Friday, December 31, 2010

As Fast as a Bullet

In the spotlight today, we have Cristina from Not Quite Crunchy Momma.

When we asked her to choose her favorite post, she chose As Fast as a Bullet (written in response to the Pictures prompt) and her reasons choked us up.

Cristina explained why she chose this particular post: "It was the first story that I truly connected with emotionally while writing, and had to stop mid writing a few times because I couldn't stop crying."

That is why we're here. To help you to connect with your writing and to help you to find that magic place.

Thank you for sharing your words with us, Cristina, we love this post. Beautiful job.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where I'm From

Tina from (Florida) Girl With a New Life is our special featured blogger today.

Tina chose Where I'm From, from the prompt of the same name, as her favorite Red Writing Hood linkup.

The post is so beautiful and poetic and almost mythical in its prose. We learned a lot about Tina and were left wanting to know the love story of her parents.

We are so grateful to you, Tina, for your participation in our club. We are so thankful you share your words with us.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Family Secrets

Kristy from Pampers and Pinot chose Family Secrets to feature today. She says she chose this one because she found it the most fun and also because she fell in love with all of the interesting characters. (This post was inspired by the Pick a Number prompt.)

What we love most in this piece is the way Kristy handles the dialogue so beautifully. Her lines are simply full of life.

Thank you, Kristy. You've been such an important part of the Red Dress Club and we love having you here with us.

Aunt Maggie's Wedding

When asked which post she wanted to feature here on her special day, CDG, from Move Over Mary Poppins, chose Aunt Maggie's Wedding, her very post that she linked up.

This post was in response to the Pick a Number prompt and it reflects one of the loveliest attributes of CDG's writing ... it's always relatable. She writes in a way that leaves me nodding my head, thinking, "Yes! That's exactly how I felt!"

Thank you, CDG, not only for supporting us here at TRDC, but for delighting us with your stories. We are so grateful for you.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Olive You

Today's blogger in our appreciation spotlight is Ash at Shades of Blue and Green.

After much deliberation, Ash ultimately chose to spotlight Olive You because she felt that it was the most fun to write (her post was inspired by the Seeing Your Ex at the Grocery Store prompt.)

Ash published this piece before I joined Cheryl here at the Red Dress Club, so I hadn't had a chance to read it when Ash chose it.

When I went over to check it out, I found myself immediately sucked in and even caught myself skimming ahead, I was that eager to find out what was going to happen.

Be sure to check it out and I dare you not to giggle at her protagonist's response to the store clerk's question. I dare you!

Thank you, Ash, for all of your participation here at TRDC. We appreciate you so very much.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Sharon's Freedom

Jessica Anne, from Adventures with Three Girls, has been a fixture here at the Red Dress Club for some time now and we are so grateful for her.

After some thought, Jessica Ann chose to highlight Sharon's Freedom, inspired by the Red Writing Hood Pick a Number prompt.

We love this post because it is so relatable and Jessica Ann's ability to capture the surroundings as well as the deep emotion is amazing.

Thank you, Jessica Ann ... we truly appreciate you.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Like a Songbird

Today's special blogger is Nancy, from Away We Go. Like the other bloggers in this Appreciation series, her commitment to The Red Dress Club has helped us to grow into this amazing group that we are today.

When push came to shove, Nancy chose Like a Songbird as her favorite Red Writing Hood post, which was in response to the Afternoon Party prompt. (We are so grateful that we didn't have to chose from her long list of amazing posts! We'd probably still be trying to pick one.)

Thank you, Nancy, from the bottoms of our hearts. We appreciate your contribution here more than you can imagine.

Happy Holidays!

Away We Go

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Charity

The assignment this week was to write a fiction or non-fiction post about charity.

We figured it was appropriate for the season.

This will be the last link-up of the year. Can't wait to see what you've come up with!

The Confrontation

Carrie, from Views From Nature, is in the Appreciation spotlight today.

When we forced, I mean, encouraged her to pick one Red Writing Hood post to share, she chose The Confrontation, which she wrote in response to the elevator prompt. She said that she chose this post because she believed it helped her to truly return to writing and it made her believe in herself...believe that she could one day write a novel.

We think so, too, Carrie.

And we're not just saying that because we're a bit afraid of you after reading your post!

Go read this delicious and deadly post!

Views from Nature

The Unlikely Hero ... Blisstray Adventure

Our first post in our Appreciation Series is from Drama Mama who blogs over at The Scoop on Poop.

When we asked her to choose her favorite Red Writing Hood post, she wrote back, "You guys really expect me to pick one?" We know that it's almost as though we're asking for you to choose one of your children. It's that tough.

After some thought, she offered up The Unlikely Hero...Blisstray Adventure, which we think was an excellent choice.

This post, in response to the Trapped/Kill Them prompt, is full of description, energy, and heartache.

Thank you, Drama Mama, for your continued commitment to The Red Dress Club.

Okay, we won't hold you up any longer...head on over!

BWS tips button

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Featured Blogger - Tina from (Florida) Girl With a New Life

Today's featured blogger is Tina from (Florida) Girl With a New Life. She's a transplanted Floridian now toughing it out in the wilds (as in, cold!) of the Midwest, where she blogs and is writing a novel.

Tell us about yourself: I am a reformed workaholic who has finally turned back to my dream of writing. I love to curse. I am an incurable dreamer. On my bad days I channel Tina Turner and Joan Jett. Mostly I am living the simple married life in the Midwest.

Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about your blog: I started my blog when I left my party life in Florida behind and reinvented myself as a writer and a Doctor's wife in the Midwest. My chronicles are thoughtful, inspiring and sometimes hilarious reflections on becoming a better writer and maybe (hopefully) a better woman. Most importantly, my blog aspires to connect with other women on their journey, because life is ripe with new beginnings for all of us. I am saving the universe one diva at a time, starting with me.

What literary character would you be and why?: I think I would be Ruby Thewes from Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier. Ruby is this wildly unexpected character with a tough self determination and a humble background. She is not the bleeding-heart protagonist. Ruby is the she-rebel that saves the protagonist's behind.

If you could carve your initials on a tree, which tree would it be and why?: A cherry blossom tree. Growing up with an Asian mama meant we had a house full of Oriental artwork. My favorite was a delicate silk screen of blooming cherry blossoms. I can imagine few trees as dramatically feminine.

What animal does your husband look like and why?: A polar bear. I married a big, lumbering, linebacker sized man. In the grocery store little old ladies ask him to pick things off the top shelf.

If you could only save one of your existing posts in a fire, which would you choose and why?: I would save the letter I wrote to my younger self. It helps me to keep my life in perspective.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Charity

The holiday season reminds us of how fortunate we are - and how many need help.

There are many, many ways people help: buying toys for needy kids, delivering food to the elderly, volunteering for myriad organizations.

Your assignment this week is to write a post about charity. It can be fiction or non-fiction.

What does charity mean to you? What ways do you give? How do you teach your children? What memories do you have of first realizing others didn't have what you had? Or, have you ever been in need?

These are just some ideas to get you thinking. Feel free to take whatever angle you choose.

Link up Friday!

Unofficial Mom

Today's honored blogger is Sara, from Unofficial Mom. She is a lot of fun and we always look forward to what she's going to come up with for our prompts.

Sara chose Dump Your Junk in response to the prompt of the same name. Her post has the BEST ending - very funny and spot on!

We are so honored to have Sara's contribution to our little club. Thank you so much for being such a big part of our success thus far.


As the year comes to a close, we find ourselves so incredibly grateful to all of you for your continued commitment to The Red Dress Club.

To show our appreciation, we've gone through the archives and identified the twelve contributors who have linked up, shared their stories, and spread comment love most regularly. From December 23 until January 3, we'll be pointing you to one lovely writer each day, each of whom has been tasked with choosing her favorite Red Writing Hood post to feature.

We sincerely thank each and every one of you for helping to make TRDC such a special place.

We're looking forward to new challenges in 2011 and we couldn't have made it this far without each of you.

With hearts full of gratitude,
Nichole and Cheryl

Friday, December 17, 2010

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post. Please, one per customer!

Please try to visit as many as you can. It's a great way to find great new blogs.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Tradition

Whenever I hear the word "tradition" I want to start singing the song from Fiddler on the Roof.

If you don't know that song 1) that's really sad and 2) at least you won't have it stuck in your head all day.

Anyway. This week's prompt was to write a post based on the word "tradition," and/or this picture.

When you link up, please enter your email address. It will make our lives MUCH easier to contact you if you've been randomly selected to be our featured blogger!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Featured Blogger - Cristina from Not Quite Crunchy Momma

Today's featured blogger is Cristina from Not Quite Crunchy Momma. I just learned she was born in Angola and grew up in Portugal. I know this because I found this cool post!

Tell us about yourself: Let's see... I'm a wife and a stay at home mom of two boys, Uno who just turned four and Kai who is two. Being a mom is really awesome, right? There are certainly days I want to run away, and definitely doubt some of my decisions. But I'm really laid back and have learned to trust my instincts, so being a mom comes fairly natural, most of the time. The whole housewife thing though? So not for me. I'm a hater of all domestic activities :)

My husband is a freelance illustrator and works at home, so as a family, we spend a lot of time together. It's really great, for the most part. I have a masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and pre-kids I worked with families with children with psych issues. Reading and writing have always been my passion. Since starting blogging just a few months ago, my passion for writing has resurfaced and it's been truly awesome.

Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about your blog: I started my first blog not quite crunchy momma earlier in the summer when a friend introduced me to hers. I thought, hey this is fun, I want one too. It was a fun way to record and share my family's daily life. Then, I came across the Red Dress Club and really got into writing fiction. Eventually, I decided I wanted a place just for my fiction and created Once Upon a Time ... this is my "I'm a writer" little world.

What literary character would you be and why?: Oh boy, I have been trying to figure this one out ever since you guys have been featuring bloggers. I have two picks: Clare from The Time Traveler's Wife, I'm a hopeless romantic and what's more romantic than meeting your husband when you are five? and he time travels.. that's way cool. And then I think I would want to be Katniss Evergreen from "The Hunger Games" trilogy. If you haven't read the books, GO read them. She is resourceful, brave and kicks butt.

If you could carve your initials on a tree, which tree would it be and why?: Definitely a fig tree. My grandparents had a fig tree in their yard and I remember climbing it with my cousins and eating figs. Great memories.

What animal does your husband look like and why?: Seriously, I have never compared my husband to an animal, so I had to ask him. He said wolf. His reasons? He has canine teeth like a dog, he comes from a family where men like to be the alpha males and are aggressive (not in a physical way) but they get what they want and.. the best reason... he doesn't like people touching his food, just like a wolf! HA! he's crazy!

If you could only save one of your existing posts in a fire, which would you choose and why?: I think I would choose the first piece I wrote for Red Writing Hood. Blogging has really become about developing my writing skills and I remember the excitement when I wrote No Show. I felt like a 5 year old waking up to find Santa had stopped by Christmas Eve. I knew then, writing fiction was what I am passionate about.

Enjoy It Now

As most of us are knee-deep in the craziness that is December, we realize that free time is sparse. So, we're keeping things easy for you.

Enjoy the simplicity now, because in the new year, we're going to push and challenge you. ;)

This week, we have one word and one photo for you. Pick one (or both), write a piece of fiction or non-fiction, and then come back on Friday to link up.

Your word is tradition.

And here is your photo:

For more beautiful shots and the story behind this ornament,
see her wonderful post from yesterday, Generations.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


So I wrote my 50,000+ words for NaNoWriMo. Some of you did, too. Or maybe you already had your first draft of your manuscript done.

Which leaves you with one question.

Now what?

Because NaNoWriMo is just about getting words out, and I have found, upon re-reading, some, um, problems with my story.

I have characters who completely change personality. I have a main character who becomes an alcoholic - even though I didn't plan that in the beginning, so it comes out of the blue, like she just decided one day to toss back a glass or 12 of wine.

I have timelines that don't work. I have characters who play an interesting role and then disappear. I have two main characters who need to intersect, to teach each other something, and yet...they don't.

In other words, I have a hot sloppy mess.

So the other day I actually had a couple hours of quiet alone time. Shocking, I know! And I totally kicked it old school: I got a notebook and a pen and I started trying to figure stuff out.

I did character sketches. Time lines. Notes about relationships. And even a "to do" list.

This is the beginning of the real work.

I don't like it as much as the writing part Writing is work's very sexy cousin.

Also, I am not an organized person. So the task of putting all these words in some semblance of order that actually makes sense is daunting.

Here are a few things that can help, whether you're digging out from under the NaNoWriMo mess or if you're looking to edit your rough draft manuscript.

1. Write a sentence about what your story is about. Then make it into a paragraph or two, like a cover blurb. If you can't do this, than you don't have a clear idea and your writing will probably be a bit muddled.

2. Make an outline. Some people like to make this formal, with topics and subheads. Others make it more organic. But it can give you an idea of where your story is going and help you stay on course.

3. Character sketches. The better you know your characters, the better you can use them for your purposes. What are their motivations? What are their goals? Their conflicts? Their epiphany? Also, I find it's helpful if their eyes don't change colors in the middle of the book, or if they actually age rather than get younger.

4. Create a storyboard. Use index cards or post-it notes and write key points on each. Then you can lay it out in order and see your story - literally - in front of you. This can help you see where it's going and what parts seem slim or too much.

5. Let someone else read it. I know, you probably don't want anyone gazing at your imperfections, but it's helpful to get opinions on what works and what doesn't. Also, we tend to fall in love with certain things and will try our best to make them work. When the reality is they just don't. Your reader(s) can help you flesh this out.

I found this excellent post by Tamera Lynn Kraft which has great links with tons of information on the topic.

We'd also love to hear any tips you might have. Just leave 'em in the comments section.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weekend linkup

Time to link up a favorite post. Please - one per customer!

Please visit as many as you can. Or, at least, the one in front of and/or behind you. It's a great way to meet new bloggers and find some great writing. And everyone loves a little comment love!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Red Writing Hood - First Love

Love is in the air - at least, around here it is. It's time to link up your posts based on the prompt: Write a short first-person story about your first love, or write a short fiction piece about a character's first love.

Try to visit as many link-ups as you can.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A little help

We are looking for people interested in guest posting for us. If you have a topic you think would be of interest to our readers, please email us!

Also, we are in need of submissions for The Red Dress Blog. Please email us if you've got a piece you'd like critiqued.

For those of you who've applied and are still waiting to hear back, know that we are working on accommodating everyone who is interested in joining.

Thanks for your patience!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Featured Blogger - Sara from Unofficial Mom

Today's Featured Blogger is Sara from Unofficial Mom, where she writes about lots of stuff, especially her daughter. Also, I'd say she's pretty official, but that's just me.

1. Tell us about yourself: Oh how I wish I had some clever, pithy answer to this question. I totally don’t. So I’m stuck with the basics. I’m a daughter, sister, wife, etc. But this year has been all about my daughter. We adopted a perfect, little girl in January of this year. She has been my tunnel-like focus, and like so many people, the reason I started blogging. Well, my daughter in particular probably isn’t the reason anyone else started blogging…but you never know…she is awesome.

2. Give us a 30-second elevator pitch about your blog: I’m a mommy blogger. There, I said it! My name is Sara and I am a mommy blogger. {Hi Sara!} I know mommy blogger is often looked down on, like chick lit, but I think both are valid. And it’s totally not because I write both of those things either. I’ve wandered away from the point. I write about a little of everything. It’s started out about my daughter and our open adoption, but has evolved into that, plus writing, plus things that entertain me. I hope it entertains other people too.

3. Who is your favorite literary character and why?: This one is so tough. But I’d have to say Roxane from Cyrano de Bergerac. Despite being distracted by appearances she ultimately falls in love with true beauty. Cyrano is not an aesthetically pleasing guy, but he has wooed Roxane for his entire adult life, giving her beautiful, longing, soul satisfying words. And at the end of his life, when Roxane realizes it has been Cyrano writing her all along, his appearance is of no consequence. She loves him because of the way he made her feel. I like that.

4. What kind of tree would you carve your initials on and why?: An oak. I’ve talked about this a little before, but it’s a very full circle tree for me. I fully intend to get an oak tree tattoo when I find the right design. I was born in Royal Oak, Michigan and then later discovered that the oak tree is symbol of good luck in fertility. See? Full circle.

5. What animal does your husband look like and why?: According to some gay friends he’s a total bear. Heh. But I’ve always associated him with an anteater. When we first started dating I was struggling with how different we were, how differently we had grown up. He said to me one day, “It doesn’t matter how different we are, we’re supposed to be together. If I was an anteater and you were an ant, I’d just carry you around on my nose all day.” Cue the awwws.

6. If you could save one post in a fire, what post would it be and why?: Another tough one, but it would certainly be one of the Pie {my daughter for any new readers} stories. I think ‘I Do Not Remember THAT From 8th Grade Health’ though. It’s the details of the day my daughter was born. I know as the years go by, some of the minutiae will get fuzzy and I would hate to lose any of it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Red Writing Hood

Ah, love.

Lots has been written about our favorite emotion. It IS our favorite, right? Unless it's gone bad. But that's a different prompt. Or is it. You tell us!

This week's prompt: Write a short first-person story about your first love, or write a short fiction piece about a character's first love.

Filth and Flowers

This week, the amazing CDG, from Move Over Mary Poppins, is here to share her experience and advice with us about walking a particular fine line when writing a romance novel.

Thank you so very much, CDG!

We don’t all aspire to works of important literary fiction, to writing The Great American Novel. I, for one, am writing a single title romance novel. Think Nora Roberts in hard cover. That said, I do want it to be literate. I want characters who reach out and take you by the hand and pull you into the story, just like any author of fiction. I want a story that resonates with my readers.

But romance has a peculiar challenge.

There’s a certain expectation in romance novels: the physical side of the love story. Yes. The sex scenes. If you’ve ever picked up a paperback romance, a good old fashioned bodice-ripper, you find a lot of references to throbbing members and quivering womanhood, but really? Really? That just doesn’t resonate with me.

And yet, I’m not entirely satisfied with chaste, closing the bedroom door, end-scene love scenes, either.

I want to be turned on. I want to fall in love - dare I say in lust? - along with the characters, but I don’t want to feel icky reading it.

So, where is the fine line between filth and flowers? As George Michael so aptly phrased it, “What’s your definition of dirty, baby? What do you consider pornography?”

This is what I have struggled with in writing my first draft.

How to tap into sensuality and sexuality without cliché or ridiculous euphemism or clinical onlooking.

So, here are my own personal guidelines, the ones I’ve used, for the most part, in crafting my story:

Sex scenes should both complement and progress the plot. If we’re going to be in the room with them, there needs to be a reason.

Emotions, reactions, and sensory experiences can tell it like blunt physical description never can. More touch, taste, scent, less size and shape and motion.

Unless you’re going for outright humor, if writing it makes you giggle like a thirteen year old? Chances are it’s not that sexy. (Caveat: funny can be incredibly sexy, so by all means, go for that!)

In reality, sex can be serious or playful, sweet or angry, intense, spontaneous, premeditated, and sometimes it doesn’t go as planned. Let all of that into the story.

Allow for anticipation. As in real life, sometimes the journey is more fun than the destination. Let a scene get hot and steamy, build up the moment gradually, and maybe make them wait. Let life intrude, as it so often does. The characters will find a way to get back there, and won’t that be fun to write!

If you feel uncomfortable or awkward writing it, your readers will clue into that pretty quickly, and you lose the moment.

Obviously, no one has a perfect sex life like the characters in a romance novel, but, unless you actually are Prince? No one’s going to buy into twenty two positions in a one night stand.

Of course, in the end, what’s sexy to one might be dirty to another, or, on the flip side, too tame. What turns you on?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Weekend linkup

It's time to link up a favorite post. Please, one per customer.

We hope you'll get a chance to check out some of the other link-ups. It's a great way to find some fabulous new blogs!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Red Writing Hood - Trapped/Kill them

We had two different options this week: write flash fiction based on the prompt "Trapped" or "I truly enjoyed spending time with them. I just had to decide which of them I would kill."

We hope they inspired you to write some good stuff for today! Link up!

Second Wind

Perhaps it's just that time of year, or maybe it's NaNo exhaustion for many of us, but the word that I'm seeing and hearing more than ever is burnout.

Several people have written about it lately. There's a general exhaustion floating about in the blogosphere.

To me, burnout is burnout. And writing is writing. Whether it's on our blogs or on our other pieces, we all reach that crazy point of lethargy at one point or another.

Cheryl wrote about it on Mommy Pants recently, in Toast. She so perfectly described what so many of us go through: "[t]wo blogs. Stat watching. Fretting over stats. Losing confidence. Wondering if it's worth it. Wondering why nobody likes me. Pretending not to care. Not caring. Then fretting about not caring. Over-caring. Caring so much it hurts." (Cheryl has been working through it and we'll have to get her to share her tips with us.)

Natalie, from Mommy of a Monster, also wrote about it in Bloggy Burnout. She described the signs of burnout as when "[b]logging has become just one more thing that is always on your "To-Do" list. It has become a chore." Natalie has since made some changes that seem to be working for her. (Perhaps she'll weigh in in the comments to share some insight.)

Jane, of Aging Mommy, has decided to stop blogging so that she can focus on the rest of her life. She explains that she has begun to feel that blogging "feels too much of a job rather than a hobby." (We'll miss you Jane, but we wish you a world of happiness.)

We blog, we respond to comments, we read other blogs, we comment on other blogs, and we try to craft something, something bigger, on the side. And often, it all begins to feel like an endless pit.

Many of us who struggle with this burnout work through it and get our second (and third, and fourth, and...) wind. But how does that happen, exactly?

What makes you keep at it? The blogging? The writing?

For me, it's knowing that although I neither see myself as the next up-and-coming novelist, nor do I believe I'm a threat to the likes of The Pioneer Woman, I do hope for something more than what I have now. And that won't happen without work. It just won't.

So, when I feel burnout, I take a few days to regroup. I sulk, I wallow, I complain. Then I get sick of myself and get back to it. The sulking, wallowing, and complaining are critical to my process of getting back on track.

Whether it's the blogging, or the work in progress that we all seem to be tending to, burnout is real and we all need some coping strategies.

I'm curious to know how each of you deal with it. I'd love to build a list of ideas that we can all mine, just in case our own methods grow stale and we're feeling adrift and discouraged.

What do you tell yourself when you just don't feel like doing writing anymore?

What motivates you to just do it?

How do you keep plugging along?