Thursday, June 30, 2011

Are You a Writer?

As an elementary school teacher, I have spent eleven years teaching all content areas. Math, social studies, science, and of course reading and writing. Without any hesitation, I can say that teaching writing, to third graders was my all time favorite thing to teach. Seeing their eyes light up as I passed out the writer’s notebooks that I bought special, just for them. Seeing their brows scrunched together as they jotted down thoughts each morning in their notebook. Seeing their shoulders touch as they met with a peer to conference or revise. Seeing the pride in their face and in their body language as they sat in the author’s chair to share what they had written that day.

My angle was to immerse them in the life of a writer. Brainstorming, drafting, conferencing, revising, and understanding that a piece is not started and finished just because Writer’s Workshop time has ended. The idea that writers draw their inspiration from everywhere and anywhere. The notion that you can explode one single moment into a piece to evoke a feeling in your audience.

But now, as I prepare for a summer that I plan to use to re-evaluate myself as a blogger and as a writer, I wonder. Do I practice what I teach? Do I follow the suggestions of Ralph Fletcher, my favorite source on writer’s notebooks?

The short answer is no. I attempted a writer’s notebook of sorts on my iPad. I have an app where I take notes, jot down ideas. But not regularly. Sometimes I will even snap a picture of something inspiring. I have even been known to use the voice memo function on my phone to record an idea. The truth though is that I do most of these things so that I do not forget, since my brain has trouble remembering whether I took my medicine, much less an idea that I had while driving down the road.

In most cases, I end up not even going back to the ideas that I jotted down. Typically, the ideas just swirl around in my brain until I am able to get to the computer, hastily typing away, until a piece is finished. I re-read my writing, sometimes even out loud and edit (or try to). Occasionally I have even shared pieces with my TRDC writing partner, but usually at the eleventh hour.

So, does all of this mean that I am not a writer? Does one have to follow the process to consider themselves authentic?

I imagine that there are those that might debate this. And maybe, just maybe, I am naive or quite possibly presumptuous to consider myself a writer despite my lack of procedure. Maybe it is enough to participate in the act of writing to be authentic. To be considered valid.

Then of course I wonder. What magical ideas or thought provoking sentiment could I develop if I did truly spent the time, each day, jotting ideas down in a notebook. What would happen if I truly invested in the brainstorming, or the valuable process of conferencing for ideas instead of just mechanics?

I am not delusional enough to believe that doing these things would make emails from editors start magically appearing in my mailbox. Being a writer takes time. It takes effort. It takes of words, love of the story, and love of oneself to believe that it can happen. But still, I wonder.

Do you use the writing process? What makes someone a writer?


Elena is a mom. A wife. A teacher. A cancer survivor. A blogger. Life has always been a roller coaster, a bit of a magic carpet ride. There have been downs, like being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease at 23, having a bone marrow transplant, getting divorced, and suffering from depression. There have also been ups, like the birth of a daughter, successfully running two marathons, and meeting & getting re-married to the love of her life. Get to know Elena at Ciao Mom.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

On Writing Memoir: Cheap Therapy

I am not a memoir writer. I prefer to create new worlds that are much more fun to visit then to revisit the world of my past.

My past…most of it escapes my memory anyway, except for the dark, the overly traumatic, and the dramatic. If it didn’t make an impact, chances are I won’t remember it.

At least, that’s how it used to be.

I don’t want to write the dark stuff. It’s painful. It hurts. It wrenches my heart. It makes me cry.

It’s painful for you to read. It wrenches your heart. It makes you cry.

This is not what I want when I write. I’m a ball of sunshine. I like to make people laugh, give them a nice little twist, a cliff hanger that makes them come back for more.

Happy endings.

I want to share life as viewed through the violet colored glasses my fairy filled imagination keeps on.

So, why do I hit that publish button?

Because I have to.

Because it does more for me then it does for you.

Because it’s cheap therapy.

At the end of the post, I have found peace. Forgiveness. A new resolve.

I have become a stronger person because I set it free.

I am not the same person anymore. I will not be oppressed. I walk a little taller, stand a little straighter, and my eyes are no longer watching my feet.

My heart is lighter, my eyes twinkle brighter, my smile is more genuine.

But most of all?

All those other memories are set free too. I remember that life wasn’t all dark, overly traumatic, and dramatic.
And that?

Is priceless.


Today's guest post was written by Stephanie of The Scoop on Poop and My Write Side.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Red Writing Hood

This week's Guest Hosts are Mandy and Elena.  They have chosen the following Red Writing Hood Prompt for you...

You or your character find a forgotten letter or card from someone important in your life--whether good or bad.  What does it say?  How does it affect you or your character?  What is done with it?

Keep your posts to 600 words and come back and link up on Friday, July 1st!

Monday, June 27, 2011

RemembeRED - School trip

This week, Jennifer of Whispatory asked us to write a memoir based on a memory of a school trip we took.

Katie took us on a physics trip that was actually all about chemistry in how i met your father.

Cheryl revisits a post about a small moment in Brown bag.

It's time to link up - but only if you've done the prompt, please!

Finding My Space

I write in a little cubby that holds my computer and the printer. To my right, the hall opens up into the living room and kitchen. To my left, the bathroom and kids’ bedrooms punctuate the long space.

Most late afternoons, you can find me sitting cross legged on a folding chair, tapping at the keyboard while in the company of Lego mini figures and balancing a baby doll across my lap. The TV blares, the dog nudges my chair every time she passes and the kids race up and down the hall throwing Nerf darts.

My writing is interrupted after almost every sentence. More water, I’m hungry, I need to go potty, what’s for dinner, she hit me. I meet every demand. I referee the arguments. I soothe the hurts. And then I keep writing.

In my dream world, I’d have a writing space filled with light. There would be a large window looking out over an even larger garden to encourage daydreaming and plot planning. My desk would be white with splashes of color for inspiration. I would sit in a cozy chair that leaned back as I stared at a chain of paper cranes tumbling from the ceiling. The worlds in my head would spin out of my fingers. The stories would weave across the page in an uninterrupted line.

There would be a lock on the door.

But that dream isn’t my reality. The reality is I write. I need to write. I must write. To do so, I have to find a writing space inside - an internal room that mimics my dream and allows me to escape into my stories at a moment’s notice.

Sometimes I get frustrated with hallway desk. But, lately, I’ve decided to give it a positive spin. If I can write while my daughter climbs up my lap and my son “tattoos” my legs with permanent markers, I can write anywhere.

Where do you write? How do you find the space you need to expand and grow as a writer?

Today's Guest Host is Mandy from Mandyland. She also tweets.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post you've written. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and find amazing writers.

Try to visit as many as you can, or at least the one in front and behind you.


This week's RemembeRED prompt is from Jennifer Dillon of Whispatory.

School trips. We all go on them. What trip do you remember the most? Where did you go? Who was with you? How did you get there? Have you ever been back?

Write a memoir post about a memorable school trip. Word limit is 600.

Come back to The Red Dress Club on Tuesday, June 28th, to link up.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Red Writing Hood - Life

This week, Carrie asked you to write flash fiction - 300 words maximum - inspired by the word "Life."

Katie writes about the moment when she was sure she wanted to be a mother in her flash NONfiction piece, untitled.

Cheryl continues the story of a widow's way in Hot pizza.

Let's see how you did! Link up - but only if you've done the prompt, please..

Inspiration - where do you get it?

Today's post is from Jennifer of Whispatory.

When I was younger and pictured myself as a writer, it went something like this:

I sit at a café table tapping my pen against my lower lip, stopping to take sips of the perfectly brewed espresso. I pull a cigarette from my pack and light it, inhaling deeply as I watch people stroll by, pulling inspiration easily from the air. I land on the great idea and hastily pack up my things and rush to my apartment, small but beautiful (of course!). Cut to scenes of typing, stacks of paper, lots of pacing and glasses of red wine as I mull over the fate of characters, ending with the inevitable book tour.

Yeah. Right. Some would say delusional. I prefer romantic.

I admit, I was lucky for a time, and spun out ideas quickly.

Then, without warning, it all went silent. My writing became muddy, confused and painfully bad.

I panicked and did what so many of the Dillons before me have done. Drank.

I drank for five years, numbing the terror of not being able to define myself as a writer, of not being me any more.

Eventually, I reconfigured my life. I got a career (restaurant management) and the steep learning curve kept me busy for a couple of years.

Still, the tips of my fingers itched as I plugged numbers into excel spreadsheets searching for profit margins.

Then a funny thing happened. I decided to try a free trial of World of Warcraft. I logged on and I was hooked. I was 32.

I went all the way. I joined a guild. I had online gaming dates with other players so that we could attack dungeons together, yes, as in meet me at 7 p.m. and we’ll take down the dragon. I even had a headset. Online my name was Scitenia, and best of all no one could see the disappointment in my eyes.

Slowly, very slowly, I began to wonder about the narrative structure of World of Warcraft, and started to ask myself questions like: Why are there frost and fire mages? Why would there be different kinds of magic? Where do they study and is it a natural aptitude or something you can learn?

Then my sister came into my life with news that was profoundly foundation-rattling. My instinct was to write - and finally, I did.

For better or worse, those two fundamentally disparate things brought me home.

I never thought I’d get inspiration from an online video game, or familial heartbreak. But I did and moreover I’m grateful.

Now? I’m lucky. When I’m stalling out, I read all of you.

Inspiration came for me from the unlikeliest of sources. Where are all of the wonderfully strange, quirky and unlikely places you all have found some of yours?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Inner Voice

I am a writer.

Sort of.

Who am I to call myself a writer?

I have zero training. What do I know about writing?

Why would anyone want to read this?

I really suck.

I have no business posting this.

I certainly can’t link up and put it out there for these people to read.

They are actually good.

I should delete everything I typed.

It’s boring.

I’m a failure.

I should quit.

* * * *

Does any of this sound familiar?

I hear it.

Every day I write.

My inner voice.

Sometimes it’s a simple whisper in my head. I ignore it. Mostly.

Other times it resembles the taunting child, singing “Yooooou suuuuuu-uck!” The doubts begin.

But the worst are the bullhorn cries, sounding oddly like R. Lee Ermey (the drill Sergeant in Full Metal Jacket - or the plastic army leader in the Toy Story movies). Hopelessness takes over as my inner voice screams at me.

“What is your major malfunction?! You think you can write? My little pinky knows more about writing than you! No one will read this cesspool of cow dung and if they do, they’ll want to be paid back for the precious minutes of their life you flushed down the toilet!”

The words ricochet in my head and my index finger hovers over the delete key, ready to erase hours of work based on the ranted self doubts.

But I stop.

What if the voice is wrong? What will I learn if I don’t take a leap and hit publish?

Absolutely nothing. Except how to quit.

It shouts the loudest when I am tired, as the clock advances into the next day.

Especially for writing prompts. They give me a chance to stretch, explore, probe, grow, learn, and dabble.

The unknown is terrifying, but exhilarating.

I welcome the constructive criticism, taking the words to heart. I give concrit in return -unsure of the reception it will receive.

And I hear it.

The inner voice.

“Why are you giving concrit? You don’t know anything about writing! Who are you to be telling a superior writer what they should change? You didn’t even know memoir had to be nonfiction!”

Embarrassment. Tears.


I want to leave and never show my face again. And yet.


My writing has changed. It’s improved. Tighter. Cleaner.

So I suck it up, adding it to the growing pile of Never Going to Do This Again.

I write. Whether I want to or not.

I hear it. The inner voice.

Only now when it shrieks? I tweet for reinforcements: my writing partners. I trust them. They come prepared with rolls of duct tape to shut up the inner voice.

And so far? They haven’t told me to delete everything.

I’m starting to think my inner voice is only a bully blowing hot air. All because I refused to let Delete This Crap win in the early battles over Click Publish.

And if I’d listened? If had caved to my own peer pressure? I wouldn’t be here today, writing a post about writing on a writing site run by real writers who actually know what they’re doing.

As opposed to me. Ahem.

Because my inner voice wonders how my name even ended up in the hat.

Time to dig out the duct tape again.

Kelly K writes at Dances with Chaos, Writing with Chaos, and founded I survived the Mean Girls.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Red Writing Hood

This week's Red Writing Hood prompt comes from Carrie of Views from Nature.

Flash Fiction can be fun and a real challenge. This week focus on the words and the strength of each to contribute to your story. Write a 300 word piece using the following word for inspiration: LIFE.

Come back to The Red Dress Club and link up Friday.

Monday, June 20, 2011

RemembeRED - Fill in the blanks

This week we asked you to write a prompt inspired by this sentence:

The first time I ________-ed after _________-ing.

We have no idea where this took you. We're excited to find out!

Katie wrote about weaning off her anti-depressants in The Monster Within.

Finding something new

This post is from Carrie of Views from Nature.

Writing is a solitary activity. Just you and your choice of writing implement, be it a pen or a keyboard. The bigger issue is actually being alone to write freely.

I’m sure many of you can relate to my own personal guilt: a desire to step away from everything and just write. Ignore the kids clambering at your feet for a snack, shove the dog out the door so you can’t hear him whine, pretend that huge stack of breakfast dishes or unfolded pile of laundry doesn’t exist…

It doesn’t happen very often. So my writing is quickly done in the few snippets I can capture. I hardly edit beyond fixing typos and grammar issues (and even those I miss sometimes). And some pieces never get feedback or comments due to my own fear of being told I suck as a writer.

Joining the Red Dress Club and participating in the prompts was my first step to seeking feedback. I hoped to get some valuable comments so I could judge whether or not what I was creating was interesting, clever, or different. I also strived to improve my own critiquing skills to give others feedback. While the “I love this!” and “Great job” comments are lovely, they don’t really help improve a piece.

This, I find, is the biggest problem with online writing groups. Great in theory but it’s difficult to get the constructive criticism you might be looking for. Especially when there are so many people participating. It is physically impossible to get to everyone and to actually leave a good comment.

My husband suggested I find an actual writing class. So I searched the local universities and colleges. Sadly, most of the classes ran during the day since they were designed for people who were students, not full-time working moms who wanted an evening class.

Finally I stumbled across a writing critique group with the local city recreation program. One night a week I would be able to sit in a room with like minded people and discuss writing. I could share some of my pieces and get the critique I needed to go to the next level. In return I offered some of my insight to a member’s shared piece.

These people were all in the group for the same reason: they wanted to get feedback/critique. They were creative nonfiction writers, technical writers, and fiction writers. Some were just beginning; some were established and well known. Some had been published; others were launching the process towards publication.

They all wanted to improve their writing. And for two and a half hours, that’s all we did. There were no children needing dinner. There was no laundry to be washed. It was just about the writing.

I received such valuable insight to my work. I managed to improve and really strengthen a piece I wanted to submit to a writing contest (sadly I didn’t win said contest). And by reading my work aloud I could hear if the sentences flowed (or not) and easily picked up the repetition of words. Unfortunately, my group is over until fall but I will be signing up the first day registration opens.

Technology is helping us to be more connected but I think it is also isolating us more as well. Take a chance and find a real live group of people to read your writing to. You never know what might come of it.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer of You begins Monday!

We are thrilled that the Summer of You begins Monday. We have some great posts lined up for this week - from Carrie of Views from Nature,  Kelly of Dances with Chaos and Jennifer of Whispatory.

We will have a Red Writing Hood prompt and a RemembeRED prompt and the linkys for those, too.

Each week, for the next six, we will have three different community members taking over. I hope you will support them as much as you have supported us.

Nichole, Katie and I are a DM or an email away if you need us.

But we're pretty sure you won't.

We're leaving this blog in excellent hands. We're leaving it in YOUR hands.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post you've written. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and find amazing writers.

Try to visit as many as you can, or at least the one in front and behind you.


Last night my husband got his first tattoo.

While he was getting it, I was talking to the artist about the first time you shower after getting a tattoo.  And then I started talking about the first time I showered after a C-section (I have no idea why other than I am the queen of TMI with strangers).

That inspired the prompt for this week's remembeRED post....

It's a fill-in-the-blank-for-your-own-prompt Prompt:  
The first time I ________-ed after _________-ing.

The  first time I showered after having a baby.

The first time I rode my bike after falling off.

The first time I went camping after having a bear rip apart my tent.

You know...whatever.

You can tell a funny story or a super serious one or something in the middle.

Link up is Tuesday, June 22.

Word limit is 600.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Red Writing Hood

This week we asked you to show us how physical beauty can open doors - or close them. How does it make an impact?

Cheryl wrote a short prose piece: She is beautiful

It's time to link up - but please, only if you've done this prompt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

literary flatus

Do you ever feel like you have to write something all deep and meaningful if you're going to link up?

I'll admit it--sometimes I feel that way.

Sometimes I look at a prompt (yes, even the ones I pick) and think, "well, shit.  All I have are stories about farts."

And you know what?

I have come to realize that is Ok.

It is by no means a requirement that you dig deep into your soul for something that will make us all sob with feeling.

You can be funny sometimes.

You can be light and glib sometimes.

You can make fun of...whatever you want.

In fact, as a reader?  I get VERY excited when I come upon something silly.  Not because the deep ones don't touch me and move me, but let's be honest...I can only tear up so many times before 9am and I need to find something (besides the hysterical antics of Curious George) to lighten my mood.

Good writing doesn't always have to evoke sobbing.

Contrary to what the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences says regarding comedies?  They can be good writing.

And  memoir-writing can be funny too.  I think Jen Lancaster sealed that up for everyone with five {hilarious} memoirs on the New York Best Sellers list.

So go ahead!  Write about poop or farts or that time you threw up on a girl's shoes at your own bachelorette party (wait...was that just me?  oops).

Or not.  Funny is not everyone's bag...but if you haven't tried it?  Maybe that is the next PUSH you want to give yourself.

What do you think?  Easy or hard to write something funny?

Why you do what you do

Twice a week, we give you prompts.

Twice a week, many of you link up. Or at least once a week.

But there are some of you who used to link a lot and now rarely do, if at all.

So it led us to ask this question:

Why do you link up?

And if you no longer do - and you're still here, lurking - why not?

We won't be offended. We promise. We just want to know what we could be doing better or differently as we plot and plan and scheme.

Remember, this site is about YOU. It's about community. And we'd love to know how best to keep it all going - and growing.

Leave us a comment, let us know!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Red Writing Hood

Physical beauty.

It can open doors - and can also shut them.

Write a scene in which a physically beautiful character is somehow impacted by that trait. If you are doing non-fiction, you can write about yourself or someone you know.

Come back and link up here Friday. Word limit is 600.

Monday, June 13, 2011

RemembeRED - Affection

This week's prompt was about affection. We asked you to write how the show of affection played a part in your memory.

You were to choose a time when either the abundance or lack of affection and take us to that moment.

Katie wrote about the first time she met her husband's family in converted....sort of.

Cheryl wrote about how a simple gesture made all the difference No longer left behind.

Link up - but only if you've done the prompt. We can't wait to read your posts - now give us a hug!

The Summer of You

We want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your support over the past year - it's almost been a year, can you believe it?

You have been incredibly loyal. You have inspired us with your writing. We have seen you grow and take chances and push yourselves. We've been amazed at the support you've given each other.

It is because of YOU we have a community about which we call all be proud.

We want to take this site to the next level. This summer, your three hosts - Nichole, Katie and Cheryl - will be hard at work making this happen.

And to do this, we need time.

So we've decided to turn over the blog for six weeks to some of our most committed members. Thing is, we have so many, we literally had to pick names out of a hat. And even then, we couldn't figure out how to get everyone involved - this time. We will have more opportunities in the future, so if you don't get a chance this time around, we will make sure you are next time.

We hope you are as excited about this as we are!

Please leave any questions or comments below, or you can contact any of us privately via email or DM.

And thank you. We are truly, truly grateful for each one of you.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post you've written. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and find fantastic writers.

Try to read as many as you can, or at least the one in front of you and behind you.

Have a great weekend!



Some of us show it easily, hugging relatives each time we meet.  Wrapping our arms around friends.

Some of us are more reserved, rarely touching other people.

And then a few of us hang out somewhere in the middle.  Hugging our children, but limiting our affection to handshakes with others.

This week we would like you to write about how the show of affection has played a part in your memory.

Choose a time when either the abundance or lack of affection (either by you or someone else) stands out, and show us.  Bring us to that time.  Help us feel what you felt.

Then come back and link up your post on Tuesday, June 14.

Let's keep it to 600 words this time (or fewer, of course).

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red Writing Hood - Happy endings

This week's prompt asked you to spread a little joy.

You were to write a piece where you or your character overcame a challenge and, even if it's just for a moment, has a happy ending. We also asked you to surprise us - don't go with the obvious.

The point of that, by the way, is just to get your thinking. You won't get "thrill points" or anything but maybe it'll spark you to keep pushing yourself.

Link up - but only if you've done this prompt!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Pick

I read this post.


There was so much to love about it. So I thought I'd share it today.

Nancy sets the scene so perfectly. We've all sat in that hair stylist's chair, tearing ourselves apart in the mirror, and simply wanting...something.

My notes are in bold.

"Okay, so what are we doing today?"

I release my hair from its lank ponytail and gaze into the mirror. Dark caverns attack my face. Dry, chapped lips. One rogue hair sprouting from my chin. It feels wrong for me to be here, in this place of jojoba infused conditioning treatments. I find myself apologizing.

"Sorry I didn't wash my hair. Paul didn't get home until late, and the boys were...." I trail off, as I catch Natalie glance at a picture of her boy, Landon. Her boyfriend is presently deployed, and she cuts hair while her mother babysits. He smiles at her from his place on the mirror, clutching his beloved Tow Mater.

I feel, once again, like such an asshole. My life isn't hard. I don't work. I mean, yes, I am home with the boys, and that is work. I plan adventures and pack sliced strawberries in the lunch sack. Boxer shorts are folded and placed in drawers. Little fingers curl around mine as we cross busy streets.

And yet, on days like today, I feel invisible.

I want to cry. Who, as a mother, hasn't felt that way?

Natalie lifts my hair in small pieces, examining her craft. "Are we doing the short bob again? That is the best cut on you. And what about color?" Her eyebrows lift, waiting.

The words release, "I want you to dye my hair FLAMING red."

I laugh, twisting my fingers under the cape. "I mean, it's just hair, right?"

The twisting fingers, the laugh, are nice ways to show us her nervousness at saying what she wants. Because we're not supposed to be outrageous, are we?

Natalie frowns. She flips a few strands, examining my roots with scientific precision. "Red is one of the hardest colors to stick. Do you plan on swimming a lot this summer?"

I nod, "Just bought a summer pass." If my boys don't burn off energy in the water, I cannot be responsible for the subsequent damage to the upholstery.

"Hmmmm. If we did red, you would need to get touch-ups probably every two months."

She knows me. The last time I cut my hair was around Christmas. It is now late May. I came to the appointment late, sitting in the car with the boys, waiting for Paul to relieve me. I almost had to cancel.

"I mean," she adds, "I think it could But I'm not sure if you would be happy with it." She speaks with the confidence brought by full schedules and glowing referrals.

This woman is a good hair stylist. She does actually care. I don't know why I'm commenting on that.

The image of my vibrant, red-headed self sputters, an engine stalled. "Okay," I say, "I need something. What do you think I should do?"

You can really see this happening, the resignation.

She purses her lips, and says, "We could do some auburn lowlights? Maybe add a bit of spice to it?"

I nod. "And the same bob, please."

She grins. I know she loves doing a razor cut.

She returns with the mixed color, and we talk about children, if we're going to Rehoboth, and how hot it is. This is our summer conversation. At my other appointment, we talk about children, our Christmas shopping, and how cold it is.

I want to tell her that I dream about returning to work, of being something more than a professional snack dispenser/sparring partner. I want a classroom. Dress clothes. Adrenaline.

But I also want to drink my coffee at the kitchen table while the boys draw. To swim in the Chesapeake until we are properly brined and pruny. To fill the hours with puzzles and Curious George.

I want everything for me and everything for them. Or at least really amazing hair.

I love where her thoughts go as she sits there, how we always long for a different life, even if only to dream about. And barring that, we just want to feel good about ourselves.

Soon we're drying and styling. The cut is sleek, and my cheekbones come out of hiding. The color? It's brown. I pay over a hundred dollars to have really nice, low-lighted, subtle brown hair.

Natalie says, "It's better for people to see a beautiful face than a loud hair color, don't you think?"

I nod, "I think so."

But inside, there are flames of red still burning, still waiting to meet the air.

This ending is perfect. She has done what we do as moms: the practical thing. But underneath we ALL have a fire burning for something, don't we? I love the metaphor of red hair.

Also? Nancy DID buy a box and dyed her hair red!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Red Writing Hood

The happy ending.

It's what we all hope for, isn't it? We all want everything to be neatly tied up in a bow.

In fiction, this can be, well, a little boring. Or predictable.

This week, we'd like you to write a scene that includes a happy ending - it doesn't have to be the actual END of your story, if you're working on continuations, but it should include at least one challenge for your hero to overcome.

Surprise us. Don't give us what we expect.

If you are writing non-fiction, you can use the same parameters. Or you can even change the way something happened to give it the happy ending you wanted.

Then come back here and link up Friday. Let's try to do this in 600 words. If you go to 700, I won't tell.

Monday, June 6, 2011

RemembeRED - By heart

This week's memoir prompt asked you to dig deep to find what, from your childhood, you still know from heart.

I still remember all those rhymes you did while slapping hands with a friend, like Miss Mary Mack Mack Mack all dressed in black black black.

What do YOU remember?

Please link up - but ONLY if you've done the prompt. And try to visit as many as you can so we can keep this wonderful, supportive community going - and growing.

Storming your Brain

We give you topics twice a week.

We ask you to think outside the box.

And then we ask you to come back and link up what you have pulled out of your ear wonderfully crafted.

For some people, the process between prompt and link up is natural and somewhat easy...or at least routine.

For others, they have yet to link up because it seems like some of the writers here are effortlessly turning a prompt into gold.  They are intimidated because when they see the prompts?  They stare blankly at the screen.

Our internal dialogues go something like this....

"Oooo!  That's a good prompt this week!"

"I am totally doing it!"

"I bet I can come up with something great!"

"Shit.  I've got nothing."

"Damn. How does everyone come up with such great stuff?"

"I am just not a good writer."

I hear it all the time:  I would love to link up, but I am so intimidated.

People?  For most of us?  Each and every prompt is intimidating.  Yes, even for Nichole, Cheryl, and me.  We don't pick the prompts because we have something in mind for them, but because they will be a challenge to everyone.

Even us.

That means all of us....the writers you read that you feel can do this writing thing with their eyes closed, AND the people who are on twitter (me included) lamenting their struggles with another prompt...ALL of us have to brainstorm.

Some of us are just more natural with our brainstorming than others.

There is no "right" way to brainstorm; we all have to find a way that is successful for us.  A way that fits with who we are and what our life is like.

When I teach writing to high school and college students, we try LOTS of different ways of brainstorming. After a few weeks, I give students the option to choose the method they feel bet suits them.

I thought today I would share some of the methods I teach in hopes that if you struggle with finding ideas, maybe one of these would work for you.

Listing:  This is what I do when I am brainstorming for Sluiter Nation.  I have a notebook devoted to listing ideas of what to write about.

Once my lists get sort of out of control, I start to make categories for my lists.

For instance, I have a page of ideas of Eddie posts.  I have one of Motherhood posts.  I also have one for PPD posts.

Writing lists is more helpful to me for long-term brainstorming.  When I am on a tight schedule for a TRDC prompt or a guest post, I do mental listing of just 3-5 ideas.  Then I move on to the next brainstorming method.

Post it notes. F. Scott Fitzgerald was famous for writing his story ideas and plot lines on paper and pinning them to the wall in his writing space.  He would obsess over wording and sentence structure and move things around.  He was "cutting and pasting" before it was a thing.

I do this with post it notes for my TRDC posts.  I write my ideas on post its and then list ways I could expand that under each post it.  The idea with the most post its...or with the best post its...wins.

Mapping or Webbing. This is one my high school students choose a lot.  The idea is to write the main idea in the middle and then add sub-ideas around it with details around those.  Sometimes this leads to an idea change.

If you are making a big web and you realize one of your sub ideas (or stories) is better than your original idea, you can go with that.

I have used this for TRDC prompts too.  I'll put the prompt in the middle and web off from that with my ideas.  The idea is to put everything you think of no matter how useless or dumb you think it is because it might lead you to make a connection and come up with something you otherwise wouldn't have thought of using.  This is how I come up with my most obscure takes on prompts.    My most "outside the box" ideas.

How do you brainstorm ideas for prompts?  What helps your think of fresh ideas?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post you've written. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and find fantastic writers.

Try to read as many as you can, or at least the one in front of you and behind you.

Have a great weekend!


This week, as the school year is wrapping up and we're on the cusp of summer, we've decided to go easy on you.

We want to know what, from your childhood, do you still know by heart?

Is it a story? A jump-roping song? The number of rungs on the ladder to your treehouse? How much money you had to save to buy something you really wanted?

Dig deep and come back on Tuesday, June 7th, and link up.

To force you to keep it simple and easy, let's have a 500 word limit this week.

Happy Writing and Happy Summer!

Red Writing Hood - What do you want?

This week's prompt focused on character development. We asked you to tell us what your character - or you -wants. It's a way to get to know your character or yourself better.

Katie writes about wanting a room of her own.

Cheryl gives us insight into what her hero wants.