Contest Acceptability

I missed the deadline for the last Reedsy writing contest due to the flu but this week is inspired by Earth Day. I wonder if the type of writing that I do would be considered in a contest of this origin?

Prompts are:

  • Set your story in the woods or on a campground.
  • Write about a character who loves cloud gazing.
  • Start or end your story with a person buying a house plant
  • Write about a trip to see a natural siht that’s usually only ever seen in photos.
  • Write a story involving a friendship between two different species.

When stories are dedicated to Earth Day, would the judges only be inclined to review stories that restore the Earth and inspire others to change the Earth?

Is it acceptable to write within your own genre?

Would your story be considered in this contest?

Let me know what you think in the comments. Short stories are a great way to expand on witing abilities and if stuck in the currrent story you are working on, it’s a great way to rechannel yoursef.

Which prompt would you choose?

What would be your inspiration for your story?

Let’s continue the conversation. I want to know what you have to say.

Happy writing!

Leap Castle

As the flu ravages my home and everyone in it; as it takes my back and my knees and my arms, and creates an undescribable ache; as it takes my head and composes a solo on the drums; I have had time to thing creatively, form thoughts, look at many of your posts, and let intrigue and fascination at what you have to say, fill me as I lay in the bed with books to read, my notebook for my ideas, and my computer, tablet, and phone, in case my fever breaks and work can yet resume.

I want continue to bring to you stories of places around the world in which many of our settings and characters may generate from for the stories we choose to write. As a new writer, I look for inspiration where ever it may choose to be found.

Let’s travel to Leap Castle, Ireland. It is said that this castle alone has seen more gruesome deaths than a Game of Throne’s wedding has. Legend has it that within the O’Carroll clan, one brother plunged a sword into another, a priest, as he was holding mass in the castle’s chapel. The O’Carroll clan had a fondess for poisoning dinner guests. The room in which the brother, (the priest), died is now called “The Bloody Chapel”, and it is said that the priest haunts the church at night.

Please don’t think that the horror ends there. During the early 1900’s, the castle was undergoing renovations when workmen found a secret dungeon within The Bloody Chapel where so many human skeletons were found. They filled three cartloads when they were haulded away.

I ask you, what could you create from this? On the creativity level of your psyche, what stories can you imagine putting on paper? What art can you paint or draw? What poem rings true in your ears? What masterpiece lies in the wake?

Let’s continue… This dungeon was designed so that prisoners would fall through a trap door, have their lungs punctured by wooded spikes on the ground, and die a slow, horrific death within earshot of the sinister clan members above.

THE ELEMENTAL- is one of the most interesting spirits that reside at Leap Castle. The origin or exact nature of the Elemental is unknwn but there are many theories that have circulated over the years. An early belief is that the Elemental was put there by druids long before the castle was built. Its purpose was to protect the sacred site used for initiations and druid magic.

Another theory is that is was placed there by an invading force to burn the castle from the inside. The person thought to be responsible: Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare. He was a renowned magic practitioner and had attempted to take over the castle on several occasions.

As we dive deeper, local myths say that the Elemental is the spirit of an ancient O’Carroll who died in the castle from Leprocy. It is believed that this is the reasoning for the decomposing facial featured and the apalling stench that accompanies the presence of the spirit.

Other hauntings within the castle: A Red Lady; her ghost is reported to walk the halls holding a dagger. There were two little girls, Charlotte and Emily, they would run up and down the spiral staircase. Emily died after she fell from the battlements on the top of the castle’s tower and Charlotte can still be seen running around after her sister, calling her name.

On a Sunday, this isn’t quite the story that should be told, but in our creative minds, what if we were to take the two girls and turn this story into a haunting of the love of one sister for another? We could take any part of the history of Leap Castle and turn it into what ever we choose it to be. Maybe it’s the dilerium of my fever or just the mere hopes that you will join me in conversation of a creative aspect, that would create such a story as this.

Join me in the conversation and help others create. Have a wonderful Sunday.

Dundas Castle

When we imagine places, settings, and scenes, even characters for our characters, sometimes we need to drive down into the unknown, the eerie, and the abandoned places around the world to find just that one piece that’s missing from our story.

Join me as I take you into the Dundas Castle. It was built in the 1900’s. The owner died before it had been completed and his wife was rumored to have been locked away in one of the upper rooms of the Dundas Castle, until she was sent to a sanitarium (mental institution).

There are rumors and myths that this castle is haunted by the spirit of Josephine Dundas. One of the most mysterious claims, and maybe one of the most outrageous claims, is that one of the ponds around Dundas Castle turns blood red during full moons.

Looking like it had escaped fro the pages of a dark and grim fairy tale, this castle sits high on a dark hillside. It is complete with Gothic windows, turrets, towers, steep parapeted roofs, crumbling walls, and a courtyard that is overgrown with trees and shrubs. The Dundas castle has been a landmark and source of stories, both real and romanticized for almost 100 years.

The locals know and identify this castle as Craig-e-Clair. Almost a thousand acres of land surround this castle. The castle was built by Bradford L. Gilbert in the late 1880’s, he was a noted architect in New York City.

Originally Gilbert had built an estate that was known as “Beaverkill Lodge” on this property. It was the hamlet of the Craig-e-Clair. Gilberts’ wife was a native of Ireland and had chosen the name because the Catskill scenery had reminded her of hoome. The name translates as “Beautiful Mountainside”, named after an Irish fishing village. Wurts-Dundas purchased the land and buildings in 1907.

Wurts-Dundas was as many wealthy men of his time were, and wanted a mountain hideaway for his family and friends. So, in 1907, he purchased 964 acres of forestland with a view of the “Beaverkill”. This land had been a fishing retreat complete with a “Swiss” style country house. Wurts was not satisfied with the existing structure, so he set out to build the finest mansion he could that would incorporate the wooden country house. It is thought that his inspiration for this castle came from late nineteenth-century interpretations of medieval European castles that were constructed in Scotland.

One of the rumors that circulate about Josephine Wurts-Dundas , and please mind you that although it is a fun and entertaining tale to tell, there is no actual evidence for this tale, is that there was a section of the castle in which Josephine was kept a virtual prisoner because of her mental state. Another likely tale was that there were no inside doorknobs, so as to keep her in. Anther is that there were fingernail scratches in the woodwork, all in her effort to escape.

If you are in need of inspiration for a story to write this makes one heck of one indeed. Travel with me again as I tell of other mysterious abandoned places, stories yet to be told.

THE END

As I was adding to the short story I published here to my site yesterday, I was looking for advice, and trying to find a suitable ending before I submit today. I had to remind myself what a final ending should do for my readers

  • The story ending forms a readers’ final impression of what they have read.
  • An effective ending seals the readers’ satisfaction with my piece.
  • It leaves them thinking and maybe talking about it long after they have finished reading.
  • The story ending can either be happy or sad; it can leave the reader uplifted or pensive, even heartbroken. BUT it has to feel right!

I understand there are no black and white rules to follow, but there are a few helpful guidelines to help us write endings that will make our readers want to come back for more.

  • Make sure our conflict in the story is a problem that the main character has to solve.

Ex. Cinderella wants to go to the ball, but her stepmother wants to keep her scrubbing floors at home.

Ex. Rosa loves John, but John loves Amy.

Our reader keeps reading to find out if the character will solve the problem.

Ex. Will Rosa make John fall in love with her? OR Will John marry Amy?

Our original story conflict gives readers a reason to turn the pages. At the end, the reader expects a payoff! Our story has raised a question, and the reader deserves an answer.

As you write your story, keep this in mind. You are working towards giving your reader a PAYOFF, answer their question.

THE END!

Creativity

As a creative first time writer I don’t know exactly all the tools that are required to become a better writer or how to become more productive. What I do know is that the first thing that comes to mind is if I set a schedule or pressure myself to become more productive, my creative side decides it would rather be painting or drawing something. The pressure of trying to be more productive, short circuits  my writing mojo. It’s better if I don’t throw myself  at a project the way wrestlers do when they are battling eachother in the ring. If I do I end up creating page, after page, after page, (you get the drift), of nothing but dissatisfying material that I will probably never even use.

For me, if I’m under a deadline, I work hard to not still be writing two days before that deadline. Speed often generates a lower quality work that will need more rigorous editing, which in turn will eat up the time I thought I had gained.

A quote I recently read:

The hardest time to face is being alone with yourself. It is when you confront a storm of questions in your mind. Remember, it has a power that very few people can handle.

As a creative writer, time to myself generates all kinds of ideas that go into my book idea folder, or a scene that gets jotted down in my notebook I am using for that particular story. It is where some of your most creative inspirations can come from, if you apply the theory to write what you know.

Another quote I read:

If you really want to live up to your potential, you have to stop people pleasing and start setting some goals that scare the daylight out of you.

Writing scares the daylights out me. What if I’m not good enough? What if I do get published and no one reads it? These questions scare me because these questions are what holds me back from doing what I love.

The best advice I can offer anyone in the same boat as myself is, to just write. Let your creativity flow through your fingers and telll the story that you want to read. The more that you are true to yourself, the less you have to worry about whether your story is good enough.

Put yourself out there and let others read what you write and let a writing community give you advice that you can either take or not. You have no idea where, if you are ever stuck, that this community may help you have a break through.

Happy writing today!

Story of a Lifetime

I want to share with you, as the name of my site presents itself, a short story I have been working on, in hopes of entering a contest.

I had walked for hours, listening to the shuffle of shoes across the asphalt, the horns of vehicles, thinking this would be enough to nudge the traffic into more than a mere halt. I watched as the sidewalk became cluttered with people, appearing as if they were talking to themselves, as they pushed past one another, shoulders touching, yet no acknowledgment that they had made physical contact with someone. I could smell cinnamon and vanilla as I passed the bakery. My eyes closed as I let the smell envelop my senses. The sound of chewing and slurping seemed to echo down the streets. On almost every corner I could see a food cart; a man yelling, “Get your hot dogs!, Hot dogs!, Get your hot dogs!”

I passed the subway entrance, the sound of the train’s brakes screetching, the whirring of the wheels sliding to a halt, as it entered the station, pierced my ears. I listened for anything that I hadn’t heard before, that would drive my thoughts into the place I needed them to be. I couldn’t get the words to form in my head. I couldn’t see the setting of where it should be. The mundanness of my life wouldn’t let me see past the everyday. I had a deadline to meet and I had already pushed for a few more months to put something on paper. I had entered the dead zone.

I walked into the library, mere glances from behind their books. Each table covered in books, opened to a designated page. I assumed I wasn’t the only one who needed to get something on paper in time. The librarian, an old man, one who I hadn’t seen before, watched me from over his glasses that were resting across the bridge of his nose. He nodded at me as I walked in front of the checkout desk. I nodded in return, a polite, nonverbal, hello in return.

I walked over to the fiction section, pulled a book I had read many times from the shelf and settled into an armchair, in the corner, where I could observe everything, every noise. A round table full of magazines separated me from the chair on the other side of it, unoccupied.

The swift turn of worn, overused pages; the scratching of lead across paper. I had been familiar with these sounds. My notebook left behind in my apartment, unable to record my thoughts. The man, once behind the counter, staring from over his glasses, was now occupying the chair opposite me, and I hadn’t even noticed.

This man, librarian for the day I presumed, with freckles that cradled the outside edges of his eyes, leaned forward and handed me a folded piece of paper. He sat back in the chair and crossed one leg over the other, intertwining his fingers together, resting his hands over his knee, sat and just looked at me.

I unfolded the paper. Inside were the index numbers for a book. I looked up at him, “What’s this?”

“It’s what you came her for.”

Puzzled, I asked, “How do you know what I came here for?”

“It’s what we all come here for when we don’t know exactly what it is we are looking for.”

This odd, little man, let out a chuckle, rose from his chair, and left me sitting there with my thoughts, and the questions that begged to be asked. I had nothing to lose. I walked to the shelf that kept the book I was intending to look for. Inside the cover of the book was this man’s picture. He was an author of several books I noticed as I scanned the shelf for his name. When I looked down and read the inside jacket of the book, I noticed this man had been deceased for many years.

I walked to the edge of the isle and looked in the direction of the desk. A young woman had replaced this man, I was sure had been there. I walked to the desk, not wanting to sound crazy, but asked anyway, “Where is the old man that was here before?”

She turned around and scanned the area around her, “Sir, I am the only one here today.”

I checked out the book and left the library. He had indeed given me what I was looking for, the story of a lifetime.

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