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Possible Paranormal Prologue | #amwriting #writingchallenge

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

In the aftermath of all that is and all that was. When the devil comes to collect his debts. When those good and true in society determine the time has come. That’s when we will be free. That’s when the veil will be lifted, the lamp lighted, the scales removed from their eyes.

Until then, we live in the shadows. Becoming as one with them, hiding our differences, harnessing our powers. Denying the nature of our ancestry lest these good people around us decide we come from too dangerous a lineage to deserve to breathe their air, live in their towns, eat at their tables.

We hide ourselves so well that many of our number do not know they are one of a multitude. That there are others—scattered by necessity unwillingly—who share their secret. Their shame. Their power.

Now is not the time. Not yet. Not in the midst of so much turmoil. But until the right time comes, we work. We gather. We teach. We practice.

We live.

Just a little something I wrote tonight as a 60-second, don’t-pause-the-pen challenge.

#WritingTips from my Bookshelf: Write What You Know

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Excerpt from Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer by Bret Anthony Johnston (Editor)


Though “write what you know” is perfectly sound advice, I always encourage my students to live other lives in their fiction. I think one of the main reasons new writers don’t finish short stories or novels is because most adhere too closely to “what really happened” and burn out during the increasingly arduous task of rehashing the scenes and emotions. Also, no matter how talented the writer, fiction can never life up to the richness and texture of actual experience. To expect it to is to set yourself up for major disappointment, which may lead you to unfairly question your skills as a writer.

. . . Jot down all the things you remember about the [first-time or last-time] experience, focusing on the sensory: sights, sounds, smells. Now write the scene but change something fundamental about the experience. For example:

  • The gender of the main character.
  • The time period in which the experience occurred; for example, make it happen in the 1920s or the 2020s.
  • The outcome of the experience. If, in reality, you got away with it, show what happens if the main character gets caught.
  • The basic situation. Instead of stealing a Milky Way from CVS, maybe you stole a condom. Or maybe a tie from Saks.
  • Switch “first” with “last” in the statement and then change something else. For example, “The last time this person shoplifted a tie from Saks . . .”
  • Combine one of your firsts with one of your lasts: Maybe the last time the main character saw her father was at a Grateful Dead concert. Or the first boy who broke your heart did so the night the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. To me, this option has the most exciting possibilities.

This exercise works because the author is confidently grounded by the actual experience but still forced to stretch his or her imagination. The more drafts you write, the further from “real life” you will get, and yet the entire piece will likely still retain a sense of authenticity.

Work Cited:

Johnston, Bret Anthony. Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. New York: Random House, 2007. 13–14. Print.

Guess what? I WROTE this weekend! #amwriting (again)

Sunday, April 19, 2020

You guys! It actually happened. I wrote fiction this weekend! I challenged a small fellowship of writers that I’m in to a weekend writing challenge—not competing with each other, but just setting our own word-count goals—and I set a modest, attainable goal for Friday evening through Sunday evening of 1,500 words.

And I ended up writing 1,853.

Now, I still had to “force” myself to write. In other words, the driving passion/desire to write still isn’t there. But both sessions, as soon as I made myself sit down (first with pen in hand, then transitioning to the computer, since I can type a lot faster than I can write by hand), I was actually able to fountain forth two scenes. They’re out of chronological order, and probably neither one is anywhere near the opening of the story. But that’s actually huge step in the right direction of reclaiming writing as something I do for me, for fun, rather than something I have to do “the right way” because it was work.

And here’s my other creative endeavor update:

I just finished off my last loaf of store-bought country bread (I like it toasted for breakfast), so I’ll be doing something this week that I haven’t done in a couple of decades—making bread. I have a bread “bible,” full of recipes I’ve either tried or want to try. I just have to make sure that whatever recipe I choose works in my tiny galley kitchen!

What’s up in your quarantined part of the world?

Hi . . . Um, Hello Again, I Guess

Thursday, April 9, 2020

In Hollywood, reboots of older movies are pretty popular. So maybe I should call this a reboot instead of a reintroduction?

TL;dr: I’m posting again. What’s up with you?

Anyway, hi. You may not remember me, because I haven’t been around in quite a while. Lots of stuff happened after the last time I posted, and there was a lot to sort through, both personally and professionally (day job). And because I’ve been struggling with writing/being “a writer” over the past half-decade or more, anything publicly connected to that fell way, way back in the list of priorities.

It used to be that in times of upheaval and massive stress/anxiety, writing was the first thing I’d turn to. Some of my most prolific streaks of word-count production happened when I had so much going on in my life that it now seems impossible that I was actually able to do all of it and write thousands of words every day. But, frankly, I probably wouldn’t have made it through otherwise.

My plan for writing this year started out with the idea of working on my own form of fan fiction. I’ve never been a traditional-fanfic reader/writer (is there anything such as “traditional” fanfic? LOL), but many (most) of my stories were inspired either by storylines or characters I emotionally attached to in books/TV/movies and started forming my own stories around. Plus, I figured if I consider what I’m doing “fanfic,” I’ll be able to approach it as something fun and entertaining to do rather than the “work” my writing turned into back when I was writing for publication.

And so far it’s worked!

While I haven’t really been publicly talking/posting about the characters/story ideas that I’ve been working on over the past couple of months, I’ve been delving into it deeply enough that I’ve actually already purchased a few research books about the setting/era I’m thinking about for it (Gold Rush California!).

I don’t want to share too much about it, because I want to keep this as a personal project as much as possible in order to keep the correct mindset about it, I will say that I’m taking character/worldbuilding/story inspiration from TV shows and movies such as Criminal Minds, the Marvel movies, Supernatural, Grimm, Charmed (the original version), FBI: Most Wanted, and Legends of Tomorrow.

Character-development notes with photos of actor templates

Here’s a teaser of what I’ve been working on.

So far, I’ve just been doing character development and worldbuilding, with tiny bits of historical research thrown in here and there, but I do plan to start actually writing soon. I started writing out backstory for a couple of characters the other day, and it turned into the start of a story synopsis. So I stopped writing that. Now that I have an idea for where to begin a story for some of my cast of characters, I don’t want to get too “in the weeds” with the details (as my boss likes to say in our daily team video meetings) lest I lose sight of the purpose of this creativity exercise.

I’ll be checking in at least once a week with progress posts, writing revelations, tantalizing teaser tidbits, and totally non-writing-related crochet progress updates, since that’s my other creative outlet right now and much easier to share progress of:

What have you been up to recently?

It’s #NaNo Prep Time! What Will You Be Writing? | #nanowrimo #nano2019

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Is it time yet? Is it time yet? Now?

Yes—it’s time to start thinking about and prepping for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, or NaNo), which starts November 1.

I went to an informational meeting for my local group (we’re too small to have an online group, we’re stuck in a greater regional group for now) last night and set my goal—to write a 50k novella that’s both a sequel to the Ransome Trilogy and a kickoff of my new Ransome’s Legacy series. Right now, it’s tentatively entitled The Pirate’s Ransome.

Are you participating in NaNo this year? Do you have your story idea yet?

August 2019 #Challenge: Morning Pages & Evening Story Time | #amwriting

Monday, August 5, 2019

I’ve been saying for a couple of years that “someday,” I’ll get Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way and work through it to see if I can regain my love and passion for writing. As Karamo Brown taught us in an episode of Queer Eye: Today. Not someday.

Because of the way I have my planner set up, my “months” go by weeks (Monday — Sunday), which means that for me, August started today (Monday, August 5) since days 1-4 of the month were included in my July weekly planner spreads. So my August challenge will run from Monday August 5 through Sunday September 1.

I have two main goals for these four weeks:

  1. Work through The Artist’s Way.
  2. Spend at least 30 scheduled minutes each evening working on a story (writing, developing story or character ideas, etc.).

The main thing I’ll be doing daily from The Artist’s Way is the practice of Morning Pages. And, although I did mean to start morning pages today . . . well, you know what the say paving roads with intentions leads. But I do have the book sitting here, staring me in the face, reminding me all day that I have a date with it tonight.

What Are Morning Pages?

Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*––they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.
(Cameron, Julia. “Morning Pages.”)
[See also, “Why By Hand?”]

Evening Story Time
While the exercise of coming up with a fiction-related idea for each day of last month was a great exercise, it still didn’t motivate me to actually start writing. So this challenge will be broken down into a few goals that will, hopefully, lead me to actually start getting into writing a story. The first goal is to narrow down my multitude of ideas into two or three that really interest me (one day) and then spend the rest of the week fleshing out the ideas: writing a longer story summary, creating/casting characters, doing some research if warranted, and other foundational tasks. Then, by the end of this first week, I will decide which story idea I want to work on for the rest of the month, and I will focus on it during my scheduled creative time each evening (currently scheduled for 9 PM Central each evening, but that may be adjusted on evenings when I have events/plans). This may mean actually writing scenes/chapters, it may mean writing character backstories, it may mean world building. It doesn’t matter what the task is, as long as I spend at least thirty uninterrupted minutes focused on it.

A Return to Regular Blogging
While I didn’t mention this above as a goal for August, since it’s not fiction-writing related, it is writing-related in general. Another goal I’ve set for this month is to blog at least twice each week. So be sure to keep me accountable on that one!

What’s Your Challenge for August?

Works Cited:

Cameron, Julia. “Morning Pages” Julia Cameron Live, 2019,

Cameron, Julia. “Morning Pages: Why by Hand?” Julia Cameron Live, 4 Oct. 2012,

July Idea Per Day Challenge Results! | #amwriting

Saturday, August 3, 2019

I did it! Thirty-one fiction ideas in thirty-one days!

An Idea Per Day | Copyright 2019 by Kaye Dacus

Now… in the spirit of full disclosure—I didn’t actually write down an idea every single day. But I didn’t allow myself to get more than two or three days behind before getting caught up. And it’s amazing how much easier the second or third ideas were to generate once I’d already written one down. (You know, that whole “priming the pump” thing.)

Some of the ideas are totally new and random. Some are extremely short. Some are ideas for existing secondary characters (James Ransome from Ransome’s Quest, Pax Bradley from The Art of Romance) and some are for settings/series ideas in progress (stories set during the Peace of Amiens, 1802-1803, featuring Royal Navy heroes). In the last week or so of the challenge, ideas were inspired by the book I’m currently reading (for that very reason): To Marry an English Lord. In rewriting an existing story idea (see this teaser I posted), I came up with what I’m calling my Kiwi Prairie Romance series (three story ideas right now set in New Zealand in the late 1800s).

Not only was it a fun challenge, but it also kept the need to think creatively and come up with fiction ideas near the top of my mind daily. It also helped that I intentionally set out to do this longhand, since I was without my personal computer for two weeks during July waiting for the fan to be replaced! (Thank goodness I at least had my work laptop, since I do work from home, to be able to earn my daily bread.) In fact, being without the personal computer for that long probably turned out for the best. Even though I wasn’t able to blog as regularly as I’d hoped, I was more likely to pick up the Ideas notebook and start writing something down instead of what I usually do in the evening—which is waste time online while binge-rewatching favorite TV shows on Netflix.

Tomorrow, I’ll post my challenge for August, but for now . . .

Did you have an idea-ful July? Is this a challenge you could see yourself doing in the future—even if just for a week? What’s your writing challenge for August?

An Idea-Seeding Example | #challenge #amwriting

Friday, July 19, 2019

I mentioned in a previous post that I look for creativity-seeds when coming up with these daily fiction-related ideas when nothing original comes to mind. I wanted to show you an example of what that looks like.

On Sunday, I was having trouble focusing, so I went to my Sounds Interesting list on Goodreads and started reading the back-cover blurbs of the books there. (A process I explained in even more detail here.) I landed on The Pirate Prince by Connie Mason. The first part of the blurb reads:

She was a jewel among women, brighter than the moon and stars. Her hair shone like newly minted gold, and her skin was as smooth and iridescent as an exquisite pearl. Her lips were lush and pink, made for kissing. She was a pirate’s prize, yet he could not so much as touch her.

Why did this blurb stand out to me? Because it offended me (as an author and lover of historical romance) in all its cliche-ness. So I let myself react to it viscerally:

She was not a jewel among women—she was as dull as a cloudy sky. Her hair did not shine like newly minted gold—it was a balance between the colors of dirt and potting soil. Her skin was not as smooth and iridescent as an exquisite pearl—she had visible freckles and moles and suffered a skin ailment that made scaly patches that were itchy, dry, and painful. Her lips were not lush and pink, made for kissing—her mouth was asymmetrical (top lip much thinner than the bottom, as if they’d come from two different mouths), and her top lip disappeared almost completely on the rare occasion that she smiled; the corners had a permanent downward turn, discouraging conversation, much less kissing; and it was a mouth known for expressing her opinions about whatever topic struck her fancy. She was no man’s prize; yet once he met the stubborn, independent old spinster, he couldn’t get her off his mind.

Have you ever seen/heard a story blurb that inspired your own creative idea?

Has It Been an Idea-ful Week? | #challenge #amwriting

Sunday, July 14, 2019

My computer has been at the repair shop since Tuesday (fan needed to be replaced), but I’ve still been sticking to my idea-per-day challenge.

So, although I’m having to post this from my phone, I still wanted to stay accountable and check in to see if anyone else is keeping up with the challenge.

Seeding Creativity | #ideaperday #challenge #amwriting

Monday, July 8, 2019

Another post, another photo to show that I’ve been sticking to my Idea Per Day challenge for July.

Because of traveling and recovery from traveling/vacation, the ideas still aren’t flowing freely. But I have decades’ worth of stuff saved on my computer that makes really great seeds for ideas—from actual story ideas I’ve jotted down before to my casting book and even to blog posts I’ve shared here before.

Now that I’m home and my schedule is back to normal, my next step is to work on making sure that I’m going this at the same time every day. The plan is to have the notebook sitting on my bedside table to do it just before bed each night, since that used to be my most creative time for writing to see if I can get that back.

In the meantime, I’ll just keep making sure that I write down one fiction-related idea per day . . . even if I do have to search for some seeds to get started with!

Where do you find seeds for your ideas?

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