Category Archives: writing prompt

Now What—>Writing Goals

You know you’re a WRITER when you can’t leave the house without a notebook.
You know you’re a BLOGGER when you must take a photo to prove it.

I’ve neglected my writing, pushing my dreams and ambitions aside as I dealt with my paralyzing fear of failing and the messiness of my everyday life. So many (imaginary) roadblocks kept going up before me: back to school, conferences, surgeries, illness. I’ll get back to it after . . . it’s after. Now what?

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I will rebuild my optimism muscle. I finished my $hitty first draft TEN months ago, yet I’m still floundering. Because I allow myself to flounder, I don’t hold myself accountable, I give in to my doubts.  As Carleen Brice wrote on Writer Unboxed, “The stronger my optimism muscle gets, the more I write, and the stronger I become as a writer.” Rehab can strengthen even the most weakened parts of us. While my hubby rehabs his knee, I will rehab my optimism. I can do this.

I will still the voices in my head and burst the unsaid speech bubbles hovering over my doubting friends and family. I will banish the “You’re STILL not done?” The “but you don’t have a real job—what do you do all day?” The “if you were any good you would be finished/agented/published/rich and famous already”. 

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“Find what it is you are meant to do and what you are deeply passionate about, and allow that to flow through you. Don’t resist or fight it. You know you are in your sweet spot when whatever you’re doing gives you energy instead of depleting it.”

~Oprah Winfrey

I will hit that sweet spot more frequently. I’m at my best after I’ve completed a scene that flows like a Class VI rapid. The story pulls me along in its current, makes my heart race, my stomach lurch with anticipation, and joyful laughter break free. I spend hours smiling afterwards—hours!—and I laugh, gasp, or shed a tear each time I reread that piece of work. I’ve brought words to life, and I feel blissfully alive. That’s my sweet spot.

I will learn to live more in the moment, but make most of the moments I dedicate to my craft. Far too often I waste time worrying, planning, overcompensating for my doubts instead of appreciating the joys, the LIFE going on around me. I must dive in and play the water, savor the glass of wine, tickle my son until he bursts, LIVE. And when it’s time to work GET IT DONE.

I will organize and find balance between writing, blogging, and social media.  My recent experience at my first blogging conference flooded me with almost too much information, too many ideas. I can’t do it all. I must prioritize, organize, and be efficient. The notion of “be everywhere, do everything” doesn’t work for all of us, especially when we should be buried deep in our writing cave. Set times for social media and blogging (with a timer if necessary).  Block it during writing time. Schedule tweets, blog posts, and Facebook updates.  Write a blog post in an hour, not half a day. Be efficient.

I will make use of every moment. Too often I make excuses: I only have an hour until my son comes home, until dinner, until an appointment—not enough time to immerse myself into my manuscript. Books are written in these stolen moments. Just do it. I will learn to make better use of my early morning and evening time.

 I will make time for creativity and daydreams (as they are the things books are made of) but I will put my fingers to the keyboard and type.

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I will finish my edits and rewrites. I will have my manuscript ready for querying by the New Year. Just over a year ago I wrote my November Manifesto proclaiming I would finish my first draft by the end of the month. I finished ten days later. It’s all about the goals. I will get this shit done.

**Sorry WOE: I totally forgot about my 300 word limit until I went to link up. The first 300 can be JustBeEough’s. The second half is all yours.


22 Things I’ve Never Done

***I’m 37 and I’ve never:

Kissed my husband at the top of the Eiffel tower.

Wandered through a field of sunflowers.

Played in the snow.

Taken a gourmet cooking class (preferably in Italy or France).

Mastered walking in stilettos.

Officially learned how to surf.

Been published in a national magazine.

Built a bonfire on the beach.

Drunk a bottle of wine costing more than $50.

Cruised the Pacific Coast Highway in a sports car or convertible, preferably.

Been pampered with a massage or facial.

Caught dinner and a show on Broadway.

Been inked.

Bought an expensive designer purse.

Learned to like sushi.

Stared a great white shark in the eye (from inside a strong, steel cage, of course).

Watched orcas breech and porpoise in a frigid sound.

Jumped into a pile of crimson and bronze fall leaves (then raked them up again).

Danced at a masked ball.

Savored a twelve course tasting menu.

Snuggled up with my son in a tent in the woods and protected him from things that go bump in the night.

Finished my damn novel.

**Now Mama Kat and the Pioneer Woman came up with this great list. But while I pondered some of the things I someday want to do, I was thinking about all the cool things I HAVE done.

So I’m going to start a meme for that, so we can feel good about what we have achieved in our short lifetimes.

Come back here next Tuesday and link up 22 Things I HAVE Done.  Have you run a marathon? Perfected the snow angel? Eaten octopus? We want to know.

My Summer Bucket List Sprung a Massive Leak

1.  Finally finish the 1st draft of my novel!!!!

2.  Spend an afternoon in the hammock reading without being carried away by mosquitoes.

3. Break out the slip and slide and make a few good runs myself.

4. Accept my paleness and wear shorts with pride.

5. Find a rocking Sangria recipe and enjoy by the pool with friends.

6. Teach Kiddo to become an expert boogie-boarder.

7.  Build a sandcastle at the shore.

8.  Get a blog article syndicated.

9.  Get paid for my writing.

10. Write an article for a local magazine or newspaper.

11. Join twitter.

12.  Teach Kiddo to roller skate without either of us breaking anything.

13. Float down a cool spring in a tube.

14. Eat watermelon naked.

15. Help Kiddo read the first Harry Potter book.

16. Experiment with a new recipe each week.

17. Form a solid writing routine.

18. Transfer all our home videos to the computer.

19. Have family nights watching home videos.

20. Make s’mores over the bbq grill.

21. Make some kick the can ice cream in the backyard.

22. Dance the night away at a concert.

23. Take Kiddo go-cart racing.

24. Loose the couple of pounds that found me.

25. Be vigilant about sunscreen with everyone in the family.

26. Become a yoga goddess.

27. Read at least 6 books a month.

27. Swing on a swing-set as high as I can.

28. Celebrate pajama day with the family several times a month.

29. Make pasta sauce with tomatoes grown from my own garden.

30. Discover a new farmers market.

31. Finish at least one of the dozens of sewing projects in my sewing trunk.

32. Play family board games at least once a week.

33. Go out for ice cream cones.

34. Go to some writer Meet-Ups.

35. Make homemade fruit popsicles.


Hold the phones…shit…a little bit of life got in the way…

36. Check out as many resume, cover letter, and interview books as possible.

37. Rewrite resume for any possible writing jobs.

38. Rewrite resume for any possible library jobs.

39. Rewrite resume for any possible retail jobs.

40. Rewrite resume for ANY possible job.

41. Apply for at least 10- 50 jobs a week.

42. Promise myself not to stare at the phone waiting for it to ring.

43. Try to keep a positive attitude.

44. Try to squeeze in as much family time as possible before there is no chance of it.

45. Keep up a strong front for Kiddo.

46.  Get a professional haircut in case of an interview.

47.  Cancel gym membership.

48. Attempt to catch up with baby book, school papers saved, and photo abums while I can.

49. Get a job.

50. Learn to embrace change.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Road Trip: Costa Rica and the Oh My God Bridge

Costa Rican road trip day 4: a supposedly “relaxing” journey from the Arenal Volcano to the Pacific paradise of Manual Antonio. Hubby and I were crazy enough to drag a 5-year-old through a Third World Country for an adventure of a lifetime.  Our ride was a manual 4 x 4 Diahtsu Bego,  which is a Central American version of a Kia Sportage or basically a tin can on wheels.  But it was a gutsy little tin can; it had already climbed rain drenched mountain roads and forded two rivers and a washed out bridge without a cough or a sputter.  The same could not be said for me.  Costa Rican Imperial beer was our reward for surviving each day…

A little background on the roads: there are no street signs or addresses in Costa Rica,  no “highway” exits are marked, and the traffic lanes have this particular way of ending with absolutely no warning.  Mountain roads consist of two of the narrowest lanes known to man smashed between a rock wall and a cliff. No guard rails. There can be two lanes then suddenly there is a one lane bridge with a several hundred foot drop on either side.   Roads go from pavement to dirt without any rhyme or reason and the potholes are big enough to eat a small car. It took me a while to learn how not to wet my pants or scream as we traversed the treacherous “roads.”

We said goodbye to our beloved Volcano Lodge perched just below the constantly erupting Arenal Volcano and made a quick stop to collect some pumice stones and sand along the banks of the rainforest river.  We spent a couple of hours cruising along the far side of Lake Arenal before settling down onto the flatter roads of the Central Valley.  Troops of monkeys chattered in the trees above us, herds of cattle moseyed across the broken pavement, and powerful mountains puffed away in the distance.

Not long after lunch we were pulled over in a speed trap.  We played the roles of stupid Americans as Hubby learned how to correctly bribe the Policia in a Third World Country.  Perhaps a nearly sobbing wife and a cute 5-year-old smiling in the backseat helped us get off with only a $15 “fine” and a promise to slow down.

We broke for a pit stop at a little cafe by a large river.  As I held my wiggling child with a vice grip we crept across a narrow concrete bridge as semis overflowing with logs and watermelons barreled past us only a foot away.  Below us lay dozens of crocodiles: wild, fearsome, and really fricking big.   As the massive trucks rumbled by I wondered if I would rather let us get plowed over by a semi or jump and take our chances with the crocs if I had to pick.  I chose getting the hell off the bridge instead.

We dipped our toes in the Pacific for the first time on the beach of the famous surf town of Jaco.   Tanned boys tamed massive waves against a breathtaking backdrop of cliffs and rainforest as we wandered between the cigarette butts and used condoms.  Time to move on.

A little further South we pulled alongside a beach side bamboo shack shaded by coconut palms.  We dangled our feet in the black sand as we sipped papaya smoothies and watched the waves roll in along the deserted Hermosa shore.

Kiddo sang Dave Matthews at the top of his lungs and hand surfed as we drove through lush palm oil plantations.  There was no dvd player, no cartoons for amusement, just a new world passing by through the open windows.  It was enough.

Traffic came to a sudden standstill.  The road instantly narrowed to one lane.  A lumbering metal structure caked with rust and age rose ahead of us.  The bumpy asphalt ended, replace by jagged ancient wooden planks.  We waited as cars and motorcycles bounced across the so called bridge, their shocks squealing in dire protest of the rugged conditions.

Oh my God.

An old pickup across the river flashed its headlights.  It was our turn.  Hubby revved it up to a whopping 10 km per hour.  The old metal railroad trestle didn’t start for at least 25 feet.  There was not even flimsy  wooden rail separating us for our impending death in the river.  The planks were spaced unevenly and there was not much clearance on either side of our narrow car, which I knew would crunch like a soda can if we fell off the bridge.

Oh my God, oh my God…

Strips of metal were laid  across the boards in a few places where ruts wore the wood down to splinters.  The car hit one with a resounding crash, jerking us up and down.  In a few spots the wood was completely absent.  I could see the river directly below.

Oh my freaking God…

My head hit to roof on the last violent buck.  As we neared the end, patches of pavement were plopped around like blobs of play-dough over the worn wood.  River grasses crowded the edge as we hit the solid pavement of the actual road with one final thwack.  We had survived.

That was fun!  Can we do it again?  Kiddo cheered from the backseat.

 Oh. My. God.

Mama’s Losin’ It

This post was in response to one of Mama Kat’s fabulous writing prompts.  Check her out. 

The Day I Decided TO BE

To be, or not to be…

That was the question I asked myself as I decided who I would become as I made the transition from the hellacious world of middle school into high school.  I was painfully shy, with only a handful of friends (other freaks and geeks), but smart.  If you had seen me back then…actually, you wouldn’t have seen me.  I was invisible, silent, never raising a hand even when I knew the answer, my nose hidden in a book as I waited for the late bell to ring.  It was safer to be invisible, ignored by the poisonous vipers who roamed my school hallways looking for their next victim.

I decided a new school could equal a new life.  I desperately wanted to shed my shyness like a husk of dried up scales and break out into high school flashing my new skin, shiny, beautiful, and effervescent.   I talked myself into signing up for drama.  I decided TO BE.

Of course, I doubted my rash act of bravery once I had my first significant drama piece in hand waiting to be memorized: Hamlet’s tormented To Be or Not To Be soliloquy. No need to start with the easy stuff, right?

Shakespeare and I had met just a few months before and he was rocking my 14-year-old world.  It was challenging yet it was more beautiful than any written words I could ever have imagined.  Even saying the name Shakespeare sounded like a lovely breeze sighing through my lips.  I had a bit of a crush on Old Will.

I can picture myself lying on my childhood bed, the ceiling fan spinning lazily above me, the blue flowered curtains gently blowing in the humid afternoon breeze as I drilled those 276 words of Elizabethan English into my poor brain.  With Webster’s Dictionary at my side I struggled to not only know the words, but to understand them, to feel them flow through my veins as if I was the tormented soul struggling to  comprehend why we keep going through this often wretched life.  It was rather apropos.  It took several nights of fierce concentration, the phone ringer off, my current novel left untouched on the nightstand, to embed the piece into my soul.

The day of the performance I was a wreck.  My palms sweat, my legs barely held me up in the hallways between classes, my knees bounced and knocked against my desk.  I thought I would throw up for sure as the drama teacher called my name.  It took the deepest breath I had gasped since the day I was born and slinked up to the make-shift stage.  And I opened my mouth…

The classroom was filled with words, beautiful, powerful, and passionate flowing through the air.  I didn’t just speak them, I lived them.  They came out without thought or force but with a practiced cadence, clear and pure.

The piece was over before I knew it.  The class erupted in applause.  A scarlet blush flooded my cheeks as the adrenalin coursed through my veins.  I had done it.  And I had done it exceptionally well.

Two days later the drama teacher pulled me aside after class.  One of the leads in the school play had dropped out–would I like the part?  I said yes: to the play, to the part, and to a new chapter in my life.  I was an actress.

To this day I can recite every word of Hamlet’s famous soliloquy by heart, although now it is just a cool party trick.  Thanks Will,  for everything…

Be all my sins remember’d.

This post was written in response to a writing prompt from The Red Dress Club: By Heart.