Take A Chance Tuesday – 2nd Edition

After a week off, Take A Chance Tuesday is back on schedule.

Since many found the first challenge far too onerous for their busy lives, let’s try something (I hope is…) easier and you don’t even have to leave the blog to accomplish it.

In the comments below, name the top 5 books that, in your opinion, defines your primary genre or niche, and write a one or two sentence reason why you feel the book is essential. (i.e. The books that are most like what your write yourself)

Be sure to include-

  • Title of the Book
  • Author’s Name (Real or Pen name, if applicable)
  • All kid and teen friendly genres eligible
  • You can nominate adult books so long as they are not erotic in nature (We try to say a soft PG-13 around here)

Be personal, and yes, I will disqualify entries if they go over two sentences per book.

Deadline: Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 at NOON EST

Do your best, and until next time,

Take a chance!


Musical Musings #1.5 (Special Cheer Up Edition)

Sorry I was MIA last week, lots of non-writing related, as well writing related snafus brought me down, and the blog, along with my new WIP novel suffered because of it.

I won’t say much now to avoid a rant that helps neither you nor me, so instead, here’s a video I hope will lift your spirits, as it does mine. (All you die hard realists, the following video might be seen as sappy and too cute to exist, but some of us need it to avoid being drunks or bitter old sticks in the mud, okay?)

Everyone else, enjoy! 

Ciao for now,

P.S. Don’t worry, there will be a proper Musical Musings review later this week if not today, but until things improve on my end, my posts will be late at times, but I will update some this week.

Face Your Fear Friday – Episode 1

Today’s Friday, and that means it’s time to, “Face Your Fear.”

Every Friday, you’ll be given three days to meet a personal goal, and report back on what you learned, even if you don’t complete your goal as planned, do you best to learn at least one thing that will help your writing process in the long run. If abundant success comes from countless failures, you will learn something worth learning, even if you didn’t meet the goal as intended.

Be kind to yourself. Pick a goal that you know won’t require more you can give in three days, something you know your writing lacks, and won’t inherently require a certain kind of study or focus you know you can’t achieve in that short a time frame.

For example, most writers can’t draft a book or even short story in a day or two, however bad, but we can study up on craft and catch up on some market or story research.

Here are the rules (Only 3)

1. Pick a challenge that will aid in honing a weak point in your writing process. Small enough to finish over three days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Midnight)

2. Comment on this post before Midnight about the writing challenge you’re giving yourself and why.

3. Report back here again in the comments on Monday before 1:00 AM Tuesday, EST. What was your weekend challenge? Did you complete complete the challenge, and if not, what did you learn from your challenge that will help your writing in the long run?

To all those who join me in this challenge, I wish you all luck.

So go and face that fear!

Face Your Fear Friday

Today’s Friday, and that means it’s time to face our fears.

Writers who have mixed feelings about revision as I do know that the only thing more frustrating than
is starting entirely from scratch.

Sometimes when stories faulter, it’s not because the cahrarceters were not well-defined and feel real, but the story they’re in that’s preventing them from shining as they otherwise would, or at least not bore people to tears. In this situation, the best thing often means taking those workable characters out of the story that didn’t work, and begin again, and in most cases from scratch.

This is a very difficult thing for me to do, because I often fear I can’t come up with anything better, even if I know what I’ve tried doesn’t work, and why.

It was easier for me to just shelve something and do something entirely different. In some cases this is the smartest thing you can do.

But after some time has passed, and you still miss those characters and WANT to use them in something that does work, that’s a logical way of knowing your considering a reboot for the right reasons.

If I still miss those characters after a few months or years, and the feedback I got if I shared it with reader I trust agree the characters are great, in spite of the story they’re in now is not helping them or me, I know they deserve another shot to shine.

The best way in most cases is to re-imagine the story and some aspects of the world before their new story  can go from awkward to amazing.

Of course, some writers face the opposite problem, where you fear doing something so far out of your comfort zone that you “invite” blunt criticism on something that took a lot of courage to just do, no matter how poor it may be written, especially if it’s out of your trusted reader’s comfort zone or area of expertise, you might get advice that’s out of step with what you’re doing, even if the points they make have  truth in them, this is again where separating personal preference to universal issues for the end reader is so vital to owning your writing process, instead of the writing process owning YOU!

For this week, your challenge is to face one of two fears-

1. Fear of re-imaging a story
Take a trunk story or book you didn’t permanently destroy, with characters you love in spite of their ill-fitting story, and outline or rough draft a new story for them, that shows how unique and special they really are.

(Remember, this is only a rediscovery draft, polishing it to submission worth material is a whole other thing, a fear to be tackled in a future T.A.A. feature.)

Random Wednesday #1 (3-7-12)

Today’s Wednesday, and that means it’s time to get random.

Today I’ll share some links to some of the more interesting things I found on the web this week. Some may be writing related, some may not, it all depends on what caught my eyes the most in a given week.

Take A Chance Tuesday – 1st Edition

I know today’s Wednesday, but I had too much to do offline to get it up yesterday, so bear with me a moment. Every week (On Tuesdays from now on!), I’ll post a new  writing challenge prompt, and you have only until next Tuesday to finish, and report your findings.

I’ll discuss the submission part in a moment, bur first it’s time to reveal this week’s challenge-

Since writers are at varying stages of the process, you’ll have a choice of two challenges, you can do only one, or both if you really want to get ambitious.

Challenge #1: To celebrate revision week on my new favorite blog of the moment (Dear Editor) your challenge is to take a chapter from your WIP novel, and try to shorten it to half it’s current length.

Challenge #2: Write a one page letter in the voice of your main character or antagonist.

Since I got this up a day late, I’ll give you until next Thursday before Noon EST to finish, and you don’t have to share the work on the blog.

To enter, all you need to do is post in the comments below, state your first name or pen/nickname if easy to remember and fairly short, and which challenge you’re taking on, or both if you’re the ambitious type.

Next Thursday, BEFORE Noon EST, go back to the first “Take A Chance Tuesday” post, and comment on how you did with the challenge. Whether you succeeded, or not, and why.

Share anything and everything you learned.

T.A.A. is about celebrating success and rising above stumbles along the way.

NOTE: After this week, all Take A Chance challenges must be completed by the following Tuesday.

The reason I don’t ask to submit your results to the blog is twofold. First, especially for new writers, it’s easier to acknowledge our growth (However fast or slow) when we don’t get overly competitive towards others, since not everyone needs or responds well to heated competition when they’re struggling to learn new skills.

Second, theses challenges are meant to help writers build their own sense of progress, rather than use other writers as a yardstick for excellence, since unless you know your process naturally gels with another writer, especially if you’re in a hands-on critique group, you can make yourself insane trying to work out if this is general info you need or  is just one writer’s subjective preference they make work fine for that writer, but will do more harm than good if you employ similar counsel.

I want to help writers learn to better trust their own judgement, because the better judge you can be to you, the more civil and impartial you can be toward others when you critique their work, and be able to provide better feedback to them.

Do your best, and until next time,
Take A Chance!


Musical Musings #1 – Down Home Jazz and Groovy Hospitality

Welcome to the first edition of T.A.A.’s Musical Musings, where every Monday I’ll talk about my second love after writing fiction, music, give a review of various music albums, and profile an artist I love and why.

Now since this is the debut edition of Musical Musings, I want to start with two albums that speak to two parts of myself, the “Golden Oldie Lover Under 30” part of me, and the “Modern Eclectic Rebel, again, under 30” part of me. Sometimes at odds. But are equally vital pieces to myself.

Let’s begin with a compilation of one of the most influential music duos in my life, and to give you a hint, they’re not anyone on the current top charts, and have been dead nearly (if not over) three decades.

Give up? It’s The Carpenters – Singles (1969-1981)

(Click the Album Picture to find it on Amazon)

If you’re tired of songs about bashing politicians, glorifying gender inequality,shallow lyrics and perverse sexual escapades, stay with this blog post.

I first heard a Carpenter’s song when I was eight years old on one of those Time Life CD collection commercials (For those born after the 90s, this was pre-1st gen iPod (Now called Classic) and iTunes was still a technological pipe dream).

But it wasn’t until my early teens that I bought a copy of their most well known singles that spanned a wide range when they were on top in their career, before things got “Heavy and Trippy” as it might be described in the culture at the time.

Instead of listening to “My Generation’s music”, which was dense with hip hop and heavy metal stuff that was simply not my thing, often it was the ballads and show tunes of old that did it for me, when it wasn’t Mozart and Beethoven (Yeah, I was not a mainstream kid, and proud of it, just wish it wasn’t as lonely).

Back to the point, this album a great primer for newbies to the groovy, yet timeless feel of a group that may sound tame compared to the envelopes being pushed and pretty much torn to shreds today, turned many heads in their prime.

In one sense, you could say they were one of the many musical counterparts to writers like Judy Blume Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, or Ellen Hopkins who are no strangers to the banning and censorship challenges relating to their books,

Many of my favorite songs are in this complication, most notably are-

“Rainy Days and Mondays”

For being “The most hated day in the week” we got one heck of a righteous song for it.

“Goodbye to Love”

I guess you could call it “The love song for people who’ve had it with love songs” subversive kind of thing. But like many of the more serious matured tunes, it has a tinge of hope, which I certainly appreciate.

“It’s Going To Take Some Time”

For impatient folks like me, this is a life mantra in addition to being a bang-up song.

“Those Good Old Dreams”

I’ll wager you a cheesecake that you can’t help wanting sing along to this one, even if you aren’t musically inclined.


If you, or your kids/grandkids were raised on Sesame Street, you’ll have heard this song before, but hearing Karen’s take on it brings a more timeless feel to it, not that it needed any extra help there, but these days you flaunt whatever you can, right?

“All You Get From Love Is A Love Song”

In that same viral “Love song for folks who’ve had it with love song” vibe, but clearly more overtly cheeky and humorous than the more subtle and open-ended “Goodbye To Love.”

Karen’s vocals bring it all home, it’s strong, while retaining that uniquely feminine pitch, powerful without beating you over the head. Sharp lyrics that aren’t pretentious.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most enjoyable overall, Carpenters “Singles (1969-1981)” compilation gets a solid 9.

For something more modern, let’s fast forward to the 21st century for my second pick for this week, a jazz

album by Catherine Russel titled “Inside This Heart of Mine.”

(Click the Album Picture to find it on Amazon)

Now this may at first sound like the old-school lounge jazz your parents/grandparents/great-grandparents even, worshiped as their “Non-Gospel” Gospel, if you get my meaning. But these songs have a faster pace than some of the hardcore 1920s and 1930s Jazz, but don’t sacrifice the charm, cheek, or experimentation this style of music was born with. The title song is a strong representation of what I mean.

Other songs worth noting-

“All the Cats Join In”

This is the kind of song that makes you want to open your own Honky Tonk. Well, me anyway.

“We The People”

Probably the only overtly politically inspired song I not only love, but want to dance to!

“Quiet Whiskey”

Only the world of Jazz can make drunks and family dysfunction sound almost spiritual, in a comedic sense, mind you.

This is Catherine’s third album and in my opinion, one of her best, and one of the few albums where I feel nearly all the songs are equally well composed and performed.

Her fourth album, Strictly Romancin’, came out around Valentine’s Day this year, but this a great place to start if you’ve not heard Catherine Russell previous two albums, Cat or Sentimental Streak (Despite the name, don’t think after-school special meets The Grande Ole Opry) it’s the good, non-cheesy sentimental.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the most enjoyable overall, Catherine Russell’s “Inside This Heart of Mine” earns a 10.

That’s it for Musical Musings, so until next time, this hep rat has left the cheese shop.