Friday, July 27th, 2012

Writing Prompt – On Your Travels

Oregan Trail MarkerI’ve been traveling all around Oregon for the last two weeks, taking in the sites and experiencing things on the West Coast that this native East Coast Gal hasn’t experienced. I’m fascinated by how different the landscape is.

I’m really enjoying the coastal weather in Lincoln City where I spent most of my time at two workshops presented by author Dean Wesley Smith. It’s cool here by the sea, and I’ve spent my nights with the windows wide open, nary a mosquito in sight.

What I’m dreading is the trip home. (And if you saw my Writer’s Prompt post of two weeks ago, you’ll know why.)

But I’m dreading the trip back for other reasons: the load I bear.

I packed light. For a 17-day trip, I managed to pack in my carry-on and a (somewhat overly-large) purse. I did buy toiletries and other incidentals when I arrived, and did some creative laundry in the hotel about mid-way through. But I’ve managed to collect enough gee-gaws and doo-dads while I’m here, that I’m not sure how I’m going to manage to get it all home.

(Fossil huntil – and finding – will do that to you, as well as trips to the local book store and one interesting yard sale at the church across from the hotel.)

If I had to do it over, I would have packed even lighter.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Pretend you’re going on vacation for three weeks. Make a list of the items you’ll absolutely need, or won’t be able to live without, for three weeks. (It’s got to be a list of items that you can carry or haul yourself.) Now, cut that list in half.
  • Write a poem or short story using at least three items from the second list.
  • If you journal or write memoir, write your worst traveling experience EVER.
  • Have you ever taken public transportation? Think about a stranger you’ve seen or met on public transportation, and write a character sketch of this person. Make up the details you don’t know. Write a story about this person, but it can’t be a ‘traveling’ story.

Good luck!

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Walking on the Moon

Astronaut on the Moon Today marks the 43rd anniversary of Armstrong’s moon walk.

I remain amazed – and yet feel we should have done so much more by now. We’ve lost momentum along the way.

Don’t you feel that there ought to be colonies up there by now? Vacations?

I think the moon would be an awesome place to take a writing retreat. Few distractions, and an up close and personal look at space for those of us who write that type of science fiction.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write a story about colonization on the moon. How do politics come into play? How do the nations of the world divide up the acreage of the moon?
  • Giant steps are what you take, Walkin’ on the moon
    I hope my leg don’t break, Walkin’ on the moon

    We could walk forever, Walkin’ on the moon
    We could be together, Walkin’ on, walkin’ on the moon

    Walkin’ back from your house, Walkin’ on the moon
    Walkin’ back from your house, Walkin’ on the moon

    ~ “Walkin’ on the Moon, by the Police (Lyrics by Sting)

  • Pretend you’ve been granted a deed for 100 acres of space on the moon and you’re going to turn it into a resort. What kind of resort do you build? What attractions will you have for your customers? How will people get there?
  • Neil Armstrong is quoted as saying, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” when he stepped out onto the moon’s surface. Write a story where the same quote could be applicable, but don’t mention the moon (or anything related to space) anywhere in the story.
  • A twist on an old favorite: if you were stranded on the moon, who would you NOT want to be stranded with? Now, pretend you’re stranded on the moon, and it’s that person’s fault. Write the argument. You’re not allowed to write only dialogue: make certain you set the scene and show what both of you are doing during the fight.
  • Write a poem about walking on the moon. This poem can’t be about the moon, but walking on it. Use your imagination to decide what it would be like to hop across the surface, or do some research to get the facts straight. Your choice.
  • Write a letter to your best friend about staying for a week on the moon. How was the commute? Are you camping or staying in a hotel? Do you plan to site-see or relax?

Good luck!

Thursday, July 19th, 2012

The First Thing I Learned about Lincoln City, Oregon…

… is that they take tsunamis very seriously around here.

Tsunami Warning System at the Beach, Lincoln City, OR

This is a photo of the Tsunami Strobe Light Warning System right at the beach. It’s got a klaxon which blows in the event of a tsumami to warn people off the beach and to get to high ground. [It’s also tested every Wednesday at 11 a.m. You can hear it for miles.] The light on top blinks blue.

Here’s a close-up of the explanatory sign on the Tsunami Early Warning System.

Photograph of a sign which reads: Tsunami Hazard Zone: In case of earthquake, go to high ground or inland.

And yet another sign, posted in the parking lot near the beach, warning that the beach is a hazardous area in the event of an earthquake (which will cause a tsunami.)

Photograph of a sign which reads: Tsunami Evacuation Route. An arrow points in the direction you should be going.

Here’s an unusually round sign (only unusual because all the other tsunami signs have been square) posted along the evacuation route. It makes certain you’re going in the right direction.

Photograph of a sign which reads: Leaving: Tsunami Hazard Area

When you’ve reached high enough ground, this sign lets you know.

Photograph of a sign which reads: Evacuation Site

And here’s a sign in front of an evacuation site, which interestingly enough, leaves off the word “tsunami.” Presumably the locals know it’s for that purpose.

Photograph of the Lincoln City, OR Movie Theater Sign

The sign just happens to be in front of the local movie theater, which I presume is an awesome place to ride out a tsunami. Because if the world is going to end, and Oregon goes floating off into the sea, you might as well enjoy a good movie (and some popcorn) while it’s happening.

Saturday, July 14th, 2012

Here and Safe in Oregon – And Alive!

I made it!

I’m here in Oregon safe and sound.

The trip was brutal:

My 8:25 a.m flight was delayed by an hour – so we had to sit on the tarmac while they figured out why a light in the cockpit wouldn’t shut off. The delay was mostly because of the paperwork that had to be signed off on.

And when my connecting flight to Portland, OR arrived, the yellow emergency slide partially inflated, and we couldn’t leave by that exit. Maintenance was called (this was a different plane, BTW) as well as airport folk, who were to bring a metal staircase to the opposite plane door so we could debark.

Whee! We would have had to go down some steps to the tarmac, and then up some steps to get back into the terminal.

It would have been kewl: but maintenance arrived the same time the steps did, so they decided to let us sit on the plane until the emergency slide was fixed. Ho-hum. I would have liked to go down on the tarmac.

I had to take a shuttle to the rental car place, and them embarked on a two-hour drive (really, longer due to traffic) to Lincoln City on the coast. The scenery was beautiful, once I got out of the city. I can’t wait to do some site seeing.

I’m staying at the Historic Anchor Inn – which is charming. It’s art-deco decor of the 40s and 50s is terrific. All the rooms are decorated with antiques. I so want the lamp that’s in my room.

View of Lush Greenery and a Landed Boat outside the Historic Anchor Inn, Lincoln City Oregon

Here’s the view outside my window:

Hotel Room with Cool 1950s Art Deco Lamp

Thanks for all the well wishes for the flight! More to come…

Friday, July 13th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Talismans and Lucky Charms

Picture of an airplane breaking up in the sky.It’s possible I’m dead right now. Check the news. I’ll wait.

Did you see anything about a plane crash? One heading to Oregon from the Eastern Seaboard? If so, I might be on that plane, and therefore dead.

It would also mean that all the lucky charms and talismans I stuffed in my pockets before I left, did not work.

(You might have figured out that I have a fear of flying. I don’t know where it came from. I’ve flown to Europe on more than one occasion, have been up and down the East Coast and as far west as Colorado…and I enjoyed each of those trips. But somewhere along the line, my brain wrinkled.)

I’ve been advised to take a pill and have a drink.

Instead, although I’m not normally a superstitious person, I’m carrying with me:

  1. Several rosaries.
  2. A scapular.
  3. A lucky sea bean.
  4. An acorn.
  5. A wad of Patron Saint, Miraculous and Bleeding Heart medals that I inherited from my grandmother.
  6. Some medals of my own, purchased at the Vatican on Easter Sunday – which makes them holier, right?
  7. A tiny, tiny statue of statue of Saint Christopher, inherited from another grandmother. It’s encased in brass, no larger than a bullet (and very easy to carry in my pocket).
  8. I have also made a promise to donate money to a charity upon my return. Because according to Jewish wisdom, there is extra protection given to someone who is en route to perform such a mitzvah.

If it offers protection. I’m game. I just hope they can all work in harmony. I’d hate for one lucky charm to cancel out another.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about your good luck charm.
  • Take a character in one of your stories and give him a good luck charm. Think of something unusual for the charm or talisman. Write the back story for it: why does he carry this particular item?
  • Write about:
    • a lucky shirt
    • a four-leafed clover or bamboo
    • lucky sigils, crosses, runes or rings
    • a lucky ‘piece’ (a penny)
    • a horseshoe – with the luck run out!
    • lucky runes
    • crickets, lady bugs, dragons, or scarabs
    • acorns
    • a rainbow

  • Find a penny, pick it up
    and all day long, you’ll have good luck!
  • Write about someone who throws a coin down a well, and gets his wish: but not exactly the way he wanted it to happen.
  • “Luck of the Draw,” his tag read. She stared at him, and he stared back. Now how was she going to get him home?
  • …Star had sent to them as its messenger. The bird was stuffed and preserved as a powerful talisman. They thought that an omission of this sacrifice would be followed… ~ From The Golden Bough, 1922. Chapter 3. Human Sacrifices for the Crops by Sir James George Frazer.
  • Write a scene (or more) from the point of view of person who is very superstitious.
  • Luck can change in an instant. Write a scene where a person’s luck changes by the end of it.
  • His mother pleaded for him too, but it was not needed. He had enclosed in his letter the strongest talisman of all, a letter written by Elizabeth in the long ago when we were children together. ~ From The Making of an American, 1901. Chapter V. I go into Business, headlong by Jacob A. Riis.

Good luck!

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

I Need Some Traveling Tips, Please

Any seasoned travelers out there?

I’m leaving Friday to attend two of Dean Wesley’s Smith’s Writing Workshops, and I’m starting to get antsy about what to pack. (Though, I’ve got a nice pile started already…)

It’s two, four-day workshops with a day in between. So my plan was to pack for four days in a carry-on, and commit to doing laundry on the free day.

The Husband of Awesome™ (who will be holding down the fort while I’m gone – Thanks, Dear!) tells me I should pack everything I need and just check my bag.

Either way I’m in a quandary. I don’t have much experience with packing well. (Don’t get me wrong: I’ve traveled. I’ve packed! But all my trips for the last decade have been car or train trips. It’s so easy to over pack — because there’s room — and so I do.)

I like the idea of carrying on a day pack, and my laptop, and then just buying what I need when I get there…but I can see how checking a bag makes for easier entry and departure from the plane – not to mention that I can over-stuff a carry-on with lots of entertaining items for the long trip.

Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing Oregon. I’m finally going to put my feet in the Pacific Ocean…can’t wait for that!

Any suggestions for making travel easier?

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Writing Prompt – Woof! The Dog Days are Here

Sliced tomatoes - photo from the ARS Image Gallery, USDAIt’s not even mid-July and the dog days have arrived. The weatherman predicts triple-digit heat today and even hotter triple-digit heat tomorrow.

Makes me wish I were floating on a raft, catching some rays, reading a really good book.

(To be sure, I’d also be wearing a hat and sunglasses and be slathered from head to toe in sunscreen. I don’t tend to burn, but I don’t want shoe-leather skin by the time I’m 50….) 🙂

What do you think of when someone says dog days of summer?

I think of high school summers: lazy days on the hammock, sunning myself on the deck, crazy corn-field parties at night, loud music, driving with the windows down, dancing.

Here’s Your Prompt:

  • Write about what you like to do when it’s too hot too move outside. Or, write about hot-summer memories.
  • Are you completing a character sheet for a work in progress? Write about what your character does/likes/did during long, hot summers.
  • Write about a summer job.
  • A prompt just for today, July 6: On July 6 the first picture post card was made. If you could make a postcard, what picture would you put on it? Who would you send it to? What would you say?
  • The real foundlings, the children of the gutter that are picked up by the police, are the city’s wards. In midwinter, when the poor shiver in their homes, and in the dog-days when the fierce heat and foul air of the tenements smother their babies by thousands, they are found, sometimes three and four in a night, in hallways, in areas and on the doorsteps of the rich, with whose comfort in luxurious homes the wretched mother somehow connects her own misery.

    ~ From: Waifs of the City’s Slums in How the Other Half Lives, Jacob A. Riis, 1890.

  • Dog-days of summer word association. Write whatever comes to mind when you hear one or any of the following words or phrases:
    • lazy days
    • ice cream
    • steamed crabs
    • street festivals
    • swimming
    • water balloon fights
    • tree houses
    • bullfrogs
    • home-grown tomatoes
    • on the beach
    • car washes
    • roller coasters
    • ice cold watermelon
    • open-air concerts
    • berries plucked and eaten off the vine
    • lightning bugs, fireflies, glow worms, dragonflies, June bugs, Japanese beetles, moths, mosquitoes, chiggers, deer flies, hover flies, see-me-nots, bumble bees, ladybugs

  • There in the morning, still, while the fierce strange scent comes yet
    Stronger, hot and red; till you thirst for the daffodillies
    With an anguished, husky thirst that you cannot assuage,
    When the daffodillies are dead, and a woman of the dog-days holds you in gage.

    ~ Epilogue, from Amores. D.H. Lawrence, 1916.

  • Uses your senses. Choose one sense: sight, smell, touch, sound, or taste…and only write about that:
    • The smells of summer
    • The sights of summer
    • The sounds of summer
    • The touch of summer
    • The tastes of summer

  • Let not experience disqualify or excellence impeach him. There is no third term in the case, and the pretense will die with the political dog-days which engendered it.

    ~ From Roscoe Conkling’s speech nominating Grant for Third Term for President, 1880

Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day, everyone!

Who’s got plans today?

We’ve got none, though the Husband of Awesome™ and I will probably sneak off to see the fireworks later. We haven’t been to a “live” show in years.

It’s been a weird schedule today: I slept in, got up and wrote some, recorded an installment for “BroadPod” (I’m sharing a work in progress, rather than an already published work!) and read a bit.

I’ll probably write a bit more later before the fireworks, and then call it a day before heading out for the show.

What have you got planned?