Other Stories, Writing Challenge

Story Cubes Writing Practice: The Exam

My daughter has a set of dice called Story Cubes, which she uses to tell us fanciful stories before bed.  It didn’t take long for me to see the benefit of using these dice to practice my own storytelling skills.  And since this is my blog and I do what I want, I decided to share these little stories with you.

My roll:  House, Teepee, Phone, Beetle, Sheep, Flashlight, Magic wand, Direction/wheel (compass), Tree

THE EXAM

“Oh, for the love of—” Sheep swore, ending the call with a decidedly unsatisfying stab of her hoof at the red image on the phone.  She had been in a snit all morning, and being unable to reach Beetle since dawn had not helped matters.  Only the thought of kicking his shiny carapace into next week seemed to soothe her temper.
She stomped around the house, making a point of ignoring how the gingham curtains and cozy, overstuffed chairs that decorated her cottage normally put her in a better mood.  Sheep was so intent on being annoyed by Beetle’s insufferably lackadaisical attitude about her very real concerns, that it slipped her mind to check in again with Gus at Flying Squirrel Cargo.
Honestly, that insect couldn’t find his thorax with a compass and a flashlight, she silently groused, slamming the phone down on the faux granite counter.  They needed to meet Buffalo at his Teepee by noon, and traffic is always a mess, and all of this was just too much stress for her.  She didn’t need Beetle and his ‘just relax, Sheepie, we got this’ hippie talk grating on her very last nerve all the way past the Heart Tree and back.  Not today.  Today was too important and she was not about to let one annoying insect get in the way of her god given happiness.
“Yo, Sheepie!” came a bright call from her porch.  “We should probably get a move on if you want to hang with Buffalo today.  That dude has no chill, right?  I keep tellin’ him his chakras are whack, but does he listen?  No, he does not.  He just—”
“Let’s go,” Sheep interrupted him as she swept through the cheery red front door and turned smartly to lock it behind her.
“Hey, Sheepie, I was think—”  Beetle began, his antennae spread wide in friendliness.
“I said let’s go.”  Sheep cut him off again, channeling her anger into the biting tone of her words.  “I swear, Beetle, if you make me late again…”
“Nah, nah, Sheepie.  We’ve got all the time in the world, right?  The Universe will provide,” he rubbed his front legs together apologetically, and follow the clearly annoyed Sheep to his Volkswagon.  “Besides, it’s not like the old guy is going to fail you if you’re just a little late, right?”
This was exactly the wrong thing to say to Sheep.  She whirled around and glared at Beetle, hooves on her hips.  In a low voice, she spat, “Get. In. The. Car. Right now, before I do something I’m going to enjoy thoroughly before they lock me away in the Big Barn.”
Cowed, Beetle did as she demanded, silently starting up the little car and pulling out of the driveway.  Once headed in the right direction, however, it didn’t take long for his usual cheerful attitude to creep back.  “So, Sheepie, I was just talking to Gus, and—”
“Oh, for heaven’s sake,” she muttered under her breath.  “I completely forgot to check in with Gus.”  To Beetle, she replied, “Just drive.  I don’t have it in me to chit-chat on the way to my exam.  I swear, if I don’t pass today, I’m holding you personally responsible.  You know how hard I have been working to even get the chance to test with Buffalo.  I really can’t even think about anything else right now.”  Even as the words left her mouth, she knew it wasn’t true.  She had been obsessing about the delivery ever since she was notified that it had shipped two days ago, and her studies had suffered accordingly.  She wasn’t confident in her magic, and she was terrified that Buffalo would see right through her illusions.  And she blamed Beetle, just like she always did.
Beetle  shrugged and decided not to finish his thought.  The Universe will provide, he mused to himself, carefully driving just under the posted speed limit.  It always doesEven when you forget to pay shipping on your new magic wand.

Musings, News

Zen and the Art of Typewriter Adaptation: The Beginning

     Ever since I was young, I’ve had an affinity for typewriters.  As a preschooler, I would occasionally go to work with my mother, a radiology tech, and play for hours with one of the hospital’s electric typewriters.  The clickety-clack of the keys, the weight of them on my fingers, felt… right.  I may have been too young to type in complete sentences, or much more than my name really, but I think this may have been an early manifestation of my desire to write and I would type out my name over and over again like Jack in The Shining without the homicidal insanity. Mostly.
     I was a whiz in my high school typing class.  I may not have been the quickest, but I was certainly the most accurate.  I played the oboe the same way.  My fingers were not very nimble, but I was able to produce lovely music, earning primarily first place medals in school solo/ensemble contests.
     Recently, I purchased a Spectre X2 convertible laptop so that I could be more mobile when writing.  It’s light and thin and I love it, but there was still something missing.  The keys feel better than writing longhand–hell, anything feels better than that–but there is still something that doesn’t quite work for me.  Just the other day, I realized what it was: the noise.  Or rather, the lack of noise.  I seem to have a hard time “getting in the zone” without some background noise.
     Looking back, I realize that sound was always a part of how I worked.  I would have the television on for background noise while I was lost in my head writing term papers, but I never got the hang of taking notes during a lecture.  Every time I tried, I missed important points while concentrating more on making my handwriting legible than whatever the professor might be saying.  I can’t listen and write at the same time, but noise seems to help me access my thoughts more easily.
     Somehow, somewhere along the way I had lost that critical part of my writing process.  Now, whenever I listen to music I usually just end up singing along instead of working.  The television has become a time-sucking nightmare thanks to all the good shows available on Netflix.  And my beloved Spectre, well, it has access to Facebook and I’m weak.  So very, very weak.  I have, however, found a solution.  It is possible to convert a manual typewriter into a computer keyboard!
     And so my journey begins.  I have purchased a 1950s-ish Royal Keystone typewriter, cleaned it—okay, mostly just dusted it–, and have conscripted my wonderful, computer genius husband into helping me transform it into a Retro Writing Tool of Awesomeness!
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I’m so pretty!
     Stay tuned for updates on my progress and happy St. Patrick’s Day, my homesnakes!
Musings

Finding My Way Back

“Hello.

It’s been a while.

I’ve missed you.”

This is what I’d say to my muse if I had the courage to reach out. Sometimes keeping in touch with my creativity gets away from me, and before I know it, it’s been so long that I feel awkward just trying to make a connection out of the blue.

What if it’s busy? I don’t want to be a distraction. What if it has moved on to some other author who lavishes it with attention? What if it hates me for neglecting it? What if it’s gone? Gone…forever?

It would serve me right for treating my inspiration that way. Always pushing it to the side, expecting it to be true while receiving no loyalty in return, callously allowing it to wither in the darkness. I couldn’t blame it for turning its back on me, seeking comfort with another. The fault is entirely my own.

But what if it hasn’t left? Would my muse welcome me back? Would it even speak to me after I treated it so?

I have to know. I can wait no longer. I close my eyes, breathe in deeply, lightly run my fingertips along the keys…

…and we connect.

Relief washes over me and ideas spring to life as we chat like old friends over coffee. No judgement. No admonishments. Only a warm embrace and a bouyant hope that we will never again be so long without one another.

It is only now that I realize that, without me, my muse does not exist. For what is inspiration without someone to inspire? However, without creativity, a part of me is missing, like a flash of lighting without thunder rumbling in its wake. I’m incomplete. Empty. Unfulfilled.

I don’t wish to feel that way again. I said I missed my muse, but that statement doesn’t capture the ache of knowing something isn’t quite right but not being able to put your finger on it. The tightness in your chest when you’ve lost something–something important–but what it is remains elusive. The drudgery of dragging yourself through days, weeks, sometimes months of mind-numbingly ordinary activities with a piece of yourself absent.

I reach out and grasp my muse by the hand. No more will I be alone on this journey. We are one once again. And together, we will dream, tell stories, and create.

Reach out to your muse. Find that piece of your soul that makes you feel alive and once you do, don’t ever let it go. Live, love, dream, create. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Uncategorized

Dani Hoots’ Review of The Pirate Princess by Tawn Krakowski

What a lovely review of my book, The Pirate Princess! It means a lot to me coming from a fellow author. Thank you, Dani!

A Bibliophile's Reverie

The Pirate Princess by Tawn Krakowski

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Published by BigWorldNetwork.com, LLC
Review by Dani Hoots

As the ninth daughter in the ninth generation of the Puffinstuff line, Princess Penny is a very special little girl. With a destiny to save her family that only an elaborate scheme of fake pirates and adventure can possibly achieve, Penny might discover more than just pirate treasure along the way.

*Back cover taken from Amazon

In this Middle Grade fantasy by Tawn Krakowski, we are taken on adventure as Penny, a princess of Puffinstuff, is destined to complete a prophecy from years before. Now this twelve year old must sail the high seas and find whatever the map that was given to her guides her to. But little does she know is that there is something wicked waiting for her.

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Penny is a strong young girl that is a great female…

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Guest Entries, News

Guest Post: Easy Morning Tricks to Help You Stay Healthy

If you resolved to start off 2016 as a healthy year, you probably already understand how important consistent daily habits are to improving your health and well-being. Starting your day off right is one of the best ways to encourage healthy choices for the remainder of your day. Because of this, focusing on making a few morning habits may be the game changer for your healthy 2016. Here are some of Modernize’s morning tricks to help you stay healthy.

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Meditate

Many people falsely believe that meditation simply isn’t for them. The truth is, meditation is for everyone. Meditating first thing the morning allows you to set the tone for your entire day when you become more focused and in tune with the world around you. A regular meditation practice is also known to have some seriously worthwhile health benefits, including lowering depression and anxiety, preventing high blood pressure, and boosting the immune system to prevent your from getting sick. Want to create a beautiful space for meditation? Check out some of our favorite meditation spaces at Modernize.

Drink Lemon Water

Did you know that warm lemon water, first thing in the morning, is one of the simplest ways to change your health for the better? Starting your day with warm lemon water has shown to improve digestion throughout the rest of the day. The Vitamin C in the lemon gives your immune system a little extra power to fight off viruses or other contagious illnesses. Lemon water is also believed to aid in maintaining a healthier weight by giving the metabolism a little extra boost for the rest of the day.

Eat Breakfast

Even though we have all heard it before, it is easy to forget just how important it is to eat breakfast each morning. Instead, we hit snooze one too many times, and wind up rushing out the door to work with an empty stomach and a cup of coffee in hand. The truth is, if we want our bodies to properly metabolize glucose for the entire day, it is crucial that we eat a balanced breakfast within two hours of waking. It is also true that what you eat for breakfast matters. Avoid sugary cereals, donuts, or pastries and opt for high-protein greek yogurts, low sugar cereals, or eggs and toast before starting your day.

pic2Via Modernize

Get Moving

There are many benefits to starting your day with exercise. When you work out immediately after waking, you are less likely to skip your workout if you have had a difficult day and something else comes up. Working out in the early morning also allows you the time to prioritize your work, family, and friends for the rest of your day. Your metabolic rate is boosted each time you exercise, and when you exercise first thing in the morning, you boost your metabolism and burn more calories for the rest of the day.

Whether they are good or bad, habits are formed by repeating the same behavior over and over again. Repetition does something unique to the brain, and the repeated behaviors are eventually engraved into our neural pathways. This means that bad habits are hard to break and good habits are hard to form. Still, with determination and consistency, repeating the tricks listed above until they become habits is a surefire way to stay healthy this year.

Uncategorized

PWN 2016

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In an effort to revitalize my blog, I’ve decided to offer a wider variety of content.  I promise to be true to TotallyTawn in that I will not feature articles that I don’t find interesting or that don’t align with my values (sorry bullies and kitten kickers- you’ll have no voice here), but I hope to provide a platform that encourages personal growth, fun, and a spirit of cooperation and love.

I wish all of you an amazing 2016 and look forward to spreading some positive vibes all over the place.

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Uncategorized

Y is for Yuletide

I think it’s time to re-gift this little gem. Happy Holidays!

Tawn Krakowski

I totally get the Grinch.  The poor old guy lives all alone up in his cave with only a mangy dog for company while the residents of Whoville go on about the business of living their selfish little lives and completely ignoring the Grinch.  And then, every year, they make it a point to celebrate Christmas as boisterously and obtrusively as possible, thereby forcing their belief system on the Grinch, who probably just wants to be left in peace to gaze at the stars with his own quiet dreams of cheerful solitude.

And then, when he finally couldn’t take it anymore, I’m sure the Whos were ready for him.  He probably couldn’t leave his cave without triggering Whoville’s Early Warning Defense System and relegating his whole carefully thought out plan to the crapper.  As he was sledding down the hill in his bright red Santa Claus disguise, the Whos were…

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Musings, Writing Challenge

The Change in My Wallet

NaBloPoMo 2015

Day 9: What’s in my wallet

Happy Anniversary to me! According to WordPress, I began the TotallyTawn blog five years ago today.  My, how times change! What began as one timid post asking what the hell I was getting myself into blossomed into something so amazing that I still have trouble believing how much my life has evolved.

Of course, many other things have changed in the last five years as well.  That’s what life is, after all.  Change.

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I used to lug around a giant totebag purse with a ton of stuff in it: makeup, aspirin, wet-wipes, a book or tablet, a crochet project, wallet, phone, lint, hopes and dreams; You get the picture. Despite being prepared for almost anything, I would go months without actually using any of those items as more than a collection of tiny anchors relentlessly pulling one shoulder lower than the other.

Since then, I’ve learned that it’s easier for me to make a pit stop if I need anything rather than drag it around on the off chance that I might someday need a wet-wipe and the nearest store is more than a block away.  Besides, I can now stash that junk in my car’s glove compartment.

Now I have an adorable orange wristlet wallet with a pink strap from Thirty-One which holds my phone, my credit cards, a picture of my kids, my library card (of course), and a crumpled wad of receipts that I keep forgetting to give to my husband to file.  That’s it.

No cash – I would only spend it unwisely and 99.5% of establishments take plastic anyway, so why bother?  No picture of my husband. Part of the reason I have a photo of my kids is in case anything happened to them and I needed to give the police a picture for the milk carton, so I must not be worried about my husband in quite the same way. In hindsight, I have a ton of pictures of my family (and my cat) on my phone, so there’s really no reason to have that photo in there anyway.

That’s it. There’s really no room for anything else, which is fine with me. No more back pain!  Hurrah for life changes!

Come back later and I’ll tell you about the best trip of my life.  Well, the one I remember anyway.

Self Promotion, Writing Challenge

Tawn’s Best Laid Plans

NaBloPoMo 2015

Day 8: Five Current Goals

As you can probably tell, I generally don’t do well with goals. I can stick to a schedule if I really have to, but I’m usually a disorganized mess racing against the clock to finish my work.  I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I’m addicted to the adrenaline rush which, since I haven’t been flying in seven years, I can only get by flirting with death by editorial deadlines.

I’m not a completely lost cause, though.  I’ve recently started using Habitica to “gamify” my habits and goals, Cooksmarts for meal planning, and Google Keep for lists that I want to share with my husband like groceries, household to-do items, and reminders.  So far, the results have been encouraging.  I’ve been able to stick with these tools far longer than I’ve been able to complete a blog post a day, and I’m also able to track my progress objectively.

As for my five current goals, I doubt you are interested in baby steps like “walk 10,000 steps a day,” “floss,” or “take a yoga class.”   In that light, I’m going to zoom out and give you my big ticket items.

Create a Business Plan – I am just now beginning to understand that being an author is a business.  In order for me to be successful, I need to market and sell my books, maintain an author platform, participate in social media, and of course, write. Thankfully, I have the help of my publisher, BigWorldNetwork, in many of those areas, but the responsibility still rests on my shoulders. I need a game plan.

Figure out how to do in-person ebook sales – I will be participating in Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest December 4th – 6th, and it got me thinking about a way to sell ebooks in addition to my paperbacks from my spot in Artist’s Alley. I want to have something tangible that I can autograph. Anyone have any suggestions?

Complete my Cardinal Directions season– I am working with four very talented BigWorldNetwork authors to write this serial novel.  My season is approaching soon, and my goal is to have my twelve episodes written by the end of January.

Write another Toni Drake novel – She’s been talking to me lately. It seems being queen isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and she wants to go on another adventure.

Expand into audiobooks – While I’ve done the audiobooks for my own work, I’ve also narrated books for other authors, such as Heart of the Hurricane by May Woodworth. I would like to continue to do this for BigWorldNetwork authors, and also connect with other authors through Amazon’s ACX platform.

Whew!  Just looking at that list is making me a little lightheaded!  Hopefully I’ll recover quickly so I can catch up on my posts.

Speaking of which, the next blog must be sponsored by Capital One because the prompt is “What’s in your wallet?”  I’ll give you a hint: “cash” won’t be on the list.

Writing Challenge

A Little Mood Music, Please, Maestro

NaBloPoMo 2015

Day 7: My 5 Favorite Songs

Happy Monday!

Well, it didn’t take long for me to fall behind on this challenge. Not surprising, since this exercise is meant to help me develop my writing habit more than anything else. However, today is a new day, and a Monday at that!

I love Mondays. I normally accomplish more on that one day of the week than any other day, and today is no exception. With that in mind, I’d like to get right down to the nitty-gritty and share five of my favorite songs with you.

Now, just to be clear, just like almost all of the other challenge posts asking about my favorites, there are simply too many songs that I like for me to choose favorites. I don’t like to limit myself like that. The songs I’ve decided to share with you today are some that help me get my caboose in gear. I hope they also inspire you to make your Monday is as fantastic as mine.

1. Big Time – Peter Gabriel

2. It’s no Good – Depeche Mode

3. In A Gadda Da Vida – Iron Butterfly

4. Bang Bang – Jesse J ft. Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj

5. And finally, Cream  – Prince (Because who doesn’t like a little cream on top?)

Now that I’ve gotten your booty moving, go do something awesome!  And stay tuned for my next post when I share some of my current goals with you.  Toodles!