Here is Sharon’s NaNoWriMo plan! I’ll be disappearing from blogging and social media for a month or two myself, so see you in the new year!

The Late Bloomer

This will my first time. Excitement mounts with each passing day. The epic adventure I am about to embark upon starts November 1st: National Novel Writing Month.

Grandious prose aside, I am looking forward to participating. My first draft of my play Love Labors Happily Ever After took up the duration of the 3 Day Novel Contest, leaving me itching to write fiction. Since Chrysalis is simmering until the new year, I decided to use NaNoWriMo to write the first draft on my second novel, currently titled Mercy and Justice.

The story is a retelling of Robin Hood, split into two parts: the first from Marian’s perspective, the second from Robin’s.

I’ve always loved the legend of Robin Hood, growing up with Disney’s animated animal rendition of the tale (by far one of my favorite versions) and the Errol Flynn movie. I enjoyed most of the first season of…

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NaNoWriMo synopsis

Here’s a little synopsis I wrote up for my NaNoWriMo novel. Your suggestions for revision are welcome.


On a sunny day in July, twelve members of the Independent Creative Consortium of Collaborative Artists and Writers gather at a beautiful cemetery for a day of work and inspiration. They are an eccentric group: a silent violinist, a man in a kilt, a rogue taxidermist, a gorgeous Greek godlike sculptor, and others of various media and madnesses. They joined at the last minute by an Australian adventurer. Throughout the day, they work, talk, weep, flirt, and fall apart. Their tensions, alliances, and enmities rise as the temperature gets hotter. Some are struck by inspiration; some are just stuck. It’s a wild time of sex, drugs, and poetry as they make music, make love, and meet ghosts. At the end of the day, exhausted, inspired, or in agony, they troop back to the gate—only to find that they have been locked into the cemetery. There is no cell signal in there. The walls are too high to climb. A thunderstorm is rolling in. And just then—one of their number is found dead, lying in a ready-made grave, forehead smashed as if with a blunt instrument. Torrential rains begin, and the twelve remaining artists gather in the huge communal columbarium for shelter and investigation. They spend the rest of the night interrogating one another, arguing, accusing: locked together in a house of the dead, seeking out the bringer of death. Will they discover the killer by morning?

Fine Art vs. Popular Art

3Way back when, I think in early August, we had a meeting during which we talked about “High” vs. “Low” or “Fine” vs. “Popular” art. I have wanted to blog about it ever since, because I think it was an important conversation.

First, we started out talking about terminology, and decided that (as far as possible), non-pejorative terms are better: “high” vs “low” is insulting to the “low,” obviously. We talked about other terms that get thrown around, such as calling popular art “formulaic garbage,” and whether it’s possible to be formulaic without being garbage, and the phrases “secret pleasure” and “guilty pleasure.” We also wondered whether our enjoyment of a work is the same as our evaluation of it — I, for one, do not find this to be the case. I greatly enjoy many works that I think are not of high quality, and I greatly appreciate the high quality of many works that I am not able to enjoy.

Next, I asked participants to make two columns on a sheet of paper. They labeled one “Fine Art” and the other “Popular Art.” They were NOT to write definitions at this time, but instead to put down examples of works of art they believed fit the categories — preferably in matched pairs, like two pieces of music, two murder mysteries, two romances, etc. Before you read further, why don’t you try this exercise yourself, then compare results?


Fine Art

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony
Titian’s Pieta

Michelangelo’s David
Dante’s Divine Comedy
Sleep no More
(high-art haunted house)
Babylon 5
Moonlight sonata
Lord of the Rings
Pride & Prejudice
Watership Down

Michelangelo’s Pieta
Mona Lisa
The Village
David Copperfield
Romeo & Juliet

John Williams
‘s The Philosopher
”Hush” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Popular Art

Illustrations to Mouse Guard
Hunger Games

Plastic action figures
Lord of the Rings
Star Trek TNG
Seasons 1-3
P & P and Zombies
Wild Hearts

Barbie figurines
Instagram photo
The Way, Way Back
Dream Evil
The Black Arrow

Hannah Montana
Gangham style
Spike: into the Light
Jim Lee Justice League #1
“The Freshman” from Buffy

What do YOU think? Do you agree?

Then I had them continue writing in their two columns, but this time the assignment was to write characteristics or definitions of the two kinds of art. So you try that, first, before reading on.


Fine Art:

High degree of technical skill
Long heritage
Well-established tradition
Great variety of virtuosic mechanisms employed
Lasts forever in human culture
Very well known, stay popular
Loved and celebrated by intellectuals
Create your feelings
Create/convert a fan base
Made for artistic reasons (not $)
Narrow appeal
Full of deeper meaning and subject
Challenges beliefs
Technically difficult
Has a message to communicate
More complicated form
Enduring messages
Transportive themes woven throughout
Well-crafted execution

Popular Art:

Intuitive rather than highly trained
Small variety of technical mechanisms employed
Has short life in human culture
Temporarily popular
Not loved and celebrated by intellectuals
Manipulate your feelings
Appeal to a fan base
Made for money
Have a broad appeal
Easily understood
Very little to no subtext
Poor quality in some area of technique
Adds nothing new or engaging in terms of content
Technically simpler
Less depth/more superficial
Focused on the consumer
messages Important at the moment
crafted to please an audience

FINALLY we debated about these, interrogating many of them. Lots of “fine” art was made for money (Shakespeare is the classic example). Lots of popular art communicates a message, while there are plenty of fine artists who think that communicating a message makes the work into propaganda, and so on. What do YOU think? 

I had planned to go on and talk about our relative assessments of these kinds of art, whether the two categories are even useful, and what kinds we “ought” to be making–but we didn’t get to. Maybe another time!


Who is doing National Novel-Writing Month this coming November? 1414872206879I have decided to try it for the first time. Since one is allowed to continue an existing project (provided 50,000 words are written in November), I’m planning to keep working on Ready-Made Grave, my #3DNC novel. Here’s the story.

12010569_10207630660587505_3619537982960083159_o* I have just about 30,000 words right now, from what I wrote over Labour Day weekend and what I’ve done since.
* If I write 1,000 words a day in October, that will serve as a sort of NaNoWriMo warm-up and will bring me to around 45,000 words (allowing for Sundays and a few other emergency days off, since I’ll be traveling to Massachusetts to help my Mom, who is still recovering from heart surgery).
* If I write 2,000 words a day in November (still with Sundays and the occasional day off), that should be an easy 50,000 in that month, bringing the total to 95,000 — a good solid novel draft.
* Then I would like to edit it down to 80,000, which should make a tighter, neater story.
* I’m well prepped for at least the first half of the novel, since I did all that before 3DNC, and again afterwards, when I did a massive plot re-organization. I’ve got my nice Moleskin full of notes, my fancy Excel spreadsheet of events, and my glorious Scrivener file with all of that in. I’m good to go — until I get halfway through, when my planning will give out.
* So it would be a good idea to do more planning beyond the halfway point, if I can; but I’m not sure I can. See, the death occurs halfway through. I think I need to let my characters do their thing up to that point, and only then start planning the next half. That’s when they get locked into the cemetery overnight and sit in a mausoleum trying to figure out whodunnit.
* I’m also working on a synopsis for the NaNoWriMo website, and I’ll post a draft here soon for your feedback.Whodunnit_ABC

Do share other thoughts! What prep are you doing? Have you done NaNoWriMo before? Leave me a link to a blog post about your experience!


Here is the beginning of Sharon’s novel “Chrysalis.” She welcomes your comments!

The Late Bloomer

Monemer1I was talking to a friend recently about being overwhelmed with all the projects that I have going on right now, and she suggested that I only blog once a week. That seemed a great idea. Since I’ve been talking a lot about my writing, and as I’m pressed for time, today I’m going to post the first section of my novel CHRYSALIS which is currently being queried. All comments and critiques are welcome!

Chapter One

Pain stopped the beautiful dream: a deep, pinching pain. Something jabbed her. Joyel tried to open her eyelids, but they were heavy. Snuggling with Magnolia would help her go back to sleep. Reaching for her closest friend made the pain worse.

Joyel gasped, her eyelids flicked open, as something sharp and cold slid into her little arm and dug around. She strained to see what was pricking her arm, but her room was dark…

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“Almost an Inkling” Flash Fiction Contest Week 1 Winners!

magical_door_by_danielgnomesClick over to the contest home page to watch a video in which I talk about the winners and to download a .pdf of the winning entries!

Week 1 was:

Through Mysterious Doors
This week, we entered the world of microfiction with stories of up to 333 words that involved portals into other realms. Our writers took a character through some kind of gateway or past some threshold into a secondary world unlike our own.

Eugene Sullivan, “The Stairwell”

Brenton Dickieson, “One Step Into Dawn”

doorPOPULAR WINNER (tied):
Olivia Jakobitz, “Through the Porthole”

Cheryl Cardoza, “Fairy Rings”

Anne Whitver, “Never Trust a Clock”

Laura Crouse, “Lot’s Wife”

Here are links to some other works that didn’t win, but you might enjoy reading them:


Here’s the first page of a short story I’m working on. I’ve got it all drafted and am entering the alpha-reader stage, so it will go through several serious revisions. But I hope you enjoy this opening. Suggestions welcome, as always. jerusalem-city-of-gold-munir-alawi


Zabeth leaned forward in the rumbling bus, staring at the strange sky and wondering why the sun had stopped. She watched the layer of dusty topsoil unfold and noted how rusty the sand was, and how it barely covered the bones of the earth. Bumping along in the rickety bus, staring out the window, she marveled again at the juniper trees that drew twisted silhouettes against a pale noon. From one seat to another, from one side to the other, she shifted in her eagerness, lapping up the strange light as the bus lapped the miles, basking in the whitish glare that washed the colors from everything in view.

Sliding back to her proper seat, Zabeth was abruptly tossed against the window by a jolt in the road, and jumped as something hard prodded her shoulder blade. She turned her head—and recoiled from the muzzle of an Uzi. The gun was gripped by a kid, a solider-boy a good half-dozen years younger than herself, and he was asleep. His round baby face bobbled from side to side in time with the bus’s jostlings, but his hold on the gun was firm. She looked him over, assessing his buzz-cut hair, camouflage, and heavy boots, and debated whether to wake him up and get her picture taken with him. Getting photos with men in uniform was, after all, one of her many goals on this trip. A small side-goal, granted—more like a fringe benefit—but one of the perks of being “most likely to stand out in any crowd” meant she could generally get her photo taken with anyone she chose.

“Most photogenic,” she liked to think, as she grinned at her reflection in the bus window.

Then again, if he woke from a dazed slumber and found that in his face, the poor boy might have a heart attack. The general impression Zabeth made on a first encounter was something like shaking hands with a volcano. She was a tall, lanky beauty, with skin the color of a sunburned penny, liberally freckled, topped by an explosion of red curls: a flaming ginger afro, the surprising inheritance of a Scottish mother and a Jamaican father. If she sat with her back to the window with that strange pale light shining through her nimbus of fiery hair when the soldier awoke, it might give him a bit of a shock. Maybe he would mistake her for an ancient deity, kneeling down and worshiping her right there in the bus. As a matter of fact, that was pretty much what had happened that one time on the banks of the Amazon, when she surged up out of the river, a smoldering sunset at her back, and those warriors had….

Well, this wasn’t the jungles of South America. This was modern-day Israel, as well-developed a country as any on the planet, with a cell phone in every pot (so to speak) and most silly superstitions gone extinct along with the Roman legions. It wasn’t like they’d never seen a redhead before. Still, she wouldn’t risk waking him up and scaring him with her mushroom-cloud-in-the-sunset hairdo, she thought, not when he had a gun in his hand. And he looked so tired. He was just a kid, after all, about her baby brother’s age. She’d have to find some officers in proper regalia sometime, maybe on her day off in Jerusalem.

She chuckled when she thought of that other adventure in Jerusalem, last time, that was all tied up with men in uniform and getting cheated on a purchase of (false) antiquities and a pretty lively excursion through the tangled shops and alleys of the Suq. It had ended with a perfectly civilized conversation—in three languages—over Turkish coffee that would knock a weaker man flat, and the exchange of some trifling coins and even more trifling—“threats” is too strong a word—say, “suggestions.” She shook her head and laughed over the memory, then settled back to relish the rest of the drive through sand-colored streets set against the washed-out sky.

. . .