Cheers – Round 1 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge

Greetings, blog followers! Yes, it’s me. And, yes, I’m still alive.

As you’ve may (or may not) have noticed, I’ve been absent from the blog world the past few months (er, maybe longer). I made a New Year’s resolution to put all of my attention and free time into finishing my novel, which I almost have! By the end of summer/early fall, I should have my manuscript and query letter ready to go for literary agents (eeks!).

This past weekend, I decided to reward my good, focused behavior by participating in my 5th NYC Midnight (NYCM) Flash Fiction Challenge (FFC). To be honest, I signed up for this writing contest a couple of months ago hoping my novel would be in my betas’ hands when the challenge kicked off…Wrong! My betas returned their notes a couple of weeks ago, and I’ve been revising ever since. So, it was really hard to shift gears on Friday night.

But, I did. And I had so much fun!

As a quick reminder, the NYCM FFC is a writing contest where writers from all over the world are given three prompts (genre, location, and object), and then 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story. It never fails to stress me out, but it’s always worth it.

Round one kicked off last Friday night at 10 p.m. (MST). I prayed and prayed the prompt gods would give me comedy. Why? Because 1) it’s the complete opposite of what I usually write, and 2) it’s one of the few NYCM genres I’ve never been assigned.

Well, guess what? The prompt gods finally answered my prayers! I was put in group 40, which had to write a comedy that took place in a bartending school and incorporated sandpaper.

 

First impressions: 

Comedy

Bartending school

Sandpaper

I literally squealed when I saw comedy as my assigned genre. It’s taken five years and 17 rounds of NYC Midnight contests for me to get this genre (I don’t count rom-com or political satire, because those are very specific comedies that push you into a smaller realm of the comedy world). As for my other prompts…ugh. The location threw me. I’ve never been a bar-kinda girl, and I don’t drink much, so finding inspiration was tough. The sandpaper prompt didn’t faze me. I’ve had much, MUCH weirder objects to incorporate, so I pushed it to the back of my mind.

My process with these contests has become fairly streamlined: Friday night, brainstorm/plan general gist of story. Saturday, write. Sunday, edit/beta read.

So, as usual, I brainstormed on Friday night and went to bed with a solid idea. I planned to sleep in on Saturday because I had a really rough week at work and needed the rest, but my body refused to listen. It’s been hardwired for pre-dawn workouts in preparation for a half marathon I’m running in August, so I ended up waking up, bright and early, at 4 a.m. Which meant I only got about four hours of sleep. Which meant I was exhausted all. Day. Long.

Somehow I managed to find my groove and dig into my story by noon. As I wrote, my original concept changed quite a bit. I discovered comedy is different from other genres because you have to let the humor evolve organically. If you find something funny, then you have to keep going with it and play up the joke. My joke ended up revolving around millennials.

*cue millennial eye rolls across the world*

Sorry not sorry, millennials. But, hey, I’m partly millennial too, so I was the butt of my own jokes.

By 3 p.m., I had a rough first draft that was 500 words OVER the limit. Blerg! I decided to let it rest while I attended my brother’s 30th birthday bash (yes, I was a fantastic social butterfly at that event.) When I got home later that evening, I rolled up my sleeves and began revising–er, chopping. I successfully hacked about 200 words before crashing for the night.

The next morning, I had to get up early for my pre-dawn workout. Thankfully, I felt pretty calm about my story. Still, I was eager to get home and back to writing. I only had until 4 p.m. that day to finish and submit my story before I had to leave for yet another event. (Yeah, it wasn’t the best weekend to participate in a writing competition.)

As always, my wonderful, patient mother came over to my house and helped me edit. I was more nervous than usual to get her opinion on the story because it was so far out of my comfort zone. And because I had NO idea if it was actually funny. But, thank the Lord, she laughed a lot. So did the six other beta readers who helped me chop my comedy down from 1,200 to 996 words. Phew! I whipped together a synopsis and submitted my story eight hours ahead of the official deadline.

Yeah, despite the lack of tears and heart palpitations this round, I was exhausted. But, I genuinely like what I came up with, and I’m really proud of myself for tackling a genre so completely out of my comfort zone.

In the past, I shared my story publicly. However, I’ve begun sending my work to publishers, so I’m no longer posting them here for any and all to read. Sorry! If you are interested in reading it, please send me a message and I’ll provide you with the password. For now, here’s my title and synopsis:

“Bottoms Up”

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A millennial needs a job to handle life’s necessities, like yoga, Netflix, and Starbucks. He decides to try bartending (#thestruggleisreal).

Congrats to all those who participated and submitted a story for NYCM’s Flash Fiction Challenge 2017!

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Photo Credits: giphy

 

2014 – The Year of Writing

Well, we’re officially into the new year! After a rocky 2013, I have high hopes for 2014…although it hasn’t started out great. I’m currently dealing with remnants of an intense cold I had during the holidays, as well as frigid temperatures that have drained the battery of my car. But, I’m going to stay positive! I am!

Positive-friendsAnd, to be fair, positive things have happened. Although it’s only January 7th, I’ve already read two books (Fractured by Teri Terry and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell), and I’ve submitted a short ghost story for publication. I’m really excited about this story. It took me forever to think up a concept for it, and even longer to write it…Seriously, guys. Forever! I knew about this open call submission back in early November, but I didn’t actually get around to writing it until mid-December. And then I got sick and put it down until the last days of the year. I ended up writing and revising the whole thing in three days. However, the final product turned out much better than I’d hoped for. In fact, I’ve already decided regardless of what happens with my submission (accepted or rejected), I’m going to use this story as a jumping board into a much bigger story.

This inspiration has urged me to sit back and think about what I want to accomplish in 2014. So, I’ve made a few writing goals. I’m not going to lie, I’m being ambitious here. But I’m determined to be productive this year. I’m not going to drag my feet like I have in the past. This is going to be The Year of Writing for me!

writer1) Write 2 full manuscripts. This will begin with finishing, editing and querying my NaNoWriMo project, Fallers. After that, I plan to explore three other concepts I’ve come up with and then run with whichever one speaks to me most!

2) Enter at least 2 short story/flash fiction contests. Last fall, I decided to enter NYC Midnight’s Flash Fiction Challenge. I was terrified about this at the time (I’d never written a short story before, let alone a flash fiction), but I was more determined to expand my horizons and improve my writing skills. And I did! So, I’ve already entered NYC Midnight’s Short Story Challenge in February, and plan to enter their Flash Fiction Challenge in the fall again. If I have the energy, time and inspiration, I’ll also enter smaller contests throughout the year. I’m always a sucker for Chuck Wendig’s weekly challenges.

3) Keep blogging! I never thought I’d be a blogger. I didn’t even know what blogging really was until I decided to start my own last summer. Now, I can’t imagine not blogging. Not only have I been able to share my love of reading and writing with others, but I’ve discovered an amazing community. So many of you have helped me learn more about myself, introduced me to new worlds and characters, and encouraged me to keep going when I’m ready to give up. You’re amazing! And being a part of this blogging community is amazing. I don’t know how I’ve managed to go this long without it. So, even though I might be slowing down to keep up with my other writing goals, I’m not quitting. My blog has become just as valuable to me as the books I read and the books I write! 

Well, that’s all for now. I’m afraid if I keep adding to the list, I won’t get any of it done! I plan to kick things off with returning to my NaNo projectFallers. I haven’t touched it since the end of November, after I hit the 50,000 word goal (my short ghost story was starting to scream for my attention by then, haha). Unfortunately, I have no choice but to start over with Fallers. It’s been too long not to. I’ve lost the flow of the plot and characters. Plus, I’ve thought of a few things I already want to change in the first 50,000 words I wrote.

So, fresh year, fresh start! Okay, let’s do this!

How about you? Do you have any writing goals for 2014? If so, what are they?

I’ve chosen my NaNoWriMo project – finally

I know it’s late in the game to make this important decision, but I’ve finally made it. For NaNoWriMo, I’m going to work on my young adult novel, Fallers.

For those of you who don’t know the background on this already, Fallers was originally optioned back in 2011 by a producer in Hollywood. Unfortunately, despite its “golden” concept, it never found its way off the cutting room floor. Instead of skyrocketing to bookshelves across the globe as I was told it would, it shriveled up on my computer and died a slow painful death.

rip-tombstoneThis past summer, I sadly, but firmly, put Fallers to rest, and after drying my tears and giving myself a sharp mental slap, I embarked on a new project (the “other” story I was considering for NaNo). But, wouldn’t you know it? Fallers refused to be silenced so easily. It kicked and clawed its way out of Jen’s Creative Cemetery and stomped its way back into my life, bringing with it new ideas: A new story structure, new characters, new twists and turns. A NEW story!

So, I’m going to give Fallers v.2 a chance. I’m going to use NaNo to discover what its new story is and if that story is powerful enough to do what Fallers v.1 couldn’t do–dazzle and delight and inspire. If not, then I’ll be putting it to rest for good…I think 😉

Good luck NaNo participants! And remember:

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FLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: THE SUBGENRE SMASH-AND-GRAB

Guess what day it is? That’s right! It’s Flash Fiction Friday! And, as usual, this week’s challenge comes from one of my favorite blogs, Terribleminds.

hulk-smashFLASH FICTION CHALLENGE: THE SUBGENRE SMASH-AND-GRAB

Gander upon the list of 20 subgenres below. Roll a d20 or fiddle with your favorite random number generator and choose two subgenres.
From there, write ~1000 word short story that mashes up both.
Post at your online space. Link back here so we can read!
Due by next Friday, November 1st. Noon EST.

It pains me to pass this challenge up. But with NaNo and the second round of the Flash Fiction Challenge 2013 one week away, I’ve gotta conserve my energy and use all my free time to finish chores and eliminate distractions. If I have any hope of finishing November’s creative marathon, I need to prepare physically and mentally (aka, relax for a few days!).

But, as always, I strongly encourage you to enter. And if you want to share your entry’s link in the comments section below, please do! We’d all love to read it!

For more information about Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge, click here!