Thursday Writing Prompt No. 136

This year I'm celebrating Advent in a very adult fashion.

This year I’m celebrating Advent in a very adult fashion.

December. The last month of the year. I can’t exactly say I’m reeling from NaNoWriMo; no, it’s more like “Yay, I don’t have to work on this crud anymore.” Because my draft is not pleasing me at all. It’s going into the bitlocker, where the characters may or may not resurface at some point in a novel that actually has a plot.

But I did win. I went the distance, and I wrote the 50,000 words. I think if any writer comes out at the end of December with a winner’s certificate they at least will have learned the value of perseverance. No one is promising that first drafts are reader-worthy.

To celebrate the end of NaNoWriMo and to usher in the holidays, this year I’m celebrating Advent with a gin Advent calendar. I only first tried gin and tonic last year, and I drank maybe four of them all last year, but somehow this year the flavors just kicked in for me and I’m really getting into the craft gins and tastings. My NaNoWriMo novel was supposed to have been noir, so I’m thinking we can combine gin and noir for a Thursday Writing Prompt. Well, I’m certainly going to try it. Want to join me?

Anyway, a lot of the old noir movies involved a lot of smoking and drinking. Cocktail dresses and high heels and fedoras are optional, but if dressing up makes your writing seem more real, go for it. Your Thursday Writing Prompt is to find poster art for one or two classic noir movies and use that for inspiration. Your task is to write a short scene that takes place in a bar, cocktail lounge, or restaurant that includes a mixed drink as part of the story.

Pre-Holiday Sale

Yes, here it is — a sales pitch! This marketing stuff is turning out to be way, way harder than any amount of words written for NaNo. If the plot of my 2016 novel is unclear, then marketing is like sailing through a fogbank at night during an eclipse of the moon. Okay, maybe not that bad — at least I probably won’t crash into any rocks or sandbars sitting here at my computer.

Anyway, we’ve decided to put the anthology on sale. We’ve gotten some sales but it would be nice to ramp that number up a bit and get some more reviews. People seem to shy away from things that don’t have reviews. Amazon is like “be the first to review this item” and people are like, “No one is buying it? I wonder why.” It’s worse than passing an empty restaurant. You could be seated right away, but no one goes in the empty restaurant — they stand in line at the one that already has a long line. Safety in numbers, and all that.

But I promise you’ll be safe. Our stories about the black dog might be scary, but it’s not real. It won’t get you. Just keep the doors and windows locked in case. And if you’re that scared, read it during the daylight hours.

Okay, now here’s the pitch: the Kindle version of the anthology is going on sale starting tomorrow, November 30, at 8:00 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (PST) for the bargain price of only 99 cents. That will save you two dollars off the regular price, so take advantage of it!

On December 2 at 8:00 a.m. PST the price increases to $.199 — that’s still saving you one dollar off the regular price. (But why not buy it tomorrow and save those two dollars?) The Kindle ebook will return to its regular price of $2.99 on December 4 at 8:00 a.m. PST.

Why no links to the book, you ask? Well, Focal Plane is not a commercial blog, so I can’t place links to retail outlets. But it’s easy enough to find the book on Amazon, I promise. Get a copy of the book tomorrow while it’s hot, and please consider writing a review for the anthology on Amazon and/or Goodreads.

The Final Week

With Thanksgiving just gone it’s only five days remaining for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’ve just passed the 40,000-word mark and it’s been a battle to keep up with the writing. I didn’t do any writing on Black Friday, and it wasn’t because I went out shopping. I sat and watched TV most of the day and ignored my computer until 4 o’clock in the morning, when I woke up and realized I wasn’t going to fall back asleep any time soon.

I could work on my novel but instead I’ve been redecorating the blog with some holiday-themed background paper and sorting through some art supplies. I’m pretty much doing whatever I can besides working on the novel. I have 10,000 words to go and five days, so that’s not too bad. I just don’t know if my story will be resolved in anther ten thousand words, but all I can do is try. That’s what NaNoWriMo is for, right?

No Peace on Thanksgiving

I don’t normally write blog posts about politics or current events here on Focal Plane, but today I’m just so angry that here it comes.

I hate leaf blowers. I hate the shrieking noise, I hate the filth blowing off the nasty things. I hate the pollution leaf blowers cause. I hate the excuses people give for using those things, and I hate the hypocrisy of urging people to ride bikes to reduce pollution and then giving a free pass to the pollution produced by lawn equipment.

Did you know there are no anti-pollution requirements or noise controls on lawn equipment? Why not? Leaf blowers are loud enough they can cause hearing damage, and loud noise contributes to high blood pressure, too, among other issues. It’s especially bad for children. Aren’t we concerned about people’s health and the environment?

“Leaf season” here in College Park is year round, but it’s worse during the fall, of course. I’ve spent the last two days listening to the leaf vaccum truck trundle around the neighborhood sucking up leaves. It sounds like a helicopter it’s so loud; black smoke was coming out of the truck’s exhaust and it was blowing so much leaf debris up into the air that it formed a brown cloud — which promptly traveled half a block up my street made me choke. I’m not exaggerating.

And here it’s Thanksgiving Day, and I have at least one neighbor who thinks it’s fine to be out there with an industrial backpack leaf blower (the loudest type) on a holiday. This guy has already spent the last two or three days cleaning his yard, and the leaf piles were picked up by the vacuum truck for the last two days. But he has to be out there again — on a holiday. What is he doing? The leaves are gone.

I hope you have some peace where you live; I hope your neighbors aren’t the noisy, thoughtless kind that excuse what they do by claiming they’re “cleaning up.”  They’re blowing dirt in the air and making a lot of noise. That is not clean, and it’s not healthy.