Fiction Friday

It All Started With a Cough

“It started with a cough.

I don’t know where it came from but it was annoying, loud and croaky. I could control it at first, take a drink of water, suck on a throat lozenge, but I could feel it start to take hold in my lungs. It felt like a sea monster had a hold of my chest, it’s long, slimy tentacles wrapped around my body and slowly, slowly, squeezing the breath out of me.”

After about two days of this, my cough started to go away but I was having trouble taking a full breath and before long, I found myself panting like a dog just to try and fill my lungs and the simple act of walking across a room was too much and I had to sit down and recuperate before making another trek to the next room.”

I lost my sense of smell, taste, and I started feeling dizzy and disoriented, likely due to lack of oxygen. I had no idea what was happening to me but I’ve never experienced these types of symptoms before. I’m scared. I don’t know what sort of nasty cold this is but I feel different, I don’t feel myself. “

I know it sounds crazy, I feel crazy, but something, some darkness, is taking over my body. There are times I find myself doing something and not remembering how, or why, I’m doing it. There have been times I’ve been ACTIVELY trying to resist and yet, this darkness inside of me forces me to move my limbs and participate in simple activities against my will. My brain is screaming no, my body ignores me.”

That’s why I wanted to write this down. I don’t know where this is going, or why this is happening, but maybe someone will read this one day and learn from my experience. I know this sounds dramatic and I’ll probably laugh my fool head off when I read this back someday, but I feel like I’m dying. Not my body, my body doesn’t feel sick, but my mind, it’s slipping. I feel like I stepped off a cliff and I’m free falling, helplessly watching the world above me get smaller and smaller and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it.”

Am I dying? I don’t want to die. I want to live! I want to graduate from college, travel, fall in love, have babies – is that too much to ask? Why is this happening to me? I feel like I’m writing a suicide note and if you’re reading this, I DON’T WANT TO DIE!”

I’m tired. I don’t want to write anymore. I want to sleep and I want to wake up and feel better. But I’m scared to sleep, what if I don’t wake up? Please God, let me wake up.”

Detective Gomez lowered the note and looked at the young girl on the bed. She was small and so very thin. He guessed the girl hadn’t felt much like eating at the end and if whatever sickness she had hadn’t kill her, malnutrition would have.

“How long has she been dead, Kingsley?” Gomez said, carefully placing the note in an evidence bag.

Doctor Kingsley paused in his activities and glanced up. “I would say, judging by the rigidity, about an hour. But I can’t be sure, I need to …” he continued to rummage in his bag. “Damn it, I forgot something in my van, I’ll be right back. Don’t touch anything.”

Gomez raised a brow and watched the man shuffle out of the room.

“An hour?” he mumbled to himself as he circled the girl’s body. She was laying in the center of the bed, her legs pulled up toward her belly, her arms over her head. Her long, dark hair was splayed around her. Her face was hidden.

“What did you die from? Talk to me,” he continued to mumble while studying the girl’s clothes. And why was there dried flowers, or weeds, whatever they were, he wasn’t a horticulturist, lying next to her. Did she inhale something that killed her?

She was wearing a long-sleeved shirt, like something you would wear under a blazer, definitely something you would wear to work, and shorts. Did she get home from work and kick off her skirt or pants and change into shorts? Maybe go outside and pick the weeds?

Her skin was smooth, young, flawless. She couldn’t have been more than mid-twenties. The soles of her feet were slightly dirty as if she had indeed just come from outside.

He clasped his hands behind his back and stared at her. “Talk to me, sweetheart,” he said quietly. He knew, if he stared at her body long enough, he would begin to pick up little things, little clues, as to what happened. He knew, from experience, that dead bodies spoke, you just had to pay attention.

Continue reading “It All Started With a Cough”
Fiction Friday

FF May Writing Challenge 5-7-21

Hello writers!

Ready for a writing challenge?

Me either. (Ha!)

I thought it would be fun to start a writing challenge, exercise our creative chops and start getting in the habit of consistently writing. I’d love to write every day but you and I both know, that ain’t happenin’, so, next best thing? A weekly challenge!

You can check out the full deets here, but in essence, the challenge for this month is to write a novelette – which is a 7,500 to 19,000 word count length story. I’m personally going to write one story from four different perspectives just because I have a fascination for those types of stories and want to try one myself.

And these “rules” are just guidelines – if you want to do something different, by all means, go for it. The objective is to just write – however that looks for you.

This week’s writing prompt is:

Pandemic!

I know, not exactly original but our lives have been so out-of-control this past year, let’s take a bit of that control back and write a story about either the pandemic we’re currently experiencing, or make up a pandemic – how are people behaving? What sort of symptoms are your characters experiencing? Whenever I have something on my mind, like this crazy pandemic, I find that it’s helpful to “purge” it from my thoughts by writing about it.

Come back on Friday, 5-7-21, and leave a link to your story. I’m looking forward to reading your work!

Patreon

Introducing: Write From Karen – Patreon Version!

Guess what I’ve been working on!

Ta-Da! I have a Patreon account!

The URL is: https://www.patreon.com/writefromkaren

Pretty easy to remember, right??

Here’s a screenshot of the home page:

Don’t ask me why I chose dogs wearing glasses as the pictures for each tier – I thought they were cute and funny – there’s really no other reason. Ha!

So, let me explain.

In case you don’t know what Patreon is – it’s a platform built to provide a way for fans to support their favorite content creators. It’s a “club” of sorts – a private place to hang out, get to know one another, have private access and conversations about various topics with your favorite creator and other like-minded people, but more importantly, it’s just a place to have fun.

I know for me, personally, I’m a member of several Patreon accounts because I truly appreciate all of the hard work the creators I support have done and I want to show my appreciation. For me, personally, I just wanted a place to talk “shop” with other writers out there who are looking for a place to belong – for a place you can find support, and inspiration for your own writing.

I used to host a writing site back in the day and I LOVED it. And I miss it. It really inspired me to write more and I didn’t feel as alone, because let’s face it, writing is a solitary activity and you can often think you’re the only one out there struggling. Let me assure you, you are not.

That’s where my Patreon comes in. I want to encourage the writers out there who are looking for guidance, support and inspiration, to join and share your thoughts, triumphs and failures with other people who know EXACTLY what you’re going through.

I have a Discord server. Don’t let the word server scare you off. It’s not hard to navigate and it’s completely private. The only people in my server are those that have been invited and its only purpose is to support you. That’s it.

(If you would like to know more about Discord – check out this beginner’s guide video. )

If you choose the WFK Visionaries tier, you will be given a key to the club. Here you can join conversations about various writing topics, writing tips and tricks , polls and so much more.

If you’re a member of my silver/VIP tiers, you are not only given a key to the club, you will be extended an invitation to my Discord server where I will host weekly chats to catch up and share our current writing projects. There is also space to participate in writing sprints, (SUPER helpful when you need to increase your word count), writing challenges and writing collabs.

If you choose the VIP tier, I open the floor for a monthly book club where we can compare notes and thoughts about the writing mechanics and how we could learn from the author’s technique/style and apply it to our own writing. In addition, the VIP tier has been limited to a smaller number of participants as I thought it would be fun to build a writing critique group where we can exchange our own work and offer feedback on our works-in-progress. (Maybe start a Beta reader group?)

I plan on posting every Tuesday and Thursday on my Patreon. I will post a schedule for Discord chats soon.

Honestly, there are endless possibilities with this Patreon group and we’re just getting started!

I want to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read my blog, listen to my Podcast and hopefully join my Patreon. My only goal is to share my thoughts, my work and my space with you and hopefully offer you some interesting material to learn from and think about.

I don’t pretend to be an expert when it comes to writing, however, I do have a degree in Technical Writing and a Minor in Creative Writing so it’s a topic that is near and dear to my heart.

Don’t be shy! Start small. Join the first tier, look around, see if this is something for you and then if you’re interested in upgrading and joining my server, you’re welcome to do so. There is absolutely no pressure, you can cancel your membership at any time.

So, in a nutshell – my blog is a place for a little bit of everything: my personal/professional life, politics, religion, opinions, etc. My podcast is the same type of thing, only you can hear my voice and take me on the go, if you so choose. My Patreon is a place reserved for all things writing and a safe place for writers to gather.

That’s it! Again, I hope you will consider joining my Patreon. I appreciate each and every one of you and I’ll see you around the Internet!

ADDED: Change of plans – I dumbed it down and made it simple – there is now only one tier. Easy to choose, easy to join!

Camp NaNoWriMo

Laptop, Check, Flashlight, Check, Bug Spray, Check – Packing for April Camp NaNoWriMo 2021

*blows whistle* Listen up, campers!

It’s time to line up for Camp NaNoWriMo! Come on, don’t be shy! Grab your gear and follow me.

Watch your step, stick to the path. We don’t want anyone to get lost!

I hear some excited chatter back there! I know how you feel! It’s time to chuck the real world aside for a moment and dive back into our creative worlds. Here at Camp WritefromKaren, our goal is to provide you with a safe, comfortable place to allow your creative muse room to stretch, grow and dance, if he/she feels so inclined.

I know it feels a bit cool now, but once we build the campfire and snuggle up with a hot beverage or two, you’ll be all set to begin your writing adventure.

Step lively! We want to get there before dark!

*fifteen minutes of traipsing through the woods later*

And, we’re here! *blows whistle* You can place your stuff in your assigned cabins, there is a number on the back of the keychains you were given earlier, and then meet me back out here with your preferred writing utensil of choice and let’s get started!

*ten minutes later*

Welcome back! We’re all gathered here today to prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo. Anything goes. The rule is, there are no rules. You can approach Camp any way you choose. You can set your own word count, you can choose to use this time to edit an existing project and work on any project you so choose. Camp NaNoWriMo is not as stringent as the traditional NaNoWriMo held every November. The weather is warm (in the Northern Hemisphere) and the goal is to get out of the house (because the pandemic is almost over, right??), breathe in some fresh air, clean out the brain cobwebs, dust off your creative muse and have some fun!

Just a reminder, Camp NaNoWriMo is held every April and July so if you miss this camp, there is always another one just around the corner. I hope we can establish a writing group by next Camp so we can exchange ideas and offer support to one another.

For those of you curious as to my project – I plan on writing four stories about 6,500(ish) words long. Wait, what is a novella length … *Googles it* 10,000 to 40,000 words whereas a novelette, (which I didn’t even know existed before just now), is 7,500 to 10,000 words long.

So now, I have to challenge myself to write four novelettes this month because, why not??

I’d like to write 25,000 (ish) words in April – we’ll see how close I get.

I’m choosing shorter pieces because I feel like that’s the type of writing that suits me best. Anything longer than 10,000 words and I start getting bored – with or without plotting.

I’d like to host some writing sprints – not live, but via video. I don’t know about you guys, but writing sprints REALLY worked for me in November and I’m pretty sure that’s the reason I won NaNoWriMo in November 2020. You can also find TONS of writing sprints on YouTube – just search writing sprints and you can take your pick.

My Patreon is up and running, (link in the sidebar) but it’s just beginning and will take some time to build a community so in the meantime, I would love if you would consider joining me on the NaNoWriMo site for my “Write Away” group hosted there. NaNoWriMo limits the group size to 20. If you want to leave a comment on this post with your NaNoWriMo username, I can add you to the group. My username is take2max if you want to search for me. (You have to be signed into the NaNoWriMo site for that link to work).

I’m not sure if I will post my stories here or not. It all depends on what I get done and how fast I get it done. But I will post excerpts of my work on my Patreon, tier three, if you’re interested in joining. I would LOVE to see what you’re working on as well! Feel free to leave a link to your WIP in the comment section.

Here are a couple of story ideas – feel free to steal this for your own writing, if you’re looking for ideas:

  1. Hidden room discovered behind a mirror – why is it there? Who is watching her? Who is living there?
  2. Message in a bottle washes ashore. What is the message? Who is it from? Why was it put there?
  3. Bride’s limo catches fire on the way to her wedding. Does the wedding go on as planned? Or does this interruption change the bride’s life path forever?
  4. Flash drive full of disturbing pictures. The hunt is on to find the girl in the pictures and potentially save her life.

I may, or may not, use some of these ideas. 🙂

So, to recap: I plan on writing 7,500 (ish) words per week in April and to offer weekly (??) writing sprint videos.

Gah. I’m starting to sweat when thinking how much work this is going to be. lol

Okay campers, enough about me. What are YOUR plans for the 2021 April Camp NaNoWriMo?

Patreon

Building My Discord Server

It’s a good thing I’ve been off work these past several days because I’ve been spending a lot of my time and focus on setting up my Patreon page and my Discord server.

I’m happy to report that I submitted my Patreon page to the Patreon gods so hopefully that gets approved soon.

In the meantime, I have been watching a TON of YouTube videos on how to set up a Discord server and how to connect it to my Patreon. I’m happy to report, I was successful and it seems to be working.

I’ve also been watching a TON of YouTube videos on how to set up bots on a Discord server, too. I successfully set up one, so far. It’s a YAGPDB bot that assigns roles whenever you read the rules and click on the check mark to signify you have read and agree to the rules. After that, the bot allows you full access to the rest of the channels on my server. Sounds complicated but it was surprisingly easy to set up. I’m looking at adding a few more bots as well.

Here is a screenshot of what I have so far:

When my Patreon page is approved and goes live, I’m offering three tiers:

Tier One will not have access to my Discord server – however – they are free to try it out for a few days and if they like what they see, to upgrade for a Discord invite.

Tier Two is for writers who would like to exchange ideas, participate in writing activities and hang out together.

Tier Three is a private group (I’m limiting it to about 30 at this point) where we participate in writing activities, critique each other’s work and join a monthly book club to discuss aspects of the story and how we could incorporate those story elements in our own writing, hang out and have some fun.

The Discord Server has been a challenge to put together and I have a lot to learn but I’m having a BALL and I think I’m getting the hang of it. I’m going to give Kevin an invite so we can see what it looks like from a user’s perspective to make sure everything is working correctly.

In case you’re curious, I set up my server watching this video:

SUPER HELPFUL video.

And I used another one of his videos to make the YAGPDB bot as well.

I’m not sure when I will “go live” with my Patreon yet. There are a few more things I want to test out and add, but when I do, I’m going to need more time to devote to my Patreon and less time to devote to my blog.

However, if you feel so inclined, I would LOVE to see you and get to know you on my Patreon so I hope you’ll consider joining me over there when it goes live.

In the meantime, the schedule I’m going to tentatively start when Patreon goes live is:

Blog / Patreon blog – Mondays / Wednesdays / Sundays

Discord Server – Tuesdays / Thursdays – maybe Saturdays.

I’m taking Fridays off. (Maybe)

We’ll see how it works out. I still need a place to vent about my personal life and politics and this blog is more appropriate for that. I’m only using Patreon to focus on reading/writing fiction.

Anyway – thanks for reading. Stay tuned – it’s about to get a lot more interesting around here! Ha!

Writing Mechanics

Brandon Sanderson: Writing Class – Introduction

I confess, I’ve never read any of Brandon Sanderson‘s work. That’s not to say, I wouldn’t be interested in reading any of his stuff, I just haven’t as of this post.

(Side note: After visiting Mr. Sanderson’s website I discovered that he offers some of his work for free. SWEET!)

However, when I saw he published his writing class lectures on YouTube, I was instantly intrigued. I’ve watched enough YouTube videos where people talk about his lecture series to want to watch them for myself.

The first one is an introduction:

And by introduction, it means he talks about the writing life. He talks about how he got started in writing and the number of years he toiled away before he was discovered and now he’s a best-selling author.

Every writer’s dream, am I right?

But he also said something really interesting – writing is what you make of it. For example, for me, writing is fun. I get satisfaction out of creating something out of nothing. I like my characters and I like putting them into various situations. I write because … I don’t know, I just feel like I NEED to, sometimes. Sure, I would love to be published at some point in my life but it’s not WHY I write. In fact, I would be, and perhaps I will someday, perfectly fine to post a serial story on my blog, just for kicks. I know other writers would be horrified at the thought of putting their work on the Internet because once you do that, it sort of  kills your chances of publishing it later. But I’m not really into writing with the goal of being published. Sure. I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that the thought of being published and actually making money from my work wouldn’t be a dream come true, but it’s not my sole goal. I just want to write because I enjoy it. And perhaps, other people will enjoy reading it.

Brandon also talks about the importance of making time for “real” life outside your work. Relationships, friendships, engaging with the world as a whole. Because doing that not only gives you fodder for stories, but it makes your writing more relatable.

He talks about being disciplined in your writing schedule and figuring out what works best for you. I really appreciated the fact that he talked about writing advice and how one author will suggest you try this and another author will tell you that doing this will be better, but ultimately, you have to figure out what works best for YOU. We are all different and we all approach writing from various points of view, from life experiences. There is no right or wrong way to write. I also really appreciated the fact that he said if you write, then you’re a writer. You don’t have to be published, and/or make money, to be a writer.

Nothing annoys me more than to watch writers stick their noses up in the air and claim that to truly be a writer, you must be A. B. C. I disagree. If you write, journal, whatever, you’re a writer. Because creating something out of nothing is HARD.

He also talked about leaving brain space for writing. This is my current problem. I work in healthcare and that takes up A LOT of brain space. I have very little space, and energy, to be creative when I get home from work. So often, I don’t write a lot during the week. I’m one of those weekend writers that he mentions in the class. That is when I have the most, time, energy, and brain space to write something.

I count what I do on this blog as writing. Again, writing these blog posts takes creative energy. I would like to write more fiction, and I will try and do that, but I feel like I need to clear my brain space first and to do that, I need to dump all of my other thoughts and ideas into blog posts first. Once I’ve done that, I feel refreshed and ready to invite my creative muse in for a visit.

I appreciated how he didn’t discourage new writers but at the same time expressed realistic expectations. You can’t become a writer if you don’t write. It’s fun to TALK about wanting to be a writer, but to actually sit down and write something, is a whole new ballgame.

Discovery and architect writing. Meaning – discovery = pantser and architect = outliner. I feel like I fall closer to being a discovery writer than an architect, though I’m not opposed to outlining … a bit.

And writing groups … I’d like to become part of a writing group at some point. I think that’s why I really like the Word Nerds because I think it would be fun to belong to a group of people that are friendly, supportive and helpful when critiquing my work. My problem is, I have no idea where to find that online. Any suggestions?

Even though Brandon doesn’t really get into the nitty-gritty of writing in this lecture, I think it’s important to hear, all the same. He talks about the importance of getting to know YOU, the writer, your habits and why experimenting with different ways to write will help you learn what works and what doesn’t work for you.

Brandon is more focused on science fiction and fantasy and though I don’t write these genres, I’m not opposed to trying them at some point. But his writing advice can be applied to whatever genre that interests you. I’m looking forward to watching more.

Did you learn anything from this lecture? If so, what? What type of writer are you: discovery, architect, or, somewhere in between?