Tuesday, December 23, 2014

God Jul, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Tomorrow's Christmas Eve. That's the day when we celebrate Yule in Sweden. This year will be a little different from usual, since my husband and I don't have as much money as we're used to. He's just lost his job and suffers from a depression (not solely because of the lost job, but partially), which makes Christmas more of a burdon than a holiday of cheer. It's supposed to be fun, so to make it fun when everybody is in a crappy mood isn't the easiest task.

We have a daughter, and of course you want to give your child an experience to remember; isn't that what every parent wants? Children should have nice holidays, but it's getting harder and harder when things aren't as they used to be. Hah, this is turning into the rant I wrote a couple of weeks ago, that was not my intent :D

What I was going to talk about was how I can give my daughter a winter holiday to remember without spending lots of money. It's all about reading the newspapers and finding out where you can go to get the most fun out of the least money spent. I know, I might sound like a spoilt brat - there are people that can't even sit by a computer and write this blogpost because they can't afford it. I know, I really can't whine about it when there's nothing to whine about. My daughter is a very clever girl too, she says that she don't need any Christmas gifts this year, as long as we have Christmas at all. And I know she's right, it's all about having a good Christmas experience.

We started out by buying second hand skates, SEK 80. Not far from here there's a huge store where they sell sports equipment. Outside, the store have a rink with ice - great, since it's not cold enough to skate on lakes even in Sweden. And the best part is that everyone can use the ice for free. My daughter Saga and I have been ice-skating every weekend for an entire month now and she's getting better and better at it.

Yesterday Saga and I went to Gothenburg. This city always have tons of things to offer, like free cinema on the outer wall of the museum of art. We sat there at the stairs to the theatre at Götaplatsen, watching the show while eating a meal that we had brought from home. We also went to Liseberg, an amusement park, where they have a Christmas Fair every year. Entry isn't that expensive, it's the tickets to the attractions that have a tendency to become too many, as well as the meals. Some of the attractions are for free, so we went to those. Santa's workshop, the carousel, the petting zoo. And Saga bought a Christmas gift to her dad.

My daughter Saga, as she was examining the artificial snow.

We have a membership in Nordens Ark, an animal park not far away from here, where we plan to go for a pic-nic one of the days. Since we're members, entry is for free.

So. The Christmas that my daughter wished for. After having paid all the bills, there isn't that much money left for anything, and I still have to buy food for the entire month when Christmas is over. I have a small ham, have some pickled herring, but you all know that a Swedish Christmas smorgasboard is supposed to be so full that the table is about to break all it's legs and crumble to the floor. We'll have to settle for the important things - ham, meatballs, herring and small sausages; I have the ingredients for that in my freezer ;)

In the end it's more important to remember what Christmas is all about. In my book it's about the experiences, the love and the fun. As long as one stays optimistic, everything will turn out just OK :D

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The December Games 2014

Every year after NaNoWriMo I take a break from writing. No, that's not entirely true. It's my month of games. I do all kinds of writing challenges just for the fun of it, write short stories and so on. December is a great month for a break - to much other things around anyway to make it work.

So, this post is about The December Games 2014. Different challenges to practice writing while procrastinating.

  1. The Strange Word Challenge is all about finding a really weird word, write about it as if you know what it is and look it up afterwards.
  2. The Dialogue Challenge - Write a dialogue without using the word "say" or "said".
  3. The Adventure Challenge is where you have to come up with an adventure really fast.
  4. The Christmas Challenge - your answer to the question "What happens next?"
  5. The Christmas Fighting Scene - from a peaceful game of chess to writing gore.
I post and repost challenges I like at Tumblr for now, but my plan is to move them over here eventually.

And since it's Christmas soon, here's a set of Christmas Pictures. If you can get a story out of them, please post a link, I'd love to read what you've come up with :D

Larger pic here: http://fav.me/d83neyb

Larger pic here: http://fav.me/d89qbne

Happy Writing!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

5-point writing routine for full time working moms and A CHALLENGE!

You know, writers are ordinary people too. It would have been much easier if they just popped up from a pot of mud after a summer of sun and rain, started writing the second they had formed hands. That's not the fact though. They are hard working people, usually not making enough money from their writing to live solely from it. They have ordinary jobs, familys and everything when they start writing, and if they're lucky, someone will read what they've written. If they are really lucky, they might be read by enough people to actually be able to write full time. I'm not one of those people; I haven't even finished writing a last draft yet. There's not enough time to make that fast either, which is why my writing process have been the same for years:

  1. I get up at 05:00 in the morning, have my large, strong and black cup of coffee in bed with a book. I read for about half an hour before I return to the text I'm working on. The next half hour is all about reading what I wrote the days before, to get back to the right language while doing some editing on the way. I wish I had the same time as Hemingway though, he read his whole manuscript every day (thanks for the link, Cronin Detzz ). 
  2. At 06:00 I hardy have any time left for writing, which is why I usually plan what I'd like to write. I use five minutes for this, and these five minutes are golden. They make it easier to stay on the track during the day. After that it's time for a challenge before I wake my husband and daughter up. Usually I just do a five minute sprint, but if that doesn't work I really need a challenge. I've posted some of these challenges here, some of them on Twitter and Tumblr. I'm thinking of collecting all the challenges on a page here later.
  3. During the day I always carry pen and paper (or rather a pocket size journal to be honest). Since I know what I'd like to write, I have this in my head all day, trying to figure out how to work this out in the best of ways. If I have an idea I just write a quick note or a full set of sentences that I like.
  4. When I'm done with what I have to do at work it's time to write. Usually I write by hand first, I like the flow I get into and I've noticed that it's easier to be critical about what I write if I sit by the computer first.
  5. Later in the evening when my daughter is in bed, it's time for the actual writing. I have my scribbles in my journal and start from the top to rewrite it all on my lap top. My daily goal is 2000 words. If I haven't reached that goal, I read through what I've written once more to see if I can change something. Usually I notice that I can change entire paragraphs by Showing instead of Telling, and when that is done I've passed that 2000 word goal with a huge margin.

And now, to the Writing Challenge of the day!

You know by now that I love a good writing challenge - heck I can't say no to one; many of my pictures are submissions to different challenges too.

When I'm in need of one, I try to figure out what I have to practice the most at the moment. If I don't come up with anything good it's all about getting that speed I need to be able to write as much as possible in that little time I have between work and family life. Describing a scene without using more than five adjectives, writing a dialogue without using the word "said"; it's a great way to widen your language.

Today's challenge is all about writing. There are a few rules, but they are rather easy. You'll need a main character and your main character needs to use these things in one way or another:

  • A stapler
  • A review mirror
  • A shovel
  • A pair of socks
  • A cylinder hat
You have to keep this story really short, max 1000 words.

If you decide to try it out, please post it somewhere and link to it in a comment below, I'd love to read it!