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Nicki <3's Mara!!


Writing Projects 2009

I set lofty writing goals for myself on the first of this year, and so far I have reached them each month. Here's what I've been working on in 2009. Your reviews are appreciated!

January '09

The Sound of Consequences  (13+)
Lifetime wish comes w/consequences. Winner of the Rising Stars North Star contest!
#1521031 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

First place winning entry written for the North Star contest, which is the final round of the Rising Stars Shining Brighter contest each year.

Excerpt: Ricky Grant, stone deaf since birth, sat with his eyes closed on an underground bench on the D.C. Metro platform. It was like playing God, he mused, having the power to eliminate at will one of his senses. But, he thought with scorn, he was better than God because he could open his eyes when he wanted to restore his sight. He wasn't sure he even believed in God, but there was one thing he was certain of: His world was silent and there was nothing he or any god could do about it.

 Entries for 15 for 15 Contest (Jan. '09)  (13+)
I'd been meaning to get this in my port and found the time today :- )
#1555906 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

~*~Leger~*~ 's 15 For 15 contest is my favorite challenge for writing off-the-cuff -- which is not my forte *Laugh*. These are the entries I wrote for the most recent round that ran from January 12, 2009 to January 27, 2009.

Excerpt: Jonathon tore out of the farmhouse at a full run, but he couldn't escape the wails from the bedroom following him like smoke from a fire burning out of control. The oppressive heat of the August afternoon felt like flames lashing at his face as he ran. Despite the heat wave that held the village in its grip for over a week, he ran on, terrified that life as he knew it was coming to an end. His grandmother and aunts hadn't let him near his mother since she took ill; they said the fever could get him too. But he could tell, could sense, that something was different today. Something bad was happening, and it terrified him.

How To Write an Encouraging Review  (E)
What's a well balanced review? What to evaluate in stories, poems? What's the Review Tool?
#1519154 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

Captain Hannah of the Adoria asked me to write an article for The Paper Doll Gang which would explain to our Newbie members why reviews are an important feature of WDC.

Excerpt: Why should you be interested in learning the foundations upon which a positive, critical review is built? The answer is simple: When a review is offered, both the one writing the review and the author whose work is being reviewed benefit from the exchange. As reviewers, we cement our own understanding of the components of storytelling through reading and commenting on other authors' works. An author who receives a thoughtful, in-depth review which points out where the writing is strong and where there is room for improvement will be compelled to hone his/her craft through this encouraging and supportive medium. When a review is well-balanced and informed, everybody wins!

February '09

Love: Reflections  (13+)
For Valentine's Day, I will play along with "A Dozen Roses Contest"
#1524492 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This book has twelve Valentine's Day themed entries, one for every day of the contest that ran from Feb. 2nd to the 14th. Each daily prompt used for inspiration a different colored rose and the color's accepted significance, and the genres required ranged from short stories to poetry, blog-type entries to erotica. Fun!

Excerpt: They reached a deserted stretch of beach, and Steven reached for Becca's hand. With a playful tug, he pulled her close to him. His fingertips cupped her face. She let her eyelids drop as his mouth closed on hers, and for a moment that sent her heart skipping, his parted lips grazed hers with deliberate tenderness before he deepened the kiss. Shock waves of desire washed over her. When they pulled apart, Steven kept Becca in his embrace, and he rested his chin on the top of her head as they laughed. Her nose nestled his neck where the musky perfume was intoxicating. Before she knew it, they were kissing again.

March '09

The Key  (13+)
An adopted girl receives a rusty, old key. Will it unlock her life's mysteries?
#1545198 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This was written as an entry for the WDC official sitewide contest "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest

Excerpt: The lush, wildflower-speckled countryside beyond the windshield reduced to a roiled rainbow as bitter tears stung Samantha's eyes. Stress seized every fiber of her body. Achy and stiff, she gripped the steering wheel with white-knuckled hands. She hadn't meant to shout at Marla, and hated the hard edge in her voice. Then she felt Marla's warm hand touch her shoulder and knew immediately she'd already been forgiven.

 Boost Your Credibility as a Reviewer  (E)
Ways you can write a review that increase your credibility.
#1539401 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

I wrote this newsletter as a guest editor for Reviewing News and Notes.

Excerpt: A skilled reviewer takes every opportunity to boost his or her credibility when offering feedback. It is true that an inherent authority is enjoyed by all reviewers; after all, the majority of us are creative writers. By virtue of our shared passion for story telling, we consider ourselves qualified to offer important feedback to our peers in the spirit of helping them improve their craft. When that feedback includes comments pointing out places where the writing is weak, the reviewer must understand the direct relationship between his or her credibility and the writer's acceptance of those critical comments.

April '09

 Don't Tempt Me  (13+)
Comedy about temptation; Quotation Inspiration April '09
#1553482 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This was written as an entry for the WDC official sitewide contest "Quotation Inspiration

Excerpt: Tammy Dixon set a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies in the center of the kitchen table and refilled two coffee cups before she sat down. The scent of just-baked cookies was maddening. She ogled the sheen of each melted chocolate morsel. Her eyelids drooped and her pulse quickened as she indulged in the fantasy of shoving a whole cookie into her mouth at once, thrilling her senses with the sweet goodness, not caring if it smeared on her lips or stuck to the roof of her mouth. Blinking rapidly, she raised her eyes and met Cheryl Rampey's amused gaze from across the table. Cheryl brought a cigarette to her mouth and dragged deeply, watching her friend of thirty years through squinted eyes.

 Nicki D-Zigns Sig&Banner Shop ~CLOSED~  (E)
Click to learn why...
#1548186 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

In addition to exploring the deeper recesses of the writing craft, I also spent a couple weeks in April converting my custom signature and banner shop to the newest format offered by WDC. Now there are categories of images for shoppers to check out. If you're looking for custom signatures, banners for portfolio folders or contests, c-notes for your shop, or gift certificates to give to friends, this is your one-stop image shop!

May '09

Stopgap  (18+)
Watch out for people who always have a plan .... and a 'tell.' Short Shots May '09
#1559283 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This was written as an entry for the May round of the WDC official sitewide contest "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest

I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart all twelve of the members who rated and reviewed this story (as of today 6/1/09). All reviews were extremely helpful and pointed to major issues I had to work out as the story evolved from one rewrite to the next. Hearing negative feedback can be hurtful, so those of you who communicated to me my mistakes and your suggestions in an honest and respectful manner, I am truly grateful. To the callous gads *Bigsmile* (you know who you are), thank you for your honest assessments, and in the future please remember a human being, not another computer monitor, will be reading your reviews.

Excerpt: He fell in line behind a man speaking low and heatedly into a cell phone. At the man's side a small boy Van guessed was about four years old shuffled his feet. Every few seconds he announced, "Daddy, I want candy." Apart from a scowl, the man ignored the boy until the fourth time Van heard him say it. Without warning he spun on the child, wrapping his hand around the boy's upper arm, and shook him violently.

"Shut the fuck up, don't you see I'm on the phone?" he hissed at the startled boy.

Young Stars Shine Your Light Contest  (E)
#1557458 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This month, at the invitation of Gabriella , I joined the ranks of group leader for Rising Stars. I'm thrilled about it! My first project is this brand new contest that I created after Gabriella shared her conceptual idea with me. She wanted to introduce a short story contest for young writers. She asked The Paper Doll group to partner with Rising Stars and help with reviews of contest entries. The first round will begin June 10th!

Excerpt: Welcome to the Rising Stars sponsored short story contest geared specifically to our young writers. This contest runs month to month and is open to WDC members who are between the ages of twelve and eighteen.

The monthly prompts for this contest appeal to young writers and are meant to inspire as well as help entrants strengthen their craft. To this end, every entry will receive reviews from the contest judge(s) as well as from members of "The Paper Doll Gang Home Page" with whom we have partnered for this project.

 Young Stars Contest Review Guidelines  (E)
Guidelines judges and reviewers will use when evaluating Young Stars contest submissions.
#1564389 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

So that the young writers participating in the Show Your Light contest receive the most concise, helpful feedback from the contest judges and review team members, I created this document to outline the specific criterion on which the entries will be evaluated.!

Excerpt: With those goals in mind, I have created the following guidelines that judges and members of the review team will follow when evaluating entrants' work. My hope is the feedback the participants receive will educate, motivate, and encourage our young writers to take their craft to the next level.

June '09

The Call of a Whale  (E)
1st Place - Quotation Inspiration 6/09 Narrative shape poem written in iambic meter.
#1573307 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This was written as an entry for the June round of the WDC official sitewide contest "Quotation Inspiration

I was THRILLED to learn on 7/16/09 that it took First Place!

Excerpt: The palm fronds swayed the day that I was born / And sea gulls screeched their welcome from the shore.

July '09

The Path Back  (XGC)
CAUTION: Erotica! Adults only, please.
#1580984 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This won First Place in "Invalid Item!

Erotica puts me way, way outside my comfort zone. As an aspiring novelist, however, I understand the benefits of being able to write steamy scenes well, so I gave it a shot here. Is it any good? Probably not *Laugh*, but future subplots may depend on my practicing till I get it right. *Smile*

Excerpt:Leaning her forehead against the adjoining door, she closed her eyes and concentrated on the delicious electricity coursing through her body, its epicenter the storm developing between her legs. When the minutes had ticked by, she reached down and grasped the door knob, turning it slowly.


His voice sounded uncertain, almost frightened. He sat bolt upright on the bed, naked except for the black band tied across his eyes. His -*Rolleyes*- stood at attention.

Homage  (13+)
1st Place Winner of Short Shots 7/09; published in Literary Foray anthology 2010
#1583786 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This story won FIRST PLACE in "Short Shots: Official WDC Contest!

Sometimes a story becomes bigger than the writer. I learned something about myself and my perceptions -- and I'm a better person after writing this piece. Thank you so much, Shannon for the gorgeous ribbon gracing this story.

Thank you to Jace for sharing his military experiences with me after reading this story, and for sending me this special Merit Badge:
Merit Badge in Military
[Click For More Info]

For your story  [Link To Item #1583786] , a touching tribute to our military and the sacrifices they make for our freedom.  Thank you for sharing this with me, with all of us!

Excerpt:Murph squinted across the inky water, past the pier from where the fireworks would be launched, to the growing number of boats just off shore, dotting the water like dandelion seeds floating on a carefree breeze. The patch over the place where his right eye should have been distorted his field of vision and intensified the headache he'd had for three months now. The urge to tear it from his face was strong, but a trained, stoic expression masked the impulse as well as the internal reprimand for forgetting, for the hundredth time that day, that removing the patch wouldn't solve the problem. He wondered if he'd ever get used to the newly acquired handicap, or adjust to civilian life. A gust of ocean air stirred the dog tags hanging around Murph's neck as he turned and made his way toward the pier.

August '09

 The Under-Protective Mother  (13+)
A TRUE STORY -- Written for the August 2009 round of Quotation Inspiration
#1591321 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This was written as an entry for "Quotation Inspiration

Memoir writing is an artform in itself and presents many challenges one doesn't face when writing fiction. Staying true to one's memories and resisting the urge to embellish the truth are two of the biggest obstacles to memoir writing. When I saw the prompt for the August round of the site wide contest was Non-fiction, I decided not to write an essay-type piece, but to tell this true story that rocked the early months of life in my (then) new neighborhood.

Excerpt:At two years old, Stevie was the youngest child on our street. He stopped at the walkway that led to the neighbor's front door and lifted a clumsy foot onto the cement pavers lining the flower bed. I narrowed my eyes as Stevie pulled the other foot up, and I drew a sharp breath when he wobbled on the uneven surface and fell hard to the other side, crushing a spray of pansies. I shot a look at Stevie's mother, Laura. She was tall and reminded me of an ostrich with a squat head atop a long neck, connected to a bottom-heavy, rotund body. With her back to Stevie, she stood in oblivion facing the ring of chatting mothers. Stevie planted one hand in the flowers and the other in the wood chips around them, raised his rear end into the air on straight legs, and then lifted his torso until he was upright. He clapped his chubby hands together, watching bits of cedar debris fall from them, before mounting the pavers again.

In The Face Of Danger  (13+)
When I was a Peace Corps volunteer, I learned the meaning of true danger -Winner SOYB 8/09
#1594763 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

Winning entry for "Show Off Your Best at the Sandbox!

It seems August is shaping up to me "memoir writing month!" One of the prompts for SOYB was "biography," and since the word count limit is so generous in that contest, I decided to finally write the account of my harrowing encounter with rebel soldiers in the Central African Republic. The memories are as fresh in my mind as the day they happened, and writing this story brought me instantly back to that fateful day.

Excerpt: When I joined the Peace Corps in 1994, I was a naïve twenty-eight year old woman with no concept of danger. It was a word on the tag on my hair dryer advising me not to operate the device and bathe at the same time, so I didn't. Danger averted. It appeared on orange stickers next to words like "flammable" and "explosive" and posted on the sides of tankers transporting volatile liquids. What did that have to do with me? It seemed obvious to me that if I avoided hazards, I'd get along just fine. But in 1996, near the end of my Peace Corps service in the Central African Republic, I was confronted with true danger for the first time in my life. It tasted like copper in my mouth. Its pungent stench burned my nostrils and its roar filled my head until I couldn't hear my own heartbeat. That day, I realized avoiding danger wasn't always possible; in fact, real peril exists in those moments when a crisis can't be averted.

 Blog, Blog, Blog  (18+)
A place for writing off-the-cuff
#1592786 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

In preparation for NaNoWriMo in November, I decided to create this online writing journal/blog where I pledge to write daily and concentrate on practicing writing "off-the-cuff." I joined talented writer and good friend Acme 's new group "Write On This..." and have already received support from her and other member/friends in my endeavors. Acme's daily writing exercises are fantastic!

Excerpt: At the top of the stairs, he paused at the massive black door and stared at his reflection in its lacquered surface. He saw the long locks of twisted hair cascading down his shoulders, each strand a witness to the time that had passed since his departure. He inhaled, feeling his chest rise, imagining courage filling each to capacity. He raised a smooth hand and grasped the golden knocker. Its baritone chime echoed through the halls beyond for only a moment before his reflection retreated off the side of the opening door. [From "Off-the-Cuff Fantasy]

Merit Badge Bonanza!  (E)
#1594698 by Nicki <3's Mara!! has given me SO MUCH in terms of a place for me to display my work, support and encouragement to improve in my craft, and countless new friends. In honor of the site's upcoming birthday celebration, I created this fun activity. Sign up today! *Delight*

September '09

 ~Burned~  (18+)
Speculative fiction based on the prompt: I CAN STILL SEE HIM BURNING.
#1599664 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This was written as an entry for Round Two of "WYRM's Gauntlet

I had never heard of Speculative Fiction before. When I read the prompt for round two, I had to go to the Internet and Google the genre. I think it is one of the most fascinating areas of fiction, and one that demands imagination as elements of sci-fi, fantasy and horror blend together to create a believable, entertaining read. Not easy! Here is my first ever attempt. (BTW, this story was strong enough to advance me to Round Three!)

Excerpt:Shohnee tilted his head and gazed with heavy-lidded eyes at the rough burlap sack dangling from a low branch of a corkwood tree. It twisted and heaved with the frantic movements of its occupant, then went still. A growl that sounded like a laboring woman's moan issued from inside. Shohnee's black lips curled into an impish smile, pulling creases around his twinkling eyes. He raised the stick from the fire and touched its smoldering end again to the sagging bottom of the sack. The sack lurched; peaks rose and fell along the surface of the material as what was inside struggled to escape. Shohnee giggled.

 My 15 For 15 Entries 9/18- 10/2/09 -  (18+)
Both times before, I wished I'd a place in my port for my entries...this time I do!
#1600500 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

It's my favorite time of the year again! ~*~Leger~*~ opened her "15 for 15 Contest --- Closed and I signed up as soon as I could. This contest is excellent practice for NaNoWriMo because it challenges me to write off-the-cuff every day. I decided to keep my entries in a book in my port because each represents a possible idea for a future story.

Excerpt: Damon had to keep his mind off Beth. That was all there was to it. Hell Week was bad enough without him screwing up worse. And every time he thought about Beth, he screwed up. Just last night as he kneeled for hours, shoulder-to-shoulder with his pledge brothers, the grains of rice scattered on the floor digging into his flesh with a pain reminiscent of a seseme seed wedged between two teeth, he couldn't keep his mind off Beth. The curve of her face swam before his eyes, her musky jasmine perfume seemed always in his nose, and the thought of her toned, sun-tanned legs disappearing beneath a black mini skirt drove his mind to distraction. Not good. Especially during Hell Week. [From "September 19 - Dual]

October '09

When Opposites Attract  (18+)
Pursuing scientific exploration trumps all in this spec-fi story. Entry: Gauntlet finals.
#1607693 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

This was my entry for the Final Round "WYRM's Gauntlet

I was thrilled to learn I'd advanced to the final round of this challenging contest. In the spirit of stretching my style and learning the most I could from the experience, I decided to try another speculative fiction story. This story wasn't strong enough to win the contest and was edged out by both the other two finalists. Third place was okay with me, though! I truly learned a lot and enjoyed the competition immensely.

Excerpt:Robb lay, panting and sweating, on the cold parking lot pavement, staring through bulging eyes at the blackened, viscid mass that used to be his ex-girlfriend. She'd slumped over him before the fight had finally gone out of her, pinning him from the waist down. Another flash of lightning illuminated the night, and Robb could see the flesh of her arm had begun to fall away in places, globs of pitchy, molten skin slowly oozing down and dripping onto his crotch, like fetid lava expelled from a macabre volcano. Jesus it works fast, he thought before turning his face away and vomiting, his violent retches shattering the silent air.

November '09

Teen Writers Info-Sharing Team (TWIST)  (E)
#1618331 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

I realized how hard it was to advertise the "Young Stars Shine Your Light Contest every month. Reaching out to teen writers isn't easy, since they are a relatively small WDC demographic. I came up with the idea of creating a group TWIST! that would be, in essence, a database of WDC writers between the ages of 12 and 20, although I invite ALL members, regardless of age, who are interested in supporting teen writers.

Every two weeks or so, I send out a group email that promotes contests, activities, groups, forums and fundraisers that were created by, or of interest to, young writers. This email currently reaches 106+ members!

To read the most recent group email, click here:

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1620897 by Not Available.

 Invalid Item 
This item number is not valid.
#1615450 by Not Available.

November was a busy month! I participated for the first time in NaNoWriMo (

It was an amazing experience -- and I achieved my goal of 50,000+ words in the thirty words of November!! The story I'm writing, my first attempt at a novel, is only half-written at 50,113 words. My writing goals for 2010 include finishing the first draft and (hopefully) getting through drafts two and three.

Excerpt:Ray's eyes shifted for an instant away from the door to the high window, but snapped back; he feared being taken by surprise when it flew open. His heart hammered in his chest and despite the chilly water he sat in, beads of perspiration formed above his lip. His instincts screamed at him to flee, but his rational mind countered that there was nowhere to run. Suddenly the laughter stopped, and the air became still as the surface of the bathwater. The vacuum of silence sucked the breath from his lungs, forcing him to take quick, shallow breaths. In the stillness he dared to hope, for a fleeting second, that his aunt had left the house. But hope was for the foolhardy. Without warning the door swung and met the wall behind it with a sickening crack.

December '09

 WDC Review Credit System  (E)
Learn about Review Credits and the list of 100 Most Credited Reviewers
#1625613 by Nicki <3's Mara!!

I was the guest editor of the Reviewing News and Notes Newsletter on December 11, 2009. uses an innovative system of rewarding reviewers for their efforts. The basic currency for this system is Review Credits, and any member who writes a qualifying public review

can earn them. Through the Review Credits system, WDC recognizes and promotes its members who write helpful and encouraging reviews, reviews that help their peers improve in the craft of creative writing.

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