Procrastination Plus!

Arrgh!

I’ve been procrastinating regarding my writing for the first time in 10 years. Why? Partly because of this dang speculative fiction prompt challenge I started. It’s not the busy-ness that’s holding me up. It’s that the responses are so creative and fun, and I’m all over the blogosphere reading and visiting old and new friends.

In terms of writing, my most productive time of day is first thing in the morning when I can indulge in big chunks of creative time. And here I sit at 5:00 AM writing this post… procrastinating!

I did finish the first draft of Book 2 in my current WIP trilogy, but it took me a month to write the last three chapters – instead of a week – ugh.  It was more fun to play with cover ideas. I can do that for days on end.

I don’t know the titles yet  – these are place-holders – and I’ll probably have covers done professionally, so this very likely is just more procrastination!

(I haven’t purchased these images, (thus the watermark). I certainly will if I decide to use them).

Okay, enough procrastinating, Diana. Time to start on Book 3. Knuckle under and get cracking! Or maybe I’ll quickly check on the blog first… See what I mean? Arrgh! Lol.

How do you procrastinate, and however do you get back on track?

 

February’s Speculative Fiction Prompt

Pixabay image by Marianne Sopala

For visually challenged writers, this is an image of an elephant in a snowstorm next to a little house that’s resting crookedly in a tree. A handful of white mice are on the roof of the house.

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Thank you to everyone who responded to January’s prompt. There are marvelous imaginations out there, and I loved reading and sharing your stories, poems, and artwork. Now, for something a little different! Above is February’s image. If interested, you have until February 21st to submit a response. Happy Writing!

Here’s how it works:

On the first of every month, I’ll post a speculative fiction prompt from Pixabay. These images are attribution free so you can use them on your blog without worrying about copyright restrictions.

Throughout the month, in order of receipt, I’ll reblog as many of your prompt-inspired creations as I can. And on the last day of each month, I’ll share a complete round-up of all contributions with links to the original posts. Visiting the blogs of participants is a great way to meet other speculative fiction writers.

Post your response on your own blog and link back to this post with a pingback, so I can reblog your post as well as include you in the month-end round-up. There are no word limits or style restrictions, but please keep it somewhat family friendly.

If you’re unsure of how to create a pingback, Hugh has an excellent tutorial here. If you prefer, you can copy and paste your link into the comments of this post.

Above all, have fun.

January Photo-prompt Round-up

Stefan Keller

Thank you to everyone who participated! I felt warm all over reading your responses despite the image’s wintry chill. Below is the round-up of all the January poems, flashes, short stories, and some artwork too! If I missed yours for some reason, please add a link in the comments and I’ll happily reblog. I invite everyone to enjoy some unique stories and meet some wonderful writers. I’ll post February’s prompt tomorrow!

 January Round-Up

Jerry Packard – Ice Dragon

Dawn – Frozen Giant

Balroop Singh – A Craving

Jomz Odeja – The Sacrifice  

Teagan Geneviene – Ice Dragon

Sue Vincent – Even Mountains Mourn

Geoff Le Pard – Little Helpers

Pensivity – Untitled

Dorinda Duclos – Frozen in Time

Carol Forrester – This Terrible Thing Called Hope

Fandango – The End of the Gods

Robbie Cheadle – Glass Mountain

Trent McDonald – Cold War

Anita Dawes – Ancient Evil

Anneberly Andrews – Kalaallit Nunaah

Kelvin Knight – Iceman

Barbara – No Guts – No Glory

Sheri Kennedy – Winter’s Pilgrims

Nick Rowe – Ice Mission

Cepcarol – Banished

Marje Mallon – The Old Man of Snow and the Snow Snake

Chelsea Owens – Directions from a Druid

Jordan Fasheh – Ice Giant Gnuri, A Creation Myth

Violet Lentz – Dragonlord

Venkyninja – Mission Gandalf

Relax – Playing Along

Colleen Chesebro – The Polar Shift

Helene Vaillant – Illusion

Virinchi – Star Wars, The Kyber Quest

Jane Dougherty – The Third Coming

Michnavs – Hey!

Cosistories – The Cold Alone

Tora Ellis – Gaiana

H.R.R. Gorman – A Missive from Dr. Stokes of Attenhold University

Jan Malique – Shambhala

Jessica Bakkers – Of Stone and Ice

Suzanne – Forgotten Stories, Forgotten Voices

Louise Brady – Fall of the Ice Giant

Greg, Almost Iowa – The Oracle

Himani Kaushik – The Creator

Bob Fairfield – The Titan Muse

Kerfe, Method to Madness – Near

D. Wallace Peach – Dead Planet

 

And a couple of bonus posts by inspired writers:

Pamela Wight – Do We Dare…?

Robert Goldstein – Haiku One: A Blue Grey Day 

And a straggler who missed the deadline but is worth the visit:

Hugh Roberts – The Riddle of Twelfth Night

 

Diana’s January Story: Dead Planet

via Pixabay by Stefan Keller

Dead Planet

Our planet died, for no living thing can thrive forever beneath the grinding thumb of neglect. But the blue squalls and wind-carved rime weren’t the first to herald a long overdue demise. We endured fires, then the parched ash and dust of rainless drought. Snow seemed almost a blessing until summer never returned.

Now we trek south, burdened only by the essentials, all luxuries of the past abandoned along the way. Lighten the load. Always lighten the load. Learn to survive with less because that’s become the single, intentional goal. To survive.

I wonder, do the southerners trek north? Will we meet in the middle and goggle at each other, our doom reflected across the narrow gap separating our frozen breaths? These are the things I ponder as my snowshoes cut a jagged groove through the crust.

We reach the mountains’ divide. Finally. Ahead stretches a white tundra, a wind-scoured wasteland. The moon hangs in the sky, thin as spilled milk. Far ahead something unnatural rises from the barren land, and I take it as a sign, an assurance of progress. I aim my feet in its direction.

A small chuckle escapes my chest, a white cloud of warmth. Despite my misery, I still nurture a spark of hope deep in my heart, a promise as bright as midnight fire. Even amidst the endless days of frost and cold and muted color, the world is beautiful, and I long to believe that the gods haven’t forsaken us. Our ancestors cursed us, and we have made mistakes indeed, but salvation must lie ahead. This can’t be the end of everything, can it—our planet a sparkling blue orb, spinning onward, devoid of life?

I sweat beneath my coat and yet my toes are numb, both portending danger. But I cannot die. Not with the gods watching over me. Not with the prayers that I drop like cairns along my trail. The bodies we have left in the snow say otherwise, but I will not accept it. I cannot.

The distant monolith draws nearer, a pale blue mountain, sharp as a dog’s tooth. Its final shape eludes me, but I know it is something unnatural, something fashioned by man. I should rest, tend to my feet, but I quicken my pace. The others lag behind me, but my tracks are simple to follow. If I possessed the strength, I would run.

There is a point in most lives, I think, when we must accept our failures. When we realize there is no turning back the hands of time, no do-overs, no choices but to recognize that our wishes are as ephemeral as our breath. I reach that moment of clarity when I come close enough to decipher the frozen shape. Our gods too have perished in this desecration. I hang my head and march onward, knowing I will die before sunrise.

**

This is the last of the January stories.
Sorry to end on such a dreary note!

Stay tuned for the February prompt on the 1st.

Does what you Read impact what you Write?

Isn’t he adorable?

I’m working on the first draft of a trilogy that I started with NaNoWriMo and hope to have tapped (vomited) into the laptop by the end of April. Six months to crank out 3 drafts is quick, yes, but when I say “first draft,” I mean it. Thus far, my drafts are ugly, warty little toads that will require months at the gym and endless hours of cosmetic surgery to transform into princes.

For me, writing a first draft is completely different than later drafts and far more stressful. It’s the foundation of the story on which the cozy cottage, haunted mansion, or crystal palace is built. Everything that follows depends on it. A poor foundation causes all kinds of problems and takes a ton of work and time to correct, especially when there’s a sagging house perched on top of it full of cracks, holes, and leaks.

To use another metaphor, it’s the skeleton that later drafts will flesh out with organs, bones, and complex systems, all integrated and functioning in harmony. If my first draft has the skeleton of a gerbil, I’m going to have a tough time making my end product look like rhinoceros.

During a first draft, the plot and conflicts take shape, the characters come to life and assert themselves, and for many of us, our imaginary worlds become more solid. Another aspect that I experience vividly is the development of the book’s “tone.” Yes, finally, getting to the point of this post.

I can’t read a humorous book while writing the first draft of a dark and twisted story full of evil souls. Why not? Because inevitably, some character will get snarky and sarcastic and start cracking jokes.

Likewise, if I’m writing something lighthearted, I’d better not be reading a book that gives me the creeps, has me blubbering over the plight of refugees, or is so long-winded I fall into a reading-coma (Faulkner, for example).

Maybe I’m overly sensitive, but I notice that my writing reflects my mood as well as the place where my imagination is spending its off hours. If I want to write dark, I had better be reading dark. While writing The Bone Wall, I read Joe Abercrombe and Mark Lawrence, to name a couple favorites.

While writing The Sorcerer’s Garden, a lighter book than I usually attempt, I read Scott Lynch who crafted some very witty characters in his Gentleman Bastards series.

The same choice applies to genre. While writing a fantasy first draft, I read fantasy – almost always the work of respected, successful authors that I’d stalk if I met them in person. Since I’m too busy writing, I just stalk their books. I’m convinced that what we read while writing our stories can inspire and teach us how to write them better. Who ever said that writers don’t need to be readers too?

What do you read while working on a first draft? Do you notice an impact on your writing?

 

A craving

via Pixabay by Stefan Keller

The first poem in response to the above image-prompt.
Thank you, Balroop.

A craving

by Balroop Singh

Frozen in time
With amorphia of ages
I sat waiting for love
It did come at last!

They came in hordes
With shovels and hoes
To dig around me
And create a cover

I am awning them
With arrows piercing my soul
Blinded by dirt and deceit
I crave for a new world…

(continue reading: A craving)

New Year, New Feature: a Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt

I wish you all a wonderfully creative, happy, healthy, and safe new year, full of laughter and love.

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After 5+ years of blogging, I thought I’d try something new… finally. How about a Monthly Speculative Fiction Writing Prompt? Sue Vincent was the inspiration for this idea since I’ve loved participating in her weekly prompts (check out her extremely popular feature here.)

If you’re interested, here’s how it will work:

On the first of every month, I’ll post a speculative fiction prompt from Pixabay. These images are attribution free so you can use them on your blog without worrying about copyright restrictions.

Throughout the month, I’ll reblog your prompt-inspired stories, poems, reflections, writing. And on the last day of each month, I’ll share a complete round-up of all contributions with links to the original posts. Visiting the blogs of participants is a great way to meet other speculative fiction writers.

Below is January’s prompt. On or before January 24th, post your response on your own blog and link back to this post with a pingback, so I can reblog your post as well as include you in the month-end round-up. There are no word limits or style restrictions, but please keep it somewhat family friendly.

If you’re unsure of how to create a pingback, Hugh has an excellent tutorial here. If you prefer, you can copy and paste your link into the comments of this post.

Above all, have fun.

January’s #WritingPrompt

by Stefan Keller