Friday, March 29, 2013

In The Mood

Another Friday Fictioneer offering.

Copyright - Rochelle Wisoff Fields

By Beth Carter

“Don’t forget. One light means I’m not in the mood. Two lights—you’re in luck.”

Harry laughed. “You think I’d forget that?” He patted her behind, gulped his coffee, and left for work.

After doing the dishes, she bought a black, lacy negligee at Victoria’s Secret. Later, she took a bubble bath, fluffed her curls and added a spritz of Obsession.

Smiling, Ruth lit both lamps. She suddenly noticed Harry had forgotten his coat. Something told her to look inside the pockets. She clutched a hotel receipt and welled up. He’ll never change. Ruth blew out one of the lamps.

100 words

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Friday, March 22, 2013

FRIDAY FICTIONEERS - Hannah's Punishment

It's time for my favorite weekly writing challenge--the Friday Fictioneers! Writers from around the world write these wee tales based on the same photo prompt. Here is this week's photo compliments of our Hawaiian friend, Doug Macilroy.

By Beth Carter

Hannah swatted a fly with her tail, her sneer undetectable due to the hose in her mouth. What? The cows are too good for this?

Her neck ached. Why doesn’t Farmer Fred put in an irrigation system? Hannah glared as Fred drove his new John Deere. She grimaced when she saw his fancy Range Rover. She suspected he had received a big lottery payout.

She knew she was being punished for placing fourth during the team roping event. Sure, my talking brother, Mr. Ed, got a TV show. Meanwhile, I get to hold this stupid hose and get trench hoof.

100 words

I'd love to hear your comments. Then, write your own 100 words and join us at

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Meet the Authors Event

I was pleased to join three other authors from Missouri and Arkansas to speak at a "Meet the Authors" event recently. Friends of the Library from the Webster County Library in Marshfield sponsored the small but mighty group of about 35 (from teens to retirees).

Each author--Allison Merritt, Pati Johnson Tierney, Kymberley Cook and I discussed our publishing stories (and sometimes woes) and recapped our respective books. It was interesting and everyone, of course, had a different path to publication.

I spoke about starting short (i.e., six-word memoirs and short stories in anthologies) to build publishing credits. Then, I discussed the novel that I started (and finished) a few years ago and why I switched genres  to children's picture books. The picture books have been a surprising joy in my life, and while I do plan to get back to novel writing, I will always, always, always write for children. My goal is to write at least one new picture book every year. I can't think of anything more important that children's literature and inspiring a child to read or write. And their precious faces and honest questions when I read to them just make my heart swell!

I'd encourage every author to force yourself to speak publicly. Many writers don't particularly enjoy public speaking--including me--but once in a comforting room with a supportive audience, the fears soon melt away.

L. to r.: Beth Carter, Allison Merritt, Kymberley Cook and Pati Johnson Tierney

Four genres were represented--thriller, steampunk fantasy, paranormal YA and children's picture books so the Friends of the Library heard quite a variety of fun writerly topics. Thanks to the Webster County Library for the invitation and to everyone who attended.

Monday, March 11, 2013

An Observation Exercise for Writer's Block

Recently, I saw a writer post that she hadn't written a word in six months. Not a word. Since my muse is usually in overtime skitting from project to project, it's hard for me to to believe writer's block exists, but it apparently does.

This writer said she had situational depression. While I don't know her, I tried to be helpful and suggested the following observation exercise which I learned in a college writing class. Thanks to my favorite writing professor, Jo Van Arkel, for this valuable lesson.

Choose a location--any location (inside or out)--and take your laptop or pen and pad with you. Then, using your senses write down EVERYTHING you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

Don't leave anything out. Scribble away and clean it up later. I promise this will get the words flowing. I even had to use shorthand to keep up with all of my senses and fast-paced surrounding!

For my assignment, I chose to go to a downtown bus stop. Soon, I was among intriguing people (hey, be nice) and the smell of popcorn from a nearby movie theatre that is long gone. I also smelled exhaust from passing cars and heard breaks screeching and cars humming. I could feel the cold concrete bench under my behind, the wind on my face, and saw birds swirl overhead. I took notice of everyone's clothes, perfume, hairstyle, and some very worn shoes. Then, I listened for dialogue. Yes, I happily eavesdropped.

While I don't remember the conversations, I do remember a story emerged between strangers. This suprised me and delighted my professor. I had planned to sit there for an hour, and as the windy day turned to dusk, I begrudgingly left my hard chair behind hours later. After all, I now had several handwritten pages to type.

This observation exercise is an easy, helpful way to get the words flowing. It also helps with realistic dialogue, new characters, and hones your senses.  After 20 years, I still remember it fondly as one of my favorite writing exercises. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Naming Characters

How do you choose names for your characters? Do you keep a list? Do you use names of family, friends and co-workers--or your dreaded former boyfriends?!!

Lately, I've noticed when writing in a hurry I "grab" the same character names too often, namely (pun intended) "Jenny" and "Sylvia." I don't know why but I do. Actually, my parents almost named me Jennifer but didn't like "Jenny" so they chose Beth. I happen to like the name Jenny so maybe that's why I use her as a character. I also tend to use "S" names quite a bit like Sarah and, yes, Sylvia.

When we're all spending too much time on Facebook or Twitter, I say we keep a running list of interesting names that we see online. At least we'll feel halfway productive while socializing. I often check the phone book (the real, heavy one--old school) for last names. Last names are particularly hard for me.

Of course, if you have an ethnic character from a country you're not that familiar with, you'll want to Google possible names so they are realistic.

Last but not least, I bought a baby book of about 5,000 names. That should keep me from tiring out poor Jenny and Sylvia! How about you? How do you choose names for your characters?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Exterior of Home-Made Car

Here it is! Many of you asked to see the exterior of this unique car after viewing the inside. Thanks for all of your great stories. I can't wait to print many of them out and share your flash fiction with the owner (once I track him/her down). And, in my mind, I thought it was green, but as you can see, it's brown with green wheels.

Let me know if this is what you expected it to look like!