#AtoZChallenge: Zip

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Zebu By Marco Schmidt (Own work (own foto)) [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

If you want to zip on over to Fiction Can Be Fun, my short story, “Zinnia Goes to You Know Where” is now live! It’s a quirky, silly read, as you might expect.

Well, April just zipped by, didn’t it? It’s strange doing a post on a Sunday, but here we are, at the outer edge of April. I’ll do a reflections post, of course, but today I’m amazed at how quickly the month went.

And tomorrow starts May, where I’ll be #MAYkingItWork with any other intrepid writers who want to zip over their unfinished pile, pick something, and commit to it for the month of May. I mean commit to it like I’m committed to the title #MAYkingItWork.

(I’m very committed.)

So you probably want to zip off to your Sunday plans (which I hope include reading the story!) and I want to thank you for spending April with me. Hopefully you’ll keep hanging around.

Have a dusty, unfinished manuscript you need to work on? Join us in May for #MAYkingItWork! Commit to a project and commiserate with us!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Yet

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Yellow-eyed penguin. By Michaël CATANZARITI (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I love the word “yet.” It’s merely three letters, but it can contain so much: waiting; hope; wistfulness. Excess; overindulgence; lack of control. A catch.

What it can’t contain is my second cup of coffee, which I haven’t had…yet. So give me a second and I’ll be right back.

And here I am as I plunk down yet another cup of coffee.

See what I mean?

With “yet,” it may not have happened, but it doesn’t mean it won’t. That tiny word can change a moment of finality to a moment of poor timing. It’s a miniature powerhouse, but it does carry the risk of overuse.

Still I wouldn’t give it up.

Not yet.

Have a dusty, unfinished manuscript you need to work on? Join us in May for #MAYkingItWork! Commit to a project and commiserate with us!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

#AtoZChallenge: Xanthous and Xyloid

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Xerus © Hans Hillewaert / , via Wikimedia Commons

For the last two years, when it came to X, I’ve cheated. I admit it. I’ve found weaselly ways to get around the most challenging letter in our alphabet.

Not this year.

I’ve picked a pair of words, neither of which I knew before I perused my handy thesaurus. Do you know them? Here, before we get to what they mean?

I think they sound like a couple of characters in a fantasy novel, Xanthous and Xyloid, an oafy pair, Xanthous huge and unwieldy, Xyloid smaller, more dexterous, but every bit as dull. Massive long arms, skin a murky green, Xanthous and Xyloid were sent by their village chief on a quest.

Mainly to get them out of the village, because the cost of fixing the stuff they wreck is really adding up.

Interestingly, spellcheck doesn’t think either one is a word, so today we are all smarter than spellcheck. Ready for definitions? Here we go. Xanthous means blonde or fair; xyloid means having the characteristics of wood. Outside of a Scrabble board, these words probably won’t get used terribly much, as it’s much easier and clearer to say “blonde,” and much more fun to describe the characteristics of wood.

Besides, I prefer my duo of trouble-prone dolts.

Have a dusty, unfinished manuscript you need to work on? Join us in May for #MAYkingItWork! Commit to a project and commiserate with us!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

#AtoZChallenge: Wolf

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By U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters (gray wolf Uploaded by Dolovis) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

So “Wolf” is my real last name. You can imagine the teasing I had as a child; people would deliberately mispronounce the first half of my first name as “Is a” and you’re smart people, you can fill in the rest.

But I’ve always liked it. In sharp contrast to my first name, it’s easy. Usually. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve called a customer service line and they can’t find my record because for some reason they think it’s “Wols.” Even when I say “Wolf. Just like the animal.”

Any takers on what a “wols” is? What it eats? Where it lives?

I like to think I carry the spirit of the wolf with me (or maybe the wols, too, depending). It’s interesting how a name can shape us, especially since they’re usually given to us.

It’s why naming a character can be so difficult at times. I admit I’ve changed names in the middle of a manuscript or even further when it just didn’t feel right, after I’d gotten to know the character.

But hey, we can’t all be Wols.

Have a dusty, unfinished manuscript you need to work on? Join us in May for #MAYkingItWork! Commit to a project and commiserate with us!

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

#AToZChallenge: Village

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By Vera & Jean-Christophe from Europe (Vicuña) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

A wise, much-maligned woman once reminded us that “It takes a village.” Not only is that true with children — the original context — but much of life itself. And as writers, we need to find our villages.

Some are annual, like this challenge, where we discover new friends and find old friends alike, each of us supporting one another in the daunting task of blogging 6 days a week whether or not we have something to say. Some villages collect over time, those kindred spirits you come across who share your view on the work of writing.

The latest village making me warm and fuzzy is the one that emerged organically yesterday, the one I’ve dubbed #MAYkingItWork (uh huh),  a rag-tag bunch of us, all confessing to moldering unfinished work, all committing to pick something abandoned to work on in May.

Have something you’ve abandoned and want to give it another try? Feel free to join us. Everyone’s welcome in this village.

In this modern age, we’re no longer limited by geographical boundaries and distance. Our villages can include anyone from anywhere. Our A to Z village spans the globe, over and over and over again.

Take that, xenophobia.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Unfinished

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Uakari male; en [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Ally from The Spectacled Bean got me thinking about unfinished things with one of her recent comments. About getting started but not getting further.

About all those beginnings stored somewhere in this computer far away from hopes of endings.

Maybe some of them aren’t meant to be finished. Maybe some are just stubs of ideas and nothing more. Or maybe that’s just a pseudo-poetic way to justify moving on to the next shiny object.

Hmm.

So here is my pledge. When I finish the short story I’m currently writing (it has somewhere it needs to be!) I’m taking one of those unfinished pieces and completing it. Who’s with me? Hands up!

We can do this!

Probably.

UPDATE: Looks like a bunch of people are in for what we’re going to call #MAYkingItWork! Yes. I’m really calling it that. Yes, I totally insist.

 

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

#AtoZChallenge: TV Talk: TV!

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Sue, the most-complete T-Rex ever found, at the Field Museum in Chicago.

Silly me, racking (grammar nerd alert: I checked, and the correct racking in this cliche is the one without the W. Are you surprised? I was) my Monday-morning brain for a T-word when the obvious choice was right in front of me. Literally.

I love TV and I’m not at all embarrassed to shout it from the rooftops. Well,maybe not rooftops, because that’s a really good way to convince people that you’re somewhere on the other side of off, and then they can’t quite look you in the eye when you pass in the lobby and it’s all kinds of awkward.

Sounds like the plot of a sitcom, dontcha think?

Anyway, it’s possible I don’t always watch TV for the same things other people do. Or maybe we’re all doing it, but we just don’t talk about it. Like my UK police procedurals I treat as my own private tour, from from London to Shetland and around again. Never focus on the bodies; always focus on the sweeping views and the interesting nooks and crannies only the locals would know. If you look around the death and depravity, they’re very charming.

I haven’t watched one set in Ireland yet, though, so if you know of one I can stream, please share!

There are my “bottom of the pile” shows, ones I watch because I like seeing between the cracks of what people mean to show us. Those shows include the so-called “Housewives” (none of them seem to be real ones), where over-privileged women screech at one another that they’re owed apologies. Those shows are a form of people watching, but only if you don’t buy into their sleight of hand, only if you look at the corners they’re desperately trying to hide.

And then my favorite group: the Pinnacle Shows. Combining superior writing, acting, and almost always, cinematography, they’re my event shows. “Doctor Who,” “Orphan Black,” “Fargo,” “Better Call Saul,” “Wynonna Earp,” “Call the Midwife,” “Outlander.”

No doubt shortly “The Handmaid’s Tale.” And probably “American Gods.” There are many on the streaming services as well: “Grace & Frankie,” “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Orange is the New Black,” (if it recovers), “Transparent.”

There’s no particular genre; no particular aesthetic. Their common thread is superior storytelling paired with extreme talent in all aspects of the production. Some of them — “Breaking Bad,” its prequel, “Better Call Saul,” and “Fargo,” — are far outside my usual genre selection, but they are too special to miss.

It’s as though television has swapped places with film; it’s the long format now, offering worlds up on worlds with mere presses of buttons.

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Start Something New

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By Epicawesomewolf (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

I was in a TJ Maxx recently, browsing. And in the part with all of the ready-made art, there were a bunch of little wood blocks with words. One caught my eye:

“Start something new.”

I knew I was going to need to write a short story for a guest blog over at  Fiction Can Be Fun, but I thought I’d work from a beginning I’d written a while ago. And yet I never got around to re-reading that beginning.

Start something new.

Then, in a fit of procrastination, I was emptying the dishwasher when inspiration hit. Silly inspiration. Ridiculous inspiration. I was off.

And I’m having a ball writing it.

Sometimes that’s all it takes to get going when the writing gets tough. Sometimes all you need is something fresh, something with no expectations, something that can be whatever it will be.

Start something new.

It was my sign from the universe; and now it’s yours.

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Rashness

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By Paxson Woelber (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Though some might think R is one of the easier letters of the alphabet, I was having little trouble today settling on a word. Really popped to mind, as it often does, but I wasn’t feeling it.

Really? Eh.

So I used my thesaurus trick, and here we are. Rashness. A quality I don’t possess.

If you ever read those Choose Your Own Adventure books, I was the type to take every branch, go down each alley, to be sure I knew where they all led. Sadly, life doesn’t work that way, but I’d be much happier if it did.

Faced with a restaurant menu, down to two items, I want the Choose Your Own Adventure option, so I’d know. But you have to take a risk. In that case, a very tiny risk, but still, a risk.

Of course “rashness” can imply impetuousness, a decision hastily — and not necessarily well — made. And therein lies my problem. The constant avoidance of all things rash can mean the constant avoidance of all things chance.

You can’t know which dish was better on the menu, unless you order both (HMM). You can be so informed about a decision, you can take every single available piece of information about a decision, and analyze until the time for the decision has passed.

Sometimes being rash isn’t about being thoughtless, or about being careless. Sometimes being rash is about grabbing an opportunity, finding an opportunity, before it has gone.

You may not always like what the waiter brings you, but at least you took the risk.

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

#AtoZChallenge: Quest

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Quetzal, a Central American bird, By Joseph C Boone (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Last night, while flossing my teeth and taking out the trash — not necessarily in that order, or at the same time, which I now realize it sorta sounds like — I ran a list of Q words through my mind, hoping I’d spark inspiration for this post. The words went by:

Quest, queen, quell, quench, quest, quit, quagmire, quip, queue, quest….

Notice a pattern? Me too. Somehow the mental transmission got stuck in quest gear. Quest.

We just don’t get enough quests these days, unless we’re characters in a fantasy story, in which case do people actually eat dragon and what’s a unicorn go for these days?

But I digress.

There’s a reason the story of the quest endures; it ignites something in us. That deep, quiet place inside us yearning for adventure; for tests of moral fortitude; for exotic lands and exotic sights.

For some, the idea of the quest leads them to far-flung corners of the Earth, or perhaps even beyond. Others find every quest they ever need nestled between the covers of books, be they electronic or analog.

But we wouldn’t be human if, while searching for Q words, quest didn’t pop up time and again.

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

And download Better Living Through GRAVY and Other Oddities, it’s free!

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!