Browsing articles in "Latest News"

Prompts: 5 Purposely-Absurd Opening Lines

Oct 9, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Prompts  //  No Comments

I’m currently taking a class on “How Writers Write Fiction” through the Writing University Open Courses program. One of our assignments is to write 5 sets of opening lines for potential stories. I thought it’d fit in well for my Prompts series. So, here they are, for your writing enjoyment:

1. It took Suana 3.42 seconds to realize she was no longer dreaming. And another 1.58 to wish otherwise.

2. Some days, only the anticipation of apples from the tree outside his front window kept Kyle from pulling the trigger.

3. Ferrets are infernal creatures on the best of days.

4. "Well," Mother had said, "isn’t this ironic?" Sam couldn’t have imagined more appropriate last words.

5. Gary listed exactly thirty-seven reasons why it was wrong to kiss one’s brother. The fact that Casey has reciprocated didn’t change any of them.

Bonus: Use three or more in one story, keeping one as an opening line.

For more info about prompts, read my introduction here.

Prompts: Inanimate Object

Sep 18, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Prompts  //  No Comments

Write from the perspective from an inanimate object.

Bonus Point: If you never mention which object you’re writing about, but can still make it obvious through your words.

For more info about prompts, read my introduction here

Writers Toolbox: “5 Most Common Mistakes That Break Reader Immersion” by Creativity Hacker

Sep 17, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Writers Toolbox  //  No Comments

I came upon this really great blog post from Creativity Hacker, which talks about the biggest factors interrupting reader immersion. These are important, because the last thing we want when someone reads our story or novel (or even non-fiction) is something within the writer mechanics or turn-of-phrase that shoves the reader out of their enjoyment of our piece. Plus, the geek in me likes how he analyzes it with fancy graphs.

“Today marks the publication of the 50th review in my ImmerseOrDie indie book review series. For those who don’t regularly follow it, the premise is simple: every morning I step onto my treadmill, open a new indie ebook, and begin my daily walk, reading the book for as long as I can maintain my immersion. When that immersion has broken three times, I stop, and write up a short report of what caused my attention to wander. This article today is a reflection on the first 50 such reviews, and a synthesis of A) whether or not I’ve been consistent in my evaluations, and B) trends I’m seeing in the causes of those immersion breaks.”

Read More here

Update on the State of my Life

Sep 14, 2014   //   by Christina   //   General, Latest News, Personal, Published  //  No Comments

My husband and I are back from our 10-month 12-country trip around the world. It’s been crazy settling back into the normal routine of life, and my writing has been a bit disrupted because of it. While it was frustrating at times, I’m glad I spent the necessary time and energy. Now I can focus back on my writing without having too many worries lingering in the back of my mind.

I hope to also get this writing blog on a semi-regular schedule now that I actually have the time to spend on it. I’ll be introducing a weekly feature which will be explained in my next post. And for those of you who also pop in to  Imaginor, I’ll be trying to get my mini-series’ there back on track also. So, many things happening on this website that I hope you’ll like.

In other writing news, my story, “The Job”, was published back in June in Issue #4 of Beyond Imagination. I’m particularly fond of the brothers that inhabit that story. I may even expand their story out into a full-fledged novella one of these days. You can check them out here.

I also had my poem, “Immortality”, published in Issue #5 of Dark Matter Journal, which was a welcome surprise. Poetry was my first love. I have a soft spot for the rhythm and flow of poetry. I also have a deep and abiding interest in science, though I’m more of a dabbler. These two interests came together into this poem, which you can read here (available in PDF, EPUB, and Kindle versions).

My Write1Sub1 challenge has had its rocky moments. I have to say it’s been easier to submit at least one story out each week than it’s been to write a completely new piece. But, I’m still slogging on.

My novel has gone through about a million changes (I’m not even sure if I’m exaggerating here) but I think I’ve finally got a handle on things. My goal is to finish a first-ish draft by the end of the year and have it submitted out to agents by June of next year. But, then again, you know what they say about best laid plans.

All in all, though, I’m happy and writing everyday. And, really, that’s all I want out of life right now anyways.

Prompts: Love Story

Sep 11, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Prompts  //  No Comments

Write a love story between two characters without using the word “love” or “romance”. Show, don’t tell.

Bonus Point: If you can write the story without any dialogue.

For more info about prompts, read my introduction from Monday.

Prompts: Introduction

Sep 8, 2014   //   by Christina   //   General, Latest News, Prompts  //  No Comments

When I’m stuck in a writing rut, I like being challenged to write a story that fits a certain theme or follows a specific prompt/challenge. It makes me sit back and try to think of a unique angle to approach it. Whether or not it works out doesn’t matter so much to me. I have a lot of fun writing and get the creative juices flowing. And, sometimes, I write something I’m really proud of that wouldn’t have existed without that first push.

So, I thought it might be interesting to challenge other writers who might be in a rut themselves or want to have some fun with their writing. I’ll be posting weekly prompts on Thursdays of my own devising or calling attention to literary magazines that have their own prompts.

If you do use a prompt and your work is 2000 words or less, feel free to post up a link to it in the comments or email it to me at with the subject: “Prompt: <Title of Prompt>” (ex: “Prompt: Love Story”). Please post the story in the body of the email. I won’t open any attachments. I’ll try to get back to you with my thoughts on your piece. If it’s longer than 2000 words, you can still post a link to it. I just can’t guarantee that I can read the whole thing, and it would be unfair for me to comment on it if I can’t give it a good reading.

NOTE: Please keep in mind that if you post anything on a website, even a private blog, it counts as “published” to many literary magazines and, therefore, not eligible for submittal.

From the movie “The Dead Poets Society”

Sep 8, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Quote, Thoughts  //  No Comments

In honor of Robin Williams, a quote from “The Dead Poets Society”, which taught me how to be my own person and was one of the first times I understood how to “seize the day” in a positive way.

John Keating: We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

Language is what connects us to the future. We are communicating to people who may be born long after we’ve left this earth. So, what will your verse be? Not just in writing, but in your own life? Who are you? What mark will you leave on this world? I guarantee you will leave a mark, no matter how invisible you believe yourself to be right now. Every step you take exerts a force upon this earth, every word you say leaves a wake in the air molecules, and every sentence you write contributes a verse to the human play that carries on through the years.

What will your verse be?

A Personal Story from Neil Gaiman

May 31, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Quote  //  No Comments

“My cousin Helen, who is in her 90s now, was in the Warsaw ghetto during World War II. She and a bunch of the girls in the ghetto had to do sewing each day.  And if you were found with a book, it was an automatic death penalty.  She had gotten hold of a copy of ‘Gone with the Wind’, and she would take three or four hours out of her sleeping time each night to read.  And then, during the hour or so when they were sewing the next day, she would tell them all the story.  These girls were risking certain death for a story.  And when she told me that story herself, it actually made what I do feel more important.  Because giving people stories is not a luxury.  It’s actually one of the things that you live and die for.”


Sometimes, creative artists aren’t regarded as producing anything “useful”.  I think this quote was encouraging to me in my pursuit of a writing career.  I hope it’s as encouraging to you. 

A Reading of “Ulysses”

May 24, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Personal  //  No Comments

On our tour through the UK, we decided to also pop in for a visit to Dublin, Ireland.  While gathering information for nearby attractions through the brochures set into our hotel’s reception area, I came upon an ad for “Sweny’s Pharmacy”.  I noticed they did readings of Joyce novels.  What a wonderful interlude while in Dublin, to listen to the words of one of their literary leading lights.  Even better?  Sweny’s Pharmacy features in one of Joyce’s most famous novels, Ulysses

We were greeted with a cup of tea and the thick tome of “Ulysses”.  “So,” I began, to the only other participant who had arrived before us, “a reading, huh?”  “Yes,” the older man, a full head of white hair and sparkling eyes, replied “it’s fun to read aloud.” My husband and I glanced at each other.  We’d have to read aloud?  Not exactly what we were expecting.  “Yikes,” I whispered, “I’ve never read Ulysses before.”  My husband shook his head, “Me neither.”  I knew James Joyce liked to make up words, and Ulysses was rumored to be notoriously difficult to read.  As I flipped through the pages while we waited, my concerns didn’t lessen.  Instead of freaking out further, I looked around and struck up a conversation with the owner of the establishment.  All the interior decorations of Sweny’s Pharmacy are original, all dark wood and glass and apothecary drawers.  The only major differences were likely the books piled before us and the shelves peeking out from the back section groaning underneath the weight of still more books.  The owner riffled around and returned with Ulysses translated into Chinese.  I wonder how many other translations lay in the back. 

I wanted to know if the same people showed up each week, so I asked our original friend with the sparkling eyes.  “Different members of the same core group,” he replied.  As others showed up at the door, he leaned back over, “Each gathering we have takes on its own character.  Sometimes we have analytical ones who like digging into the words.  Sometimes we have the ones who enjoy the history behind Joyce.  Today, we have the mad ones.”

A dark-haired man, around our age or a few years older, began the chapter with a quick introduction to what we were to expect in the following pages.  He spoke of character development and observations and symbolism with such passion, his hands weaving pictures through the air, he made what was essentially a Cliffs Notes summary of the chapter quite fascinating.  He followed by reading the first page.  Turns out the chapter we started with contained the section that featured Sweny’s Pharmacy.  What luck!

Around we went, each reading a page, some slower than others, in a multitude of accents.  Giggles broke out over particularly funny or salacious passages.  We reveled in Bloom’s train of thoughts, of the familiar made unfamiliar in such a way as to clarify our own world.  Like we had cleaned the lens of our eyes and saw everything anew.  Read aloud, I could grasp bits and pieces of what Joyce was trying to say, when before it’d looked like gibberish.  Especially read aloud in thick Irish accents.  Two hours later, we finished two chapters, our throats a bit hoarse, our cheeks and hearts warm .  My experience at Sweny’s had given me new inspiration and motivation to focus back on the novel I’d been editing the past year or so. 

As we walked back to our hotel room, the musical rhythm of Joyce’s words still bouncing around in my skull, I gazed over the River Liffey and imagined Joyce walking by us, also enjoying the cool night air. 


**For more information on readings, check out their webpage.  Donations are encouraged but not required.  Everyone likes hanging out at the nearby pub afterwards. 

3Elements Review

Apr 17, 2014   //   by Christina   //   Latest News, Published  //  No Comments

I’m so excited to have my story, “Safe”, published in the Spring 2014 Issue of 3Elements Review!  This magazine has a fun “theme” where they ask writers to incorporate 3 elements into their stories & poetry.  The elements for Spring 2014 were “terminal”, “bare”, and “6324”.  See if you can spot them in my story, which you can read here.  Also, I did a quick interview for them. Check it out here.

I think magazines like 3Elements Review are great, not only because they showcase great work (though I’m a bit biased), but because they offer an interesting way of approaching writing, especially if you’re stuck in a creative rut.