“The Science Project” — and the Lucky 7 meme

Hello, all! 🙂

In her great blog, A Life Less Ordinary, the inimitable Story Teller has tagged me to participate in the Lucky 7 meme, in which I’m supposed to post seven lines from page 77 of my current work in progress. I’m going to bend the rules (as usual, heh heh!) because my work du jour is a short story. Here are 7 lines from page 7 of “The Science Project.”

11-yr-old Joshua has just explained to his younger sister that adult Nematomorpha (an organism he discovered in a drainage ditch on their farm) are free-living but their larvae are parasitic.

“What does that have to do with me?” she asked.

“Maybe nothing.”

“Maybe?” Janet scratched her arm and frowned. “I’ve been itchy lately—I don’t have a larva in me, do I?”

He considered pretending that she might, but thought better of the idea. Science wasn’t a joke. “No. I haven’t figured out how to trigger that mutation.”

“What?”

But the dishes were done. He squeezed out the dishrag, folded it twice and hung it over the tap to dry, and started out of room.

“You’re not going to tell me, are you?” she called behind him.

“You can go to the science fair,” he said.

Duh-nuh-nuh-NUH!

I hope you enjoyed the sneak preview. . . .

And now for the basic rules of this meme:

1. Go to page 77 of your current MS/WIP

2. Go to line 7

3. Copy down the next 7 lines, sentences, or paragraphs, and post them as they’re written.

4. Tag 7 authors

5. Let them know

I tag . . .

Angela Dorsey

Jen Brubacher

Jennifer Neri

Kathy Chung

kc dyer

Rebecca Emin

Shannon Mayer

These are all writers/people that I hold in great esteem. They may be too busy to play, but you never know. In any event, it’s really worth checking out their blogs and/or their books!

Motivation

I’m gearing up for SiWC 2011 (leaving on Wednesday actually, yay!), and as usual I’m super stoked for the conference and all the workshops, presenters and kibitzing with other writers—lots of whom have become friends by now, my eighth year. (Ohmigoodness, do you know how wildly affirming and inspiring and plain ol’ fun it is to be in the midst of 600+ people who all share your obsession? I live in a small town, so perhaps the huge gathering of like-but-very-different minds is that much more amazing, but it is good, good stuff—worth every penny I pay every year. It fires me up, re-energizes and refocuses me for the next 12 months, every time.

That all said, as much as I relish the conference itself, an equal draw is the time I’ll spend with three other writers—Barb Cameron, Angela Dorsey, and Jen Brubacher. While Jen is unable to attend SiWC, because of the way her trip to Canada worked this year, she is able to make our annual pre-conference sushi and gab-fest—a group meeting of what we informally call Woodstockers 5—a name with a story behind it that makes sense only to us.

Thursday night, we’ll meet at a certain restaurant that’s become tradition, slide our bottoms onto bright-coloured satin cushions, and commence blabbing our heads off over our past year’s literary successes, woes, accomplishments, and challenges.

Then we’ll pull out our Woodstocker 5 Goals and share what we followed through with—and confess what we didn’t. A couple of us will then go onto elaborate about plans for November 2011 through October 2012 (our writing year has started to mimic the months that pass from one SiWC to the next). A couple of us (or at least one of us, me) will have to share our plans later, via a small online writers’ forum, after the conference has done its magic and put wild dreams in our (my) head.

Writing is by necessity a solitary pursuit and like a lot of writers, I’m okay with that—thrive in seclusion, actually. Need a lot of alone time. However, over years I’ve noticed that I write better—and am much more prolific—if I have a few close writing friends to celebrate and commiserate with. And to give me the occasional swift, motivational kick. (Thankfully, the boot is usually just a figurative.)

If you’re feeling in need of a bit of motivation, I can’t encourage you enough: try to find a writing workshop or conference to take part in over the next months or track down a writing friend or two to start meeting semi-regularly with. There can be a danger to spending too much time talking about writing and not doing enough writing (a post for another day, perhaps!), but for some of us, too much isolation is just as inspiration-killing.

p.s. I’d love to hear what works best to keep you on track with your writing goals (so I can steal your method, lol).

p.p.s. I think I’ve written on this topic before. What can I say? Sometimes I need reminding of what “works” to keep me working!

Take 15 . . .

I’ve been extra busy lately—in good ways, with great things: my business, my part-time day job, my family. . . And though I strive (and mostly succeed) to work on my own writing projects, plus do at least one “author Ev” chore daily, I’m always tempted to give into the feeling that I can’t fit one more thing in and should go watch TV.*

The ongoing struggle is not to find words, but to sit my butt down and get them out on the page.

For the most part though, I’ve learned well not to yield to sloth (unless I really need to which is another post for another day ;)). Not making my own work a priority makes me miserable. Plus, I work hard to not let other people down and to help them achieve their goals—so why wouldn’t I give myself the same treatment?

And in that vein, I was fortunate this month to discover two amazing strategies for getting work done even when you think you have no time.

The first strategy comes from a course I took online through RWA, offered by author Kerri Nelson , called “The Book Factory—Produce Multiple Novels in a Year” (an amazingly practical and inspiring class, by the way. I highly recommend it). It boils down to this: write new words everyday, even if just for 15 minutes. Set the timer and write flat-out, no editing, no breaks, no pausing to think . . .

It’s freakish how effective those fifteen-minute sprints have been for me this month and last. I’ve had NO fiction writing time, yet in January I wrote 18 142 new words.

The second strategy is a bit more specific, but no less powerful. It’s “Plot your novel in 15 minutes or less” by Claudia Suzanne and I came across it at Mayra Calvani‘s blog (Mayra’s Secret Bookcase), a site recommended to me by author and friend Angela Dorsey (Oh, the tangled World Wide Web!).

I don’t usually outline at all, but desperate to not lose a new novel idea that just occurred to me last week, I thought I’d give it a try. I loved it. I now have a very bare bones, yet fantastic 15-point outline that gives me plenty of freedom, but that will guide me through to the story’s end, and (even better!) provide a frame for the book’s synopsis (my least favourite part of novel writing).

Anyway, I’d love to hear how your writing and life is going this month. And if you’re busy and my small suggestions above motivate you to put off your lounge on the couch for even just fifteen minutes, you’re welcome, heh heh.

* Yes, I realize there’s an obvious logic problem there—if I have no time, how can I manage to watch TV? What can I say? I like television . . .

2nd Annual TWG Fiction Contest Announces Winners

Well, the TWG Fiction Contest has ended for another year. The judges have made their decisions and the winners have been notified:

First Place: “Temper, Temper” by Barbara Cameron of Courtney, BC
Barbara will receive $250.00 from UNBC and paid publication in Northword Magazine.

Second Place: “Click” by Valerie Laub of Smithers, BC
Valerie will receive $200 from TWG.

Third Place: “Ice Heart” by Angela Dorsey of Sooke, BC
Angela will receive $150.00 from Marion Olson of Re/Max.

Honorable Mention: “We’ve Got Plans” by Catherine Hart of Terrace, BC
Catherine will receive $75.00 from Saz Communications.

I was nominated to be the giver of the good news, and it was very fun to hear the excitement and to listen to the neurosis—“At the end….” “Did you catch….” “Could you check….” Aw, writers, what a lovely, anal bunch we are! But it is that obsession with detail, with getting it right—emotionally and mechanically—that set the winning stories apart this year.

Congratulations to everyone who entered the 2nd Annual TWG Fiction Contest. It will sound corny or trite, perhaps, but there were no losers. By sending in, by being brave, by disciplining yourself to the task of submitting, each was a winner.