Thursday Writing Prompt No. 142

F is for Febrrrr..uary

It’s been some time since I’ve written a Thursday Writing Prompt, and since it’s Valentine’s Day next week, a romantic theme might be just right for this week’s exercise. So without further ado, let’s get down to business at the keyboard (or pen and paper).

Your task for this week is to come up with your characters for romance story. Give them both names, and then write a brief resume of that person’s life: their background (siblings, where they grew up); their current job (or lack of one — maybe they’re in school yet); their likes and dislikes (food, drinks, sports, hobbies, pets); and most important, how they view their life. This doesn’t have to be a long paragraph or pages of writing. In fact, writing a bullet-point list might be a better option.

With the list format you can make up a batch of characters for use in whatever stories you want. While I was drafting Seacombe I came across some websites that offered enneagram tests. In case you haven’t heard of an enneagram, it’s a type of personality test. In any case, I found it useful for figuring out some of my characters’ personality profiles. You might find that using an enneagram test or some other personality test will help you sort out what it is that drives your characters. Once you know who they are and what they want, stories are much easier to write. Good luck with your character lists!

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February Chatter

One month into the new year and my fitness plans have been mostly sidelined because of a shoulder injury. But I have signed up for a virtual 10K race, the Run to the Deep, which is really pushing myself because I haven’t been running or walking for some time. And I have only about five weeks until the race. Well, I’m focusing on walking and getting myself back into the habit of doing something, and I got my race shirt this weekend so it’s pretty official! And the shirt has a kraken, so how can I not like this?

And speaking of kraken and ocean life, I’m finishing the final edits to Seacombe. I’m revamping parts of the last chapter, which is really all that’s left, but I have some sorting out to do to wrap up the plot points. And I need to check for a few inconsistencies, but I should have the rewrites and copy editing done by midweek, unless my mighty insomnia superpower deserts me.

Seacombe will be published by Corrugated Sky, and we’re hoping for a March 1 release date, so stay tuned!

January 2018

I had no inspiration for the title of this post! But here we are, almost through January already. The holidays were packed with work, work, and more work, and despite using several vacation days at the end of the year it feels remarkably like I didn’t have any time off.

This year I’m taking a slightly different approach to tracking my writing progress: instead of setting word-count goals, I’m listing the projects that I want to work on and focus on getting them done, no matter how many words it takes. I’m still going to use an Excel file to keep tabs of how much I write (and editing counts as 1,000 words an hour), but the raw number isn’t the goal.

On the nonfiction front, I’ve just completed working on updating some athlete bios for an encyclopedia, and I’m involved with the production of an open access textbook. I also have a local history that I’m pitching to a publisher and I need to get an outline/scope of work done for that. If that’s not enough, I still want to develop my thesis into a book, but somehow that project keeps sinking to the bottom of my list. Enough of the excuses! Time to get to work on it, too.

Fiction is coming along, too: I’m finishing up edits to my novel, Seacombe Island, and I hope to have it ready for publication in March. And we Corrugated Sky writers are brainstorming our third anthology. I have a few other project ideas, and some short stories that I need to finish. This year is going to be about completing projects!

Ray Bradbury and Me

I have two chapters in this book about Ray Bradbury. The book is part of Salem Press’s Critical Insights series.

Toward the end of last year I was invited to write a biography and a critical context entry about Ray Bradbury for inclusion in Salem Press’s Critical Insights: Ray Bradbury. The book has been published and I received my author’s copy last week, just in time for the holidays. It’s a lot of work to research and write these kind of articles, but it’s always a pleasure to see them in print and to see what kind of other articles there are in the book.

Last summer my husband and I attended the Maine Astronomy Retreat for the first time. One day we left camp and drove to Belfast, Maine, and spent the afternoon strolling around. I saw a paperback copy of The Martian Chronicles in the window of an independent bookstore, and I was drawn to it, but in the end I didn’t buy it. About a month after vacation I received an email about this book project and all I could think was “Why didn’t I buy that book when I was on vacation?”

Odd things like that seem to happen to me fairly often. I suppose I could claim to have had an intuition about the book, but I think I was drawn to it because I’ve been thinking about rereading some of the books I read as a teenager, and The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451 were both on that reread list. I read both while working on the articles, and in fact I devoured them each in a day or two, staying up way too late because I just could not put the books down. I don’t remember that fascination the first time I read the books, and in fact I found The Martian Chronicles a bit hard because I’m more of a novel reader and less of a short-story reader. I always wanted to stay with Bradbury’s characters longer than he did!

My essays are a short biography, “Ray Douglas Bradbury,” and a longer piece, “Big Brother, Little Sister: Ray Bradbury, Social Pressure, and the Challenges to Free Speech.” You can work out from the title what it’s about, so I won’t go into details here. But, I would recommend reading Bradbury’s work, especially if you’ve only seen the movies. His word choices, the characters, the pacing of the stories — those are part and parcel of the atmosphere he brought to the worlds he created. You won’t go wrong spending an evening, or a few days, immersed in his work.