Virtual Post-It - writercize #136

My mind is extraordinarily picky. 

It holds on for dear life to the most random, irrelevant facts, yet acts like a sieve when it comes to other things that actually matter in my day-to-day life, like where I should be driving my car at any given moment, or my husband's vacation time, or where I put my keys.

I am terrible about slowing down to live in the moment, as my mind races along to write imaginary texts or plan imaginary events or have imaginary discussions.  Daydreaming really can be detrimental to accomplishing things in the real world. 

So, sometimes I need reminders about what I need to do, like virtual little post-its programmed to pop up in my mind's eye when I start racing too far away from the present moment.  It's like those people who post reminders to themselves on mirrors, like "be strong," "remember to smile," "you are the master of your fate."  You've seen them in movies.

I imagine there is something that you need to remind yourself of regularly too, so here's your chance.  Need to eat better?  Conserve water?  Turn off the lights?  Read more?  Clean?  Take time to breathe?  Look at the glass half full?  Engage in conversation with someone?  Whatever is holding you back, take a minute to reflect on it and barrel through it.

writercize:  Write a sentence, a personal reminder just for you, that would easily fit on a Post-It note.

Click "read more" for writercizer two word sample response.


Caption What? - writercize #135

If a picture is worth one thousand words, can you pare it down the best dozen or so to describe it?  Today, I invite you to give it a try!  

writercize:  Using the photo below as inspiration, compose a caption. 

Need a genre?  Why not pick from one (or more) of the following: science fiction, comedy or mystery?  Or stick with straight journalism.

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about Georg and his unfortunate fate.


Shop Small Saturday - writercize "Review Local" flashback

In honor of Small Business Saturday, I wanted to flashback to one of my first writercizes on the site.  In the post, I touched on some personal reflections on what the economy has done to small, local businesses and then encouraged writers to post a positive local business review on Yelp or a similar site.

Check it out here: Review Local writercize.  For more information about Small Business Saturday, click here:  Shop Local, Shop Small This Saturday.

I'd love to see your reviews.  Leave a link in your comments to share information about your favorite local business.


Festive Thanksgiving Oreo "Turkey" Desserts (recipe bonus post)

This is a quickie recipe I posted on Technorati for a really cute Thanksgiving dessert kids can help with.  I welcome and encourage you to try it next year!  We couldn't find candy corn this year, so ended up using Red Vines cut in eighths and split in half lengthwise as the feathers and Mike and Ike's for the nose, along with some extra frosting as "glue" to hold it all together.  Lots of fun!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with friends and family.  Thank you sincerely for your readership and comments.

(Article first published as Festive Thanksgiving Oreo "Turkey" Desserts on Technorati.)

Looking for a fun and easy way to keep your children occupied and entertained while helping you prepare Thanksgiving dinner? 

Look no further than these adorable Oreo Turkeys, easy to assemble for kids from ages 3-103 and sure to inspire "oohs" and "aahs" from all your guests.

 Oreo Cookie Turkeys
Ingredients (for 12 turkeys):
  • 24 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreos work best)
  • 12 Whoppers malted milk balls
  • 1 bag chocolate-covered raisins
  • 1 bag candy corn
  • 1 small tube decorative frosting/icing
1. To make base for your turkey, twist the top off of 12 cookies. Keep the side with the cream filling. You can eat or dispose of the plain side.

2. Prepare the turkey feathers by inserting five or more candy corns in the cream filling of the 12 remaining cookies. The candy corn should make a semi-circle around half of the cookie. Use the skinny part of the candy corn triangle to put in the filling; the yellow and orange parts should show as feathers.

3. Place one turkey feather cookie on top of each base, centered and standing at a 90 degree angle. Push gently into the exposed cream filling of base.

4. Push one Whopper onto each base, centered in front of the feather cookie, for the turkey's head.

5. Push one chocolate covered raisin into each side of the head for the turkey's feet.

6. Break the thick end off of 12 candy corns. Stick point into base in front of whopper for turkey's nose.

7. Use frosting to put two small dots on each whopper, for the turkey's eyes.

8. Plate, serve and eat!

Be creative with your ingredients.  Here are a couple more substitutes and additions you can use:
  • Add small bite-sized Reese's peanut butter cups where the whopper is to add a turkey body.  Connect the Whopper head to the peanut butter cup with a toothpick to give the bird a long neck, and connect the nose with frosting.
  • If you can't find candy corn, feel free to use any long, thin candy in it's place for the nose and feathers.  Some possibilities may include Mike and Ike's, Good and Plenty or cut up licorice sticks.
Young children may like to add some freestyle culinary creations using left-over ingredients. We ended up with all sorts of interesting animals, from turtles to ducks, that were equally cute and tasty!

Photos courtesy of the author, November 2010. Finished product created by two three-year-olds, with a little help from their aunt.


Thanksgiving Thank You (new holiday tradition) - writercize #134

I've rarely met a person who doesn't appreciate being thanked.  Scratch that, I don't think I've ever met a person who doesn't like to be thanked sometime.  Particularly if the thank you is heartfelt, sincere and specific.

This Thanksgiving, as you go around the table and take turns giving thanks for your blessings or join hands in prayer, why not add a new holiday tradition?  In addition to giving thanks for material goods or life events, give thanks to another person seated at the table.

There are several ways you could do this: 
  • If there is an elderly matriarch or patriarch, everyone could thank that one person for something special.  
  • Each person could thank whomever they want when it's their turn to talk.  
  • You could throw each dinner guest's name in a hat and draw names.  
  • Each guest could thank every other guest for one small thing.  
(The method you choose may be directly correlated to how hungry you are!  Just be sure to additionally thank the host and hostess at some point in the day!)

To prepare and get you in the mood, today's writercize focuses on thanking someone.

writercize:  Write a short thank you to put in a card or a speech to let a friend or family member know you appreciate them.  Be specific.  Go beyond "thanks for being you" and "thanks for xyz gift" to tell them about a specific aspect of their character or personality that you love.

Be sure to share your thanks and thoughts as a comment here, and a very Happy Thanksgiving to Americans and all those residing in the USA.  Safe travels if you are heading out of town!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response to my daughters.


Thankful For Poetry - writercize #133

If you are in the United States, this coming Thursday is Thanksgiving.  It is my personal favorite holiday because I love to eat and I love to spend time with family, and that's what my Thanksgiving is all about!  This year I will not be eating with family as holiday travel didn't appeal to me as it usually does, but I am quite thankful to have a very dear friend from college and his wife living nearby who are wonderful hosts to all of us displaced souls around the holidays.  It should be a great celebration. 

Historically, of course, it is the celebration of a feast between the Natives who knew how to cultivate the land and the Pilgrims who were clueless and had so much to learn, and it was a moment of peace and understanding before the horrible outcome of manifest destiny came to be.  Naturally, knowing what happened after that harvest is heartbreaking, and puts a damper on the historic significance of the holiday, but I do my best to appreciate it for the feast and the family and time to pause and reflect on the things that really matter.

A few weeks ago I did a holiday prompt based on The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown, and if you're looking for another creative way to write about Thanksgiving, check that out after you try this writercize.  Keep an eye open for one more Thanksgiving inspired exercise coming up this week as well!

writercize:  Write a poem, any style, beginning with the words "thankful for."  

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.


Guest Writercize - Clara Bowman-Jahn

Please join me in welcoming Clara Bowman-Jahn to the writercize guest spot!  Clara is a published children's book author and she posts about life, family and writing, from using digital media to support your writing to finding inspiration through writing groups and a schedule.  Today Clara's writercize focuses on your inner writer, and giving yourself the time and space to create.  

I invite you to try out the writercize, comment and visit her blog!

Without further ado, I pass the mic to Clar!!

Hi Readers!  Glad to meet you. My name is Clar, short for Clara, you can read all about it on my about page on my blog. I write about my experiences in marketing and writing picture books. I also write about how I’m constructing my life now that I have this second career of writing. My picture book, “Annie’s Special Day” will be published in early winter 2012 and I write about my experiences in publishing and getting it illustrated. I have really been all over the place in my blog and have had a hard time finding a niche, unless you want to *narrow* life down into a blog.
Thank you, Alana for the honor of being your guest today. As a picture book author and in the spirit of Picture Book Idea Month, the children’s literature equivalent of National Novel Writing Month, I am going to post an exercise on how to get an idea.
There are many venues for ideas in writing. People get creative in all kinds of places and doing all kinds of things from meditating in nature to taking a shower. Bloggers have been known to doodle, put up photo prompts and take walks to get ideas.
writercize: Think about when are you most creative.  How can you adjust your schedule to nurture your creative side? What are you doing when the creative juices hit? What else could you do? Think of something else that makes you creative. Share in the comments.
Clara's sample response:
My favorite time for getting an idea is letting my mind float over the previous day’s activities while slowly waking up from a good night’s sleep. That is when I’m most creative. I have to go to bed early enough so I don’t need an alarm to wake me. An alarm would totally destroy all the creativity.


What's In a Weekday? - writercize #132

What does today mean to you?  How does your baseline mood differ based on the day of the week the calendar falls on?  

As creatures heavily attached to measuring time, I think we subconsciously determine a great deal of our outlook on life each morning depending on which day of the week it is.  We remember what we have accomplished and what we have yet to accomplish within the confines of a week.  On weekdays, we realize how much longer before we make it to the weekend, and on weekends, we think about how many hours we can savor before returning to the workforce, or school, or an empty house, or a full house without another adult on board!

Think about cultural references pertaining to days of the week.

Monday =  I have no idea of the technical term at the moment, but suffice it to say Mondays are not popular days.  Facebook gets swamped with "Monday again?" status updates and the like.

Wednesday = Hump Day (over the hill, half way to the weekend) - random sales note - Wednesdays have been identified as the single most productive day for businesses, and an effective day to make a sale - people have caught up from the weekend and want to wrap things up before the next weekend.  Also a very busy day for meetings.

Friday = TGIF (Thank G(od)(oodness) It's Friday!) - time for the weekend, even from the start of the day.  Just think of how many companies have casual Fridays or coffee and donuts for employees Friday mornings. 

Now, think about all seven days of your week, and assess how each one affects your mood.  Do you think the weekday might affect your character's mood in a novel too?

writercize:  Assign an adjective, mood or nickname to each day of the week.

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.  I'd love to see your take on this as well - please leave your response as a comment, or paste a link to your URL if you reference it on your blog!  Feel free to elaborate on why you selected the adjective, mood or nickname that you did.


Fairy Tale Book Blurb - writercize #131

Earlier this month, Brianna Renshaw of Pocketful of Playdough hosted a guest writercize where she presented three different book blurbs and invited writers to create a first sentence for each book.  

Talk about a monumental challenge!  It took me a few days to garner up the courage to try the challenge (kudos to my regular writercizers - attempting a challenge and leaving a comment is hard work!), but I have to say I really enjoyed playing around with it.  

I did look to a few books on my own shelf for the challenge, but couldn't write about a book that I had read since it limited my ability to think outside the box, so I highly recommend using the book blurbs she shared (provided you haven't read them yet!) to try the challenge.  Now that I got the hang of it, it's a writercize I plan to use while browsing through bookstores whenever (make that if ever!) I have some time to kill.

Brianna's writercize got me thinking about book blurbs and how fun and theatrical they really are.  A book blurb is like the musical theater version of a story - it's the dramatic and intriguing and bold twin to the novel or short story's subtler, deeper tale.  It's the one place to go over the top with adjectives and mystery.

Since I want to give you a challenge that everyone can relate to, I want you to start with a familiar story and build the blurb.  

writercize:  Create a book blurb to complement the fairy tale of your choice.  

The blurb should be 3-5 sentences long and summarize the story without giving too much away.  Turn on both the marketing mind and the editor to make it work!

Please leave the result of all your hard writercize work as a comment, or leave a link to your page if you use it on your blog.  I love to see all the different ways people can imagine the same challenge!  (And by hard writercize work, I mean a few minutes to a half an hour.  Don't worry about perfection.  This site is about practicing your writing often, not perfecting it!)

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about Cinderella.


Vanity Plates - writercize #130

It's Tuesday night, which quite often calls for ... a little fun and easy word play. 

Tonight I'm thinking about vanity plates.  You know: those clever license plates that are much more inventive than the random mix of numbers and letters assigned by your state's Department of Motor Vehicles.  A standard plate may read BZT 792.  A vanity plate could read DR LOVE for a fertility doctor or SCRMOM for a suburban soccer mom.

Growing up in Oregon, very few people liked to draw attention to themselves with vanity plates, so I always chuckled at those cars, finding them frivolous and a bit silly.  Bumper stickers were much more in vogue to make a statement.  In Oregon, the older the car, the more it spoke.  Thirty year old VW bugs were definitely the thing to have, especially if the license plate was at least fifteen years old with no frills.  Yellow background, blue letters and number.

Fast forward a few years past college, I found myself living in Virginia, where it seemed everyone and their dog had a vanity plate.  In fact, per wikipedia, Virgina has the highest concentration of vanity plates at a whopping 16.19%.  That's nearly one in five plates.  Lots of people who want to make a statement.  I still wasn't willing to make the jump into the land of vanity plates, but I can tell you it made waiting at lights much more interesting, imagining the secret lives of all those around me, based on their choice of vanity plate.

Tonight, you will have the chance to create five vanity plates of your very own.  You are limited to a max of 7 characters per plate.

writercize:  Create a vanity plate (max 7 characters, numbers, letters and symbols ok) for each of the following professions:
  • postman
  • teacher
  • wrestler
  • actor
  • construction worker

Leave your result as a comment, or link to your website if you post on your site.  I'd love to see what you come up with!

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.


Guest Writercize - Gene Pool Diva

Today's guest post brought to you by none other than Kelly, the Gene Pool Diva, regular GBE2 participant and recorder of all sorts of funny family conversations.  Her posts are known to inspire true fits of laughing out loud, as you'll soon find out by reading below!  If you want a daily dose of humor and dialogue, I highly recommend that you check her out!

And now, without further ado, Gene Pool Diva.  Take it away Kelly!

After three weeks on the road, I stepped over my threshold and into the escalating odor of fish. I still haven't identified the source. Well, of course Rob's the culprit, but where do I pinpoint the problem? Tiny, suspicious dots form a trail from the kitchen, through the dining room and out to the lanai. Stains bloom on the counter. My sneakers stick to tiled floors. Did he drag the trash can liner from room to room, again? Did … oh crap, Alana's waiting.

I promised Alana a writing exercise. I don't know anything about writing exercises. According to Beamer, my internal dialogue is proof of mental illness. Great, but how do I turn that into an assignment? Dunno. I just know the clock is inching toward noon. Then I stumble on Haiku.

I remember Haiku. Weren't they nature inspired?

Then it occurs to me that Rob and culture are on a collision course.
Rob and nature are on a collision course.
Rob and I are about to collide

writercize:  So, I suggest a round of partner-inspired haiku. Haiku that even hubby, brained by a cast iron skillet, can understand.

Here's my attempt.

Whole house smells of fish
I contemplate Rob's demise
Who will walk the dog

No, don't talk to me
I still remember shark guts
frozen bits of beer

I raise the rafters
Boy escapes to mow the lawn
Sweet dog cuddles close

Alana's eyes roll
Uh oh, wheres the back up plan
Beth, about Friday

Ahem, you're next.
((Side notes:  There are still two guest spots available this year to interested parties.  Scroll along the left hand side of my blog for more information.
For a quick reminder on the rules of haiku, see this post.))


Question of Ownership - writercize #129

ABC's Modern Family, in its infinite genius, tackled the hilarious question of mistaken car ownership a couple of weeks ago on the "Go Bullfrogs" episode.  Mitchell and Cameron are given the wrong car by the valet only to discover the error when rifling through the glovebox and searching for music.  Comedy and misunderstandings ensue.

It's probably not every driver's *worst* nightmare, but I would be lying if I said I'd never worried that the wrong car in the mall parking lot would beep at my remote's signal.  I can't remember how many unique key designs and signals there are, but I do know that it's fewer than the number of cars on the road.  Hey, it could happen!

Questions of ownership are rife with possibility for comedy writing, as well as mystery and horror.  

Just think about the possibilities.  A wronged wife selling her husband's treasured possessions on eBay after discovering he was cheating.  Flowers from an anonymous source delivered to a woman in the wrong office complex.  Squatters in an abandoned building.  A work of art that is discovered to be a fake.  A work of art that is knowingly purchased illegally on the black market.  The wedding dress of the century during the annual Running of the Brides at Filene's Basement.  The crisp hundred dollar bill dropped on the casino floor.  Any unique idea or invention up for patent or copyright.  

Literally endless possibilities.  Today you get to pick one and run with it.

writercize:  Create a dialogue centered around a question of ownership.  Ownership may be real or imagined for the character, and may be based on any object or concept of your choosing.

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about an airplane seat.  Note I am not working on comedy or any specific genre here - it's dialogue practice.  Hopefully it could be interpreted with a small chuckle somewhere along the way.

This writercize created based on the prompt "ownership" over at GBE2, hosted by the blog world's most popular hostess with the mostest, Ms. Elizabeth Grace.  Faithful readers may notice that this week has been overwhelmingly inspired by GBE2 prompts.  Prompts are given weekly on Sunday, and there have been so many great ones lately that I was delayed in writing that I decided to make a week of it.  Hope you enjoyed!


The Inner Battlefield: Nature vs. Nurture - writercize #128

A few years ago, a good friend of mine posted a status update on his Facebook along the lines of: "Why can't we all just get along?"

I chuckled momentarily and headed to the park with my toddlers.  It took all of two seconds at the park to recognize the answer to his question.  

"Because we are programmed not to."

Every essence of our being is made to compete - for space, for attention, for affection, for food, for shelter, for the chance to say to everyone - "you see? I was right!".  

At the park, a swing set is a guaranteed war zone when the number of children exceeds the number of swings.  There is a battle to be first down the slide.  It is absolutely natural for a child to push, stomp, cry, scream or otherwise act in a completely unreasonable manner to get his or her way.  It is innate.  I know I did it.  And I'd bet money you did it too.  

By two, a child may be stubborn and throw a temper tantrum, but they ultimately know that they will eventually have to give in to society's whim and engage in civil interaction.  But between a year and about twenty months, heaven help the unlucky one who gets in the way of a full-on all-natural wild child.

Nothing natural tells us to work together, to cooperate, to accept and acknowledge one another's strengths and weaknesses.  That's all learned.  (And sometimes forgotten.)  Head to a playground at 10 a.m. any weekday morning, and you will see what mothers around the world work to nurture out of our truest nature.

Now, this is not to say that we don't also naturally crave warmth and love and human touch.  We do, but that comes from a rapport based on mutual recognition and trust ... and perhaps a few genes.  

The first six months, I was shocked to observe that my twins did not like each other.  At all.  They wanted my attention, only my attention, twenty-four hours a day, and not divided with one another or any other person in the world.  They wanted my smiles, my coos, my cuddles, my milk.  

When the second came home from the hospital two days later than the first, the first hit, kicked, pushed and even tried to lick her away.  They were two weeks old.  They would cuddle while sleeping and wanted to be close during the night, but in the day a glance at the other would set them off.  

At six months, something magical happened and they realized they did not have a choice in the matter, and started a friendship.  

When the were in that crazy toddler stage, they ganged up to support one another against all the other baby strangers at the park who might actually want a turn walking up the stairs or heading down the slide.  Not the proudest moment for a Mama, but hey, it's natural, and at least they could stand each other by that point, right?

Somewhere deep (or perhaps more shallow) inside of you, there is a natural instinct that wants to scream and shout and let it all out. You may work hard to nurture it away, and you may know that it's best to play and work with others, but a part of who you are is knowing who you are not, and that leads directly to a comparison with others and an enemy.  

It is natural to define ourselves as much by what we are not as by what we are.

That which we are not is at best unknown or confusing, and at worst an enemy.  This is especially true in societies, which are prone to reflect and magnify the weaknesses of our nature despite our attempts to civilize and nurture strength of character on a personal level.

Try to imagine the United States without an "enemy."  To feel as though we are a superpower, we need someone to defeat.  We have a long history of opposing forces, from the way we overpowered the Native Americans to the way we broke away from the British, fought North against South, worked to defeat the Germans, feared the Russians, fought in Vietnam and Korea and now wage war in the Middle East.  

How much better would the world be if instead of countries our enemies were poverty (in our own country and abroad), the oppression of women and trafficking humans and arms?  How much more could we do if we battled those injustices with the strength and force and resolve that we fight wars with nations, using science and education and agriculture and incentives over military power?

There is something in us that fights a constant battle between that nature that we have as members of the animal kingdom, and the nurture that we are raised with to set ourselves apart as human.

A glimpse into that battle within your character, whether it is a children's book, a journalistic expose' or the next great American novel, is fascinating.  It touches all of us on a level that we may not even want to admit to ourselves.

writercize:  Write a brief inner dialogue of a man or woman facing a personal battle of nature vs. nurture.  

This could be any situation you like - the beginning or end of a relationship or career, a pivotal moment in a person's morality building, a fight vs. flight response - your choice.

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about a man and his ex who can't resist ignoring him.

This writercize created based on the prompt "nature vs. nurture" over at GBE2, hosted by the blog world's most popular hostess with the mostest, Ms. Elizabeth Grace.


The Popular Pollster - writercize #127

Who doesn't love a completely meaningless popularity statistic from a poll that has no bearing whatsoever on real life every now and then?  

You know what I mean - they're the polls magazines like US Weekly run, like: 
  • Who's hottest without a shirt? Leo, Brad or George?
  • Which celebrity mom snapped back into the best shape two weeks after giving birth? Heidi Klum or Angelina Jolie?
  • Which celebrity baby name trend is the coolest?  Naming children after fruits, Greek gods or emotions?
  • Which couple has the best chances of surviving the relationship based on popular nickname?  TomKat, Brangelina or Bennifer?

(Hmm, apparently Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie can be worked into any popularity poll - congrats to them on being the winning popular pollster couple, appearing in three of the four fake poll questions above.  Another fun, meaningless statistic to reflect on.)

Today, you get to make your own.

writercize:  Create a fake celebrity poll to measure popularity.  Choose any topic, and give three to four options for the reader to choose between.

Bonus points (towards absolutely no tangible prize, but the pride of knowing you've contributed to research - wink, wink) for answering everyone else's polls.  Extra bonus points if you choose to give a witty reason for your answer.

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about celebs participating in reality TV.

This writercize created based on the prompt "popularity" over at GBE2, hosted by the blog world's most popular hostess with the mostest, Ms. Elizabeth Grace.


Falling Back in Time - writercize #126

This week (most of) the United States fell backwards an hour with the switch back to standard time.  For those who have trouble remembering when to turn the clocks forward and when to turn them back, the beauty of an English language that offers homonyms and nouns that double as verbs has made a simple sentence to remember:  "Spring forward, Fall back."

Gain an hour in the fall, lose an hour in the spring.  If you're single.  Or have older children.  If you have young kids, you will be completely unable to gain or lose that hour as kids seem to believe their stomachs and sunlight more than a digital clock.  Darn.

A couple tidbits about time changes that you may not have known:
  • Residents in Arizona and Hawaii are fortunate enough not to have to worry about changing their clocks twice a year, although they also don't get the joy of adding an hour to a fall weekend ... a joy I'd gladly pass up to keep the sun setting later in the evening year round.  In my ideal world, the sun would never, ever dare to set before 7:00 p.m.  (Noteworthy: While Hawaiians and Arizonans don't have to consider time change, their relatives living in other states, however, must remember that the time difference is variable which could be sort of a nasty chore.)
  • We do not change our clocks at the same time as Europe.  We're two weeks earlier in the spring and a week later in the fall.  (They are last Sundays in March and October; we're second Sunday in March and first in November.)  That means we get three weeks extra time admiring a later sunset.  This I am happy about.
  • Prior to 2007, we changed at the same time as Europe in the fall and a week later in the spring.  The President has the power to change when the time changes, and George W. Bush did just that.  I guess I have something to thank you for G-Dub.  Though I'd prefer if you just abolished ugly, dark Standard Time altogether and threw us into permanent Daylight Saving Time.  (We were first Sunday in April and last in October.  Europe was still the same.)
  • The fire department wants you to check your smoke alarm batteries when the time changes.  Did you do it?  Go now.
  • In the southern hemisphere, the clock changes opposite of the northern hemisphere to match the seasons "down below."  Which means there is a wide variable in time differences across time zones between hemispheres.  Families straddling zones and hemispheres may need an advanced mathematical degree to figure it out!  (Or a iPhone ... those things seem to know it all.)
Want to know more, including which countries don't make the switch at all, and who the first person credited with suggesting daylight saving time is?  Read more about it at Time and Date.

So how does this fit into a writercize?  Remember my fall back, spring forward thing?  You have to create a shortcut to remember the change on your own!  It can refer to the time change in general (like the season and direction above) or get specific about the weekend ... or it can somehow address the difference between states/countries/hemispheres in how they participate ... or the fact that you gain an hour by falling back and lose an hour by springing forward - a concept that seems to keep a lot of minds I know running in circles.  Good luck!  And please share!

writercize:  Create a simple phrase that can be used as a way to remember those pesky time change rules.

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response, and please leave your phrase as a comment or link below!  I prefer my second take, but am not one hundred percent on either yet!


Guest Writercize - Brianna Renshaw - Book Blurb to Opener

Welcome this week to Brianna Renshaw, the deliciously honest and raw writer over at Pocketful of Playdough.  Brianna and I met through the A to Z Challenge, and I always enjoy her voice and the sentiment behind her posts.  I highly recommend her blog and that you sign up to become a follower - she always has something worthwhile to read, sharing her personal truths about being a writer,parenting,running and religion.

(Btw, my apologies for a week long pause here at writercize - out of town guests and the Halloween holiday have blown this week by at warp speed.  I don't quite know how that happens!  Expect me back and exercising those brain muscles all week next week!)

Without further ado, today's guest post ...

Good morning, Writercizers! Are you ready to work out those writing muscles?
Wait, I can’t hear you…
Alright! That’s the spirit! Let’s get moving!
First let’s stretch a bit – crack your knuckles, wiggle those fingers and take a few deep breaths! Now we’re ready to begin.
As writers we all know how important the first sentence of our story is. It’s the hook that’s either going to capture the attention of editors and readers or bore them to tears. No pressure, right?
Not if we are regularly working out our writing muscles! Here’s an exercise focusing on writing strong first sentences:
Read the back-cover blurb of a book and then write an opening sentence.
The beauty of this exercise is that not only does it allow you to practice writing an attention-grabbing opening sentence; it could also be a stepping stone to an original book of your own!
 You are free to use whatever back-cover book blurb you like or use the three samples from the genres of science fiction, mystery and romance below. Write a first sentence for all three, or just one, and share it in the comments section.
Science Fiction
On the North Pole of Pluto there stands an enigma: a huge circle of standing blocks of ice, built on the pattern of Earth’s Stonehenge –but ten times the size, standing alone at the farthest reach of the Solar System. What is it? Who came there to build it?
The secret lies, perhaps, in the chaotic decades of the Martian Revolution, in the lost memories of those who have lived for centuries.
~Icehenge by Kim Stanley Robinson, 1984, ISBN 0-312-86609-7~
Not much happens in Contrary, West Virginia –a sleepy town with failing coal mines, a few old moonshine stills, and an urgent need for revenue. A federal grant for a nonexistent bus system seemed just the ticket…if only the government auditor, sent to look things over, hadn’t drunk to much white lightening. And ended up dead.
Now his successor, Owen Allison, has come down from D.C. to check out the situation. Disgruntled with his life inside the Beltway, Owen is willing to give Contrary’s officials the benefit of the doubt –and himself some time to romance Mary Beth, the alluring town controller. He soon feels like seventeen different kinds of fool. Because something has long been fermenting in Contrary besides corn mash. Another body has been found. And Owen may be next…unless he uncovers the big secrets hidden in the hearts of a small Appalachian town.
~The Contrary Blues by John Billheimer, 1998, ISBN 0-440-23504-9~
Innocence was the only word to describe Mary Frances Murphy. Expelled from a convent, her only sin was desire: For intimacy. For experience. For true carnal knowledge. Once forbidden, these things were now within her reach –as she searched for her sister’s killer in a world of staged seduction, virtual passion, and fantasy made flesh. But Mary Frances had never even been touched by a man…let alone a man like Webb Calderon. A man whose erotic finesse was as vast –and dangerous—as his empire. A man who could devour her innocence…and kill her with pleasure.
~ Innocence by Suzanne Forster, 1997 ISBN 0-425-15663-X~
Read this writercizer’s response below (as in Brianna! Alana's will be posted as comment):
My attempt at a first sentence for Icehenge:
The discovery changed the universe, but no one remembered.
My attempt at a first sentence for The Contrary Blues:
Every small town has secrets and Contrary was no exception.
My attempt at a first sentence for Innocence:
It was during Mass when the prospect of what was under Monsignor Alexander’s robe got her so hot and bothered her habit was in danger of going up in flames  that Mary Frances first thought being a nun wasn’t her true calling.