Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Miss Sally Sue From Kalamazoo: An Unexpected Transformation

Miss Sally Sue From Kalamazoo: An Unexpected Transformation

The photo below is of an ordinary autumn flower, but the image to the left is that same photo transformed by featuring not its original image but its heat map. Although the original is vibrant, the heat map colors are an eye-grabbing rainbow.

So, too, may bland words gain fire and vigor once the writer takes hold of them.

And sometimes they surprise.

bright flora along the Soldier Creek Nature Trail (c2015, KB)

along the Soldier Creek Nature Trail (c2015, KB)

Monday night’s writers meeting / NaNoWriMo write-in included what has come to be one of this group’s favorite activities: passing around story-starter sheets on which each member adds one element that will then be incorporated into an impromptu short story.

When we have more people than we have story elements, that means each writer will be given a story sheet he or she has never seen. Surprise!

Some of those surprises are unpleasant — second-person POV, for instance, or paranormal romance involving aliens — but the results are usually humorous or delightfully twisty.

Monday night’s session brought me this puzzler and only fifteen minutes to compose a masterpiece:

Character: Miss Sally Sue from Kalamazoo
Genre: Realistic / Magical Realism
Setting: Kansas
POV: 1st
Problem / Conflict: Her mother is ill and Sally must earn money to pay for her medicine
Line of Dialogue: “Oh Sally, why are you my least favorite child?”
Prop: kazoo

My first reaction: “Borrriiiiing!”

My second reaction: “What in the world am I supposed to do with this?”

My third reaction: “Write a children’s poem.”

The result, however, is –not for children. There are few rhymes (noted by the orange font), and little rhythm, but the ending is darkly humorous.

Miss Sally Sue from Kalamazoo
travelled from Michigan to Kansas
a job to find and money to earn,
for her mother lay ill,
and Sally was the only child still speaking to her.

Miss Sally Sue from Kalamazoo
returned to Michigan from Kansas
with medicine and money to spare
for her mother infirm,
but Sally was met by a spurning sigh and a stare.

“Oh, Sally, why are you my least favorite child?”

Miss Sally Sue from Kalamazoo
was not daunted by Mother’s despair.
She measured the powder and water,
offered it with a smile,
then Sally played the kazoo all the while Mother choked as Death caught her.

c2015, Keanan Brand

Before the psychiatrist is called or anti-depressants are prescribed, no, I’m not feeling murderous, and the relationship with my mother is healthy, thank you. 😉

The transformation of words is what I intended, but how they transformed and what they became was certainly not my intention.


Neon Blue permutation of the image above (c2015, KB)

Neon Blue of the image above (c2015, KB)


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Finished — Sorta

Just finished inputting my word count for NaNoWriMo 2013, that mad rush to slap 50,000 words or more onto paper every November, but a word count does not a finished novel make.

I was a NaNo rebel this year, and didn’t just write on one novel, nor did I create an entirely new story, but added material to two novels, wrote a presentation and an essay, and dumped all those words into my word count.

What? I violated the spirit of NaNoWriMo?


However, for a writer who has spent little time actually writing, November has afforded me an opportunity for literary hedonism. Most of my “word time” in the past two years has been spent editing other writers’ manuscripts for publication. Meantime, my own novels have gathered virtual cobwebs in the corner of my computer’s desktop.

The only way to “win” (complete) NaNoWriMo is to compose 50k words and dump them into the manuscript validator on the website. So, almost every word I wrote this month–excluding e-mail–was eventually copied-and-pasted into a hodgepodge document. My real goal, however, wasn’t the word count but progress on an urban fantasy too long incomplete.

Made a promise to a friend back in the summer: that I would have a completed draft of this novel ready by the middle of July.

Sure, I’ve made progress this month, and sure, there are eight months remaining before the deadline, but it’d be great to finish the rough draft by, say, February, then polish it up nice over a couple more drafts before handing it over to the aforementioned friend, who has been waiting for a few years to read the rest of the story.

Which proves once again that, despite my dislike of deadlines, they are necessary motivators.



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NaNo Novel Mashup

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbWent to a pre-NaNo meeting tonight at the library in a nearby town, and was one of the most outgoing individuals there.

Now, I know writers can be a quiet bunch, but me? The one waving latecomers into the room? The one inviting wallflowers to sit at my table? The one teenage newbies followed from activity to activity? My social skills need work (this is no secret), but tonight I felt like a– What’s the word?

Host? Master of Ceremonies? Social butterfly? I don’t know. I do know just that little bit of interaction drained me.

Yeah, I’m a social lightweight.

However, the writing calisthenics were fun, creative, and challenging. One of them, an interactive plot-generation activity, required me to write a crime/noir story based on Thumbelina. I balked at first, but then an image and a question came to mind: What might Thumbelina find in the pockets of the private investigator for whom she works?

MV5BMzUzMjE4MDE2M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwOTU2NjU0MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_A fairytale crime story certainly isn’t groundbreaking. There’s already soapy adventure drama on TV’s Once Upon a Time, and probably more of the same in Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, as well as plenty of drama and humor, horror and crime, in Grimm. Beauty and the Beast has already been given a noir-ish feel and reimagined for the modern world. Twice. (I liked the first one better, but that’s probably nostalgia talking.)

I already had a novel idea picked out for November.

Yet Thumbelina and the P.I. have comic possibilities.

What to do? What to write?

If I do decide to do the goofy fairytale/crime novel mashup, I might post the daily progress here on the blog, just for kicks.

Anybody else gearing up for the 50k-words-in-30-days challenge?


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