Trading tricks since 1989

More NaNo Excerpts – Action Sequence

Ok! So I am still chugging along on my nano goal – I am currently at 16,665 – a bit shy of the weekend goal of the 18,333 needed to be on track – but its only 9:30 – I’ve still got time till midnight!

So, today I wrote my first action sequence – which was something I had been avoiding so far this month (I am not really sure why – because I think it was actually kind of fun) I  was probably just nervous cause it an ‘unknown’ in the realm of writing – for me at least. Anyway… here is my action sequence – let me know what you think. Should there be more action – more details? I would love to hear some critiques! Thanks in advance and good luck to all  – we are now in the deep trenches of nano territory! PS – its not edited so excuse any mistakes and feel free the point them out for later revision!

Together they began the long journey. It was pretty uneventful up until about an hour in. After some non-stop swimming – they came to a large crevasse. Lexus stopped. “Can you feel that?” he asked.

“No, what is it” Selene whispered this – slightly afraid of what Lexus was referring to.

“It’s something big – and its lair is down inside that crevasse.”

“Do you think we can go around it?” asked Selene.

“No, that will require a lot of back tracking and with the humans lurking we can’t really afford the extra time. Maybe if we move slowly – we won’t disturb it.”

“I don’t know about this,” protested Selene, “I can sort of feel it too – I think it’s hungry.”

“Well lets hope that mermaid isn’t on its favorites list.”

“Didn’t you come this way to find me – did you pass this before?!”

“I passed it before – but I didn’t detect anything living down there. Must have just moved in.”

“Great…” Selene followed Lexus closely – she was glad for a moment that he was there – but her annoyance with him still lingered below the surface.

They slowly sailed over the crevasse. Selene looked down wondering what monstrous being could be dwelling down there. The crevasse was a deep split in the ocean floor – dark and foreboding. A few bubbles escaped upward and slinked past her face. She thought she saw movement and grabbed for Lexus’ arm. She churned the water in the process. Lexus felt the movement and whipped his head around to see what she was doing. He put his finger to his mouth – signaling her to calm down and keep moving.

They kept moving for another few minutes when she saw the movement again – this time she was certain something was watching them.

“Lexus,” she hissed, “I think it is watching us…” she pointed in the direction she had seen movement.

His sight reached where her finger was aimed. Just at that same moment a ten foot long angler fish came snapping out of the crevasse. It stopped abruptly, keeping its lower end protected by the cover of opening in the Earth – it eyed them closely. Dark muddy scales covered its body. Its fins were tattered in places from what must have been past fights. It was bobbing like a drunkard while its bulbous nob teetered in front of its face. Slowly it chomped its mouth looking eager for a meal. Its large sharp – thin teeth – were at least a foot long. They looked sharp enough to skewer a merman in swift movement.

Both Selene and Lexus stopped dead in their tracks. They looked at each other quickly – Lexus yelled ‘swim!’ to her and she took off. Lexus dove deep – straight for the fish. Selene reached the other side of the crevasse and hid behind a large rock that jutted straight out of the sea floor at the end of the crevasse. She watched Lexus – gripping the rock in terror.

She was relieved to discover that Lexus was a very skilled swimmer. He evaded chomp after chomp by quickly changing direction. The angler fish was just was skilled though. It too, quickly changed its direction making right angle turns seem natural. She watched the two of them in what seemed like some kind of death dance. The angler was gaining on Lexus. She was about to jump out from behind the rock when Lexus picked up his speed and shot straight through an opening in a rock formation on the other side of the crevasse. The hole was plenty large for Lexus to get through but the angler, in all his excitement at a rare delicacy, swam straight through the opening and got stuck.

Still chomping it wriggled forwards and backwards – but it was no use, the fish was nicely sandwiched in. Lexus approached it flexing his black arm. He looked as if he might sacrifice it right there, but stopped and looked to Selene. He took one last look at the fish and swam to meet her.


Day Three Exerpt – Nano

Here is a short excerpt of my nano-novel, it is the opening to my second chapter. To get you up to speed the synoposis I posted on nano is …

In a post-apocalyptic world where the humans have been decimated, a lost race flourishes. Deep in the oceans of the world Merpeople, armed with their algae fortifications, continue living in the highly polluted waters. Biologists work day and night to protect the city from nuclear waste that is actively flowing from abandoned power plants.

As young Selene’s sixteenth meryear approaches she is given the opportunity to escape the confines of the city. Curious about her mothers disappearance, she sets out on an quest to find out what really happened. Risking everything to find answers, she may find out more than she can handle about who or what else survived The Great Disaster twelve years ago.
And here is the chapter…

Chapter II

The next morning Selene found her father sitting on the couch, removing sand from between his fins. “Morning Selene” he said.

“Morning dad. How was clamming last night?” she didn’t want to start off telling him what he shouldn’t do.

“It was good, I know I’ve said this before but… I really do feel a lot better.”

“That’s great dad, I’ll believe it when I see it.” Sandy turned away.

Her father said a bit slower, “I know you worry starfish, but really! Look!” Selene turned back and he began flexing his biceps for her, Selene wouldn’t admit it but they did look bigger. A smile crept across her face and her father let out a long deep chuckle.

“I guess so dad… what do you want for breakfast?”

“Eh, what’s on the menu this morning?”

“Well we have clam scramble, or clam stew, or how about your favorite! Clams bendidict?!”

“Hmm, what a hard decision, I don’t care, make the clams whichever way you want.”

“Clam scramble it is then.”

She twisted around the corner and into the kitchen. She began working on shelling some clams with her bare hands. Her fingers deftly worked, prying each clam open in seconds. Her father floated and said, “Wow starfish, you are almost as fast as me!”

Selene laughed, “Actually I think I’m faster.”

He finished helping her shell the remaining clams. Then they chopped them up into tiny bits and she tossed them with some squid ink.

“Delicious!” her father said as they sat down. “So starfish, what do you think you want to do for your birthday?”

“Well my friends are planning a surprise for me that evening…”

Her father interrupted, “how about some birthday cake before you go out? How’s that sound?”

“That’s great,” Selene replied. She felt bad hiding her real plans from her father, but if everything went well, he would never have to know. But that was just the problem; she worried that something might go wrong. She was really banking on her theory about the biologist. She had seen them going out numerous times at the central portal with only their algae face masks. This was a new development in the past six months. The biologists preferred to take the ‘no comment’ route when they were asked about this development by the journal-mers. They said it was top secret and the city mayb be put in jeopardy if any information about these developments got out. She wondered if radiation levels were decreasing, or if the biologists were building up a tolerance of some sort. She was hoping it was the former and not the latter because she had no defenses, other than Atrayo’s stolen algae mask.

Most merpeople were satisfied that progress was being made, but there were also ones like her that found the secrets disconcerting. She knew there were others who had made their escape, but they never came back. She wanted answers about her mother’s disappearance but she also knew she needed to come back to her father.

Thoughts are greatly appreciated, questions too and constructive criticism. My username on nano is katyd1018 if you want to be writing buddies!

NaNoWriMo Begins….Now!

1st year participating!

Last night, I wrote past my first word count goal of 1677 words.


It took about three hours… which I am hoping to shorten tonight. I would like to be able to write 1677 words in about an hour and a half. I think that is a good amount of time to devote each day. Today I will be working at both of my jobs, so I won’t have the luxury of three hours unless I really wanna lose sleep. It’s tough to balance everything and I’ve read a lot of pas post from Wrimo’s saying that you have to decide what will fall to the wayside once the madness begins. Hopefully I will give up TV time and replace it with writing time.

How is everyone else doing out there as the mad month of November begins?

I will be posting some excerpts later, so check back, I wanna hear feedback!

The art of showing not telling – more posts on NaNo

Ok, now im really getting ready. I know one of my weaknesses in creative writing is being able to show, not tell. I think this problem is rooted from my years of academic writing, where you don’t necessarily want to leave the reader questioning what you mean. Obviously you want your reader to think and question beyond your paper, but each sentence should be concise and convey exactly what you mean.

So I was off to search for some articles to fuel my drive.

I came across one on the website LitReactor. Here is an excerpt of the article “The Devil is in the Details” by Craig Clevenger. He takes us through the ways to transform a sentence that tells to one that shows.

Even after we create a subset of contrasting details which conveys depth and evokes images from the reader’s own imagination, the syntax is still often a list of “tells.” My solution is to restructure your descriptions from noun lists with modifiers to active subject-verb sentences. If I’m describing a short order cook in the middle of a lunch rush, I might say something like:

Lou flung the burgers into their baskets, slapped the bell and shouted, “Order up!”

Pretty straightforward. A compound-complex sentence where Lou is the subject and flungslapped andshouted are the verbs. Everything appears to be in order, as the sentence subject is performing the sentence verb, so it’s in the active voice; the verbs are most definitely transitive action verbs, acting upon their respective objects. But what does Lou look like?

He wore a dull, white apron and crisp white hat, and grease-stained checked trousers.

Okay, all valid descriptors. I’ve still got Lou (He) as the subject with wore as the verb (a transitive verb, but weaker than flung or slapped); apronhat and trousers are the objects with the respective modifiers dull andwhitecrisp and white (forgive the repetition) and grease-stained. Nonetheless, the scant narrative goes from the frenzy of Lou sending out an order to a screeching halt, all because of the catalogue description. Let’s take a cue from the first sentence and model the subsequent descriptive sentence after it. Instead of Lou being the subject, let’s make his apron the subject:

His dull white apron…

Did what? How do I assign a verb to an inanimate object?

… draped from the curve of his massive belly.

Apron is the subject this time, with the action verb draped acting on Lou’s belly, the object. A well-crafted description is as much about your sentence structure as it is your choice of adjectives and adverbs. Instead of telling the reader that Lou is wearing a white apron, I’m showing the reader the white apron covering Lou. We can also turn up the heat a notch or two and make the descriptors the subjects, giving them verbs. Instead of using trousers as the subject, modified by grease-stained, let’s make the stains the subject:

Ancient grease stains covered his checked trousers.

In this case, we’ve changed the sentence structure from telling the reader he wore grease-stained trousers to showing grease stains covering his trousers (yeah, I threw in another modifier, so sue me).


Lou flung the burgers into their baskets, slapped the bell and shouted, “Order up!” He wore a dull, white apron and crisp white hat, and grease stained checked trousers.


Lou flung the burgers into their baskets, slapped the bell and shouted, “Order up!” His dull white apron draped from the curve of his massive belly and ancient grease stains covered his checked trousers.

And one more spit polish:

Lou’s dull apron hung from the curve of his massive belly, barely concealing the ancient grease stains mottling his checked trousers. He flung the burgers into their baskets, slapped the bell and shouted, “Order up!”

I took this article and began an exercise of my own – following his structure. I think my NaNo project will be about mermaids, so I did a descriptive sentence which started as a basic showing –

The violet haired mermaid swam past a group of sea lions, hiding herself from their view behind a school of fish.

Next I tried his technique of changing the subject of the sentence and the focus. I focuses on her fins first. And then gave the sea lions a descriptive adjective.

Her deep green fins flicked past the pack of hungry sea lions.

Then I described the school of fish and her hair color using both objects to compliment and oppose one another.

A shimmering school of fish concealed her from their sight. Her hair swayed with their flow – its violet sheen bouncing off their scales.

So now I have…

Her deep green fins flicked past the pack of hungry sea lions. A shimmering school of fish concealed her from their sight. Her hair swayed with their flow – its violet sheen bouncing off their scales.

Now I’ll try my hand at polishing…

Her deep green fins flicked softly past the pack of hungry sea lions. A school of shimmering silver fish concealed her from their sight. Only noticeable was her hair, swaying with the flow of the fish – its violet sheen bouncing off their scales.

And there you have it, what do you think? I think Clevenger’s article was great and I’ll be remembering Lou the short-order cook during NaNo. Definitely a good fun exercise and I recommend taking the time to read this article!

Credits to:

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo-Defining my Technique

As NaNoWrMo ebbs closer I find myself wondering what I will write, or more importantly how I will write it. I think for my first NaNo, I want to explore a writing style or technique more than just developing a story. I think that if I write that way, I may be less inclined to suffer the dreaded writers block.

Negative spaces intrigue me – like a piece of art – a writer can use negative space to explain the un-explainable. By striping down a story – avoiding the heavy back story – you can spark curiosity in your reader. Leaving the reader to ponder or question – rather than revealing the answers – is my goal (I think..?). Hopefully this won’t be like wrestling a tiger. I often find myself feeling compelled to tell the reader rather than let them agonize over missing information. I might have to write two stories – one as my primary-public story – the other as a sort of log with all the things I am omitting (it might keep things moving – to get my urges out on paper). My goal is to let go of my preoccupation with communicating everything precisely as I see it, and letting the readers have their own creative license to see or feel it. I have to give over the wheel and maybe take a ride in the passenger seat.

I’ll try to post updates in the coming month – but I am sure it will be hard. Wish me luck!

DIY Dryer Sheets…well kinda

On Tuesday I packed away the summer and pulled out the winter clothes. Winter is my favorite season and my favorite clothing/accessory are scarves. This obsession started during my freshman winter at the University at Albany where I spent a lot of time walking between the classroom buildings and dorms in a constant wind tunnel. My friends and I joked that we moved to the tundra. Anyone who isn’t familiar with the University at Albany should know that the tall buildings and corridors between them encourage air circulation. The only problem with that is when the temperature is lower than 20 degrees.

Since then I have made myself a nice size collection of scarves. After wearing them daily they begin to smell musty and stale. Being wrapped closely around my neck and near my hair, they don’t get much air circulation. I don’t like to wash them because some are pashmina and others silk, and dry cleaning involves too many chemicals for a piece of clothing that sits near my sensitive face and neck skin.

I bought some lovely essential oils last winter in hopes of making my own moisturizer. I still have most of them. I have both lavender and bergamont because these are soothing scents. While reorganizing my clothing I found an old while cotton shirt that had a hole in it. I was about to throw it away but decided to keep it for dust rags.

Then it clicked.

I could put a few drops of oil on a small piece of the shirt and throw that in the dryer with my scarves on tumble dry. It worked great! My scarves have a nice mellow scent and I’m not afraid of breathing in harsh chemicals. I am going to try this on blankets and pillow cases since both scents promote a restful sleep.

They aren’t true dryer sheets, per se, because they don’t soften fabric – BUT- they do leave your fabrics smelling great!


A few of my choice scarves from my personal collection

Knowing Normal

There is something magical about feeling normal. I spent the early years of my life feeling off. My body never felt content, but always see-sawing from one extreme to another. I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what my problem was, its just that I felt either starving or stuffed, exhausted or hyper – I was in a constant whirlwind of my physical self while my mind struggled to keep up with all the extremes. No one really understood what I meant. I felt like I did what everyone else did, but for some reason it didn’t make me feel right. It was hard to explain these feelings then and it’s hard to explain them now. But I am different now, I am better. In 2009 I found that I am gluten intolerant. Since then I have changed a lot about my diet and lifestyle. Now I feel normalcy. I often wonder if other people feel how I felt and just ignore or suppress those feelings because they don’t know what normal feels like. I think the longer you stray from normal the harder it becomes to recognize an imbalance.

My imbalance was that I couldn’t find a middle ground for my body and soul to settle. Extremes are bad, they put stress on your body and soul and those forces will slowly tear everything apart. It’s important to slow down, look at what you put in your body, look at what and who you surround yourself with and begin to let go. Being able to stand after a long day at work and feel content and at peace is a world pleasure that everyone should experience on a daily basis. I chose to consume only certain things now. I have identified the negatives in my life and I don’t allow them into me in both a physical and metaphysical sense. I have built a resistance to negativity and I only allow positives into my life. I am still experimenting with ways to do this but so far I’ve been successful. I feel more at ease and happy with the normal I’ve finally found.

What are your opinions about normalcy? Is it good or bad?