A place for writing off-the-cuff
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In 2011, my main focus will be on writing a novel. Since I'm a novice novelist, I've decided to come at the project from different angles, exploring the genre and experimenting with its elements. This blog and its offsite sister blog will be my journals where I attack novel-writing one day at a time.
As I was creating my BlogSpot page, the inspiration for the blog solidified in my mind. I named that blog "One Significant Moment at a Time." In essence, I want to use the format as a reminder to walk through my life with my author's eyes open, taking in the details, feeling the emotions of the day. As moments unfold and I feel their affects on me as a person, a woman, a mother, a sister, a member of the world community, I'll let the writer in me talk about it.
Creative Nonfiction is the genre most fitting to describe what I envision accomplishing here, moreso than blogging or journaling. The style is best suited, I feel, for my ambitions as a novelist.
In addition, Friday entries will not be written by me. Instead, I'll turn the keyboard over to one of the characters in my novel. He or she will relate the events of the day as s/he saw them, through the filter of his or her perception.
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If you've read my blog before, and find yourself here again, won't you click this link and check out my BlogSpot?
Become a Follower there, and I'll send you a Supportive Merit Badge! -- You don't have to go to blogspot.com each day; in fact, I post much of the same entries here in this WDC blog. But building up a verifiable readership may prove important one day when I'm knocking on literary agent/publishers' doors!
To Follow, just click "Follow" on the right margin of my blog page. You'll have to sign in using, or create, a Google account (it's free and only takes two minutes!), and then follow the short instructions. It's easy, and I'd appreciate it so much!!
Merit Badges Sent To:
~Noelle ~ TY Anon! ~
~sunshine014 ( Where'd Ashy go??)~
~Mara ♣ McBain ~
~Adriana Noir ~
~Carol St. Ann ~
2011 Reading Goal = 25 Books in 52 Weeks. To see the list of books I've read so far, CLICK HERE
Leave me a comment anytime ~ even on older postings!
Thanks for reading!!
|You probably don't know me, so let me introduce myself. I'm NickiD89. Username: heftynicki. I stumbled upon Writing.com on November 8, 2007 because I had a story to tell. Actually, it turned out that I had a lot of stories... but I didn't know that at the time. At the time I had one. So on that chilly day outside Atlanta,GA, I did a Google search because I wanted to know... how does the author of a story prove they were the author, after the story is published online? I chose the keywords "copyright laws for fiction writers." Little did I know it, but my life was literally about to change forever.
The first site in my search results? A little website called Writing.com.
I clicked on it. And I was home.
I created an account at Writing.com. I was nervous, but I was exhilerated.
One thing to understand. At that time, I didn't have a Facebook account. MySpace was only 2 years old, at the time. Twitter was pubescent, and for the most part, the Internet was wild, unchartered frontier. We were warned about stalkers. What about the preditors? Those of us who ventured online protected ourselves. We invented online personas, reflected in our User Names, and we nurtured our online identites.
Feels like a lifetime ago.
Last weekend, my daughter told me she'd created an account at Writing.com. She's an English Lit major at Columbus State University in Georgia. I was beyond thrilled. I remember the homemade card, circa 2008, on which her 8-year-old-hand had written "Happy First WDC Anniversary, Mama!" I was so touched now, knowing she too had an online portfolio where she could store her stories and poems.
Naturally, as soon as she told me her username, I logged in and became a fan.
And I noticed so many of my dear friends are still here! And there are so many changes too...though so much is the same.
I feel... a spark reignited in my writer's soul. I want to tell stories. Move people, provoke thought -- Inspire. I want to write.
To Follow Me On Twitter Click HERE!
And Follow My Blog "One Significant Moment At A Time," by Clicking Here!
Oh my goodness, there are cobwebs in every corner in here! It's nice though, homey. Like wandering up in your grandparents' attic where it smells like warm dust and memories. Or coming home after a vacation, opening the house that's been shut up for some time, everything just as you left it before the trip.
I've just experienced that, in fact. Last week for the Thanksgiving holiday I spent seven glorious days on a 148-ft sailing yacht in the British Virgin Islands. I was with my husband and kids, and my sister and her son, and her boyfriend. We are all -- even the kids -- certified scuba divers. We dove every day, enjoying the amazing variety of fishes and marine animals, the colorful corals, and famous dive sites including the RMS Rhone, which is called the best dive wreck in the Caribbean. On two different dives we encountered 5-ft nurse sharks. They are gentle, harmless (to humans) creatures, but awe-inspiring, to say the least.
Okay, I have a newsletter to write and the clock is ticking. Hope all who wander into this dusty space enjoy a magical day!
|Ever since my kids can remember, there's been a locked briefcase in the house. Each time they rediscovered it, they spun the lock wheels, trying countless number combinations, in vain. Over time, it had became one of the most excruciating mysteries in their young lives. Years ago, my daughter dubbed it 'The Briefcase That Would Not Open.'
The black leather case was rather heavy. When one side was lifted higher than the other, the contents slid against the end with a suspicious thud. The kids' imaginations were wild with speculation. What could be inside?
I knew the case was a remnant of the days my husband and I lived and worked in Central Africa. It carried important documents while we traveled. That was circa 1996, three years before the birth of our oldest. A dual combination lock system required two three-digit codes to open the case. Neither my husband nor I could remember the codes. This maddened our children.
Two days ago, daughter Sidney pulled the briefcase out of its dusty corner. Her passion for opening the case seemed more emphatic than usual, if that was possible. She pressed her father to remember the combinations. And one of us said something that turned a key in hubby's brain. He looked at me with large eyes and said to the kids, "Try Mama's birthday."
1-0-0 on the left and 3-6-6 on the right. It didn't work. The kids' shoulders fell.
But wait! In France, a date is expressed with the day of the month first, and then the month followed by the year. So the French would write October 3, 1966 as 03/10/66.... When the kids spun the wheels again and set the combination to 0-3-1 on the left and 0-6-6 on the right....the mechanism sprang open. They were in!
We have all really enjoyed discovering the briefcase contents.
Most exciting for the kids was the dinosaur model laptop computer and printer. The Olivetti is a whooping 2.5 inches thick and weighs about 8 lbs. It runs Windows 97 on MS-DOS. But the kids don't care. Luckily we had a converter on hand and were able to plug the battery charger into the wall socket. I was surprised that a fifteen-year-old-plus computer actually powered up! The keyboard is French, so certain letter keys are in different places and accented letters have the accents on them. The kids are fascinated by it.
Also in the case were documents that reminded us of the lives we were living back in the mid-90s. There were several telephone cards. These cards, we explained to the children, one bought at le Tabac (newspaper vendor's shop) to use in public telephones back before everyone had cell phones. We found letters we'd received from family and friends in the States, including one from a friend telling me about a bike trip around the perimeter of the US that he was planning to take. In the letter, he mentions a mutual friend of ours was joining him for one leg of the trip. That trip went on to spark a romance between them. Today they are married and have a son.
The Briefcase That Would Not Open turned out to be an unexpected time capsule.
This discovery gave us a wonderful project idea. We're going to create a family time capsule!
Each of us is going to contribute several items to the time capsule. We want to include things that represent who we are as individuals in 2012. What are our passions? What makes us tick? Sidney wants to write a letter to her future self. Brilliant!! I'm doing that too.
We also plan to add photos of ourselves. We'll put in our favorite recipes ('cause food is very important to us and we all cook together), and mementos from our family vacations and everyday life.
We won't bury our time capsule in the backyard, for a very simple reason. I don't plan to be in this house for the long term. We'll seal up the capsule and put it in the corner, maybe that dusty corner where The Briefcase That Would Not Open resided.
Twenty-five years from now, no matter where in the world we are, we'll all come together for a family vacation to open the time capsule. I imagine Cody and Sidney with their spouses and children, explaining the significance of the items they put inside as children. Once again, life will be a representation in stories, many significant moments in time. Thinking about it gives me goosebumps.
We can't wait to get started!
Have you ever contributed to a time capsule? Has it been opened? I'd love to hear your stories!
|My real life sister, known around these halls as Noelle ~ TY Anon! won first place in WYRM's 2011 Gauntlet championship. Way to go, sis!!!
If you're looking for an engaging and thoroughly entertaining fantasy short story, check out her winning entry:
And I hope you send Noelle a review, if time permits. She's hungry to tighten this awesome story and start submitting it for publication. Thanks so much!!
|At long last, I have my new laptop. So excited!!! I was debating for months (while I raised the money) whether or not to get a laptop or a tablet plus keyboard. I'd heard lots of buzz about the tablets and writers who were swearing by them, saying they are the future in writing-on-the-go. Maybe that will be so, but for right now I don't think I'm ready for that technology. First of all, my phone is not a 3G or 4G mobile hotspot, and all the word processing apps depend on an internet connection. With my luck, I'd have three pages of blood and tears written and not yet saved, and I'd lose my connection. Nightmare scenario!!
Also, last weekend I had the opportunity to speak to James Dashner, NYT bestselling author of The Maze Runner trilogy. I asked him if he wrote on a laptop or a tablet. He has both, but he said for writing he'd only work on a laptop. That was the moment I finally decided to go that route. Believe me, I was tired of being on that fence.
So, today I picked up my SONY VAIO. It has an i5 Intel processor, backlit keyboard 8 gigs of memory...but the best part is it's pretty as all get-out. It's black and purple, and with that white lights under the keys, well, it's gorgeous!
This couldn't come at a better time. I already have a write-in planned with a NaNo buddy who lives nearby. So glad I won't be attending it with a stone tablet and chisel. hahha
|...the Old Bucket List!
Yesterday was the Athens Half Marathon, and I not only finished the 13.1 mile course, but I came in under the time goal I'd set for myself. I'd calculated that I'd finish between 2:35:00 and 2:45:00. I crossed the finish line at 2:27:15!! Yay me!
I worried about a lot of things the night before the race. Would I struggle in the last miles? Would I have to (oh God please, no!) use the port-a-potty? Would my knees ache and make me miserable? Would I have to walk up the hills? Would I get sick during or after the race? Would I...? Would I...?
In fact, I felt ridiculously strong and happy during the entire course, from start to finish! I owe it all to the rigorous training I went through, especially all the hill work I did; to the carb-loading I did, starting 48 hours before race time; and to the huge support I received from my family and friends. I enjoyed every minute of the marathon and felt like I could have kept going when I reached the finish. So awesome! Can't wait to sign up for the next one!!
To see a couple pictures from yesterday's race, click this link:
If we're not Facebook friends yet, send me a request while you're there!
Hope you had a fab weekend as well. Did you do anything that lifted your spirits? I'd love to hear all about it!!!
|In keeping with my "Dear Me" goals for 2011, I've been submitting my short fiction to literary magazines. As outlined in my letter, I made my goal two-fold: I want to be pubbed in a lit. mag., and I want to sell a story. Being able to call myself a paid author (even if we're only talking about pennies ) would be the coolest thing, in my eyes.
Two days ago I received an acceptance email from the editors of Slice Magazine for my short story "In the Wake of Silence." I was thrilled!! But, there was a catch...
Slice is a nonpaying market. Who cares, right? It's a tough literary magazine to get into. But....my story was on simultaneous submission to a batch of paying markets, too. One of those markets, called Independent Ink Magazine, had my submission for 258 days -- far longer than the usual 120 day turnaround time cited in their guidelines.
According to Indinkmag.com, if you don't receive a rejection from them, it means they haven't read your story yet, or they read it and loved it, but it doesn't fit with the issue currently being put together. In case of the latter, it would be accepted for a future issue.
I emailed the editor at Indie Ink and explained there was interest in my story, and asked if it had been read by their editorial staff yet. Within thirty minutes I received a response by the founding editor, who told me the story was short listed by his staff and had been passed on to him for approval. He apologized for being so far behind, due to the incredible number of submissions the magazine had received. He said he was reading my story and would give me an answer by the evening's end.
However, two days later when I didn't hear from him, I decided I would grant first publishing rights to Slice. It felt like the right decision, and I'm thrilled to know my story will be included in the Spring 2012 issue. A "Dear Me" goal accomplished!
I sent the Indie Ink editor a follow-up email, thanking him for the interest they'd shown my story but explaining that I was withdrawing the submission due to its acceptance by another market. He responded with equal professionalism and kindness, encouraging me to submit more of my work and apologizing for "dropping the ball."
I learned a lot during this experience, about professional communication and protocol when dealing with industry insiders. And most importantly, I learned that in this business, my art -- my stories -- are a product, and that editors are in the market for products that maintain the integrity of the magazines they produce and that will sell those magazines. It's not personal, you know? That really takes the sting out of rejection, don't you think?
There is a great article about the literary magazine industry, written by a lit. mag. editor. Here's the link: What Editors Want; A Must-Read For Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines I highly recommend it!
|For round two of WYRM's Gauntlet, we were challenged to write a short story inspired by a picture prompt of a toy. We had only one week. "Invalid Post"
Here was my rather dark, rather twisted offering. I'd love to hear your reactions.
Have a fantastic day!
|This morning I'm babysitting a friend's baby. He's napping, so I'm taking this opportunity to try out my friend's laptop. I'm in the market to buy one, my first ever. I know, right? And since I have decided to save the money first and buy with cash in hand (what a concept!), I have a couple more weeks to investigate the types of machines on the market and make an informed decision before handing over my money.
I'm typing today on a Gateway. It looks like a 15.6" screen, but I'm not sure. The size of the keyboard is nice, comfortable. There's a nine-key number pad to the right of the regular keyboard. I like that. One of the reasons I don't want a netbook is the small keyboard with only number keys along the top.
I want a dual-core processor, i3 or i5, 500-640 GB hard drive, with at least 4 GB of installed ram. I feel anything less than those stipulations will warrant a slower machine than I want. Of course, I don't pretend to understand most of what's on these computer sales stickers, these days. However, I have been doing my homework, as best as a left-brained creative like me can!
So far, I've been typing at a desk, but I have my friend's permission to unplug this bad boy and use it elsewhere in the house. So I think I'll head off to the couch, see what that's like. Better save my work first........
Okay, I'm back. Greetings from the couch, haha!
Things coming right to mind:
This thing is sort of heavy. I wonder what it weighs? I have the laptop on my thighs, as I sit with my back supported by pillows against the arm and my legs extended along the seat. It's pressing a bit into my legs right above my knees. I think, maybe, after a while like this, it'd really start to become uncomfortable. Machines I've been looking at claim they weigh about 4.5 lbs. I wonder how they compare to this one?
I'm also noticing the heat on my legs from the bottom of the laptop. It isn't uncomfortable, but it is warm. In the winter, this would be really nice! But, I wonder how hot it gets?
I do like this keyboard. My typing speed is improving as this post gets longer. These keys are not completely flat; they are slightly raised up. My friend tells me her husband's Toshiba has very flat keys that she can't get used to. (Hmm...his laptop is sitting right over there...maybe I'll give that keyboard a spin in a minute!)
I'm certain I'll want a wireless mouse, because these laptop mouse plate-things are the bane of my laptop experience. What a pain in the arse! Of course, I believe any time you encounter a new computer, one you aren't used to using, you have to go through a period of adjustment. And I could get used to anything...
Well, I've babbled on enough here. When my friend returns, coiffed and gorgeous, I may run to Best Buy and try out some more laptops. Wish I could buy today! But, that stash of cash isn't quite big enough. Patience!!
Until later, have a fab day, all!
|For those who don't know, I spent two weeks this summer in Italy and Malta, and cruised the Mediterranean by private yacht. It was the vacation of a lifetime and I think about it every day since I've been back.
If you're interested in viewing any of my ka-billion photos, here are a couple Facebook photo albums to get you started. And, if we aren't FB friends and you'd like to connect over there, please send me a friend request!
So, without further ado, here are some links:
Italy/Malta Vacation 2011
More Italy/Malta Pix 2011
Happy Hump Day, all!!
|I have four sisters, each of whom is as strong and beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside, and pursues her passions with amazing dedication and commitment. Here's proof of that, evident in my sister Heather Green. Check out this newly released video of her:
So proud of her!!
|In an attempt to re-acclimate myself with the regular grind (as my switch is stubbornly stuck on Vacation Mode), I ventured to the grocery store yesterday for milk.
The drive to the nearest store is literally 3-1/2 minutes from my house, which is why I try not to shop there. At any time in the store's 24-hour day I am sure to bump into at least two neighbors; and during peak hours, I find myself leaning on my cart five to eight times and chatting up an extra hour or so that I hadn't allotted to errand-running. Time management is NOT my friend, to start with. So I often shop in a food store farther from my house.
However, since yesterday was just an excuse to get out of the house, I went to my neighborhood Kroger. At the register, I was surprised when the cashier handed me a receipt for milk that was long enough to categorize a week's worth of groceries. She explained the extra type dealt with the ground turkey recall.
Since I use my Kroger card when I shop in the store, the computer was able to spit out all the dates and UPC codes when I bought now-recalled ground turkey. I learned that since February 20, I bought fourteen packages of potentially tainted turkey. I guess I shop at Kroger more often than I realized.
I searched my freezers but found none of this turkey, which means we ate all of it. That's a lot of bullets to dodge.
But here's the thing I'm most struck by: The recalled turkey came from one processing center. "On August 3, Cargill recalled 36 million pounds of fresh and frozen ground turkey products produced at the company’s Springdale, Ark., facility from Feb. 20, 2011, through Aug. 2, 2011, due to possible contamination with Salmonella Heidelberg." (Source ) That same turkey has been sold under the following brands:
Aldi’s Fit & Active
Shady Brook Farms
Bulk packed ground turkey
So I realized that when I pay $1.50-2.50 more per pound for Honeysuckle or Shady Brook Farms turkey, I'm getting the exact same product as if I spent less money on the store brand.
Friends, I've helped fund those company's marketing campaigns for the last time. Lesson learned!
|My body has returned to the States but my mind is still on vacation. It's a bit like I've been scuba diving in Paradise Sea and my swim to the surface is painfully slow. Don't want the bends, you know.
I thought a lack of Internet connection would cause me stress. Turns out, the worst part is getting back into my desk chair. I've missed all my cyber-besties! But for days now I can't stay motivated for more than ten minutes at a time before my mind wanders and I stare, blankly, for who-know's-how long.
I have a Drama newsletter to write though. So today I'll push myself. Kick my fins. Break the surface and breath fresh air.
....ummm....I'll brew another cup of coffee first. THEN, I'll be ready.
|I've outlined a photo itinerary of my trip to Italy. Please click this link to my off-site blog (One Significant Moment at a Time -- Blogspot) to see the incredible locations I'll visit and the rock star accommodations that will get me there!
My Trip to Italy
See you in August when I return! Have a great July!!!!!!!
|Good morning, WDC!
At long last, the voting poll is open for the finale of the "Invalid Item" contest. It's been a long contest, so let me bring you up to speed, in case you haven’t been following along with bated breath : The contest opened four months ago with thirty participants. Each round, we were challenged with a tough writing prompt and the voting was open to all WDC members who wished to vote on their favorite writer/entry. The participants with the fewest votes left the competition and the rest moved on to the next round. Every round earned successful participants GPs for themselves and GPs for their charity group.
My charity group is "Rising Stars of WdC" !
It's now down to just two remaining contestants: me NickiD89 and my dear friend Fyn . Which of us will take the title as WDC's ultimate Survivor? That all depends on your votes!
This round is different from the others. I can't reveal to you which story I wrote. The entries are anonymous, and you must choose the story you enjoyed the most, the one you felt was most tightly written and successful with the prompt. Personally, I think this is a wonderful way to present our final entries. May the best story win!
I'll link the entries, and below them is the link to the voting poll. But first, here was our very challenging prompt:
Survivor Final Round Prompt: You (or your character) get(s) a phone call that contains the unexpected and draws out true emotion from you (or your character). There is a catch, however: Write the scene using only dialogue - internal and external. Then, rewrite the same scene using no dialogue whatsoever - only description.
The two entries competing for your votes are:
"Secret WdC Survivor - Torn Apart"
"Secret WdC Survivor - Disconnections"
Once you have read our entries, click the following link to cast your vote. Remember, the winner earns a whooping 287,531 GPs for her group! (That's in addition to all the GPs earned up to this point.)
Enjoy our stories and thank you for voting!!
Voting poll is open until 11:59 p.m. Friday, July 15th, 2011 WdC time.
|I spent the afternoon revising and spit-shining a story for submission. It's amazing how much easier the editing process is when you've put the project aside for a couple months.
I hadn't reread this particular story since early spring when I submitted it to a literary magazine called Independent Ink. That market generally takes 120 days to notify authors of acceptance or rejection, although they state on the website that if the story is good but not right for the issue they're currently preparing, they may take longer to announce the acceptance, to coincide with the issue it will appear in. I've now been waiting to hear a 'yay' or 'nay' for 139 days...A good sign or not, I can't guess.
At any rate, I decided to submit the story to other markets. If it is accepted someplace else, I'll withdraw it from Independent Ink's consideration.
I hadn't forgotten what the story was about, but I had become distant enough from it to enjoy it as a reader would. I wasn't skimming the words like I did when it was well-rehearsed in my writer's brain. I actually read it.
And, naturally, I found places where a tweak was in order. After some minor adjustments that, I think, strengthened the flow and overall emotional impact of the story, I sent it off. I don't think I'll ever get over the nervous, flip-flopping jitters I feel when I push the "Submit" button. It's a gulp from a big glass of exhilarating terror. Makes me sort of drunk, every time.
Now I have to settle in for another 90-day wait, on average. Plenty of time for cramps to take hold of my tightly crossed fingers. Going to try to put it out of my mind and just write.
|My own father has many strengths, but for whatever reason we've butted heads for about forty-two of the forty-four years we've known each other. He's taught me a lot, but usually by demonstrating in his own speech and actions how not to behave. I thank him for that. Many, many characters I write are heavily based on him, me, and our experiences together. And for the most part, we get along now. We've been around the block enough times to know what subjects to stay away from and what buttons must only be pushed in rare and extreme circumstances.
My husband is a fabulous father to our two children. They love him a lot, and that makes me so happy. It stops up some of the holes punched in my heart by my father.
On Father's Day, I celebrate my husband and the fathers out there that find a healthy balance in rearing children, that teach their children boundaries without crushing their spirits. Dads that are stern while still conveying the love they have in their hearts, and want only for their children to soar, even if their children soar higher than they have managed to fly.
For all of you dads out there who love, teach, protect and mentor, I salute you!
|I logged into WDC this morning and found it strange that none of my highlighted items appeared in my port. Then I tried to pull up my WDC Survivor book item, but when I opened the folder labeled Short Stories 2011, it was empty. So were all the other folders. I thought, what is going on??
Then my eyes strayed to the bottom right corner of my monitor and I saw the date. Today is June 16th?? ALREADY??
My account membership expired last night at midnight.
Of course, I knew it was going to expire on the 15th. SM sent at least two reminders in the past couple weeks. The problem is I live in la-la land in the summer. I rarely know what day of the week it is, let alone the calendar date. In past years, I renewed the first time I received an email reminder. But this year, I just put it off.
I've never let my membership expire, and I panicked this morning. Were all but ten of my items lost forever? My short stories and poems are backed up, of course, both on my hard drive and in the cloud at Dropbox.com. But not my blog posts, my book items, my signature shop, my TWIST items and forums, and not my contests and activities. Yikes!
All's well now, though. I paid for my premium membership, logged off and logged back in. My port has been restored, thanks to the four week grace period the SMs grant us. Thank you, beautiful staff at WDC!!!
And a good lesson learned. In 2012, I will definitely renew my membership the first time I'm reminded...for certain!