Posts tagged with: writing challenge

Flash Fiction Friday!

It’s FRIDAY, y’all!


Hi, all! *waves madly*  I’m joining Darynda in hosting Flash Fiction Fridays. But I’m going to do things a little differently. Yeah, I march to the beat of a slightly out of tune drum. Once a month, I’ll give you a writing prompt, dialogue prompt, or idea prompt. I’ll even give you multiple directions you might go with the prompt. Your word counts can be as little as a line or two up to 300 words. No pressure! This is supposed to be a fun way to get those creative juices flowing. Who knows, maybe a quickie exercise will form into a short story, poem, song, or novel.

Can I get a drum roll, please? *badbadabada* Here’s your prompt.

This begs the question, what flavor ice cream? Priorities, people. The right flavor makes all the difference.

So what is the crime and what prompted her to want to commit such a deed? Is she desperate? Angry? Hormonal? What has made her that way? Money? Love? Betrayal? Revenge? The relentless summer heat?

Share your ideas and/or post your creations and I’ll give away one digital copy of The Righteous Side of Wicked.










Remember, this is all in fun and a no-judgment zone. The Rubies would love to hear from you! 


Flash Fiction Friday!


If you browse the internet, as we writers are wont to do, flash fiction has several defining characteristics, most of which involve word count. You will find flash fiction—also known as sudden fiction, micro fiction, quick fiction, etc.—defined as any work of fiction that is under 1,000 words…sometimes. Definitions vary greatly. Some say FF is as many as 2,000 words, and some say it is as few as 50.


Whatever word count you choose to incorporate for your personal definition, the rewards of learning to write short are vast. Nothing hones your skills as a writer more than having to pare down your story or scene into a few decisive words, each one burdened with glorious purpose. (Okay, I stole that from Loki.)  

Basically, every word choice is really important.


Thus, every Friday (barring any previously scheduled event, like the upcoming 10thAnniversary of the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Blog!) we will be posting a writing prompt and a maximum word count for you to flex those writing muscles. Stoke that creative fire. Ignite that powerful imagination. And tell anything that gets in your way, “I will no longer be your slave!” (Sorry, that was Carina. I stole that, too.)

The word count will change from week to week. This week, we’re going easy on you. You will have a maximum of 50 gloriously burdened words to complete the exercise.

Today’s writing prompt goes a little something like this…

Your opening line will begin with, “If I knew then what I know now…”

And that’s it! Start with that line, write your story in 50 words or less, and post in the comments below. No one is expecting perfection! Don’t even try to achieve it. This is just a fun exercise and a judgement-free zone. 

But here’s the thing.

We’re all busy. We all have a lot on our plates. So, I suggest giving yourself a time limit. Maybe 15 minutes. Or 30. Or even 60. Any amount of time you can devote to your craft is time well spent. Remember, this is like going to the gym, only WAY more fun. This will build brain muscle, stretch and strengthen, tighten and tone.

Still not motivated to give it a shot? How about I up the ante? If at least five people post their stories here today, I will give away a digital copy of ANY Ruby book (your choice) to each and every writer who posts his or her work! If 50 people post, 50 people will be gifted a book.*

Go ahead. Make me regret this decision. I dare ya.


For an example of a 300-word piece of flash fiction, check out this story written by yours truly.

*Books gifted preferably through Amazon. If you live outside the US and the book you choose cannot be gifted, we have a few options. The book will be delivered directly from the Ruby you’ve chosen, you may choose another book, or you will be sent a gift card monetarily equivalent to the book you choose.

Let the 2018 Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival BEGIN!!!

**Finding out about the Festival after January 10? No worries!! Just jump right in and join us. Give yourself however many bonus points you need to catch up, and get writing!!!**

And here come some of our favorite words of the year:

roaring-fire_657x600We now declare the Eighth Annual Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival OPEN! Let the Games begin!!

To get your BONUS point for today, Wednesday January 10,  add a comment here on the regular Ruby Slippered Sisterhood blog ( in which you:

1) define how *you personally* will earn your Festival “points”


2) declare your commitment to earning 50 points by Feb 28, 2018. (Further details on goal-setting follow below).

 Leaving a comment today on the regular Ruby blog also puts you in the running for some cool prizes–the first round of our fabled Festival Swag, which will include gift cards, awesome Ruby books, fun treats, and the ever-popular WRITING CRITIQUES, which we’ll continue giving out in random drawings every Wednesday from now until the end of the Festival on Wednesday, Feb 28!!)



For those who haven’t been with us for the WWF before, it’s an online writing festival, kind of like NaNoWriMo, but designed by busy, hard-working women: i.e., we schedule it for AFTER the hectic rush of the holidays, and we let you DESIGN YOUR OWN approach to “winning” so it actually fits in with your real life!!

For fifty days through what’s otherwise the dullest part of winter, we cheer each other on to make serious progress in our writing, with regular check-ins, celebratory prizes, and (for those who want more direct support) lots of friendly, online Writing Sprints!! (More details on all these things below.) 

The WWF is open to writers in ALL GENRES (not just romance), and it’s 100% free to join!


You don’t really have to register officially–just declaring your intentions here is all you need to do. But if you like having a formal spot to chart your progress, leave your comment today on the regular Ruby site ( stating how you’ll earn your Festival points, then jump over to our special Festival site,, and officially register. Click on the word “Member” near the upper right of that page, then click on “Register for the site.” You can set up a profile with a list of your own specific terms for earning points. When you log back in throughout the Festival, you’ll be able to keep track of your points to see how far you’ve come. (Should there be any technical problems, don’t worry! Just leave your comment here–we’ll consider you part of the Festival no matter what!)


The very BEST thing about the site is the CHAT ROOM, which we use for writing sprints. Those of you who’ve participated in the Festival before can testify that writing sprints are pretty darned miraculous at helping writers be super-turbo-powered productive–even if the chaos of life normally makes it hard for you to get much written.

You can click on the Chat Room link above, or look at the box near the upper left of the site (under “Sprint Schedule), and you’ll jump to a screen where you can type in the name or nickname you want to use during the chat. Hit enter, and you’ll find yourself in a virtual space with other writers also eager to get work done. A Sprint Hostess will be there to greet you and show you the ropes.

Typically, the group chats for a few minutes, then starts a timed sprint when everyone jumps into their individual manuscripts and writes like crazy for 20 minutes (or 45 minutes at some sessions), then comes back for another quick chat when the “time’s up” bell sounds. During chat time, you check in about how much progress you made, share tips for productivity, get advice and feedback, or just blow off steam and get to know some new friends (and probably laugh yourself silly). Then you jump back into another sprint. DON’T BE SHY!!! Sprints really keep you in your seat and cranking out those words. Stay as long as you like, and say goodbye whenever you need to! Zero judgment, 100% moral support. It’s practically magic!!! Ruby Sister Kim Law has some great instructions here.

Also note a new feature this year: the wonderful Hope Ramsay, plot-builder extraordinaire, is hosting a special PLOT BRAINSTORMING SESSION every Wednesday evening!!  Get in on that if you can!

Writing sprints start TODAY and happen at various times daily. Jump in anytime!!! And if we don’t have a sprint scheduled at a time that works for you, feel free to find a buddy and come in on your own. Here’s the schedule for the next week (all listed times are EST):

Wednesday, January 10th:

6:30am – 8:00 am – Autumn
9:00am – Noon – Hope
4:00pm – 6:00pm – Vivi
7:00pm – 9:00pm – Brainstorming Session with Autumn & Hope

Thursday, January 11th:

6:30am – 8:00 am – Autumn
9:00am – Noon – Hope
Noon – 2:00pm – Laurie K.
2:00pm – 4:00pm – Shelley
4:00pm – 6:00pm – Darynda
6:00pm – 8:00pm – Autumn
9:00pm – 11:00pm – Addison

Friday, January 12th:

6:30am – 8:00 am – Autumn
9:00am – Noon – Hope
3:00pm – 5:00pm – Vivi

Saturday, January 13th:

11:00am – 1:00pm – Elisa

Monday, January 15th:

6:30am – 8:00 am – Autumn
9:00am – Noon – Hope
Noon – 2:00pm – Laurie K.

Tuesday, January 16th:

6:30am – 8:00 am – Autumn
9:00am – Noon – Katie G.
Noon – 4:00pm – Shelley
4:00pm – 6:00pm – Darynda
6:00pm – 8:00pm – Autumn
9:00pm – 11:00pm – Addison


To help keep you inspired between writing sprints, grab yourself a Participant badge (right-click on the one below and then click on “save image as”) to upload to your personal website.  

You can also check in daily at the Brag Blog on the site, where you can report on how your writing day has gone, get a quick pep talk if you need it, or celebrate whenever you earn a point! You’ll also find inspirational daily quotes and links to Ruby posts on craft to pull you through when you’re feeling a little stuck.



Also, check out the fantabulous Winter Writing Festival swag you have a chance to win during Wednesday Check-Ins if you meet your goals each week. (You can also purchase some cool Winter Writing Festival swag yourself–including coffee mugs, tees, sweats, and totes with the Festival logo–at our Cafe Press store.)

Today, Autumn Jordon and Lara Archer will EACH be giving out $5 Amazon gift cards to random commenters, and four more winners will each win their choice of a digital copy of their choice of book from Liz Talley‘s Morning Glory series!!

 And here’s a list of Swag you’ll have a chance to win if you leave comments updating your progress on any of our Check-In Wednesdays (print books available USA only):

Week 1 (1/17)

Lizzie Shane – First chapter critique (No genre restrictions, though Lizzie is most well-versed in contemporary & paranormal.)

Liz Talley – $15 Amazon gift card

Tamara Hogan – PRIZE BUNDLE: print copy of ENTHRALL ME, plus a $10 Starbucks gift card. (US only.) 

Addison Fox – $20 Amazon or B&N gift card – winner’s choice

Week 2 (1/24)

Autumn Jordon – Twenty page/first chapter/2500 word Critique of contemporary or romantic suspense

Hope Ramsay – first three books in the Chapel of Love series

Laurie Kellogg –  PRIZE BUNDLE: an electronic version of any Laurie Kellogg books PLUS a $10 Amazon gift card


Week 3 (1/31)

Katie Graykowski – First Chapter Critique (any genre except erotica)

Kate Parker – $20 Amazon gift card

Heather McCollum – PRIZE BUNDLE: $10 gift card to Starbucks and a digital copy of THE BEAST of AROS CASTLE


Week 4 (2/7)

Anne Marie Becker – First-chapter critique (25 pages max)

Lizzie Shane – a signed print copy of ALWAYS A BRIDESMAID (US Only)

Bev Pettersen – PRIZE BUNDLE: $10 Amazon gift card and an electronic version of  a book series


Week 5 (2/14)

Darynda Jones – 5,000-word Critique, any genre

Katie Graykowski – $20 Amazon gift card

Gwynlyn MacKenzie – PRIZE BUNDLE: cute writer’s mug and $10 Amazon gift card


Week 6 (2/21)

Julia Day – Critique of synopsis and query letter

Rita HenuberThe Emotion Thesaurus: A Writers Guide to Character Expression. Paperback. (US only)

Jacie Floyd – PRIZE BUNDLE: 3 e-books of the Billionaire Brotherhood series and a $10 Amazon egift card


Closing day

Lara Archer – prize BUNDLE: print copies of all three of my steamy historical romances (THE DEVIL MAY CARE, BARED TO THE VISCOUNT, and HOLD ME CLOSE, US only), plus a $25 Amazon gift card

Ava Blackstone – prize BUNDLE:  $15 Amazon e-gift card + an e-copy of any of my Voretti Family books (winner’s choice)

Jennifer Bray-Weber – prize BUNDLE: cute Ruby heel picture holder + signed print copy of THE LAIRD’S RECKONING (US only)


What’s not to love? (Our thanks to mega-talented Ruby Sister Liz Bemis of for designing and maintaining both sites!!)



Everybody gets one BONUS point TODAY for coming to the Ruby blog and leaving a comment that makes a public declaration of your commitment to take part in the Festival and a public announcement of your goals. Then, for each of the 50 days of the Festival (including today), you work to earn an additional point—and you define what it takes to earn that point.

Here are some examples of the sorts of things you might define as worth one point (you fill in the variables with the amounts that work for you):

-writing X number of words or pages
-deep revising Y number of pages
-polishing Z number of pages
-freewriting / brainstorming for Q number of minutes/hours
-doing R number of 20-minute writing sprints
-keeping butt in chair and hands on keyboard for S number of minutes or hours

For instance, one person might commit to earning points according to the following terms:

-writing 500 words per day OR
-deep revising for one hour per day OR
-doing a final polish on 25 pages per day

Any day that person meets ANY of those goals, she gets a point.

YOU set the goals that meet your personal writing style and writing needs. (For more advice on how to set up your goals, see here).

If you can’t meet your goal on any particular day, you can certainly double or triple or quadruple your goal on another day to catch up.

And if you know ahead of time that you can never work on certain days (say, Saturdays) feel free to add  something like “keep balance in my life by taking Saturday off” to your personal list of ‘ways to earn a point.’ Really. You can earn a point by taking a planned day off!! If it keeps you on track, DO IT!!

We also highly recommend having a “emergency / bad day goal” for when life gets in the way–like just 50 new words, or 5 minutes looking at your manuscript, or something really, really manageable–so you don’t let a bout of flu or late day at the office throw you off completely. Just promise yourself you’ll only use those for the unexpected bumps in the road. That way you’ll feel like you’re still on board, and won’t just drop by the wayside.

And if setting your goals by the week works better for you than setting them by the day, go for it!!! Same with setting goals by the month, or just having one big 50-day overall goal!!

Remember, we all have different life commitments and different approaches to our writing lives, so we all need to set our own goals. All goals are equally worthy. This isn’t a competition, it’s a supportive process for MOVING FORWARD WITH OUR WRITING.

We want the Festival to work for YOU!

Check in at the Ruby blog every Wednesday during the Festival to report your progress (and be entered in random drawings for more Festival Swag.)

If you reach Feb 28 with a nice round 50 points (or more), YOU WIN!!

Spread the word to all your writer friends–all genres are welcome!!!

Good luck all, and GET WRITING!!

Get Ready for the RSS Winter Writing Festival!!!

The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood’s Second Annual Winter Writing Festival begins in JUST ONE WEEK!!!


Through the bleakest part of winter—January 11, 2012 thru the end of February—the Second Annual Ruby Slippered Sisterhood Winter Writing Festival will be here to keep your creative fires burning, with support, advice, inspiration, frequent writing sprints in our chat room, fun prizes for participants, and as much virtual hot-chocolate (and virtual cookies!!) as you please.

Unlike NaNoWriMo and other writing challenges that (much as we love them!!) have a one-size-fits-all approach, the Ruby Winter Writing Festival is designed for you.

Mash-up Merriment, Dr. Suess & Pirates

Perhaps you’ve noticed. There is a strange, but interesting quirk arising in the world of fiction, called the mash-up novel. What’s a mash-up? It’s fiction combining pre-existing work with new text from popular genres. Think Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. Authors are taking public domain classics and applying their own spin with new material and alternate plot lines. It’s quite a fascinating endeavor. One with which my reading comprehension deficiency would not allow me to explore. Unless I mixed it up with Green Eggs and Ham and pirates.

A pirate ship! A pirate ship!
Could you? Would you? On a pirate ship?

Not on a pirate ship! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! Sam, let me be!

I could not, would not, in a box.
I would not, could not, with a fox.
I will not eat them in the rain.
I will not eat them on the Spanish Main.
I will not eat them with a bum
I will not wash them down with rum
I will not eat them over or under.
I will not eat them while I plunder.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.
I do not like green eggs and ham!
I do not like them Sam-I-am.

No, I’d fail miserably at a mash-up book. But recently, a writer friend approached me and two others with a great idea using a similar technique. The four of us meet regularly to decompress and ‘talk shop’, and for the sake of protecting the innocent, we’ll call this merry band of writers The Usual Suspects. Kind of an oxymoron, now that I think of it. Anyway, he approached us with a unique experiment.

Usual Suspect #1 would write the beginning of a story up to around 1000 words. He would then send his story to the next author, who in turn would pick up the story and write another 1000 or so words. Then Usual Suspect #2 would pass it along to Usual Suspect #3, and so forth. After Usual Suspect #4 finished their contribution, it went back to Usual Suspect #1 for another round. When it was our turn again, we read the story thus far and added another chunk. The idea was to go several rounds and create a short story. There was no discussion of genre, plots, characters, or motivation. Imagine our surprise each time the story landed back in our laps, especially given that each one of us has our own unique voice, writing in different genres.

But the bigger surprise came when we finished. We had a great story! Sure, there were plot holes big enough a convoy of beer-toting truckers could drive through and moments of mass confusion. (Where’d Clyde go? He was here a moment ago? Oh, he’s dead now? Really? How’d that happen? Oh wait, it was just a flesh wound? Yeah, someone should fix that.) But the bones were strong. We talked about the problems and how to fix them. We didn’t always agree (can’t trust those shifty-eyed Usual Suspects), but we worked out solutions. Editing came in the same roundtable fashion, sweeping up any evidence of the writer-ly crimes committed.

Though it was an experiment, we didn’t treat it as such. We put thought and honed skills to task. The end goal was to have a marketable finished product. Now the real work begins, agreeing on a title and book cover.

One of my biggest surprises participating in this co-written short story was how much I enjoyed the process. It was … fun! I stepped out of my comfort zone, away from the historical romance genre I write, and blindly tried my hand at something completely different, suspense. There is value in that. I challenged myself and learned I could be flexible with my craft.

I strongly feel that challenges such as our impromptu mash-up and being held accountable by other writers flexes and strengthens our writer muscles, making us understand and grow as authors.

What about you? Have you stepped outside your comfort zone? Have you participated in a writer-related experiment? If so, what were your results?

A Little “Prep” Talk

The Winter Writing Festival is less than a week away!


I don’t know about you, but I find accountability not only daunting but scary.

The impetus a writing challenge provides is immeasurable, compelling you to work harder, be more disciplined, set goals.  However, the whole idea of accountability, of being exposed, is enough to make you forget six weeks of productive writing and dive under the covers until spring.  What if you fail?  Disappointing yourself is bad enough, but in a public venue?  *shudder*  Worse, since you’ll set your pace, choose your daily or weekly objectives, there’s no one to blame, no faceless entity who doesn’t understand your life.  It’s all on you.

You can always pass.  

That insidious voice you’re hearing is the voice of self-doubt.  It’ll derail you if it can, stifle every dream, every ambition if you let it. 

No one will know.

The Latest Comments

  • Autumn Jordon: You’re very welcome. I learned a lot.
  • Bev Pettersen: Such a helpful post, Thanks Autumn. And also thanks to Vivi, Rae and Judy!
  • Autumn Jordon: Everyone of these cover designers is so talented. I wish I had their eye for detail.
  • Autumn Jordon: I totally agree, Kate. I think it takes a certain eye to make an awesome cover.
  • Autumn Jordon: They did a amazing job answering my questions, didn’t they. I also learned a lot.