Welcome to Week One of the August contest for 2015!

To view full details, click here to redirect to Word Press! This month we'll be turning vague previews into the big picture. 

Come play!

Did you know the 5-word story game has a legitimate origin? Well, I did not. According to Wikipedia, the exercise to which we are accustomed is grandfathered by a game called “The Exquisite Corpse“. The article describes it as “a method by which a collection of words or images is collectively assembled. Each collaborator adds to a composition in sequence, either by following a rule (e.g. “The adjective noun adverb verb the adjective noun”, as in “The green duck sweetly sang the dreadful dirge”) or by being allowed to see only the end of what the previous person contributed.” Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Today’s rules are as follows: Contribute five words, or until you have used two adjectives, whichever comes first. (And yes, we are going to have many arguments about what constitutes an adjective, and the intellectual debate will be fiery and fun.) I’ll kick off.

“A bleeding moon rose above the barbed wire…”

The Lost & Found June contest is still going for those of you who signed up, and those of you watching can still play along with weekly word games (here’s a recent treat) and support your fellows as the month unfolds.

Last night’s Google Hangouts Flamestorming session was a success — feel free to share links to your results in the comments, and be on the lookout for the next scheduled event!

Is it Monday again? It seems as though a great deal of time has passed. For one thing, you may have noticed the format has changed somewhat in the last week. Today we bid farewell to ‘Manic Monday’, ushering in a new future for the beginning of your week. Stay tuned! But today, the topic is change, primarily that of scenery.

There are many kinds of change, but one of the most dramatic is a change of location. We, as human beings, have an evolutionary imperative to associate shelter and the home front with security and comfort. As even a migrating tribe would build camp during pauses in exodus, today we exhibit similar habits and traditions on a modern day scale. People tell you, “Home is where the heart is.” I suppose that means the first thing you have to find is your heart. If you are a writer, your heart may be in your work. It follows logically that home is actually where you feel safest to write.

If your heart is in your writing, then home is anywhere your computer (or other writing tool) is. What surrounds and lies beyond your computer is the other story. Beyond the desk and the chair and the temperature of the room, what defines the comfort and security of the home for your heart, for your craft? And what of the writer who never writes in the same room, or has no room at all? Every person, and so every writer, draws their peace from a different source or combination of sources.

Most of us are taught and socialized to accept that home is where you pay your rent, wash your own dishes, and keep your own shoes next to the door. There is a reason we use a general term like ‘homeless’ to describe anyone who does not live inside. A simple Pinterest search proves that many writers swear by the importance of a well-designed writing space. If it takes a collection of colors, angles, and textures brought together in specific syncopation to maintain the stability needed to write, then change of scenery is only rendered irrelevant when that small corner of one’s environment is reclaimed and set back into stone. Every new apartment, house, or otherwise has potential. After all, what are walls and floors and ceilings except another blank page? But the life one lives with pre=printed address labels is not always freedom — for many others, it is prison.

Consider the life of a traveling writer. From whence does a wandering scribe draw harmony? For a traveling writer, the bread and butter is the constant change of one’s scenery, and the adventures that develop as a result. Surely, a different constant tethers a traveler to the center of their own sense of zen. When every hotel room, foreign hostel, camp tent, and blanket beneath the stars must serve as home one day at a time, how does one collect from fountain of stability? Yours truly believes it is the glorious lack of tomorrow’s itinerary that drives a wandering salmon upstream. If upon the rise of every sun the same day lies before you, how then can you paint the picture of a different possibility? Similarly, it is a brave soul that writes only from experience, and it is upon the winding road of adventure that one lives more than the one life each of us is guaranteed.

What role does scenery, characterized here as where one might call ‘home’, shape your writing and your identity as a writer? Is there a part of you that hungers for the traveler’s life, or do you seek the homestead? It is arguable that one can write most clearly from what one has truly experienced — do you agree, or can the talented artist work from fresh, unblemished clay?

The June contest marches on with its chosen theme, Lost & Found. Follow the link to play along, or to support your fellows. In addition to writing games hosted throughout the month, you are also invited to attend a Google Hangouts session on June 14th, an official Flamestorming meet-up for any and all to attend!

We all have that one person in life who inspires us in a very particular way. Or maybe we have one person for each way we need to be inspired. Regardless of how many inspirational people I've been blessed with, there is one who stands out as being my inspiration to become funny.

My Aunt Phyllis is one of the funniest people I have ever known. The way she tells a story gets me laughing long before she even approaches the punch line.
The telling involves:
Dramatic body language.
Exaggerated facial expressions.
Conspiratorially murmured back story and internal dialog.
Closing words delivered with a loud cackle or guffaw once she sees that she's got you hooked.

I could spend hours with my aunt and never get bored or run out of things to say. She's also a really good cook.

Back when I was young, I got to spend a lot of time with Aunt Phyllis (or Ant P as I usually refer to her on cards and emails) and since I was (by her own statement) one of the few people who laughed at her jokes she made sure to tell them all to me.

In the early Eighties, Ant P gave me a book to read just before my family's summer road trip. She passed it on because it made her laugh until she cried. Ant P assumed it would have a similar result on me. The book was Erma Bombeck's "If Life Is A Bowl Of Cherries, What Am I Doing In The Pits?"

I loved it and went on to read the handful of others that were published.

Erma Bombeck was a humorist writer with a number of Ohio newspapers throughout her early career. Around 1964 she hit on a subject that propelled her column "At Wit's End" out of her small local paper into national newspaper syndication. By 1967 she was traveling the country giving lectures and radio interviews, and Double Day had compiled some of her articles into a book that shared the same name as her column.

What writing gold was it that Mrs. Bombeck discovered? Hyperbole, coincidence, and the relatable situations seen daily by a mother and a housewife. She made the mundane hilarious. With insight into a husband's snoring, a child's inability to put his clothes away, an entire household's ignorance of the empty toilet paper roll, and the dangers of gift shops in Europe - she helped a nation laugh at themselves and appreciate their own families a little more.

Here are some examples I found typed out on the internet, but if you happen upon one of her books it in the library or used bookstore (or on Kindle), pick it up. If you have a day where life is trying, reading a few pages of Erma Bombeck's take on things should give you a reason to smile.

First, a few one-liners Goodreads users have shared -
“Never lend your car to anyone to whom you have given birth.”

“Never go to a doctor whose office plants have died.”

“My second favorite household chore is ironing. My first being hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint.”

“Sometimes I can't figure designers out. It's as if they flunked human anatomy.”

“All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them.”


These are a bit longer -

Read more... )

Read more... )


Let's talk today about early influences in our reading. It could be humor,  mysteries...anything - what did you read in your youth that stuck with you and helped form the writer you are today? Also, talk to me about how you incorporate humor into your writing. What's your style?


Brigit's Flame reminders:

We have an ongoing contest for June, the topic is Lost & Found and while it's not due until the end of the month, you should be working on it now.

Kathy shared a quick writing game with us yesterday - go check it out.

Flamestorming is happening on June 14th. Make a note on your calendar to join us in Google Hangouts for writing sprints and community bonding.


Did everyone sign up for June? If not, we welcome and encourage you to follow the action, read, vote, and support your community mates! Remember, growth is sponsored by encouragement and feedback. At the Flame, we burn brightest together.

I’ve always been a writer in my heart. Since I was old enough to translate my thoughts into written words, I was telling stories. I’ve also always been an insufferable extrovert, despite all odds, so the storytelling didn’t stop at pen and paper. Growing up, I turned to every outlet possible to let it all out. At my best, I was joining clubs and taking part in activities. At my worst, I was making up tall tales and lying because I wanted something new to say. Kids, right?

As an adult, I’m still exploring. The next thing I really want to try is vlogging. For those of you who don’t spend your entire lives glued to your cell phones and computers, vlogging is a short term for “video blogging”. YouTube is crawling with talented vloggers with genuinely wonderful, funny, or insightful things to say. With enough searching, anyone can find their vlogger soul mate. In fact, I suggest you go try that. Anyway, I really want to try it. I’m always being told I have something to say. People have told me to do stand up comedy or public speaking or just basically anything that involves voicing my opinions or experiences to an audience. I don’t disagree, I think I’d probably be great at it.

So that’s my next journey — lights, camera, YouTube. But what to to vlog? Well, literally anything. I’m ridiculous enough, I could talk about anything. Food, makeup (fails, I’m amateur as heck), pets, single life (in the sense of being unmarried and on my own), feminism/humanism, city life, cycling, economics… That’s the thing about being a writer. We don’t even have to be ourselves all the time. We can be whomever we need to be, just to have something new to say.

How do you, as a writer, transform? How do you channel what you can already do, into something new you haven’t done yet? Do you find art is fluid, or can trying something new be difficult? Alternately, do you have a favorite vlogger to turn us onto?

Congratulations to our May contest winner, Shane Bell! The June contest is afoot; whether you’re signed up or just in to watch, click here to keep up.

Hello my friendly Flames,
Let’s talk about humor. Do you write funny?
I had a couple of free hours at work the other day, so I slipped into sneak-a-peek-at-the-internet mode (thank you Samsung). I was looking for advice on a completely different topic when I stumbled across an article labeled: “15 tactics for writing humor”. I had to read it because I like to be funny, but I have trouble syncing my humor with my intent.

For example -
When leaving a job interview the other day, I found myself in the elevator lobby with a young man wearing a backpack sporting the company logo. He was also sipping from a large plastic cup with the logo and holding a paper gift bag in company colors with the three letter acronym emblazoned on the side. I’m not one for small talk, but I’d just left a very chatty meeting I was nervous about. Before I’d really considered my no talking to strangers Suburb Girl rule, my mouth started up and I found myself awkwardly saying,
“Soooo you got all the swag…”
Young man sips something like lemonade, then looks up at me with a question in his eyebrow. I sort of flap my hand around to draw a vague circle around his logo-ed stuff. He shifts his shoulder to look at his backpack in the elevator door reflection.
“I’m leaving the company,” he says. “Today is my last day.”

“Was the backpack not big enough?” I ask with a silly smirk.
Quite obviously, it was a joke. Yet he seemed annoyed like I was prying and explained, “I found a better position.”

This is just one example of me trying to be funny and slamming face-long into the glass.

So what I want to know is, are there really only 15 tactics? Because I need way more help than that. I’m thinking a full battle plan with that involves a map and those wooden carvings that represent troops.

What first made me lean in and really connect with the above article was the author’s statement that he disagreed with the notion that humor cannot be taught/learned. I’ve always thought that the assumption of native talent was logical because some people are funny and some aren’t. Realistically though, most of the unfunny people I’ve met did not even want to be funny. So maybe there is hope for those of us are willing to work for it.
Here are the fifteen tactics from the article in handy bullet points:

  1. Overstatements and Exaggerations

  2. The Understatement

  3. Playing Off a Sense of History and/or Predictability

    1. On-going Jokes

  4. Relatability

  5. Presentation

    1. Emphasis

    2. Don’t Laugh at Your Own Jokes

  6. Fish Out of Water

  7. Beating Around the Bush

  8. Stating the Obvious

  9. Over-complication and Over-simplification

  10. Miscommunication

  11. Defying Expectations

  12. Thoughts vs. Words

  13. Awkward and Reactionary

    1. Gutter Humor

  14. Stereotypes

  15. Stupidity Humor

There are tons of examples (with links to visuals) in the article from pop culture and the author conveyed his points well, so I won’t rewrite the article. But pulling solely from the resource of the TV show “Arrested Development” I’d like to pick some laugh out loud moments and tie them to their bullet point.

My sense of humor is not typical. I adore the dry British humor and I find stupid humor personally embarrassing. I stay away from exploiters of it like: Ben Stiller, Will Farrell, Adam Sandler. That said, all three of these guys have one or two films in their body of work that I enjoy. Jason Bateman, on the other hand, rarely makes a movie I don’t like. This is how I got sucked into watching “Arrested Development” and evangelizing it like I’d just discovered comedy.

In the very first episode, the family matriarch (an aged, boozy, narcissist who strikes me as the dark mirror version of Nancy Reagan) points out a group of protesters on a party boat near the family’s yacht.
“Just look at those homosexuals. Everything they do is soooo dramatic. It makes me want to set myself on fire!” - That one is a combo of 1 and 14 with a little 5a thrown in.
Her daughter is standing next to her and makes a shocked face over the spoken prejudice, then she points out one of the protesters (dressed like a pirate) and muses that she thinks she has that same shirt. Her mother - ever the caustic wonder - snarks, “It looks better on him.” Mother Bluth makes a face that says she is definitely keeping score and just gave herself a point. Then sips her drink. This speaks to 3/3a, but it’s part-way through the first episode so you can only suspect. The last tidbit of humor the writers squeezed from this scene is that the daughter’s husband is on the party boat of protesters. He joined the group due to a miscommunication (10) and, also due to a miscommunication, he is the only one dressed like a pirate. It is indeed his wife’s shirt.

The whole scene played out in 30 seconds - with a bit of set up throughout the 30 minute episode for the husband falling in with the protesters. To some this might be offensive, but the writers aren’t against homosexuality, they have one character whose tiny mind is exaggerated. She looks down on everyone with equal measure, including her own family.

As a humor bonus, I’ve included this seven-minute video of visual comedy tactics for film that I find really interesting. Edgar Wright (no relation) is a British director I’ve admired for a while. He and his cohorts (Nick Frost and Simon Pegg) make excellent comedy together.

[vimeo 96558506 w=500 h=281]

Edgar Wright - How to Do Visual Comedy from Tony Zhou on Vimeo.

*in case that embedded link doesn't work right, here's another - https://vimeo.com/tonyzhou/edgarwright

Talk to me about your favorite expressions of comedy. What gets you laughing? What kind of humor is a struggle for you? Is there a line or scene in one of your stories that you are particularly proud of? Do you have a favorite comedic writer? Do they write storied fiction or ironic commentaries on life? There are so many things we could talk about under this umbrella, maybe we’ll cover a few specific works in future chatter posts.

There is a sign-up sheet for June writing. Don’t miss out.

The reading list has been up since Tuesday. There are a few more days to cast your vote.
Read. Comment. Vote.

Our next flamestorming session in Google Hangouts is scheduled for June 14th. Join us for the storm.
Good morning, Flamefolk!

Pencils down was called a few short hours ago and we have six hearty submissions to read and comment on. Let's see how our writers wielded the prompt for "What is Reality?"

Be sure to welcome our newest writer Shane Bell. He's a personal friend of mine from the real world and has been writing as a hobby for decades.

Your reading list:

Title: Connections
Author: ayumidah
Word Count: 3,103
Warnings: None

Title: I am Ilya, we have met, perhaps?
Author: bluegerl
Word Count: 1,850
Warnings: None

Title: The Saga of the Song Drifter
Author: Cedar Wolfsinger
Word Count: 4,533
Warnings: Car wreck/medically induced coma/rehab

Title: REALITY: A Poetry Collection
Author: Kathy/darlinleo
Word Count:1,060
Warnings: Weird little poems

Title: Untitled
Author: hwango
Word Count: 2,373
Warnings: mild language, violence, child death, and misfortune. Not my usual sunshine and whimsy.

Title: Aether Geist
Author: Shane Bell
Word Count: 4,868
Warnings: adult situations, references to drug use, sexual references, profanity.

The polls close by 11:45pm on Saturday, May 30 (EDT).
There can be only one winner, but we won't limit the number of votes allotted.

Remember when you are voting to consider how well the writer has met the criteria given.

Be sure to spread some comment love, let your fellow writers know they are appreciated. If it's an off-site blog and you have trouble with commenting, feel free to share your comments here and we'll pass them along. In fact, I encourage you to share some [constructive] public thoughts below with the community. Let's talk about what we read, together.

We love it when our Embers write, but we also need the community to come together and read what's being submitted. Even if you didn't have time to write this week, please take a few minutes to read and encourage your friends to read as well. Share our fire!

#govoteflames and don't forget the #commentlove

Voting Poll

Good morning! For those of us in the States, today is observed as Memorial Day, a 24-hour block once a year that we are meant to pause and show respect and gratitude for the men and women who have served our country's military. Understandably, not all people have clear feelings about military service, so today's chatter is not about service in general. It's about the difficulty of grasping something one has not experienced.

Appropriately, this month's theme is reality, and the question of its nature. Because every perception of reality is different, it is a dangerously fluid concept. The good news about that is, one hundred people could write about the same subject and we'd get one hundred very unique glimpses into the world. Some would even be so far a deviation from our own understanding that we may be forced to question our own perceptions altogether. I open up with the topic of military service simply because, even though I was raised by ex-military parents, I have never served and I know myself well enough to say I never will. It isn't a lack of patriotism, it's more a matter of knowing exactly how capable one's self is of accomplishing certain tasks. I was not built for service, so I know confidently that I will never serve. Because of that, I will never have the hands-on experience needed to truly understand what it means to be a soldier.

For me, not being able to experience something does not always mean I can't or won't write about it. Surely those of us who've written science fiction do not expect readers to believe we've flown in starships or had tea with alien life. I write about werewolves. I don't expect you to believe I've met any. But that's the double edge on imagination, isn't it? With the one blade, one can imagine into existence any and every world and situation possible. Yet, we turn the blade over and discover the opposite edge is a bit duller than we'd hoped, and we know it is from lack of use and care. The imagination can take us many places, but there are some experiences (like those of enlistment, as exampled above) that cannot be replicated without having lived it, or without a very intense course of research.

How do you approach topics you know you do not fully understand? How are you able to lend reality to a life you've never lived?

Remember to delve into your own answers to the question, What Is Reality?

Some sprints are available for your reading pleasure, as well as an archive of the sprint efforts thus far. Will you join us?

Good weekend, all? I hope so. I spent part of my Sunday sprinting on Google Hangouts with Tami, Cedar, and Kathy. This month’s contest will play host to a few different sprint events for those of you who need the exercise, or just thrive on prompt writing. Conveniently enough, it’s prompt writing I’d like to discuss.

Here at the Flame, we’re more than familiar with the idea of prompts and topics. We literally live off of them. Over the years, we’ve seen the gamut of prompt possibilities, ranging from open-ended one word prompts like “fire” and “fate”, to the challenge to begin all entries with a particular phrase. The Mod Hydra continues to strive to deliver the best variety we can provide, aiming to target each and every member of our diverse writing family.

I, personally, am easily prompted. I’ve learned this about myself over my years here at the Flame, both as a player and an administrator. The first prompt for which I ever wrote was “reap” back in 2009. My first mini-contest was a personalized four-part prompt provided to me by random selection: “cattle prod, dungeon, deus ex machina, written as a mystery”. It is worth noting that we also had a limit of 3k words, that mine reached 2,998, and I chose to be complete buffoon and add “the end”. I won. ;-) And my favorite “begin your entry with this sentence” prompt? “There it goes…” I didn’t win, but the entries were so diverse, it truly proved the myriad potential of even the most specific prompt.

I think the prompts to which we respond well say a lot about us as writers. Those of us who respond best to one word at a time need freedom and room to move. Those of us who thrive on selective challenges like the aforementioned mini-contest are thirsty for challenge and creative adversity. Those of us who can pull something from nothing regardless of topic? Well, I guess we’re just the floozies of the writing c0mmunity.

By what brand of prompt are you most easily inspired? Do you need to roam wild, unbound by bullet points and specifics, or do you need to be pushed to find a way to put a square peg through a round hole? What sort of insight to gain into yourself, as a writer, when you consider this question?

Click here to learn more about May’s prompt, and refer to paragraph one for links to information on sprints and more about Google+ Hangouts, a free service for all GMail users.

Good morning! Did everyone enjoy the sprint this weekend? I was otherwise engaged, unfortunately, but I am looking forward to being able to participate in another. So, let’s talk about sprints.

Where I come from (NaNoWriMo Land), a sprint is a pre-arranged span of time during which a group of writers joins to write furiously until the clock runs out, and then they compare notes and horror stories about word choice and panics over whether to use a colon or a semi-colon and really who even knows? Sprints can be hell. Really, they’re probably one of the Seven Circles. You’re just always caught in a sprint with no access to a Thesaurus so you just stare blankly at one sentence for the rest of eternity. Ouch.

I have a love/hate relationship with writing sprints. On the one hand, it’s easy enough to use a quick fifteen-minute window to test out a scene you’ve had churning in your head. On the other hand, if you’ve come unprepared, it becomes a uniquely trivial pursuit. I’ve found myself, on more than one occasion, filling the remaining time by very literally typing whatever comes into my head. The end result is typically terrifying and completely off-topic. I come into the sprint writing about soldiers in a foxhole and by the end they’ve adopted a gorilla and they’re bickering over whether to dress it in “people clothes”. It harkens me back to the days when my classmates would occupy the middle portions of ten-page essay reports by copying and pasting song lyrics and famous speeches into the body of the paper just to fill space. Their theory was, “The teacher doesn’t read them all the way through anyway.” I never tried that. I preferred borderline delirious rambling.

Are you a natural sprinter, or do your prefer the low-pressure marathon?


The May contest is a unique departure from our familiar form, and can be perused here for those of you who need reminding, or who would like to watch the fun.

The current sprint is up and accessible — come play!

This month, we plunge deep into the concept of reality, and what it means to each of us. So many factors in an individual can influence their perception of reality. We know this much to be true, but how much of it do we truly understand? A notorious BLUE AND BLACK dress (dang it) recently tore the internet to shreds, proving rather frustratingly that a literal reality can be influenced by light, angle, and the actual shape of one’s eye. If something literal and physical can be so fluid, can potential does the figurative hold?

The concept of reality actually haunts me. I don’t know if it’s mental illness or disability or if it’s just me, but there are frequent moments in which I question whether I am on the same page as the rest of the world. This month, I will be using these jarring experiences to create my vision of the prompt. I will parlay my phantoms into something I feel safe to share with others, and hopefully it will be relatable enough to quell my concerns that I am alone. (Now imagine how silly I’m gonna look if I don’t finish?)

In one thing, I know I am not alone. I am joined by hundreds of thousands of other writers who must wonder, at least on occasion, if a mental defect or simple difference is what makes them what they are, as an artist. The track record for mental illness is impressive through the ages of famous artists. We don’t all cut off our ears, but that doesn’t mean we’re hiding our demons as well as we think we are. Mental and spiritual disturbance shape our realities, and our realities shape our work. Unfortunately, there is no escaping this.

Even if you consider yourself completely mentally sound, how do you think the opposite affects talent? Would you argue that mental disease, defect, or glitch enhances the creative edge, or hinders it? Can there be brilliance without madness?

Keep an eye out for the Epilogue reading list, and click here to learn more about the May prompt!

When I read a book, peruse art in a gallery, or go in search of new music I'm looking for something I've never experienced before. With visual art I'm hoping the artist will show me vistas that I cannot see without the filter of his imagination. The same holds true with writing - perhaps even more so because I will carry the story in my memory long after all of the paintings have faded into squares against a white wall.

For this reason, I seek out stories that are diverse in genre and style - clinging to those that are surreal, haunting and as far afield as the author can take me. One author whose imagination feeds me those dream-time delicacies is Philip K. Dick.

PKD's books and stories have been around since the sixties, the author himself dying in 1982. Though not as publicly acclaimed as other authors in his genre (in his lifetime), at least eleven of his short stories and novels have been adapted for the screen. Blade Runner for example, a cult classic on screen, was the adaptation of PKD's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. This is one of the more famous conversions, but you might recognize several on the list. Then there are other works that do not give him story credit, but have distinct PKD themes. Just recently, I was reading his story "Second Variety" and realized that the premise had been recycled in the fresh Battlestar Galactica reboot. It deals with robots that build better versions of themselves in order to walk among humans undetected - becoming more efficient soldiers by blending in and appealing to our more compassionate natures.

Among the many complex and imaginative threads that have kept science fiction connoisseurs happy for decades, PKD left behind a legacy of fictional paranoia, governmental conspiracy, over-reaching surveillance, and thuggish police forces. In addition to these prickly topics, there was another theme prevalent in his fiction writing and later in the personal papers and letters that came to be called his Exegesis - what is reality?

Much like time, there are aspects of reality that are more relative than fixed. The most obvious examples can be found with people who suffer mental illness, sustain brain damage, or use drugs. In these instances, reality pivots and flops based on the presence or absence of chemicals in their system. But you don't need these extremes to experience an altered reality, consider grief and love and how they can act to modify your choices and perception.

PKD believed at one point (for at some point he believed in everything, then nothing) that all living beings were part of reality and all non-living things were malleable parts in the structure around us, but it was not until our perception labeled the thing that it actually took shape. Therefore what appeared as a table to you, could appear as a bench to someone who does not share your perception of the reality around you.

It sounds crazy, but consider how a child can see the potential in sticks as swords, cocked fingers as guns, and cardboard boxes as ships. Or how a writer can overhear a snippet of conversation about mundane life and find in it, paths to danger or new worlds. Think also of how something as simple as darkness can turn a cheerful room into a threatening place of shadows and voids.

For the month of May, let's explore reality together. Your characters need not be limited to the confines of a science fiction story in order to question the signal and poke around in the noise for answers. Consider reality, how it reveals itself, and how a new perspective might alter it for your protagonist. Surprise us, or help us see the Truth.
Find your own take on -

What is reality?

...then share it with us.

Now for the rules and dates and whatnot -
Your story or collection of poetry should not exceed 5,000 words. I know that's more than we usually encourage, but this is one theme for the whole month so a larger word count makes sense. The deadline to submit a public link to your story in the form below is Tuesday, May 26th at 04:00 EDT (4 am). The submission form is programmed to not accept entries after that time, so do not count on human sleep patterns to give you an extra couple of hours. Anyway, I'll start pulling together the submissions around 5 am that day to get the reading list out to you before I go to work. Voting will be open from 5/26 to 5/30. The writing submitted must be yours and should be written for this contest. Please do not submit earlier work simply edited to fit the theme. This rule is for you. Challenge yourself to write something new today. Give yourself time to polish and refine the piece before submitting. With all of the contest reading to do, there will not be time for JFF entries. Each writer only has one writing slot - make it count.

Who can play -
Following are the 12 writers signed up for the May challenge:
bluegerl, Kathy/darlinleo, Missflyer,
Shane Bell, Cedarwolfsinger, Alethessa,
FAWatson, RicoChey, Hwango,
Ayumidah, Urb_banal,
And I swear somewhere I saw bardiphouka sign-up, but I can't find it now. Did I dream it? Maybe it was a sign that he should just write with us anyway.

If I missed your name, please throw something at me so I can fix the list.

Please submit your story info in this format in the survey below -
Word Count:

*Please note author should be the name you want to publicly share your story under, regardless of journal/blog name or familiar user ID.
Submission Link
ricochey: (Default)
([personal profile] ricochey Apr. 27th, 2015 10:38 am)

Good morn’, Flames.

The voting for Week Three is open.

The topic has been launched for Week Four — what shape does your Epilogue take?

The last few days of APAD are ticking away — check it out here.

My biggest writing project was meant to be a massive collaboration between myself and a friend. That friendship has since fallen apart and the rights (and work) have all been passed onto me. It’s looking like it’s gonna take at least five books to cover, so it’s going to be a huge undertaking every step of the way.

This happens to me fairly routinely. People come to me — “Hey, Cheyenne, you know how you can do that writing thing? Well how I about I tell you an idea and you just, like, write it?” It’s happened at least four times, and the pitch is identical every time. They tell me what they want, and I do the labor. The only reason the first one took on such a life of its own is because I contributed a great deal of the intellectual material, so it still feels like my own. The other endeavors, however, feel a lot like work.

The most recent project comes from my own boyfriend, who can write a bit, but apparently not enough. He has a brilliant mind and a vivid imagination, so stepping inside his ideas is always enjoyable. What isn’t enjoyable is trying to make sense of the timeline of his ideas. He’s one of those people who thinks “a guy shows up and saves everyone with a magic weapon” is sufficient to fill the bulk of 400 pages, because “that’s what happens!” It takes a lot of interrogation to get him to put fine detail on every single thought he has. As a writer (and a talker), I have difficulty tolerating his succinct nature. As a man of few words, he has difficulty understanding what my problem is. We’re a match made in heaven. I’m looking forward to the project, but this hang up may kill me.

Have you ever, or are you currently collaborating to complete a literary project? If not, have you ever considered it? Why or why not? What might be most difficult for you?

 Welcome to Week Four! Acts I, II, and III are now behind us, and it is time to conclude your tales. Today, I launch this topic at precisely 0626MST (that’s 0826 CDT, as I was born in Iowa), in honor of the exact moment of my birth, on this day, twenty-eight years ago. I was even born on a Sunday. Let’s talk topic! Remember, April is a themed month, so if you need help understanding the goal, visit this link to read the preamble I presented before the prompt for Week One. We can also address questions in the comments, if you need a little clarification. To put it basically, we are dividing up the four weeks of April into four parts of a “play” (the entries do not have to be plays): ACT I, ACT II, ACT III, and Epilogue. Visit the aforementioned link for specifics!

Are you ready for a deliberately contradictory quote to round off the month?

Epilogue – “What is past is prologue.”

The last lines of dialog are spoken, the last gestures are made; the lights dim slowly as the curtain glides with a soft finality toward the stage. The production seems to have come to an end. Then, a lone figure crosses from stage right to stands beneath a center stage spotlight to speak into the otherwise darkened theater. The epilogue — defined as “a concluding section that rounds out the design of a literary work” — brings closure to what has been seen here, and the audience sighs, soothed by the final resolution of the evening.
I enjoy epilogues. A poweful, distinctive last moment before the true end of a tale. I realize there is a generally accepted definition of a prologue as aforementioned, but I feel as though they can take many shapes. Truly, there may be myriad ways to reinvent and re-imagine the concept of the “final words”. Because I am nowhere near the closing and final thoughts of my life, I will share a classic bit of epilogue instead, from the very mind of the artist we have spent the month quoting and celebrating.
”If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to ‘scape the serpent’s tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
Give me your hands, if we be friends,
And Robin shall restore amends.”

In the tradition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s Puck, and in whatever format you desire, spin me a conclusion to your tale worthy of quotation. I challenge you to a concluding thought, scene, or stream of consciousness so powerful, it will ring in my mind for weeks to come. Interpret this as you will, and write what you must.

Remember that entries are meant to complement one another as a series, and that the concepts of “Epilogue”, Puck’s Epilogue, and the Shakespearean quote provided are for inspiration and do not necessarily represent a requirement for content or word use.
The poll is here. Week Four closes at 2345EDT on Sunday, May 3rd.

First thing’s first, Week Three is underway! Draw us toward your epic conclusion in ACT III.

April’s collection of poetry is still growing. Check it out here.

I consider myself a gifted writer. I have to, or I’d never share anything with anyone and you’d be reading a Chatter hosted by some other weirdo with a silly nickname. I like to think my strong point is short fiction, but I’m working on novel projects, so I’m hoping to hone that skill. I specify “fiction” because I’m not a non-fiction writer. I mean, I can write about myself in the sense of a blog entry, but to write a true memoir? I don’t know. I think my tendency toward makin’ stuff up would interfere at some point, such that the lines between fact and fairy tale would blur pretty dishonestly. My mother tells me it’s because we’re Irish. “We’re just full of blarney. We really can’t help it.”

So, alright then. I’m full of blarney. You’d think a person so full of blarney could put a talent like that to good use whenever the fancy strikes. After all, isn’t it the same drill, just applied to different subject matters or goals? Let me stop beating around the bush. See, there’s a new position open in my office and I’m trying t0 go for it. The application process requires a cover letter, and so I set about writing one. I didn’t even manage the first paragraph before I realized I was only spinning bull-spit and just barely representing myself truthfully. So, I tried again. On the second draft, there were more hard facts, but entirely too many superfluous words (kind of like the word superfluous, am I right?), and a lot of flowery language. It didn’t take me long to get frustrated.

Dry, straightforward reality just doesn’t appeal to me. It never has, and maybe that’s why I’m a writer. “I reject your reality and substitute my own.” Why? Because my version of events is far more colorful and interesting. Problem is, no prospective employer is going to use my walking-talking-human-Thesaurus skills to evaluate my eligibility for a desk job that requires, at best, only the ability to use spell check. Alas… the artist sabotages herself by doing the only thing she knows she’s good at.

Does your talent or style as a writer ever bleed into other parts of your life, with unwanted consequences? Does a tendency toward verboseness ever muddy the waters when all you need is to be blunt? Are they little inconveniences like an overly poetic cover letter, or truly disruptive complications?

Welcome to Week Three, my budding playwrights! Remember, April is a themed month, so if you need help understanding the goal, visit this link to read the preamble I presented before the prompt for Week One. We can also address questions in the comments, if you need a little clarification. To put it basically, we are dividing up the four weeks of April into four parts of a “play” (the entries do not have to be plays): ACT I, ACT II, ACT III, and Epilogue. Visit the aforementioned link for specifics!

Week Three: ACT III – “The Devil can cite scripture for his purpose.”

I should like to think I have not yet reached the third act of my life, but that I should be prepared for the idea that it is nearer than I anticipate. Time passes so quickly, and what seems suspended in poetic action today may come to swift and dramatic conclusion tomorrow. I hope the opening act and rising (but perhaps not thrilling) action of my life will lead to great purpose. The worst and most volatile part of standing upon the brink of my own unfolding destiny is having no clairvoyance for the details of its unfolding. So many dangerous and enticing traps lay before me, baited with whistles and siren songs. That I may be unable to resist sends a delightful tremble of terror up my spine. By what deceptions shall I be seduced? How will the lessons I learned in the Spring of my life armor me in the Fall? The blackened, blurry future is the proof that the trials we have faced until now have not been for empty value. It is by the scars of a life thus far that we can endure the new lashes of a life still to come. Or, is it bright unknown that softens us anew and keeps us blind, despite our journeys through the undergrounds of adversity and toil?  


 The tradition of act three is to move down through the falling action and arrive at the conclusion. I challenge you to imply the end is near, but hold me waiting another week to know for sure. Are you already a master of cliffhangers? Ensnare us so cruelly that our comments are devoted to begging for Week Four spoilers. The end draws nigh!


Remember that entries are meant to complement one another as a series, and that the concepts of “Act III” and the Shakespearean quote provided are for inspiration and do not necessarily represent a requirement for content or word use.


The poll is below. Week Three closes at 2345EDT on Sunday, April 26th (my birthday!) --  make me proud!




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