Archive for April, 2017

Writer Shield

You know how game masters for RPGs have Game Shields with cheat sheet data on the inside and pictures of the game on the outside?

What if writers had a Writer Shield with cheat sheets, interactives, and such on the inside and “writer at work” signs and such on the outside to set up when working in a coffee shop or other public place?

Yeah, I thought it was a good idea.

So, I purchased a foam display board in white. I debated the black one, but based on past experience the black fades poorly over time. So white it was. I bought the larger one, big enough to cut in half horizontally so I have two display boards tall enough to provide privacy when writing in public.

Decorating the outside of the NaNo one will be easy, I have 16 years of images, NaNoisms, in-jokes, and such to use. It will make write-ins and meet-ups more fun when we get together. I may put in “windows” with hinges that I can open to make remarks to the other Wrimos through the shield. Velcro and real hinges will work well here.

Designing the inside is much easier since I had the brainstorm to use clear top loading page protectors held in place with washi tape. I can switch out the information as needed for whatever story I am working on. Along with the page protectors, I will put in a pocket to hold names, a slider for making critical decisions (what, you thoght we used research to decide if Tommy will fall down the well or out of a tree?), and a spinner wheel to pick character archetypes. Maybe some other nifty interactives. And then, the white space left behind can be ornamented with doodles, kitties, puppies, plot ninjas, and such. I may put in a scent box, too, where I can stuff a sachet for brain stimulation. I may or may not add pen pockets.

However, I am stymied about decorating the outside of the non-NaNo shield. How shall I decorate it?  I want to use designs that warn people I am busy, yet not be offensive. I will likely be using this one alone, unlike the NaNo Writer Shield. That means no windows.

UPDATE: My plan was to spend no money other than the purchase of the display board. I know I have a box of unused top loading page protectors, but I’ve been redecorating my house, boxing things up so I can paint the walls and refinish the floors, and I have packed the page protectors somewhere.  I’ve spent all day looking fr the box I packed those in. I may give up and buy a package of page protectors because I am impatient that way. I have plans for those page protectors so if I dn’t use them for this project, I will use them for the other projects.

And I am impatient.  I’ve cut the display board in half – which was much harder than I expected. Foam board is sturdy, and this is a Good Thing since I plan to use them a lot once completed. I have messed around with the placement of where the page protectors will go when I get them. Typing paper held in place with sticky notes helped a lot, then marking their locations with pencil.

This allowed me to start with the permanent decorations.

And now I’m wondering if I should make the external decorations general, using page protectors to slide different themed pictures/sayingsinto them. Things like “Beware!  Writer at Work!” and the NaNoWriMo Shield and “Keep Calm and Write a Page a Day” and “Overcaffienated Writer” and “Shhhhh or the voices in my head will have to shout” and “I can write my book. I should write my book.  I will write my book.”

I will bind the edges with decorative duct tape because I will need something sturdier and wider than typical washi tape to protect the edges.

Update 2: I caved.  I ordered new page protectors from Amazon.  They will be here Wednesday.

Update 3: Tracking says it will be here tomorrow!  Huzzah! Today, I will design, print out, write out, or draw the things I want to put on my writing shields. And I can take them to the TGIO Party we’ll have this Friday, along with egg rolls (I make my egg rolls GF by making those thin Japanese omelets and wrapping the cooked egg roll filling in those – they can be eaten soft or deep fried for a bit of crispiness), and a “writer’s wreath” filled with “brain” cheeseballs, a variety of olives (for “olive writing”), pickle “books”, and “bookworms” made of cucumbers.

Update 4:  The shield is finished, now to use it!  This weekend? If it works, I’ll use it for NaNo Meetups. That’s the original reason I made it. It has pen pockets and a scent pocket, and kitties , and page protectors for switching out signs and information at need. No hinged windows – cutting this thing was grueling – maybe the cardboard ones will cut easier than the foam board ones? Maybe the next one. Anyway, I’m kind of excited.

If it works, I’ll take pictures so others can make them, too!


Read Full Post »

Goose Dog

A flock of migrating geese landed in the back yard this morning. Xoco has RULES about critters in the back yard. I am not sure how she determines those rules, but she very strictly enforces them.


The possum must STAY IN TREE and STAY OUTSIDE and EAT TICKS.

And the geese? Her rules seem to be: IN THE POOL, NO WING FLAPPING, NO HONKING, and NO BITING CHILTO.

The wind overnight blew the wading pool down, and we got rain here, so there was water in the pool, which is where Xoco herded the geese. And then kept them there. There were 7 of them, just chilling in the pool, with Xoco circling it and shouting at them whenever they broke one of her rules.

Chilto danced “danger! danger!” and each time a goose looked at him, he yelped and ran to the back of the yard. He just KNEW they wanted to eat him.

And Itzl? He ignored the geese because they weren’t anything he’d been taught to alert on. They weren’t hawks or peregrines or or falcons, so he didn’t feel the need for wings. And they weren’t his crow friends. So he peed on the pool, wandered off to pee on the fence, went to check on Chilto, found his poop spot, then collected Chilto and walked him back into the house, staying between him and the geese.

Xoco followed them, convinced the geese would behave now that she’d explained the RULES to them.

Once all the dogs were in the house, I shut the back door and watched the geese from the kitchen window.

They stood there quietly for a long time, looking at one another and peering around for Xoco. When they were convinced Xoco wasn’t coming back, they climbed out of the pool and wandered the yard a bit, then Xoco barked at Chilto because Chilto got on HER pillow. The geese – quietly! – looked at one another and took to the air, flying off while they had the chance.

Pretty amazing for a 4 pound Chihuahua.

Read Full Post »


I made chewies for the dogs – ground turkey sticks baked slow so they were practically dehydrated, then wrapped in chicken jerky that was still pliable and baked some more to dehydrate the jerky wrapping, then wrapped all of THAT in bacon and baked it on racks until crisp and dehydrated.

Xoco simply nommed hers down in a businesslike fashion.

Itzl gets little soft nuggets to gnaw on – the last dental visit they removed his front fangs so he’s down to 8 back teeth.

Chilto has been so excited by his chewie stick that he wiggles his butt, bounces at it, then settles to gnaw with waggy tail. Sometimes he gets so happy he bounces as he chews. And every now and then, he’s so thrilled he has to get up and run through the house before coming back to bounce at his chewie.

Xoco and Itzl have finished their chewies and Chilto is still playing with his.

These dogs are stars in their own stories (and Itzl has been in other authors’ stories – he’s made the rounds at conventions!).

Read Full Post »

I have all the pages drawn out.  Some areprobably redundant.  They feel redundant.

I shall format them into Excel anyway and use them for a few months to see how I feel about them.  I have a couple of author friends who will also “beta test” them, and then I’ll redo them to make them even more suitable.

I have already formatted 23 pages of them into Excel, and I shall finish the formatting Monday and Tuesday.

These are the pages I have, some of them share a page, and the weekly and 7-day daily spread are 2-page spreads. They are very minimalist:

Mission Statement – because I think it helps to condense your life goal into one sentence and write it in beautiful letters at the beginning.
On this page are also the Word of the Year and the Unword of the year – words with which one is enchanted and disenchanted.
Year-at-a-Glance Calendar
Beta Readers
Work Team/Zemstva
Professional Associations
Expense and Income
Sales and Distribution
Marketing Summary
Marketing Materials
Writing Supplies
Special Events
Social Networking
Blog Summaries
Future Blog Plans
Podcast summaries
Future Podcast Plans
Guesting (on other author/publisher/writing oriented blogs, podcasts, newsletters, etc.)
Patreon Planning
Book Submissions
Short Story Submissions
Article Submissions
International Publishing
Classes – Teaching and Taking
Contests – entering/sponsoring
Annual Goals
Annual Time Tracker
Annual Administrative Tasks
Annual Writing Log
Annual Work Log
Research Sites
Books Read/Reviewed
Beta Reading Progress
Writing Progress (all works)
Month Calendar/Schedule
Monthly Administrative Tasks
Monthly Time Tracker
Monthly Self Care Tracker
Monthly Schedule
Weekly 2 page spread containing calendar, schedule, WIP Progress, Administrative Task Tracker, Self Care Tracker, Writing Tracker, Submissions Tracker, Patreon Tracker, Crowdfunding Tracker, Beta Reader Tracker, Priority Tasks.
Daily Pages – 7 days on 2 pages, schedule, self care, writing care, administrative task tracker, Social Media Tracker, and an 8th section for notes

I’ve also made a few pages that are dedicated trackers in creative ways – for instance the Books read/reviewed is a bookcase, the podcast tracker is an old fashioned radio, the blog tracker is a computer screen with icons, and I’ve left space on each page/collection for customization and adding washi tape and doodles and such.

Several author friends have asked for copies.  I have it saved as a collection of .pdfs. Print them out, punch holes in them, decorate with washi tape and colored pens, and fill them in as the year progresses – all your writing documentation in one easy place.

Read Full Post »

Plot Bunny

I was going through some recent journals and discovered a rather large fragment of story I’d started. It has no title. But I did some world building, set up a clandestine subculture, gave it a lengthy history, developed a few conflicts and tossed a couple of characters in to sink or swim in slightly ahead of modern times.

Of course, that future has to change some because of current history. But all it means is going much more clandestine that I’d originally written and adds a couple of new conflicts.

The group is sort of like the Amish, and they are treated as such by the world at large, but unlike the Amish, they did not eschew technology, they embraced it and secretly contribute to it under fake names and profiles.

They are a metamorphic alien species trying to find their way back home, trapped on Earth for centuries and hoping for technology to advance enough to build them a way back home. Assuming there is a home to return to.

I’ve also noticed that I use Earth to hold an awful lot of stranded aliens. Each one is different, and each group deals with their temporary exile in their own unique ways. Oddly enough, very few of them actually deal with humans or integrate into any Earth societies. I think the one that mixed with humans the most was the one where I used Atlantis to explain their arrival, existence, and disappearance.

So, this is yet another aliens-stranded-on-Earth story, in a tie when they are still stranded and with little to no hope of leaving. They have to decide if they will be content with remaining isolated like the Amish or perhaps like the Appalachian Mountain folk, or integrate into wider society. If they even can integrate into broader society. They’ve moved from middle Europe to take up a place in the American Midwest. So, we shall see where this story goes, because I have no end for it, yet.

And now that I’ve realized that I have this theme running through a group of my stories, maybe I’ll write a story where they encounter one another, or at least one group will meet another, and maybe they’ll help one another….or not.

Who knows?

But it’s an interesting Plot Bunny.

Read Full Post »

Goals and Resolutions

I never do New Year’s Resolutions or Birthday Goals. It seems so contrived to me, to say I will or won’t do this or that and make these changes or those in my life. They always seemed so grandiose, and I am not a grandiose sort of person. Even my stories tend to be small and personal and involving little things.

I do goals. And plans. And occasionally I do a coda. I do these on weekly and monthly basis, and they create a larger annual, decadal, generational sequence. The small stuff.

Writing, though, requires no resolutions. If I didn’t write, I wouldn’t be able to breathe. I wouldn’t live. Some stories I write for pure pleasure, like my NESSie (Never Ending Short Story) – it’s a short story (honest!) and I’ve written over a million words on it. I haven’t actually gotten to the short story part, though, and I don’t care – it’s my story, the one I love above all others. Some stories I write with an intention to share with others – and soe I write just for me.

The point is that I write. All the time.  I am a writer. I am the person who puts words down somewhere. I leave poems on benches.  I scribble stories and leave them at restaurant tables.  I tuck tales into books at the library as bookmarks.  I scratch stories into the dirt. I chalk stories across walks.  I tell stories to the produce in their bins. I fold stories around tips I give to people who provide a service for me. I fold stories into paper airplanes and send them across the park into groups of children.  I email stories out randomly.  I thread food onto skewers so they spell out stories and then (cook if needed) eat them. I bake cookies in the shapes of letters and write sweet stories.  I arrange word magnets into tales. I just discovered I am maintining 62 different blogs! (and hence, I am spending some time consolidating them down to just 10. Maybe 12.).

I write.

I write every day, even if it’s not on a specific story.
I write despite all life tosses my way.
I write in spite of negativity.
I write in celebration.
I write in sorrow.
I write in fear.
I write with whatever falls to hand.
I write on paper.
I write in pixels.
I write in pain and through pain.
I write in peace.
I write in tandem.
I write alone.
I write.

I don’t need New Year’s Resolutions or Birthday Goals when I have this compulsion, this overriding consuming geas – to write. Always and forever.

Read Full Post »


A western takes place in post-Civil War America up to maybe WWI and may extend back to as early as the “Old West” during exploration – say 1800, is located mostly west of the Mississippi and usually involves horses and guns. The best westerns are about character as much as plot.

Optional, not always necessary, are sheriffs, deputies, marshalls, saloons, drunks, barroom brawls, bullies, gamblers, whore houses, piano players, cattle, cattle rustlers, cattle drives, cattle ranches, politics, outlaws, Indians, settlers, wagon trains, small lawless towns, town gossips, and school marms. I always include food. Oddly, churches rarely play a part. This gives me some interesting scope.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »