CampNaNoWriMo! #MondayBlog


Writing Paper


It’s NaNoWriMo time!

No, you haven’t pulled a Rip Van Winkle and slept through most of 2017! It’s CAMPNaNoWriMo, held during the month of April.

What? You’re not ready to tackle another fifty thousand word project? Good! Because that’s not what CampNaNoWriMo is for…unless you want it to be.

At Camp, you can:

  • Tackle any writing project, novel or not. Are you revising your next draft? Preparing to write the next great musical, a la Lin-Manuel Miranda? Penning a collection of poems? Camp is fertile ground.
  • Set your own writing goal. Warm up for 50K by setting a word-count goal of 25,000. Or track hours, lines, or pages… whatever works for you.
  • Find your own, personal writing group. At Camp NaNoWriMo, you can be sorted into a public cabin with writers according to your preferences, or create a private cabin for you and your already-established writing buddies.

I won’t say it’s necessarily ‘easy’, but it is that simple.

I’ve signed up and will be working on my November 2016 project, For Worse. My protagonist, Quinn Landon, seems to have developed a personality disorder. I need her to quit with the Sybil-theatrics, pick an identity and stick to it. Geeze…

For Worse generic cover

Calm down! This is NOT the cover! I repeat this is NOT the cover!

Since this is camp, there are CABINS! You can choose to be assigned to one, start your own, or just fly free.

I have yet to choose a cabin. I elected to be assigned to a cabin last year, clearly specifying my preferences.

That didn’t work out so well. The only thing I had in common with my cabin-mates was the fact most of us were breathing. I say most because a few never uttered a word during the entire month.

Not going there again.

While we do stress out at times, battle muses and deal with writers’ block, I believe writers sometimes forget that writing is supposed to be something we love to do; something we’re driven to do; something we enjoy!

If you’re not having fun with it, and don’t find yourself smiling your way through scenes and situations – why are you doing it?

If you want to have some fun writing during April, look me up. I’ll be the one arguing with myself and trolling cabins!

 

#ReadWithMe ♥ Reading the Write Way

Author AC Melody shares the struggles of genre writing – and it’s hilarious! Enjoy! #ReadWithMe

A.C. Melody

readwithme1

Welcome back to another ‘Read With Me’ post for Ms. Felicia’s blog hop. If you’d like to link your post or blog to the list, just click on the banner above! This is in celebration of National Reading Month and will be happening all of March, so it’s not too late to hop in.

Read What You Write, Write What You Read

Let me tell you about an adventure I had with this #1 most common piece of writing advice…

When I switched from avid reader to reader/writer 10+ years ago, I didn’t even know ‘genre’ was a thing. Mostly, because I was absolutely clueless about marketing. In my last post, I mentioned that my first book idea was born when I was only 17, but not yet hatched. It festered in my mind for years, warping, evolving, maturing and expanding. One book idea spread into a series…

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A Helping Hand #ReadWithMe


I Heart Books

Image from Google


In my late teens and early twenties, I volunteered with a community literacy program that paired increasing literacy and diversity.  As such, I was partnered with a young Caucasian man I’ll call Mark.

A year younger than me and just a year out of high school, Mark was one of those unfortunate students ignored by the education system and pushed through school with passing grades. Coming from a home where reading wasn’t a priority, no one realized Mark could read, but only enough to get by, much like my own father. There were nearly seventy years between my father’s school days and Mark’s. My father had to quit school at age nine. Mark was handed a high school diploma. Both were functionally illiterate.

While members of the literacy program would meet together to brainstorm and strategize on how best to help the program’s students, we were not teachers or educators. We were students, retirees, stay-at-home moms, moms employed outside the home, and professionals in other areas. Sometimes, teachers would join the program and write outlines for us and give us benchmarks to aim for, but most of the time we were just a group of ordinary folks who wanted to help others.

After determining Mark’s reading level, I gave him two books, a writing pad, and a dictionary. He was one read one chapter, look up and write down the definition of any word he didn’t understand, and write one paragraph in his own words what the chapter was about.

With an eight or twelve-week learning plan, most students completed the course with increased reading skills. Mark signed up for the twelve-week session and was determined to finish…because he wanted to join the military. Our program worked for people like Mark because we didn’t work on fixed times and locations like the larger better-funded organizations. Working nights with a restaurant clean-up crew and picking up odd jobs in construction meant Mark’s schedule could change daily. There were times he did miss one or both of our twice weekly sessions. But I have to confess I was near tears when he did show up…he always had his words and his paragraph.

Circumstances led to my having to relocate before completing the sessions with Mark. I wish I could say I knew what happened with him, but life isn’t that easy.

However, through friends connected with the literacy program I do know 1) Mark completed the program; 2) he never made it to the military; 3) He DID enroll in college.

That’s enough for me.

 

GIVEAWAY!
During the month of March, four random commenters – one each week – will win ebooks copies of some of my favorite books from authors like Toni Morrison, Terry Dean, and Walter Mosley!


March is National Reading Month and I invite you to #ReadwithMe by sharing a story about your love of reading.

Click on the Linky Tools link below to share a post from your blog/website about reading! (New browser opens) The join links are open until March 31st. Beginning April 1st, no more links can be added, but the Linky Tool and the links posted to it will remain active indefinitely!

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Anderson Bell and His Dead Lobsters


Lobsters


Anderson is my protagonist for a proposed full-length romance novel. This is not a story excerpt, but more character development.


How many seafood wholesalers does it take to sell five hundred dead lobsters? Just one. One slimy, sleazy, lying bag of garbage! Rage still coursed through Anderson Bell. Focusing on the road, he took deep breaths trying to calm down.

This was a rare feeling for the forty-seven-year-old restaurateur. Running an upscale restaurant with as many as one hundred employees during the summer months had its own unique stressors. Overbooked reservations, rude dinner guests, sick employees and late supply deliveries were weekly issues Anderson had long ago put in their proper place…deal with it and move on.

He’d learned this as a child from his father.

But the lobsters. The dead lobsters. The five hundred. Dead. Lobsters.

A sense of foreboding swept over Anderson when the delivery truck driver rang the exterior bell for entrance to the back lot.

He was six hours early.

Anderson immediately headed for the delivery bay. Falling into step behind Vance and Eric, two members of his stock crew, the three men silently approached the bay doors. Eric threw the release lever, and the doors began to rise. Anderson couldn’t wait. Just as the doors reached waist height, he bent over and went under them, walking out to the end of the dock.

The driver was already at the rear of the semi, releasing chains and keying in codes to get to his precious cargo. However, before he was finished Anderson could smell it. Spoiled food. Decay. Rot.

The driver smelled it too. He frowned as he caught hold of the door latch and swung the door open.

Simultaneously, the four men took several steps back and turned away. The odor was indescribable. During a special assignment, back in his Air Force days, Anderson’s unit had stumbled upon the decomposing bodies of murdered locals. The fumes coming from the truck were ten times worse.

Vance suddenly ran to the truck, slamming the door closed.

Eric gagged.

Feeling a wave of nausea, Anderson took a few more steps away from the bay and tried to inhale fresh air in through his nose. Turning back to the truck, he saw Vance advancing on the driver.

“Man, what the hell is this? You got shit for brains or something? Those lobsters have been dead for days!”

“I-I…I didn’t know. I just picked the trailer up less than an hour ago!” He backed away as Vance approached, his hands raised in front of his face.

Returning to the edge of the bay, their words replayed in Anderson’s head. Dead for days. Picked up the trailer less than an hour ago. He didn’t like where this was leading.

Jumping off the dock, Anderson’s face didn’t reflect the pain that shot through his recently repaired ACL. Gesturing for Vance to stop, Anderson questioned the driver.

“What’s your name?”

“Dell. Dell Hanks.”

“Was this a scheduled run for you, Dell?”

“N-No, sir. I just got in this morning with a load of coffee from Georgia. I was ahead of schedule and my boss will get every damn second out of you he can. Anyone else would have let me go home to sleep. But Paul said he’d just got a call for a local run I had to do before my shift timed out. He gave me two addresses. I was to show up at the first one, and they would hook up the trailer, then take the load to the second one — here — and it would be unloaded.”

“Son of a bitch!”

Anderson glanced at Eric who had figured out what Anderson was already thinking.

He’d been scammed.

Anderson Galen Bell had been a mild-mannered, easy-going person all his life…much like his father. A successful and well-respected dentist, Arthur Bell believed life was far too short to spend it angry and vengeful. He and his wife, Sara, had taught their boys it wasn’t so much about turning the other cheek, as it was deciding their own path and who they allowed to control them. His line of thinking didn’t always work, but it had served Anderson well for most of his life.

Now was not one of those times.

“Eric. Vance. You guys get the protective gloves and masks out of storage. And bring some for Mr. Hanks, here.” The driver tried to protest, but Anderson cut him off. “This goes above and beyond anyone’s job description. You, as well as my men over there, will be well compensated for disposing of this nightmare.”

Dell’s eyes widened at the thought of making a few bucks.

“You’re not going to call my boss, are you?”

“As far as I’m concerned, Dell, you made your delivery and went on your way.”

The long-distance trucker visibly relaxed.

“Now, do me a favor, and pull the rig around to the incinerator. It’s to your right over there, down a small incline. Eric and Vance will meet you over there and you can give these poor crustaceans a…proper cremation. Don’t dump the water. God only knows if it’s toxic or not. I’ll go call the water treatment plant.”

Trying not to visibly limp, Anderson returned to his office. Placing a call to the water treatment plant, he wrote down the instructions for getting rid of the tainted water. He then made out three checks, each for five hundred dollars and sealed them in individual envelopes. Turning to his computer monitor, Anderson scrolled through his recent invoices until he found what he was looking for, and made several notes.

Satisfied, Anderson attempted to stand. Pain shot through his knee, causing him to cry out and fall back into his chair.

Dammit! Dr. El-Kass had warned him about doing too much too soon. He had not been happy when Anderson cut his physical therapy short and returned to work. The doctor told him one wrong move could not only undo the repair but also do additional damage.

Anderson Bell had grown tired of sitting around at home with his leg up.

He had an efficient staff and good managers. Luminarias did good business whether he was there or not, and the customer feedback box was always full of compliments for food and staff. But the summer months were special to Anderson. As a child growing up just outside Detroit, Anderson’s family made several day trips to Bayview during the summer, and always spent the first two weeks of July there, without fail. Those trips were the best times of his life, and Anderson couldn’t miss out on another chance to try and recapture the simplicity and innocence of his youth.

Bayview was gearing up for the arrival of tourists and no less than ten festivals before the cool breezes of fall swept in off the water.

Anderson had to be a part of it. It was all he had to look forward to. The restaurant and the days of summer.

Not much of a life, but it was his.

He’d lost his dad to bone cancer six years ago. Sara Bell died less than a year after her husband from a heart attack. Anderson’s brother, Lawrence, lived in northern California. His parents each had one brother and neither had ever left Pennsylvania as his parents did. Anderson knew little or nothing about them or his cousins.

He was alone.

Taking a deep breath, Anderson slowly rose from his seat. The pain was subsiding, his knee almost numb. He knew that meant swelling.

Dammit!

He didn’t have time for this.

Anderson grabbed the bottle of anti-inflammatory pills and swallowed two without water.

Taking a few steps toward his office door, Anderson tried not to limp. He didn’t want to stress his knee or appear weak in front of his staff.

He also couldn’t appear weak during the errand he was about to run.

Clutching the envelopes in his hand Anderson Bell went in search of his day manager, Gayle Norman. He frowned finding her office empty. Passing the banquet rooms, Anderson heard Gayle’s deep throaty laugh. Following the sound, he found Gayle at the beverage counter instructing the newest member of his summer staff on the proper way to change the filters in the ice maker.

“Did I demote you?”

Gayle turned at the sound of Anderson’s voice, already laughing at his comment.

“Bennie’s wife went into labor, Nina had a flat tire on Old Highway 14, and Willie fell off his porch this morning. Broke his wrist. I am the wait staff right now.” Laughing at her own words, Gayle gestured at the young woman next to her. “This is Donna, the new hire I told you about a couple of days ago. She wasn’t supposed to start until next week, but she has prior experience, which I need today. Donna, this is Anderson Bell, the owner.”

Anderson shook hands and exchanged greetings with the pretty African-American young woman, and turned back to Gayle.

“Vance and Eric are doing a disposal job at the incinerator. A delivery driver is helping them. When they’re done, give them each one of these.” He handed her the envelopes. “And give this to Vance — I have a quick errand to run.” Giving her the instructions to dispose of the near toxic water, Anderson was already thinking about his next stop.

Shaking her head, Gayle pointed at Anderson’s leg. “That knee says otherwise.”

“I’ll be fine, Gayle, and this won’t take long”, bowing as he backed away, “thank you, ma’am!”

Anderson almost believed he would be fine until he reached the doorway and turned. The jolt of pain caused him to freeze in his tracks. Checking over his shoulder, he saw the two women were back to work and hadn’t noticed his misstep.

Exiting his restaurant, Anderson quickly made his way to his late model Chevy Tahoe. Taking one more look at the address he’d scribbled down, his anger easily reared its head again as he pulled out of the parking lot.

~Quotable!~ Morgan Freeman


Morgan Freeman

An American actor, producer, and narrator, Freeman won an Academy Award in 2005 for Best Supporting Actor with Million Dollar Baby (2004), He has received Oscar nominations for his performances in Street Smart (1987), Driving Miss Daisy (1989), The Shawshank Redemption (1994) and Invictus (2009). He has also won a Golden Globe Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He got his break as part of the cast of the 1970s children’s program The Electric Company.
Morgan Freeman is ranked as the 3rd highest box office star with over $4.316 billion total box office gross, an average of $74.4 million per film. Image from Google.


“You’re going to relegate my history to a month.”

“I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.”

“When I was a teenager, I began to settle into school because I’d discovered the extracurricular activities that interested me: music and theater.”

“The best way to guarantee a loss is to quit.”

“Learning how to be still, to really be still and let life happen – that stillness becomes a radiance.”

Thank you, Daddy! #ReadwithMe

hands


I feel as though I’ve been reading all my life. While I come close to the mark, I’m still a few years short.

I was reading on my own before my fifth birthday. My father taught me. The memories of this are even more special to me because my father was a functional illiterate.

Born in June of 1914, daddy had to quit school three years after he began to help work the fields of his sharecropping grandparents. Having a natural curiosity about the world, daddy always wanted to return to the classroom, but it wasn’t meant to be. Formal education simply wasn’t a priority for most people in rural Mississippi in those times, and definitely not for African-Americans.

My father taught himself many things over the years, but reading wasn’t one of them. By the time World War II began he was already a married man with a family. Being a good provider meant everything to men like my father, and work was always the priority. Again, in those times, learning was discouraged for African-Americans and ‘making their mark’ on legal documents sufficed.

His first marriage ended in divorce, and by this time, my father’s lack of reading skills embarrassed him. He wanted to better himself and have more in life. While searching for someone to help him, a friend introduced him to her sister – my mother.

Despite the differences in their ages (he in his 40s, she in her 20s), my parents’ friendly dating soon led to marriage. Daddy readily admitted to hiding the extent of his inability to read from my mother, and she admits to taking it for granted that he could. Doesn’t everyone know how to read?

Needless to say, by the time mom did find out – class was in session! Working fourteen to sixteen hours a day left little time for reading practice, but by the time I was born three years later, daddy had more than mastered the basics. I can first remember sounding out words with him…from the sports page! Daddy was a baseball fanatic and loved being able to read the team stories and standings for himself, so that was my first learning material.

As each of my younger siblings came along, daddy was a man on a mission. He demanded our best effort in everything we did, but reading and spelling were the priorities, and the first subjects he looked at on our report cards. Daddy wore the biggest grin when my fourth-grade teacher suggested he take me to the public library because I was already reading the sixth-grade books from the school’s small library.

My lifelong love affair with reading continued through school and into marriage and parenthood. My husband reads, but he’s one of those leisurely readers. I can devour six books by the time he finishes one. We read to our three children (and made up stories and songs) and they all entered school reading.

During their school years, I was involved in parent leadership and PTA and never passed up an opportunity to emphasize to parents how important reading to children AND having them read aloud was. I shared my love of reading also by volunteering with literacy programs for children and adults and reading to residents in nursing homes.

That’s how important reading is to me.

Perhaps it’s because I started reading so young, or maybe it’s the materials I choose to read…but probably not. I know it’s important to me because it’s the single greatest gift my father ever gave me. It was something he spent half his life striving for and once he got it – he gave it to me.

Even now, more than fifty years later, when I come to the end of an especially good book, I close my eyes, smile, and say, “Thank you, daddy.”

GIVEAWAY!
During the month of March, four random commenters – one each week – will win ebooks copies of some of my favorite books from authors like Toni Morrison, Terry Dean, and Walter Mosley!


March is National Reading Month and I invite you to #ReadwithMe by sharing a story about your love of reading.

Click on the Linky Tools link below to share a post from your blog/website about reading! (New browser opens) The join links are open until March 31st. Beginning April 1st, no more links can be added, but the Linky Tool and the links posted to it will remain active indefinitely!

 

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…