Wednesday, February 20, 2013

She Said What? Swagger-style

by Kim Van Sickler

 Panel One
Elsie (running): Argh! The rope twisted out of my hands! Help me!
Megan (in balloon): OMG! You're doomed!

Panel Two
Elsie (hanging): Umf! Head's as fizzy as champagne. How 'bout a hand?
Megan (in balloon): I can't do this alone! Someone stronger, smarter, and preferably super sexy, help us!

Panel Three
Superhero V: Never fear! Velociraptor Man is here!
Panel Four
Superhero V: Note to self. Retract claws when rescuing damsels in distress from hot air balloons.

Panel Five
Megan: Buzz off, Super Dud! Your incompetence makes me want to vomit!

Panel Six
Elsie (red shirt): Your negativity really bums me out.  I only want friends who see the world in a glass-half-full kind of way!
Megan (brown shirt): O...kay. Our savior seems to be a really honorable dude.

Panel Seven

Dino: He looks a little grey, but hey, I'm not a picky eater.
Megan (brown shirt): We tangoed cheek-to-cheek with death and won! Thanks, Velociraptor Man! Better?

Ha! So there you have it! Seven panels dialogued. I upped the challenge by working in the bonus words: twist, cheek, buzz, honor, grey, champagne, tango, and vomit. Happy Blog-o-versary to Michelle Wallace and Elise Fallson and for coming up with this fun, creative exercise!

Friday, February 15, 2013


by Kathy Cannon Wiechman

We’re “celebrating the small things” before our posts. My list of small things to celebrate: A warm shower on a cold day; the sun after a rain; a handmade gift from a friend; a good lunchtime companion, which can mean a good book to read while I eat. These are all vitally important to me, so I guess there are no “small” things.

My friend, Michele Beuerlein, had the longtime dream of being on Jeopardy! She’s super at trivia and wanted to compete with the best and brightest.

We all have our dreams, some more realistic than others, but our dreams can keep us going, keep us trying and working to make them come true.

For more years than I care to admit, my dream has been to have a published novel, a book with my name on the cover, a book I can hold in my hands, a book where the story is my creation and the words are the ones I have chosen to put together in the way I want to convey the story.

But most of all, my dream is to have a young reader hold that book, to turn its pages and be transported to another place (and perhaps another time) and enjoy the experience of characters I created. That’s what authors and books did for me when I was a kid.

While Michele tried out for Jeopardy! more than once, I began dozens of novels and completed eleven of them. I revised, rewrote, eliminated characters, added others, and polished the words to a shine. But the publishing world has been a tough nut for me to crack (not that publishers are nuts—not always anyway). A few of my poems have been published and three of my short stories have won prizes, but that elusive novel contract remains out of my reach.

But, as Michele did, I keep dreaming. And I keep trying. Maybe this eleventh novel will be the one that makes my dream come true. Or maybe Number 9 or 10 still stands a chance. Maybe it will take until Number 12—or Number 27. I try not to think about the possibility that it might never happen. I have to believe in my dream.
Michele's official Jeopardy photo!
It takes more than believing. Dreams rarely come true from mere wishing. It takes work. It takes the determination to keep trying, to keep writing, to keep creating and putting those words on the page. Michele didn’t give up, and on January 4, 2013, she appeared on Jeopardy! She didn’t win, but she competed as one of the best and brightest, and it was every bit as fun and exciting as she had hoped. I am proud of her. Her dream came true. She worked to accomplish it. She’s an inspiration for what can happen when you pursue your dream.

Like Michele, my dream isn’t to win. I don’t need awards or even great reviews. I just need that reader, who is transported to another place and enjoys the experience of reading that book.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Inspired by Love

by Melissa Kline

Card made from watercolor paper, paint and heart sequins.

Have you ever been so inspired or passionate about someone that you'd create little tokens of love just to make them happy? A note, words of warmth, a doodle or drawing... these gestures can mean so much. 

This week, during the Celebrate The Small Things Blogfest, I rediscovered paintings, writing and crafty projects that I had created for my husband when we were dating. These mementos brought a smile to my face because they reminded me of how passionate and inspired I was by our new love. I put so much time and effort into these creations because it was important for me to convey how much I cared about him. What an awesome thing to celebrate! The power of love.
Love collage made from magazine clippings.

"I Love..." cards made with paper, marker and colored pencils.

It occurred to me that these tokens are also abundant in books and movies. There seems to be some kind of object that is used as a sign of affection or love in many romantic story lines. In my book, My Beginning, Aidan gives Ivory a necklace, which has special meaning.

Can you think of a movie or book that included a love token? How was it woven throughout the story?
Prop necklace used as a symbol of love in "My Beginning."

I wanted to share some of my real life love tokens and hopefully inspire you to make something fun for your loved ones. There is nothing like a gift from the heart! An unexpected note in a lunchbox, briefcase or drawer can change someone's day. Small or big, it's the thought that counts. :)

Poems written in permanent marker on watercolor paper, washed with paint.

What's your idea of the perfect love token? 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Why Fantasy?

by Kim Van Sickler

***NO WAY! The link just came through for the winners of the C4WE's HF contest. Swagger writers took first AND second place! Congrats to Kathy Cannon Wiechman!
***A late breaking item to celebrate! Janie Sullivan contacted me this morning to tell me that I won first place in the Center for Writing Excellence's historical fiction contest!!!!!!! OK, so I enjoy HF a heck of a lot too!
In this week's Celebrate the Small Things Blogfest, I am eagerly awaiting the lifting of this latest migraine, certain that when it withdraws, I will feel superhuman for awhile (and hopefully gets lots of stuff done!)

My latest bookshelves have arrived! Yay! More storage for the books I keep accumulating!!! I love bookshelves!!!!!

I am so thankful for my local critique group who has been incredibly supportive and encouraging about my latest WIP, while also providing me with insightful feedback on how to improve it.

And I was thrilled when Janie Sullivan from the Center for Writing Excellence contacted me to be a judge for the latest Fiction in Five writing contest. These contests are so fun! It's where I got my start, and built my confidence as a writer. I can't wait to read the entries!

Now for this week's post...

Why Fantasy? 

Do you ever wonder why you are drawn to a particular genre of book? I do. I love fantasy. Looking back, I think my love of the genre was born of Dr. Seuss, Curious George, The Jungle Book, and all of those childhood fairy tales. Then it was fueled by my obsession with Grimm's and Hans Christian Andersen's darker fairy tales.

I've also loved the idea of the world not being a predictable, easily explained phenomenon. Where good is rewarded and evil is punished. Maybe that also explains why I became a prosecuting attorney. But that's another story.

One of my most vivid memories of my childhood was the night I spent in bed crying over the loss of a childhood treasure when I was six years old. It was Christmas Eve and I had told my dad about a kid at school bragging that there was no such thing as Santa Claus. I expected Dad to laugh and tell me she was full of you-know-what. But unbeknownst to me at the time, he had already decided that when I came to him asking questions, he was always going to give me honest answers.

Boy did that knowledge hurt. I felt sooooooo betrayed. Why go to such elaborate lengths to fool me: carrot gnawed by Rudolph, fireplace curtains left a little open, all of the presents with the labels reading "Santa" stuffed in stockings and left under the tree? I wish that magic of Christmas could have lasted longer. I spent that Christmas Eve straining to hear what I knew were my parents lugging the packages from their hiding place to scatter under the tree for the benefit of my younger brother and sister.

I wish the magic of youth, when everything carried a layer of mystery, and the world was full of limitless possibilities, could have lasted longer.

So is my love of fantasy just arrested development? Or a throwback to a wish for a simpler, easier-to-understand time?

I wonder.

What genre do you prefer to read (and/or write)? And why do you think you're attracted to it?