Lessons From 40: Four Decades Of Dumb Stuff I Learned — terribleminds: chuck wendig

At the end of this week, I cross the threshold from cool hip dude in his 30s to decrepit antediluvian in his 40s, and to prepare I have already begun strongly investigating the fiber content of the foods I put into my body because if there’s one thing I know about being in my 40s, it’s that…

via Lessons From 40: Four Decades Of Dumb Stuff I Learned — terribleminds: chuck wendig


Solving the World’s Problems

I go to a particular McDonald’s restaurant when I am looking for amusing inspiration. In this hamlet of 43,000 people, we have four of the restaurants to choose from. But I choose only one when I am in a writing mood. And I make sure I visit between the hours of 6 a.m. and about 2 p.m. By now you may be wondering why I undergo this ritual and what is so interesting about McDonald’s during this time of day. Well, let me tell you.

In 2013, I participated in my first National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge. I was working part time and found that I was most prolific in the afternoon hours. Or so I thought because generally I am not a morning person. A full schedule, an empty cupboard and fridge, and desperation drove me to seek out the McDonald’s closest to where I lived at the time because I needed a cheap breakfast and WiFi to get my 2 hours of writing time in. What I found there has kept me coming back for the last 3 1/2 years.

In the window facing the main part of the parking lot is a large elevated table with stools that have backs on them. At that table sat 6 retired men conversing. I didn’t recognize any of them, but now I can recognize all of them, even though I only know the name of one of them. After eavesdropping on the conversation for a while, I came to realize that the men generated solutions to the world’s problems at this very table. Sometimes the solutions are humorous, but sometimes, if I listen closely, they are profoundly interesting. Everything is solved over cups of java and hashbrowns.

These men meet daily; for how many years I know not, but today I had my lunch at McDonald’s. The topic of the day was hackers, which soon changed to Section 8 Housing. One of the men is a landlord and had plenty to say on this topic. I only catch snippets with all the other noise in the restaurant, but I enjoy sitting as close to them as I can get, just to hear what problems they are solving today.

Someday this group of men will make it into one of my stories or novels, but I haven’t found the right one yet. I want to write more about them, but to do that, I think I need to study them more…and grab a Big Mac. Happy Tuesday, everyone!

A Project Here, A Project There

I got a new prompt from www.terribleminds.com on Friday. There was a list of 20 randomized titles he had generated and I had to randomly select one of them. Using the random number generator at www.random.org , I rolled a 16 and got From the Unseen Departed. At first I was thinking horror story, but that would be easy. Now I am thinking CIA or Witness Protection, something where people disappear for a time or for forever and change identities. I have 1,000 words to work with. Any other suggestions? Feel free to comment. I might actually try to get this assignment done one time. It is due Friday by noon. I have been terrible with keeping up with Chuck’s weekly deadlines. I got so caught up in The Cat Guardian that I never got back on track. Maybe this is the week!

So as I generate this story, I will probably think of characters first since the characters are basically the title of “unseen departed” and I will leave the plot points to come as the characters develop. This is different from the way I was developing As the Stars Align last week. I still haven’t started writing that one because I am actually stuck on the character development, which is very unusual for me.

Do any of you, my precious readers, write from the prompts on Wendig’s blog? If so, share which title you got. I would love to know your process as you write. I think the randomness of it all is what I like most about the Terrible Minds Flash Fiction Friday prompts. I literally look forward to every Friday post just to see what kind of randomness he has come up with since the previous week. If you like to write and haven’t checked out his prompts, I highly recommend them.

I believe I mentioned in one of last week’s posts that an old high school acquaintance lost her hubby to a farming accident. I have been plotting what kind of mixed media piece I will do for her and I plan to work on a 10″ x 10″ canvas, the biggest size I will have ever done. I am going to create half of the canvas with a grief collage and half with a hope of renewal collage. On the grief side I am going to put a woman’s face with tears streaming down her cheeks and silhouettes of her two children from the shoulders up. The colors of the grief side will probably be shades of blue and gray. The hope side is going to be bright colors with a butterfly, a hummingbird, and a tree of life. The butterfly represents renewal/new life. The hummingbird represents savoring what is sweet in life. I am excited about the piece and am still figuring out the media I will use for each element. I will definitely post a photo before I mail it to her.

Well, those are the things I am working on this Monday. I hope everyone is busy creating, even if you are at work. Enjoy the day!

New Story a-Brewin’!

I am working on a new project that is probably going to end up being longer than a flash fiction piece would be. This particular story is called As the Stars Align and was inspired by one of Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction prompts found here. It was his April 1 blog post and it asked writers, in 2000 words, to write a story about a dragon. The idea was to not necessarily use a literal fire-breathing dragon, but perhaps a person nicknamed dragon etc.

I was reading someone’s story online (I desperately wish I could remember whose so I could credit him/her) and the words “stars align” leaped off the screen at me, so my “dragon” is a constellation in shape of a dragon. Like any other dragon,this constellation is very powerful. While it is visible during the night, no major decisions can be made (day or night). It is usually visible to the naked eye and can be seen every 15 years, so every 15 years is a year of the dragon. It is in the sky from July-December.

People generally dislike the uncertainty of a dragon year. There no babies born unless the pregnancy was in progress before the constellation appeared. There are no deaths either. Those near death must hang on until December when the dragon decides who lives and who dies.

I must admit that the world building has been fun and I actually started with that even though I am usually a character first writer. I have not developed characters yet but as for ideas, one of my characters has a decision to make about her life. She longs for the decision to be made by someone else, so she puts off her decision and waits for the dragon to decide for her. Another character, the first character’s best friend, hates the dragon and wants to make her own decisions about what she is to do. She doesn’t want to hang in limbo while the dragon hangs in the sky. She may rush into things before the dragon appears in the sky. Those are the only two characters I have even given thought to so far.

That is some of what I have developed. I will keep you posted as I develop more of the world and the characters that are going to inhabit it. This is very different writing from what I am used to and I am looking forward to it greatly. If you have comments or even suggestions on how I could make this world more interesting, please leave a comment. Have a great weekend, all!

National Libraries Week

This is a little late in coming, but this week is National Libraries Week. Now if you are a writer, you probably use your library pretty regularly for reading and research. I would encourage you to go into your library and thank the staff for all they do to keep you up to your ears in new books. Plus, many libraries have special events during this week.

Our local public library, Missouri River Regional Library, has a program called Food for Fines. You can pay off your fines by bringing in non-expired, non-perishable items from your pantry or buy them right off the shelves at the store. Each item equals $1 off your overdue fines. This does not include replacement costs (like if you lost a book) but if you missed your due date, this is a great way to pay it off. The food is then donated to a local food pantry.

They also give free replacement library cards. Normally a library card costs $2 to replace, but during this week, our public library gives free ones if you have lost your card. So be sure to check with your local library to see what programs and incentives they have this week. It could benefit you and your library.

Public libraries are an important part of our community cultures. They are a gathering place as well as a place of learning and entertainment. When I see public libraries getting cuts to their funding, it saddens me. Our local library is a haven for some of our homeless community during the day. They can get resources for improving their lives as we have a resource manual. They also can use the computer lab to look for employment and housing.

Our public library is the hub of our community. If it ever closes, even for repairs or holidays, our community is affected greatly. I can’t imagine what would happen to all the people who use its resources if it lost all of its funding. So once again, I encourage you, even if it isn’t during this week, to go into your library and thank your staff. Believe me, your appreciation won’t go unnoticed.


Below is a mixed media piece I did of my niece, Adrian. She is my brother’s youngest child and the photo I colored of her was from when she was 11 months old. In actuality, she will be 3 next month. I eventually want to turn all of my nieces and nephews into fairies and dragons.

She really was wearing bunny ears in the photo as it was taken at Easter time. However, I cropped them out and paper pieced them back in. I used acrylic on canvas for the background. I took two shades of blue and put them side by side on my palette before dipping a brush in the two colors and swirling them on the background. I really like how the background turned out.

I printed out a light grayscale photo of Adrian and colored it with regular color pencils before cropping what I wanted to use and then Mod Podging it onto the canvas. I paper pieced the fairy wings and used textiles to form a border between her torso and the bottom of the canvas. The photo was not a full-body shot.

The fairy on the mushroom is a stamped image I colored from a Fairies set of Stampin’ Up stamps. It is an older set and I had a hard time finding it. I LOVE to use it, though. The rest is ribbon. glue and glitter.

Very simple, but I am still learning mixed media art. Unfortunately, I lost my teacher. Long story. So I am experimenting on my own. I am already working on another piece for my oldest niece, Adelyn. She will be six next month but I am using a photo from when she was about 4 months old.

I hope you enjoyed, and if you have comments about how I can improve, please leave them below. Have a great Tuesday!

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