Fifty Word Fiction Challenge

This month is, as you probably know, Inktober. When I saw an inktober writing challenge, I was in!

I am using the prompts by @hannahrobinson  and sticking with a fifty word limit, although there are many ways to respond to the prompts.

Here are a few of my attempts. At first, I simply responded to the prompt and didn’t try to make it fiction. IT took me a couple of tries, but I liked what I ended up with.

The prompt “swing” made me think of my main character who has a twin on the autism spectrum, because when they were young they would spin in their backyard swing.

“Snow” made me think of a Christmas scene in my Asperger romance/coming of age story.

And “dragon” made Aunt Linda, a character who always has your back.

 

Have you tried your hand at fifty word fiction (or nonfiction)?

 

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Induction into the Louisiana Writers Collection and Promo Giveaway

I live in Texas, but I’m in an anthology of mostly Louisiana writers.

I plan to attend this event.

Exciting!

 

My contemporary sweet romcom short story has shades of bittersweet moments and takes place on Kaitlyn’s wedding day. It tells of two couples in love, one just starting out and a devoted pair who are dealing with Alzheimer’s.

I’m doing a GIVEAWAY of this original watercolor painting of my character, Kaitlyn, to promote the release of the newest RWA NOLASTARS Anthology, Forever and Always A B & B Anthology.

Email me at donnastonem@gmail.com for further details.

Books will be discounted at $12 each for this promo. Contact me directly to take advantage of this giveaway and the discounted book price.

Please share!

Thank you, guys!

My Hero

I shared this as part of another IG challenge, this one a writing challenge with @simmeringmind. The prompt was: A real life hero or writer who inspires you. Photo from Unsplash.

Anytime I think of a hero, I think of my kids. My kids are the reason I write what I do. The snippet below is an excerpt from the speech I gave at my youngest son’s graduation.

Eddie Rickenbacker, the WW I Ace and Medal of Honor recipient said, “Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared.”

There have been many things to be afraid of. When the world is loud and crowds you and it’s hard to tell up from down, in from out; terror doesn’t only stalk, it sidles up next to you and tries to claw its way into your back pocket.

When he was small, the invisible and seen were jumbled together and everything screamed danger. Fears were faced daily, but I remember one day in particular. We were at the church door, and he could not move.

He did not bury his face in my skirt, but edged closer to me. We waited. After a pause, his big brother opened the glass door. We all went in together.

Our place was in the back row. During the singing all the people stood, so we did, too, and he leaned into me. His little boy body trembled. I sat back down, but did not take him into my lap. Instead, with one arm I circled his thin shoulders and laid my other hand on his sticky-damp forehead.

A man stared at us. I joined in to sing the chorus with the congregation, my arms remaining around my child, the pressure firm and sure while he sat, solid and still.

He closed his eyes. We breathed in unison. In, out, in, out. His balled up fists became loose and lost their whiteness around the knuckles.

He has always been the bravest one. 

I’ve watched him square his shoulders more times than I can count.

“Courage doesn’t always roar.

Sometimes courage is the quiet voice

at the end of the day, saying,

‘I will try again tomorrow.’”

Mary Anne Radmacher

There have been many, many tomorrows. There are Giants in the land. Everyday courage takes everyday perseverance. To see the persistence, the faith walked out in small, careful steps has grown in me a deep and steady strength I never knew was possible.

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”

C.S. Lewis

To see him get up, try again, time after time is enough to produce a vision of what heroic truly means.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, leave a comment telling me about your biggest hero.

 

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Eight #PITMAD Tips

Are you participating in #PITMAD on the 6th?

I’m on the fence this time. I’ve done #PITMAD twice and #REVPIT once.

My first time jumping into #PITMAD I pitched all three finished books and I had a hard time keeping up, but it was great fun and I met many new writers. The excitement of tweets flying everywhere kept me glued to my screen. 

You don’t have to be great at twitter to participate. I’m still terrible at twitter. Don’t let inexperience stop you if you want to pitch.

Tips for PITMAD

Write a great tweet. 

Polish it until it shines. It takes quite a bit of skill to reduce your manuscript into a tweet. I asked around in various groups for help with getting mine up to snuff. A tweet to pitch is not the same as an elevator pitch. It’s acceptable to use shortcuts, giving comps to movies, television, and books.

This is one I used.

GEM & DIXIE x Netflix’s ATYPICAL. Nina has a lot on her plate. A twin brother with autism, an almost-boyfriend, and a terminally ill mom who wants to give up cancer treatments. Nina refuses to let her go without a fight. #PITMAD #YA #CON #MH #DIS #ND

The stand alone book I’m querying now follows some of the same characters as in Nina’s story. It could be described as “A teenage ADAM x GEM & DIXIE” but since the movie ADAM may not be well known and isn’t a recent release, I didn’t use that reference. 

Time your tweets.

Space your tweets apart. You can schedule them if you like. I simply spaced mine.

Vary the wording in your tweets.

Twitter doesn’t like it if you post the same tweet, so you have to change it up.

Pin your latest tweet.

Pin your latest tweet to the top of your feed so it is easy to find.

Use appropriate hashtags.

This is how editors and agent find you. Different pitch parties may have different hashtags, so check the organizer’s site.

Connect with other writers.

This is one of the greatest benefits of a twitter party. Try to find a group of writers to support. You can share each others tweets for greater visibility and make new friends in the bargain.

Read all the rules.

Go to the Pitch Wars site (or whoever is organizing the twitter party you want to join) and follow all the rules.

Have fun! 

Tell me about your Twitter party experiences! Comment below.

If you are interested in updates on my work, sign up for my newsletter here.

Share. Like. Comment below.

Good luck tweeting!

What Book Do You Wish You Had Written?

What book do you wish you had written?

I was tagged to answer this recently on Instagram by author @melaniejwalker  as part of the #authorschallenge2019 hosted by @debratorreswrites .

I would love to write a book that had and has the impact of Flowers for Algernon.

Being a precocious reader with older siblings, I read this book when I was very young, sneaking it from my sister’s bookshelf. The story resonated with me and influenced my thinking. It’s one of the books I recommend for all highschoolers to read.

If you haven’t read Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, go get a copy! It’s not a long book. I would consider it easy to read, even though all of the topics explored may not always be easy to think about. It’s about a mentally disabled young man who agrees to engage in an experiment to increase his intelligence. His story is told through a series of diary entries.

In my experience, even kids who aren’t into reading all that much seem to connect with this book. The story brings up loads of discussion worthy topics.

Flowers for Algernon always makes me think about the memoir, Switched On, by John Elder Robison, the true story of a person on the autism spectrum who participated in experiments meant to increase emotional intelligence. Switched On tells about his experiences during the procedure and the aftermath. 

I recommend both of these books.

The IG prompt made me consider my own work. I am often intentional about why I write the novels I do and who, in both a general and specific sense, I hope to communicate with.

I guess I could say I have written exactly the book I wished to.

One of my novels is about a family dealing with grief. I wrote it because there was a need. I could not find a novel addressing the issue of impending loss and grief against the backdrop of a family also dealing with autism.

As I spend time in the querying trenches, the ability to see how a particular manuscript fulfilled its intended purpose, at least in part, is a great encouragement to me.

I hope to see all my novels reach the readers who need to hear the stories. I hope to someday soon know hearts are being touched.  

#amquerying

 

 

Sometimes You Need a Story

 

My life is divided into before and after. I’m in the after now.

Eight years ago, this coming April, my world turned upside down. Eight years ago, this coming April, I began the slow journey back. I hadn’t written a book then. Since that time, I have finished penning three.

When I got sick, my daughter became frightened. Who wouldn’t be? It was the summer before her freshman year of high school, and she spent her vacation taking care of her mother who needed assistance walking and bathing. It didn’t matter what I told her, or how many reassurances were held out, she was terrified. All the soft gentle words and reassurances never made it past her fear wrapped worry.

Sometimes you need a story.

I wrote her a book about a girl who was afraid her mother would die and leave her alone. In the book, the mother does die. The girl is not left alone, however. She has family and unlikely heroes to depend on. I wrote my daughter a book to make her laugh and cry, but most of all to help her see she was not alone and it wasn’t up to her to save the world. I think maybe it was both comforting and uncomfortable for her to discover how much I understood her.

She’s not a character in a book, and she is not this character. But young girls everywhere get angry with their mothers, at times think they’ve been abandoned, and generally feel treated unfairly by life. They’re often surprised when they discover their mothers were once girls and understand all of these deeply held, secret feelings.

Among the pages of this made up place filled with pretend people my daughter finally understood what I was trying to tell her. She wasn’t alone.

Sometimes you need a story.

A funny thing happened. Out of the story, two more grew. Each of these novels stand alone, and while they don’t lean on each other, they do rub shoulders, exploring the lives of the various characters in the same fictional small Texas town.

It’s quite a surprise to find at the end of these eight years I have three complete novels. I’d freelanced in my former writing life, and even written a novella, which resides in the dark recesses of my computer files, but I’d never attempted a novel length work.

As my health improved and my responsibilities shifted, I had more time to write books. With each novel, I learned better and went back, refining and polishing. I hunted down critique partners and entered contests. I was quite pleased with the feedback I got. Now I’m ready to start querying agents.

I’m telling you this tale because, as with all of my stories, I want to encourage and bring hope to the reader. Because sometimes you need a story.

Donna Jo Stone writes YA contemporary novels about tough issues but always ends the stories with a note of hope. She blogs at donnajostone.com.