Monday Challenge: Springy

The worst power up ever.

Maybe it’s because my lawn is finally starting to look like something other than the Devil’s frozen asshole, but I feel…springy*.

I’ve been doing a lot of digital cleaning. Mostly because, when my hard drive took a long walk off a short pier, I had to restore everything from a backup. Which took forever. But, being the sunny natured optimist that I am, I found something good in it: I could now reorganize my hard drive. After all, I had to erase the whole damn thing. Since I have a clean slate, it seems like a good time to think about an organizational structure.

I likened it to renovating after a house fire: yeah, I probably could have lived with things as they were, but now that it’s been burned to the ground, I might as well fix the weirdly shaped kitchen, patch that crack that was always in the floor, and clean out the nest of sentient crab spiders that roosts in the attic and throws parties on Tuesday mornings. It’ll improve things in the long run, and it’s not that much extra work compared to the Herculean effort that was already going on.

The result is a digital workspace that is better, cleaner, and more efficient. So the whole ‘my computer shit itself’ week had at least one good outcome: the laptop feels brand new again. And with a fraction of the cost–though a thousand times the work–of actually buying a new computer.**

Monday Challenge: write about something old made new. Spring springing, phoenixes rising, old ladies stealing the bodies of children to continue their quest for immortality, galactic armadas siphoning the power of a young star system to breathe new life into their war machines.

I’ll be over here, digging through the remains of my hard drive like a renegade archeologist looking for the Holy Grail. Or at least some interesting porn.

*To paraphrase Scrubs, ‘springy’ like the season, not like the inside of a mattress.

**Though I wonder how much longer I’ll get out of this machine. Like a double agent that claims it’s really on my side, I no longer trust it.

 

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Monday Challenge: Chocolate Death Rain

Sadly, the candy coating did not help them survive the explosion of the Death Star.

Just a quick post up today, since I’m in the process of of both cooking a giant ham and cleaning my house so that we can have an easter egg hunt for seven people in their thirties today. Because when you’re too old to look for plastic eggs hidden among your friend’s erotica collection, you’re too old for life.

But I haven’t forgotten you, my sugar-addled little word badgers of doom. Despite it being an extra long weekend for a lot of people, there’s still writing to get done. So here’s my prompt for today.

This is a holiday closely associated with death, resurrection, chocolate, and pastel colours. There’s some cognitive dissonance there; think on it too long and you end up with a chocolate coated Angel of Death in a lilac robe. I don’t know if that would make the end better or worse, but it sure as hell would be a surprise to see it.

Monday Challenge: write something that involves both death and candy. If you have a diabetic character, you can probably get both of those together pretty easily, but work a little harder. Give me your Fondue Pits of Doom, your Pixie Stick of Life and Death,your Big Rock Candy Mountaineering Accident. Make it interesting, make it weird, and above all, make it sweet.

*Ever been whipped with one of the big ones? They hurt.

Monday Challenge: Draw A Card

You’ll never look at Pac-Man the same way again.

I played Cards Against Humanity with some friends this weekend*. Actually, in point of fact, we played Crabs Adjust Humidity, which is a third-party expansion, because we’ve played the regular game and all the expansions so much we needed to look to outside sources in order to fulfill our Being Horrible People quota. In our defence, we all have a high threshold for that sort of thing, so it takes some doing to fill our needs.**

If you’ve never played the game, I highly recommend it. It’s kind of horrible, but, if you’re reading this blog, I assume that you are also, in some small way, kind of horrible. It’s okay, though. So am I. This is a safe space.

Anyway, the game consists of drawing question cards from a deck and attempting to answer them in the most creative way possible from the answer cards in your hand. It wasn’t much of a stretch from there to writing prompts. The only difference is that you will have to come up with your own answers. They can be strange or obscene, they can be unusual, but they should be yours.

So, drawn directly from the deck of Cards Against Humanity on my dining room table, I present today’s Monday Challenge: What’s that smell?

Dazzle me.

*The regular group, that my husband insists on calling the Wolf Pack, mostly because it annoys me.

**While setting up the links for this post, I discovered a fourth expansion pack for Cards Against Humanity that I don’t have. ORDERED.

Monday Challenge: Which Inane Buzzfeed Quiz Are You?

This is a trap. Go take the ‘Which Creepy Cult Are You?’ test instead.

There’s always a black hole of the internet ready for new victims. It used to be Wikipedia links. Then YouTube videos. Instagram, Vine, Twitter…all these have their followers. My new time-sucking black hole? Inane Buzzfeed quizzes. And I mean fucking inane. Somehow, I managed to go my whole life without knowing what haircut I should have, or who would play me in the movie of my life. But no more.

In the last week, I’ve discovered that I am Captain Kirk, a dragon, the colour red, Faith from Buffy, Commander Riker, a member of Dauntless*, and that I should be living in the Netherlands. Future quizzes will probably reveal what Elder God I should worship, the detailed sketch of my next tattoo, and which one of you will be responsible for my death.

God, how did we know anything about ourselves before internet quizzes?

To break up the inanity—or play into it, I’m no longer sure which—I started taking quizzes as characters and recording their results in the Story Bible for the rewrite. Why? I don’t know. Why do I do anything?**

Some of the results were spot on. Some were completely off base. Others were somewhere in the middle. But, whatever the result, I had to try and think like those characters to take the quiz. Fun mental exercise. Or introduction to having multiple personalities. One of those.

Monday Challenge: Take a random Buzzfeed quiz as your character. Does the result suit them? If so, why? If not, why not and write the result they should have gotten.

To get you started, here are some fucking random quizzes:

Which Late Night TV Show Host Are You?
Are You Hungover?***
Which Street Fighter Character Are You?
Which Miyazaki Character Are You?
Which Gay Sex Position Are You?****

For extra super bonus points, post your results in the comments below.
*I have neither read the book nor seen the movie, so I don’t know if this if a good thing or not.
**’Because I wanted to see what happened’ narrowly edges out ‘for the lols’.
***I don’t feel you should need a quiz to know this.
****Stay classy, Buzzfeed.

Monday Challenge: This Goes On Your Permanent Record

“Have you found the words yet, Microscope Girl?” “Not yet, Hanging Over My Shoulder People. Will you back the fuck off?”

In a bit of shameless thievery, I’m taking today’s challenge directly from the pages of Terrible Minds, Chuck Wendig’s blog. If you’re not reading it, you really should. There’s a lot of solid advice in there, between the swearing.
Last week, he posted the Penmonkey Evaluation, a series of questions writers can answer to get a feel for where they are and maybe where they’re going. I’ve answered below as well as in the comments on the original post. After you’ve done your own evaluation, post it in the comments here/on the original. And read through the comment stream on the original. It’s always interesting to see where other people are in this business.
So, Monday Challenge: Go here (or check the questions below) and answer the quiz. Be honest; there’s no benefit to lying.

Penmonkey Evaluation:

a) What’s your greatest strength / skill in terms of writing/storytelling?*

Breaking your heart. Making you feel for those characters and the godawful situations they get themselves in.

b) What’s your greatest weakness in writing/storytelling? What gives you the most trouble?

Conflict resolutions. I can get people into bad situations, but getting them out? Ehhhhh.

c) How many books or other projects have you actually finished? What did you do with them?

Finished four novels. One was a learning project which will never see the light of day; two have been edited and are being submitted; the last is currently being rewritten from the ground up.
Short stories? I dunno, maybe a dozen. All have been submitted, five sold.

d) Best writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. really helped you)

“[S]topping a piece of work just because it’s hard, either emotionally or imaginatively, is a bad idea. Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.**” -Stephen King

e) Worst writing advice you’ve ever been given? (i.e. didn’t help at all, may have hurt)

Most of the advice I’ve been given hasn’t been overtly bad, just not for me. The only two that really stick out as bad bad are less advice and more opinion: 1) “You must write in complete silence” from some article I read a million years ago. I love music and can’t imagine writing without it. It gets me through the aforementioned hard parts. And 2) “You should try writing something serious” from someone who didn’t approve of my love for genre fiction. I think my response was to laugh, but it was a long time ago and I can’t be sure. Again in the words of King, when it comes to memory we all stack the deck.

f) One piece of advice you’d give other writers?

Be brave. The world is full of shit that will stop you: naysayers, doubters, your own fear and apathy.  It’s up to you to put on your stomping boots, dig in your heels, and fight back.
Oh, and write. Don’t forget to do that part.

*Man, it was hard to do this one without feeling like an arrogant douchecanoe.
**Though I usually do my shovelling from a standing position on account on my giant drafting table/standing desk.

Monday Challenge: Look Twice

Pho real.

Because I live almost entirely inside my own head*, I tend to walk past familiar or boring areas without really looking at them.** Airports, malls, the route that I always take to get to the grocery store…they all serve as mere background to whatever more interesting scene is playing behind my eyeballs.

As a consequence of this, I sometimes find myself walking past something…only to have the fact that it was really fucking weird register five seconds later. By which time it’s sometimes no longer happening. Leaving me to wonder if I did, in fact, just see that. Whether it’s the kid who I’m pretty sure gave me the finger or the Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Shizzle***, I always have to look twice.

Monday Challenge: Write about someone questioning if they really did just see that. What do they think they saw? It’s up to you, but here are some ideas: the cat using the microwave to call its alien overlords; the neighbour hovering up to his roof to remove the ice dam in the gutter; the barista dropping something small into a customer’s beverage; the boss walking to lunch with a bag of human organs; or some complete stranger with a long, lizard-like tail.

So? Did you just see that?

*Like 90% of writers. The other ten percent only write technical manuals for very boring things, like spoons and those little cardboard dealies you put in the collars of dress shirts to keep them flat.
**At least, without looking at them any more than is necessary to avoid falling in holes or walking into traffic. Distracted, not suicidal.
***This is a place. Seriously. I went back to double check.

Monday Challenge: EXCITEMENT!!!1!!!

I’M SO EXCITED I PUT A HOLE IN MY FACE. (Photo from Wikipedia)

Good morning, word monkeys*.  So glad you could join me here on the first Monday of the new year. Are you ready? Are you pumped?

There’s something about the new year. It still feels fresh. The darkness has started to recede from the days, and, while I know it’s a long way off, I can begin to think that there might be a spring somewhere down the road.

But in the meantime, I’ve got this face-slapping cold waking me up and I have to drink my coffee fast before it freezes solid. Invigorating. Which is how January should be, because, god damn it, we’ve got shit to do.

*Cracks open a fresh can of words* It’s time to get started.

Last week I wrote about scouting ahead and thinking of what new projects you wanted to work on in 2014. What did you come up with? What excites you about this year? If you missed last week because of Holiday Hangover or if you didn’t come up with anything, do so now. There must be at least one fucking thing you want to do this year. Write about robots. Write a novel. Figure out how to create a romance scene that is not so sweet that it makes you want to stab your frontal lobe with pixie sticks. Something.

Are you excited yet? You should be. Because we can talk about hard work and craft and discipline from now until Ragnarok, and it won’t do a damn thing if you don’t have an idea that excites you. You need a reason to bash your head against that wall. You need something to light the fire that you will then use to power the unholy steam engine of your brain and your guts and your fingers.

So, today’s Monday Challenge, you little syntax goblins: find what you’re excited about and then write about why you’re excited. At least part of it. It can be a character you like, or a scene that sounds neat, or a line of dialogue that punches like a spiked knuckleduster. It can be the idea itself, how it makes you feel. Find your excitement. Hunt it down and drag it out and shake its hand/paw/tentacle/grasping mechanism. You’re going to be spending some time together this year. And it’s going to be awesome.

*Every time I try to type ‘monkeys’, my fingers change it to ‘monkies’. Which sounds like an affectionate diminutive for Jesuits or something.