Blogiversary Episode VI: Escape from Wordhaven Books!

Hello, friends! Sorry about missing last week’s post. I didn’t manage my time very well, and then I found myself suddenly out of town without my laptop and all the files therein. Oops.

But exciting news nonetheless! This week marks the sixth anniversary of this doofy blog! Hooray!

fanfare

In celebration of this most momentous occasion, I knew I wanted to do something bigger than my usual posts, so it’s been on my mind for a while. A few months ago, I was sitting around with my husband listening to a really fun escape room/ role playing podcast called Escape This Podcast, and I decided I had to do one- or at least as close to one as I could do on a blog. So here it is: Escape from Wordhaven Books!

In this CYOA puzzle, you are a detective hired to figure out what a disgruntled employee is up to at a local book shop. But when you find yourself locked in the shop alone after closing, you must find and decipher the clues hidden around the room to solve the case and get back out before it’s too late!

A few suggestions as you start the escape room:

Have something to keep notes on- sequences, hints, door codes, keys, puzzles, etc. You’ll save yourself a lot of running back and forth if you write things down.

Locks are simulated by password protected pages. Most of them are numeric codes, but some use ‘keys’. The keys are used by typing in what is written on the head of the key. (Remember, keys are case sensitive.)

While it helps to have some literary knowledge, it isn’t necessary. All the required information is available within the story, but you might have to look in a few different places to find it.

Only look in Mr. Haven’s notebook if you need a hint. The escape room can be solved without it.

If you’re having a hard time, try the puzzle with a friend- two heads are better than one!

Begin your adventure here!

Happy 2019!

resolutions*flings confetti* Wahoo!

Another year down and I haven’t managed to overdose on lemon sandwich cookies and kimchi brine yet! *fist pumps* Man, 2018 had a lot of madness and utter rubbish, but here we are with another shiny new year. Let’s not screw this one up, guys!

All things considered, last year wasn’t too embarrassing as far as resolutions go. I got pretty lazy on my health goals, but that’s somewhat to be expected, given how lowly I prioritize my own well being. (Stop that, Jill.) But other than that, things weren’t too shabby.

Numbers-wise, I hit my reading goal, and with a couple extra books besides; I even hit the stipulation that half of them be nonfiction! I did write up two new first drafts (Copper and Box of Bones) but only managed to edit one first draft into a second (Sacrifice); but I knew from about October onward that this would be the case, so I’m trying not to beat myself up about it too much. (Because man have I got excuses for the tail end of this year.) Sadly, I totally faceflopped on my goal to write twelve short stories by writing a grand total of three. *sad trombone* But in a shocking turn of events on the last day of the year, I actually hit the rejections goal! *soccer stadium cheer* I even managed one extra rejection (yay?) for a total of forty-nine.

Honestly, for my writing stuff, I think I’ve about maxed out my productivity in my current stage of life. So I’m pretty much just setting a repeat on last year’s reading, writing, and publishing goals, with just a few minor adjustments.

Once more, I’d like to read twenty-four books, with half of them being nonfiction. This year, I’m planning on leaning a little more heavily toward the editing side of things since I have about a million first drafts lurking around my hard drive; I hope to edit three ugly early drafts (probably Blood and Ebony, Quicksilver Queen, and A Cinder’s Tale, but I’m flexible) and to write one first draft of something new over the course of the three NaNo sessions. I’m also reining back on the short story drafting, just letting those evolve on an as-needed basis without a specific goal in mind. And I’m sticking with my forty-eight rejections for the year goal because, augh it hurts, but it seems to be working for me.

So that’s it! I’ve broken each of these goals down into quarterly, monthly, and daily goals to help keep me ticking along a little more smoothly (and maybe eliminate the need for New Year’s Eve miracles, haha). So I have a plan. Let’s see how badly I wreck it!

How about you guys? Any big writing resolutions? Or little ones? Let me know- I’d love to chat! Happy New Year and happy writing!

Secret Krampus

Secret Krampus

 

BY THE WAY (this is not by the way- this is completely off topic), a quick note:

Whatever your chosen holidayic affiliation, everyone has something to celebrate this time of year! Once you dig down through the crust of consumerism, stress, and glitter, don’t we have a lot to be thankful for? Don’t we??

Many people choose this time of year as a time to turn outward and think of others. And there are lots of ways to do that! Endless charities are out there doing fantastic things for the less fortunate. My four favorites to throw monies at are LDS Charities, Charity: Water, Red Cross/Red Crescent, and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). But it’s easy to find any movement that has meaning to you! There are dental charities, farming charities, charities to help abused animals, charities lifting women out of poverty and economic dependence, charities dedicated to disaster relief, pairing abandoned unusual pets with new families, getting people with special needs a trained helper monkey, you name it!

No dollars? No worries! There are lots of ways you can give to your community (however big or small that may be) without spending a cent. Blood donations through hospitals or local blood banks are easy, safe, and save lives. And hair donations through organizations like Locks of Love  or Wigs for Kids don’t even hurt- and some salons will ship it for you! Donate your time to help teach a child to read at your local elementary school. Donate your voice by singing at an assisted living center or children’s hospital. Donate your muscles to help build homes for the homeless and give hope to the hopeless. Even just donating your attention by amplifying requests for service or donations via social media can make a big difference in the lives of our communities’ most vulnerable neighbors.

Giving can seem hard sometimes, but everyone has something they can give. And when all of us work together, everyone is lifted up! Happy holidays, everyone!

Blogiversary V

dog-cake-happy-birthday-postcard-greeting-card-send-online-2637_57Hey, look! It’s been another year and I still haven’t managed to get thrown off the internet! *flings confetti*

To celebrate, I’ll be posting three times this week (today, Wednesday, and Friday). Since I haven’t put up any new short stories in a long while, I’ll put up a fresh short on each of those days. So don’t forget to check back again Wednesday and Friday! Happy writing!

Story one: This was written with many regrets at the prompting of my husband, although I have to say, he was very confused with the direction I went with his prompt. I’ve never actually smuggled chihuahuas across the US-Canada border, but I once crossed the border with an apple core in my garbage bag that had actual seeds still in it, so I figure that’s close enough. I can handle myself.

But seriously, everything about this story is so stupid, including the title. I’m sorry, internet.

A Very Poor Career Choice

I know, I know. Of all the things to sneak across a border, chihuahuas are not topping anyone’s Most Smuggled list. But where there’s a demand, there’s a market, and where there’s a stiff tariff, there’s a black market.

A smarter guy would have told his friend no. A smarter guy would have found real work, preferably in front of an air conditioner. But I’ve never been known for my smarts.

I’d run the smelly little yappers across the border a few times already, under the watchful guidance of my buddy Steve, who’s been in this sort of business since our sophomore year of college. They’d been perfectly simple jobs. After all, we were skipping the border between Smallville, USA and Tiny Town, Canada. Not exactly tight security. We picked the little guys up mid-nap, crated them, stacked a few duffle bags on top and, voila! Fifty pooches and five thousand dollars later, we were on our way home. No sweat.

So maybe that’s why it came as such a surprise when, on the first run I attempted without Steve, I showed up ready to crate the dogs, only to find them all wide awake, yapping like maniacs to see me.

I glared at them, imaging what a beautiful arc one would make if I punted it across the warehouse. Then I turned my glare back up to the supplier. “Why are they awake?”

He shrugged, not-my-problem just oozing out of his pores. “Ran out of the stuff.”

I was pretty sure it was a lie. I shook my head. “I can’t take fifty noisy little rats across the border like this.”

He shrugged again.

I whipped out my cell phone and dialed Steve. But Steve wouldn’t answer, probably working his way through an entire paycheck at a skeezy bar. And since he still hadn’t told me anything about who he worked for, I was officially out of options.

To read the full story, go here!

A Birthday and A Poem

Well, this last week kind of kicked me in the patootie! There was my birthday, and work, and an important deadline, and a tragedy within my husband’s high school community, and a sick kiddo, and just life in general. So instead of the more thoughtful birthday blog post I had planned to share about some writing swag (hooray presents! happy birthday, me!), I’m gonna give myself a pass and simply post a terrible and unedited and kind of sappy poem that I wrote while rocking said sick child to sleep. I haven’t posted any of my writing for a while (which is maybe something of a relief?), but I’ll post this now with the promise of something a little more substantial next week.

You guys are lovely. Happy writing!

 

 

UNTITLED

 

Cheeks red with fever, hair damp with sweat,

Panting like a puppy in the sun.

I am pinned beneath you to this rocking chair,

Thinking of when you were tiny,

Thinking of when you fit in my belly,

And listening worriedly to your breaths.

You fuss and struggle and whine,

And I whisper and sing all the lullabies you liked best

When our days were tallied by diapers and feedings.

Finally, you settle with your hot cheek

Against my left breast

And you quiet and you drift to sleep.

Your ear over my heart, I wonder

If you hear it and you think

Of peace and warmth and water,

And of when you were tiny,

And of when you fit in my belly,

My pulse thrumming through the walls,

My breaths rising and falling like a tide.

How could a child stay awake

When revisiting that place

On a fevered night, like a dream?

Your breaths smooth, and your cheeks cool,

And even though I am tired, and should go to bed,

I stay with you curled close to my heart,

Knowing the spell will break like the fever,

And only I will remember this moment.

The Great Annual Resolutions Post

calvinresolutionHowdy, folks! Hey, look, we all survived another year! Wowza!

I made a few resolution shifts midyear last year. I switched over from the paper calendar system I had been using to a phone app called Habitica that is delightfully nerdy and keeps me on my toes. It taps into my love of check boxes, but then also has a built in reward system, so it works very well for me, and I think I’ll cling to it forever.

Overall, I had a good year, without too many dropped balls on my goals. My exercise goals got derailed every now and then by rugby injuries, and I jumped ship on a few writing projects, switching over to things that were more interesting at the time (because squirrel brain: the struggle is real). And as mentioned a few weeks ago, I did manage to scratch and claw my way to receiving Writer of the Year from the Alaska Writers Guild. But the goal I know you’re all just dying to know about: the rejections goal.

As you may recall from this post last year, I had a goal to receive at least forty-eight rejections. I counted short story submissions, queries, competitions- anything that pitted my writing against a slush pile. The final count is in aaaand… I failed! *sad trombone* As of December 31, I only tallied forty-four rejections.

I’m not being too hard on myself, because I still managed to achieve the two main objectives of the rejection goal: I got better at taking rejections as impersonal matters of preference, and I pushed myself to submit waaaay more than I usually do. As a result, I also had way more acceptances than I normally do! And as an added benefit that I hadn’t even anticipated, I had a super productive year for short stories too, because I had to make sure that I had fresh material to shop around as my old store of shorts got published. Overall, it was a very good year for my writing!

So I think I’m gonna stick with what works. I’ll keep with a forty-eight rejections goal for this year as well, since I felt really pushed and still didn’t quite manage to make the goal. I think I can hit it for reals this time! For novels, since I didn’t stick with the titles I had planned to work on, but still managed to get good work done with other projects, this year I think I’ll just drop the specifics altogether and just have a goal of two new first drafts, and a round of edits each for two first drafts from last year. I’ll work on whatever sounds most fun in the moment! I also plan to average one new short per month, although I don’t plan on worrying too much about how marketable they all are. And for daily goals, I plan a baseline of 500 words per day, and ten minutes of backshop, with Sundays off to rest my weary brain meats. I have goals for my spiritual, mental, and physical health as well, but that’s it for my writing goals.

Whew! All the things! I should have plenty to keep myself busy over the next year. I would love, love, love to hit that rejections goal, and maybe even outstrip this year’s number of acceptances. Heck, if we’re getting really pie-in-the-sky, I’d like to pick up an agent as well, haha, but that one’s a little less in my control. The only thing I can do is keep researching, stay consistent, and continue to hone my craft as much as I can. So that’s what I’ll do!

How about you fine folks? Any exciting new goals for this year? Let’s chat about them in the comments section! I’d love to know your plans!

Until next week, happy writing, and happy New Year as well!