Misc - Thousand Cats

Worldbuilding challenge

The latest from Terrible Minds: this week, instead of a Flash Fiction Challenge, they have a Worldbuilding challenge: the idea being to collectively create a world in which stories can be set. Anyone is invited to contribute a bit of information (100 words or less) about a fictional world called Blackbloom, with the only details provided being the name and that both humans and non-humans dwell there. Chuck will pick anywhere from 10-20 of the responses and make them part of the definition of world, and then it will be fleshed out further with additional challenges to come.

Here's what I contributed:
The surface of Blackbloom is almost entirely water, with only a few scattered outcroppings of land. The isolated island ecosystems are fragile, and can’t sustain much life; the settlements are all on the ocean, vast floating cities constructed of precious, hoarded wood and plastic from offworld. Nothing that floats is wasted here. The seas provide ample food – fish, edible seaweed and more – but also many hazards. Worst among them are the vast, night-dark algae blooms that give the world its name. No one knows exactly what happens to those caught in one, because no one has ever survived.
Misc - Thousand Cats

NaNoWriMo and Terrible Minds

Greetings, cats! Long time, no post.

So, it is fall, and NaNoWriMo is coming up. And this year, I am determined to give it a shot. I have, in fact, already registered.

Anyone else doing it? Want to be "writing buddies"?

. . .

Also: I've recently discovered what may be my favourite writing-related blog yet: Terrible Minds, the blog of Chuck Wendig, who posts a lot of awesome writing advice in his distinctively funny, profane style. A few sample post titles: "How to Make Exposition Your Bitch," "25 Ways to Fuck With Your Characters," and "I Want To Buy The Semi-Colon A Private Sex Island." Highly recommended.

He also does a weekly "Flash Fiction Challenge" on Fridays, sometimes with prizes, always with interesting ideas. Today's was to write a complete story in three sentences. Here's what I posted there:

It’s true – there really are fairies in the woods.

In my more lucid moments, when I can remember what words are, I try to tell you this, over and over, until my throat feels raw from screaming, but you can’t hear me, can’t see me.

There really are fairies in the woods: pray that you never meet one.

. . .

And one more thing: I have heard rumblings to the effect that a few of us might want to try having in-person meetings again. Particularly centred around writing, as that seems to be what those few of us left who are still active at all are doing. I seem to recall last time this idea came up, 50_ft_queenie said she'd host and I said I'd make cupcakes if she did. My offer still stands. Who's up for it?
Art - Fini - Dimanche

Coffee Shop Author

Here's an interesting writing contest I just came across: Coffee Shop Author!

The idea is to write some something substantial (novel, short story collection, poetry collection. etc.), in the span of 6-12 weeks (depending on when you register)  - in your local coffee shop, pub, library, or other public place. You're supposed to get the venue's approval, and they (the coffee shop or other venue) get some promotion out of it too - a window sticker that says they're supporting the contest, a mention on the web site, etc. You don't have to write the whole entire thing in the coffee shop, but the idea of it is partly to raise the public visibility of writing, so they prefer that you at least write a fair bit of it there. And you don't have to completely finish it by the deadline - works are judged on their potential, and are not expected to be 100% final versions.

First and second prize are both free admission to a writer's conference in BC (with part of the idea being that that will help you finish the manuscript and turn it into publishable form), and the first prize version includes airfare and accommodation. (Of course, part of the point of the contest seems to be to promote the conference, but they're pretty up-front about that.)

I'm kinda tempted... I have a novel idea that's been scratching at the inside of my head trying to get out for some while now, and I was thinking of doing NaNoWriMo this past fall for that reason, but ended up missing it due to being swamped with work. So maybe... Deadline for registration is Feb 15, and works are submitted March 31.
Misc - Thousand Cats

A very cool idea...

I recently posted in my own LJ about chimera_fancies, who makes amazing jewelry from ceramic pendants and snippets from old storybooks. And I remember thinking as I was looking through her latest batch of work that the little mini-poems on the pendants would make great story seeds.

Apparently I wasn't the only one who thought so.

And she replied: "I'd actually love to get people to write stories and poems from these the way Seanan uses them as song prompts, and then compile a chapbook with the pictures and the results. :)" (Seanan being author/musician seanan_mcguire).

I so want to be in on that. Anyone else?
Misc - Thousand Cats

Some interesting posts on novel structure and plot

For any of you that are working on novels, whether via NaNoWriMo or any other context, I just found a series of blog posts on plot and structure in novels that you might find useful:

There's a lot of other interesting stuff in her blog as well.

Follow up to meet-up post

Thanks for the feedback! Looks like we may have to juggle meeting times, but that's doable. Anyone else want to chime in with thoughts and suggestions?

Couple more questions:

1) How do we feel about opening Thousand Cats to non-LJers? I was at a party last night with several artsy/gothy/creative types (bellydancers, DJs, writers, zine makers etc), and several of us have been involved in writers groups and artists collectives in the past. A couple of people said they are actively looking for a collective to work with. Thoughts on inviting them and being open to other like-minded people?

2) On a related note, how do we feel about making a Facebook group for Thousand Cats? It could be a closed group if we felt more comfortable with that.

Thousand Cats meet-up

So and I have been discussing having a meet-up for local members of this community as a way of boosting interest in the group. I'd be happy to host and I'd like to get a sense of who else is interested and what sort of meet-up people would like to have.

I've just started Nanowrimo, based on one of the micro-fics I wrote from the story seeds that misslynx sends out, so I'd be happy to do a writing-based gathering. What could also work is a gathering where people meet to work on individual projects, provided that they're not too noisy or messy. ;)

So, who's interested and what days/times work best? And how often should we meet?

I'm interested and happy to host. I live in a house in Parkdale and weekends are generally best for me, with Sunday afternoons being particularly good. Saturdays could work too. I'm thinking once a month would work.

I'm also going to suggest some guidelines born from my experience running a writing group in university and then Toronto Dark Writers Group. The writing group in university worked well because we met in an empty classroom, and we were able to focus on giving feedback to each other. Afterward, we often went to the campus pub for drinks. We would occasionally meet at someone's house, but the same rules applied. Meeting time was for reading work and giving feedback, and fun/snacks/socializing happened after.

TDWG started out well, but because we met in a cafe, people were distracted by ordering/consuming food, chatting with the cafe staff. People started treating the meetings like social events, bringing their spouses/partners/children/friend who's in town for the weekend etc. along, and maintaining order became impossible.

So...I'd like to suggest that Thousand Cat gatherings be restricted to group members only and that discussion during meetings should be about projects being worked on. Thoughts, suggestions?
Misc - Thousand Cats

Story seeds - September

It's been brought to my attention that it's been a while since I posted the last batch of story seeds - I think I was delaying because I hadn't yet written anything from that lot myself, but I think sometimes a batch just doesn't work for everyone (or, indeed, anyone) and it's best to just move on. I'm going to try and post them once a month from now on. So, here are this month's seeds:
  1. And the fortress that's built of sand
  2. I did not sit long after he left, but took the revolver in hand
  3. When I was girding up my loins to doubt this
  4. He began by proving that a republic in the midst of unsettled political circumstances is, from its very nature, almost invariably more autocratic than the ordinary empire.
  5. Or make one mourner weep the less
  6. The person is a hairy shadow, for chairs lift pitifully.
  7. Who had survived and who had drowned
  8. Should the almighty lay the duties of wife and mother upon me I shall try to perform them as faithfully as I can
  9. Soon after, he fell down upon an extensive lawn
  10. Bessie and I stepped out of the front door and into the darkness
  11. the interests of the country, as well as of our university
  12. Here's something for you to report, said Zherkov.

For anyone who's new, the source of all these bits of text that I post semi-regularly is the random text included in some spam e-mails. It always struck me as a kind of accidental Dadaist poetry, so I figure it might as well be put to good use. :-)

Previous batches can be found here:

Of course, you're welcome to use anything from any of them if you happen to find them inspiring - it doesn't have to be from the current set. And other sorts of writing that aren't based on these are also fine to post here, or other types of creative work entirely. The story seeds are just a voluntary exercise for those who want to write and need a bit of inspiration sometimes.