#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!

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I’m Polyauthorous and I’m Proud

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RadioKirk, Wikimedia Commons

RadioKirk, Wikimedia Commons

OK, first things first. You know that neat little widget which is supposed to update my word count when I change it on the NaNoWriMo site? Well, it doesn’t. It just stays on the same number it was when I put it up. So either I’ll have to figure it out (any WordPressers resolve this issue?) or let it go.

Hmm, changing the widget seems to have worked, but we’ll see after I update today.

Now, on to that title. You may remember how I said that I had two ideas, and I thought I might try to work on both? Seems a little crazy, right?

Well, I did.

I think it’s possible to love more than one manuscript at a time. And here’s the thing. They’re different in tone, different in subject matter, and they (probably) occur in two different worlds.

It wasn’t nearly as difficult to switch as I thought it might be, I did the bulk of my writing on one (2200 words) and then, much later, added 1000 to the project I started on November 1.

Sidebar. To resolve all future confusion (I’ll be honest here, I mean my future confusion), we’ll call the project I started on day 1 WIP A, and the one I started on day 2 WIP B. Cool? Cool.

So yesterday WIP B was the one that drew my attention, the one that I sank into more readily. Today may be the opposite, and I’m going to give myself the freedom for that. When the going gets tough, the two-WIP way of life may become questionable, and we’ll cross that bridge and all the other assorted cliches.

But I’ll tell you this: NaNoWriMo is doing its job, because I am back to getting words on a page, and that is battle number one.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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

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No, I probably won’t blog about NaNoWriMo EVERY day

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Monkey-typingBut heck, it’s still new, it’s Day 2, and I have writing to do.

The first two were unintentional, but it just seemed wasteful not to finish it out.

Anyway, with a little bit of, hmm, how should I put this, uh, I think the word is procrastination? Maybe? I finally got myself settled, sat down and wrote. And the floodgates opened.

Not so much on the project I finally chose — something entirely new, by the way — though I hit 2030 words. But it felt like working out after a long, long hiatus, where the breathlessness is oppressive and your muscles won’t follow your brain.

I actually had to take a breather during my word sprints.

But before I went to bed, the seeds of something else planted themselves, and like bamboo, sprouted quickly. I know I have the tendency to be distracted by something new and shiny, but this morning I was drawn to the second project.

So here’s what I figure. NaNoWriMo is really about putting in the motivation to write. So if I put words into a fiction project (as opposed to a fictional project. I swear these WsIP exist!) I am going to take those words and put them in my wordy bank.

I suspect that one project will end up being more compelling than the other, but we’ll see! How’s your NaNo going?

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

So. Yeah. NaNoWriMo Day 1

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Well, I’m on that NanWriMo train. Or probably more accurately,  looking at this year’s badge, spaceship. My current word count?

0.

Haven’t decided yet what I’m writing. I have some old works-in-progress to finish, and I can’t help but think that getting them done would be, what we call in the writing game, a good thing.

But there’s always that allure of a fresh, new, uncharted story, one with just an amorphous beginning and a million possibilities to get to the end. It’s responsibility or frivolity, finishing versus starting.

One of the magical things about NaNo is that it instantly shifts writing to a priority.  There is no “I should” or “why don’t I.” You have to get your words in, that’s the point. So to what project do I give that priority?

I even posted a twitter poll to get an outside eye.

It landed 50/50. Note to self: never do a poll with two options again.

It’s pretty symbolic of my approach to writing lately, spending so much time thinking about what I should be getting done that the words don’t hit the page. NaNo puts an end to that.

As soon as I begin.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Memories of Rain

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20160819_104703I used to love the rain. But that was many years ago, you see, before the skies stayed dark.

Before.

The knocking of the drops against the window wasn’t yet a constant patter, a patter we don’t even hear anymore. Well, a patter you probably don’t hear anymore, but I do, I do because I remember a time when a sunny day was just as likely as a rainy one.

Or even more so.

As I said, that was long, long ago.

There came about The Change, and though you know it, so convenient from your side of history, packaged and neat with a beginning and an end, we didn’t see it looming over us, inevitable, a hulking arbiter of what would never be again.

Maybe I’m lucky to be old. To have had my youth when there were birds and bright flowers, and the sun was as certain as your galoshes. I wonder, sometimes, if it misses us, up there, on the other side of these endless clouds.

That’s silly, isn’t it?

The sun? Missing specks like us? Because what are we but the dust of the universe, floating on all this water, awash in all this water. Around us, only the water.

I can see I’ve lost you, that look in your eye, that quick glance to your phone. And you’re right, I’m nothing but an old woman, plopped here by the one on the shift before you, left to stare at the drops rolling down. Always the drops rolling down.

If we knew, we could have stopped it, The Change. We could have handed you something else entirely. Instead we’ve given you mud and muck and gray skies.

What’s that? Oh yes, I understand, you have to finish your rounds. You’ve been very patient and kind, listening to me. You’re right, of course.

You can never miss what you never had.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

Sell Me Another One

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By Jeffrey Beall from Denver, Colorado, USA (White Paper Bag) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Jeffrey Beall from Denver, Colorado, USA (White Paper Bag) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“Psst. Psssssst. Over here.”

“Huh?” She glanced over her right shoulder, and then her left. “Huh?”

“You,” he said. She pointed to herself, her forehead awash in wrinkles. “Yeah. You over there. You a—”

“Watch it, buddy,” she said, scanning her surroundings for the nearest blue uniform. “I’m definitely not what you’re implying.”

He sidled over furtively, talking only out of the corner of his mouth closest to him. “So you’re not—”

“I most certainly am not!” she said, spinning on the heel of her sneaker, awkwardly as it happens, as rubber soles aren’t terribly spinny.

“—a writer?” he finished.

She stopped and turned back. “Well, yes, I am that. How did you know?”

“You people are always pretty obvious. That look like you have pencils stuck into your hair even when you don’t; the unfocused eyes with your brain obviously on another planet; and the shoes.”

She stared down at her feet, clad in shoes that, admittedly, had seen a few miles. “My shoes? What about my shoes?”

“Only a writer would be out in those shoes.” He leaned against the building, one foot flat against the brick, and stuck a toothpick between his lips, letting it dangle.

“Hey, I like my shoes.”

“My point exactly.”

“Well, if you’re finished insulting me, strange man on the street, I’m going to get on with my day.”

“You could do that,” he said, taking the toothpick out again, languidly, unhurriedly, and twirling it between his fingers, his eyes on it as if it was the most interesting thing in the world. “But you probably don’t want to.”

“OK, buddy,” she said, hand on her purse, her mind on the errand at hand. “Whatever. What. Ever.”

“You know, for a writer, you sure have a limited range of words.”

“How would you even know? It’s not as though you’ve read anything I’ve written.”

“Well, I just used ‘know’ in a sentence, and you used it again right after me, so…”

“This is a conversation, not writing, a conversation. Sheesh. Why are you even talking to me, anyway? I’ve got stuff to do.” She flicked her hand at him and headed in the direction of the store. Pushing himself away from the wall, he followed.

“You’re here because you’re not writing, am I right?”

“Obviously I’m not writing. I’m going to grocery store.” The left side of her mouth and her left eyebrow went up as she gave a sharp shrug of her shoulder at him. She sped up.

So did he.

“What are you getting from the store?”

“How is that your business? You need to leave me alone.”

“Humor me. What are you getting?”

“I’m going to have you arrested if you don’t get away from me.”

“Let me guess,” he said, “you’re going the store for bananas and maybe a pint of ice cream. And you’re only telling yourself it’s maybe a pint of ice cream so that you feel better about it when you get it. Even if it’s not on sale.”

She stopped where she was. “How did you know that?”

He gave her a smile that could promise a sunrise in the middle of the Arctic winter. “I know writers. And let me ask you this: Do you need bananas right now?”

“Obviously,” she said, trying to regain her confident stride but stumbling over a bit of raised, cracked sidewalk.

“Right now. During your prime writing hours?”

“Well…” she said uncertainly. “It’s 89 degrees so the ice cream—”

“I’ve seen it a million times.” He flashed his snowy white teeth. “But I can help.”

“By harassing me on the street?”

“Oh no,” he said. “How would you like to buy…” he dropped his voice and came in close, his breath a breeze against her cheek, “some words?”

“Words?”

“2000 words, all ready for you. Just the thing you need to crash through that writer’s block.”

“I don’t have writer’s block,” she said, trying to keep the curiosity from her voice.

“How many words did you write today?”

“How many words are there in a tweet?”

He said nothing, he only nodded his head slowly. “Exactly,” he said eventually.

“Fine,” she said, “let’s say I was interested in said words – which I’m not – but let’s say I was. How much?”

“Twenty bucks.”

“Twenty dollars! I’m a writer, not a dog walker. Twenty dollars to just fling around. Twenty dollars. Really.” Shaking her head, she checked the alley for cars and then crossed the asphalt parking lot of the store. “I have access to words,” she said as he kept up with her. “I don’t need your pricey ones.”

“Fifteen,” he said.

She stopped on the narrow apron of concrete that ran next to the grocery store. “Ten.”

“Done,” he said, holding out a long, flat palm. She dug through her purse, finally finding the rumpled $10 bill crammed at the bottom.

“Not so fast,” she said, “Let me see ‘em.” He pulled a small paper bag, folded at the top, from his pocket. “Really? There are 2000 words in there?”

“They’re surprisingly…compact,” he said. “Money, please.”

She looked from the bill to the bag to the bill again. She took a deep breath, held it, and let it out in a rush. “Fine.” Gingerly, she held out the money, and when the bag was in reach, she grabbed it, letting go of the ten.

“Pleasure doing business,” he said, already nearly across the lot. She couldn’t help herself. She peeked into the bag.

“Hey!” she called after him, “These are mostly contractions and conjunctions! All I see are can’ts, ifs ands and buts! I have these!”

“No backsies!” he said as he walked away, without so much as a glance back.

She pawed through the bag, hoping for the something useful. Nope, even at the bottom, where the more substantial words had settled, were “cheated,” “scammed,” “foiled,” and “swindled,” repeated over and over in quantity. She let the purchased words scatter to the sidewalk until there was one left in the farthest corner of the bag.

Maybe she’d been foolish, she thought. But a writer who is low on words is as useless as a baker low on flour. Maybe, just maybe this last word would be the thing that got her past the hump. Maybe. She pulled it out.

“Darn it,” she said aloud to no one in particular. “Foiled again.”

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And Now the Exciting Conclusion of Jane Storegoer and the Cone of Evil!

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freezer(Jane parts 1-12; and now the exciting conclusion!)

Like approaching thunder, the noise grew from both sides. Iris looked from one horizon to the other, and gave Jane a curt nod.

“Go,” she said.

“But don’t you need some help?”

“Barry and I have this.” Iris cast her pimento eyes in Barry’s direction.

“What? Don’t look at me, I’m just an ice cream cone.”

“And the cause of this whole problem.”

‘I can’t be held responsible,” Barry said, “I’m low-fat.”

The Meatniks chanted as they came closer, the sound rhythmic and harsh. Primal. The Tofuratti raised their asparagus spears.

“It’s now or never, Jane,” Iris said.

“Are you sure?”

“Of course. You don’t belong here. Next time you buy a vegetarian frozen dinner, think a fond thought of me.”

“I think I’m done with tofu,” said Jane. “And meat. And ice cream.”

“You can work out your diet later. Go!”

Iris was right, if she was going to make it to the drain, she would have to go now. Barry shuffled in the snow on the tip of its cone. “Bye Jane.”

“Whatever, Barry.”

“You have to admit this was more fun than going home and sitting in front of the TV and eating…well…me.”

The Meatniks crested the hill, all of them solid muscle, their march even and determined. The Tofuratti let out a battle cry.

“In the name of Soy!” they yelled together.

Giving Iris one final smile and Barry the finger, Jane wound herself up, and then sprinted, head down, through the soft, loose snow drifts. The yelling continued behind her as she ran toward the wall.

The drainage hole was higher than she thought. She eyed the ice covering it, tested an outcrop with a hand. It would hold.

Like scaling a freezing rock face, she made her way up slowly, right hand, left hand, right foot, left foot.

“Look out!” she heard and ducked instinctively as an asparagus spear splotched wetly against the wall. The crystal under her left foot gave way with her shifted weight, and she slid, the ice rough against her skin, but she caught herself.

She took a peek over her shoulder and saw a chunk of meat, hunkered and determined, heading in her direction. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and propelled herself upward.

Her hands landed inside the rounded bottom of the drainage hole and, using all the upper body strength she had — while wishing she’d done more pull-ups — she managed to get herself up and over the edge.

There was a screen. She curled up in the hole, trying to catch her breath, and caught sight of Iris mowing down and entire row of Meatniks, one bonking into the other and into the other.

Iris was probably going to be OK.

Barry was horizontal, trying to make itself as small as possible in the valley of two snowdrifts. Typical.

She rammed her shoulder into the screen. Nothing. She tried again. Nope. Turning, she gripped the edge of the drainage hole with both hands and boat-posed like she’d never boat-posed before, then kicked her legs as hard as she could. The screen fell.

And fell. And fell.

She hunched over, looking at the drop. She didn’t have a choice. She closed her eyes and jumped.

***

“You OK over there?” said Tim, the store’s owner.

“Huh?” said Jane. She was in a superhero kneeling position on the convenience store floor. She stood quickly, brushing off the dirt. The warm air prickled her numb skin. “Oh, I, um, dropped…something.”

“Find what you wanted in the freezer?” Tim stepped down from the rise behind the counter, and joined her over the clear case, where ice cream and frozen meat and frozen vegetarian meals lay willy-nilly. “Every time I turn around, this thing is a mess,” he said.

“Yeah,” said Jane, still dazed, vacillating between wondering if Iris made it or if she was crazy. Staring down into the freezer, she could have sworn she  saw a pimento wink.

It didn’t answer her question.

“I, uh, I don’t think I want anything,” she said, heading for the door.

“I understand,” said Tim. “That seems to be happening a lot lately.”

“Sorry,” said Jane, giving him a wave as she gave the door’s handle yank.

“Why are you sorry? I blame Barry,” Tim said.

***

I hope you’ve enjoyed your adventure with Jane! Moral of the story: always read the ingredients.

Check out  my full-length novels,  Her Cousin Much Removed,  The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management and Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only), and the sequel, Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) which is now available!

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

 Sign up for my spamless newsletter!