric showed up exactly at 7:30, standing in the hallway of her dorm with another guy.  "This is Max O'Connell, my roommate."  Max nodded at her and they left.
     They went up the steps of the house and entered without knocking. Max left them as soon as they entered.  People stood around in groups of five or more as Contemporary Christian music played from a stereo in the corner.   Eric placed his hand on the small of her back and guided her over to the nearest group.  Rounds of introductions followed, with plenty of hugs.  The evening contained conversation, food, skits, and a devotion time.
     "Having fun?" Eric put his mouth near her ear so she would hear.
     "I am.  Thanks for making me come."  She turned to look at him, putting their faces mere inches from each other. Time stood still.
     "19, 18..." a countdown started and Eric grabbed her hand and pulled her to watch the ball drop on the TV.  More people crowded into the room, pushing them together. "3, 2, 1  HAPPY NEW YEAR!"
     "Happy New Year."  Eric peered down at her, still holding her hand.
     "Happy New Year." She smiled back.
     He leaned closer and brushed his lips against hers.  "Will you go out with me?"
     She nodded, “If it’s allowed with you being a TA.”
     “It is.”

Thursday, January 1, 2015

One Word

On the My Book Therapy blog, Beth Vogt encouraged writers to pick one word for the year.

  • Pick one word for 2015. It’s simple to remember one word, right? Focus on that One Word for the entire year. Ask God to use that one word to change you through the year.
  • Anchor your One Word to a Scripture verse. I also look for a “visual” of some sort: a photograph with a quote or a bracelet or necklace with my One Word on it. 

I thought about that and because I really like Isaiah 26:3 I decided to pick "stayed".  It's sort of an odd word, and I had thought some about using "peace" or "trust" but "stayed" portrays more of what I wish for in the coming year.  I need to focus on God and wait on Him.

thefreedictionary defines 'stay' here

Out of them, I liked these definitions the best.

  •  To linger or wait in order to do or experience something: 
  • Archaic To wait for; await: 
  • To brace, support, or prop up 

Synonyms:  lingerremaintarrywait
This hangs on my living room wall.
 I added the verse to a picture my friend Nancy Fikkert took.