Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

The Holiday Ghost Story Challenge

After reading this article on the tradition of telling ghost stories during Christmas, I was inspired to come up with a writing challenge for December. Sure, I’m still trying to finish this year’s NaNoWriMo novel, but I also wanted a break to do something fun. So why not try my hand at writing a ghost story?

The challenge is this: write a holiday ghost story/winter-themed creepy story (all up to your own interpretation) and post it somewhere (like a blog or website) by December 24. If you think you’d like to try your hand at this, let me know (either in the comments or by email) where you’ve posted your story by December 24, 11:59 PM Pacific Time and I’ll post a link to it on December 25.

And if you don’t want to post your story anywhere for whatever reason, that’s cool, too. It’s a writing challenge, not a posting challenge. The whole aim of this is to have fun and not to stress yourself out.

Of course I’m planning on doing the challenge myself since I came up with it. I’ll post my short story here on this blog, warts and all (well, with at least one run-through with spellcheck) for your reading pleasure or ridicule on Christmas Eve.

November 2015: All of My NaNoWordSprints Prompts

 

Yeah, November was crazy. There was a lot of things I did, but most of the documentation on this blog fell to the wayside in favor of getting other things done. I managed to finish another year with a 50k NaNoWriMo win. This year went better since I had a plan this time (unlike last year which was pantsed). There were a lot of cool things I did such as The Great Train Escape and the Night of Writing Dangerously which I might end up writing about later. And then there were the not so great things that happened during November which was documented copiously on my personal feed on Twitter but I won’t bother rehashing here.

Anyways, I’ve decided to do one giant post with all the prompts I used for @NaNoWordSprints this November. And here they are:

November 5, 5:00am-7:00am (UTC -8)
Zombie Sprints

  • Brains (10 min)
  • Reanimated (20 min)
  • Technically living (30 min)
  • Infection (10 min)
  • Incongruously dressed (20 min)

November 5, 9:00am-10:00am (UTC -8)
Ghost Sprinting

  • Fluttering (10 min)
  • Clanking (15 min)
  • Floating (15 min)

November 5, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Lab Sprints

  • Mixture (10 min)
  • Burning things down (30 min)
  • Not following directions (20 min)
  • Unexpected results (10 min)
  • Running out of time (20 min)

November 8, 8:00am-9:30am (UTC -8)
Vampire Cafe Sprints

  • Hiding (10 min)
  • Pointy things (20 min)
  • Dramatic entrance (15 min)
  • Allergic to sunlight (20 min)

November 8, 10:00pm-3:00am (UTC -8)
Picture Prompts

  • Going nuts/squirrel (10 min)
  • Strange rock formations (20 min)
  • Spiny (30 min)
  • Fortress (10 min)
  • A garden visitor (20 min)
  • Idyllic/explosions (30 min)
  • Library (10 min)
  • Fungus (20 min)
  • Parachute (30 min)
  • Wasteland (10 min)
  • Talkative/parrot (20 min)
  • A path towards the unknown (20 min)

November 9, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Doublets

  • Far and wide (10 min)
  • Flesh and blood (20 min)
  • Fast and loose (30 min)
  • Fine and dandy (10 min)
  • Fire and brimstone (20 min)

November 10, 11:30am-12:30pm (UTC -8)
Transgenic Plot Bunnies

  • Sudden outburst (10 min)
  • Minion, cute, diabolical (20 min)
  • Kiss, time rip (10 min)

November 10, 10:00pm-12:30am (UTC -8)
Plot Bunny Convention

  • Epic high note (10 min)
  • Clumsy feet (20 min)
  • Absolute destruction (30 min)
  • Sparkly things (10 min)
  • Midnight assignations (20 min)
  • Fortune smiles, imposter (20 min)

November 11, 1:00pm-2:00pm (UTC -8)
Meow Sprints

  • Running around (10 min)
  • Knocking things over (10 min)
  • Tearing up the house (20 min)

November 11, 10:15pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Party Sprints

  • Gift (10 min)
  • Cake (20 min)
  • Going completely overboard (30 min)
  • Surprise (20 min)

November 12, 10:00pm-2:00am (UTC -8)
Idioms

  • To steal someone’s thunder (10 min)
  • Through thick and thin (20 min)
  • Whole nine yards (30 min)
  • Under the weather (10 min)
  • Spill the beans (20 min)
  • Add insult to injury (30 min)
  • At the drop of a hat (10 min)
  • Back to the drawing board (20 min)
  • Drastic times call for drastic measures (30 min)
  • Hear it on the grapevine (10 min)

November 13, 6:15am-8:30am (UTC -8)
The Great Train Escape, Part 1

  • Speeding along (10 min)
  • Coastal scrub (20 min)
  • Golden hills (30 min)
  • Palm trees (10 min)
  • Clustered houses (30 min)
  • Road signs (20 min)

November 13, 11:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
The Great Train Escape, Part 2

  • Tunnels (15 min)
  • Accidental announcement (10 min)
  • Reservations (15 min)

November 13, 8:00pm-8:30pm (UTC -8)
The Great Train Escape, Part 3

  • In the dark (25 min)

November 15, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC -8)
Night of Writing Dangerously

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November 16, 1:00pm-3:00pm (UTC -8)
Airport Sprints at SFO

  • Overpriced food (10 min)
  • Long lines (10 min)
  • Gates (30 min)
  • Travelers (10 min)
  • Lost things (30 min)

November 16, 6:30pm-9:00pm (UTC -8)
Pizza Party

  • Platform (10 min)
  • Pizza-faced (20 min)
  • Licorice pizza (30 min)
  • Road pizza (10 min)
  • Party (15 min)
  • The pizza effect (30 min)

November 17, 9:30am-10:00am (UTC -8)
Wombat and the SprintMaster5000

  • No touching allowed (20 min)

November 17, 12:10pm-1:00pm (UTC -8)
Wombat and the Plot is Right

  • A new car (15 min)
  • Mixer (20 min)

November 17, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Rain

  • As right as rain (10 min)
  • Come rain or shine (20 min)
  • Rain check (30 min)
  • It never rains but it pours (10 min)
  • Come in out of the rain (20 min)

November 18, 9:15am-10:00am (UTC -8)
Ghost Sprints Again

  • Slamming doors (10 min)
  • Wind chimes that don’t work (20 min)

November 18, 1:00pm-3:00pm (UTC -8)
Nature, November 12, 2015 Issue

  • A breath of fresh air (10 min)
  • A path through the thicket (10 min)
  • Up close and personalized (30 min)
  • Irked by naivety (10 min)
  • Deadly combination (30 min)

November 18, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Science, November 13, 2015 Issue

  • Breaking the waves (10 min)
  • Moveable feast (10 min)
  • Fire down below (30 min)
  • Not guilty as charged (10 min)
  • Leaping into the unknown (10 min)
  • Mind meets machine (15 min)

November 19, 9:15am-10:00am (UTC -8)
Numbers Station

  • As the crow flies (10 min)
  • Black as a raven (20 min)

November 19, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Cat Idioms

  • Scaredy cat (10 min)
  • Cats on a hot tin roof (20 min)
  • Be the cat’s whiskers (10 min)
  • Bell the cat (30 min)
  • Let the cat out of the bag (20 min)
  • A cat among the pigeons (5 min)
  • The cat’s pajamas (10 min)
  • Cat and mouse game (30 min)

November 20, 10:00am-3:00pm (UTC -8)
Villain Tropes

  • 0% approval rating (10 min)
  • Adorable minions (10 min)
  • Aliens and monsters (30 min)
  • Amoral attorney (15 min)
  • Angry guard dog (20 min)
  • Corruption (30 min)
  • Creepy child (10 min)
  • Culture police (10 min)
  • Creepy doll (30 min)
  • Criminals (10 min)
  • Deadly doctor (10 min)
  • Diplomatic impunity (20 min)
  • Dirty coward (20 min)

November 20, 10:00pm-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Sherlock Sprints from Series 3

  • Convoluted theory (10 min)
  • Jump out of a cake (20 min)
  • Finding a goldfish (30 min)
  • High functioning sociopath (10 min)
  • Speechless (20 min)
  • Eggy chair (30 min)
  • Dancing (10 min)
  • Something in the punch (10 min)

November 21, 7:00am-11:00am (UTC -8)
Books Published in 2000

  • The tipping point (15 min)
  • Storm front (10 min)
  • Plain truth (30 min)
  • Tell no one (10 min)
  • Running blind (15 min)
  • Deadly decisions (30 min)
  • From the corner of his eye (15 min)
  • Dark victory (10 min)
  • Without reservations (30 min)
  • The wish list (10 min)

November 21, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Rhyming Doubles

  • High and dry (10 min)
  • Five and dime (10 min)
  • Near and dear (20 min)
  • Nitty gritty (20 min)
  • Stash and dash (30 min)
  • Wear and tear (30 min)
  • Rough and tough (20 min)

November 22, 9:00am-11:00am (UTC -8)
Things Vampires Ordinarily Wouldn’t Do

  • Hang gliding (10 min)
  • Braving the crowds at a sock sale (20 min)
  • Attending a contentious panel on Batman vs. Superman (30 min)
  • Parallel parking (10 min)
  • Taking care of a pet iguana (20 min)

November 22, 2:30pm-4:30pm (UTC -8)
IKEA

  • No parking (10 min)
  • Meatballs (20 min)
  • Designed furniture (30 min)
  • Strange names (10 min)
  • One way (20 min)

November 22, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Wombat and the Fortune Cookies

  • Today it’s up to you to create the peacefulness you long for (10 min)
  • A friend asks only for your time not your money (20 min)
  • If you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it (30 min)
  • A smile is your passport into the hearts of others (10 min)
  • Your high-minded principles spell success (20 min)

November 23, 3:30pm-5:00pm (UTC -8)
Fortune Cookies from an Alternate Universe

  • Hard work pays off in the future, laziness pays off now (10 min)
  • Change can hurt, but it leads a path to something better (20 min)
  • Enjoy the good luck a companion brings you (30 min)
  • People are naturally attracted to you (5 min)

November 23, 9:00pm-11:30pm (UTC -8)
Picard Sprints (Star Trek: Next Generation Episode Titles)

  • The last outpost (10 min)
  • Coming of age (20 min)
  • Heart of glory (30 min)
  • Lonely among us (10 min)
  • Where no one has gone before (20 min)

November 24, 9:00pm-11:00pm (UTC -8)
Doge

  • Wide awake (10 min)
  • Flower child (20 min)
  • Fighting (30 min)
  • Trick or treat (10 min)
  • Shady deals (20 min)

November 26, 9:30am-1:30pm (UTC -8)
Hiding and Secrets

  • Go into hiding (10 min)
  • Like a thief in the night (20 min)
  • Hide a multitude of sins (30 min)
  • Off the record (10 min)
  • Play hide and seek (20 min)
  • Spill the beans (30 min)
  • Hide your head in the sand (15 min)
  • Dark horse (20 min)
  • Cover your tracks (30 min)

November 26, 10:00pm-2:00am (UTC -8)
Images from Google Street View

  • Eating a banana (10 min)
  • Pigeons in the park (20 min)
  • A marriage proposal (30 min)
  • Stuck in a gate (10 min)
  • On fire (20 min)
  • Invasion (30 min)
  • Bear chasing (10 min)
  • A strange thing in the middle of the woods (20 min)
  • Scuba (5 min)
  • Fight (30 min)

November 27, 6:00pm-8:30pm (UTC -8)
The Evil Kitchenware Catalog Edition

  • An angled potato ricer (10 min)
  • Snowmen marshmallows handcrafted in Belgium (20 min)
  • A ceramic rolling pin (30 min)
  • EvilSmart waffle maker (10 min)
  • Gourmet whipper (15 min)
  • The night apron (30 min)

November 28, 10:30pm-2:00am (UTC -8)
Tarot/Romance Tropes

  • Amnesia (10 min)
  • Disguise (20 min)
  • Opposites attract (30 min)
  • Revenge (5 min)
  • Mistaken identity (15 min)
  • Blackmail (30 min)
  • Kidnapped (10 min)
  • On the rocks (10 min)
  • Redemption (30 min)

November 29, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

  • Mostly harmless (10 min)
  • A long dark teatime of the soul (30 min)
  • Something that makes a lot of people angry and is widely regarded as a bad move (15 min)
  • Someone learns a big secret (20 min)
  • Restoring normality (15 min)

July 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo Prompts for Week 4

Wow, I really dropped the ball on that one, folks. And for that, I apologize. All I can say is that work has been pretty busy as of late and it’s kind of difficult finding free time to do anything let alone sleep.

Here are the prompts that I used for @NaNoWordSprints for the last week of the July 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo session:

July 22, 9:00am-11:00am (UTC -8)
Jurassic Park Quotes Part 1

  • The kind of control you’re attempting simply is…it’s not possible. (10 min)
  • I’m simply saying that life, uh…finds a way. (20 min)
  • Boy, do I hate being right all the time. (30 min)
  • Must go faster… (10 min)
  • They should all be destroyed. (30 min)

July 22, 12:30pm-4:15pm (UTC -8)
Jurassic Park Quotes Part 2

  • Spared no expense. (20 min)
  • I bring scientists, you bring a rockstar. (20 min)
  • Our lives are in your hands, and you have Butterfingers?! (20 min)
  • Dinosaurs eat man…woman inherits the earth. (20 min)
  • In forty-eight hours, I’ll be accepting your apologies. (20 min)
  • They’re lethal at eight months. And I do mean lethal. (20 min)
  • They were all melting. (20 min)
  • You never had control! That’s the illusion! (20 min)
  • How can we stand in the light of discovery and not act? (20 min)

July 22, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Tarot Part 5

  • If you take love for granted, you start losing it (10 min)
  • Sadness, grief, disappointment and regret (15 min)
  • Memories and good times (20 min)
  • A difficult choice must be made (30 min)
  • Emotional stagnation (5 min)
  • Whatever your heart’s desire (10 min)
  • Serenity and peace (15 min)
  • Dreamy and detached (20 min)
  • A bearer of news (15 min)

July 23, 10:30am-2:30pm (UTC -8)
Tarot Part 6

  • Reflecting the hidden depths (30 min)
  • Calm on the surface, yet passionate and volatile underneath (10 min)
  • Cuts both ways (20 min)
  • Neither has the clear advantage (15 min)
  • Rejection, sadness, loneliness (30 min)
  • Mental clarity (10 min)
  • Cheated out of victory by a wily and cunning opponent (20 min)
  • Go someplace new and start over (20 min)
  • Cunning and confidence (15 min)
  • Entrapment (15 min)

July 24, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Tarot Part 7

  • Greatest fears and terrors (10 min)
  • Annihilated (20 min)
  • Needs to be awakened (30 min)
  • A quick departure or an unexpected arrival (10 min)
  • Perception and insight (20 min)
  • Figurehead (30 min)
  • Cornerstone (10 min)
  • Life at the edge of chaos (10 min)

July 24, 1:00pm-4:00pm (UTC -8)
Aladdin Quotes

  • Don’t you scare me like that! (30 min)
  • Let’s not be too hasty! (30 min)
  • Trouble? No way. You’re only in trouble if you get caught. (30 min)
  • Hey, if I were as rich as you, I could afford some manners. (30 min)
  • The law is wrong! (30 min)

July 24, 9:30pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Sarah Brightman: Harem, Part 2

  • The war is over (10 min)
  • Misery (20 min)
  • Beautiful (30 min)
  • Nights (20 min)
  • Stranger in paradise (30 min)
  • Until the end of time (15 min)

July 25, 4:00pm-9:00pm (UTC -8)
Tarot Part 8

  • Hard work and service (10 min)
  • To favor tradition and be apprehensive of change (20 min)
  • A humbling blow to one’s self-esteem (30 min)
  • A feeling of generosity (10 min)
  • A feeling of dissatisfaction (20 min)
  • Attention to detail, persistence, concentration (30 min)
  • Assured security and comfort (10 min)
  • To the next generation (10 min)
  • Accept great responsibility (30 min)
  • Take charge of a situation (15 min)
  • Mothering and nurturing (15 min)
  • Everything he touches turns to gold (20 min)
  • Outpouring of energy (10 min)

July 25, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Postmodern Jukebox

  • Criminal (30 min)
  • Bad romance (10 min)
  • Creep (20 min)
  • Style (15 min)
  • Poison (30 min)
  • The heart wants what it wants (10 min)
  • Habits (30 min)

July 26, 9:30am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Leftover Prompts Part 3

  • Tuna fishing (10 min)
  • The swallow’s tail (20 min)
  • What should we do next? Something good, or something bad, or a bit of both? (30 min)
  • I have trouble understanding you people sometimes. Y’all talk so funny. (10 min)
  • A woman appreciates a man who can make her laugh. (20 min)
  • I can’t make anybody fall in love with anybody else. (30 min)

July 26, 12:00pm-5:00pm (UTC -8)
Tarot Part 9

  • A cohesive vision (10 min)
  • Success after initial hardship and difficulty (10 min)
  • You cannot rest on your laurels (30 min)
  • Hassles and minor obstacles (15 min)
  • Enjoy the spoils of victory (15 min)
  • Fear in your everyday life (30 min)
  • Swift and decisive action (20 min)
  • To go on despite impossible odds (5 min)
  • The weight of burdens upon one’s shoulders (30 min)
  • The catalyst that provokes changes (10 min)
  • No fear of anything (20 min)
  • Charming but elusive (30 min)
  • The ultimate leader (5 min)

July 26, 5:00pm-7:30pm (UTC -8)
Beauty and the Beast Quotes

  • If it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it. (10 min)
  • How can you read this? There’s no pictures! (10 min)
  • Take it with you so you’ll always have a way to look back…and remember me. (20 min)
  • I want adventure in the great wide somewhere! (30 min)
  • Try the gray stuff, it’s delicious! (15 min)
  • She warned him not to be deceived by appearances. (10 min)
  • A dangerous pastime. (15 min)

July 26, 7:30pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
I Ching Part 1

  • Force, creative, strong action, key (30 min)
  • Field, receptive, acquiescence, flow (10 min)
  • Sprouting, difficulty at the beginning, gathering support, hoarding (10 min)
  • Enveloping, youthful folly, young shoot, discovering (15 min)
  • Attending, waiting, moistened, arriving (30 min)
  • Arguing, conflict, lawsuit (20 min)
  • Leading, army, troops (20 min)
  • Grouping, holding together, alliance (15 min)
  • Small accumulation, taming power of the small, small harvest (30 min)
  • Treading, conduct, continuing (10 min)
  • Pervading, peace, greatness (15 min)

July 27, 7:30am-2:00pm (UTC -8)
I Ching Part 2

  • Obstruction, standstill, stagnation, selfish persons (30 min)
  • Concording people, fellowship, gathering (30 min)
  • Great possession (30 min)
  • Humbling, modesty (30 min)
  • Providing for, enthusiasm, excess (30 min)
  • Following (30 min)
  • Correcting, decay, branch (30 min)
  • Nearing, approach, forest (30 min)
  • Viewing, contemplation, looking up (30 min)
  • Gnawing bite (30 min)
  • Adorning, grace, luxuriance (30 min)

July 27, 6:30pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
I Ching Part 3

  • Stripping, splitting apart, flaying (30 min)
  • Returning, turning point (30 min)
  • Without embroiling, innocence, unexpected, pestilence (30 min)
  • Great accumulation, taming power of the great, storage, potential energy (30 min)
  • Swallowing, corners of the mouth, nourishment, jaws, comfort and security (30 min)
  • Exceed, surpass, critical mass (30 min)
  • Gorge, abyss, repeated entrapment (30 min)
  • Radiance, clinging fire, net (30 min)
  • Conjoining, influence, feelings (30 min)
  • Persevering, duration, constancy (30 min)
  • Retiring, retreat, yielding (30 min)
  • Invigorating, great maturity (30 min)

July 28, 7:45am-2:00pm (UTC -8)
I Ching Part 4

  • Prospering, progress (30 min)
  • Darkening of the light, brilliance injured, intelligence hidden (30 min)
  • Dwelling, family, clan (30 min)
  • Polarizing, opposition, perversion (30 min)
  • Limping, obstruction, afoot (30 min)
  • Taking apart, deliverance, untangled (15 min)
  • Diminishing, decrease (10 min)
  • Augmenting, increase (10 min)
  • Displacement, resoluteness, parting, breakthrough (30 min)
  • Coupling, meeting (20 min)
  • Clustering, gathering together, massing, finished (20 min)
  • Ascending, pushing upward (10 min)
  • Confining, oppression, exhaustion, entangled (30 min)

July 28, 4:00pm-5:30pm (UTC -8)
I Ching Part 5

  • Well (30 min)
  • Skin, revolution, molting, bridle (30 min)
  • Holding, cauldron (10 min)

July 28, 7:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
I Ching Part 6

  • Shake, arouse, shock, thunder (30 min)
  • Bound, keeping still, mountain (30 min)
  • Infiltrating, development, gradual progress, advancement (30 min)
  • Converting, marrying, returning (5 min)
  • Abounding, abundance, fullness (10 min)
  • Sojourning, wanderer, traveling (20 min)
  • Ground, gentle, penetrating, wind, calculations (30 min)
  • Open, joyous, lake, usurpation (10 min)
  • Dispersion, dissolution (20 min)
  • Articulating, limitation, moderation (30 min)
  • Returning, inner truth (10 min)
  • Preponderance of the small (10 min)
  • Fording, after completion (10 min)
  • Before completion (15 min)

July 29, 7:30am-11:00am (UTC -8)
Contrived Stupidity Tropes Part 1

  • Culture blind (30 min)
  • Achievements in ignorance (30 min)
  • Alcohol-induced idiocy (30 min)
  • Apathetic citizens (30 min)
  • Bond villain stupidity (30 min)
  • But thou must (25 min)

July 29, 12:15pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Contrived Stupidity Tropes Part 2

  • Stupidity Is the Only Option (30 min)
  • Callousness Towards Emergency (30 min)
  • Closed Circle (30 min)
  • Clutching Hand Trap (30 min)
  • Credit Card Plot (15 min)
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast (20 min)
  • Damsel Scrappy (20 min)
  • Deus Exit Machina (20 min)
  • Ditch the Bodyguards (30 min)
  • Dramatic Slip (30 min)
  • Dug In Deeper (30 min)
  • Explaining Your Power to the Enemy (30 min)
  • Failed a Spot Check (30 min)
  • Forgot About His Powers (30 min)
  • Forgot I Couldn’t Swim (30 min)
  • Forgot to Feed the Monster (30 min)
  • Gullible Lemmings (30 min)
  • Holding Both Sides of the Conversation (15 min)
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind (20 min)
  • Villain Exit Stage Left (20 min)
  • Just Between You and Me (20 min)
  • Revealing Cover-Up (20 min)
  • I’ll Never Tell You What I’m Telling You (15 min)

July 30, 7:30am-11:00am (UTC -8)
Contrived Stupidity Tropes Part 3

  • It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time (30 min)
  • Left Your Lifesaver Behind (30 min)
  • Lethally Stupid (30 min)
  • Mad At A Dream (30 min)
  • Mercy Lead (30 min)
  • The Millstone (30 min)

July 30, 1:00pm-5:00pm (UTC -8)
Contrived Stupidity Tropes Part 4

  • Never Recycle Your Schemes (30 min)
  • No Means Yes (30 min)
  • No Peripheral Vision (20 min)
  • Not a Zombie (20 min)
  • Out-of-Context Eavesdropping (20 min)
  • Paper-Thin Disguise (30 min)
  • Ping-Pong Naïveté (30 min)
  • Plot-Sensitive Snooping Skills (15 min)

July 30, 6:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Contrived Stupidity Tropes Part 5

  • Poor Communication Kills (30 min)
  • Recognition Failure (15 min)
  • Remembered I Could Fly (20 min)
  • Running into the Window (10 min)
  • Selective Obliviousness (30 min)
  • Stranger Safety (10 min)
  • Stupid Sacrifice (20 min)
  • Why Don’t You Just Shoot Him? (30 min)
  • Stupid Surrender (10 min)
  • Too Dumb to Live (10 min)
  • Treacherous Spirit Chase (20 min)
  • Violation of Common Sense (30 min)
  • Chained to a Bed (10 min)
  • Have You Told Anyone Else? (10 min)
  • Once Is Not Enough (15 min)

July 31, 12:00am-2:30am (UTC -8)
A Idioms Part 1

  • a man’s home is his castle (15 min)
  • a penny for your thoughts/penny for one’s thoughts (15 min)
  • across the pond (15 min)
  • age before beauty (15 min)
  • air was blue (15 min)
  • all and sundry (15 min)
  • all eyes (15 min)
  • along for the ride (15 min)
  • along those lines (15 min)
  • an earful (15 min)

July 31, 8:30am-4:00pm (UTC -8)
A Idioms Part 2

  • all she wrote (20 min)
  • all shook up (30 min)
  • all show (20 min)
  • all sizzle and no steak (30 min)
  • all spruced up (20 min)
  • all teed up (30 min)
  • all the livelong day (20 min)
  • all the world’s a stage (30 min)
  • all things to all people (20 min)
  • all washed up (30 min)
  • all wet (20 min)
  • an old warhorse (30 min)
  • ante up (20 min)
  • any old thing (30 min)
  • anything goes (20 min)

July 31, 7:00pm-1:00am (UTC -8)
A Idioms Part 3

  • around the bend (30 min)
  • as a matter of fact (5 min)
  • as far as I know (30 min)
  • ask for the moon (20 min)
  • asleep at the switch (30 min)
  • as the man says (20 min)
  • at first glance (30 min)
  • at first blush (20 min)
  • an easy mark (30 min)
  • an even keel (20 min)
  • all get-out (30 min)
  • all goes well (20 min)

August 1, 1:00am-3:00am (UTC -8)
B Idioms

  • back down (20 min)
  • back on one’s feet (30 min)
  • back to the drawing board (20 min)
  • back oneself into a corner (30 min)

July 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo Prompts for Week 3

I am way behind, but here they are. @NaNoWordSprints prompts from week 3:

July 15, 8:00am-11:00am (UTC -8)
List Idioms

  • Waiting list (10 min)
  • Shopping list (30 min)
  • Sucker list (10 min)
  • Wish list (30 min)
  • Hit list (15 min)
  • Blacklist (30 min)
  • Laundry list (5 min)
  • Bucket list (10 min)

July 15, 12:30pm-3:30pm (UTC -8)
Fireworks Effects, Part 2

  • Horsetail (30 min)
  • Waterfall (30 min)
  • Time rain (30 min)
  • Multi-break shells (30 min)
  • Fish (15 min)
  • Salute (15 min)

July 15, 7:30pm-9:30pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 6

  • Eihwaz: yew tree (10 min)
  • Perdhro: uncertainty (30 min)
  • Gebo: gold, silver, red (30 min)
  • Wunjo: joy (10 min)
  • Hagalaz: constricting situation (15 min)

July 16, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 7

  • Naudhiz: black (10 min)
  • Isa: ice (20 min)
  • Jera: cycle (30 min)
  • Eihwaz: white, green (10 min)
  • Perdhro: dice cup (20 min)
  • Elhaz: great restraint, defense, protection (30 min)
  • Sowulo: sun (15 min)

July 16, 1:00pm-4:00pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 8

  • Teiwaz: green, red (30 min)
  • Berkana: new beginning (30 min)
  • Ehwaz: horse (30 min)
  • Mannaz: blue, purple (30 min)
  • Laguz: go with the flow (30 min)

July 16, 4:00pm-5:00pm (UTC -8)
Infomercial Sprints

  • Character discovers a secret that disrupts their lives (10 min)
  • New development (20 min)
  • Hurricane (10 min)

July 16, 5:00pm-6:00pm (UTC -8)
Meow Sprints, Part 3

  • Catastrophe (10 min)
  • Catamaran (10 min)
  • Catalysis (15 min)

July 16, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 9

  • Inguz: fertility (5 min)
  • Othala: wealth that cannot be sold (30 min)
  • Wyrd: fate (20 min)
  • Elhaz: elk (10 min)
  • Teiwaz: success (10 min)
  • Berkana: birch tree (30 min)
  • Ehwaz: red, white (10 min)
  • Mannaz: gain the upper hand (20 min)

July 17, 9:15am-12:15pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 10

  • Laguz: water, lake (10 min)
  • Dagaz: stability between opposites (30 min)
  • Othala: home, ancestral land (10 min)
  • Elhaz: black, purple (30 min)
  • Sowulo: see things more clearly (10 min)
  • Teiwaz: creator (30 min)
  • Ehwaz: natural flow, good intentions (10 min)
  • Mannaz: being human (10 min)

July 17, 4:15pm-7:15pm (UTC -8)
Leftover Sprints, Part 2

  • Black, white, green (15 min)
  • Protect the home (15 min)
  • Day (15 min)
  • Copper, brown (15 min)
  • Mine (15 min)
  • Bengal fire (15 min)
  • Roman candle (15 min)
  • Cake (15 min)
  • Lark, daybreak (15 min)
  • Pelican, afterlife (15 min)
  • Owl, sorcery, evil (15 min)
  • Hummingbird (15 min)

July 17, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Xena: Warrior Princess Quotes

  • “Feeling any better?”/”No, but I’ve gotten used to being miserable.” (10 min)
  • “Looking for the man of your dreams?”/”Yep. You’re not him.” (20 min)
  • “What’s wrong with you?”/”Nothing that a good workout won’t cure.” (30 min)
  • “It’s very strange. In every story you tell me, this thing I’m wearing gets smaller. Is it enchanted?” (10 min)
  • “You tricked us!”/”You pronounced him dead yourself. Nothing says he has to stay dead.” (20 min)
  • “You’re not going to kill me, are you?”/”Why ever not?”/”Because I love you. Yeah, I love you.” (30 min)
  • “I can’t believe you’re awake, much less listening to me.” (20 min)

July 18, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Salvador Dali, Part 2

  • Morphological echo (30 min)
  • Apparition of face and fruit dish on a beach (30 min)
  • Dream caused by the flight of a bee around a pomegranate a second before awakening (30 min)
  • The disintegration of the persistence of memory (30 min)
  • Still life moving fast (30 min)

July 18, 3:30pm-6:30pm (UTC -8)
More Soundtracks

  • North by northwest (10 min)
  • Vertigo (20 min)
  • A fistful of dollars (30 min)
  • A summer place (10 min)
  • Awaken (20 min)
  • Love remembered (30 min)
  • Touch of evil (10 min)
  • Master and commander (10 min)

July 19, 9:30am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Quotes from Guardians of the Galaxy

  • “Okay, I’m gonna be totally honest with you…I forgot you were here.” (10 min)
  • “I am going to die, surrounded by the biggest idiots in the galaxy.” (15 min)
  • “Ain’t no thing like me, except me!” (30 min)
  • “Nothing goes over my head! My reflexes are too fast, I would catch it.” (5 min)
  • “Your sources say that she meant to betray us the whole time!” (10 min)
  • “If I had a black light, this place would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.” (20 min)
  • “I didn’t ask to be torn apart and put back together over and over and turned into some little monster!” (10 min)
  • “I don’t even believe you have a plan.” (5 min)

July 19, 2:00pm-5:00pm (UTC -8)
Quotes from The Kingsmen

  • Manners maketh man. (10 min)
  • Don’t be ridiculous. It’s a hand grenade. (20 min)
  • You are about to embark on the most dangerous job interview in the world. (30 min)
  • Sounds like a lot of people are going to die. (10 min)
  • Felt sorry for the boy, did you? He will find this humiliating. (20 min)
  • If you get blood on the carpet, you have to take the carpet up! Can’t stand the sight of blood. (30 min)
  • If you’re prepared to adapt and learn, you can transform. (15 min)

July 19, 6:00pm-9:00pm (UTC -8)
Gone to the Dogs

  • Dessert (10 min)
  • Crash helmet (20 min)
  • Swimming (30 min)
  • Wanton destruction (10 min)
  • Fighting (20 min)
  • Temptation (30 min)
  • Stacked (20 min)

July 19, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Ice Cream Flavors

  • Cookies and cream (10 min)
  • Rocky road (20 min)
  • Blue moon (30 min)
  • Half baked (10 min)
  • Chocolate therapy (20 min)

July 20, 8:45am-12:15pm (UTC -8)
Tarot, Part 1

  • The Fool: the spark that sets everything else into motion (30 min)
  • The Magician: he knows how he must do it, and why he must do it (30 min)
  • The High Priestess: the effects of the mysterious in our every day world (30 min)
  • The Empress: all the pleasure of the senses (30 min)
  • The Emperor: the command of the spoken or written word (30 min)
  • The Heirophant: a person who holds forbidden or secret knowledge (30 min)

July 20, 5:00pm-8:00pm (UTC -8)
Tarot, Part 2

  • The Lovers: the necessity of proper choice (30 min)
  • The Chariot: emotional control (30 min)
  • Strength: fortitude of character (30 min)
  • The Hermit: isolation and withdrawal from the world (30 min)
  • The Wheel of Fortune: destiny seems to strike without warning (30 min)

July 20, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Tarot, Part 3

  • Justice: punishment for those who have wronged (10 min)
  • The Hanged Man: in his vulnerability he has found strength (20 min)
  • Death: a transition to the next level (30 min)
  • Temperance: moderation and balance (10 min)
  • The Devil: everything turns upside-down (10 min)
  • The Tower: do not place your faith in illusions of security (15 min)

July 21, 8:45am-1:00pm (UTC -8)
Chvrches Songs

  • The mother we share (30 min)
  • Recover (10 min)
  • Gun (30 min)
  • Lies (20 min)
  • We sink (10 min)
  • Under the tide (30 min)
  • Get away (20 min)
  • Tether (20 min)
  • Leave a trace (30 min)
  • Every open eye (5 min)

July 21, 4:00pm-5:00pm (UTC -8)
Meow Sprints, Part 4

  • Boxes (10 min)
  • Ceiling (10 min)
  • World domination (20 min)

July 21, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Tarot, Part 4

  • The Star: a beacon of hope and inspiration (10 min)
  • The Moon: susceptible to illusions and deception (20 min)
  • The Sun: peace and good times after ordeals (10 min)
  • Judgement: cleansed and restored (30 min)
  • The World: one is many, many are one (15 min)
  • Ace of Cups: the first stirrings of passion, joy and insight (10 min)
  • Two of Cups: harmonious union (30 min)
  • Three of Cups: sad times become a little less sad (15 min)

July 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo Prompts for Week 2

Sorry I’m late with this. Without further ado, all the @NaNoWordSprints prompts from week 2:

July 8, 8:45am-1:00pm (UTC -8)
Based on the Egyptian Calendar, Part 2

  • Genius of wind (15 min)
  • Satisfied (30 min)
  • Nourishment and harvest (15 min)
  • Moon (30 min)
  • Valley festival (20 min)
  • Low water (10 min)
  • Birth of the sun (10 min)
  • Wandering (25 min)
  • Reformed (20 min)
  • Five extra days (30 min)

July 8, 4:00pm-6:00pm (UTC -8)
Birds as Symbolism

  • Dove: love, peace, messengers (10 min)
  • Nightingale: poetry, song (15 min)
  • Phoenix: regeneration, rebirth (30 min)
  • Falcon: manliness (10 min)
  • Crane: happiness, eternal youth (10 min)
  • Raven: ill omen, death (10 min)

July 8, 8:00pm-9:00pm (UTC -8)
Meow Sprints, Part 1

  • Tuna (10 min)
  • Yarn (10 min)
  • Sleeping (20 min)

July 9, 10:00am-2:00pm (UTC -8)
Based on Headlines from the June 19, 2015 Issue of Science

  • Pumped up to rumble (10 min)
  • Last dance (20 min)
  • Do it for love (30 min)
  • Tasty (10 min)
  • Invisible (20 min)
  • On the move (30 min)
  • Rain (10 min)
  • A buzz in the meadow (20 min)
  • When the hunter becomes the hunted (30 min)
  • Seal the envelope (10 min)

July 9, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Random Wikipedia Articles

  • Photo division (10 min)
  • The evergreens (20 min)
  • Fruit slice (30 min)
  • Miss Jealousy (10 min)
  • Pursuit of the deadly diamonds (20 min)
  • Polish dance club singles chart (30 min)
  • Banana boat (10 min)
  • Golden down (20 min)
  • Eyes of a woman (30 min)
  • UFO sightings in Sweden (10 min)

July 10, 12:15pm-4:15pm (UTC -8)
Based on Headlines from the July 10, 2015 Issue of Science

  • Targeting copper (10 min)
  • One man’s odyssey (20 min)
  • Deep sleep (30 min)
  • Rolling out the welcome mat (10 min)
  • Getting noticed is half the battle (20 min)
  • Meeting of the minds (30 min)
  • Beachcomber’s delight (10 min)
  • The safety dance (20 min)
  • A fancy new coat (30 min)
  • Bound and mobile (10 min)

July 10, 7:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Leftover Prompts, Part 1

  • The harder to get, the better to have (10 min)
  • Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor (30 min)
  • No knot unties itself (30 min)
  • Like shooting fish in a barrel (10 min)
  • Big fish in a small pond (15 min)
  • Cold fish (10 min)
  • Cabaret scene (10 min)
  • Power of positivity (20 min)
  • Three seasons (30 min)
  • Haircut (30 min)
  • Crossette (30 min)
  • Spider (15 min)

July 11, 10:00am-1:00pm (UTC -8)
Gemstone Metaphors and Associations, Part 1

  • Garnet, pomegranate (10 min)
  • Amythest, sobriety, temperance (30 min)
  • Pearls before swine (30 min)
  • Pearl of wisdom (30 min)
  • Bloodstone, centering, abundance (30 min)
  • Jasper, slow, constant, nurturer (20 min)

July 11, 2:00pm-5:00pm (UTC -8)
Gemstone Metaphors and Associations, Part 2

  • Aquamarine, sea, mirror, hidden meanings (10 min)
  • Diamond in the rough (30 min)
  • Sapphire, wisdom, royalty, divine favor, prophecy (30 min)
  • Emerald, renewal, growth (30 min)
  • Agate, protection, strength, harmony (30 min)
  • Cat’s eye (20 min)

July 11, 7:00pm-9:00pm (UTC -8)
Gemstone Metaphors and Associations, Part 3

  • Turquoise, nobility, immortality (10 min)
  • Moonstone, inward journey, soul left behind (10 min)
  • Onyx, release negativity, confidence (10 min)
  • Red as a ruby (10 min)
  • Carnelian, motivation, endurance, leadership, courage (10 min)
  • Topaz, success, good fortune (10 min)
  • Peridot, love charm (10 min)
  • Tourmaline, healing, vitality (10 min)
  • Opal, inspiration, spontaneity (10 min)
  • Coral, meditation, art objects (10 min)
  • Lapis lazuli, truthfulness, inner power, organization (10 min)
  • Malachite, transformation (10 min)

July 11, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Famous Movie Quotes

  • “Fasten your seat belts, it’s going to be a bumpy night!” (10 min)
  • “Get busy living, or get busy dying.” (10 min)
  • “Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” (30 min)
  • “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” (10 min)
  • “I see dead people.” (30 min)
  • “To call you stupid would be an insult to stupid people!” (5 min)

July 12, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 1

  • Fehu: power and control (10 min)
  • Uruz: wild ox (20 min)
  • Thurisaz: white (30 min)
  • Ansuz: stability and order (10 min)
  • Raidho: wheel, cartwheel (20 min)
  • Kenaz: yellow (30 min)
  • Fehu: cattle (10 min)
  • Uruz: orange, dark green (10 min)

July 12, 2:00pm-5:00pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 2

  • Thurisaz: resist unwanted conflict (10 min)
  • Ansuz: mouth, divine breath (30 min)
  • Raidho: blue, black (30 min)
  • Kenaz: knowledge, understanding (30 min)
  • Fehu: green, brown (30 min)
  • Uruz: personal success and healing (10 min)

July 12, 6:00pm-9:00pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 3

  • Thurisaz: thorn, giant (10 min)
  • Ansuz: purple (20 min)
  • Raidho: in the right place at the right time (30 min)
  • Kenaz: torch (10 min)
  • Gebo: honor and connection (20 min)
  • Wunjo: pink, blue (30 min)
  • Hagalaz: hailstorm (20 min)

July 12, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Romantic Soundtracks

  • The wonder of life (10 min)
  • Proud and pretty (20 min)
  • The letterbox (30 min)
  • The theft (10 min)
  • The beginning of the partnership (10 min)
  • My father’s favorite (10 min)

July 13, 9:00pm-10:30pm (UTC -8)
Meow Sprints, Part 2

  • Invisible enemies (15 min)
  • Caterwauling (20 min)
  • Toying with something (15 min)
  • Chicken dinner (20 min)

July 14, 12:00pm-2:00pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 4

  • Naudhiz: need or want something (10 min)
  • Isa: brown, black (5 min)
  • Jera: harvest (5 min)
  • Eihwaz: magical protector or facilitator (30 min)
  • Perdhro: blue, red (20 min)
  • Gebo: gift (20 min)

July 14, 7:00pm-9:00pm (UTC -8)
Rune Meanings and Associations, Part 5

  • Wunjo: balance (10 min)
  • Hagalaz: blue, white (20 min)
  • Naudhiz: necessity (30 min)
  • Isa: halt in activity until change is made (10 min)
  • Jera: brown (20 min)

 

 

July 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo Prompts for Week 1

 

Progress on Camp NaNo so far? Very slow. I’m behind as usual, but I’m trying to catch up.

Anyways, here are the first week’s worth of prompts on @NaNoWordSprints:

* * *

June 30, 7:00am-9:30am (UTC -8)
Fire Idioms

  • Starting a fire (10 min)
  • Getting fired up (10 min)
  • There’s no smoke without a fire (10 min)
  • Too many irons in the fire (20 min)
  • Breathing fire (30 min)
  • Fire extinguisher (30 min)

June 30, 12:00pm-3:00pm (UTC -8)
Camping and Bear Idioms

  • Foot in both camps (10 min)
  • Camp out (10 min)
  • Pitch camp (20 min)
  • In the boondocks (10 min)
  • Bear a grudge (10 min)
  • Grin and bear it (30 min)
  • Hungry as a bear (20 min)
  • Bear the brunt (10 min)
  • Bear witness to (10 min)

July 1, 12:00am-2:00am (UTC -8)
The History of the Marshmallow, Part 1

  • Marshmallow (10 min)
  • Medicine (20 min)
  • Rose water (30 min)
  • Gladiators/fighting (30 min)
  • Extrusion (5 min)

July 1, 12:00pm-2:00pm (UTC -8)
The History of the Marshmallow, Part 2

  • Toasted (10 min)
  • Root (15 min)
  • Delayed gratification (20 min)
  • Monster (30 min)
  • Crispy (15 min)

July 2, 11:00am-3:00pm (UTC -8)
Fearsome Critters

  • Hidebehind/why people never return (10 min)
  • Treesqueak/strange noises (20 min)
  • Mangrove killifish/nesting in trees (30 min)
  • Fillyloo/upside down (10 min)
  • Teakettler/tea kettle sounds (20 min)
  • Snallygaster/quick spirit (15 min)
  • Squonk/melancholy (10 min)
  • Drop bear/surprise (30 min)
  • Fur-bearing trout/fur (10 min)
  • Splintercat/foul mood (10 min)
  • Hoop snake/roll like a wheel (15 min)

July 2, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Water and Letter Idioms

  • Fish out of water (10 min)
  • Keeping your head above water (20 min)
  • Still waters run deep (30 min)
  • Dead in the water (10 min)
  • Watering hole (20 min)
  • Muddy the waters (30 min)
  • Dash a note off (5 min)
  • Dead letter (10 min)
  • Red-letter day (15 min)
  • To the letter (20 min)
  • Crank letter (10 min)

July 4, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Fireworks Effects

  • Peony (10 min)
  • Brocade (20 min)
  • Chrysanthemum (30 min)
  • Strobe (10 min)
  • Falling leaf (20 min)
  • Dahlia (30 min)
  • Willow (5 min)
  • Diadem (15 min)
  • Palm (30 min)
  • Ring (15 min)

July 5, 7:15am-10:00am (UTC -8)
Quotes from “Into the Woods”

  • Slotted spoons don’t hold much soup (10 min)
  • I buried her in a footprint (30 min)
  • I miss my kingdom up in the sky (30 min)
  • The prettier the flower, the farther from the path (10 min)
  • Oh, my precious calls me (30 min)
  • Sometimes the thing you most wish for are not to be touched (10 min)
  • Worrying will do you no good (10 min)

July 5, 6:45pm-10:00pm (UTC -8)
Smoke and Fish Idioms

  • Smoke out something (10 min)
  • Smoke and mirrors (30 min)
  • Blowing smoke (10 min)
  • Smoke-filled room (30 min)
  • Smoke signals (10 min)
  • Fine kettle of fish (30 min)
  • Fishing for compliments (15 min)
  • Have bigger fish to fry (15 min)

July 6, 4:45pm-7:00pm (UTC -8)
Salvador Dali, Part 1

  • Large harlequin and small bottle of rum (10 min)
  • The basket of bread (20 min)
  • Girl with curls (30 min)
  • The first days of spring (30 min)
  • Lobster telephone (15 min)

July 6, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Rhymes

  • Warm up/sun up (10 min)
  • Wombat in a hat ready for combat (30 min)
  • Sprint/strange hint (30 min)
  • Pinch/grinch (10 min)
  • Five/go for a drive (10 min)

July 7, 7:45am-10:00am (UTC -8)
Based on the Headlines from the June 18, 2015 Issue of Nature, Part 1

  • Risky business (30 min)
  • The right climate (30 min)
  • Defensive weapons (30 min)
  • Made a dish (30 min)

July 7, 12:15pm-3:00pm (UTC -8)
Based on the Headlines from the June 18, 2015 Issue of Nature, Part 2

  • Under fire for being unreliable (30 min)
  • Reset your brain (30 min)
  • Turning point (30 min)
  • All alone (30 min)
  • Round the bend (30 min)

July 7, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Based on the Egyptian Calendar, Part 1

  • Wisdom (10 min)
  • Beautiful feast (20 min)
  • Beauty and love (30 min)
  • Soul upon soul (10 min)
  • Midday sun (20 min)

The Next Camp Is Coming

I’m sorry I haven’t posted very much in this blog lately. All I can say is that most of my activity has been on Twitter and aside from that, I’ve been very busy with work (as always).

Anyways, the July session for Camp NaNoWriMo is coming up in a couple of days. I’ve been invited to do @NaNoWordSprints again, so expect prompts to be posted here in the next month. I’ve also been invited to an ML cabin (basically a mini-chatroom on the Camp NaNo site where all the other members are municipal liaisons) and I’ll see how that goes. Hopefully it will give me motivation to finish the July project, unlike the April project.

As for the April project, unfortunately it’s still not at a stage where I feel that I can finish at least a rough draft of it in a month. Sometimes ideas are like that. They stall out and you either have to plan some more or wait until you get a second wind.

The idea for July’s writing project struck me out of the blue earlier this month. The basic premise: what would it be like to live in a city which was built as a giant astronomical instrument, where the streets disappeared and reappeared from a different dimension depending on the movements of the heavens above? Here’s the vague blurb of the idea I put up on my Camp NaNo profile:

When the Stars Are Right

The streets of Venzza disappear and reappear according to the celestial movements. The inhabitants of the city use the Almanack to help guide their daily movements in their home. But so do those who want to hide secrets until the time is right for their reveal…

This is a science fantasy where science underpins everything, but I’m making a conscious effort to make it sound like fantasy. The title is a not so subtle hint that there will be Lovecraftian influences. The name of the city is also a hint that this will take place in an alternate reality Venice. About four years ago, I attempted to write another story set in Venice, but it stalled out after three or four chapters. I’m hoping that this second try will go better.

Unlike many of my previous stories where the characters came to me fairly early, the characters for this story were far more difficult to suss out. I came up with the basic plot even before I knew who they were or their names. I don’t want to talk too much about my characters right now, but what I do want to say is that I came up with scientific reasons for their existence and they aren’t random creatures I’m throwing in there just for the heck of it.

I’m still working on the outline. Let’s hope I finish it before July 1 rolls around.

April 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo Prompts for Week 4

Oops. I had meant to post this a week ago, but I’ve been feeling kind of burned out and letting things slide. I probably need this month to recover and refill the creative well, so to speak.

Well, here’s the last week of the camp prompts. Have fun!

* * *

April 22, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Color Metaphors Part 4

  • Brown-nose (10 min)
  • Brown bag (20 min)
  • Brown as a berry (10 min)
  • Born with a silver spoon in his mouth (30 min)
  • Every cloud has a silver lining (10 min)
  • Silver bullet (5 min)
  • Chartreuse (20 min)
  • Azure (30 min)

April 22, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Cruise Ship to R’lyeh

  • Navigator (20 min)
  • Ennui (10 min)
  • The billionaire and the squid goddess (30 min)
  • The stars will be right (15 min)
  • Changing colors (20 min)
  • Storm (30 min)
  • Harpoon (10 min)

April 23, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Linguistic Siamese Twins

  • Home and dry (10 min)
  • Smash and grab (20 min)
  • Sound and fury (30 min)
  • Loud and clear (10 min)
  • Flesh and bone (20 min)
  • Armed and dangerous (30 min)
  • Sick and tired (5 min)
  • Hearts and minds (10 min)

April 23, 3:00pm-6:00pm (UTC -8)
World Book Day

  • Tough it out (15 min)
  • Stealer of souls (15 min)
  • An eye for an eye (30 min)
  • The creature in the case (15 min)
  • Magic kitten (15 min)
  • The midnight picnic (30 min)
  • The boy in the smoke (20 min)

April 23, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Sherlock Sprints from Series 3

  • Convoluted theory (10 min)
  • Jump out of a cake (20 min)
  • Finding a goldfish (30 min)
  • High-functioning sociopath (10 min)
  • Speechless (20 min)
  • Eggy chair (30 min)
  • Dancing (10 min)
  • Something in the punch (10 min)

April 24, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Linguistic Siamese Twins (with Or)

  • All or nothing (10 min)
  • Give or take (15 min)
  • Kill or cure (15 min)
  • Two or more (20 min)
  • Dead or alive (30 min)
  • Hit or miss (5 min)
  • Rain or shine (10 min)
  • Fight or flight (30 min)

April 24, 3:15pm-6:15pm (UTC -8)
Headlines from Nature, April 23, 2015 Issue

  • Highway to health (10 min)
  • Decoupled ideals (15 min)
  • There’s more to come (30 min)
  • Far from the west (15 min)
  • Near its demise (10 min)
  • Dazzling colors distract predators (30 min)
  • Degrees of separation (10 min)
  • Illuminating the past (15 min)

April 24, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC -8)
Quotes from James Bond Movies

  • It hits like a brick through a stain glass window. (15 min)
  • I hope he cooks better than he fights. (20 min)
  • I had heard that you were dead. (30 min)
  • Curious…how everyone who touches those diamonds seems to die. (10 min)
  • He just dropped in for a quick bite. (15 min)
  • We can do a deal! I’ll buy you a delicatessen – in stainless steel! Pleeeeeeease… (30 min)
  • You get your clothes back on, and I’ll buy you an ice cream. (10 min)
  • You know, you’re cleverer than you look! (10 min)

April 25, 10:45am-1:00pm (UTC -8)
Trinomials

  • Mad, bad, and dangerous (10 min)
  • The good, the bad, and the ugly (15 min)
  • Lie, cheat, or steal (30 min)
  • Eat, drink, and be merry (15 min)
  • Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered (15 min)
  • Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow (20 min)

April 25, 3:15pm-6:15pm (UTC -8)
Books on the Shelf at the Subterranean Boutique Coffee Shop

  • And they all sang (20 min)
  • France (10 min)
  • Wild animals (30 min)
  • The return of the king (15 min)
  • War cycles, peace cycles (15 min)
  • Upholding the law (30 min)
  • The tender bar (5 min)
  • Death in the grizzly maze (15 min)

April 25, 8:30pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Titles of Random Books Published on January 2008 Part 1

  • To love and to cherish (20 min)
  • Double blind (15 min)
  • Final theory (20 min)
  • Fake boyfriend (15 min)
  • Vintage (30 min)
  • Betrayed (10 min)
  • Hidden in the wall (10 min)
  • Monkey business (15 min)
  • A quiet adjustment (30 min)

April 26, 8:15am-10:20am (UTC -8)
Titles of Random Books Published on January 2008 Part 2

  • Too scared to sleep (10 min)
  • Message in the flames (20 min)
  • How not to be popular (15 min)
  • Bedlam, bath and beyond (20 min)
  • Mermaids in the basement (30 min)
  • Leftovers (10 min)

April 26, 10:20am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Linguistic Siamese Twins (Opposites)

  • Beginning to end (15 min)
  • Floor to ceiling (30 min)
  • Front to back (10 min)
  • North to south (10 min)
  • Start to finish (20 min)

April 26, 2:15pm-6:00pm (UTC -8)
Vampires

  • Interview (10 min)
  • Sparkling (20 min)
  • Terrifying (30 min)
  • Color-blind (10 min)
  • Symbiotic (20 min)
  • Nanobots (30 min)
  • Bunny (10 min)
  • Belonging to neither (20 min)
  • Mold (30 min)
  • Counting (10 min)

April 26, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Titles of Random Books Published on August 2011

  • Changing the game (10 min)
  • Ripe for scandal (20 min)
  • Bitter harvest (30 min)
  • Reputation in tatters (15 min)
  • Garden of secrets past (15 min)
  • The brink of fame (30 min)
  • Busy monsters (5 min)
  • Dark parties (20 min)
  • Victory and honor (30 min)
  • The girl behind the glass (10 min)
  • Devil’s business (20 min)

April 27, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
After Part 1

  • Aftermath (15 min)
  • Aftertaste (15 min)
  • Afterglow (30 min)
  • Aftershave (30 min)
  • Afternoon (10 min)
  • Afterthought (15 min)
  • Aftershock (30 min)

April 27, 5:00pm-8:00pm (UTC -8)
After Part 2

  • Afterlife (10 min)
  • Afterimage (15 min)
  • Afterhours (30 min)
  • Afterburn (10 min)
  • Afterworld (20 min)
  • Aftereffect (30 min)
  • Afterbirth (15 min)
  • After dark (10 min)

April 27, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Titles of Random Books Published on August 2012 Part 1

  • Blades of winter (10 min)
  • Glitch (20 min)
  • Temptation’s edge (30 min)
  • The scent of rain (10 min)
  • Silent witness (20 min)
  • Wooden bones (30 min)
  • Dying echo (10 min)
  • Close enough to touch (10 min)

April 28, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Titles of Random Books Published on August 2012 Part 2

  • Ready for pumpkins (30 min)
  • Windfall (15 min)
  • Edge of the world (30 min)
  • Trouble brewing (15 min)
  • The uninvited (15 min)
  • Termination orders (10 min)
  • Within reach (30 min)

April 28, 4:00pm-7:00pm (UTC -8)
Titles of Random Books Published on August 2013 Part 1

  • Rumors (10 min)
  • Helping hands (20 min)
  • Beyond hope (30 min)
  • Burning sky (10 min)
  • Guardian demon (20 min)
  • Jump the gun (30 min)
  • Cover story (10 min)
  • A spider in the cup (10 min)

April 28, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Titles of Random Books Published on August 2013 Part 2

  • Good as gone (10 min)
  • Early decision (5 min)
  • Consume (30 min)
  • Hide and seek (15 min)
  • The dark between (20 min)
  • Bought for revenge (30 min)
  • Chews your destiny (10 min)
  • A question of honor (20 min)

April 29, 1:00am-2:00am (UTC -8)
The Sprints Account Sprints

  • Borrowing something (5 min)
  • Wandering (10 min)
  • Mirrors (30 min)

April 29, 9:00am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Xyzzy Awards

  • Counterfeit monkey (10 min)
  • One eye open (15 min)
  • The shadow in the cathedral (30 min)
  • Nightfall (10 min)
  • The traveling swordsman (10 min)
  • Vespers (30 min)
  • City of secrets (15 min)
  • Lock and key (5 min)
  • A bear’s night out (20 min)

April 29, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Titles of Random Books Published on May 2015

  • Tangled web (10 min)
  • The lake in the clouds (15 min)
  • Sea of stone (30 min)
  • Falling stars (15 min)
  • Alligator in an anorak (10 min)
  • A shameful consequence (5 min)
  • Difficult decisions (30 min)
  • Once burned (20 min)

April 30, 1:00am-2:00am (UTC -8)
Supernatural: Castiel Sprints

  • Doubt (10 min)
  • Smells (10 min)
  • Wisdom you’ve heard from the pizza man (20 min)

April 30, 7:40am-9:00am (UTC -8)
Physics Terms

  • Friction (10 min)
  • Disorder (30 min)
  • Toughness (20 min)

April 30, 9:00am-11:00am (UTC -8)
Festival of Books Panel Names Part 2

  • Through a different lens (20 min)
  • Science and identity (5 min)
  • The secrets we keep (20 min)
  • Deception and denial (30 min)
  • Connections and consequences (20 min)

April 30, 12:00pm-1:00pm (UTC -8)
Festival of Books Panel Names Part 3

  • Coming into her (their) own (30 min)
  • Lurking in the shadows (15 min)

April 30, 1:00pm-3:00pm (UTC -8)
Random Festivals Part 2

  • Burning man (20 min)
  • King mango (5 min)
  • Slug queen (20 min)
  • Rainbow gathering (30 min)
  • Half moon (20 min)

April 30, 4:00pm-9:00pm (UTC -8)
Random Festivals Part 3

  • Red river (10 min)
  • Aloha (10 min)
  • Tulip time (20 min)
  • Curtain up (30 min)
  • Banana split (20 min)
  • One spark (30 min)
  • Southern decadence (10 min)
  • All points west (5 min)
  • Bamboozle (30 min)
  • Cornerstone (20 min)
  • Signal (20 min)
  • Friendship (10 min)
  • The world’s largest disco (15 min)

April 30, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Out of Context Science

  • This suggests that when people can afford to, they will reduce their consumption of sweet potato. (20 min)
  • a) gratitude makes people more humble, and (b) humility makes people more likely to experience gratitude (30 min)
  • After calling the number, diners could decide to either press “one” for a sweeter dessert or “two” for a more bitter one (15 min)
  • The control group simply sat calmly in a room without video. (10 min)
  • Being eaten was the leading cause of death for rural squirrels. (20 min)
  • Since they happened to have some skulls lying around, they filled it with 1400 grams of ground beef. (20 min)
  • There are many explanations for such a finding other than the hypothesis that kids make us miserable. (30 min)

May 1, 12:00am-3:00am (UTC -8)
Ending Tropes

  • Bluffing the murderer (20 min)
  • Chased off into the sunset (30 min)
  • Surprise party (30 min)
  • Wrap it up (20 min)
  • It was all a dream (30 min)
  • Champions on the inside (20 min)

April 2015 Camp NaNoWriMo Prompts for Week 3

Okay, I admit it, I’ve been doing word sprints a lot this week. Mostly because the majority of the other sprint leaders haven’t signed up for sprint sessions and I was feeling guilty about leaving other wrimos in the lurch. On the surface, it looks like an impossible amount of work, but all I can say is–things will work out if you plan ahead of time and are able to multitask.

So, here are the prompts I used for week 3. Feel free to take them for your own use.

* * *

April 15, 9:15am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
Philosophy

  • Philosophy (10 min)
  • All men are created equal (20 min)
  • Logical consequence (30 min)
  • Intellectual responsibility (10 min)
  • Injustice (20 min)
  • History and class consciousness (30 min)
  • Free will (10 min)

April 15, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Battling Riverdance

  • Frying pan (10 min)
  • Kettle (20 min)
  • Crate of tomatoes (30 min)
  • Spork (10 min)
  • Trebuchet and flying fireballs (20 min)
  • Snakes (30 min)
  • Killer plot bunnies (10 min)
  • Canon (10 min)

April 16, 10:00am-11:00am (UTC -8)
Paperclips

  • Holding things together (10 min)
  • Jerry-rig (15 min)
  • To pick a lock (15 min)

April 16, 3:00pm-6:00pm (UTC -8)
Portmanteaus

  • Labradoodle, tigon, wallaroo (10 min)
  • Newscast, biopic, dramedy (20 min)
  • Soundscape, machinima, frolf (10 min)
  • Banana cue, cronut, peacherine (30 min)
  • spork, tangelo, turducken (20 min)
  • Affluenza, avionics, bleen (15 min)
  • Jorts, manscaping, napalm (10 min)
  • Bromance, pleather, frenemy (20 min)

April 17, 9:45am-1:00pm (UTC -8)
Dogs

  • Loyalty (10 min)
  • Puppy eyes (20 min)
  • Drive to their grave (30 min)
  • Best friend (10 min)
  • Positive feedback loop (20 min)
  • Domestication (30 min)
  • Listening (10 min)
  • Follow the leader (20 min)

April 17, 10:30pm-12:30am (UTC -8)
World Building

  • Twisty and confusing roads (10 min)
  • Strange residents (20 min)
  • Small details (30 min)
  • Cultural interactions (10 min)
  • On the edge of conflict (20 min)

April 18, 10:45am-12:00pm (UTC -8)
L.A. Times Festival of Books: Panel Titles

  • Beyond this realm (10 min)
  • Perfectly flawed (20 min)
  • Secrets and suspense (30 min)
  • Pushing boundaries (20 min)

April 18, 10:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Scary Sprints

  • Creepy (10 min)
  • Empty (20 min)
  • Glowing (30 min)
  • Scratching (10 min)
  • Darkness (20 min)

April 19, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Greek Sayings

  • An eagle’s old age is worth a sparrow’s youth (10 min)
  • Food of the gods (20 min)
  • Know thyself (30 min)
  • Give me somewhere to stand and I will move the earth (15 min)
  • Death is no different than life (15 min)
  • Summer, harvest, war (30 min)
  • Live hidden (10 min)
  • Wine dark sea (15 min)
  • There is learning in suffering and experience (15 min)
  • To commit the same sin twice is not a sign of a wise man (30 min)

April 20, 10:00am-12:45pm (UTC -8)
Color Metaphors Part 1

  • As black as a stack of black cats (15 min)
  • Little black book (15 min)
  • Black sheep (15 min)
  • Red carpet treatment (15 min)
  • Caught red-handed (15 min)
  • As red as blood (15 min)
  • White knuckle (15 min)
  • White lie (15 min)
  • White flag (15 min)

April 20, 3:00pm-6:00pm (UTC -8)
Color Metaphors Part 2

  • Blue blood (10 min)
  • Blue in the face (20 min)
  • Blue ribbon (30 min)
  • Get gray hair (10 min)
  • Gray matter (20 min)
  • Gray area (30 min)
  • Get green light (5 min)
  • Grass is greener on the other side (10 min)

April 20, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Mongoose

  • Saving family (15 min)
  • Hunting (15 min)
  • Exception (30 min)
  • Loyalty (10 min)
  • Getting tricked (15 min)
  • Vengeance (30 min)
  • Giggling (10 min)
  • Jewels (15 min)

April 21, 9:15am-1:00pm (UTC -8)
Color Metaphors Part 3

  • Pink slip (10 min)
  • Tickled pink (30 min)
  • Pink elephants (10 min)
  • A yellow streak (15 min)
  • Yellow-bellied (15 min)
  • Yellow journalism (30 min)
  • Apples and oranges (10 min)
  • Orange is the new black (5 min)
  • Squeeze the orange (20 min)
  • Born to the purple (30 min)
  • Purple squirrel (10 min)

April 21, 3:30pm-4:30pm (UTC -8)
Meow Sprints Redux

  • Push things off high shelves (10 min)
  • Nap in the sun (10 min)
  • Ignore (20 min)

April 21, 9:00pm-12:00am (UTC -8)
Mr. Ian Woon and the Temple of Sprints

  • The heavy will bear down on you (15 min)
  • You will burn (30 min)
  • The small will consume you (15 min)
  • Give your heart away (30 min)
  • Sharps overhead (10 min)
  • I will catch you (15 min)
  • Crocodiles (30 min)

Writing and Reading, Intention and Perception

I recently went to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC last weekend. It’s a haven for book nerds and book geeks, a veritable cornucopia of books and programming dedicated to the written word. The last time I went to the festival was over a decade ago when I was still a student. Back then, it was at UCLA and any sort of spontaneity was tempered by the fact that I was specifically going to the festival to get credit for a contemporary poetry class I was taking at the time.

But this time, I went myself and got to attend events I wanted to attend and not see writers who were required on a syllabus. This sort of freedom is the kind of thing that makes books fun for me. The freedom of choice. Maybe that boils down to my personality as well. I don’t particularly like being told what to do unless there’s a very good reason for it. I read what I want to read—I don’t follow book clubs. I might use book awards and word-of-mouth recommendations to help me choose what to read, but I wouldn’t dream of slavishly following them. On the other side, I also write what I want to write. To me, I only want to write about what I find interesting. Otherwise, it’s only going to bore the audience—which could just be me or anyone stumbling upon this blog post.

It’s this freedom of choice, however, that is the sticking point for some people who read and write. This very problem was brought up at one of the talks that I attended. What subject matter is appropriate for a writer to write about? Is the sky (and beyond) the limit or are we constrained by our own experiences? As readers, do we have a responsibility to read certain things and interpret the writing in certain ways?

The specific situation that generated these questions is that of writers recounting the African-American experience through fiction and poetry. Some argue that only African-Americans are allowed or qualified to write African-American characters. The main concern with this argument (as far as I understand it) is a mixture of the “write what you know” philosophy and the desire to take back the narrative from other writers (particularly white writers) who have appropriated their culture and identity and repackaged it in such a way that there is a high chance (and according to some, a 100% chance) of the African-American narrative getting skewed by a non-African-American lens—no matter how seemingly transparent. This, of course, can be generalized to any minority group that has been traditionally trampled by the majority, be it race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, class, religion, politics or any other social division.

On the other side, writers want the freedom to write whatever they want. As Joyce Carol Oates said in her talk, if we write only what we know, it’s actually “not very much.” One example that illustrates the importance of the freedom to write what you don’t know (or rather, what is beyond your personal experience) is genre writing. Of course authors haven’t traveled on spaceships or talked to elves. It’s probably very likely that a writer hasn’t murdered someone or summoned the bogeyman. Real life doesn’t have a happily ever after that ends with a marriage and the hero riding off into the sunset—instead, it’s complicated. But writing about science fiction and fantasy, mystery and horror, romance and adventure are not any less valid ways of telling a story. This isn’t just about the fantastic either. Writing whatever you want also means having the freedom to take your imagination anywhere—not only to another planet but also to another person’s experience.

Human beings, particularly ones who have grown out of toddlerhood, are probably the only animals on this planet with a truly sophisticated sense of the theory of mind. We can put ourselves in another’s shoes and imagine what it’s like to be them. The theory of mind is absolutely essential for us social animals. If we didn’t have it, we wouldn’t have a civilization. This is where I think the argument of writing whatever you can imagine rests. You can imagine the Other and empathize with the Other. You realize that the Other has similar fears and joys that you do. The Other is no longer Other but just as human as you and me.

It’s one thing to write about someone who isn’t you in a realistic and sympathetic way. Some, however, are leery about the times when portrayals of their own group go horribly wrong. The stereotypes and the prejudices. Bowdlerization and simplification. Outright falsification, sanitization, and erasure. One solution that some have proposed is that only people from a particular group should write about their own group. People in other groups shouldn’t even attempt to write about them. This particular proposal is unsatisfying and more importantly, extremely troubling to me. The natural outgrowth of this is to not only put writers but also readers in a ghetto. We already see this with some bookstores that shelve all the African-American writers in the African-American section or LGBT authors in the LGBT section regardless of whether these writers are penning stories about their own culture or something completely different. And by separating them out that way, isn’t this telling readers that they must belong to those groups in order to read them? This isn’t being inclusive at all.

So what can writers write about? Do writers have certain obligations they have in what they can write about? And what about readers? Do they have any obligations to the authors and to themselves for what they read? I still feel that writers should have the freedom to write whatever they wish to write. They aren’t constrained by imagination. But whatever they write, they should take responsibility for it because someone’s going to read their work and react to it. A writer is not free from the consequences of putting their words out for public consumption because they cannot control what other people do. A writer from a majority group is not entitled to automatic praise and good reviews when writing about a minority group. If what you wrote was wrong, then apologize and do better next time. If someone “misinterpreted” your words and got offended, then learn from it. I put “misinterpreted” in quotes because there are no wrong interpretations with literature. It all depends on the viewpoint of the reader and there are as many viewpoints as there are readers in the world.

As for readers, well, that can get complicated too. Readers read for all sorts of reasons, none of them any less valid than another. Readers also have the choice of what to read (with the exception of literature classes). Books are art, are commodities, are choices. What they aren’t is the equivalent of bran cereal that we have to eat every day to keep regular. It seems, on the surface, that readers have carte blanche in what they read and how they interpret what they read. There are many authors who have the view that once the book is published and out in the world, there’s really nothing they can do to respond to other people’s interpretation of their work. But that’s not entirely true. The book is the focal point of a discussion between the author and the reader. And while the writer should be cognizant that the reader can react in any sort of manner to their words, the reader should also realize that it’s an act of bad faith if they willfully misinterpret a writer’s words and ignore the context in which those words were written.

In the end, I would argue for freedom of writing and reading whatever you want. This doesn’t mean you also have freedom from the consequences of what you read or write because there is always another human being on the other side of those words. What’s important is that as a writers and readers, we should try to learn and understand the other point of view no matter how difficult or painful it may be. And by trying to expand where we go with words rather than insulating ourselves with our own experiences, we can take the first step in erasing those boundaries between Us and Them.

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