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Writer In Motion: Week 3, Draft 2

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It swam around her face and kept pecking at her neck. She batted at it a few times and missed. The little bites were starting to hurt. “What do you want?” she shouted.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. Picking it up she saw that the shell was painted deep blue with intricate yellow stripes around its perimeter which meant only one thing. Swimming up suddenly, she knocked the shell from her lap and it slowly drifted through the dark water to the rocky surface below.

Shaking off the sleep, Alora reached for her golden trident and bounded down the path she was supposed to be patrolling. She’d fallen asleep on duty once again and was certain to get chewed out by her superiors. It wouldn’t be the first time but if she’d missed something it could certainly be her last.

Her pulse was pointing now and she could feel her gills flushing water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.

Approaching the end of her route Alora saw it. There, off in the distance she saw something. When she widened the dilation of her eyes completely she could just make out the ripples and shadow far up on the surface of the water. A human boat.

Reaching to her hip she grabbed a small metal rod, brought it near her trident, and beat them together three times. The deep clangs echoed through the water causing nearby sealife to slink away and hide. The noise dissipated quickly and nothing appeared to happen but she knew better.

Bracing herself, Alora raised a hand above her head at the ready letting the rod fall to her hip. It appeared to be attached with some type of green vine.

Her hand was suddenly engulfed with a red tentacle and she was yanked upward. She raised her trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it pulling her upward toward a red writhing mass. The tentacles pulled her safely past the jet of water propelling them upward.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus she gently rested her hand against the animal’s skin, interfacing with it and taking control. Their minds connected as she danced her fingers over its skin instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her a bit tighter as it adjusted course toward the boat.

Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the alert as well. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Making eye contact with the whites their souls connected, they were awaiting her orders.

Coming up under the boat she thought through her options. Humans didn’t belong here and knew better. They were close to the Atlantean border and alarms would soon alert all the residents. She’d end up in the caverns serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough, she couldn’t risk worse.

Gesturing with her hands first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was laid. Coming just underneath the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern dropping her into the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

The three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand, scrambled from their chairs. One fell on his butt and the others yelped in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak and they needed to made examples of.

One by one Alora leapt across the stern and kicked or stabbed each of the scrawny human forms lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. They were horrible swimmers, even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of pain and agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. The waters around the boat were painted in blood as the crushing began. The octopus started tearing planks and contraptions off the roof of the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to one of the tentacles and briefly made contact, reminding it to not destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.

Her gills were beginning to dry out but she needed to check inside the boat before departing. Walking forward she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and could hear it. A faint crying noise, a human infant. Sliding the door open she saw it. It was cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within what looked like seaweed but she knew better.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and as such couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest. Walking out of the chamber she returned to the stern.

There alongside the boat, the whites awaited Alora’s command as they playfully swam in the blood-red waters. Lifting her leg over the edge they swam up. She slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.

She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. She needed to drop the infant on dry land.

Racing across the surface of the water, Alora looked to the left at the giant octopus towing what remained of the human craft alongside her. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the pitiful vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans were destroying her world and continued to trespass near Atlantis. Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbers and Atlantis would soon rise again, retaking this planet that was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 1011

Thoughts:

I’ve been swamped this week with work and had no time at all to revise this until the weekend. Under a crunch to not delay the rest of the team I knocked out some changes.

After re-reading through it I wasn’t as worried as I thought. It read pretty well to me. I felt like I could show vs tell better in a few places and clean up some of my descriptions so I did that. Unfortunately, that bloated my word count above the 1,000 word limit. I’m sure my CP’s will knock out some stuff though so in order to keep the ball moving I’m handing it to them.

My first CP for Week 4 is Jen Karner from Syllables and Sass and my CP for Week 5 is Ellen Mulholland. I’m looking forward to seeing their comments and suggestions to move this story to the next level.

From here I’m using my workflow from Ulysses and outputting my draft in a Word DocX Standard Manuscript (MS) form. This is a format that many editors request MS’s in because it’s easy to read and markup. I’ll be sending it on to them this evening.

I hope you like the changes I made. Enjoy!

Writer In Motion: Week 2, Draft 1

The seahorse wouldn’t leave Alora alone. It kept pecking at her neck and it was starting to hurt. “What do you want?” she shouted.

Unfurling its tail, the seahorse dropped a small shell into Alora’s lap and skittered away. The shell was painted deep blue with yellow stripes which meant only one thing. Swimming up suddenly, she knocked the shell from her lap and it slowly drifted through the water to the surface below.

Shaking off the sleep, she reached for her trident and bounded down the path she was supposed to be patrolling. She’d fallen asleep on duty again and was certain to get chewed out again by her superiors. Her pulse was pointing now and she could feel her gills flushing water against her skin. What did she miss? She must have missed something to get a blue shell.

Approaching the end of her route Alora saw it. There, off in the distance, she could just make out the ripples and shadow far on the surface of the water. A human boat.

Reaching to her hip she grabbed her horn, brought it to her mouth, and blew. A deep blast echoed through the water causing nearby sealife to slink away and hide. The noise dissipated quickly and nothing appeared to happen but she knew better.

Bracing herself, Alora raised a hand above her head at the ready letting the horn fall to her hip. Suddenly her hand was engulfed with a tentacle and she was yanked upward. She raised her trident hand and another tentacle wrapped around it and pulling her upward.

Held in place at the head of the giant octopus she gently rested her hand against the animal’s skin, interfacing with it and taking control. Their minds connected as she danced her fingers over its skin instructing it what to do. The tentacle grasped her a bit tighter as it adjusted course toward the ship above.

Looking left and right Alora checked that her other companions had heard the horn as well. The fins of two great whites flanked her as they all raced toward their target. Making eye contact their souls connected, they were awaiting her orders.

Coming up under the boat she thought through her options. They didn’t belong here and needed to leave. They were close to the Atlantean border and alarms would soon alert all the residents. She’d surely end up in jail serving hard time if she let that happen. That blue shell was bad enough, she couldn’t risk a border alert.

Gesturing with her hands first to the octopus and then the whites, the plan was laid. Coming just underneath the humans, the octopus lifted her up and over the stern dropping her into the boat. She landed with a thud against the wood planks, her trident clanging against the nearby anchor.

The three humans sitting around the edges, glass bottles in hand, scrambled from their chairs. One fell on his butt and the other yelped in surprise. Their pitiful human eyes were wide in fear. This race was weak and they needed to made examples of.

One by one Alora leapt across the stern and kicked or stabbed each of the scrawny human forms lifting them over the edge of the boat and into the water. They were horrible swimmers, even clams had more elegance in water.

Screams of pain and agony echoed through the blackness of night as the whites tore the humans to pieces. The waters around the boat were painted in blood as the crushing began. The octopus started tearing planks and contraptions off the roof of the rickety boat.

Alora reached up to one of the tentacles and briefly made contact, reminding it to not destroy the boat entirely. She wanted to deliver a message to the shore. Something the humans would remember.

Happy with the destruction being brought upon them, her gills were beginning to dry out. She needed to check the inside before departing. Walking forward she stopped just outside the vessel’s door and could hear it. A faint crying noise, a human infant. Pressing the door open she saw it. It was cradled in a clam-like structure and nestled within what looked like seaweed but she knew better.

The baby was innocent. It didn’t know any better and as such couldn’t be held responsible for the failings of its elders. She reached down and gently lifted it, pulling it close into her chest. Walking out of the chamber she returned to the stern.

There alongside the boat, the whites awaited Alora’s command as they playfully swam in the blood-red waters. Lifting her leg over the edge they swam up. She slowly lowered onto the back of the nearest, the infant still tucked safely to her chest.

She linked with the white and ordered it toward the nearest shore. She needed to drop the infant in a safe place.

Racing across the surface of the water, Alora looked to the left as the giant octopus was towing what remained of the human craft alongside her toward the same short. There on the bow, she could make out the name the humans had assigned the pitiful vessel, Point Reyes.

Alora wondered what it meant but realized at the same time she didn’t care. The humans were destroying her world and continued to trespass near Atlantis. Part of her hoped they’d heed this warning and change their ways. The other part of her hoped they’d ignore it. Their days were numbers and Atlantis would rise again someday, retaking this planet the was rightfully theirs.

Word Count: 931

Thoughts:

I’m nearly 431 words over target. I’ve not edited at all and actually only reread the story once, trying to not change anything. During the next week I’ll do some self editing before it’s turned over to some critique partners.

I hope you enjoy what I wrote! I’m looking forward to sharing my results after editing and in the coming weeks.

Writer In Motion: Week 2, My Process

The Prompt:

Authors, you may use this image in any way that moves you: setting, colors, subject, the emotion it evokes.

Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

My Process

So before I jump into my first draft I want to talk a bit about my process. The term pantser and plotter are relatively new to me but like the Harry Potter houses if I were to pick one I’m definitely a plotter. In a perfect world, it would be that simple but to me, it’s not quite that cut and dry.

While I love to outline and plan as much as possible, sometimes too much, I try to not let it constrain me creatively. I always start my writing using the outline but as I’m entering into each scene or character I let them speak to me as I write. For my initial writing, it’s usually really close to the outline but I’ve found that the deeper I get into character the more I stray from the plan. In my current work in progress this has led to some interesting plot twists I never foresaw in the beginning and as you’d imagine has caused me to circle back and revise the outline.

So in short, I’m a Plotting Pantser!

Outline

So all those words to say first I started this prompt by creating an outline of my thoughts from this image. I start by taking notes and then evolve that into a target plot. Here is what it was:

  • Google search the image and read some articles on the backstory.
  • What do I see in the picture?
    • The field of stars appears to be fake as no real constellations are discernable.
    • Since it’s the west coast it appears to be sunset based on the position of the boat.
    • The boat appears to be in a tidal area of the shore that water can be seen flowing through. Unsure if it’s a Tidal River or not.
    • The boat is quite weathered and has clearly been there a long time.
    • Huge chunks of the starboard side near the stern of the ship appear to be missing.
    • There is a massive gouge above the bridge.
    • Some of the trim on the bow is ripped partially off.
    • There appears to be broken glass on the top of the bridge. Some of those pointy things, what was their purpose and the same for that glass?
  • Brainstorm questions that could lead to a story.
    • How’d it get there?
    • What happened to the crew?
    • Why is it still there now and no one claimed or tried to fix it?
    • How’d it get damaged?
  • Story ideas
    • Drunk captain dies at the wheel navigating a storm.
    • The ship runs aground in a fog.
    • Attacked by something while at sea. By what?
    • The boat drifted somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be and was attacked. By who?
    • Atlanteans!
  • Favorite Idea: Atlanteans
    • The ship enters into protected waters near Atlantis
    • The guard on duty, cool name, is woken up by someone (an important person) to show human a lesson.
    • A guard approaches the ship and in the process is hit with the anchor.
    • Overreacts and aims to teach humans a lesson. Launches an attack on the boat. Throws a bunch of stuff at them, pulls crew under and kills them, rips parts off the boat.
    • Uses sea creatures to deliver the boat to the human shore as a warning.

Writer in Motion

So I decided to scratch my itch and silently returned to my writing about 7 months ago. Those of you who drop in from time to time might remember that I started a novel a few years back and then stopped at around 30k words. Well, since returning to writing late last year I finished the novel at around 113k words and I’m now close to finishing my first round of edits.

It’s been an awesome experience and getting across the first full manuscript finish line felt amazing. I then put it aside for a few weeks and returned to do the first pass of simple edits, checking for plot holes, flow, etc. I’ve discovered a few gaps in my writing skills along the way that I’ll blog about in the future.

Some of the things I’ve been trying to do as I approach the finish line with my first novel was:

  1. Meet my fellow writers and find a community
  2. Work on refining my craft so I can iteratively improve this novel and future writing
  3. Learn from others what needs to be done to publish this thing successfully.

In the search to find a community, I came upon this great Slack writing community called the Writers’ Craft Room. It’s a fun group of people that help each other with feedback, critique partners, Twitter pitches, etc.

While finding my way around the Slack I stumbled upon this cool channel called #writerinmotion. The channel was about a new project the community was kicking off. It’s described as:

“Create a space where readers can see how a writer moves through the drafting, feedback and editing process to create a polished work.”

I was fortunate that they hadn’t yet started so after I begged (not really, I just asked) if they could use a newbie like me and just like that they welcomed me into the launch crew. WOOT!

So here I am, a Writer in Motion!

This will be a week-by-week process where the 12 of us will draft a short story, revise, rewrite, digest feedback, and blog about our process as we move from start to finish. The goal of the journey is to both document and share the process of writing and refining so people can appreciate and fully understand the creative process of storytelling.

If you’d like to follow any of us on our journey you can find my writer cohorts blogs here:

  1. K. J. Harrowick (http://blog.halon-chronicles.com/ & http://kjharrowick.wordpress.com/)
  2. Jen Karner (http://www.SyllablesandSass.com/)
  3. H.M. Braverman (http://hmbraverman.com/)
  4. J.M. Jinks (www.authorjmjinks.com/)
  5. Melissa Bergum (will be posting via KJ’s site)
  6. Thuy Nguyen (http://www.tmnstories.com/)
  7. Kristen Howe (https://kristenswritingendeavors.wordpress.com/)
  8. Kathryn Hewitt (https://spinningmyyarns.wordpress.com/)
  9. Sean Willson (me)
  10. Paulette Wiles (http://www.paulettewiles.com/)
  11. Talynn (http://inkinthebook.blogspot.com/)
  12. Ellen Mulholland (http://www.ellenmulholland.com/)

Look for my first posting the week of June 1st with subsequent postings at least once per week thereafter.

Inner Ring Supply Run

Captain Monroe stood at attention just like she'd done countless times before. Today was no different than the previous inspections, at least that was what she'd been telling herself for the last hour. These inspections usually last half this time. She'd hoped the rumors of tightened Inner Ring security were just that, rumors.

All of the manifests were in order, all of the seals on the shipments were unbroken and had been resealed perfectly, and the transponders were reprogrammed and working. Every step she'd been trained to follow had been followed meticulously. In the vacuum of space she had nothing but time to engage her inner obsessive compulsive disorder to follow orders. Everything had been reviewed several times over.

Her mind was doing circles now and her heart was beating erratically. Nervously looking around the room, she briefly made eye contact with the guard they'd left with her in engineering while they did inspections. She instantly regretted it. She had to focus and get herself under control. Any sign of weakness of nervousness would certainly give her away. She closed her eyes for a second and started to center herself. Breathing in and out in a controlled manner like all good Outer Ringers learned at birth. Air is precious, air is life … air is precious, air is life. Breath in, breath out, breath in, breath out.

She often wondered if the ability that the Outer Ring people had to quickly center themselves and control their emotions gave them an edge. Her academic friends certainly thought so but right about now she didn't feel like she had any advantages. Under the stress of looting while at the same time delivering a supply run she wasn't sure she had any sort of upper hand.

A loud noise jarred her out of her focusing routine as she stumbled slightly to catch her balance. The noise of a docking port attaching to a ship is very distinct and unnerving for any captain. It was usually accompanied by the relief of a voyage finally ending or the stress of a random inspection or repair.

One could usually discern the nature of the attachment by the noise it made. The louder the clang the worse the pilot, the worse the pilot the more stress to come. Her flight instructor would have scored that docking job as a first run freshman from a gravity well. It was only when the blast charges went off that she realized this wasn't another freshman inner ring inspection force. It was something far worse, pirates!

Without a thought she leapt across the room and broke open one of the supply lockers. The last thing she wanted to do today was die from exposure. Inside she grabbed two helmets and slammed the door closed. Turning around she was greeted to a gun pressing into her temple.

"Don't move!" shouted the guard. She swore she could hear the firearms capacitor charging as he nervously pressed the gun to her head. He was clearly freaking out as he was trying to unsuccessfully subvocally communicate with his crew mates.

"Are you going to shoot me before or after I save you from exposure?" she asked looking down at the helmets in her hand. Slowly she raised one and held it up to the guard. He hesitated, unsure if this was a ruse to throw him off.

"How about I make this easy for you," she said carefully lowering the helmet. "I'll set it on the ground slowly and back away. Then you can pick it up and safely put it on."

"Ok, yea … that … that sounds good," he stammered.

As she bent down to set the helmet on the ground she could hear it. The distinct sound of feet quickly shuffling toward engineering. That shuffling sound a space born crew would make living in irregular gravity, never fully trusting physics. She only had a few seconds to act.

"Do you hear that?" she asked trying to draw his attention to the aft door.

"Nice try. I'm not falling for…"

Before he could finish his sentence she tossed his helmet toward an aft storage locker to draw his attention. At the same time she tucked hers into her stomach and rolled toward the bow. Just as she stopped rolling in front of the exit the door slid open, sensing her approach. She'd gambled successfully that the security overrides the inspection crew had on her computer would be preempted by the prevailing emergency.

The guard however wasn't quite as green as she'd hoped. While he was initially distracted, he'd quickly seen through her ploy and had crouched preparing to fire on her from a better position. He was however greeted to a loud clank outside the aft engineering door. The distinct sound of a blast charge being placed on a 4 inch thick pressurized door meant to prevent cascading depressurization of a ship. Rather than fire he turned slowly and began subvocalizing something, she assumed to his crew.

That was all the distraction she needed. She shoved her helmet on and launched herself through the bow door. As she cleared it she subvocalized a command to her ship to both lock down engineering and cut the ships gravity. Even though everyone involved was trained in zero-g maneuvers she knew most of them would be caught off guard giving her she hoped a few seconds advantage.

NaNoWriMo Midpoint

So I’ve made it half way through National Novel Writing Month. How am I faring you ask? Well I’m behind the targeted goals but extremely happy with what I’ve written. I should be at 26,000 words or so around today but I’m actually only at 10,300. That’s 10,000 more words than I had two weeks ago. With a full time job that’s crazy busy, three awesome kids, and a wife I’m ecstatic with the progress I’ve made and really excited with how the story is evolving.

I’m about 22,500 words into the overall story line which is crazy to think about. I have ideas for turning it into a series but that all depends on how it works out I suppose. The story ideas and plot twists have been really coming at me the more I write. I had an outline I wrote over the past year and then refined before NaNoWriMo and I’ve been adding a ton of great ideas to it as I write. Those words don’t count do they?

I’ve been writing mostly using Ulysses on my iPad but from time to time I launch it on my Mac as well. It syncs via iCloud to both machines which makes for a seamless workflow. I’ve also setup a Dropbox and git backup of everything I write. You can never be too sure and the backup nerd in me needs to make sure I’m covered in event of a disaster.

Back to writing!!

Word Count: 240

The Same Yet Different

How many different ways can I write about a similar scene to offer different ideas, angles, and perspectives? This is an exercise in engaging and pulling the reader into a situation that’s similar yet complete different.

The alarm gradually pulled him out of a deep sleep. Groggy from working late the night before, he fought the pull of a new day. Slowly reaching to where he thought the alarm was he instead knocked over his cup of water. Swearing at not only the water spilling onto the carpet but at how cold the room was he quickly pulled his hand back under the warmth of the covers. Gradually he realized the alarm was still warning him of the cold. No wait, it was awakening him, that’s right he had to get up. Finally fighting the siren song of sleep he regained full consciousness and reluctantly reached over and turned it off.

The alarms incessant beeping yanked him out sleep. He felt like he’d just put his head on the pillow and was reluctant to move at first. He closed his eyes tighter refusing to admit the new day was here but that blasted alarm continued to drone on. Finally after far too many beeps he reached into the cold room to end the clatter and was greeted instead with a tipping cup of water. Slowly it spilled it’s contents onto the floor. Pulling his arm back to the warmth he could hear the water dripping on the carpet almost like a melody in sync with the beeps. Finally after the duet ended he reached out and put an end to the horrible noise.

It all came down to this, man verse dragon. He’d set his trap and now he was waiting silently for the perfect moment to trip it. Suddenly he heard something, a piercing noise he’d never heard before. Was it the dragon? No, that was no dragon he’d ever heard. Suddenly the chamber grew cloudy and the noise grew louder. Fearing his end was near and that he’d lost the upper hand he reached to trip the trap. A last ditch attempt to get even with the fiery beast rewarded instead with water. Water?

Slowly he awoke to an unfortunate realization that he wasn’t in a cavern after all. He was instead in his bed and had just dumped water all over his end table. That noise, not the infernal dragon he’d longed to kill but something far worse, his alarm clock. Reaching in disgust he turned it off all the while wishing he’d be cast back into his dreamy final battle.

There it was, the alarm. He knew it was coming at some point he just wasn’t quite ready. He’d been up all night unable to sleep with his mind doing circles. No matter what he just couldn’t figure out how to start this new chapter. He hit dead end after dead end, tossing and turning tossing and turning. Finally admitting defeat, the bell now literally tolling on the end to a fitful nights sleep he reached to turn off the alarm. Instead of being given the end he longed for he was instead given a splash to the face. Well actually a splash on the floor from his cup of water on the end table. It did however give him a great idea for the new chapter, water! Quickly reaching to shut the alarm off he jumped out of bed to start writing this down before it washed away.

He laid there staring at the clock waiting for it to ring. Not quite sure what to say. Always a loss for words now wasn’t the time to botch the morning after. He’d never had a one night stand before but he’d seen enough sitcoms to know what not to do the next morning. Forgetting her name ranks right up there with sneaking out of bed.

Suddenly the alarm started beeping and she began stirring beside him. As he reached for the alarm she turned and put her arms around him causing him to jump and knock the water over. Why was he so darn ticklish? He turned to look at her and smiled, she smiled back and pulled him closer. Slowly he leaned in to kiss her and used his free hand to throw the alarm across the room. This was how to start the morning.

The alarm beeped every 1.5 seconds. He timed it as just as he timed everything in his life. He’d slept 10 minutes short of 7 hours. He woke 3 times, once to use the restroom which took precisely 1.5 minutes. As he reached to shut off the alarm, always on the 5th beep, he instead knocked over his cup water. Stunned he wasn’t sure how that had happened, the cup wasn’t usually there. He froze as he watched the water fall to the floor it’s pattern random. He hated randomness. He’d lost track of the count, how many beeps was that? How long had he waited? Slowly he reached and shut the alarm off mid beep instead of in the crisp controlled silence between the beeps. Still staring at the water mark growing on the floor he suddenly realized the temperature in the room was off from its usually precise 70 degrees. He sighed and muttered quietly under his breath, “Chaos! Absolute chaos!” He knew this day was not going to go well at all.

Word Count: 906

Doing Circles

Sitting here watching my kids enjoy their Christmas presents going round and around on their scooters and plasma cars, I can’t help but think about the parallels to life’s journey. Round and around they go, faster and faster, trying new tricks and seeing who can beat whom. One cuts off the other, stops short to cause a near collision, or they out maneuver the other by speeding past on the inside of a turn. Frustration ensues at being bested and the aggressive circling continues. It’s a familiar journey they’ll be following throughout their life journey.

I really hope it won’t always be a journey of endless circles for them but as most people can attest it feels at times like there isn’t much progress or change. That circle takes it’s toll and when we’re just about to hit cruise control we’re sometimes rewarded with an outpouring of successes or new doors open. Unexpected doors with new opportunities and challenging new circles and tricks to learn.

We start by going to school year after year wondering when it’ll end only to be rewarded with the floodgates of college life or a career. Then we step right into day after day at a job and after working hard we might find ourselves at a new crossroads from time to time. A point where we can take a new path, a new set of curves and challenges or continue on the familiar well worn path we’re comfortably on perhaps with some upward movement.

The question then becomes, do we take that inside track and cut to the inside scaring (and angering) some people? Stop short and cause a crash? Or perhaps we continue the comfortable circle focusing on other things?

Let’s face it, we all find ways to pass the time. Anything from our endless hobbies of golf, tennis, cycling, gaming or our seemingly endless “keeping up” with the latest technology or news. These things are all designed to release ourselves from our responsibilities, have some fun, let off a little steam, or divert our attention from the drudgery … an escapism from reality or that endless circle of life.

Some people catch a glimpse of or find that perfect path that’s both fun and rewarding. They’ve mastered that cut to the inside to set themselves up for exactly what they wanted at the right place and right time. Careers that fit their personality and lifestyle without compromise. Sometimes we can even convince ourselves that we’ve found that perfect path only to be forced back to reality soon thereafter.

Does the rarity of that pathway mean we all should accept our places and just “escape” when we seek release? Stop searching for that opportunity or for that career that fits our personality? Should we accept that it’s rare enough that we could spend forever searching and never find it, destine to doing circles with everyone else?

Or perhaps we shouldn’t look at it as a rare and hard to attain goal because perhaps we’ve searching for it wrong. When you first start to ride that scooter or that plasma car how do you learn it? Usually by listening to people in your inner childhood circle, likely your parents or friends. That’s probably fine for something like a scooter but are your parents or friends the best people to teach or guide you about a career path (like writing) if they themselves have no experience with it? If your English teacher is a failed author perhaps they’re not the best or only person who should advise you on what your writing potential is or isn’t.

Seek out someone who’s a success or inspiration in their circle. Someone who’s learned to cut to the inside or do some amazing tricks on their scooter. For authors maybe they’ve managed to write a book every few years or are accomplished writers. Maybe they’ve released their own software or started their own successful companies. It doesn’t matter where you look just make sure you look to the right people and most of all you look inside yourself.

In the end each person takes their own path along their life journey. By a certain point, usually some time around high school, they’ve either become focused on reaching for their dreams or they’ve diverted their attention to something else entirely. Depending on who guided them along the way this dream journey can happen sooner rather than later or not at all for some people.

Don’t settle or get diverted along your journey only to find yourself doing circles years later. Don’t be distracted from your dreams, no matter your age or position in life it’s never too late to realize this. Think hard about what you love, what inspires you, and what makes you excited and then do those things often. Being sure that you find ways to make those things central to your life and your journey means you’ll do less endless circles and more exciting tricks with your friends and family.

Word Count: 832

Telling Stories With Kids

How do you teach children creativity and the art of story telling? With the digital era firmly enshrouding their lives at a very young age it’s becoming harder and harder to get and keep their attention. In spite of this hurdle it’s so important that we allow kids to be kids and to be as creative in their play as possible. The problem as I see it is that so much of their “creative” play is just children repeating what they see on television, social media, and from shadowing what their friends are doing. How then do you really teach them creativity and to not just plagiarize or regurgitate what marketing firms bombard them with?

This site is my attempt to not only hone my craft of story telling but to also put into words my thoughts, ideas, and random revelations along my journey. The above observation and my reaction to it may not be typical but the result was certainly interesting. On to where I was going with this …

I was sitting down one night reading to my children when I was struck by how limited the stories were that I had been reading to them. It’s no fault of my own, I to am influenced by marketing, top ten lists, and recommendations by friends.

When I was reading the books I realized that my kids weren’t themselves being creative. They were reading a story who’s purpose was usually to teach them a lesson or perhaps to educate them about something new. What they weren’t doing though was thinking for themselves.

I know my kids are young and I’m not expecting them to narrate to me the next great american novel but I would love for them to be involved in creating, asking question, and discovering right from wrong rather than just consuming everything. So to start them off I decided to read the next book to just near the end and then close the cover. After the shock wore off I asked them “what happened next?” Given that we read to them each and every night they were able to quite surprisingly narrate the remainder of the story almost word for word. It was scary actually, I’ll admit it, but impressive still.

I then challenged them with another question … “and then what happened?” A simple question but they weren’t sure how to react to it at first and responded with “nothing, that’s the end”. Continuing on I said “But that certainly can’t be the end. Character X didn’t just disappear did they? Wouldn’t they keep on chugging along or go on a new adventure to meet some friends right?” They didn’t know what to say to this so I helped them along a bit and made up a new extended ending.

They were smiling from ear to ear and laughing so hard. They hadn’t imagined that something else could happen and certainly not something like that. The next night when I read that same story again (on purpose) they wanted the same ending but I didn’t give in. “I don’t think that’s what happened this time” I said. This time I made up another completely different ending and again they were so excited they were practically bouncing out of their beds. They actually added some bits of their own to the story which was great.

To see the excitement and spark in their eyes as we were doing this was amazingly rewarding. Something as small as making up a new fun ending to a previously stale story changed story time into exploration time. Within days we weren’t even using books any more but were instead making up entire stories from scratch.

I won’t deny that their stories often have a similarity to something they’ve read or heard me tell but as they become engulfed in their own storyline and relax into their own voice things change. They start to show their creativity and ingenuity making up entirely new characters, words, worlds, and plot twists.

You could argue that there are no new stories being told any more. That they are still just regurgitating things they’ve already experienced but I’ll argue otherwise. When they’re sitting there consuming media they react and absorb things differently than when they’re creating that content. The spark and excitement is present when it’s their voice, something that’s never there when they’re just consuming.

So my suggestion to you, get out there and tell a story to your children. Their age doesn’t matter … just tell them something they haven’t heard before. Make it something from the heart, something exciting and creative or perhaps an interesting life lesson you’ve went through. Instill in them the passion you have for experiencing life, telling stories, and enjoying the art of the spoken word.

Word Count: 795

NaNoWriMo 2015

I wanted to write a posting to let folks know what I’ve been up to. There’s a big gap between my last writing and today. Trust me when I tell you I’ve been writing a lot. I’ve actually been working furiously on researching, outlining, and preparing for NaNoWriMo.

For those who aren’t familiar NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. It’s always the month of November and has been going on for years. Traditionally you set a goal of writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. That’s a lot of words but that’s the point. No editing, no proofreading, just writing.

I’ve written a few science fiction pieces I really liked but never published. I was sitting there brainstorming a topic to write about during NaNoWriMo and it all came rushing at me. A story line, characters, and plot twists. I still have a few holes to fill and things to research but it’s pretty exciting. A perfect time to see what I can make of it.

I know I have a lot to learn but what better way than to write? I’ll still be writing here quite often to explore other outlets, refine my writing, and to work out ideas. I’ll also be posting some of the chapters as I finish them in a hopes of getting feedback.

Word Count: 222