Breaking The Stats Habit

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It’s interesting how a number can influence so much.  For some, the number of birthdays they’ve had can lead to depression and for others the number on the inside of a waistband literally deflates all hope of retaining a drop of self-esteem.  The same is true for bloggers.  For the last few days my stats have been a little wonky and its driving my crazy.  This little bout of insanity has made me realize my confidence as a writer hinges entirely too much on one number.

The bar graph that threatens to define my worth.

I fully admit that I am a total stats addict.  The bar graph, sparkline, and full stats page are an intergral part of my life as I check them periodically throughout the day.  I make sure I have access to my stats via laptop, smartphone, and tablet, so no matter where I am I can check my numbers. Part of my obsession comes from pure habit, but the rest runs much deeper.  My inner critic likes to play with my confidence and she loves to cackle when the numbers are low.  The only relief I get from her is when the numbers are normal or keep climbing.

It’s ridiculous and I know it.

So, why do I allow one number to determine my worth?  Easy.  In this realm, higher numbers are equated with success. Interesting topics and high quality writing attract more readers, right?  More readers means I am a success.  This is the driving force behind checking those stats.  Like any writer, I crave the gratification that comes from knowing I’ve written something worthwhile.

As I said before, it’s ridiculous.

In order to put my focus back where it belongs – on writing and creating – I’m challenging myself to ignore my stats for a full week.  No numbers, charts, or averages are going to determine my level of success.  I am going to minimize the bar graph on my dashboard and abstain from visiting the full statistics page.  The sparkline is impossible to avoid, but luckily it doesn’t provide specific information.  In addition, I’ll be removing the WordPress app from my  Kindle Fire carousel. This week it’s all about writing and creating as well as I can without thinking about “the number.”

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If you’d like to join me on this challenge, sound off in the comments section!

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c.b.w.  2012

Photography Challenge: Experiments

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The photography challenge I joined continues to be an amazing source of creative inspiration.  This week’s prompts drew me into the realm of experimentation in terms of perspective, color, and movement.

Prompt: Capture something from a different angle.

Photo by: c.b.w.

Prompt: Find something with primary colors.

Photo by: c.b.w.

Prompt: Take a photo of water.

Photo by: c.b.w.

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To see all the details of the photography challenge, go here.

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c.b.w. 2012

Celebrating A Win!

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When I joined Rachael Harrie’s Fourth Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign, my goal was to network with other writers and hopefully learn a few things about establishing an online platform for my pen name.  The whole experience turned out to be incredible from both business and creative standpoints.  I found myself in the mix of some pretty incredible writers, which makes my next bit of news all that more amazing.

I am beyond thrilled to report than my piece entitled Fatespeak won the Second Campaign Challenge!  This was a difficult challenge not only because of the prompts involved, but due to some tough competition put forth by so many talented and creative writers. In all honesty, I felt totally out of my league!  It’s an honor to be in the same company of writers I’ve come to admire so much.

To see my name at the top of the list is surreal at best.  This is the first competition I’ve ever won, which makes this a pretty exciting milestone!

Congratulations to all the winners!

The prizes are pretty exciting, too!  With my deadline of sending query letters out by the end of April, a critique of the first 30 pages of my manuscript is going to be very helpful.  I can’t wait to have a neutral third party dig in and help me find the weaknesses!  In addition to a critique, I also won:

This is like winning the lottery!

Thanks so much to Rachael Harrie for running the campaign and all the judges for all their time and effort.  The prompts were inspiring and the challenges irresistible!  I’m already looking forward to the next campaign.

To celebrate, I thought it would be fitting to re-post Fatespeak.  Enjoy the read!

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Fatespeak

Activity #1 – Pitch/Logline

The Fates meet their match in one small girl.

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Activity #2 – 200 word flash fiction based on the prompts

Aria peered through the Oracle Eye and smiled at her victory.  Amanda and Ian were safe, hidden away from The Fates who had so cruelly decided they should die.   She was supposed to lead them to the moment of no return, but broke her oath instead.  Under Rosewood Bridge they would stay, until she found a way to spare their lives.

“You cannot save them.”

Aria jumped and spun towards the sound of her Elder’s voice. Mena’s deep violet eyes pooled with sympathy, but remained stern.

“Why not?” Aria asked, despite knowing the answer.

“Their fate has been written. Your interference has only delayed what will be.”

“It does not seem fair that beings with so much free will, should be so readily controlled.” Aria turned back to the Eye and watched Amanda bandage the gaping wound in Ian’s leg with what remained of his t-shirt.  “They have done nothing wrong and do not deserve this end. How can it be right?”

Mena gently squeezed Aria’s shoulders,  “She will drown and he must bleed,” the Elder replied. “Listen, my youngling.  As a Fatespeaker you must deliver what The Fates demand.”

“And if I refuse?”

“I cannot protect you.”

(199 words)

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Activities #3 and 4 (Combined) – Poem with a twist/Five sentences using each of the prompts.

The Fates sing in unison . . .

Young love perishes too soon,
never to age, always joined

The orb shall fall as must innocence,
ignorance cannot reign

A delicate balance struggles to thrive
on the brink of collapse

The meek suffer with dirty hands,
to humble those who refuse to see

 Natural order binds our will;
a ribbon between us,
no one is truly free

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Activity #5 – Flash Fiction about the water pear.

The Fates hovered in stasis overhead.  Hands joined, eyes closed, and oblivious to the small girl below.

Aria stood her ground with a wooden staff firmly in her hands.  One swing would destroy the only link between the human world and her own.  The Oracle Eye pulsed with warmth and light, just as it had for thousands of years.

“Show me Amanda and Ian” Aria whispered softly.

A dark-haired girl and a tall boy instantly materialized, both wounded and frightened.  In the back of a dark cave, they huddled together and shivered as their fire began to die. Once the link was broken, The Fates could no longer find them and they would be free.

She tightened her grip and arced the staff for a mighty swing . . .

“Stop!” Three voices cried.

“No!”

“You have no right to disrupt what has always been,” The Fates seethed with rage.

“You have no right to take what is not yours.”   Aria said and unleashed her will with all her strength.

One blow was all it took.  The glowing orb erupted into pulverized glints of light, all of which faded to nothing upon hitting the ground.

(195 words)

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To see the challenge prompts that inspired Fatespeak, go here.

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c.b. 2012

Campaign Challenge #2: Fatespeak

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The second challenge in Rachael Harrie’s Fourth Writers’ Platform-Building Campaign proved to be tough, but very stimulating.  This time around, my muse was asked to play with five prompts in as many as five different ways.  In addition, there were several options available to increase difficulty.

The Challenge:

 

The prompts are pretty random, which made the challenge of linking them totally irresistible.  I did my best to find a way to make them all come together with a single theme/story line. And because I like to push myself, I decided to take on all the extra elements to increase difficulty.  The hardest one being to write outside of my usual genre.  I went the fantasy route, because its something I like to read and I’ve been experimenting with it on a few WIPs.

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Fatespeak

Activity #1 – Pitch/Logline

The Fates meet their match in one small girl.

– – –

Activity #2 – 200 word flash fiction based on the prompts

Aria peered through the Oracle Eye and smiled at her victory.  Amanda and Ian were safe, hidden away from The Fates who had so cruelly decided they should die.   She was supposed to lead them to the moment of no return, but broke her oath instead.  Under Rosewood Bridge they would stay, until she found a way to spare their lives.

“You cannot save them.”

Aria jumped and spun towards the sound of her Elder’s voice. Mena’s deep violet eyes pooled with sympathy, but remained stern.

“Why not?” Aria asked, despite knowing the answer.

“Their fate has been written. Your interference has only delayed what will be.”

“It does not seem fair that beings with so much free will, should be so readily controlled.” Aria turned back to the Eye and watched Amanda bandage the gaping wound in Ian’s leg with what remained of his t-shirt.  “They have done nothing wrong and do not deserve this end. How can it be right?”

Mena gently squeezed Aria’s shoulders,  “She will drown and he must bleed,” the Elder replied. “Listen, my youngling.  As a Fatespeaker you must deliver what The Fates demand.”

“And if I refuse?”

“I cannot protect you.”

(199 words)

– – –

Activities #3 and 4 (Combined) – Poem with a twist/Five sentences using each of the prompts.

The Fates sing in unison . . .

Young love perishes too soon,
never to age, always joined

The orb shall fall as must innocence,
ignorance cannot reign

A delicate balance struggles to thrive
on the brink of collapse

The meek suffer with dirty hands,
to humble those who refuse to see

 Natural order binds our will;
a ribbon between us,
no one is truly free

– – –

Activity #5 – Flash Fiction about the water pear.

The Fates hovered in stasis overhead.  Hands joined, eyes closed, and oblivious to the small girl below.

Aria stood her ground with a wooden staff firmly in her hands.  One swing would destroy the only link between the human world and her own.  The Oracle Eye pulsed with warmth and light, just as it had for thousands of years.

“Show me Amanda and Ian” Aria whispered softly.

A dark-haired girl and a tall boy instantly materialized, both wounded and frightened.  In the back of a dark cave, they huddled together and shivered as their fire began to die. Once the link was broken, The Fates could no longer find them and they would be free.

She tightened her grip and arced the staff for a mighty swing . . .

“Stop!” Three voices cried.

“No!”

“You have no right to disrupt what has always been,” The Fates seethed with rage.

“You have no right to take what is not yours.”   Aria said and unleashed her will with all her strength.

One blow was all it took.  The glowing orb erupted into pulverized glints of light, all of which faded to nothing upon hitting the ground.

(195 words)

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If anyone is interested in offering a critique, I am very open to polite and constructive feedback.  I have pretty thick skin after spending last year on Critique Circle and I value honesty above all else. However, I will note this is my first foray into fantasy on a public level.  Any help is greatly appreciated and I’ll do my best to return the favor.

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If you haven’t already, be sure to check out all the great entries to this challenge, here.  They are amazing!  If you liked my entry, please vote for me!  I am #90.

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c.b. 2012

Campaign Challenge #1: The Call

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The first challenge for the Fourth Writers’ Platform Building Campaign is up and running!  The games begin with a round of flash fiction that follows these guidelines:

Click the image to see other entries to this challenge!

My muse and I came up with “The Call” for my entry.  Hope you enjoy the read!

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The Call

Shadows crept across the wall as the months passed without a word.  Leaves of summer cast gray silhouettes against faded paint.  Barren branches of winter cut through moonlight and slice through the windowpane. Then, delicate petals arrive in spring and leave gentle imprints on the back of an empty chair.  It’s been more than a year since someone sat in that seat.

Every morning, she wondered if the answer she needed would finally come.  They kept telling her there was nothing she could do, but wait.  So, wait she did with her cup of tea.  She poured another and placed it in the space beside her.  The steam swirled and curled into the air until it eventually disappeared.  Worry lines etched new pathways around her eyes and forehead as the minutes of another day slipped away.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

She stared at the wall and begged for today to be the day.  Any news is better than none after so much time of maddening silence. Her tea grew cold as an early spring sun warmed the afternoon.  Amid the fragrance of orange blossoms in the air, the phone rang and everything faded.

(192 words)

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Be sure to check out all the other wonderful entries and vote for your favorites, here.  I am #93.

c.b. 2012