Tag Archives: Ann M. Lynn

Curiosity, Minus the Cat

Writers, by nature, are curious people.

We are always searching for the who and the where and the what, digging up answers from our psyche – or the psyche of an imagined character – to create story after story.

We question other writers, too, asking How do you do it? How do you survive the absence of your muse? What do you say to someone who doesn’t write, who rolls their eyes to find you hiding in the basement – again – huddled over your laptop?

How do you spend your days? We want to know. To answer this very question, Cynthia Newberry Martin hosts a guest author once a month. Every bit of detail I read in those posts either inspires me or connects with me in such a way that I find the confidence I need (yet again) to call myself a Writer.

So, it should be no surprise that writers get tagged now and then with three questions or twenty-five or (this time) eight. Suzanne Conboy-Hill and Ann M. Lynn both tagged me, and it’s taken me way too long to respond. I can whip out a flash fiction story in half a day. But, ask me something about myself, something I should be able to answer easy enough, and the first response you’ll hear are crickets.

“Me?” *nervous laughter*

SO, here are eight tidbits of information about me, along with links to three other writers whom you might want to check out for yourself. No formal tagging here – I took too long, game’s over I’m sure – just simple recognition.

And, thanks Suzanne and Ann, for the questions!

1. If you could have any superpower, what would you have?

Telepathy. There, I said it.

I won’t lie. I obsess about every submission I send out. Wouldn’t it be lovely to know the second an agent or an editor picks up my submission with their very own hands?

Yes or No. Yes or No. One flash of a thought in their minds, and I’m on my way – to strangle my muse or to celebrate. No wait times, no checking and re-checking the inbox, no more stalking the postman.

2. Who is your style icon?

If we’re talking wardrobes, then I’m in trouble.

For fashion guidance, I depend on the goodness of my friends. Friends with money and with taste. I accept hand-me-downs without hesitation, because – left to my own devices – I am a fashion disaster. So, if you see me wearing something sassy and in style, you can assume I got it from a friend.

3. What is your favorite quote?

It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite quote. There are so many great ones that I love about life and about writing. I latch on to one quote that strikes me on a particular day, but the same quote might not mean as much to me the next day. So, here’s one I’m holding onto this week from Mary McNamara’s recent article in the Los Angeles Times:

…[I]f you’re a writer, you don’t write for money or fame or a chance to dish with Oprah Winfrey. Basically, you write because when you’re not writing, you’re even more cranky than when you are writing.

Yep.

4. What is the best compliment you’ve ever received?

“Ever?” I have a terrible memory. That’s one reason why I write — because I forget the things I insist on remembering. Recently, though, my favorite compliment came from my daughter who’s almost four.

“You look beautiful,” she said. Her eyes traced my outfit from head to toe.

She ignored the three blemishes on my face that might suggest I’m fifteen and not forty. Then, she stopped at my feet and gave me the eye.

“Except for your shoes,” she said.

She’s anti-Birkenstocks, and her comment reinforces my answer to number two above. Left to my own devices….

5. What playlist/cd is in your CD player/iPod right now?

Every year, Fall throws me into a melancholy mood. One of the ways I survive that mood is to play lilting music that rises and falls and lifts and carries. Ingrid Michaelson has been on my mind a lot. But the other day, this song struck my fancy:

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?

A night owl. Late night hours are the most quiet times at my house. Plus, I’m just lazy before the sun comes up.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?

To this I say Achoo!” and “Pass the Claritin.” I love them both — from a distance.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

I am forever running out of time. When I decided I wanted to pursue my writing for real, I knew I would have to do it during those moments in between — moments that are fleeting as soon as they start some days. And, I like hard and fast deadlines.

There you have it, more than you wanted to know. Now, along with Suzanne and Ann, here are three more writers whose blogs I read and tweets I follow — for inspiration, for lessons in the craft, and/or for a good laugh:

I’m off now, to practice my telepathy.

I’m sending you messages right now to leave a comment and retweet this post (stack those stats).

Just kidding.

(Sort of.)
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Back to Wednesday’s routine, sort of

Last week, I took a break from the usual Wednesday’s Word challenge, and hosted guest author Linda Lappin. Tomorrow, I will get back into the virtual ring with Wordsmith.org and his never predictable word of the day.

Well, it won’t be me in the ring exactly. I’ll be cheering from the corner.

For the last two months, I’ve invited another writer to participate in Wednesday’s Word of the day. E. Victoria Flynn started us out. Ann M. Lynn braved the second round. And, tomorrow,  I welcome my friend Dot Hearn.

Dot and I met through Ariel Gore’s Lit Star Training online writing course. During introductions, we discovered we were both new to the NaNoWriMo madness that year, that we both recently embarked on a serious commitment to write, and that we were both sign language interpreters. Of course, I connected with Dot right away.

But, it wasn’t until after Ariel’s class ended, when we embarked on a project together, that I understood the true depth of her commitment to writing and her unconditional support of other writers.

Dot and I, along with a small group of other Lit Star graduates, designed and self-published an anthology (On the Fly: Stories in Eight Minutes or Less) of quick writes that resulted from several writing exercises in Ariel’s class. We were all amazed at the kind of writing that came out of one prompt and an eight minute time limit, and we wanted to share that magic with others. The anthology project gave us all a taste of the publishing world and an even more solid connection to each other.

Dot continues to work with the same spirit and determination. She maintains a website called The Writing Vein, where she posts her own writing prompts every Friday – The Razor’s Edge. I love reading her prompts, as they tap into several avenues of inspiration by combining a written prompt with an image and a song.

I could blather on and on about Dot, but I’ll let her tell you – in her own words – how she came to love writing:

Writing has been one constant throughout my life. Sure, I’ve taken a little time off here and there, but I wrote my first stage script at age 9 and hand-wrote my first novel – all 72 pages – at age 10.

As a teenager and during my early adult years, I submitted poems and a few of them were published. My early college days were spent in journalism, the middle college years brought a sign language interpreting degree, and my most recent college degree included a minor in theater and a minor in writing.

Right now I have one novel in revision; a memoir still being written; short stories and flash fiction and poems floating around on editors’ and contest judges’ desks; a produced radio script, freewrites galore – and more. And I am into the fourth year of a ten-year commitment to write no matter what; I think writing is becoming a habit I don’t want to shake.

I am a writer in the spaces between work and working out. Current projects are completion of a memoir and revision of a mystery novel, alongside writing short stories and poetry. I hope soon to tip the balance of work and writing life, so that work will happen in the spaces between writing and outdoor adventures.

Thank you, Christi, for giving me this opportunity to step outside of my box to participate in your Wednesday’s Word. I’ve been a fan since it’s inception and I’m excited to be able to participate in this way. You are an inspiration.

Thank you, Dot! I can’t wait to see how you wrangle Wordsmith into a crafty creative submission tomorrow!

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Wednesday’s Word with Ann M. Lynn

Welcome, Ann M. Lynn. Enjoy her guest post on Wednesday’s Word of the Day!

*******

About my process:

Christi honored me with her invitation to participate in Wednesday’s Word of the Day. I decided to write a non-genre story, because that’s what I see on Writing Under Pressure. This confused my poor husband. As he test-read, he kept looking for the speculative element. It’s not there.

My word was “creep.” Two concepts come to mind at the same time when I think of this word: (1) a person who intentionally causes stress to another person and (2) to move slowly, as if in escape of a predator. This story incorporates both meanings.

—–

An End to the Creepy Game

This is kinda mean, Cali thought as she waited, scrunched in the dark closet with her head against a box of Fruit Loops. I’ve won the last three–oh, ha!–the last four times. Even if he hasn’t stopped playing, he’s not going to like me using food against him.

Her thoughts disintegrated at the sound of her cousin’s soft, halting footsteps. He was braced for her attack but unable to guess at its direction.

She held her breath, as much as to keep herself from giggling than to prevent him from hearing her. He stopped in front of her door, horizontal stripes of blonde hair, a black shirt and blue jeans visible through the slats. She’d left the kitchen light on to help cover her form in the closet’s shadow. His head turned: hair, ear, cheek. She half-closed her eyelids to cover the whites of her eyes.

The door opened.

She lurched forward. “Boo!” she said, inches from her cousin’s face.

“Holy–” Hayden fell back, twisting to hit his side on the island counter and sliding to the tile floor.

Cali threw herself beside him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry! Did I hurt you this time?”

“My breakfast!” he answered.

“I know, I shouldn’t have, but I realized I could fit and you couldn’t, and I’m sorry. Are you alright? I’ll get an ice pack.” One bare foot sank into  soft object halfway across the kitchen. She lifted her foot to see the mutilated remains of a cheesecake slice.

“Great, Cali. Making me drop it wasn’t enough?” Hayden grunted with the effort of standing.

“My girlfriend made that for me, you know.”

“You were eating cheesecake for breakfast?” Cali hopped the remaining distance to the freezer on the foot not coated in ick. “What’s wrong with you? You’d hit a sugar low by your second class.” She pulled the freezer door open and grabbed their ice pack.

He pulled the pack out of her hands. “Now I’ll get something on campus. Like ibuprofen and caffeine. You can clean up the mess.”

She yelled another apology to his back as he headed for the front door.

I don’t think he’s playing anymore.

* * *

When Hayden returned after dark, Cali tried to talk with him.

She closed her textbook and set it beside her on the sofa. “I sent you messages.”

“I saw.” His book bag hit the floor with a thunk. He picked it up with a grunt after his shoes were off.

“How’s your back?”

“Fine.” His expression showed as much comfort as a thunderstorm.

“Hey-day, I won’t sneak around the house, anymore.”

He sighed and stopped to lean against the sofa. “I don’t see the point, anymore.” Some of the dark energy in his face and voice lightened. “You can obviously wake up in time to get to classes. So can I. Wasn’t that the point of creeping each other out?”

“Yep.” Months ago, he’d snuck into her bedroom to shake her out of sleep. The anticipation that one of them would scare the other each morning had encouraged them to wake earlier and earlier until they were no longer arriving on campus late or ungroomed.

“But I owe you one, Cali-girl.”

“I know.”

* * *

Mornings passed with as much anticipation as before, at least for Cali. Whenever she entered her bedroom or the bathroom, she locked the door. She padded through the house on the alert for sounds of movement or the smell of aftershave. She couldn’t help but jump every time Hayden turned a corner. He smiled and acted like nothing bothered him.

And why shouldn’t he? He didn’t have to worry about her popping out of strange places.

The biggest concern for her was the old rules didn’t apply. Hayden’s attack could come at any time from anywhere.

Pleading to set rules didn’t help. He refused to say when or how he’d end her debt.

On the third week, she gave in. Doors stayed unlocked, and she turned her back to them as she studied. Other times, she wandered through the house with the hope of entering a trap.

Hayden struck on the fourth week.

* * *

Coming home from a particularly long day on campus, she hauled the front door opened.

“Surprise!” In the living room, about a dozen friends and classmates threw their hands in the air.

Hayden strode forward to give her a hug. “Happy birthday, Cali-girl.”

Cali glanced over her shoulder at every smiling face. “That’s on Sunday.”

At the sight of her cousin’s warm smile, tears welled in her eyes. A month of waiting and he’d scared her with kindness. “Hey-day, I’m sorry. I never imagined you’d do this for me. Are we even?”

His smile widened. “Just get some cake.”

She grinned and turned to wait for her piece. The cake made her mouth water. Layers of gooey chocolate dripped onto one plate then another. Her chemistry partner handed her the last piece. “You’re supposed to get the first piece, but you were busy.”

“Thanks.” Fudge filling jiggled on her plate. “May I have a spoon?”

“BOO!”

Something tapped Cali’s shoulder. She spun to face her attacker. Too late, she remembered the slippery condition of her cake. Chocolately goodness lay on the floor as ick.

“Now we’re even,” Hayden said. “You can clean up the mess.”

*******

Ann M. Lynn is a writer of speculative fiction. One of her favorite hobbies is reminding people that hope and kindness can exist in the darkest of places. She resides in a place of light and shadows, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her husband, cat, and dog.

Playing Wordsmith for a Day

Every Wednesday, I face off with Wordsmith.org and write on whatever term Mr. Anu Garg, Logophile Extraordinaire, tosses out. He’s hit me with some oddities, like buskin and artiodactyl, and some familiar but not-so-writerly words like quantum and cagey. I love the challenge to write on whatever word surfaces on Wednesdays, and I also love to share that challenge.

Last month, I embarked on a tradition of inviting a fellow writer to take on Wednesday’s Word of the Day. The only difference, so far anyway, is that I get to play Ms. Wordsmith Master. I don’t haul out my College Dictionary – which currently holds down the fort on a shelf in my living room – but, I do have my own versatile word bag at home (courtesy of Ariel Gore).

E. Victoria Flynn, fellow mother writer and first victim, wrote a great piece on Wednesday’s Word, which you can read HERE.

Today, I’m excited to give you a preview of this week’s Word of the Day Challenger: Ann M. Lynn, from Shadows in Mind.

When I think about Ann, I am reminded of a response I received from a seasoned writer, when I said I loved to write but didn’t know what to write about.

“Why don’t you start by writing about what you know,” he said.

If each of us writes about what we know, then I imagine Ann has a host of stories bubbling inside of her. Ann is a writer, an artist, a photographer, a singer, a dancer, a student of martial arts. Rumor has it, she even knows how to fence. She belongs to Liberty Hall Writers, a community online that poses a weekly Flash challenge: take a prompt, go on a 90 minute writing spree, then submit your story. Online. For the rest of your collegial writers to read.

Ann is very brave.

She jumped at the chance to participate in Wednesday’s Word of the Day. And, I cannot wait to see how she incorporates…well, you’ll have to come back on Wednesday to find out her word.

While you eagerly await the next 24 to 36 hours, click on over to Ann’s blog. Her recent post continues a discussion – and offers great insight – on the psychology of naming your characters. On her sidebar, she lists some excellent links to writing prompts of different styles. And, for a taste of her flash writing, check out this post based on an image as prompt.

***

Ann M. Lynn is a writer of speculative fiction. One of her favorite hobbies is reminding people that hope and kindness can exist in the darkest of places. She resides in a place of light and shadows, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains with her husband, cat, and dog.

***

‘Til Wednesday!…

From Fifth Grade to NaNoWriMo

The first book I ever wrote was during my fifth grade year in Mrs. Young’s homeroom class. She asked us to write a How-To book and to consider ourselves author and artist.

I didn’t think I knew how to do anything well. I played softball every summer, but I did cartwheels in the outfield during most games. I made one attempt at soccer then quit when the ball hit me in the face. I was a skinny, asthmatic kid with low self-confidence and little willingness to take risks. Still, I liked Mrs. Young and I was a dedicated student. I sat on the assignment and observed my fellow fifth graders for a few days. A popular phrase flew around the halls of elementary school that week and sparked an idea for a story: gag me with a spoon!

I remember my excitement as the idea formed in my budding writer’s mind. My heart raced. I ran around the house with wide eyes and hair on end searching for any and all loose sheets of construction paper and a few crayons. The assignment was due the next day; time was my enemy. I sat down at the kitchen table and feverishly scratched out a first (and last) draft.

My idea was solid. Using my author’s creative license, I tweaked the phrase a bit and titled my book How to Gag Yourself with a Spatula. I dressed a quirky Mr. Duck in a black bow tie and gave him prestigious role of the main character.  Mr. Duck’s words flowed onto the paper with ease. He explained the equipment needed, the risks involved, and finally the crucial steps towards the climax of a spatula induced gag.

I finished the book with a bold “THE END” and shook my papers straight. I stapled them together and slid them carefully in my folder. The next day at school, I held a finished book in my hands and waited, for my turn, to read my story aloud. The book was a big hit. Mrs. Young leaned her head back and laughed. I stood at the front of the classroom enveloped in a cloud of joy, elation, success!

That experience, at ten years old, of leaning over sheets of construction paper and scattered crayons with wild eyes and quick hands, reminds me of my last few days of NaNoWriMo. Last week, the words poured out slow and rough. With my idea only partially formed, the main character walked around the story like a cardboard cut out. I closed the file and flipped through other writer’s blogs, where I found solace and inspiration.

Yesterday, Linda Cassidy and Natalie Whipple wrote out exactly what I’d been thinking all afternoon. Recently, Ann M. Lynn’s post reminded me that even though NaNoWriMo is mostly about word count, it’s also about the story. Even in a writng frenzy, authors must avoid developing bad writing habits. And, the last several posts on Cathryn Grant’s blog told of another strategy: balance NaNoWriMo with other ongoing projects.

I took an afternoon and handwrote some thoughts about my main character. I jotted down a few prospective scenes. I let go of my obsession with word count. I picked two short stories to rewrite and refine during NaNoWriMo breaks.

This week, I have a clear idea of the story I want to write. My main character is taking shape slowly. She’s filling out like the inflatable pool I struggled to blow up last summer for the kids. I’ve expelled a lot of hot air, fought off an asthma attack, readjusted my focus. Now, the plastic is finally lifting off the ground. Last night, I closed the file at a little over 19,000 words.