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Politicizing the Girl

A Woman's Place Is in the Resistance

 

You may have noticed our heroine’s twitter feed has much less to do with writing and much more to do with politics these days, Dear Reader. Fear not, I have not forgotten about writing. I’m trying to pace my outrage and get back to writing.

When I was quite young, my parents were grooming me to go into politics. Specifically their politics. They were stoic Republicans, very conservative Nixon backers, and therefore so was I. In our house, it was unheard of to think for yourself. And hey, I was 9 years old. So I went to the political meetings in my area, I campaigned with my local Congressman and did photo ops with him, and I thought I was doing my part for the country.

When I was 14, I was perhaps the youngest person to intern in a Congressman’s office in DC. Everyone thought my high school class ring was a college one and assumed I was older. I was served along with my co-interns in other offices when we went out to clubs. My Congressman, who knew me from the campaign trail, was a leader in the Conservative Union. He led the way in a treaty with the Soviet Union. While in his office, I learned a lot. The biggest lesson was what he and my parents stood for.

I was appalled.

That summer, Supertramp’s “The Logical Song” was popular and it spoke to my anger and disillusionment. I could not tell my parents how learning what their values were had sickened me. I dreaded going back home after the internship ended. Luckily, I didn’t have to get my Congressman’s approval of the research project I did for the internship program. My position was polar opposite his stated one. (Perhaps it’s small of me to note, but I’ll do it anyway: this same Congressman, who violently opposed gay rights, was later disgraced when he was arrested for propositioning a minor male for sex and left office. He went on to come out and, as far as I know, is a liberal who champions LGBTQA+ rights.)

That’s the history. I could go on, such as talking about my future involvement in campaigns after I left home for college at 16 and was no longer forced to hold my tongue. When Reagan was elected, my friends and I shared a few bottles of cheap wine and formed a small procession through the campus, carrying candles to the flagpole, where we extinguished our candles in a dramatic gesture of dismay for the country. More recently, I campaigned for Obama and helped people who were voting for their first time, young and old, to be prepared for the ballot process. I confess, I teared up with some of them, both nervous and excited to be electing him. Oh, looks like I went on after all. Sorry. Stream of consciousness blogging.

None of this prepared me for what’s taken place in our country, our world, over the last year.

My outrage is too great to let fly here. It seeps through my Twitter feed. I believe we need to stay aware of what’s going on, stay involved in the process however we can, and fix what’s wrong deep down in our country. Hearing others and healing the great rift this election exposed is a primary need for the United States. (Brexit voting shows similar trends and other countries are facing conservative backlashes. A nice way of saying racism and other bigotries are influencing the world in horrifying ways.)

But writing. I got nowhere with NaNoWriMo in November. The election devastated me. I was sick almost immediately and then both my older son and I were hospitalized at the same time. The story remains to be written and it’s entirely escapism, especially for me as the writer. As yet it is untitled. I call it the Historical Romance Trope Novel.

The real issue is getting my head out of my outrage, into my hopes for our world, and into my story world. I’m taking advice from Gareth L. Powell, who wrote a great blog post: How to Keep Being Creative in a Crisis. He writes: Art doesn’t stop for history. In some ways, art is history. That has become my reminding mantra. (Thank you, Gareth.)

Of course, when I really need a kick in the ass, there’s also Chuck Wendig‘s Art even harder, motherfucker!  (Thank you, Chuck.)

I’m going to continue to be politically active. I can’t imagine not being involved to the best of my ability. Keep making those calls. March if you can. But take time to be creative, too. It’s healing, both for you and for our world.

Are you struggling to be creative in this climate, no matter where you live? How are you coping – or ARE you coping? I’d love to hear from others who are doing well, not doing well, or just getting by day to day.

#NaNoWriMo: The Spirit of NaNo

 

The Real Spirit of NaNo, by JC Rosen

It’s November 10th. We’re now in the thick of NaNoWriMo.

Many shook their heads and threw up their hands during that first week. I can’t blame them. NaNo is a big challenge. The first few years I peered down that trail toward the goal line, it was so far away, it was nearly invisible in the distance. I miserably gave up within days the first two years and just plain skipped it the third. It was so bad, I don’t even remember the years – I repressed the whole thing.

Doesn’t sound like much of a pep talk, does it?

Here’s the pep part: I won the first time in 2008 when I finally tried again. I won a week early! I almost put away my keyboard five days into it, though. I was sick and miserable. The last thing I wanted to do was write a million words each day. A good friend refused to let me give up. “Just write something today. I don’t care if it’s 300 words. Write something.” So I did. Then I crawled back into bed with my cold medicine and my teddy bear. When I woke up, I hazily did it again. A few days later, I was healthy. I was behind, sure, but I kept writing. With a little extra each day, I could catch up.

Need more pep? All right, you asked for it: my NaNo Soapbox.

Ladies and Gentlemen, behold the Spirit of NaNo!

Look beyond the fifty thousand word goal. It is not that shininess. No indeed, it is within you already. You have only to let it free and let it flow.

Does that sound ridiculous? Stay with me a minute.

It’s the Power of Writing, my friends. Just feel The Power of Writing, let it flow through you, let it catch up your imagination and run out your hands without the demon of the Inner Editor making you second guess it! That is indeed the Spirit of NaNo. Grab that and you’ll JUST WRITE. Here’s the secret: write every day, make a habit of it and you’ve won the real shiny prize.

If you commit to writing when you can, writing around your obstacles toward a goal you set for yourself – that’s how you embrace the Spirit of NaNo!

 

Stick with it, everyone, and may you all win the Real Shiny Prize.

photo credit: Anant N S (www.thelensor.tumblr.com) via photopin cc

#NaNoWriMo: Beyond the Words

 NaNoWriMo: Beyond the Words by JC Rosen

 

Whether prepping for or deep in the depths of NaNoWriMo, we tend to focus on word counts and stifling the inner editor. Don’t get me wrong. These are important issues. The latter helps with the former and the former is what gets you beyond that official finish line.

Let’s talk about what you can do to improve your experience. These are techniques which have little to do with plotting and wrangling words. These are meant to rejuvenate your energy stores, to lift your spirit, and to freshen your sense of purpose. They make it so much easier to do the stifling and the writing.

Simply put, I’d like you to consider what you can do for your comfort and pleasure. Self-care is greatly overlooked, especially during NaNo. We wrimos tend to develop tunnel vision and I’m telling you, it’s easy to feel the walls crowding you when you’re in a tunnel. What do you do when you’d like to treat yourself? Not a spa weekend, but rather a small pick-me-up. How do you like your environment so that you’re not distracted by it?

If I didn’t make lists for these situations, I’d get lost in the tunnel vision. I make two lists: Get and Do. I enlist my kids in helping me so the Getting and Doing don’t become chores themselves. Asking those close to you to help prepare you for and refresh you during NaNo also reinforces how important it is to you. One stone, two birds there.

I’m wary of stereotyping genderwise, so my disclaimer is these are examples which work for me. YMMV. I hope some of them inspire you to finding your own way out of the tunnel vision.

Under GET:

  • Crepes on NaNo Eve (at least!)
  • Good coffee and creamer
  • Warm socks
  • Fingerless gloves (I tend to write when it’s cold.)
  • Peppermint lotion (It’s as invigorating on the hands as it is on the feet.)
  • Good microwave meals and/or easy meal supplies
  • Incense
  • New nail polish

When you make your list, keep in mind the little incidentals. Will you need change for laundry machines? Getting quarters means one big step I can skip at laundry time.

Under DO:

  • Fresh linens on the bed
  • Clean bathroom
  • Do laundry (Yes, these are chores, but they make my life easier and more pleasant.)
  • Find comfy sweaters
  • Give myself a manicure (or go out and get one)
  • Crank up the music and dance and/or play air guitar (or a real one!)
  • Spend some time with family and pets
  • Watch some entertainment (WARNING: Do not start a tv series. Far too easy to binge.)
  • Read a book. (I strongly recommend setting a timer, but this is one of my favorite items.)

What helps you cleanse your writing palate? Maybe cooking a special meal or going for a run? Just as important, you can list items just for fun, ones which aren’t really options.

  • Buy that Jaguar and take a ride down the mountain to see the leaves
  • Have a fun evening at the local with <insert celebrity name here>
  • Pitch a no-hitter during a crucial game in the World Series

When you feel a little frantic about writing, your writing gets bogged down. Lighten the mood and your outlook by looking at your list and picking something you enjoy. Taking a little time away from writing may be just what you need to get your head back in the game.

What is on your list? Please share and inspire other wrimos at the same time.

 

 
photo credit: nicola.albertini via photopin cc

#NaNoWriMo: Stop with the Waffling!

This originally appeared on the #amwriting site a couple years ago, but bears repeating.

No More Waffling about NaNo by JC Rosen

Photo by TheCulinaryGeek

November 1st is just around the corner, a mere handful of days away. For wrimos, Halloween / Samhain is spent in anxious anticipation of the stroke of midnight. Wrimos spending this time alone talk to themselves, coaching themselves to jump through that midnight gate with vigor. Those at write-ins with other wrimos? Well, they experience a group dynamic I like to call hooting crazitude. (Come on. It’s fun to say.)

You – yes, you – can still be caught up in the excitement that is NaNo. Have you been compiling pro and con lists? Perhaps you think you just don’t have time for it. Maybe the idea of writing that much in one month is too daunting to contemplate. Are you in the midst of a work-in-progress and simply don’t wish to step away from it to start something new? Do you sigh and wistfully say you just can’t do it?

There are so many reasons people state to explain why they don’t want to do NaNo. Don’t get me wrong: I respect another’s choice in the matter. A simple “I don’t want to do it” makes me nod and back off. NaNo’s not for everyone. It is, however, for many people who think it can’t work for them.

  • The spirits of encouragement and camaraderie during NaNo are not to be underestimated. Put those on your pro list and underline them for emphasis. Whether you’re in it to be utterly nuts and compile a novel full of “plot bunnies” and challenges (see nanowrimo.org Forums for more info) or you’re working on a more conventionally legitimate project, you’ll find people ready to support you and keep you going.
  • The NaNo Rebels group is going strong again this year. Check out this link about NaNo Rebels on the nanowrimo.org site for official info about the Rebels. If you’re in the middle of a WIP and don’t want to set it aside, write nonfiction, or write in formats other than novel-sized ones, you can participate by being a NaNo Rebel. The goal is the same: 50k new words on your project(s).
  • Consider setting a different goal for yourself. No one says you have to write 50k words. No, you won’t “officially win” NaNo by writing 20k words. You may write your heart out during the hours you have available, though. You may be pushing yourself in ways you never have in order to reach the goal you set for yourself. That’s NaNo, baby!

The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to push yourself and just write. Gag and tie up that inner editor who makes you go over everything you write as you write it. Just. Write. No matter what, it’s a great exercise for anyone who gets into ruts because of that inner editor. If you need to set a different goal for word count, no matter. The exercise and purpose for it are the same.

So no more waffling! Whether you’re a pantster, a plotter or somewhere in between, it’s time to stock the cabinets with food for easy meals and snacks, get your favorite source of caffeine ready and clean off your writing space. (Trust me, it’ll become cluttered enough during November.)

Write on, wrimo!

I have done NaNoWriMo for several years. It’s a huge reason I began writing after a 15-year hiatus. On the NaNo site as JC_Rosen (isn’t that clever?), I’m open to buddy listing. I usually use the #NaNo hashtag in addition to #amwriting during November. Join us! We do sprints. Progress measurement is up to you.

#NaNoWriMo: Writing Prep

 

Writing Prep by JC Rosen

 

With NaNoWriMo less than two weeks away, our heroine thought it might be helpful to share some tools. They can be used for any project, of course. Some may work for you, some may not. Just as we all learn differently, we all approach our projects differently. As an example, clustering only works for me as I unsnarl a plot point rather than for huge swaths of plotting. I tried the method and learned how to label it for my writing toolbox. Other methods have been tossed aside when they didn’t work for me at all.

I’m a hybrid, neither pantser nor plotter. I call my prep process “outlining,” but that’s a misnomer. My outlines are basic and very loose. I use the outline to describe story and character arcs in general terms. I also input bits of research I don’t want to lose in the process. I fill in a spreadsheet of characters’ information as I go. Okay, I *try* to do that.

While I may explore major plot points and characters more deeply using other methods, I don’t do the intense planning many do. There are times I wish I did. Most of the time, I’m grateful for allowing the story and characters to wander into places I didn’t know existed in the story’s landscape. Secondary characters take on whole lives. It never fails, and thank heavens for it. As such, I don’t plot so tightly there’s no room for breathing within the structure of the writing.

Johanna Harness, founder of #amwriting on Twitter (archives for the site), explores many plotting methods. Her blog and YouTube channel are often my go-to for inspiration. Her info is always accessible and useful. I’ll share a couple as well as some other plotting methods.

 

Clustering:  Johanna first suggested clustering for a snarled up short story because of the effects of my migraines on my writing. I can go full tilt writing with a migraine, but cannot plot or edit for beans. She sees clustering as a right brain/left brain processing difference. To do it, one uses (*gasp*) a pen and paper, drawing bubbles of thoughts all over the page, willy-nilly. I found it helpful when I had a migraine, though mine looked more like a flowchart. I guess I just think too linearly. Check out Johanna’s blog article as well as her video (embedded on page) for more on clustering.

 

Snowflake Method: Known as “The Snowflake Guy,” Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method for novel writing is immensely popular. He calls his process “designing a novel.” Take a look at this article which is full of interesting ideas. As no two novels are exactly alike, no two snowflakes are, either. The article teaches how to design a novel which is perfectly individual. Please read the whole article for full impact.

 

Phase Drafting:  This article by Lazette Gifford, It’s Just a Phase, is from 2003. It’s no less helpful today. Lazette’s ideas about outlining a project are fresh and inspiring. She leaves room for growth and fleshing out the story. Don’t miss this one.

 

Big Board Planning: This is one of my favorite methods. It’s another by Johanna Harness and you can see the video about it. Do you organize your ideas on note cards or post-it notes? (Do you think you should, but don’t?) I started the post-it note habit when Johanna turned me on to Big Board Planning. It’s as simple as taking a large poster board and putting your cards or post-its on the board. It’s handy for juggling bits of your story, putting them together like a puzzle, or for putting reminders amid the storyline notes. I use a tri-fold poster board so I can fold it up and put it somewhere safe. Johanna shares ideas on how to organize using colors and placements. Scrivener has a version of this, but I like it being tactile.

 

There are plenty of methods to try. Read about each you find and glean which bits might work for you. You may end up – probably will end up! – creating an entirely new method, one based solely upon your needs as a writer. With NaNo breathing down my neck, I’ll be trying new combinations of tools. I may use clustering to get the basic outline of plot points figured out. (Bet it still looks like a flowchart.) I’ll use a spreadsheet for data on each character’s physical and personality characteristics. Big Boarding may help me if I get stuck during November.

Who knows? Anything can happen during NaNo!

 

Interested in adding me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo site? Please do! I’m JC_Rosen. (clever, huh?)

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Simply Bike via photopin cc

#FridayFlash: See How They Fall (Part Five)

<– start at Part One

 JC Rosen, See How They Fall

Rich sat in the generic chair in his suite at the Hyatt. Only then did he realize he rode back from the restaurant in George’s old Audi without feeling self-conscious. Body blows, each mysterious revelation by Molly and especially Michelle. “Be there at eight,” Michelle said. The address on the card she gave him indicated an exclusive area outside of Georgetown, way out of his budget even when he had a budget. He shook his head, but the pieces of the puzzle still didn’t quite fit together.

His phone buzzed on the table. “You say you quit smoking some time ago?” Kitterick sounded jovial, skipping a polite greeting. “Very interesting. I’m eager to hear how you explain your DNA on the cigarette butts we found at the fire.” Click. Holy hell. His DNA? Rich shivered, twisting the Dartmouth ring, a cold sweat beading his upper lip.

He was getting railroaded, but his normal mental agility was sprained. His DNA at the fire. Brandt and Associates, BandA, stealing his own deal. All that work on the Stemple project down the drain. Insurance? That was a dream. He looked around, wondering if the Hyatt was now beyond his means. Maybe George had a spare room. He barked a hoarse laugh, splashed some vodka in a plastic cup, and downed it.

As seven o’clock approached, Rich decided to face whatever was coming with his usual strengths. A fresh shower and suit helped him set his own stage. No more vodka, though it was tempting. He needed a clear head. At the half hour mark, he made his way to the lobby with long strides, a man with a purpose. George pulled up, his ride to Michelle’s place, and Rich pretended the Audi was a glittering chariot taking him to the arena.

“So what’s going on, man? Michelle’s got something brewing, sounds like.” George’s attempt at conversation didn’t fit Rich’s image of himself at the moment. No small talk for him. George soon dropped it and just drove.

They pulled into a circular driveway before a stone … well, demi-mansion was all Rich could call it. Huge, three stories, but fit into a smallish plot of land near other similarly well-appointed houses. More like edifices. Rich stopped and looked around at the neighborhood, each home lit up in the growing darkness. “Come on, man. We’re going to be late.”

It didn’t occur to Rich that George invited himself until Michelle opened the thick oak door and wrapped her arms around George’s neck, standing on her toes to give him a quick kiss. She wrinkled her nose. “At least you’ll be able to get rid of that beard finally, Arnie.” George laughed and squeezed her in a hug. Rich stared at them, his self image drooping.

“We’re being rude, Arnie,” Michelle announced in a silky voice. “Do come in, both of you. I told a little white lie, Rich. This isn’t my home per se. It belongs to my client. Miss Stemple wanted to be sure you’d answer the summons.”

Summons, was it? Rich stiffened his shoulders and lifted his chin. No one summoned him. They invited, he accepted. “I’m here, so let’s get on with this charade. Or are we unraveling one?” Michelle’s smile was slow, but her eyes were cold. Not at all his Michelle. This Michelle dressed in stiletto boots and a short skirt. His Michelle wore flouncy skirts and chunky high heels, pretty blouses, all flowers and light perfume. No, this was not his Michelle. Apparently, it wasn’t his George, either.

He followed Michelle through a foyer with a huge floral arrangement on an antique round table in the center. They entered a large room, a well stocked library. Familiar faces grinned at him, some nearly leering with anticipation. Gritting his teeth, he sat in a wingback chair as Michelle indicated.

“Please, make yourself comfortable, Rich,” she told him. Yeah. Comfortable. That would happen.

 

 

Conclusion scheduled for posting next Friday!

 

 

 

 

 

photo credit: Prayitno / Thank you for visiting ! (3 millions ) via photopin cc

#FridayFlash: FlashFic: Trying to Leave

 

Trying to Leave, flash by JC Rosen

Even a real flower…

 

After putting the last unisuit into the case, Tessa sealed it in, taming the overflow. She took a sad look around the unit. Her gaze stopped on a holo from a few years before. She and Tony looked so happy. She closed her eyes and blew out a breath. It was a long time since happy. She trudged through the hatch and spun the lock. It was over.

Tony still left gifts outside the hatch to Petra’s unit two months later. No surprise he figured out where she went when she left him. Ear drops, tongue fizzles, even a real flower one day. So lovely – if she didn’t know him so well. Creepers since she did.

Alry and Petra’s relief when she left Tony surprised Tessa. She hadn’t hid the bruises and jumpiness as well as she thought. Her friends were encouraging, helping her through the fearsome fits and backflashers. Tony’s little presents didn’t help. They weren’t meant to help.

The gifts stopped, replaced by notes. Sweet words, cajoling tones. She could hear Tony’s voice, all soft and kind like in the beginning, when she read them. Petra tossed the first one into the cycler. Tessa saw the wisdom and cycled them each upon arrival. She went cold and still when the first angry one arrived. Petra didn’t throw that one in the cycler. She kept it for the law takers. Kept it and all the ones following. Alry insisted on giving her a lasertaze to carry in her handsack. “Better to have it and be safe,” he told her. Tessa put the taze in her sack, hand shaking.

Ever since, she was freakered, imagining she saw Tony in the sea of workers commuting each day. Ridiculous. His work assignment was too precious to him. He’d never risk it by coming all the way to this side of the dome during worktime. She shook it off again today, forcing herself not to reach into her sack and clutch the lasertaze.

Working late was super sour, but she took a wage slice when she moved across dome. The overwage helped. Tessa scurried to join a group of people waiting to cross a pedi zone. She caught a single glimpse of Tony off to the side, his eyes glittering in the genny light. The crowd surged forward and Tessa was carried along, her belly shivering. No freakering this time. It wasn’t her imagination. The taze was cool against her palm.

She took a crosswise pedi zone on the other side, ending up across the motor zone on another blocking. A mob of people was in front of the flimsiplex. She mixed into the crowd. A small group broke free, walking a blocking before taking the next pedi zone. She walked beside a tall woman. Tessa figured seeming like an anonymous couple in the dim lighting might hide her. Tossing a glance over her shoulder swiftly, she thought perhaps she lost him.

Her walking partner shot her a look when Tessa kept up to the next blocking. Survival instinct told her to shift her path. She joined people taking the left pedi at the next turnout. She felt more than actually tweaked a look at the imminent danger behind. More freakering? No, she didn’t lose him after all. She gave in and tapped her temple, muttering Petra’s name to buzz up her vidscreen. “Tony’s following me,” she squeaked to her friend’s image.

Alry yelled from the background, “Where are you?” She darted a look at the glowbox on the building she was passing and read it quietly. “Law takers are on the way,” he called out. “They have your PhysIdent. They’ll find you.”

“Bono, Alry. Breaking comm, need to think.” Without waiting, Tessa tapped her temple twice and reached into her sack to grip the lasertaze again.

Hurrying through the next pedi, leaving complaints in her wake, she heard her name called out. Breath caught in her throat, she again darted a look over her shoulder. Tony pushed his way toward her. His thunderous face made her go cold, her feet heavy and slow. A roaring filled her ears as she tried to drag in air. Her numb fingers gripped the taze.

Tony grabbed her shoulder roughly and yanked her back against him. At the same moment, something cold and sharp bit her throat. An actual old-timey knife? He didn’t want just to scare her this time. “Come with me, Tessa,” he hissed, pulling her back even harder.

“Yes, Tony. I’ll go with you. Please don’t hurt me,” she whimpered, caught in backflasher and trying to placate the monster he became.

Vicious laughter sent warm breath against her ear. “You’ll get what you deserve. No more, no less,” he warned. As she trembled, the knife cut more deeply. She felt hot blood dribble from the cut. It sliced through the backflasher. Anger boiled in her belly as she thought of what he put her through, before and after she left. What he was putting her through right now. A flick of her wrist in the sack.

ZZZZZTTT!

The smoking hole in the sack told the story as much as the shock paralyzed on Tony’s face. He dropped like a plasteel chunk. Tessa held her hand to her bloody throat, relief flooding her as she took in the sight of him, still and gurgling. The shiny blade clattered, falling with him. Law takers surrounded him and someone gently tugged her away.

Dazed, shaking within her warm mylar cocoon, she held up her chin so the medic could seal the slash. “Lucky he didn’t have good aim, lady,” the medic murmured.

Petra’s voice was distant. Tessa opened her eyes and startled. Petra was right next to her. “Tessa, you’re safe. It’s bono, you tazed him.” Her friend’s hand was warm as it cupped her cheek.

Tessa replayed the scene over and over as the medic finished. Her thoughts alternated between Tony falling and that hateful look on his face beforehand. “Where is he?” Her whisper was hoarse.

Alry leaned in to where she sat in the medimotor. “All smooth, Tessa. The taze wore off and the takers got him talking to a lawbot now. He’ll be underground longtime. You stopped him.”

“All bono, yeah?” Petra’s smile sparked a faint one from Tessa.

“Bono, yeah.” Super smooth.

 

photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pagedooley/3724807427/ By Kevin Dooley