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

Survived Round 2 – NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge

I made it. I survived round 2 of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge. Let’s all give one big “Woo-hoo!” cheer. And, what the hell, let’s throw in an “Oh yeah, I rock!” dance.

The challenge got off to a rocky start (in a good way). My sister gave birth to my newest nephew early Thursday morning, the day before the contest kicked off. So, not only was I 100% distracted, but I was exhausted. I was awake almost 24 straight hours helping/supporting/worrying about my sister and the arrival of Cy (a late night phone call, an early morning text, a mad dash to the hospital, etc.). I was so emotionally and physically tired by Thursday night, I was worried I wouldn’t have the mental sharpness or preparedeness I needed to take on the writing contest. Thankfully, I was able to get a good night’s sleep, and I woke up Friday morning fresh and ready to go. More than ready–excited!

So, holding my breath, I opened “The Email” with my round 2 assignment:


First thought? “Thank you, Lord! No political satire or rom-com.” Second thought? “Oh, oh. I’ve never written a mystery before.” Not only that, but I don’t read many mystery novels, nor do I watch any mystery/crime shows, like Law & Order or CSI. I asked myself, “What’s a ‘mystery’? Do I have to have a detective? Do I have to follow a “whodunit” standard? Are those requirements in this genre? Or are they a cliche?” I didn’t know. So I did what I always do. I said, “Whatever! I’m doin’ what I want!”

Surprisingly, I came up with a basic concept fast. Well, I figured out a location and a title, Over the Edge. I built the story from there–er, slowly. By Friday evening, I finished a butt-ugly rough draft and sent it to my harshest/best critic: my mom. She liked the skeleton of the story, but she said it was “missing something”. To figure out what that “something” was, we brainstormed together for a couple of hours. During those hours, I went from cool, calm, and collected, to “I suck. My story sucks. This all sucks!” I was certain the skeleton of Over the Edge was useless and I needed to toss it out and start alllll the way over.

Then my mom made a simple suggestion about the ending, and voila! I knew what I needed to do. I woke up on Saturday with a clear (well, clear-ish) plan in my head. Using my story’s skeleton structure, I recreated my main character and reshaped the plot to fit the ending my mom had suggested. Things came together quickly, and by noon, I had a sturdy draft. Only problem? It was 1,000 words over the 2,000 word count limit.

Hence began The Great Chop. I spent the rest of the day cutting and slashing and revising; hiyah’ing and punching and kicking. I did everything I could to chop out those extra 1,000 words…It was horrible. And ridiculous! Every draft, I only managed to delete about 100 words (2,902…2,787…2,625…). No matter what I did, I couldn’t condense the story. I couldn’t edit it down to the golden 2,000 mark.

As I pulled my hair out–er, I mean, wrote, I tried to ignore the clock. I could feel time ticking away. I could feel my Sunday deadline approaching, closer and closer, faster and faster. Tick-tock. Tick-tock. Tick-tock…

By Saturday evening, I had a “good enough” draft to send to my beta readers. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I was nervous to send my story to them. Like Chasing Monsters, Over the Edge ended up being rather intense. I’m not sure if it’s the genres, characters, or subjects I’m assigned during these contests, but when my fingers start typing, they take me to places I’m not prepared to go. However, I’ve become a strong believer in writing stories that demand to be told. I can’t let my fears hold me back.

So, I swallowed my anxiety and sent my story off. A little while later, my beta readers’ feedback returned. Overall, they liked it! Minus a few nitpicks and a couple of confusing parts, I had a solid story on my hands. I went to bed feeling calmer and better than I had since first opening my assignment email on Friday morning.

I spent Sunday morning making a few final tweaks and re-reading my final draft of Over the Edge about five times (two times out loud). Then, I hit the submit button and collapsed.

So, there you go! I’m exhausted, but exhilarated I finished another crazy round in a NYC Midnight writing challenge. I still don’t know if Over the Edge is a “mystery”, but I did my best with it.

I won’t know until late April how it officially does in the competition. Like round 1, my chances are pretty slim to advance to the final round. Only the top 5 in each heat are chosen, so that means out of the 200 remaining competitors, only 40 move on…Yeah, not holding my breath.

Once I receive confirmation it’s okay to publicly share our stories, I’ll post Over the Edge here. If you have a chance to stop by and read it, I’d love your feedback.  

Friday Funny and Writer Up

Well, another week down and another week of successful writing under my belt! With my job still on the blessedly slower side, and the rest of my life surprisingly calm (minus a couple of hiccups last weekend with a broken car and Internet), I was able to work like a maniac on my manuscript. My six-day total (Saturday to Thursday) was approximately 21,700 words. So, that gives me a two-week grand total of over 50,000 words!

Happy dance time!

I’m definitely on a record-setting pace. And if I keep it up, I just might meet the original deadline I set for myself back in January (complete one manuscript by early spring). Of course, keeping up this pace might be on the crazy/unlikely side. First, because, hello, writing 3,000-5,000 words/day is exhausting/emotionally draining/isolating. Second, because starting next week, my life will get busier. The workload at my job will increase significantly, and my sister is due to have a baby at any minute (eeks!). Throw in regular chores, a few birthday parties, and possibly the second round of the NYC Midnight Short Story Challenge (results from round one arrive on Monday), and I’m looking at some serious cutbacks in writing time. However, no matter what “butterflies” come my way, I’m determined to keep fighting and keep writing.

In honor of my extreme focus this week, and the fact that I’ve been “talking” more to my characters lately than real people (ahem…yeah), here are a few funnies for your Friday pleasure. Enjoy!



2c3c4636d5e6505426bf9ae989a94a21Okay, “real people” out there. Talk to me (um, please? haha!). How was your week? Did you #WriterUp and get some work done? Are you going to be a hermit like me this weekend and write, write, write? Well, I might take a small break to go to the movies to see Divergent. Anyone else going to see it?

Okay, time for me to #WriterUp! You should too. Go! Work!


Jen’s Weekly Roundup

Blog Hop – Writing Insights

Friday Funny and Hells Yeah!

You are going to be soooo proud of me! Remember last week’s Friday Funny? The one about all the pretty butterflies that were distracting me and keeping me from my manuscript? Well, I’m proud to announce those butterflies have been scattered and chased away. They’re gone! Finished. Bye-bye!

butterfly-distraction copyAs of last night, I’ve written a six-day total of 29,447 words.

29,447 words! In six days! That’s almost an average of 5,000 words/day…Yeah, I think that calls for a happy dance. Hit it, Carlton!

How’d this happen? Well, I’ll tell you:

  1. FOCUS! I was a laser beam inside a narrow tunnel. I refused to let anything distract me from writing every single day! Whenever Facebook or emails or a different “butterfly” fluttered by, I firmly squashed it and focused on my manuscript instead. The only time I only allowed myself to stop was when I needed a physical/mental break.
  2. Joy & Entertainment: So far, I’m genuinely enjoying what I’m writing. In a weird way, it’s like I’m reading a good book I can’t put down. It’s like I have to know what happens next, and the only way to find out is to write it. So, I write, write, write! Faster, faster, faster!
  3. Slow Work Week: My job is a bit of a roller coaster ride when it comes to workload. Some weeks are crazy busy, others are crazy slow. This week was on the slower side. There were days when I was able to write for 5 straight hours without interruption. And even on busier days, like yesterday, I was so motivated to return to my manuscript, I did my job faster than usual.
  4. Renewed & Reenergized: A couple of weeks ago, after I complained about how unmotivated I was to exercise, a good friend suggested a website that does daily Pilates routines…Now, I’ve never been woo-hoo about Yoga or Pilates, but honestly, I was willing to try anything to get my butt back in shape and my attitude in a better place. So, I tried it out. And I loved it! Well, I didn’t love it at first. Actually, I pretty much looked like this:

However, I’m loving it now. The workouts are still insanely hard and it’s going to take me forever to build my strength again. BUT my mind and body have been completely renewed and reenergized. I don’t feel so tired or lazy anymore. This, of course, has translated to better results with my manuscript. (Thank you for the tip and ongoing encouragement, Jessica!!)

Anyways, I’ve dedicated today’s Friday Funny to my “Hells yeah!” writing week. Finally, I’ve managed to suck it up and #WriterUp! To finally–finally–begin transferring the story inside my head to my computer!

Bh6kB8YCEAE6udRHow about you? How was your week? Are you struggling with focusing? Fear not, it too shall pass. Just tell yourself you can do it. Be a laser beam and focus! Suck it up and #WriterUp!

Jen’s Weekly Roundup

Suck it Up and Writer Up – A Quick Update

How to Take Criticism Like a Pro

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