I Made It – Round 1 – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

I made it, everyone! I survived Round 1 of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014. I was able to set aside my fatigue/laser focus with my YA manuscript, and spit out a 1,000 word story in 48-hours.

So, for those of you who don’t know how the contest works, here’s a quick overview: There are 25 heats, each with approximately 40 writers in it. Each heat is then assigned a genre (drama, comedy, fantasy, romance, horror, etc.), a location where the story must take place, and an object that must appear at least once. We then have 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story.

As usual, I refused to look at my assignment when it was emailed to me on Friday night. If I would’ve looked, I would’ve been up all night brainstorming. So I waited until Saturday morning.

I woke up at 4:30 a.m., turned on my computer, and looked at my prompts:

Screen Shot 2014-08-18 at 8.46.08 AMI can’t tell you how relieved I was. Suspense is my FAVORITE genre to write, and it’s where my mind has been with my YA manuscript, so I didn’t have to shift gears too hard. And the prompts didn’t seem difficult. A truck stop can be made creepy/dark, and a diamond ring can be thrown in all sorts of ways. Easy peasy.

I sat back, closed my eyes, and started brainstorming. Surprisingly, I came up with a concept within minutes (rare for me). I called my best/harshest/favorite writing critic, my mom, and pitched it to her.

“Oh! I like that!” she exclaimed.

So I got to work.

…And, yeah. It did not go well.

Okay, okay. It wasn’t horrible, but during my first draft I realized I was taking way too long to get the story up and running. By the time the action/suspense began to unfold, I was already at 2,000 words.

2,000. Words!

BLERG!

I started over. I jumped ahead in my plot to get to the “good stuff” sooner. Unfortunately by doing this, I cut out all the details that made my characters likable/believable. Now they were just mannequins going through the actions.

I decided to email the story to my mom anyway. I had to. It was already past 1 p.m. 15 hours of my precious 48 were gone. I couldn’t waste anymore time on a story that was potentially useless. As I waited for her feedback, I began revising.

Write…Delete-delete-delete. Write…Delete-delete-delete…GRRR! I couldn’t get the story started. Something was off about it. I just couldn’t figure out what.

This was about the time I smacked into my standard, “I suck and I hate this story!” wall. I forced myself to take a break and walk away to clear my head.  As I ate a snack, my mom called with her thoughts. She liked it, but she had the same concern I did: the setup. It was off.

“I’m going to get DQ’d,” I muttered to her. “The story is supposed to take place at the truck stop, but most of it’s on the highway.”

“Then start it at the truck stop,” she replied. “Cut out the highway.”

Feeling kind of stupid, I made the change. And poof! Everything came together.

Within a few hours, I had a solid second draft. I liked my characters again and the suspense was there. Grateful I’d found a way to balance the two, I sent the updated version to my mom. She replied within minutes:

“I LOOOOOOVVVVEEE it!!!”

Ahhh, such sweet relief. I almost cried. Almost.

Of course, there was still a lot of work to do, and there was a major aspect of the story that bothered both of us. We brainstormed about it until we came up with a viable solution. I jotted it down and went to bed. It was almost 11 p.m., and I’d been up since dawn.

Seriously, my right eye wouldn’t stop twitching!

Yesterday was all about refining the story and chopping it down to the magical 1,000 word count. I screamed at one point, because with each revision, my word count went UP, not down: 1,300, 1,400, 1,500. I finally called my mom to come over and help me edit it. I learned from Round 3 of the Short Story Challenge that sometimes I need someone to sit with me and read my story out loud to find the flaws and unnecessary words/sentences.

After a few hours of debating, strategizing, and fine-tuning, we got the story down to 999 words. Wooooot! I sent it off to a handful of beta readers (thanks, Jess), tweaked a few things based off their feedback, and finally submitted it.

Then I collapsed!

Overall, I’m satisfied with the final outcome of my story. It’s not my favorite one, but I’m still proud of it. I promise I’ll post it for you all to read in a few days, after I receive confirmation from NYC Midnight it’s okay to share. Until then, here is the title and brief synopsis:

“Inevitable”

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: While coping with the tragic death of her husband, Kate travels to Jackson Hole with her son. Along the way, they learn the true meaning of inevitable when disaster strikes.

Did anyone else participate in this weekend’s Flash Fiction Challenge? If so, how’d it go for you?

…Okay, I’ve been debating about this all weekend, but I’m gonna do it. Remember that silly video I mentioned to you on Friday? Well, here it is. The photos I sent to my friend got lost in translation, but she used a couple of the video clips I recorded. It’s a little embarrassing, but whatever. More than anything, I wanted to show you what a wonderful/funny/weird/awesome writing community NYC Midnight has. I hope someday you can join in the fun. Enjoy!

…And, uh, feel free to laugh at me as much as you want. 😉

Photo Credits: 

http://hollygrass.blogspot.com/2014/05/hallelujah-its-friday.html

http://www.videogum.com/566121/this-week-in-gifs-60/webjunk/

http://www.india-forums.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=4014838

http://whatshadeofgreenshouldwecallme.tumblr.com/post/50511483768/me-during-noonans-class

http://glee.wikia.com/wiki/File:Duh_duh_duh.gif

http://imgur.com/gallery/wanzzxr

http://onlyfatrabbit.tumblr.com/post/58989099326/bunny-rabbit-sitting-at-a-computer-desk-then

Friday Funny with a Flash and a Big Breath

You know what that means.

Yup! It’s FRIDAY!

…Go ahead and cheer. I know you want to 😉

So, my week wasn’t quite as productive as I would’ve liked it to be on the writing front. I had to take some time out of my regular scheduled programming to apply for a substitute teaching license. I wasn’t planning on doing this, but…

Okay, so long story short: My sister tried to convince me to apply for a teaching post in the Marketing Department at a local high school. For a few days, I seriously considered it. Then I realized teaching isn’t a job change. It’s a career change, and I’m not looking for a new career. I have one as a writer and a pursuer of full-time authorship.

I explained all of this to my sister and she completely understood. But she still urged me to apply for a substitute license, just in case I needed some extra cash or suddenly found myself without a job. I agreed and decided to go through the nitpicky application process.

Yeah, that was a blast. But, I’m glad I did it. It’s always nice to have some kind of cushion in case things fall apart unexpectedly.

 Another thing that stole some precious manuscript time this week was on the sillier side. As most of you know, I’m an avid participant in the NYC Midnight writing challenges. Tonight at midnight, the Flash Fiction Challenge kicks off.

To celebrate, one of my friends/fellow competitors decided to make a funny “Flash” themed video to post on the competition’s forum. It’s mostly a fun way to get writers pumped up and excited for the challenge, and to create a sense of community. A few days ago, my friend emailed me and asked if I’d like to contribute some silly/beautiful/clean “Flash” type photos and videos.

Being the “Yes Girl” that I am, I said, “Sure! No problem.”

Yet, as I began taking photos, I realized something: I STINK at making come-hither eyes and sultry expressions and anything else of the sort. Worse, I kept bursting out laughing at myself, so most of my shots were useless.

After a solid hour of trying and failing, I finally gave up and sent my friend what I had. Most of them were of me puckering, trying to look alluring (haha!), and cringing at myself. Yeah, I’m awesome.

IMG_2561IMG_2551

IMG_2566Go and laugh. It’s cool. I’m still laughing at myself.

Anyway, as I mentioned, tonight the Flash Fiction Challenge 2014 kicks off. At midnight, I’ll be assigned a genre, location, and object, and then I’ll have 48-hours to write a 1,000 word story.

*BIG, DEEP BREATH*

To be honest, I’m not sure how I’ll fair. My brain is so wrapped up in my manuscript right now, I’m afraid I won’t be able to snap out of that story and jump into another. If I receive a difficult genre like political satire, comedy, or–God forbid–romance, I might just curl up and surrender…Okay, that’s a lie. I never surrender without putting up some kind of fight. I guess I’ll just cross my fingers and pray to God for the best. Of course, your positive vibes will be much appreciated too.

So, in honor of my terrible fear of writer’s block striking this weekend, here is today’s Friday Funny. Enjoy!

MjAxMy00NjI4MWVhZjgxMmNlMDM4How was your week? Is anyone else participating in the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge? Let me know! We can cheer each other on 🙂

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

In case you missed my posts from earlier this week, here you go!

Music Monday – You Give Love A Bad Name – Bon Jovi

One Year Blogiversary – How My Blog Saved Me

Sympathy for a Good Villain

Photo credits: 

http://rebloggy.com/post/my-gif-gif-funny-glamour-party-humor-new-years-retro-nostalgia-1920s-classic-fil/71786318384

http://mrwgifs.com/jack-black-salutes-with-passion-in-school-of-rock-movie-gif/

http://gifstumblr.com/cool/get-outta-my-way-1250

http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMy02YmNiNDFhY2MwM2Q0MDQ4

http://www.theredheadbaker.com/pizza-ground-lamb-leeks-rosemary/

One Year Blogiversary – How My Blog Saved Me

I can’t believe it! Jen’s Pen Den has been up and running for a year!

So, I’m not sure if I’ve ever told you about why I started Jen’s Pen Den. It wasn’t because I was bored, or curious, or eager to the take the next step in building my author platform. It was because I was on the verge of quitting. Of giving up on writing all together.

Last August, I was in a low, low place. The option contract on my YA manuscript had expired months before, and my attempts to find new representation had failed. Everyone who passed on it kept telling me the same thing: “We like it, but we don’t love it.”

In other words, “It’s meh”.

AKA, “You’re a meh writer”.

AKA, “You suck, your writing sucks, and you’ll never be good enough to succeed in this business.”

Suffice it to say, I was devastated. I stopped writing and contemplated what I should do. I didn’t want to give up–that’s not in my nature–but what else could I do? Start a new book? Ha! Why? I was a “meh” writer. Why spend a billion hours on a book that was just going to get the same lukewarm reactions from agents and publishers?

Because you love writing, a stubborn inner voice reminded me.

Oh. That.

Ugh.

I battled myself for months. I didn’t know what to do. Start writing a new book? Or start looking for a new career? Fight for my dreams? Or throw in the towel? Punch and kick and scream? Or crumple up and cry?

Solution: Start a blog.

I had no idea what blogging was or how to run one, and I had no idea if starting one would help me climb out of the black pit I’d fallen into. But I had to try. I had to do something. I wasn’t ready to give up on my dreams yet.

It was one of the best decisions of my life.

In essence, my blog saved me. Within a few weeks of starting Jen’s Pen Den, I climbed out of the black pit I’d tumbled into. Hope returned–slowly but surely–and I gradually rose up and struck back at those vicious doubts inside of me. “Give up, give up, give up!” soon turned into “Fight, fight, fight!” I entered writing contests, started a new book, wrote a short story, and finally had the strength to tear up my old YA manuscript and start over completely.

Now, almost a year later, I’m happier and more passionate than I’ve ever been about writing. I’ve kicked all of those ugly doubts in the butt and knocked them down for good.

One of the main reasons I’ve been able to fight back is because of you guys.  You helped raise me up out of that black pit with your friendships, encouragements, and long distance cheerleading. I can’t thank you enough for your support.

…I’m not crying. I’m not!

Out of curiosity, I went to my stats page and looked up the top ten posts of the year. If you’d like to check them out, here you go!

Top Ten Posts

  1. The Worst Ways to Begin Your Novel: Advice from Literary Agents
  2. How Do You Share Backstory Information
  3. Chasing Monsters – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge Entry
  4. About Jen
  5. Stop the presses. Literacy isn’t important. Technology is
  6. “Muck and Mire” – NYC Midnight Flash Fiction 2013
  7. Into Paradise – Final Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge
  8. Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth
  9. Jen’s Pen
  10. Over The Edge – 2nd Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

Thanks again for all of your awesome support. Here’s to another year of blogging and writing!

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Photo credits: giphy

The Flash Fiction Challenge 2014 Early Entry Deadline is Tomorrow!

reminder4Don’t forget! The early entry deadline for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge is tomorrow.  If you’re still debating whether or not you should enter this fun, challenging, and whirlwind of a writing contest, here’s why I think you should:

Why You Should Enter the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge 2014

Hope to see you all there!

20140618-CaptureIt-Picture

Friday Funny with an Honorable Mention and a First Draft

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m feeling rather wonderful today. It’s been a great week, especially on the writing front.

friday-checklistFirst off, I received the final results for the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Okay, so I didn’t win, but I did receive an Honorable Mention for “Into Paradise.” That means I placed in the top 15 of the 1,000 writers who originally entered! Which boils down to placing in the top 1.5%. Wooot!

More than achieving this seemingly impossible feat, I’m proud of the three stories I wrote for this competition (“Chasing Monsters,” “Over the Edge,” “Into Paradise”). Not only did I work extra hard to make each one entertaining, unique, and meaningful, but I forced myself to step outside my comfort zone and take on topics that were scary, disturbing, and/or heartbreaking. I truly learned so much about myself as a writer. More importantly, I learned that if a story demands to be told, then I need to check my insecurities and fears at the door and tell them. I shouldn’t hold back. I need to take the plunge and just go for it!

Yeeee-ha!

Another great piece of news this week: I finished the first draft of my YA manuscript!

KIDDING!!!

Okay, let me clarify: I basically finished my first draft. I didn’t fully write out the last five-ish chapters. It just didn’t make sense. You see, I took a path in earlier chapters that eventually backed me into a corner, and the only way to fix it would be to start over and find where things went wrong. So, that’s what I decided to do. I jotted down some in-depth notes about how I saw the book ending, saved my document, and closed it. Then I opened a new one for draft two.

6a00d83451607369e2017d42f8b7f5970cI began working on draft 2 yesterday and…ugh. Guys, there’s A LOT of things to fix. A lot, a lot. But, it’s okay. I’m eager to roll up my sleeves and get to work. And now that life has finally calmed down, and the NYC Midnight Challenge hoopla is over, I can dedicate all of my energy to my revisions.

So, in honor of my honed focus, as well as the many, many, many writing days I have in front of me, here is today’s Friday Funny:

10374510_850320518311743_1136249276918190834_nHow was your week? I’d love to hear!

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

Music Monday – Know Your Enemy – American Idiot

On Writing Secondary Characters

Friday Funny with a Reminder: Pain is Gain

Congrats, everyone! We made it to Friday.

Overall, I had a good week…though, much of it was spent recouping from last weekend, after the crazy 24-hour final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Simply put, I’ve felt like a zombie. I still can’t believe how much those 24-hours drained me, both physically and emotionally. However, all the pain and tears were worth it. On Tuesday, I was given the thumbs up from the competition to publicly share my story. And, so far, Into Paradise has received positive feedback.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure what people would think of my story. I based the entire thing off a rather sensitive topic, so I knew there was a risk of rubbing someone the wrong way. But, so far, people have told me I handled the topic in a respectful, gentle, even hopeful manner, so I’m pleased. That was my intention, after all. In fact, I purposefully kept my setting for Into Paradise vagueeven misleading. I didn’t want people to be focused on where/when this was happening. I wanted them to be focused on my protagonist and the difficult choice she had to make.

…It’s funny, though. I did make it pretty clear by the end where/when this was happening, yet some people still didn’t grasp it. Meanwhile, as vague as I tried to keep it at the start, some people knew instantly where/when this was happening.

It doesn’t really matter. Like I said, the setting wasn’t the focus. And, either way, people have told me Into Paradise is a heart-wrenching, yet touching story. Even comforting. So, I’m good 🙂

The only real complaint thus far–and this is from a few of my competitors–is that I didn’t use the “jealousy” prompt in a satisfying way. Some think I squeezed it in. In retrospect, I can see what they mean. But to be honest, I wouldn’t change it. I used the jealousy prompt in a way I felt fitting for my story. I mean, maybe if I’d had more words to use (1,500 is so limiting!) I could’ve weaved it into the plot more. But, then again, it likely would’ve weakened the story, so I’m glad I didn’t.

If this “issue” means I lose favor with the judges, then oh well. It’s not like I have high hopes of winning the competition. I’m competing against 39 highly talented writers. I’m just honored I made it this far. I know it’s cheese-to-the-max, but I feel like a winner already.

winner-crown-on-ladyAnyways, now that this harrowing short story journey has come to an end, it’s time for me to put all of my focus back into my manuscript. Unfortunately, due to making it this far in the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge, I doubt I’ll be meeting my spring deadline for a first draft 😦 But don’t worry. I’m bound and determined to have a solid draft ready to query by the end of summer. So, it’s time to roll up my sleeves, stomp on those distracting butterflies, and get to work!

In honor of my hard fight last weekend, and all the pain and agony I endured while writing Into Paradise, here is today’s Friday Funny!

8ec9ba8ccaaf08a0334b34fcc8cb707fHow was your week? Better tell me now! I’m going into the zone with my manuscript starting tomorrow and will be in la-la land for awhile.

P.S. Thank you for all of YOUR positive comments on Into Paradise. I can’t tell you how much each one meant to me.

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

Crazy with a Capital C – The 3rd and Final Round

Into Paradise – Final Round Entry – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

Crazy with a Capital C – The 3rd and Final Round

Yep, that about sums up how I feel after the 3rd and final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. The 24-hour deadline was as crazy and exhausting as I thought it’d be. However, I handled it much better than I thought I would. Creating a detailed battle plan prior to the contest’s kickoff on Friday night helped me maintain my focus, stay hopeful, and finish on time.

The first step of my battle plan was to think of a few ideas before receiving my assignment, just in case one of them could be molded to whatever prompts I received. Well, I got lucky. The concept I really wanted to go with fit the prompts:

20140504-CaptureIt-Picture“Open” genre meant I could pick whatever genre I wanted. And I knew without a doubt I’d be writing a suspense, horror, or drama (or mixture of all three). So, I got to work. I received the assignment at 10 PM MST, and by 1 AM, I had an ugly first draft. I forced myself to go to bed after that, but by 4 AM I was up again. I was so anxious! I grabbed a cup of coffee, gave myself a pep talk, and returned to work. And I didn’t stop for over 13 hours. I even forgot about that tiny, but important step in my plan to eat. Whoops. I remembered breakfast, but I spaced eating anything else until after 3 PM. That’s when I stood up to get some water and had a serious, “Oh crap, I’m gonna pass out” moment. LOL! Yeah, I’m an idiot. I snagged an apple and a lot of peanut butter, took a shaky breath, and returned to work. I had to. The clock was ticking!

Honestly, I couldn’t have made it through the agonizing day without my mom. She. Is. Awesome! She came over around noon and sat there with me to edit my story. We read it again and again and again, chopping and tweaking and fine-tuning until I had a solid draft to send to my beta readers. Somehow, I was right on schedule with my battle plan, and I sent it to them around 2 PM. Within an hour, feedback returned from all four of them. Overall, their critiques were positive! But, as expected, there were problems too. So I spent a couple of more hours revising.

A little after 5 PM, I hit my breaking point. I said, “That’s it! I’m done. I’m submitting it!”

I know I had until 10 PM to send my story in, but I was literally sick to my stomach from exhaustion. I just wanted the burden off my shoulders. So I hit the submit button and FINISHED!

*cue Rocky theme song*

So, as for the story itself: I’m happy with it, especially considering the 24-hour deadline and the strict 1,500 word count (by the way, my final draft came out to 1,483 words–woot!). Anyways, I came up with my idea from something my pastor said during a service a couple of years ago. Yes, years. I’ve been wanting to write a story based off his beautiful, yet tragic words for a long time. I finally found my chance.

I’ll admit, I was an emotional wreck for most of the day while writing. In fact, the first time I read my story out loud with my mom, I burst into tears. And I’m not a crier. My mom even asked, “Uh, are you okay?” I couldn’t speak, so I just nodded and motioned for her to keep reading. Well, then she burst into tears and we cried together. Doh! Yeah, we were a big blubbering mess. However, the more times we read it, the stronger we became…Nonetheless, no matter how hard we tried, one or both of us would lose it at the very end. For my mom, it was one specific line she couldn’t get over. For me, I was so darn tired, anything remotely emotional pushed me into Weepville.

I hope others, including the judges, feel the same emotion we did. If not, oh well. This is one of those stories that truly means something to me, so if others don’t care for it, it’s okay. I will still hold it near and dear to my heart.

So, that’s that! I survived the CRAZY 3rd round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Even if I don’t place, it’s okay. I just feel so blessed I was able to participate in each round of the contest. And, seriously, I’m still overwhelmed I placed in the top 40 of the 1,000 writers who initially entered.

Once the contest gives me the green light to publicly share my story, I’ll post Into Paradise here. If you have a chance to stop by and read it, I’d love your feedback!

Friday Funny With Lots of Anxiety

Happy Friday, everyone! Well, as most of you know by now, it was a great week for me. On Wednesday morning I found out I advanced to the third and final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Yippee!

Okay, so now that my initial excitement and shock has worn off, I’ve become a big bag of nerves. I’m just not sure how I’m going to handle this last round. I only have 24-hours to produce a 1,500 word story. 24 hours!!! That’s just downright insane. I mean, during the past two rounds, it’s taken me 24-hours just to think of an idea and write a rough draft. Like, rough…Ugh, this gonna be intense, guys.

To try and deal with this tight deadline, I’ve come up with a basic battle plan:

  1. Brainstorm story ideas NOW. Hopefully one of them can be molded to whatever prompts I receive…Of course, I’ve tried doing this in the past, and it never works. For example, last fall during the Flash Fiction Challenge, I thought of a cool idea for a horror story that revolved around darkness and claustrophobia…Well, to my delight, I DID receive horror as my genre, but the story had to take place on a CROWDED BEACH. Doh! Bye bye cool idea…haha. Still, it doesn’t hurt to try and be prepared, right? And I’ve come up with an idea I think could be great. I just need my prompts to fit it. *fingers crossed* 
  2. Start working tonight! Normally, I don’t look at my assignment until I wake up. Otherwise, I’ll be too wired to sleep. This time, I can’t wait. Every second will count. So, I’m going to stay up and see what I get. Thankfully, I’m in Denver, and the assignment is sent at 11:59 PM EDT. So, that means I’ll get it at 10 PM MST. Not too bad. 
  3. Solidify a concept tonight. Then try and start a first draft.
  4. SLEEP! I know some people may think this is stupid, but my brain can’t function on less than 3 hours of sleep. So to bed I must go!
  5. Wake up early and finish a rough draft. Send to my harshest critic, my mom, by mid-morning.
  6. Panic, groan, and cry a little.
  7. Revise, revise, revise!!!
  8. Finish a solid draft by mid-afternoon and send to my other beta readers.
  9. Hold my breath while waiting for their feedback. Maybe cry some more. Oh, eat something. Don’t forget to eat!
  10. Revise, revise, revise!!! AKA, chop, chop, chop! Word count is 1,500, and I have a nasty tendency to go at least 1,000 words over. So, I’m gonna have to whip out my hiyah’ing skills and chop away.
  11. Send final draft to readers by early evening.
  12. Whimper and try not to laugh hysterically.
  13. Tweak, polish, and shine the story up as much as possible.
  14. Read again…and again…and again. Search for any and all errors and plot holes.
  15. Sob or smile. It’ll depend on how I’m feeling about the final product.
  16. Close my eyes, say a prayer, and submit my story by 9:30 PM. The deadline is 10 PM, but I’m not risking it. I want some cushion time, just in case I hit a technical glitch.
  17. COLLAPSE!…And, maybe cry one more time 😉

So, there you go! That’s my plan for tackling the 3rd round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge…And I’m telling you right now 90% of it won’t happen–ha! My plans never work out the way I think they will. Oh well.

Anyways, in honor of my anxiety for this weekend’s intense writing competition, here is today’s Friday Funny:

funny-celebrity-pictures-writing-is-hardThank you to everyone who has sent me a nice note this week. You guys are so awesome and supportive.

How was your week? Have any fun plans for the weekend, ones that don’t involve pulling out your hair and having a mental breakdown? 😉

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

Music Monday – Jessie J – Laserlight ft. David Guetta

Book Review: Panic by Lauren Oliver

AHHHHH – I Made It to the Final Round

AHHHHH – I Made It to the Final Round

OMGAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

HOLY COW! I did it. I advanced to the 3rd and final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge!!!! I woke up this morning to the amazing news. And. I. Can’t. Believe. It!

Hmmm…are you sure about this decision, Judges? You’ve never liked me, and now you’ve liked TWO of my stories!

You sure judgesHA! Wow…Just, wow!

Well, as you can see, I’m crazy excited about this. When I entered the Short Story Challenge last winter, my goal was to make it to round 2. I never–EVER–believed I could make it to round 3. It wasn’t even a possibility in my mind. Almost 1,000 writers entered this contest, and only 40 make it to the last round. 40! That’s the top 4%!

Oh man, deep breath.

Deep BreathI’m sure by this point you’re all wondering why my face is painted in these pics. Well, some of us competitors decided to have some fun and become Writing Warriors before the results for round 2 were announced. We dolled up our faces with whatever lipstick, eyeliner, or face paint we could find, and then posted our pics on the competition’s forum. It was a great way to show our support for one another, have some laughs, and encourage/cheer on those writers lucky enough to advance to the final round.

Good luckSo, speaking of the final round: we only get 24-hours to write a 1,500 word story. Unlike the first two rounds, we won’t have a genre assigned to us. We get to pick whichever one we want. Thank. God. The genre is always the thing that scares the bejeezus out of me (rom-com, comedy, political satire…shudder). I’ll definitely be planning on writing a suspense or horror. Those are, by far, my favorite/strongest genres. And at this stage of the game, you gotta stick with what you’re good at.

My biggest challenge this next round will definitely be the time limit. It usually takes me 24-hours just to write a semi-solid draft. So, I won’t have a second to waste. Which means I’ll likely be up most of night Friday (when the 3rd round kicks off) working my booty off, and writing like a maniac all day Saturday…Ugh, I already have an ulcer and headache thinking about it.

But, I’m a fighter, and I plan to battle through it.

So, let’s do this Round 3. Let’s dance!

Whatever, Lets do thisGood luck to all those advancing to the final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. We can do this!

If you’d like to read my round 1 and round 2 stories, here you go!

Round 1: Chasing Monsters

(Assignment: 2,500 words, 8 days, suspense, wedding, chef) 

Round 2: Over the Edge

(Assignment: 2,000 words, 3 days, mystery, debt, tour guide) 

Friday Funny with a Whoops and a Woo-Hoo

Well, look at that. It’s Friday!

Before I give you guys my regular update, I want to apologize. Earlier this week, I received a notification I hit my bandwidth limit on my Photobucket account. Without thinking, I began deleting old photos to make room for new ones. Well, that was a huge mistake. By deleting those photos from that account, I deleted them from my blog. So now most of my posts have these:

Yeah, talk about a mega blonde moment. Doh! Anyways, I’m planning to fix this, but it’s going to take some time. Sorry!

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Overall, my week was good (minus the Photobucket debacle). I’m at last feeling healthy again, though it seems everyone else around me has caught the cold I had (sorry friends and family!). Work has also slowed down enough for me to catch my breath and regain some energy/motivation for my manuscript. It took most of the week, but I’m finally getting my groove back with it. Woo-hoo! My friend, Jessica, helped out by sending me this pic:

Mister-Mittens-Big-AdventureI kept this on my desktop while I wrote to encourage a laser beam focus. It seemed to work, so thanks Jess!

I’m planning to maintain this sharp focus today, through the weekend, and into next week. Next Wednesday, however, I find out if I advanced to the third and final round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Now, I’m gonna be honest with you, my chances of moving on are slim. Although my story Over the Edge has received positive feedback from readers, and many of my competitors think I’ll advance, I’m not counting on it. Only 40 of the 200 remaining participants get to move on, so the odds are not in my favor.

But, who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky? If I do, then round 3 begins next Friday night. This time, competitors only get 24-hours to write a 1,500 word story. Eeks! It usually takes me 24-hours just to write a semi-solid rough draft. Suffice it to say, if I discover next Wednesday I get to advance to round 3, then my focus with my manuscript will be shattered. I’ll be too busy hyperventilating and prepping myself mentally for this crazy last round of the competition.

Anyways, here is today’s Friday Funny. One of my friends sent it to me via Pinterest, and I thought it was too perfect considering my distracted state and lack of motivation the past few weeks:

e977f5e36158e6f83a8b03d4100cdbdf-1How was your week? Did you get some writing done? What books are you reading? Have any fun plans for the weekend? Tell me, tell me!

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