Thursday, October 31, 2013

On NaNo-Eve...

I figured that today was a good day for an update, seeing as I won't be doing one for the next month with NaNoWriMo starting in 9 hours.... 

Wait?!?!?! 9 HOURS!?!?!?!?! Where did the time go?!?!?!


First, an update on Shadow Runner (my NaNo novel for the previous two years). My goal had been to finish the edits on this before NaNo started this year... You see, last year I tried to 'take a break' from it and work on a different novel for NaNo. That didn't work. At all. However, I finished the first draft during NaNo last year, so I'm not complaining. :) This year has been full my progress has been slower than desired (to put it mildly). I'm still somewhere between 50%-60% through the first draft, BUT I believe I may actually have a first scene!!!!!! (Yes, that was in question...I've had at least a dozen, none of them really worked well.) So that's a huge breakthrough that was slowing me down to a grinding halt! I have a couple scenes to write/rework in the beginning, then back to the midway+ point to finish the edits so that people can look at it! I'M SO EXCITED!!! I still have the goal of having this finished by the end of the year.

What does November look like for me? I'm planning on working on Child of Blessing this month. I'm REALLY hoping to finish it (HA! Eternal optimism...) for NaNo. Theoretically, that should be possible. It's a middle grade fantasy novel, so the 50K word count is about right. This is an idea I've been playing around with for a while now. I tried adding some structure to it, but it was too early in the process for me and that backfired horribly. I have been unable to write on it for several months because of that, but I'm hoping that the time off has reset my brain and I can move forward from here.

What I'm a bit worried about/could really use prayers for:

1) Time management. I've been a mess in this area lately. A mess. My life needs to get organized, but when I try to think of it I just get a bigger headache.

2) Being able to let Shadow Runner rest. I am driven to finish it. I don't know if I'll be able to stop and work on something else for November. NaNo may turn into an editing month for me and I'll do CoB in December...or January?

3) Taking care of myself. I haven't been exercising or eating well or sleeping well or doing my daily devotions for weeks (vacation really messed everything up - although I really enjoyed seeing everyone!). I'm one big bundle of REALLY tight neck/shoulder/back muscles and my head hurts. Yeah. Not a great way to start NaNo. (But I'm determined to tackle ALL of the messes! Lord, have mercy!)

4) Not having my OK NaNo peeps around. I've missed my in-person crit group a lot since moving. They gave me SO MUCH enthusiasm to get back to writing every week! I've signed up for a meet up/write in with some Indy NaNoers on Tuesday nights, so hopefully that will go well and I'll have an in-person thing again.

Okay. So there you have it. My mess of a "I'm starting NaNo in a few hours" blog post. I'd love to do some word sprints with you all this month! I'm lissajean over on the NaNo page and @lissajean7 on Twitter. Okie Dokie...I need to get some dinners prepped for the next few days and one of the twins in crying...gotta go check that out. :) HAVE A GREAT MONTH!!! :)


Wow! That was fun! I had a great time reading all the stories this week. If you missed them, go here to read them all. From the feedback you all gave me, I will be running November like every other month (since most of you aren't participating in NaNo); HOWEVER, I think I'll be allowing excerpts in addition to flash stories to accommodate NaNo participants. So, I'll see you all next week! Now, for the judging you've all been waiting for.... (thanks, Christy!)

Muses were a popular choice this week when considering the mythical creature part of the special challenge. Must be something in the air...
Also, I protest that you all made it so difficult to select winners this week – too bad I didn't have a muse to guide my way.
Taking Wing by penname24
I was intrigued to figure out what kind of creature the main character was – it was clear she wasn't human. Once you mentioned sparrows, I noticed a lot of the hints scattered in the story that helped guide to that conclusion.
Daydream Believer by Kate
Firstly, you got that song stuck in my head, thank you. I like the world set up, and would love to see the  "Daydream Believers" company in a longer work. I'm worried for Marci (and curious what the girls are going to do with her) but overall the premise seemed too large for the 500 word limit.
A Muse Thing by Jcastle316
A heartbroken muse learns her artist isn't acknowledging her contributions – I felt sad for her when she got to the dedication page. Good job at drawing emotions out.
Escaped from the Labyrinth by @patrickjstahl
A fresh take on the mythical creature, I liked the great Minotaur war that was happening. The inclusion of Christmas felt a bit forced a first, but it was tempered by the continuation of the thought – whether or not the MC's wife would put up a tree.
Holiday of a Lifetime by @MissieK
I like the alternate use of holiday. Definitely a case of mis-advertising going on with this trip, though, and I hope I never find myself on a holiday like this one.
Seeking Shelter by @CharlesWShort
An animal shelter, a love story. I like the change in the character relationship over the span of the story, and that even though they've changed, their situation hasn't.
Untitled by @drmagoo
A little girl's perfect room, complete with magic wands. I had a bit of trouble determining the age of the child (she seemed infant at first, but older later when the MC asks what "got her interested in all of this"). The ending felt complete, despite this being the shortest entry.
Muse Abuse by JM MacF
As a big fan (and long time participant of NaNo WriMo) I enjoyed seeing it make it's way into a story. The time line confused me – it read like a single letter, and it took me a second read to realize the monologue was over the course of the month. And as a WriMo, I completely empathize with having such a moody muse.
Special Challenge Runner Up:
Special Challenge Champion:
Escaped from the Labyrinth by @patrickjstahl
Grand Champion Runner Up:
Seeking Shelter by @CharlesWShort
Grand Champion:
A Muse Thing by Jcastle316

Monday, October 28, 2013


So...our last contest before NaNoWriMo begins... Let's get those fingers warmed up and those brains chugging! 

First, I need some help deciding what would be best for you all. I need to know how NaNo will affect each of you in November in terms of this flash contest. The two options I'm considering are:
1) Business as usual - including winners judging the following week.
2) Writing Prompts minus the judging - giving you the option of adding the sentence into your WIP or writing a separate flash piece for freshness. (This option would give this weeks winner judging duty the first week of December)

Please leave me a comment so I know how to proceed next week...maybe I'm the only one of us doing NaNo this year??? :)

 Anyway, we all know NaNo will be all rainbows and puppies and cupcakes with I'm ready to read about something that may not be as sweet as expected. ;) GO WRITE!

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Christy Shorey also known as @weylyn42. Read her winning tale from last week here!

Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #17 is:

"What, did you think it was going to be all rainbows and puppies?"

Note: the punctuation can ABSOLUTELY change as long as all the words are in the right order.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Include a mythical creature and a holiday.


Thursday, October 24, 2013


So sorry for the late results this week! I'm on vacation and have been MIA from the computer. I'm in the middle of packing and I'll be driving all day tomorrow, so this is going to be short. Thank you, Eric, for judging! Go check out the stories this week here. And here is what Eric had to say:

A small group this week, but still some very enjoyable reading. Thanks to those who took on the challenge and submitted a story!

Pen Name: I like the use of the 'story within the story,' although overall I found myself a little confused as to who the voices were in the story - Monster, whoever wrote the note, the character in the story. It felt like this was a story which needed a little more room to breathe.

Christy: Such a horrible life for these children, and I fear, a life that is about to come to an end. It put me in the mind of Anne Frank or a child dealing with the horrors of war and genocide. Very well constructed. I don't see anything in the story about a broken window, however, so this story doesn't qualify for the special challenge.

Sarah Aisling: When I saw the comment about the full moon, I thought we were headed for a werewolf story, but you took it another way. Nicely optimistic without being treacly, and set well in the present day.

Jeffrey Hollar: ( a minute) Well-constructed, atmospheric. Dark in multiple ways. Poor Coltrane, living through an apocalypse that doesn't seem to want to end...until he decides to take matters into his own hands.

Special Challenge Champion:

Sarah Aisling

A nice little real-life story, with some hope for the future.

Grand Champion:


Dark and depressing, but compelling.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Our judge seems to be courting suspense with this sentence. (I could be totally wrong, but...) Are you going to give it to him (have us cowering in the corner or shaking in our boots?), or toss expectations out the window and make us laugh or cry or sigh in contentedness instead? It's up to you! How would you finish this thought???

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Eric Martell also known as @drmagoo. Go check out his blog here. Read his winning tale from last week here!

Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #16 is:

The light flickered, then went out.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

A transformation, a broken window, and a note


Thursday, October 17, 2013


WooHoo! With moons exploding all over the place (literally and figuratively), it's amazing anything else was accomplished at all! But, boy, was there other stuff happening! Go check it out here if you missed it before reading what judge Neil Solanki has to say. Thanks, everyone, for sharing your stories with us!

I really did enjoy all the pieces and it was very very hard to decide the winners!

duckglow:  I love the idea of planetary technicians!  Makes me think of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I’m quite fond of.  Putting the moon into the big dipper was a fantastic touch!  I’m a big fan of treating the earth like “just another meaningless part of the universe”, so to speak.

mysoulstears:  The idea of exploding the moon with colors as a graffiti artist is brilliant.  I totally love the idea that the graffiti would be there for potentially thousands of years as “solar wind erodes the paints” ever so slowly.  I wish you had run with just this idea because I loved it so much.  Very well written as well.  

M L Gammella:  This was a very endearing and creative idea.  I hadn't thought about the moon being just a small model replica for a school project!  Quite cute and way to go integrating the special challenge.  Ahh, duct tape, good old duct tape...

drmagoo:  This story, though short, was too fun.  I was really impressed with how much authorial punch was packed in so few paragraphs.  The narrator’s smug, vengeful, and almost nihilistic attitude shines through the page.  Well done.

storeroomoftheheart:  Space fighters. Wormholes. Inter-galaxy travel. Utter chaos and destruction.  Complete despair.  Hunted in the night.  This yarn has it all!  What’s not to like?

wh1006:  Ha!  Loved it.  Hell, we’re all dead anyways, might as well make...a cheesecake!!  Still chuckling as I finish writing this comment.

Special Challenge Champion:

M L Gammella because window washers and duct tape seem to be a synergy made in heaven for some reason.

Grand Champion:

drmagoo because the authorial voice just gripped me right away and the story, while short, was packed with so many subtle emotions.

Monday, October 14, 2013


I'm TOTALLY breaking the rules today! I couldn't help it. I'm making an exception. I created this to be a first sentence prompt flash fiction contest, and you only get a dependent clause today. It still has to be in the beginning, but it's not a complete sentence. You really are finishing the thought today! I can't wait to read what you come up with! 

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words, any genre
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence. (or, you know, dependent clause...)
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Neil Solanki, also known as @NeilJSolanki. Go check out his blog here. Read his winning tale from last week here!

Your first sentence(ish) for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #15 is:

When the moon exploded...

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

Integrate a window washer from a large metropolitan area.


Thursday, October 10, 2013


What a fun week! I hope you enjoyed the stories as much as I did! If you missed them, go here to catch up before reading what the judge has to say. Speaking of which, Kate Julicher has some general comments followed by the winners! Congratulations everyone!

mysoulstears: oh, you didn't start with the right sentence! I think that means auto disqualify. :( I liked the magazines. You did a great job of showing his irritation though! Yes, it was obviously inspired by the prompt sentence; but as it wasn't included, it is disqualified. :( Sorry, Mark, for not checking earlier and letting you know before the contest ended.
storeroomoftheheart: Loved the spy drama! And I wasn't expecting it to be his boss. Liked it. I didn't understand how he knew the manhole cover shouldn't be there. 
drmagoo: love the setting! Computers, moon base, totally appeals to me. I really liked the ending too.
neilJSolanki: wow, creepy. I never even thought of that prompt as dying words but yup, that totally worked for me. Short, sweet, to the point. Well maybe not sweet.
M L Gammella: Nice setting! I thought Abe was another computer at first but aliens are awesome too. And so creepy. Didn't see that twist coming.
Jeffrey Hollar: More SF! Awesome. I like the sabotage. Good story. I think I like the AI better than the human though :)
wh1006: ah, fantasy! Very atmospheric and creepy.  Wasn't completely sure what was different about tonight's rituals. Felt like the start of a bigger piece!
Special Challenge Champion:
M L Gammella, because he doesn't just have a voice in his head he's got an alien parasite mind controller, and that's awesome.
Grand Champion: 
NeilJSolanki So short, but did something I really wasn't anticipating and made the starter line really creepy.

Monday, October 7, 2013


Yay! We're back! I've missed you all! We have a super fun prompt for you today and I can't wait to read how you finish this one. So get those keyboards ready and grab yourself a snack and WRITE! 

If you need to read the full version of the rules, go here. Otherwise, here's the short version:

1. Up to 500 words
2. Keep it clean (nothing rated R or above)
3. Start with the given first sentence.
4. Optional Special Challenge
5. Include Twitter/email, word count, Special Challenge accepted
6. The challenge is open for 24 hours on Tuesday EST

Oh, and feel free to change pronouns, punctuation, tense, and anything in brackets to fit the story/pov/tone. I'm not going to be TOO picky... Our judge however...

Our Judge today is Kate Julicher, also known as @KateJulicher. Read her winning tale from last week here!

Your first sentence for FINISH THAT THOUGHT #14 is:

That doesn't belong there.

 Your SPECIAL CHALLENGE from the judge is:

There is a voice in the main character's head, but s/he is not crazy.


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Fall Flash Festival

This piece is my submission for Eric Martell's (@drmagoo) Fall Flash Festival. I must admit though, I wrote it with the prompt from Rebekah Postupak's Flash!Friday a couple weeks ago. I didn't submit for that though because it was WAY too long and I had a migraine. It ended up at 959 words. The contest required a 200-1000 word story with a fall-inspired theme. Enjoy!

Odd Fellows Home for for Orphans, Indigent, and Aged. Public domain photo by the National Parks Service.


“Come take a walk with me, kid.” Winston said as he hobbled past my seat in the cafeteria. I moved to pick up my tray, but he placed his arm on my shoulder and shook his head no, “Leave it.”

I stood and followed him. I could’ve easily put my tray away and still caught up to him. He hobbled along, his back bent and contorted beneath his trench coat. The arm canes fastened around his forearms. His hands hidden in the sleeves. “What can I do for you, Winston?” I asked, worried that I may have done something wrong without knowing it. I had nowhere else to go.

He turned to look at me, his bright blue eyes the only thing about him that didn’t seem old. “You’ve been here a week now, right?”

I nodded. It had been a week exactly, actually. Lunch had been my first meal, brought to me in the study.

“Do you remember what happens if you survive a week?” He continued out the door and onto the expansive lawns. I felt flushed despite the chill in the air. The leaves crackled like fire on the branches, while some crunched underfoot.

“Yeah,” I answered with a little hesitation. It seemed too good to be true. My stomach rumbled rather loudly. “Mr. Jack said I get to be an Odd Fellow and call this place home.”

“Now, now, none of that. He told you to call him Jack – just Jack. You’ve made it. We’re family now. You’re one of us.”  Winston hobbled faster now, much faster than I’d seen him move before. His pace seemed impossible with all his physical limitations.

“Right. Just Jack.” A crisp gust of wind whipped through the trees, raining molten leaves down on us. My new home. Could this be real? What was to keep them from kicking me out tomorrow? “How did he get the money for this place, anyway? Did he inherit it? Is he part of the mob? Does he actually work somewhere?” I tested the waters, so to speak, to see how far I could push them. Could I let myself believe? Pain cramped my stomach for a moment before continuing its general distress.

“Have you ever heard the phrase ‘Golden Goose’?” Winston halted on the path and turned to face me, not ruffled at all.

“Sure.”  I answered, even though it seemed off-topic. My stomach was cramping repeatedly now and I could feel sweat break out on my forehead despite the chill in the air. Had I eaten something bad, or was I just this nervous?

“Well, let’s just say he has one.”

“Okay.” That answered nothing. “But why would he even take in people like us? We have nothing to offer.” Perhaps I should go lie down. I felt dizzy and rubbed the back of my neck.

“It’s more about what you will become than what you bring with you.” Winston cocked his head to the side. “We find that what you want to become influences what you will become. What do you want to become, Sam?”

No one had ever asked me that. Ever. My stomach churned. Was it safe to share my dreams with these people? “I’ve always wanted to be a pilot. I’ve never been in a plane before, but the idea of flying is…intoxicating.” I felt really warm now and I wiped my face with the sleeve of my arm. My forearm began to itch; I scratched absently.

“Anything else?” His eyes were practically glowing.

‘I always figured I’d join the military, or the police force, or something. I want to protect people from the fate I had.”

“Of course. That’s understandable. And I am intensely curious at its outcome.”

My other arm started itching, and my back did too. I looked down and screamed – I was bright red! I must’ve gotten a really bad rash. “I think I need to go to the nurse…” I looked up at Winston and froze. He wasn’t standing there, hunched over, he was…unfurling in front of me. He tossed his canes aside and his trench coat followed. His arms unfolded and his legs and two other sets as well… He seemed to stretch and then flopped on to all eight legs. He looked at me and smiled. “It’s so hard to confine myself like that! It’s nice to stretch.”

I scrambled backward a couple steps and fell. “Wha-? What are you?” Was all I could think to ask, my personal issues dimming for a moment.

“I am Spiderman. Much more so that that silly comic book hero. The more interesting question of the moment is, ‘What are you?’ or more precisely, ‘What are you becoming?’”

“What do you mean?” The pain in my stomach redoubled and I curled into a fetal position on my knees in the grass. “What’s happening to me?” I didn’t hear an answer though. I screamed as my skin tore open and glittering ruby scales appeared instead. My body broke and pulled and stretched until I must’ve blacked out.

I awoke feeling very odd, but not in pain. My stomach was still churning, so I must be me. Then I tried to stand. I pushed off with my hands as I opened my eyes. I would have overbalanced and fallen over, but my wings unfurled and beat rapidly to settle me firmly on all fours. “What’s happened to me?” I said, then felt the need to belch. I sprayed a plume of fire that stunned me. My stomach settled.

“A dragon. Well done! Jack will be so pleased.”

I looked over at Spiderman and asked, “How?”

“It’s amazing what a magic bean can do when it’s not planted.”

“But I’m…I’m…”

“You’re an Odd Fellow. Welcome to the family.”


I had so much fun reading your entries this week! Thanks for coming out and playing! If you missed them, go check out the entries here. Otherwise, on to the judging! (General comments first followed by the winners!)

Thanks to all of you for entering - I've never had to set a writing challenge before and really enjoyed seeing how one line took you all in such different directions.

Kate - I had no idea what Mya was getting done until the very end, and it was a really big surprise. The use of the word "mechanic" instead of "surgeon" or "specialist" was a great idea, as was the idea of comparing her choices to those of the contestant in the show in the background (we don't have catfish steaks here in Ireland, but I'm guessing they're not the greatest food on earth).

Penname - I'm amazed at the story you came up with from the line you were given. A support group for zombie-killers? Well, of course they'd need one when you think about it. I suspect that if the story went on longer Austine and Sterling would have an interesting relationship. I really enjoyed this, it was such a zany concept.

TestBlog - some TV producer somewhere will read this and think  "Mmmm...Dodge or Die....that's actually a good idea". If they do make sure you get the royalties. It's so believable that TV game shows will eventually end up just this crazy. I liked the idea that if we got to live forever we'd start to crave the feeling of mortality - it's very probably what would happen.

wh1006 - this is a lovely story, and Amelie is such a likeable and believable character. The description of the nerves she felt is spot-on, and it was great that despite her nerves she could see the flaws in the judges, get annoyed at their questions and be self-aware enough to think "can really feel this stupid right now?". And auditions as a TV game show is another idea which will surely come along soon. 

Special Challenge Champion:


I asked you to mention TV game shows and you set your whole story in one, a really cleverly thought-up one.

Grand Champion:


because of the amazing idea for a story, because I was kept guessing till the very end, and because of the great last line.

Thanks to all of you again for entering, and to you Alissa, for hosting it all,